Lalita Sahasranama

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Lalitha Sahasranama (IAST: lalithāsahasranāma) is a text from Brahmanda Purana. It is a sacred text to the Hindu worshippers of the Goddess Lalita Devi, i.e. the Divine Mother, in the form, Shakti. Lalitha is the Goddess of bliss, an epithet for Shiva's wife Goddess Parvati. Etymologically, "Lalitha" means "She Who Plays". In the root form (vyutpatti), the word "Lalitha" means "spontaneous" from which the meaning "easy" is derived and implicitly extends to "play".

Names[edit]

Lalita Sahasranama contains a thousand names of the Hindu mother goddess Lalita.[1] The names are organized in a hymns (stotras). It is the only sahasranama that does not repeat a single name. Further, in order to maintain the meter, sahasranamass use the artifice of adding words like tu, api, ca, and hi, which are conjunctions that do not necessarily add to the meaning of the name except in cases of interpretation. The Lalita sahasranama does not use any such auxiliary conjunctions and is unique in being an enumeration of holy names that meets the metrical, poetical and mystic requirements of a sahasranama by their order throughout the text.

Lalita Sahasranama begins by calling the goddess Shri Mata (the great mother), Shri Maharajni (the great queen) and Shrimat Simhasaneshwari (the queen sitting on the lion-throne).[2] In verses 2 and 3 of the Sahasranama she is described as a Udayatbhanu Sahasrabha (the one who is as bright as the rays of thousand rising suns), Chaturbahu Samanvita (the one who has four hands) and Ragasvarupa Pashadhya (the one who is holding the rope).[3] Chidagnikunda Sambhuta (one who was born from the altar of the fire of consciousness) and Devakarya samudyata (one who manifested Herself for fulfilling the objects of the devas) are among other names mentioned in the sahasranama.

Composition[edit]

Lalitha sahasranama is said to have been composed by eight vaag devis (vaag devathas) upon the command of Lalitha. These vaag devis are Vasini, Kameshwari, Aruna, Vimala, Jayinee, Modhinee, Sarveshwari, Koulini. The sahasranama says that "One can worship Lalitha only if she wishes us to do so". The text is a dialogue between Hayagriva, an (avatar) of Mahavishnu and the sage Agastya. The temple at Thirumeyachur,near Kumbakonam is said to be where Agastya was initiated into this sahasranama. Another alternative version is the Upanishad Bramham Mutt at kanchipuram is where this initiation happened.

This sahasranama is held as a sacred text for the worship of the "Divine Mother", Lalita, and is used in the worship of Durga, Parvati, Kaali, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Bhagavathi, etc. A principal text of Shakti worshipers, it names her various attributes, and these names are organized in the form of a hymn. This sahasranama is used in various modes for the worship of the Divine Mother. Some of the modes of worship are parayana (Recitations), archana, homa etc.

Story[edit]

This stotra (hymn of praise) occurs in the Brahmanda Purana (history of the universe) in the chapter on discussion between Hayagreeva and Agasthya. Hayagreeva is an incarnation of Vishnu with the head of a horse who is held to be the storehouse of knowledge. Agasthya is one of the sages of yore and one of the stars of the constellation Saptarshi (Ursa major). At the request of Agasthya, Hayagreeva is said to have taught him the thousand holiest names of Lalita. This has been conveyed to us by the sage Maharishi Vyasa. Lalitha Sahasranama is the only sahasranama composed by vagdevatas under Lalitha's direction. All the other sahasranamas are said to have been composed by Maharishi Vyasa.

Paramashiva is one of the trinity of Hindu pantheons, in charge of moksha (layam). He married Sati, the daughter of Daksha. Daksha and Paramashiva did not get along and consequently Daksha did not invite Paramashiva for one of the great fire sacrifices that he conducted. However Sati went to attend that function in spite of Paramashiva’s protest. Daksha insulted her husband and she jumped into the fire and ended her life. Consequently at the behest of Paramashiva, Daksha was killed and later resurrected with a goat’s head. This incident upset Paramashiva and he entered into deep meditation. Sati reincarnated as daughter of Himavat, king of the mountains, and his wife, the apsara Mena. Naturally, Pārvatī sought and received Shiva as her husband.

