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Tripura Sundari Ashtakam

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Jaya Jaya Shankara !

Namastripurabhairavyai !

Namo Chandramouleeshwaraaya !

Namo Naarasimhaaya !

 

Worship of Mahatripurasundari effects a reconciliation of

the paths of work, love and reason. It is in agreement with the

findings of the modern science. While the followers of different

creeds quarrel among themselves, the SAKTA has no quarrel with any of

them. Shankara Bhagavatpada in ancient times and Sri Ramakrishna in

modern times have demonstrated through their lives and teachings

which they have lived through, that such a reconciliation is not only

possible but also necessary. They have proved that all paths pursued

with devotion and a sense of non-duality lead to the same goal, that

Mantras are efficacious, that Devathas and higher powers exist and

that step by step the Divine mother Mahatripurasundari leads the

sadhaka to higher and higher levels of consciousness till he reaches

perfection and becomes one with the supreme reality.

Sri Acharyafs Soundaryalahari, Lalitha Trishati Bhashyam,

Prapancha sara Tantra and various stotras give us a deep insight into

the secrets of worship of Chitprasakthi. The TRIPURASUNDARI

ASHTAKAM ,short and sweet in a mellifluous metre, contains, as if in

a nutshell, the entire philosophy of Shakti worship.

Of the thousands and lakhs of epithets of the Devi,

Mahatripurasundari is the most wondrous one, declared unanimously by

all agamas,tantras and Vedas. It means she is the belle of all the

three worlds, the beauty par excellence in the etriadf. The term

eTripuraf can be variously interpreted.

1. Three bodied : Paramashiva is the matrix, as it were, of the

trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra. The Kalika Purana says that by the

will of Pradhana (the first principle) the body of Shiva became

triple : the upper part became Brahma, the middle Vishnu and the

lower Rudra. As these three puras (bodies) are in him, he is called

Tripura (three bodied) and hence his spouse is called Tripurasundari.

In this context it will be of interest to learn about the linga at

Gudimallam, a sacred township, about twenty miles from Sri Kalahasti

in Andhra Pradesh in India. The lingam here, said to have been

installed by Parashurama has its lower part bearing the form of a

Gandharva (a musical demi=god). The middle part resembles

Parashurama, with a turban and the upper part that of shiva lingam.

Under a curse Brahma once became a Gandharva, Chitrasena by name. The

lower pat of the lingam is thus Brahma. Parashurama is an avtar of

Vishnu. Thus the form of Shiva here is of Tripura. [From Upadesham of

Periyaval of Kanchi Kamakoti Mahapeetham].

2. Resident in the triads : The Devifs mantra consists of three

syllables. Her Srividya panchadashi (or sodashi) mantra is composed

of three kutas (peaks) Vagbhava, Kamaraja and Sakthi kutas. She

resides in these which are her very form (Sukshma form- subtle form).

The nadis (psychic nerves) where she resides are three Ida, Sushumna

and Pingala. Her Sakthis are three : Iccha(will), Jnana(knowledge)

and Kriya(action). The Srichakra, her very form again consists of

circles, angles and lines. The worlds which she pervades are three :

Heaven, earth and the nether worlds. Every tabernacle wherein she is

the immanent self is composed of three frames : Sukshma sarira

(subtle body), Sthula sharira(gross body) and Karana Sharira ( causal

body). This again has three states of existence : Jagrat(wakeful),

Swapna(dream) and Sushupti(deep sleep). The whole universe of which

she is the Mulaprakriti (First principle) and which she pervades is a

modification of the three modes of energy, Sattva (rhythm), Rajas

(mobility) and Tamas (inertia).

3. Tripura also means eanterior to the trinity, Brahma-Vishnu-

Rudraf. Abhiyukta says : e Because the Devi created the three forms

(trimurtis), because she is before all (Purobhava), because she is in

the form of the three(Trayeemayee), because even after after

dissolution of the three worlds she recreates them again, the Motherf

s name is appropriately Tripura. [vide commentary of Natanandanatha

on Kamakalavilasa].

