One can dare to speak on Sri Lalita Divya Sahasranama, if he is Lalita himself or is blessed with a speck of dust from the lotus feet of Sadguru who is Sri Lalita. Latter being the case, like before, I will resort to the impertinent behavior of trying to pick a few pearls from the limitless ocean of nectar (sudhA sindhu) called Sri Lalita Sahasranama. There is nothing which is not described in Lalita Sahasranama and what has not been said in Sahasranama is not worth knowing. Every minute aspect of Srividya Upasana is covered in Sri Lalita Sahasranama. This is declared by Sri Lalita Mahabhattarika herself. If one examines the pUrva pIthikA (prologue) of the Sahasranama:
purA shrIlalitAdevI bhaktAnAm hitakamyayA |
vAgdevIH vashinImukhyAH samAhUyedamabravIt ||
vAgdevatA vashinyadyA shR^iNudhwaM vachanam mama |
bhavatyo matprasAdena prollasadvAgvibhUtayaH ||
madbhaktAnAm vAgvibhUtipradAne viniyojitAH |
Macchakrasya rahasyajnA mama nAmaparAyaNAH |
Mama stotravidhanAya tasmAdAjnApayami vaH ||
"Once Sri Lalita Devi, with the intention of doing the highest good to those devoted to her, summoned the vAgdevata-s and addressed them thus: O Vashini and other vAgdevata-s, listen to my words! Due to my grace, you have the splendid power of speech. You have been deputed to confer the power of speech to my devotees. You know the secret of my Chakra and are devoted to reciting my names. Hence I command you to compose the Sahasranama Stotra".
[Question]: Why did Sri Lalita have to call vAgdevata-s specifically? Why did she not call other devata-s like nakulishwari, who are also endowed with power of speech?
[Answer]: The eight vAgdevatA-s are deities of speech, residing in the seventh Avarana of Srichakra (in Samhara Krama), their names being vashini, kAmeshwari, modini, vimalA, jayini, sarveshwari and kaulini. They represent the different stages of nAda emanating from Panchadashi Mahamantra. In essence, they collectively represent the power of Amba's speech. Amba also specifies that the duty assigned to them is to grant the power of speech to all devotees of Sri Lalita. nakulIshwarI is a nigraha pradhAna Shakti who mitigates trouble by freezing the faculty of speech (vAk stambhana) of the enemy who tries to debate with a Srividya Upasaka. However, vAgdevata-s are anugraha pradhAna Shakti-s who grant Mantra Siddhi to Srividya Upasakas by destroying eight doSha-s (faults or errors) encountered during mantropAsanA.
[Question]: Why does Amba refer to them as VAgdevi-s? Why does she not simply refer to them by their names, `Vashini and others'? Is there a special significance here?
[Answer]: The term vAgdevi here is a description of the nature of Vashini and the rest. The word `devI' arises out of the dhAtu `div', which means stuti (praise) or dyuti (shine). vAk means speech or power of speech. Those who shine due to the limitless glory of their speech or those who praise Sridevi in ways unparalleled with their faculty of speech – they are rightly called vAgdevi-s. It means that by their power of speech alone, they are capable of accomplishing everything. Thus, Amba here indicates that there can be no better adhikAri-s than the vAgdevis to compose a Sahasranama that can instantly delight her.
[Question]: Yes, the vAgdevi-s are anugraha-pradhAna Shakti-s, but is that their only qualification to compose the Sahasranama?
[Answer]: One can obtain the power speech from other manifestations of Amba like Sri Saraswati, Sri Hayagriva etc. But here it is made clear that the power of speech in the Vagdevata-s is derived from none other than Sri Lalita herself, the highest manifestation of Parashakti. What is granted by Sri Lalita, the supreme manifestation, is thus the highest order of speech. The term used here is prollasadvAgvibhUtayaH – pra (prakarSha) + ut (utkarSha) + lasat + vAgvibhUti. prakarSha means excellence, utkarSha means superior, lasat means shining and vAgvibhUti means the wealth of speech. Thus, the vAgdevata-s have been blessed by Sri Lalita with the wealth of speech which is excellent, most superior and active or exuberant. As said earlier, the superiority of vAgdevata-s over all other deities in aspect of the power of speech is derived from the fact that the reason for their power is the complete grace of Sri Lalita Parameshwari, the supreme Shakti of Parabrahman.