The devas faced an enemy in Sura Padma / Banda[disambiguation needed] who had a boon that he could be killed only by a son of Shiva and Parvati. So, to wake Shiva from his deep meditation, the devas deputed Manmatha, the God of love who shot his flower arrows at Paramashiva. Paramashiva woke up and opened his third eye and burnt the God of love into ashes. The Devas and Rathi Devi the wife of Manmatha requested Paramashiva to give life to Manmatha. Heeding their request Paramashiva stared at the ashes of Manmatha. From the ashes came Bhandasura, who made all the world impotent and ruled from the city called Shonitha pura. He started troubling the devas. The devas then sought the advice of Sage Narada who advised them to conduct a fire sacrifice. From the fire rose Lalitha Tripura Sundari.

Lalitha[edit]

She is described as extremely beautiful, having dark thick long hair with the scent of Champaka, Asoka and Punnaga flowers. She had the musk thilaka on her forehead, eyelids which appeared as if they were the gate of the house of the God of love, and having eyes like fish playing in the lake of her face. She had a nose with studs that shone more than the stars, ears with the sun and moon as studs, cheeks which were like the mirror of Padmaraga, beautiful rows of white teeth, and she was chewing Thamboola with camphor. She had a voice sweeter than the sound emanating from Veena of Sarswathi, and having such a beautiful smile that Shiva himself could not take his eyes off her. She was wearing Mangala soothra and necklaces, with beautiful breasts which were capable of buying the invaluable love of Kameswara, having wisps of beautiful hair raising from her belly, her stomach having three pretty folds, and she was wearing red silk tied with a string with red bells. She had thighs which steal the heart of Kameshwara, knees which looked like crowns made of precious gems, voluptuous legs, upper part of the feet resembling the backs of tortoises, feet which resembled lamps made of gems which could dispel worries from the mind of devotees and a body with the golden red color. She was given in marriage to Kameshwara[citation needed] and made to stay in Nagara at the top of Maha Meru Mountain.

Nagara[edit]

Nagara had 25 streets circling it, made of iron, steel, copper, and lead. An alloy made of five metals, silver, gold, the white Pushpa raga stone, the red Padmaraga stone, onyx, diamond, Vaidoorya, Indra neela (topaz), pearl, Marakatha, coral, nine gems and a mixture of gems and precious stones. In the eighth street was a forest of Kadambas. This is presided by Syamala. In the fifteenth street lived the Ashta Digh palakas. In the sixteenth lived Varahi alias Dandini who was her commander in chief. Here Syamala also had a house. In the seventeenth street lived the different Yoginis. In the eighteenth street lived Maha Vishnu. In the nineteenth street lived Esana, in the twentieth Thara Devi, twenty first Varuni, the twenty second Kurukulla who presides over the fort of pride, twenty third Marthanda Bhairawa, twenty fourth the moon and twenty fifth Manmatha presiding over the forest of love.

center of Nagara[edit]

In the center of Nagara is the Maha Padma Vana (the great lotus forest) and within it the Chintamani Griha (The house of holy thought), in the north east is the Chid agni kunda and on both sides of its eastern gate are the houses of Manthrini and Dhandini. On its four gates stand the Chaduramnaya gods for watch and ward. Within it is the chakra. In the center of the Chakra on the throne of Pancha brahmas on the Bindu Peeta (dot plank) called sarvanandamaya (universal happiness) sits Maha Tripura Sundari. In the chakra are the following decorations viz., the square called Trilokya mohanam (most beautiful in the three worlds), The sixteen petaled lotus called Sarvasa paripoorakam (fulfill-er of all desires), the eight petaled lotus called Sarvasamksopanam (the all cleanser), the sixteen cornered figure called Sarva sowbagyam (all luck), the external ten cornered figure called Sarvartha sadhakam (giver of all assets), the internal ten cornered figure called Sarva raksha karam (All protector), the eight cornered figure called Sarva roga haram (cure of all diseases), the triangle called Sarva siddhi pradam (giver of all powers) and the dot called Sarvananda mayam (all pleasures).

