Tuesday, 3 February 2015
The Shree Suktam And Its Philosophical Significance :
The Shree Suktam And Its Philosophical Significance :
======= Wishing A Very Happy And Blessed Lakshmi Puja =======
Shree Sukta is found at the end of the fifth mandala and before the commencement of the sixth mandala of rig Veda. This mandala is also called Atreya mandala. Because this Sukta comprises of fifteen Rig mantras, it is called ` Panchadasharcha'.
However it does not address Lakshmi as merely the goddess of wealth and as the consort of Sri Narayana. It is a prayer to the divine mother of the cosmos. She is seen as the very power behind the sun and the moon. She is also identified with Agni or fire. Other gods like Shiva and Vishnu depend on this cosmic Shakti or power for all their doings. She is `Narayani', the power of Sri Narayana, but at the same time she is also `Tryambake', the consort of the three-eyed Lord, Sri Mahadeva.
The word `Shree' has its origin in the dhatu (verbal root) `Shriy'. This means `to take refuge' or `to serve'. By adding `Aing' upasarga (a preposition prefixed to roots) to this dhatu, we obtain the word `Shree'.
`Shreeyate sarvaiH iti ShreeH' - which means Shree is that cosmic energy who is the refuge of all creatures. She exists as life and intellect, the greatest of all wealths, in every being.
Hence the Markandeya Puran says, `Ya Devi sarva bhooteshu laksmi roopena samsthitaa'
- I bow down to that great goddess who is present as Lakshmi in all creatures.
Lakshmi also means a sign or mark of Chaitanya (energy) and Vibhooti (power or greatness). This great goddess is referred to as `Ishwari' - the supreme leader of the universe in the Durga Saptashati. Thus Shree not only means the goddess of wealth, but also signifies the magnanimous aspect of Sridevi as the mother of the cosmos. Kalika Purana calls her, the second-less Atmavidya and as the Mahavidya, the great knowledge of the self. She is thus understood to be the very proto-type of Parabrahman. `Shree' indicates feminine gender. This is what makes the people attribute a feminine form to Sri Lakshmi. However, this great Tatva of Shree is above the limited visualization of gender and form.
The Dakshinamurty Samhita says, " Yoshit Purusha roopena sphurantee vishwamatrukaa'
- this great Tatva, which is the root-cause of the universe, shines in both male and female forms. Thus, this Tatva of Shree represents both Purusha and Prakriti.
The pre-conditioned form of Shree is `Parabrahman'. The conditioned aspect of Shree is `Parashakti'. The great pillar of fire, which shines in the hearts of the illumined, destroying the darkness of duality, is indeed `Shree'.
In the Devi Upanishad, when Sridevi is asked, ` Who are you?' She replies, ` I am the Brahman, from me is this world composed of Prakriti and Purusha'. The objective of this conversation is to indicate the non-separateness of the two above-said aspects. Thus the female or the Shakti Tatva is non-different from the Purusha or Shiva Tatva, even as the moon and its shine.
Though the deeper philosophical significance of Shree Sukta may be outlined thus, the Sukta also makes use of a beautiful approach to the worship of Saguna Brahman, visualized here as Sri Mahalakshmi. The deity of Shree Sukta is a personification of auspiciousness and prosperity.
There are various commentaries on this khila Sukta. Sayanacharya and Prithvidharacharya, who have composed commentaries on the entire Vedas, have also written commentaries on Shree Sukta. We understand the actual meaning of the Sukta only by referring to any of these enlightening commentaries. Another Shaiva scholar called Srikantha has also written a wonderful commentary on Shree Sukta. He identifies Shree with Gauri and Jaataveda with Shiva. There are many more works that elaborate on Shree Sukta from the viewpoint of mantra Shastra. Some of these are: Mantrakalpaarnava, Vaikhaanasavidya, Lakshmiyamala, Shreeratnakosha, Shreetatwa, Mahalakshmiratnakosha, Shreevidyavilasa etc.
Each mantra of this Sukta has a different Rishi (seer), Chandas (metre), Devi (deity) and Viniyoga (ritual application). If we consider the entire Sukta as a whole, then the Rishis are:
Ananda, Chikleeta, Kardama, Shreeda and Indira, who are said to be the sons of goddess Lakshmi. The two deities of the Samashti Sukta (the entire Sukta) are Agni and Shree Devi. The verse `HiranyanarNaam' is said to be the Bija of the Sukta. Bija is the source from which the entire mantra takes its origin. The verse `Taam ma aavaha' is the Shakti. Shakti is the part of the mantra where the entire power of the mantra remains encapsulated. The verse `Keertimriddhim' is the Kilaka. Kilaka is that pole or nail, to which the aspirant of the mantra has to tie up his mind, with complete concentration.
The Sri Suktam :
[ Rig Ved, Mandala 5 (Khila) ]
हिरण्यवर्णां हरिणीं सुवर्णरजतस्रजाम् ।
चन्द्रां हिरण्मयीं लक्ष्मीं जातवेदो म आवह ॥१॥
" O Jaataveda, bring Sri Lakshmi to me, that Lakshmi who has a golden complexion, who is beautiful like the female deer, who shines like the moon and who has an enchanting form. "
This verse is a prayer to Agni. According to the Vedic rituals, all Gods and Goddesses are propitiated by means of fire-sacrifice. Hence, though the deity referred to here is indeed Lakshmi, the prayer is to Agni. The Bija, Shakti and Kilaka of this mantra are respectively, Shreem, Hrim and Klim. The deities are Jaatavedaagni, Agni Durga and Mahalakshmi.
