श्रीमन्त्राक्षरमालया गिरिसुतां यः पूजयेच्चेतसा
संध्यासु प्रतिवासरं सुनियतस्तस्यामलं स्यान्मनः।
चित्ताम्भोरुहमण्टपे गिरिसुता नृत्तं विधत्ते रसाद्वाणी
वक्त्रसरोरुहे जलधिजा गेहे जगन्मङ्गला॥
śrīmantrākṣaramālayā girisutāṁ yaḥ pūjayeccetasā
saṁdhyāsu prativāsaraṁ suniyatastasyāmalaṁ syānmanaḥ |
cittāmbhoruhamaṇṭape girisutā nṛttaṁ vidhatte rasādvāṇī
vaktrasaroruhe jaladhijā gehe jaganmaṅgalā ||
“This hymn is composed (previous 15 verses) as a garland with the bījākṣara-s of highly affluent Śri Vidya mantra. The one who mentally worships Her (with this mantra) every day in the morning, noon and evening with discipline, his mind will become pure and spotless. Parāśakti will dance with great pleasure in his pure mind. In his face appearing like a lotus, goddess Sarasvatī will dance and goddess Lakṣmī will dance in his home.”
This verse begins with bīja śrīm श्रीं, which, if appended to the Pañcadaśī mantra, Pañcadaśī mantra becomes ṣoḍaśākṣarī mahā mantra.
This mantramātṛkāpuṣpamālāstavaḥ is made up fifteen bījākṣara-s of Pañcadaśī mantra arranged in the same order at the commencement of the first fifteen verses. In other words, if the first letters of the fifteen verses are arranged in a serial order, Pañcadaśī mantra is formed. Mantra – mantras; mātṛka – belonging to the Divine Mother or originating from Her (mātṛkā generally means Sanskrit vowels and sometimes used to mean all the alphabets); puṣpa – flowers; mālā – garland; stava – hymn in praise. Lalitā Sahasranāma explains this through two nāma-s. Nāma 577 is mātṛkā-varṇa-rūpinī which means that She is in the form of 51 alphabets of Sanskrit. This nāma is further explained through nāma 489 akṣamālādi-dharā which says that She is wearing a garland made of fifty one beads, representing 51 alphabets of Sanskrit. But Śaṁkarācārya has chosen fifteen bījākṣara-s of Pañcadaśī mantra and offered this mantramātṛkāpuṣpamālā as stava (hymn) to the Divine Mother. Hence this whole verse is known as mantramātṛkāpuṣpamālāstavaḥ.
This garland of mantras (this hymn) is described as śrīmantrākṣaramālayā in this verse. If one meditates on Her with this mantra three times daily, his mind becomes pure and spotless. There will be no traces of any thought processes in his mind, either good or bad. She pervades a mind that is absolutely pure, without any impressions of any thoughts. As She is the embodiment of purity, She can pervade one’s mind only if his mind is totally immaculate. Purifying one’s mind is the most difficult task as one’s senses are always active. If one recites mantramātṛkāpuṣpamālāstavaḥ three times daily, his mind becomes clean due to Her Grace, as this hymn is made of the most powerful of Her mantras, the Pañcadaśī mantra. Three times are referred here are dawn, noon and dusk. At dawn She is worshipped as Gāyatrī, at noon as Sāvitrī and at dusk as Sarasvatī. In this verse, three times of a day is referred as saṁdhyā (sandhyā), which is related to the sun. Sun rise, just before noon and sun set are the three times considered auspicious for mantra recitals.
When an aspirant recites this hymn as described above, She dances in his mind, Sarasvatī dances in his face and Lakṣmī dances at his home. This means that Parāśakti pervades his mind. In other words, the aspirant is now a Self-realized person. He is now a yogi. When Parāśakti pervades his mind, Sarasvatī and Lakṣmī automatically bestow their grace on him. He becomes knowledgeable due to the grace of Sarasvatī and his knowledge is reflected in his face. A person’s spiritual status can be easily ascertained from his face. His face will be bright and shining. His internal bliss will be radiated through his face. Whatever he says becomes true. If he blesses, it happens. This is not a siddhi but happens due to Her Grace. He is endowed with riches by goddess Lakṣmī, so that he can always stay attuned with Her. To sum up, She showers Her Grace to the world through his body.