But that is not the sole qualification required to compose the Rahasya Sahasranama. There are thousands of Sahasranama-s, Stotras etc praising not only other manifestations of Amba like Ganga, Bhavani, Kali, Rajarajeshwari etc but also Sri Lalita or Tripurasundari. Then why another one is required? That is because no other Stotra completely captured the essence of Amba's Chakra and names. What does the term Chakra and nAma (names) signify here?
1. These two terms refer to nAma and rUpa, names and forms of Sri Lalita which she assumes to facilitate upAsanA of her aspect as saguNa Brahman (Brahman with form or attributes).
2. Chakra refers to the Srichakra and its various technicalities. nAma here also refers to the various Srividya mantras propagated by Amba through upAsaka-s such as Sri Krodha Bhattaraka, the compassionate mother Bhagavati Lopamudramba, Kandarpa etc. Thus, the terms chakra and nAma collectively refer to sanketa traya of shrIvidyA upAsanA: Chakra Sanketa, Mantra Sanketa and PujA sanketa.
3. But for an uttamAdhikAri (a superiorly qualified aspirant), `knowing' the secret of Srichakra refers to not merely knowing the geometry of Srichakra or the Sanketa Traya but to the state of pUrNAhamtA, where the self is realized as non-different from the ever-effulgent Atman, known here as Sri Lalita.
Thus, Vashini and other vAgedevata-s are certified here by Amba herself as those who have completely understood the Sanketa Traya and the secret of Srichakra. With this in mind, it again becomes clear that there can be no better qualified agents of Amba than the vAgdevata-s to convey the essence of the Sanketa Traya of Srividya as they represent the four stages of speech – parA, pashyanti, madhyamA and vaikharI (with two vAgdevata-s representing each).
[Question]: But are there not other scriptures like the Srikula Tantras which convey the Sanketa Traya and Upanishad-s like Tripuratapini etc which convey the same?
[Answer]: Yes, but each of these scriptures address certain aspects of Sanketa Traya and the objective of Rahasya Sahasranama is to effectively consolidate all aspects of Srividya. Moreover, such sources do not convey the essence of the secrets of Samketa Traya in the form of names. Especially in kali yuga, where nAmasamaraNam (reciting the divine names of the Supreme) is cited as the only way to Moksha by Smrti-s, this Sahasranama, which expounds the secrets of Sahasranama in the form of potent names of Amba, is an invaluable tool to achieve puruShArtha chatuShTaya. Moreover, the most important qualification of vAgdevata-s is their complete devotion to the names of Sri Parameshwari. There is one more observation that can be made here. Like the forms of Sri Lalita Parameshwari, her names are also eternal. They are not `new' names which were created by the vAgdevata-s. This becomes clear as even before the composition of this Sahasranama, the vAgdevata-s are described to be devoted to the names of Sri Lalita Mahatripurasundari. This would mean that the vAgdevi-s compiled the current set of 1000, picking the choicest of names from the ever-existent and infinite number of auspicious names of Sridevi. There is yet another way to look at this. The Sahasranama is revealed in the beginning of every Kalpa in the exact same way as described here. After every Kalpa, when there is mahA pralaya (great dissolution), every Rashmi of Amba involutes into her and she alone remains. When the next cycle of creation starts, these Rashmis begin to emanate from her and assume names and forms as various AvaraNa devata-s. Then, the Sahasranama is revealed again, in the exact same fashion. It is possible that in one Kalpa, some Srikula Tantra was revealed by Parameshwara, another in the next Kalpa etc. However, Sri Lalita Sahasranama, like Parameshwari, is Nitya or eternal and is revealed in every Kalpa in the exact same fashion. The Phala Sruti does not change, the names do not change or the process of revelation through the vAgdevi-s does not change. To suggest the same, Amba mentions that the vAgdevi-s were devoted to the names in the previous Kalpas.
Thus, Rahasya Sahasranama is superior to other such Srikula Stotras or Sahasranama-s as:
1. It is complete with the essence of Sanketa Traya.
2. It is nAmAtmaka and mantrAtmaka, the names here are not mere names but potent mantras.
3. The authorship of the Sahasranama is attributed to vAgdevata-s who represent the power of speech of Sridevi, which is indicative of its origin from the supreme Shakti Sri Lalita herself.
