Fort of pearl is the fifteenth fort in Śrī Nagara. Once we cross this fort, we have to cross ten more forts to reach the outer walls of Śrī Cakra. We now cross the pearl fort and enter into a huge open space. From this open space, we are able to see the fort of emerald (marakata). In this place there are a lot of palm trees. Each palm tree is shining like gold. Gold pots are fixed on the top of these trees to extract an intoxicating drink known as madhu from the fruits of palm trees (madhu is also referred as spirituous liquor, generated from the skull that drips into the throat during kuṇḍalinī meditation. This is referred in Lalitā Sahasranāma 106, sudhāsārabhi-varṣiṇī. According to this nāma there is one soma chakra in the middle of sahasrāra. When Kuṇḍalinī reaches this chakra, out of the heat generated by Parāśakti’s presence, the ambrosia which is stored there gets melted and drips through the throat and enters the entire nervous system). As we go around the open space, we find a huge palace made of emeralds. As we enter into this palace, we see a massive hall with one hundred pillars, also made of emeralds. In that hall, there is a throne, fully made of gold and in the middle of this gold throne there is a gold lotus flower, known as mantrarājam, where we are able to have a glimpse of Vārāhi Devi, who is majestically seated. The palace of Vārāhi Devi is in no way different from the palace of Mantrinī Devi (situated in the space between forts 7 and 8). Both of them form the two front arms of Parāśakti (Mantrinī is in left lower hand and Vārāhi is the right lower hand. Vārāhi Devi is subtly conveyed in Lalitā Sahasranāma 11, pañcatanmātra-sāyakā (pañcatanmātra-s are sound, touch, sight, taste and smell). There are another two nāma-s (70 and 76) which speak about Vārāhi in Lalitā Sahasranāma. Apart from these nāma-s, there are several subtle references. Vārāhi Devi is seated on Kiricakra, her yantra. Her chariot is known as Kiricakra-ratha. We now move closer to Vārāhi Devi.
Vārāha means boar (pig or hog). Since Vārāhi has boar like face, she is known as Vārāhi. She has beautiful eyes like that of lotus flowers. Her body has lustrous gold complexion. She has the moon on her crown. She is wearing red coloured garments. A red garland adores her body. She has eight hands and six hands are holding six different weapons and two hands show abhaya (removing the fears of devotees of Parāśakti) and varada (conferring boons) mudras. The rest of the hands hold a plough, a daṇḍa (staff appearing like a pestle), a conch, a wheel, an aṅkuśa (hook) and a pāśa (noose). She is also known as Daṇḍanāthā because she always carries a daṇḍa (staff) with her. She is dreadful to sinners. She is extremely fond of devotees of Parāśakti and always blesses them. She is surrounded by Svapneśī, aṣṭabhairava-s with their consorts and others like Jambhini, etc.
Her mantra is also known as mantrarājam which has 110 akṣara-s and is considered as one of the most potent mantras, which is reproduced here.
ॐ ऐं ग्लौं ऐं नमो भगवति वार्तालि वराहि वाराहमुखि ऐं ग्लौं ऐं अंधे अंधिनि नमो रुंधे रुंधिनि नमो जंभे जंभिनि नमो मोहे मोहिनि नमः स्तंभे स्तंभिनि नमः ऐं ग्लौं ऐं सर्वदुष्टप्रतुष्टानां सर्वेषां सर्ववाक्पदचित्तचक्षुर्मुखगतिजिह्वास्तंभं कुरु कुरु शीघ्रं वशं कुरु कुरु ऐं ग्लौं ऐं ठः ठः ठः ठः हुं फट् स्वाहा॥
om aiṁ glauṁ aiṁ namo bhagavati vārtāli varāhi vārāhamukhi aiṁ glauṁ aiṁ aṁdhe aṁdhini namo ruṁdhe ruṁdhini namo jaṁbhe jaṁbhini namo mohe mohini namaḥ staṁbhe staṁbhini namaḥ aiṁ glauṁ aiṁ sarvaduṣṭapratuṣṭānāṁ sarveṣāṁ sarvavākpadacittacakṣurmukhagatijihvāstaṁbhaṁ kuru kuru śīghraṁ vaśaṁ kuru kuru aiṁ glauṁ aiṁ ṭhaḥ ṭhaḥ ṭhaḥ ṭhaḥ huṁ phaṭ svāhā ||
(Please note: This mantra is taken from Mantramahārṇavaḥ and appears as the correct one. There are several versions of this mantra and authenticity of these mantras could not be verified.)
Vārāhī is the chief of Lalitāmbikā’s army. Vārāhī has the capacity to drive away the evil forces. If Vārāhī is worshiped on the 18th day of the month of āṣāḍha (July-August), it is believed that those who have difficulties in getting married will get married. The Bhāvanopaniṣad considers goddess Vārāhi as father and Kurukullā as mother (we will have her darśan later in Śrī Nagara). It says, “Vārāhi pitṛurūpā kurukullā balidevatā mātā (वाराहि पितृरूपा कुरुकुल्ला बलिदेवता माता).”
It is also said Vārāhi Devi’s 110 akṣara-s and Śyāmalā Devi’s 98 akṣara-s, together form 208 akṣara-s used in Śrī Cakrā navāvaraṇa pūjā. Śyāmalā Devi is between forts 7 and 8. After praying to Vārāhī that She should bless us in having a close darśan of Lalitāmbikā, we move from Her palace and reach the huge entrance doors of the emerald fort.