This hymn is capable of bestowing all these powers because it is composed of Pañcadaśī mantra. For those who are yet to enter into the spiritual path, this hymn gives instructions how to perform external pūjā and the sequential offerings. The hymn begins with offering Her seat, then weaponries, crown, arghyaṁ, pādhyaṁ, ācamanīyaṁ, offering Her bath, garments, ornaments, offering different types of fragrances, flower garlands, dhūpaṁ, dīpaṁ, food offerings, fruits, betel leaves with karpuravīṭikā, nīrājanam and upacāra-s. All these rituals are done only in the first fourteen verses and the fifteenth verse talks about realization within. This sixteenth and the last verses talk about the benefits accruing to the proper recitation of this hymn.
This verse is concluded by quoting a reference from Bhakti Darśanam (verse 2), which says, “She is always searched for meditatively, because She is the Bliss in essence. Constant search for Her through one’s mind is therefore known as devotion.”
bhuvanamamalayantī sūktisaurabhyasāraiḥ |
madayatu kavibhṛṅgānmātṛkāpuṣpamālā ||
इति मन्त्रमातृकापुष्पमालास्तवः समाप्तः॥ iti mantramātṛkāpuṣpamālāstavaḥ samāptaḥ ||
“Thus, this well knit garland made of akṣara flowers (each akṣara is called as a flower) be the ornaments (anklets) for Her lotus feet, the daughter of King of Mountains. While this hymn is being submitted to Her lotus feet, let the fragrance of the words used in this hymn purify the world. When the world is cleansed, liberation or emancipation flows like drops of nectar from the garland of akṣara flowers, due to the Grace of Śiva, which gives immense happiness to the bees.”
This is the last verse of this hymn. After having composed such a splendiferous hymn, Śaṁkarācārya places this mantramātṛkāpuṣpamālā at Her feet, who is described as the daughter of King of Mountains in this verse. When this garland of letters was placed on Her feet, the alphabets gain fragrance from Her ever fragrant worshipful feet. The fragrance of this garland spreads throughout the world. When the garland of letters that acquired fragrance from Her feet could spread their fragrance throughout the world, it is incomprehensible to think about the fragrance emanating from Her sacred feet. From this fragrance, drops of honey drip just like honey from the pollen of flowers. The verse says that the nectar dripping from the garland of letters is the nectar flowing from Śiva. This means, that the one who regularly recites this hymn three times a day with focused mind is sure to attain liberation. Only Śiva is capable of offering liberation. But none can go to Śiva directly. One has to go through Her only and She alone can impart the knowledge of Śiva, says Lalitā Sahasranāma 727 śiva-jñāna-pradāyinī. If one merges with Śiva, he is not born again. He is liberated. When She is satisfied with yogi’s spiritual progress, She takes him to Śiva for liberation and Śiva makes that yogi to merge with him and the yogi and all his traces cease to exist. He becomes one with Śiva. He will not be born again, not even with his subtle body. He has become one with Śiva. All this is possible only due to Her Grace. Hence Śaṁkarācārya composed this hymn in Her praise. Fragrance mentioned in this verse is Bliss. The garland of letters attains bliss from Her feet and spreads this bliss throughout the world. Those who are able to notice this bliss are merged with Śiva.
There are two significant points disclosed in this hymn. One is about Pañcadaśī mantra, which is considered as the Supreme mantra to offer liberation. Pañcadaśī and ṣoḍaśākṣarī mantras are capable of offering only liberation and not supernatural powers. They are known as “kevalam mokṣa sādhanam”. Secondly, this hymn talks about meditation. When one continuously recites these mantras in his mind, he automatically, over a period of time enters into trance. When trance unfolds in him, mantra recitation automatically ceases. Only during this state of mind, realization is possible.
One has to progress spiritually in stages. There is difference between ritual worship and spiritual worship. This hymn stresses the important of worship through the mind and hence at the end of the hymn, liberation is declared. The transformation of the aspirant happens only in the verse 15 and libration is discussed in the last verse 17. Meditation is nothing but making efforts to unite the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. The simple way to do this is focus the mind on Her, initially with form and later without form. Transition from with form to without form will automatically happen. The duration of such contemplation is not important, but the quality of contemplation is very important. Though, in the initial stages of meditation, duration is a factor, but when one progresses, duration becomes redundant. With practice, perfection is attained easily.
Yoga Darśanam verse 3 says, “That which is compreised of mind remaining constantly merged in Brahman by the realization that all this world consisting of names and forms is nothing but Brahman, is ascertained as yoga.”
With this, commentary on Mantramātṛkāpuṣpamālāstavaḥ is concluded with a prayer to Her for spiritual upliftment of all the aspirants. She is easy to attain, provided there is initial impetus in the minds of the aspirants. Once, She is attained, one can feel the Bliss in the form of joy, happiness and love, all of which are inexplicable. This can only be experienced.