śrī śyāmalā ṣoḍaśanāma stotram (श्री श्यामला षोडशनाम स्तोत्रम्)


Prologue: This stotram was recited by Lord Hayagrīva, who is an avatar of the Preserver Lord Viṣṇu, who is praised and worshipped as the knowledge bestower. He is said to be the composer of many hymns associated with Śrī Lalita Tripura Sundarī including the famous Śrī Lalitā Sahasranāma Stotram consisting of Her thousand attributes. The setting for this present stotram is in the theatre of the war between the forces of the Divine led by Śrī Lalita Tripura Sundarī and the war mongering evil and demonic Bhaṇḍāsurā and his vast army. The Divine Mother Śrī Śyāmalā joins the Divine Mother Śrī Vārāhī in the battle against Bhaṇḍāsurā. Śrī Śyāmalā is dark in complexion and mesmerizing in Her looks. A drop of sweat rolling down Her cheeks enhances Her appeal and the celestials witnessing the war heap praises upon Her and Her highly decorated armored division.

Bhaṇḍāsurā represents the negative karma, rigidity, ignorance and other such tamasic qualities in us. To ascend spiritually, the Divine Mother who represents the super-consciousness devolves into an array of deities who can help with the ascension of our consciousness. One must realize that the very bodily existence and the world around us, is nothing but a virtual smoke screen manifested by Mahāmāyā, who is described as the cosmic virtual reality. When the knowledge of our true existence and our very origin and self is recognized as nothing but pure consciousness, the spiritual journey begins. In the realm of Śrī Vidyā, it begins with Bālā who helps us gain the child like innocence that must set in, for us to inquire further in our journey to discover the Truth. Proceeding further, one gains the realization of the triads that encompass us and the various ways and means to ascend through them. The Divine Mother Śrī Vārāhī gives us the courage, drive and all the weapons to destroy our ignorance, obsessions and attachments. The Divine Mother Śrī Śyāmalā, aids us through knowledge, expression and creativity to overcome all our karmic influences. Together with the blessings of all these deities, we merge into the super-consciousness, who is none other than Śrī Lalita Tripura Sundarī. The war that is waged, is our own internal struggle and endeavor to realize the Truth and merge into the super-consciousness by becoming self-realized and finally attaining liberation.

Hayagrīva uvāca (हयग्रीव उवाच)

[ Lord Hayagrīva spoke thus - ]

tāṃ tuṣṭuvuḥ ṣoḍaśabhir-nāmābhir-nākavāsinaḥ

tāni ṣoḍaśanāmāni śṛṇu kumbhasamudbhava 1

तां तुष्टुवुः षोडशभिर्नामाभिर्नाकवासिनः ।

तानि षोडशनामानि शृणु कुम्भसमुद्भव ॥ १ ॥

Listen attentively Oh Agastya, the one born in the womb of a water-pot! Exhilarated were the celestials, who upon the arrival of the Divine Mother Śrī Śyāmalā in the battlefield against the mighty Bhaṇḍāsurā and his vast army, spontaneously broke into a rapturous applause and began singing the sixteen attributes of the Divine Mother Śrī Śyāmalā in Her praise.        

Conceptually, those who are spiritually inclined and strive to understand the purpose of life and make the efforts towards realizing the Truth, may be considered as “reborn”, alluring to sage Agastya, who is spiritually awakened and in the quest of realizing the greater Truth. The water-pot is the cerebral nectar that comes from the pineal gland during deep meditation for those with elevated cakras and awakened Kuṇḍalini. The celestial reference is to the awakened higher cakras and the battlefield is in the causal body where the mind, intellect and ego (anthaḥkaraṇa) reside along with the consciousness. Until the anthaḥkaraṇa is subdued, the consciousness which is our true self cannot be fully experienced leading us to self-realization. Further, the karmas themselves have to be destroyed to gain liberation. The Divine Mother Śrī Śyāmalā bestows Her grace in the form of true absolute knowledge and also provides the means, such as mantras, meditation, karma mitigation etc. to overcome all the hurdles caused by the effects of the anthaḥkaraṇa such as thoughts, indulgences, avocations, stubbornness, ignorance, arrogance, confusions, ignorance etc and karmas bringing in numerous obstacles to prevent us from ascending.

saṅgīta-yoginī śyāmā śyāmalā mantra-nāyikā

mantriṇī saciveśānī ca pradhāneśī śukapriyā 2

सङ्गीतयोगिनी श्यामा श्यामला मन्त्रनायिका ।

मन्त्रिणी सचिवेशानी च प्रधानेशी शुकप्रिया ॥ २ ॥

Her attributes are –

1. Saṅgīta-yoginī (सङ्गीतयोगिनी) – She is the cause, source and effect of all music (Saṅgīta). She is the origin of Śabda Brahman – the primordial sound OM̐ (ॐ), the origin of all the mātṛkās who constitute the alphabet (Sanskrit) and who by themselves, generate the various sound frequencies and wavelengths. Their various combinations generate the seeds of the entire Creation and constitute all its wonders and mysteries, both fathomable and unfathomable.

