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Bhaskararaya (Bhāskararāya Makhin) (1690–1785) is widely considered an authority on all questions pertaining to the worship of the Mother Goddess in Hinduism. The worship of Shakti involves many hidden meanings of mantras and coded passages. It is said that these meanings were revealed to Bhaskararaya by the Goddess Herself. His works number more than 40 and range from Vedanta to poems of devotion and from Indian logic and Sanskrit grammar to the science of Tantra. The lineage of the succeeding Gurus is unbroken and is now present all over India and even abroad.
Three of his books are considered to be the holy triad on the worship of the Mother Goddess through what are considered her most secret mantras:
- Varivasya Rahasya, is a commentary on Sri Vidya mantra and worship. The Varivasya Rahasya contains 167 ślokas numbered consecutively. It has an accompanying commentary entitled "Prakāśa", also by Bhaskararaya.
- Setubandha is a technical treatise on Tantric practice. It is his magnum opus. It is a commentary on a portion of the Vāmakeśvara-tantra dealing with the external and internal worship of Śrī Tripurasundarī. This work was completed either in 1733 AD or in 1741 AD.
- Lalitāsahasranāmabhāsya is a commentary (bhāsya) on Lalita sahasranama. This work was completed in 1728 AD.
Bhaskararaya was born in Bhaga in Maharashtra, India. His father was a great scholar who initiated his son in scholarly traditions at an early age. He was taken to Kashi (Benares) and put under the tutelage of a renowned Pundit. He was initiated into the Sri Vidya Mantra Upasana by Guru Shiva Dutta Shukla of Surat. A disciple king of his (Maratha king Serfoji I of Thanjavur) invited him to the South and gave him a whole village on the banks of the Cauvery river. Here he learnt Gauda tarka shastra under his guru Gangadhara Vajapeyi who was staying at Thiruvalangadu. The guru stayed in one bank of Kaveri and Bhaskararaya made the village on the opposite bank his headquarters for the rest of his life - in order to stay close to his guru. It later came to be known as Bhaskararajapuram. During his stay there and the nearby town of Madhyarjunam claims of his spiritual and psychic greatness began through purported miracles.
Miracles attributed to Bhaskararaya
It is said that an ochre or saffron-robed sannyasi was once passing his (Bhaskararaya's) house while he was sitting in the portico. The sannyasi felt hurt that the householder did not rise and make a prostration to him as every householder was obliged to do so on seeing a sannyasi. Later on a suitable occasion he brought the matter in public and censured Bhaskararaya. The latter immediately conducted a daring experiment in the presence of all. He pulled out the danda (holy stick) which the renunciate was holding, put it on the floor, and made a full-length prostration to that stick. Lo and behold, the stick was immediately consumed in flames. Bhaskara Raya said that this was what would have happened to the sannyasi if he had prostrated to him.
On another occasion Bhaskararaya invited some pundits to his house for a participation in a yajna. There they opened a debate with him and asked him intricate questions about mantra and tantra. Being an adept in these he shot back all the answers without the least hesitation. One witness to this drama, a sannyasi named Kumkumanandaswami cautioned the challengers and declared, "Bhaskara Raya cannot be defeated in debate or by questions. It is the goddess Herself standing on his shoulders who is answering all your questions. I am able to see her standing on his shoulders!" Kumkumanandaswami himself was a great devotee mystic and ritual worshipper of the Goddess. He was so much full of "Devi-consciousness" that it is said even sacred ash thrown on his body immediately transformed into saffron (kumkumam) - hence his name. The pundits wanted to put to test this declaration of the Swami. They asked Bhaskararaya what looked like an impossible question- "The Lalitha-sahasranama mentions the Goddess as being served by sixty-four crores of goddesses called yoginis. Can you name each one of them, their origin and their qualities?" Bhaskararaya answered their question without hesitation, prompting the pundits to accept defeat and call off the debate.
- Śrī Bhāskararāya Makhin. Varivasyā-Rahasya and Its Commentary Prakāśa. Edited with English Translation by Pandit S. Subrahmanya-Sastri. The Adyar Library Series: Volume Twenty-Eight. (The Adyar Library and Research Center: Adyar, Chennai, 1976) ISBN 81-85141-30-4. First Edition, 1934. This edition provides the full Sanskrit text for the Varivasyā-Rahasya and its associated commentary Prakāśa, both by the hand of Bhāskararāya.
- Lalitāsahasranāma, With Bhāskararāya's Commentary. English Translation By R. Ananthakrishna Sastry. (Gian Publishing House: Delhi, 1986) This edition provides the full Sanskrit text plus English interpretation.
- L. M. Joshi. Lalitā-Sahasranāma: A Comprehensive Study of Lalitā-Mahā-Tripurasundarī. (D. K. Printworld Ltd.: New Delhi, 1998) ISBN 81-246-0104-6. Provides an English translation based on Bhāskararāya's Commentary, with references to the Sanskrit source.
- Gaṇeśasahasranāmastotram: mūla evaṁ srībhāskararāyakṛta ‘khadyota’ vārtika sahita. (Prācya Prakāśana: Vārāṇasī, 1991). Includes the full source text and the commentary by Bhāskararāya in Sanskrit.