Category: Swans


My continuing search to uncover the hidden meaning behind the swans in my dream/divine visitation recently led me to the Soundarya Lahari. There is some debate with regard to its authors, and widely varying interpretations of the words and their meaning, so I can only provide what limited information I’ve found.

From wikipedia:

The Soundarya Lahari (Sanskrit: सौन्दर्यलहरी) meaning “Waves Of Beauty” is a famous literary work in Sanskrit believed to be written by sage Pushpadanta and Adi Shankara. Its hundred and three shlokas (verses) eulogize the beauty, grace and munificence of Goddess Parvati / Dakshayani, consort of Shiva.

The Soundarya Lahari is not only a poem. It is a tantra textbook, giving instructions on Puja and offerings, many yantras, almost one to each shloka; describes tantric ways of performing devotion connected to each specific shloka; and details the results ensuing therefrom.

The Soundarya Lahari is often viewed as being composed of two parts.

Verses 1 – 41 describe the mystical experience of the union of Shiva and Shakti and related phenomena. In fact, it opens with the assertion that Only when Shiva is united with Shakti does he have the power to create.

First 41 verses cover the detailed account of internal worship of the Mother. It consists of systematic exposition of the concept of kundalini, Sri Chakra, mantras (verses 32, 33). This depicts the Supreme Reality as non-dual but with a distinction between Shiva and Shakti, the power holder and Power, Being and Will. The Power, that is, the Mother or Maha Tripura Sundari, becomes the dominant factor and the power holder or Shiva becomes a substratum.

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Although translations vary,  swans are definitely mentioned twice in the Soundarya Lahari (v. 38 & 91). Verse 38 is of particular interest, because it speaks of a swan pair.

Samunmeelath samvithkamala makarandhaika rasikam
Bhaje hamsadwandham kimapi mahatham maanasacharam
Yadhalapaa dhashtadasa gunitha vidhyaparinathi
Yadadhathe doshad gunamakhila madhbhaya paya eva

I pray before the swan couple,
Who only enjoy the honey ,
From the fully open,
Lotus flowers of knowledge,
And who swim in the lake ,
Which is the mind of great ones,
And also who can never be described.
From them come the eighteen arts,
And they differentiate the good from the bad,
Like the milk from water.

source

Here’s another translation of this verse:

O Devi, I meditate before the two Swans who drink and enjoy the honey from the lotus of knowledge. The swans swim in the lake which is nothing but the mind of great personalities. The 18 arts are created from the sweet utterings of these swans. They separate the good from the bad like water from milk. (Here the two swans are referring to Lord Shiva and Shakti).

The eighteen arts mentioned in Shlokam No. 38 are; 4 Vedas, Siksha, Kalpam, Vyakaranam, Niruktam, Sandas, Jyotisham, Meemamsam, Nyayam, Puranam, Dharma Shastram, Ayurvedam, Dhanurvedam, Gandarva Vedam and Needi Shastram.  -Source

So, God appeared unto me in a dream as a pair of swans, or hamsas. Could the swans represent Shiva and Shakti?

“In the Tantric cosmology, the whole universe is perceived as being created, penetrated and sustained by two fundamental forces, which are permanently in a perfect, indestructible union. These forces or universal aspects are called Shiva and Shakti.”  -Source

……………………………………………..Shiva and Shakti are one and the same……………………………………

There is no place that He is not.
There is no place that She is not.
They are one and the same.

She is in every thing.
She is in every word.
She is all there is.

See Her in all things.
Hear Her in all sounds.
Know Her in all thoughts.
Feel Her in all feelings.
She is all there is.

She is the one in the three worlds.

Shiva and Shakti are one and the same.

That is the secret.


 

I’m also driven to understand the rest of my dream, which I have not yet described. The short version is that I passed through two large rooms or courtyards, which opened to the sky. The walls were covered with complex geometrical inscriptions, carved in precious stones and metals, and they were humming and vibrating with warm energy, a life force which spoke to my soul, comforting me and inviting me inside.  I then entered a third dark limitless area in which the swans appeared. These details are also very significant, and I’ll attempt to address that in future posts.

