26. नित्यादेवी यजनम् nityādevī yajanam:
Yajana means worship and this part deals with worshiping of fifteen nityādevī-s.
26.1) Preliminary study of fifteen nityādevī-s:
(This part of the article is already discussed in Journey to Śri Cakra – Part 17 and is reproduced here for the purpose of convenience):
Tithi nityā devī-s represent fifteen digits of the moon and each digit is known as tithi or lunar day. There are fifteen tithi-s or lunar days and each tithi is represented by a nityā devī and hence they are known as tithi nityā devī-s. Technically speaking, there are only fourteen tithi-s and the fifteenth tithi is either full moon (pūrṇimā) or new moon (amāvāsyā). Fifteenth lunar day, either full moon (pūrṇimā) or new moon (amāvāsyā) is represented by Mahākāmeśvarī Herself. Pañcadaśī has fifteen letters and each of these letters represent one kalā (digit) of the moon. But, kalā also means sixteenth part (1/16). But we have only fifteen letters in Pañcadaśī mantra. The sixteenth kalā is Ṣoḍaśī bīja śrīṁ (श्रीं), which is hidden and always remains subtle. As there are only fifteen tithi nityā devī-s, how do we worship the sixteenth Ṣoḍaśī kalā? Answer to this question is considered as secret, as the answer reveals Mahākāmeśvarī. Sixteenth kalā is worshiped in the bindu, the place of Śiva. But in the bindu, Śiva is not worshiped while worshipping tithi nityā devī-s, but Mahākāmeśvarī is worshiped. This also subtly conveys the union of Śiva and Śakti. Though there is no separate procedure for Ṣoḍaśī upāsaka-s (those who are initiated into Ṣoḍaśī), when Mahākāmeśvarī is worshipped in the central bindu, the above aspect is to be contemplated. It would be ideal to worship Mahānityā (Mahākāmeśvarī) in the bindu with Ṣoḍaśī mantra for the sixteenth kalā, though it is not explicitly mentioned; but it is implied. Texts say that while worshipping Mahānityā, Pañcadaśī mantra should be encased (sampuṭīkaraṇa) between two aḥ (अः). Each nityā devī represents fifteen vowels from a to aḥ (अ to अः). But, those who are initiated into Ṣoḍaśī should use Ṣoḍaśī mantra, instead of Pañcadaśī mantra. It is also said that during śuklapakṣa (waxing moon), tithi nityā devī-s should be worshiped from 1 to 16 (anticlockwise) as shown in the image. But during kṛṣṇapakṣa (waning moon), they should be worshiped in clock wise manner, i.e. from 16 to 1. However, one has to follow what his or her Guru says. In Śrī Vidyā worship, one has to meticulously follow what his or Guru says and there should be no deviation from his instructions, as he follows the traditions of his Guru and Paramaguru. But, it should always be remembered that he should be a Guru, who has attained mastery over the various types of worshiping Śri Cakra and should remain with Parāśakti all the time. Each tithi nityā devī have their own yantra-s and mantra-s. They have their own mūlamantra-s, āvaraṇa pūjā-s, etc. The innermost triangle is formed by the first three tithi nityā devī-s, viz. Kāmeśvarī, Vajreśvari and Bhagamālinī, each representing one corner of the triangle. Though as tithi nityā devī-s, they do not hold the innermost triangle, they hold this triangle as three devi-s representing three guṇa-s. This will be discussed in the next āvaraṇa, viz. eighth āvaraṇa. In fact, the innermost triangle is held by them. However, there are other views on this, which says that Lalitāmbikā, Kāmeśvarī nityā and Bhagamālinī nityā hold the innermost triangle. But this argument cannot be accepted. When Lalitāmbikā is seated on the lap of Śiva, obviously, She cannot be holding this triangle. Further, She cannot be compared to other nityā devī-s, who function under Her.
26.2) Further study of fifteen nityādevī-s:
Śrī Vidyā is primarily based on lunar digits. (Phases of the moon can be known from this site http://www.moonconnection.com/). Several Scriptures concatenate about lunar digits and sixteen vowels. As discussed earlier, when sun and moon unite, this union subtly conveys Cosmic Union of Śiva and Śakti and this happens on amāvāsyā or new moon day. We have also discussed that Lalitāmbikā is in the form of Ṣoḍaśī mantra (having sixteen letters) on amāvāsyā. When one meditates on Her with Ṣoḍaśī mantra at the time of 100% conjunction of sun and moon, which is known as saṁkrama (generally it refers to the movement of sun through twelve zodiac signs; but contextually it is used here to mean ‘union or coming together’ of sun and moon), one is blessed with Śaktipāta. For a few minutes sun and moon remain in the same degree and these precious minutes should be used to contemplate Her, which quickly leads to the descent of Her Grace (Śaktipāta) and subsequent liberation. Descent of Her Grace is known as Śaktipāta, without which realization is not possible. When our contemplation is intent and complete during saṁkrama, Śaktipāta is possible. However, this purely depends upon one’s depth of devotion and spiritual evolution, which always progresses concurrently.
