When Kama disturbed Shiva in meditation, Shiva burnt him with His third eye. From his smouldering remains arose Bhandasura, who tormented the Devas with his cruelty and power. Desolate, they sought refuge in the Goddess.
She arose from the blazing pit of consciousness (Chit-Agni-Kunda), and in the form of Sri Lalita Tripurasundari, vanquished the Asura.
Sri Lalita Sahasranama is a sublime hymn of a thousand names of such a Divine Mother. It is a part of the Brahmanda Purana. The Purana reveals Shiva Himself as the source of the hymn, and in the story, Hayagriva reveals it to Agastya, a great sage.
In other words, this is a hymn that comes from unimaginable heights as well as depths of the all-pervading consciousness.
The Sahasranama, through a thousand names, gives a vivid description of the beautiful form of the Goddess, the fierce valour of Her fight against the Asuras, Her transcendent and immanent as well as multifold and omnipresent glory.
Across a thousand names, the hymn offers a beautiful path to supreme realisation, blending the traditions of Bhakti, Yoga and Tantra harmoniously.
About Sahasra 2023
This article on your screen is based on a digital book that has been curated by this author. I had taken nine names of the Devi from the Sahasranama, and the following images are my imagination of each of them in visual form, expressed with the help of AI. Each impression is accompanied by a short note.
She is preceded by Dandanatha who rides her chariot Kirichakra (Name 70)
As a seeker steps on to the path of his quest, he also enters a battlefield. The battlefield of the inner realm.
He or she thinks lust has been conquered. But from the ashes of the conquered lust an Asura may arise. The Daivic forces beat a retreat. Hapless, the sadhaka invokes the Goddess.
She arises. She battles for the seeker.
Her arrival to battle is announced by the fierce Dandanatha.
Her chariot is drawn by, or is in the form of, boars. They are fiercely maternal animals. They are known for their sudden burst of ferocious energy.
This is the protection that the sadhaka needs.
‘Kiri Chakra’ also relates to the very existential cycle of physical reality. Dandanatha safeguards the seeker, allowing them to be in the world but not be consumed by it.
Residing in the centre of the Moon’s disc (Name 240)
All life-forms on planet earth have been, in one way or the other, influenced by the phases of the moon. Vedic literature, through an intricate web of semantic connections, links the moon, Soma, with Amrita, the elixir of immortality. In the Gita, Sri Krishna says that the Divine becomes the Moon nourishing all the crops and herbs with the juice of life.
Ancient traditions link the lunar cycle to the Goddess.
Today, scientists have begun talking about ‘moon-related-genes’ that determine internal biological clocks.
Apart from the being in the centre of the physical moon, the Goddess also occupies the centre of its metaphysical counterpart. In yogic psychology, there are two channels of psychological-spiritual energy flow known as 'nadis'. Out of these, Ida is associated with the moon. The Goddess, being Kundalini herself, is in the centre of this psychic orb as well.
Abiding in the midst of the Sun’s disc (Name 275)
The Ida Nadi is associated with the Moon. Pingala with the Sun. Again, She is in the centre of this solar mandala.
The Sun is the source of all energy on Earth. Life on Earth developed mechanisms to harness the energy from solar photons, which in turn made evolution feasible on our planet.
Within this grand narrative, She, the cosmic Mother, assumes her divine mantle, bestowing sustenance upon all living beings. The Sun, in this sacred act of nourishment, becomes a radiant facet of the Devi herself.
The Creator (Name 264)
As humans explored their inner and outer worlds, they found patterns and creative abilities. They inferred a greater creator of the sky and earth. Their primal idea of an alpha male led them to imagine such a creator as male.
When their spiritual vision expanded, the creator was absorbed into the non-dual unity of consciousness. Here, the Goddess is the Creatrix. She is also called ‘Brahma-rupa’. Brahma being the creator god, She becomes the actual creative potential that evolves through the primal matter.
