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Bhavani

 

shrImAtre namaH

bhavAni is a special name of Parashakti Sri Lalita and is celebrated in various scriptures.

It is said in the nirvachanAdhyAya of Sri Devi Purana:

rudro bhavo bhavaH kAmo bhavaH samsArasAgaraH |
tatprANanAdiyam devI bhavanIti prakIrtitA ||

1. bhava means Rudra. Sridevi being the prANa Shakti, gives life to the pancha pretas one of who is rudra or bhava. As she is the life-force in Rudra, she is called bhavAni.
2. bhava also means kAma or manmatha. Sridevi blessed kAma or manmatha with life after he was burnt to death by Mahadeva. Also, it is she who gives him the power to cause passion in beings. Hence she is called bhavAni.
3. bhava also means samsAra or the world. Sridevi is responsible for the seemingly real world of names and forms. She creates all beings in the world, nurtures them and protects life. Hence she is called bhavAni.

Also, it is said in Linga Purana:

bhava ityuchyate devaiH bhagavAn vedavAdibhiH |
sanjIvanena lokanAm bhavasya paramAtmanaH ||
uShA samkIrtitA bhaAryA sutaH shukrashcha sUribhiH ||

Sri Mahadeva appears in eight forms called aShTa mUrti-s. They are:

Sharva – prthvI mUrti
Bhava – jala mUrti
Rudra – agni mUrti
Ugra – samIra mUrti
bhIma – gagana mUrti
pashupati – yajamAna mUrti
mahAdeva – Chandra mUrti
IshAna – sUrya mUrti

Of these eight forms of Mahadeva, bhava represents water. His wife is called uShA and she who is also called bhavAni. Thus, bhavAni is that power in Lord Bhava which in the form of water, destroys thirst in beings and sustains life. It is that nectarine power of bhava we call bhavAni. Bhava mUrti is present as Sri Jambukeshwara and his consort Sri Akhilandeshwari is thus referred to as bhavAni.

Or bhava can be directly interpreted to mean water. She, who grants life to beings by making water available, is called bhavAni. There is a deeper spiritual significance to this name. samsAra or bhava esoterically refers to kula chakras, mUlAdhAra to AjnA. As parA kuNDalinI, having crossed the six chakras, she unites with rAjarAjeshwara or Kameshwara resulting in the flow of nectar or kulamrita on the entire kula patha or the group of six lotuses, here referred to samsAra. Thus, the name bhavAni refers to the state called mahA shAmbhava sthiti, where Shakti is in complete harmony with Shiva (bhava) and the bliss resulting from this harmony (referred to as nectar or kulAmrita) pervades the group of six lotuses called kula varga or samsAra.

bhavAni is also the name of the deity adorning the Shakti Peetha at sthAneshwara (Thaneshwar).

And what is the effect of worshipping bhavAni or reciting her name?

japan pUjayan tvAm bhavAnIti mukhyAm
bhavAbhAvabhaveShu sambhavayan vA |
bhavam durbhavam tatkShaNAdyAti hitvA
bhavatvam navAnandarAshim suchitram ||

By reciting the mantra of Bhavani (Panchadashi or Shodashi), by uttering her name, by worshipping her with devotion through bhAvanA devoid of bhava bhAva (bondage to samsAra), one immediately gets rid of limited existence in this samsAra and attains bhavatva (Shivatva or Shiva-hood i.e. realizes the self as non-different from Paramashiva), filled with ever-new bliss.

If one observes the sequence of names: bhavAnI, bhAvanAgamyA and bhavAraNyakuThArikA in Sri Lalita Sahasranama, Bhavani Tattva becomes clear.

Who should one worship – bhavAnI
How should I worship – through bhAvanA
What is the fruit of such worship – Freedom from the forest called samsAra

The power of the name `bhavAni' is reiterated by Bhagavatpada Shankara in Saundaryalahari:

he bhavAni – O mother bhavAni!
yaH – the one (who);
stotum vAnChan – desirous of beseeching thee (with the following words);
tvam dAse mayi sakaruNAm drShTim vitara – O Bhavani, cast a compassionate glance on me, thy obedient servant;
bhavAni tvamiti kathayati – begins to utter `O Bhavani';
tadeva tvam tasmai – instantaneously (even before he completes his prayer seeking your compassionate glance) you bestow on him;
sAyujya padavIm – the form of Moksha termed as sAyujya
mukundabrahmendrasphuTamukuTanIrAjitapadAm – illumined by the crowns of Vishnu, Brahma and Indra.

Here Srimadacharya conveys many things. First is nAma mahimA or the power of uttering the divine name of Sri Lalita. By merely reciting the divine name bhavAni with devotion, one is liberated and attains Moksha called sAyujya. It is said elsewhere:

bhavaanI bhavaanI bhavaanii trivaaram
udaaram mudaa sarvadaa ye japanti |
na shokam na moham na paapam na bhiitiH
kadaachitkathanchitkutashchajjanaanaam ||

Those who utter thrice the name bhavAnI all the time never face grief, delusion, sin or fear.

In Saundaryalahari, before the current verse, Acharya taught us antaryAga and bahiryAga, the two paths in Srividya. However, to stress on the point that without Bhakti or devotion, both these are fruitless, he reveals the current verse. There are four grades of Moksha namely sAlokya, sAmIpya, sArUpya and sAyujya, the last being the highest of the four. An aspirant attains these based on degree of the strength of his Bhakti towards Sridevi. When an upAsaka with a pure heart and austere piety begins to pray to Devi for her blessings, she blesses him and gradually leads him through various stages of Moksha. When the devotee attains the desired qualification, through the anusandhAna of the mahAvAkya-s tattvamasi, aham brahmAsmi etc, he attains sAyujya (identical with kaivalya in the current context) or the state of complete oneness with Sridevi. Thus, for mandAdhikari-s, Acharya recommends the path of Bhakti, of upAsana, of nAmasmaraNa etc through which chitta shuddhi can be acquired as the fruit of Amba's grace. Once he becomes an uttamAdhikAri, he worships Amba with the bhAvanA of bhavAni i.e. `May I be Thou' (which in essence is the anusandhAna of Mahavakyas), resulting in the state of Soham. Here, we can take sAyujya to mean kaivalya as the act of Brahma and others bowing to the feet of Sridevi is seen as laya of nAma and rUpa (pAdamUle layam devi according to vAmakeshwara). To further illustrate that it is this sAyujya (or Advaita sAyujya to avoid confusion) that he is speaking of, Acharya recommends bhavAnI bhAvanA (i.e. the anusandhAna of mahAvAkya) as the way to achieve sAyujya.

The best lesson to grab from this Shloka is this: the path to liberation lies at the feet of Sri Bhavani worshipped by the trinity. Once the lotus feet are held with devotion, rest happens on its own.

nIlotpala-prasavakAnti-nidarshanena
kAruNya-vibhrama-juShA tava vIkShaNena |
kAmAkShi karmajaladheH kalashIsutena
pAshatrayAdvayamamI parimochanIyAH ||