Adi Shankara was one of the most revered Hindu saints and philosophers in the 8th century who was said to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva. When there was chaos in India and a number of sects arose in the matter of philosophy and religion leading to superstition and bigotry, Adi Shankara restored Vedic Dharma and Advaitha Vedanta to its pristine purity and was a blazing flame who removed the darkness that engulfed India at that time. In the food stories of Indian mythology is the famous one of the origin of the Kanakadhara Stotram composed by Adi Shankara.
Adi Shankara was said to have taken up Sanyas at the tender age of eight. Students had to beg for alms for their daily meals. Since feeding Brahmins was considered highly meritorious they were never sent away empty handed. One day as Shankara was begging for alms he went to the house of a poor Brahmin lady. The lady was unhappy as she had nothing to offer to the Brahmin boy. She went inside and searched and finally found one gooseberry (amla) and requested him to accept it, asking him for forgiveness as she had nothing more to offer him.
Moved by her plight, Shankara burst forth into a song of 21 verses in praise of Goddess Lakshmi asking her to grant riches to the poor woman. The Goddess was so pleased that she is said to have showered gooseberries of pure gold. This song became famous as the Kanakadhara Stotram.
Brief description of the hymn
Some legends state that Goddess Lakshmi informed Shankara that the poor woman’s past karmas did not qualify for her getting riches and she had to suffer a life of abject poverty but Shankara pleaded that her selflessness in giving the gooseberry inspite of her poverty and hunger now qualified her for the grace of the Goddess. This argument of Shankara is said to have pleased the Goddess. The hymn praises Goddess Lakshmi in her various forms as Parvati, Lakshmi and Saraswathi and describes the beauty, power, personality and graciousness of the Goddess.
This hymn is famous in Hindu mythology and the story has been repeated for generations to inspire mankind to move forward with faith and devotion and never lose courage even amidst poverty and suffering confirming the dictum that whatever has been offered to the Lord will be returned a thousand fold due to the Lord’s compassion, the only requirement being a heart filled with devotion and humility, irrespective of class, creed or gender.
The Kanakadhara stotra
Angam hare pulaka bhooshanamasrayanthi,
Bhringanga neva mukulabharanam thamalam,
Angikrithakhila vibhuthirapanga leela,
Mangalyadasthu mama mangala devathaya.
To the Hari who wears supreme happiness as Ornament,
The Goddess Lakshmi is attracted,
Like the black bees getting attracted,
To the unopened buds of black Tamala tree,
Let her who is the Goddess of all good things,
Grant me a glance that will bring prosperity.
Mugdha muhurvidhadhadathi vadhane Murare,
Mala dhrishotmadhukareeva maheth pale ya,
Sa ne sriyam dhisathu sagarasambhavaya.
Again and again return ,those glances,
Filled with hesitation and love,
Of her who is born to the ocean of milk,
To the face of Murari,
Like the honey bees to the pretty blue lotus,
And let those glances shower me with wealth.
Ameelithaksha madhigamya mudha Mukundam
Akekara stiththa kaninika pashma nethram,
Bhoothyai bhavenmama bhjangasayananganaya.
With half closed eyes stares she on Mukunda,
Filled with happiness , shyness and the science of love,
On the ecstasy filled face with closed eyes of her Lord,
And let her , who is the wife of Him who sleeps on the snake,
Shower me with wealth.
Bahwanthare madhujitha srithakausthube ya,
Haravaleeva nari neela mayi vibhathi,
Kamapradha bhagavatho api kadaksha mala,
Kalyanamavahathu me kamalalayaya
He who has won over Madhu,
Wears the Kousthuba as ornament,
And also the garland of glances, of blue Indraneela,
Filled with love to protect and grant wishes to Him,
Of her who lives on the lotus,
And let those also fall on me,
And grant me all that is good..
Kalambudhaalithorasi kaida bhare,
Dharaadhare sphurathi yaa thadinganeva,
Mathu samastha jagatham mahaneeya murthy,
Badrani me dhisathu bhargava nandanaya
Like the streak of lightning in black dark cloud,
She is shining on the dark , broad chest,
Of He who killed Kaidaba,
And let the eyes of the great mother of all universe,
Who is the daughter of Sage Bharghava,
Fallon me lightly and bring me prosperity.
Praptham padam pradhamatha khalu yat prabhavath,
Mangalyabhaji madhu madhini manamathena,
Mayyapadetha mathara meekshanardham,
Manthalasam cha makaralaya kanyakaya.
The God of love could only reach ,
The killer of Madhu,
Through the power of her kind glances,
Loaded with love and blessing
And let that side glance ,
Which is auspicious and indolent,
Fall on me.
Viswamarendra padhavee bramadhana dhaksham,
Ananda hethu radhikam madhu vishwoapi,
Eshanna sheedhathu mayi kshanameekshanartham,
Capable of making one as king of Devas in this world,
Her side long glance of a moment,
Made Indra regain his kingdom,
And is making Him who killed Madhu  supremely happy.
And let her with her blue lotus eyes glance me a little.
Ishta visishtamathayopi yaya dhayardhra,
Dhrishtya thravishta papadam sulabham labhanthe,
Hrishtim prahrushta kamlodhara deepthirishtam,
Pushtim krishishta mama pushkravishtaraya.
To her devotees and those who are great,
Grants she a place in heaven which is difficult to attain,
Just by a glance of her compassion filled eyes,
Let her sparkling eyes which are like the fully opened lotus,
Fall on me and grant me all my desires.
