291. Hrīṁkāraśuktikāmuktāmaṇi ह्रींकारशुक्तिकामुक्तामणि

Śuktika – mother-of pearl (nacre – a layer within which a pearl is found, probably referring to oyster); muktāmaṇi – pearl.

Pearl is within an oyster. It is believed that pearl is formed out of pure rain water. Since its origin is pure, original pearl is said to have pure qualities. Maṇimālā, an ancient treatise on gems, outlines the properties of pearl. It says that here are different types of pearls and according to its quality, a pearl gives wealth, knowledge, fame and good luck. Pearls cure poisoning and give strength to weak limbs. Thus, an original pearl is capable of giving all positive qualities. Hence, She is compared to a pure pearl.

This nāma says that She is in the form of a pure pearl, hidden inside an oyster. Here oyster is compared to Her own play of māyā. Of one is able to go past māyā, he will be able to realize Her. This nāma subtly conveys that Brahman always remains concealed and only due to the purity of the mind, He can be realized (Kaṭha Upaniṣad II.i.12). A question may arise as to the need of purity of the mind. Brahman is always pure and in order to realize Him, one needs a pure mind. One can put fire on a fire; suppose water is put on fire, fire is extinguished. In order to become one with something, the same level is to be attained before merger. She helps Her devotees to attain all the qualities of Śiva to merge unto Him.

292. Hrīṁkārabodhitā ह्रींकारबोधिता

She is made known or explained through hrīṁ (ह्रीं). The nāma says that there is no difference between Her and hrīṁ and if one knows the significance of hrīṁ, it is equivalent to realizing Her.

The same meaning is conveyed by Lalitā Sahasranāma 301, which is described in Triśatī nāma 81.Hrīṁ represents both Śiva and Śakti and obviously meditation on hrīṁ leads to realization of bothŚiva and Śakti.

293. Hrīṁkāramayasauvarṇa-stambhavidrumaputrikā ह्रींकारमयसौवर्ण-स्तम्भविद्रुमपुत्रिका

Sauvarṇa – consisting of gold or made of gold; stambha – pillar; vidruma – coral tree or coral; putrikā – daughter, an idol.

She is in the form of hrīṁ, who shines like a coral in a hall with gold pillars.

Brahman is Self-illuminating. She, in accordance with the general description of Her complexion, is in the form of coral, which is red in colour and is seated in the midst of a huge hall with gold pillars.

Hall with gold pillars refers to universe on the macrocosmic scale and the gross body in the microcosmic scale. She is the Self of the universe and She is also the Self of a being. She does not change, whether it is macrocosm or microcosm. It can also be explained that hall is the universe and gold pillars are the effects of māyā, always glittering and attracting.

294. Hrīṁkāravedopaniṣad ह्रींकारवेदोपनिषद्

Hrīṁ itself is referred here as Veda. Thus, there is no difference between Her and Vedas.  Upaniṣad-s are the essence of Vedas, which leads only to Self-realization. Upaniṣad-s explain Brahman through negations and affirmations. Upaniṣad-s advocate realization through mind and they do not prescribe any rituals.

Supremacy of Upaniṣad-s is explained in Lalitā Sahasranāma 852, Sarvopaniṣadudguṣṭā, which is explained thus:

She is glorified in all the Upaniṣads. ud is used for implying superiority in place, rank or power and guṣṭā means announcing.  This nāma says that all the Upaniṣad-s announce Her glory.  Upaniṣad-s are the tools that impart knowledge.  By attaining such knowledge one is able to realise the Brahman.  Śaktī alone is capable of revealing the Brahman.  Without Her aid, Śiva can never be realised.  She takes Her devotes in front of Śiva for ultimately revealing Him to them.  The blinding light and conflagration of the Brahman cannot be endured without Her Grace.  As Śri Mātā, She knows the extent to which Śiva can be revealed. 

Upaniṣad-s are the latter part of Vedas and deals with the Supreme knowledge.  Upaniṣad-s are also known as jñāna kāṇḍa that imparts Supreme knowledge and is capable of revealing the Brahman.  Chāndogya Upaniṣad (I.i.10) says “Knowledge and ignorance produce different results.  Anything done with knowledge, with faith in teachers and in scriptures and according to the principles of the Upaniṣads is more fruitful.”

The statement of Chāndogya Upaniṣad is endorsed by Brahma Sūtra (III.iii.1), which says ‘Any excogitation imparted in all the Upaniṣad-s on account of the sameness of injunction, etc.”  The aphorism says that the main purport of Upaniṣad-s is to establish a connection with the Brahman.  This nāma says that such vital connection between the Brahman and souls are established and maintained by Her.

