Mystic Passages 2 – Sri Suktam (part-3)

Hi Friends! Last time, we have left at second stanza of Śrī Sūktaṃ. Let us continue with a small recap.

Recap:

Part-1 described the metaphysical grandeur of the words Śrī and Sūktaṃ through which we understood what the present hymn is all about. We also saw the link between Puruṣa Sūktaṃ and Śrī Sūktaṃ in terms of their starting syllables of “Sa” and “Ha” which form the basis for the universal pulsation, which we call “Breath of Brahma” or “SōHaṃ“. Part-2 started describing the first two stanzas of the hymn. Stanza-1 starts addressing to Lord of FIRE – AGNI, who brings forth the un-perceivable into the perceivable domains. Then it described the beauty of Goddess who is adorned with the silver or Lunar and golden or Solar natures. These seed principles have been elaborated in mythologies as Solar Dynasties (Sūrya Vamśa: Clan of Lord Rama) and Lunar Dynasties (Chandra Vamśa, Clan of Pāṇḍavās). Stanza-2 described that SHE would bestow us with cows (light of wisdom), horses (power over senses), people (human support), etc. 

Let us explore further.

Stanza-3:

Aśva Puūrvāṃ Ratha Madhyāṃ Hastināda Prabōdhinīṃ
Śriyaṃ Dēvī Mupahvayē Śrīrmā Dēvī Rjūṣatāṃ

Word to Word Meaning:

Așva = Horses; Pūrvāṃ = In Front; Ratha = Chariot; Madhyāṃ = In the Center; Hastināda = By the roar of elephants (at the back); Prabōdhinīṃ = She is waking; Śriyaṃ = The one who takes refuge in (her LORD); Dēvīṃ = The one effulgent; Upahvayē = I am inviting her; Srīṃ Dēvī = That divine goddess;  Juṣatāṃ = May SHE kindle me (into her grace).

Import:

There are horses in front of her while she is at the center in her chariot. SHE is being awoken by the roar of the rear elephants. SHE takes shelter in the heart of her lord. I invite such a one and may she shower her grace upon me!

Explanation:

The symbolism in this stanza is very deep. There are two ways to look at this:

General View: In this view, we can take the literal sense of the words. Then the picture that we get is a QUEEN in her chariot with the armies of elephants and horses around her. Thus, a GODDESS of “Society” is being described here. Such a one is called “Rājya Lakṣmi”.

  • SHE bestows the horses that symbolize the swift armies that symbolize the protection of society.
  • The elephants symbolize the riches. To maintain elephants, one requires a lot of wealth. Thus, to have an army of elephants implies that one needs to have a lot more of wealth (money, property, etc.)
  • So, those who meditates upon this stanza of the hymn will be bestow with the above. So in the ancient times, the kings and sages used to invoke this stanza for the welfare of the society. There is a legend that Sri Vidyāraṇya who established Vijayanagara Empire, has built the kingdom using the gold obtained from this Sūkta!! Such is the mundane glory of this hymn!

Occult View: There is another view which is more related to spiritual domains. This view is to be kept as the background while meditating on this stanza for good unfoldment of the wisdom from within.

  • Horses symbolize the senses of perception. Our body is being pulled by such horses! So, the body is a chariot. Who is in this chariot? The SELF or the BEING or the ATMA. This ATMA is verily the GODDESS. That is why SHE is said to be in the center of the chariot or the center of the body. What is the center of the body? This is not the geometrical center, but a metaphysical center of existence. From where does pulsations of Prāṇa (or life) originate in our body? It is from inside the HEART. This center, called as “Anāhata Cakra” in kunḍalini yōga, is the seat of goddess. If you actually notice, there are 7 chakras  – Mūlādhāra, Swādhiṣṭhāna, etc. Anāhata or Heart center is at the center of these chakrās (the fourth one from either the bottom or the top). So, even in this view, SHE is at the center of the chariot!