This Name, along with Names 281 and 648, shows the Dharmic perspective of transcending the creator concept and embracing the spiritual beauty in the evolutionary process of creation.
The series of worlds arise and disappear with the opening and shutting of Her eyes. (Name 281)
This Name relates to the emergence and dissolution of rows of universes with a wink of Her eye.
As She opens the eyes, the universes unfold and manifest into existence. As She closes them, the rows of universes dissolve into non-existence.
Physicist-author Sean Carroll in his book Something Deeply Hidden, draws a parallel between increasing entropy and an increasing number of worlds that get formed every moment: ‘In both cases (entropy and Many-Worlds) we are poor finite creatures with dramatically incomplete information, and invoking these higher-level concepts is extremely useful.’
Entropy is related to forward flow of time. The blinking of the eye of the Goddess and the formation of many realms and their dissolution shows how Indian darshana has the ability to spiritually complement the experience of the universe unveiled by science.
She is the Swan in the minds of the devotees (Name 372)
Bhakti is a special, altered state of expression of consciousness. It is not of the mind. The Upanishads state very clearly that the mind and its emergent functional and structural evolutes cannot grasp the reality of Consciousness. But Bhakti on the other hand is the net through which the Divine is obtained.
Thiruvandapakuthi speaks of Shiva as One whom chitta and manas fail to grasp and yet He allows Himself to be caught by Bhakti.
Bhakti is not a psychological state as many consider. It is not of the mind. It is an emanation of consciousness, and is energized by consciousness. It cleans the pond of the mind.
In that clear pond She comes as the Swan. She is the hamsa of Universal Consciousness.
The Beloved of Shiva (Name 409)
Throughout the Lalita Sahasranama, the special relation of the Goddess to Shiva has been emphasized again and again.
She is the Beloved of Shiva. She is devoted to Shiva. Shiva is loved by Her. She Herself can be Shiva. She keeps Her beloved Shiva in Her will. She is also worshipped by Shiva. Shiva becomes Her messenger and Her form is Shiva Himself.
Through all these Names, Her love for Shiva and identification with Him are brought out. The boundaries of Shiva-Shakti are blurred into a non-dual, semipermeable creative layer of dynamic interaction.
She Who formed the world-systems as if it were in sport (Name 648)
She creates multiple universes or the multiverses, like a child’s play. The term ‘brahmanda’ is significant because it suggests an egg-like state. It suggests not only the shape but more importantly the involuted condition of all possibilities of evolution contained in the very initial conditions.
And this initial involuted condition of infinite possibilities of universes upon universes is Her play. This is ‘Lila’.
Lila is a great leap in spiritual conception. Often, many spiritual traditions and religious dogmas tend to place importance for a purpose to the Universe. There is an external God who creates the universe and He creates the humans for worshipping Him and only Him. Today, evolution discovers that evolution has no design – and hence no designer or a creator-god. Yet, even without a creator-god there can be a sacredness to existence. Because the flow of evolution is Her Lila.
The Goddess Herself should be a child to indulge in such a play. The Names 965 and 966, do call Her that – Bala and Lila Vinodini, respectively.
Shri Chakra Raja Nilaya
Abiding in the royal Shri Chakra (Name 996)
The Shri Chakra is considered as the body of Shiva and Shakti. It also shows how complex harmony arises out of simple repetitive patterns.
The patterns of repetitive processes can mother complex phenomena. This is true for microcosm, macrocosm, biocosm and cosm of the psyche.
The Shri Chakra is also an archetypal pattern. We have similar structures today derived from mathematical equations like the fractals. A good example is the Mandelbrot set.
In fact, both the Shri Chakra and Mandelbrot set show how complexity arises from simple repetitions.
Mantric repetition is in its own way a semantic and phonetic equivalent of the same.
For all such patterns and archetypes, the basis or the ground substratum is Consciousness itself, which is pregnant with all these and yet-to-be-discovered patterns and meta-patterns.
Whenever such complex patterns evolve, at their heart, seated regally, is the Maha Tripura Sundari.
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