saundarya lahari vyasa bhashyam

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Sri Saundaryalahari Namastripurasundaryai! Namo Chandramouleshwaraya! Chandrashekhara Chandrashekhara Chandrashekhara Paahi Maam! Jaya Jaya Shankara! Here is a brief translation of Anandalahari with explanation by Adi Shankara himself, in the physical form of Sri Chandrashekharendra Saraswati, the Jagadguru Shankaracharya Mahaswamigal of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti, who we love to refer to as ‘Mahaperiyaval’ with love. This is the greatest bliss that men have relished in the recent times and I dedicate this to all devotees of Sri Kamakshi with permission from Sri Jayendra Saraswati Mahaswamigal. I would like to share a small personal experience that I was fortunate to have in the holy presence of Sri Paramacharya. On a visit to Kanchi, standing in front of Brindavanam, lost in the beauty of his feet, I began to sing a Kriti ‘Chandrashekharam Ashraye’ in Kiravani Raga. A few days later, after I returned to Bangalore, I had a vision of Sri Paramacharya one morning in the early hours of dawn. He smilingly kicked me with his legs, lifted me with his both hands, placed his hand file:///C|/Documents%20and%20Settings/sbalijepalli/Desktop/Sri%20Saundaryalahari%20Bhashyam.htm (1 of 50)5/16/2005 7:11:16 AM

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Page 1: Saundarya Lahari Vyasa Bhashyam

Sri Saundaryalahari Bhashyam


Sri Saundaryalahari

Namastripurasundaryai! Namo Chandramouleshwaraya! Chandrashekhara Chandrashekhara Chandrashekhara Paahi Maam!Jaya Jaya Shankara! Here is a brief translation of Anandalahari with explanation by Adi Shankara himself, in the physical form of Sri Chandrashekharendra Saraswati, the Jagadguru Shankaracharya Mahaswamigal of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti, who we love to refer to as ‘Mahaperiyaval’ with love. This is the greatest bliss that men have relished in the recent times and I dedicate this to all devotees of Sri Kamakshi with permission from Sri Jayendra Saraswati Mahaswamigal. I would like to share a small personal experience that I was fortunate to have in the holy presence of Sri Paramacharya. On a visit to Kanchi, standing in front of Brindavanam, lost in the beauty of his feet, I began to sing a Kriti ‘Chandrashekharam Ashraye’ in Kiravani Raga. A few days later, after I returned to Bangalore, I had a vision of Sri Paramacharya one morning in the early hours of dawn. He smilingly kicked me with his legs, lifted me with his both hands, placed his hand

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on my head and said, “Kutti! You sang well. But you made a mistake. You said ‘Shankaradi Shashtitama Yativaram’. That means I am the 60th pontiff in the lineage of sages, starting from Adi Shankaracharya. But I am the 68th. So you should say, ‘Shankaraashtashashtitama Yativaram’. And by the way, I am from Karnataka, the place where you stay. Come back to visit me again in Kanchi”. With these words, he disappeared. The bliss I felt during his presence continues to run through even as I am typing these words. I hope the readers of this divine hymn will experience the same bliss, emanating from the words of Srimadacharya. I have added some notes from the ten major commentaries on Saundaryalahari and some personal views, which are open to criticism and correction. These are mainly dealing with Kundalini yoga and mantra Shastra and Advaita, which my Guru has taught me and some others have struck me while reading this hymn. I bow down to the feet of Sri Kamakshi, who has blessed me in the form of Shankara Traya: as Shankara Dakshinamurthy, as Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada and my beloved guru Sri K P Shankara Shastrigal.

Vande Gurum Shankaram…..

Bliss is the source of all created beings. Bliss here and beyond is one object universally desired by all creatures. The pleasures experienced by the physical senses of Man are transient and mingled with suffering. Unalloyed and ever-lasting bliss could be experienced only when man gets release from the cycle of births and deaths. This release could be obtained only through a clear and comprehensive knowledge of God, soul and matter. Such knowledge is beyond the view of human physical senses and could be had only from omniscient Veda, the repository of the transcendental wisdom revealed to the pure saintly souls who meditated deep and long to discover the Supreme Truth. The knowledge of the Atman and Brahman could be obtained only study under a teacher, enquiry and cogitation, and intensive meditation on the self as not different from Brahman as elucidated in the scriptures. Meditation on an attributeless all-pervasive Brahman is possible for highly evolved souls who have reached an advanced stage of spiritual progress, through self-control, devotion and divine grace. For the benefit of the less advanced spiritual seekers, the benign Veda has also presented the Brahman with attributes or qualities with a name and form for easy mental comprehension and contemplation.

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The great incarnation of Sri Dakshinamurti, Sri Adi Shankaracharya was both the commentator on the three foundational texts of Vedanta and also the founder of the six devotional modes centering on six conceptions of the Supreme Paramatman. Though pure philosophers may find some contradiction in this co-existence of philosophy and allegiance to a personalistic form of worship in one and the same thinker, Indian spiritual tradition finds no such contradiction in such a combination. The Acharya is not a mere mental gymnast like many of the Western philosophers. He clearly demonstrated that Principle and Personality have to go together if man’s spiritual life is to move on even keel, that the highly philosophic Atman – Parabrahman doctrine of the Vedanta has to be clothed in a personal conception of the Deity, if it is to be of any significance to the ordinary man. It is only in the light of this peculiarity of the Indian spiritual tradition that we can understand how the Vedantic philosopher par excellence, Sri Adi Acharya could also be the composer of great hymns devoted to the important personalized conceptions of the deity adored as Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti and Ganesha. Saundaryalahari is the most important hymn devoted to Parashakti and it forms the fundamental text of the Dakshinachara Shakta cult, propagating the worship of Parabrahman as the Mother of the Universe, with a philosophic background of its own which is Advaitic, but absolutely realistic. Srimadacharya was no professor of philosophy who taught philosophy as an independent subject. His mission was to raise people up including those not capable of grasping his lofty teachings, raising them up, little by little, according to their different levels of maturity and understanding. To those who were incapable of taking the path of Jnana, he imparted instructions in a thorough manner through his Prakarana works and commentaries. He taught others, devotion exhorting them to follow a life of Karma in accordance with their Swadharma. The Saundaryalahari eminently shares the characteristics of:

1. A poem describing the finest touches of poetical fancy. 2. A devotional hymn in praise of Mahatripurasundari. 3. A series of secret Mantras and Yantras to be used by the Sadhaka in his Srividya Upasana. 4. An exposition of the Agamas and Tantras, bearing on the worship of Parabrahman in its aspect of Chitshakti,

known as Srividya, embodying the underlying principles of Vaidika Dharma and as such having the sanction of the Vedas.

Srimadacharya reveals here, for the intelligent student, the fundamental and subtle truths of Vedanta. Out of compassion for the mediocre intellectual, he has also laid down the path of Bhakti as the means of salvation through Jnana. Saundaryalahari is the crest of all the devotional poetry he has composed; it also represents the crest (Shikhara) of his poetic genius. The metre in which it is composed is appropriately called ‘Shikharini’ and it has seventeen syllables per foot. There are thirty-six popular commentaries on this divine hymn. The most celebrated are:

1. Lakshmidharacharya’s Lakshmidharaa. 2. Kaivalyashrama’s Saubhagyavardhini. 3. Kameshwara Suri’s Arunamodini. 4. Ramakavi’s Dindima. 5. Akhandananda’s Kaivalyavardhini. 6. Gaurikanta Bhattacharya’s Anandalahari Tika. 7. Narasimha Swamin’s Gopalasundari. 8. Anandagiri’s Anandagiriyaa. 9. Nilakantha’s Tatparyadipini.

10. Padarthachandrika.

Considerable speculation exists about the authorship of this work. The tradition says that Srimadacharya brought the first forty-one verses from Kailasa. During the course of his pilgrimages, he transported himself to Kailasa and had the Darshan of Sridevi and Sri Parameshwara. At that time, Parameshwara gave him five Sphatika (crystal) Lingas and Sridevi gave him a sheaf of palm leaves. The palm-leaf manuscript contained a hymn of one hundred stanzas to the Supreme Parashakti. The five Lingas, each one of them, are Ishwara’s own form. These are the five Lingas that Srimadacharya installed later in Sringeri (Bhogalinga), Kanchi (Yogalinga), Kedara (Muktilinga), Nepal (Varalinga) and Chidambaram (Mokshalinga). Just as the Lingas are the form of Ishwara, the stanzas of the palm-leaf manuscript

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themselves constitute Amba because her very form is that of Srividya mantra. The hundred stanzas chiefly contained matters relating to Srividya Upasana. the one who gave, the one who received, the object that was given (Brahmavidya as Saundaryalahari), they were all one and the same. Here is the perfect example of Advaita. Nandikeshwara interrupted him when he was bringing the entire hundred Shlokas granted to him by Shiva along with five Lingas, and in the scuffle that ensued, Srimadacharya managed to take the first forty-one Shlokas, to which he added the remaining fifty-nine. The first forty-one Shlokas deal with subtle ideas of Mantra Shastra, Kundalini Yoga and the esoteric worship of Sri Mahatripurasundari, also known as Srividya. We do not know what the original hymn from Kailasa contained after the first forty-one stanzas. May be it dealt with additional matters pertaining to Mantra Shastra, subtle and esoteric elements of it, that are not available to this world of mortals and fit only for the divine world. Above all, only by making Srimadacharya compose the second part that it could be brought home to people that he and Parameshwara were the joint authors of the work. This would make them realize that both Shankaras are one and the same. There is nothing wrong in even ascribing the entire work to Srimadacharya even if we think that the first forty-one stanzas were brought by him from Kailasa. These stanzas had been inaccessible to us. The Rishis did not create the Vedic mantras. The sounds that eternally existed in space were grasped by these divine saints and presented in a form audible to us. Every mantra is known after a particular Rishi on account of the fact that it was revealed and propagated by him. Following this logic, the first forty-one stanzas of the hymn, which constitute a mantra Shastra may well be known after Srimadacharya it was he who brought them from Kailsa to be propagated in this world. There is nothing wrong in ascribing the work by the Shankara of Kailasa to the Shankara of Kalati since the two happen to be same. Some authorities say that these verses had been inscribed on the walls on Shiva’s abode in Kailasa with which Shiva is said to have ridiculed Saraswati, who claimed the authorship of this poem. It is also believed by some that Pushpadanta, the Yaksha known famously as the author of Shiva Mahimna Stotra, caused them to be inscribed on the Maha Meru Mountain, which Sri Gaudapaadaachaarya memorized and handed over to Srimadacharya. Yet another tradition ascribes the inscription on the walls of Kailasa to Ganesha. Tradition also says that this divine hymn appeared from the effulgence of the teeth of the primordial Shakti, Sri Lalita Parameshwari, and attributing its authorship to Vashini and other deities of speech. In the 108 names of Srimadacharya traditionally addressed in worship, the name “Saundaryalaharimukhya Bahustotra Vidhayakaya namaH” supports the authorship of Sri Shankaracharya. The first forty-one verses are found inscribed on the walls of the temple of Sri Sugandhakuntalamba, in the temple of Sri Matrubhuteshwara on the rock in Tiruchinapalli, in Tamilnadu and tradition also has it that Srimadacharya had them inscribed there on his way to Rameshwaram. Tradition also has it that he completed the poem and sang all the hundred verses of the poem before Sri Akhilandeshwari in Tiruvanaikoil, who’s Tatankas were installed by him. The tradition that Srimadacharya could have been the composer of this Shakta hymn becomes even more credible when we find weighty authorities, also of the past, supporting his authorship of Prapanchasara Tantra. Amalananda Yati – the author of Chaturvarga Chintamani, Sayana, his brother Madhava, Raghava Bhatta – the commentator on Sharadatilaka, Nilakantha, Appayya Dikshita, Bengali Pandits Raghunandana, Kishna Chandra Agamavagisha, Lakshmidhara and other commentators mentioned above, Sri Bhaskaracharya and Umanandanatha are some of the authorities who support this tradition. The weighty authority of all these ancient and accepted writers will have to be blindly set aside if the tradition regarding Acharya’s authorship of this poem is to be seriously doubted. The first forty-one stanzas, known as ‘Anandalahari’ or the ‘Flood of Bliss’ constitute Mantra Shastra. Only a few can understand and follow them in practice since very stringent rules are called for their observance. This part contains mantra yoga as well as Kundalini yoga. Even the slightest error on the part of the practitioner in the observance of these Yogas can have adverse effects. One cannot be careless in worshipping the Mother. She sports in many ways. Though she has laid down harsh rules for worship, involving severe discipline, she has also prescribed easier ways of Sadhana. Each way of worship has to be practiced strictly in the manner prescribed. Worshipping in temples, singing Bhajans, reciting Stotras or hymns, singing devotional musical compositions, listening to inspiring selections from the Smriti, perhaps these are the easy ways of worshipping Amba. If a devotee thinks that these are not enough and wants to take up other ways of worship like Japa, Yoga and Srichakra Pooja, believing he can practice them in any manner he likes, without the required discipline, Amba would consider it sheer wantonness on his part. The difficult ways of Sadhana in the worship of Amba should be left to those few who are capable of practicing them. Even though the later half is devotional in nature, this part also has great Mantrik potency. Each of the hundred stanzas of Saundaryalahari can be recited as a mantra and each yields its own separate fruit. Just as all that Midas touched became gold, all the words spoken by Srimadacharya are mantras. While all his utterances have imbued with the potency of the mantras, Saundaryalahari and Subrahmanya Bhujangam stand out in the list. It was when he fell ill once that he composed Subrahmanya Bhujangam. He believed that f he fell ill, it was for the purpose of his composing a

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hymn that could be recited by all for relief from their afflictions. The Subrahmanya Bhujanga Stotra is a mantra treatise and reciting it is a remedy for all diseases. Apart from curing various illnesses, this hymn Saundaryalahari cures the greatest of ills, Samsara. Among the praise of Sri Lalita Tripurasundari, the Aryaa Dwishati, also known as Lalita Stavaratna by Sage Durvasas, Muka Shankara’s Panchashati and Saundaryalahari are very important. In chronological order, Arya Dwishati comes first, followed by Saundaryalahari and then by Panchashati. The Saundaryalahari thus occupies, among the three, a central and commanding position. The Aryaa Dwishati is so called because it has two hundred stanzas devoted to Devi. It is composed of a rare metre called ‘Aryaa’. Besides, the subject of the hymns is also Aryaa, that is Amba. Durvasas, the Krodha Bhattaraka, is a well-known Srividya teacher with a variety of Srividya mantra named after him. To this day, the Navavarana Pooja in Kanchi Kamakshi Sannidhi takes place according to ‘Chintamani Kalpa’, a manual authored by this great sage exclusively for the worship of Sri Kamakshi, the Supreme physical manifestation of Sri Mahatripurasundari. That Amba manifested in his speech would be evident to those who read Dwishati. In his hymn, Durvasas has described in detail, Kameshwari in the form of Sri Rajarajeshwari, seated to the left of Sri Kameshwara on the Srichakra Mahabindu, adored by all the deities in the enclosures. Sri Kamakshi blessed a deaf and dumb devotee with the grace that flowed naturally from her Supremely beautiful eyes. The moment he received that grace, he brought down a shower (Ananda Vrishti) of five hundred stanzas in praise of Sri Kamakshi. Muka Panchashati is incredibly sweet. Saundaryalahari too has sweetness, but added to it is its depth, its profundity. Among Srimadacharya’s devotional works, Bhaja Govindam is the simplest and the easiest to understand. The Saundaryalahari is different; it is natural that it should have a number of somewhat difficult words since precision is called for in conveying thoughts of a subtle nature. When a great sculptor creates a divine image in a spirit of devotion and dedication, it would seem as if the deity so sculpted truly dwells in the mage. It is in this manner that Srimadacharya has composed the hymn, from an exalted plane, delighting himself again and again in the presence of Amba, in her endless beauty. And, throughout, he is moved by a spirit of dedication realizing as he does that his perception and understanding of Her and the words that pour out from his heart in describing her are but her own gift. The result is that the hymn itself becomes an image of Amba that is worthy of being extolled in a hymn of beauty. He creates words out of syllables, he strings together the words into the feet of the stanza, and then he connects together the stanzas to form an entire poetical work of devotion, like a garland of lovely flowers. If there is nectar in the actual flower, the sweetness arising out of our aesthetic appreciation of this poem is nectar to our mind. The poetry composed by a great sage like Srimadacharya in a state of ecstasy aroused by his perception of the Divine and during moments of self-forgetfulness is a product of Divine inspiration. Acharya says in the hundredth verse: “Mother, this, your hymn, is made up of your own words”. This hymn, besides being the product of divine grace, is itself capable of conferring grace on us. Those who actually saw Acharya for even just a second must have received their blessings the moment they cast their eyes on his holy feet. The world had the rare fortune of having Srimadacharya’s Darshan only for a period of 32 years. He must have been, out of his immense compassion, anxious that even after the end of his incarnation, people must have the benefit of his teachings. That is why he has gathered together all his grace, compressed and packed it so to speak, in his poems, hymns and songs that keep blessing people generation after generation. Through Saundaryalahari, we receive the wave of grace of Srimadacharya. To people reading Saundaryalahari, any number of hidden or inner meanings will reveal themselves according to their perception, maturity, learning, nature and standing in life. The term ‘Saundaryalahari’ occurs in the third of the stanzas describing Amba’s beautiful form, from had to toe. The Srichakra constitutes of forty-three triangles. Since the Bindu is also seen as a triangle, the number becomes forty-four. The Srichakra is not only the residence of Sridevi, it is indeed her form as a diagram i.e. her Yantra Swaroopa. With the 41st stanza, Acharya concludes with the part describing mantra Shastra. Even though he depicts Amba’s form in a manner that all people can take delight in without difficulty, he gives a hint of his interest in, and incomparable devotion to the Shastra and Srividya also by hinting at her Srichakra form in the 44th stanza, in which he uses the term ‘Saundaryalahari’ to describe the flood of beauty that Amba’s form is.

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To one of his compositions consisting of a hundred verses, Acharya gives the name ‘Shivanandalahari’, which yields the meaning, “The stream of joy associated with Shiva”. The name ‘Shiva’ is explicitly mentioned here. But in this set of hundred, no such prefix has been used to denote that the hymn is about Amba. The title is merely ‘Saundaryalahari’, which means the flood of beauty; it is not ‘Amba Saundaryalahari’ or ‘Devi Saundaryalahari’. The fact is Saundarya or beauty itself means Amba. When we refer to beauty of other gods and goddesses we have to specifically mention their names. But the source of their beauty is Amba; the material or commodity out of which their beauty has been made is Amba – Amba is the root of all beauty. That which makes all beautiful things beautiful, all beautiful creatures beautiful, that which is the be-all and end-all of everything that is beautiful is the beauty of Amba. The beauty of Amba alone is beautiful. So, while speaking of Amba’s beauty, we do no have to specifically use the word ‘Amba’s’ before ‘beauty’. Ten names of Sridevi are mentioned as the graces of Devi – Dasha Maha Vidyas. The Shastra relating to Sri Mahatripurasundari is spoken of as, “Sundari Vidya”. Among all forms of Amba, she is the most gentle, the most beautiful, hence the name ‘Sundari’. “I have had the vision of so many deities. But I have not seen anywhere a beautiful form like that of Sri Mahatripurasundari”, these words spoken by Sri Paramahamsa Ramakrishna are to be found in a book on him.

It is not in the title of the hymn alone that the name Mahatripurasundari does not figure; throughout the text also it does not. Not in a single stanza out of one hundred do we find ‘Mahatripurasundari’ mentioned even once. None of the

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names that particularly denote the presiding deity of Srividya is mentioned in it. Actually there are also very few of the names of the other forms of Amba used in this hymn. Among them, the most frequently seen are those of Girisutaa and Himigirisutaa. Names like Shivaa, Bhavani, Uma, Parvati, Chandi occur in one or two places. We come across names such as Janani, Mahatripurasundari, Amba and Devi which names can be used to denote any female deity and are not appellations specially signifying Parashakti inseparably united with Parameshwara. An important part of devotion is muttering the names of the deity one worships. Nama Rasa is the Rasa or delight derived by the devotee from such muttering of the divine names. Kavita Rasa is the aesthetic pleasure gained from poetic descriptions, from poetic fancy. If Nama Rasa is predominant, it will be at the expense of Kavita Rasa. It must have been Amba’s resolve that the hymn must be permeated with Kavita Rasa. That is why not much importance is given to the different names of Parashakti. The very first of the one hundred stanzas opens with the words, “ShivaH shaktyA yukto”. Here, we find an extremely significant name of Amba pertaining to Shakti. Amba is the energy or power of Parabrahman. This name, which occurs in the very first stanza, is not repeated again in the hymn. There are three stages of development in the life of a woman and these are characterized by three important relationships. At first, she is the daughter of her parents. Then she is the wife of her husband; and, finally, she is the mother of her children. Although the hymn refers to very few names of Amba, it does refer to names of hers that are appropriate to the three stages mentioned above. That it speaks of her as the wife of Lord Parameshwara and as the mother of the entire creation and the cosmos is not particularly noteworthy; such references are plentiful in any composition on Sridevi, written in any language. Among the many uncommon and novel features of Saundaryalahari is the fact that it has more names conveying the idea of her being a daughter than of her being a mother or wife. She is called Girisuta because she is called the daughter of the mountains i.e. Parvataraja Himalaya. The mother of the entire world and the trinity is also the mother of Himavan, but yet is his daughter! It was in remembrance of this wonderful phenomenon, in the thought of turning mother into daughter, that Srimadacharya has included more names of Amba denoting her position a daughter. Also, Himalaya signifies Prithvi Tatva or the element earth, which happens to be the element present in Moolaadhaara Chakra. Since Sridevi, who is non-different from Kundalini Shakti has her abode in this Chakra, she is referred to as Himagirisuta. Though Amba is the very embodiment of love, affection and compassion, she is also the Supreme queen Rajarajeshwari, the omnipotent one who subjugates all the worlds and rules over them. In Rahasya Nama Sahasra of Sri Lalita, the names coming immediately after ‘Srimata’ are Srimaharajni and Srimatsimhasaneshwari, indicating the authority wielded by her. We refer to the name of the queen only when absolutely necessary, but otherwise refer to her as ‘Your Majesty’. Since she is the very Self that pervades the entire creation, every being knows her as ‘I’. Thus, there would be no need to actually refer to this well-known queen with various names. This is one of the reasons Srimadacharya uses very few of her rather well known names. As we know, the first part of this hymn is referred to as ‘Anandalahari’. When we merely say ‘ananda’, it means the bliss of Amba. But what or who is Amba? The ‘Chit’ or knowledge aspect of Sri Parameshwara, who is ‘Sat’. Thus, the truth of Vedanta is indicated here that all experience of bliss derived from Jnana or knowledge. The many types of ananda that we experience are through the reflection of this ‘Chit’. The ultimate point of such experience is the non-dualistic bliss we experience by our being dissolved in this Chit and becoming the very form of Jnana. Amba is rooted or is the very personification of this Jnana too. In the Sahasranama it is mentioned that the bliss known to Brahma, Vishnu and others is but a drop of the bliss of Amba. That is why the first part of this hymn is called simply ‘Anandalahari’ without the name of Amba being added. In portraying the physical form, there is one order for male deities and another for female deities. The former have to be depicted from the feet to the head. This is known by various names: Paadaadi Keshaantam, Aapaadamastakam, Nakha-Shikha paryantam etc. the reverse order is observed for female deities: from the tresses of hair, the poet goes on portraying the forehead, the eyes and so on down to the feet. This is Keshaadi Paadaantam. This order is adopted in the first part of Sri Lalita Sahasranama and Saundaryalahari. The qualities or attributes of Amba are not different from her form. This hymn is also not something that is separate from her. Just as her infinite auspicious qualities have assumed a Keshaadi Paadaanta form through the parts of her body, the very Keshaadi Paada description of her body constitutes her verbal form. While concluding a devotional composition, it is customary to mention the specific fruits or rewards to be gained by reading the same. It is called ‘Phala Shruti’. In the concluding stanza of the Saundaryalahari, Srimadacharya says in all humility that it was out of unthinking rashness on his part that he composed the hymn to Amba using a few words from her own verbal cosmos. Also, the Acharya, instead of mentioning the benefits to be obtained by reciting this hymn, speaks only of the fruits yielded by worshipping Amba. Why has he done so? Two reasons may be mentioned. Since the Acharya does not possess the least trace of ego, he is averse to claiming that the hymn composed by him has the power to bring rewards. The second reason is the hymn itself is the form of Amba, her verbal personification. So to read

