Drsaa draagheeyasyaa dara-dalita-neelotpala-ruchaa daveeyaamsam deenam snapaya krpayaa maamapisive; Anena-ayam dhanyo bhavanti na cha te haanir-iyataa Vane vaa harmye vaa samakara nipato himakarah.

This verse is from Soundarya Lahari, composed by Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada. Addressing the Divine Mother, Sive, Sri Acharya requests Her to bathe even him, who is helpless and standing at a great distance, with the far-reaching glance of Her soothing blue eyes, beautiful as a half-blossomed blue lily. By this act, the Acharya says, the Mother stands to lose nothing while he, a deena, will be blessed and enabled to achieve the goal of life. The soothing cool moonlight falls equally on a forest and a beautiful mansion. By this verse, Sri Adi Sankara seeks to convey the idea that the range of the benevolent look or kataaksha of the Divine Mother is long enough to embrace everything and every one in this wide world.

The Divine Mother is part of Isvara. Sri Adi Sankara, an incarnation of Isvara, is the embodiment of the Divine Mother also. Yet for the purpose of instilling bhakti in the minds of the people, he humbles himslef by describing himself as deena, or helpless, and considers himself as standing in the last place in the queue of people waiting to receive the grace of the Mother. By invoking Her to bless even him (maamapi), he suggests, by inference, the existence of persons more deserving than himself to receive Her grace. On the other hand, he describes the glance of the Mother as reaching the far ends of the Universe and embracing everything. It is in such a spirit of humility and intense devotion that Sri Adi Sankara has given to us a rich devotional treasure in the form of Soundarya Lahari and it is up to us to benefit from it.

November 6, 1957