  • What are the Elephant roars? The mūlādhāra chakra or base center is said to be presided by “Hasti Mukha” or the elephant faced one. Such a deity has his trunk as our spinal column or more precisely, the column of SUṢUMNĀ. The sound produced in this trunk is the roar of elephant. But what is the sound of suṣumnā? It is the root property of sound (NĀDA) which originates from KUṆḌALINI – The “AUM”. Thus, awakening the goddess through elephants roar implies the awakening of Kuṇḍalini nāda itself! But because SHE resides in heart center, it also suggests that the awakened kuṇḍalini should reach the “Sahasrāra”, in-order to complete the circuit (refer: 33) The Coiled Serpent – Kundalini) and then finally descend down into the heart center and rest there. This is the age old occult truth which is not unveiled in normal texts (they only suggest the half truth of kundalini reaching sahasrara from mūlādhāra as the ultimate goal).

Thus we see that this stanza bestows prosperity to a society as well as teaches us the hidden occult truths regarding kuṇḍalinī yōga. Later on they are saying that SHE is the one who took refuge in her lord. What does this mean? The same relation that exists between “sunlight” and “sun” exists between goddess and her lord. Without SUN, there is no light and without light, one can’t perceive the sun. And they are inseparable truths of ONE TRUTH. The ONE GOD being all pervasive-Viṣṇu, SHE is the Śrī or Lakṣṃi or the very aspect of his perversion. Thus, SHE, who is also effulgent, is always under his shelter! We are inviting such a one who is the aspect of pervasion (which implies we are inviting both the couple, because they are inseparable!). We finally request her to kindle our hearts and minds into her grace. Because SHE pervades, SHE can kindle any one at any point of time. Hence, the prayer and hope!

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Stanza-4:

Kāṃsōsmitāṃ Hiraṇya Prākārāṃ
Ādrāṃ  Jvalaṃtīṃ Tṛptāṃ Tarpayaṃtīṃ
Padmēsthitāṃ Padmavarṇāṃ Tāmihōpahvayē Śriyaṃ

Word to Word Meaning:

Kāṃ = The one who; Saḥ = HE (The LORD) ; Asmitāṃ = got HER as his existence; Hiraṇya = Golden; Prākāra = Surrounding Wall/Layers; Ādrāṃ = One who is of moist nature; Jvalaṃtīṃ =  One who is akin to a flame; Tṛptāṃ = One who is an abundance of satisfaction; Tarpayaṃtīṃ = One who causes satisfaction; Padmē+Sthitāṃ = One who sits on Lotus; Padma+Varṇāṃ = One who has the color of a Lotus; Tāṃ = That; Iha+Upahvayē = Inviting here; Śriyaṃ = That Śri Dēvi.

Import:

I invite here, that goddess of splendors: whom the lord almighty has her as his own existence, who is surrounded by layers of golden hue, who is of moist and and yet  has a glowing nature, who causes satisfaction to her creation by being an abundance of the same, who sits on lotuses and who is of a lotus color.

Explanation:

In the previous stanza we have seen the relation between Sunlight and Sun. Without sunlight, SUN can not be perceived! So, the existence of LORD of Pervasion has his basis in his consort – The aspect of pervasion or Lakṣmī. So, SHE is the one whom lord took as his very base of existence. In our terms, we are known only through our behavior. If there is no “Dynamism” expressed in a body, that body will be declared “dead”. So, the Lakṣmī for a living being is the very dynamic aspect of “Life”. So, we take our existence in Goddess, who is the cause of LIFE’s dynamism.

It seems that SHE is surrounded by layers of golden hue!  What are the golden layers? They are verily the rays of the SUN. If rays of the SUN form layers of GOLD, symbolically speaking, then who is at the center of SUN? We call HIM/HER as “Sūrāṃtarvarti” as proclaimed by “Āditya Hṛdaya“. This is akin to our ĀTMA. So, golden rays implies manifestation (like light rays or our bodies, etc.) and SHE being surrounded by them, SHE is the PARAMĀTMA!

