Navratri

Navratri day 1 (Shailaputri/Parvati)

On the 1st day of Navratri let’s explore the significance of Jaganmaatha (Divine Mother) and why She comes as a daughter to Her devotees.

Shailaputri
Shailaputri or Parvati (Parvata Raja Putri)

It’s impossible to define and explain the nature of a mother in mere words, and coming to the Divine Mother Herself, it’s an exploration of many lives and a never-ending journey dwelling in joy and content. The Divine Mother comes as a daughter to many of Her devotees. It’s to be understood that no matter how many times the Divine Mother takes abode as a daughter, it is always to glorify Her devotees and preserve Dharma. Many Devotees and Sages (Rishis) have worshiped and urged Her to be born as their daughter, like Brughu Maharshi, King Daksha, Katyayana Maharshi and many more, but why? Because their devotion evolved to a state where they wished to express their affection to a physically manifested form of the Divine Mother and for the world to witness the divinity and so wished Her to manifest as their daughter. Hence, to the mountain king Himavat, She came as Himavati or Shailaputri, to King Janaka as Sita/Janaki, so sloka “dharmeNa tanayA tava”: meaning, Sita emerged from Earth before King Janaka and by Dharma she can be considered as Tanaya or Daughter and hence was called Janaki, to King Samudra as Lakshmi, to Bhishmaka as Rukmini, to Akasaraja as Padmavati, to Katyayana Maharshi as Katyayani, or Bhrughu Maharshi as Bhargavi and so on, but She always seeks to unite as consort of Ishwara as His Shakti (Vishnu in case of Lakshmi, and Shiva in case of Parvathi, and Brahma in case of Saraswathi). One important aspect of a father, which is very common in Sanatana Dharma, is to see one’s mother in his daughter, this is the reason for addressing one’s daughter as ‘ma’ or ‘talli’. It’s an inherent nature of a father to search for his mother’s qualities in one’s daughter, because one’s mother is the pure embodiment of Soundarya(m) and Anunaya(m). This is the reason one should never think or speak ill of one’s mother. Our very physical existence is the blessing and is a part of one’s own mother. She becomes that nourished womb where every element of Her body is shared to foster our growth. She goes through enormous pain while carrying us and giving birth. Even after birth she wishes Her own health and life to be given to the child so that her children can grow and cherish the joy of this creation. No matter how difficult the circumstances, one should never be ungrateful and should never foster hatred towards their mother, as this would be a worse character a person can have. As a person one should foster such affection and wish for a privilege to be a parent to a daughter, and live with pride seeing their daughter play and grow in front of their eyes. This is the reason, She, the Divine Mother comes as a daughter to many.

Sloka from Srimad Bhagavata(m) (Sri Bhagavata Purana(m)) composed by a scholar Bammera Pothana, said in the Veerabadhra Vijayam canto as follows:

“గిరిలలోన ఒకరి:గిరినైనా  నా:పేరు వెలియచేసితివి ఇపుడు:ఇందువదనా
నీకు:తండ్రినైతి నా:కింత:చాలదే ఇది మహాద్భుతంబు ఇందువాదన”

“Girilaloona okari:girinaina  naa:peru veliyachesitivi ipudu:Indhuvadana
Neeku:tandrinaiti naa:kintha:chalade idhi mah:adbhutambu indhuvaadana”

From the above sloka the mountain king Himavat to whom the Divine Mother came as His daughter, took the name Himavati or Parvathi since She is a Parvata Raja Putri (Parvati means Mountain, Raja means king and Putri meaning daughter) or Shailaputri. King Himavat told Her in joy that She has brought pride and glory to him, who is just but a mountain. Similarly, all fathers should expect their daughters to bring the same pride to one’s family.

Devi Shailaputri Prarthana:

“वन्दे वाञ्छितलाभाय चन्द्रार्धकृतशेखराम्। वृषारूढां शूलधरां शैलपुत्रीं यशस्विनीम्॥”
“Vande Vanchhitalabhaya Chandrardhakritashekharam।
Vrisharudham Shuladharam Shailaputrim Yashasvinim॥”

Please read the complete article on the magnificence of  Jaganmaatha on this portal.

