Daśa Mahāvidyā दश महाविद्या

3. त्रिपुरसुन्दरी Tripurasundarī (continued)

Part 2


Ṣodaśī has been explained under nāma 587.  All mantra-s are considered as secretive in nature and Ṣodaśī is not an exception.  Recitation of Ṣodaśī leads to liberation, because of the presence of parābījā sauḥ (सौः). This mantra not only gives Liberation, but also gives materialistic gains due to the presence of three Lakṣmī bīja-s.  This mantra leads straight to Brahman through the Grace of Parāśakti.  Generally, one is not initiated into this mantra straight away.  Guru decides the timing of initiation into this mantra.  Often one is first initiated into Bālā.  Depending upon one’s progress, Pañcadaśī is initiated.  If Guru considers that his disciple is fit for final liberation, he initiates him into Ṣodaśī. However, material gains will accrue if the mantra is properly practiced. It is also said that initiation and fructification of Ṣodaśī mantra depends upon one’s karmic account.

Ṣodaśī vidyā is considered as Brahma vidyā, the knowledge of the Brahman.  Brahman is depicted in the form of mantra-s in Ṣodaśī vidyā. Since Ṣodaśī depicts Brahman in the form of mantra-s, it is treated as secret.  But the important aspect of its secrecy is the replacement of second ॐ in this mantra with ātma bīja.  The third aspect of the secrecy is the worship of ninth āvaraṇa that deals with parā, parāpara and apara states (these states have been dealt with while discussing nāma-s).  If one is able to reach the fourth stage of turya or turīya, he gets prepared to attain liberation in the next stage of turyātīta.  Turya is reached without any difficulty when Ṣodaśī mantra is chanted regularly.

(Turya and turyātīta: Turya is the fourth state of consciousness, the other three being awake, dream and deep sleep. Turya stage transcends all the above three stages by bundling them out. The level of consciousness at turya stage is very close to the stage of blissfulness, derived from experiment and observation rather than theory. Turyātīta is the stage where one’s consciousness transcends turya stage.  In this stage of blissful consciousness, the Brahman is realised where one feels that “I am That” or aham brahmāsmi. The final stage of merging into the Brahman is kaivalya, (sālokya, sarūpa, samībha and sāyujya; beyond this is kaivalya, which is Liberation.) When a soul ceases to transmigrate.}

In Pañcadaśī one can transcend the fourth state of consciousness, the turiya state.  In Ṣodaśī one can merge with the Brahman, by reaching the fifth state of consciousness, turyātīta. There is nothing beyond this.  What happens if one transcends turya state? The self is replaced by SELF.  This transformative realization happens in a fraction of a second where near death-like situation is experienced. One is not the same person after that ‘second’.

This is a regular Mahāṣoḍaśī Mantra:

om śrīṁ hrīṁ klīṁ aiṁ sauḥ -- ॐ श्रीं ह्रीं क्लीं ऐं सौः

om hrīṁ śrīṁ -- ह्रीं श्रीं

ka e ī la hrīṁ -- क ए ई ल ह्रीं

ha sa ka ha la hrīṁ -- ह स क ह ल ह्रीं

sa ka la hrīṁ -- स क ल ह्रीं

sauḥ aiṁ klīṁ hrīṁ śrīṁ -- सौः ऐं क्लीं ह्रीं श्रीं

Om in red is replaced by one’s ātma bīja.

There are 28 letters in Mahāṣoḍaśī Mantra, the first om is not included in counting. Only in aṣṭākṣarī (ॐ नमो नारयणाय॥ om namo nārayaṇāya ||), om is also counted. There is another way of calculating 16 letters (ṣoḍaśa – meaning consisting of 16 and contextually, it is 16 letters here). Sixteen letters are calculated thus – In the first line there are 5 letters, in the second line, there are 3 letters and in the last line there are five letters. Third, fourth and fifth are Pañcadaśī mantra comprising of three lines, also known as kūṭā-s. Each of these kūṭā-s is considered as one letter. As there are three kūṭā-s, we have to calculate this as three letters. Thus we have 5 + 3 + 3 + 5 = 16. Hence the mantra is called Ṣodaśī.

Why this mantra is called the ultimate mantra?

The most important factor is that the Pañcadaśī mantra is encased (sampuṭīkaraṇa) by five most powerful bījākṣara-s. If we observe the first line and last line, we can notice, how the bījākṣara-s in the first line are placed in the reverse order in the last line

Shodasi mantra

Between these two lines, the entire Pañcadaśī mantra along with ātma bīja, ह्रीं (hrīṁ) and श्रीं (śrīṁ) are placed. The importance of these bījākṣara-s is extremely significant.

