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!