This is an ongoing exploration consisting of a series of articles on Lalita’s thousand names. Other related prequels/sequels can be obtained here
Let us bow to HER feet and start exploring the thousand pointers!
The Holy Trio:
1. Śrī Mātā: Divine Mother
2. Śrī Mahārājñī: Majestic Queen
3. Śrī Matsiṃhāsanēśvarī: The one on the lion throne
- These three names are the first triad that form the very seeds for the whole LS. As we mentioned in the Lalita Sahasra Nama (Part-1: Introduction), that these names are pointers, the first three pointers align our mindset from the start, so as to visualize the GODDESS, not as a human-figure alone, but in the absolute sense of her ‘Expression’.
- We have the inability to perceive her absolute presence, in our present state of existence and hence this kind of pseudo induction is very necessary. That is why great care is always taken by the composers to make the names as ‘divine‘ as possible. May be the first step is to conceive her as having a form of physical human female. But the very nature of these names will straight away erase such incoherent anchors in our minds and lets us slowly drift towards truly experiencing HER. For example, imagine your friend. This friend, though is made of lump of flesh and other materials, is characterized only by the behavior, which can be experienced by mind and intellect alone, but not ‘seen’ through senses (though senses act as agents of input of the interactive data but not the analyzers). Similarly, All the while, the GODDESS is described in association with human body, yet SHE is beyond that and thus, the human figure forms only a bridge between our ignorance and enlightenment. Just like, without the body of your friend, you can not perceive her, in the same way, without the association of the physical body to the GODDESS, we can not perceive her true attributes. But that does not make the physical bodies the SOURCE of ‘Who they are’. This is very fundamental and very important point to sink in.
- The word “ŚRĪ” is thrice appearing here. So, it must mean something more than the usual respectful-adjective usage before addressing someone. This consists of
ŚRĪ = Śa + Ra + Ī. Each root letter in Sanskrit symbolizes a meaning or potential state that would expand in its evolution, to a more refined, word forms. The root Śa is potential state of ‘PEACE’. This evolves to ‘Śaṃkara’ (One who causes peace) or ‘Śāṃti’ (peacful state of existence) or etc. Thus, ‘Śa’ represents a state of “SATTVA Guṇa”. Similarly, ‘Ra’ is the root for agitation or something in constant vibration — like ‘Rudra’ (lord of vibratory spaces), or ‘Rōdasi’ – vibratory spaces, etc. Thus ‘Ra’ symbolizes “Rajō Guṇa”. The ‘Ī’ is a vowel implies, as pointed in my introduction, that it has no consonant support, so its non-material i.e symbolizes a state of dissolution, hence “Tamō Guṇa”. Thus the word ‘ŚRĪ’ denotes the very primary triad of existence — Sattva, Rajas and Tamō Guṇās. These three exist for any ‘created’ entity — every created entity was created, is existing and will be destroyed. In its usage, ŚRĪ is used to symbolize, wealth, treasures, majesticity, splendors, etc., because the three aspects we just mentioned are the only treasures one is equipped with, without which, they will cease to exist (i.e. they won’t be expressed in this creation). So, the word ŚRĪ is used at the starting itself to suggest that the following names are all applied to the ‘source’ which/who EXPRESSED this cosmos, and thus is beyond the ŚRĪ, yet is constrained by ŚRĪ for the sake of creation. The same is told by Krishna in Gita that from him the MAYA originates, and he stands beyond it, yet constrained by it. This is the mystic nature of the absolute GOD/GODDESS always.
- Mātā means mother in its general sense. But, ‘Mā’ is the root word that symbolizes measurement (Māna – to measure). So, Mātā means the one who measures. But, the one that measures, say for example a scale, should always be bigger or accurate than the measuring object and also a scale can not measure itself. So, Mātā means the one who is beyond any measurements, because there is no scale or any entity that can measure HER. This is because, in the role of MOTHER, she is the creator to all the things. So, everything forms a part of HER. A ‘PART’, can never measure or perceive a ‘WHOLE’. Thus, SHE stands as the creator of the many a cosmos, yet stands beyond them. Now adding the ŚRĪ to Mātā becomes Śrī Mātā that she is beyond the three qualities, yet she gives rise to these fundamental triad which stand as the foundational causes for the dynamical universe.
- Rājñī means, ruler. Mahā means great or majestic. So, SHE is a GREAT RULER it seems. Here, GREAT implies that she is above or the highest ruler one can encounter with. Who is a ruler? A ruler is the one who sustains his kingdom by laying laws, controlling, etc. Imagine the strenuous job of the ONE who has to sustain a created Universe! The Universe should have its ‘Physical LAWS’ – like gravity, curvature of space, etc., ‘Mental LAWS’ – the beings should have a psychology and ‘Vital LAWS’ – where the whole cosmos should have ‘LIFE’ that should exist in atoms upto Universes. Thus, being the lord of all these aspects of sustenance, she is called MAHĀRĀJÑĪ – The great ruler.
- Siṃhāsana means lion throne. Why lion throne? What is its symbolism? The sanskrit name for lion is ‘SIṂHA’ which originated from the word ‘HIṂSA’ (or vice versa, they are correlated words — like Śiva-Vas or Haṃsa-Sōhaṃ, etc). Hiṃsa means to destroy. Thus, the very animal which straight away symbolizes the destruction in a ferocious manner, is LION and hence the name! She, being the creator (Mātā) of the Universe and ruler (Mahārājñī) of the Universe, obviously the third name is suggesting that SHE is the lord of DESTRUCTION or DISSOLUTION and hence she is sitting/presiding (āsana) over the aspect of dissolution and that she is the LORD of such many an aspect (hence Ēśvarī) and remember the lord is not effected by the constraints. Thus Siṃhāsanēśvarī means the LORD who presides over the aspect of destruction, yet stands beyond it.
- Thus the three names that we start with are suggesting that SHE is the lord of creation, existence and dissolution of cosmos (from an Atom to Universe). Thus, she is the LORD who stands beyond these aspects, yet constantly taking these roles for the sake of dynamism. The sages say that the reason that she takes these roles is because to HER, this is all a PLAY. Hence, she is called LALITA — The one who plays!
The Brilliant Birth:
4. Cidagnikuṃḍasambhūtā: The one who arose from the pit of fire of consciousness
- Cit = Consciousness; Agni = Fire; Kuṃḍa = pot/pit; Saṃbhūtā = Emerged
- ‘Cit‘ means consciousness (closest English word that we can coin, but not equivalent). Agni means fire. But, this fire is not the fire with which we make our every day breakfast or lunch. Of course, the fire which we use daily in cooking — the gas-fire or wood-fire, is one form of expression of this AGNI. But, agni is something subtler. In its absolute sense, AGNI is the very fire that exists in all cosmos, no matter what. That is why, in vēdās, Agni is said to be the “Foremost” of the dēvās. Not knowing this, many have translated Agni to be the “Smallest of the dēvās”. He is foremost, because, AGNI stands as a gateway between the vyaktā (perceivable) and avyaktā (un-perceivable). This aspect is seen in physical fire, where it reduces an object into its elements and the essence of the object is taken into other domain of existence (LIGHT, for example). So, he is responsible for the expression of all other dēvās of this creation — through his gateway, they awake into existence. Dēvās are conscious principles of this creation, like gravity, hunger, oxygen, etc — all that you can imagine and that which you cant imagine — even your mind is a deva called Indra, etc. Its a big topic in itself). That is why in Śrī SūktaṂ of RIG VEDA, though it is a worship of the lord of ŚRĪ, the addressing is to AGNI – as ‘Jāta Vēda’, one who brings forth the VĒDA or creation from its dormant states (and vice-versa). So, here, Cit-Agni-Kuṃḍa implies that gate of FIRE of consciousness, from which SHE arose (Saṃbhūtā). So, SHE exists as background of the creation, from her the FIRE of consciousness arises and from it again, SHE comes forth – but this time as the ONE who expresses this UNIVERSE in its multiple glorious aspects. If you are confused with this, imagine the birth of a TREE from a seed and from a seed a TREE or the HEN from an egg and from an egg a HEN. This Lord’s mystique nature is embedded even in her tiniest of creation and hence, we are left with such puzzles — no one can answer which came first, because these are the dramas of creation that exist for us to meditate and realize HER, and not part of any analytical discussions. Now, CIT forms the basis of the whole cosmos — it is the RAW clay, but of the SPIRIT. According to vēdās, all the four kingdoms have consciousness – CIT: The mineral, plant, animal and human. Of course that is true, because SHE arose from the fire of CIT and SHE is the creator (first name) so, she must have created the UNIVERSE with what she is made up of — which is again CIT.