Lalitā Sahasranāma 289 is Śruti-sīmanta-sindūrī-kṛta-pādābja-dhūlikā. Briefly, this nāma describes Her as the Supreme Brahman, the Absolute.  Veda-s are considered as the most sacred of all texts.  In this nāma the four Veda-s are personified as four goddesses.  When these goddesses pay respects to Her by bending and placing their heads at Her feet, the reflection of red colour radiating from the ‘dust’ of Her feet make marks on the parting hair on the heads of these goddesses and appear like vermilion placed on the forehead of married women. 

Going by the above interpretations, this nāma says that She is revealed through Upaniṣad-s, which are considered as the essence of Vedas.

295. Hrīṁkāradhvaradakṣiṇā ह्रींकारध्वरदक्षिणा

Adhvara – sacrifice like offering oblations into the fire; dakṣiṇa – gifts offered, particularly to a priest; contextually it can be explained as reward.

When one’s mind and ego are offered as oblations into the fire of hrīṁ, the reward is realization. Hrīṁ is also known as māyā bīja and māyā can be removed only by removing multifarious thought process in the mind. When mind and ego are offered as oblations into the fire of hrīṁ existing at maṇipūraka chakra (digestive fire), māyā is destroyed and She is revealed.

Kṛṣṇa says (Bhagavad Gīta IV.24 and 25) “The process of offering and oblation itself, both are Brahman. The fire and the one who makes oblation into it are other forms of the Self.  By realising this, being absorbed in Brahman during all activities, verily such a pperson goes to that Self alone. Yogis duly offer sacrifice only in the shape of worship to gods.  Others pour into the fire of Brahman the very sacrifice in the shape of the self (individual endowed with ego) through the sacrifice known as the perception of identity.”

{Further reading on yājña: (in the words of Dayananda Sarasvati as appearing in Rig Veda Samhita) Yājña is not merely a sacrificial ritual.  It embraces all the achievements on a social plane to amend the conditions of our worldly living against poverty, miseries, sickness and disease and in the subsequent stage to assure a better future even beyond death.  It is not the ritual that would lead to that goal, it is the hard, honest and sincere devotion in all department of knowledge – science, technology, philosophy and spirituality, that would assure the fruits of yājña.}

296. Hrīṁkāranandanārāmanavakalpakavallarī ह्रींकारनन्दनारामनवकल्पकवल्लरी

Nandana- Divine Garden; rāma – pleasant and charming; nava – young; kalpa – a tree of paradise;vallari – creeper.

She is in the Divine Garden, pleasant and charming like a young creeper. The nāma compares Her to a young creeper, pleasant and charming that goes up by twining around a tree known as Kalpa (subtly conveys Śiva), situated in the paradise.

The subtle message conveyed is that She is capable of granting everything that is wished for by Her devotees. At this stage of Lalitā Triśatī, it can be explained that Her devotees are those who understand the subtle conveyances of Lalitā Triśatī, explained through three hundred nāma-s.

297. Hrīmkārahimavadgaṅgā ह्रीम्कारहिमवद्गङ्गा

Himavat – snow clad mountain; gaṅgā – river Ganges.

She is River Ganges, originating from snow clad mountains of Himalayas. The subtle impartation of this nāma is that She cleanses all the sins of Her devotees. Though She is far more superior than the sacred river Ganges, a comparison is drawn to highlight one of Her important qualities.

Ultimately, She is the cause for the merger with Śiva. Before the merger, which is the ultimate state, an individual soul is completely purified by Her, by imparting the highest knowledge about Śiva (Śiva-jñāna-pradāyinī - Lalitā Sahasranāma 727). When this highest knowledge is imparted by Her directly, a soul is completely purified of any remnants of mind, intellect and ego. Thus the soul becomes fit enough to merge with Śiva.

298. Hrīṁkārārṇavakaustubhā ह्रींकारार्णवकौस्तुभा

arṇava – ocean; kaustubha – one of the fourteen precious and sacred things obtained while churning the ocean. Kṛṣṇa wears this in His chest. Kaustubha is considered as one the most precious gems and is self-radiating.

Those who meditate on hrīṁ (secretively conveying Pañcadaśī mantra) will have material wealth likekaustubha. The essence of Pañcadaśī mantra lies in hrīṁkāra and the universe originates from hrīṁkāra, as it signifies the union of Śiva and Śakti.

299. Hrīṁkāramantrasarvasvā ह्रींकारमन्त्रसर्वस्वा

Sarvasva means entire property or possessions of a person. The power of Pañcadaśī mantra is revealed in this nāma. The entire property and possession of a person is hrīṁkāra mantra, which isPañcadaśī mantra. She is in the form of Pañcadaśī mantra.

