Sri Pada Saptati 
Sri Pada Saptati
By Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri
Translation and Commentary by P.R. Kannan
By Jagadguru Sankaracharya Swamiji of Kanchi Kamakoti Matham, Kanchipuram
Within the sacred land of Bharat, in the part of Kerala, even more sanctified by the incarnation of Adi Sankara Bhagavatpada, the celebrated poet, Sri Narayana Bhattatri sang in detail all the beautiful sport of Lord Krishna, right from His childhood. Sri Guruvayurappan nodded His head every time in appreciation. The book written by Sri Narayana Bhattadri is widely acclaimed as Sri Narayaneeyam. Sri Narayana Bhattatri has enjoyed and sung in 70 verses the glories of the Lotus Feet of the Divine Mother, Para Sakthi in his book, Sri Pada Saptati. Kannan, the resident of New Mumbai, translated this work in Tamil, based on the 'Malika' commentary of Muriyil Narayanan Nambisan and his book was published earlier by Sri Bhagavannama Publications.
Kannan has now written a detailed explanation of Sri Pada Saptati in English at the request of friends. His explanation of each verse with supporting quotations from works like Soundaryalahari, Mooka Panchasati, Devi Bhagavatam, Durga Saptasati etc. is praiseworthy. We bless that all the people, with the help of this book, should worship the Divine Feet of Mother, receive auspicious benedictions and live happily and prosperously. We also bless the commentator that he should continue to write many more explanatory works, thus serving the public and attain all happiness and bliss.
SRI PADA SAPTATI
Sri Melpattur Narayana Bhattatri is the celebrated author of Narayaneeyam, a devotional poem of about 1000 verses in soulful praise of Lord Krishna, the god of Guruvayur in Kerala. This epic poem epitomises the essence of Srimad Bhagavatham and it is believed that Krishna nodded his head in appreciation at the end of each chapter and also gave him special Darshan on important occasions. Bhattatri found at the end that he was cured of his ailment in foot, which had tormented him for long. He however longed for peace of mind and Bliss that still eluded him. Tradition has it that the lord of Guruvayur appeared in his dream and directed him to a place called Mukthisthala (near Guruvayur) and to worship Devi Durga. Bhattatri, upon Darshan of the Goddess, burst out in 70 moving verses in praise of Devi's Holy Feet, entitled SRIPADA SAPTATI. It is said that he was blessed with beatitude and spent his last days at Her Feet and attained liberation.
In SRIPADA SAPTATI, Sri Narayana Bhattatri takes the reader to great heights of Sanskrit poetry and devotion. His description of Devi's bounty of Grace is exquisite and elevating. The versatile scholar of Sanskrit grammar that he was, no figure of speech or embellishment misses him. He dwells with a lot of imagery on the incomparable beauty of the Holy Feet, the divine child-sport of Parvati in the Himalayas, Her marriage with Siva, their love and feigned anger, destruction of Mahishasura and Sumbha, worship of Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, Indra and the other Dikpalakas at Devi's Feet and, above all, Devi's benevolence to Her devotees. The tradition of worshipping the Feet (Pada Puja) of divinities and Gurus has been very strong in our Sanatana Dharma. It is believed that the Sripadas are ever full of mercy, compassion and munificence and bless the devotee without weighing his qualifications as Devi would. A free translation in English of the verses with explanation is now presented.
Dakshadha: karapallave lasadasim dakshordhwage sulinim
Vamordhwe phalakojvalam katitata-nyastanya hastambujam |
Sulagrahata kasarasura-sironishtham prahrushtam surair-
Jushtam-ishta-varapradam Bhagavatim Muktisthalastham bhaje ||
I worship Bhagavathi, residing in Mukthisthala; who possesses a shining sword in Her lower right hand, resembling a tender creeper; the trident in the upper right hand; a brilliant shield in the upper left hand; the other left hand, which is (like) lotus, poised on the waist; directing the end of the trident on the broken head of Mahishasura; worshipped by Devas; the giver of desired boons.
Sri Narayana Bhattatri brings out in this initial verse the graphic description of the image of Bhagavathi Durga at Mukthisthala for the reader to fix his mind. Here he adds two important points: one, She is worshipped by Devas. The powerful Devas, vanquished at the hands of the demon Mahishasura, propitiated Devi and begged Her to eliminate their mortal enemy. Devi fulfilled their wish and Devas fell at Her Feet and praised Her Grace. The second point is that Devi is ever eager to grant the wishes of any devotee, who surrenders to Her. It is not just Devas, who are the recipients of Her unlimited bounty, but anyone who submits to Her for help.
Yat samvahana-lobhina: Sasikala-chudasya hastambuja-
Sparsenapi cha lohitayati muhus-tvatpada-pankeruham |
Prachandyam tadanushthitam kilam katham Muktisthalasthe Sive ||
Mangalambike (Auspicious one), residing at Mukthisthalam! Greatly desirous of lifting your Lotus Foot with His Lotus Hand, Sri Parameswara, whose head is adorned by the Kala of the moon, touches your Sripada, which instantly turns reddish. With the same (tender) foot, You fiercely pulverised the head of Mahishasura, whose body was bigger than a mountain. How was it possible?
The reference is to Durga, who resides at a place in Kerala called Mukthisthalam (now known as Mukkolakka), where the poet Sri Narayana Bhattadri prayed in his last days and attained Mukthi, i. e. liberation. Mukthisthalam also symbolises the cleansed hearts of great Yogis, ripe for Mukthi. Further it also refers to the fact that Mukthi results on removal of Avidya (or Maya) and attainment of Vidya. Devi is the embodiment of Vidya and hence the only source of Mukthi.
The simultaneous expression of the opposite qualities of tenderness and hardness of Devi's Lotus feet is beautifully brought out by the poet devotee. This is indicative of Devi's Grace, which at once protects the good and Her fierceness which destroys the evil.
In Durga Sapthasathi, we find in the Devas' prayer to Devi after the killing of Mahishasura, a similar expression:
Ya Sri: svayam sukritinam bhavaneshv-Alakshmi:
Papatmanam ...... (4:5)
Devi, who resides as Lakshmi Herself in the homes of the good, becomes Alakshmi in the homes of the wicked.
Tvat-padam nijamastake ghatayitum loke na ke ke jana:
Kim kim narachayanti duschara-tapascharya-saparyadikam |
Manye dhanyatamam tu Devi Mahisham vairasthayaiva tvaya
Yanmurdhni svayameva patakaharam padambujam patitam ||
Devi! For resting your Sri Pada on their heads, people of all sorts (including Devas, Yakshas, Gandharvas etc.) in the three worlds resort to extremely difficult austerities, poojas etc. However, Mahishasura, I think, was the most fortunate. Though he harboured enmity towards You, Your lotus Sripada, which destroys all sins, was kept on his head, on your own.
Durga Sapthasathi says:
Chitre kripa samara nishthurata cha drushta
Tvayyeva Devi varade bhuvana-trayepi | (4:22)
Oh! Giver of Boons! In the three worlds, it is only in You, that we find Mercy (in the mind) while, (at the same time) showing ruthlessness in battle.
Tvat-padambujam-arpitam kva nu Sive kim nu trayi-mastake
Nityam tatva-vichara-datta-manasam chitrambujagreshu va |
Kim va tvat-pranaya-prakopa-vinaman-Marari-moulisthale
Kim protkhanditha ghora-sairibha-mahadaityendra-murdhantare ||
Mangalambike (Auspicious one)! Where are your lotus feet? Are they in the pinnacle of the (three) Vedas? Or are they in the lotus hearts of the Yogis, whose thoughts are always immersed in the Ultimate Truth? Or are they on the head of Siva, the enemy of Manmatha, when He prostrates in order to pacify You after a quarrel (of love)? Or on the decapitated head of the terrible Mahishasura?
The pinnacle of the Vedas is regarded as the Upanishads or the Omkara.
In Soundaryalahari, Sankaracharya says:
Srutinam murdhano dadhati tava you sekarataya
mamapyetou Matha: sirasi dayaya dehi charanou | (84)
Mother! Please rest your feet on my head out of compassion, the Feet, whom the Upanishads, the pinnacle of Vedas, have as their crest-jewel.
Ye tavat kalayanti jatu sirasa namrena kamrojjvalam |
Teshameva hi Devi nandanavana-kridasu labhyam padam
Svarli-taruna-pravala-bharanam sevnurupam phalam ||
Devi! The front of your Sripada is beautiful and lustrous. It resembles the tender creeper of the Kalpaka tree (of Heaven). Those who prostrate at your feet happen to play in the beautiful gardens of heaven and pick up the tender shoots of the Kalpaka tree there. The fruit is in accordance with the service.
Those who wish for the pleasures of heaven go to heaven. Those who pray for liberation are blessed with Moksha. This is the Mercy of Sripada.
Durga Sapthasathi concludes with the narration of how Suratha, the king, prayed to Devi for uninterrupted kingship in his next birth and how Samadhi, the Vaisya, prayed for Gnanam, free from the sense of I and Mine. Devi granted the king not only his wishes but made him the next Manu named Savarni. The Vaisya was blessed with the Supreme Knowledge.
Savarniko nama Manur-bhavan bhuvi bhavishyati | (13:23)
Tam prayachchami samsidhyai tava gnanam bhavishyati | (13:25)
Dhavalyam parilalyate Puraripor-angena tungasriya
Kincha syamalimapi komalatare bhatyeva gatre Hare: |
Tattadruk-padaveem mamapi janayed-astoka-sevarasat
Arunyam tava liyate charanayo: karunyamurthe Sive ||
Embodiment of Compassion! Auspicious One! The white colour shines with the splendour of the body of Siva. The black colour similarly shines with the tender beauty of the body of Vishnu. The red colour serves so well at your Feet with enthusiasm with prayer for a similar status and then merges at your feet.
The idea is that the red colour has been serving your Feet in the form of beautiful coatings and finally becomes one with the Feet themselves. Devi's body and Feet are red coloured. Red colour, thus, excels the other two colours - white and black.
Another interpretation could be that since I, the devotee, am holding your Sripada tightly the natural red colour of your Feet disappears i.e. merges, knowing that you are going to grant me the status of Siva or Vishnu.
Devi Bhagavatham narrates the story of an unlettered Brahmin, Satyavratha, by name, who always spoke the truth. Unknowingly, he happened to utter Devi's mystic syllable, Beejakshara Aim on an occasion. Devi made him an unparalleled scholar and poet like Valmiki. Such is Her Grace.
Bijochcharanato Devya vidya prasphutitha-akhila
Valmeekascha yatha purvam tatha sa hyabhavat-kavi: | (3:11:39)
Arunyam tadidam tvadiya-padayor-abhathi tat kechana
Prahus-tunga-nithamba-bharabharana-klantya kilopagatham |
Anye mahishamurdha-peshamilitham rakthadravam manvathe
Manyeham tu natheshu sandram-anurag-odgaramevanayo: ||
Sankari! How does this red colour shine so well in Your Feet? Some say that it is due to the Sripada's difficulty in bearing the heavy weight of your hips. Some others say that when you set your Feet on Mahishasura, his blood stuck on. However, I consider that the red colour is the outpouring of the great love that your Feet have for the devotees who prostrate.
Bhaattatri poetically rejects mundane explanations for the deep red colour of Devi's Feet. He asserts that just as the Chandrakantha stone starts melting at contact with the rays of the moon, Devi's Feet start overflowing with affection on contact with Her devotees.
Sankaracharya says in Soundaryalahari:
Bhayat tratum datum phalamapi cha vanchasamadhikam
Saranye lokanam tava hi charanaveva nipunou | (4)
Refuge of the Worlds! Your Feet alone are experts in protecting your devotees from fear and granting them fruit greater than desired.
Prahu: Padmasamasrayam sathadhrutim tvatpadapadmasrayat
Anthastvatpada-padmavikshanavasat Krishnopi padmekshana: |
Yatpadmarchanam-amananthi sudhiyo daridrya-vidravanam
Muktikshetragathe Bhavani tadapi tvatpada-sammarchanam ||
Bhavani (Devi of Bhava i.e. Siva) residing in Mukthikshetra! The wise call Brahma as 'Padmasraya' i.e. having taken refuge in lotus as He is a devotee of your lotus feet (and not because He is seated on a lotus). Krishna is called 'Padmekshana' i.e. having eyes of lotus, as he is constantly looking with his inner eyes at your lotus Feet ( and not because His eyes look like lotus petal). Worship of Devi for driving away poverty is regarded by the wise as Padmarchanam i.e. praise of Padma as it is indeed worship of your lotus Feet (and not worship of Padma, i.e. Goddess Lakshmi).