- In this sense, SHE is verily the fire of consciousness when she takes the aforementioned roles.
- As she is originating from this pit of fire of consciousness, first her head, then neck etc are visible till her toes (imagine she is coming out of the pit, you can understand). This occurrence is what is described in few of the following names, from her head to toe – a physical description, embodying metaphysical interpretations.
5. Dēvakāryasamudyatā: She is manifested for the sake of helping the work of Dēvās.
- Dēva = Embodiment of LIGHT; Kārya = Work; Samudyatā = Manifested
- As we told, dēvās are conscious principles that form the very ‘nature’ of the creation. Vēdās say that dēvās are different limbs of ONE GOD. Even though you have two hands and two legs, you would not reply to a person calling for you as “Yes, Me and my legs are coming, just a second”. You would obviously say “Yes, I am coming, just a second”. Why do you say so? Because the sense of ONENESS of all your organs is innate in you.
- Similarly, different dēvās, that we perceive or discovered in the Universe, are but HIS/HER body parts. So each part has its own functionality. You stomach does the job of distribution of food material’s essence to different other parts. You heart pumps the blood and so on. What happens, if you do not cooperate? If you eat a huge pizza and drink fizzy drinks or do excess exercises, your stomach or heart will go into trouble and there are chances where your body may cease to exist. Similarly, if GODDESS does not cooperate with the principles of her own creation, her creation will cease to work (the principles include your bodily principles like — hunger, heart beat etc., as well as cosmic principles like combustion of AGNI, which acts in your stomach as well as in burning a wood and also in the SUN. Principle of periodicity – GANDHARVA (that is why they are portrayed to like MUSIC in puraṇās) – working in your lungs, heart as well as in seasons, moon cycles, earth rotations, etc).
- That is why, she came forth from the FIRE of Consciousness to help the dēvās of the many creations. To help with what? To support their functioning, as without her, they would cease to exist and so HER creation. This means, she is the substratum of all the functioning aspects of Universe and patiently participates in its dynamic affairs.
6. Uddyadbhānusahasrābhā: One who is shining with the brightness of thousand rising Suns.
- Uddyat = Rising;Bhānu =Sun; Sahasra = Thousand/infinite; Ābha = Shining/Glowing
- What is the significance of Rising-SUN? Rising SUN symbolizes the birth of consciousness in us – as we wake, birth of SUN itself – as seen from rotating EARTH, birth of LIGHT – as the destroyer of darkness, etc. And what is the color of a rising SUN? Its RED or more precisely Aruṇa-Varṇa. This is the color of GODDESS aswell, as we will see in the forthcoming names. As my article on 18) Secrets of the epic – Mahābhārata and 15) Worshipping Bhairavi (An extension of my friend’s article) suggests the deeper significance of the word ‘SAHASRA’, for now let us take the meaning of ‘Thousands’ or ‘Infinite’. So, As she is arising from the pit of fire of consciousness, what was her glow? — it is as brilliant as thousands of SUNS rising at a time!
- Another way to interpret this is, that SHE is the cause of brightness of thousands of rising SUNS. If you imagine from where the SUN gets its light from, may be you take shelter of physics and say From the reactions of SUN’s atmosphere, atomic transitions causing the release of photons, etc. But, if we go further and ask Where do these photons exist? No one has answer. Our scriptures say that, this domain from which a photon or visible LIGHT comes forth is also an effulgent source of LIGHT, but divine LIGHT, as in, our senses can’t perceive — (can be perceived by the ‘I AM’ in you). Now, all the ‘Thousands of SUNS’ imply many a solar system. That means many life forms — that we do not know of. So, they are saying that this GODDESS is the source of LIGHT – visible and invisible, for all those SUNS/STARS in all the cosmos.
- According to Purāṇās (mythologies, which are nothing but commentaries to Vēdās) we have a notion of ‘Lineages of Solar and Lunar dynasties’ – ‘Sūrya Vaṃśa’ and ‘Caṃdra Vaṃsa’. When this is linked with astrological key, one can arrive at the conclusion that SUN or Solar LIGHT causes the many Ātmās on our Earth, where as the MOON or Lunar LIGHT causes many physical bodies to these Ātmās to exist. This means, she is the substratum of all the functioning aspects of Universe and patiently participates in its dynamic affairs. That is why it is said that ‘Dēvās’ – Beings/Angels of LIGHT come from SUN and ‘Pitṛu Dēvās’ – The Reproductive Angels come from the sun light that is reflected by MOON. This is the reason, why the Earth is symbolized as COW, Sun as BULL and the beings of Earth as her children, in the same Vēdās.
- So, SHE is not only the cause of LIGHT for these suns, but also the cause of the source of LIFE itself (as it is ‘Rising Suns’). She takes these rising suns as agents and distributes the LIFE into infinite beings, is another interpretation. This can be better appreciated when the aspect of SA-HA-SRA, as expounded by the aforementioned articles, is linked here.
The Helping Hands:
7. Caturbāhusamanvitā: She is emerging with Four arms.
- Catuḥ = Four; Bāhuḥ = Arms; Samanvitā = Having/She has
- Why four? and Why arms? are the key questions that need to be answered.
- Arms represent the most functional organs, externally. So, the aspect of expression and externalization is taking predominance here. The arms also suggest ‘Grip’ and hence ‘Control’. With arms, you cray out many activities of the day. So, with respect to creation, it is only logical to describe her arms first, fr we are expounding the expressive GODDESS. But why 4? FOUR occurs at many places in our scriptures, like –
- FOUR heads of BRAHMA – the creator
- FOUR stages of Vāk/Utterance (Parā, Paśyaṃti, Mādhyamā and Vaikharī — This aspect can be better understood when you read this article: 5) Vedic mysticism and Indian Trinity )
- FOUR are the limbs (hands/wings and legs)for the animals which can make distinctive vocal sounds (called Dvi-Padā (two legged – birds, humans) and Catuṣ Padā (four legged – other mammals) creatures. Snakes, and other bugs or fishes, etc. can not make any vocal sounds)
- FOUR divisions of VĒDĀS (Rig, Yajus, Sāma and Atharvaṇa Vēdās)
- FOUR stages of our Awakenness (Jāgṛt – Wake, Svapna – Dream, Suṣupti – deep sleep and Turīya – Beyond the deep sleep)
- Four points of the DAY (Sunrise, Noon, Sunset and Mid-Night)
- Four cardinal directions which are basis for our sense of directionality (East, West, North and South)
- Even when you think of the objects that you perceive: First you have a ‘Point’, Then two points make a ‘line’, three points make a plane and you need four points to form a 3-D object which you can perceive. Rest of the three:1 or 2 or 3 pointed figures are planar figures, which you can never perceive (This is closely related to four stages of speech/Vāk). Thus, FOUR keeps occurring in the aspects of creation, at many places.
- So, to say that SHE has control and grip over these aspects of FOUR, she is said to have FOUR Hands/Arms.
The following four are the four weapons or items in her four hands:
8. Rāgasvarūpapāśaḍhya: The noose of attachment
9. Krōdhākārāṃkuśōjjvalā: The hook of hatred
10. Manōrūpēkṣukōdaṃḍā: The mind as sugar cane
11. Paṃcatanmātrasāyakā: The arrows of five senses
- Rāga = Attachment or desire or a positive sense; Svarūpa = in the form of; Pāśaḍhya = One with such a Noose;
- Krōdha = Wrath or Anger or negative sense; Ākāra = in the form of; Aṃkura = Hook which pierces; Ujjvalā = One being so Brilliant
- Manaḥ = Mind; Rūpa = in the form of; Ikṣu = Sugar cane; Kōdaṃḍā = one with such a Bow
- Paṃcatanmātra = Five senses – sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste; Sāyakā = having the arrows made of these.
- You see the very nature of these weapons or items suggest that these are not physical and hence the description of her is not of a physical female being. Just to remind you, I am bringing this point.
- So, why these items only? why not anything else? If you look closely, these items are necessary and sufficient conditions for our existence in a created world. Let us see how. The world is created, implies that there is an observer, observed and the process of observing. Without this triangle, the creation can not be said to be in the state of existence. Now, how does an observer observe? Through his input organs – sense organs: Eyes -for sight, Ears – for Hearing, Nose – for smelling, Tongue – for tasting and Skin – for touching. Though organs of these are many, in many observers, the principle that they are attributed with – the sense of Sight or Smell, etc., is only ONE (in five forms). This principle of SENSE is here called “Paṃcatanmātra” — meaning five elements of senses, as One UNIT. Any organism that feels, will have to utilize at least one of these principles — say microbes, they have layer that separates their inner cells with outer atmosphere and this layer acts as interacting interface — like skin. In this way, these five alone remain the basic BRICKS of PERCEPTION of this universe. These BRICKS are said to be in one of her hands.
