While we are waiting for necessary permissions, our Guru gives a small lecture about Śrī Cakra (should be read as चक्र chakra).
“We have reached this place after crossing twenty five forts and we are about to enter into Śrī Cakra. I am not going into the details of various enclosures now. There are two types of worshipping Śrī Cakra. One is ritualistic worshipping all the nine enclosures with flowers, etc. There are several goddesses in these enclosures and all of them are worshipped before reaching the innermost triangle and the bindu (the dot in the center). The inner most triangle and the bindu are the source of creation of the universe. There is another way of worshipping Śrī Cakra through mind, as explained in Bhāvanopaniṣad (भावनोपनिषद्), which is based on certain subtle conveyances of Atharvaveda. Bhāvanopaniṣad is in the form of sūtra-s (aphorisms) and enlighten the similarity between human body and Śrī Cakra. Bhāvana means contemplation, where only the mind is used. When you involve your mind in worship, you are bound to have significant and instantaneous effects. You must always remember that you can reach Her feet only through your mind and not through your sensory organs. At the same time, you must also remember, that you cannot straight away begin mental worship, without going through the process of ritual worship. If you do that, your sādhana will be imperfect and you cannot achieve the desired results. Bhāsakararāya, one of the greatest devotees of Parāśakti in recent times spoke about three stages of worship. First one is worshipping Her with gross forms, such as having Her idol, etc. This includes navāvaraṇa pūjā, Lalitā Sahasranāma or Triśatī arcane, etc. In this kind of worship, we always consider Her as someone different from us and we adore Her by placing Her on a higher pedestal. When one attains perfection in these rituals, he moves on to worship Her with mantras, gradually moving away from ritualistic worship. Initiation of mantras happens during this period. One moves from Bālā mantra to Pañcadaśī and ultimately to Ṣoḍaśī. Even in mantra sādhana, one begins with all types of nyāsa-s (touching a particular part of the body with specific fingers of the hand, symbolically placing Parāśakti all over the body). Over a period of time, he dispenses all nyāsa-s and concentrate only on the mantra. When he is comfortable with this stage, he begins to move on to the final stage of his sādhana, merely contemplating Her within. He does not need the help of pūjā-s and mantra recitations and he, on his own establishes a cosmic connection with Her in deep meditation. In the deep state of meditation (nirvikalpa samādhi or deep trance), there should be nothing, except your mind and Her subtle form. This stage is explained in Lalitā Sahasranāma 254, Dhyāna-dhyātṛ-dhyeya-rūpā (She is the form of a triad – the meditation, the meditator and the object of meditation. This triad leads to another triad – the knower, the known and the knowledge. Higher level of spiritual knowledge can be attained only through dhyāna or meditation. Meditation is only a process of powerful concentration. Reading books and listening to sermons are not knowledge. Knowledge is attained through internal quest and exploration. The store house of knowledge is not extraneous, but within. The store house is nothing but the Supreme Self. Patañjali Yoga Sūtra (III.2) explains this further. “Unbroken flow of that concentration in that object is called dhyāna.”) At the initial stages, he tries to become one with Her, but he is not able to sustain this union for long. However, he continues his practice ignoring his own form and after a long and hectic sādhana, he realizes Her within. Now he knows that there is no difference between Her and his own self, which thought destroys all his dualities, which in turn removes the veil of māyā in his mind. This can be further explained, but this is not the place to discuss more on this.
“Concept of Guru is very important in knowing Her truly. Unfortunately, many say that they are realized souls, which is only a myth. This is known as deceptive realization, where their egos play spoil sport. Guru will know his disciple and will take him through the stages over a period of time. The transition from stage one to the third stage depends upon one’s devotion, level of sādhana and willingness to move forward, without questioning the intentions of his Guru. A true Guru knows how to uplift his disciple. A true Guru will not take much time to shape his disciple. That is why Bhāvanopaniṣad begins by saying “śrīguruḥ sarvakāraṇabhūtā śaktiḥ || श्रीगुरुः सर्वकारणभूता शक्तिः॥” The next sūtra says that only because of Guru, the disciple has nine openings in his body. In other words, the Upaniṣad says that the body of the disciple is in no way different from the body of his Guru. You will be surprised to know that the nine openings of the body (pair of eyes, pair of ears, two nostrils, mouth, organs of excretion and procreation- total nine) are the nine enclosures of Śrī Cakra. This not only establishes that there is no difference between Guru and his disciple but also establishes that there is no difference between our body and Śrī Cakra. Thus, there is no difference between Guru, Śrī Cakra and the disciple.
Each of the nine enclosures (āvaraṇa) of Śrī Cakra is presided over by a cakreśvarī (presiding goddess of that particular āvaraṇa). Apart from cakreśvarī, there is a yoginī in each of these nine āvaraṇa-s (navāvaraṇa- nine enclosures). Cakreśvarī is not different from Parāśakti. Every cakreśvarī represents Parāśakti, but in a much concealed manner. Let us assume that a lamp is covered by eight different veils. When we complete one āvaraṇa, one of the veils will be removed. These veils are known as tiraskaraṇi, who is worshipped in the beginning itself during navāvaraṇa pūjā. When we move towards inner triangle and bindu, at the end of each āvaraṇa, one veil is removed and Parāśakti reveals Herself more clearly.
But yoginī-s are different. Yoginī-s can be explained as spiritual powers, symbolically represented as divine damsels. Yoginī is derived from the world yoke (English word), which means union. Yoke is a word derived from yoga, which also means union. Practice of yoga leads to the union of jīvātman with Paramātman. Yoginī-s play significant role in making this union complete, by sufficiently providing enough spiritual powers to jīvātman, so that jīvātman is completely purified to become eligible to unite with Paramātman. Lalitā Sahasranāma 237 is mahā-catuḥ-ṣaṣti-koṭi-yoginī-gana-sevithā (Mahā-catuḥ-ṣaṣti-koṭi means sixty four crores or 640 million. Yoginī-gana are demigoddesses. She is worshipped by these 640 million demigoddesses also known as yogini-s. In Śrī Cakra, there are eight mātṛkā devi-s (also known as aṣḥta māta-s) like, Brāhmī, Māheśvarī, Kaumārī, Vaiśṇavī, Vārāhī, Indrāṇī, Cāmuṇdā, Mahālakśmī. The aṣḥta māta-s have eight deputies called as yogini-s which make sixty four yogini-s. Each of these sixty four yogini-s has one crore or ten million attendant yogini-s. Thus the calculation of 640 million yogini-s is arrived. These yogini-s attend to different aspects of administration of the universe.)
Apart from aiding the union of jīvātman with Paramātman, yoginī-s also cause the intertwining of Śiva and Śakti cakra-s of Śrī Cakra in a perfect and smooth manner. At the end of each āvaraṇa, one mudra (finger gesture) śakti and one of the eight aṣṭamasiddhi-s are also worshipped. Therefore, at the end of each āvaraṇa, first the concerned cakreśvarī followed by one of the aṣṭamasiddhi-s, mudra śakti and finally Lalitā Mahātripurasundarī Parā Bhṭṭārikā (bhṭṭārika means noble and majestic Goddess) are worshipped. While performing Śrī Cakra pūjā, it is always assumed that She is seated facing the eastern direction and we have to enter through the western direction.
When Guru finished, Bhuvaneśavarī Devi (Āmnyāyā Devi) informed us that permission is granted for us to enter Her Abode, Śrī Cakra. We now commence our journey to the Supreme Abode of Lalitā Mahātripurasundarī Parā Bhṭṭārikā.