Brahma, Vishnu, Lakshmi and all the Gods, who are possessed of powers to bless people, derive this power from their worship of Devi's Feet alone. Sri Narayana Bhattatri again poetically rejects the commonly understood meanings of words and bestows special meaning, linking them to the great powers of Devi's lotus Feet.
In the very first verse of Soundaryalahari, Sankaracharya says:
Tvam aradhyam Harihara Virinchadibhirapi | (1)
You, whom, even Vishnu, Siva and Brahma worship.
It is also interesting to note that through the medium of the three Gods, the three main acclaimed paths of reaching Devi are indicated namely Refuge (Bhakthi), having darshan in mind (Gnanam), Archana (Karma). All these paths lead to the Grace of Sripada.
Padam te sarasiruha-druhamimam yat sevathe Padmabhu:
Nunam tat svanivasa-pankajavara-srilanghanasankaya |
Govindopi cha varirasi-duhitur-vasabja-badhabhiya
Svasyaivagra-karodgruhita-kamala-tranabhilashena va ||
Devi! Brahma, born out of lotus, worships your Feet which are hostile to (i.e.surpass) the lotus flower. Is it due to His apprehension that the splendour of His own lotus seat will be outshone? Does Govinda worship your Sripada because of His fear that the lotus seat of Lakshmi, the daughter of the Ocean, will lose its sheen? Or is it for protecting the beauty of the lotus flower He is holding in His right hand?
Though Devi's Sripadas are capable of hurting the glory of the three above mentioned famed lotuses, they, out of mercy for the devotee, not only refrain from doing so; but bless them with greater brilliance.
Further, it is clear that Devi blesses even those who approach her only for preserving their possessions or for release from worldly difficulties. Lord Krishna calls such people as Aartha (sufferers) in Gita and commends them along with the other devotees including jignasu (one with thirst for knowledge), arthaarthi (one who wishes for possession) and gnani (man of knowledge). (7:16)
Sevanthe kulasampade nakhamaya: sitamsavas-tvatpadam
Tatpako nanu vikshyate hi nitara-manyeshu sitamsushu |
Eko balaka eva moulimayi te yato lalatamatam
Anyo nirmala-ganda-mandaladasa-manyou tu dhanyou gatou ||
Mother! The fingernails of your Sripada are indeed moons and they worship at your Feet for (being blessed for) the glory of their lineage. The fruit of such worship is distinctly seen in the other moons; one child moon decorates Your head; Another moon became Your forehead. Two other fortunate moons became Your ever pure cheeks.
Devi, out of benign compassion for the worshipper, blesses the entire family of his ancestors and descendants. Even a young child of a moon, She put on Her head as an ornament. Such is Her benevolence.
Lalatam lavanya dyuti vimala-mabhati tava yat
Dvitiyam tanmanye makutaghatitham chandrasakalam | (46)
Your shining, ever pure, beautiful forehead-moon appears to be complementary to the crescent, which decorates your head like a crown.
Lalithasahasranamam also says:
Ashtami-chandra vibhraja dalikasthala sobhitha | (5)
Your forehead shines as if it were the moon of the 8th day.
Ghoram pada-sahasrakam prakatayan-nasasu bhasam pathi:
Dhwantham no punarantaram samayithum saknothi Sailatmaje |
Tvatpada-dvithayena komalatarenanena chetha: sprusa
Janthunam bahirantha-randhatamasam krunthas-yanantham Sive ||
Himavan's daughter! The brilliant sun, who spreads his powerful shining rays in thousands in different directions is still unable to remove the internal darkness (ignorance- Avidya) of beings. But with Your very soft (lotus) Feet touching the very base of the mind, you root out the terrible external and internal darkness present in beings.
The external darkness in beings is the tendency to associate the self with the body, mind and intellect, to see the things of the world as other than one's own self and in turn develop attachment to them. The internal darkness is the inability to see Devi's feet as the Self, as the source of all light, knowledge, action and enjoyment. By praying at Devi's Feet the devotee is blessed with Gnana, the Ultimate Knowledge.
In Soundaryalahari, Sankaracharya says:
Avidyanam anthastimira mihira-dwipanagari
Jadanam chaitanya-sthabaka makaranda sruthijhari | (3)
Devi! The dust of Your Sripada is like the rising Sun's city, which drives away the dense, dark inner space of Avidya of the devotees. For the ignorant, it is like the pollen which spreads from the flowers of the Kalpaka tree i.e. Gnana.
Sarvanyeva padani yo mathithavan durvara-souryoshmana |
Tam ghoram mahishasuram nija-padena-ikena sammrudnati
Yatvam pratyakrutas-thatha: kimaparam tvad-vaibhavam brumahe ||
Devi, Mahishasura drove away Surya, Agni, Vayu and all other Devas inhabiting the Swargaloka from their positions by the power of his unbeaten valour. You vanquished such a terrible Asura by using only one Foot of yours and thus avenged his misdeed. More than this, which other glory should we talk about?
The term 'Pada' of Devas means not only their position but also their place, their enjoyments like Kalpaka tree etc and even the cosmic order. All these were taken away and changed beyond recognition by Mahishasura. This verse brings out Devi's eagerness in swiftly getting rid of the enemies of the devotees, the Devas as well as the ease with which She, being omnipotent, carries this out.
In Durga Sapthasathi, Devas in praise of Devi, after the killing of the demon Mahishasura say:
Kenopama bhavatu thesya parakramasya | (4:22)
What can stand comparison with your valour?
Ekam vamatayeiva dakshinatayeiv-anyat padam dehinam
Khyatam Muktipuradhivasini Sive chitram tvayi tvidrusam |
Anamreshu janesh-vabhishta-karane padavubhou dakshina-
vanamre tu kritagasi smarahare Vamakshi vamavubhou ||
Dweller of Mukthipura! Auspicious one! It is well known that everyone has two feet, one right (Dakshina) and the other left (Vama), but in your case it is peculiar.
Beautiful eyed one! When devotees prostrate, both Your Feet become Dakshina, i.e. munificent in fulfilling their desires. But when Siva, the Destroyer of Manmatha, prostrates in order to atone for some feigned offence (of love), both your feet become Vama, i.e. crooked, unwilling to grant His desire.
The poet brings out the abundance of Devi's Grace to Her devotees through beautiful pun in words, vama and dakshina.
In Mookapanchasathi, Mookakavi says:
Asulabha-pradanat dinanam amarataru dourbhagya-jananim | (2:60)
Devi's Feet grant the poor devotees things beyond their imagination and thus defame the heavenly Kalpaka tree.
Anamrasya Puradruha: sirasi the padabjapatha: Sive
Jiyadyena babhuva pankajavathi mouli-sravanthi kshanam |
Kinchodanchita-balapallavavathi jatha jatavallari
Lakshapada-vasena sandhya-sushama-sandra cha chandri kala ||
Devi! When Siva, the annihilator of Tripuras, prostrates at your Feet (due to feigned mistake committed by Him in love), Your Feet hit His head. Long live this sight! The river Ganga in the head of Siva came to be decorated with (red) lotus for a second. The matted locks in His head (which are generally dry) shone with tender sprouts (the fingers of your lotus feet). The crescent moon shone with greater lustre than at dusk against the background of the red lac (of your Feet).
Devi's divine sport is ever beautiful.
Yayo: sandhyam rochi: satatam arunimne spruhayate
Yayos-chandri kanthi: paripathathi drushtva nakha-ruchim | (2:23)
The evening red light always longs for the shine of your red Feet. The lustre of the moon drops away on seeing the splendour of the nails in your Feet.
Drushtva ratrishu chandrapada-janitham pathoruhanam vyatham
Devi tvam karun-akuleva kurushe tadvaira-niryathanam |
Nityam pankajapada-ghata-janitha badha yad-adhiyate ||
Devi! During the nights, the lotus flowers suffer due to the rays of the moon. Out of compassion for lotus, you take revenge on the moon when Siva prostrates (in order to pacify you after a loving quarrel). The moon, which lives in the head of Siva, is made to suffer by the attack of the lotus Feet of yours.
Mookakavi enjoys the grandeur of Devi's feet in Mookapanchasathi:
Tava trastham padat kisalayam aranyantaram agat
Param rekharupam kamalam amumev-asritham abhut |
Jithanam Kamakshi dvitayamapi yuktham paribhave
Videse vasova saranagamanam va nijaripo: (2:85) ||
Kamakshi! The tender sprout (of plants), afraid of your Feet, went away to the forest; lotus flower took refuge in your Feet in the form of Rekha (lines). When the defeated persons feel ashamed, it is but proper that they go out of the country or take refuge with their own enemy.
Sambhrantis-tava Devi sa vijayathe mana-vanamre Sive
Tvat-padamburuha-prahara-mudithe mandam samuththayini |
Laksharaga-rasarunam nipathitham gangapayas-seekaram
Drushtva sonitha-sankaya taralitha kantham yad-alambatha: ||
When Siva prostrates and then slowly gets up, being pleased with the aggression of Your lotus Feet, You notice droplets of the water of Ganga, dropping from His head, red-coloured due to contact with the red lac of your Feet. Confusing these droplets as blood drops, You embrace Your beloved (as an act of apology for over reaction). Long live that confusion.
Devi's anger towards Her devotees does not last long. She is ever full of mercy and compassion, ever ready to forgive man's sins. She only waits for man to lay aside his ego and take refuge at Her Feet.
Sankaracharya says in Devyaparadha Kshamapana Stotram:
Jagadamba vichitram-atra kim paripurna karunasthi chen-mayi
Aparadha-parampar-avrutham na hi Mata samupekshate sutam | (11)
Mother of the worlds! If Your full Grace is on me, what is strange about it? Even if the son has committed series of mistakes, the mother does not neglect him.
Sa pada-dvitayahatir-jayati te yasyam Girindratmaje
Prachin-enduyuthe nakhendu-dasake moulisthali-sangathe |
Abibhrana Ivababhou sa Bhagavan-ekopi Rudra: svayam ||
Daughter of Himavan, the chief of mountains! That strike of your feet (on the head of Siva during His prostration) is indeed beautiful. When the ten moons in the form of nails of Your Feet join the already existing moon on the head of Siva, He shines as if He is in the form of eleven Rudras, each with a moon on His head, though Siva is indeed One (without a second).
The eleven Rudras are Vamadeva, Jyestha, Sreshta, Rudra, Kala, Kalavikarana, Balavikarana, Bala, Balaprmathana, Sarvabhutadamana and Manonmana.
Even Devi's apparent punishment is indeed a blessing for the devotee. This is clear from the stories of all the Asuras vanquished by Devi personally in battles.
In Durga Sapthasathi. Devas say in prayer after the killing of Mahishasura:
Drushtvaiva kim na bhavathi prakarothi bhasma
Sarvasuran-arishu yat prahinoshi sastram |
Lokan prayanthu ripavopi hi sastraputha
Iththam mathir-bhavathi teshvapi tetisadhvi || (236)
Could you not reduce all Your asura enemies to ashes by a mere glance? Then, if You use weapons against them, it is only due to Your very compassionate thought: Though they are enemies, let them reach auspicious worlds, purified by My weapons
Kim Vairinchi-karotikoti-nihatham kim va phanigramani-
Ni:svasa-nila-kheditham tvidamithi premna-bhisallapina |
Manasy-opasame karena sanakai-ramrudnatha Sambhuna
Bhuyas-chumbitham-ambuja-dyuti padam dhyayami Maye tava ||
Mahamaye! When Siva (after prostration) on your being pacified, starts loving conversation, he lifts Your shining lotus feet and kisses them again and again and asks: Are your feet hurt due to the (sharp) corners of the skull of Brahma, or due to the (poisonous) breath of the serpent king Sesha? I meditate upon these Feet of Yours.
Once, when Siva took the form of a great column of Light, Brahma became a swan and flew in search of the top of that column. Unable to reach the top, Brahma returned and lied to Siva that He had indeed seen the top. Upon this, Siva plucked one of the five heads of Brahma and on Brahma's prayers, wore his skull on His head. Siva is also wearing the serpent Adi Sesha on His head. This verse refers to these two adornments on Siva's head.