- Once the organs input the information, where do they send them? To brain, but brain is lump of blood, flesh and neurons. So, What is the perceiving agent? The MIND – MANAS. This mind is the observer that actually utilizes the instruments called sense-organs and the principles called senses, and observes the external world. Though there are many brains in many beings or in case of microbes, the ‘Nucleus’ that makes the decisions, the sense of MIND remains same in all (may be of different degrees of awareness). This MIND is said to be in one of her hands.
- Because this MIND shoots the arrows of senses into outside world for grabbing the data, it is said that the MIND is bow made of sugar-cane (because its sweet as makes our existence meaningful with KNOWLEDGE) and the senses as arrows.
- When MIND analyzes the input data, it either forms a POSITIVE opinion, called RĀGA or a negative opinion, called KRŌDHA. Because Rāga makes us attached due to our affinity for the perceived positivity, it is of the form of a noose — it ties us to the object of observation. Whereas, the Krōdha makes us feel pain and pierces us with the sense of negativity, it is said to be of the form of Aṃkura. And this Krōdha being wrathful, is excessively visible (like an angry person) and hence is said to be glowing.
- Other than these, there is nothing else that exists separately in relation our existence in the world. Thus, she has the grip over the very necessary and sufficient conditions of our interactive existential LIFE.
The Ocean of Love:
12. Nijāruṇaprabhāpūramajjadbrahmāṃḍamaṃḍalā: Being the one who is immersing the whole cosmic egg of creation in her rising SUN’s red-Effulgence.
- Nija = Absolute or Truly; Aruṇa = Rising SUN color; Prabhāpūra = Filled with the brilliance; Majjad = Immersing; Brahma+Aṃḍa+Maṃḍalā = The whole globe/egg of creation.
- As we told earlier that SHE is the cause and sustainer of life. Here it is very aptly suggesting and gluing some of the aforementioned points that, the whole egg of cosmos is immersed in the color of HER, which is of the Rising SUN.
- So, the ARUṆA color of SUN rise, is filled with LIFE-force and that is the reason why, we are asked to perform ‘Saṃdhyā Vaṃdanaṃ’ – ritual of twilight where we bow to the inner-SUN (Sūryāṃtarvarti) and try to absorb the LIFE energies. That is why, this time, just before sunrise — when the sky is filled with ARUṆA color is called ‘Brahmī Muhūrta‘, as it consists of plenty of Prāṇā.
- Here the ‘Nija‘ term is coined to suggest that, may be the sunrise that is visible to us is what we worship, but the true ARUṆA is coming from HER. She is the cause of this phenomenon and hence, they are reminding us here that we must aim at worshiping the cause, than the effect.
- They said – “Aṃda-Maṃḍala” — meaning Globe of Egg. Why is it called Cosmic EGG? because, just like from an egg comes a chick, from this EGG, the cosmos originates. And one important point to note here is that, this creation is called a ‘Maṃḍalā’ which implies that the sages knew that the creation or cosmos is Globular in structure. And in telling us that its like an EGG, they also knew that its not perfectly spherical.
- So, all the eggs of universes are immersed in her life-force which is of red-color. When the White-Semen (Śukra having the color of Śukla/white) has to impregnate and give life to the Ova, the medium that this occurs in, is the female reproductive fluid called — Śōṇita. This is again in the color of red/Aruṇa, suggesting the ‘As above – So below‘ or ‘Man is made in the image of God‘ aphorism.
- Also, because there are 12 Āditya Mandalās (solar systems) as per our sscriptures, to suggest that HER grace is immersing all these Mandalās, this name occurs as the 12th name. Also, Because our YEAR-Cycle is divided into 12 months (12 prajāpatīs) made of 6 seasons, which have different colors of SUN-rise depending on the season, it can also be thought that SHE is the cause of so many splendors of seasonal effects and causing the dynamism in the lives on Earth (No season, no life — i.e. why as you go towards the poles life forms reduce in number).
- Thus, the universes are immersed in the rising Sun’s redness of the fluids (or fields!) of her LIFE-Force.
The Fragrant Hair:
13. Caṃpakāśōkapunnāgasaugaṃdhikalasatkacā: Her hair is decorated with the divine flowers of Campaka, Aśōka, Punnāga and Saugaṃdhika.
- Caṃpaka, Aśōka, Punnāga and Saugaṃdhika = These are different flowers; Lasat = Shine or decorated with; Kaca = Hair.
- Did she decorate to look beautiful? There is very beautiful poetic sense in this name. generally people decorate their hair with flowers because the flowers give fragrance to the hair. But it is said that HER hair, on its own is, very fragrant and hence all the aforementioned flowers chose their spot in HER hair, to borrow some of HER fragrance. When SHE is the creator, it is obvious that different elemnts of creation borrow some of the creator’s property and not the other way round.
- Kaca or Hair also implies Lord YAMA (due to the impenetrable darkness/blackness of the hair) and it is said that YAMA, was born out of her HAIR. YAMA is actually the LORD of TIME. A flower is universal symbol for ‘Evolution’. The flowers in her Hair, should then suggest the evolution of Time and its divisions (due to many flowers). Also, the impenetrable darkness or blackness also symbolizes the ‘Absolute SPACE’ (what we call vacuum). Space and Time form the very fabric, out of which the creation unfolds. That is why, her Hair, which is interwoven, and decorated with flowers, symbolize the fabric of SPACE-TIME and the further evolution from it and hence lord YAMA is born out of her HAIR. The fragrance symbolizes the sweetness or the purposefulness or the utility of the creation — in knowing herself through many-selves.
- Also, we see HAIR playing a prominent role in Hindu culture: Śiva holds GAṂGA in his HAIR, or a Priest knotting the hair above head, Draupadi leaving her hair loose until revenge is quenched, etc. In all these scenarios, when you relate the aforementioned symbolism, and the symbolism relevant to the story, the secrets will be clearly visible. In case of Śiva, for example, GAṂGA represents the Āpas of vēdās which are the fluids of Creation or waters of Life. Thus, he held them tight in the knots of his hair — meaning the space-time was also not created and hence the hair is not loose. In this way, one must venture into the schemes of decoding.
- Also, one can infer in relation to Āyurvēda that these flowers/their products must be healthy for preserving the beauties of one’s HAIR.
- Thus, she is desired by many flowers, to attain the inherent beautiful fragrance of the MOTHER’S hair.
The Royal Corwn:
14. Kuruviṃdamaṇiśrēṇīkanatkōtīramaṃḍitā: One with the corwn studded with shining Kuruviṃda gems.
- Kuruviṃda Maṇi = Kind of red ruby gems; Śrēṇi = array; Kanat = shining; Kōtīra = crown; Maṃḍitā = studded with
- Its seems that her crown is studded with red-ruby gems in arrays. See, even here the concept of Red is brought. In Puruṣa-Sūkta, one sees a stanza where it says that “Nābhyāṃ Āsīdaṃtarikṣaṃ Śīrṣṇōdyau Samāvartatā ….” which means that PURUṢA has the visible space as his hip, Earth as his feet and the invisible space – DYAU as his Head. So, here relating this, we can see that HER head is having a crown studded with ‘Red-Gems’. From 12th name, we now know that red-gems are nothing but the 12 ādityās (or the many suns) which are immersed in her red-fluids of LIFE and they belong to the plane of DYAU or Divine LIGHTS. Also one can support this symbology from knowing that Sun’s gem-stones are red-rubies (through astrological key).
- Kōṭīra is a design of the crown that does not conceals the hair. So, this means, The simultaneous existence of the space-time matrix – which are presided over by the many Stars or SUNS. SUNS cause planets and platens rotate causing the time scales and divisions. Thus SUNS preside over the space-time divisions, is implied here. But the many SUNS exist only as decoration on her crown implies that, if she is not wearing the crown – i.e. if she is not in the role of EXPRESSION, then there is no existence for the SUNS or space-time matrix.
- Also, color red/Aruṇa symbolizes the LOVE of GODDESS.
- It was said that she was glowing with the color of Aruṇa/Red and these gems also match that luster. This means that the nature of the many Stars of the Universe, is filled with HER glory alone! i.e. SHE is the substratum of all the stars of this Universe and thus, the life forms therein.
- Thus SHE is the one having the very STARS of the Universe, as the gems on her CROWN over her head.
MOON is many times associated with 15 (Paṃcādaśi) and 16 (Śōdaśi) numbers, for the phases that it shows in its revolutions. That is why the following 15th and 16th names are associated specially with MOON.
