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Saundaryalahari - Verse 11


"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.

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".

Rudrayamala describes the Srichakra as follows:

bindutrikoNavasukoNadashArayugma manvashranAgadalasaMyutaShoDashaaram |
vR^ittatrayaM cha dharaNiisadanatrayaM cha shriichakrametaduditaM paradevataayaaH ||

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.

Chandrashekhara Chandrashekhara Chandrashekhara Pahi Maam