In Praise of the Goddess

by Shankara

English version by W. Norman Brown


Slender as a streak of lightning,
composed of the essence of sun, moon and fire,
situated above the six lotuses, the manifestation
of you in the forest of great lotuses,
those with mind free of stain and illusion
who view it, mighty ones, experience a flood of supreme joy.

Let my idle chatter be the muttering of prayer,
my every manual movement the execution of ritual gesture,
my walking a ceremonial circumambulation,
my eating and other acts the rite of sacrifice,
my lying down prostration in worship,
my every pleasure enjoyed with dedication of myself,
let whatever activity is mine be some form of worship of you.

Bearing a mark of vermilion so that
the impenetrable darkness of your thick locks
with the hosts of their beauties
makes it seem like an imprisoned ray of the new-risen sun,
may it bring welfare to us, as though the flood of beauty
of your face had a channel to flow in,
the streak of which is the part in your hair.

Your right eye, because it has the sun as its essence,
gives birth to the day;
Your left eye, which has the moon as its substance,
produces the night;
Your third eye, which resembles a golden lotus
slightly opened, creates the twilight
intervening between day and night.

-- from A Treasury of Sanskrit Poetry, Edited by A. N. D. Haksar

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