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it or recite it is to worship her. When the work extolling Amba is itself her embodiment, the fruits yielded by reciting it must be the same as those yielded by worshipping her. Can anyone in this creation be even minutely successful in describing the fruits obtained by worshiping Amba? “Only if conjoint with Shakti (Thyself), Lord Shiva is endowed with the power to create the universe. Otherwise, He is incapable even of movement. Therefore, who expect those endowed with great merits acquired in the past can be fortunate enough to either salute or praise thee, Mother Divine! Who art adored even by Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma and others?” – 1Srimadacharya Bhagavatpada commences the Anandalahari with the auspicious and pregnant expression “Shiva”, providing therein a benedictory invocation to the Supreme Being. In keeping with the time-hallowed tradition among great writers of Darshana literature, to forestall in essence the content of the entire work at the very beginning, the first stanza of this superb hymn may be said to contain the quintessence of Srividya. The reference to Shiva in this Shloka is to Parabrahman, the transcendental, all-pervading, supreme Parabrahman in his Nishkala or static aspect, described by the Mandukya Sruti thus: “Not that which is conscious of the internal subjective world, not that which is conscious of the external world, nor that which is conscious of both, nor that which is a mass of consciousness, nor that which is simple consciousness, nor is it conscious. It is unseen by any sense-organ, not related to anything, incomprehensible by the mind, uninferable, unthinkable, indescribable, essentially of the Self-alone, negation of all phenomenon, the peaceful, all bliss and non-dual.” [V111]Shakti is the primordial energy latent in thus undifferentiated, self-luminous, all-pervading consciousness, which manifests itself to create the universe after the great deluge or dissolution (Mahapralaya). This Shakti is not different from consciousness (Chit), their relation being one of inseparable concord (Avinabhava Sambandha) as between fire and its burning capacity, a subject and its attributes, speech and meaning etc. In other words, one does not exist without the other. The Shakti, in the form of vowels ‘i’ and ‘a’ is essential in combination with the consonants ‘S’ and ‘v’ to form ‘S+i’ + ‘v+a’ = ‘Siva’. The stir (Spanda) referred to in this verse is the desire to create and the manifestation of the static energy (Shakti) is the desire create and manifestation of the static energy (Shakti) in its kinetic or dynamic aspect. At this stage, according to Agamas like Suta Samhita (Chapter 13), Shakti becomes twofold and functions as Chitshakti and Maya or Jadashakti, which evolve into the multitudinous animate and inanimate Universe. Shiva and Shakti are respectively the Absolute Being and the Absolute Power inherent in the former. Shakti means the three- Iccha (Will), Jnana (knowledge) and Kriya (action). Though in abstract thought, Shiva and Shakti can be referred to separately, they are one – the inseparable Absolute. In their ‘togetherness’, the mighty universe of Becoming comes into existence. For purposes of worship, they are personified as Shiva and Shakti, the Father and Mother of the universe. The word Shiva comes from the root ‘Vashati’, to shine. Therefore the word means, ‘He who is the self-conscious light of intelligence’ or ‘He who illumines, i.e., reveals the Universe’. It can also be derived from the root ‘Shin’, ‘to sleep or dream’, and interpreted as ‘He who negates the sleep of ignorance’. Shakti means the power of manifesting the universe. Shiva the power holder (Shaktiman) and Shakti, the power, though one, are yet conceived as distinct, and in the creative process, Shakti is conceived as manifesting the universe without in any way losing her inherent unity with Shiva. In Shaiva, Vaishnava sects also, Shakti is represented as female counterpart. But in these sects, Shakti is always an accessory of the Deity. But in the Shakta system, Shakti is not a mere accessory of Shiva, but is of equal importance in the Samaya system. She is the dominant element in the Kaula system. This equality or dominance of Shakti is the characteristic feature of Shakta system. Obeisance or worship is of three kinds: bodily (Kayika), Vocal (Vachika) and mental (Manasika). ‘Pranantum’ meaning ‘bowing’ is a form of bodily worship. To one who is incapable of all the above three modes of worship, at least praising or Stotra is suggested in this verse. It may be recollected that Amba asks us to chant Sri Rahasya Sahasranama by which all merits may be easily obtained. However, that is also possible by her grace alone. In this verse, the word ‘Adi’ in the third line has been interpreted to mean:

1. Indra and the other Devas.2. The four (three) Vedas.3. The great devotees noted for the worship of Sridevi.

Specific reference having been made to the trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra, the word ‘Adi’ is held as denoting the lower rung of celestials like Indra and the lords of the quarters or directions by some scholars. The Vedas, which reveal the true nature of Brahman and Shakti, may also be indicated by this word. The verse ‘Srutinam moordhano’, which is the 84th Shloka of Saundaryalahari lends support to this interpretation. The word ‘Adi’ may also refer to the great galaxy

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of Devi worshippers- Devas and seers- among who are the celebrated are Manu, Chandra, Kubera, Manmatha, Lopamudra, Sage Agastya, Skanda, Dattatreya, Indra and sage Durvasa. Some texts also mention Nandikeshwara, Surya, Yama, Shankara and Vishnu as well. The compound word ‘Hariharavirinchyaadi’ also indicates the Pranava ‘Aum’ which is a combine of ‘a’, ‘u’ and ‘m’, representing Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra. The stanza indicates that when we speak of Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra and other deities giving the boons of Bhoga and Moksha, it is the supreme Parashakti who functions through them and hence the point of fulfillment or climax of the worship of all other Gods and Goddesses is the beginning of Srividya Upasana. The 35 consonants, by Vyashti and Samashti considerations (severally and together) representing the 36 Tatvas of the agamas, represent Shiva. They need Shakti, who represents the 16 vowels, for their articulation. Thus, the matrikas or the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet represent the Shiva-Shakti Samarasya, from which the universe of Shabda and Artha is evolved. This clearly is a proof for the Samaya theory. From the point of view of mantra Shastra, this Shloka is a treasure house of great mantras. Important mantras that are derived from this Shloka are: Prasada, Anuttara, Matrika or Malini, Vagvadini, Saivapanchakshari, Pashadi Tryakshari, Kadi Vidya, Hadi Vidya, Pranava etc. the first half of the Shloka has sixteen words which indicate the highly secretive Shodashakshari mantra. This verse also has got a reference to the Srichakra, the most sacred and recondite symbol representing Shiva and Shakti in cosmic evolution. The term Shiva stands for the half of the Srichakra, which includes the four Shiva triangles, and the term Shakti stands for the other half of the Chakra having the five triangles of Shakti, both together constituting the Srichakra, which represents the Shiva-Shakti in evolution. The verse ‘ChatubhiH Shiva chakraishcha’ from Brahmanda Purana illustrates the same. Though liberation is the goal aimed at by all votaries of Srividya, still, in view of the various ways of approach due to the differences in temperament, idiosyncrasy, as well as their intellectual and spiritual advancement, there is room for the said goal being looked upon from various angles of vision. Let us consider each of these views separately. VEDANTA Only when in conjunction with the Shakti, (the Maya with the two-fold functions of Avarana – veiling the real, and Vikshepa – showing the unreal, not independently however of the Brahman, which is Shiva) would Shiva (the auspicious, undefiled Bliss, i.e. the Brahman which is Existence, Consciousness and Bliss – Sat – Chit – Ananda, and becomes Ishwara when amalgamated with Maya) acquire the power to create (sustain and destroy the elements, Ether, etc. and the variances evolved out of them, as also to become one with them); otherwise the Lord (who indulges in the pastimes of creation, sustenance and destruction) becomes incapable of even stirring (not to speak of engaging in the direction of such pastimes). While so, how dares one who has not purified his mind by the accumulation of virtuous deeds through many a previous incarnation, has not studied intensively the Upanishadic lore and attained Self-realization through the grace of his Guru, and thereby been enabled to comprehend Thy real nature by the removal of the cobweb of illusion, either to salute (by way of bidding adieu to Thee) or to extol (with a view of being spared Thy attentions) Thee (that has endowed even Ishwara with such powers and that art proficient in rendering what is impossible, possible), (O Maya!), that art worthy of being served even by Hari, the sustainer, Rudra, the destroyer and Brahma, the creator and others (of that type, subject to Avidya)? SANKHYA Only when in conjunction with Shakti (Prakriti, the blind creative energy, endowed with the three Gunas: Satva, Rajas and Tamas – rhythm, mobility and inertia) would Shiva (the lame Purusha, called Ishwara) characterized by indifference and not capable of acting independently, acquire the reputation of being the creator of the world. Should it be otherwise, Ishwara becomes totally incapable of even stirring, much more so, of any action he is reputed to be the author of, as it is from the Prakriti, in the presence of the Purusha, that the Mahat, Ahamkara, Tanmatras etc. in their order, have had their origin. While it is so, how dares one who has not acquired Thy Satva Guna (and hence the proper knowledge derived from a study of the Kapila’s system, with the guidance of a guru) to salute or to sing the praise of Thee, that art worthy of being served even by the Trinity (each one of them, by partaking of the Satva, Tamas and rajas of thy Gunas, in their work of sustenance, destruction and creation respectively) and such others? SRIVIDYA Only when frolicking with the Shakti (His Shakti Sri Haimavati, seated on His lap) would Shiva (possessed of

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infinite auspicious qualities, from whom Bhava- creator, Mrda – the sustainer, and Hara- the destroyer take their origin, who has His seat on Mount Kailsa and in the innermost core of the Srichakra) be capable of procreating (as his progeny, the entire universe, nourishing it and becoming its overlord); otherwise, the Lord (though Self-effulgent) becomes powerless of even stirring; much less would there be scope for him to be credited with achievements, such as the burning of the three Puras, swallowing the virulent Halahala and the like. While so, how dares one who cannot lay any claim to having worshipped at Thy lotus-feet during previous lives, either to make obeisance (by body, word of mouth and mind) before, or to glorify Thee that art served by Vishnu, Rudra and Brahma (and Ishwara, as the four legs of Thy couch, by Sadashiva as Thy mattress, Mahendra as Thy spittoon and so on)? SHABDAPARARTHA – Significant Words Only when in conjunction with Shakti, namely the letter ‘e’ (the combination of the letters ‘a’ and ‘i’ in the inverse order, i.e. ‘i’ and ‘a’), does the word ‘Shiva’ acquire a form denoting a deity for the welfare of all the world; if not so, this world forfeits its luminosity and is turned into a mere sibilant and dento-labial stump, unpronounceable and meaningless. While so, how dares one, who has acquired no merit, either to salute or to praise Thee (i.e. the vital letter ‘e’) that art muttered in prayer with the word ‘Shiva’, by Vishnu, Rudra, Brahma and others? ARTHAPARARTHA – Significance of Words Only by the conjunction of the Shakti (the appropriate group of words in their proper sequence) would Shiva (the aggregrate of their significances) acquire the quality of appealing to the hearts of wise men; otherwise the Lord, who will be a mere thought, without any expression, will not serve his purpose in everyday life. While so, how dares one, who has acquired no merit, either to salute or praise Thee (that art inseparably yoked with thought-forms), (O Goddess!) that art worthy of being adored even by Vishnu, Rudra and others? SHABDOTPATTINIROOPANAPARARTHA – Genesis of Sounds Only in conjunction with the Shakti (the Parashakti, the essential basic principle of the Shabda Brahman, who, though one, is spoken of with different names by persons of different persuasions, e.g. as the Shakti by Shaktas, as the chit by the Shaivas, as the Kundalini by the yogis, as the Prakriti by the Sankhyas, as the Brahmin by the Vedantins, as the Buddhi by the Buddhists, as the Mahasatta by the Jati Vadins and as the absolute Dravya by the Dravya Vadins, and who has assumed diverse forms due to the conditions brought about by the Maya Shakti dependent on her) would Shiva (the Shabda Prapancha) acquire the power to manifest itself (in the Pashyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari stages; and while in the Madhyama stage, to attain the form of Shabda and Artha and the interrelation between the two). Otherwise (without the Parashakti), the Lord, the Shabda Brahman, could not be pronounced with the help of the palate and other vocal organs and thus not attain Vaikhari stage. While so, how dares one, who has acquired no merit, either to salute or to praise Thee (that art the prime cause of the manifestation of the qualified Brahman, and the unfolding of the phenomenal world), that art worthy of being adored even by the trinity and the other gods, who have at their command the four stages of Para, Pashyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari? YANTRAPARARTHA- The Srichakra Only if Shiva (the set of four triangles of the nine triangles of the Srichakra) comes to be placed with the Shakti (the set of five remaining triangles of the same Chakra) or if Shiva (the bindu) gets inseparably connected with the Shakti (namely the triangle) would there be scope for the formation of the eight, the two sets of ten and the fourteen Konas, triangles pointing outwards, along with the eight-petalled and the sixteen-petalled lotuses and the two triads of circles and quadrangles, as also for the creation, sustenance and destruction of the world. If neither of these is the case, the Lord would be incapable of affording scope for the formation of the different parts of the Chakra detailed above, or for its division into the creative, sustaining and destructive aspects, or for the three Prastaras: into Ku, Sa and La, signifying the Bhoo, Meru and Kailasa. While so, how dares one, who has acquired no merit, either to salute or to praise Thee, with an adequate knowledge of the Tantras, O venerable One, that art served by Hari – the sun, Hara-the fire, Virinchi – the moon and Vashini, Vama and other Shaktis, as well as the fifty-one Matrika letters, seated in their respective seats as prescribed in Thy Chakra?

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PRANAVAPARARTHA – Aum Only when brought into union with Shakti (‘a’ with Bindu) would Shiva (the dyad of ‘u’ and ‘m’) acquire the power of assuming the form of Pranava, the embodied form of Nada, assuming the stages of Para, Pashyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari, wherefrom originate the Svaras (vowels), Varnas (Letters), Padas (Words) and Vakays (Sentences) galore. If not, the Lord (the dyad of ‘u’ and ‘m’) becomes incapable of producing the Pranava, becoming dumbfounded. While so, how dares one, who has acquired no merit, either to salute or to praise Thee (of the form of Pranava), O Mother, that art worthy of being adored by the Trinity – as the deities of the components of Pranava; Agni, Vayu and Surya – their Rishis; Gayathri, Trishtub and Jagati- their metres; Rakta, Shukla and Krishna – their colors; Jagrat, Swapna and Sushupti – their states; Bhumi, Antariksha and Swarga – their seats; Udatta, Anudatta and Svarita – their Svaras; Rk, Yajus and Saman – their Vedas; Garhapatya, Ahavaniya and Dakshina – their Agnis; Prahna, Madhyahna and Aparahna – their Kaalas; Satva, Rajas and Tams- their Gunas; Srishti, Sthiti and Samhara – their functions; all these standing in the order appropriate to them? MATRIKAPARARTHA – The Sanskrit Alphabet Only in combination with the Shakti, (the group of sixteen vowels, representing the sixteen Nityas and the sixteen different modes of intonation) would Shiva (the group of thirty-five consonants, taken individually and all of them taken collectively, representing the thirty-six Tatvas in all) acquire the power of generating the several Vedas, Puranas and other lore. Otherwise, the Lord would become unpronounceable and meaningless. While so, how dares one, who has acquired no merit either to salute or to praise Thee, O Amba, that art adored by the trinity and the others, as the alphabet made up of the vital vowels and consonants and all that they go to make up? DESHIKAPARARTHA – The Preceptor Only when Shiva (the guru) is endowed with Shakti (the accomplishments resulting from the chanting of Srividya Mahamantra, devotion to the goddess Mahatripurasundari) would the Shishya be able o give a good account pf himself, with the grace of the Guru, who is the embodiment of Parameshwara. If his grace is not so accomplished, even the disciple, though shining otherwise, becomes incapable of acquiring even the smallest capacity. Hence, how dares one, who has acquired no merit, either to salute or praise Thee, O Goddess, the embodiment of Gurumurti, that art worshipped as such by the trinity and others, as otherwise, it would not be possible for them to understand the esoteric significance of the mantra? CHANDRAKALAANIROOPANAPARARTHA – The Lunar Digits Shiva (the first digit of the waxing moon, known as Darsha, which has the character of Shiva Tatva), only when conjoined with Shakti, (the second digit of the same, known as the Drshta and of the character of Shakti Tatva) would be able to acquire the quality of being seen and to be hailed, in the heavens. If not, the Lord is incapable of shining and gladdening the hearts of the world, so as to conduce to its welfare, as also to add to the grace of the remaining lunar digits, Darshata and others. Hence, how dares one, who has not accumulated religious merit in his previous incarnations, either to salute or to praise Thee, O Devi, of the form of the eternal sixteenth Chandra Kalaa, that art worthy of being worshipped by the trinity and the others? The verse can also be elaborately explained in the light of Hadi Vidya, Kadi Vidya and Shiva Panchakshari Mantras. Since these have to be learnt from a Sampradayavit Teacher, I shall omit these here. According to Bhairavayamala, the Bindu of the Trikona and the three Chakras lying outside the Chaturashra, namely the Ashtadala, Shodashadala, and the Bhugrha, these four are representative of Shiva; while the Trikona, the Ashtakona, the Antardashara, the Bahirdashara and the Chaturdashara are representative of the Shakti. Without their conjunction, the Srichakra, which may be taken to signify the entire world, cannot be formed. In other words, the universe will cease to be, when there will be Mahapralaya, the final dissolution. The Vamakeshwara Tantra says that Shiva ceases to have either name or manifestation, without Shakti. The Devi Bhagavata Mahapurana avers that Shiva, deprived of the Kundalini Shakti, is but Shava, a corpse. Achyutananda, a commentator, remarks that the creative energy of the Shakti, in her threefold aspects of Iccha, Jnana and Kriya, is essential for Shiva to accomplish anything.

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Hari, Rudra and Brahma together represent the Pranava ‘Aum’ and the others indicate other mantras. The Pranava is the foremost and the essence of the Vedas. Hence it follows that Shakti is to be worshipped with the Pranava and other Veda mantras. ‘Ham’, the Bija of Shiva, when combined with ‘saH’, the Bija of Shakti, yields the Hamsa mantra, which helps one realize the import of the Mahavakyas. The cosmic breath, which is made up of ‘Ham’ and ‘saH’, as the ingoing breath, symbolizes creation in the form of evolution and dissolution in the form of Involution. Shiva and Shakti remain as Nishkala Brahman during the Pralaya, as Paramashiva and Shanta, transcending the thirty-six external varieties, in a state of quiescence. Santa’s operation on Shiva as the Shakti brings about the creation of the world. “The Trinity and other powerful deities worship you. Even the Brahman you keep under your sway and urge to activity. From a housefly flapping its wings and an ant crawling, all activity and work in the world are attributed to your power, your resolve. That being the case, how can any individual prostrate himself before you or sing your praises by himself without the power granted by you? My love and devotion to you my prostrating before you, are these to be ascribed to my will, are they my doing? My resolve? I have just begun to compose this hymn to you. But can I do it without the energy imparted by you, without your grace and without your consent?” the Acharya asks Amba thus, not explicitly, not in so many words, but subtly, merely hinting at what he wants to convey. ‘Pranantum’ means to prostrate oneself. Here it is a bodily function that is referred to. ‘Stotum’ means to extol and indicates a verbal function. Of the triad Mano-Vak-Kaya (mind – speech – body), the latter two are covered by ‘Stotum’ and ‘Pranantum’. What about the first? It is only after thinking of Amba, meditating on her, that one prostrates oneself before her and sings her praises. So, the mind is also brought in, in this way. This idea is implied in the Shloka. Thus, we see that mind, body and speech are offered to the lotus feet of Amba. The seed sown in the first stanza of the hymn attains its final stage of the ripened fruit in the one-hundredth stanza. And the fruit signifies self-surrender to Amba, the offering of oneself to her. If one cannot pay obeisance to Amba and adore her because one has not earned merit in one’s previous births, it means that one cannot take the path of devotion. The Acharya who has spoken thus with regard to the way of Bhakti expresses a similar view with regard to the way of Jnana in his Vivekachudamani: “Liberation by following the path of Jnana cannot be obtained without having acquired merit in one hundred crores of lives”. The hymn starts with the highly auspicious word ‘Shiva’. It must be noted that the work devoted to Shakti starts with Shiva. We usually use the term ‘Sati-Pati’, that is first wife and then husband. The Acharya has always been careful about reminding the world of the tenets of the Dharma Shastras. In many ways Ishwara and Amba are different from the worldly husband and wife pair. A woman is customarily called ‘Abala’ – one who is weak. It is the man who protects her. When you look at the divine pair of Amba and Ishwara, the very name of the wife is ‘Shakti’, which means power. Without her, Shiva has to remain doing nothing! The dharma Shastras, which point the way as to how life is to be lived in this world, have it that the wife is subordinate to the husband. When we regard this divine pair, it is the reverse; the former is the quiescent Brahman without any attributes while the latter is the great power (also known as Maya Shakti) and she is behind the conduct of the world. it is not conceptually alone that Shiva is thought to be powerless and Shakti powerful. In the poetic tradition also, it is customary while portraying love or Sringara to gve the heroine a place higher than that of the hero. When peace is restored between the two after an unfriendly spell, it is the hero who falls at the feet of the heroine. We see the same in Gitagovindam. Krishna requests Radha: “Please, in your large-heartedness, place your foot on my head as an ornament for it”. Such sentiments are expressed in stories relating to Amba and Parameshwara in poetical works as well as in the Puranas. As the Jagadguru, Srimadacharya thought that it was his first duty to teach the world the code of conduct laid down in the dharma Shastras. Next in order was to speak about devotion according to the degree of maturity of people and then to teach them philosophy, Jnana. The Acharya was particular that he should not place before the community an ideal contrary to the tenets of Shastra. That is why he begins this hymn to Amba with the name of her husband coming first. The import of this stanza is that Shiva’s greatness depends on his being united with his Shakti. The primordial couple exalts each other: she exalts him and he exalts her. As a matter of fact, one is neither higher nor lower than the other. The two are indeed equal. Ishwara and Amba are equal in glory. Why is Samayachara called so? In it, Amba and Parameshwara are to be meditated upon as being equal in five different ways. Firstly, Amba and Shiva have same names: if he is Shiva, she is Shivaa, if he is Hamsa, she is Hamsi, if he is Ananda Bhairava, she is Ananda Bhairavi. Second, they are equal in their form or Roopa also. As Kameshwara and Kameshwari, their color is red. Though Sri Kameshwara is like a pure colorless crystal, the redness of Amba, who is his left half, reflects on to the right side and the Lord appears red in color too! Both have four hands, three eyes and the crescent as their ornament. The two hold the same weapons: arrows, bow, goad and noose. Third, they reside in the same places: on the peak of Mount Meru, at the center of Manidwipa (Island of Jewels) in the ocean of ambrosia