Devi is ready to forgive Her devotee's evil propensities, if he repents for them and craves for Her Grace. Siva shows the way for the devotees.
The Lord says in the Gita:
Karsayantha: sarirastham bhutagramam achetasa:
Mamchaiva-ntha:sarirastham tan-vidh-yasura-nischayan | (17:6)
Senselessly torturing all the elements in the body and Me also who dwell within the body - know them to be of Asuric resolves.
If the devotee regrets having tortured the indwelling Devi and repents for his misdeeds, Devi forgives him at once. In Devi Bhagavatham, on an occasion when Vishnu happened to lose His head and prior to a horse's head being attached instead and His becoming Hayagriva by Devi's grace, the Vedas praised Devi:
Hare: kim va Matar-duritatati-resha balavathi
Bhavatya: padabje bhajana-nipune kvasthi duritam | (1:5:62)
Mother! If it be due to some strong sin committed by Hari, it is not possible. In one who constantly worships at Your lotus Feet, how can there be any sin?
Purvam Jahnu-suta sakrun-Muraripo: Sripada-sankshalanat
Punya-didrusa-vaibhava samabhavad Govinda-vandye Sive |
Seyam samprati Sambhu-mouli-nilaya mana-prasanganatou
Nityam tvachcharana-vasechana-bhuva punyena kidrug-bhavet ||
Devi, worshipped by Govinda! Once, when Ganga washed Vishnu's foot, her splendour increased due to this merit. Now, when Siva prostrates daily at Your Feet in order to pacify you, Ganga being in the head of Siva, washes Your Feet and due to this merit, what greater splendour is she going to obtain?
During Trivikrama Avatara, when Vishnu raised His foot upwards, Brahma washed His foot with the waters of his Kamandalu and that water became Ganga. Due to this merit, Ganga came to adorn the head of Siva.
Now, Devi is worshipped by even Vishnu. Ganga, from the vantage position of Siva's head, happens to wash the Feet of Devi while Siva prostrates. Due to this unparalleled added merit, Ganga is further blessed. In Kasi Khandam in Skanda Puranam, Ganga Mahatmyam is described in detail, wherein it is stated:
Srutha-bhilashitha drushta sprushta pita avagahitha
Pumsam vamsadvayam Ganga taraye-nnatra samsaya: |
Heard, loved, seen, touched, drunk and bathed in, Ganga saves both lineages of men (i.e. father's and mother's lineages). There is no doubt in this.
Purvam vyakarana-prapanchana-vidhou labdhva-pyanekam padam
Kim no trupti-magad-agadhipasuthe Sesha: phanigramani:|
Alina: Sasimouli-murdhani chiram prema-prakopanatou
Labdhum te pada-mekameva kutuki nityam yato vartate ||
Daughter of Himavan! In earlier times, Sesha, the serpent king wrote a commentary on Sanskrit grammar (in the form of Patanjali) and developed many 'words' (pada). Was he not satisfied? Now, seated on Siva's head, he looks forward eagerly to attain Your 'Feet' (Pada), one without a second, at the time when Siva prostrates to rid you of your loving anger.
Here, the poet Narayana Bhattatri employs pun in the word 'Pada' meaning word as well as foot.
The import of the verse is that all knowledge of Vedas, Sastras etc. is only a means of developing devotion to Devi's Feet.
Mahabhashya-vyakhya-patusayanam aropayati va
Smara-vyapara-irshya-pisuna nitilam karayati va |
Dvirephana-madhyasayathi satatam vadhi-vasathim
Pranamran Kamakshya: pada-nalina-mahatmya-garima || (2:64)
The greatness of the lotus Feet of Kamakshi is so much that it will make the devotee sit on the bed of Sesha, who is the expert commentator of Sanskrit grammar (in the form of Patanjali). Or, it will make him the one who stared with anger with His third eye on Manmatha. Or, it will make him live for ever on the lotus seat which attracts bees.
Devi's Feet will grant the devotee the status of Vishnu, Siva or Brahma. In other words, the Trinity derive their abilities of sustenance, destruction and creation only from their devotion to Devi's Sripada.
Tishthantyam pranaya-prakopa-vasato bashp-akul-akshyam tvayi
Srikanthe nakha-darpana-pratiphaladrupe purovarthini |
Padagre pati-toyam-ityabhihite sakhya tav-alokanam
Lolam padatale vibhati sahasa sakopa-mali-mukhe ||
Bhagavathi! When You are sitting angry after some loving sporty quarrel with eyes full of tears, the reflection of Siva (Srikantha, i.e. one with throat blue with poison) who is sitting opposite, is seen in the mirror of Your Foot-nails. At this point, Your friend says that Siva is prostrating at Your Feet. At once, You anxiously look at Your Feet and notice that Siva is indeed not prostrating. You then look with anger at Your friend (who has told a lie) and Your look is ever glowing.
Siva's white face with contrasting bluish throat is seen clearly in the mirror- like nails of Devi's Sripada. She was anxious and then She became happy on being informed that Siva is prostrating and is craving Her forgiveness. But when the friend's information turns out to be untrue, Devi turns Her anger on her.
Devi's every mood, every action is all for the welfare of the world. She wears endless emotions through the innumerable jivas.
In Durga Sapthasathi, Devas say in prayer after the killing of Nisumbha and Sumbha.
Etat krutam yat-kadanam tvayadya
Dhrma-dvisham Devi mahasuranam |
Krutv-Ambike tat prakaroti ka-nya || (605)
The destruction of the powerful Asuras, the enemies of Dharma, which You have done today; the many forms which You took for this purpose - who else can do it?
Kantha-lokana-lajjaya vinamithe kanthe mukhambhoruhe
Yasou bhutala-patuka nayanayo: sobha tava-bhasathe |
Sa tavat tarun-arun-ambuja-yuga-bhrantya tava-nghri-dvaya-
Prante bhathi maranda-pana-kutuka-bhranteva bhrungavali: ||
Devi! When Siva is looking at You, You feel bashful and look down. At that time from Your lotus face, the radiance of Your eyes falls to the ground and shines. That radiance, on seeing Your two Feet, gets confused that these are freshly blossomed red lotus flowers and becomes ecstatic, as if it were bees, on the prospect of drinking the nectar from the flowers.
Devi's eyes are like honey bees. When Her face, the lotus, shows bashfulness, the bees happen to see another two full blown red lotuses (the Feet) and become happy that they now have another source of fresh nectar. Thus, Devi's face as well as Sripada are figuratively shown as lotuses.
Sankaracharya says in Soundaryalahari:
Dadane dinebhya: sriyam-anisam asanu-sadrusim
Amandam soundarya-prakara makarandam vikirathi |
Tavasmin mandarastabaka Subhage yatu charane
Nimajjan majjiva: karana-charana: shat-charanatham || (90)
Your Sripadas always grant the poor devotees wealth according to their desires; they spread a lot of beauty via pollen; they are auspicious as the bowers of the Kalpaka tree. May my soul become honey bee with six legs (i.e. mind and the five sense organs) immersed in your Sripadas.
Kim bruma: kutilatmakopi kabari-bharas-tvadiya: Sive
Keli-vislathithas-tanothi yadayam tvat-pada-sammarsanam |
Dhatthe chitramasou tvadanghri-bhajanat kim kena no labhyate ||
Bhavani! Your dense hair, though crooked, when untied during sport, touches Your Sripada. Later, on your head, the same hair is decorated with flowers (or is adored by Devas). What shall we say? This is strange. By worshipping at your Feet, is there an object not attained by anyone?
The hair, owing to the good fortune of touching Devi's Sripadas, becomes worthy of worship even by Devas, though by nature, it is crooked. In the same way, though a devotee may be crooked, by worshipping at Devi's Sripadas, he becomes worthy of worship by others. In this verse the word 'sumanas' refers to flowers as well as Devas.
Durga Sapthasathi says:
Tvam-asrithanam na vipan-naranam
tvam-asritha hyasrayatham prayanthi | (604)
Those who have taken refuge in You do not face any more dangers; on the other hand they themselves become the refuge of others.
Raga-dvesha-mukha hi vibhrama-bhara nasyanti Visvesvari
Tvat-sangadithi Muktidesanilaye mithya janai: kathyathe |
Udya-dvesham-udara-vibhrama-dharam gatram dadhatya tvaya
Ragopi dhriyathe-dhikam charanayo: sonambuja-chchayayo: ||
Dweller of Mukthidesa! Easwari of the Universe! It is falsely said by people that delusions (Vibhrama) such as likes (Raga) and dislikes (Dvesha) are destroyed by associating with You. This is false because Your very appearance is deluding (Vibhramadhara). Your beautiful person bears hatred (Dvesha) towards Your Feet (because of the greater beauty of the Holy Feet). Also, Your Feet, like red lotus, shine with the red lac (Raga).
Raga and Dvesha are the dualities at the root of man's ignorance (Avidya). Devi's Grace destroys all the dualities and showers the Supreme Bliss of Advaita. The poet uses the form of Ninda Stuti, i.e. praise with apparent criticism to beautifully express Devi's benevolence. The pun is on the word 'Raga', meaning attachment as well as red colour.
Mookapanchasathi thinks in a similar vein:
Saraga: sadvesha: prasrumara-saroje prati-dinam
Kathankaram Mata: kathaya padapadmas-tava satham
Nathanam Kamakshi prakatayati kaivalya-saranim. || (16)
Mother Kamakshi! Your lotus Foot always has Raga, ie. is decorated in red; possesses Dvesha, ie. hatred towards lotus in full bloom (presumably due to beauty); aggressively occupies by nature the heads of the enlightened. How is it then that Your Foot shows the way to Kaivalyam, ie. merger in the One Supreme, to those who prostrate?
Sri Mookakavi wonders how one who possesses all three basic vices of attachment, hatred and violence could guide others in the path of Gnana.
Devi tvatpada-satparagam-anisam moulou samabibhratam
Sadhunam-aparagataiva bhavatity-ascharyam-astham-idam |
Padas-te nakhara-prabha-balasitho jagarthi soyam punas-
Chitram nama khara-prabha-valasitho dusht-asuram pishtavan ||
Devi! For the virtuous devotees, who bear the dust (Paraga) of your Sripada on their heads, detachment (Aparagata) develops. This is surprising. Again, your Feet shine owing to the white lustre cast by the nails. The same Feet, sharply shining red (with anger), massacred the wicked (Mahisha) Asura.
Narayana Bhattatri employs expressions, which give different meanings. The word 'Paraga' means pollen of the flower i.e. dust; 'Aparagata' points to absence of Raga i.e. detachment. Similarly, 'Nakhara-prabha-balasitho' indicates Feet shining white and the radiance of the nails; 'Khara-prabha-valasitho' refers to Feet shining red with intolerable anger.
Devi's Feet protect the good and punish the wicked at once.
In Devi Bhagavatham, Vishnu tells Devas:
Lalane tadane matu: na-karunyam yatha arbhake
Tadvadeva Jaganmatu: niyantra guna-doshayo: |
When a mother fondles or beats her child, her tenderness remains the same. In the same way, the Divine Mother disciplines the good and bad aspects (in Her children).
Dvitvena-sthithayos-tvadiya-padayor-dvaitam narasya sphutam
Kaivalya-pratipadane kusalata jatheti koyam krama: |
Kim va yuktibhir-atra mukthikarata vyaktaiva te padayor-
Muktha eva hi vishphuranthi vimalas-tat-sanginomi nakha: ||
Bhagavathi! The duality (Dvaita) of Your two Feet is quite clear to all men. How is it proper that the same Feet are masters in bringing the Non-dual State (Advaita) to light? But why these arguments? The ability of Your Feet to confer Mukthi (liberation) is explicit. The nails, being white and spotless, shine like pearls (muktas) by association with Your Feet.
How is it the Feet, being two, still lead the devotee to the state of the highest unitary state? But, looking at Your Foot-nails, this is hardly surprising. By simple association with Your Divine Feet, the nails shine like liberated souls, mukthas (or pearls). The poet employs pun on the word, Muktha i.e. pearls and liberated souls.
Lalitha Sahasranamam says:
Nakha-didhiti sanchanna-namajjana tamoguna |
Pada-dvaya prabhajala parakrutha saroruha || (19)
Devi! You remove the great enveloping inner darkness of Your devotee, prostrating at Your Feet, with the shining splendour of your nails.