It seems that SHE is Moist and yet glowing like  a Flame! How can this be? How can moist and flame exist together? Here, one needs to understand the moist or Ādrāṃ as the essence of life. Moisture is a key element in life. We always search for water in our solar system to find LIFE, don’t we? So, the moist that is being mentioned here is that “life sustaining water element” without which everything will die. So, the “Ādrāṃ” is the sustaining agent. Then what is the cause of this LIFE? That is “Jvāla” or the FLAME of inner-FIRE. If this flame is not there, no amount of water can sustain the life. As long as this FLAME exists, one is alive! This is what is dramatically shown in some Telugu movies as an escape of flame from the body when a person dies. So, the FIRE of ĀTMA creates the FLAME which causes the element of life in us and the water element sustains this life element. Though they are mutual enemies in gross sense, they are complementary elements in subtle sense! This extraordinary pairing is being represented in this stanza by saying that SHE is of both natures!

It seems that SHE is a bank of satisfaction and thus blesses the beings of her creation with “Satisfaction”. One may ask, then why are people worried at some time or other? So, the thing is, SHE is eternally satisfied. That is why SHE is “Tṛptāṃ” – Bank of Satisfaction. By law, her creation should also be like that, eternally satisfied. But, the layers of personal ego hovers and the chain effects of karma entangles a being into the polarities of pains and pleasures. But if you closely observe, how much ever a person is unhappy, they are always in the pursuit of ” A sense of CONTENTMENT” This inner urge of every being – human or animal, to be contended is a hint that suggests that SHE is ready to provide us with the “Ultimate Satisfaction – Tarpayaṇtīṃ“, if we are to surrender and let HER light IN. Sunlight shines on all houses with equal intensity, in a locality. But Those who close the windows an doors can not receive it while those who keep them open will receive it. So, SHE not only is bank of satisfaction, SHE also causes every being to enter into her vault of satisfaction (at one point or another – along their path of evolution)!

It seems that SHE always sits on a LOTUS. Why this extreme association with Lotus and Goddess? As I pointed in one of my previous articles, 25) Universal Symbols, a lotus is a symbol of evolution. So, SHE sitting on a lotus implies that SHE presides over the aspect of evolution. ALL the events in life “un-fold” like the petals of a lotus. Take SUNRISE for example. WE all know that next day SUN rises. But just that we know does not hasten the process of its rise. It rises only when it has to and this takes time. This gradual unfoldment, akin to blossoming of  a lotus, occurs at every instance and at every place of this creation. We grow and evolve, the species grow and evolve, the planets grow and evolve, the stars grow and evolve, etc. This evolution is represented by LOTUS and it is said that SHE presides over this aspect! So, SHE is the lord of changes! 

Generally Padma Varṇāṃ means a lotus color. SHE is all red in color (sarvāruṇā – says Lalita Sahasranama). The “Sunrise red” is symbolic for “consciousness awakening” and thus SHE is of that color as SHE awakens the beings of this creation into her LIGHT. “Padma Varṇāṃ” can also be divided into “Pad + Ma + Varṇāṃ” which then implies that SHE has the splendors of uttered syllable (Padaṃ or Pad). Varṇa here implies a syllable instead of color (as in Varṇa Māla, etc.). The uttered syllables are called “Akṣarās” in Sanskrit which means that they are imperishable. So, the aspect of “Imperishability” is the splendor of an uttered syllable. How so? Can you destroy the syllable “A”? If you do not utter, some one else will utter. But they will utter the same “A” as you would. How are they able to utter? Because the syllables are imperishable, they exist in all of us as the seeds of utterance. If they were to be perishable, after uttering few syllables, we would have been out of syllables and no one would have had any syllable left to speak!!! So, it seems that this property is begotten to them only from GODDESS as SHE is verily that aspect of “Imperishablity”. 

So, I (the sage or the invoker of this hymn) invite here (into my heart) such a GODDESS who is verily the auspicious causation of “ŚRĪ”.

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Let us explore further stanzas in forth coming article. Thank You!

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