[Advaita-l] Shankara's amazing poetic imagination - The Jagadguru expounds

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Jan 10 21:11:17 EST 2018

Shankara's amazing poetic imagination -  The Jagadguru expounds

Here is a video of the talk (in Kannada) of the Sringeri Acharya where he
brings out just one example of the amazing poetic imagination, kalpana
shakti, of Shankaracharya:


One can definitely enjoy the above exposition as much of the content is in

This is what the Jagadguru says:

Shri Shankara’s kavita shakti is simply indescribable. His stotraas like
‘Shivaananda lahari’, ‘Soundarya lahari’ and many others, are not mere
descriptions, but are ingrained with amazing poetic imagination. A poet is
extremely skilled in ascribing amazing imaginations to even small things.
This Kalpana Shakti was abundantly present in Shri Shankara.

One such instance of Shri Shankara’s poetic skill can be found in his
‘Shiva Keshaadi Paadaanta Stotra’. Shiva is called Neelakantha. The poison
taken by him, neither comes outside his mouth nor descends down to his
stomach but rests in his throat only. Shankara ascribes a beautiful poetic
imagination to this.  Shri Shankara says :

सम्भ्रान्तायाः शिवायाः पतिविलयभिया सर्वलोकोपतापात्

संविग्नस्यापि विष्णोः सरभसमुभयोर्वारणप्रेरणाभ्याम्।

मध्ये त्रैशड्०कवीयामनुभवति दशां यत्र हालाहलोष्मा

सोयं सर्वापदां नः शमयतु निचयं नीलकण्ठस्य कण्ठः।।

 As per the Puranas, Shri Paarvati resides in half portion of Shiva’s body.
While, in certain other context, the Puraanas say that Shri Vishnu resides
in the half portion of Shiva’s body. Thus, Parvati resided in one half of
Shiv’s body while Vishnu resides in the other half. Considering this, Shri
Shankara comes up with a beautiful poetic imagination.

The moment Shiva partook the poison, both Parvati and Vishnu were afraid
for different reasons. Parvati feared that if the poison enters her
husband’s stomach, it may cause him harm. A naarimani, a pativrata never
wishes to see her husband in trouble, she always desires for his
well-being. A pativrata’s mind abides by this principle. Shri Shankara
superimposes this mind set of a Bhaaratiya Naarimani on Parvati. Thus,
wishing that no harm must come to her husband, she is commanding the poison
to move out from Shiva’s throat.

Vishnu, on the other hand, doesn’t have this fear. It is known to him that
Shiva wont be harmed even if the poison is swallowed by him. However, he is
afraid that if the poison comes out of Shiva’s mouth , the whole world will
be turned into ashes. Thus, contrary to Parvati’s command, Vishnu is
commanding the poison to descend down into Shiva’s stomach. Thus, says
Shankara, the poison, unable to come out of Shiva’s mouth or descend down
into his stomach, stays in his throat only! Such is the Kalpana Shakti of
Shankara which exceeds the kalpana shakti of great poests like Kalidasa,
Shri Harsha, Magha, Bhavabhuti and others. Pithy verses such as this, can
be found abundantly in Shankara’s poetic literature.

This verse is from Shankara’s ‘Shiva-Keshadi-Padanta stotra’. Shri Shankara
has also composed ‘Vishnu Keshadi Padanta stotra’. Thus, he never perceived
any difference between Shiva and Keshava. For this reason, Shri
Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Nrushima Bharati Mahaswamiji, in one of his
stotras on Shankaracharya, describes Shri Shankara in the following manner :


Shri Shankara is a lion which slays the shiva-vishnu-bheda-buddhi
personified elephant.

Shri Shankara had remarkable poetic skills. Such an enriched literature is
not to be found anywhere else.

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