The word Jaataveda has various meanings. Some relevant meanings are listed here:
The Mahabharata says, ` VedaaH tvadartham JaataaH ' (231,41) -
" The Vedas are born for you ! "
That great Purusha for whom the Vedas originated is said to be Jaataveda. All Vedic mantras are invocation of deities. Ordinary mortals, having their consciousness fixed in the earthly planes, cannot comprehend the divine forms of these deities. Thus all of them are visualized through the medium of Agni or sacrificial fire. The offerings to the various deities are offered to this sacred Agni. It is believed that Agni carries the offerings (Havis) to the respective deities. Hence Agni is called Havyavaahana or the vehicle of Havis. The word Veda, which arises from the root `Vid' (which means `to know') means consciousness or Prajnaa. The being in which this consciousness has manifested completely is called Jaataveda.
The one who knows everything is called Jaataveda. Veda also means Shastra or scripture. Shastra means to command or order. Vedas are called `Prabhusammita' because they list the eternal commands of the great being, Parabrahman. All religious rules and regulations have their roots in the Vedas. The Vedas have Yagna (fire-sacrifice) as their very foundation. Yagna is possible only through Agni. Thus Agni or Yagna Purusha is called Shastra yoni or the origin for all scriptural injunctions. That great being who makes the execution of the Vedic duties possible is called Jaataveda. Vedas assign karma (action) and Karma-phala (the resulting fruit). Men perform Yagna for obtaining its lucrative Phala. This phala is compared to money or gold. The lord through the agency of Agni grants the fruits of one's actions. Thus, Jaataveda is that great being who grants the fruits of the karma committed, as per the regulations revealed in the Vedas. Thus the word Jaataveda has all these meanings. This great Jaataveda Agni is frequently referred to as Yagna Narayana, because the scriptures assign the authority over Yagnas to Lord Vishnu. If one has to invite Sri Lakshmi, it can be possible only by requesting her divine consort, Narayana, referred here as Jaataveda Agni.
This claim is supported by the Sruti, ` Yajno vai VishnuH' (Taittareeya Samhita - 1 , 7, 4).
Similarly Yagna Purusha is also seen as Lord Rudra, `Agnistu Rudra Eva'. His wife Uma indeed is the Shree whose grace is sought in this verse.
`Lakshmi' means the one who has a mark or a sign. Yaaskara Nirukta says, `Lakshmi represents all those signs of happiness and welfare that a man desires'. The word Lakshmi arises out of the dhatu `Lash' which means `to obtain'. Thus Lakshmi means to obtain the signs of happiness like wealth, prosperity and knowledge, which she represents by her very nature. Poetic hearts have always identified Lakshmi with the lotus flower. The Dhyana Shloka (meditation verse) of Sri Mahalakshmi describes her like this, ` Amala kamala Samsthaa' - Residing in a white stainless lotus. She holds lotuses in her hands and sports a garland of lotuses. The mandala used to worship Sridevi is also called Padma mandala. The reference here is actually to the six yogic Chakras in the human body. The goddess Shree, as the great Kundalini Shakti, resides in these lotuses.
The word `Lakshmi' can also be derived from the roots `La' which means `to give' and `Kship' which means `to inspire'. Thus Lakshmi means the one who gives us the wealth of knowledge that inspires us to achieve the highest state of realization of the Self. `Ma Aavaha' - this means `please send her to me' or `invite her to me'. This request goes to Agni, who is actually none other than Sri Narayana. Only the great Lord has the capacity to grant eternal wealth of the knowledge of Self, called Shree. In an other sense, by performing Vedic sacrifices, one seeks to draw the attention of Lakshmi.
Hiranya means gold. It literally means `to shine' or `to steal'. Gold steals the hearts of men by virtue of its luster and worth. Gold is named as the king of all metals. Other minerals are called `Parthiva' (of the nature of earth) whereas gold is called `Taijasa' (of the nature of light or fire). Hence gold is undoubtedly superior to all other metals. Similarly, Sridevi shines brightly amidst all other Gods and Goddesses, who appear dim in front of her. This speaks of the Vimarsha aspect of Sridevi, which is the sole cause for the appearance of this universe. When everything shines because of her own light, how can anything brighter than Her Exist? Also because she is the Shakti of Agni or Vishnu, it is but natural for her to have a golden luster.
Harini in a literal sense means a female deer. It is seen in the Puranas that Lakshmi once came to earth assuming the form of a female deer. Deer also signifies attraction and beauty, both of which are the inherent qualities of Sridevi. However, a deer is extremely fast and to catch hold of it requires great strength and determination. Similarly to achieve wealth one needs to work hard and overcome the effects of past Karmas. On a higher level, one can achieve the knowledge of the Self, which is the greatest of the treasures, only by constant Sadhana and contemplation on the self. The Brahma Vaivarta Purana speaks of the incident of the destruction of Daksha's Yagna by Shiva. Seeing the terrible Mahakala form of Shiva, Yagna Purusha assumed the form of a deer and began to run. However Rudra, within no time caught hold of the deer in his palms. Yagna Purusha is the Nirguna Parabrahman, which indicates Vishnu. The form of the deer that he assumed refers of his Vaishnavi Shakti, which is Lakshmi.
Also. Mahabharata calls Vishnu by the name `Harina' (13,17,119). His eternal consort Lakshmi thus becomes Harini. Sridevi is also called Harini because she has a golden yellow luster. Devi is referred to as `Haridraabhaa' (having a turmeric like complexion) in various Puranas and tantras. Bhagavata Purana even speaks of the Haridraa Gauri vrata where Sridevi is worshipped in an image made of turmeric. This association of Sridevi with turmeric also earns her the name `Harini'.