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and in the bindu Chakra of Sri Yantra. Four, both perform the same function, what is called Panchakritya. Five, the blessings received by the world from them are the same. “There must be no cosmos; the phenomenal or empirical world is Maya. One must become the Truth that is Shivam, the Brahman hat is quiescent and without attributes”. Such is the doctrine that Srimadacharya has established and taught through his various commentaries and original works. He attacks the Shakti that activates Brahman and refutes Maya. But in this hymn, he takes delight of the very fact that Shakti energizes Shiva and thereby the affairs of the world are conducted. Both these in fact represent truth. Logically both cannot be the truth. However, the attributes of the Truth are not always logically determined. Srimadacharya divides people into two categories: those capable of taking the path of Jnana and those capable of Bhakti. The former he instructs in the way suited to them by writing works on Advaita. And for the latter, he has composed hymns like Saundaryalahari to help them bring about their spiritual betterment. He exhorts such as those who are in a mature stage and who make efforts to see the One Entity that is the root of all to reject the universe divided as it is multifariously. He also exhorts them to reject the body, senses and the mind that experience sorrow and happiness from the same and teaches them how to become absorbed in the quiescent Root of all. This is the path of Jnana. There are people who cannot all at once do away with worldly matters and are not mature enough to reach the state of Jnana. Srimadacharya shows them the path of devotion and he does so regarding it as a way for them to become mature. He is anxious that, since they cannot, in their present state give up their worldly outlook and their involvement in the affairs of the senses and the mind, they should not for that reason be forgetful of the Root, the Reality, and make their lie futile by becoming trapped in sensual pleasures, sorrow and fear. He shows them that all worldly affairs, worldly phenomena, are ruled by that serene Root, manifested at Ishwara conjoined with Shakti. He further teaches them to view all these as Ishwara’s sport and exhorts them to involve their minds, senses, etc. in meditating upon him, in worshipping him, in listening to the narrations of his doings and in singing his glory. If, in this manner, the functioning Brahman – Ishwara, is grasped through the very phenomenal world of the senses, one would become fit by the Lord’s grace, by forsaking these very things of the phenomenal world, to each the stage of the causative functionless Brahman. We have on one hand, Ishwara who creates the phenomenal world and all creatures and keeps them under his sway and, on the other, we have the individual with a mind and senses: that there are two entities is a truth. When we inquire into the question of who or what the primary cause of all this or what the root of all this is, we find that it is all the sport, the Maya of an entity that is by itself, and at the same time doing nothing. And this is also a truth. It is not enough to say that the Acharya teaches people in two different ways according to their different mental dispositions. The two different ways in which he imparts his teaching must be regarded as representing the Truth in two different stages of mind. It is for this reason that when one system is extolled, it may become necessary to do so at the expense of another. So, instead of subjecting the different ways or systems to criticism based on logic, they must be approached on the basis of psychology which does not come under logic, taking into account the differences in outlook of people and their fitness for, or entitlement to, a particular system. So, when a way is to be shown for the inner advancement of an individual, it may become necessary to show one system as being higher than another – this fact must be appreciated. It is with this good intention that one system is elevated and another lowered in relation to it. The purpose is not to show that the latter is worthless. The real idea behind elevating a system over another is that the individual who receives instruction to it will appreciate that it is the one that is meant for him. When he finds that it is the best suited to him, he will follow it with interest, solely concentrating on it. Also the purpose of showing another system in a poor light is to dissuade him from plunging into it and thereby becoming confused. For an individual with a different outlook, and belonging to a different culture, it may be necessary to speak depreciatingly of what is exalted in the case of the first one and that is rejected in the case of the latter may have to be presented as the best in the case of the first individual. We see the same with regard to the Puranas and devotional works. While dealing with a particular God, he is depicted as being superior to all other Gods. It is in keeping with this logic that Acharya asks us to hold in devotion the very thing that he asks us to reject as Advaitins. What he condemns while he speaks on Advaita as Maya is for those who do not have to be devout, those for whom it is not necessary to follow the path of Bhakti. If a man wants to be a devotee, he has to necessarily feel that he is separate, even if be to the smallest degree, from the object of his adoration, which is God. In Advaita, there is no such separation, not even to the least degree, and there is only oneness. And those who are capable of following this path have no need to be devoted in the manner or sense we think. In their case, Acharya says that contemplation of one’s true nature is Bhakti – Swaswarupanusandhanam. ‘Hara’ means one who destroys or one who annihilates. It occurs in the compound words ‘Apaharana’ and ‘Samharana. Brahma creates, Vishnu sustains and Rudra destroys. ‘Hara’ means Rudra, the destroyer. It is the one and the only Paramatman that divides itself into three deities to perform three different functions. Their power to perform these functions is derived from the primordial Shakti of the Paramatman. That Shakti is Sri Amba. She is the power of the

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Parabrahman that is called Paramatman. It is not only the trinity who derive power from her but all living beings, including flies and ants. She is also the power latent in all inanimate objects. The Shakti of Parabrahman must me the Parabrahman itself. A thing is a thing by virtue of its power. Therefore what is called Parabrahma-Shakti is the Parabrahman itself. However, one can also remain doing nothing, without showing off his Shakti, his power or strength. ‘Shivam’ is to be understood in this manner, the Parabrahman being by itself in quietude, without any outward movement. It is from this state of Shivam that we have emerged as individual beings with out mind turned to outward activities and our senses involved in outward objects. When we become inseparably dissolved in Shivam, we become freed from the ties of Maya and the bondage of worldly limited existence. Since the liberation that gives us beatitude is a state of tranquility, the Brahman in which we are inseparably dissolved must also be quiescent and serene and not manifesting its power. Looked at in this manner, there is reason to speak separately of the two: the Shiva who is the Parabrahman and Amba who is the Parabrahma Shakti, even thought the two are essentially one and the same. Apart from the three functions of creation, sustenance and destruction carried out through Shakti, there are two more functions to be added. From the state of serene Shivam, how have we been brought to the condition in which we have no awareness of the true original form of ours? It is through Shakti that it has been done. She is the one who has concealed our awareness of our true form and created nescience in us as individuals and pushed us into Maya realm of worldly existence. it is the sama Parashakti who also performs the function of granting liberation through her grace. Of the two additional functions, the first is to conceal from us, our awareness of our true self with the power of Maya. The second, to free us from the trap of Maya and bless us with liberation, that is unite us with Paramatman. The first is called ‘Tirodhana’ or ‘Tirobhava’. The root ‘tiras’ means to conceal, to veil. It is the work of Parashakti to veil our real self with the curtain of Maya and consign us to worldly existence. The function of raising the curtain and granting final release is called ‘Anugraha’, which is the second function. Just as Parashakti has appointed Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra for creation, protection and destruction, she has appointed Maheshwara for Tirodhana. The first three functions come within the sphere of Maya. The entire conduct of the world of Maya is in the hands of Ishwara. Dispelling the Maya and granting the Anugraha of liberation is the function of Sadashiva. There are other interpretations of these functions and the version followed here is the one detailed by Bhaskaracharya in Saubhagya Bhaskara. These five functions constitute of the Panchakritya and are indicated by the name ‘Panchakrityaparayana’ is Rahasya Sahasranama. Amba, as the chief authority, appoints other authorities under her to perform these functions. It is not only because this is a hymn to Amba that we say this. Even viewed impartially we will realize the appropriateness of Amba being the chief authority for the five functions. A ‘Kritya’ – something that is to be done or carried out – necessarily means the use of Shakti. It is fitting thus that the Panchakritya is brought under Amba, who is the supreme Parashakti. If Amba performs the functions through five different deities, it means that she is higher than they are. Amba is the power that is the basis of all happenings, all action. She is the mistress of all the five chief deities. She is indeed higher than Sadashiva who grants liberation. To those accomplished in the mantra Shastra, she has given Darshan in her gross form, seated above these five deities. She appears as Rajarajeshwari in royal splendor. The four legs of her throne are Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra and Maheshwara. The seat proper, which connects the four legs, is Sadashiva. Although she is all and everything, when she is Srividya – among the various forms of hers – her chief aspect is that of Mother. Though she is the great power Mahashakti, she assumes a form in which what is manifested is her beauty and loveliness rather than her power. That is the reason we see that her very first name in the Sahasranama is ‘Srimata’. She creates us, protects us and, in between births, gives us a rest by destroying us. She sports with the veil of Maya and, finally, the Mother that she is, makes us one with her by granting us the liberating knowledge. The Taittariya Upanishad says: ‘The one Brahman desires to become many’. If the quiescent Brahman becomes the active Brahman, it means he must have had the desire to be that, the functioning Brahman. The cosmic sport is the result the quiescent Brahman, this is Shiva, uniting with Iccha Shakti, like father and mother uniting to give rise to the offspring and the five functions are also a result of it. It is because Amba is the personification of the desire or Kama of Brahman, that she is called Kameshwari. Kameshwari is seated on the left lap of Sri Shiva Kameshwara on the Panchabrahmasana and the couple face east. The leg in the southeast is Brahma, in the southwest is Vishnu, northwest is Rudra and the leg in northeast is appropriately Ishwara. The seat joing these legs together i.e. the seat and the cushion on which Sri Devi and Bhagavan are seated is Sadashiva. The five deities are called Panchabrahmas and the seat they make is referred to as Panchabrahmasana. Each of the five is also called ‘Preta’ or corpse. The idea is that if Amba were not to give the five deities the power to perform their five respective functions, they would be no better than corpses. For Kameshwara also, she is the life-breath. There is a name illustrating this – ‘Kameshwara prana nadi’, found in both Rahasya Sahasranama and Trishati. However, keeping the worldly dharma in view, according to which a woman’s greatness lie sin being together with her husband, despite her great strength, Amba, the very personification of power, remains with her husband Kameshwara, the supreme Brahman.

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The Parabrahman was like a calm lake, which is not disturbed even by a ripple. Now, due to Parashakti, there is the first wave, the first pulsation and it is an outward manifestation of desire, that is Iccha or Kama. Thus the first pulsation was desire. If pulsation is created in the quiescent Shiva, if an act like desiring is caused in the action less Shiva, it has to be through some power or Shakti. It is not merely that the Chitshakti, the power of Jnana inhering in the Parabrahman, divided itself into Iccha Shakti and Kriya Shakti, the power of desire and the power of action. The arousal of desire in the Brahman itself is an act for which Amba has been instrumental. If one has a desire, one must have awareness that one exists. In sound sleep, we have no awareness of our existence. There are no desires in such a state. So, if the Brahman came to have any desire, it must have had an awareness of its own existence. It was Parashakti that made Shiva aware of his existence. it is not possible without the prodding of Shakti. Such awareness on the part of Shiva – that ”I am”, the experience of “I” – is called ‘Paraahantaa’. The Self, believing that the body and inner organs, that are false and separate from it, as constituting its true form is ‘Ahantaa’. The Supreme Reality, the root of all individual souls, knowing itself as ‘I’, is ‘Paraahantaa’. Parashakti is thus the personification of the Paraahantaa of Paramashiva or Parabrahman. Strangely, Shiva’s ‘I-feeling’ is on behalf of another. If Shiva is aware that he exists – that he knows himself as ”I” – it is because of Shakti. So if he has “I” feeling, if he takes pride in it, it is all due to the splendor of Parashakti. Shiva, who is pure consciousness or Jnana, knowing himself to be what he is (that he is pure Jnana) is the first pulsation of the Brahman. There is no outward movement, no action with hands or legs. In the state of Jnana that is full and without any thought, it is pulsation created by the thought or feeling of ‘I’. What is called ‘Spanda’ here means an object vibrating by itself, within itself. The Acharya uses the word very precisely. ‘Spanda’ is not activating something from the outside. It is the pulsation of an object or entity within itself and not caused from an outside agency but brought about for itself and within itself. The root cause of creation itself is this vibration. The sound of the vibration of the Parabrahman became the Veda mantras and from them originated all gross objects. If the explosion of a central nucleus caused creation, it must have occurred from the pulsation within the nucleus. Also, the Acharya, by choosing the word ‘Spanda’ points to the non-dualism in what is seemingly a dualistic phenomenon. It is impossible to separate Shakti from Shiva and make the former an outward entity. The tow are like the lamp and its flame, like the flower and its fragrance, like milk and its whiteness, like the honey and its sweetness, like the word and its meaning. According to Spanda Shastra, the Parabrahman is Shiva and Shakti combined into one. The dualistic world with its manifold objects is the ‘Abhasa’ or reflection of the Parabrahman. If the world were the reflection of the Parabrahman, it would mean that the reflected light is outside of the original shining root-object. The view that the cosmos is outside the Brahman is incorrect. If Brahman is merely Shiva, it cannot be associated with the cosmos. Thus, Brahman is not only Shiva, but also Shiva and Shakti combined into one and it is Shakti that causes the Abhasa. The word ‘Spanda’ goes to show that not only is there no cosmos outside of the Brahman or separate from it, but also that Shakti does not create the cosmos from the Brahman by being outside of the Brahman or by being separate from it. It denotes self-movement; there is no movement caused by prodding from outside. Shiva, the fundamental reality (Sat), always exists with Chitshakti (the power of Jnana) as Sat – Chit. But the ananda (bliss) is revealed only when Parashakti unfolds the cosmic drama. In Shakta discipline, first comes the Shiva Tatva, which inheres chit that is Jnana Shakti and remains quiescent. Then comes the Shakti Tatva, which is well manifested outwardly. The third is the Sadashiva Tatva, which is associated with Iccha Shakti. The fourth is the Ishwara Tatva, which is combined with Jnana Shakti. The fifth is the Vidya Tatva, which is linked with Kriya Shakti. The sixth is the Maya Tatva. Chitshakti remains with the first Tatva of Shiva and is the same as Jnana Shakti. The first Tatva of Shiva is the Reality, the Truth; he is the prime factor in whom Chitshakti is an inner entity. The second Tatva is Chitshakti as the prime factor and Shiva, the Reality, remaining in the background. The Jnana called ‘Chit’ is not knowledge alone. It is knowledge imbued with life; it is consciousness. ‘Jada’ means without life, feelings or knowledge – like stone, earth, gold, silver and so on. All living beings that have urges, feelings and knowledge belong to the category of ‘Chetana’. Amba is called ‘Chaitanya Swaroopini’. She is the life-giving power or energy of the Supreme entity. It is this life force that is knowledge or awareness, feelings and urges. ‘Jnana’ is knowing what is experienced or ‘chit’. To know by reading a book that sugar is sweet is not Jnana. Jnana here is the sweetness experienced by tasting the sugar. Knowledge or knowing is only possible to the living. Chit is that with which such life force is united. Life is the basic, fundamental Shakti. So, it follows that Shakti means Chitshakti. The life-breath of Brahman, its self-awareness, is Chitshakti. Since Jnana means not only knowing but also living and consciously experiencing something, the word used for the same in English is not ‘knowledge’ but the beautiful term ‘consciousness’. If we are conscious of something it means that we have our own experience of it. Such experience is possible is possible only if there is life force in us. After stating that the first Tatva is associated with chit or Jnana Shakti, it will cause confusion in the minds of people if it is said that the fourth Tatva again is combined with Jnana Shakti. The chit mentioned first is the absolute Jnana of One Prime Entity. The Jnana contained within awakens and becomes aware of itself in the second stage. In the third stage, it wishes to manifest its force. In the fourth, it ‘plans’ to

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reveal outwardly its inwardly turned Jnana as the cosmos unfolding itself as many entities (plurally). If it ‘planned’ many worlds, does it not mean that its Jnana is also not one within and that it is the foundation for its being revealed in many ways? What was the one Jnana is described as chit and the same as the basis for many Jnanas in the fourth stage is described as ‘Jnana’ – the two have been denoted by two different words. What was ‘planned’ in the fourth is executed in the ‘fifth’. What was planned by ‘Jnana’ is now implemented. This is what is described as the pure Vidya Tatva that is combined with Kriya Shakti. This does not mean that the Brahman has already begun to be revealed as the outward cosmos. In the fifth stage, it only prepares itself to do so. After waking up, we try to shake of our lethargy by stretching our limbs so as to ready ourselves for the day’s work. The fifth stage is similar. The act of creating the cosmos outside of the Brahman has not yet begun. In this fifth stage, it gathers all its strength, its Kriya Shakti, in preparation for the purpose. However, the resolve has been made to become manifest outwardly. The entity that is one, because it is going to become dual, remains with the knowledge that, it and its manifestations are equal in weight. It is this Jnana that is called pure Vidya or Suddha Vidya. Unlike in Advaita, in Shakta system, Maya comes as the sixth Tatva, after the fifth Tatva of Suddha Vidya which itself is four stages after Brahman. The creation of the actual dualistic world is after the preparation for the outward dualistic manifestation. It is in this sixth stage that all creatures appear as individual souls. Until this stage is reached, there is only one Entity: Shiva-Shakti. It is only after individual souls are created from Shakti as an outward manifestation of herself – to delight herself in sport, and to play hide and seek with them – that she has bound them to Maya. She thus makes them oblivious of the truth that they too are the One Entity and keeps them under the illusion that they are the body, the senses and the inner organs (Antahkarana). The wonderful that Shakti happens to be is demonstrated not only by the clouds at sunrise and sunset, by mountains like the Himalayas or the seven seas but even by the brilliance of a dew-drop on the tip of a blade of grass reflecting the light of the sun. but all these phenomena of the vast insentient world are not sufficient to complete the joy of the drama that is enacted as her sport. And she delights herself further by creating sentient beings, individual souls, and makes them unaware of their root by keeping them bound to Maya. “That is all right. Amba may find delight in such sport. But does that not make our plight unbearable? What she finds delight in is an ordeal for us – is that not so? That fact that we are squeezed and strangled by Maya, is that not a pain in our life?” so people may ask. True, it is so. That is the reason why Acharya has given importance to Maya and expounded the philosophy of Advaita as a way pointing to its eradication. In the Shakta system, Maya comes as the sixth Tatva, but even so they do accept that it is important. Whatever the system advocated, its purpose is to show the people a path to follow. So it must pay the maximum attention to the problem that seems the most important to them. Although Amba is beyond Maya as the Suddha Tatvas or the pure principles, what we know about her is that, in the form of Maya, she keeps us bound to Samsara – the cycle of birth and death. That is why, just as the Paramatman has the Pranava, Shakti has for her Bija ‘Maya’. Stress is laid on the Mahamaya aspect of Sridevi in Durga Saptashati. “All that is right. But when the Shakta doctrine also agrees that, as Maya, Amba has cast us into stupor and kept us bound, how is it right to extol and worship her? This power keeps us hidden from our true identity and drags us down by giving us the mind, the senses, the world and worldly goods and also loves and hates. Is it not the right thing then to do what the Acharya does in his Advaita philosophy of excoriating her that is Maya? Why should there be Pooja to her and a hymn to celebrate her? Why has the Acharya, who attacks Maya, composed a hymn like this?” such a question would be justified if the Mahashakti were no more than the Maya Shakti. The point to note is that she, the Maya Shakti, is also the Jnana Shakti. Is she not also the Anugraha Shakti (the power that grants grace), the one that bestows Jnana on us and frees us from Maya? She keeps the individual souls bound to Maya; the purpose of the same is for her to have the “extra” joy derived from the sport of separating us from the One Entity and uniting us again with it. In sum, she protects us remaining herself not only as Maya Shakti, but also as Jnana Shakti, Prema Shakti, Anugraha Shakti and Saundarya Shakti. The primordial Iccha of Amba did not stop with the desire of dividing herself into many separate Jivatmans. Amba has Iccha for them, that is she has great love for them, that is the love of a mother for her children. How can Amba not have affection for those born of herself? Mother, children, filial affection, all these come later, and affection in this world is but a reflection of her original motherly affection. It is because of her Iccha or desire for the Jivatmans that she apparently pushes them into Maya so as to derive the extra joy to be had from uniting with her after their being separated from her. This is a process, a manifestation of her Iccha of freeing them little by little from Maya and drawing them back to herself. It is to attract the world of humans that she sports as the personification of beauty, as one possessing beauty of form as well as the beauty constituted by her qualities. At first is the desire to become this, to act in this manner, and only then comes the stage of translating the desire into action. It is because of her Iccha that she actually attracts people with her beauty. Iccha is the seed of all action. Though Amba grants us her Anugraha even to pass a board examination, this term really means our passing the ordeal of fire conducted by Maya and graduating to Jnana. It is that which grants us

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unalloyed beatitude and eternal bliss. However, the Shakta system has it that concealing the reality of our being the Brahman and our being forgetful of the same, our being in possession of a body as a Jivatman and Antahkarana that involves the body in action, the world in which we are engaged in work or activity, the enjoyment we derive in worldly actions – all these are part of Anugraha. This Anugraha includes Tanu (body), Karana (mind), Bhuvana (world) and Bhoga (experience of the individual self). The Shakta Shastras also explain their relevance thus: “after somehow becoming a Jivatman, you have been trapped in karma. There is no liberation for you until you exhaust your karma. How will karma be exhausted? It is to be worked out by experiencing it, its consequences. The fruits of the past karma are to be experienced by being born again, by thinking good with the mind and by doing well with the body. To do so, you need the world. It is only by working in the world, employing your body and mind and having varied experience (Anubhoga) that you can work out your karma. That is why being endowed with these four is called an Anugraha. These four, which are responsible for our being ensnared in karma, are the very means of our being liberated from it. That s why the four are described as an Anugraha bestowed on us. But how difficult it is to make good use of these means! So, Anugraha in the true sense is Amba’s grace in granting us good sense and discrimination to work out our karma and being vouchsafed the bliss of final release. After its karma has been entirely worked out, the Jivatman, the individual Self, is not inert but in a state of bliss in which it knows itself to be an entity that is full by itself. Vouchsafing us such a state is Amba’s Anugraha, her divine grace. There is nothing higher than the bliss of the atman, the bliss of realizing the Self. It is this bliss that Amba grants us in the form of liberation. In Atmananda, there is Shiva but no Amba. Without stopping after the state of fullness, she unfolds her power and sports herself. The one, who is ananda herself, sports outwardly also. Experiencing the bliss of the Self, she makes herself playfully into two and as a separate entity, or seemingly as a separate entity, to manifest herself as the dualistic cosmos. The Mahashakti of Brahman becomes playful when its joy waxes. Why is such a joy called sport, play? How else can you describe something done for no particular reason, for no purpose, and merely out of overflowing joy? Since Shakti is the embodiment of ananda to start with, it would be wrong to state that her joy is revealed outwardly in dualistic creation. It would be wrong again to say that she performs the function of creation to derive joy from it. There is nothing she has to obtain, nothing she needs to attain. She is fullness, not wanting anything. It is only from her sport of creation that we ourselves derive the joy of sporting. There is no reason behind it, nor is the sport conducted with the expectation of any fruit or reward. Though the work of creation is done for no reason and for no reward, because of the joy it gave her, Amba continues to conduct the sport of creation. On the whole, sport is a matter of joy or ananda. That is why ananda is regarded as a full-fledged entity and the work of creation is called a ‘Lila’ – play, sport. This prodigious cosmic sport has been going for crores of Kalpas (One-seventh of the life span of Brahma, the creator. One day of Brahma is 8,640,000,000 years. His life span is 100 years, each year being 365 days), for eons and will go no for crores of Kalpas. What an immense power of joy she must be who is its source, its spring! It is a sport of immeasurable dimensions. So it follows that the one who sports must be immeasurable joy personified. Considering this, though Amba has infinite number and kinds of Shaktis, her Ananda Shakti transcends all her other powers. Her very great joy rises bubbling up, showing that she is such an ananda Shakti as to contain all Shaktis – and in this joy, all the cruelty, sorrow and fear that we experience in this world become unnoticeable like a tiny needle in a vast desert. Joy is the nature of life itself. Love and beauty are for joy, a means to obtain it. ‘Chitkala’ is one of the names of Amba n Rahasya Sahasranama. The names appearing next are ‘Anandakalika’ and ‘Premarupa’. All these names are interlinked and this should become clear by the discussion held till now. Although Maya and Jnana are opposed to each other, it is as a means to take the path of Jnana that the world of Maya, the senses and the mind are to be involved in love and in beauty that are unsullied; and Pooja, hymns and so on are prescribed so that we will be blissfully immersed in Amba’s remembrances. If our mind became one-pointed in this manner, it would be easy to engage ourselves in reflections that are a necessary part of Jnana. If we adhere to the path pf Bhakti, as shown by our beloved Acharya, we will be able to follow the path of Jnana easily, making use of the very instruments of the world of Maya. Those who are, to start with itself, capable of keeping their minds and senses under control and who are passionless and detached, do not have to employ their minds and senses in the performance of Pooja and other rites connected with Bhakti. They can realize the Brahman using the short cut of shaking off Maya through spiritual practice. In his teaching imparted to them, Srimadacharya lays stress on Maya that is to be discarded as worthless and on the goal of the atman to be achieved, prescribing self-enquiry and practice aimed at attaining the ideal of Advaita. He exhorts the rest to involve their minds – which otherwise are caught in the noose of Maya by being addicted to petty pleasures – in matters that give joy that is pure and belonging to a higher plane like remembrance of the Lord, Pooja, listening to the stories of the divine, and worship at temples. In this way, he shows them the path of Bhakti by following which they will eventually become mature and qualify for the way of Jnana. Pooja, the singing of hymns and so on, that form part of the way of Bhakti or karma are meant for those who cannot yet cast off Maya as

