Bhagavan Hayagriva clearly mentions the qualification required for the recitation/practice of Sri Lalita Sahasranama in the pUrva pIThikA of the Sahasranama.
1. The Sahasranama is never to be given to a one who is a crook, who finds pleasure in other's misery and one who has no faith in Amba/Guru. Such people are not qualified to recite this Sahasranama.
2. Now, let's sat the person has overcome all these qualities. Is that sufficient? No! Bhagavan further says - shrImAtR^ibhaktiyuktAya - the person should be devoted to Sri Lalita. One can be a devotee of Sri Shiva, Sri Ganesha, Sri Vishnu or even of other forms like Sri Kali or Sri Durga. But a person whose chief upAsyA is Sri LalitAmbikA, he alone is qualified to recite this Sahasranama.
3. Ok! We have a person who is good, and is also devoted to Sri Lalita. Is that sufficient? Not again! Bhagavan says: shrIvidyArAjavedine - one who has been initiated into Srividya - he alone is qualified to recite this Sahasranama. Some assume that Srividya here can be bAla, panchadashi or Shodashi, but there is no room for doubt here. Srividya here is simply Panchadashi. The question of Shodashi does not arise at all as Shodashi includes Panchadashi in itself and hence holds good without a doubt. bAlA upAsakas are eligible to recite bAlA sahasranAma but not lalitA sahasranAma. Though the essence is the same in case of both bAlA and lalitA, there are differences in name and form and once cannot ignore these when dealing with a Sahasranama which deals with the names of a specific form of Amba.
4. So, we have a person who has been initiated into Srividya! Is that all? No! upAsakAya - one who is an upAsaka i.e. one who practices the mantra regularly and performs the related duties i.e. sandhyA, ajapA, arghya, nyAsa etc.
5. Is that it? Lord further says shuddhAya - one who is 'pure' i.e. internally and externally due to the performance of prescribed shrauta smArta karmas as well as the upAsanA modes prescribed in the light of Srividya. As Pujya Smt Prakashamba points out every time to ignorant folks such as myself, there is a general trend among upAsakAs to consider themselves superior after an initiation, claim sarva svAtantrya, prescribe to swecchAchAra and forgo all nitya and naimittika Karmas like Sandhya, Pancha Yajnas etc. If one were all knowing and liberated even while living, why did he need to recite the Sahasranama at all?
So, a person who is blessed with a good character, who has been initiated into Srividya, who is a naiShThika upAsaka and who treads the path of Dharma (samAnya and visheSha) as prescribed by the Sruti and the Smrti - he alone is eligible to recite this Sahasranama. If you think these rules don't matter, that means you don't believe in the words of the Lord. In that case, why do you think you want to believe in the efficacy of some mumbo-jumbo Sahasranama which was given out by the same Hayagriva? The Phalasruti says that a person without the said qualification, who recites the Sahasranama, attracts Yogini Shapa - curse from the Yoginis. The Sahasranama is infinitely powerful and using it without the said preparation blows up one's energy network. As Yoginis are nothing but the various energies in the body, yogini shApa means energy disturbances in the body which manifest as various physical, emotional and intellectual disorders.
Some see no issues in reciting this Sahasranama as it forms a part of Brahmanda Purana and claim that everyone is permitted to recite the Purana. This makes no sense as this general rule fails in the case of this specific Sahasranama which has a special rule elaborated by Bhagavan Ashwanana.
Sri Lalita Sahasranama is both a Stotra and a mAlA mantra. If you choose to recite it as a Stotra, recite it vocally, at an even pace, without shaking one's head, hands, legs or engaging in other activities during the recitation. If recited as a mAlA mantra, one needs to perform RishyAdi nyAsa, panchapUja, recite the dhyAna Shloka, show the relevant Mudras if directed by the Guru and then begin reciting the Mantra with a chant of Pranava. The recitation of Pranava is based on one's varNa. This has been discussed at length by Sri Bhaskararaya in Saubhagya Bhaskara. When recited as a mantra, it can be repeated mentally. Though some perform a purashcharana of the Sahasranama, I don't see any need for the same. As only Srividya Upasakas are permitted to recite the Sahasranama, it comes without saying that they have the mUla mantra which requires purashcharana and not the Sahasranama. There are several Sahasranamas which come with purashcharana instructions. But the fact that Sri Lalita Sahasranama does not come with any such instruction points towards the necessity of Upasana of Srividya mantra along with the Sahasranama for full result.
The three prescribed duties for a Srividya Upasaka are:
2. Srividya Japa
3. Sahasranama Japa
Everything else is a matter of choice. The Sahasranama has a statement that a person can simply recite the Sahasranama even if he is unable to do Chakrarchana or Japa. But this is simply Apaddharma and not a generic rule. This rule holds good only when the upAsaka is genuinely unable to do the first two due to circumstances. But ignoring the two owing to laziness or any such reason is not acceptable.
The recitation of pUrva and uttara bhagas has been prescribed to emphasize on the infinite merits of the Sahasranama and its importance in Srividya Upasana - every time it is recited. One should recite each name carefully with a sense of its importance. One should appreciate and express gratitude to Amba, with the recitation of every name, for being so infinitely compassionate as to grace us with an opportunity to recite her thousand glorious names, each of which is a priceless chintAmaNi. There is NOTHING in this world we can do to sufficiently thank Amba for this incomparable boon.
The Sanskrit alphabet represents mAtrikA or the eight Vagdevatas, who represent the power of speech of Amba. Hence, every letter is a mantra and has to be pronounced correctly. As every name is a collection of letters, it forms a kUta and a correct pronunciation is very important. There have been several instances where mispronunciation of mantras has resulted in unfavorable results.
The Essence of the Names
Upasana of any mantra bears fruit only when recited with an understanding of its meaning or essence. Hence, it is important to recite the names with the knowledge of their meaning. This also avoids incorrect pauses during recitation and mispronunciation. Also, dwelling on the meaning of the name during recitation establishes one's mind firmly on the swarUpa, vibhUti and tattva of the upAsya devatA.
Bhakti is already a prescribed qualification to even take up the recitation of the Sahasranama. Amba has not been declared mantravashyA, tantravashyA, yajnavashyA etc. but only as BhaktivashyA. The only sure way to win her infinite and unconditional grace is by Bhakti, which leads one to a state where the truth of Amba as the self is comprehended. As the Sahasranama also states - nAmapArAyaNaprItA, what better way to please Amba than by reciting the thousand names with a sense of overflowing love for the Supreme Mother of the universe? rAga or love for worldly objects leads to bondage. But the same love or anuraga, when turned towards Amba becomes Bhakti and leads to liberation. parAnukraktirIshware bhaktiH. Every name recited should be a call to Amba, lifting our arms - asking her to lift us up in her arms. Every name recited should be a prostration at her feet, surrendering the self to her. Every name recited should be an indication of unbearable grief due to separation from Amba. Every name should be an outcry of unfathomable joy arising out of her proximity that is felt with the recitation of every name!
kAmakoTi lalite pAhi