चतुर्भिः श्रीकण्ठैः शिवयुवतिभिः पञ्चभिरपि
प्रभिन्नाभिः शंभोर्नवभिरपि मूलप्रकृतिभिः।
सार्धं तव शरणकोणाः परिणताः॥
caturbhiḥ śrīkaṇṭhaiḥ śivayuvatibhiḥ pañcabhirapi
prabhinnābhiḥ śaṁbhornavabhirapi mūlaprakṛtibhiḥ|
sārdhaṁ tava śaraṇakoṇāḥ pariṇatāḥ||
caturbhiḥ śrīkaṇṭhaiḥ - four triangles of Śiva; śivayuvatibhiḥ - triangles of Śakti; pañcabhirapi – five in number; prabhinnābhiḥ- entirely different; śaṁbho – Śiva; navabhirapi mūlaprakṛtibhiḥ - thus making the nine basic triangles; catuścatvāriṁśad – forty four; vasudalakalāśra – eight and sixteen petals; trivalaya – three circles; trirekhābhiḥ - three lines; sārdhaṁ - adding up; tava – Your; śaraṇakoṇāḥ pariṇatāḥ - become Your triangular Abode.
“Four triangles of Śiva, five triangles of Śakti, eight and sixteen petals, three circles and three lines thus making forty four in number form Your Abode.”
This verse explains Śri Cakra. Śri Cakra is made up of forty four triangles. There are four upward facing triangles known as Śiva chakras and five downward facing triangles known as Śakti chakras and the intersection of these nine triangles form 44 triangles. The inner most triangle is the bindu. When bindu is not considered as a triangle, then there will be only 43 triangles with the bindu in the center.
Encircling these 44 triangles, there are two lotuses. The inner lotus has eight petals and the outer lotus has 16 petals. Outside these lotuses there are three circles and outside these three circles, there are three lines with openings on the four sides. These four openings represent entry and exit points of Śrī Cakra. Realization happens when one enters through these four openings. Creation happens when one exits through these four openings. The former is movement towards Her and the latter is movement away from Her.
One has to enter the Śrī Cakra from the outermost square. All the three squares put together is known as trailokaya-mohana that deludes the three stages of consciousness. This is the first enclosure of Śrī Cakra. This enclosure is ruled by Tripurā Devi. Each āvaraṇa, known as enclosure is ruled by a presiding deity and has an independent yogini. Yogini of the first āvaraṇa is known as prakaṭa yogini. In the outermost walls there are ten goddesses representing ten siddhi-s (super human powers), in the middle wall, there are aṣṭa māta-s (eight devi-s like Brāhmī, Vārāhi, etc). Their spouses are the aṣṭa Bhairava-s (Asitāñga, Ruru, etc). In the inner wall there are ten goddesses representing the ten mudra-s (hand gestures - Lalitā Sahasranāma 977) like, yoni mudra (Lalitā Sahasranāma 982), trikhaṇḍā (Lalitā Sahasranāma 983), etc. Therefore, in the first enclosure there are 10 + 8 + 10 = 28 goddesses. Entry into Śrī Cakra is to be made from the opening just below the apex of the innermost triangle, facing the worshipper. After worshipping all the twenty eight goddesses and after obtaining permission from them, one has to move to the next enclosure.
The second enclosure is known as sarvāśa-pari-pūraka that enlivens the spiritual hopes of the practitioner. This enclosure is ruled by Tripureśī and the yogini for this enclosure is Gupta yogini. The second enclosure is the sixteen petal lotus inside the three circles and no worship takes place in the three circles. Each of the sixteen petals is ruled by a goddess and each petal has one vowel of Sanskrit (Sanskrit has sixteen vowels). After worshipping these sixteen goddesses and after obtaining permission from them, one has to proceed to the next enclosure.
The third enclosure is known as sarva-saṁkṣobhaṇa that crusades for spiritual aspirations. This is the eight petal lotus. The presiding deity of this enclosure is Tripurasundarī and the yogini is Guptatara yogini. There are eight goddesses in each of the petals. After worshipping them and after obtaining permission from them, one has to enter the first set of triangles of Śrī Cakra.
The fourth enclosure is known as sarva-saubhāgya-dāyaka, which provides all spiritual and material comforts. It has fourteen triangles and presided over by Tripuravāsinī. The concerned yogini is Saṁpradāya yogini. Each petal is ruled by a goddess. After worshipping them and after obtaining permission from them, one has to proceed to the next enclosure.
The fifth enclosure is known as sarvārtha-sādhaka, which makes the worshipper spiritually prosper and has ten triangles. The presiding deity is Tripurāśrī and the concerned yogini is kulottīrṇa-yogini. Each triangle is presided over by a goddess. After worshipping them and after obtaining permission from them one has to proceed to the next covering.
The sixth āvaraṇa has again ten triangles and is known as sarva-rakṣākara cakra, which protects the worshipper from the inflictions of saṃsāra. This enclosure is known as inner ten triangles and the previous triangle is known as exterior ten triangles. This āvaraṇa is presided over by Tripuramālinī and the yogini is Nigarbha Yogini. Each of the triangles is presided over by a goddess. After worshipping them and after their permission, one has to proceed to the next enclosure.