4. The Sahasranama, like Sri Lalita herself, is Nitya or Eternal
Most important aspect of Srividya Upasana is anugraha of a competent Guru. Sri Durvasa Deshikendra, in his incarnation as mUka Shankara, says:
kuNDali kumAri kuTile chaNDi charAcharasavitri chAmuNDe |
guNini guhAriNi guhye gurumUrte tvAM namAmi kAmAkShi ||
kumAri – mAtangi
kuTile – tArA
chaNDi – dhUmAvati
charAcharasavitri – bhuvaneshwari
chAmuNDe - ChinnamastA
guNini – kamalA
guhAriNi – bagalamukhi
guhye – Tripura bhairavi
kAmAkshi – shrIvidyA lalitA mahAtripurasundarI
Thus, Sri Kamakshi, who represents the Dasha Mahavidya-s, graces the devotee in the form of Sri Guru in each of these ten approaches to the Supreme.
The same is reflected in the sayings of the abhiyukta, deshikarupeNa darshitAbhyudayAm, which means that the grace of Amba is always in the form of Sadguru. Amba assumes the form of one's Guru to guide him to her abode. One's first guru is said to be the mother and thus the first Guru of every being is the Supreme mother Sri Lalita, and this is indicated by the very first name shrImAtA.
There are three major sampradAya-s of Srividya namely Dakshinamurti, Hayagriva and Ananda Bhairava. There are various other Guru-s, each teaching their own interpretations of these three Sampradaya-s like Kandarpa, Lopamudra, Dattatreya etc. However, Amba is described as non-different in the Sahasranama with only one of these great Gurus: dakShiNAmUrtirUpiNi. Among the three AchAra-s of Srividya namely, Samayachara, Dakshinachara and Vamachara (with five branches: Kaula, Vama, China, Siddhanta and Shabara achara-s), Sri Dakshinamurti is represented as the Guru of Samayachara. This explicit identification of Sri Lalita is indicative of the prAshastya or the importance of this path. Moreover, when one begins to progress in the path of Krama Diksha, all Guru-s merge into the final Guru, called samasta guru maNDala vilIna mahA dakShiNAmUrti, who is the seer of the mahA nirvana sundarI vidyA or aShTAdashI. If one carefully observes the navAvaraNa procedure of most lineages, even in those which have no relation to the Dakshinamurti Sampradaya, Srichakrarchana begins with the prayer to Adi Guru Sri Dakshinamurti:
shrIguro dakShiNAmUrte bhaktAnugrahakAraka |
anujnAM dehi Bhagavan shrIchakrayajanAya me ||
This is reflective of the status of Sri Dakshinamurti as mahA kAraNa guru for every Srividya Sampradaya.
The name dIkShitA indicates that it is Amba who appears as not only the initiator (Dakshinamurti) but also the initiated (Shishya), thus establishing abheda between Guru – Shishya and Sridevi. Only when the three guNa-s are brought under control and transcended (sarvalokavashankari) and duality is destroyed (daityashamanI) by contemplation on abheda between Atma and Sridevi (dIkshitA), one attains the ocean-like infinite (sAgaramekhalA) and true or eternal (satyasandhA) kingdom of Swaswarupa Jnana sAmrAjyadAyinI). That would be the kUTArtha here.
The source of all mantras is Sri Gurupaduka mantra. Of the various pAduka-s, Sri Mahapaduka is the greatest. The uddhAra of the mahApAduka is done with the following set of names in Rahasya Sahasranama:
mANikyamakuTAkAra janudwayavirajitA – this name represents the secret of kalikA, the essence of mahA pAdukA, representing the sAmarasya of prakAsha and Vimarsha. The same is elaborated in 18 verses in Hamsa mAheshwara.
indragopaparikShiptasmaratUNAbhajamghikA – literally the name means: one whose calves are like the sapphire studded quiver of Kandarpa or Manmatha. Indragopa refers to Bijaksharas, and the quiver here represents the mahApadukA mantra which is studded with various mantras, foremost being the kAdi vidyA (indicated here by the word smara).
gUDhagulphA – refers to the two great bIjas, which are the gateways to UrdhwAmnAya.
kUrmaprshThajayishNuprapadAnvitA – refers to the group of MahavAkya-s.
nakhadIdhitisanchanna namajjanatamoguNA – based on various permutations and combinations of the three guNa-s, various rashmi-s or deities of Sridevi result. This name is indicative of the inclusion of the mantras of the mukhyAmnAya devatA-s in mahapAukA.
padadwayaprabhAjalaparAkrtasaroruhA – this name is indicative of representation of prakAsha and Vimarsha in mahA padukA in a state of complete sAmarasya, by usage of special phrases.
shinjanamanimanjIramaNDitashrIpadAmbujA – anklets or payals are indicative of womanhood and in the pAribhAshika sense, refer to lopAmudrA. Thus, the two manjIra-s here refer to hAdi vidyA and hAdi turIyA, which form a part of the mahA pAdukA.