She is a Yoginī, the One who assists in the union (Yoga) of the consciousness (self) with the super-consciousness (Self – meaning Herself). As Saṅgīta-yoginī, She amalgamates the very essence of the Creation in the form of sound vibrations, wavelengths and music and helps the consciousness (self) ascend to the super-consciousness Self.

2. Śyāmā (श्यामा) – She is the dark-hued One perceived as dark green. She is the constituent of the Creation in the form of dark matter and is also the gravitational force and all energies that are perceptible and imperceptible to us.

3. Śyāmalā (श्यामला) – The Sanskrit letter ‘la’ (ल) represents matter, earth etc. The convergence of Śyāmā (energy, dark matter, anti-matter, gravity etc) into matter is represented by and as Śyāmalā.

4. Mantra-nāyikā (मन्त्रनायिका) – She is the fountainhead and source of all mantras. Mantras are means and tools of tantra, whose purpose is to attain all cherished desires and ultimately gain self-realization and liberation. She is in the form of the mantras and She is also the queen or head of the mantras, meaning that She is the source and means for attaining liberation and merger into the Supreme Self.

5. Mantriṇī (मन्त्रिणी) – She is the administrator of mantras and the One who will help us realize the associated benefits. She is in the form of the guru who gives us the mantras and She is also the One who assists in gaining the fruition of the mantras, of which She is a constituent in their entirety. She is therefore the cause, source, means, purpose, destination and the effect too! The word mantriṇī, also means an administrator in a court and in Her context, She is the prime minister in the court of Śrī Lalita Tripura Sundarī and is the head of all administration. She is therefore the power center of the entire Creation!

    Learned scholar and Śrī Vidyā guru Shri Jothi Agaval states - "In this Śyāmalā Navarātri I will talk about the Great Minister as Mudriṇī. Reader, know that your body is a miniature of the Macrocosm. When Kuṇḍalinī is sleeping, your body is only the Microcosm, but when Kuṇḍalinī wakes up, your body becomes the Macrocosm and the Microcosm simultaneously. Now open your palms and look at them. Your hands are Śrī Rāja Śyāmalā, the hands of God or Lalitā. Through your hands you can control the Microcosm and the Macrocosm. Your hands work like a "remote control" where you can manage and control everything. All Mantras can be replicated through specific Hand gestures. Forget other gestures with your body, the gesture of your hands alone can generate the same effect as reciting a specific Mantra. But you must know how to perform the hand gesture. The Queen of all Mudras is the famous Sarvayonimudrā (although almost everyone does not know the correct way to perform it). This Mudra is done only with the hands and generates the same effect as reciting the Pañcadaśākṣarī Mantra. This Mudra invokes Bindu and removes all defects from anything you speak. Everything you say will be perfect. When I recite the Pañcadaśākṣarī or display the Sarvayonimudrā alone there is no difference in the effects. This is how important Śrī Rāja Śyāmalā is. She is the hands of God. She acts in the name of the Queen and can do, undo and do nothing, according to her wishes. All Mantras have a corresponding hand gesture. Rāja Śyāmalā is that. Mudriṇī is that Minister who manifests herself like all Mudrās and who can do anything in the name of the Queen. Look at your hands again. They are Rāja Śyāmalā and you can control the Microcosm and the Macroscosm with them alone. Mudriṇī are one of Śyāmalā's sixteen favorite names. The hands are so important because they are associated with Anāhata Cakra, Vāyu and Time. When a Mantra is recited, you are performing Prāṇāyāma. When you perform a hand gesture or Mudrā, you are also performing Prāṇāyāma. Objects can only be transformed through the action of time or Vāyu. An object can be thought of in the past, present or future. It is Vāyu's action that makes him take on different forms at a given time. So, hands are related to the power to manage, transform, influence and control."

6. Saciveśānī (सचिवेशानी) - She is also the prime minister in the court of Śrī Lalita Tripura Sundarī and is the head of all administration. She is therefore the power center and the super-intelligence of the entire Creation! Everything that there is, is Her manifestation and by extension is Herself!

