Srimahatripurasundari Chandramoulishwarebhyo namaH
The nine Avaranas of Srichakra represent the nine mental states of the aspirant.
1. Trailokyamohana Chakra - Jagarat sthiti
2. Sarvashaparipuraka Chakra - Swapna sthiti
3. Sarvasamkshobhana Chakra - Sushupti sthiti
4. Sarbasaubhagyadayaka Chakra - Ishwara Vichara
5. Sarvarthasadhaka Chakra - Gurupasadana
6. Sarvarakshakara Chakra - Upadesha
7. Sarvarogahara Chakra - Manana
8. Sarvasiddhiprada Chakra - Nidhidhyasana
9. Sarvanandamaya Chakra - Savikalpa Samadhi
A glance at the above list indicates that the each of the nine Avaranas is a step of unveilment towards the final state of total equilibrium and oneness - Samadhi. Every Avarana is a preparatory stage to the next Avarana or the mental state. Of these nine Avaranas, the central Avarana is the fifth - Sarvarthasadhaka Chakra, which represents the mental state of Gurupasadana. Every spiritual path, especially Srividya, requires the guidance of an enlightened Guru, without who, the spiritual journey is into a dark, unknown territory. A person becomes a spiritual aspirant, when he possesses the sAdhanA ChatuShTaya:
1. Viveka - discrimination
2. Vairagya - dispassion
3. ShamAdi Shat Sampatti (the treasure of six qualities: Shama - control or mastery over the mind, dama - control of the sensory organs or Indriyas, Uparati - strict observance of one's Dharma, TitikshA - endurance of heat, cold, pleasure, pain etc., shraddhA - faith in the words of Guru and Veda Shastra, Samadhana - contentedness and single-pointedness of the mind).
4. Mumukshutva - Intense desire for liberation.
A person who possesses these is ready for Spiritual Instruction by a teacher. These virtues are naturally obtained by strict adherence to the Samanya and Vishesha Dharmas pertaining to one's Varna and Ashrama, detailed in the Sruti and the Smrtis. In Srividya Upasana, which accelerates the natural process of evolution manifold times, the sAdhana ChatuShTaya becomes the possession of the Sadhaka by the worship of the first four Avaranas, thus preparing him for the fifth and the most crucial phase of Gurupasadanam. The word Gurupasadana means: guru+upa+sadana i.e. 'approaching or going near the Guru'. The purpose behind this action is the obtainment of Atma Vidya or Mahatripurasundari.
A spiritual aspirant, who is baked by tApatraya (three kinds of heat), approaches a spiritual master to relieve himself of these afflictions. What are these three tApas or torments?
1. AdhyAtmika - the afflictions related to the gross and subtle bodies (sthUla and sUkShma sharIras) like hunger and thirst (related to prANa), desire, anger, jealousy etc. (related to the mind) and dilemma, doubt, confusion etc. (related to the intellect).
2. Adhibhautika - these are afflictions that arise from sources apart from oneself and are available to one's perception. Examples are: attacks from wild animals or pests, terrorist strikes, wars, attack from enemies etc.
3. Adhidaivika - these are caused by supernatural forces, over which one does not have any control. Examples are: thunders, earthquakes, snowstorms, landslides, epidemics etc.
To escape from the pangs of tApatraya, the aspirant (i.e. the one who possesses the sAdhanA chatuShTaya) approaches the Guru. Now can every one be called a Guru? No! The qualifications of a true Guru are detailed in Mundaka Upanishad:
tadvij~NAnArthaM sa gurumevAbhigacChet. shrotriyaM brahmaniShTham.
A Guru is one who is a Shrotriya and a BrahmaniShTha. ShrutivAniti shrotriyaH - one who has listened and understood the scriptures (Shruti, Smrti, Agama, Purana, Itihasa, Darshana, Vedanta etc.). By saying 'listened', and not merely 'studied', what is indicated by the sages is that the knowledge in the Guru comes from a lineage of Gurus and hence indicates Sat Sampradaya. Even a self-realized master will not have the technique of _expression to convey his profound experience to the disciples, if he is not a Shrotriya. A Brahmanishtha is one who is firmly established in the Brahman i.e. one who has experienced the oneness of the Jiva and Brahman directly. As mere bookish knowledge cannot be sufficient to teach a spiritual aspirant, an individual who is both a Shrotriya and a Brahma Nishta alone, can function as the Guru. In Srividya Shastra, the most vital part of the Upasana is guru because it is Shaktipata which destroys the tApatrayas and prepares the Sadhaka for the journey towards Sahasrara. By the worship of fifth AvaraNa, the Sadhaka reaches the Guru and receives Upadesha or spiritual instruction (represented by the next Avarana). Thus, the cure to the tApatrayas is the Upadesha of Atma Vidya or Mahatripurasundari by the Guru. Smt. Prakashamba, the foremost disciple of Brahmasri Chidanandanatha of Guhananda Mandali was blessed with the title 'Lopamudra' and a golden Srichakra by H H Sri Sri Abhinava Vidya Tirtha Mahasannidhanam of Dakshinamnaya Sri Sringeri Sharada Peetham. Mahasannidhanam explained in detail to her, the significance of the fifth Avarana of Srichakra as representing Gurupasadana and the practical way to enhance the worship of this crucial Avarana. If anyone remembers the Navavarana performed by Mahasannidhanam, the enhanced worship of the fifth Avarana becomes evident.
