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Shivananda Lahari Teachings

A collection of teachings from Shivananda Lahari

Day in and day out I roam about in vain in search of wealth and food for this little belly of mine. Oh Bhagavan, I know not how to serve you. But fortunately, by some iota of merit in my past births, You are still in my heart as in everyone’s and therefore, Oh Bhagavan of Beings, You should protect me. (Shloka 57)

Oh, Bhagavan of all Beings, the one sun (which is so far away) is able to destroy darkness that pervades earth and heaven and become visible. Your luminosity exceeds that of a crore of suns. Why then, do you (who are so near to me as my heart) not become visible to me? How intensely dense should my darkness (Ignorance) be? Please destroy this Yourself.  Become directly manifest to me! (Shloka 58)

O Master! O God! Is it not enough for people like me to serve Thee even once through making obeisance, singing praise, worship, meditation, listening to Thy story, or having a sight of Thee? By what else but these can liberation be achieved? This being so, what is there to be gained by the arduous worship of ephemeral deities?" And what should they be prayed for?' (Shloka 33)

What is Shivananda Lahari?

The Shivananda Lahari is a famous Sanskrit hymn composed by the revered Hindu saint, philosopher, and theologian Adi Shankaracharya. It is one of his major works and is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Hindu deity of destruction and transformation. The word "Shivananda" translates to "the bliss of Shiva," indicating the joy and ecstasy derived from devotion to Lord Shiva.

The Shivananda Lahari consists of 100 verses, each intricately woven with profound philosophical insights, devotional fervor, and poetic beauty. The hymn is renowned for its vivid imagery, metaphors, and poetic expressions that capture the essence of the divine experience and the seeker's longing for spiritual union with the Supreme.

In the verses of the Shivananda Lahari, Adi Shankaracharya extols the various aspects of Lord Shiva, praising his attributes, forms, and divine manifestations. The hymn also delves into the symbolism associated with Shiva, his consort Parvati, and the cosmic dance of creation and destruction symbolized by the tandava dance.

The Shivananda Lahari is not only a devotional composition but also a philosophical treatise that explores the nature of reality, the significance of devotion, and the path to liberation (moksha) through surrender to the divine. It continues to be recited, chanted, and revered by millions of devotees worldwide for its spiritual potency and timeless wisdom.

Here are a few examples of verses from the Shivananda Lahari along with brief explanations:

Verse 1: सौभाग्यशुभदं ते सितकिरीटं विचित्रमभूषं वामांगे विश्वस्यायसि विलसद्भूषाधिकामध्यम्। चक्रेशे कर्णाभ्यामुरसि नयनं चाकारकान्ते सद्योजातं प्रपद्ये युवतिचक्राङ्कितरङ्गयुगम्॥

Translation: "O Lord Sadyojata, I take refuge in you, whose head is adorned with a beautiful crown, whose body is decorated with various ornaments, whose left side is embraced by the Goddess of the universe, whose ears are adorned with Kundala (earrings), whose eyes are like the wheels of a chariot, and whose consort is always by your side like a wave clinging to the bank."

Verse 3: कदान्ते बाले निःशेषमहिमानंबोध्यशक्त्युद्धारे सवेलायां समूहे रसिको धारासारे जीवानाम्। केशेषु कान्तेषु भवति चिन्ता स्थितिकर्तुं यत्तत्ताम्रायाः पुस्तकतले तन्त्रं ते लक्ष्यार्थम्॥

Translation: "O Lord, at the end of an aeon, when you awaken from your divine slumber, you effortlessly comprehend the entire universe; when the deluge comes, you are the one who rescues the multitude of beings; you are the essence of the stream of life. You have no concern for your hair or your beloved; what occupies your mind is the desire to help. Therefore, you, whose scripture lies on a palm leaf, are the aim of my meditation."

Verse 23: अपवाराधिनं ते सपदि तावकस्यान्तरे स्थितं यदा लक्ष्यार्थं तदा मनसि क्रियते भव्योपायः। तदा तस्मान्न त्वं प्रणयजलसञ्चारसरितापतिः प्रक्षिप्ता वाग्धीर्मूषिकवदनं काचित्कान्तिमपि॥

Translation: "O Lord, when one harbors the idea of approaching you, the obstacles in the way disappear, just as a mouse, attracted by the smell of ghee (clarified butter), neglects the bait. Therefore, you are like a flow of love moving through the heart, causing even the dumb to emit sparks of brilliance."

These verses illustrate the deep devotion, reverence, and philosophical depth present in the Shivananda Lahari. Each verse reflects upon the multifaceted nature of Lord Shiva and the seeker's longing for spiritual union with the divine.