Sridevi is described as Suvarnarajatasrajaam'. `Sraja' means a garland or a necklace. The goddess is wearing a necklace made of gold and silver. Now, we said before that Sridevi wears a garland of lotuses, so shouldn't this sound contradictory. No! Because a tender lotus has a natural golden glow as well as a silvery tinge of white. Thus, this again may mean a garland of lotuses itself. Thus the goddess is bedecked with valuables, both natural and man-made. Thus, Sridevi is the Adya Shakti who is at the helm of all affairs, concerning both the animate creation as well as the inanimate forces of nature. Here Suvarna represents the vowels and Rajata represents the consonants. Thus the goddess wears a Matrika Mala, the garland of letters. Now, the entire creation, according to Shabda Vaada, arises out of sound. Thus, Sridevi is the MahaYoni from which the universe takes birth. She is also the origin and essence of all mantras, which are but permutations and combinations of these Matrika letters. `Chandraam' - The word `Chandra' originates from the root `chadi'. This means to cause freshness or happiness (Aahlaada) or to shine. Because Sridevi shines like the moon, she is called Chandraa. In the same way as the moon causes delight to one and all, Sridevi also brings tremendous delight to all those who see her from in their inner hearts. The physical moon causes delight to the physical eyes whereas Sridevi brings immense pleasure to the inner-eyes.
Moon always forms a prominent ornament in most forms of Sridevi. The Tithi Nityaa worship in Srichakra follows the pattern of Chandra Kalaa or the lunar digits. Srividya is referred to as Chadra Vidya or Chandrakalaa Vidya in various scriptures. Also, one form of Srividya is known to have Chandra as its Rishi (seer). The Ayushkara Prayoga of the Kalpasutras prescribes meditation on Sridevi in the lunar disc.
`HiraNmayiim' - Hiranya means gold. Much has been told about this already. By adding to this root, a pratyaya called `mayat', we obtain the word `Hiranmayi'. This pratyaya gives the word two meanings by the way of Praachuryaartha and Vikaaraartha. Since Sridevi has similar qualities as that of the gold, she is seen as Hiranyaswaroopini. This is the Praachuryaartha. Also because Sridevi is having a golden complexion, she seems to be made of gold i.e. Hiranyavigrahaa. This is the Vikaaraartha. Hiranya also means `sacred' (pavitram vai hiranyam). That is, the great goddess who is free from all limitations and boundaries of name, form and space, transforms herself so as to become the efficient cause of this universe. Though she is without a form, she assumes multitudes of forms and shines in the hearts of the devoted, with a golden luster. She is thus referred to as Hiranmayii. This transformation (PariNaama) is indicated by Hiranya, which has to undergo a lot of processing before it obtains its luster and brightness. Shiva is called Hiranyaretasa. Here, Hiranya means Prakriti or nature and Shiva is indicated to be its very seed. Kaalikaa Purana calls that power of Hiranyaretas Paramashiva), which is responsible for creation-destruction-preservation of the worlds as Hiranmayee.
The viniyoga or the ritualistic application of this mantra has three forms: Adibhautika, Adidaivika and Aadhyaatmika. These three refer to fire-god, sun & moon and the Self as the respective deities of the three Viniyogas. The first involves using the mantra with a `swaahaa' added at the end and offering ghee into sacrificial fire. The second involves meditating on Sridevi in the lunar disc. The third involves worshipping the goddess, as one's own self with Praanaagnihotra.
Maharshi Agastya describes thus, `The intellect in the mind, the light in the sun, the shine in the moon, the luster in the gold, the butter in milk, all these are forms of Sri Mahalakshmi'.
तां म आवह जातवेदो लक्ष्मीमनपगामिनीम् ।
यस्यां हिरण्यं विन्देयं गामश्वं पुरुषानहम् ॥२॥
" O Jaataveda, invoke that Lakshmi (to/in me) who is Anapagaamini (stable), blessed by whom, I shall obtain gold, cows, horses and men. "
`Jaataveda, taam lakshmiim me aavaha', these words are similar to what we see in the previous mantra. However, here Sridevi is given an additional adjective, Anapagaamini'. This refers to Lakshmi who shall stably reside in the Sadhaka without deserting him for another person. Gold represents Sthaavara (immovable or inanimate) wealth whereas cows, horses and men represent Jangama (movable or animate) wealth. By Sridevi's grace, one obtains both these forms of wealth. The men that this mantra speaks of, include children, friends, servants and family (putramitradaasabhootaan - Saayana Bhaashya). It is said in Raajyalakshmi Hridayam that the attendants or followers of Sridevi are cows, horses and elephants. Thus, it becomes evident that with Her arrival, the attendants also follow and reside forever in the Sadhaka. Cow represents Satva, horse rajas and elephant Tamas. Sridevi, attended by these three Gunas, is however beyond all the three, she is Trigunaateeta. Depending on his own quality, the Sadhaka sees Sridevi in one of these Guna forms. This mantra also has Jaataveda as its Rishi. The meter for this mantra is Anushtup. The presiding deity is Sri Rajyalakshmi.
अश्वपूर्वां रथमध्यां हस्तिनादप्रबोधिनीम् ।
श्रियं देवीमुपह्वये श्रीर्मा देवी जुषताम् ॥३॥
" I invoke Shri Lakshmi, who has a line of horses in her front, a series of chariots in the middle, who is being awakened by the trumpeting of elephants, who is divinely resplendent. May that goddess, who is the Mother, grace me with her presence. "
This mantra presents the picture of the joyous arrival of Sridevi to the Sadhaka. A line of horses leads her procession. Then follows her beautiful chariot. Behind Her, one sees a herd of elephants, loudly making a trumpet-like noise. Or this means that Sridevi is arriving in a chariot driven by horses. In the previous two verses, the Sadhaka requested Jaataveda to bring Sridevi to him. As a result of his prayers, Lakshmi is being brought to the Sadhaka, as described in this Rik. Knowing that Sridevi is approaching him, the Sadhaka further requests her to come directly to him. The word `Upahwaye' means inviting Sridevi to come near oneself.
