17. Nyāsaḥ न्यासः

This is discussed under two parts. The first part deals with principle and purpose of nyāsa-s and the second part deals with practical nyāsa-s. Explanatory notes and applications are restricted to only select nyāsa-s. All types of nyāsa-s are give here only for the purpose of knowing the types of nyāsa-s.

17.1) Principle behind nyāsa-s:

Nyāsa is explained as mental appropriation or assignment of various parts of the body to protective deities(tutelary deities) and exceptionally for the principal deity. There are also meanings such as placing, fixing, putting away, taking off, etc. Irrespective of these meanings, nyāsa is an act of the mind expressed physically by touching various parts of the body. This is mainly done to make the worshiper feel that his body is not different from Her. At the end of nyāsa procedures, sādhaka’s duality is completely dissolved and he becomes one with Her. At this stage the ego of the sādhaka is completely annihilated paving to realize Her within. When ego is dissolved, the sādhaka realizes that he is not the performer of navāvaraṇa pūjā. This is the stage where the navāvaraṇa pūjā, the one who performs navāvaraṇa pūjā and Lalitāmbikā become one. Lalitāmbikā is Citśakti, the power of Consciousness (of Śiva), that brings about the world process (creation, sustenance, etc).  What is the power of Citśakti in the mind? When the mind affirms that we are Citśakti, it is important that the mind is fully aware of three forms of Parāśakti viz. gross, subtle and subtlest. She has many gross forms and known by different names such as Kālī, Ṣoḍaśī and other forms, more fully explained in Daśamahāvidyā and other Scriptures. In fact, all that exists in the universe is Her form. Subtle forms refers to Her mantra form such as Ṣoḍaśī mantra, Pañcadaśī mantra and all other mantras. In fact, all the mantras originate from Her. Lalitā Sahasranāma 204 says, “Sarvamantra svarūpiṇī”. Mantras are made up of different alphabets of Sanskrit and all these alphabets originate from Her, says Lalitā Sahasranāma 577, mātṛkā-varṇa-rūpinī. Most importantly, Her subtler form is said to be kāmakalā, which is explained in Lalitā Sahasranāma 322, kāmakalā-rūpā. Her subtlest form is Kuṇḍalinī.

By performing nyāsa-s in the body, our body is considered as Her mantra form. This is the purpose of nyāsa. Therefore, it is very important that mental concentration is important while performing nyāsa-s, otherwise, the very purpose of nyāsa-s would be defeated.

Following twenty nine nyāsa-s are prescribed in Śrī Vidyā.

01. bahirmātṛkānyāsaḥ बहिर्मातृकान्यासः

02. antarmātṛkānyāsaḥ अन्तर्मातृकान्यासः

Mātṛkā literally means mother. Mātṛkā also means the power of letters. Combination of various letters gives rise to a word and formation of words is known as Mālinī, the deity of alphabets (Śrītantrālokaḥ). In other words, Mātṛkā is the mother alphabets and Mālinī is the mother of words. Mālinī (Lalitā Sahasranāma 455) is explained as the power of letters which holds the entire universe within itself. Śiva says to Pārvatī, “All the sins are destroyed by performing mātṛkānyāsa-s” (Mantrayoga Saṁhitā). By performing mātṛkānyāsa-s one identifies his body with the subtle form ofParāśakti. This contemplation is more important in performing all the nyāsa-s.

Bahirmātṛkānyāsa means or bāhyamātṛkānyāsa means touching various external parts of the body with finger tips by reciting an alphabet. Thus all the fifty alphabets are placed at different parts of the body. Antarmātṛkānyāsa means contemplating the same fifty alphabets in the six psychic chakras, from mūlādhāra to ājñā and at sahasrāra. Every alphabet is preceded by praṇava, tritāri and Bālā and this is formed like this:

om - aiṁ hrīṁ śrīṁ - aiṁ klīṁ sauḥ ॐ - ऐं ह्रीं श्रीं - ऐं क्लीं सौः

After this an alphabet is recited with bindu (a dot on the top of the alphabet) and suffixed with namaḥ  haṁsaḥ (नमः हंसः) at the end. Let us take the example of alphabet a (अ) and nyāsa is done like this.

om - aiṁ hrīṁ śrīṁ - aiṁ klīṁ sauḥ - aṁ - namaḥ haṁsaḥ

 ॐ - ऐं ह्रीं श्रीं - ऐं क्लीं सौः – अं – नमः हंसः

Practical nyāsa will be dealt with subsequently.