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taught by Advaita. Such people must regard Maya as the sport of the Lord, of Parashakti and as associated with the divine. All the objects of the world of Maya, the senses and the mind that have them under their sway and all those things we enjoy and thereby become spoilt, must be involved in the worship of Jagadamba, who rules over Maya, through Pooja, recitation of hymns, listening to Puranas, worship at temples, Japa and meditation. Things connected with Maya cannot be easily done away with. Except those who are mature, detached and possess discrimination, the rest are constantly lured by the world, by the senses and the attachments caused by the same. Those who want to sever such ties, but are yet immature, will not succeed in their endeavor to do so. There is everything in Maya except the highest stage of the realization of the truth of the atman; there is in it even the means of seeking Jnana that is Sadhana. The object of Sadhana, the one who is engaged in Sadhana, the act of Sadhana – these are separate and hence dualistic in nature. That means all this is Maya. The effort to do away with Maya through the instruments of Maya is part of the Sadhana for the realization of the highest state of Advaita. Even the act of the Guru teaching his disciple, imparting him Upadesha is dualistic in a sense. But is at the same time a means of obtaining non-dualistic realization. That is why in this hymn Srimadacharya gives voice here and there to Tantra, dualism, qualified non-dualism, Shaiva and Shakta concepts, though the only reality projected is the complete non-dualism: Kevala Advaita. Sects claiming Acharya to be a Kaula, a Shakta and other things do so only to be benefited by associating themselves with his glory. It is to be clearly understood that the hymn, though supporting many of the above-said views, aims at teaching the final beatitude of Advaita only. The stress is only on Jnana and unnecessary and illogical means to achieve this finds no support whatsoever, by Acharya or by the Shastras. One must not think that Advaita makes no mention of Shakti at all since it associates creation with Maya. Is there any need for a man steeped in Jnana to turn to Shakti? That is why no special importance is given to Shakti there. When it speaks of Paramatman, Chandogya Sruti says that is possesses all karma, all desire, all scents and all essences. A view expressed in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad comes very close to the concept of Kameshwara and Kameshwari. Besides, the Upanishad says that all orders of life originated from the two, the primordial Mother and Father. What the Upanishads speak of the Paramatman as being Almighty, the Brahma sutra underlines by saying ‘Sarvopetaa ca taddarshanat’. In his commentary on the Brahma sutra, Acharya says clearly: “sarva Shakti yukta paradevataa’. Since he himself regards Maya as indefinable or indescribable, he has no reason to be afraid of asking questions about the origins of Shakti. We can gauge the profound depths of the Brahman only by what the Vedas say about them, no by arguments, so observes the Acharya with an air of finality. The question of creation arises only when the Brahman is not by itself, when it is not absorbed in itself, in the state of Samadhi. According to the Acharya, when the Nirguna Brahman, in the state of pure Jnana, is associated with the creation posited by Avidya or Maya, it acquires an accession of universal power. The line ‘Shiva shaktya yukto’ indicates the same. The concept of creation as the Lila or sport of the divinity is also mentioned in the Brahma sutra: “lokavattu lila kaivalyam”. In concluding his commentary on this passage, Srimadacharya observes, “According to the vedas, creation does not have to do with the Supreme Truth, the Nirguna Brahman. It is the dualistic view, worldly truth born of Avidya”. Though he speaks thus from the standpoint of Advaita, he accepts the fact of creation as the sport of Ishwara in the empirical stage and speaks in praise of it, taking delight in it. He says, “The creation of the cosmos may seem to be a great feat but is just play for Ishwara since he has unbounded Shakti”. There is authority in the Sruti to show that the inner vibration of the non-dualistic Brahman causes the dualistic cosmos. The Katha Upanishad says: “All this universe is caused from the life force called prana and vibrates”. The word used in this context in the Brahma sutra is ‘Kampana’. Commenting on this, Acharya Bhagavatpada says: “The prana that causes vibration is not mere breath but Brahman itself”. It can be fairly concluded that Advaita accepts the view of creation by Maya as a worldly truth at a particular stage, thus favoring the Shakta view to a certain extent. Kundalini yoga is the secret focus of Saundaryalahari. The Acharyas of Srimadacharya’s lineage, though adepts in this yoga, have neither publicized it nor have recommended it for all. To mingle this little power, i.e. the individual Self with the great power of Paramatman, of the individual Self blossoming into the great power, is not something that happens easily. Parashakti has made it more difficult for the individual Self to dissolve in Shakti than for it to dissolve in serenity. There are people who follow the path of Jnana and there are people who follow the path of Bhakti. Amba has both by her side and she makes them witness her dance of power. Not only that, she imparts them a little bit of power and makes them instrumental in conferring her grace on the world. However, neither devotees nor Jnanis desire power on their own. The devotee longs for love, the bliss of love and the Jnani longs for tranquility that is boundless. But the case of a Kaula is different. He practices Kundalini yoga with the deliberate intent of obtaining power. But Amba does not respond to his efforts easily. She seems to haggle over the price he has to pay for it. Even practitioners whose Kundalini has awakened only to a tiny extent will experience a vibration in the crown of their head and a concentration of the power between their eyebrows. This does not mean that their Kundalini is fully aroused or that Amba has

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revealed in all her glory, like the radiance of the rising sun. What actually happens is a little ascent and a greater descent. As the Kundalini ascends, there is a manifestation of her power and the practitioner gains some Siddhis. It is Amba herself who confers such powers on the Sadhaka so as to distract him from his ultimate quest of perfection, of liberation. Apart from this, if Kundalini deviates from her right path, the results can be disastrous! There are many manifestations of Maya in this world and there are many kinds of practices, disciplines to free ourselves from the same Maya. Kundalini yoga enables one to grasp the power of Amba, but she has mixed it in a great deal of Maya. She has kept the practice of this discipline very hard indeed. It may be asked: “Do those who follow the path of devotion or Jnana achieve their goal and have a vision of the deity they worship or realize the self easily?” The question is justified. But the Sadhana adhered to by the followers of Jnana or Bhakti is not as difficult or as complicated as Kaula or Kundalini yoga. Also, unlike this, any errors committed in the pursuit of Jnana or Bhakti does not lead to adverse consequences. In this path, the Sadhaka runs the risk of Pratyavaya, as mentioned in Gita, the opposite of what is originally intended. Also the Sadhaka is deluded into thinking that he has achieved perfection and won the ultimate fruits of his efforts when he earns only a little benefit in the form of certain Kshulluka Siddhis. The path is certainly an excellent road to take one to the highest state of Samadhi. But qualifications to follow this path are rigid and many in number. People who look down upon Jnana and Bhakti in preference to Kaula should realize that there is no inward fullness to be gained by Kaula that we cannot achieve through Bhakti or Jnana. Caution is necessary with regard to mantra yoga also. Mantra produces the same results as Kundalini yoga and it does so through the vibrations in the Nadis. Upadesha from a capable, accomplished guru, well versed in not only rituals and Kriya, but also in the theory behind the practice and the right approach to mantra Shastra is vital. For these reasons, mantra Shastra is not dealt in detail in this article. There is no use knowing mantras if they have not been taught in the proper manner by guru. You may have lengths of wire in your house of good quality, also switches and bulbs. But will the bulbs burn if they are not connected to the powerhouse? The power of guru is similar – it is a live power. Without the teaching of the Guru, acting like the bulb, if we try to conduct the electricity ourselves to get the light of Siddhi, it only leads to a bad shock, unrecoverable most of the times. During discourses given before a public assembly these subjects like Kundalini yoga and Srividya mantra Shastra must not be elaborated upon, but only hinted at. The elements of a Shastra guarded as a secret must be taught only to sincere Upasakas. These must not be dwelt upon indiscriminately before a general audience. However, to ignore or omit altogether references to concepts pertaining to disciplines of Kundalini yoga and mantra Shastra while explaining the stanzas is to take too narrow a view of things. It would mean overlooking profound philosophical truths. However, great caution is needed in dwelling on these and one must not go beyond a certain point in revealing their content. Certain passages of Saundaryalahari may seem to be too erotic in flavor or even capable of causing disgust, disagreeable feelings, when read superficially. But they are not so when examined in depth. ‘Substance’ or ‘Padartha’ is called ‘matter’. Its character or nature is inertness, i.e. it is without the power of action or motion. We know that the cosmos has come into being by inert matter set in motion in various ways and occurring in various combinations. This means that there is a certain power that activates the inert matter. Matter is the inert Shiva and the power that activates Shiva is Shakti. Shiva, who is quiescent and motionless, and Shakti that keeps everything pulsating, from planets and stars to the atom, are inseparably united. Not only are they united; they are in fact basically the same. This is confirmed by the rule of science, which proposes the transformation of matter to energy. There is a difference though. According to science, matter will cease to exist after it is converted into energy. But Shiva and Shakti exist as eternal truths. When Shakti is manifested as energy, the matter that is Shivais not annihilated. This is so because the matter here is not insentient but a living spirit. It remains as the atman that is not destroyed, that cannot be destroyed. Indeed it exists as a living force, as Chaitanya. Even the matter that science speaks of, matter that is inert to start with and ends in inertness, is born out of this Chaitanya. While there are differences between science and Shastra, there are many points on which they agree. The discoveries made in nuclear science arising out of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity come close particularly to the ideas propounded by Advaita Vedanta and the Shakta system. Nothing in the word exists as a truth on its own, as an absolute entity; this applies to time and space also. Everything is dependent on something else and is all part of a continuum, though each appears as a truth by itself in the empirical world. The Brahman is the one fundamental truth. The entire world is based on it, as its reflection, manifested by Maya. The Shakta texts identify Maya as a Shakti of Amba. Is there not room to think that the concept of Maya is the same as the Theory of Relativity? Science has not discovered the truth that is absolute. This Absolute is not something to be found only in books; it is a truth realized by great men as the atman. It is the life of all life, indeed the only true life. Science has not spoken of this absolute yet. Even if one day, scientists come to accept this truth on a theoretical basis, they will have to admit that the proof of the same is beyond their capacity. Science can only partly explain the drama

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enacted by Parashakti through her vibrations or motions and derive rules from it. It cannot have a unified view of these vibrations, all those vibrations that keep the mind of the individual Self pulsating and show the way to keep it still and tranquil and realize itself as the Absolute. Anyway, this is not the aim of modern science, to point the way to self-realization. That way will be shown by the Shastras. But, even if they do so, even if we advance by the way of the Shastras, it is only Amba who will keep the ultimate goal open for us. She it is who separates us from the Absolute in her sport; that being so, who else can again unite us with It? It is also wrong on our part t speak about the failure of science to understand things beyond its frontiers. At the same time, the scientists themselves must realize that there are limitations to science. They are also not justified in saying that the disciplines dealing with things beyond it, that is beyond science, are false. Both sides must believe and realize that the two are complimentary. For example, we may take it that the positively charged proton in the nucleus of the atom is Shiva and the negatively charged electron is Amba. The point at which the weight of an object is kept even on its two sides, maintained in equilibrium, is to be known as one of tranquility. It is the center of gravity. Even a terrible storm has a center. It is from a calm center that power emanates and spreads, that power manifests itself or even explodes - and matter, objects are created and functions are performed with force. This calm center is Shiva and the entity that emanates from this center and revolves round it is Shakti. Instead of looking at Shiva and Amba in this way, the two are said to be half and half of the same Absolute entity. This is the concept of Ardhanarishwara. The heart is in the left side of the body and it gives strength to the entire body. But it is the right side that is stronger; it has more ‘power’ to do work. The right hand generally lends itself to greater use than the left hand. An idea is implied here: that it is Amba who gives strength to the body. We see that the functions of the right side of the body are controlled by the left side of the brain and vice versa. That means Shakti side of the brain controls ‘Shiva’ side of the body, which performs functions with greater power. In this Amba’s Pativratya is beautifully revealed. Although it is she who imparts power to her husband, she shows him to be stronger. His dance of deluge i.e. Pralaya Tandava makes all the cosmos tremble – it has such awesome power. Such force is revealed not only in the dance of deluge; Shiva’s dance of bliss i.e. Ananda Tandava is such as to make all the eight cardinal points of space tremble and shake. If he beats the earth with his matted locks, a Virabhadra will arise. If Parameshwara so much as laughs once, more power will be released than the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and it can reduce the Tripuras to ashes. It is Amba who imparts such power to Shiva. Panchakritya is definitely under the control of Amba. She has assigned it to Parameshwara and she herself remains utterly serene, without our knowing where she is. Thus, Amba is the left half of the Absolute entity and imparts all the strength to the right half, which is Shiva. The right side of an object becomes the left side of its reflected image. Similarly the left side becomes its right side. In the same way, Nirguna Brahman, reflected in the mirror called Maya, becomes the Saguna Brahman that rules the dualistic world. Thus, under the influence of Maya, Shiva appears as Shakti. They are not different tin any way. Amba who creates the illusion that the unreal is real is real will one day, out of supreme compassion, make the real truly unreal and unite the self with the real. If we go to her as the sole refuge and grasp her feet tightly, without ever relaxing our hold, and pray for release, she will certainly bless the Jiva with liberation. What the Acharya is trying to say in this first stage is this: “Without your compassion, can we reach that state of tranquility called Shiva?” Amba is the great power that moves what does not move. Her sport starts with the vibration that makes the Parabrahman aware of its own existence. Thereafter, it is vibration after vibration, movement after movement, ending with the gross vibrations of our daily life. These vibrations, originating in the Brahmana and ending with the gross world of living beings, are in the descending order or Avarohana Krama. They descend step by step and are mentioned as the thirty-six Tatvas. This is what is ‘evolution’ that involves descent from the highest peak of Brahman down to us humans. It is the process of Brahman turning outward and countless entities evolving form It. Each entity getting back to the original state of Brahman is Moksha or liberation. This is called Arohana or ascent. The Brahman, becoming outward and unfolding itself into the universe and the living beings, is evolution. The living beings caused by this unfolding have to turn inward and retrace their path to Brahman. This process is aptly denoted by the word ‘involution’. That the great entity called the Brahman has evolved into us is not something that has been accomplished by ourselves but by the sport of Amba, her Lila. So how can we, by our efforts alone, become the Brahman again? It is true that, in the drama that she conducts with the individual souls, she has given us a part in which we have to undergo much trouble and exert ourselves in many ways, but that does not mean that we can by ourselves achieve liberation, attain the state of Brahman. Through her grace alone can we reach this supreme goal. The force that has thrust outward, the same force has to thrust us inward. If Amba is Maya, she herself is the Jnana Shakti that can lead us inwards. Acharya, through the words of his hymn, teaches us to pray for her grace to bring about our involution into Shiva.

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“Gathering a microscopic particle of dust form Thy feet, Brahma the creator, brings into being this limitless

and mysterious universe, without any imperfections. The sustainer Vishnu, as Adi Shesha, supports the

universe (made of that dust particle) with his thousand hoods, with much effort. Hara, the destroyer,

crushing the world into powder (at the time of dissolution), besmears his body with the ashes” – 2.

This verse brings forth the great potency of the lotus feet of Sridevi. The creation, protection and destruction of the entire universe have become possible for Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra respectively, only through the power derived by them from Sridevi. The greatness of the holy feet of the Supreme Mother is extolled in the Sruti as ‘CharaNaM pavitraM vitataM purANam’. The worship of Amba’s feet has been traditionally enjoined on Srividya Upasakas (shrIpAdukAM pUjayAmi namaH). The four feet of Sri Mahatripurasundari are: Shulka, Rakta, Mishra and Nirvana Charanas. The first two rest on the Ajna Chakra, the third on the Anahata Chakra and the third on the thousand petalled lotus on the head (Dwadashanta) with Vishnu, Brahma, Rudra and Sadashiva as their respective deities. The Rakta and Shukla Charanas stand for creation and protection, the Mishra for dissolution and the Nirvana for final beatitude or eternal, Supreme Bliss. These deities, assuming their characteristic Gunas – Satva, rajas, Tamas and Gunatitatva, through the speck of dust resting on the four feet, occupy themselves in their respective avocations of creation, sustenance, and destruction. The esoteric mantras for Rakta, Shukla, Mishra and Nirvana Charanas form a part of Urdhwamnaya, the upper quarter. The great yogi Sri Dattatreya describes this as follows: bhrUmadhyagau vidhiharI tava raktashuklau pAdau rajo.amalaguNau khalu sevyamAnau sR^iShTisthitii vitanutau hR^idaye tR^itiiyama~NghriM bhajanharati vishwamudagramagraH .turyaM tavaamba charaNaM nirupaadhibodhaM sAndraamR^itaM shivapade satataM namAmi .. A great south Indian scholar explains the meaning of this second verse graphically as follows: The Divine mother was walking in the pleasure garden of Srinagara along with her infinite number of attendants. Brahma, after having had the Darshan of Amba, gathered the dust from the path on which Amba had trodden. With the aid of this dust particle, he created the fourteen worlds in all their perfection. Mahavishnu as Adishesha, having known that all the worlds are only particles of the dust of Amba’s feet, bears them on his heads with great care and reverence. Rudra awaits the time of the Mahapralaya (the great deluge), to have the gains of the dust from the lotus-feet of Amba, derived by Brahma and Vishnu. At that time, he reduces the worlds into ashes and besmears his body with that Vibhuti. The lotus feet of Sri Rajarajeshwari is the prime cause of all the worlds; hence the dust on her feet acquires all her virtues. According to Kanada, the founder of the Vaisesika school and Akshapada, the founder of the Nyaya school, the world is made up of the primary atoms of Earth, Water, Fire and Air, which, at the desire of Ishwara, arrange

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themselves, in the first instance, into Dvayanukas (consisting of two atoms each), which, in turn arrange themselves into Trayanukas (consisting of three Dvayanukas each). It is on groups of these Trayanukas that the cosmogony of these schools is based. Such a conception of the order of evolution should not be considered as a mere surmise of the poet, as it is the fact that the Paramanu (of Amba’s feet) is the prime cause of the creation of the world, that forms the basis of their theory. The worlds that evolve from this Paramanu are both animate and inanimate. The fourteen worlds listed in the scriptures are: Bhur, Bhuvar, Suvar, Mahar, Jana, Tapas and Satya, as also the seven nether worlds: Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Rasatala, Talatala, Mahatala and Patala. Sri Mahavishnu is said to life the seven nether worlds in the form of Shimshumara, a porpoise, and the seven upper worlds as Adishesha, the great serpent. The greatness of Sridevi is borne testimony to by the abject dependence of the creator, the sustainer and the destroyer of the worlds on the dust of her feet, for carrying out their respective avocations. It is further enhanced by the fact, that the single speck of her feet provides the material for the creator all the worlds, with their various contents. The same speck calls forth great strength from Vishnu, the thousand-headed, to lift its weight with his myriads of heads, and the mighty Samhara Rudra, with his prodigious form, has to reduce this tiny speck to ashes, by way of destroying the worlds, for his Bhasma Snana. The ashes are but a residuum left by all the elements and their various transformations, after the application of his Samhara Shakti by Rudra, with a view to smear his body with ashes, in conformity with the mantra prescribed there for. This Shloka seeks to inspire the Sadhaka’s mind with the unimaginable glory of Srimata. The mightiest object we can imagine is this mysterious and limitless universe and that is only a particle of dust from Her feet. The mightiest beings we can imagine, namely, the trinity, are required to do the various cosmic functions, again with this speck of dust. In other hymns, the deity as Virat, the cosmic Whole, is described as the one having the universe as his body. But here, the universe is described as a mere speck of dust at Amba’s feet. So great is her transcendent glory, and it is only a reflection of that glory that is seen in the cosmic powers of the trinity. ‘Pamsu’ means dust on the feet. Even in such dust, there are some particles that are finer than others. When the entire Shakti of Parabrahman assumes a form, is personified, a speck of dust on her feet is sufficient source material to create the fourteen worlds. Then Acharya speaks of the protection of these fourteen worlds. Ananta or Adishesha, on whom Vishnu reclines, is himself an aspect of Mahavishnu, who is called Anantapadmanabha. Mahavishnu is here addressed as ‘Sauri’. The deity at Tirukkannapuram in tamil nadu is called ‘Sauriraja’. Sri Krishna Paramatman is called ‘Sauri’ because he is the grandson of Shura of the Yadava clan. This name would be apt for Balarama also. Being the elder brother of Krishna, the name is more justified in this case: he is also an Avatara of Vishnu, and is, besides, said to be an Avatara of Adishesha. There is nothing wrong in describing Sri Mahavishnu as being identical with Adishesha since the very first word of Purusha Sukta describes Bhagavan as having a thousand heads – ‘sahasrashIrShA’. The Acharya says that Vishnu performs this function somehow ‘kathamapi’. It is a very difficult task but Vishnu manages it somehow. While mentioning the functions of Brahma and Rudra, Srimadacharya does not us this word ‘kathamapi’. Creation is a function accomplished in a short duration. Destruction takes even less time. Is it not easier to destroy a thing than to create it? But protecting the creation is a task that lasts an extremely long period, yugas, even Kalpas. So only in this context, of Vishnu supporting the worlds for eons does the Acharya use the phrase ‘kathamapi’. To carry on one’s head the dust from the feet of the great is considered right and proper, indeed a matter of great good fortune. Mahavishnu carries on his head the dust from the holy feet of Sri Amba, the dust that means all the fourteen worlds. Amba’s feet are a bright red; so the dust on them must also be the same color. When Vedamata (the essence or the personification of the Vedas i.e. Saraswati or Gayathri) prostrates herself before Amba, keeping her head at the goddess’s feet, the dust sticks in the parting of her hair as Kumkuma. The Rahasya Sahasranama speaks of the same idea in the name “shrutisiimantasindhuurikR^itapAdAbjadhUlikA”. A speck of that Kumkuma becomes the fourteen worlds and during the great deluge, it is turned into sacred ashes called ‘Vibhuti’. It is customary to offer devotees the sacred ashes as Shiva’s prasada and Kumkuma as Amba’s prasada. Here the Kumkuma itself has become the sacred ashes for Parameshwara. After stating in the first stanza that the trinity worships her, their functions are mentioned in the second stanza. So the truth is implied here that it is as a result of their worship of Amba (indicated in the previous Shloka) that the three gods have become capable of performing their functions. The first stanza is like a Mangala Shloka, signifying auspicious beginning. The text proper, we may say, begins with the second stanza. It is customary to start the description of male deities with feet and female deities with head. Then how is it different here? It is only when the entire physical form of a deity is described part-by-part that Padadikeshanta and Keshadipadanta rules are followed. In Anandalahari, there are no stanzas describing Amba’s physical form from feet upwards. But this rule is followed in the latter part of the hymn called Saundaryalahari, where Amba’s beauty is described from crown to the feet. Acharya has started the hymn by describing Amba’s feet to teach Sharanagati to her holy feet. Also, the Rahasya Sahasranama describes Amba as ‘shivashaktyaikyarUpiNi’ – Shiva-Shakti-one. So, it is completely logical to use any of the two above

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cited rules to describe the transcendental beauty of Amba. The hidden meaning in the ‘red speck of dust’ is actually the esoteric Kamakala, which is the main source of power for Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra. This mantra can be derived from the verse. It is this subtle Bija that forms the very core of Panchadashi or for that matter, any mantra of Amba. Though this has to be learnt from the guru, I have mentioned it here, following the footsteps of some of the venerable commentators on this divine hymn. Aparadhe guru charaNa smR^iti eva sharaNam!

