Syamala Dandaka: Top to Toe

The first three parts of the daṇḍaka (by part we are referring to each of the five lines, or quarters, of the huge single verse that is the daṇḍaka) describe the goddess from head to toe. We start with her lustrous hair, and working our way along her nose ring, lips, breasts, bangles and toe nails, we end with her feet, where we find another contender for the longest word ever written. Here the translators have created a mirror image of the Sanskrit, starting with the goddess’ lotus feet which seem to be stained with lac, and ending with the assembled gods and the explanation for that appearance of lac – as the gods bend in obeisance before her, the rubies in their crowns cast a reddish light upon her feet.





Your lotus feet seem dyed in virgin tints of luxuriant lac,

as crimson as the youthful sun,

on rinsing in the radiance of rubied crowns

gracing the bowèd heads of a myriad gods:

the lord of devas

the lord of fortune

the lord of spirits

the lord of water

the lord of Vāṇi

the netherworlded lord

the lord of daityas

the lord of yakṣas*

Vāyu and Agni;

O woman,

bearing the beautiful lotus,


*The gods listed are Indra, Viṣṇu, Śiva, Varuṇa, Brahmā, Yama, Nirṛti and Kubera.


This is the second post in the series on Śyāmalā Daṇḍaka. To learn more about the Rasāla edition, and/or to purchase a copy of the print or eBook, please click here.

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