The main mantra of Lalitāmbikā is Pañcadaśī which consists of fifteen bīja-s. A bīja need not be a single Sanskrit alphabet. It could be a combination of alphabets. For example, sa is a bīja and it is a single alphabet, whereas hṛīṃ is also a bīja but a combination of many alphabets. Each alphabet in Sanskrit has a meaning. If we take the first letter a in Sanskrit alphabet, it conveys many things. It is the origin of (OM); it also means unification, non-destruction, etc. The interpretation of meaning for such bīja-s mostly depends on the context in which it is used. Pañcadaśa means fifteen. Since this mantra has fifteen bīja-s, it is called as Pañcadaśī. Pañcadaśī mantra consists of three groups consisting of bīja-s and each line is called kūṭa or group. The three kūṭa-s are known as vāgbhava kūṭa, kāmarāja kūtā or madhya kūṭa and śakti kūtā. Vāgbhava kūṭa represents Lalitāmbikā’s face, kāmarāja kūṭa represents the portion between Her neck and hip and the last one śakti kūṭa represents the portion below Her hip. The whole form of Lalitāmbikā is made up of these three kūṭa-s. This is one of the reasons why Pañcadaśī is considered as very powerful. These three kūṭa-s are joined in such a way that an inverted triangle is formed which represents Her yoni, the source of the universe. This is why this mantra is considered as highly secretive. Vāgbhava kūṭa is the right side of this triangle, kāmarāja kūṭa the upper side and śakti kūṭa forms the left side of the triangle.
Vāgbhava kūṭa consists of five bīja-s viz. ka-e-ī-la-hrīṁ .
Madhya kūṭa consists of six bīja-s viz. ha-sa-ka-ha-la-hrīṁ .
śakti kūṭa consists of four bīja-s viz. sa-ka-la-hrīṁ.
Thus, we have fifteen bīja-s of Pañcadaśī. This mantra is not revealed by these bīja-s, but by the following verse in Sanskrit.
kāmo yoni: kamalā vajrapāṇirguhāhasā matariśvābhrāmindraḥ|
punarguhāsakala māyayā ca purucyeṣā viśvamātādividyā||
This is the verse where in the fifteen bīja-s of Pañcadaśī are hidden. This is a clear indication of the highly secretive nature of this mantra. From this verse, the fifteen bīja-s of Pañcadaśī are arrived thus. kāman (ka) yoni: (e) kamalā (ī)vajrapāniṛ (la)-guhā (hrīṃ) ha (ha) sā (sa) mathariśvā (ka) abram (ha) indraḥ (la)| punar (punar means again) guhā (hrīṃ) sakala (sa,ka,la) māyayā ca (hrīṃ) purucyeṣā viśvamātādividyā.
The first kūṭa has five bīja-s ka-e-ī -la- hrīṃ. The entire three kūṭa-s end with hrīṃ and this hrīṃ is called hṛllekha. A lot of importance is attached to this hṛllekha which is also called as māyā bīja. Vākbhava kūṭa is also known as agni khaṇḍa and indicates jñāna śakti of Lalitāmbikā. Ka means Brahma, the creator. e means Sarasvatī the goddess of jñāna. ī means Lakṣmī, la means Indra and hrīṃ means the merger of Śiva and Śaktī. The bīja ka is the root of kāma bīja klīṁ (क्लीं). ka also bestows peace and prosperity to the sādaka. The next bīja e prevents misfortunes to the sādaka. ī bestows wealth and all good things to sādaka. The bīja la gives victory to the sādaka. Thus, the first four bīja-s give peace, prosperity, prevention of misfortunes, auspiciousness and a status like Indra. This means victory to sādaka in every step he puts forward. (Indra is the chief of all gods and goddesses and is victorious in all the battles against demons).
hrīṁ is made up of twelve letters. H + r + ī + m and a bindu. Bindu is a dot on the letter m (ṁ). But this is not just a dot. This dot comprises of ardacandra, rodhinī, nāda, nādānta, śakti, vyāpikā, samanā and uṇmanī. Beginning from bindu and including these eight, is nāda (total nine). This nāda comprises of two V-s one above the other (each V has two lines and two V-s together have four lines) and four dots each at the open ends of V and one dot on the top these four dots. This is the combination of bīja hrīṁ. More than these V-s and dots, the pronunciation is important. There are specifications of length of timing for pronunciations of each bīja. The entire kūṭa should be pronounced in eleven mātrā-s (a mātrā is the time taken for a winking, possibly lesser than a second). There are guidelines for pronouncing the bīja-s. The pronunciation of Vākbhava kūṭa should commence from mūlādhāra cakra and end at anāhata cakra, contemplating the entire kūṭa as the fire.