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Navratri day 2 (Brahmacharini)

On the 2nd day of Navratri, let’s explore the beautiful story of Devi Parvati’s service to Shiva before their Vivah and the story of Manmada (Kamadev) who disrupted Shiva’s tapasya and was burnt by the third eye of Shiva. It’s a beautiful and meaningful article rich in tatva for the 2nd day of Navratri.

Dakshayani
Dakshayani in Yogagni

After the destruction of Daksha Yagna for performing Nir:ishwara Yag (meaning an yagna without the Ishwara), Devi Dakshayani walked into the Yogagni (Fire created by Yoga, an highly advanced method in Yoga) to shed Her physical manifestation. She didn’t wish to continue as the Daughter of King Dhaksha who insulted Her Pathidev (Shiva). This concept of dēha:tyag (sacrifice one’s body) in fire of Yoga refusing the discrimination of one’s pathi:dev (husband by Dharma) is called Sathi or Sati. Hence, Devi Dakshayani was the first Sati who tried to protect Her Pati’s honor.

Shiva after the manifestation of Veerabhadra, dwelled alone in the absence of Devi (physically manifested form). Whenever Shiva is alone like this, He withdraws into Dakshina Murti state, a state of being a Guru and becomes a full-time ascetic immersed in teaching. To understand the aspect of Ishwara & Shakti, please find this article on this portal under the topics list.

At this time, an asura called Tarakasura performed vigorous austerity of tapasya, pleased by his tapasya Lord Brahma manifested and asked for the reason and his wish. Tarakasure wanted eternal life in physicality. Lord Brahma denied as everything in Prakruti that manifests should one day dissolve back into Prakriti. Tarakasurar knew that Shiva was without his Shakti (in a physical manifestation), and also knew that Shiva will never wed any other, hence will never have a child. He also knew about Ganesh who was the Son of Gowri (another manifestation of Shiva:shakti) and was not created out of Shiva Tejas, so He asked to be killed by a Son born out of Shiva Tejas or Shiva Veerya. Lord Brahma agreed and disappeared. Tarakasura went on a rampage of conquest, and took over Deva:loka. Various lokas fell under the rule of Tarakasura.

Devatas in their haste and desperation reached out to Lord Brahma for a solution since it was He who gave such a boon to Tarakasura. Lord Brahma consoled the Devatas that Shiva:shakti has born as Devi Parvati as a daughter to Menaka and Himavat and that She will wed Shiva soon. Knowing this Devatas waited, but were under constant abuse from Tarakasura.

Parvati_Serving_Shiva
Devi Parvati serving Shiva during his Tapasya

Rishi Narada reached Himavat and explained him that his daughter was none other than Shiva:shakti. Himavat jumped in joy that the Shakti has taken abode in his house for that he was just a mountain and was so fortunate. He also realized that he can never find a groom for Her, other than Shiva, because for eternity She is Shiva:shakti. Devi Parvati blossomed into youth, bringing joy and prosperity to Himavat and his Kingdom. The mountain ranges of Himavat were sanctuary for various Rishis, Sages, Munis and more for their tapasya. He heard the news that Lord Shiva has reached Himavat mountains for tapasya. He immediately ran to His presence along with his daughter and various other amenities. He urged Lord Shiva to allow him to assist in His tapasya and asked that his daughter (Parvati) to be by His side to provider all the necessary amenities needed for His time in the mountains. It’s a custom in Sanatana Dharma that the parents always had their child participate in service whenever great devotees, Rishis, Sages and Munis visited their homes and kingdoms, and whenever donations and charities was performed. Devi Parvati continued to serve Shiva with great devotion. A long time passed but neither did Lord Shiva expressed to Devi Parvati nor did She express to Shiva. There were immersed in their own activities which they undertook. This caused great dissatisfaction to the Devatas who were mistreated by Tarakasura. So King Indra of Devatas ordered Manmadha (Kamadeva) to spark a desire within Shiva as he (Manmadha) was the God of adoration and love by shooting an pushpa:ban (flower arrow of adoration) at Shiva. Manmadha shook in fear and concern to such an act, but Indra forced him. Manmade reached home to his dharma:patni Ratidevi and expressed his concern, for which she took shook in fear and begged him not to perform such an action. She said, Lord Shiva is not something we can define, Akash (sky and space), Bhumi (Earth), Jalapura (water bodies), Agni (Fire), Vayu (wind), Soma, Surya (Sun) including Brahma cannot comprehend Him, so how can you shoot an arrow of Kama at Him.