03. karaśuddhinyāsaḥ करशुद्धिन्यासः

Karaśuddhi literally means cleansing of hands. But, contextually karaśuddhinyāsa is one of these several nyāsa-s.

This nyāsa is done by prefixing om - aiṁ hrīṁ śrīṁ to aṁ or āṁ or sauḥ (अं आं सौः) and suffixing with namaḥ (नमः). For example om - aiṁ hrīṁ śrīṁ aṁ namaḥ. The three bīja-s aṁ, āṁ, sauḥ (अं आं सौः) are derived from the first āvaraṇa, trilokyamohanacakra. Each cakreśavarī (the one who presides over that āvaraṇa) has got different bīja-s and these bīja-s are used as prefixes to various nyāsa-s.

The purpose of karaśuddhinyāsa is to eliminate the influences of antaḥkaraṇa, organs of perception and organs of action on the mind, so that the mind is purified and becomes one with Śiva tattva. Hands and fingers are cleansed symbolically to purify the mind as explained above. Again the contemplation is more important here, as is always the case with all types of nyāsa-s.

There are twelve karaśuddhinyāsa-s.

04. ātmarakṣānyāsaḥ आत्मरक्षान्यासः

This nyāsa is done in the heart chakra, known as anāhata chakra. In this nyāsa, the three bīja-s of second āvaraṇa aiṁ, klīṁ, sauḥ (ऐं क्लीं सौः) are prefixed to śrī mahātripurasundari ātmānaṁ rakṣa rakṣa. This nyāsa is done for two purposes. One, to pray to Her to remove māyā, which acts as an impediment to the realization of the Self. Two, in order to remove māyā, Her Grace is sought. When Her Grace descends, karmic imprints are removed. Therefore, this nyāsa seeks protection for the individual soul, which is the very cause of our existence. Within this individual soul remains the Self, but veiled by māyā.

05. caturāsananyāsaḥ चतुरासनन्यासः

Caturāsana means four types of subtle seating. They are ātmāsana, cakrāsana, sarvamantrāsana and sādhyasiddhāsana (आत्मासन, चक्रासन, सर्वमन्त्रासन and साध्यसिद्धासन). Out of the nine āvaraṇa-s, the bīja-s of the first two āvaraṇa-s are used in karaśuddhinyāsa (3 above) and ātmarakṣānyāsa (4 above). In caturāsananyāsa the bīja-s of third, fourth, fifth and sixth āvaraṇa-s are used. These fournyāsa-s refer to unification of pramātā (subject), prameya (object) and pramāṇa (means, anumāna, inference). These three are symbolically represented by ātmāsana, cakrāsana and sarvamantrāsana. When the subject, object and the means are perfectly in unison, it leads to the ultimate stage of union of Śiva and Śakti. This is known as Prakāśa-Vimarśa sāmarasya, where Prakāśa is Śiva, Vimarśa is Śakti and sāmarasya means union of Śiva and Śakti. Lalitā Sahasranāma 792 is sāmarasya-parāyaṇā explains this. This concept is also explained in Bhāvanopaniṣad 8, which says, “jñātṛ jñāna jñeyānāṁ abhedabhāvanaṁ śrīcakrapūjanam.” This means that realising that there is no difference between the knower, the known and the process of knowing (knowledge) is true worship of Śri Cakra.

06. ālāṣaḍaṅanyāsaḥ बालाषडङन्यासः

Here, nyāsa is done with Bālā mantra aiṁ klīṁ sauḥ (ऐं क्लीं सौः). Generally, in Śrī Vidyā cult, in the beginning one is initiated with Bālā mantra and a sādhaka with consistent and dedicated practice moves up in stages to Pañcadaśī and Ṣoḍaśī to become one with Her. This nyāsa is performed to comprehend that there is no differentiation in Her various forms. She alone manifests in different forms.

07. vaśinyādinyāsaḥ वशिन्यादिन्यासः

This is also known as vāgdevatā nyāsaḥ (वाग्देवता न्यासः), the composers of Lalitā Sahasranāma. Identifying ourselves with these vāgdevei-s is the purpose of this nyāsa. All the fifty alphabets are used in this nyāsa and nyāsa is done on the psychic centres.

