Pañca-pretāsanāsīnā पञ्च-प्रेतासनासीना (249)

She is sitting on a throne held by five corpses.  These five corpses are Brahma, Viṣṇu, Rudra, Mahādeva and SadāśivaBrahma looks after creation, Viṣṇu looks after sustenance, Rudra causes death, Mahādeva conceals the dissolved universe (tirodhāna) and Sadāśiva again re-creates the universe (anugraha).  It is said that these five Lords cannot function without their Śaktī-s or consorts.  Commentators refer to the consorts of these five Gods and without them it is said that these Gods cannot perform their duties. When they are in inert condition, they are referred as corpses. Śaktī-s here should mean the various manifestations of Lalitāmbikā. Vāc Devi-s surely would not have meant to refer other gods and goddesses in this Sahasranāma

Saundarya Laharī (verse 1) speaks about this.  “Śiva becomes capable of creating the universe, only when united with Śaktī, but otherwise, He is incapable of even a stir. How then could one, who has not acquired merit (puṇya) worship you at least praise you, who is adored even by Viṣṇu, Śiva, Brahma, and others.”

The nāma means that acts of these Gods cannot be carried out without Her authority.  Please also read the note at the end of the next nāma.

Pañca-brahma-svarūpiṇī पञ्च-ब्रह्म-स्वरूपिणी (250)

This nāma is an extension of the previous one.  The previous nāma underlined the importance of Lalitāmbikā in all acts of the Brahman and this nāma asserts that She is the Brahman.  If the earlier nāma is not read along with this nāma, its significance would be lost. 

These two nāma-s explain the cosmic creation.  The Brahman has five functions to perform.  They are creation, sustenance, destruction, annihilation and salvation.  Each of these activities is governed by different Gods.  Brahma for creation, etc has been explained in the previous nāma. These different Gods are only manifestations of the Brahman.   Though one talks about various forms of gods, all these refer only to the Brahman, who does not have any form and is omnipresent. This concept is further explained in this book under different nāma-s.  In fact these Gods, Goddesses, ministers, yogini-s mean different natural activities that take place in the universe.   That is why Nature is called as Mother Nature and worshipped as a Goddess as acts of the Brahman are unfolded only through Nature and in the arena of Nature. 

The five acts of the Brahman is a cyclic process.  Creation here means the creation of the universe in the broader perspective.  It does not mean the birth of an individual.  Sustenance also means the sustenance of the universe as a whole.  The birth and death of human beings as well as billions of other species is just a trivial part of the activities that happen in the universe.   The first amongst the creations are the five basic elements viz. ākāś, air, fire, water and earth.  Then the modifications of these elements take place gradually, which is called evolution.  Such evolution happens both in physical and subtle planes.  The highest known gross form of evolution is man and the highest form of subtle evolution is his mind. 

The universe thus created is being administered by the Brahman Himself.  In order to maintain a proper balance, creatures are allowed to shed their physical bodies.  Souls make the physical bodies to function and hence soul is called kinetic energy.  The souls originated from the hiraṇyagarbha or the golden egg. This is so called, as it is born from a golden egg, formed out of the seed deposited in the waters when they were produced as the first creation of the Self-existent This seed became a golden egg, resplendent as the sun, in which the Self-existent Brahma was born as Brahmā the Creator, who is therefore regarded as a manifestation of the Self-existent. This is held as the fourth act of the Brahman, tirodhāna, or the great dissolution or the act of concealment.  The difference between destruction and annihilation is significant.  Destruction is the death of a single organism and dissolution is the Supreme process of the Brahman, wherein He makes the entire universe to dissolve and merge unto Himself.  At this stage the universe becomes non-existent.  There will be no continents, no mountains, no oceans, none of the basic elements (Pañca bhūta-s) exist.  Such an act of the Brahman is called mahā-pralayā.  This happens when Śiva begins His mahā-pralaya tāṇḍava or the cosmic dance.  When Śiva performs this dance of annihilation, He becomes terribly ferocious.  While He continues His dance, the universe gradually gets dissolved unto Him.  The reverse modifications take place and penultimately there exists only the five basic elements.  Finally these five elements too, dissolve into Śiva.  Except Śiva and Śaktī none exists at this stage. Śaktī is the lone witness to Śiva’s cosmic dance (nāma-s 232 and 571).

Śaktī, is very compassionate.  After all She is the divine Mother.  She has the intent to re-create the universe.  Since Śiva continued to be terribly aggressive, She could not even look at Him.  Now Śiva and Śaktī are not united.  The great dissolution takes place only if Śiva and Śaktī are separate.  When they are together, Śaktī never allows Śiva to carry out the act of annihilation.  When the great dissolution has commenced, Śaktī could only witness such an act and this was discussed in nāma 232.  There is another nāma 571 mahā-prayala-sākṣiṇī to confirm this.  Somehow She wanted Her children to exist.  Towards the end of Śiva’s tāṇḍava, She started dancing (nāṭya) along with Śiva.  But there was no ferocity in Her dance.  On seeing Her dancing, the aggressive Śiva started returning to His auspicious form.  Śiva was holding the hiraṇyagarbha or the golden egg where the dissolved universe was concealed.  At the request of Śaktī, the golden egg was given back to Her by Śiva and this is called anugraha or salvation.  Salvation is a stage before the commencement of the next cycle of creation.  Now Śaktī takes over from Śiva and administers the universe with His power of autonomy or svātantrya śaktī

Now, it is apparent that act of the Brahman cannot happen without śaktī.  Hence, it is said that without Her involvement no body including Brahma, Viṣṇu, Rrudra, Mahādeva and Sadāśiva can function.  They are called ‘Pañca-Brahman-s’ meaning the five acts of the Brahman.  Since She becomes the cause of these five acts She is called Pañca-brahma-svarūpiṇī.

{Further reading on hiraṇyagarbha: Brahman has four distinctive states.  They are avyakṭā, Iśvarā, hiraṇyagarbha also known as sūtrātma and virāṭ. The first state is avyakṭā, the unmanifest stage (nāma 398). This is also known as turya stage, beyond the three normal stages of consciousness. The next state is Iśvarā (nāma 271). This state is the cause of the universe and is associated with māyā. The third state is hiraṇyagarbha, which binds the universe together.  The final state is virāṭ, transfiguration of the divine happens that is visible to our eyes.  The virāṭ is also known as vaiśvānarā, meaning relating or belonging to all men, omnipresent, known or worshipped, everywhere, universal, general, common, etc.}