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Sankaracharya and Saranaagati

Among the many gems of Adi Sankaracharya, Shri Sub­ra­manaya Bhu­jangam is one among the exquis­ite. The com­po­si­tion fol­lows the Bhu­jaṅ­gaprayā­ta meter with the struc­ture “lagu-guru-guru lagu-guru-guru lagu-guru-guru lagu-guru-guru”. That is “short-long-long short-long-long short-long-long short-long-long” syl­la­bles. This meter derives its name from snake as it imi­tates how the snake moves for­ward — by whol­ly con­tract­ing its body once and then stretch­ing twice. Bhu­jaṅ­gaprayā­ta is deemed as a meter that is chal­leng­ing to com­pose with.

One has to def­i­nite­ly be amazed by San­skrit lan­guage and its intri­ca­cies. Be it devo­tion or sci­ence, rishis have always penned their visions in poet­ic form such that there is immense nuance in pick­ing each syl­la­ble as per a meter, while keep­ing the mean­ing in tact. There is such empha­sis on meter and its mas­tery for schol­ar­ship as it helps young learn­ers to quick­ly mem­o­rise vers­es in a rhyth­mic man­ner. Why car­ry a man­u­script, tablet, note­book or a pen­drive, if one can store every­thing with­in one­self?!

Hence all schol­ars have had to mas­ter the abil­i­ty to com­mu­ni­cate the high­est of dar­shanas in the form of poet­ry with not just word play, metaphors and rhymes but with every syl­la­ble cho­sen wise­ly! And need­less to say, Adi Sankaracharya’s mas­tery of San­skrit is well-known by his unpar­al­leled abil­i­ty to bring forth his pris­tine jnana as words for the ben­e­fit of all lokas!

One among the names in the namavali of śaṅkarācāryāṣṭōttaram is the name — “ṣaṇmatasthāpanācārya”. It is an attri­bu­tion to Sankarachrya as the one who estab­lished six schools of wor­ship. Such has been the immen­si­ty of his jnana that branch­es of schools delve deep into the intri­ca­cies of knowl­edge branch­es that stem from this great seer.

To whom does the great Sankaracharya attribute these abil­i­ties to? In the sec­ond verse of Shri Sub­ra­manaya Bhu­jangam, Sankaracharya says:

na jaanaa­mi padyam na jaanaa­mi gadyamna jaanaa­mi shab­dam na jaanaa­mi chaartham |chidekaa shaDaasya hru­di dyotate memukhaan­nih sarante girashchaapi chitram || 2 ||

(In some vers­es, the first two lines are inter­changed; but makes more mean­ing in this order)

“padyam” means poet­ry, “gadyam” means prose, “shab­dam” here denotes words and “artham” means mean­ing. The curve of learn­ing nat­u­ral­ly is by under­stand­ing the eni­ty of mean­ing, the words denot­ing the enti­ty, forms of prose and forms of poet­ry. Sankaracharya says — do I not just know poet­ry, I nei­ther know prose, words nor even their mean­ings!

“dyotate” means shin­ing forth, “hru­di dyotate” means a divine shin­ing force that resides in my heart;

“chid” means con­scious­ness and “shaDaasya” means Shan­mukha — the Lord with six faces, attrib­uted to Lord Skan­da.

“gira­ha” means words and “chitram nis­saran­ta” means it is a won­der that they keep flow­ing out.

So Sankaracharya says — Lord Skan­da, the great Muru­ga Peru­maan in the form of con­scious­ness is resid­ing in my heart. And so mirac­u­lous­ly, the words are pour­ing out of my mouth!

This verse is not just the humil­i­ty of a poet. It is the very state of divine expe­ri­ence that the great seer, Sankaracharya is shar­ing with us through this verse! It is the great state of saranaa­gati, that enables tremen­dous out­comes!

Skan­daarpanam! Aum Tat Sat!


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