The fifth Avarana also represents the following five:
1. Jiveshwara Bheda - the imagined distinction between the Jiva and Ishwara.
2. Paraspara Jiva Bheda - imagined distinction between various Jivas - like men, women, cows, birds etc.
3. Jiva Jada Bheda - imagined distinction between a Jiva and an inert object like rock.
4. Ishwara Jada Bheda - imagined distinction between the Ishwara and an inert object like rock.
5. Paraspara Jada Bheda - imagined distinction between various inert objects like rocks, pebbles, mountain, river etc.
As these Bhedas or limiting distinctions are caused by ignorance, Guru destroys these by the Upadesha of the knowledge of the Self or Mahatripurasundari. Also, this is the core Avarana for followers of Samayachara, wherein Sridevi appears as a brilliant flash of light in Manipuraka Chakra. Please note that the correspondence of the fifth Chakra is to Manipuraka in the microcosm (Akula Sahasrara, Vishu, Muladhara, Swadhishthana and Manipuraka). Thus, worshipping this Avarana grants one the guidance of the Guru by which the doctrine of Samayachara begins to unfold in all its glory before the aspirant and he realizes and experiences the five-fold unity between Shiva and Shakti.
1. Adhishthanasamya - both reside in the Adhara Chakra or in the Srichakra as Bindu and Trikona.
2. Anushthanasamya - Both are involved in the same occupation of creation.
3. Avasthanasamya - since both are dancers (enacting Lasya and Tandava), their identity of state or condition is established.
4. Roopasamya - their identity in form is well established by Agamas like Chandogya, Shaunaka etc.
5. Namasamya - Identity of name is clearly seen in pairs like shiva & Shivaa, Samaya & Samayaa etc.
The ignorance or duality is dispelled by the Guru who imparts the experience of the five-fold identity prevalent in the cosmos.
1. Identity between the six Chakras in the body and the six Chakras of the Srichakra.
2. Identity between Sahasrara and the Chaturashra containing the Bindu.
3. Identity between Shiva and Devi.
4. Identity between Srichakra and Srividya Mantra.
5. Identity between Srividya - Srichakra - Sridevi - Sriguru and Jivatman.
By firm understanding of the sAmya panchaka and anusandhana (contemplation) on the five-fold identity, the secrets of which are revealed by the Guru, one transcends Jivatva. Also, the Guru imparts the five-fold knowledge of mudrA - mantra - Chakra - DevatA and SaparyA to the devotee, enabling him to undertake the journey towards Bindu. Speaking from the upAsanA point of view, it may be noted that in the Shodashavarana Krama detailed in Krama Tantras, Guru Mandala Puja is offered right after the fifth Avarana, signifying the Gurupasadana aspect of this Avarana.
Worshipping the Srichakra with an understanding of the Tattva and significance of each of its Avaranas alone grants one Siddhi (unity with Sridevi). Amba herself represents not only the Guru (gurumUrtiH) and the entire Gurumandala (gurumaNDalarUpiNI), but also the great Guru in who the entire Gurumandala involutes - Samasta Guru Mandala Vilina Maha Dakshinamurti (Dakshinamurtirupini). By worshipping Sri Mahatripurasundari in the form of Kulottirna Yogini in Sarvarthasadhaka Chakra, one easily obtains the Anugraha of Sri Mahatripurasundari who appeared as the great Guru Sri Charyanandanatha and Sri Parabhattarika to impart the royal science of Srividya in this cycle of creation. Absolute surrender to the feet of Sri Guru and Sri Paramba is the sure most way to escape from the great disease of Samsara. On the auspicious occasion of Guru Pournami, this significance and Tattva of Guru and Gurupasadana should be contemplated on deeply. The Guru who was guiding the previous Srividya cycle according to Devimana was Sri Krodha Bhattaraka Durvasa. The current mentor for all Srividya Upasakas is Bhagavati Lopamudramba, the infinitely compassionate mother, accompanied by Sri Agastya. She will continue to guide all sincere Upasakas till the advent of Bhairava Mandala, wherein Sri Bhairava takes charge from Lopamudramba. It is thus, our duty to remember and show our respect on the auspicious Guru Parva to Bhagavati Lopamudramba and also the three great Gurus: Sri Dakshinamurti, Sri Hayagriva and Sri Ananda Bhairava.