Asminna kinchina vihanga sisou vishanne,
Dhushkaramagarmmapaneeya chiraya dhooram,
Narayana pranayinee nayanambhuvaha.
Please send your mercy which is like wind,
And shower the rain of wealth on this parched land,,
And quench the thirst of this little chataka bird,
And likewise ,drive away afar my load of sins,
Oh, darling of Narayana,
By the glance from your cloud like dark eyes.
Gheerdhevathethi garuda dwaja sundarithi,
Sakambhareethi sasi shekara vallebhethi,
Srishti sthithi pralaya kelishu samsthitha ya,
Thasyai namas thribhvanai ka guros tharunyai.
She is the goddess of Knowledge,
She is the darling of Him who has Garuda as flag,
She is the power that causes of death at time of deluge,
And she is the wife of Him who has the crescent,
And she does the creation , upkeep and destruction at various times,
And my salutations to this lady who is worshipped by all the three worlds.
Sruthyai namosthu shubha karma phala prasoothyai,
Rathyai namosthu ramaneeya gunarnavayai,
Shakthyai namosthu satha pathra nikethanayai,
Pushtayi namosthu purushotthama vallabhayai.
Salutations to you as Vedas which give rise to good actions,
Salutation to you as Rathi for giving the most beautiful qualities,
Salutation to you as Shakthi ,who lives in the hundred petalled lotus,
And salutations to you who is Goddess of plenty,
And is the consort of Purushottama.
Namosthu naleekha nibhananai,
Namosthu dhugdhogdhadhi janma bhoomayai,
Namosthu somamrutha sodharayai,
Namosthu narayana vallabhayai.
Salutations to her who is as pretty.
As the lotus in full bloom,
Salutations to her who is born from ocean of milk,
Salutations to the sister of nectar and the moon,
Salutations to the consort of Narayana.
Namosthu hemambhuja peetikayai,
Namosthu bhoo mandala nayikayai,
Namosthu devathi dhaya prayai,
Namosthu Sarngayudha vallabhayai.
Salutations to her who has the golden lotus as seat,
Salutations to her who is the leader of the universe,
Salutations to her who showers mercy on devas,
And salutations to the consort of Him who has the bow called Saranga.
Namosthu devyai bhrugu nandanayai,
Namosthu vishnorurasi sthithayai,
Namosthu lakshmyai kamalalayai,
Namosthu dhamodhra vallabhayai.
Salutations to her who is daughter of Bhrigu,
Salutations to her lives on the holy chest of Vishnu,
Salutations to Goddess Lakshmi who lives in a lotus,
And saluations to her who is the consort of Damodhara.
Namosthu Kanthyai kamalekshanayai,
Namosthu bhoothyai bhuvanaprasoothyai,
Namosthu devadhibhir archithayai,
Namosthu nandhathmaja vallabhayai.
Salutations to her who is light living in Lotus flower,
Salutations to her who is the earth and also mother of earth,
Salutations to her who is worshipped by Devas,
And salutations to her who is the consort of the son of Nanda.
Sampath karaani sakalendriya nandanani,
Samrajya dhana vibhavani saroruhakshi,
Twad vandanani dhuritha haranodhythani,
Mamev matharanisam kalayanthu manye.
Giver of wealth, giver of pleasures to all senses,
Giver of the right to rule kingdoms,
She who has lotus like eyes,
She to whom Salutations remove all miseries fast,
And my mother to you are my salutations.
Yath Kadaksha samupasana vidhi,
Sevakasya sakalartha sapadha,
Santhanodhi vachananga manasai,
Twaam murari hridayeswareem bhaje
He who worships your sidelong glances,
Is blessed by all known wealth and prosperity,
And so my salutations by word, thought and deed,
To the queen of the heart of my Lord Murari.
Sarasija nilaye saroja hasthe,
Dhavalathamamsuka gandha maya shobhe,
Bhagavathi hari vallabhe manogne,
Tribhuvana bhoothikari praseeda mahye
She who sits on the Lotus,
She who has lotus in her hands,
She who is dressed in dazzling white,
She who shines in garlands and sandal paste,
The Goddess who is the consort of Hari,
She who gladdens the mind,
And she who confers prosperity on the three worlds,
Be pleased to show compassion to me.
Dhiggasthibhi kanaka kumbha mukha vasrushta,
Sarvahini vimala charu jalaapluthangim,
Prathar namami jagathaam janani masesha,
Lokadhinatha grahini mamrithabhi puthreem.
Those eight elephants from all the diverse directions,
Pour from out from golden vessels,
The water from the Ganga which flows in heaven,
For your holy purifying bath,
And my salutations in the morn to you ,
Who is the mother of all worlds,
Who is the house wife of the Lord of the worlds,
And who is the daughter of the ocean which gave nectar.
Kamale Kamalaksha vallabhe twam,
Karuna poora tharingithaira pangai,
Prathamam pathamakrithrimam dhyaya
She who is the Lotus,
She who is the consort,
Of the Lord with Lotus like eyes,
She who has glances filled with mercy,
Please turn your glance on me,
Who is the poorest among the poor,
And first make me the vessel ,
To receive your pity and compassion.
Sthuvanthi ye sthuthibhirameeranwaham,
Thrayeemayim thribhuvanamatharam ramam,
Gunadhika guruthara bhagya bhagina,
Bhavanthi the bhuvi budha bhavithasayo.
He who recites these prayers daily,
On her who is personification of Vedas,
On her who is the mother of the three worlds,
On her who is Goddess Rema,
Will be blessed without doubt,
With all good graceful qualities,
With all the great fortunes that one can get,
And would live in the world,
With great recognition from even the learned.