Further, `devii maa jushataam' means `may the great goddess come to me or near me'. Here the word `Maa' may not be looked upon as just the Chaandasa Prayoga of the word `Maam', which means `my'. It also means `mother'. The Sadhaka has to find some relation to associate himself with Sridevi, who is now going to stay with him forever. Since She is the source of the entire creation (Jagadyoni), it is but natural for a being to recognize her as his mother. The horses, which lead Sridevi's procession, represent the senses (Indriyas) of man (Indriyaani hayaan aahuH). Ratha (chariot) is the body of the Sadhaka (shariiram rathameva tu). The presence of Sridevi in the chariot indicates her residence in the center of one's heart or in the center of one's very being. Thus, she is recognized here as one's very self. Speaking in terms of Yoga, the noise of the elephant indicates the awakening of Kundalini. Many Yogis experience this noise with the awakening and ascent of Kundalini Shakti.
`Sri' means `Shrayaniiyaa' - one in whom ever one seeks refuge. The word `Devi' arises from the dhatu `div' which means `to shine' or `to play'. Because of Her shining presence in the Sadhaka, he becomes aware of anything and everything. Even the basic awareness of `Aham' (I) and `Idam' (this) is because of her presence as the Vimarsha Shakti. The entire world is her play or Leelaa, as said in the Brahma sutras (Lokavattu leelaa kaivalyam). Thus she is rightly called `Devi'. She is called Sridevi also because she is ever immersed in a cosmic play along with Vishnu, who is represented by the word Sri, meaning auspiciousness. She is thus the Moola Prakriti or the primal nature, never separate from the Purusha.
The Rishi of this Rik is Ananda, and the metre is Anushtup. The presiding deity is Sri Lakshmi. `U' is the Bija, `ta' is the Shakti and `Shriim' is the Kilaka.
कां सोस्मितां हिरण्यप्राकारामार्द्रां ज्वलन्तीं तृप्तां तर्पयन्तीम् ।
पद्मे स्थितां पद्मवर्णां तामिहोपह्वये श्रियम् ॥४॥
" I invite that Lakshmi to me who is of the form of the supreme Brahman, who has a smiling face, who has a golden luster, who is compassionate, who is burning-bright, who is ever satisfied and satisfying, who is residing in the lotus and who has a lotus-like ruddy complexion. "
`Kaam' is a name of the supreme Brahman (ka iti brahmaNo naama). The identity of Sridevi with Parabrahman, which was hinted at in the previous mantras, is explicitly declared here. By calling her Brahman, she is described as beyond the reach of thoughts and words (vaangmanaso ragocharaa). She is also understood be having `Durniruupa swaroopaa'- it is impossible to comprehend or illustrate her true form by words or description. Here, a syllable of the sacred Srividya Mahamantra is encoded.
The word `Sosmitaa' may be broken into three as follows, `Sa - U - smitaam'. `Sa' means `with'. `U' represents flow. `Smita' means smile. Thus Sridevi is described as having a smile from which a beatific smile flows out into the hearts of the Sadhaka, filling him with indescribable joy. The normal laugh of the living beings is said to be `Praakrita' or incidental. Depending on circumstances, it varies. It may be a smile, guffaw or laughter. However, the smile of Sridevi is the mark of the bliss or Ananda aspect of the Brahman. This is eternal and transcendent. This smile holds in itself, the grace of the Brahman, responsible for the appearance of the entire visible universe. These two words `Kaam sosmitaam' have to be read together to comprehend the above meaning.
`Hiranya praakaaraam' - Praakaara is the Chaandasa Prayoga of Prakara, which means type or variety. Thus, this may indicate type, color, form or shape. In this sense, Sridevi has a beautiful form or complexion that is comparable to Hiranya or gold. Praakaara also means a wall, fortress or an enclosure. It indicates a protective covering that is used to safeguard something very precious. This means that Sridevi resides within a fortress of gold. Until one crosses over the boundaries of lust, greed and temptation, represented by the golden fortress, by eliminating their very cause, which is duality, one attains Sridevi. Ishavasyopanishat says that the form of Brahman is hidden by a covering of gold (Hiranmayena patrena satyasyaapi hitam mukham).
`Aardraa' means wet, and this further hints at the qualities of being in contact with water (Klinnaa) and coolness (Shiitala). However, this word is frequently used to indicate compassion. Thus, by calling her Aardra, Sridevi is declared to be compassionate. Acharya has described Sridevi as the very personification of compassion in various hymns. Also, some commentators point out that this word indicates the birth of Lakshmi from the ocean of milk (Ksheera Saagara). Aardraa is also the name of a Nakshatra or a star. It is seen in the Smriti that the birth star of Sri Lakshmi is Aardra, which incidentally happens to be the favorite star of Lord Shiva too. The wetness spoken here also indicates the state of Kundalini Shakti soaked in Kulamrita, as described in the Rudrayamala (Amritaardraam kuliinaam taam kundaliim samupaasmahe).
The word `Jwalanti' is used to indicate that Sridevi is bright as the fire. She is the Moola Prakriti shining in the hearts of all creatures. Sincere Sadhakas behold her vision inside, just as one sees the bright sun on the outside. It is her brightness (Prakasha) that makes everything else visible and existent (Tasya Bhaasaa sarvamidam vibhaati). Also, Sridevi is completely satisfied (Triptaa) and hence, she satisfies all other beings (Tarpayantii). Sridevi is thus the supreme Brahman who is described to be Nityatripta (ever satisfied). Sridevi satisfies all beings by granting their worldly requests, and finally grants them liberation, by granting them the greatest treasure of Atma Jnana (the knowledge of the self). Most descriptions of Sri Lakshmi picture her as seated on a lotus. Her crystal clear form also appears to be of the same color as the lotus, due to reflection. She is the eternal Parabrahman free from all Gunas or qualities. However, she acquires various attributes or Gunas and appears as the Saguna Brahman to shower her grace on the less evolved devotees, incapable of grasping the mighty truth of Nirguna Brahman. The scriptures recommend worship of Sridevi with lotus flower because it represents purity, prosperity and beauty. All these are also the qualities of Sridevi. Hence Lakshmi is seen as being non-different from the lotus. Her residence is in the lotus hearts of the sincere and the devoted.
