Yesterday was Mahashivaratri and I saw pictures of the Shankaracharya temple in Kashmir being all lit up after many decades…
Obviously I knew nothing about the Shankaracharya Temple of Kashmir. I only knew that Adi Sankara had spent time in Kashmir at the Sharada Peeth. Enter Wikipedia and I found out that he had visited the Jyetheswar temple (now renamed Shankaracharya Temple) and the hill on which the temple is located was known as Gopadri hill. Adi Sankara, composed the Soundarya Lahiri shloka on this particular hill.
The Soundarya Lahiri shloka has 103 verses and it defines the grace and beauty of Dakshayani or Parvati, Shiva’s consort.
When I read about the Soundarya Lahari being composed by Adi Sankara on the Gopadri hill, it triggered a long lost memory from Shillong. One of Appa’s friends had found a cassette of Lalita Sahasranamam and Soundarya Lahiri recited by Smt. Sivananda Vijayalakshmi. Appa got a copy made and would play it early in the morning and Amma memorised the entire Lalitha Sahasranamam by listening to the tape. She still can recite it from memory and has recited it at several temples later on. I never learnt the Lalitha Sahasranamam but the way Smt Sivananda Vijayalakshmi recited it, I just loved the Soundarya Lahiri and would wait for that portion to come on :).
Ofcourse I searched for a YouTube or mp3 recording of the Soundarya Lahiri and found it. Do listen to it in the voice of Smt Sivananda Vijayalakshmi … something very different.