The Moonlit Forehead:
15. Aṣṭamīcaṃdravibhrājadaḷikasthalaśōbhitā: She is having a forehead that is shining with the brightness of an eighth phase of the moon.
- Aṣṭami Caṃdra = Eighth phase of the moon (starting from new moon or full moon); Vibhrājad = with brightness of; Aḷikasthala = region of forehead; Śōbhitā = glowing
- It seems that her forehead region is shining with the brightness of an eighth phase of the moon (as measured from new-moon or full moon). Why forehead? And why Eighth phase?
- Forehead region is where we have the sense of ‘Mind’ – right? When we are tired of thinking, don’t we keep our palm on our forehead? This is to show that our MIND is controlled by MOON, Śiva wears the moon on head or SHE is described to have the glory of moon on her forehead (forehead being semi-circle) or in vēdās it is said “Candramā manasaḥ Jātascakṣōssūryō Ajāyatā”.
- In the phases of the moon,the eighth phase counting from new-moon has equal brightness as counting from full-moon. This shows the ‘superiority’ of the GODDESS over dualities/binaries or changes. Her face glory doesn’t change – nor her MIND. This eighth phase is like a fulcrum, similarly, her MIND is like a fulcrum around which the whole creation revolves (as her ideas before being expressed).
- The literature shows different dēvatās presiding over different phase of the moon, but for eighth phase as counted from new-moon or full-moon, the deity remains same — called ‘Tvarita‘. She bestows everything as soon as possible. Also, interesting thing is that, Can you actually mark ‘HALF’ in a one unit? You can always estimate and say some thing falls in a region more than half or less than half, but exactly half, is impossible. Also, In the moon phases, As the phase changes from new-moon to full moon, which is a continuous process, one can not pin-point the eighth phase in its complete ‘halfness’. That is why its called ‘Tvarita’ (due to her quick nature, which is also good for us as her boons are quickly received) as it changes in a split second and also it stays hidden from our mundane perception. No wonder, this phase of moon escaped our observation onto HER forehead! So, ONE who can pinpoint this HALF in a unit or meditate on HER forehead, will master the ever changing nature or binaries of this world – ‘The brightness on the eighth phase of the moon’ symbolizes this.
- Thus she is having the brightness of eighth phase of moon symbolizing her constancy over the changing nature of her creation.
16. Mukhacaṃdrakaḷaṃkābhamṛganābhiviśēṣakā: She is having a brow-mark made of kastūri, bringing beauty to the face, like that of the spot on the moon
- Mukha Caṃdra = Face of the moon; Kaḷaṃkābha = Spots; Mṛganābhi = kastūri (coloring pigment obtained from belly of a specific deer); viśēṣakā = Specially
- A brow-mark is put in the region that exists between the eye-brows. This is the center for ‘Ājñā Cakra’ as well. When a guru initiates, he touches this spot — Like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa did to Vivekananda. This is the region for so called ‘third EYE’ also. For so many reasons, this spot is decorated by our ancients.
- Mṛga means, a deer or animal. Animals are attentive in perceiving the world because they are always cautious to not get caught by their predators. Nābhi means center or basis for. Thus, ‘Mṛga Nābhi’ can mean the basis for awareness of our surroundings. This occurs, when our MIND is awake. This is symbolised by the color of the mark – kastūri (red for ‘active’ and rajō guṇa) Thus, the brow-mark seemed to be like that of MOON’s spot (as observed by us), implies the character of perception associated with MIND (or moon) has its center in our brow-center region or Ājñācakra region.
- Her forehead being as white as the bright half of the eighth phase of the moon and this dot in red – like a spot on the moon, symbolizes the previously mentioned unity of WHITE and RED for the origin of LIFE, which occurs according to ‘HER Plan’ – symbolized by HER FOREHEAD-Region. Also, this is how one must meditate — imagining mother’s forehead as white and brow-center as red. Meditating thus, will awaken the Ājñācakra.
The bow of Eyebrows:
17. Vadanasmaramāṃgaḷyagṛhatōraṇacillikā: On her face, where lives Manmadha, the eyebrows look like the hanging house-entrance arches.
- Vadana = Face; Smara = Manmadha; Māṃgḷya = Pious; Gṛha = Home; Tōraṇa = entrance-arches; Cillikā = The one having such eyebrows.
- Manmadha is Indian version of cupid — He is the dēva who is responsible for beauty, conjugal love, desires, etc. Bringing these concepts down to a level of selfish human, would make him preside over the attributes of ‘lust’, etc., whereas associating the same with a self-less human would make this dēva preside over universal-LOVE and other grand concepts.
- It seems that HE took abode in HER FACE. Being the ‘dēva’ of beauty, he has to get that ability from somewhere. Thus, HER face acts as an abode for him. When you look at a person, ‘Face’ and ‘Facial-features’ are the first impression that makes in our minds. Of course, when you know the person, you rarely notice the face as the TRUE-person keeps shining in the form of an ‘association/relationship’. But, FACE does tell us much story of what is going in a person’s life, than any other body part. In Indian dance arts, we have what we call — ‘Mukha-Abhinayana’, meaning ‘facial expressions’. There are so many of them that each expression conveys a specific feeling and a meaning.
- Thus, Manmadha, the GOD of BEAUTY and LOVE, takes abode in HER face, implies that HE is the key instrument in expressing what all SHE has to express, but in the form of ‘impressions’ or molds. So, the beauty of nature and cosmos that we perceive, is nothing but HER face expression and the reason we are able to perceive and appreciate, is because of the arrow of this guy – Manmadha, who shoots it at us, by sitting in the abode of her face. Without him, our lives would have been so dull, i.e. just like a cat can not appreciate the painting of Monalisa, similarly we would not have appreciated the beauties of the WORLD around us.
- If HER face is his abode, then HER eye-brows are forming the entrance arches. In the culture of ancient India, we had a habit (we still have in some parts of India) of hanging Mango tree leaves or some flowers or other pious garlands to the Entrance. This is to give the guest/Atithi (who arrives without any prior notification – a + tithi = no prior appointment/date; and yes we used to welcome them with warm hearts) a sense of feel of comfort — derived from the decor, pleasantness – derived from the color combination (mostly green of leaves, which is pleasing to eyes) and their smell. This would straight away remove all the burdens and tiredness of his journey and he enters with a refreshed mind and hope. Also, imagine our facial expressions without eye-brows (which also includes the muscles, not only the hair — basically the region of eye-brows), can we convey any expression at all? I do not think so! So, the moment we meditate on HER eyebrows, it is to suggest that we would enter tranquil domains.
- Also, eyebrows which are beautiful, are the ones which are symmetric around brow-center (just like the arches, we won’t decorate the arches asymmetrically, do we?!). So, ‘symmetry‘ is primary quality of the eyebrows that we notice. This ‘symmetry’ and the aforementioned association of the ‘beauty god Manmadha’, would suggest that this Universe and its beauties arise from the symmetries that exist as the foundation. Symmetry of not only shape, but also of color, of smell, of number, of all that makes the so called ‘orderliness’ in the so called ‘disordered’ systems. Some of us may think how can ‘chaos’ or ‘probability’ be symmetric? The beauty of symmetry lies in the very beauty that allows us to formulate them into fixed – LAWS (of physics or any other branch of science). Another point to observe here is the way her eyebrows are — They have discrete hair strands, but as a unit, they make her eyebrows. Similarly, the symmetrical beauties of this Universe, are made of discrete things (which may not be symmetric), but as a whole unit, brings out the beauty just like her beautiful eyebrows. That is why we need to learn to look at things in an inclusive way, not in an exclusive manner – if we are to appreciate the beauty that exists in and around us.
- Thus HER eyebrows are like these symmetric-arches, which are decorated to the entrance of the house of Manmadha. So, what all we experience and what all we perceive, is due to Manmadha, where as the experiences themselves are verily HER eye-brows.
The Graceful Eyes:
18. Vaktralakṣmīparīvāhacalanmīnābhalōcanā: In the continuous flow of her facial glory, her eyes are swimming hither and tither, like a glowing fish.
- Vaktra = Face; Lakṣmi = Glory; Parīvāha = flow; Calat = move; Mīna = fish; ābha = glowing; Lōcanā = One with such eyes.
- It seems that HER eyes are like fishes – meaning very beautifully shaped and that her face has a flowing glow!
- Why is said that her facial glory is flowing? What actually flows? That which has a continuity of something. That is, unless some quantity is constant in a changing system, that system cannot have the aspect of ‘FLOW’. Because the MOTHER is eternal, the attribute of FLOW is eternal. If so, there must be something that is constant — that is the ‘Glory of her FACE‘. As we mentioned earlier, HER facial expressions are nothing but the principles (the actual glory) behind different aspects of this ‘perceived-universe’, which are also eternal. And it seems that, this aspect ‘FLOWS’. It means, there is a continuous change in the structure and beauty of the Universe — you can see this when you observe either into the stellar spaces or inside you – everything changes and yet, this ‘change’ remains a constant. Thus, the constancy in a change for eternity is nothing but her ‘FLOW of facial glow’!
