[Query] Dear Sir, please clarify two doubts. Can one keep a meru without worshipping it? Can one buy meru from shops?
Let's first consider shrIchakra generally. shrIchakra has two forms: sthira and chara. In the Srichakra written on ground or on bhUrja, with ku~nkuma, kesara, gorochana etc., the presence of Devi is invoked by avAhana and prANapratiShThA and the presence is only till the end of archanA (i.e. till visarjanA specifically) (yAvadarchanakAlam). However, in the case of shrIchakra, drawn with precision on gold, silver, panchaloha, any of the gems or quartz, the shAstra says: nityaM sannihitA devI - without the need for avAhana etc., presence of Amba happens automatically, like of mahAdeva in bANaliMga, and the presence stays all through - sAnnidhyaM sArvakAlikaM - which though seems very encouraging, has its own implications. These days Meru is made of plastic, glass, wood etc., but as kAdimata clearly states, even copper and bronze Merus are considered inferior and if one cannot afford gold or silver, panchaloha should be used.
When a Meru is kept at home, that means one has the entire shrInagaram at one's pUjA room. There are various devatAs in Amba's parivAra - like aNimA etc., DAkinI etc., dwijihvA and other yoginis, ekapAda bhairava and other Bhairavas - crores of Yoginis, Shaktis and Bhairavas. So, the sweet lady does not come alone but with her baggage! One CANNOT afford to ill-treat any of her parivara by neglecting them - which is what a person without nityopAsanA would do! When you buy a new object without clearly knowing its significance, its use or even its application, one eventually gets over the initial fascination and the object is no more of any interest to such an individual. You buy a vacuum cleaner on Asian Sky Shop, you get a free Meru. Or there was one person who was advertising Meru fountains on the net the other day. Probably we will have Meru ash-trays, Meru paperweights, Cola in Meru-shaped bottles, Meru-shaped phones with Panchadashi ring tones in near future. There may be even Meru-shaped beds promising wonderful sleep but I wonder how one would sleep on them! On a more serious note, you should question why you require the Meru first of all? Is it because you need wealth, health, happiness, removal of vastu defects (lol!) good vibrations, a promotion etc. etc.? Then, keeping a Meru, even if made of puShyarAga, without upAsana, would be useless. There is a long list of merits promised in Vamakeshwara Tantra, associated with a Meru. Sri Bhaskararaya comments thus: chakraraajaarchanena imaani phalaani bhaavayediti vidhiH pariNamati - by worship of Srichakra according to the prescribed norms alone, the said results are obtained and not by merely placing a Srichakra on the altar. This is again the kAmya pakSha.
We have hundreds of other Yantras and hundreds of other deities to obtain petty boons such as these, don't we? Do we need Sri Rajarajeshwari and her magnificent Srichakra for this purpose alone? Do we need to setup an atomic energy plant at home to generate electricity so that we can heat water? A simple Solar heater would achieve the purpose! So, if one does not understand the significance of Meru from Guru and does not receive it from him, one should not buy a Meru hoping to achieve good things by its mere presence. Again, Rudrayamala clearly specifies that the bhUprastAra yantra can be worshipped by those initiated into Panchadashi and those with initiation into shoDashI (Rudrayamala does not talk about laghu ShoDashi, hence it would be relevant to assume that this refers to mahAShoDashi) can worship the meru. Also, from the pramANa of Parashurama Kalpasutra, chakrarAjArchana follows dIkShA and not vice versa. So, there is no pramANa allowing one to keep Meru without the eligible qualification or the required rituals. Why build a temple if you cannot organize the daily worship? Meru should come to one from Guru or unexpectedly and one needs to pursue his upAsanA till then, with patience.
Now what is upAsanA? Jivamukhyapranalinganneti chet na upasatraividhyat asritatvadiha tadyogat - says the Brahma Sutra (1.1.31). From an understanding of this Sutra and its relevant commentary, it becomes established that upAsanA is a mental process or activity. It is again a misconception that bhakti itself is upAsanA. But as the shAstra says - bhaktimAnupAsIta - one should do upAsanA with bhakti - and hence upAsanA requires Bhakti. Bhakti has been discussed in various scriptures by great saints like shANDilya (athAto bhaktijignAsA sA parAnuraktirIshware ityAdi - Bhaktisutra). upAsanA is classified into two sections (please note that these are not two independent 'types' but complimentary halves of a single entity): japa and pUjA. Japa is necessarily a mental process, though in types such as upAmShu, vAchika etc., (vAchika is disallowed for shrIvidyA), along with the mind, physical organs like the mouth are used. pUjA, though seemingly physical, is in actuality a mental process. Would throwing some flowers on Meru or spilling some milk on Banalinga give any merit? It is the dhyAna of the Devata which brings the presence, the offering of various upachAras with the bhAva of 'na mama' - is what constitutes of pUjA. Thus, in essence, upAsanA is a mental activity where the prAdhAnya or importance is to bhAva. When this bhAva is complimented by Bhakti, upAsanA is complete. Practically, neither is complete or rather usable for our purpose without the other. Thus, without upAsanA (involving bhAva and Bhakti), one should not need a complex representation of Amba such as Meru - complex in form, tattva and energy. A non-upAsaka always has approachable archA mUrtis such as photos, idols etc. to progress towards upAsanA.
Also, if one has Bhakti of an innocent child, Amba would probably forgive lack of all formalities. But if that were to be the case, there was no need for a Meru and a simple cry would fetch her. Till such a stage is reached where there is parAnurakti in Amba, it is best to stick to the norms prescribed by Guru and Sampradaya. A few years ago, a certain Meru was found in earth and a temple was established for the same - I forget the name, swayambhu meru or something like that. In spite of the publicity, people noticed a distinct bad vibe at the place and the Guru at this place underwent huge problems. A certain daivajna from Andhra Desha was brought to diagnose the problem and he immediately pointed to the Meru. This was a damaged Meru - imperfect in design - which was being worshipped. Adding to this, lack of required niyama or nishtha in worship of Srichakra, created issues. At the same time, a local Tantric performed a prayoga on this Guru and he reached his death bed. But his Guru was kind enough to cure him of his affliction and admonished him for his uncanny behavior. After recovery, a good gentleman from Guntur, a close associate of Sringeri Sharada Peetham, was requested to performed various shaanti karmas, who also did bhu-sthapana of the Meru. Of course, this was never revealed to the public for obvious reasons and they now sell, along with Srividya, Merus of imperfect dimensions, which are hollow and made of every possible material. So, unless one has the Guru to protect and firm faith in Amba, one should be careful in such things.
To conclude, there is one particular fruit promised to the upAsaka of Srichakra, trailokyavashikarana - the power to subjugate the three worlds. The three worlds refer to three states of existence, three gunas and other such triputi and conquering them - which is reaching the state of turiya - is what is hinted here. Also, the power to subjugate the three worlds is not possible for anyone but Shiva and hence the merit of worship of Srimeru is shiva bhAva prApti. This again suggests that shivatva is the only goal for upAsanA of shrIvidyA and shrIchakra (mokShaikahetu vidyA sA shrIvidyA nAtra samshayaH).
mahAkAshathachiddeshanilaye paradevate |
trAhi mAM kR^ipayA devi gururupeNa shankari ||