Related info:

A Digest of Discourses on Soundaryalahari (pdf)
Soundarya Lahari sung by Mambalam Sisters on YT

Ever since God appeared to me in a dream as a pair of swans, I’ve wondered about the significance of those swans.

Why swans? Why not doves, pheasants, or elephants? Prior to that blessed experience, I had no particular attraction to swans, other than I thought they were a pretty and graceful animal. Occasionally I’d photograph them swimming on a nearby lake, but that was the extent of my interest in the creature, and I didn’t associate swans with anything spiritual.

When this happened, way back in 1999, I was working very long hours, often 7 days a week, and I had no computer or internet access. Very little  time and energy for book stores or libraries either. Soon years had passed, and only recently was I finally able to afford a computer and begin researching swans and how they relate to God and the divine. Unfortunately I’m disappointed to have found very little information which might shed more light on my particular experience.

I do however distinctly recall reading somewhere… possibly in the Upanishads or similar literature, it being said that “In times of great distress God may choose to visit us in our dreams in the form of a swan.” I could kick myself for not bookmarking or remembering the source, and I’m still trying to dig it back up. But at the time I read those words, I was so enchanted and overjoyed by my encounter with God, it didn’t really seem to matter. I didn’t need any outside confirmation that what I’d experienced was a legitimate divine visitation, not merely a dream. Still, it was quite lovely to read the words and discover I’m not the only person on the planet who knows God visits us this way. I fell to my knees, thanking and praising God with tears in my eyes.

Now before I continue, I’d like to explain why I still haven’t published a detailed account of my experience. It’s mostly because I currently don’t have access to my original notes. Not long after this occurred, while the memory was still fresh in my mind, I took pen to paper to accurately describe the experience. Over a decade has passed, and my memories have faded.  So I’d really like to get my hands on those notes before attempting to relate my experience to others. Sadly the notes are buried somewhere deep in storage hundreds of miles away, so I’m forced to hold off on that. And I also want to accompany my story with detailed illustrations, which I’m presently unable to produce because I lack the proper tools. In the meantime, all I can do is keep this website running, in the hope of finding others who’ve had a similar or identical experience, and try to gain more insight into the meaning behind those mystical, magical, miraculous swans.

Clearly the swan, or Hamsa, has great spiritual significance in Hindu belief, and in yoga. The swan is the vehicle or Vāhana of Lord Brahma and Goddess Saraswathi. Primarily it symbolizes discrimination. It is told the Hamsa is bestowed with the ability to separate milk from water, or truth from illusion, the eternal from the impermanent, etc.

When I was a teen, first learning about yoga and seeking God, I recall filling a scrap book with magazine clippings. Photo reminders of everything I identified as being Māyā (माया) or illusion. Things like physical beauty, sex appeal, drugs, money, jewelry, fancy clothes and so on. Fleeting worldly delights so many seek, covet and hoard. I did this in the hope it would keep me from falling under their wicked spell and lose my faith. Lose sight of God and eternal truth.

So for me the significance of God manifesting as swans was to say; Don’t lose your ability to discriminate between truth and illusion. Don’t give in to earthly desires, or fear or hatred. Don’t forget who and what you truly are. You are the swan, the Hamsa, and this is your home. I am your home.

It makes good sense, considering how I’d strayed far from God’s light and was drifting deeply into a hellish black abyss of depression, anger, fear, and ignorance.
But why two swans, instead of one, or three or seven? And why did they move together, side by side, and arch their strong wings in perfect sync? Surely there is also importance to this. Surely God knows what he’s doing.

The synchronized pair of swans represented unity and harmony, but perhaps also symbolized duality, as taught in Advaita philosophy.

Advaita (a+dvaita = non-duality) simply means that the Source, by whatever name known – Primal Energy, Consciousness, Awareness, Plenitude, God – is Unicity, Oneness, Non-duality. The manifestation that arises or emerges from the Source is based on duality, the inevitable existence of interconnected opposites: male and female, beauty and ugliness, good and evil. At any moment there are bound to be interconnected opposites. The sage accepts the duality that is the basis of life and is anchored in peace and tranquility while facing the pleasures and pains of life exactly like the ordinary person. The ordinary person does not accept the duality, the existence of interconnected opposites at any moment of life, chooses between them and is unhappy. The sage accepts the ‘duality’ of life; the ordinary person chooses between the interconnected opposites, and lives in the unhappiness of ‘dualism’.

source

So maybe God was reminding me there is no real separation between anything. Not this and that, or up and down, good and evil, earth and heaven, or you and I, or us and God. They’re two halves of the same coin. To attain inner peace we must realize and accept this truth. And never forget everything in this world will at some point turn to dust.. slip through our hands like the sands of time. Only God is eternal everlasting truth.