“The dust of Thy feet is the Island City, wherefrom takes place the luminous sunrise of spiritual illumination, driving away the over-casting darkness of ignorance in the hearts of devotees. The same speck of dust forms the cluster of flower buds, from which gushes forth the nectar of consciousness, enlightening the dull-witted. To those in the grip of chill penury, these dust particles form a veritable necklace of wish-yielding (Chintamani) gems. And for those drowned in the ocean of earthly, limited existence of births and deaths (Samsara), it forms the tusk of Lord Varaha” – 3 The present verse is a continuation of the adoration of the dust of Sridevi’s lotus-feet, described in the previous verse. The importance of the dust to the cosmic functioning of the universe has been brought out in the previous Shloka. In the present one, how the dust impels ignorance (Avidya), dullness, poverty and attachment to worldly life in the case of mortals, is described. When the sun does not shine, the world is shrouded in darkness. Light is essential for making things around us perceivable. So also ignorance (Avidya i.e. lack of knowledge of the supreme Paramatman) envelops the soul and makes man incapable of knowing the reality of the soul (Jiva) and its identity with the supreme Brahman. At dawn, to a person standing on the seashore, the sun seems to rise from an island in the middle of the sea. As the sun rises, darkness is dispelled and the entire world becomes active. The dust on Amba’s feet is here seen as the spiritual sun that dispels ignorance and promotes true knowledge. In the second line of the Shloka, Chaitanya, which is the power that kindles the mind to know and understand the reality of Jiva, is spoken of as a cluster of flowers of Kalpaka tree. The tree here actually means Atma Jnana. In the next line, reference is made to the celestial gem Chintamani, which is capable of granting all desires of its possessor. The speck of dust of Amba’s feet grants man’s earthly desires and spiritual aspirations too. It may be noted that the abode of Devi is Chintamani Griharaja and her Maya Bija is also called Chaitanya mantra. The last line draws a comparison between the particle of dust of Amba’s feet and the tusk of ‘Muraripu’. Mura, a demon, was killed by Krishna and consequently Bhagavan Vishnu got the epithet ‘Muraripu’. In this context, it refers to the incarnation of Vishnu as Varaha, the wild boar. A demon named Hiranyaksha stole Bhudevi (earth personified as a goddess) and disappeared with her into the nether world (Patala). At that time, Lord Vishnu incarnated as a huge wild boar, reached Patala, killed the demon and redeemed the earth from him and rose above the sea with the earth in his tusk. Even so, the dust of Amba’s feet can salvage human beings from the cycle of births and deaths and lead them to eternal bliss. This verse connotes the importance of the worship of Amba’s holy feet, for those

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who desire worldly happiness and also for those who desire to shed off the inner darkness of Avidya to obtain the knowledge of the Self and the consequent attainment of liberation or Moksha – the supreme goal of mankind. Thus it is rightly said: “Where there is enjoyment, there is no liberation. The vive versa is also true. But for the worshippers of Tripurasundari, both enjoyment and liberation become easily available”. Thus, to those who lack the knowledge of the atman, Amba dispels ignorance; to the dull-witted, she grants discriminatory powers and to the needy she bestows much more than what they desire for. Eventually, she is the resurrector from worldly bondages. It is rightly said in the scriptures: This verse is indicative of the Kamaraja mantra that is to be meditated upon by the votaries of Srividya. The verse also encodes the Shatkoota Vaishnavi Vidya (the form of Srividya worshipped by Mahavishnu) and the Nandikeshwara Vidya (the form of Srividya propagated by Nandikeshwara). The Kamaraja Matrika should be meditated upon as effulgent with the radiance of myriads of morning suns, holding in her four hands the rosary of crystal beads, the sugarcane bow, Cupid’s five arrows and the Holy Writ, as having three eyes and wearing the crescent moon as her crest-jewel. The Dhyana of Sridevi in the form of Kamaraja Matrika is as follows: bAlArkakoTiruchirAM sphaTikAkShamAlAmkodaNDamikShujanitaM smarapa~nchabANAn .vidyAM cha hastakamalairdadhatiiM trinetrAMdhyAyetsamastajananIM navachandrachUDAm .. This Shloka is also indicative of the great Vagbhava Maha Bija. This Bija is composed of ‘a’, the first letter of the Rig Veda, ‘a’, that of Sama Veda and ‘i’, that of Yajur Veda, constructed as Aim with the nasal Ardhamatra of the Upanishads. This Trayimayi Maha Vidya has the virtues of dispelling Avidya or ignorance with the first ‘a’, of removing Jadatva or non-sentience with the second ‘a’, and of bestowing one’s heart’s desires with ‘i’ and Kaivalya with the Ardha Matra, representing the essence of the Upanishads. As the internal darkness, accumulated during numberless births, is so intense as to occupy every nook and corner of the mind of the person harboring it. Hence, the word ‘Mihira’ (meaning ‘Sun’) in the first verse may actually refer to the twelve Adityas rising simultaneously with all their effulgence from their island abode, so as to drive away even the smallest vestige of such darkness. The twelve Adityas are: Dhatr, Mitra, Aryaman, Rudra, Varuna, Surya, Bhaga, Vivaswat, Pushan, Savitr, Tvastr and Vishnu. The ‘ignorant’ that the Shloka refers to are those who are not possessed of Vidya. It refers to those who simply indulge in the observance of Jyotishtoma and other rituals according to the rules prescribed in the Karma Kanda without any effort to acquire the liberating knowledge. The ignorant are also those who are under the delusion that the world entirely depends on Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra or the three Gunas Satva, rajas and Tamas, while in reality, it hangs on the mercy of Amba, whose dependents these three Gods are. The first line of the stanza implies that the Devi dispels the darkness of those covered in Avidya by imparting the true knowledge of Ishwara. The second line indicates the dispelling of the ignorance of the Sankhyas who believe that the Jada, non-sentient Moola Prakriti is the cause of the worlds, by adoption of similar means. The third line warns the Paramanu Vadins, who hold the primary atoms to be the cause of the world, to be more circumspect, should they be disposed to arrive at the correct theory. The last line implies the questionable ways adopted by the least evolved persons immersed in their everyday life, and suggests the remedial measure of the precepts in Dharma Shastras like Mahabharata and others bearing on right conduct, as the means of saving them. Would it not be sufficient to say that the dust on the feet of Sridevi is itself the sun dispelling the darkness of Ajnana? Why should mention be made of an island city over which the sun rises? To answer this question, there is another from of this stanza, which reads: “timiramihiroddIpanagarI”. ‘UddIpana’ is to make something brighter. If this text is followed, the meaning would be: “The sun that dispels the inner darkness of Ajnana and makes the light of Jnana brighter”. The Saguna Brahman that is associated with cosmic matters is ‘Saprapancha’. Nirguna Brahman, the Ultimate Reality is without Maya, which is the cause of this phenomenal universe. In the previous stanza, Amba was shown as the Saguna Brahman; the dust on her meet, it was mentioned, was the cause of creation, sustenance and destruction. In this stanza, Amba is depicted as the Nirguna Brahman, the radiant light of the Sun that dispels the darkness of Maya. Avidya grips all except the great who have awareness of the atman. Even people of high intelligence are not free form it. After stating that the dust from the feet of Amba takes one to great heights by banishing nescience and bestowing the light of Atman awareness, the Acharya says, as a next step, it gives the dull-witted, Jnana of a high order that illuminates their intelligence. ‘Jada’ means ‘those who are so dull-witted as to resemble inert objects’, people with their knowledge or awareness completely dried up. In this state of theirs, the dust on Amba’s feet creates a fountain of

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nectarine honey that splashes inside them and makes them green as opposed to their former dryness. Honey is found in a flower. What is the flower here? “Chaitanya Stabakam”, the bouquet of living knowledge. Chaitanya is nothing but the supreme Jnana called ‘Chit’. In the Rahasya Sahasranama of Mahatripurasundari, we have two names: “Chaitanyaarghyasamaaraadhyaa” and ‘ChaitanyakusumapriyA”. Together with them occur the names, ‘SadoditA’ and ‘taruNadityapaaTalaa’. These two names respectively mean: ‘She who is always bright like the daybreak’ and ‘She who is red like the light of the morning Sun’. So, the description of the rising sun from the island city and the nectar from Kalpaka actually follows the same scheme as Rahasya Sahasranama. The three wish-fulfilling objects mentioned in our Shastras are: Kalpaka, Kamadhenu and Chintamani. Chintamani is earthly, belonging to the category of insentient objects. Kalpaka has elements of both categories: sentient and insentient and belongs to flora. Flora takes in water and grows roots and branches. Since they propagated themselves, they belong to the category of Chetana. But, all the same, they are rooted to a place and since they do not express their urges and feelings like the humans and the animals, they also belong to the category of Jada. Kamadhenu is all sentient and is the personification of Chetana. In physical form, she is a cow but in wisdom she is superior even to human beings since she exists in the divine plane. A single Chintamani is sufficient to grant everything one desires. Since what Amba gives is many times more than what we ask for, the rosary is said to have been made of Chintamani beads strung together. As per the agama view, here the reference is also to the Moola Vidya of Sri Mahatripurasundari, which is Bala, Panchadashi or Shodashi. It is this Brahma Vidya that dispels the ignorance in the minds of the Sadhakas. It is this supreme Vidya that is like the Kalpaka tree. For Upasakas of Srividya, nectar of consciousness, which is actually Amba’s grace, gushes forth, filling them with Atma or Brahma Chaitanya. Chintamani Mala refers to the Aksha Mala method of worship followed by traditionalists to perform the Japa of Srividya. As a result of this powerful form of Japa, Amba grants them the greatest wealth, “Moksha Lakshmi’, destroying their deadly poverty of Samsara. Finally, her fifteen or sixteen lettered Maha Vidya is the Brahman consciousness that lifts the atman from the depths of the ocean of Samsara or Maya to grant liberation to the Upasakas of the Vidya.

“Thou the refuge of all worlds! All Gods except Thee vouchsafe protection and bestow boons by gestures of their

hands. Thou alone art not given to any such external demonstration of giving boons and shelter. This is so because

Thy feet are themselves inherently proficient in affording immunity from the great fear and giving them much more

than what they pray for!” – 4

The substance of the two preceding verses is elaborated in this verse. The word ‘Abhaya’ means freedom from fear.

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‘Vara’ means grant of all desires. One can see these postures or Mudras in the hands of deities in icons, sculptures, pictures and meditational verses. The right hand of deities generally has Abhaya Mudra, with fingers upwards, denoting protection from fear. The left has vara Mudra with fingers pointing downwards indicating the granting of boons. But these hand gestures or Mudras are not in the form of Sridevi Mahatripurasundari. Amba is described to be having sugarcane bow, goad, noose and flower-arrows in her hands, and not Vara and Abhaya Mudras. The term ‘Abhaya’ actually means freedom from fear of the infinite cycle of births and deaths. The word ‘Vara’ connotes satisfaction of all desires or Kama. Thus, the verse implies that if the worship of the holy feet of Amba, if properly carried out, will grant the fourfold goals of human existence – Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha, the former two leading to the latter two. While even Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra work for creation, protection and destruction with effort, Sridevi has no function requiring effort. She is the source of all happiness, temporary or eternal, temporal or spiritual, and is also the refuge from all fear to those who devoutly worship Her holy feet. in Tanjavore district of Tamil Nadu, there is a sacred place called Avadayarakoil, famous for its historic, ancient and architectural temple built by the Tamil saint Manikkavachakar. Devi Yogambika here has no image representation as in other temples. Only two feet carved in stone, placed on a pedestal, are worshipped as Devi. It seems that the inner meaning of the fourth verse of Saundaryalahari is fully exemplified by this symbolic form of Amba here. Thus in this verse, the superiority of Amba above all Gods and the importance of the worship of Devi’s feet are brought out. If one carefully observes, the worlds that have their origin at Amba’s feet, seek shelter at their very place of origin. The very Gods, who pose with their hands the dispelling of fear and granting of boons, themselves seek shelter at Amba’s feet. Evidently this refers to the fact that, whereas these gods merely employ their hands for posing, the Devi, the unique Goddess that she is, even though with four hands, engages them otherwise, in carrying the noose, the goad, the sugarcane bow and the flower-arrows and, at the same time, causes her feet to do not merely what the other Gods profess to do, but even more in granting what her devotees seek at her hands. It is also worthy to not that while some Gods are capable of granting Swarga Bhoga and others Moksha alone, Amba bestows on her votaries both enjoyment of celestial pleasures and liberation. Bestowal of freedom from the great fear of Samsara or duality and granting of even more than what a devotee prays for, are in Her very nature, and she has no need to show off such powers by poses of hands like other Deities. It is said in the Nabhobhara Stotra: yatraasti bhogo na hi tatra mokShaH yatraasti mokSho na hi tatra bogaH .shriisundariitarpaNatatparANaM bhogashcha mokShashcha karastha eva .. What one does with one’s hand entails mental and physical effort. Work is itself called ‘Karya’ and the word is derived from ‘Kara’ meaning ‘hand’. Deities other than Amba have to use their hands and make suggestive gestures and strain themselves in granting boons to their devotees and in freeing them from fear. However, Amba performs the cosmic functions like Panchakritya also with ease by merely flickering her eyebrows for just a moment. A Supreme energy like her does not have to make any effort with her hands to give boons to her devotees or to free them from fear. Her very presence is enough to accomplish these things. She is like a flower that spreads its fragrance naturally. When you pray to a deity for freedom from fear, you will receive just that and nothing more. The feet of Amba are such that they give much more than what you ask for. She grants a state of total satisfaction where there are no more desires, no more yet-to-be achieved things. This state is referred to as ‘Kamakoti’. One question may arise here. “Why cannot Amba give her devotees Abhaya as one among the many boons she grants? So, why should Abhaya be separated from other boons and why should we specially pray for it?” Abhaya is not a commodity belonging to the give-and-take business. It is indeed another name for Advaita. The Upanishads declare that there is fear only when there is duality. When there only One, what else is there of which you have to be afraid of? The Taittariya Upanishad says that a man will be scared if he thinks that there is even the slightest difference between him and the Brahman. When we think of Brahman as being separate from us, that is as the Saguna Brahman, ours is an attitude of devotion mixed with fear for it. When does such a fear cease to exist? It ceases to exist when we realize that we do not exist as Jivatman or the individual self separate from Ishwara. When there is one object, without a second, there cannot be two separate entities, one that grants boons and the other who receives them. Amba frees us from all fear; but Abhaya is the realization of Advaita. That is why it is not included among the boons and treated separately. In the Abhaya Mudra, the right hand will point upward. The dualists say that it points to the higher realms of Vaikuntha or Kailasa. We would say that it points to the state of Advaita, which is absolute and undivided like the space. In vara Mudra, the hand will point downwards. To say, “I want this, I want that” bespeaks an attitude that betrays that the devotee belongs to a lower plane. Giving anything with the left hand is usually regarded as undignified. But this can also

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be interpreted in a good sense. The left hand points down towards Amba’s lotus feet and indicates: “I give you my feet. Hold them. That is the greatest of boons”. The very feet of Amba, who is of the form of the supreme Kamakala, called Prakasha and Vimarsha, are more than capable of granting freedom from the great fear of Samsara and granting the Chaturvargas. The scriptures describe this as follows: SmR^ityaa nityaM maheshAni bhavadaMghrichatuShTayam .PaDarthaj~nAnato Devi sadyo mokShaaya kalpate .. This verse hints at the form of Amba called ‘Mahatripurasundari’, who is, after all, the very subject of this hymn. Since it is said that if she activates Shiva, it follows that she is the source of the power of all deities. That being the case, if they grant Abhaya and Vara, their power for doing so is also derived from her. Amba in her other forms like Bhuvaneshwari, Bala etc. shows these Mudras. In the first three stanzas, the form of Amba, which forms the subject of hymns, is not indicated. It is in this verse that the form of Mahatripurasundari is revealed as the primary theme of this hymn. This also brings forth the secret Kamakala Maha Bija of Sri Rajarajeshwari Mahatripurasundari.

“Adoring Thee, who art the bestower of prosperity on all Thy votaries, Vishnu was able to assume the form of a charming damsel and stir waves of passion in the mind of no less a deity than Hara, the destroyer of the three cities. And Smara (Manmatha or cupid) likewise, through Thy adoration, got a form – a veritable feast for the eyes of his consort Rati – with which he has become capable of causing deep infatuation even in the minds of great sages.” – 5 This verse refers to the anecdote of the Mohini incarnation of Sri Mahavishnu at the time when Amrita (nectar) was obtained after churning of the ocean of milk by the Devas and the demons. When the demons snatched the barrel of nectar from Dhanvantari, Vishnu meditated on the divine form of Sri Mahatripurasundari and as a result of his identity with Amba, obtained a form similar to Sridevi that was called Mohini, capable of enchanting the entire world. He tricked the Asuras and distributed the nectar among the Devas. Shiva expressed his desire to see the supremely beautiful avatar of Narayana and on his request, Vishnu repeated his Mohini Avatara. Shiva, the greatest of Yogins, who had controlled all senses and burnt his passions and burnt Kama (the god of passion) to ashes, was kindled by passion on seeing Mohini who was the very image of Sridevi and lost himself. As a result of their love, Mahashasta was born who went on to kill a powerful demoness named Mahishi, who was the sister of Mahishasura. An alternate form of the same story says that Vishnu took form of Mohini and killed a demon named Kanakaswamin and that Shiva was enticed by this feminine form of Narayana. Another anecdote given in this context is as follows: Lord Shiva saved the world by destroying Tripurasura. The other Asuras feared destruction of their entire community by Shiva. In a group they prayed to Vishnu to guard them from Shiva’s wrath and protect their clan from total annihilation. Vishnu promised to do so, and was thinking of the means to appease Shiva. Sage Narada came there just then. He noticed the anxiety writ large on Vishnu’s face. On knowing the reason for his anxiety, Narada advised Vishnu to worship Sridevi in the form of Srichakra and meditate upon Amba by

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repeating the Supreme Mahamantra of Sri Mahatripurasundari, which would satisfy all desires. Vishnu went in search of a Guru who could initiate him into the secret Mahamantra of Amba. Seeing his anguish and earnest desire for Loka Kalyana, Sri Parashakti appeared before Vishnu and initiated him into her secret mantra and the mode of worship of Sri Rajarajeshwari in Srichakra. By prolonged worship and meditation on Amba, Vishnu got the power to assume any form that he wished for. And thus, he assumed the form of Mohini and appeased Sri Shiva. He also deceived the demons while serving amrita got from the churning of the milky ocean. Manmatha, the god of erotic love and passion, also worshipped Sri Mahatripurasundari in Srichakra, chanting her fifteen-syllabled secret mantra and thereby got the grace of Sridevi, for converting himself into such a beautiful person as that anyone on whom he cast his eyes, would be infused with passion instantaneously. Thus Manmatha acquired the power to captivate the entire world of living beings by Amba’s grace. Even great sages like Vishwamitra had to abandon penance on being kindled by Kama (passion). Rati is said to be the beauty par excellence among the fair sex. The fact that she had been attracted by Manmatha’s personality indicates that he is the most handsome among the men. Another thing to note is that Manmatha, after having been reduced to ashes by the fire that emanated from Shiva’s third eye, got back his life by Amba’s grace and since then has been physically invisible to all eyes except his wife’s (Rati’s) alone. Even with a formless, invisible existence, Manmatha’s incredible success is due to be Amba’s supreme grace. That sages with long years of penance to their credit, and Lord Shiva, the supreme controller of the senses, were unable to resist the temptation of passion by perceiving Manmatha and Vishnu respectively, because Manmatha and Vishnu had been blessed by Sridevi on being pleased by their worship, are positive profs of the extraordinary power and greatness of Amba. This verse tells us about the efficacy and greatness of the Srividya mode of worship of Sri Rajarajeshwari. The Vamakeshwara Tantra confirms the same: etAmeva purArAdhya vidyAM trailokyamohinImtrailokyaM mohayAmAsa kAmAriM bhagaAn hariH .kAmadevo.api devishIm devIm tripurasundarImsamArAdhyAbhavalloke sarvasaubhAgyasundaraH .. It may also be noted in this context that Manmatha and Mahavishnu are the Rishis (seers) to whom the Kamaraja and Vaishnavi Srividya mantras were revealed. There is a peculiar appropriateness in Vishnu worshipping Sridevi, as he is the seer of the first Khanda of Panchadashi, as well as the first Prastara, made up of Lopamudra and Nandikeshwara Vidyas as per the Jnanarnava Tantra. Again in this verse an implied reference to the worship of Amba in the form of Srichakra and the greatness of the Panchadashi and other Devi mantras is found. Sri Achyutananda traces Sadhya Siddhasana Maha Vidya in this Shloka. Anandagiri decodes Trailokyamohana Vidya from this verse. Vishnu is also said to have chanted the esoteric Kamakala Mahamantra of Sridevi and assumed her Kamakala form as a result. Manmatha along with his consort Rati, is first worshipped at the entrance to the holy of the holies at the time of worship of Sri Mahatripurasundari, is the seer of Panchadashakshari of the three Khandas, which, with the fourth transcendent Khanda, becomes the Shodashi of Srividya, with the sixteen Nityas constituting the sixteen Kalas, which again, with its four Kamakala Bijas, takes its origin from the Rig Veda mantra, ‘chatvAra IM bibhratI kShemayantaH’. The Taittariya Brahmana III.10.1, 10, also supports this view. Brahman and Brahma Shakti are spoken of in erotic terms as the Kameshwara – Kameshwari pair in the context of the arousal of the desire in the Brahman to conduct the affairs of the world. It was by worshipping Amba that Mahavishnu was able to involve Parameshwara in love. This idea occurring here gives a clue to the fact that Kameshwari is the subject of this hymn. How can Amba be extolled as the one who imparted the power to Vishnu to drag Ishwara into passion, Ishwara who is the embodiment of Jnana and the object of our adoration? Again how can she be praised, she who gave power to Manmatha to enchant even the sages and inspire their minds with desire? Such questions arise even though we are reluctant to ask them. Jnana arises when the illusory world ceases to exist for us. But here, in this hymn, the creation of the world is attributed to Amba. There is Jnana only when there is no Kama (desire or passion). Here however, Amba is adored as the one who strengthens Kama. Can it be so? If it is, we are gnawed by doubts as to whether Kama itself is a blessing. There must be forces opposed to each other. They must clash with one another; break each other’s heads. The good forces must fight the evil and hoist the flag of victory. Only then can they take pride in themselves. That also creates an interest in life. If there is no opposition to the good forces and if things go smoothly for them they may not even become known to the world. One will know the goodness of shade only after having been in the hot sun. The tussle between opposing forces is to show that ultimately good will be victorious. It is to demonstrate that the still and quiescent Parabrahman is said to have the urge of Kama and is associated with the cosmos. It is because of the Kama of the Brahman that the phenomenal universe came into being.

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Then the sentient cosmos grew with each sentient creature becoming subject to Kama. A strange thing about the opposing forces of good and evil elements is that the good forces have evil elements in them and the evil forces have good elements in them. We must have an understanding of this subtle truth in our struggle so as to fully appreciate the cosmic drama and its various moods. That desire and anger are bad is a statement based on generalization. If you go deep into the subject, you will recognize that they too have good aspects. You must have desire for the good and the bad objects must arouse anger in you. In such a sense, desire and anger are not exactly evils. There are two things to be considered above everything else: the supreme mother bestowing her compassion on us is one; the second is our going to her for refuge, our total surrendering to her. These two are possible only when there is creation and when there are bad elements, which it is necessary for us to combat. The highest as far as Amba is concerned is bestowing her compassion on us; and the highest on our side is to surrender to her. The best we can do is to not do anything, realizing that we are incapable of doing anything. If there was no creation or if there was creation and yet people were not troubled by desire, anger and so on, where would be the opportunity for Amba to show her compassion? If there was no trouble for anybody and everybody was satisfied with his or her lot, who would care for Amba’s compassion? When we fight the forces that oppose us as best as we can and eventually realize that we are not strong enough to triumph over them, only then will we think of Amba and go to her for refuge, crying, “You alone are our help!” And only then will we experience the great joy of surrender – and only then will Amba come rushing to protect us and only then will there be full scope for her to show her compassion and take delight in the same. When Amba’s protection becomes an accomplished fact, the compassion of ‘that side’ (i.e. of Amba) and the surrender of ‘this side’ (i.e. our going to her for refuge) will be dissolved in the confluence of the flows of joy experienced by both sides. Any kind of enquiry now into whether it was the victory of Amba or of the individual self has no meaning; the individual Self becomes Amba. It would be all right even if a hundred thousand or ten million people were spoiled and their lives rendered futile. It would be enough if one in ten million became successful against evil forces and went beyond creation. Is it necessary and possible for all seeds borne by a tree to become trees? Do the millions of sperms produced by man become children? Similarly, it would be enough if even one in ten million people attained fullness. In that, Amba thinks, the purpose of creation will be fulfilled. Our religion does not subscribe to the doctrine of eternal damnation. Madhvacharya, the chief of the dualists gave expression to a view akin to it. Let us hope that he felt that at least by instilling this fear of eternal damnation in the minds of people, they would be turned to good. However, the concept of eternal damnation is not accepted in our religion. There is liberation for even the greatest of the sinners. Even if it takes eons and eons, Amba will correct her children and hold them in her lap. Bhagavan Krishna asked Kunti her wish. She said, “I want suffering. Grant me that. Then alone will I think of you.” How is suffering caused? By desire, anger and so on. Only when they torment us, when we suffer their consequences do we think of Amba and pray to her. We will then realize how the creation of this world, Kama and anger are all blessings. If Amba bestows Kama on an individual it is because she will have an opportunity to show her seamless compassion. But this does not stop with that individual. It is an ‘arrangement’ by which the children born of his Kama will also receive Amba’s compassion. Great men have sung, “No more births for us!” but can people who have bundles and bundles of karma still to be exhausted escape by crying like that? To work our their remaining karma, they have to be born again and again and live virtuously. If there is no Kama, how can people be born again so as to unload their burden of karma? During the time an opportunity is given to them by rebirth and if they do not wash away their past karma and instead add further to the impurity of their karma, it will be their own fault. Birth is an opportunity given to us to bring an end to further birth. Birth is an opportunity given to us to bring an end to further birth. We must understand this truth and act accordingly. Amba has established a system in which Kama is one of the aims of a man’s life along with dharma, Artha and Moksha. Kama is to be experienced in the householder’s stage of life and in a disciplined and restrained manner, according to the tenets of the Shastras. If life is lived in this manner, in due time you will be freed from karma, become purified, and taken to the higher stage of Sanyasa. That Kama agitated the sages and the great men is not the end of the story. The fact to be given importance is that they became pure again by Amba’s grace. If they were subject to Kama at one time, it was for the well being of the world. The episode of Shiva getting enchanted by Mohini occurred for the sake of birth of Mahashasta (known as Ayyapan in Malayala Desha) who destroyed a demoness named Mahishi. Mahishi had obtained a boon that only the sun of Shiva and Vishnu could kill her. Also, only the beauty of Parashakti Lalita, now assumed by Mohini through Amba’s own grace, was capable of attracting Shiva. If Menaka did not attract Vishwamitra, there would be no birth of Shakuntala and her great son Bharata, who became the overall ruler of the subcontinent. If Krtasi had not attracted Vyasa, there would have been no Shuka Maharshi, who is unmatched for his observance of Brahmacharya and an unmatched teacher of Advaita. These accounts also remind us that without the help, without the grace of Parashakti, anyone, whoever he is, will stumble and fall. Whoever has the authority to create something, he alone has the authority

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to destroy it. If Amba has the authority to create this world as well as Kama, she alone can free us from this world – and she alone can give us a helping hand to become freed from Kama. The present explicitly speaks only of Amba’s urging Manmatha to bring us under his spell. We must also understand the implied meaning that there is a reverse side to this, that she will grant us, the grace of destroying Kama.