- Eyes not only perceive, but also send signals of inner feelings. As they say ‘Eyes are windows of the Soul‘, truly they represent what a person is thinking. In traditional Indian dances, you can see many such eye-postures, which convey specific fine-tuned feeling of the actor to the audience. Also, just like in the case of the story of ‘Matsyāvatāra (Fish incarnation of Viṣṇu, which saves humanity from deluge)’, HER glance at us, can save us from any kind of troubles. This aspect of GODDESS – ‘grace looks’ was demonstrated by many saints of our land – Ramakrishna Paramahamsa or Ramana Maharshi, etc.
- SHE perceives this whole cosmos- being an observer (the sense of ‘I AM’) in all of us and also saves us from the troubles by her glance. This ‘trouble’ does not mean the daily troubles we face — Our lives have key points or turning events and these are meant here. Whether you eat breakfast one day or skip it, does not matter – but if it forms a habit, that habit forms a key point for health deterioration in life. Thus, a person who is devoted to HER (as SHE is in all of us, so the devotion here points to all the beings and matter in and around – non-duality) the key points of life will be rectified naturally, by HER grace (because we will see HER in all and the ‘I AM’ in us verily becomes ‘HER’).
- Also, ‘EYES’ are the organs that input the data into our mind, of distant objects. The next distant-data input organ is ear, but eyes can see farther than the distances in which ears can hear (eyes can even see stars that are light years away!). So, EYES’ specialty is to perceive objects at very long distances as well. Then, what of the MOTHER’s eyes? They can perceive literally everything! So, SHE constantly observes us (as the ‘I AM’ in us) and helps us, no matter where we are!
- To suggest this aspect of glancing at devotees, it is said that the eyes are glowing – shining the ‘rays of grace’. Also, fishes move very fast in water. Similarly, HER eyes – i.e., HER grace is so fast that it spreads across Universe and fills it, does not leave any one!
- Thus, SHE has her eyes, showering grace onto every one and every thing in this Universe, and this occurs in the background of the flowing river of her Glory!
The Nuances of Nose:
19. Navacaṃpakapuṣpābhanāsādaṃḍavirājitā: She has the nasal bridge akin to a newly blooming caṃpaka flower.
- Nava = New; Caṃpaka = Kind of fragrant flower; Puṣpābha = Resembling the flower; Nāsādaṃḍa = Nasal bridge; Virājitā = Shining.
- A newly blooming campaka flower looks long and thin and aptly akin to HER beautiful nasal bridge. Nasal bridge is the column that lets the air we breath, in and out. A flower, as pointed earlier, is a symbol for evolution — Specially, blooming phase. Thus, the evolution of breath and respiration is to be associated here. But respiration of what? Of air? It would rather be apt to say ‘PRĀṆA’, for this is what we utilize from the air we breath. So, “HER nasal bridge is like a blooming flower”, should imply that the bridge or interface that forms in the cosmos between the created and the creator’s life-force or PRĀṆA. Without this bridge, there would not have been a regulation in the evolution.
- Generally flowers spread the fragrance outward, while the nose takes in the fragrance. So, ‘NOSE’ as a sense organ is an input organ. But here, it is said that MOTHER’s nose is akin to freshly bloomed flower. A sense of poetic beauty can be easily seen, when you realize that HER nose is the very flower – a fragrance spreading agent for the universe. The fragrance is nothing but the ‘sweetness of breath’ that sustains life forms (and one of the characteristics of life forms is to evolve and hence blooming flower).
- If we go one step further, we can ask how does this breath sound? While inhaling the sound “s” and while exhaling, the sound “h” occurs. This is what we pointed out earlier, when we explained the origin of the word “SA-HA-SRA”. So, HER breath through this nasal bridge is nothing but the ‘SŌHAṂ’, or removing the consonants (So and Ha), the principle of ‘OM’ that remains, is the very substratum. So, her nasal bridge should suggest the sound potency of OM when we meditate upon.
- Thus, she has the nasal bridge, which shines like a newly bloomed caṃpaka flower, that is forming an interface to the beings for the sake of their life force.
20. Trākāṃtitiraskārīnāsābharaṇabhāsurā: The ornaments on her nostrils are so glorious that they are even brighter than the stars themselves.
- Tārākāṃti = Brightness of stars; Tiraskārī = One which exceeds in quality; Nāsābharaṇa = Nasal ornament; Bhāsurā = Shining.
- Another meaning of tiraskārī is the one that rejects or reflects. So, that which reflects a star’s light is a planet (or even moon – so basically planetary objects). This will be apt when we read elsewhere that the nose ornaments that she wears are ‘Māṇikya (red ruby)’ / ‘red coral’ on right nostril and a ‘Mauktikā (pearl)’ / ‘White diamond’ on the left nostril. The red coral is the stone attributed to planet ‘Mars’ (having the numerical potency 9) whereas the white diamond is the stone attributed to the ‘Venus’ (having the numerical potency 6) (beauty of symmetry is suggested by the numbers 9 and 6 as a pair here). Also, it suggests that all the planets, that reflect the light of the Stars (and also due to their proximity, they seem brighter than the stars) are HER nasal ornaments. And nose is symbolized for BREATH/PRĀṆA. So, They all originate from HER breath. But we know they actually originate from SUN or rather, the inner-SUN. So, the inner-SUN or sūryāṃtarvarti is same as the MOTHER herself.
- It is interesting to note why the stars are not mentioned at her nasal ornamental points, but planets are mentioned. Stars give the seed-life principles as their RAYS, where as the planets reflects them mixing different attributes, of their own nature (we call these the planetary principles). The nose has breath – which has inhalations and exhalations. These change in their state (cyclic), and are expressive properties of breath and hence reflections of something that is constant throughout the breathing — which is the periodicity of the cyclic breath, which is constant. So, planets, which are the reflective agents represents the ornaments at her nostrils!
- In another view: according to yōga śastra, it is said that right nostril is associated with Sūrya Nāḍi/Piṃgaḷa Nāḍi (sūrya does not mean sun here, but solar principle) and the left for Caṃdra Nāḍi/IḷaNāḍi (similarly, lunar principle). So, obviously, right is symbolized by a red-stone and the left by a white stone. Now, when we link the previous name with the present name, we can associate her nasal bridge, as the bridge between these two, that balances both – ‘SUṢUṂNA’. The content of all these three channels, is verily HERSELF as Kundalini!
- This name also points out (indirectly) the mundane difference of two nostrils — that they are not equivalent, which science agrees!
- So, her nasal region is decorated with planets that reflect HER light all over, forming different expressive principles or represent the bodily channels that channelize the currents of HER life-force throughout.
The decors of Ears:
21. Kadaṃbamaṃjarīkluptakarṇapūramanōharā: She looks beautiful with the bunches of flowers of Kadaṃba reaching and filling her ears.
- Kadaṃba = Kadaṃda flower; Maṃjarī = Group; Klupta = Arranged; karṇapūra = Filling or reaching her ears; Manōharā = Such a one is looking pleasant.
- Having bunches of flowers that reach the ears implies that HER ears are very big. Big ears are highly symbolical. They symbolize the ultra capability to hear even a slightest sound and in this case, because we are describing the MOTHER, they symbolize the fact that she can hear the very property of sound ‘NĀDA’. NĀDA is the sound beyond the audible sound. It is like a seat over which when matter is superposed, audible sound vibrations occur. So, who can hear the principle itself? We may hear the sounds — may be animals can hear some other spectrum of sounds that which we can not hear, but who can hear the fundamental principle of sound, the NĀDA itself? It is HER. Because, SHE is verily the NĀDA – i.e. Śabda-Brahṃan. To suggest this fact, it is described that she has big ears and poetically, that they have bunches of flowers.
- Have you seen a Kadaṃba flower? IT looks like a spiky sphere. The moment you look at it, it symbolizes a point and its outward expansion. This is verily the property of ‘SOUND’ or this Universe, is it not? It starts at a point as a seed and spreads as a tree and culminates in the background. That is why they say, the Universe originated from primordial Śabda — meaning the NĀDA. The same theory is suggested by one branch of physics, named CYMATICS (where they demonstrate different shapes formed by fine particles on a vibrating plate, as one changes the frequency). So, kadaṃba flower is an apt symbolical flower here!