The second kūṭa is kāmarāja kūṭa or madhya kūṭa is to be meditated upon Lalitāmbikā’s neck to hip. This kūṭa has the highest number of bīja-s, six. They are ha-sa-ka-ha-la- hrīṁ. Out of these, ka, la and hrīṁ have been discussed in the first kūṭa, leaving two new bīja-s in this kūṭa. Out of the new bīja-s, ha has been repeated twice. The first ha means Śiva; the second ha means ākāś element (Saundarya Laharī (verse 32) refers this second ha as the sun) and sa in this place means Viṣṇu. With reference to the five basic elements, sa means air element. The bīja ha is also known as eunuch bīja. Probably this is the reason why the bīja hrīṁ refers to the union of Śiva and Śaktī. In the first kūṭa, Brahma was mentioned, as the first kūṭa refers to creation. In this kūṭa of sustenance, Viṣṇu is mentioned as He is the lord of sustenance. This kūṭa should be pronounced in a time frame of 11.50 mātrā. This kūṭa is to be contemplated from anāhata cakra to ājñā cakra in the form brightness that is equivalent to millions of suns. This kūṭa is also called sūrya khaṇḍa and forms the second act of Brahman viz. the sustenance. Since it is associated with sustenance, desire is attached to this kūṭa.
The third and the last kūṭa which is called śaktī kūṭa, has only four bīja-s. This kūṭa is to be meditated upon the portion between hip and the feet of Lalitāmbikā. The four bīja-s are sa-ka-la- hrīṃ. The first kūṭa has five bīja-s, second kūṭa six bīja-s and the third has only four bīja-s. Possibly this could mean that sustenance is the most difficult act and dissolution is the easiest act. Vākbhava kūṭa refers to subtle intellect, kāmarāja kūṭa refers to preponderance of valour, wealth, fame, etc and the third kūṭa, the śakti kūṭa expands the conveyance of the previous two kūṭa-s. It can be noticed that two ha bīja-s in the madhya kūṭa is removed in this śaktī kūṭa. This kūṭa is to be pronounced in a time frame of eight and a half mātrā-s. The entire Pañcadaśī mantra should be pronounced in thirty one mātrā-s. In the case of continuous recitation of this mantra, without leaving time gap between the kūṭa only twenty nine mātrā-s are prescribed. But the time factor does not apply when the mantra is recited mentally. This kūṭa is to be contemplated from anāhata cakra to the middle of the forehead in the forms of brightness comparable to the millions of moons. There are nine stages from anāhata to the middle of the forehead. These nine stages are nothing but the nine components of nāda which was discussed under hrīṃ. This kūṭa is called chandra khaṇḍa and forms the third act of Brahman, the dissolution. The dissolution is represented by the bījā ‘la’ which means the destructive weaponries viz. vajra (thunder bolt), cakra (the wheel. Possibly meaning the Sudarśana cakra of Viṣṇu), triśūla or trident of Śiva and the gada of Viṣṇu. There are three hrīṃ-s in Pañcadaśī each representing creation, sustenance and dissolution.
Śaṃkarācārya also talks about the bīja-s of Pañcadaśī in a secretive manner in Saundarya Laharī (verse 32). In the second kūṭa out of the two ha bīja-s, Śaṃkarācārya means sun instead of ākāś element. The interpretations of the bīja-s differ from scholar to scholar. It is also pertinent to note that chanting of one round of Pañcadaśī mantra is equivalent to three rounds of recitation of pūrṇa Gāyatrī mantra. Pūrṇa Gāyatrī means an addition of paro rajase sāvadom as the last line in addition to the existing three lines.
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