Padagram tava kamadam suralatha-sakhagram-achakshmahe
Jatha yatra hi bala-pallava-ruchi: svaireva rag-odayai: |
Sanjathali-ruthischa manjulatarair-manjira-sinjaravai: ||
Sivani! We consider Your Sripada as the wish - fulfilling Kalpaka creeper's branch. The red colour seen in tender shoots is naturally present in Your Feet. The brilliant row of nails is like flowers. The drawl of the honey bees is also observed in the sonorous jingling of the anklets.
Devi's Sripada is verily like the Kalpaka tree's tender branch in appearance as well as in characteristics. Sripada fulfils devotee's all wishes. Sripada's resemblance to the tender creeper is enhanced by the nails appearing as flowers and by the anklets sounding like honey bees.
Tarunam divyanam hasatha iva te Chandi charanou
Phalani svasthebhya: kisalaya-karagrena dadatham |
Daridrebhyo bhadram sriyam anisam ahnaya dadathou || (89)
Chandi! Your Sripadas quickly give away auspicious wealth to the poor devotees, just as the Kalpaka tree gives fruits to the dwellers of the heaven with their tender shoots as hands.
Deviyam tava sannatesa-makuta-svarloka-kallolini-
Kallolahathibhir-visesha-vimala jiyan-nakha-srenika |
Mina: phena-kanascha mouktika-gana: sankhascha sankamahe ||
Devi! when Siva prostrates at Your Sripada (during quarrels of love), the row of Your fingernails shine specially white, because of the beating of the waves of Ganga, residing at Siva's head. Long live the row of nails! We suspect that the fishes, the froth bubbles, the pearl groups, the shells are all performing penance in the waters (of the Ganga) in the fond hope of attaining the shining whiteness of Your fingernails (by contact).
Sastras say that company makes a man and emphasise the primacy of good company. The beings in the Ganga waters long for the noble association of Devi's finger - nails in order to attain radiance, which in fact stands for Gnana.
Durga Sahasranamam says:
Padanguli-prabhajala parajitha Divakara | (44)
Durga, whose fingernails in the Feet spread their radiance far and wide, routing the Sun.
Mane Sambhu-sira: prahara-charitham naiva tvad-icha-krutham
Jane Devi padabjayostu Purajin-murdhna virodhad-idam |
Ethe pada-nakhmsu-baddha-kalaha: Sitamsu-Mandakini-
Bhogindra: kila Sankarasya sirasa sankam vina rakshita: ||
Devi! We think that the attack of Your Feet on the head of Siva (during prostration) at the time of quarrel of love is not as per Your wish. It is due to the hostility of Your lotus Feet with the head of Siva, the vanquisher of the three cities. The reason is: The Moon, The Ganga and the serpent Sesha, who bear ill-will with the rays of the nails of Your Feet (having been routed in brilliance), are protected without doubt at the head of Siva.
The Moon, the Ganga and Sesha could not stand competition with the brilliant rays emanating from Devi's finger - nails in the Feet and, having been defeated, they were driven away by the rays. They were offered refuge by the ever-compassionate Siva on His head. Your Sripadas, taking the opportunity of Siva's prostration, launch an attack, even against Your own wishes, on the three enemies who had been defeated, but protected at Siva's head.
In Anandalahari, Sankaracharya says:
Tvadiyam soundaryam niratisayam-alokya paraya
Bhiyaiv-asid-Ganga jalamaya-tanu: Sailatanaye |
Tadetasyas-tasmad-vadana-kamalam vikshya kripaya
Pratishtham-atanvan-nijasirasi-vasena Girisa: ||
Daughter of Himavan! On seeing Your unparalleled beauty, Ganga was afflicted with great fear and took the form of water. Siva, on noticing Ganga's lotus face, put her on His head with compassion and bestowed fame on her.
Devi tvach-charanojvalan-nakhamani-srenishu lino naman-
Abhati sphatikachala-sphutatati-sayiva soyam Nata: |
Hamsalina-vapu: svayam Kamalabhu: Kshirabdhi-sayiva cha
Sribhartha Maghavapi nakasarasi snayanniv-alakshyate ||
Devi! Nataraja (Siva) prostrating at Your Feet, merges in the brilliance of the fingernails and shines as if reclining on the white radiant Kailasa mountain. Similarly, Brahma shines as if sitting on his carrier, Hamsa; Vishnu, the consort of Lakshmi, shines as if reclining on the milk ocean; Indra shines as if bathing in the Manasarovar lake in Swargaloka.
In Devi Bhagavatham, Siva praises Devi:
Na cha vidanti vadanti cha yenyatha
Hariharaja-krutam nikhilam jagat |
Tava krutas-traya eva sadaiva te
Virachayanti jagat sacharacharam || (3:5:4)
Those who say that Hari, Hara and Brahma have created all worlds, do not know the truth. The three Gods themselves have been created by You and they create the worlds with moving and stationary objects (due to Your granting them the necessary abilities.)
Dolakeli-vidhou Himachala-siladese samabhyahatat
Padagrat-tavayani yavaka-rasa-prasyandanan-yambike |
bindukshepa-nibhani nanda-damari-vandyani vandamahe ||
Ambike! When you play on the swing in the Himalayas, Your Sripadas touch the rugged rocks of the mountains. Red lac particles from Your Feet drop on the rocks. The women from the heavens worship these red particles, because these are the brief forerunner of the heavy flood of blood of Sumbha, the demon on the battlefield. We worship this red dust.
In Keelaka Stotram of Durga Sapthasathi, we find:
Soubhagyadi cha yatkinchit drusyate lalanajane |
Tatsarvam tatprasadena tena japyam idam subham || (12)
Good fortune etc. found in women is all due to the Grace of Devi; hence this blessed Stotra should be chanted.
Dolakelishu yam Himalayasila-lagnam vanevasino
Bhaktya yogivaras-tripundra-kalite limpanti phalantare |
Yam siddha-pramadah sametya tilakam kurvanthi natva muhus-
Tam Dakshayani te kada nu padayo-riksheya laksharasam ||
Dakshaputri! During your play on the swing, the red lac of your feet gets deposited on the rocks of the Himalayas. The great Yogis living in forest apply, with devotion, this red lac on their forehead, already adorned with three lines of Vibhuti. The wives of Siddhas prostrate and apply the red lac (from the rocks) on their foreheads as Tilaka. When will I see the red lac on Your Feet?
Skanda Purana (Manasa Khanda) says in Devi Bhagavata Mahatmya:
Yat padapankaja-rajah samavapya viswam
Brahma srujat-yanudinam cha bibharti Vishnuh |
Rudrascha samharati netarathas-samarthah
Tasyai namostu satatam Jagadambikayai || (100)
By wearing the holy dust of the lotus feet of Devi, Brahma creates the worlds; Vishnu always protects; Rudra destroys. Otherwise, they are not capable. Salutations ever to that Jagadambika.
Devi tvam Muravairinah pranamane yatkinchi-dakunchaya
Sripadambuja-manyathasya sirasi tvat-pada-lakshanchite |
Rosha-vyakulayo-schiram sa Bhagavan jayeta paryakulah ||
When Vishnu, the slayer of Mura, prostrates, kindly contract Your holy lotus Feet as much as possible. If not, the red lac from your Feet may stick to His head. This will lead to each of His two Devis, Sridevi and Bhudevi, suspecting that He has fallen at the feet of the other Devi. As a result, He will suffer long due to His Devis' anger and perturbation.
Sri Narayana Bhattatri employs subtle humour this time to bring out Devi's readiness to help in averting the devotee's difficulties and to bless him with the fulfilment of all his desires.
Devi Herself assures Her devotees in Durga Sapthasathi:
Sarat-kale mahapuja kriyate ya cha varshiki |
Tasyam mamaitan-mahatmyam srutva bhakti-samanvitah ||
Sarva-badha vinirmuktho dhana-dhanya-sutanvitah |
Manushyo mat-prasadena bhavishyati na samsayah || (642-643)
In the annual Sharad Navaratri Mahapooja, one who listens to this Mahatmyam of Mine with devotion, gets rid of all obstacles and obtains wealth, food and children due to My Grace; there is no doubt.
Prah-udvaha-vidhou himachala-sadasy-asm-adhirohaya yan-
Na sprakshyami viyaddhuni-miti punah satyam vidhatum cha yat |
Daity-opeshana sahase virachite samvahanartham cha yat
Tat-pada-grahana-trayam vijayate sarvena sarvani te ||
Sivani! In the past, in the Himalayas' Hall, during marriage ceremony, Siva caught your Feet during 'Asmarohanam' i.e. mounting on the stone. Again, He solemnly promised never to touch the Akasa Ganga (the woman in His head), by catching Your Feet. Later He lifted Your Feet on Your extermination of Mahishasura (in order to give Your Feet rest). These three occasions when Siva caught Your Feet are victorious.
The 'Asmarohona Mantra' during marriage says:
Aathishth-ema-masmana-masmeva tvagum sthira bhava |
Abhithishtha prutanyatah sahasva prutanayatah ||
Mount this stone! Like this stone, you be firm. Face your enemies. Tolerate your enemies. This is an exhortation of the newly wed husband to his wife to remain steadfast to values in married life. When faced with difficulties, one should face them boldly without leaving the path of Dharma, and in the process bear misery with fortitude.
Katham va bahubhyam upayamana-kale Purabhida
Yadadaya nyastam drushadi dayamanena manasa || (88)
How were Your Feet (which are so tender), lifted and put on a hard stone at the hands of the kind-hearted Siva, the destroyer of three cities, during the time of marriage?
Sumbhaste kila Devi raga-kalahe pada-prahar-otsavam
Labdhum kankshitavan-upayam-iha khal-vagno na vignatavan |
Yadyayotsyati ghora-mahisha-vapur-dhari sa vairi tatah
Pradhanishyatha murdhni komalarucha padaravindena te ||
Devi! The demon Sumbha, during his fight, on account of his love for You, aspired for attack by Your divine Feet; but he did not know the means therefor. If he had fought with you with a hostile attitude, like the terrible Mahishasura did, he would also have been hit on his head by Your tender and brilliant lotus Feet.
Sumbha got attracted to your person and wanted to get You. Instead, if he had been hostile to you, he would have been blessed with Your Feet as Mahishasura was.
In Adhyatma Ramayana, Ravana is depicted as Rama's devotee, having planned to reach Him through the path of hostility. Ravana says right at the beginning on hearing the account of Surpanakha:
Virodha-budhyaiva Harim prayami
drutam na bhaktya Bhagavan prasidet || (3:5:61)
I shall attain Hari with the attitude of an opponent as the Lord cannot be propitiated so soon through devotion.
Aanamre Girise pada-praharane datte bhavatya rusha
Nathe kim mahish-oham-ityabhihite devena tasmin kshane |
Tan-moulou jayati dvitiyamapi te padabja-santadanam ||
Devi! When Girisa (Siva) prostrates, You attack Him with Your Feet with anger. Siva then asks, Master! Am I Mahisha? Your attendants smile piteously. With rising anger, You again attack Siva on His Head with Your lotus Feet for a second time. Long live that attack.
Siva's question has two interpretations. One is, Am I Mahishasura for you to attack me like this? The other is What is this? I am Mahisha, meaning If you are my Mahishi i.e. queen, I am Your Mahisha, i.e. king. When the girls in attendance on Devi smile, they feel sorry for Siva that Devi is still not pacified. This leads Devi to think that the girls consider Her as devoid of compassion and makes Her even more angry. This is the Rasa in this verse. For a devotee, Devi's anger is immaterial. What matters is his proximity and devotion to Devi's Sripada. Devi's anger cannot last long. Devi is kshanardha-manyavi i.e angry for a split second only.
Sankaracharya says in Anandalahari:
Krupapang-alokam vitara tarasa sadhucharite
Na te yukt-opeksha mayi sarana-diksha -mupagate || (10)
Devi of noble history! You cast Your merciful glance on me quickly. I have vowed to take refuge in You. It is not proper that You neglect me
Padagram tava sangara-srama-vasa-dakshari-laksha-rasam
Vinyastam mruga-nayak-opari chiraj-jiyad-agendratmaje |
Yat-kantyaiva hi lohito mrugapatir-daitya-prahar-odgalad-
Raktambhah kanika vahannapi tatha namani vaimanikaih ||
Daughter of Himalayas! Being a little tired during the battle, when You sit on the lion, the king of animals, the red lac coating on Your Feet gets stuck to the lion. Long live Your Feet! Because of the lustre of Your Sripada's red lac, the lion shines in red (all over the body). But, when the same lion carries blood drops during its fight with demons, it is not specially respected by the Sidhas, who travel in the sky in Vimanas.