- In the vēdās, it is told that an idea first occurs in a person’s mind (by GOD’s impulse – parā vāk), comes out of him through vocals (vaikharī vāk) and enters into the mind of another person through the ears and replicates the same idea (– i.e. the BULL of WORD jumps from mouth to ear). So, BIG ears also symbolize the wisdom passed down from mouth to ear — which is nothing but ‘Śruti Vidya‘. So, SHE is the lord and content of all the ‘Śruti Vidyās’ – like Vēdās, Upaniṣads, Brahmaṇās, etc. (of course, all these combined called as VĒDAṂ or wisdom).
- Thus, the vēdaṃ/wisdom that starts as a seed of an idea in the person and expands as the tree of universal wisdom, is the flower kadaṃba and this process happens through HER ears while the content of this wisdom is verily HER.
22. Tāṭaṃkayugaḷībhūtatapanōḍupamaṇḍalā: She has SUN and the MOON as her earrings.
- Tāṭaṃka = Earrings; Yugaḷībhūtā = having the pair; Tapana = Sun; Uḍupa = Moon; Maṇdalā = Having such spherical ornaments.
- SUN and MOON are two of the fundamental names that we see in vēdic literature. One should remember that they not only imply the physical SUN and MOON, but actually and more importantly imply the principles of SUN and MOON. What are these principles? SUN is self-effulgent and hence represents the ‘Ātma’ which is self sustaining entity and ever glowing entity of the Universe. MOON represents the property of ‘reflection’ and hence represents the Universal ‘MIND’ principle (hence the word moon from root ‘mann, so the word ‘Manu’ and thus ‘Man’ – beings who have MIND). The remaining physical matter or body is represented by EARTH. These three form the trio of the triangle of Universal principles – Body, mind and soul.
- So, the two important principles – sun and moon, exist in space without the help of matter — i.e. you do not need a body for the existence of Ātma (which is eternal) and ‘Mind’ (which exists as ‘reflective property’ in space). To suggest this, They are said to be the ornaments of ears of the MOTHER. Ear is characterized by the SOUND and as pointed previously, the SOUND here is nothing but primordial Śabda or Nāda and Nāda exists in SPACE without any medium. This SPACE is characterized by the SUN principle – as everything originates from it and MOON principle – as everything reflects from it and brings out objectivity thereon. Thus, it is very suitable and reasonable to place them as the ornaments of Ears (seats of NĀDA).
- Also, it is said scientifically that right ear hears better the speech signals whereas the left ear hears the musical signals better. ‘SUN’ is the father of RAYS and RAYS are called ‘Riks’ from which the name Rig-Vēda originated. And ‘Rik’ also means the ‘trill’ in our vocal cords (Ṛuṣabhaṃ/Bull or its roar). According to vēdās, LIGHT and SOUND originate from same property (even in physics, they both have same charecteristics – wavelength or frequency that determines them, grossly speaking) and so, LIGHT and SOUND are equivalent in their original state – hence, RIK means trill of vocals or a light ray! Thus, SUN is apt symbol for speech (as well as light). MOON is a physical body which is seat of the lord – SŌMA, who is the king of gaṃdharvās and gaṃdharvās are known to preside over musical properties (properties of periodicities like lunations, seasons, rotations of planets, our breathing, pulsations, etc.) of universe. Hence, MOON is an apt symbol for MUSIC. Thus, she wears SUN on right ear and Moon on the left ear!
- The movements of SUN and MOON themselves form musical symphonies – a grand rhythmic dance, if we may want to poetically call it. These movements cause different splendors on Earth, as the vibrant seasons. Different seasons have different sounds from different birds and animals and different colors from flora and fauna. Thus, the property of Sound (moon)/Color (sun) – periodicity, in all the aforementioned glory, is symbolized here, by attaching them to HER ear!
- It is said that they are ‘Maṇḍalās’. Maṇḍala means spherical or that which repeats itself. So, these solar and lunar principles occur periodically from HER when ever creation occurs – is one meaning. And the other meaning is that the SUNS and MOONS are spherical or globes!
- As in one of the previous names, even this name also suggests that both ears have different capability to hear and they are not mutually equivalent, which again science approves of!
- Thus, SHE has the fundamental principles of the Universe – Solar and Lunar, as her ear-rings
In the following names, we see how her cheeks, lips, teeth, etc., are compared to some examples, but in the end they say that these examples are not in the league of competition to the goddess’ respective parts. Because SHE is the creator of this cosmos, none of the created things can truly compete with HER glory or beauty.
The Adorable Cheeks:
23. Padmarāgaśilādarśaparibhāvikapōlabhūḥ: Her cheeks exceeds the shine of the mirror made of a padmarāga gem stone!
- Padmarāga = Padmarāga gem; Śila =Stone; Ādarśa = Mirror; Paribhāvi = exceed or excell; Kapōla = cheek’s; bhūh = having such (place of cheeks).
- Padmarāga gem stones are red in color. When these stones are polished, they reflect light and thus becomes mirrors. But, it is said that the mirrors made of these stones are of no comparision to Mother’s cheeks’ brilliance.
- As we earlier pointed out, the goddess is of the effulgence of thousand sunrises. So, her cheeks should be more vibrant that that (as cheeks are more reddish or pinkish than other visible skin areas). It seems that they are also ultra-smooth, that the cheeks are better than the red-stone mirrors. Whose cheeks are smooth and colorful? The young ones’ right! (As we age, our skin looses its elasticity and thus looses its smoothness – a natural effect). But, the above symbolism applies to HER at all times. So, SHE must be ever young. That is, SHE is beyond the effects of TIME. Also, SHE is ever active and hence, her cheeks are red always – may be due to the blood rush! So, SHE is not only ever existent, but ever dynamic in maintaining her creation.
- Red color and cheeks are also symbols of love and affection. Thus, HER cheeks being so smooth and shining in red hue, implies that the aspects of creation that lets the beings experience the element of love and affection, are verily her cheeks! The property of reflective cheeks should suggest that, this love and affection is not only a one way expressive road, but a two way road. So, we give and receive the LOVE, just like the light falls and reflects from a mirror. Also, the amount of LOVE and affection that we show unto others is at least the same amount that we receive back. If we start to realize that SHE is verily in ALL, then there are no bounds to the LOVE that we show or receive, as there is no measure for the glow of her cheeks!
- Also, cheeks are red when some one blushes. Why is GODDESS blushing? For HER, the only reason SHE blushes is by looking at HER husband – Śiva. Then, the fact that her cheeks are always red, implies that she is always blushing, which means that she has never lost sight of her husband. How can she loose? As we pointed out in Lalita Sahasranama (Introduction), that they are inseparable. So, this point is to bring that ‘ONENESS’ concept and remind the reader of the ‘SAMAYA’ concept. Also, her constant blush is a symbol that she has a constant relationship with Śiva, that does not change with time and that relationship is of ‘UNITY’ and ‘PROXIMITY’, and thus, her cheeks glow suggest that both Śiva and Śakti are in each others proximity for eternity and ever youthful – in the sense of dynamic aspects of creation!
- So, the goddess LALITA has adorable cheeks of red hue that excels the glow of the mirrors, made of padmarāga gem stones, and she inspires her creation to love and have affection on each other, with the showers of rays of LOVE from her cheeks.
The Inexplicable Lips:
24. Navavidrumabiṃbaśrīnyakkāriradanacchadā: The examples like a ripened fruit or a red gem stone do not match the beauty of the HER lips.
- Nava = New; Vidruma = Red gem stone; Biṃba = ripened fruit; Śrī = The glory or beauty; Nyakkāri = That which say NO or that which rejects; radanacchadā = the one with such lips (radana = teeth; cchada = curtain).
- The two examples – Biṃba and Vidruma, are often used to describe beautiful lips, due to their shape and color. But, that is in this perceived world. What of the lips of goddess? It is said that her lips’ beauty says a big NO to such exemplifications, as they do not even come close enough to describe the true magnitude.
- Among these examples, one is soft and the other is hard. Also, they are succeptible to damage – one gets rotten and the other can be broken. So, such entities having an element of CHANGE, can not describe the GODDESS who is eternal.
- Lips are protectors of TEETH. That is why they are called here, veils of teeth – radanacchadā. But in the following name, you will see that HER teeth are nothing but pure wisdom (hence white). So, this name implies that, HER lips protect the true wisdom from change of time (rotting of biṃba fruit) or of space (breaking of the gem stone).
- What is the first name of Lalita? “Mā”, which can be uttered only with the help of two lips. ‘MĀ’ means MOTHER. So, for any protection, as an ignorant kid, we run to our mother by shouting for her — only by joining our lips as ‘MĀ’. So, in the capacity of MOTHER – MĀ, and in the functional role of her lips, SHE protects the teeth, that utters the pure wisdom. Also, in the role of ‘MĀ’, the lips are joined, iplies that they are closed and thus gets full protection to the teeth. So, as MOTHER (closed lips) she protects the WISDOM (the teeth).