7. Pradhāneśī (प्रधानेशी) – Literally meaning the most important or the leading One! Chief amongst the devolutionary forms and powers of Śrī Lalita Tripura Sundarī, is Śrī Śyāmalā! With Her concurrence, we merge into Śrī Lalita.

8. Śuka-priyā (शुकप्रिया) – Śuka means parrot and Priyā means fond of. She is fond of parrots. The parrots here signify the sacred scriptures such as the Vedas, Tantras and all other sources of knowledge. She is fond of those who recite the sacred scriptures, with complete understanding of their underlying essence.

vīṇāvatī vaiṇikī ca mudriṇī priyaka-priyā

nīpa-priyā kadambeśī kadamba-vana-vāsinī  3

वीणावती वैणिकी च मुद्रिणी प्रियकप्रिया ।

नीपप्रिया कदम्बेशी कदम्बवनवासिनी  ॥ ३ ॥

9. Vīṇāvatī (वीणावती) - She is the holder of the musical instrument Vīṇā. This lute type instrument has 24 frets representing the syllables of the Gāyatrī mantra. There are four melody strings that represent the holy Vedas. Also, there are three drone strings on the side, that signify the three nāḍīs or spiritual channels in the body that facilitate the rise of the Kuṇḍalini. They are the central channel Suṣumnā, the right channel piṅgalā and the left iḍā. The stem of the Vīṇā itself represents the spine along which the Kuṇḍalini flows. The music from the Vīṇā signifies all the frequencies and wavelengths of the entire Creation.

10. Vaiṇikī (वैणिकी) – She is extolled as the One who is an adept at playing the Vīṇā. She has the ability to generate all the frequencies and wavelengths and also permeate the same throughout the entire Creation.

11. Mudriṇī (मुद्रिणी) She is the power manifested in all the hand gestures called mudras, which are essential practices included in tantra as well as various art forms such as classical dances. She represents the power associated with the mudras, yantras, mantras and all tantras.

12. Priyaka-priyā (प्रियक-प्रिया) – She is fond of the Priyaka flowers of the Aśana tree (Bridelia Retusa). The flowers of this shrub are greenish yellow resembling the complexion of the Divine Mother. The green color is reminiscent of Her role as the Creator and Her zeal to infuse and Sustain life throughout the Creation.

13. Nīpa-priyā (नीपप्रिया) – She is fond of the flowers of the nīpa tree (Nauclea Cadamba). The flowers are known as Kadamba flowers in Asia and are very fragrant and yellow in color. She is present in the fragrance of all smells and She is also the constituent of the tanmātras, which are the subtle sources of all the physical senses. The tanmātras are part of the astral body.

14. Kadambeśī (कदम्बेशी) – She is the cause, source and constituent of the fragrance of the Kadamba flower as well as all others.

15. Kadamba-vana-vāsinī (कदम्बवनवासिनी) – She is the constituent and resident of the forest full of Kadamba trees.

sadāmadā ca nāmāni ṣoḍaśaitāni kumbhaja

etairya: saciveśanīṃ sakṛt-stauti śarīravān

tasya trailokyam-akhilaṃ vaśye tiṣṭhatya saṃśayam 4

सदामदा च नामानि षोडशैतानि कुम्भज  ।

एतैर्य: सचिवेशनीं सकृत्स्तौति शरीरवान् ।

तस्य त्रैलोक्यमखिलं वश्ये तिष्ठत्य संशयम् ॥ ४ ॥

16. Sadāmadā (सदामदा) – She is always in a spiritually intoxicated state, meaning that She is at the highest state of super-consciousness and with our devotion and worship of the Divine Mother, we may also become eligible to ascend spiritually and merge into Her.

Thus the 16 names of the Divine Mother have been described to you, Oh sage Agastya, the One born in a pitcher. Behold, Oh learned One! Those who worship Her ardently by this hymn and follow Her mantras and related procedures, will at once earn immense praise and become embodied with charm to mesmerize all the triads and gain a firm foothold in them. This will surely be attained by Her divine grace!

iti śrī brahmāṇḍapurāṇe lalitopākhyāne śrīśyāmalā ṣoḍaśanāma stotram

इति श्री ब्रह्माण्डपुराणे ललितोपाख्याने श्रीश्यामला षोडशनाम स्तोत्रम् ॥

(Thus ends the hymn hailed as the śrīśyāmalā ṣoḍaśanāma stotram, listing the sixteen names of the Divine Mother Śrī Śyāmalā, derived from the Lalitopākhyāna section of the Śrī Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa).

This article is written by Krishna Vallapareddy and can be contacted at Krishna@manblunder.com