Tripura Sundari

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Tripura Sundari
Goddess of Peace, Beauty, Wisdom, Love, Desire, Kindness and Defensive War
Member of The Ten Mahavidyas
Tripura A3.jpg
AffiliationBrahman, Shakti, Mahadevi, Mahavidya, Parvati
AbodeManidvipa/Śrī Nagara
MantraOm Sri Matre Namaha
WeaponNoose, goad, arrow and bow[1]
FestivalsLalita Jayanti on Magha Purnima, Lalita Panchami

Tripura Sundari (Sanskrit: त्रिपुर सुन्दरी, IAST: Tripura Sundarī), also known as Rajarajeshwari, Shodashi, and Lalita, is a Hindu goddess and is an aspect of Mahadevi mainly venerated in Shaktism, the goddess-oriented sect of Hinduism. She is also a prominent Mahavidya.[2] She is glorified in many Shakta texts, with Lalita Sahasranama being the most popular one.[3]

According to the Srikula tradition in Shaktism, Tripura Sundari is the foremost of the Mahavidyas, the highest aspect of Mahadevi and also the primary goddess of Sri Vidya. The Tripura Upanishad places her as the ultimate Shakti (energy, power) of the universe.[4] She is described as the supreme consciousness, ruling from above Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.[5] Kinsley says, In one instance she is said to be sitting on Shiva's lap in the kāmeśvara form, the "Lord of Desire". In another case, she is depicted as growing from the Sri Chakra, the yantra of Tripurasundari. In this rendering of the goddess, she is self-emergent, as the Sri Chakra is identical with the goddess herself".


Shaktism depiction of Sodashi seated on a lotus emerging from Shiva

Details of her appearance are found in the famous hymn in her praise, the Lalita Sahasranama, where she is said to be,

seated on a throne like a queen (names 2 and 3), to wear jewels (names 13 and 14), to have the auspicious marks of a married woman (names 16–25), and to have heavy breasts and a thin waist (name 36); the crescent moon adorns her forehead, and her smile overwhelms Kameshwara, the lord of desire (name 28). She has as her throne with its legs being Pancha Brahmas (five Brahmas) (name 249).

She is often depicted iconographically as seated on a lotus that rests on the supine body of Sadashiva, which in turn lies on a throne whose legs are the gods Brahma, Visnu, Isvara, and Rudra. In some cases, the lotus is growing out of Shiva's navel. In other more common cases, the lotus is grown directly from the Sri Chakra.

The Vamakeshvara tantra says that Tripura-sundari dwells on the peaks of the Himalayas; is worshipped by sages and heavenly nymphs; has a body like pure crystal; wears a tiger skin, a snake as a garland around her neck, and her hair tied in a jata; holds a trident and drum; is decorated with jewels, flowers, and ashes; and has a large bull as a vehicle.

The Saundaryalahari and the Tantrasara describe her in detail from her hair to her feet. The Tantrasara dhyana mantra says that she is illuminated by the jewels of the crowns of Brahma and Visnu, which fell at her feet when they bowed down to worship her.[6] Kinsley also says that "In Saundarya Lahari and Tantrasara she is not associated with Shiva in any obvious way as she is in other depictions".[6]

Vaishnavism traditions have a similar set of complementary parallels between Vishnu and Lakshmi. The Tantric Vaishnava Pancharatra texts associates Lalita with Lakshmi. Author Douglas Renfrew Brooks says, "Lalita, like the Pancharatra conception of Lakshmi, acts independently by taking over the cosmic functions of the male deity; yet she does not defy the god's wishes". Brooks also says, "In contrast to most Vaishnava conceptions of Lakshmi, however, Lalita destabilizes temporarily for the purpose of reasserting order".[7]

Scholar and professor Thomas B. Coburn says,

Sri Vidya, then, can be understood as one of the premier instances of Hindu Shakta Tantrism. Specifically, it is the tradition (sampradaya) which deals with worship of Tripurasundari, "the most beautiful Tantric form of Sri/Lakshmi, [who is]... the most benign, beautiful and youthful yet motherly manifestation of the Supreme Shakti.[8]

Literary sources[edit]

Lalita Sahasranama[edit]

Lalita Sahasranama contains a thousand names of the Hindu mother goddess Lalita.[9] 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 meet 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).[10] 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).[11] 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.