“O Daughter of the snow-capped Himalaya Mountain! Manmatha, the God of love ha sonly a bow of flowers, whose bowstring is comprised of a cluster of honeybees; he has only five arrows and these are made of flowers. The spring season (which is periodical and undependable) is his vassal and the southern breeze of Malaya (which is shifting and formless) is his battle-chariot. Yet with such frail equipment, bodiless and alone though he be, Manmatha, having obtained some grace through Thy benign side-glance, subjugates the entire universe and emerges victorious” – 6 In this beautiful verse, the anti-thesis between the inadequacy of the ability and equipment of Manmatha and his unfailing all-round success are presented in relief. His weapons have neither the strength nor the fitness to be used or wielded, in his unceasing effort over all sentient beings. Nor has he limbs to enable him to wield them. It is well known that Kama was burnt to ashes by the fire of Shiva’s third eye, when he attempted to kindle passion in Shiva towards Parvati, and that later, in response to the prayers of Rati, he was restored to life, but without a body. Kama’s bow is of tender flowers and hence incapable of being bent and is also short-lived. The bowstring of honeybees, ever unsteady, always on the move in search of honey and in disarray, can hardly be strung. The arrows are only five, so few as to be exhausted in no time. Nor have they darts to pierce. These arrows are: Aravinda (lotus), Ashoka (peepul), Choota (mango), Navamallika (Jasmine) and Nilotpala (blue lotus). Spring season, Manmatha’s assistant, is transitory – lasting for only two months in a year – and so of doubtful assistance. The southern breeze, not blowing always, nor blowing everywhere, invisible and formless, can hardly be useful as a chariot. Kama himself – having no body – cannot avail himself of these weapons or assistance. He has no arms to wield weapons, nor the feet to stand in the chariot and fight, no eyes to see, nor mouth to speak to his vassal, Vasanta. But it is a paradox that with all these disabilities, inadequate and useless weapons, and unreliable assistance, Kama is able to subjugate the entire world of living beings, nay the universe in its entirety. Undoubtedly this is because of his obtaining the gracious blessings of Sridevi through her side-glances. That with the omnipotent grace of Amba, even the impossible can be achieved is the purport of this verse. The dualistic world emerging from non-dualism as a result of Kama or desire and then the same dualistic world being made non-dualistic through the compassion of Amba has a central sport in her divine sport. Manmatha, also

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called Kama, the very personification of desire, has great importance here. Amba herself has divine names like Kameshwari and Kamakshi, associating her with Kama. Each of the five arrows of Manmatha, derived from the arrows of Sri Lalita Parameshwari herself, is associated with one of the five senses. They indicate the five Tanmatras, which are the five subtle Bhutas perceived by the five senses, the five Bhutas being sound, touch, form, taste and smell. If the five arrows are to be aimed at the five senses, what is the bow from which they are to be discharged? It is the mind, which is the support of the five senses. The bee is also mentioned to indicate a Tanmatra that the flowers do not have. The flower is soft to touch, is beautiful to behold, has the taste of nectar and has a pleasant fragrance. But it does have association with the Tanmatra of sound. And the humming of the bee that comes in search of nectar fills this lack. During the slaying of Tripura, Parameshwara had a tremendously strong bow comprising of the Meru Mountain, its string was the great serpent Vasuki and the arrow was Mahavishnu himself. The sun and the moon were the wheels of his chariot, the earth was its floor and the charioteer was Brahma. Parameshwara laughed thinking to himself: “Mahavishnu, Brahma and the rest have come thinking I would need their help, but I have Parashakti in me”. The moment he laughed, the Tripura demons were reduced to ashes. Although Parameshwara had powerful weapons, he won without using any of them. Manmatha wins his war, with weapons that are not strong in the least. The reason is same for both. It is the grace of Amba, which is behind their victory. She brought the Lord success by residing in him as Parashakti. And here she has made Manmatha victorious all over the world by casting on him her sidelong glance for a fleeting moment, and thus blessing him. To bestow blessings in this manner on everything in creation is the function of Maya belonging to Saprapancha. For this, the sidelong glance of Amba for a fleeting moment is enough. The destruction of Tripura means the rejection of the subtle, gross and Karana bodies and remaining the Maha Karana of the Brahman. This is what unites one with the Nishprapancha. And this is possible only when Amba inheres in one fully. If the one who burned Tripura also burned Kama, it was because the little grace the latter had obtained from Amba could not stand against the power of the full grace Shiva had obtained from her. To speak of the victory of Kama, of Amba making him victorious, should not be the end of the story for us. It is necessary that we triumph over Kama ourselves. E must remind ourselves that when Ishwara triumphed over Kama, Amba was present in him to lend him the necessary strength. It is with this high spirit that Manmatha has been granted weapons that have no strength. When he obtains victory with them, he will be humble enough to realize that he owes his success to her charity, to her kindness. Ananga, one without limbs, once possessed a body that was beautiful in all respects. It is as a reference to the fact that he once possessed a body of unsurpassed beauty that we still liken good-looking men to Manmatha. It was a time when the celestials were going through much suffering at the hands of demons Shurapadma and Taraka. Only a son born to Ishwara could kill the demon, but the Lord, in his form of Dakshinamurti, was then engaged in severe austerities. Manmatha was sent by the celestials to him so as to inspire love in him for Parashakti, who had descended to earth as the daughter of the king of Himalayas. So there is aptness in the use of the word ‘Himagirisuta’ in this Shloka. Manmatha means one who churns the mind. Manmatha, in his arrogance, thought that he could churn the mind of the Lord who was like a mountain of dispassion. But Parameshwara burned him beyond recognition. Later Amba gave him new life and he was now he was no longer boastful that he could do anything by himself. Then he triumphed over the Lord and this forms a part of Kamakshi Purana. What we must repeatedly remember is that the success of Manmatha was entirely due to the strength given to him by Kamakshi. According to the same Purana, Manmatha recognized this truth in all his humility. He approached the Lord now, not with the feeling, “I am going to win on my own strength”, but with the thought, “The power of my mother’s blessings will bring me success”. In this spirit did he approach the Lord and achieve victory. While he had been reduced to ashes by the fire of Shiva’s third eye, his pride in his own power had also been destroyed. It is because Amba thought he should no longer nurse any pride in the beauty of his body that she restored him to life but did not restore him to body. One meaning of ‘Kamakshi’ is ‘she who created Kama with her sidelong glance’. Manmatha is one of the twelve celebrated devotees of Sri Mahatripurasundari. In the Mahatmya Khanda of Tripura Rahasya, it is described that Amba herself revealed Kamaraja Maha Vidya to him, in response to his prolonged worship and meditation on her for three years through the Meru mantra. It is also related that Amba conferred on Kama, Amsha (parts) of her own bow and arrows. The secret Kamaraja mantra of Bala Tripurasundari is hidden in this verse. The mantra for the Chakreshwari of Sarvashaparipuraka Chakra is also traced from this Shloka.

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“May the divine mother who is the Pride incarnate (Ahanta or the I-sense) of Shiva, the destroyer of the Three cities, vouchsafe her presence before us – the Mother with her slender waist girdled with jingling Odyana (a waist ornament), with her frame slightly bent in the middle by the weight of her breasts that bulge like the frontal globes of the forehead o a young elephant, with her face resembling the autumnal moon, and with her hand sporting a bow, arrows, a noose and a goad!” – 7 This verse portrays the divine mother chit Parashakti in Her gross (Sthoola) form as distinguished from the subtle (Sukshma) and sublime (Para) forms. In this gross form, physical features such as hands, feet, face etc. are attributed to the divine form so as to facilitate contemplation by the Sadhaka. Followers of Samayachara meditate on Amba’s form and worship her mentally in the various Chakras or psychic centers inside the human body. At each end of the Meru Dana or the spinal cord that runs from the skull downwards to the anus, there is a thousand-petalled lotus. The one at the lower end is called Kula Sahasrara and the other at the upper end, almost at the center of the head, is known as Akula Sahasrara. Between these two thousand-petalled lotuses and along the spinal cord there are six plexuses or lotuses. They are:

1. Moolaadhaara, a four-petalled lotus, a little above the anus. 2. Swadhishthana, a six-petalled lotus, at the root of the genital organ. 3. Manipooraka, a ten-petalled lotus, at the navel. 4. Anahata, a twelve-petalled lotus, at the heart region. 5. Visuddhi, a sixteen-petalled lotus, in the region of the neck. 6. Ajna, a two-petalled lotus, between the eyebrows.

Sridevi manifests herself to the Sadhaka in the Manipooraka Chakra, when the devotee in his internal worship makes all kinds of offerings to Amba, and bedecks her with all varieties of jewels and ornaments made of resplendent rubies, emerald etc. Thence Sridevi is conducted to the Anahata Chakra in her upward move to the Akula Sahasrara. The lustrous and wonderful form of Sridevi as meditated upon and apparent in the Anahata Chakra is described in this verse. The followers of Samayachara follow this form of meditation. The Rudrayamala says:

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“dhyAnAsaktau tu sarvAsAM dhyAnaM tattu samaM smR^itaM”. Bhagavan Durvasas describes Amba in his Tripura Mahimna Stotra in similar lines: AdikShAntasamastavarNasumaNiprote vitAnaprabhebrahmAdipratimAbhikiilitasadAdhArAbjakakShonnate .brahmANDAbjamahAsane janani te mUrtiM bhaje chinmayImsaushumnAyataoItapa~NkajamahAmadhyatrikoNasanAm .. It is also to be noted that this verse describes Amba’s form for meditation by beginners in Srividya. The Shastras describes progressive meditation on the Sthula (gross), Sukshma (subtle), Sukshmatara (the subtler) and upon the Sukshmatama (the subtlest) forms. The forty names of Sri llaita in the Rahasya Sahasranama from the 12th name - “nijAruNaprabhApUramajjadbrahmANDamaNDAlA” upto the 51st name – “sarvAbharaNabhUShitA”, describe th gross form of Amba. The subtle form of Sridevi is her mantras. The five names of Amba from the 85th, “shrImadvAgbhavakUtaikaswaruupamukhapa~NkajA” to the 89th name “mUlakUTatrayakalebarA” describe the subtle form of Sridevi. The subtler form is of Kamakala and is described by the 88th and 89th names. The subtlest form is of Kundalini portrayed in the 22 names of Lalita beginning from the 90th name “kulAmR^itaikarasikA” and ending with the 111th name “bisatantutanIyasii”. The comparison of Amba’s face to the autumnal moon is intended to bring out the glory, calmness and the grace of her form. While the moon suffers diminution during the dark fortnight and has an indelible spot, Amba’s face is full with all the sixteen Kalas and without any blemish. The autumn, called ‘Saradritu’ is the quietest part of the year in India, it being neither hot nor cold, almost throughout the country. This period of two months extends roughly from the middle of October to the middle of December, when the sky will be clear of clouds and the moon shining bright in the night. The full moon is mentioned to denote the fullness of the Kalas. The third line of the Shloka makes a mention of the weapons in Amba’s four hands, which are: Ankusha (goad), Pasha (noose), a sugarcane-bow and five arrows. the goad shines like the crescent moon. The noose is of coral, while the bow is of sugarcane of the dark red variety with a bowstring of honeybees. The five arrows are of Kamala, Raktakairava, Kalhara, Indivara and Sahakara flowers. The Kalika Purana associates these five arrows respectively with Harshana, Rechana, Mohana, Shoshana and Marana. The Jnanarnava associates these arrows with Kshobhana, Dravana, Akarshana, Vashya and Unmadana. According to Tantraraja, they are: Maadana, Unmadana, Mohana, Dipana and Shoshana. The four weapons, adorning the four arms of Sridevi, referred to in this verse of Saundaryalahari, are only in their gross (Sthoola) form. Several texts explain the inner meaning of these weapons and their Sukshma (subtle) and Para (sublime) forms. The subtle form of these mantras is said to be their mantras, referred to as Pasha and other Ayudha mantras. The Bhavanopanishad says:rAgaH pAshaH, dveSho a~NkushaH, shabdAdi pa~nchatanmAtraH pa~ncha puShpabANaH, mana ikShukodaNDaH Desire is the Pasha, hatred is the Ankusha, the senses associated with the five sense organs (sound, touch, smell etc.) are the five arrows, and the mind is the bow. The Rahasya Sahasranama says:rAgaswarUpapAshADhyA krodhAkAra~NkushojwalA .manorUpekShukodaNDA pa~nchatanmAtrasAyakA .. Desire is the pasha, anger is the Ankusha, the senses are the arrows and the mind is the bow. According to Yoginihridaya: icchAshaktimayaM pAshaM a~NkushaM j~nAnarUpiNam .kriyAshaktimayaM bANAdhanuShI dadhadujwalam .. The noose, the goad and the arrows signify the powers of will or desire, knowledge and action respectively and the bow makes them effulgent.

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‘Raga’ means mental desires such as greed, passion etc., which lead one to bondage and Samsara. Dvesha or Krodha consists of dislikes, which emanate from knowledge of undesirability of things. This knowledge (Jnana) of the varieties controls the mind and restricts it from the external sense-objects, represented by the arrows. The arrows representing the five Tanmatras along with the bow point to the vicissitudes of the mind (Sankalpa and Vikalpa) which lead to all forms of activity. The bow and arrows are also said to represent the Antahkarana (inner consciousness) and the Jnanendriyas (organs of knowledge). Hence it may be concluded that the noose in Sridevi’s hand is the Iccha Shakti, the goad the Jnana Shakti and the arrows the Kriya Shakti. The significance of the weapons is that the meditation of Amba along with the weapons in her hands is necessary for Moksha. Sage Durvasas, one of the celebrated Upasakas of Srividya, says in his Tripura Mahimna Stotra that meditation on the bow, arrows, the noose and goad in Amba’s four hands enables the Sadhaka to realize the illusive nature of Samsara and worldly objects, to overcome the cycle of births and deaths and to attain liberation or Moksha. The Tripuropanishad says – The omniscient Creatrix denounces with her five arrows the fickle-minded who are carried away by worldly desires, pleasures and dislikes, and by contrast leads those, who control their mental desires and senses, to liberation. The words ‘PuramathituH’ and ‘Ahopurushika’ together mean – ‘The pride of Shiva’. Amba is described here as the proud realization of Shiva’s prowess. The expression ‘Aham’ herein connotes the Pratyagatma or Jiva, and by its secondary significance refers to the Ahambhava, which arose when Shakti manifested Herself as ‘Aham’. The Ahambhava referred to in this verse is the ego (the consciousness of ‘I’), which became manifest when the impulse for creation arose in the Supreme Being at the time of creation. The expression ‘PuramathituH’ also suggests the inseparable association of Shiva with Shakti, to be recognized and realized in worship. The Devi is called ‘Aho Purushika’ because Shiva, the Prakasha (pure luminosity) becomes aware of himself as ‘I’ when he is reflected in his Vimarsha Shakti (the objective counterpart). That Vimarsha Shakti, which makes Shiva conscious of himself as ‘I’, is the Devi. The form of Sri Mahatripurasundari described in this Shloka of Saundaryalahari is said to be what shines in the Manipooraka Chakra of a Sadhaka of Samayachara, when he contemplates on his fourfold identity with Sri Rajarajeshwari. Pura mathitr – is Shiva who is the vanquisher of the three cities; this may also be constructed as the ‘extractor of the three syllables’, forming the Tripura Maha Bija mantra Aim Klim SauH, which, according to the Rudrayamala, the great Lord extracted as the essence, after churning the Sanskrit alphabet, even as one churns curds for the extraction of butter. Going a step further, the Tripurasundari Mahamantra (Bala or Panchadashi) is itself called ‘Tripuram’. Shiva is said to have churned the milk of these three Bijas with his mind as the churning instrument. Here, the action of churning indicates intense contemplation on the mantra. As a result, up arose the butter of Sri Mahatripurasundari’s Swaroopa (person). Because of this, Parameshwara is known as ‘Tripuramathana’ or ‘Puramathana’ for short. ‘Kvanat Kanchidama’ – ‘Kvanat’ means the tinkling of the tiny bells fitted in ornaments. It is an onomatopoeic word. A girdle fitted with bells is called ‘Kanchi’. One without bells is called ‘Mekhala’. The name ‘Ratnakinkinimekhala’, which occurs in the Rahasya Sahasranama denotes the same as ‘Kvanat Kanchidama’. There is also a hint in this phrase that the subject of the hymn is Sri Lalitambika because the word ‘Kanchi’ is used in it. Amba is worshipped in many forms from Kanyakumari in the south to Kshirabhavani in Kashmir in the north: Bhagavati, Chamundeshwari, Sharadamba, Minakshi, Akhilandeshwari, Dharmasamvardhini, Kamalamba, Balamba, Shivakamasundari, Jnanamba, Bhramaramba, Kanakadurga, Tulaja Bhavani, Ambaji, Vindhyavasini, Annapurneshwari, Kali, Kamakhya, Vaishnavi etc. But the deity mentioned in the Srividya Tantra Shastra, the deity with all the attributes and weapons of Lalita Mahatripurasundari, is present only as Kamakshi in Kanchipuram. In this hymn, though Amba’s name is not mentioned, it seems the Acharya has perhaps suggested the name by mentioning, or hinting at, her place through ‘Kanchidama’. The place of Amba’s navel is said to be situated at Kanchipuram. Since the girdle’s front part is above the navel, the place is called Kanchi. ‘Dama’ means a rope made of a number of strands tightened together. Krishna came to be called Damodara from the fact that Yashoda bound him with a rope passing around his abdomen. Since the girdle with bells is made with strands of gold, Acharya calls it ‘Kanchi dama’. When Amba walks around, it is not only her anklets that jingle, but also the bells of her girdle. This also refers to the Yogic secret that when the yogi contemplates on the Nada in his heart, he hears the jingling of bells. A girdle that starts with the center of the earth and, going round, returns to the center must be immensely big. Since it entwines Amba’s waist, we are likely to think that her waist is very huge. But Amba’s waist is very thin. ‘Kshina’ means thin and with the prefix ‘pari’ it means very thin. This is one of the characteristics of women belonging to the highest category as per the Samudrika Shastra.

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The pasha and Ankusha are Raga and Dvesha, love and hatred. They are the two primary urges, likes and dislikes, what you accept and what you reject. If thought deeply, we realize that all worldly life is enfolded by these two urges. Raga and Dvesha are also understood to be Kama and Krodha, desire and anger. Both must be kept at restraint. These two are the products of the Amba’s sport of Maya and they disappear in her sport of grace (Anugraha Lila). Of Kama and Krodha, Amba’s noose symbolizes Kama or desire. Pasha means rope or noose. The noose that Yama, the god of death casts is called ‘Yama pasha’. We say that ‘Asha’ (desire) is also a pasha. Like a noose, Kama keeps us bound. The goad symbolizes Krodha or anger. Anger is like the goad that provokes you and pierces you. Modern scientists speak of anger as wastage of useful bio-energy. If we waste our energy fuming in anger about what we do not like, we waste more energy when we are happily involved in what we are very fond of, that is Kama. Kama is called ‘Hita shatru’ – pretending to do our good, it digs our grave. Pasha and Ankusha are generally weapons used to control an elephant. Kama and Krodha are indeed elephantine in proportion: that is why they are shown to be kept under check by the pasha and Ankusha. What doe we actually mean by saying that desire and anger must be kept under check? It means simply that the must be kept under control, the mind in which the two (desire and anger) sprout. In Shivanandalahari, Srimadacharya refers to the mind as an elephant in rut. Amba sports the same weapons as Manmatha. When the sugarcane bow and the flower arrows are in the hands of Manmatha, the juice of the sugarcane and the nectar of the flowers flow as Kamarasa to delude the world and ensnare it in carnal pleasure. The same weapons in the hands of Amba create a flow of the Rasa of her compassion. And, correspondingly, devotion for her, the Mother, wells up in our hearts. In the flow of her compassion and our devotion, we forget ourselves and experience the bliss of liberation. In short, the flower arrows of Amba annihilate our sensual urges and her sugarcane bow eradicates our mind. The question arises: why should Amba have four hands? It is precisely because she is beautiful to behold in her form with the four hands. Apart from being beautiful, she is also the queen – the empress. It is to denote her majesty that she has the bows and arrows in the other hands. Amba is the queen of the empire of Jnana. To indicate that she is the one who liberates, she is shown as holding the goad and the noose, the weapons that create Jnana by destroying Raga and Dwesha. It is to show that she herself draws away the mind and the senses – the mind and the senses that we should ourselves offer at her feet – that she keeps the bow and arrows in her hands. It is as if she lifts us up with her hands saying, “Why should my child take the trouble of falling at my feet? Let me even save that trouble for him”. So, though she carries the weapons of Manmatha, she creates Kama only in Parameshwara. For others, she eventually brings release from Kama. She is Shivakamasundari for only Paramashiva, who is Jnana incarnate; for her devotees, she is Jnanaprasoonambika. As for Manmatha, with the same weapons he drags all sentient beings into carnal pleasures, but is powerless before Ishwara, who reduced him to ashes. The mantras for pasha, Ankusha, bow and arrows are derived from this Shloka. It is also known that the Bija for Vashini Devi is here disclosed by some words in the Shloka. The mantra of the Chakreshwari of the third Aavarana of Srichakra – Tripurasundari, is also hidden in this Shloka.

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“Blessed indeed are the few who worship Thee, the flood of infinite Bliss-Consciousness, as abiding on a mattress that is the Paramashiva, spread on the couch of the form of Shiva (Sadashiva), inside the mansion constructed of the wish-yielding Chintamani gems, amidst a pleasure garden of Nipa trees, in the Manidwipa – Isle of Gems, which is situated in the midst of the ocean of nectar and fringed by rows of celestial Kalpa trees” – 8 Although this verse describes the abode of Sridevi, contemplation of Sridevi’s gross form is also intended here as per the Samayachara tradition. This verse also indicates the worship of Srichakra in diverse ways. A succinct portrayal of Sridevi’s abode is furnished by this verse. In the middle of the ocean of nectar, there is an isle of precious gems of infinite variety. All round the outskirts of this island are rows of celestial, wish-granting trees – Kalpaka, Santana, Harichandana, Mandara and Parijata trees.

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There is a palatial mansion inside these groves of celestial trees. The mansion is built of celestial gems called Chintamani, which have the power to grant all desires. All round the mansion, there are pleasure gardens of Kadamba trees. Inside this mansion, in the central hall, there is a regal seat (Simhasana), which has for its four legs Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra and Ishwara. Over this cot is spread a mattress, which is Paramashiva. On this couch sits the supreme Parabrahman Kameshwara on whose lap is seated Sri Mahatripurasundari, the great queen of Parabrahman, in the supremely beautiful form described in the previous verse. Srimadacharya says that those who worship Amba thus, as in this abode, contemplating her form thus as per the Samayachara mode, are really blessed as they attain infinite bliss thereby. The description of Sridevi’s abode as found in this verse, mentioned in Samayachara texts, is also found in various other works of Srimadacharya like Tripurasundari Vedapada Stava (7,8&9) and Mantramatrikapushpamalastava (1). Sri Gaudapadacharya’s Subhagodaya, which deals mainly with Samayachara worship of Sridevi also describes Sridevi’s abode in similar lines. In the Divyamangala Dhyana chapter of the Rajarajeshwari Tantra of Rudrayamala, the abode of Mahatripurasundari in the Manidwipa in the midst of the ocean of nectar is described at length, furnishing the extent of the ocean, the island etc. in Yojanas (1 yojana is approximately equal to 8 miles). The Bhairavayamala also describes the Panchabrahma seat of Sridevi. Srimadacharya also describes the Panchabrahma seat in his Mantramatrika Pushpamala (3) and Tripurasundari Veda Pada Stava. According to Puranas like Brahmanda Purana etc., Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra and Ishwara are Devi’s attendants. They assume the form of the four legs of the couch on which Sridevi is seated – Brahma being the southeast leg, Vishnu the southwest, Rudra the northwest and Ishwara the northeast leg. Paramashiva, the Nirguna Parabrahman, is the silent spectator of the nature of Chit (consciousness) and ananda (bliss). The Devi is meditated as inseparable Paramashiva – a welling of Consciousness and Bliss (Chidanandalahari). This form of worship described in this verse is followed by the Samaya school of Srividya Upasakas as distinguished from the Kaula School. The Samayachara and Kaula are understood as referring to internal and external worship respectively. Followers of Samayachara worship Mahatripurasundari mentally and internally, meditating on some assumed form or Srichakra, the body or mind itself constituting the Srichakra on the vacuum in the center of the heart called ‘Daharakasha’. This kind of worship is mainly the union of Shakti with Shiva and worshipping Shakti and Shiva in their inseparable creationistic aspect. The essence of Samayachara worship is the union of chit Shakti with the Brahman. Shiva is Samaya and Sridevi is Samayaa. The equation or inter-similarity of Shiva and Shakti is held as five-fold. They are:

1. Adhishthana Samya – similarity in abode. 2. Anushthana Samya – oneness in indulgence of activities like creation etc. 3. Avastha Samya – equality in state such as Lasya, Tandava etc. 4. Nama Samya – similarity in names such as Shiva and Shivaa, Samaya and Samayaa etc. 5. Rupasamya – similarity in form, color etc., such as three eyes, red color etc., in both.

