The Sivanandalahari of Adi Sankaracarya, like twin, Saundaryalahari, is a poem of intense devotion, as noted for its poetic skill as for its spiritual fervour.
God cannot be conceived of, meditated upon or loved with devotion in the abstract.
To love God, the one ultimate reality, indefinable, ineffable, eternal, omnipresent and immanent, the primal, cause-as the Brahma Sutras put it- from which the cosmos is born, maintained and dissolved, God has to be conceived of as the Father-Mother, inseparable as word and meaning-in the immortal analogy of Kalidasa.
This is the conception of Siva-Sakti, Father-Mother, who are in themselves one, the embodiment of truth, goodness and beauty and are Being, Consciousness and Bliss, Sat-Cit-Ananda.
Mythology and metaphysics, legend and poetry have enveloped this Father-Mother image of God in the Magic of love, devotion and adulation.
In Sivanandalahari, Sri Sankaracarya pays homage to the Father, while in Sarundaryalaharihe Prays to the Mother
While singing the praises of the Father and recounting His glory, it is impossible not to mention the greatness of the Mother. The opening verse of Siva-nandalahari hence begins with a tribute to both.
A word about the title of the poem:
The term Siva means the Auspicious One; Ananda means bliss; laharimeans wave. Sivanandalahari hence means the wave of bliss resulting from experiencing (intense love for) God, the Auspicious One.
Loving God for no ulterior reason but for love's own sake, singing God's praises, praying to Him with whole-hearted devotion, meditating on His Majesty and glory, all these lead us way from ignorance and enslavement, and lead us to that blissful beatitude where the Omnipresent One is realized at the Immanent Self within.
The Sivanandalahari of Sankaracarya accomplishes this difficult task of generating love, full, unquestioning and authentic, by making God so lovable, by highlighting all His great attributes established by the various legends surrounding Him, which are widely known to the mystics and spiritual aspirants of India, handed down by the Vedic seers, the Upanishadic teachers and the authors of the epics and Puranas.
These attributes of God include omnipotence, capacity to destroy sin and sorrow, the absolute power to do and generate good (Sankara, Sambhu), His being an ocean of mercy, ever concerned about the welfare of his devotees, bestowing boundless prosperity on them, while preferring austerity of Himself, the great ascetic, who is also the ideal lover, ever united with His spouse Sakti.
The legends include: Burning of Cupid, Destruction of Death, Annihilation of the triple demons, Tripura, marriage with Parvati, daughter of Himavan, the mountain king, the cosmic dance, attempt to find His head and feet by Visnu and Brahma, His sports as a hunter, His drinking poison to save the world from destruction etc.
The detailed stories of these legends have been given at the appropriate places, where the have been referred to by Sankaracarya in his poem.
Sculptural representation of the legends referred to in Sivanandalaharican be seen in the various caves and temples scattered throughout India, the major ones being Ellora, Elephanta, Badami, Aihole, Halebid, Madurai, Thanjavur, Sri Sailam and the five elements built in honour of Siva: representing the five elements: Kancipuram (earth), Tirucirapalli (water), Tiruvannamalai(fire), Kalahasti (air), Cidambaram (ether).
These temples, sanctifying the myths and legends glorifying God have inspired many mystic saints to pour out their love of God in devotional poetry.
The Deity in the temple at Sri Sailam has been referred to by Sankaracarya in Sivanandalahari, verses 50 and 51.
The glorification of God by Sankaracarya in Sivanandalahari reminds us of the verse from Svetasvatara Upanisad, which refers to "that God, the Unique One who, by His union with Sakti, assumes without any self-interest myriad forms, first creates the universe and then in the end withdraws it unto Himself."
In placing this edition of Sivanandalahari, with English translation and explanatory notes, I invite all the readers thereof to experience the blissful beatitude, the path to which has been shown in this devotional hymn by the Great Master.
From the Jacket
The Sivanandalahari of Adi Sankaracharya, like its twin Saundaryalahari, is a poem of intense devotion, as noted for poetic excellence as for its spiritual fervour.
Since God cannot be conceived of, meditated upon or loved with devotion in the abstract, Indian sages have conceived of God as the Father-Mother, Siva-Sakti inseparable as word and meaning, in the immortal analogy of Kalidasa.
In Sivanandalahari, Sankaracharya has been successful in making God so lovable that the reader is enabled to experience a blissful beatitude, where the Omnipresent One is realized as the Immanent Self within, the purified mind elevated to heights of spiritual bliss.
The English translation of this famous work has been done by V. K. Subramanian, the famous scholar, whose book on Saundaryalahari is a popular work, running into several editions.
English translation side by side the original Sanskrit will facilitate easy comprehension by all.
This book will be of great interest to all students of religion and philosophy as also lovers of pure poetry.
It will be a valuable reference volume for students of Indology.
Vadakaymadom Krishna Iyer Subramanian (b. 1930, Kerala, India) is an eminent scholar, whose life mission is to present to the world the treasures of ancient India, in the fields of art, literature, philosophy and religion.
He has already translated several ancient texts into English.
These include: Saundaryalahari, Sivanandalahari, Sacred Songs of India, Maxims of Chanakya, Sri Rudraprasna and Wondrous Whispers of Wisdom from Ancient India.
As a consultant for holistic health and spiritual development, he has spelt out the Hindu regimens in this regard in his popular book The Holistic Way to Health, Happiness and Harmony.
Subramanian's prolific literary output covers a variety of subjects ranging from astrology to art. He has been an astropalmic counselor for over 35 years.
A retired officer of the Indian Audit and Accounts Service (which he joined in 1953), Subramanian is also a reputed painter, who has held 22 one-man shows and whose paintings (some of them in the Chandigarh Museum) have won wide acclaim from leading art critics of India.
Subramanian who has traveled extensively in India, now lives in the United States of America.
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