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Sri Lalita Sahasranama

 

AsthAna vidvAn shAstrAla~NkAra vedabrahmashrI K P Shankara Shastrigal
[On the occasion of the completion of lalitA sahasranAma koTi ku~NkumArchana, 3/13/94]

On the auspicious occasion of shrI lalitA koTi kunkumArchana, which has gained special significance on account of being performed in the sannidhi of shrI mahAgaNapati and bhagavatI annapUrneshvarI, I pray to the lotus feet of shrI lalitAmbikA for bhaktalokakShema. But is it not appropriate to use names from annapUrNA sahasranAma to perform archana to the deity here rather than lalitA sahasranAma? It is said in the shAstra:

AvAhya devatAmanyAM nAnyanAmabhirarchayet ||

This would mean that one should not perform the AvAhana of rAma on rAmanavamI and perform archana with shrIkR^ishNAShTottara or use rAmAShTottara on janmAShTamI to worship shrIkR^iShNa. Though this does make sense at some level, one can certainly use shrIviShNu sahasranAma to worship various mUrtis such as rAma, kR^iShNa, varAha or shrInR^isiMha. As all these deities are considered to be avatAras or aMshas of shrImannArAyaNa, using the sahasranAma of the mUla devatA does not result in doSha.

There is this statement in brahmANDa purANa:

laukikAdvachanAnmukhyaM viShNunAmAnukIrtanam |

It is meritorious to recite the names of shrImannArAyaNa rather than speak worldly words.

The scriptures describe at length the great merit attained by reciting the sacred name of shrImannArAyaNa:

rAma nArAyaNAnanta mukunda madhusUdana |
kR^iShNa kashava kaMsAre hare govinda mAdhava |
ityekAdashanAmani sadA sa~NkIrtayennaraH ||

Lord mahAdeva describes the glory of rAma nAma to shailajA thus:

shrIrAma rAma rAmeti rame rAme manorame |
sahasranAma tattulyaM rAma nAma varAnane ||

lalitopAkhyAna describes the recitation of shiva nAma as more meritorious than hari nAma:

viShNunAmasaharAccha shivanAmaikamuttamam |

Other scriptures assert the importance of shiva nAma smaraNa as well:

shiveti dvyakSharaM nAma yairudIritamucchakaiH |
te dhanyAste mahAtmAnaH kR^itakR^ityAstathaiva cha ||

Elsewhere:

vidyAsu shrutirutkR^iShTA rudraikAdashinI shrutA |
tatra pa~nchAkSharo mantraH tatra shiva ityakSharadvayam ||

Lord shrIkR^iShNa himself sings the glory of shiva nAma thus:

mahAdeva mahAdeva mahAdeveti vAdinam |
bhaktyAhamanugacChAmi nAmashravaNavA~nChayA ||

Though we state here categorically that shiva nAma is greater than viShNu nAma, it can also be seen that shiva is ever immersed in meditation on Lord kR^iShNa:

svapne jAgaraNe shashvat kR^ishNadhyAnarataH shivaH ||

It is stated next in brahmANDa purANa that reciting the names of shrIlalitA is much more meritorious than even shiva nAma:

shivanAmasahasrAccha devyA nAmaikamuttamam ||

When scriptures describe at length the greatness of shiva and viShNu nAmas, how is it that we claim devI nAma to be the greater than them? Here is where one should carefully analyze to understand the underlying tathya. Though shiva, viShNu etc. represent sacchidAnandAtmaka brahma vastu, shudda brahma is napuMsaka; in other words, it lacks puMsatva. Then how can it be responsible for creation, maintenance etc. of the prapancha? Only when associated with chit pArAshakti do these activities become possible:

napuMsakaM parabrahma kathaM nAM jagatsR^ijet |
svashaktisa~Ngame tattu jagatkAraNatAM vrajet ||

Thus, jagatkAraNatva is attained only by association with svashakti. This concept is further clarified in brahmasUtra (prakr^itishcha pratij~nAdR^iShTAntAnuparodhAt), kenopaniShad and devI bhAgavata mahApurANa (dvAdasha skandha). Following is the sAra of kenopaniShad:

tena vinA tR^iNamapi na chalati |

Thus, the importance of shakti and thus shakti nAma for various vyApAras, lalukia or otherwise, becomes established. Though devI can be worshipped through various other sahasranAmas such as rAjarAjeshvarI or sundarI sahasranAmas, the nAmasAhasrI lalitA is considered to be special due to many reasons, one of which is overflowing mAdhurya with anything and everything associated with lalitA. shrImadAchArya states in vedapAda stava:

laliteti sudhApUramAdhurIchoramambike |
tava nAmAsti yattena jihvA me madhumattamA ||

Thus, it is impossible to sing the glory of lalitA sahasranAma, which lists the names of parabrahma-shakti shrIlalitA, whose mahimA is lokAtIta and whose svarUpa is shuddha sattvamaya (unlike other devatA mUrtis as pointed by bhAskararAya makhIndra). It is the same parAshakti who has assumed various forms such as shAradA, annapUrNA, mInAkShI etc. for various activities that amount to lokAnugraha:

ekaiva shaktiH parameshvarasya
bhinnA chaturdhA viniyogakAle |
bhoge bhavAnI samareShu durgA
kopeShu kALI puruSheshu viShNuH ||

Now that we understand the concept of parAshakti or the mUla shuddha brahma shakti (from who all other shaktis originate) as the adhiShThAtr devatA of this sahasranAma, we now need to clearly understand abheda between shakti, shiva and viShNu.