When the lion carries You, it shines by association and is worshipped even by Devas. But, when the same lion is soaked in blood during its fighting with the demons, it is not worshipped.
Devi Bhagavatham says:
Na Vishnur-na Haras-sakro na Brahma na cha Pavakah |
Na Suryo Varunas-saktah sve sve karye kathanchana ||
Taya yukta hi kurvanti svani karyani te surah | (1:8:38-39)
Neither Vishnu nor Siva nor Indra nor Brahma nor Agni nor Surya nor Varuna are ever capable of performing their duties (on their own). These Devatas carry out their duties because of association with Shakti. It is clear that only with the grace and power of Devi, it is possible to do or achieve anything.
Naiva-limpa nilimpa-murdhasu na va simhopari tyajyatam
Ma chedam mahishasya murdhni rabhasad-alupya lolupyatam |
Patyr-mouli-nadi-jale param-idam sankshalaniyam tvayet-
Aalikeli-giro jayanti Girije tvat-pada-laksh-arpane ||
Daughter of Himalayas! When Your attendants apply the red coating on Your Feet, they say nicely in humour: Don't allow the red coating to be deposited on the heads of Devas (when they prostrate); nor on Your mount, the lion; nor on the head of Mahishasura when You kick him with Your Feet. This most sacred coating is to be washed away only in the waters of the river on Your husband's Head.
All actions of Devi are intended only for the welfare of all Jivas. If Devi's Feet are washed in Ganga, thus rendering the already sacred river ever more holy, it will only help in the quick removal of the sins of those who take bath in the river. By allowing the red lac coating on the Feet to be deposited on the heads of Devas or on the mount lion or on Mahishasura, the cause of universal welfare will not be advanced.
Durga Sahasranamastotram says:
Prapad-atmaka sastrougha vilasad-dharma-pustaka | (43)
Devi's Feet shine like the book of Dharma with instructions gushing forth.
Natvaiva prathamam tvadanghri-kamalam tou pushpavanta-ubhou
Trailokyam mahas-abhibhuya charato vyom-antara-prantare |
Nathe thou katham-anyatha prigalal-laksharasa-kshalitou
Vikshyete bhrusa-sona-bimbam-uday-arambhe priyam-bhavukou ||
Jagadiswari! Surya and Chandra first prostrate at Your lotus Feet and then they travel across the vast skies, casting their brilliant light in all the three worlds. If not, how is it that they shine with such a deep red colour at the time of rising, being drenched, as it were, in the red lac coating pouring out of Your Feet; they look so attractive.
The brilliant red colour at the time of rising of the Sun and the Moon itself establishes that they prostrate at Your Feet every day at the beginning and thus partake of the red lac coating of Your Sripada.
Sri Mooka Panchasathi says:
Vikasa-vyasango viphalita-jagaj-jadya-garima |
Manah purvadrim me tilakayatu Kamakshi tarasa
Tamas-kanda-drohi tava charana-pathoja-ramanah || (2:17)
Kamakshi! Surya, who revels in the lotus Feet of Yours, shines with the brilliance of the red rose; is keen on the blossoming of the lotus of Supreme Knowledge; renders the dark ignorance of the worlds ineffective. Let that Surya, who dispels the darkness, shine, like the Tilaka on the forehead, in the eastern mountain of my mind.
Trai-lokyam vasayanthi papa-patalim-uchchatayant-yuchchakair-
Vidvesham janayanty-adharma-vishaye prasthambhayanty-apadam |
Akarshanty-abhivanchitani mahisha-svar-varino maranas-
Chitram tvat-pada-sidha-churna-nivahah shat-karmanam sadhakah ||
Devi! It is wonderful that Your devotees, who carry the dust of Your Holy Feet on their heads, succeed in six different activities simultaneously. (As per the ancient system of use of mantras, one performs six different rituals with six different powders in order to achieve six objectives. Here the devotee finds that without those rituals or powders, success in the six fields comes to him effortlessly.) Firstly Vasyam i.e. bringing under one's spell (like one's beloved); Your devotees have all the three worlds under their spell. Second, Uchatanam, i.e. driving away (usually evil spirits); The devotees drive away their entire pile of sins (accumulated over endless births). Third, Vidveshanam, i.e. sowing hatred (usually for selfish ulterior motives); The devotee develops a hatred towards matters Adharmic. Fourth, Sthambhanam, i.e. making immobile at a distance; no danger is capable of going even near the devotees. Fifth, Akarshanam, i.e. attracting; The devotees attract towards themselves all their (objects of) wishes. Sixth, Maranam, i.e. extermination (usually of one's enemies); Enemies of the devotees (like kama, krodha etc.) are rooted out like Mahishasura, the enemy of the Gods.
Use of such rituals with mantras (mantrikam) is more prevalent in Kerala. Bhattatri resorts here to a telling example drawn from local practice of rituals in order to explain Devi's boundless Grace. The way the six aspects of Devi's mercy are interpreted is full of piety born out of total surrender.
Witness a similar verse in Sri Mooka Panchasati again:
Tvadiyah Kamakshi Smarahara-mano-mohana-japah
Patiyan-nah payat-pada-nalina-manjira-ninadah || (2:54)
Kamakshi! The enchanting sound of the anklets of Your Lotus Feet is a chant which constantly attracts (Akarshanam) wealth towards Your worshippers; paralyses (Sthambhanam) the growth of the mighty samsara; stupefies (Mohanam i.e. Vasyam) the mind of Siva, the destroyer of Manmatha. May that sound protect us.
Kim kalpa-druma-panchakam panamatam-akankshit-apadane
Kim panchayudha-bana-panchakam-idam Marari-sammohane |
Sukshmam kinchana panchabhuta-vapusho viswasya kim karanam
Tvat-pad-anguli-panchak-atmakam-idam kim bhati Sambhoh Priye ||
Siva's love! How, the five fingers of Your Sripada shine! (They appear five but are one at the base). Are they five Kalpa trees in fulfilling the wishes of those who prostrate. In fascinating the enemy of Manmatha, i.e. Siva, are they the five arrows (made of flowers held by Manmatha). Or are they the five subtle causes of the Universe, made up of the five great elements.
The all encompassing power of Sripada is beautifully bought out in this verse. The five Kalpa trees in the Heaven are: Mandara, Parijata, Santhana, Kalpa, Harichandana. The five arrows made of flowers in Manmatha's quiver are: Lotus, Asoka, Mango, Jasmine, Blue lily. The five great elements constituting the universe are: Akasa, Vayu, Agni, Aapa and Prithvi with their subtle Tanmatras being Sabda, Sparsa, Rupa, Rasa and Gandha.
Sri Lalitha Trisathi says:
Sarvatmika sarva-soukhya-datri sarva-vimohini | (25)
Devi is the in dwelling spirit in everyone; the giver of all happiness; also the great stupefier.
Dola-kelishu dura-dura-gamane prenkhengana-vibhrame
Medinyam-anipatitam jayati te Nathe pad-ambhoruham |
Bhaktya sannamatam tvad-anana-galad-gan-amruta-murchaya
Bhu-prushthe chira-sayinam divishadam-aghattana-sadhvasat ||
Bhagavathi! When You play on the swing and move far and near as the swing moves back and forth, You do not strike the ground with Your lotus Feet. (When the swing has picked up speed, it is not necessary to strike the ground with the feet). This is because You are afraid of hitting with Your Feet, the Devas who prostrate with devotion and are lying on the ground for long, being in a trance from over- drinking the nectar of music flowing from Your Mouth.
Medinyam-anipatitam means not striking the ground with the feet in order to avoid hitting the Devas lying on the ground. If we take the version Medinyam vinipatitam, it would mean striking the ground with the Feet, in order to keep the Devas on the ground conscious to some extent, with Foot sound so that the Devas do not roll down the slopes of the hills and get hurt. The poem is rendered doubly beautiful with this dual interpretation. Devi's special compassion towards the devotees is once again extolled.
Vipanchya gayanti vividham-apadanam Pasupatheh
Tvay-arabdhe vaktum chalita-sirasa sadhu-vachane |
Nijam vinam Vani nichulayati cholena nibhrutam || (66)
Devi! Saraswathi plays on the Veena the many lilas of Siva and You nod Your Head. As you begin to speak in appreciation, Saraswathi finds that Her Veena's music has been defeated by the sweetness of Your Voice and wraps up Her Veena.
Swachcha-chaya-nakh-amsu-sanchaya-mayi Ganga cha sangamuka |
Sonah pada-rucham chayascha militho yatra tvad-agre tato
Majjantiva patanti tatra munayah sarvepi Sarvangane ||
Consort of Siva! The bewitching blue shine emanating from the anklets of Your Sripadas takes the form of Yamuna. Mixing with that shine, Your white fingernails spread crystal-like brilliance, which becomes the pure Ganga. The red coloured radiance of Your Feet is the Sona river merging with the other two rivers. All sages prostrate at Your feet, as if bathing in this Triveni.
An ancient verse says:
Kshetram-eva jagat-sreshtham tato-kshayya-vat-anvitam |
Kalindam Gangaya Vanya trivenya khalu sangatam ||
Prayag Kshetra is indeed the holiest in the world, where along with the ancient banyan tree, the three rivers Yamuna, Ganga and Saraswathi meet.
Rajad-renu-vibhushitam paramahams-alibhir-asevitam |
Vishvak-sobhi-nakhamsu-jala-payasi svachche samuchchobhate ||
Devi! The radiance from the emeralds in your anklets is like bees. Your Sripadas are decorated with powders of different hues. They are worshipped by Paramahamsas in rows. The fingers are like tender creepers spreading their shine everywhere. The expansive white brilliance of the fingernails is like a shining tank, in the waters of which Your Sripadas shine very much.
The emeralds in the anklets are the bees; the decorative powders in the Sripadas are the pollen, the rows of Paramahamsas are the swans; the fingers are the creepers; the fingernails create an atmosphere of shining tank; Sripadas are the lotus flowers in this tank. Such is the height of devotion and imagination of the poet.
Kiran-jyotsna-ritim nakhamukha-rucha hamsa-manasam
Vitanvanah pritim vikacha-tarun-ambhoruha-ruchih |
Prakasas-sripadas-tava Janani Kamakshi tanute
Sarat-kala-proudhim sasi-sakala-chuda-priyatame || (2:47)
Kamakshi! Mother! Love of Siva, whose head is adorned with Moon!. Your Sripadas spread moonlight in the minds of Hamsas, i.e. Sanyasins, from the radiance of the finger nails; They spread happiness with the splendour of the freshly blossomed lotus; Your Sripadas spread light and are beautiful like the autumn.
Chaya-rupa-tamolave nakha-mishad-akshina-taragane |
Pratyush-opagame hi Devi labhate lokah prabodh-odayam ||
Devi! When the early morning i.e. Your Sripada's front arrives, the world wakes up. The anklets of Sripadas sound melodiously like the cock. The blue sapphire gems in the anklets cast the dim light of the early morning. The nails in the Sripadas shine like the bright stars. The red colour of Sripada shines supremely (in the middle of all these) like the red rising Sun.
The poet's comparison of the early morning sunrise with Sripada conveys that with Sripada's arrival in the human mind the ignorance vanishes as quickly as darkness on sunrise. The word Prabodhodayam denotes attainment of the Supreme Gnana as well as sunrise.
Sankaracharya says in Lalita Panchakam:
bhakt-eshta-dana-niratam bhava-sindhu-potam |
I prostrate at the lotus Feet of Lalita in the morning, the Feet who are keen on granting the desires of the devotees; who are the boat to cross the ocean of birth and death; who are worshipped by Devas including Brahma; who bear the symbols of lotus, goad, flag and chakra.
Vidya-Mukti-Rama-vadhushu nitaram kamatura manavas-
Taptas-tvan-nakha-kanti-chandana-rasair-alipya gatram nijam |
Tvat-padabja-ruchi-pravala-nichite bhumitale serate
Nityam Devi bhavat-kripa-priyasakhi visvatah kevalam ||
Devi! People crave for Knowledge, Liberation and Wealth. They love these three women intensely. They apply on their bodies the sandal paste, which is the brilliance of Your Sripadas' Footnails. They spread on the ground tender sprouts which are the radiance of Your Sripada and lie down. They rely only on Your Grace, Your loving companion.
