Srividya is a Shastra in itself and like every other Shastra, has the associated anubandha chatuShTaya – adhikAra, abhidheya, sambandha and prayojana. adhikAra describes the qualifications required to obtain initiation into shrIvidyA. Abhidheya is the subject matter of Srividya. Sambandha describes its relation with other Shastras. Prayojana describes the fruits obtained by studying Srividya. A guru should understand these four concepts well. As Srividya Shastra in essence advocates Nivrtti, it is also termed parA vidyA. Srividya is moksha Shastra or the science of liberation, which can be approached in five different levels, the upAsyas for which are lalitA, mahAtripurasundarI, rAjarAjeshwarI, parA bhattArikA and ahaMtA or sadakhyA. All these are generally termed as `shrI'. That Shastra which describes `shrI' is called shrIvidyA. Or, shrIyate sarvairiti shrIH – she who is worshipped by all is shrI.
As there is no difference between Brahma Jnana and Brahmi Bhava [brahmavidApnoti param], there is no difference between the upAsya [shrI] and it's vidyA. Thus, Srividya refers to that vidyA or mantra which is of the form of shrI and refers to shrI. Also, as described in Siddha Yamala, Parashakti has two chief forms: Rakta Kali and Shyama Kali. Rakta Kali is called Vidya Rajni and Shyama is associated with Dakshina Kali and Sundari. Thus, Srividya refers to Sri + Vidya – Srividya, which encompasses the worship of both these forms and hence of Purna Parabrahma Shakti. Also, that vidya which has the ramA bIja as its core is referred to as Srividya. That which grants shrI i.e. purushartha chatushtaya is called Srividya. The term Srividya has been explained in 108 ways by Brahmasri Sri Tadepalli Veeraraghava Shastrigal.
Srividya Diksha differs with the Sampradaya. In Ananda Bhairava Sampradaya, which involves Kaula Marga (note: as described in Badabanala Tantra, there is no Vamachara path prescribed for Srividya. Only Kaula is prescribed by the Tantras and it is this path that is described as adakShiNa, savyApasavya etc in Rahasya Sahasranama). To understand the qualification for obtaining Srividya diksha, one needs to examine Dasha Bhedas:
1. Guru Parampara – this forms the core of Srividya Upasana and the other nine Bhedas are primarily offshoots of this first bheda.
2. Sampradaya – Dakshinamurti, Hayagriva and Ananda Bhairava. Once again, there is NO Dattareya Sampradaya that is being claimed ignorantly. Dattatreya is one of the 32 Upasakas of Srividya and hence is included under Guru Parampara and not Sampradaya. Guru of any authentic Srividya lineage should necessarily belong to one of these three Sampradayas.
3. Diksha – depending on the disciple's eligibility and the Guru's capability, varna, sparsha, vedha and other forms of diksha are imparted.
4. Peetha – there are two peethas described in the Tantras. First is related to the Peethadhikara of the Guru and involves shrIpeetha, mahApItha, sAmrAjyapItha etc. This discussion is beyond the scope of the present context. As described in Uddamareshwara Tantra, Srividya is also related to one of the four shAnkara pIthas or AmnAya mathas, which bear close relation with the four AmnAyas (pUrva, dakShiNa, pashchima, uttara) called the praveshAmnAyas (the gate of entry into Sripura), respectively signifying Vaidika, Shaiva, Vaishnava and Shakta Amnayas.
5. yAga Bheda – antaryAga, bahiryAga, mahAyAga and rahoyAga. Guru initiates the disciple into one or more of these paths depending on the qualification.
6. Varnashrama Bheda – as discussed in Sruti, Smrti and Agamas
7. Devata Bheda – Depending on the Samskara and Vasana of the Shishya, he is initiated into worship of Kali or Sundari (one of her five forms, progressively leading to Sadakhya).
8. Achara Bheda – again depending on Shishya's Samskara and Adhikara – Samaya, Dakshina and Kaulacharas.
9. Mantra Bheda – bAla, panchadashi, shodashi, parA shodashi and Guhya shodashi.
10. Yantra Bheda – depending on Sampradaya, Mantra and Achara, shishya is told to worship, Bhu – Kurma or Meru Prshta Yantras, with other specifications as prastara (kailasa etc).
Based on these dasha bhedas, a Guru who understands Sanketa Traya (Puja – Mantra – Chakra Sanketas) initiates the disciples. These days, any one who recites Sri Lalita Sahasranama or has upadesha of panchadashi or shodashi mantras (or have read the mantra from somewhere) refers to himself as upAsaka. This is an incorrect usage of the word `upAsanA'. Though the zeal of Gurus and Shishyas who are trying to spread Srividya through public platforms needs to be appreciated to some extent, this cannot lead either the Guru or the Shishya anywhere. Guru who is expected to be `shishya-hrit-tApa-hAraka', is unfortunately more often `shishya-vitta-apaharaka' in the current times. But this is again according to the Yuga Dharma, as clearly stated by Lord Mahadeva in Meru Tantra.
There are six Dikshas described in the Tantras, depending upon the eligibility of the disciple – samayA, putrikA, sAdhikA, vedhikA, pUrNAchArya and Nirvana. Based on the ingredients used in kriyA diksha, there are several types like kunda, kalasha, mantapa etc. Based on Anugraha and Parigraha (transmission and reception), there are seven Dikshas: Samskara, Varna, Kala, Sparsha, Vak, Drk and Manas. Vak, Drk, Sparsha and Manas Dikshas are classified under Shambhavi Diksha. Again Varnamayi Diksha has three classifications and Kala Diksha is again classified into five types: Nivrtti, Pratishtha, Vidya, Shanti and Shantyatita. Kala Diksha is again granted in Srshti – Sthiti – Samhara kramas as also in Anuloma and Viloma schemes. Mano Diksha is again classified into two types: tivrA and tivratarA. A Siddha Guru grants Maha Vedha diksha to a highly advanced disciple, propelling him instantly into a state of Samadhi. Sparsha Dikshas like Gandusha etc. are peculiar to Kaula Marga and are considered inferior.
Karma Diksha is the highest Diksha and Upasana marga in Srividya. Here, the Sampradaya followed is that of Sri Maha Dakshinamurti. The Upasana karma involves the worship of:
1. Twelve Amnayas (Six Amanayas taught to a normal Purnabhishikta, four Upamnayas, Adharamnaya and Sarvotteernamnaya)
2. Sixteen Avaranas in the Srichakra – corresponding with the Chakras in the body from AdhaH Sahasrara to Shodashanta Mahabindu
3. ChatuH Samaya
4. Pancha Samaya
5. Shodha Samaya
6. Pancha Simhasani
7. Pancha Panchika
8. Dasha Maha Vidya
9. Dasha Maha Bhairava
10. Navaratna Sundari
11. Navaratna Kubjika
12. Shodasha Chakreshwari
This scheme of Diksha, starting from Tarini to Anuttaravedini, sixty-four in number, is called Krama Diksha. The disciple progressively undergoes shAktAbhisheka, pUrNAbhisheka and kramAbhisheka. After these three Dikshas, sadhaka can wear Yagnopavita in the Niviti fashion. If the shishya is an uttamadhikari, he is further initiated into medhA, sAmrAjya medhA and mahA sAmrAjya medhA dikshas. One who has undergone these six Dikshas is called mahA pUrNAbhishikta and such a Sadhaka resides forever in Soham state, attains Guru Bhava and is a Paramahamsa. He resides in the Turiyatitashrama, untouched by the rules of Varna and Ashrama. Without Mahapurnabhisheka, those who discard Varna and Ashrama are Karma Bhrashthas who attain hells such as Raurava.