The following verse describes abheda between shrImannArAyaNa and durgA:

shvetadvIpe shayAnA phaNipatishayane pa~NkajaM dhArayantI |
doShNA vAmena lakShmImR^iditabhujalatA bhUmisaMlALitA~NghriH |
devI divyairmunIndraiH suravaranivahaiH stUyamAnA samantAt
sarvAnarthopashAntyai bhavatu bhagavatI shAntidurgAbhidhAnA ||

Elsewhere:

nirjitya daityAnakhilAn jagaddruhaH
shAntAmanantoragabhogashAyinIm |
bhaktAkhilopadravahetubha~njanIM
devIM prapadyairdiviShadbhirIDitAm ||

Even the nAmasAhasrI describes ambikA as goptrI govindarUpiNI, mukundA muktinilayA etc. The puShTi for this statement can be seen in other purANas as well:

kadAchidAdyA lalitA puMrUpA kR^iShNavigrahA |
veNunAdavinodena vivashIkurute jagat ||

Owing to ignorance, men perceive ambA to be different from shiva or viShNu and as non-identical with brahma vastu. But the truth is that she is indeed the supreme tattva:

yoyaM chakAsti gaganArNavaratnaminduH
yoyaH charAcharaguruH puruShaH purANaH |
yadvAmamardhamidamandakasUdanasya
devi tvameva taditi pratipAdayanti ||

For the sake of clarity, one can examine a few more such pramANas:

sahasramUrdhAnamanantashaktiM sahasrabAhuM puruShaM purANam |
shayAnamicChA lalite tavaiva nArAyaNAkhyaM praNato.asmi rUpam || [kaurme]

mamiva pauruShaM rUpaM gopikAjanamohanam |
kadAchillalitAdevI dhr^itashrIkR^iShNavigrahA |
veNunAdavinodena mohayatyakhilaM jagat || [brahmavaivarte]

ahaM cha vAsudevAkhyo nityaM kAmakalAtmakaH |
ahaM cha lalitAdevI puMrUpA kR^iShNavigrahA |
AvayorantaraM nAsti satyaM satyaM hi nArada || [pAdme]

abheda between devI and shrIrAma is also stated in vAlmIki rAmAyaNa:

kiM tvAmanyata vaidehaH pita me mithilAdhipaH |
rAma jAmataraM prApya striyaM puruShavigraham ||

Here, the phrase striyaM puruShavigraham is interpreted by vyAkhyAs like maheshvaratIrtha-tilaka to indicate the fulfillment of a prophecy in shiva purANa:

ityuvAcha mahesho.api priyAM himavataH sutAm |
pArvatI rAmarUpeNa sUryavaMshe bhavatpurA |
sItArUpeNa bhargastu videhAnvayajo.abhavat ||

According to the tale in shiva purANa, bhagavatI pArvatI incarnated as rAmachandra and Lord mahAdeva as sItA.

The abheda between shiva and shakti has been a much discussed topic. Even in laukika prapancha, manuShya bereft of shakti cannot accomplish much and the cosmic activities of shiva can be seen in a similar light. Though a man can feel that he either has shakti or does not, such a vyavahAra is simply imaginary. In the world, a couple is described as shakti and shaktimAn. No one is permitted entry between them except the children as they are considered to be AtmAbhinna. The same tattva gets stated as below in the scriptures:

na shivena vinA shaktiH na cha shaktyA vinA shivaH |
shivo.api shavatAM yAti tayA virahitaH svayam ||

Thus, keeping this abheda tattva in mind, one should interpret the words stating mahimAtishayatva of shrIlalitA sahasranAma and benefit by its recitation. Another significant aspect of this sahasranAma is its mantrAkSharamayatva. The sahasranAma is filled with bIjAkSharas: examples are names such as padmanAbhasahodarI, shrImAtA etc. bhattanArAyaNa, bhAskararAya and others point out such names which are mantragarbhita nAmas. As these names reveal mantra, chakra and archA sanketas, they are rahasya in nature, unlike many other sahasranAmas.

Without initiation into shrIvidyA, it is not advisable to recite lalitA sahasranAma and trishatI:

yo dadAti vimUDhAtmA shrIvidyArahitAya vai |
tasya kupyanti yoginyaH so.anarthaH sumahAn smR^itaH ||

shrIvidyA is not attained by alpa puNya as stated by Lord shiva:

devatAntaramantraughajapashrIphalabhUtayA |
jApakastava devyante vidyayA vindate.amR^itam ||

By reciting sahasranAma with devotion, after obtaining instruction from sadguru, one is blessed with aihikAmuShmika bhoga and mokSha.

sadgurucharaNAravindArpaNamastu