- AS we pointed out earlier, RED is the color of love and affection, here, her lips too are red. So, linking the above name on cheeks and this name on lips, we can see that they both form one of the very agents that we physically express our love — be it to a friend or a kid or a partner. When we see the cuteness of a kid or want to express a pure feeling of love to our beloved ones, we just do not give a hi-five or fist bump. We give them a sweet kiss on the cheeks. This is Universal! No wonder, the redness or the LOVE aspect is predominantly extolled in these two parts of the FACE of the GODDESS.
- Thus, SHE has the lips to which, we can not find any object in this universe that can compete with their beauty and these lips are the protectors of the teeth of wisdom!
The Teeth of Wisdom:
25. Śddhuavidyāṃkurākāradvijapaṃktidvayōjjvalā: She has two shining rows of teeth that sprout Pure Wisdom.
- Śuddha = Pure; Vidya = Wisdom; Aṃkura = Sprout; Ākāra = Form; Dvija = Twice-born; Paṃkti = Rows; Dvaya = both; Ujjvala = Are Shining.
- ‘Śuddha Vidya’ means pure wisdom and is symbolized by the color WHITE. What is ‘Pure’? Anything that is only itself without any secondary things in it, is called “pure”. So, when a wisdom expounds the art of ONENESS of the cosmos and eliminates the ignorance of duality (sense of we being different fro others or other things) is then called a PURE-WISDOM. Then, Vēdās, Śrī Vidya, Bhrahma Vidya, etc., are the “pure wisdoms” that are being mentioned here. ‘Dvija‘ means a twice born. In our body, teeth are twice born. In the society, those who are initiated into the aforementioned wisdom path are twice born, because they have a previous and a future life with respect to the present act of initiation. ‘Aṃkurākāra’ means having the form of a sprouting seed or having the process of sprouting occurring in them.
- Our MOTHER has pure White glowing teeth in her two rows (of jaws). This is a symbolism for beauty. White teeth which are strong and glowing, suggests a healthy state of a person. Also, the stronger the teeth are, the healthier the diet will be and vice versa, because teeth are the grinding and masticating agents for the food that we take in. So, the MOTHER is very healthy and beautiful.
- There are 32 teeth in our mouth. 16 teeth in upper jaw and 16 in lower jaw. These thirty two teeth look like they took roots in the gums and are sprouting outward.
- The element of a fixed number of teeth, in every human should suggest the sense of ‘NUMBER‘ being existing before we are even born. So, SHE is lord of NUMBERS as well, otherwise why such repetitive coherence in having fixed number of things!
- 32 are the wisdom initiations as per ancient paths. Also, TEETH are very important to utter a WORD. So, TEETH indirectly implies the process of passing the wisdom down. Thus, 32 wisdom paths are being explained here. So, Mother has the 32 wisdom paths as her teeth, which are shining forth — the rays of the wisdom are showering on the truth seekers (the teeth are visible, only to those who observe, right!). With these teeth we bite the fruits (or food) that we earn. Similarly, with the teeth of wisdom, we earn the fruits of our actions and we eat/experience the results If that wisdom is pertaining to GODDESS, we eat the fruits of pure WHITE-DIVNE-LIGHT!
- This Lalita Sahasra Nāmā is written in a meter/Chandas named – “ANUṢṬUP“. This meter has 32 syllables in it (2 lines of 16 syllables each). Two lines are nothing but her two jaws and 16+16 syllables are her teeth. But, the same 2×16=32 can be written as 4×8=32. We also, have only 8 set of teeth that form as mirror images on left and right parts of the jaw. So, the basic number ‘8’ can also be taken for Anuṣṭup. This ‘8’ is symbolic of the world of ‘Vasūs’ – “Aṣṭa-Vasūs”. Vasūs are the lords of expressed and externalized worlds. So, it is apt to link in this way here, because, the syllables externalize the hidden meanings of our mind!
- Also, in Sanskrit, we have 51 alphabet. Among these alphabet, only 32 are the root syllables from which rest of the 19 syllables can be derived. So, all the syllables for the sake of expressing a WORD, are verily HER 32 teeth.
- How does this WORD gets expressed? or, How does a seed or teeth sprout? All these ‘expressive‘ events that occur in this universe, have four fundamental stages — Parā, Paśyaṃti, Madhyamā and Vaikharī stages. Say ‘A’ wants to say to ‘B’ that “Apple is good” or let us see how a seed sprouts:1) Parā: First a spark / impulse to speak should occur in A’s mind. Else, he would be silent or The potential state of a seed before hatching.
2) Paśyaṃtī: Second, a cloudy idea should form, which is not clear yet to A i.e. he needs to think of “what to speak” or The state when water, Earth and seed form a symbiotic relation and is ripe to hatch.3) Madhyamā: Third, a blueprint of the statement “apple is good” is formed in his mind – a mental word or from seed comes two leaves attached as one, but are still below the ground
4) Vaikharī: Fourth, he uses his vocals to utter forth the statement “Apple is good” or finally the seed sprouts and a plant comes out of the ground.Thus there are four stages in any kind of “expressions”. But only, the fourth stage is visible while the other three stages are invisible or not perceivable. Though all these stages are IN HER, SHE showers only one fourth of the true WISDOM and this is what is extolled in Saraswatī sūkta:
Catvāri Vāk Parimitā Padāni
Tāni Vidurbrāhmaṇā Yē Manīṣiṇaḥ
Guhā Trīṇi Nihitā Nēṃgayaṃti
Turīyaṃ Vācō Manushyā Vadaṃti
This means that the syllables related to Vāk or speech are four-fold. Among these, three parts are inside a cave. Fourth form of the WORD alone is being uttered by humans. Only those who know these four-fold wisdom, can realize the wisdom of Brahman.
The same concept also reverberates in Puruṣa Sūkta when it is uttered:
pādōsya viśvā bhūtāni tripādasyāṃṛtaṃ divi
Meaning, one part exists as this visible world and three parts exist as the invisible immortal worlds.
- Another interesting point to observe, though very subtly hidden, is — The wisdom, as we explained, is 4-fold and the teeth are 32. So the number that reverberates in this name is ”432“. 432 is the basic number for all the calculations of yugās in our scriptures (Kali Yuga = 432000 and the rest of the yugas are nothing but twice, thrice and four times this number). 432 also represents 4+3+2 = 10 = 1+0 = 1, the ONE in ALL, who manifests through times of yugas and space of universe in multi-dimensional and multi-facet creation, but yet is beyond all these as the ONE (1)!
- Thus, this name reverberates the lordship of our GODDESS on the numbers (fixed 32 teeth), on cycles of time (432), on wisdom paths (32 wisdom paths), on the uttering syllables — 4 stages of 32 root syllables, on the vēdic meter or chandas of Anuṣṭup and so on.
The Aromatic Tongue:
26. Karpūravīṭikāmōdasamākarṣaddigaṃtarā: She attracts the worlds from all directions, with the sweet smell of the betel leaf filled with camphor, which she chews.
- Karpūra = Camphor; Vīṭikā = Betel leaf; Āmōda = Feeling good/sense of acceptance; Samākarṣat = Equally attract; Digaṃtarā = From all directions, towards her.
- Having a betel leaf with camphor (called paan in hindi and Tamalapaaku/Tāmbūlaṃ in Telugu) after food, is an ancient habit that still prevails in many parts of India. Those who have this, on first hand experience, will tell us how good the digestion becomes after eating it, even after a heavy meal of a function. Also, this leaf gives a redness to the tongue and a sweet aroma to the breath.
- The ability of camphor to spread its smell in all directions, suggest that MOTHER’s breath is spreading in all directions. What is her breath? It is verily our LIFE. So, SHE causes the lives of all that we see around (and also that we do not see). This is symbolized by the vapor or airy nature of camphor — and air is PRĀṆA.
- The ability of this leaf to give redness, is again reverberating the MOTHER’s red aura that we explored in the past names! The ability of this leaf to digest, suggests HER ability to subdue and dissolve the creation. That is why, Kāḷi (the goddess of dissolution), in her ferocious form, is depicted with a red tongue wide open. But, dissolution means, uniting and dissolving into HER own self (as the background). When we eat something, the tastes and attributes are dissolved in the tongue (electric currents of taste buds) and become part of us. We can not separate taste and ourselves, once a food material touches the tongue. Actually, how do we eat anything? With the help of teeth and tongue right! We have earlier symbolized the teeth for wisdom. So, when we masticate the observable world (here betel leaf with camphor — camphor for its aroma and sublimation properties) with the help of wisdom (HER teeth), we are drawn into the red-glory of the divine MOTHER (the red-tongue). That is why, it is said that her attraction spreads equally in all directions (means everything!).