Lalitha sahasranama is said to have been composed by eight vak devis (vaag devathas) upon the command of Lalitha. These vaag devis are Vasini, Kameshwari, Modhinee, Vimala, Aruna, Jayinee, 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, Kali, and other forms of Parvati. 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.

This stotra (hymn of praise) occurs in the Brahmanda Purana (history of the universe) in the chapter on a 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 vag devatas under Lalitha's direction. All the other sahasranamas except Shiva Sahasranama are said to have been composed by Maharishi Vyasa ,Shiva Sahasranama being composed by Mahavishnu and also by Krishna.


The slokas are organized in such a way that Devi is described from head to feet (kesadhi padham). There are basically five works (pancha krtyam). They are creation (srishti), protection (sthiti), destruction (samharam), hiding (thirudhanam) and blessing (anugraham). Devi herself has been described as "pancha krtya parayana" in the sloka and the five tasks are described as follows:

Srishti karthri brahma roopa gopthri-govinda-roopini samharini-rudrha-roopa thirodhanakareeswari sadashivaa-anugrahadha Pancha krithya parayana[This quote needs a citation]

This means Devi is the aspect of Brahma, while creating sristhi, aspect of Vishnu while sustaining sristhi, aspect of Rudra during dissolution sanghara. 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.The first three slokas are: Srimata (great mother) – srshti; Sri Maharajni (great ruler) – sthithi; Srimat Simhasaneswari (one who sits on the lion throne) – samharam. The rest of the slokas cover thirodhanam and anugraham.[citation needed]

According to the Patala Khanda of Padma purana, Krishna is the male form of the goddess Lalita.[12]

I am Goddess Lalita and that Radhika who is celebrated in songs. I am called Vasudeva, who always is of the nature of the art of love. I am truly of a feminine form, and I am the ancient woman, and I am goddess Lalita, and in a manly form I have Krishna's body.

— Padma purana, Patala-Khanda, Verses 46:47

The next names – "chidhagnikunda sambhutha devakarya samudhyatha" 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 and legs have been described.Thereafter, Devi's place (Chintamani gruham), her war against bandasura, kundalini shakti, and her properties have been described. A common image of the goddess depicts a parrot and a sugarcane with her. Sugarcane represents the sweetness of her mind.[citation needed]

References in Hindu literature[edit]

The Soundarya Lahari of Adi Shankaracharya deals exhaustively about the nature of the Goddess and her worship.[citation needed]

The Lalitopakyana tells of the epic battle between her forces and the forces of the arch-demon Bhandasura.[13]

The Tripura Sundari Ashtakam by Adi Shankaracharya describes her as a Mother wearing a blue and red-spotted dress and holding a pot of honey.[14]


The Sri Yantra in diagrammatic form, showing how its nine interlocking triangles form a total of 43 smaller triangles.

In the Shri Vidya school of Hindu tantra, the Sri Yantra ("sacred instrument"), also Sri Chakra is a diagram formed by nine interlocking triangles that surround and radiate out from the central (bindu) point. It represents the goddess in her form of Shri Lalita Or Tripura Sundari, "the beauty of the three worlds (earth, atmosphere and sky(heaven)"(Bhoo, Bhuva and Swa).[according to whom?] The worship of the Sri Chakra is central to the Shri Vidya system of Hindu worship. Four isosceles triangles with the apices upwards, representing Shiva or the Masculine. Five isosceles triangles with the apices downward, symbolizing female embodiment Shakti. Thus the Sri Yantra also represents the union of Masculine and Feminine Divine. Because it is composed of nine triangles, it is known as the Navayoni Chakra.[15] "These nine triangles are of various sizes and intersect with one another. In the middle is the power point (bindu), visualizing the highest, the invisible, elusive centre from which the entire figure and the cosmos expand. The triangles are enclosed by two rows of (8 and 16) petals, representing the lotus of creation and reproductive vital force. The broken lines of the outer frame denote the figure to be a sanctuary with four openings to the regions of the universe".[16]