Emerald fort is the 16th fort. When we pass through this fort, the green colour of emerald is very pleasing to our eyes. After exiting this fort, we are able see another fort, far away, which is fully made of corals. Coral fort is the 17th fort. We are now in the open area between the emerald fort and coral fort. When we go around this open space, we find Lord Brahmā in a meditative posture. He is in charge of creation of beings and this work is allocated to Him by Lalitāmbikā. He is also known as Prajāpati, meaning lord of creatures. He is often called great-grandfather of the beings, while Viṣṇu is called as grandfather and Śiva as father. We, with great reverence move towards Brahmā, who has the complexion of saffron mixed with milk (combination of red and white), giving golden sheen to His body. After worshipping Him from a distance, we proceed towards the coral fort.
We walk through the coral fort to reach another open space. From this open space, we are able to see another fort made of navaratna -s (built with nine types of precious gems - pearl, ruby, topaz, diamond, emerald, lapis lazuli, coral, sapphire, and gomedhaka, known as zircon), which is fort number 18. We now begin to walk around outside the coral fort. We find a huge palace built with highly precious rubies. We enter into this fort and in the middle of the fort, we find Viṣṇu along with His Consort Lakṣmī, seated on His Garuḍa vāhana (Garuḍa referred here is not a regular bird, but a mythological bird, born to sage Kaśyapa and Vinatā. Vinatā is the mother of Suparṇa, Aruṇa and Garuḍa). We move closer to Him, as we know that He sustains the universe and is always compassionate. He has the complexion of young leaves of Tamāla tree (this tree is said to be dark in colour, but blossoms in white colour). Even from a distance, we are able to see His radiance. He is wearing kuṇḍala-s in His ears (kuṇḍala means ear stud or ear ring). The radiance of the kuṇḍala-s are reflected in His shining cheeks. His lips are red in colour and He is ever smiling. His face appears like the moon. He has kastūrī tilak in His forehead (kastūrī means musk, naturally fragrant glandular secretion from the male musk deer). His eyes appear like fully blossomed lotus flowers. He is wearing garlands made of campaka flowers (fragrant yellow flowers). He is wearing pure white silk garments. Śrīvatsa adores His chest. (Viṣṇu Sahasranāma 601 is Śrīvatsavakṣāḥ and is explained thus: Śrīvatsa is a mark in the chest of Viṣṇu, which is considered as very auspicious. Vakṣas means chest. It is also said that it is the place where His consort Lakṣmī resides. Though the Lord Himself is an embodiment of auspiciousness, the presence of Lakṣmī makes His form more auspicious.) He appears exactly as described in this dhyāna verse of Viṣṇu Sahasranāma: saśaṅakha-cakraṁ sakirīṭa-kuṇḍalaṁ sapītavastraṁ sarasīruhekṣaṇaṁ |sahāra-vakṣasthala-śobhi-kaustubhaṁ namāmi viśṇuṁ śirasā caturbhujam || Meaning: “I pay obeisance to Lord Viṣṇu with four hands, who holds conch (Pāñcajanya) and disc (Sudarśanacakra), who is adorned with crown and ear studs, golden raiments, beautiful eyes like lotus flower, His chest bedecked with garlands and kaustubha, a celebrated jewel obtained with thirteen other precious things at the churning of the ocean and suspended on the chest of Viṣṇu.” He is also adorned with a garland of basil leaves (tulasī or tulsī). His Consort Lakṣmī is sitting very close to Him. The very sight of this gives us immense happiness. We prostrate before them and seek their blessings.
After leaving His place, we moved towards the entry gates of navaratna fort (fort number 18) and walked through this fort to reach the other end of the fort. When we entered into the open space after navaratna fort, at a distance, we are able to see another huge and beautiful fort made of nānāratna-s (different types of precious gems), which is known as nānāratna fort (fort number 19). We now begin to go around outside navaratna fort. We are able to see a number of massive palaces, vast flower gardens. There are big mountains with high peaks. While we are walking through this place, we find a large hall fully constructed with gold. This hall has one thousand gold pillars. When we are about to enter this palace, we are able to listen to the chants of Vedas. Vedic chants reverberate everywhere. In the middle of this gold hall, we find a throne, fully decorated with tiger skin. In that throne is seated Rudra, along with His consort, Bhavānī. In front of Rudra and Bhavānī, is seated with great reverence, a bull known as Ṛṣabha. This is bull is said to be Nandi, the vehicle of Rudra. Along with Nandi is seated Bhṛṅgi, one of Rudra’s attendants. Both Ṛṣabha and Bhṛṅgi always recite the names of Rudra and Bhavānī. Apart from Ṛṣabha and Bhṛṅgi there are other attendants and they are known as Rudragaṇa-s. We prostrate before Rudra and Bhavānī and after seeking their blessings, we move to the next fort.
(Further reading: Śiva attains several forms depending upon the necessity. His Supreme form is Paramaśiva. This form of Śiva encompasses Parāśakti. Both of them are in a single form. However, this form is different from Ardhanārīśvara, in which Śakti occupies left side of Śiva’s body. But Paramaśiva is different from this form, as Śakti has not yet been created as a separate entity, but remains in Paramaśiva; still She is inherent in this form. At the time of creation, Paramaśiva becomes Śiva and Śakti, as two separate entities. Śiva, in order to creates modifies and expands Himself to create the universe through His various forms such as Sadāśiva, Īśvara, Rudra, etc. This is like water in a well, in a lake and in an ocean. Water is the same and only the container in which the water is held is different. In the same way, inner essence is always Śiva, who manifests in different names and forms such as Sadāśiva, Īśvara, Rudra, etc. Modification of Śiva into various forms depends upon the influence of Śakti, known as Māyā, on Him.)
There are six more forts before we could reach Śrī Cakrā. We can begin our journey inside Śrī Cakrā only after crossing these six forts.