Bhandasura[edit]

The devas prayed to her to kill Bhandasura. When she started for the war with Bandasura, she was accompanied by the powers called anima, mahima, Brahmi, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Mahendri, Chamundi, Maha Lakshmi, Nitya Devaths and Avarna Devathas who occupy the chakra. While Sampatkari was the captain of the elephant regiment, Aswarooda was the captain of the cavalry. The army was commanded by Dhandini riding on the chariot called Giri Chakra assisted by Manthrini riding on the chariot called Geya Chakra. Jwala malini protected the army by creating a fire ring around it. Para Shakthi rode in the center on the chariot of Chakra. Nithya destroyed a large chunk of Bandasura’s armies, Bala killed the son of Bandasura, and Manthrini and Dhandini killed his brothers called Vishanga and Vishukra. When the asuras created a blockade for the marching army, Lalitha Tripura sundari created Ganesha with the help of Kameshwara to remove the blockade. Then Bandasura created the asuras called Hiranyaksha, Hiranya Kasipu and Ravana. The devi created the ten avatars of Vishnu and destroyed them. She killed all his army using Pasupathastra and killed him with Kameshwarasthra. The gods then praised her. She then recreated Manmatha for the good of the world. This story is contained in the first 84 names of the first 34 slokas of Lalitha sahasranama. All together it contains one thousand names. This is also called the Rahasya Nama Sahasra (the thousand secret names). Reading it, meditating on the meaning of the names would lead to the fulfillment of all the wishes of the devotees.

Structure[edit]

The slokas are organized in such a way that Devi is described from "Head to Feet" (kEsAdhi pAdham).[clarification needed] There are basically five works (pancha krtyam). They are creation (srishti), protection (sthiti), destruction (samhAram), hiding (thirOdhAnam) and blessing (anugraham). Devi herself has been described as "pancha krtya parAyanA" in the sloka and the five tasks are described as follows:

srshtikarthi brahmma roopA gOpthree-gOvinda-rupini samhArini-rudra-rupA thirOdhAnakareeswari sadAsiva-anugrahadhA panchakruthya-parAyanA

This means Devi is the aspect of Brahma, while creating srshti, aspect of Vishnu while sustaining sthiti, aspect of Rudra during dissolution samhara.

These five entities (Brahmma, Vishnu, Rudra, Isvara and Sadasiva) are known as "pancha-brahma". Lalitha has designated the five functions to these brahmam. Sometimes, Devi will take away the life from these five brahmmam and make them inactive, performing all the five tasks herself. At that time they will be called "pancha pretam" that is lifeless bodies.

Now the first three slokas are: srimata, the (great mother) Srshti; sri maharajni the (great ruler) Sthithi; srimat simhasaneswari the (one who sits on the simhasanam and manages) Samharam. Here there is no direct reference to samharam. But managing here includes creating balance between birth and death.

The rest of the slokas cover thirodhanam and anugraham.

Now the next namas - "chidhagnikunda sambhuta devakarya samudhyata" tells us that devi arose from the fire of knowledge to help devas in their task (war against asuras - bhandasura).

From the namAa- Udhyath bhanu sahasraba till sinjanamani manjeera manditha sree padambuja, all her parts like her face, fore head, eyes, mouth, tongue, voice, hands, hip, legs have been described.

Thereafter, Devi's place (Chintamani gruham), her war against bandasura, kundalini shakti, her properties (such as who can reach her and who cannot, etc.) have been described.

The GeneraL picture of the Goddess depicts a Parrot and a Sugarcane stick with her.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dalal, Roshen (2010). The Religions of India: A Concise Guide to Nine Major Faiths. Penguin Books India. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-14-341517-6. 
  2. ^ Venkatasubramanian, Krishnaswamy (1999). The Spectrum: festschrift, essays in honor of Dr. K. Venkatasubramanian. Variant Communications. p. 343. 
  3. ^ Deshpande, Madhusudan Narhar (1986). The Caves of Panhāle-Kājī, Ancient Pranālaka: An Art Historical Study of Transition from Hinayana, Tantric Vajrayana to Nath Sampradāya (third to Fourteenth Century A.D.). Archaeological Survey of India, Government of India. p. 108. 

Further reading[edit]

  • S.K. Ramachandara Rao, Lalitaarchana-Chandrika, Hymns to Lalita, Form of Tripurasundari, Delhi: Devine Books, (Lala Murari Lal Chharia Oriental Series.) ISBN 978-93-81218-45-7

External links[edit]