When moon comes out of its union with the sun, moon begins to add one kalā or digit to itself every day and on the full moon day (pūrṇimā), the moon becomes bright with all its fifteen digits shining. The sixteenth kalā or digit which is nothing but Lalitāmbikā, is present in every digit; without this sixteenth digit being present subtly in all the fifteen digits or kalā-s, these digits cannot individually function. It is the principle based on the Self and the self. Without the Self (Brahman) being present in the self (individual soul), latter cannot function at all. Similar is the case with nityādevī-s. Without Lalitāmbikā being present in these fifteen nityādevī-s, they cannot function and without their function, day, week, month, year, decade, century and other time factors cannot happen leading to chaos and confusion. We have to remember that time is the crucial factor for Her five acts – creation, sustenance, destruction, concealment and grace or compassion. This is explained in detail in Lalitā Sahasranāma 264 to 274
Out of the fifteen tithi nityādevī-s, three of them form the inner most triangle of Śri Cakra and they are worshiped again in eighth āvaraṇa. Mahā Kāmeśvarī, Mahā Vajreśvarī (She is also known as Mahāvidyā) and Mahā Bagamālinī are the three tithi nityādevī-s who guard the three sides of the innermost triangle of Śri Cakra. These three śakti-s are thus worshiped twice, one as tithi nityādevī-s and another as eighth āvaraṇa devi-s.
There is direct relationship between Her subtlest form Kuṇḍalinī and the phases of the moon. This however vastly differs from the foregoing discussion. As we have already seen that during full moon, She conjoins with Śiva and hence, She is in sahasrāra, the microcosmic plane of Their union. Their macrocosmic union takes place in the cosmos. Whatever happens in the macrocosm is reflected in microcosm and we are unable to understand this reality, as we never seriously looked into these aspects. Sanatkumāra Saṁhita gives an entirely different interpretation. As Kuṇḍalinī, She rests at mūlādhāra during new moon and goes up to sahasrāra during full moon. In fact, in mūlādhāra, Śiva and Śakti remain united at kula- sahasrāra. Kula always refers to Śakti and akula refers to Śiva. During new moon day, their union takes place at kula-sahasrāra, a dark place below mūlādhāra. Kula-sahasrāra is Śakti’s place and akula-sahasrāra is Śiva’s place. In both the above versions, it is obvious that both of them enter into saṁkrama either on the new moon day or the full moon day. But, this version is not generally accepted and followed, as the secretive principle is not understood.
This secretive principle can be explained like this. Lalitāmbikā as the sixteenth digit is present in all the digits of the moon, which are worshiped as tithi nityādevī-s. We have already discussed on several occasions that Śakti cannot function without Śiva nor Śiva can shine without Śakti. Thus they are interdependent in absolute terms. Whether Śakti is in mūlādhāra or sahasrāra or in any other place, they cannot remain as two individual entities. If the Self is not present as the individual soul within, veiled by māyā (Śakti), we cannot function and the same rationale is applicable to both macrocosmic and microcosmic principles. Śrī Vidyā worship does not serve any purpose without understanding this basic principle. The interconnection between macrocosm and microcosm is subtly and authentically conveyed through Śrī Vidyā. Most of the followers of Śrī Vidyā are not able to attain the desired goal because of their failure to understand subtle and secretive conveyances. Instead of learning and understanding the secretive and authentic conveyances, we tend to get attached more towards practical applications rather than spiritual implications.
Each of these tithi nityādevī-s represent one vowel of Sanskrit, which has sixteen vowels. Out of the sixteen vowels, fifteen of them with bindu-s represent fifteen tithi nityādevī-s and the last one अः does not have a bindu and instead has visarga (two dots one above the other by the side of an alphabet is visarga, like a semicolon :). This visarga represents manifesting aspect of Śakti, whereas the bindu (a dot on the top of an alphabet) represents the creative aspect of Śiva. Based on this principle, in the arrangements of vowels अं (aṁ) comes before अः (aḥ). This signifies that from Śiva, Śakti originates and secondly it also means that Śakti manifests as the universe. This concept is well explained in the worship of tithi nityādevī-s. Fifteen tithi nityādevī-s are worshiped outside the innermost triangle of Śri Cakra and they represent the first fifteen vowels with bindu. But, Lalitāmbikā is worshiped on the bindu, which is the central point of Śri Cakra with the last vowel अः (aḥ). This means that the creation begins from visarga. It is also important to note that both Śiva and Śakti have sixteen kalā-s. In the first fifteen kalā-s Śiva is present and the last kalā अः (aḥ) is entirely left to Śakti for the purpose of manifestation. But for the first fifteen vowels, sixteenth vowel अः (aḥ) is not possible and similarly, but for the sixteenth vowel, the presence of first fifteen vowels are of no use in the process of manifestation. Manifestation is possible only with visarga and creation is possible only with bindu which symbolically represents Śakti and Śiva respectively. This also explains the principle of kaula. Śiva is known as akula and Śakti is known as kula and their union is known as kaula, which forms the basis of Tantra Śāstra-s. This creative principle is grossly undermined, misunderstood and misrepresented now-a-days. Union of Śiva-Śakti is emblematically represented in macrocosm by the union of sun and moon and in the microcosm it is actually represented by Kuṇḍalinī who unites with Śiva at sahasrāra. This is explained in detail in Lalitā Sahasranāma 98 Samayācāra-tatparā. This phenomenon can be better understood only through contemplation. That is why, worship of Śri Cakra is divided into two categories. One is “viyat-cakra” (viyat means atmosphere) or worship in space, which includes understanding both macrocosmic and microcosmic union of Śiva-Śakti and the other category is “bahirvṛtti- cakra” (bahirvṛtti means occupation with external objects) which is nothing but navāvaraṇa pūjā. Viyat-cakra contemplation is considered much superior to contemplation explained in Bhāvanopaniṣad, because in viyat-cakra contemplation, everything happens in cosmos whereas in Bhāvanopaniṣad, contemplation is related to human bodies. This is known as Chakra rahasya (secret of Śri Cakra). There are other rahasya-s like mantra rahasya and pūja rahasya (rahasya means secret). Other two rahasya-s will be discussed later in the series. Another significant point that needs to be understood is about kāmakalā, which has a lot to do with tithi nityādevī-s. The first fifteen vowels representing fifteen lunar digits (fifteen lunar days) merge into a triangle and this triangle is represented by kāmakalā and this is explained in Lalitā Sahasranāma 322 kāmakalā rūpā.