The main aim of this mantra is to establish Sridevi as being non-different from Parabrahman. Only when all senses and thoughts are clamed down by achieving a state of total satisfaction, does the light of Brahman reveal itself, as one's own self. This state of complete satisfaction can be achieved only by Sridevi's grace. The words `Ardra' (wet) and `Jwalanti' (burning) are contradictory according to the law of nature. What is wet cannot be burning. However, Sridevi is beyond the limitations of nature since Prakriti (as seen by the Sankhya theory) happens to be just an aspect or a part of hers. She is above the Tatvas of Prakriti and Purusha. She is the transcendent Sadakhya Tatva. Due to her compassion towards her children, grace flows out spontaneously from her, into the hearts of the Sadhaka. This lights up his entire being with the effulgence of the supreme Brahman. The Rishi of Rik is Ananda and the metre is Brihati.
The presiding deity is Srilakshmi. The Bija is `Kaam', `Hriim' is the Shakti and `Shriim' is the Kilaka.
चन्द्रां प्रभासां यशसा ज्वलन्तीं श्रियं लोके देवजुष्टामुदाराम् ।
तां पद्मिनीमीं शरणमहं प्रपद्येऽलक्ष्मीर्मे नश्यतां त्वां वृणे ॥५॥
" I seek refuge in Sri Lakshmi, who is beautiful like the moon, who shines brightly in the world due to her fame, who is pleased with the Gods, who is generous and who is surrounded by lotus flowers. I seek you (Lakshmi) to get rid of my misfortune. "
Chandra (moon) happens to be just a part of Sridevi. When Lakshmi came out of the milky ocean, a single ray of her beauty gave rise to the moon. Since the moon was born out of the milky ocean too, he is seen as Sridevi's brother earning her the title `Chandrasahodari'. `Prabhaasa' means to shine better and brighter. Since Sridevi is said to have the brightness of crores of moons (Kotichandraprakashe), this adjective becomes appropriate.
`Yashasaa jwalantiim' - she is known to every one due to her great fame. As we said before, she is called `Sri' because she is everyone's refuge. There is no one who does not know her. Even the ignorant know her as `I' or `Aham'. The same meaning is brought out in the name `Aabaalagopa viditaa' in Sri Lalita Sahasranama. Her fame is due to her qualities of Aishwarya (authority over the entire universe), Sampat (the power to fulfill all desires like wealth, health and salvation) and Audarya (generosity, that makes her easily accessible to the devotees). These are the qualities that attract devotees to her.
`Loke shriyam' - she is the great `Sri', the refuge of all creatures in the fourteen worlds. All creatures desire her. She is the hope, help, and happiness of the world. she is the Praapya (the goal), Praapaka (the aspirant who attains the goal) and also the means to achieve the desired goal. She is both Siddhi and Sadhana. Loka here also means Prakriti mandala. This constitutes of the three Gunas and twenty-four Tatvas, which are emanations from the Moola Prakriti or Sri. Because these are devoid of consciousness, they are not self-acting and depend on Sridevi completely. Their existence and activity is purely by the will of Sridevi. This great Moola Prakriti, responsible for the entire Prakriti mandala, that constitutes of the visual world or Loka is hereby identified as being none other than Sridevi.
`Devajushtaam' - Sridevi is described as being pleased with Indra, Vishnu, Rudra and other gods. Actually, she is pleased with all those, who reside in a state, predominated by Satva Guna. When Sridevi appeared from the milky ocean, all the Gods praised her with melodious hymns and offered their services to her. She was pleased with their devotion and granted them, all their desires. `Jushtaa' also means `with or `to combine with'. As soon as Sridevi materialized from the milky ocean, she entered the heart of the great Lord Narayana. This also earns her the title of Devajushtaa (Devena HariNaa jushtaa - Sri Guna ratna Kosha). The great Shakti Kundalini is in a state of slumber in the great ocean of milk called the Ksheera Sagara. After one gets over the poison of Halahala called duality, individuality is lost completely in universal consciousness. Once awakened by Gharshana (indicated by the Manthana of the milky ocean), she can wait no more to unite with her Lord, Paramashiva. The much-desired nectar is the boon of this eternal union of Shiva and Shakti. She is ever with her lord Parabrahman (Jushtaa), as his inseparable chit Shakti.
Another adjective used in this context is, `Udaaraa', indicating the unparalleled generosity of Sridevi. This word has several meanings like Pragalbha (of infinite greatness) and Vistaara (spreading everywhere). One may consider these qualities as being related to the fame of Sridevi that we spoke of earlier. They may also be considered as separate adjectives. The worship offered to any God or goddess, eventually reaches the Parabrahman or Sridevi. There is no restriction on her generosity towards them just because they worship other deities. It is through her powers, that the other deities grant boons to their own devotees, just as the moon reflects the Sun's light. The other deities, like the moon, appear to be self-luminous because of Sridevi. This further speaks of her generosity. `Padmanemi' - `Padma', although primarily means lotus, it also stands for `Prapancha' or the universe. Since Sridevi regulates (Niyama) the activities of the universe, which is nothing but a projection from her very own self, she is called Padmanemi. `Nemi' also means `to be surrounded'.
Sridevi is picturised as being surrounded by lotuses. Lotus signifies beauty, prosperity, purity and abundance, according to Lakshmi Rahasya Tantra. With Sridevi as the center of origin, all these qualities, like rays of light, spread everywhere, bringing the light of happiness and knowledge to the otherwise dark and gloomy world. she is said to be `Padmanabhi' or one with the lotus-navel. This is because the navel, according to yoga Shastra, is the place from which most important Nadis emanate. These nadis are circuits of Pranic energy. All important manipulations occur at the Nabhi Chakra, which is also the seat of energy storage. When guru performs Shambhava or Pragalbha Mahavedha on the disciple, Kundalini Shakti suddenly appears as Sridevi in the Manipooraka of the Sadhaka. The aspirant is by now prepared for this by performing certain Kriyas and Shushka Japa. He need not bother to awaken Kundalini from Moolaadhaara as in the case of Kaulas. The purity and the predominance of Satva Guna in the path of Samayachara allows one to completely transgress the lower two Chakras of the nature of tamas. However, due to the difficulty in achieving a state of total Satva, one discovers his consciousness, personified by Kundalini, in the Rajasic Chakra of Manipooraka. The advantage here is that one hardly needs to bother of all the dangers one faces while crossing the crucial Chakra of Swadhishthana, for which a complete balance is required. Most kaulikas following Vamachara get stuck in this Chakra and are forever thrown into the cycle of birth and death.
