ज्ञानमर्घ्यं ज्ञेयं हविः ज्ञाता होता। ज्ञातृ ज्ञान ज्ञेयानां अभेदभावनं श्रीचक्रपूजनम्॥ (Bhāvanopaniṣad 8)

jñānamarghyaṁ jñeyaṁ haviḥ jñātā hotā | jñātṛ jñāna jñeyānāṁ abhedabhāvanaṁ śrīcakrapūjanam ||

This is one of the important verses of Bhāvanopaniṣad.

This verse says that knowledge is arghya. That which is to be known is oblation. The one who seeks knowledge is the performer of homa (oblations into the fire). Understanding that there is no difference between the knower, the known and the process of knowing (knowledge) is true worship of Śri Cakra. There are three aspects in a fire ritual. One is the performer or doer; another is oblation and while offering oblations, mantras are recited; the third one is to whose favour (in this ritual, it isLalitāmbikā) these oblations are made.

There are three words in the second part of this verse – jñātṛ, jñāna and jñeya. Jñātṛ is the meditator; jñāna is the knowledge; and jñeya means the one, who is to be known. When these three becomes one, She is realized. As long as there is differentiation, She cannot be realized. When there is no differentiation between the three means that the practitioner has already crossed ritualistic worship and moved on to mental worship. Where there is no union between the three, it means that the practitioner still remains in the ritualistic mode. This is the essence of this verse.

Knowledge is said to be arghya. Arghya literally means welcoming a guest with great reverence and respectfully offering water.  Śri Cakra pūjā is also known as navāvaraṇa pūjā. When invocation is done properly with this mantra using trikhaṇḍā mudra (restricted to those who are initiated into Ṣoḍaśī), She will surely take Her seat in the midst of Śri Cakra and now we can offer Her arghya.

om aiṁ hrīṁ śrīṁ hsraiṁ hsklrīiṁ hsrauḥ* mahāpadmavanāntaste kāraṇānandavigrahe |

sarvabhūtahite mātaḥ yehyehi parameśvari|| Śrī Lalitā Mahātripurasundarī Parā Bhṭṭārikā Mahādevyāḥ āvāhayāmi ||

But, in navāvaraṇa pūjā, there is one special arghya known as viśeṣārghya, which is specially formulated using different ingredients according to one’s Guru Lineage and this viśeṣārghya is mentioned here while referring to arghya. Why is it so? Viśeṣārghya is the symbolic representation of “saccidānanda śivaṁ”. Saccidānanda (sat-cit-ānanda) means existence, consciousness and bliss. But why Śivaṁ? He is the destination in navāvaraṇa pūjā, as He is in the bindu. Further, He alone can give liberation, hence Saccidānanda Śivaṁ, where Śiva refers to Brahman. Since Śrī Vidyā paves way for liberation, it is also known as Brahmavidyā. Viśeṣārghya is not only related to ritual worship, it is also related to mental worship. In deep stage of meditation, ambrosia like substance (LS 106) drips from the skull into throat chakra and this is viśeṣārghya (discussed later in this article). Normally, flow of ambrosia will be felt during kuṇḍalinī meditation. In ordinary meditation also, this can be experienced. This secretion is directly related to the purity level of one’s consciousness. Jñātṛ, jñāna and jñeya are not related to ritual worship and this triad talks about mental worship, which is the object of Bhāvanopaniṣad.

When spiritual wisdoms dawns on the aspirant, he moves forward to attain Her Grace. Without Her Grace, liberation is not possible. A true and dedicated Śri Cakra practitioner evolves over a period of time. The exercise begins with mantra initiation, daily worship, Śri Cakra worship (navāvaraṇa pūjā), Śri Cakra homa, mantra japa with mental pūjā, only mantra japa, kāmakalā meditation, kuṇḍalinī meditation, experiencing samādhi and finally liberation. If this kind of progression is not practiced, liberation cannot be attained, even if one is initiated into Ṣoḍaśī, though Ṣoḍaśī is known as “kevalm mokṣa sādhanam” (Ṣoḍaśī will be effective only for liberation). Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (I.12) also says, “You have to know that Brahman is always residing within.  There is nothing higher than this knowledge. The jīva (the enjoyer), the jagat (that which the enjoyer enjoys) and the Brahman within, who directs – know these three as Brahman.”