As far as Kaula-s are concerned, they worship the particular tithi nityādevī ruling on that particular day. But, as far as samaya-s are concerned, they worship all the fifteen nityādevī-s daily as they know that all these nityādevī-s originate from Mahānityādevī, also known as Lalitāmbikā. In other words, samaya-s are aware that the fifteen kalā-s originate from the ṣoḍaśa kalā or sixteenth kalā, which is in the form of श्रीं (śrīṁ) bīja. Evolution of Pañcadaśī mantra to Ṣoḍaśī mantra is based on this principle.
26.3) Worship of tithi nityādevī-s:
Fifteen nityādevī-s are worshiped outside the innermost triangle. Mahānityādevī and the nityādevī presiding over the particular day are worshiped in the bindu. Each of these nityādevī-s have mantras, yantras, āvaraṇa devi-s, arcana, etc.
To begin with, Mahānityādevī is to be worshiped in the bindu and pūjanaṁ and tarpaṇaṁ should be made three times.
4 - मूलं । अः श्री ललितामहानित्या श्री पादुकां पूजयामि तर्पयामि नमः॥
4 - mūlaṁ | aḥ śrī lalitāmahānityā śrī pādukāṁ pūjayāmi tarpayāmi namaḥ ||
This should be followed by pūjanaṁ and tarpaṇaṁ for three times for the nityādevī presiding over the particular day in which navāvaraṇa pūjā is performed. Let us take an example of fifth lunar day of śuklapakṣa (waxing moon), which is known as pañcamī tithi and śuklapakṣa pañcamī tithi is presided over by Vahnivāsinī nityādevī. She is posited in the above image in the pace marked as 5. The same nityādevī viz. Vahnivāsinī nityādevī is worshiped in the same place during kṛṣṇapakṣa (waning moon) pañcamī tithi; the only difference is that she is worshiped as the fifth nityādevī during śuklapakṣa pañcamī and as the eleventh nityādevī during kṛṣṇapakṣa pañcamī. All the nityādevī-s continue to exist in the same place with the same bījākṣara-s. This also signifies the expansion of kalā-s during śuklapakṣa and contraction of kalā-s during kṛṣṇapakṣa.
Bījākṣara-s and the names of thiti nityādevī-s are given here. While performing pūjanaṁ and tarpaṇaṁ, 4 is to be prefixed and nityā and śrī pādukāṁ pūjayāmi tarpāmi namaḥ is to be suffixed. Following is the example.
ॐ ऐं ह्रीं श्रीं वह्निवासिनी नित्या श्री पादुकां पूजयामि तर्पामि नमः॥
om aiṁ hrīṁ śrīṁ vahnivāsinī nityā śrī pādukāṁ pūjayāmi tarpāmi namaḥ ||
1. aṁ - Kāmeśvarinityā अं- कामेश्वरिनित्या
2. āṁ - Bhagamālini आं - भगमालिनि
3. iṁ - Nityaklinnā इं - नित्यक्लिन्ना
4. īṁ - Bherunḍā ईं - भेरुन्डा
5. uṁ - Vahnivāsini उं - वह्निवासिनि
6. ūṁ - Mahāvajreśvarī ऊं - महावज्रेश्वरी
7. ṛṁ - Śivadūtī ऋं - शिवदूती
8. ṝṁ - Tvaritā ॠं - त्वरिता
9. luṁ - Kulasundarī लुं - कुलसुन्दरी
10. ḹṁ - Nityā ॡं - नित्या
11. eṁ - Nīlapatākā एं - नीलपताका
12. aiṁ - Vijayā ऐं - विजया
13. oṁ - Sarvamaṅgalā ओं - सर्वमङ्गला
14. auṁ - Jvālāmālinī औं - ज्वालामालिनी
15. aṁ - Citrā अं - चित्रा
There are also other versions about how nityādevī-s are to be worshiped.