Monday, March 16, 2009

ஸ்ரீ லலிதையின் சரிதை

(The story of the Goddess Lalita)

The anecdotes of the divine play of Para Shakti (The Ultimate Power i.e. the Divine Mother) are described in the various texts of mythology in several ways. Devi Bhagavata, Durga Saptashati in Markandeya Purana by the sage Vyasa and Tripura Rahasya narrated by the Lord Dattatreya are of this category. Not only that. Many Tantra books pertain to this pious theme.
The rituals of worship and spiritual practices to attain the grace of Para Shakti are multifarious. Among them some methods of Samayachara (benign rituals) and Vamachara (wild rituals) are still in vogue in India. There are some mutual contradictions among these rituals.
Lalita Sahasranama Stotra, the hymn of 1000 names of Lalita is the best one
venerated by the followers of all the traditions. There is not a single ritual, which has any difference of opinion on this hymn, which is found in the Brahmanda Purana.
The spiritual masters of the past have written several commentaries on the Lalita Sahasranama Stotra. They have firmly established that the hymn contains the essence of the Mantra Shastra (the science of holy chants) of the entire world. They have thoroughly analysed and described each name of the hymn from various
The first set of 100 names of the hymn describes in detail the story of Lalita. Take for example, the fourth name “Chidagnikunda Sambhuta” which means the Divine mother manifested from the fire-pit of the Supreme Knowledge. Where can we find such a fire pit?
Consider another name “Kamesha baddha Mangalya sutra sobhita kandhara” i.e.
One with the Mangala sutra tied around her neck by Kameshwara. (Mangala sutra is the holy thread with a golden pendent tied around the neck of a bride by the bridegroom)
Who is Kameshwara? We find another name “Kameshwarastra nirdagdha sa Bhandasura sunyaka”. This means that the Divine Mother has burnt to ashes both the demon Bhanda and his capital city of Sunyaka using the weapon of Kameshwara. Who is the demon
Bhanda? First of all we said Lalitasahasra. Who is Lalita?

All these questions are answered in detail in the Lalitopakhyana in the Brahmanda Purana. The narration is written in the form of conversation between Hayagreeva and the sage Agastya. Hayagreeva in this context is a seer. There is a celestial of the same name. Who are they?
We get the reply for this also in the text.
There is a detailed description in the book establishing the harmonious synthesis of
the aspects of the three deities Shiva, Vishnu and the Divine Mother.
In the past several devotees used to daily recite Lalitopakhyana, the detailed story of Lalita. This pious story contains the inner meanings of the several technical terms of the spiritual science and the finer aspects of the Mantra Shastra (the science of holy chants). Let us enjoy the feast of nectar by listening to this pious story with deep devotion.

Penance of Agastya
Long ago, the mountain Vindhya (central India) started growing upward in gigantic proportion due to egoism. The sage Agastya decided to subdue the pride of Vindhya. For this purpose, he came from Varanasi (Uttara Pradesh, India) and settled in South India. By the divine presence of the sage Agastya, the entire South India gradually became prosperous and pious.
Eventually the Kali Yuga started (As per the tradition of India, Kali Yuga is the fourth Age, the others being Kruta, Treta and Dvapara). Inspite of the severe inspection of the sage Agastya, the evil traits of the Kali Yuga started sprouting slowly. Noting this trend, the sage felt sad and proceeded on a pilgrimage.
The strange and unrighteous ways of the people made him quite unhappy. There was rampant selfishness and sensuousness prevalent everywhere. “How can these people attain liberation?” – This was his nagging grief.
After reaching Kanchi (Tamil Nadu – South India) he was unable to bear the burden of the grief, and performed severe penance meditating on Varadaraja (The Best of the boon givers – a synonym of Vishnu).
God’s ways are mysterious! His power of illusion is incomprehensible! Vishnu
appeared to the sage in the form of Hayagreeva. Agastya asked Hayagreeva “Oh Lord! What is the path of salvation to these ignorant people”?
Hayagreeva replied “There are two paths for this. They are:
a) After renouncing everything, one can attain the knowledge of the, attributeless
aspect of God. This is a very difficult way.
b) The second method is to worship the Divine Mother who is the form Vishnu with attributes. Even a sinner can do the worship. There is another advantage in this type. The devotee can simultaneously get enjoyment and salvation by following this path”.
Further, Vishnu ordered to the sage Agastya “You have to propagate this divine secret in the entire world”.

The sage asked, “Lord Vishnu! Kindly narrate the story of Para Shakti (The Ultimate Power, the Divine Mother) who is your aspect with attributes ”. At this stage, Vishnu asked sage Hayagreeva (born with the Lord’s aspects) to tell the detailed story to Agastya.
The Divine Mother emanated from meditation of Brahma (the Creator). Her name then was Prakruti (The nature).

Mohini Avatara
For the second time, the Divine Mother manifested as Mohini at the time of the churning the ocean by the celestials and the demons (to obtain Amruta-nectar). Let us see how it happened.
Once upon a time, Indra (the Lord of the Heaven was overpowered by the pride of his prosperity. His reverence to even Shiva gradually diminished. Observing this, Shiva asked the sage Durvasa to meet Indra in the Heaven. The sage started taking
the path of Gandharvas (the celestial singers), which was very beautiful. The sage appeared uglier than a beggar. Anyway he proceeded ahead pompously. On the way the sage saw a celestial lady holding a fragrant garland of divine flowers.
The ugly looking sage asked the beautiful lady, “Where did you get this garland”? She observed him keenly and realised that he was a sage. She prostrated to him and replied humbly “Sir! I am just now returning after doing the worship of the Divine Mother, who manifested and gave me this garland as Prasadam”
Jumping joyously, the sage asked her to give the garland to him. She happily
handed it over to the sage and, prostrated to him. The sage blessed her “May your devotion to the Divine mother be firm”. Taking leave of the sage, she went away.
By this incident, the sage realised that it was not difficult to others to recognise him, even if he was in any ugly appearance. He was satisfied with this thought and proceeded further.
After a while, he saw Indra riding the elephant Iravata. The sage approached Indra, who did not appear to recognise and prostrate to the sage. However, the sage did not get angry and said, “Indra! This is the garland given by the Divine Mother Herself. Take it. Saying so, the sage presented the garland to Indra. Indra didn’t refuse. He received the garland with disgust and threw the same on the head of the elephant, which proceeded ahead. A little latter, the elephant threw down the garland with its trunk and trampled over it.
Looking at this, the sage Durvasa became very furious and cursed Indra, “Oh! Egoistic fellow! You have not recognised me. Not only that. You have not even respected the Prasadam of the Divine mother. Due to this, May your prosperity vanish!”
With these words, Indra’s pride was humbled. He got down the elephant and
prostrated to the feet of the angry sage Durvasa. However, the sage went away slently.

Then Indra’s troubles started one by one. He saw bad omens in the Heaven. Afraid of them, Indra asked the sage Bruhaspati (the Spiritual Master of the celestials) to reveal the cause of the bad omens. The sage replied, “The effect of your sins follows
you as a shadow. Saying so, the sage narrated a fine story.
(to be continued)

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