In a recent issue of Brahmavidya, the journal of the Adyar Library, Subhash Kak argues that the description of Sri Yantra is identical to the yantra described in the Śvetāśvatara Upanisad.[17]

Together the nine triangles are interlaced in such a way as to form 43 smaller triangles in a web symbolic of the entire cosmos or a womb symbolic of creation. Together they express Advaita or non-duality. This is surrounded by a lotus of eight petals, a lotus of sixteen petals, and an earth square resembling a temple with four doors.[15] The various deities residing in the nine layers of the Sri Yantra are described in the Devi Khadgamala Mantra.[18][unreliable source?]

The Shri Chakra is also known as the nava chakra because it can also be seen as having nine levels. "Nine" comes from" Nava" of Sanskrit. Each level corresponds to a mudra, a yogini, and a specific form of the Deity Tripura Sundari along with her mantra. These levels starting from the outside or bottom layer are:[15]

  1. Trailokya Mohana or Bhupara, a square of three lines with four portals
  2. Sarva Aasa Paripuraka, a sixteen-petal lotus
  3. Sarva Sankshobahana, an eight-petal lotus
  4. Sarva Saubhagyadayaka, composed of fourteen small triangles
  5. Sara Arthasadhaka, composed of ten small triangles
  6. Sarva Rakshakara, composed of ten small triangles
  7. Sarva Rogahara, composed of eight small triangles
  8. Sarva Siddhiprada, composed of 1 small triangle
  9. Sarva Anandamaya, composed of a point or bindu

The Sri Chakra (called the Shri Yantra) is the symbol of Hindu tantra, which is based on the Hindu philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism. The Sri Yantra is the object of devotion in Sri Vidya.

The two dimensional Sri Chakra, when it is projected into three dimensions is called a Maha Meru (Mount Meru).

Temples dedicated to her worship[edit]

Her most important temple is the Kanchi Kamakshi temple in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu. Kanchipuram is one of the moksha puris. Sage Durvasa did intense penance in Kanchipuram and the pleased Lalita Tripura Sundari appeared and agrees to reside in Kanchi for the benefit of her devotees. Adi Sankaracharya installed the Sri Chakra in this temple. It is also the place of Kanchi Kamakoti mandali.[citation needed]

Her temple, the Tripura Sundari temple is located on top of the hills near Radhakishorepur village, which is a very important temple, 1 of the 51 shaktipeethas, a little distance away from Udaipur town railway station, Udaipur town, Tripura, North east India. Another temple dedicated to goddess maha Tripura sundari, or goddess kamakhya, 1 one of the 4 main adi shaktipeethas, is in Nilachal hill, Guwahati, Assam near kamakhya junction railway station, in Assam, North east India. In West Bengal, there is a temple of Ma Tripura Sundari Devi located in Boral, near Garia. In Madhya Pradesh, Jabalpur, there is Tripura Sundari temple about 12 km from city on Bhedaghat road in village Tewar. Another temple dedicated to goddess tripura sundari is in Banaswara, Rajasthan. In Tirusulam, a neighbourhood of Chennai, is the Shri Tirusoolanathar Tripurasundari temple, an ancient temple built by Kulothunga Chola I in the 11th century. The Trisula Nathar Temple is dedicated to Sri Shiva as Trisula Nathar and Divine Mother Shakti as Tripura Sundari Amman.[19]