Ascent of the ladder of Guna is gradual and is very difficult for Sadhakas of Tamo Guna. It is pure bullshit when people claim that one could transcend all the Gunas by an excess of rajas or tamas. This practically does not happen. When one raises himself from Tamas to Rajas, he still has traces of Tamas. This tamas is lost only when the Sadhaka further rises to the level of Satva. But he now has traces of rajas. The state of Satva is the final state of exit into the attributeless, Nirguna Mahat. It is impossible to immediately rise to the levels of Satva from Tamas without a gradual ascent. Most followers of Vamachara who quote examples of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and other such great personalities, actually have their claim working against themselves. These great men were already established firmly in the realms of the Brahman, and all they did externally was simple child's play. They were already established in a state where the distinction of Samayachara and Vamachara mattered no longer.
Some commentators read `Padmanemiim' as `Padminiim iim'. Padmini means a lotus-pond. It also directly signifies a lotus. With no distinction whatsoever between Sridevi and the lotus, she is also called Padmini. Padma means the world an Padmini refers to its stalk (Padminii Padmalateva ). Sridevi, who is the Moola Prakriti is the stalk or the support of the universe. `Iim' is the great Bija mantra of Sridevi. This further confirms the association of this Sukta with Srividya. As said before, each mantra of the Sukta encodes a syllable of Srividya. I will not talk about this topic though, and those interested may refer to works such as Sri Guna Ratna Kosha and Saubhagya Lakshmi Kalpa.
The word `Taam' may simply mean `that' Padmanemi. However it can also be viewed as a separate adjective. Kamadhenu Tantra describes the letter `Ta' as Parashakti or Kundalini. It is also seen as the combined power of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra (Varnoddhaara Tantra). It also signifies the Iccha or will of the goddess, responsible for the creation of the visible universe.
`sharanamaham Prapadye' - one prays for refuge in Sridevi, for getting rid of one's misfortune, which is caused mainly because of Avidya. This is also a prayer addressed to Sridevi, requesting her protection. Sayanacharya and Prithvidharacharya have objected to the usage of the word `Aham' in this context, though it has come down traditionally over the ages.
`alakshmiirme nashyataam tvaam vriNe, - what is not Lakshmi is Alakshmi. If Sridevi signifies beauty, prosperity and generosity, Alakshmi signifies ugliness, lack and greed. The Puranas have personified Alakshmi as a deity called Jyeshtaa. It is said that Jyeshta Devi came out of the milky ocean before Lakshmi as in hence regarded as her elder sister. It is also said that she was followed by Halahala poison. As soon as she emerged out, she wedded Kali (the personification of kali yuga), who signifies all that is nasty and bad. She is thus called Kalivallabhe (Padma purana). Some identify Dhoomavathi, a mahavidya goddess with Jyeshta, but what one needs to observe is that Dhumavathi is a widow whereas Jyeshta is wedded to Kali Purusha. Alakshmi cannot reside in a place where there is presence of Sridevi. Thus, the Sadhaka here takes refuge in the lotus feet of Sridevi, to get rid of his Alakshmi. Seeing the competition between Lakshmi and Alakshmi, he has chosen Lakshmi among the two. The word `VriNe' indicates this choice or VaraNa. Alakshmi is nothing but the qualities of kali that are embedded in the dark chambers of human mind. Laziness, lust, greed, quarrelsome nature, cruelty, dyoota, Paana (taking to liquor), Maamsa Bhakshana (eating meat) are all said to be qualities of a person, that invite Jyeshta Lakshmi to oneself (Mahalakshmi Ratna Kosha). The usage of the word `Varana' is made to advice the Sadhaka to give up these qualities, to achieve Lakshmi.
The seer of this mantra is Ananda, Chandas is Trishtup and the presiding deity is Sarvaishwarya Pradaayini Mahalakshmi. `Cham' is the Bija, `Nam' is the Shakti and `Shriim' is the Kilaka.
आदित्यवर्णे तपसोऽधिजातो वनस्पतिस्तव वृक्षोऽथ बिल्वः ।
तस्य फलानि तपसानुदन्तु मायान्तरायाश्च बाह्या अलक्ष्मीः ॥६॥
" O great mother who shines like the Sun, because of the power and glory of your penance, the Bilva tree has grown up. By your grace, in the form of the fruit of the Bilva tree, may all misfortunes and inauspiciousness residing in my interior and exterior perish ! "
Aditya Varne - Aditya is the name of Sri Surya, the sun of Aditi. His Varna or color is of the nature of pure brightness. Thus, it is described that Sridevi shines brightly like the sun. Sridevi is described as having the complexion of the rising sun (Tarunaarunavadarunavarne 22/3 Saubhagya Sanjivanam). Here, venerable commentators have pointed out that the Bala Mahatripurasundari form of Sridevi is symbolically indicated (tanumadhyaam mahaalakshmiim baalaam tripurasundariim). This adjective is variously seen to derive a Bija of Srividya and also the Pancha Pranavas of Srividya. These can be easily derived following some simple sutras. However, this has to be learnt from one's Guru directly.