Lovability and joy are the inherent qualities of beauty. e A thing

of beauty is a joy for ever f (Keats). Ina finite thing there is no

perfect unalloyed joy. What it gives cannot be abiding. Sruthi says :

e That which is infinite is Bliss- Yo vai Bhoomaa tat sukham; naalpe

sukham asti. Bhoomaiva sukham- Chandogya Upanishad). Expalining this

text, Simadacharya says : e cin what is finite there is no bliss.

Because the finite or the small always gives rise to longing for what

is more than that. And longing is a source of pain. And what is a

source of pain is never Bliss. Hence it is quite correct to say that

there is no Bliss in what is finite. Hence the infinite alone is

Bliss, specially because in infinite, there is no possibility of pain

like longing and the rest. Beyond the operation of time, space and

causation, infinite is free from mutation. It is, therefore, Eternal

Truth. Limitless Bliss and Beauty Eternal are the properties of Truth

Absolute. This is what Kalidasa says in Kumara Sambhava : e That is

beauty which never fades but renews its freshnes at all moments.f

When such a blissful beauty takes a form it is Mahatripurasundari.

She is beautiful in every limbcsarvangasundaricall limbs are in

proper proportion having all the qualities of perfection mentioned in

Saamudrikaa Shastra.

The devi, the never changing one among the many is

therefore called Mahatripurasundari. It is noteworthy that of all the

manifestations of the supreme that Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa had

witnessed,that of Sri Rajarajeshwari was the most beautiful to him.

I will not type the actual Shlokas, which can be obtained

from www.ambaa.org

The first verse:

I seek shelter in Mahatripurasundari, Mater Familias of

the three eyed one, strolling in the Kadamba forest, who is like a

bank of clouds to a galaxy of sages, whose hip excels the mountain,

who is served by celestial damsels, whose eyes rival the new-born

lotus, And swarthy like the nimbus newly formed !

Kadamba is a kind of tree called Nauclea cadamba. It is

said to put forth orange, fragrant buds at the roaring of thunder

clouds. A withered relic of the Kadamba tree is preserved in the

precincts of the Madurai Sri Minakshi temple. It also means

multitude. In that sense, the Kadamba forest stands for the universe

that the Devi permeates completely.

As a bank of clouds quenches the thirst of the earth, so

does Mahatripurasundari slake the spiritual thirsts of infinite

number of sages and divine beings by granting them herself. Muni word

means silent meditator.

Mother is described as having lovely hips, mainly to

facilitate the Saguna Dhyana of the mother by those who cannot

contemplate on her formless aspect in the early stages of spiritual

evolution. This also confirms by the standards prescribed by

Saamudrika Shastra for Sarvaanga Sundari.

Swarthy like the newly formed rain cloud : this indicates

the motherfs massive grace, ever ready to rain upon her votaries to

extinguish the fire of their suffering.

Esoterically, the Devi has her abode in the Sahasrara

Chakra, where her mansion is built of Chintamani ( a precious stone

credited with the capability to grant all desires) and surrounded by

Kalpa and Kadamba trees. In the form of Kundalini, the Devi is

normally always in a slumber in the mooladhaara Chakra. The vital

energy i.e prana directed there by the Yogis, practicing Pranayama,

generates enormous heat in Moolaadhaara and it consequently awakens

the Kundalini Shakti. She now courses through the Sushumnaa nadi,

piercing all the six charkas, to the Sahasrara chakra to meet her

lord there. In union with Parabrahman there, she pours down the

nectar of Kulamrita, resembling freshly formed rain clouds, which in

turn quenches the heat in Mooladhaara.

By the word three-eyed one, Paramashiva or Kameshwara is

meant here and not Rudra, Maheshwara or Sadashiva.

 

The second Shloka :

I seek shelter in Mahatripurasundari, Mater familias of the

three eyed-one, who is habituating the forest of Kadamba trees,

holding a golden Veena, Wearing a necklace of priceless gems, having

a face deeply aglow with ambrosia, bestowing prosperity due to her

infinite mercy, Clear eyed and Wandering.

Habiting the Kadamba forest means that the Devi is not only

transcendent of the universe but also immanent in it. As the soul is

in the body, so is she in the universe.