1. श्रीं (śrīṁ): This is known as Lakṣmī bīja and mostly placed along with ह्रीं (hrīṁ).  Apart from causing auspiciousness, this bīja produces enough solar energy within the body and makes the mind calm and tranquil. If this bīja is added to Pañcadaśī mantra at the end, we get Laghu Ṣodaśī mantra. This bīja works along with sauḥ (सौः) in offering Liberation. Again श्रीं (śrīṁ) consists of three letters śa, ra and ī and nāda and bindu. Śa refers to Goddess of wealth Lakṣmī and ra is wealth itself, Ī refers to satisfaction, nāda is apara (having nothing beyond or after, having no rival or superior) and bindu dispels sorrow. This clearly explains that Mahāṣoḍaśī Mantra not only gives Liberation, but also gives material prosperity, peace of mind and satisfaction in life.

2. ह्रीं (hrīṁ): This is known as māyā bīja. ह्रीं (hrīṁ) and श्रीं (śrīṁ) are often placed together. Ha means Śiva, ra means Prakṛti, Ī means mahāmāya (She is Prakāśa-vimarśa- mahāmāya- svarūpinī). Nāda is Divine Mother (mother of universe) and bindu is the dispeller of sorrow. (Interpretations always vary according to bīja-s. For example, it is said in śrīṁ that ra is wealth, whereas here it is explained that ra is Prakṛti. It all depends upon context and conjunction.) It is also said that hrīṁ produces solar energy within the body. This bīja causes Bliss (There are six ह्रीं (hrīṁ) in Mahāṣoḍaśī Mantra). Śiva speaks a lot about usage of ह्रीं (hrīṁ) in Mahānirvāṇa Tantra, particularly in kali yuga.

3. क्लीं (klīṁ): This is known as kāma bīja. It is the bīja for attraction. This bīja in fact promotes the potency of other bīja-s and the mantra as a whole. It works on heart chakra and kindles love for fellow beings. This helps us to achieve our material desires, when placed with other bīja-s. Ka refers to Manmatha, also known as Kāmadeva. There are references that ka also refers to Lord Kṛṣṇa; la refers to Indra, the chief gods and goddesses, Ī refers to contentment and satisfaction and the bindu here gives both happiness and sorrow. This is the effect of materialistic desires, which consists of both happiness and sorrow. This bīja acts in a strange way. It induces desires and at the same time if one is not satisfied with what is given, it also causes miseries.

(This concept of over doing in anything is very dangerous. Even in meditation, it is dangerous to cross 30 minutes till all the lower chakras are completely burnt. Deactivation of lower chakras takes about three to six months, depending upon one’s sādhāna.)

4. ऐं (aiṁ): This is known as Sarasvatī bīja. ai (ऐ) refers to Sarasvatī and bindu as usual is the dispeller of sorrow and miseries. It is sometimes called Guru bīja, which implies that this bīja endows knowledge. This bīja establishes a strong connection between the deity and mantra, as this bīja works on buddhi (intellect).

5. ॐ ऐं ह्रीं श्रीं (om aiṁ hrīṁ śrīṁ): Om is Prakāśa form of Brahman also known as Śiva praṇava and the other three bīja-s, aiṁ, hrīṁ and śrīṁ are Vimarśa praṇava-s. Śākta praṇava is kāmakalā, ईं īṁ.

6. सौः (sauḥ): Bīja sauḥ (सौः) is known as parābīja, hṛdayabīja or amṛtabīja. Śiva explains to Śakti about this in Parā-trīśikā-vivāraṇa (verses 9 and 10), a Trika Scripture. He says to Her, “O! Gracious one! It is the third Brahman (sat or sa स) united with the fourteenth vowel औ (au – out of the sixteen vowels), well joined with that which comes at the end of the lord of vowels (visarga or : - two dots one above the other, used in the sixteenth vowel अः - aḥ). Therefore sauḥ is formed out of the combination of sa स + au औ+ ḥ = sauḥ सौः. In Parā-trīśikā-vivāraṇa (verse 26), it is again said, “He who knows this mantra in its essence, becomes competent for initiation leading to liberation without any sacrificial rites.” This is known as nirvāṇa dīkṣā or initiation for final liberation, where nirvāṇa means emancipation.  The Scripture proceeds to say that the one who elucidates the proper meaning of this bīja is known as Śiva Himself. This bīja is the cosmic pulsation of the Lord.