A vivd account of Samayachara is described in Rudrayamala. After initiation by a Sampradayavit Guru, the Sadhaka gains some progress in the six fold (or four fold) unions. He then undergoes a special kind of Diksha Samskara called Mahavedha on the ninth day at the end of the Sharannavaratri. Sri Mahatripurasundari manifests Herself to him in the Manipooraka Chakra after rising from the Moolaadhaara. The devotee worships Sridevi mentally with all kinds of offerings, bedecks her with jewels made of precious gems and thence leads Her to the Anahata Chakra. Here again, the devotee worships Sridevi mentally with sandal paste, flowers, incense, offerings, betels and slices of nut etc. Thereafter, Sridevi is conducted to the Visuddhi Chakra. Here she is bedecked with jewels full of gems of the nature of the Kalas of the moon (Chandrakala). Thence she is lead to the Ajna Chakra where the devotee offers the burning of camphor (Nirajana). Thence Sridevi ascends to the thousand-petalled lotus (Sahasrara) in the center of the upper part of the head and unites with Shiva in the Chit Chandra mandala - the region of eternal bliss. The devotee draws a curtain mentally and waits, in an adjacent apartment, the Devi’s return to Moolaadhaara. This forms a brief outline of Samayachara mode of worship. The abode of Devi is described as per the concept of Samayachara in Rudrayamala as follows: sudhAbdhau nandanodyAne ratnamaNDapamadhyagAmbAlArkamaNDalAbhAsAM chaturbAhuM trilochanAm.pAshA~NkushasharAMschApaM dhArayantIM shivAM shriyam dhyAtvA cha hR^idgataM chakraM vratastaH parameshwarIm

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pUrvokta dhyAnayogena chintayan japamAcharet .. From the above, it will be seen that the Samaya worship requires a very high degree of concentration of the mind and a strict control over the senses, as in this process, the entire worship happens in Daharakasha. The meditation of Sridevi in the form of Srichakra has to be done in the shapeless Akasha or space, which is known as ‘Viyadchakra’, ‘Viyat’ signifying Akasha or space. In the Kaula mode of worship, the Srichakra is inscribed on planks or on the bark of a tree called Bhurja or on a piece of white cloth or on plates of gold, silver or Panchaloha. The devotee uses his limbs and other external materials for worship. Great care and personal discipline are needed in this mode of worship. Interpreted in terms of the external Srichakra of the Kaulas, the Sudhasindhu or the ocean of nectar is the Bindusthana in the center of the Srichakra over the four Shiva Chakras (triangles with apex upward constituting Shiva) and below the five Shakti Chakras (triangles with apex downward being the embodiment of Devi). A detailed explanation of these is found in the eleventh Shloka of Saundaryalahari. The five Shakti Chakras are the celestial trees, the Kadamba garden and the Mani Mantapa. When the physical body itself is meditated upon as Srichakra, these parts of Amba’s abode are represented by different physical parts of the body. Either way, the contemplation and worship are external. Note: In the Srichakra drawn according to the Samayachara tradition, the Baindava Sthana is in the quadrangular space formed by the various intersecting triangles -the four Shiva triangles with their apex downward and the five Shakti triangles with apex upward. If the Srichakra is drawn according to the Kaula tradition, the Baindava Sthana will be in the small triangle in the center, forming the first of the five Shakti triangles with their apex going downwards and the four Shiva triangles with their apex upwards. Thus, the number and orientation of the two sets of triangles vary in the two schools. Kameshwara Suri, the author of the Arunamodini commentary traces in this verse a reference to Anandalahari, the group of the first forty-one verses of Saundaryalahari. The learned commentator gives the following connotations for the words comprising the verse as follows:Sudhasindhu – from the Himalayas, the abode of white glaciers to the southern ocean; Suravitapivati – full of pilgrim centers; Manidwipa – places fit for meditation; Nipopavanavati – surrounded by Kadamba trees; Chintamani Grihe – temples studded with Chintamani gems; shivakare manche – in Mount Kailasa, white as crystal resembling Shiva in aspect; Paramashivaparyankanilayam – blessed as being placed on the lap of the divine couple, Parvati and Parameshwara; Chidanandalaharim – the Stotra by name Anandalahari describing the pure chit aspect – Sridevi. The story is that Srimadacharya, the author of this glorious hymn, after finishing it, took it all the way to Kailasa, there to lay it at the feet of the divine couple and receive their approbation, but on reaching Kailasa, saw the couple being praised with the stanzas of the self-same Anandalahari and in consequence drenched in the Bliss of Supreme Consciousness. He also interprets the verse as referring to different parts of the body with the heart as the center of worship (Bindu). Devotees worshipping Sridevi in the vacuum in the middle of the heart between the three lower and the three higher psychic centers (Chakras), as indicated in this verse and the preceding verse of Saundaryalahari are, according to Srimadacharya, the few fortunate ones, because their ideal of liberation has come within their easy reach. The union of Shiva and Shakti (Bindu and nada) is indicated in the third line of the Shloka by the phrase ‘paramashiva parya~Nka nilayaaM’. The Kameshwari Bija and the Bija of Sadashiva Mahapadmasana are also indicated in this verse. Anandagiri, the celebrated commentator, interprets this verse as pointing to Kundalini Shakti. The seat of Sri Mahatripurasundari is actually Omkara Peetha since Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra and Ishwara, representing a, u, m and Ardha Matra, together form th primordial sound ‘OM’. Those rare souls who, through worship, internal as well as external, of Sridevi, their affinity to Sri Panchadashakshari, and the pure life that they lead during their last incarnate existence in this mundane world, are really blessed, for they have discharged the duties incumbent upon human beings, preparatory to their being merged in the transcendent Existence, Consciousness and Bliss (Sat-Chit-Ananda). The mode of worship indicated in this verse is of the form of Sridevi, as abiding in her royal mansion of Srichakra, dealing as it does with the special environment in which Devi has to be meditated upon, herself assuming the special form depicted in the previous stanza, which only amplifies what is here indicated about Sridevi. The description giver here closely follows the account given in the Bhairavayamala, which represents Sridevi as abiding for ever as the Kundalini Shakti, piercing the solar region of the Dahara, covering the Brahmarandhra inside the Sahasrara, liquefying the lunar region, and delighting in the flood of nectar flowing therefrom. The Kundalini Shakti, abiding in the Kulapatha – Sushumna Nadi, leaves it to reach the Sahasrara and, after filling the entire system of Nadis with the nectar above referred to (Sudhasindhu), returns to her

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abode. This stanza is capable of yet another interpretation which is as follows: Blessed are the few that adore Thee, the Chidanandalahari, who for ever abides in the Anahata Chakra (heart lotus), situated midway between the Moolaadhaara on the one side and the Moon in the crest ever filling the system of Nadis with nectar (Sahasrara Chandra mandala), on the other end (i.e. between the root Chakra and the crown Chakra), adorable because it embraces in its form all the gods and goddesses and contains the substitutes for the several reputed places of pilgrimage such as the Srishaila, in the crest etc. (or the Anahata Chakra, the seat of thought, dependent on the atman and hence lustrous), well protected by the ten vital airs, Prana and others (or the deities presiding over the ten sense organs), studded with Moolaadhaara and other centers of Energy, radiant like so many isles of gems and encasing within itself the Jivatman, which is as expansive as a tree from top to bottom. The Srichakra with forty-three triangles in it, is said to be the very residence or even the very body or form of Shiva and Shakti. As the Baindava Sthana has all the other parts of the Srichakra involved in it, it has special importance. It is specially called the abode this is main object of adoration in the Samayachara School. As per the Puranas, Sri Lalita has two residences. One is in what is called the Brahmanda and on the central peak of Mount Meru round which all planets revolve. On the three other peaks of Meru are abodes of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra. Sridevi’s world, it is said, is in the center of these three peaks, on the reigning peak so to speak. This is referred to in the name ‘Sumerumadhyashringasthaa’ occurring in the Rahasya Sahasranama of Sri Lalita. Amba’s second is outside the Brahmanda. She has created a vast ocean of Amrita or ambrosia and she resides in the midst of it on an island. The name ‘Sudhasagaramadhyastha’ refers to this abode. This is the world created by Sridevi herself. The celestial sculptor Vishwakarma built the one on the Meru’s central peak, with the power granted to him by Amba. Amba appeared once to slay Bhandasura, a very powerful enemy of the celestials. At once the celestials exclaimed, “She is indeed our queen Sri Rajarajeshwari!” Then they performed her coronation and Vishwakarma built a palace for the Supreme Queen with many fortresses on the Meru peak, called Sripura or Srinagara. However, what Srimadacharya describes here is the second abode in the ocean of ambrosia. Whether it is on the central Meru peak or in the ocean of ambrosia, there is no difference between the two abodes of Amba. From the outermost fortress to the palace proper – where she is seated in regal splendor – the Prakaras, lakes, gardens, the entourages are the same. Twenty-five fortresses and Prakaras encircle this capital of hers, called Srinagara or Sripura. The fortresses are built of metals ranging from iron to gold and of the nine gems. Then, proceeding further in degrees of subtlety, there are the fortresses of the mind, of intelligence, of ego. Lastly, there are strongholds built each of the radiance of the sun, the radiance of the moon and of the luster of Manmatha. Between the fortresses there are forests, parks of divine trees and streams and canals. When going past all these, in the twenty-fifth Aavarana, is the Mahapadmavana – a canal full of lotuses. It is like a moat and in it is Amba’s palace, built not of bricks but Chintamani gems. The queen residing in this palace is Sri Rajarajeshwari. As mentioned earlier, the four legs and the seat of her throne are the Pancha Brahmas. From this throne, seated on the lap of Sri Kameshwara, she holds court. When we view her not as one in a position of authority, not as a queen, but as one embodying the Sringara that turned the Brahman into sport, she gives Darshan not in the open royal assembly, but in her inner apartment, all by herself. To obtain that Darshan, we must first eradicate our senses totally. To qualify for this, we must grasp the inner meaning of Sringara, and we must indeed have the maturity to become immersed in this meaning. In Sripura, on the central peak of Meru, she is the great queen conducting her royal assembly and she is higher than all the celestials. In the center of the ocean of the ambrosia, she is the divine Mother, the consort of Kameshwara, for seekers belonging to a higher plane. She is Mother and Father in one and her blessings will be such as to take us so far as to bring about our union as children with this Mother-Father entity. We said that Amba resides in Chintamani palace. ‘Chinta’ means ‘thought’. If all our thoughts were made into gems by thinking of Amba alone and if we built a temple to her with these gems, it would be the real Chintamani palace. It is as a way to it, for Amba to dwell in us, that we first meditate on her as the one who dwells outside us. In the end, her residence inside us must be realized. Though Amba has two residences detailed above, her favorite is the third, the heart of her devotee. Abhirami Bhattar says in his songs: “Is your temple here or there? It is in my heart! She, who is One, unfolded into many and pervaded the entire world. then, when the world became extinct, she became the form o the atman. Such a one, such a Great One, dwells somehow in my tiny heart”. The Acharya does not call the one seated on the Paryanka (the bed that is the lap of Kameshwara) as Kameshwari, Rajarajeshwari or Sringarasundari. He elevates her to the heights of Jnana by giving her the name ‘Chidanandalahari’. Even though Amba is with the Lord as Sringara personified, what is denoted here is Atma Sringara. It is bliss of love,

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the cascading joy of the consciousness that is not separated from the Truth. Acharya also indicates that only a few fortunate souls worship her. Why only a “few”? Are there not many people who perform Pooja to Devi and do thousands of Japa? Their number is increasing day by day. But mumbling some words and burning camphor, would that be Pooja in the true sense? We must visualize the form of Amba described here and have it imprinted in our hearts. It is generally believed that going to the world of our chosen deity is Salokya Moksha. Even better is to think that the place where we live, wherever it is, is itself the world of our chosen deity. Beyond Salokyam is the Samipya Moksha i.e. to go near or close to our chosen deity. To proceed from the shores of the ocean of ambrosia via the forest, park and so on to Amba’s bedstead in her palace is Samipyam. Further to Salokyam and Samipyam is Sarupyam. Just as the worm constantly thinking of the wasp becomes a wasp, if we keep contemplating on Amba’s form, +we too will become that form. The ultimate in liberation is Sayujya, becoming one with our chosen deity. That is, apart from being identical in form with the deity, we become one with the deity, become the same truth as the deity. It is this Truth that Acharya calls ‘Chidanandalahari’, the flow of consciousness that is the infinite bliss. Becoming completely dissolved in this Chidanandalahari i.e. Amba is Sayujya. Reaching Amba’s world, beholding her form, becoming dissolved in the Reality that she is: let these happen in due time. But now itself, we must mentally attune ourselves to these states.

“Having penetrated the Prithvi (Earth) element in the Moolaadhaara, the Jala (Water) element in the Manipooraka, the Agni

(Fire) element in the Swadhishthana, the Vayu (Air) element in the Anahata, the Akasha (Ether) element in the Visuddhi and

Manas (Mind) in the Ajna Chakra, Thou, ascending through the Kula path of Sushumna, sportest with Thy Consort in the

solitude of Sahasrara, the thousand-petalled lotus” - 9

This stanza contains in a nutshell the quintessence of the sublimest truths of the Vedanta and the Yoga systems in harmonious combination, in relation to the worship of Sridevi as the Kundalini Shakti of the Pindanda (microcosm) and as the Mahatripurasundari of the Brahmanda (macrocosm). In this verse, the meditation on Sridevi in her subtlest form as the Kundalini is

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described. Kundalini Shakti sleeps in the form of a serpent, in three coils and a half, resting in the psychic center of Moolaadhaara. She is awakened by the yogi, led through the six Chakras, made to pierce the three knots and through the Sushumna channel, led to the Chit Chandra mandala (the region of the ever-shining moon of consciousness) in the Sahasrara (thousand-petalled lotus) in the center of the head, below the skull. The six lotuses along the Sushumna are collectively called ‘Kulapatha’ – the path of Kula, representing the five elements constituting the human body in the microcosm as also the universe in the macrocosm. The table below describes these Chakras in some detail:

Chakra Position in the Body

Number of Petals

Tanmatra Presiding Deity and Shakti.

Tatva Khanda or Region

Moolaadhaara Two inches above the anus.

4 Red petals.

Smell Ganesha and Sakini

Earth Agni Mandala

Swadhishthana Root of the genitals.

6 Vermilion petals.

Color or perception

Brahma and Kakini

Fire Brahma Granthi

Manipooraka Navel 10 petals, which are blue, like the rain-clouds.

Taste Vishnu and Lakini

Water Surya Mandala

Anahata Heart 12 Vermilion petals.

Touch Rudra and RakiniAir Vishnu Granthi

Visuddhi Neck 16 petals of the smoky purple color.


Jivatman and Dakini

Ether Chandra Mandala

Ajna Eyebrow center.

2 white petals.

Senses and Mind

Parameshwara and Hakini

Mind Rudra Granthi

While breaking through these Chakras, the yogi gains mastery over the lements of the respective Chakras. He walks on water, flies through distances in a very short time, darts into ether and moves like the mind to any place he desires, and finally, by union with Shiva, becomes Shiva himself. Awakening of Kundalini, breaking through the Chakras and entering the Sahasrara may be practiced by Hatha Yoga, Bhavana or Dhyana. Awakened by the yogi through Pranayama or control of the vital airs, Kundalini pierces through the six Chakras and three intermediate Granthis or knots. While in the last Chakra i.e. Ajna, she moves very quickly just as a stroke of lightening, except in the case of great Yogis. The Kundalini, when allowed to sleep without being awakened keeps one in bondage, but when awakened, she leads him to the great liberation. He who leads the Kundalini to the Sahasrara gets his ignorance of the true nature of the self, dispelled. This mode of worship, called Antaryaga by Kaulas and Shatchakrabhedana by samayins, is an essential and an integral part of Srividya Upasana. The Tatvas of the Samayins are reckoned as twenty-five. They are the five Tanmatras or subtle elements, five Bhootas or gross elements, five organs of knowledge – touch, sight, hearing, taste and smell, five organs of action – mouth, legs, hands, anus and the genital organ, the mind, Maya, Suddha Vidya, Maheshwara and Sadashiva. Breaking the six Chakras, conquering the twenty-five Tatvas, the Kundalini reaches the Sahasrara and unites there with the Sadashiva Tatva. This fusion is considered as a separate twenty-sixth Tatva called ‘Sadakhya’ – the Parabrahman – because of the complete Tadatmya or identity between Sridevi and Sadashiva. A ‘Tatva’ may be defined as that which gives scope for functioning to all orders of creation, till their final dissolution. Some tantras classify the eternal Tatvas into three groups: the Atma Tatvas, the Vidya Tatvas and the Shiva Tatvas. Those comprised under the first are characterized by Jadatva – non-sentience; those of the second partake both sentience and non-sentience; and those of the third group are characterized by Prakashatva – pure and simple sentience, with absolute consciousness standing above them all. According to the Kalpasutras, twenty-four fall under the first group, seven under the second and five under the third. They are:

1. Prithvi – Earth, possessed of solidity.

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2. Ap – Water, possessed of liquidity. 3. Tejas – Fire, possessed of heat. 4. Vayu – Air, of the character of perpetual motion. 5. Akasha – Ether, of the character of Space. 6. Gandha Tanmatra – Smell, in the form of subtle Earth element. 7. Rasa Tanmatra – Taste, in the form of Subtle Water. 8. Rupa Tanmatra – Form, sight or perception, in the form of subtle Fire. 9. Sparsha Tanmatra – Touch, in the form of subtle Air.

10. Shabda Tanmatra – sound, in the form of subtle Ether. 11. Shrotra – the auditory sense that perceives Sound. 12. Tvac – the tactile sense that perceives Touch. 13. Chakshus – the optic sense that perceives Form. 14. Jihva – the gustatory sense that perceives Taste. 15. Ghrana – the olfactory sense that perceives Smell. 16. Vac – Speech, the motor organ of articulate expression. 17. Pani – hand, the motor organ of grasping and leaving. 18. Pada – the foot, the motor organ of locomotion. 19. Payu – Anus, the motor organ of evacuation. 20. Upashtha – Genitals, the motor organs of generation and carnal pleasure. 21. Manas – the Mind, the inner sense that is attained when Rajas (mobility of misery) predominates over Satva and Tamas. This

is the root of all volition. 22. Buddhi – the Intellect, the inner sense that is attained when Satva (rhythm of happiness) preponderates over Tamas and rajas.

This is the root of all conviction. 23. Ahamkara – Egoism, the inner sense that is attained when Tamas (inertia of delusion) preponderates over Satva and Rajas.

This is the root of all fancy, converging towards the limited self. 24. Prakriti – also known as Chitta, is an inner state attained by an equipoise of Satva, Rajas and Tamas. 25. Purusha or Jiva – which, though full and complete in itself, commands only to a limited extent the five powers detailed

below. 26. Kalaa – the Kriya Shakti, the power to do all things, but to a limited extent, inhering in the Jiva. 27. Avidya – the Jnana Shakti in a veiled form in the Jiva and thus limited in its operation. 28. Raga – the Iccha Shakti, perpetual satisfaction, which operates only partially and therefore is limited in extent, inherent in

Jiva. 29. Chit Shakti – perpetually inherent in Jiva, limited by the operation of six changes denoted by ‘exists, takes birth, grows,

ripens, wanes and perishes’. 30. Niyati – that which causes Avidya to veil the Ananda Shakti, absolute independence, inherent in the Jiva. 31. Maya – the condition operating upon the Ishwara, causing it to look upon the phenomenal world as ‘this’ i.e. as an entity

separate from itself. 32. Suddha Vidya – the condition operating upon Sadashiva, causing it to identify itself with the phenomenal world with the

impression, ‘I am this’. 33. Maheshwara – that which is operated upon by Maya. 34. Sadashiva – that which is operated upon by Suddha Vidya. 35. Shakti – the desire, which is but the impression of the world to be created. 36. Shiva – the absolute non-differentiated existence, when conditioned by Shakti.

Some votaries add fifteen more Tatvas by a process of further elaboration, thus making fifty-one in all, answering to the fifty-one letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. The other fifteen are the seven Dhatus:

1. Tvac – the external sheath of organs. 2. Asrj – Blood. 3. Mamsa – flesh. 4. Medas – fat. 5. Asthi – bone. 6. Majaj – marrow. 7. Shukla – semen.