I suppose I could pick away at the mystery and meaning forever, but it really doesn’t need to be so complicated. The brilliant white light that streamed from the swan’s wings was the true message. The light that came the night I surrendered my soul to God. And that message was… You are dearly loved. I have not forgotten you, little cygnet. You’ve forgotten your true self, that’s all. You’ve forgotten who and what you really are. So now that you’ve finally surrendered yourself to me, here I am and this is where you forever belong.

Thank you Lord, for that wonderful gift. I only wish I could share your message with the world, with something better than crude words. I wish that you would visit every man woman and child this way, as swans of love and light. But I suppose each of us must find you in our own time and way. Maybe the only way we can see those splendid swans is through total unconditional surrender.

It’s never too late to surrender your life and soul directly to God, and if you do I hope the swans will come to you. No need for intermediaries, because he can hear your thoughts wherever you are. But before you do… be sure you’re sincere about it, or you might be ignored. God knows the difference between true surrender and empty promises.

Artwork by Pat Brennan

Who am I?

I am that
I am that I am
I myself am the Swan

Soham (so ‘ham सो ऽहम्) is the Sanskrit for “I myself” or “It is I” or “He is I”.

The mantra is also inverted from so ‘ham (the sandhi of saḥ + aham) to ham + sa. The combination of so ‘haṃ haṃsaḥ has also been interpreted as “I myself am the Swan”, where the swan symbolizes the Atman. “Atman” is the individual soul or essence. The essence that is eternal, unchanging, and indistinguishable from the essence of the universe.

In the Bible, when God was asked what his name is, He answered ” I Am That I Am’. In Sanskrit, the most ancient of languages, the sound of the inhalation is termed So, and the exhalation is Ham. Combined, the word Soham is translated as “I Am He/That”. So, whenever you are doing this technique, you are calling on God. Every breath thus becomes a prayer and adoration. Soham is referred to as the “Mahamantra”, the Greatest Mantra, and is considered along with Om to be the most powerful of all techniques. The divine energy of Soham is limitless heavenly love and light. -source

Related info:

Soham (or Sohum) mantra audio example (mp3) courtesy of swamij.com
Meditation on the white swan (Hunsani)

I am that I am (Vivekananda)


Saraswati, सरस्वती, சரஸ்வதி : Goddess of knowledge, music and the arts. She is the consort of Brahma, and is considered to be the mother of the Vedas. There are varying interpretations of the word & name Sarasvati, eg; The one who gives the essential knowledge, or essence (Sara) of our own self (sva)… and, “saras” (meaning “flow”) and “wati” (meaning “a woman”).

Namaste 🙂

I created this site in the hope of finding the rare few souls in this world who have experienced a profound spiritual epiphany involving swans.

Many years ago, I surrendered my soul wholly and unconditionally to God, during a terribly dark and painful time in my life.

It is my unwavering belief, that I was subsequently visited by God, that very same day, in a dream. God appeared to me from within the darkness, manifesting as a pair of snow white swans. The swans glided out of the shadows upon the waters of a long fountain – and in unison – arched their wings high, then swept them across the surface of the water toward me. I was showered with a brilliant burst of white light, and an incredible feeling of love, joy, compassion, understanding, unity, harmony, and belonging, poured through the core of my soul.

I’m gradually writing a detailed account of that blessed experience. However, it may take a long time before my work is complete. I ask that those of you who are interested be patient. My life is constantly changing, often in upheaval, and this is a rather complicated and difficult task.

In the meantime, if you believe that you also were visited by a divine presence or force, God, manifesting in the shape of a swan, or if you know more about this splendid phenomenon, please contact me. I’d love to hear your story and learn as much as I can.

Sincerely,

~Cygnus

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