Typical āvaraṇa pūjā-s commence now. Various aspects of Śri Cakra have been dealt with in earlier series, Journey to Śri Cakra-1 and Śri Cakra and human body-2. Understanding Śri Cakra and contemplating Her are the important factors in navāvaraṇa pūjā. Various Tantra Scriptures deal exhaustively with Śri Cakra and its worship. Samaya scriptures highlight three important aspects while performing navāvaraṇa pūjā and they are called as rahasya-s (secret, private or secret doctrine). Usage of the word rahasya emphasizes that navāvaraṇa pūjā should not be done as a public ritual. The following three rahasya-s are mentioned.
1. Chakra rahasya:
This is about our ability to align Śri Cakra with cosmos and our body. Bhāvanopaniṣad deals with contemplating our body as Śri Cakra and this has been dealt with in the series, Śri Cakra and human body. Cosmic contemplation depends upon our ability to align triangles with gross, subtle and causal bodies, which are also known as Tripura. She prevails in all the three planes in the form of Consciousness (cidākāśa; cittākaśa refers to mind space, which remains within cidākāśa; typically the former refers to the Self and latter refers to an individual self).
2. Mantra rahaysa:
Her fifteen lettered Supreme mantra Pañcadaśī which evolves into sixteen lettered mantra Ṣoḍaśī, corresponding to the sixteen digits of moon. The sixteenth digit of the moon is subtle and is considered as rahasya. Those who understand the significance of the sixteenth digit of moon are known as the knowers of this secret. The other secret is about Pañcadaśī mantra which is formed as an inverted triangle with bindu within. This can be explained through kāmakalā. The ninth āvaraṇa subtly conveys this secret. Without understanding the secrecies of Pañcadaśī and Ṣoḍaśī mantras, desired results can never be attained. Here, one’s Guru plays a significant role.
3. Pūjā rahasya:
Pūjā-s should not be performed without contemplation. External rituals should be aligned with contemplation. This is possible only if one understands the significance of ritualistic practices. For example let us take the case of ह्रीं (hrīṁ). During pūjā, we recite several hrīṁ-s. Why we repeatedly use hrīṁ? hrīṁ consists of three letter ha + ra + ī and ma conjoins the first three letters. ha + ra + ī represent three bodies – gross (ha), subtle (ra) and causal (ra) bodies and the ‘ma’ conjoins all the three bodies together to form the self or individual self. hrīṁ will be complete only if a bindu (dot) is placed on the top of hrīṁ and the dot represents the Self. Without this dot on the top of ह्री (hrī) the bīja hrīṁ is not complete. Bindu represents Śiva (the central Bindu of Śri Cakra) and the three letters ha + ra + ī represent Tripura (three sides of the innermost triangle of Śri Cakra). Similarly, every letter conveys different aspects of Divinity. Wrong pronunciation of mantras could cause malefic results.
Types of union:
There are three types of union corresponding to the above three rahasya-s. These unions are gross, subtle and the subtlest. Gross union is normal human conjugation. Subtle union is kāmakalā3 (īṁ) and the subtest union happens at sahasrāra4. These three different types union are also called rahasya-s. There are two more unions transcending these three secretive unions. First one is the union of individual soul with Lalitāmbikā, who showers Her Grace on the individual soul to unite with Śiva and liberates that individual soul from transmigration. Practicing the three rahasya-s in a proper way leads to liberation, which is the very purpose of all our religious and spiritual activates. All spiritual practices culminate at “śivoham” or I am Śiva (I am That or ahaṁ brahmāsmi). Perfection of religious practices leads to perfection of contemplation and at the height of contemplation Bliss dawns and at the peak of Bliss, She reveals Herself. Navāvaraṇa pūjā helps in perfecting both religious practices and in contemplation. Mantra japa acts as a catalyst to hasten one’s spiritual progress. When one enters into the state of stillness, it means Bliss where all his religious and spiritual practices cease and there exists only Lalitāmbikā in his own world.
The concept of Śri Cakra is only successive and firm upward movements towards Śiva. Worshipping of Śri Cakra is done by evolved devotees. Unholy practices are followed by some, under the guise of Tāntric worship, without properly understanding the concept of Tantra śāstra-s. Mediocre devotes resort to idol worship. Out of the three types of worship, understanding and worshipping Śri Cakra is considered supreme. When contemplations as prescribed in Bhāvanopaniṣad and navāvaraṇa pūjā are concurrently done, it is considered as the highest form of worship. The nine orifices of human body are related to the nine āvaraṇa-s of Śri Cakra.
There are three types of Śri Cakra worship or Śrī Vidyā upāsanā. First one is known as pure worship or śuddha worship (śuddha means pure), which is done by sthitaprajña-s. The entire worship is only contemplated and visualized. This is done only in the mind, due to which She begins to pervade his mind and thus he or she becomes a sthitaprajña (the one with a firm mind that She is within). Navāvaraṇa pūjā-s done without ego and with unstinted devotion also falls under this category. It is not necessary that one should renounce worldly life to attain Her Grace. What is essential is pure mind, destruction of ego, pure thought processes and absolute love for Her. The next type of worship is miśra worship (miśra means mixed). This type of worship is normally done nowadays. It is the combination of mediocre devotion and mediocre pride. These two types of worships are acceptable. However, She can be attained only in silence and seclusion. The third one is known as galita worship (galita means defective) and is not acceptable at all. Here, rituals are done in a very casual manner, to impress others, to make money, etc.
With these basic inputs, we now proceed to navāvaraṇa pūjā in the next part of this series.
2. Śri Cakra and human body (Bhāvanopaniṣad)