This verse says that there should be no differentiation between the practitioner, the path of practice (knowledge) and Parāśakti. When this triad is dissolved, She reveals Herself to the practitioner.

Now, Bhāvanopaniṣad proceeds to convey subtleties of nine āvaraṇa-s.

niyati sahitāḥ śṛṅgārādayo rasā aṇimādayaḥ | kāmakrodhalobhamoha madamātsaryapuṇyapāpamayyī brāhmyādyaṣṭa śaktyaḥ | ādhāranavakaṁ mudrāśaktyaḥ ||

नियति सहिताः शृङ्गारादयो रसा अणिमादयः। कामक्रोधलोभमोह मदमात्सर्यपुण्यपापमय्यी ब्राह्म्याद्यष्ट शक्त्यः। आधारनवकं मुद्राशक्त्यः॥ (Bhāvanopaniṣad 9)

This verse talks about the first āvaraṇa. We have already discussed about the first āvaraṇa in these two articles.

Journey to Śri Cakra - part 8

Journey to Śri Cakra - part 9

First āvaraṇa has three types of walls and each wall is protected by different śakti-s and the details have already been dealt with in the above articles. Entering into Śri Cakra through the outer walls is known as saṁhārakrama. Saṁhāra means contraction, which is opposite of expansion. When Śiva expands, it is creation and when He contracts, it means annihilation or liberation. Contraction means that He withdraws the individual soul (or the entire souls during annihilation) of the devotee unto Himself. It is not merely liberation; it is merger. The devotee who dissolves the triad discussed in the previous verse will be able to attain Her Grace by experiencing Bliss and later getting liberated.

In the outer wall there are ten śakti-s, in the middle wall there are eight śakti-s and the inner wall there are ten śakti-s; thus we have twenty eight śakti-s in the first āvaraṇa.

In the first wall there are ten siddhi devi-s and they are mentioned in the first part of this verse “niyati sahitāḥ”, which means ‘along with niyati’. Niyati can be explained in different ways. Niyati means destiny or fate, which can be corroborated with one’s karmic account. If niyati is taken to mean one’s karma, entry into Śri Cakra is possible only if one’s karmic account permits. Liberation is possible only if one exhausts all his karmas.  According to Trika philosophy, niyati is one of the five coverings of māyā. Since, grosser meaning of supernatural power is conveyed through the ten devi-s in the first wall of the first āvaraṇa, there should be some subtle meaning for niyati, etc (niyati sahitāḥ). Niyati also refers to the power of limitation in an individual; this is the power that controls the functions of an individual. Niyati is also known as universal law that controls and executes normal and successive manifestations. For example, a tiny seed gives rise to a gigantic tree. If the tree grows all of a sudden without the seed, then it is against the principle of niayati. For example, a yogi creates a tree from nowhere (without the usual procedure of sowing a seed, germination, growth, etc – the normal and known mode of growth), then it is not niyati. Only exception to niyati is found in ūrdhvāmnāya pantheon (parāṣoḍaśī), as this pantheon is not a normal one. Thus ten devi-s in the first wall of the first āvaraṇa represents niyati, the step by step transformation of a practitioner, annihilating all his karmas - prārabdha, sañcita and āgāmin. The very thought of entering into Śri Cakra annihilates all types of karmas and this is done by these ten devi-s.

There is yet another interpretation possible based on the second part of the first verse “śṛṅgārādayo rasā”. Lalitā Sahasranāma 376 is Śṛṅgāra-rasa- saṁpūrṇā, wherein ten types of rasa-s are explained. .  These ten rasa-s are love (śṛṅgāra), heroism, disgust, anger, mirth, fear, pity, amazement, tranquillity and warmth. As we are talking about liberation (saṁhārakrama), it means that these rasa-s are annihilated from both mind and body. Rasa means emotional states. When we move towards liberation, our emotions should be annihilated. This is done by these ten devi-s of the first wall.

If niyati is taken to mean a part of māyā, then it can be considered to mean that māyā is annihilated by these ten devi-s by working on both organs of perception and organs of action (totalling ten), so that the mind is purified and becomes eligible to enter into Śri Cakra. The ultimate of idea of the first part of this verse is that one is purified before entering into Śri Cakra. This can be compared to performing puṇyāhavācanam (purification rites by reciting pavamānasūkta). Now the practitioner is cleansed both internally and externally and continues his journey further.