Tava tapasodhijaataH vanaspatiH bilvaH - Here there are references to penance performed by Lakshmi. The word `Tapas' arises from the root `tap' which means to burn. Thus Tapas is something, which causes physical difficulty (vividha klesha janakam karma). Taps, according to Ratna Kosha means Brahma Sankalpa. According to Yogini Tantra (1,5), Vishnu had two wives Saraswati and Lakshmi. Vishnu was more attentive towards Saraswati and this greatly bothered Lakshmi. She went to SriShaila and performed a severe penance to please Lord Mahadeva. Pleased by her austerities, Lord Shiva granted her a place in Sri Vishnu's heart. A Bilva tree grew in the place where Sridevi performed her penance. This tree became a favorite of both Sri Lakshmi and Lord Mahadeva. According to Vaamana Purana, Sridevi performed a severe penance for the welfare of the entire universe, in Kanchipuram, on the banks of river Neelaa. A Bilva tree sprouted from her right hand in that place.
According to Brihaddharma Purana, Lakshmi performed penance to please Lord Shiva in Kapaaalamochana Kshetra. Pleased with her, Lord granted her, his favorite Bilva tree.
According to Agni Purana, when Sridevi was roaming in the form of Kaamadhenu, the celestial cow, Bilva tree grew on the dung that fell from her, in Kolhapura. Skaanda Purana, Kalika Purana and Brahmanda Purana also speak of Lakshmi's penance in a forest of Bilva trees. Since Lakshmi resides in the Bilva tree, its fruit is called `Shriphala' and `Lakshmiphala'. Just as Sri Parvati resides in tulasi, Sri Saraswati in gooseberry tree, Sri Lakshmi is said to reside in Bilva tree. Bilva leaf consists of three Dalas (petals or leaves), which represent Brahman, Vishnu and Rudra and its stalk represents Adi Shakti (Jnaanabhairava Tantra 6th Patala). It is also believed that Bilva tree took its birth on the third day of Shulka Paksha in the month of Vaishakha. This day is celebrated as Bilva Jayanti.
In this Rik, Bilva is referred to as `Vanaspati'. Vanaspati means a tree without flowers, but having fruits (ApuShpaaH phalavantaH). Bilva is also called a Vanaspati because of its medicinal properties. Its power to cure various diseases is also attributed to the penance of Lakshmi. It is also used in Tantric alchemy and in Kayakalpa.
Tapasaa tasya phalaani maa yaa antaraa yaaH baahyaaH cha alakshmiiH nudantu - The useage of the word `Tapas' for the second time indicates Anugraha (grace) rather than penance here. Or, it may also mean worship or Upasana. It is wished here that the Bilva fruits, sanctified by having been offered Sridevi by means of Pooja, shall eliminate one's misfortune (Sri Sukta Bhashya). We have already analyzed the word `Alakshmi'. Here two types of Alakshmi, internal and external, are spoken of. Internal Alakshmi refers to ego, ignorance, greed, lust and other undesirable qualities. External Alakshmi refers to sinful activities, lack of cleanliness, laziness, disease, poverty and performing actions banned by the Vedas. Thus, one prays to Sridevi to eliminate one's Alakshmi by showering Her infinite grace. Here, the word `Maa' is taken to mean `Maam' (me) or mayi (in me). Sridevi is requested to eliminate AshriiH, present in the Sadhaka.
An alternative is to split the sentence as: `maayaa antaraayaaH cha baahyaaH alakshmiiH'. Here Maya refers to Ajnana (ignorance) or duality (Dvaita). The word AntaraayaaH speaks of all the banes that result from ignorance and duality. Thus, we request Sridevi to throw these out (Baahya) from us.
The seer of this mantra is Ananda, Chandas is Trishthubh and Deity is Sri Mahalakshmi. `Aam' is the Bija, `Shriim' is the Shakti and `Hriim' is the Kilaka.
उपैतु मां देवसखः कीर्तिश्च मणिना सह ।
प्रादुर्भूतोऽस्मि राष्ट्रेऽस्मिन् कीर्तिमृद्धिं ददातु मे ॥७॥
" O mother! I have originated in this kingdom. May fame and the friend of Deva (Kubera) join me with ornament by their company, may I be given fame and abundance. "
DevasakaH - This literally means the god's friend. This actually refers to Kubera, the Lord of wealth, who is said to be a friend of Lord Mahadeva (devashabdo mahaadeve rooDhaH kuberaH tryambakasakhaH - Aandavallee Vyaakhyaa). Kubera was born as the son of Vishravas and Ilavila. He pleased Lord Shiva by severe austerities and by his grace, became the Lord of riches. Mahadeva, pleased with Satvic nature, made him the head of the northern quarter and bestowed respect to him by calling him his friend (Eeshaanasamhita). Following the orders of Sri Mahadeva, Lakshmi agreed to reside forever with Kubera. By inviting Kubera, one is actually looking at his riches, Satvic qualities and the Navanidhis (nine great treasures). One cannot hope to achieve these riches without the grace of Sridevi. Now, since we have already invited Sridevi and obtained her grace, we are ready to invite the riches that accompany Sridevi. It is also said in Eeshaanasamhita that Kubera holds the authority to grant Lakshmi to the deserving and the devoted. Hence, one requests for his grace.
`Kiirti' here refers to a goddess who is the presiding deity of fame and popularity. It is by her grace that one performs deeds that earn great name and fame (kiirthyabhimaaninii tadaakhyaa yashobhimani devataa). She is said to be the daughter of Daksha Prajapati and wife of Yama. She is also regarded as one among the Parivara Devis of Sridevi. Her accomplices are Mati (intellect), Dyuti (brightness), Pushti (nutrition), Samriddhi (prosperity), Tushti (bliss arising out of satisfaction), Aarogya (health), Jayaa (victory), Shraddhaa (devotion).