Sri Narayana Bhattatri uses the metaphor of a man's attachment to women for driving home the greatness of Devi's Sripada. By constantly worshipping at Sripada, man receives Devi's abundant Grace and gets all his desires fulfilled, including Moksha, the final Purushartha.
In Devi Bhagavatham, Vishnu prays to Devi:
Vidya tvameva budhimatam naranam
saktis-tvameva kila saktimatam sadaiva |
mukti-prada viratireva manushya-loke || (3:4:44)
You alone are Knowledge of the wise; the power of the powerful; fame, brilliance, excellence, purity, satisfaction; You alone grant detachment and Liberation in the world of men.
Manjira-kvanitaih kshipanniva muhuh sriman-nakhamsudgamair-
Daityendram prahasanniv-aruna-rucha rushyanniv-asmai bhrusam |
Dhirayam tvayi nirvikara-manasi tvat-pada eva sphutam
Pushnan vairi-vikaram-esha mahisha-dhwamsi pari-trayatam ||
Bhagavathi! You are wisdom personified and Your mind is free from agitations. But your Sripadas clearly shine with the agitation of hostility towards Mahishasura at the time of killing him. The sound of anklets is like strong abuse; the great radiance of the rays emanating from Your Footnails looks like ridiculing smile; the red shine of the Sripada shows great anger towards Mahishashura. May that Sripada protect us.
As there is no other refuge for the devotee, who realises his innumerable faults, he prays to Devi not to let the anger displayed by Her Sripada to be turned on him.
In Devi Bhagavatham, the Devas pray to Devi:
Aparadha-sahasrani mataiva sahate sada |
Iti gnatva Jagad-yonim na bhajante kuto janah || (5:20:38)
The mother alone always tolerates thousands of faults (of her children). Knowing this, why are people not worshipping the Mother of the worlds?
Kshipram Devi siraspadena mahisham pishtva tatodhaspadam
Ditsantyam tvayi kantha-bhanjana-bhiya kanthirave vidrute |
Medinyamapi bhiti-kampita-tanou prema-tvara-salina
Sarvenaiva nijanka-simni nihitam pada-dvayam te jayet ||
Mahishasuramardini! You put Your Feet on the head of Mahishasura and quickly crushed him. You then looked for a place to put Your Foot down. However, Your mount, the lion sped away for fear of getting its neck cut by Your Sripada. The earth also shook owing to fear. At that time, Siva speedily placed Your two Feet on His lap with great love.
The lion was afraid of Sripada decapitating him. The Earth, which was already disturbed by the awesome paces of Mahishasura during the battle, was now quaking due to fear that Your Sripada would further crush it.
Siva prays to Devi in Devi Bhagavatham:
Na tapasa na damena samadhina na cha tatha vihitaih kratubhir-yatha |
Tava padabja-paraga-nishevanat bhavati mukti-raje bhava-sagarat || (3:5:19)
Not by austerities, nor by control of senses, nor by profound meditation, nor by sacrifices ordained (in the Vedas) can a man attain Liberation from the ocean of Samsara; but only by wearing the dust of Your Lotus Feet.
Purvam Devi padambujena mahisha-pradhvamsan-abhyasatah
Paschat kutsita-sumbha-daitya-vijayopyevam krutah kim tvaya |
No ched-bhati katham kusumbha-vijayi padagra-desoyam-ity-
Alape Girisasya tad-vijayate manda-smitam Devi te ||
Devi! You have earlier practised with Your lotus Feet the destruction of Mahishasura. Did You vanquish the evil Sumbha also in the same manner? If not, how is it that Your Feet surpass the kusumbha flower in brightness? When Siva speaks in this vein, You smile mildly. May that smile protect us!
Sri Narayana Bhattatri employs pun in the word Kusumbha-vijayi - the vanquisher of the evil Sumbha and surpasser of the Kusumbha flower (in brightness). Siva knows that Sumbha was not killed by Devi's Sripada, but by the trident driven into his chest. Siva wishes to praise the Sripada on some pretext.
Sri Lalitha Trisathi Stotram says:
Kameswara prananatha Kameswara vimohini |
Kameswara Brahmavidya Kameswara Gruheswari || (49)
Devi is the controller of the life of Kameswara; She deludes even Kameswara (due to Her abundant love); She is Herself Knowledge of Brahman, represented by Kameswara; She is the head of the household of Kameswara.
Kameswara is a name of Siva.
Bibhranena manogna-yavaka-rasam manju-dhwanim nupura-
Slesh-alankuti-salina nakha-mani-jata-prasada-sriya |
Ekenaiva padena Devi mahisha-dhwamse mahiyastarah
Slokoyam rachitas-tvayeti vibudhas-samslaghanam kurvate ||
Devi! Devas praise You for the very great fame earned by destroying Mahishasura with only one Foot, which beats the attractive red coloured coating; which bears the beautiful anklets making very pleasing sound; which has pearl- like nails, casting the grace of white lustre all round.
Poet Narayana Bhattatri has used words full of pun in this verse, which gives the following second meaning:
Devi! Scholars praise You for the very great verse (sloka) created with only one word, while killing Mahishasura. The one-word sloka bears attractive poetic essence (The word 'yavaka' refers to red colour and indirectly to 'kavya'). It has beautiful 'dhwani' ie. features where implied meaning is more striking than the expressed sense. It has 'alankar' figure of speech like 'slesha' i.e pun. It has 'guna' like 'prasada' ie. clarity of style.
Sankaracharya says in Anandalahari:
Bhavani stotum tvam prabhavati chaturbhir-na vadanaih
Prajanam-isanas-tripura-mathanah panchabhirapi |
Tadanyesham kesham kathaya katham-asminn-avasarah ||
Bhavani! Brahma is unable to sing Your praise with four mouths; Siva is unable with five; Skanda is unable with six; Adi Sesha is unable with a thousand mouths. Then tell me how others will ever be able.
Tvam Sambhor-mahishi bhavasy-agasute ten-opahasaya te
Daity-oyam mahishi bhavann-upagatah soyam katham kshamyate |
Itham nupura-niswanairiva vadan padas-tvadiyo rusha
Sastra-pragrahanat puraiva mahisham pishnan paritrayatam ||
Daughter of Himavan! You are the 'mahishi' i.e. wife of Siva. In order to ridicule Your being 'mahishi', the Asura took the form of 'mahisha' i.e. buffalo; how can he be forgiven? Your Sripada spoke thus through the jingle of the anklets and even before grabbing a weapon (with Your Hand) Your Foot exterminated Mahishasura. May Your Sripada protect us.
Naryana Bhattatri employs pun again- this time on the word 'mahisha' and extols the power of Sripada.
In Devi Bhagavatham, Devas praise Devi after the destruction of Mahishasura:
Chitram tvami yadasubhi rahita na santhi
Tvach-chintitena danujah prathita-prabhavah |
Yesham krute Janani deha-nibandhanam te
Krida-rasas-tava na chanyatar-otra hetuh || (5:9:11)
Mother! With Your mere will the powerful demons would have lost their lives; If for their destruction You took upon Yourself a form, it is only Your loving sport; there is no other reason.
Devya pankasayodya kopi mahisha-chadma mahan kantakah
Paden-ahata ity-ududha-hasitam sakhya samavedite |
Sadyah kantaka-salina karatalen-asadya padambujam
Gruhnann-arti-vinodanaya Giriso jiyat priyas-te Sive ||
Sankari! Your attendants smilingly inform Siva: Today some big thorn in the form of sinful Mahisha was hit by Devi with Her Foot. Immediately Siva, Your love, with hair standing on end (or carrying a thorn) lifts Your lotus Foot for giving You relief from pain.
Sri Narayana Bhattatri once again beautifully uses pun on the word 'kantaka' ie. thorn as well as horripilation. Siva carries a thorn in order to remove the thorn from Devi's foot. Or, Siva is excited and lifts Devi's Foot to comfort Her after the destruction of the demon. Also, the word 'pankasaya' refers to thorn hidden in slush as well as evil man full of sin.
Sankaracharya says in Soundaryalahari:
Kiritam Vairincham parihara purah Kaitabha-bhidah
Kathore kothire skalasi jahi jambhari-makutam |
Pranamreshv-etheshu prasabham-upayatasya bhavanam
Bhavasyabhy-uthane tava parijan-oktir-vijayate || (29)
When Siva comes speedily to your place, You get up to receive Him. At that time, Your attendants caution Siva to carefully avoid the hard crowns of Brahma, Vishnu, and Indra, who are prostrating at Your Feet. The words of Your attendants are indeed pleasing.
Tvat-pad-anguli-pallavair-agasute Devi svayam panchabhih
Panchatvam gamito mahasura iti svatmanurupam krutam |
Etaireva natho janas-tridasatam nitho Mahesah-punar-
Lakshatvam gamitah prasuna-dhanusho vismapanam tad-dvayam ||
Devi! Daughter of Himavan! With the sprouts that are the fingers of Your Feet, which are five in number, the great demon (Mahishasura) was reduced to the five elements (i.e. killed) and thus was brought into the same form as themselves. By the same fingers of Your Feet, the persons who worship are raised to the status of Devas ( or blessed thirty times). Siva is also led by the fingers to becoming the target of Manmatha, the wielder of flower arrows (or led to a lakh of pleasures). These two are indeed wondrous.
The 'sabdaslesha' and 'arthaslesha', the pun on words and meaning, employed by the poet is bewitching. 'Tridasa' refers to Devas as well as the number thirty. Ordinary men, by worshipping at Devi's Feet, become Devas i.e. blessed thirty times. Siva, by looking at Devi's Feet, becomes obsessed with love i.e. becomes a target 'laksha' of Manmatha and is led to fantasies, which are innumerable i.e. a lakh, 'laksha'.
In Devi Bhagavatham, after Devi's sudden appearance and killing of the enemies, Subahu, the king of Kashi praises Devi:
Kvaham sumanda-mathir-asu tav-avalokam
kvedam Bhavani bhava-bheshajam-advitiyam |
Gnatasi Devi satatam kila bhava-yukta
Bhakt-anukampanapara amaravarga-pujya || (3:23:49)
Devi! Where am I, the dull-witted one and where are You, the medicine for the disease of Samsara and one without a second. Yet I had Your Darshan. I understand that You, being worshipped by Devas, always show compassion to Your loving devotees.
Brahmam maghavanam cha vahanamaho mandair-gatair-ninditham
Dhavalyena nakhatvisham vihasito vahopi Maheswara: |
Itham vahana-vairitham bhajati te padas-tato manmahe
Katyayan-yamuna nyaghani Mahisha: Kartanta vaha-bhramat ||
Katyayani! Brahma's mount, the Swan and Indra's carrier, the Airawatha elephant were defeated owing to their slow gait by Your Sripada. Siva's mount, the bull was also ridiculed by the white brilliance of nails of Your Sripada. Thus Your Foot bears enmity towards other vehicles. Hence, we think that Sripada destroyed Mahishasura confusing him with the buffalo, the vehicle of Yama, the God of death.
Mookakavi says in Mookapanchasati:
Acharamam-ishum deenam meena-dhwajasya mukha-sriya
Sarasijabhuvo yanam mlanam gathena manjuna |
Tridasa-sadasa-mannam khinnam gira cha vitanvati
Tilakayati sa kampa-teeram Trilochana-sundari || (3:27)
Devi, the beautiful consort of the three eyed Siva, defeats the first of the flower-arrows of Manmatha, the fish-flag bearer, by the splendour of her face; the mount of Brahma, the Swan, by Her graceful gait; the food of the Devas, the nectar, by the beauty of her speech. She adorns the bank of the river Kampa like a tilaka.
Seemantha-prakare Surendra-sudrusam sindura-rekhatmana
Manikya-dyuti-sangnayaiva makuti-kotishu daitya-druham |
Sambhor-murdhni jata-ghataruna-ruchi-vyajena pada-prabhai-
Vaika te parinama-meti karunamurthe Girindratmaje ||
Daughter of Himavan! Compassion personified! The brilliance of Your Lotus Feet, though one, takes many forms; It becomes the (auspicious) red mark at the hair divide of the (worshipping) women of Swargaloka. It shines like ruby at the edge of the crowns of (prostrating) Devas. It adds red lustre to the matted tresses at the head of (the prostrating) Siva.