Now we go to the second part of this verse, which corresponds to the second wall of the first āvaraṇa, which is ruled by aṣṭamātṛ-s (eight mothers or aṣṭamātā-s). They signify kāma (all desires including lust), krodha (anger), lobha (impatience, cupidity, etc), moha (distraction, infatuation, delusion leading to continued spiritual ignorance), mada (pride due to falsified ego, arrogance), mātsarya (envy, jealousy, dissatisfaction), puṇya (merits accrued both through actions and thoughts) pāpa (demerits such as sin, vice, crime, guilt), the eight impediments to realize Her. These eight qualities are annihilated by aṣṭamātā-s. The yogi is now further purified by eliminating these qualities, both good and bad. When the mind becomes pure, there cannot be any differentiation between good thoughts and bad thoughts, good actions and bad actions, auspiciousness and inauspiciousness, etc. These are the attributes associated with dualism. All dyads and triads are related to dualism. When we are about to be liberated, our mind becomes steadfast and hence we are calledsthitaprajña-s (firm mind with perfect judgment and wisdom, calm, contented; this is resoluteness by which we affirm that She is within, without even an iota of doubt). As we move towards the inner triangle, be are transformed into jīvanmukta, ready to merge with Śiva, who is at bindu.

The last part of this verse speaks about the innermost wall of the first āvaraṇa. There are ten śakti-s here and they are known as mudrāśakti-s. The verse says, “ādhāranavakaṁ mudrāśaktyaḥ”. Ādhāranavakaṁ means nine powers of sustenance and support, which refers to nine mudrāśakti-s. Mudras can be understood in three ways. First is gross, usage of finger gestures. Next is subtle, contemplating the nine bījākṣara-s, one for each mudrāśakti. These nine bījākṣara-s are drāṁ, drīṁ, klīṁ, blūṁ, saḥ, kroṁ, hskhphrem, hsauḥ and aiṁ (द्रां, द्रीं, क्लीं, ब्लूं, सः, क्रों, ह्स्ख्फ्रेम्, ह्सौः and ऐं). The tenth one is sarvatrikhaṇḍā mudraśakti, whose bījākṣara-s are hsraiṁ, hsklrīṁ, hsrauḥ (ह्स्रैं, ह्स्क्ल्रीं, ह्स्रौः).These three bījākṣara-s are used while invoking Her to be seated in the midst of Śri Cakra*.  The third one is to contemplate these ten śakti-s in the ten psychic centres of the body.

The commonly known psychic centres (chakras in kuṇḍalinī meditation) are seven in number including sahasrāra. Apart from the above, there are three important chakras, one at the palate (the upper surface of the mouth that separates the oral and nasal cavities) and two more chakras above ājñā cakra – manas (mind) charka and soma (moon) chakra. Above ājñācakra, there are two very powerful psychic centres known as manascakra (mind) and somacakra (moon). These two centres are one above the other. There is always a direct relation between mind and the moon. There is a strong connection between these two chakras. If the mind chakra is calm and composed without any agitation, soma chakra becomes highly active and begins to secrete nectar like substance, which flows down the throat after crossing mind chakra and ājñācakra. This nectar like substance is known as amṛtavarśiṇi. (This has already been discussed in part 3 of this series.)

As Bhāvanopaniṣad is related to contemplation that ultimately leads to liberation, it is necessary to understand how these ten chakras pave way for liberation. First five chakras represent five principle elements of Nature, earth, water, fire, air, ākāśa. The one just above the throat chakra is known as lampikāstāna or catuṣpada (four-way cleansing of breath).  Ājñā cakra is related to the mind, where one’s mind is purified here. When consciousness moves away from ājñā cakra to sahasrāra, where Śiva is seated, one’s mind and consciousness needs further purification. Liberation at sahasrāra is not possible with inherent impurities. The inherent impurities in the subconscious mind are purified and manascara and Divine energies are infused at somacakra in the form of spiritual elixir (ambrosia or sudhādhāra) which drips into the body to cleanse the body and make it fit to withstand the energy generated at the time of liberation (union of Śiva and Śakti at sahasrāra).

Thus, this verse (Bhāvanopaniṣad 9) talks about mind-body purification processes. The first purification is elimination of all karmic impressions, second elimination is annihilating all emotions and third part of purification is for the psychic body and mind.