Mortality is the prime cause of fear in beings and ironically none in this vast creation is exempt from it. Birth and death follow each other.

But the truth, that the grace of the Divine Mother is a sure antidote to this fear and confers freedom, is clearly defined in Soundarya Lahari, pointed out Sri B. Sundarkumar in a lecture.

In a verse in this hymn, Adi Sankara refers to the deadly poison Kalakuta that emerged prior to the nectar at the time of churning of the milky ocean.

Because of the harm it portended for the rest of the creation, out of compassion Lord Siva offered to consume it. Had Siva not taken it, the world would have been destroyed. Had Siva taken it also, it would have been deadly since He holds the entire universe in Himself. That is why the deadly poison was not swallowed, but held in Siva’s throat.

Mother’s grace

The poetic fancy in this verse goes on to imply that if Siva was unaffected by it, it was because of the grace of the Divine Mother. She is seen as the cause of Siva’s eternity. The auspicious nature of Devi’s ear ornaments which are nothing but the sun and the moon, destined to continue with their effulgence until the time of dissolution is the prime reason for this, extols Adi Sankara.

In another sense, even the immortality conferred by the nectar is illusory, since at the time of dissolution the entire creation from the smallest ant to Brahma gets subsumed in the Primordial Being. That Siva survives the dissolution itself is also implied in consonance with the scriptural thought that sees Siva and Vishnu as the two aspects of the one and only eternal Brahman. At a deeper level, one can transcend the fear of old age, disease or death with Devi’s grace. She confers the exquisite experience of one’s Atma as the eternal consciousness and thereby releases one from the shackles of impermanent longings. She is the source of all enjoyments, worldly and beyond. She clarifies our vision with regard to the worthlessness of worldly joys, directs our aim towards eternal bliss and leads us to it. She grants liberation from bondage.


Extolling good conductJuly 4, 2013

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