Śiva शिवा (53)

There is no difference between Śiva and Śaktī; hence she is called as ŚivaŚiva also means auspiciousness.  She is the embodiment of auspiciousness.  She is the icchā form of Śiva.  There are three types of śakti-s – icchā (desire), jñāna (knowledge) and kriyā (action).  Since Śiva is the Brahman and as such He does not have any desires.  But His icchā form is reflected in the form Lalitai.  Here desire means desire to self-realization. “Yatā Shivā –tatā Devi; Yatā Devi- tatā Shivā” is the saying.  Wherever Śiva is, there will be Śaktī and wherever Śaktī is, there will be Śiva.  That is why it is said there is no difference between Śiva and Śaktī. Elsewhere it is said that Pārvatī and Parameśvara cannot be separated from each other. This is compared to a word, which cannot be separated from its meaning.  They are considered as father and mother of the universe.  Scriptures say that there is no difference between Umā (Śaktī) and Śankarā (Śiva).  Śankarī is the consort of Śiva and is known as Śiva - Śankarī.

She is the māyā Śaktī that is connected to one’s consciousness.  How does she look like?  She is knowledgeable, self-illuminating (remember our discussions on self-illuminating Brahman), without qualities, the cause of destruction of saṃsārā (desires and related issues) and the bliss.  She is Śiva, the supreme Devi, the ocean of mercy and compassion.  Men of intellect get everything out of Her. 

There are two important points mentioned here.  One is that, Lalitai is in no way different from Śiva.  Both Śiva and Śaktī are in a single form only.  Only out of ignorance, we worship them as two separate individuals.  Secondly, assuming that we continue to worship Her individual form that has been described in the above verses, still we get all auspicious things.  This aspect is discussed in subsequent nāma-s also.

Svādhīna-vallabhā स्वाधीन-वल्लभा (54)

Her consort (Śiva) belongs to Her alone.  This confirms the interpretation of the previous nāma.  We have been discussing that Śiva alone created Her to take care of His three acts.  For this exclusive purpose, Śiva created Śaktī, the kinetic energy as opposed to the static energy of Śiva.  As She is the only creation of Śiva, it is said that Śiva belongs to Her alone.  Śiva is the cause of this universe and Śaktī is His power.  Without this combination, the universe cannot exist.  This is also confirmed by Saundarya Laharī (verse 1). Without being united with Śaktī, Śiva cannot even make a single move. 

Possibly this can also be interpreted as follows:  Brahman is omnipresent.  Soul is the jīva where karma-s of living beings are embedded.  Neither Brahman nor soul in their individual capacity can create a life.  Brahman needs the soul to function with a gross form and the soul needs the Brahman to get a birth.  Saundarya Laharī (verse 1) says that Śiva cannot act alone.  In the same way Śaktī also cannot act alone.   Since the verses are about Śaktī, generally negative points (not qualities) in such cases are vetoed. It is poetic way of expression.

With this verse, the physical description of Lalitai is concluded.  From nāma-s 53 to 64 it is going to be the description of Śrī Nagara, the place where Lalitai lives.  It can be observed in nāma-s 13-54, while describing physical form of Lalitai, some of them are delicate to discuss.  Not only in this Sahasranāma, but also in Saundarya Laharī such descriptions are found.  Generally a question arises, whether such descriptions are justifiable, beyond a certain level.  There could be two possibilities for such narratives.  One is the possibility of poetisation, which is generally allowed in poems.  One can apply this to Saundarya Laharī, composed by Ādi Śaṅakara.  How a great sage like Śaṅakara can make such descriptions?  Śaṅakarā is no ordinary person.  He is said to be the incarnation of Lord Śiva.  If this is true his descriptions can be accepted, subject to the question why he should express such things in public.  It is difficult to know the right answer.  There should be something extremely subtle in such descriptions, which cannot be comprehended by ordinary humans.  Take this Sahasranāma composed by Vāc Devi-s, who are always with Lalitai.  Further, this Sahasranāma was recited in the presence of Lalitai Herself.  If She found something wrong with the verses, She could have burnt these Vāc Devi-s.  She did not do so.  So, it is clear that such descriptions are approved by Lalitai Herself.  Her Pañcadaśī mantra is meditated upon Her bodily parts which are considered to be highly secretive in nature, though discussed moderately in this edition.  

Following could be the reasons for such descriptions in this Sahasranāma and elsewhere. The first point is, in any poetic visualization, such narratives are permitted.  Poetic skills are expressed through such descriptions.  Second thing is to test a devotee whether he gets excited on such descriptions.  This is a sort of test before proceeding to higher awareness.  Thirdly, such descriptions are part of māyā played by Śaktī.  Unless māyā goes away from a person, realizing the Brahman is not possible and hence such descriptions fall under the gaze of māyā.  It could also mean the kuṇḍalinī energy and its path.  But beyond such reasoning one can think of, none has authority or right to analyze such narrations.  One has to understand that the world of illusion is full of desires and one has to cross such desires to reach higher planes of consciousness only after knowing such realities, as realising the reality alone leads to the Brahman.  Before closing the discussion on this subject, one should not forget that nirguṇa Brahman is formless and to realize nirguṇa Brahman, one has to realize the saguṇa Brahman (with qualities and form) first.  Possibly such narrations could help those not-so-intelligent (those who never heard about the Brahman) people to at least visualize the saguṇa Brahman, perhaps a stepping stone to spirituality.