The innermost triangle of Śrī Cakra is where Pañcadaśī mantra is placed. Each kūṭa of Pañcadaśī mantra is placed in the three lines of the triangle. The innermost dot, known as bindu is Śiva. This is the place where Śiva and Śakti unite to create the universe. Pañcadaśī mantra is powerful due to the fact that Divine procreative energy is worshipped through this mantra. The mantra does not worship Her alone; it worships both Śiva and Śakti. Pañcadaśī gives not only material wealth, but also the highest level of spiritual knowledge. Varivasyā-rahasya explains in detail about Pañcadaśī mantra. When a person properly initiated by a Guru into Pañcadaśī mantra and if he recites this mantra with great reverence, perfection and regularity, it endows on the aspirant both material wealth and higher level of spiritual knowledge, leading to emancipation.

300. Hrīṁkāraparasaukhyadā ह्रींकारपरसौख्यदा

This is the last nāma of the most secretive Lalitā Triśatī. It is secret because, the entire Lalitā Triśatī is built on Pañcadaśī mantra as the foundation. Pañcadaśī has fifteen akṣara-s and each akṣara is repeated twenty times in Lalitā Triśatī. Thus, if one recites Lalitā Triśatī, it is equivalent to twenty recitations of Pañcadaśī mantra. One recitation of Pañcadaśī mantra is equivalent to three recitations of Pūrṇa Gāyatrī mantra. Pūrṇa Gāyatrī means the addition of paro rajase sāvadom as the last line in addition to the existing three lines. Such is the power of Pañcadaśī mantra.

This nāma says that She offers para saukhya, which means the highest welfare, comfort, health, happiness, felicity and enjoyment. Para also means emancipation. By mere recitation ofhrīṁkāramantra, which is Pañcadaśī mantra, one can enter into the state of Bliss, which is the penultimate state to final liberation. Only She can do this and hence She is adored as Lalitāmbikā.

Śrī Mātā, Thy name is Lalitāmbikā.  Lalitā means sported, played, playing, wanton, amorous, innocent, soft, gentle, charming, lovely, wished for, desired, quivering.  Every one of this meaning perfectly fits Her nature and form.  She was described as saguṇa Brahman (Brahman with attributes) and nirguṇa Brahman (Brahman without attributes with eternal purity).  Though the Brahman is One, He has been demoed as two, merely to understand Him to the best possible level. If someone claims to know the Brahman thoroughly, he has to be dismissed as the Brahman is beyond comprehension by normal human mind.   It is easier to say that the Brahman is without form, but the conceptualisation becomes difficult.  In order to understand the Brahman,   more has been said about His kinetic aspect rather than the static aspect. 

She should be worshipped in privacy.  When one really wants to realise Her, he has to begin with Her ritual worship.  He has to then proceed to recitation of Her mantra-s like Pañcadaśī and Ṣodaśī.  Finally, one has to visualise Her with the help of these three hundred nāma-s.  Typically, one method of worship will lead to the next on its own.  The mindset of the practitioner is more important than any extraneous considerations.    Her subtle manifestations have more to do with one’s mind rather than involving in laborious rituals.  She does not want to look at what one does, but She observes what one thinks.  Attaining pure knowledge is the only way to know Her.  All the Upaniṣad-s repeatedly stress the importance of knowledge to realise the Brahman, as the mind alone is capable of knowing the Brahman.  Saundaryalaharī (verse 98) prays, “Oh! Mother! Tell me when shall I, seeking knowledge, drink the water cleansing Your feet.”  The unique feature of the Divine Mother is Her holy feet.  She wipes out pains and miseries of Her worshippers by Her feet.  When She is worshipped through heart and mind, the worshipper is ‘endowed with long life with his association with the soul, and his ignorance cast away, he enjoys the sweetness of what is known as the Supreme Bliss’ (Saundarya Laharī verse 99).

Adoring Her in silence within, is the only way to surrender to Her.  Too much of speech, too much of thought and too much of action cannot subjugate the mind.  When the mind is not subjugated, the senses cannot be controlled.  Senses have to be necessarily used for our normal existence, but indulgence makes a person addictive.  One has to be in the thick of the world, yet one has to maintain perfect serenity of mind.  Any work performed with detachment to the end result of the work, does not cause mental affliction.  An obnubilated thought process does not provide a serene environment to transform normal consciousness into pure consciousness, where alone She can be realised.  The absolute consciousness which is Self-awareness destroys the ego and bestows liberation.  When ‘I’ consciousness vanishes, direct vision of Lalitāmbikā, the Creator takes place, bringing in contentment and compassion leading to interminable bliss.

This completes the interpretation of three hundred auspicious nāma-s, known as Lalitā Triśatī which is now placed at Her sanctifying lotus feet praying for all-round happiness and prosperity and peaceful co-existence. 

(Uttarabhāga follows)