The revelation of the entire mahA pAdukA taught by Sri Adi Dakshinamurti can be similarly traced in Rahasya Sahasranama.
The name AtmavidyA is indicative of Atma pAdukA.
In Srividya, there are three chief mUla mantras: bAlA, panchadashI and Shodashi. bAlA mantra is revealed by the name tryaksharI. The individual bIjas of the mantra are revealed by the names vAgadhIshwarI, klImkAri and parA. panchadashI is revealed by the names: shrImadvAgbhavakUTaikaswarUpamukhapankaja, kaNThAdhaHkaTiparyantamadhyakUTaswarUpiNi, shaktikUTaikatApannakaTyadhobhAgadhAriNI, mUlamantrAtmika and mUlakUTatrayakalevarA.
The ShoDashi Vidya is revealed by the names shrIvidyA and kAmasevitA. The formation of ShoDashi is different between kAdi and hAdi Sampradaya-s. By including the name shrIvidyA before kAmasevitA, through samkhyA nyaya, it is clarified that the current discussion is about kAdi ShoDashi, which is obtained by addition of a bIja hinted in the former name.
The mahAShoDashi Vidya is revealed by the names: shrIshoDashAksharIvidyA, trikUTA, kAmakoTikA, kaTAkshakimkarIbhUtakamalAkoTisevitA, shirasthitA, chandranibhA, bhalastendradhanuHprabhA, hrdayasthA etc. There are various forms of Shodashi-s: tArAdi, mAyAdi, parAdi, vAgAdi etc. But none of the others are called mahA ShoDashi except for ramAdi and hence the prefix `shrI' in the name shrIshoDashaksharIvidyA. The other names reveal the bIjakshara samputa for the main component of Shodashi, the mUla trikUTA. This also refutes the theory of adding tritAri or praNava before mahAShoDashi during Japa.
The internal dhAraNA of the mUla mantras, which forms a part of Kundalini Yoga, is done based on adhikAri bheda. This is indicated by the names trikoNAntaradIpika, hridayasthA and bhalasthA, for bAla and panchadashI Upasakas. The additional name shirasthitA is applicable to Upasakas of Shodashi. The set of names dealing with Shaktchakras and yoginis (mUlAdhAraikanilayA) etc are guidelines for upAsakas of mahAShoDashi who visualize the six components of the mUla mantra in six chakras and the three mantra sandhi-s in the three granthi-s, with the nAda emanating from the kAmakalA reaching the Chicchandra Mandala.
The two Rishis for Panchadashi or Shodashi are indicated by the names: dakShiNAmUrtirUpiNI and mahAbhairavapUjitA. The Chandas for the mantras are indicated by the names gAyatrI and dwijapantidwayojjwalA. The names starting from udyadbhAnusahasrAbhA till kAmAkshI indicate the Dhyana mUrti of Sri Lalita. It must be noted that the final name describing the Saguna Swarupa of Sri Lalita is kamakShi. Thus, it is clearly indicated that the gross manifestation of Sri Lalita Mahatripurasundari Rajarajeshwari Mahabhattarika is only as Sri Kamakshi in Oddyana Peetha. The result of meditating on Sri Kamakshi, the sthUla swarUpa of Sri Lalita, is indicated by the name kAmadAyinI. kAma here is indicative of its predecessors, dharma and artha as well. For the uttamadhikAri, the word kAma means Kameshwara or nirguNa Brahman. Thus, the result of meditating on Sri Kamakshi is brahmavApti or realization of swaswarUpa, the same being true even for a mandadhikAri but in sopAna krama.
ShaDangadevatAyuktA is the name indicating the need for nyAsa, panchasamkhyopachAriNI indicating pancha pUjA, dashamudrAsamArAdhyA indicating the need to displaying the ten tripurA mudra-s, and the name yonimudrA indicating the display of this mudrA to overcome doSha-s during japa. The names akShamAlAdidharA and mAlinI are indicative of the recommended use of mAtrkA mAla for the Japa of Srividya Mahamantra. Thus, complete details of Srividya Mantra Japa are discussed in Rahasya Sahasranama by the vAgdevatA-s.