Sankaracharya says in Anandalahiri
Vidhatri dharmanam tvamasi sakala-mnaya-janani
Tvam-arthanam mulam dhanada -namaniyanghri-kamale |
Tvam-adih kamanam janani kruta-kandarpa-vijaye
Satam mukther-bijam tvam-asi Parama-brahma-mahishi ||
Devi! You are the creator of all Dharmas and Vedas. You are the root of all wealth; Kubera also worships at Your Lotus Feet. You have defeated Manmatha; but You are the beginning of all Kamas (desires). You are the consort of Siva, the Parabrahma; You are the seed of liberation of noble souls. The meaning is that Devi is giver of the four Purusharthas - Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.
No kesa: param-asrayas-sumanasam padabja-renuscha te
No manda-rasitha param smitha-ruchir-manjirayoscha dvayi |
No bahuh kalahamsametya jayathi tvad-yana lilapyasou
No sumbhattara-laksha-mananamidam padambujam chambike ||
Ambike! Your Hair is not only the supreme refuge of flowers ( Sumanasa), but the dust of Your Lotus Feet is also the refuge of Devas (Sumanasa). The brilliance of Your smile is not only like the whiteness of the Mandara flowers (Mandara-sita), but the anklets in Your two Feet make a beautiful subdued sound (Manda-rasita). Your Hand is not only victorious in battle (kalaham-sametya), but the beauty of your gait is also victorious over the swan (kalahamsam-etya). Your Face not only shines and is beautiful with fickle eyes ( Sumbhattarala-aksha), but Your Lotus Foot also shines beautifully with red lac ( Sumbhattara-laksha).
The poet again employs captivating pun on four phases and brings out the enchanting beauty of Devi.
Nilakantha Dikshitar says in Ananda Sagarasthava:
Saram kanam kanam-adharma-rucham sahasrat-
sangruhya nirmitham-idam tava vaktra-bimbam |
Ekatra Devi nihithani kachapadesat || (95)
Devi! Your Face was formed by collecting, bit by bit, the essence of thousands of moons; thereafter the blemishes in the moons were gathered together and formed into Your Hair.
Nathe tavaka-vaha-simha-chalithas-tvat-padamule natha
Nunam babhramur-abhramu-priya-mukha dik-kumbhiviras-chiram |
No chedesha katham tadunnatha-siras-sindura sandohajo
Ragaste charanambuje parinamann-adyapi vidyotate ||
Visweswari! The (eight) elephants of the quarters, like Airavatha, (the mate of Abhramu), have rolled at Your Sripada for long owing to fear of Your mount, the lion. If not, how is it that the red colour from the mass of red liquid emanating from the high heads of those elephants shine even today at Your lotus Feet?
The eight elephants of the quarters are: Airavatha, Pundarika, Vamana, Kumuda, Anjana, Pushpapadanta, Sarvabhouma and Suprathika. Airavatha is the vehicle of Indra, who is the guardian of the eastern quarter. Abhramu is the name of the mate of Airavatha.
It is believed that a red coloured liquid emanates from the heads of superior elephants.
In Devi Bhagavathanm, Devi herself tells Brahma:
Dhara sthita tada dhartum sakti-yukta yada bhavet |
Anyatha ched-asakta syat-paramanoscha dharane ||
Tatha Seshas-tatha kurmo ye(a)nye sarve cha diggaja: |
Mad-yukta vai samarthascha svani karyani sadhitum || (3:6:23,24)
The earth is capable of carrying all the occupants because of association with Shakti; if not, it will not be able to carry even an atom. Similarly, it is only due to association with Me that Sesha, the Primal Tortoise and the elephants in the (eight) quarters are all able to perform their duties.
Tvat-padoyam-ajasrithascha ruchira-sparsanvitho yoginam-
Antha: svakrutir-ushmabhakcha Mahisha-pradhvamsana-prakrame |
Evam khalv-akhil-aksharatmakam-amum Sailendrakanye katham
Bhashante natavarga-bandhum-apavargalambanam va jana: ||
Daughter of Himavan! Your Sripada is the refuge of Brahma; It is very soft of touch; It is present in the hearts of Yogis; It is powerful during the destruction of Mahishasura. When Your Sripada is thus ever brilliant in many ways, how shall people describe It: as friend of worshipping public or as the giver of liberation?
Alternate meaning: Your Sripada is the refuge of the vowels starting from A, possesses the beautiful consonants; has the 'Antastha' letters (of the alphabet), i.e. Ya, ra, la and va; has the 'ushma' letters, i.e. sa, sha and sa. When Your Sripada is thus the repository of all the letters of the alphabet, how can people say that the 'tha' group or 'pa' group of letters are not there?
Sri Narayana Bhattatri again employs pun on a large group of words to convey the omniscience and omnipotence of Sripada.
Sri Nilakantha Dikshita says in Ananadasagarasthava:
khyatou mani tava gruhangana-kuttimasthou |
Kim ratnam-anyad-upalabhya kirita-kotim
Vachaspati-prabrutayas-tava varnayantu || (97)
Ruler of the three worlds! The courtyard of Your abode is paved with the famous jewels, Chinatamani and Koustubha. When that is the case, can even Brihaspathi and others like him describe the jewel in the tip of Your diadem?
Bibhrana: parisobhamana-katako bhuyovanai-kasraya: |
Gayat-siddhavadhu-nishevita-tala: Pads-tvadeeya: Sive
Rajatyesha himadri-padavad-idam yuktam Himadre: Sute ||
Sankari! Daughter of Himavan! Your Foot shines like the foothills of Himalayas. The row of brilliant nails is like the drops of dew. Your Foot carries Girija, who shines in red. (Himalayas have hills shining in red.) Your Foot has the radiant anklet. (Himalayas have shining ridges). Your Foot is the only refuge in protecting (the worshippers) again and again. (Himalayas have many forests), Your Foot is frequented by the singing Siddha women. (Himalayan foothills are frequented by the singing Siddha women).
Sri Narayana Bhattatri employs pun and metaphor to bring out the similarity between Devi's Sripada and Himalayas.
Kalidasa says in Kumara Sambhavam:
Prabha-mahatya sikhayeva deepas-trimargayeva tridivasya marga: |
Samskaravatyeva gira manishi taya saputascha vibhushitascha || (1:28)
Like the lamp with resplendent flame, the celestial region with the Akasaganga, the Sanskrit language with the thoughtful grammar, even so the Himalayan range was purified and decorated by Parvathi.
Dikpalair-dasabhi: pruthak-pruthag-ayam tvat-padayor-arpitho
Drusyo bhakty-anuraga eva dasadha sonanguli-srimishat |
Padabhyamapi tan prati prakatitha nunam prasad-ankura
Drusyanthe nakha-kanthi-pankthi- dasaka-vyajena Sailatmaje ||
Daughter of Himavan! The bhakti (devotion) shown by the protector of the ten quarters separately at Your Feet is seen clearly as if through the splendour of the red coloured (Raga) ten fingers. The buds of grace exhibited by Your Feet towards them are also clearly seen as if in the brilliance of the row of ten nails.
The protectors of the ten quarters are Indra - east, Agni - south east, Yama-south, Nirruthi- south west, Varuna - west, Vayu- north west, Kubera - north, Isana - north east, Brahma - upward and Vishnu - downward.
The poet brings out in this verse the special compassion shown by Devi's Sripada towards the worshippers. In the following ten verses Sri Bhattatri describes the entreaties of each of the protectors of the ten quarters.
Kalidasa sings in Syamala Dandakam:
Prahvadevesa Lakshmisa Bhutesa Toyesa Vanisa Kinasa Daityesa Yakshesa Vayvagni kotira manikya sanghrushta-balatapoddama laksha-ras-arunya tarunya Lakshmi-gruhitanghri-padme, Supadme Ume! (3)
Uma! Bearing a beautiful lotus - May You rule Supreme, whose lotus-like Feet have assumed the splendour of youth by the red lac-dye brightened like the rays of the morning sun when rubbed by the rubies on the crowns of Indra, Vishnu, Siva, Varuna, Brahma, Yama, Nirruti, Kubera, Vayu and Agni, who prostrate at Your Feet.
Meghanam kulisaya chapratihatha dhara: kramantham chiram
No drusyetha cha danavari-vibhavo nakasya nagasya cha |
Putro(a)yam mama sainikascha dadhatham nityam Jayantha: sukham
Tvat-padambuja-pathina: Surapather-itham jayanty-arthana: ||
Devi! The prayers of Indra at Your lotus Feet are : Let the showers from the clouds and the sharp edges of my Vajrayudha prevail unhindered at all times; Let Swarga and my mount, the elephant Airavatha never experience disgrace at the hands of the Asura enemies; Let my son Jayantha and my soldiers be ever victorious and enjoy happiness. Indra's prayers are fruitful.
Devi Bhagavatham tells us the story of how Indra and other Devas entreated Devi during a very severe drought and how Devi, as Satakshi, bestowed rains and food on the parched worlds.
Mochayamasa lokeshu varidhara: sahasrasa: |
Navaratram maha-vrushtir-abhun-netrod-bhavair-jalai: || (7:28:38)
Devi unleashed on the worlds heavy showers in thousands; Out of the waters from Devi's eyes, heavy rains lashed for nine nights.
Aajya-saktha-karair-dvijanmabhir-aham huyeya no danavai:
Svaha-rochiham-asthu parsvam-anisam tadrukcha havyam mama |
Rakshavanithi bhutimanithicha me sabda-prasiddhya Sive
Nopekshyo(a)hamiti tvad-anghri-namane jiyasur-agner-gira: ||
Sankari! The prayers of Agni prostrating at Your Feet are: Let me be invoked by Brahmins with hands dipped in ghee and not by demons interested in warfare; Let my side be ever brightened by Swaha Devi and let me get the oblations that way; Let me not be ignored because of the wordy fame I have, i.e.' I am a protector and I am wealthy'. (Alternative meaning: I have the infamy that I am given to eating and reducing everything to ashes.) Agni's prayers are fruitful.
The poet employs pun in several phrases in this verse to bring out opposite meanings beautifully which serve to enhance the praise of Devi.
In Devi Bhagavatham, Brahma prays to Devi:
Yagneshu Devi yadi nama na te vadanthi
Svaheti veda-vidusho havane krute(a)pi |
Na prapnuvanthi satatam makha-bhagadheyam
Devas-tvameva vibudheshvapi vruttida(a)si || (1:7:35)
Devi! In Yagnas, if the knowers of Vedas perform oblations without uttering the name of Swaha, Devas will never get their share of food. You alone are the sustainer of even the Devas.
Tvad-bhaktagham-abuddhi-purva-likhitam syachchet-kshametha: Sive
Kanthaste mayi roshavan kuru punas-tasy-ardra-bhavam sanai: |
Devi tvam Mahishabhihantri chakitam trayasva me vahanam
Kalasyeti jayanthi te pada-natou lolasya samprarthana: ||
Devi! The prayers of the despondent Yama, prostrating at Your Feet are: If the sins of Your devotees have been written without application of mind, let me be forgiven; Your husband (Siva) is angry with me, please pacify Him slowly; You are the killer of Mahishasura (the demon with buffalo-form); please protect my mount, the buffalo. Yama's prayers are fruitful.
Yama seeks forgiveness in case his assistant Chitragupta has accounted the sins of Devi's devotees, as Devi's devotees cannot commit sins and even if they have committed a small sin, it gets negated by Devi's grace. Yama is afraid of Siva's anger, experienced by him when Siva protected Markandeya and threw away Yama with His left foot.
In Devi Bhagavatham, Subahu, the King of Kashi prays to Devi on Her fighting the enemies of Sudarshan, her son-in-law and saving his life:
Nagare(a)tra tvaya Mata: sthatavyam mama sarvada |
Durgadevithi namna vai tvam Saktiriha samsthitha ||
Raksha tvaya cha kartavya sarvada nagarasya ha |
Yatha Sudarsanas-tratho ripu-sanghad-anamaya: || (3:24:5,6)
Mother! Please stay forever in my city as Shakti in the name of Durga. Please protect my city always, just as You totally protected Sudarshan from the hordes of enemies.
