Devī in the <i>Saundarya Laharī</i>

Francis X. Clooney

in Divine Mother, Blessed Mother

Published in print April 2005 | ISBN: 9780195170375
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835379 | DOI:
 Devī in the Saundarya Laharī

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The Saundarya Lahari is a hymn of 100 verses, composed in Sanskrit, in the Saiva tantric tradition, and voiced in praise of the great Goddess, Devi. It is attributed to Sankaracarya, the renowned 8th century theologian, although scholars deem its authorship and date uncertain. The hymn praises Devi as the consort of Siva, Herself the power who creates, sustains, and guides the world. From the perspective of tantra, She is also the vital force pervading the cakras (physiological and spiritual centers of energy in the body) and rising as the kundalini energy through them. She is visualized austerely and geometrically in the complex triangles, circles, and other figures comprising the design known as the sricakra, and She is invoked by many public titles but also by a secret mantra name of 16 syllables. She is most importantly the supremely beautiful Mother; contemplating Her in loving detail is an efficacious and even supreme religious act. The Saundarya Lahari thus appropriates a traditional view of the female form while yet transforming the power relationships related to beauty and insisting that male viewers too become involved in the drama of a world centered on Her. In order to support the practice of visualization, it argues that the superior mode of approach to Her is to gaze upon Her. As a hymn, it addresses the Goddess directly and teaches devotees how to conceive of Her, see Her, and reach Her. Mary, represented in the Stabat Mater, is likewise visualized as the powerful woman to whom one turns in seeking salvation.

Keywords: beauty; mother; visualization; cakra; sricakra; tantra

Chapter.  13912 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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