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8. Prana 9. Apana

10. Udana 11. Samana 12. Vyana 13. Satva 14. Rajas and 15. Tamas.

The five elements, the five Tanmatras, the five organs of perception, the five organs of motor action, the Mind, the Maya, the Suddha Vidya, the Maheshwara and Sadashiva are the twenty-five Tatvas from the Vedic standpoint and also that of Samayachara, while the extra Tatvas enumerated by Kaulas are capable of being included in the twenty-five. In this verse of Saundaryalahari, the Devi of the macrocosm, in the form of her exact prototype – the Kundalini of the microcosm, is represented as having broken through the entire Kula path containing the six Chakras of psychic energy, indicative of the twenty-one Tatvas, to reach Sadashiva in the Sahasrara, the habitat of the remaining four sentient Tatvas, there to divert herself in secrecy with her Lord. Even as Paramashiva, in the absence of his conjunction with Parashakti Tripurasundari, is powerless, so also the Jiva, without the operation of the Kundalini, will be very much the same as the corpse. The vital force called Prana, which is inherent in every limb, muscle, nerve-center and other physiological organs and which causes the entire frame to function, is but one aspect of the Kundalini. It is the self-same vital force that is the root cause of the functioning of the entire phenomenal world and could be comprehended only by those rare mortals who have gained mastery over it. It is upon this fundamental fact that the system of yoga is based, as the Pranayama, or the control of this vital force, forms the bedrock of that system. If only any person should master the secret of control of this vital force and the psychic force of the human mind, he may be said to have conquered the entire phenomenal world. No wonder the Yogi takes his stand upon the Pranayama and Manolaya for the successful accomplishment of the state of Samadhi, his goal. It is with end in view that the Yogi concentrates his mind, controls the Prana and projects them towards the Moolaadhaara, the first psychic center of energy, which results in the rousing of the Kundalini, dormant with its form of three and a half spirals coiled therein. Those that are proficient in the Yoga Shastra hold that this machine of the human frame, which is controlled by the Kundalini, contains seventy-two thousand Nadis, the main ones among them (E.g. Ida, Pingala and Sushumna) having distinct functions connected with the respiratory system allotted to them, and the other important Nadis controlling the sensory and motor organs. The psychic energy requisite to control the various organs is said to abide in the six Chakras of the Sushumna path, provided with the three stats known as the Rudra, Vishnu and Brahma Granthis or knots, which are respectively the regions of the Moon, the Sun and the Fire, each of them situated at the end of a pair of these Chakras. In the case of ordinary mortals, their vital energy or prana is wasted through Ida and Pingala, but in the case of the initiated, it is regulated in such a way that the prana, coursing through the Ida and the Pingala, and also the apana, are made to conserve for the purpose of rousing Kundalini and sending her upto Brahmarandhra. All impulses, psychic and organic, may be classified as volitional, cognitional and actional, corresponding to the Iccha, Jnana and Kriya Shaktis of Sridevi. These, when pertaining to the body, are attributable to the Kundalini, while the corresponding cosmic impulses are attributable to Sri Mahatripurasundari. This, the correspondence indicated in this Shloka is like this: Mahatripurasundari in the macrocosm and Kundalini in the microcosm as also Sadashiva of the macrocosm and Jiva of the microcosm but bereft of Maya. The thousand-petalled lotus of Sahasrara is no other than the upper Srichakra, the bindu of which represents the Shiva and Shiva, bereft of Maya, as the case may be. This is final resort, the nirvana of the accomplished seeker, lying beyond the Kula path of the Sushumna (the Kula path contains the six Chakras in the ascending order of subtlety with the three Granthis in their appropriate places). The Sahasrara is the inner Srichakra to be meditated upon with all the fifty-one letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. Some take the view that the Bindu has its position in the bindu of the Chakra and the other fifty letters are to be arranged consecutively over the thousand petals twenty times. Suddha Vidya in coalescence with Sadashiva is known as the Sadakhya or the Paramatman, which may be characterized as the twenty-sixth Tatva, on the attainment of which is experienced nirvana or Jivanmukti. It is this aspect that is referred to in this Shloka as the diversion of Sridevi in secrecy with her Lord. The Moolaadhaara Chakra is no other than the Trikona of the Srichakra. Piercing through this Chakra means conquering the element of Earth. The Yogi who does so is said to attain the power of penetration through massive stonewalls etc. in the case of Manipooraka Chakra, it is believed that Sridevi fills the interior of this Chakra with gems; hence the practice among the samayins of offering of jewels studded with various kinds of gems, while meditating on her in this Chakra. Although Manipooraka is the third in the order of the Chakras, it has been given the second place in this Shloka by Srimadacharya to suit the order of the elements. This Chakra represents water in its Rasa (taste) form. Conquest of this by the Yogi is said to confer on him the next higher power of mastery, such as floating and walking over water. This inner Dashara of the Srichakra indicates

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this. The Swadhishthana is the place Sridevi is said to take her stand in the form of Kundalini. The fire is in the form of Rupa (vision or form) Tanmatra in this Chakra. The conquest of this by the Yogi is credited with the bestowal of powers fire-walking etc. The Ashtakona of the Srichakra indicates this Chakra. The Air is in the form of Sparsha (touch) Tanmatra in Anahata Chakra. The word ‘Anahata’ means the nada, sound, produced without impact in the recess of heart; hence the name of the Chakra. The outer Dashara of the Srichakra indicates Anahata. By the conquest of this Chakra and thereby that of the Element Air, the Yogi attains the fleetness of wind, buoyancy etc. The Ether is in the form of Shabda (sound) Tanmatra in Visuddhi Chakra. The Chaturdashara of the Srichakra indicates this Chakra. By the conquest of this, the Yogi attains the power of traversing the ethereal regions. Manas, which embraces in itself the five senses of perception and the five senses of motor action, i.e. in all, eleven Tatvas, is the Element present in the Ajna Chakra. This Chakra is so called because it is at this stage that a speck of knowledge about Sridevi dawns. She remains here only for a trice, on the way to Sahasrara, manifesting herself in the form of a streak of lightening. The Chatushkona or the Bhugriha of the Srichakra indicates Ajna Chakra. By conquering the mind, the Yogi attains mystic powers like clairvoyance, clairaudience, telepathy etc. The mystic powers ascribed above, as resulting from the mastery of these Chakras at the various stages, are really so many pitfalls to be avoided by the practitioner, as they are likely to lead them astray from his final goal of Nirvana. These six Chakras are but temporary stages or planes wherein Kundalini rests awhile, avowedly for mastering them, while the Sahasrara is her permanent abode, whence the practitioner should not lose sight of his final goal, Nirvana, beguiled by the temptations offered by the psychic powers attainable at the lower centers, but should lead the Kundalini on to the Sahasrara, there to effect her union with her Lord. Up to the moment of such blending, the practitioner retains his individual consciousness and thereafter enters on the blissful state of Nirvana as long as the Kundalini rests in the Sahasrara prior to her descent therefrom. The duration of her stay there depends on the strength of the practice and the previous experience of the practitioner. The twenty-one Tatvas from Prithvi to manas, and the six Chakras, from Moolaadhaara to Ajna, form the lower Srichakra. It may be noted that Purnananda Swamin, the author of Shatchakranirupana and other Tantrikas are of the view that the elements, earth, water, fire, air and ether have, as their corresponding Chakras, the Moolaadhaara, the Swadhishthana, the Manipooraka, the Anahata, the Visuddhi and the Ajna, which, as will be seen from this Shloka, is at variance with the view of Srimadacharya, who here has, in this respect, the support of the Vamakeshwara Tantra in his favor, as explained by Bhaskararaya in his Setubandha. Further, the letters indicated by the Maheshwara Sutras – ‘ha ya va raT’ and ‘laN’, which enumerate the Bijas of the five elements in the order in which they were revealed by Maheshwara’s Damaru, when placed in juxtaposition with the names of the five elements corresponding to the respective Bijas, as also the names of the parts of the Srichakra which they indicate, in the Samhara Karmas, bear out, beyond doubt, the correctness of the author’s view.

Bija Element Chakra Part of SrichakraHam Ether Visuddhi ChaturdasharaYam Air Anahata BahirdasharaVam Water Manipooraka AntardasharaRam Fire Swadhishthana AshtakonaLam Earth Moolaadhaara Trikona Kundalini yoga, though the fastest, is not the only path available to the seeker. Any path, when sincerely adhered to with sincerity and one-pointedness, shall give wonderful results. As you advance to a high state on any path, your breathing will change automatically and it will be similar to that of one practicing yoga. When we go higher on our path, we will breathe through both nostrils and when we go still higher, we will stop breathing. This is what is termed as ‘Kevala Kumbhaka’. Finally, in the state before the realization of Advaita, the movement of breath will impinge on the nerves in the roof of our head and touching the feet of Amba, create a flow of ambrosia. Even in worldly life, when we are in ecstasy of delight, our breathing stops and we faint. In this, there is a reflection of the emotion experienced by us during Kumbhaka. The cool feeling in the head indicates that a tiny droplet of the ambrosia has trickled down on the nerves in the crown of the head. Thus, even by following the path of devotion, you can have the inward experience of a sublime nature. Iccha Shakti, the power of desire, which underlies the basic concept of Kameshwara and Kameshwari, belongs to the realms of Sringara or love that is pure and subtle in nature. If in the evolution of the root principle (the Brahman) there appears Iccha or desire during the stage of involution (the individual self becoming the Brahman), many great men, before becoming one with the Brahman, have experienced Nayika Bhava – the seeker regards himself as the bride of the deity. In this stage of involution, one is united with Shakti. Then there is the burning desire to become one with the Nayaka that is Shiva. In that desire, in the intensity of that feeling, the seeker surrenders to the Nayaka, that is Shiva, telling himself, “I have nothing to do on my own. It is all your wish”. Later, even this desire to become united with Shiva ceases and there remains only the Iccha of Shiva alone. This means, the

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involution accomplished by the seeker through his efforts merges in the first stage of Shiva’s evolution. In that moment, as far as the seeker is concerned, Shiva, instead of unfolding himself in evolution, receives him within himself in an act of involution. Ordinarily if you throw an object into a stream, it is, in the course of its flow, cast ashore. But if there is an undercurrent in the stream, it will draw the object in. the latter is the case with the individual Self referred to above. The initial desire of the Shiva, the final desire of the seeker: the two take the symbolic form of Sringara. Though Iccha or desire spoken of here is that of Shiva and that of the seeker, the one who causes the pulsation of the consciousness to cause the desire is Amba. The fact of Shiva drawing the individual Self unto himself is also her act. In devotion itself, one obtains the same experience as that of yoga, an experience of lofty nature. Instead of seeking accomplishment through yoga and Tantra, it would be enough if we, realizing that such are beyond our capacity, become engaged in devotion with love, telling ourselves, “Let us surrender to Parashakti. She is our only refuge”, there would then be no room for Self-pride arising from the feeling that “we are engaged in a great Sadhana”. Amba herself will lift us up to experience the highest bliss. It would be enough if we keep thinking of Amba’s face, which is like the full moon. It would be enough if we think of the nectar flowing from her sidelong glance and her gentle smile. What we keep thinking about, she would make a reality and she would bring us realization of the inner moon and the inner flow of nectar. Those who have the strength and the capacity for it, let them take to Kundalini yoga. For the rest, there is the easy way to devotion, with unflinching faith in the mother. She will afford us all the blessings and after a stage, even take us to the way of Kundalini yoga and bless us with its rewards. On the other hand, she may push aside those engaged in arduous yoga and Kaula Tantra, telling them, “Enough of all this”, and bid them to surrender to her. Srimadacharya, who speaks of the seeker having the near Advaita experience of tasting the ambrosia, refers at the same time to Amba making a sudden descent into the form of a sleeping serpent, denoting our state of being unwise and uncultivated. This indicates that she may push down Yogis, who have tasted a few drops of ambrosia but are boastful of their great yogic prowess. So, even for those who practice Kundalini yoga and Srividya Tantra, the ultimate key to the door of liberation is surrender, the humility that comes of the realization, “Not I, but you”.

“Drenching the whole manifested multiplicity (the Prapancha, here meaning the seventy-two thousand nadis of the Jiva) with the flood of nectar gushing from Thy feet, Thou (Kundalini representing Mahatripurasundari) descendest from the exuberance of the nectarine of the Moon (i.e. the Sahasrara where the Kundalini unites with Paramashiva) into the hollow of Thy own sphere in the Moolaadhaara at the lower end of Sushumna, assuming Thy serpentine form of three and a half coils and sleepest therein” – 10.

Having described the ascent of the Kundalini in the previous verse, Srimadacharya portrays Her retrograde movement towards the Moolaadhaara from the Akula Sahasrara in this verse. This verse and the previous one, together depict the meditation on the Sukshmatama (most subtle or sublime) form of Sridevi. The two together contain the Kundalini Rahasya Sopana, i.e. the secret ladder used by the Kundalini, both for ascent and descent. The former deals with Unneaya bhUmikA i.e. the ascent from the Moolaadhaara to the Sahasrara, which has been fully set forth already. In this Shloka, the anvaya and pratyAvR^itti bhUmikAs are briefly touched upon. By ‘anvaya’ is meant the aftermath, namely the drenching and in-filling of all the nadis of the Samayin with nectar, through the Sushumna. By ‘pratyAvR^itti’ is meant the descent of the Kundalini back to her hollow in the Moolaadhaara to resume her sleep.

The word ‘rasAmnAyamahasaH’ in this Shloka means the Chandra mandala or the lunar region in the Sahasrara. To the samayins, both the moon in the sky and the chit Chandra mandala in the Sahasrara, represent the Srichakra because both have similar features and qualities. Both shed nectar and both and possess all the sixteen Kalas. Sridevi’s lotus feet are deemed to shine in the lunar region of the Srichakra. The moon is considered to be the master of medicinal herbs and to ooze out water divine. Fire, sun and moon shed light. In the case of fire, light is less and heat is more. The sun is very bright and very hot too. The moon also is luminous but not hot. It is cool and pleasant to look at and hence attracts all living beings. It may be recalled that devotees of Sridevi worship Her in the center of the moon on full moon nights. The Chandra Kala from which the flood of nectar flows down is the Sadashiva Tatva in the Akula Sahasrara. By union with Sadashiva, the Sadakhya Tatva is realized in the union of Jiva and Brahman. The Rahasya Sahasranama of Sri Lalita prescribes a mode of worship of the Chandra mandala in the sky as representing the Srichakra, called Ayushkara, for health and longetivity.

Kaivalyashrama gives a different reading of the word as rasAmnAyamahasA and interprets that the six Amnayas through which the Kundalini descends illumine the Kula patha i.e. the Sushumna. The abodes of Shakti are: Purva, Dakshina, Pashchima, Uttara, Urdhwa and Anuttara, while the shambhava Amnayas are: Parthiva, Apya, Anala, Vayavya and Nabhasa (Earthy, Watery,

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Igneous, Airy, Ethereal and Mental forms). While explaining the previous verse, it was stated that the Kundalini Shakti, slender like the filament inside the lotus stem, coils herself into three rounds and a half and rests in the Moolaadhaara lotus with the tail caught in the mouth. The Yogi, sitting in the Padmasana posture and contracting the anus should raise the Vayu upward and retain the air in Kumbhaka process. During this process, coming in contact with the wind, the fire in the Swadhishthana is kindled. The Kundalini Shakti is awakened from sleep by the wind and the heat. She moves upward through the six Chakras, breaking the three knots or Granthis and uniting with Shiva in the Sahasrara, she enjoys infinite bliss. The meditation on Sridevi and the awakening of Kundalini leads him to liberation and bliss, through the union of the soul with the Paramatman.

The Bindu (centrifugal spot) in the center of the Moolaadhaara lotus of triangular shape known as Kulakunda, resembling the hollow inside the center of the lotus-stalk, is the sleeping spot of the Kundalini. The three circles and a half formed by the Kundalini when she assumes a serpent-like form is a symbolic representation of Shakti as in the Agni mandala (the region of fire), with the letter ‘A’ in the Moolaadhaara, the Surya mandala (the region of the sun) with the letter ‘U’ in the Anahata and the soma mandala (the region of the moon) with the letter ‘M’ in the Ajna, and their combination becoming ‘AUM’ – the Pranava. The half coil represents the nada or the ArdhamAtra. Hence, it may be seen that Shakti is not different but identical with Paramatman – denoted by the syllable ‘AUM’. Srimadacharya has also referred to the Kundalini’s stay in the Moolaadhaara in his elucidation of Sridevi’s name ‘kAmeshwaraprANanADI’ in the Lalita Trishati Stotra.

The nectar that flows is said to be the water that has washed Sridevi’s feet, which, by filling the entire body of the Sadhaka through the nadis, makes him realize the Supreme Bliss. The Kula Kundalini, united as She is with the ten, twelve and sixteen Kalas of the Fire, Sun and the Moon respectively, and their Matrikas, is awakened from her sleep in the Moolaadhaara by the trained Yogi. Slender as the filament inside the stalk of the lotus and shining like lightening, the Kundalini breaks through the regions of the fire, sun and moon in the Moolaadhaara, Anahata and Ajna Chakras, and then unites with the Akula Kundalini in the Sahasrara in the crown. As a result, the nectar in the paramAkAsha gushes down the Chakras. The Kundalini, drinks deep of this nectar and descending through the Sushumna, reaches her abode and sleeps again in the cavity in the Moolaadhaara lotus. This is the experience of the Yogi trained in Srividya but the practice needs the expert directions of a competent preceptor.

The Kundalini, during her ascent through the sushumna path, breaks through the six Chakras, which, being absorbed by her, become invisible. As these have to be reproduced and made manifest once again, she does this, out of her own radiant form, on her return journey homeward, after sprinkling nectar over Prapancha, which signifies the microcosm as well as the macrocosm, as represented by the sic Chakras. By constituting the word ‘rasAmnAyamahas’ as implying the ‘vidhAna’, ‘doing’, and the ‘prakAsha’, ‘manifestation’ of the Rasas i.e. the lotuses, this purpose is achieved. In this view, the stanza may be rendered thus: “Having sprinkled the Prapancha (composed of the twenty-one Tatvas represented by the six Chakras) with nectar, and again having produced and made them manifest out of Thine own resplendent form, having resumed Thine own seat, Thyself assuming Thine own form, serpent-like with the three-and-a-half coils, Thou of the abode of the hollow of the Moolaadhaara sleepest there”.

From the Sahasrara, the Kundalini descends to the Moolaadhaara, if she is still in identification with all the past impressions and tendencies born of the karmas of the Jiva. Only in the case of those whose minds have been erased of all impressions does the Kundalini remain in complete absorption in Shiva in the Sahasrara and the Samadhi remains spontaneous and continuous and even irrevocable. That is probably why Sri Ramakrishna, whose mind was free from all desires, and was naturally tending to Samadhi, created artificial desires like ‘I want to see so and so’, ‘I want to eat such and such a thing’ etc., in order that they might create a downward pull on the Kundalini and prevent her absolute mergence in Shiva. This was necessary since he was an avatar and he had to stay in a plane accessible to the commoners, to guide them.

Regarding this subject of the rousing of the Kundalini and her descent, it will be relevant to quote Sri Ramakrishna’s views on it, as the Guru is expounding it from his own experience and not from mere book lore. He says: “Yoga is not possible if the mind dwells on Kamini and Kanchana (lust and gold). The mind of a worldly man generally moves among the three lower centers – those at the navel, at the genital organ and at the organ of evacuation. After great effort and spiritual practice, the Kundalini is awakened. According to Yoga, there are three Nadis in the spinal column – Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. Along the Sushumna are the six lotuses or centers, the lowest being known as Moolaadhaara. Then come successively Swadhishthana, Manipooraka, Anahata, Visuddhi and Ajna. These are the six centers. The Kundalini, when awakened, passes through the lower centers and comes to the Anahata, which

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is at the heart level. It stays there. At that time, the mind of the aspirant is withdrawn from the three lower centers. He feels the awakening of the Divine Consciousness. In mute wonder he sees that radiance and cries out: ‘what is thus! What is this!’ After passing through the six centers, the Kundalini reaches the thousand-petalled lotus known as the Sahasrara and the aspirant goes into Samadhi. According to the Vedas, these centers are called ‘Bhumis’ or planes. There are seven such planes. The center at the heart corresponds to the fourth plane of the Vedas. According to the Tantra, there is in this center a lotus called Anahata with twelve petals.

The center known as the Visuddhi is the fifth plane. This center is at the throat and has a lotus with sixteen petals. When the Kundalini reaches this plane, the devotee longs to talk and hear only about God. Conversations on worldly subjects, on sex and gold, cause him great pain. He leaves the place where people talk on these matters. Then comes the sixth plane, corresponding to the center known as the Ajna. This center is located between the eyebrows and it has a lotus with two petals. When the Kundalini reaches this, the aspirant sees the form of God. But still there remains a slight barrier between the devotee and God. It is like a light inside a lantern. You may think you have touched the light, but in reality you cannot because of a barrier like glass. And last of all is the seventh plane, which according to the Tantra is the center of the thousand-petalled lotus called Sahasrara. When the Kundalini arrives there, the aspirant goes into Samadhi. In that lotus dwells sat – chit – ananda Shiva, the absolute. There, the Kundalini, the awakened power or Shakti, unites with Shiva. This is known as the great union of Shiva and Shakti. In that state, the life force lingers for twenty-one days and then passes out. But Ishwarakotis such as the incarnations can come down from this state of Samadhi. They can come down from this exalted state, because they like to love in the company of devotees and enjoy the love of God. God retains in them the Ego of Knowledge or the Ego of Devotion, so that they may teach men. Their minds move between the sixth and the seventh planes only.

Sometimes the spiritual current rises through the spine, crawling like an ant. Sometimes in Samadhi, the soul swims joyfully in the ocean of Divine ecstasy like a fish. Sometimes like a monkey, that current suddenly with one jump, reaches the Sahasrara. Sometimes again, the spiritual current rises like a bird hopping from one branch to another. Sometimes the spiritual current moves up like a snake going in a zigzag way; at last it reaches the head and one goes into Samadhi. A man’s spiritual consciousness is not awakened unless the Kundalini is aroused. The mere reading of books does not awaken one’s spiritual consciousness. One should also pray to God. The Kundalini is aroused if the aspirant feels an intense desire for God. Talk on knowledge from mere study and hearsay! What will it accomplish?

Just before attaining this state of mind, it has been revealed to me how the Kundalini is aroused, how the lotuses of the different centers blossom forth, and how all this culminates in Samadhi. This is a very secret experience. I saw a boy of twenty-two or twenty-three age, exactly resembling me, enter the Sushumna nerve and commune with the lotuses, toughing them with his tongue. He began with the Moolaadhaara and passed through the centers at the genital organ, navel and so on. The different lotuses had been drooping. At his touch, they stood erect. When he reached the heart – I distinctly remember it – and communed with the lotus there, touching it with his tongue, the twelve-petalled lotus, which was hanging head down, stood erect and opened its petals. Then he came to the sixteen-petalled lotus at the throat level and the two-petalled lotus in the forehead. And last of all, the Thousand-petalled lotus in the head blossomed. Since then, I have been in this state”.

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“The angles contained in what constitutes Thy mansion (Srichakra), which is made of the nine mUlaprakR^its or basic triangles (the nine primary causative forces of the universe) consisting of the four distinct Shiva triangles (with apex upwards), and the five distinct Shakti triangles (with apex downwards), all lying apart from the Bindu, along with a lotus of eight petals, one of sixteen petals, the three circles around the three lines, turn out to be forty-three in number” - 11

Having explained the inner mental worship (Antarpuja) in the previous verse, Srimadacharya proceeds to describe the Bahiryaga or external worship in the manifestation of Sridevi as Srichakra, which is her gross (Sthoola) form intended for external worship by the less spiritually advanced devotees. The Srichakra is usually drawn on metal plates, sandal paste, vermilion, turmeric powder, on the bark of a tree called Bhurja, on silk or some other pure base and worshipped with accessories such as sandal paste, flowers, incense, lamp, food offerings and lighting of camphor. The Srichakra emanates from a combination of four triangles with their apex pointing upwards, called the Shiva Chakras and five triangles with their apex downwards, called the Shakti Chakras, forming in all, 43 angles at the ends, bounded by a lotus of eight petals, which in turn is surrounded by a lotus of sixteen petals; the whole encircled by a girdle of three circular rings and at last bounded by quadrangular ramparts all round, having entrance-like openings one in the middle of each of the four sides. Rudrayamala describes the Srichakra as follows: bindutrikoNavasukoNadashArayugma manvashranAgadalasaMyutaShoDashaaram .vR^ittatrayaM cha dharaNiisadanatrayaM cha shriichakrametaduditaM paradevataayaaH

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No mention is made of the four openings on the four sides of the Bhupuratraya in the above Rudrayamala verse. Lakshmidhara quotes the above verse in his commentary with a different reading of the second line thus also quoting Sruti pramAna: vR^ittabhUpuratrayayutaM paritashchaturdvAh .shriiChakrametaduditaM paradevatAyAH .. The Vamakeshwara Tantra also mentions the four openings thus: guNavR^ittaM tataH kuryAt chaturashraM cha tadbahiH .chaturdvArasamAyuktamevaM syAcchakramuttamaM .. To summarize, the component parts of the Srichakra are:

1. The Bindu in the center. 2. The Trikona – the small triangle around the center. 3. The Ashtakona – the group of eighteen triangles surrounding the trikona. 4. The Antardashara – the inner group of ten triangles encircling the Ashtakona. 5. The Bahirdashara – the outer row of ten triangles surrounding the Antardashara. 6. The Chaturdashara – a set of fourteen triangles surrounding the Bahirdashara. 7. The Ashtadala – a lotus of eight petals surrounding the Chaturdashara. 8. The Shodashadala – a lotus of sixteen petals surrounding the Ashtadala. 9. The Mekhalatraya – the three circles or girdles around the Shodashadala.

10. The Bhupura – the three quadrangular lines with openings on all the four sides. According to the reading ‘trayashchatvAriMshat’, the angles of the Srichakra are forty-three, but Srimadacharya reckons the angles as forty-four taking into account the Bindu also. The word ‘shrIkaNTha’ means ‘the one with poison in the throat’ i.e. Shiva. The words ‘shrIkaNTha’ and ‘shivayuvati’ connote the four Shiva and the five Shakti triangles in the Srichakra. The word ‘prabhinnAbhiH’ suggests the Shiva Konas and the Shakti Konas being kept apart. The combination of these nine is spoken of as ‘mUlaprakR^itibhiH’ in the verse. And this union of Shiva and Shakti is the cause of all creation. The Mulaprakritis in respect of the microcosm or human body are the Dhatus or basic components of the human frame. They are tvak (skin), asR^ik (blood), mAmsa (flesh), medas (lymph), asthi (bone). These five relate to Shakti while the four Shiva triangles denote majjA (marrow), shuklaM (semen), prANaH (the five Pranas – Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana) and Jiva – the soul. In the microcosm or the universe, the five Shakti Konas denote the earth, water, fire, air and ether. The four Shiva Chakras represent Maya, Suddha Vidya, Maheshwara and Sadashiva. The entire universe being only a manifestation of the Shiva Shakti union, the microcosm and the macrocosm are to be considered as Srichakra for the purpose of inner meditation. The Bindu, the eight-petalled lotus, the sixteen-petalled lotus and the quadrangular lines are called the Shiva Chakras while the Trikona, the Ashtakona, the Antardashara, the Bahirdashara and the Chaturdashara are reckoned as the five Shakti Chakras. The Shiva Chakras and the Shakti Chakras are united – the bindu in the Trikona, the eight-petalled lotus in the Ashtakona, the sixteen-petalled lotus in the two Dasharas and the Bhupura in the Chaturdashara. The devotee has to realize the inseparable identity of Shiva and Shakti in this manner. ‘prabhinnAbhiH’ is also explained as meaning mingled or united. ‘sharaNakoNAH’ means resting place or abode. The emphasis is on Sridevi’s presence in the Srichakra – whether in a diagrammatical Srichakra or in the microcosm or in the macrocosm. An alternate reading – ‘charaNakoNAH’ would mean that all creation emanates from Sridevi’s feet.

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Sri Saundaryalahari Bhashyam

Advaita Brahmavidya Pratishthana, Bangalore - Copy Right 2002

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