A temple of Tripura Sundari temple is in Chhatrabhog (Saturbhog).[20] It is situated in south 24 Pgs under Diamond Harbour Subdivision West Bengal. The nearest railway station is Mathurapur Road in Sealdah South section. From the source of Rajratnakar descendants of Drajhu king, Kalinda made a wooden Tripura Sundari icon at this place.[citation needed]

Many temples of Goddess Raj Rajeshwari are also found in Uttarakhand, where she is considered as the Kul-devi. A temple of Tripura Sundari is located at tripuradevi village in Berinag and Ancient 850 years old Tripura Sundri amma (Thibbadevi) temple in Muguru is located in the Tirumakudal Narsipur taluk of Mysore district in Karnataka. A temple of Sri Jwalamukhi Tripura Sundari is located at S.Uttanahalli, Near Vidyaranyapura-Nanjangud Road, Mysore district in Karnataka.

Goddess RajaRajeshwari Temple is in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Mysuru Road, Bengaluru, Karnataka, which is a prime location in Bengaluru. Many people throng to this place because of presence of the Goddess.

Tripura sundari in her form Raja Rajeshwari is worshiped in Kandamangalam Sree Rajarajeshwari temple located in the village Kadakkarapalli, Cherthala taluk, Alappuzha district, Kerala. The temple is named as Kanadamangalam by Sree Narayana Guru (social reformer and spiritual leader) which comprises two words "Kandal" which means if you see and "mangalam" which means good fortune.

Bala Tripura Sundari Temple is also in Dolpa district of Nepal.


  1. ^ Kinsley 1998, p. 112.
  2. ^ West Bengal (India) (1994). West Bengal District Gazetteers: Nadīa. State editor, West Bengal District Gazetteers.
  3. ^ Das, J.K. (2001). "Chapter 5: old and new political process in realization of the rights of indigenous peoples (regarded as tribals) in Tripura". Human rights and indigenous peoples. APH Publishing. pp. 208–9. ISBN 978-81-7648-243-1.
  4. ^ Mahadevan 1975, pp. 235.
  5. ^ Brooks 1990, pp. 155–156.
  6. ^ a b Kinsley 1998, pp. 112–113.
  7. ^ Brooks 1992, p. 67.
  8. ^ Coburn 1991, p. 125.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Venkatasubramanian, Krishnaswamy (1999). The Spectrum: festschrift, essays in honor of Dr. K. Venkatasubramanian. Variant Communications. p. 343.
  11. ^ 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.). New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India. p. 108. ASIN B0006EPMPS. OCLC 923371295. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  12. ^ Deshpande, N.A (1951). The Padma Purana. ISBN 8120838297.
  13. ^ ":: WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF SREEVIDYA ::". Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  14. ^ "TripuraSundari Ashtakam by Adi Shankaracharya – Stutimandal".
  15. ^ a b c Shankaranarayanan, S. (1979). Sri Chakr (3rd ed.). Dipti Publications.
  16. ^ Kuiper, K (2011). Understanding India: The Culture of India. Britannica Educational Publishing. ISBN 978-1-61530-203-1.
  17. ^ Subhash Kak, The Great Goddess Lalitā and the Śrī Cakra. Brahmavidyā: The Adyar Library Bulletin, vol. 72–73, pp. 155–172, 2008–2009
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 July 2013. Retrieved 28 December 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ "Tirusula Nathar Temple, Trisulam, Chennai suburb (திருசுல நாதர்)".
  20. ^ Discovery of North East India vol-11 Page −5 edited by S.K. Sharma & Usha Sharma published by Mittal Publication A-110 Mohan Garden New Delhi 110059 India ISBN NO:81-8324-045-3


Further reading[edit]

  • Brooks, Douglas R. (1992), Auspicious Wisdom, Albany: State University of New York Press
  • Dikshitar, V.R. Ramachandra (1991). The Lalita Cult. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
  • Kinsley, David (1998). Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions. Berkeley: University of California Press.

External links[edit]