The third Brahman referred here (SAT) is explained in Bhagavad Gītā (XVII.23 - 26) “OM, TAT and SAT are the threefold representation of the Brahman and from That alone Vedas, Vedic scholars and sacrificial rites have originated. Hence, during the acts of sacrifices, gifts, austerities approved by Scriptures and during Vedic recitations, OM is uttered in the beginning. TAT is recited by those who aim for liberation while performing sacrificial rites, austerities and charities without intent on the fruits of these actions. SAT is recited by those who perform the above acts with faith and on behalf of the Brahman.”

Thus sa स (sat) referred in this bīja is Śiva Himself, which represents His creative aspect, the pure Consciousness.  Next comes His three energies Icchāśakti, Jñānaśakti and Kriyāśakti. During Creation, Cit Śakti of Śiva, after manifesting as Ānanda Śakti (Bliss) becomes the above referred three Śakti-s, before entering into the sphere of Māyā. Ānanda Śakti is known as Śakti, normally referred as Śiva’s Consort or His Svātantraya Śakti, His exclusive and unique Power of Autonomy. These three powers can be explained as subject I; object That; and subject-object or I and That. These powers of Śiva are also known as Sadāśiva, Iśvara and Suddha Vidyā. Now the fusion between S and AU takes place and सौ (SAU) is formed. As a result of this fusion, creation happens, which is represented by visarga (two dots one above the other like the punctuation mark colon :) This is the Spanda or throb or pulsation of the Divine towards creation, causing the emission of His three energies contained in AU. With the addition of visarga (ḥ:) at the end of सौ (SAU) becomes सौः(sauḥ).

This parābīja is not meant for recitation or repetition but for the contemplation of Śiva, who alone is capable of offering liberation by removing all differentiations caused by māyā. The one who fully understands the significance of सौः (sauḥ) becomes instantly liberated. Proper initiation into this mantra by a Guru is exempted for this mantra. One can self initiate.

Thus all the bījākṣara-s of Mahāṣoḍaśī Mantra are extremely powerful and therefore, the mantra is considered as the most powerful of all the mantras. The most important aspect of this mantra is sampuṭīkaraṇa or encasing of Pañcadaśī mantra along with one’s ātma bīja, ह्रीं and श्रीं. Thus the effect of the mantra remains within the subtle body of the sādhaka and works on his/her māyā, which is nothing but Parāśakti Herself. When She is satisfied with the intensity of the sādhana of a sādhaka, She imparts knowledge about Śiva. She is Śiva-jñāna-pradāyinī. She imparts the knowledge of Śiva, the Ultimate.  Śiva jñāna (knowledge) means the knowledge of the Brahman, which is also known as the Supreme knowledge.  To know Śiva, one should first know His Śaktī, who alone is capable of leading a person to the Brahman or Śiva.  Rāmāyaṇa says ‘wind can be realized through movements, fire can be realised through heat and Śiva can be realized only through Śaktī.’ It can also be said that Śiva is the source of knowledge for Her.

It is said śaṁkaraṁ caitanyam which means that Śiva is both jñāna and kriyā.  He is the sovereign, pure free will in knowledge and action.  Based upon this principle, Śiva Sūtra-s opens by saying caitanyamātmā.  Caitanyam means consciousness of the highest purity and knowledge.  There is no difference between Brahman and the highest form of consciousness.  But how Śaktī alone is capable of unravelling Śiva?  This is answered by Śiva Sūtra (I.6) again which says that by meditating on Śaktī, the universe disappears as a separate entity thereby unveiling Self illuminating Śiva.  The process of such happening is described in Spanda Kārikā (I.8) (another treatise of Kashmiri Saivism) which says ‘the empirical individual cannot ward off the urge of desires.  But entering the energetic circle of the Self (Śiva), he becomes equal to that Self.’ The seeker of Śiva becomes Śiva himself.  This is known as Śiva jñāna and She imparts this kind of Supreme knowledge.

It is also said that Śiva cannot be attained without first realising Śaktī. She alone can lead one to Śiva. Śiva is inaccessible directly. Unless She chooses to impart the required Supreme knowledge, none can realise Śiva. Hence, She is called Śiva-jñāna-pradāyinī.