Mahyam veda-vininditham disamadur-jathi-dvishasch-amara: |
Daivadit-yubhayachuto visarano rakshyoham-ityadayas-
Tvat-pada-pranatou jayanthi Nirruther-atyakula: prarthana: ||
Devi! The prayers of the very agitated Nirruti prostrating at Your Feet are: I am disgraced by Rakshasas, who are of my race, as I am attached to Dharma and its practice; Devas, who hate me coming from the enemy race, gave me the quarter (south-west), which is detested by Vedas (i.e. quarter not fit for any auspicious acts); I am thus neglected by both due to my misfortune; I am devoid of refuge (except Your Feet); I am to be protected. Nirruti's prayers are fruitful.
Sankaracharya says in Devyaparadha-kshamapana stotram:
Pruthivyam putraste janani bahava: santhi sarala:
Param tesham madhye virala-taralo(a)ham tava sutha: |
Madiyo(a)yam tyaga: samuchitamidam no tava Sive
Kuputro jayetha kvachidapi kumata na bhavathi || (3)
Mother! In this earth, there are a lot of Your sons, who are straightforward. But, among them, I am unique; I am wavering. Sankari! Your abandoning me is not appropriate, as a bad son can be born; but a bad mother never is.
Mat-putrya mama va Mukunda-guhata-bhagyam na sankshiyatam
Maham payishi Kumbhajena munina kalpantha-suryena va |
Dvedha me suravahini -dayitata sadhu tvaya rakshyatam
Tvat-padambuja-pathino Jalapather-itham jayanty-arthana: ||
Sankari! The prayers of Varuna, prostrating at Your lotus Feet are: Let not the fortune of living in the home of Vishnu be weakened for my daughter or myself; let me not be drunk by Agastya, the pitcher-born, nor by the Sun at the end of Kalpa. Let my twin position of leading the army of Devas and the Akasa Ganga be protected. Varuna's prayers are fruitful.
The reference to sharing the home of Vishnu is twofold: one, for Lakshmi, the daughter of ocean of milk, ie. of Varuna; two, for Varuna himself being the ocean of milk on which Vishnu is reclining on serpent bed. Agastya once took the water of the entire ocean in his palm and drank it away. At the end of Kalpa (Brahma's day), twelve Suns shine on earth simultaneously and scorch the earth of all water. Varuna is the army chief of Devas. He is also regarded as the husband of all rivers, which are feminine as per our Sastras.
Kalidasa sings in Syamala Dandakam:
Tasya lilasaro varidhi: tasya kelivanam Nandanam
Tasya bhadrasanam bhutalam tasya Girdevata kinkari
Tasya cha-agnakari Sri: svayam || (6)
For him (your devotee) the ocean is a garden- lake, Nandana (the garden of Indra) a pleasure garden, the whole world a comfortable seat, Saraswathi, the Goddess of Speech a servant maid and Goddess Lakshmi Herself, the executor of commands.
Visva-pranamayi tvameva mama tu prahur-jagat-pranatham
Sarvasyapi sada gatirhi bhavati mamevam-ahur-jana: |
Lajja-padakam-idrusam Janani na: kim kurmahe pahi mam-
Ityevam Pavanasya te padanatou vacho jayanty-akula: ||
Mother! The prayers of the restless Vayu prostrating at Your Feet are: You alone are the embodiment of the Pranas of the Universe, but people call me the Prana of the world. You alone are the refuge of all at all times (Sadagati), but people call me ever moving (Sadagati). This (i.e the names of Yours and mine being the same) is shameful for me. What can I do? Please protect me. Vayu's prayers are fruitful.
The poet once again employs pun to bring out the agitation in the mind of Vayu.
In Devi Bhagavatham, Devi tells Himavan:
Gnanendriyani panchaiva pancha karmendriyani cha |
Pranadi-panchakam chaiva dhiya cha sahitam mana: ||
Etat-sukshmasariram syan-mama lingam yad-uchyate | (7:32:41,42)
Five sense-organs, five organs of action, five Pranas, mind and intellect - all these constitute the subtle body, which is My distinguishing mark.
Sankhollasi galojjvale samakare padmena kunda-smite
Padagradruta kachchape mukhamahapadme Mukundasrithe |
Ityasman-nidhigatri nilanayane charchatmike pahi mam-
Itham pada-nathis-Sive vijayate sakhyu: Kuberasya te ||
Sankari! The prayers of Your friend Kubera, prostrating at Your Feet are: You shine with conch-like neck (or the neck shines with Sankha Nidhi). You have lotus-like hands (or You have Makara and Padma Nidhis in hand). Your smile is like white jasmine flower (or like the Kunda Nidhi ). Your Sripada is like the tortoise (is of the shape of the back of tortoise) (or Your Sripada has Kachchapa Nidhi sitting with reverence). Your face is like the blossomed lotus flower (or like Mahapadma Nidhi). You are the refuge of Vishnu (or of Mukunda Nidhi). Your eyes are like blue lily flower (or like the Nila Nidhi). Your form is anointed with perfume (or like the Vara or Charcha Nidhi). Thus the nine Nidhis (or treasures) constitute Your Form. Please protect me. Kubera's prayers are fruitful.
Kubera is in charge of nine famous treasures: Mahapadma, Padma, Sankha, Makara, Kachchapa, Mukunda, Kunda, Neela, Vara. Kubera says in prayer that he is the lord of these treasures only in name, but in actuality all the wealth belongs to Devi. Sri Narayana Bhhattatri again employs extensive pun to bring out Devi's greatness.
Kalidasa says in Syamala Dandakam:
Yena va yavak-abhakrutir-bhavyase
Tasya vasya bhavanti striya: purusha: |
Yena va satakumbha-dyutir-bhavyase so(a)pi
Lakshmi-sahasrai: parikridathe | (6)
Men and women come under his control, who contemplates Your shining Form, red like the lac-dye. He who meditates on Your brilliant golden-coloured Form, plays with thousands of Lakshmis.
Sannameshu bhavat-padambuja nakha-chchayam jata-sanginim
Gangety-alijana vadanthi vitatham ma bhur-mudha kopini |
Drushtim mayy-apaniyatham parushamapy-ekam vacho diyatham-
Isanasya Bhavani te padanatav-itham jayanty-arthana: ||
Bhavani! Isana, prostrating at Your Feet prays thus: (In order to pacify You during tiff of love) while I prostrate at Your Feet, the brilliance of the nails in Your lotus Feet mingles with the matted tresses on my head. Your friends (who are attending on You) call this falsely as Ganga. Don't be unnecessarily angry. Please cast a glance on me; speak at least a word, even a cruel one. Isana's prayers are fruitful.
Sri Narayana Bhattatri brings out the natural reason for Parvathi to be angry with Siva, for He is wearing Ganga, Her rival, on His Head. Siva explains it away cleverly.
Sankaracharya says in Bhavani Bhujanga Stuti:
vrutha vai sphurach-chakra-rajol-lasanthim |
Param Rajarajesvari Traipuri tvam
Sivankoparistham Sivam bhavayami || (11)
RajaRajeswari! Tripurasundari! I meditate on You, Sankari, who is surrounded by Ganesa and hordes of Sakthis like Anima (Anima is the first of the eight famous Sidhis), who shines brilliantly on the Sri Chakra, who is the Supreme, who is seated on the lap of Siva.
Naabhitobhavam-aaditastava balat paschad-abhitosmyaham
Tryakshena trimukhi-krutopi chaturasyo(a)ham tavaiva sthavai: |
Tvam visvatmayopajanya na puna: srashtaram-aakhyahi mam-
Itham Devi jayanthi te padanathou Vanipather-vanaya: ||
Devi! The prayers of Brahma (Vanipati) prostrating at Your Feet are: At the beginning, I was not free from fear. Due to the strength of Your grace, I forsook fear later. Though I was disfigured by Siva (the three eyed), I have four faces (or clever speech) due to my praises of You (in the form of four Vedas). You create and pervade the entire Universe; hence do not call me Creator. Brahma's prayers are fruitful.
Brahma's fear at the beginning was due to the demons Madhu and Kaitabha, whom Vishnu killed by Devi's grace. His fear can also be interpreted to arise out of the unstable nature of the connection of his lotus seat with the navel of Vishnu. The reference of Brahma's disfigurement by Siva is from Puranas: Once when Siva assumed the gigantic form of a column of light, Brahma took the form of a swan and proceeded to find His Head. He returned unsuccessful, but lied to Siva that he had seen Siva's Head. An angry Siva removed one of the five heads of Brahma, who became four-headed ever since.
Devi instructs Brahma in Devi Bhagavatham:
Kim naaham pasya samsare mad-viyuktam kimasti hi |
Sarvameva-ahamityevam nischayam viddhi Padmaja ||
Gruhana-aja mahat-tatvam-ahankaras-tadudbhava: |
Thatha: sarvani bhutani rachayasva yatha pura || (3:6:11,30)
Lotus born Brahma! I do not see anything in this world, which is devoid of Me. I alone am in everything. Know this for certain. Brahma! Absorb the principle of Mahat and its offspring, Ahamkara. Thence create all beings as before.
Aasir-asti mukhe vidambayathi mam bhuyopi cha-asis-spruha
Bhogas-santhi sahasradha punaraham bhogan katham prarthaye |
Sesho(a)ham spruhayamy-aseshasukham-ityethachcha hasa-aspadam
Nathe chintaya samyagity-Ahipathes-tvat-padapatho jayet ||
Easwari! The prayers of the serpent-lord (Sesha) prostrating at Your Feet are: I have prayers (or teeth) (Aasi:) in my mouth. If I desire for Your benediction (Aasi:), I will be ridiculed. I have thousands of enjoyments (or fangs) (bhoga:); how then can I pray for enjoyments. I am Sesha; if I long for happiness with nothing left, i.e. complete happiness (Asesha-sukham), again I will be subject to humiliation. Sesha's prayers are fruitful.
Sesha is known for his wisdom and felicity of speech. As Patanjali, he wrote Sanskrit grammar. Here, he excels Indra and other Devas in his expression of prayer. Sri Narayana Bhattatri uses pun again on words and places Sesha in the position of a supplicant who cannot even express his prayers. The wise poet brings out that just as a mother fulfils her child's needs even without his asking, the Divine Mother will shower Her blessings on all Her children.
Vishnu instructs Brahma on the glory of Devi in Devi Bhagavatham:
Seshe svapimi paryanke paratantro na samsaya: |
Tadadhina: sadoththishthe kale kalavasam gata: || (1:4:50)
I sleep on the bed of Sesha and I am dependent on another. There is no doubt in this. Under the sway of Shakti and influenced by Time, I get up in time.
Parvatya; padam-atra drusyam-ithi va pade bhavatvena va
Sadhutvat-tadupasthaye hitataya padyany-amuni sphutam |
Saisha Muktipuri-Girindratanaya-bhaktena Narayanena-
Aabadhdha khalu Saptatir-disathu va: kalyna-hallohalam ||
These verses are clearly Padya because the Feet of Parvathi are seen in all verses; the verses are directed to the Feet; and, the verses are for the benefit of devotees who want to praise the Feet. May this book of verses, Sripada Saptati written by Narayana, the devotee of the Daughter of Himavan, present at Mukthipuri, bring You (the readers) unending auspiciousness.
This last verse by Sri Narayana Bhattatri is in the form of 'Phalasruti'. i.e. setting out the fruit. He has combined in this verse once again very exquisitely his unparalleled devotion to Devi and supreme ability as a poet.
According to Samskrit Grammar, words fall into three types; Rudha, Yogika and Yogarudha. Rudha refers to the traditional meaning of a word. Yogika gives the meaning as per rules of grammar. Yogarudha refers to word having two meanings, one traditional and the other as per grammar. Here, Padya as a Rudha word, signifies a verse or sloka dealing with four padas or lines. Padya as a Yogika word refers to a verse dealing with Pada or foot. Padya as a Yogarudha word, means a verse of praise, set in four lines.
It can be appreciated that the verses in Sripada Saptati are Padya in all the three senses of the word. This the author brings out in a touching manner.
Sankaracharya says in Devi Bhujangam:
Namo vakam-aasaasmahe Devi
yushmat-padambhoja-yugmaya tigmaya Gowri |
Virinchyadi bhasvat-kirita pratoli
pradipayamana prabha-bhasvaraya || (21)
Devi! Gowri! We express our prayers at Your two Lotus Feet, whose dazzling lustre is enhanced by the radiant shine emanating from the rows of crowns of Brahma and others (who are prostrating at Your Feet).
OM TAT SAT