- So, the ever cyclic process of outward and inward pulsations are mentioned here, in the form of her aroma spreading in all directions and the attraction with which we all are drawn into HER.
- Thus, SHE spreads her glory of redness and sweet aroma into all directions and attracts all the truth seekers into her own self!
The Melodious Voice:
27. Nijasaṃlāpamādhuryavinirbhartsitakacchapī: Even the vīṇa (a musical instrument) of Sarasvati is feeling dull in comparison to the melodious voice of the goddess Lalitā.
- Nija = True; Saṃlāpa = Utterance (or coversation); Mādhurya = Sweetness; vinirbhartsita = Specially; kacchapī = the musical instrument of goddess sarasvati.
- Vīṇa is a traditional Indian musical instrument. It is a string instrument. A vīṇa has many similarities with a human body and is often considered as a miniature human form, in relation to subtle aspects. For example, the length of the vīṇa symbolizes the base point of anal region to the top point of head, of a human body. Just like the vertebral column, vīṇa also has different steps – which vary in thickness as one approaches from one end to the other. This column is also compared with the chakrās of human body. Different strings are compared with the nādīs. The sound is uttered in vīṇa with the help of vibrations of strings which in turn use resonance of air, just like humans use the nādīs to supply the necessary currents for the vibration of vocals to resonate the air column. Thus, a vīṇa is more akin to a human body than what meets the eye.
- Kacchapi is a special form of vīṇa attributed to Goddess Saraswati. This vīṇa, not only utters the musical tones, but can also speaks the syllables – literally! That means, the instrument in the hands of Sarasvati, is that which utters the physical forms of this creation. ‘Sarasvati’ means – flow of consciousness, and that is why she is daughter of Brahma – the creator consciousness. So, the sounds of this vīṇa are nothing but the visible and audible creations of The MOTHER (as Sarasvati and her vīṇa are also her creation). So, it is extolled here that, the voice of the MOTHER far exceeds even the mystical and musical melodies of Kacchapī. That means, MOTHER’s utterances form something deeper, subtler and very foundations of this creation. Thus, the words or creation that takes this as basis, will have to feel low in comparison to the melody of her glorious voice.
- So, in a way, they are trying to say that the foundations of the creation are uttered through her voice. It is said Nija, as in TRUE. That means, the utterances are of ‘TRUTH’ or what we say ‘SAT’. So, it is clear that HER utterances are nothing but the ever existent TRUTH or SAT or ṚTAṂ as proclaimed in vēdās.
- Thus, SHE has a melodious voice that utters forth the foundations of this universe and makes the music of Kacchapī feel low, in comparison with her melody.
The Immersive Smile:
28. Maṃdasmitaprabhāpūramajjatkāmēśamānasā: Kāmēśa’s mind is immersed in the sweet flow of her shining smile.
- Maṃdasmita = simple smile; Prabhāpūra = The glow of something rising/starting; Majjat = Immerse; Kāmēśa = Kāmēśvarā’s or Lord Śivā’s; Mānasā = Mind (or heart).
- In our scriptures, every nomenclature has very specific implication. Śiva is known by Śaṃbhu, Rudra, Kāmēśa, Bhairava, etc. Though they point to ONE deity, they represent his roles in the situation when we use those specific names. Here, ‘Kāmēśa’ word is used. ‘Kāma’ means desire. But the desire in highest sense – the desire to create. So, lord in the role of creator is called ‘Kāmēśa’ – the lord of desire. His consort, the expression of that desire ‘happens’ through ‘Kāmēśvarī‘.
- Till now, we have seen how her Oral-region is nothing but the potential bank that can utter the cosmos into existence (Teeth, tongue and voice). The surface or outer interface or the gate for all this is the lip region. A ‘simple smile’ means, smiling without showing teeth. So, HER smile here, is the symbol of agreeing to create the cosmos with the Lord. Because, desire or impulse of desire (the parā state) occurs without any one’s control, it is attributed to divine drama. So, when the LORD desires, he desires. No specific reason for the impulse to occur. Because, she has agreed (and always agrees, for they both are ONE and the SAME) to fulfill the desire, SHE gave a smile and LORD’s mind is immersed in that flow of the glow! Meaning, they both unite — the aspects of Puruṣa and Prakṛti unite and become primary cause of this causal world.
- This also means that, when we are attuned to the DIVINE PLAN, i.e. we too smile at the divine plan without our ego-intervention, our hearts and minds will be immersed in the JOY of the SUPREME.
- Thus, HER smile is sinking the lord aspect of this cosmos, with the eternal JOY!
The Unique Chin:
29. Anākalitasādṛśyacubukaśrīvirājitā: Her glowing chin has nothing which can be compared to.
- Anākalita = There is nothing; Sādṛśya = In comparison to; Cubukaśrī = The glory of the chin; Vrājitā = Thus she shines.
- Till now we have seen at least some examples that are given as comparison to the facial parts of goddess and that those examples are all put to shame by HER effulgence. But in this name, it is said that her chin has nothing to compare with. Nothing in this Universe comes even close to the glory of her chin. So beautiful is the glory of her chin!
- Chin, is the base of the whole facial region. Chin is an extension of lower jaw outward and stands as a support for the whole face. The whole face stands still, while the chin moves (actually lower jaw, but we see chin moving) when we speak. Try to put a hand under your chin and force it not to move and see if you can speak (you can not!). Thus, this ‘chin’ is acting as the dynamic agent and a means to express the WORD (all the potential qualities of face that we explored till now). So, what other means and example be given to this divine chin, that is becoming the reason for externalization of the potential qualities of universe? No example even reaches this genre.
- Thus, HER chin, that supports all the glory of the face of the lord, has no example to correlate.
The Eternal Bond:
30. Kāmēśabaddhamāṃgaḷyasūtraśōbhitakaṃdharā: She is glowing with the sacred marriage thread, that is tied by Lord Kāmēśa, around her neck.
- Kāmēśa = Lord of desire; Baddha = tied; Māṃgaḷyasūtra = sacred thread (of marriage); Śobhita = glowing; Kaṃdharā = Having this around her neck.
- As we have already mentioned, Kāmēśa is the lord of desire or the role of Śiva taken when he desires the creation. To create the creation, he needs his Śakti. Thus, HE is bonded to his Śakti by the sacred act of Marriage – the ritual of becoming two halves as ONE (arthanārīśvara). Here, it is symbolized by the sacred thread tied around her neck (Maṃgaḷa means sacred). One must remember again that there are no two entities/beings here. We are describing the ONE and the same GODDESS/GOD, in her different aspects of HER drama!
- Face has all the ‘Theory’ part (and vocal utterances) while the body below has the ‘Practical’ part or the working part. The signals and ideas are generated above in head and the actions of fetching or work are performed by the organs below. Neck forms the connecting bridge between these two. So, NECK is like a bridge between Potential and Kinetic aspects.
- Neck has vocal cords which utter the physical sound. Flexibility of neck helps in uttering the same tone or word in different pitches (3 – scales). For example, when we want to sing a base tone, we bend our neck downward while when we want to sing a higher pitched tone, we rise our necks. Thus, NECK is the agent that helps the creation to occur in three stages — which in vēdās are named as: Bhu (plane of matter), Bhuvaḥ (plane of mind) and Suvaḥ (plane of soul). To symbolize this, in our marriages we tie – Three knots and the sacred thread has three series of strands. Here, the sacred thread represents the fabric of the cosmos.
- Thus, neck is helping to utter the creation in all its glories. That is why, the lord of desires – Kāmēśa tied the sacred thread (the fabric of cosmos) around the neck (the agent that helps to utter this universe or all the properties of Face – including chin) of the MOTHER (his Śakti or power which is his dynamical half). So, HER neck is glowing with this thread! And this thread symbolizes their UNION for eternity, which is again to bring in the concept of ‘SAMAYĀCĀRA’ – that Śiva and Śakti are always together and are two sides of one coin!
- Thus, SHE has the very fabric of this Universe tied around her neck by her LORD for the sake of uttering the Universe (in three aspects infused into ONE TRUTH of existence).
This completes the description of “Vāgbhavakūtaṃ” or “The group (kūtaṃ) of names that describe about the externalization (bhava) of the WORD of GOD (Vāk)” which is the region of her whole head including the bridge of neck (from 13th name to 30th name). Next comes the “Kāmarājakūtaṃ” or “The desirous group of names”.