How Liberation is offered by Her in the ninth āvaraṇa is explained here. Practically speaking there is no ninth āvaraṇa, which is the Bindu (bindusthāna), as this is within the innermost triangle. Ninth āvaraṇa (navamāvaraṇa) has myriad significances. It is also known as sarvānandamayacakra. Sarvānandamaya means Absolute Bliss, which cannot be explained at all. It is very important to note that Śrī Mahātripurasundarī is the Cakreśvarī of this āvaraṇa. This is because She presides over Bindu, where Śiva is seated. This subtly conveys how meticulously She takes care of Her Consort. Sarvayoni is the Mudrāśakti and Parāparāti-rahasya-yoginī is the Yoginī (Parāparāti-rahasya means extremely secretive). Nobody has access to this Bindu except Parāśakti.  All the acts of Divine originate from this Bindu, as only here the Divine procreative union of Śiva and Śakti takes place. The principle acts of Divine are creation or sṛṣṭi (LS 264), sustenance or sthiti (LS 266) and destruction known as saṁhāra (LS 268). There are other two acts, which are also equally important and they are annihilation (LS 270; this is also known as tirodhāna which means concealment or disappearance) and recreation (LS 273; anugraha or recreation out of compassion). This is explained in Lalitā Sahasranāma LS 905, as Baindavāsanā (baindava means bindu and āsana means seat.) All these five acts originate from this Bindu, go towards the outer triangle and from there various energies are diversified and creation is completed at the entry point of Śrī Nagara. From this entrance point, manifestation of the universe is completed. This procedure is with regard to creative aspect or sṛṣṭikrama. The reverse process is known as saṁhārakrama. At this point, let us understand that sṛṣṭikrama refers to our birth and saṁhārakrama refers to our liberation. Different krama-s will be dealt with later in this series, as we are going to be liberated shortly.

In the ninth āvaraṇa, union of Śiva and Śakti happens. Their union varies according to the krama. If it is sṛṣṭikrama (creation), their union is different and if it is saṁhārakrama, their union is on different plane. Saṁhāra here refers to liberation and now, we are only discussing about liberation. During sṛṣṭikrama, during their union, only both of them alone remain. But during saṁhārakrama, we are also present along with Her. It is like a mother holding the hands of her child and handing over the child to the child’s father. During sṛṣṭikrama, She attains the form of Kāmakalā (Lalitha Sahasranama 322 Kāmakalā rūpā) and their union is symbolized in the form of a Liṅga, where the bottom portion represents Śakti and the upper portion represents Śiva.

At the end of eighth āvaraṇa, we continued to remain in Her lap and we refused even liberation, the ultimate goal of anyone’s life. But She takes pains in explaining to us the importance of liberation. She told us about the pains of birth and death, how we have worked hard in our sādhana (spiritual practice) to reach this level, etc. She also told us that Her Consort will be more compassionate and more lovable to us. Reluctantly we agreed to Her sermons. In any moment from now, we are going to be liberated.

She is now raising up from Her throne (LS 3) and by holding our hands, She enters into the Bindu. Bindu is full of Splendorous Light and in the midst of blinding light we could not see anything around. The place is full of Divine Fragrance. We could not move any further as the Light was so blinding. We have read in Upaniṣad-s, how this Light would be. But we have an opportunity to personally experience this Light now. When She moves towards the Light, the blinding white Light gradually turning red and Śiva is revealed to us, who is fully radiant, in crystal complexion, extraordinary brilliance throughout His body. He cannot be explained at all.  The energy from Him is so powerful and we feel as if we are being pushed towards Him. This is what is known as the energy of liberation, which is explained as Mahā-grāsā (LS 752). Kaṭha Upaniṣad (I.ii.25) says “the best among all people are like food to the Self.  Death overcomes everyone, yet even death is a mere condiment for the Self.”

Parāśakti is now seated by Śiva’s side. The crystal complexion of Śiva now looks like the colour of the rising moon on a full moon day. We now understand that  this is the Bindusthāna, the place from which the universe originates and dissolves. As we have almost lost our consciousness, nothing goes into our minds. We have lost our mind, intellect, consciousness and ego. All the four components of antaḥkaraṇa are already annihilated when we entered the eighth āvaraṇa. At this point where we are now, our body, mind and soul are completely purified. We have read that merger into Brahman cannot take place unless these are purified. What we have read once, we are experiencing now. For any experience, knowledge is very important and without knowledge, spiritual experiences cannot be explained or defined.

She now asks all of us to come near Her and She makes us to sit on Her lap again. By sitting on Her lap, we are able to have close darśan of Śiva. He smiles at us and then He looks at Parāśakti. Now She begins to move slowly towards Śiva and ultimately She merges with Him. Now we understand what is really meant by Śiva-śakty-aikya-rūpiṇī (LS 999). We are now inside Śiva and we are liberated, not to be born again!

(Tripurasundarī vidyā to be continued)