08. mūlavidyāvarṇanyāsaḥ मूलविद्यावर्णन्यासः

Mūlavidyāvarṇanyāsa is different from mūlavidyānyāsa, which is discussed under additional nyāsa-s. The main difference between the two is this -  mūlavidyāvarṇanyāsa uses fifteen alphabets used inPañcadaśī as bījākṣara-s. Varṇa means sound, vowel, syllable. For example the first alphabet of Pañcadaśī mantra is ka (क). In mūlavidyāvarṇanyāsa, a bindu is added by making ka (क) as kaṁ (कं). In mūlavidyānyāsa, pañcadaśī mantra is used for nyāsa. Mūlavidyānyāsa nyāsa is done like karanyāsa and hrdayādi nyāsa using each kūṭā of Pañcadaśī mantra.

Both these nyāsa-s are done to reaffirm that there is no difference between Her, Her mantra and the sādhaka. This is subtly conveyed in Varivasyā Rahasya (verse 114) which says, “Body of Parāśakti is composed of Vāg, Kāma and Śakti kūṭa-s of Pañcadaśī mantra which are placed from Her crown to neck, neck to hip and hip to feet. The same concept is also explained in Lalitā Sahasranāma 85, 86 and 87 (Śrīmadvāgbhava-kūṭaika-svarūpa-mukha-paṅkajā, kaṇṭhādhaḥ kaṭiparyantha-madhyakūṭa-svarūpiṇī and Śakti-kūṭaikatāpanna-kaṭyadhobhāga-dhārinī).

09. śrīṣoḍaśākṣarīnyāsaḥ श्रीषोडशाक्षरीन्यासः

This nyāsa is done with Ṣoḍaśī mantra with certain mudras like saubhāgyadaṇḍinī, ripujihvāgrahā, trikhaṇḍā and yoni. The purpose of this nyāsa is to control worldly life endued with desires, attachment, etc and to attain liberation by becoming one with Her.

10. saṁmohananyāsaḥ संमोहनन्यासः

Contemplating the entire universe as red is the purpose of this nyāsa. Bhāvanopaniṣad 19 says, “lauhityametasya sarvasya vimarśaḥ”. This means that pure Consciousness is Kāmeśvara. Individual self, which is in the state of eternal Bliss is Lalitāmbikā. The redness is contemplating the union of Śiva, Śakti and jīvan (individual soul). When the universe is contemplated as red, the sādhaka attains Her qualities of compassions. She is described as red in dhyāna verses of Lalitā Sahasranāma.

11. saṁhāranyāsaḥ संहारन्यासः

12. sṛṣṭinyāsaḥ सृष्टिन्यासः

13. sthinyāsaḥ स्थिन्यासः

Saṁhāranyāsa, sṛṣṭinyāsa and sthinyāsa refers to dissolution, creation and sustenance. saṁhāranyāsa is done to annihilate avidyā (nescience or spiritual ignorance). Sṛṣṭinyāsa is done to contemplate that sādhaka is born afresh with vidyā or spiritual knowledge, where all dyads and triads are not in existence. Sthinyāsa is done to establish the union of sādhaka with Her. This is the state of jīvanmukta. This is the essence of mahāvākya-s such as “I am Brahman”, “I am That” or “ahaṁ brahmāsmi”.

14. laghuṣoḍhānyāsaḥ लघुषोढान्यासः

Laghu means easy, quick, etc. Laghuṣoḍhānyāsa consists of six types of nyāsa-s and they are follows.

i). gaṇeśanyāsaḥ गणेशन्यासः

ii). grahanyāsaḥ ग्रहन्यासः

iii). nakṣatranyāsaḥ नक्षत्रन्यासः

iv). yoginīnyāsaḥ योगिनीन्यासः

v). rāśinyāsaḥ राशिन्यासः

vi). pīṭhanyāsaḥ पीठन्यासः

These six types of nyāsa-s are done to reaffirm that there is no differentiation between Her and thesādhaka. This means that Gaṇeśa (also known as Gaṇapati), the god of knowledge who removes all obstacles and is the son of Śiva and Pārvatī. He is worshiped to remove all obstacles at the commencement of navāvaraṇa pūjā. By doing this nyāsa, it is established that Lalitāmbikā is not different from Gaṇeśa. Similarly, navagraha-s (nine planets) and twenty seven stars are one with Her. Nine planets, twenty seven stars and nine rāśi-s (zodiac; also called bhāva or houses) constitute a birth chart. When She is worshiped with true devotion and love, even if the planets are placed adversely in one’s birth chart, they will not cause any impediments in sādhaka’s life.