Vina stands for the universe and its music for the orderly

behavior of all therein. It is the player who generates music, the

instrument in itself is lifeless. In like manner it is Devi who

brings about harmony among all the things in the universe. She is the

moving spirit in all. But for her, there would be only chaos. This

clearly indicates at the mantra from Kathopanishad, e Tameva

bhaantamanubhaanti etc. e

The stem of the Vina represents the spine or Merudanda and

the Vinafs strings represent the nadis that run through the spine.

Also, the very sight of Vina is regarded as a blessing

since it is the queen of musical instruments. The stem is regarded as

Shiva, strings as Uma, shoulder as Vishnu, tailpiece as Lakshmi,

gourd as Brahma, midpoint as Saraswathi and the binding nerve as

Adishesha. So the motherfs playing on the Vina reminds us that it is

SHE who gives energy to all the deities to perform their appointed

tasks.

For Mahatripurasundari, the personified universe or

Vishwaroopini, the stars are the gems on her necklace. Being the in-

dwelling self in all bodies, virtually it is she who is wearing the

ornaments of all. Whosoever living beings secure for themselves

objects of enjoyment such as ornaments, food etc, she only is adorned

with all of them for her pleasure. She is the self in every deity;

every ornament offered by the devotees to please their respective

deities, they all really adorn her.

Also, it is the custom of the Samayacharins to offer the

Great mother, jewels set with gems, while meditating on Her in the

manipooraka chakra. This custom has its genesis in the concept that

Sridevi fills the interior of Manipoora with priceless gems of her

own light.

Mother is described by Srimadacharya as having a face

deeply aglow with Vaaruni or ambrosia. Vaaruni literally means the

liquor that issued out during the churning of the milky ocean for

nectar. However, varuni here indicates deep intoxication or bliss

brought about due to the Kulamrita resulting from the union of Shiva

and Shakti in the Sahasrara.

Inebriated with the nectarine flow, she displays signs of

intoxication like blood shot eyes, red cheeks etc. All these signs

may be explained with reference to Vijnaana or the science of descent

of Kundalini back to Mooladhaara after the great communion. The exact

relevance may be learnt from onefs own Guru.

In the vama modes of worship, Devi is propitiated with

Panchamakaras namely Madya Maamsa etc. as detailed in raurava tantras

like Kali vilasa tantra. Esoterically, spiritual liquor is indeed the

divine Kulamrita. It is unfortunate that most Vamamarga Sadhakas

indulge in sex and wine without proper understanding of the

underlying esoteric significance. They, thus get more and more

entangled in samsara. This is the very reason why Srimadacharya

banned Vamamarga as not being suitable to all. Tantras themselves

have declared that Vama marga is for Pashu Bhaava sadhakas. Even

Abhinavagupta, though a very great Tantric scholar and a follower of

Vamamarga, was defeated comfortably by Acharya in a debate. His

Abhichara prayoga (some say kritya) on Acharya was reversed back to

him by Sri Lakshmi Narasimha.

By the way of refinement, the poorva

kaulas offer consecrated coconut water as a substitute to liquor.

Samayins have no need for all these external symbolism.

Vaaruni also means the juice extracted from the

dates, said to be a favourite drink of lord Varuna. This is nothing

but a type of wine again. Every variety of wine is called by

distinctive names, Sura is the wine extracted from rice, Kohala from

barley, Madhulika from wheat etc.

Vibhava means both wealth and final beatitude.

While the former is necessary for a comfortable living in the

material world, the latter is the final goal. Mahatripurasundari is

one who bestows enjoyment and liberation as well. Srimadacharya is

rightly full of praise of her grace, for it confers prosperity for

the life here and the final beatitude for the life hereafter. Hence

it is said e Sri sundari sadhaka pungavaanaam bhogam cha moksham cha

karastha evaf. Different deities grant different boons. However no

other deity, not even any of the other Mahavidya goddesses is

credited with this rare combination of both worldly enjoyment and

liberation. This indeed is the uniqueness of Mahatripurasundari,

which has earned her the epithet, Rajarajeshwari, not applicable to

her any other form.

Mother is said to be clear eyed since she remains as an

unattached spectator. Unruffled by any experience, bitter or

pleasant, she is ever serene with her eyes tranquil.

She is also called wandering since , even though she is the

moving spirit in every being, she has no desire whatsoever. Residing

in all bodies, her moving about is therefore carefree wandering.

 

 

contd

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