The seventh āvaraṇa is sarva-roga-hara cakra the remover of all mental afflictions. It has eight triangles also known as vasu koṇa representing the eight vasu-s (according to Bṛhadāraṇayaka Upaniṣad (III.ix.) aṣṭa vasu-s or eight Vasu-s are Āpa, the water; Dhruva, the pole-star; Soma, the Moon; Dhava or Dhara; Anila, the Wind; Anala or Pāvaka, the fire; Pratyusha, the dawn; and Prabhāsa, the light). The presiding deity is Tripurāsiddhā and the yogini is Rahasya yogini. Each of the triangles is presided over by a Vāc Devi, the authors of this Sahasranāma. Vāmakeśvarīmatam (verses 60-63) says that all the Sanskrit alphabets are ruled by these eight Vāc Devi-s. Apart from what is said in the above scripture, all the triangles and lotus petals are inscribed with Sanskrit alphabets. This triangle is just outside the inner most triangle (Lalitā Sahasranāma 986). After worshipping these eight goddesses, one proceeds to worship the armouries of Lalitāmbikā.
The eighth enclosure is just outside the central bindu which is the innermost triangle. This is where the spiritual attainments begin and culminate at the bindu within. Outside this triangle, the weaponries of Lalitāmbikā are placed. The weapons are described in Lalitā Sahasranāma 8, 9, 10 and 11. After worshipping Her weaponries, one enters the eighth enclosure, known as sarva siddhi pradhā and is ruled by Tripurāmbā and the concerned yogini is Atirahasya yogini. There are three goddesses who are worshipped at the three corners of the triangle and Lalitāmbikā is worshipped at the central point, the bindu.
Outside this inner most triangle the fifteen tithi nitya devi-s are worshipped. Each tithi represents one lunar day. One’s guru lineage is also worshipped in three parallel lines drawn outside the upper portion of the inner most triangle. In this place, one’s guru, guru’s guru and guru’s guru’s guru are worshipped. Along with them several celebrated gurus are also worshipped. Worshipping guru is an important aspect of Śrī vidyā cult.
The ninth enclosure is the bindu. This is known as ‘sarvānanda-maya cakra’, the ultimate bliss, where self unites with ever existing and omnipresent Self (the Brahman) here. This is presided by Śrī Mahā Tripurasundarī also known through various other names such as Lalitāmbikā, Rājarājeśvarī, Mahā Kāmeśvarī, etc who is the ultimate Goddess of this universe, the Supreme Mother. The concerned yogini is Parāparāti rahasya yogini (Parāparāti rahasya means the supreme secret). Beyond this point, those who are not initiated into ṣodaśī cannot proceed. Those who are initiated into ṣodaśī are blessed to worship Her again at the bindu with Her ultimate mantra and trikhanda mudra. This cakra or the enclosure or āvaraṇa is the highly secretive in nature, where the conjugation of prakāśa and vimarśa (Śiva and Śaktī) form of creation takes place. Here Śaktī sits on the left lap of Śiva and They together shower Their grace on those who seek Them.
When a practitioner is afflicted with worldly ties, known as saṃsāra, enters Śrī Cakra, he is gradually endowed with knowledge and by the time he reaches the supreme bindu, he is totally transformed. The bindu stands for both creation and absorption. A practitioner stands totally absorbed when he enters the bindu from the first āvaraṇa. If an absorbed practitioner again indulges in saṃsāra, he is re-created making his exit from the bindu to the outermost cakra.
Totally, one hundred and thirteen goddesses are worshipped in Śrī Cakra. Śrī Cakra is enclosed by Śrī Nagara, where exists twenty five forts. In between the forts there are huge places where all the other gods and goddesses reside. The nine coverings of Śrī Cakra are compared to six psychical cakra-s beginning from mūlādhāra to ājñā, sahasrāra, kula sahasrāra and akula sahasrāra. Śrī Cakra is not a mere geometrical representation of creation, sustenance, dissolution, concealing and re-creation; it is the known expression of evolutionary cosmology which is superimposed on a miniscule existence of a human being. Scriptures point out that human body is just a replica of Śrī Cakra.
Generally, Śrī Cakra is compared to the moon, which has sixteen phases known as kalā with 27 constellations. If we add 16 with 27, the result is 43, which is the number of triangles in Śrī Cakra. Bindu is not included here. Bindu is the central point where Parāśakti happily stands united with Her Consort Śiva. Bindu is the sahasrāra in the human body, where the union between Śiva and Śakti takes place. In Śrī Cakra, this union is macrocosmic in nature and in a human body, when She unites with Śiva, in the form of kuṇḍaliṇī, it is microcosmic in nature.
The number of triangles represent 36 tattva-s and seven dhātu-s (constituents of the body) comprising of chyle, blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow and procreative fluids. If we add 36 tattva-s and seven dhātu-s, the resultant factor is 43 and this represents the 43 triangles of Śrī Cakra.
With this in mind, one has to meditate on Her at the bindu, the central point of Śrī Cakra.