Maninaa Saha - Mani refers to an ornament wearing which, one gets rid of sins and misfortune (DhaaraNaat paapaallaksmii vinaashakam - Raajvallabha). Here the reference is actually to Chintamani, the wish-fulfilling gem. It also came out of the milky ocean, along with Sri Lakshmi and is regarded as her Amsha (part). Also, Kamadhenu (the celestial cow), Kalpavriksha (the celestial tree), Sudhaa (nectar), Iravata (celestial elephant), Ucchaihshravas (the celestial horse), Apsaras (the divine damsels), Kaustubha (the ornament decorating the chest of Narayana) and Chandra- all these are also said to be Amshas of Sridevi (Saurasamhita). The word `Mani' assumes more significance, when seen along with the word `Devasakha'. Kuberea is the Lord of a class of semi-divine beings called the Yakshas. Manibhadra is a Yaksha, who is said to be the minister of Kubera, who protects the nine great treasures. He is also believed to be the protector of tourists. Mahabharata sees him as the Lord of forests and waterfalls. In olden days, people regularly prayed for his grace (tathaa no yaksharaaD adya maNibhadraH prasiidatu - Mahabharata 3,64,127).
Upaitu - Upa + Etu - This means `come near me' or `join me'. Since Kubera, Manibhadra and Kiirti are Parivara Devathas of Sridevi, they naturally command respect. Hence this special invitation. PraadurbhuutaH asmi Asmin raashTre - `I have originated, appeared or taken birth in this kingdom'. Kingdom may here mean earth. However, it refers to the Hiranyaloka, a plane of higher consciousness, obtainable solely by Sridevi's grace. By obtaining Sridevi's grace, the Sadhaka has got rid of all dualities and ignorance, and he now finds himself in a plane of higher consciousness. He sees this as a new birth. He is now in the kingdom of God or of Sridevi.
Some commentators have identified this as the Srinagara, the divine Loka of Sri Mahatripurasundari. One attains Hiranyaloka, after he is wet (Bhairavayamala). This wetness, one has to note, is due to Kulamrita, that flows as result of the union of Kundalini with Paramashiva.
Kiirtim riddhim dadaatu me : Kirti here means `fame'. Riddhi means Samriddhi or prosperity, the facility to enjoy all forms of luxuries. Riddhi also refers to Animaa and other Siddhis (RiddhiH AshtaishwaryasamriddhiH). Like Kirti, Riddhi is also a Parivara Devi of Sridevi, as is regarded as the wife of Kubera (Mahabharata and Harivamsha). Thus, this is a prayer to Sridevi to grant Siddhi, Samriddhi, Riddhi and Kiirti to men, who have taken birth on earth.
The seer of this mantra is Kubera, Chandas is Anushtup and deity is MaNimaalinii Mahalakshmi. `Um' is the Bija, `Mam' and `Bloom' are the Shakti and `Shriim' is the Kilaka.
क्षुत्पिपासामलां ज्येष्ठामलक्ष्मीं नाशयाम्यहम् ।
अभूतिमसमृद्धिं च सर्वां निर्णुद मे गृहात् ॥८॥
" I shall get rid of Jyeshta Lakshmi, the embodiment of all misfortunes and difficulties like thirst and hunger, by your grace. O mother! Drive out of my house, pain and poverty. "
Jyeshta brings with her, hunger, thirst, poverty, ill health and bad thoughts. She is the elder sister of Sridevi because she came out of the milky ocean before Sridevi (ShriyaH praagutpannaa). She is described in the Padma Purana to be of an ugly, disgusting form. She emerged out of the milky ocean wearing a red dark sari and decorated with red flowers. She approached the Devas, who asked her to inhabit all those places, which were dirty, which were the places of residence of the wicked, which witnessed constant fights and which housed activities not acceptable by the scriptures. Sri Lakshmi extols control over the star Rohini, whereas Jyeshta presides over the star `Jyeshta'. People avoid performing any auspicious activities in this particular star.
Abhooti means Anaishwarya (poverty). This may also be seen as Asambhooti (defeat). Asamriddhi means `without progress or growth' (Vriddhi Raahitya - Prithwidhara Bhashya). The Sadhaka is praying to Sridevi to drive these out of his home.
The seer of this mantra is Sri Mahavishnu. The metre is Anushtip and deity is Sarvaishwaryakaarini Mahalakshmi. The Bija is `kshum', `ham' is the Shakti and `shriim' is the Kilaka. I have seen the traditional usage of the bijas `ram - hriim - shriim- hriim- ram' for purposes of Japa and Nyasa with regard to this mantra.
गन्धद्वारां दुराधर्षां नित्यपुष्टां करीषिणीम् ।
ईश्वरींग् सर्वभूतानां तामिहोपह्वये श्रियम् ॥९॥
" I shall invite (welcome) Sri Lakshmi who is as patient and forgiving as the earth, who is always prosperous, and who is the supreme mistress of all creatures. "
Gandhadwaaraam duraadharshaam - The sense of smell (Gandha) is a characteristic of Prithvi Tatva or the earth element (ghraanagraahyo gunaH gandhaH ). Sri Lakshmi is like the door to this sense of smell and hence she is recognized to be none other than Prithvi or mother earth. Bhu is a form of Lakshmi. She is also worshipped as Vasudhaa Lakshmi or Vasundharaa. The special qualities of the earth are her forgiving nature, patience and equal love towards all creatures. To indicate that her patience is indestructible by anyone, the word `Duraadharshaa' is used (kenaapi dharshitum ashakyam). This also means that no creature can live without Prithvi or by acting against her (durdharsha = duHsaaham).
Yet another meaning is that the non-devoted can never obtain the grace of Sridevi. She can only be pleased by true devotion and not by any other method or forcefully. The same is indicated in the Rahasya Naama Saahasra in the name - Bhaktivashyaa. Nityapushtaam kariishiniim - Pushti means to obtain nutrition or to grow stronger and healthier. Earth is major source of Pushti for all living beings from time immemorial. She never runs out of her power to grant Pushti to all her children. Thus, Sridevi in he