Yoginīnyāsa is about sixty four yogini-s, who preside over various parts of the body. Yoginī here means the deities who preside over various aspects of existence. There are several references to sixty four yogini-s. However, for the purpose of this nyāsa, seven yogini-s presiding over seven psychic centres and their deputies amounting to forty nine are taken into account. Each psychic centre has certain number of lotus petals and each petal is embedded with a Sanskrit alphabet. Thus we have fifty alphabets placed in the fifty petals of six psychic centres and at sahasrāra each alphabet is placed in twenty petals giving rise to one thousand petals. This is explained in detail inLalitā Sahasranāma 475 to 534. Please refer to the interpretation of these nāma-s for details. Thus, not only the psychic centres are identified with Lalitāmbikā, but also the entire alphabets of Sanskrit. These alphabets form words and their meaning, which establishes Her presence in every aspect of the universe. This is the purpose of yoginīnyāsa.

Pīṭhanyāsa refers to fifty one Śaktipiṭha-s. When Śiva was not invited by Dakṣa to participate in a yajñā organised by demon Dakṣa, father of Satī, an incarnation of Śaktī, immolated Herself.  Śiva carrying Her corpse was milling around.  Viṣṇu cut the corpse into fifty one pieces that fell in fifty one different places.  These places are known as fifty one Śaktipiṭha-s. Each of these Śaktipiṭha-s is represented by an alphabet and thus we have fifty one alphabets. The number of alphabets is different from fifty alphabets referred in yoginīnyāsa as alphabet ळ (ḻa) is addition here.  

15. śrīcakranyāsaḥ श्रीचक्रन्यासः

In śrīcakranyāsa, Gaṇapati,  Kṣetrapāla, Yogini-s (who preside over eight āvaraṇa-s), aṣṭadikbālaka-s (cardinal guards), baṭuka (young guards),  Brahmā and Ananta are placed in various parts of the body. This nyāsa also confirms that every aspect of the universe is pervaded by Her.

i). trailokyamohanacakranyāsaḥ त्रैलोक्यमोहनचक्रन्यासः

ii). sarvaśāparipūrakacakranyāsaḥ सर्वशापरिपूरकचक्रन्यासः

iii). sarvasaṅkṣobhaṇacakranyāsaḥ सर्वसङ्क्षोभणचक्रन्यासः

iv). sarvasaubhāgyadāyakacakranyāsaḥ सर्वसौभाग्यदायकचक्रन्यासः

v). sarvārthasādhakacakranyāsaḥ सर्वार्थसाधकचक्रन्यासः

vi). sarvarakṣākaracakranyāsaḥ सर्वरक्षाकरचक्रन्यासः

vii). sarvarogaharacakranyāsaḥ सर्वरोगहरचक्रन्यासः

viii a). āyudhanyāsaḥ आयुधन्यासः

viii b). sarvasiddhipradacakranyāsaḥ सर्वसिद्धिप्रदचक्रन्यासः

ix). sarvānandamayacakranyāsaḥ सर्वानन्दमयचक्रन्यासः

These nine nyāsa-s represent nine āvaraṇa-s of Śri Cakra. Each śakti of every āvaraṇa is placed on different parts of the body. Nyāsa for ninth āvaraṇa is done only with mūlamantra.

Additional nyāsa-s.

1. mūlavidyānyāsa: this is discussed along with mūlavidyāvarṇanyāsa (08).

2. kāmeśvaryātinyāsa is done contemplating the four piṭha-s (पिठ) viz. kāmagiripiṭha, pūrṇagiripīṭha, jālandharapīṭha and oḍyāṇapīṭha, which are connected to four āmnāya-s (pantheons). Each pantheon has one śakti and all the pantheons put together, we have four śakti-s. Āmnāya-s are worshiped at the end of navāvaraṇa pūjā.

These are the broad interpretations of nyāsa-s and their significance. Which of these nyāsa-s are to be followed is decided by one’s Guru and his lineage. It is important to contemplate Her while performing nyāsa-s, as otherwise the very purpose of nyāsa-s would be lost.

17.2) Mantras only for the following nyāsa-s will be discussed in the next part.

01. bahirmātṛkānyāsaḥ बहिर्मातृकान्यासः

02. antarmātṛkānyāsaḥ अन्तर्मातृकान्यासः

03. karaśuddhinyāsaḥ करशुद्धिन्यासः

04. ātmarakṣānyāsaḥ आत्मरक्षान्यासः

05. bālāṣaḍaṅanyāsaḥ बालाषडङन्यासः

06. caturāsananyāsaḥ चतुरासनन्यासः

07. vaśinyādinyāsaḥ वशिन्यादिन्यासः

08. mūlavidyāvarṇanyāsaḥ मूलविद्यावर्णन्यासः

Mantra-s for rest of the nyāsa-s will be discussed at the end of this series.