The various Anga Vidya-s of Srividya are hinted in the Sahasranama. The following are a few examples:
kameshwaramukhAlokakalpitashrIgaNeshwarA – There is clear indication here that the Mahaganesha referred to is the gaNeshwara with shrI or Siddha Lakshmi. This name further details the bIjas of the Mahaganapati mantra. Here Kameshwara represents shuddha praNava.
geyachakrarathArUDhamantriNIparisevitA indicates Sri Raja Shyamala
kirichakrarathArUDhadaNDanAthApuraskR^itA indicates Maha Varahi
sampatkarIsamArUDhasi.nduravrajasevitA indicates Ashwarudha
karAN^gulinakhotpannanArAyaNadashAkR^itiH indicates Dashavatara-s of Srimannarayana
yogAnandA indicates Sri Nrsimha
govindarUpiNI indicates Srividya Rajagopala
mArtANDabhairavArAdhyA indicates Sri Surya
kAmakalA and shivashaktyaikyarUpiNI indicate the two great gateways to UrdhwAmnaya
panchamI indicates Shiva Panchakshari
chaNDamuNDAsuraniShudini indicates Sri ChanDikA
annadA indicates Sri Annapurna
mahAkali is indicative of Sri Kali
Amba is present in the form of five kalas: nivrtti, pratishThA, vidyA, shaanti and shAntyatItA, representing the five deities: brahma, viShNu, rudra, Ishwara and sadAshiva. The kalA-s are indicated by the names: niShkriyA, pratiShThA, vidyA, shAntiH and shAntyatItakalAtmikA. The names and functions of these deities are indicated by the names srshtikartrI, brahmarUpA etc. upto panchakrtyaparAyaNA.
The various practices in Srichakrapuja are indicated by names such as vIrArAdhyA, chaitanyArghyasamArAdhyA, suvAsinyarchanaprItA, balipriyA, antarmukhasamArAdhyA, mahAyAgakramArAdhyA, bhAvanAgamyA, divyagandhyADhyA, bindutarpaNasantuShTA, chatuHShaShtyupachArADhyA etc.
The nine AvaraNa-s of Srichakra are indicated by the names:
1. Trailokyamohana – sarvamohinI, sarvalokavashankari
2. sarvAshaparipUraka – vAnChitArthapradAyini, kAmadAyinI
3. sarvasamkShobhaNa – kShobhiNi, kamadhuk
4. sarvasaubhAgyaprada – bhAgyAbdhichandrikA, bhaktasaubhAgyadAyinI
5. sarvArthasAdhaka – sarvArthadAtrI, sAmrAjyadAyini
6. sarvarakShAkara – rakShakarI, sarvapadvinivAriNi
7. sarvarogahara – sarvavyAdhiprashamani, rogaparvatadambholiH
8. sarvasiddhipradA – siddheswarI, siddhavidyA, siddhamAtA
9. sarvanandamaya – AnandakalikA, sacchidAnandarUpiNi, sukhArAdhyA
Though there are thousand names of Amba in the Stotra, the actual name is only one: lalitAmbikA. The other 999 names are adjectives to this name. shrImAtA lalitAmbikA, shrImahArAjnI lalitAmbikA, dakShiNAmUrtirUpiNI lalitAmbikA etc. However, one can also consider every single name to be a noun and other names to be adjectives to this name. E.g. If we consider the name tripureshI as the noun, the resulting names would be shrImAtA tripureshI, shrImahArAjnI tripureshI etc. However, the name lalitAmbikA alone is always the visheShya and never the visheShaNa. Thus, infinite number of names results out of the set of 1000 names, with each combination having a special significance or meaning. The names can be considered as dwikUTa (two at a time), trikUTa (three at a time) etc. The interpretation of these names is called kUtArtha and these are learnt as per the tradition from a competent Deshika. These 1000 names are chintAmaNi-s and the rosary of these names is the mAlA mantra called Chintamani Mahavidyeshwari, the secret of all secrets.
kAmAkShIm kamalAm kAntAm kalmaShaghnIm kuleshwarIm |
kAmitArthapradAm vande ka-ha-sAdi-swarUpiNIm ||