Shiva_burns_Manmadha
Manmadha burnt by the eye of Shiva

Manmadha went back to Indra in sorrow to express his refusal to such an act, he said that being a son of Pundarikaksha (Sri Maha Vishnu) such an act would belittle his father’s name. But devatas were desperate and so was Indra, so as a king he ordered him to do so. Now it became Manmadha’s kartavya (duty) to do so. Devatas failed to realize that Shiva and Parvati were Prakruti & Purusha and are the mother and father to all, and it was a disgrace to shoot an arrow of Kama towards their parents. In great dissatisfaction Manmadha reached the Himavat mountains and with the help of Vasanta created a suitable atmosphere, but neither did Shiva nor Parvathi were affected by it. Finally, he took an arrow (pushpa:ban) and shot it at Lord Shiva aiming at His chest, the arrow struck Shiva and He opened His eyes, the Kama from that arrow got burned by Shiva and couldn’t affect Him. The all tranquil, humble and peaceful Shiva rose in displeasure and searched for the culprit who performed such disgraceful act, and noticed Manmadha in the bushes, He opened His third eye (a symbol of knowledge and the blaze of dissolution) at Manmadha which burned him to ashes. Rathidevi upon hearing the news rushed to the feet of Devi Parvati and begged for mercy and explained the disinterest of her husband and it was Indra who ordered him to do so. Hearing this Devi Parvati proclaimed that Shiva itself means mangalam (auspicious and pure) and the pinnacle of wealth, knowledge, strength, calmness, purity and prosperity. Its She (Parvati) alone can make Him sit by Her side as She is Para:shakti, that She is Adi:shakti and She is the very Prakurti (which is our abode) and She is His Shakti and His very half as Ardhangini. Now that all progeny has stopped because Manmadha disappeared, She took Kamadeva’s bow and arrows and sat next to Shiva as His Shakti. It’s She (Shakti) who can make Shiva to Rudhra when needed, and its She who can make him back to Shiva. She the Shakti is our abode, our mother, our divinity and our source, and the dispeller of maya so that we can realize our father (Purusha) as the only pathi to all, hence the title Pashupathi. Devi Parvati, blessed Rathidevi that thought Manmadha lost his physical body, He will continue to exists without a body, hence the title ‘Ananga’ meaning without body parts, and only she (Rathidevi) can see him and no one else can. She also blessed that in the era of Dwapara:yupa he will be born in a physical form as Pradyumna as a son to Sri Krishna.

Lalitaparabhatarika
Tripura Sundari (Shiva:kama:sundari) holding Bow and arrows of Manmadha.

Sri Shankara gratified us with Shiva:nandha Lahiri and gave us the same tatva in its very first sloka:

” कलाभ्यां चूडालङ्कृतशशिकलाभ्यां निजतपः फलाभ्यां भक्तेषु प्रकटितफलाभ्यां भवतु मे ।शिवाभ्यामस्तोकत्रिभुवनशिवाभ्यां हृदि पुन- र्भवाभ्यामानन्दस्फुरदनुभवाभ्यां नतिरियम्”

“Kalabhyam choodalankrutha sasi kalabhyam nija thapa  Phalabhyam bhaktheshu prakatitha phalabhyam bhavathu me Shivabham sthoka thri bhuvana shivabhyam hridhi punar Bhavaabhyam ananda sphura dhanubhavabhyam natheeriyam”

Meaning, Shiva, and Devi Parvathi are the fruit of one another’s tapasya and hence never to be prioritized over the other.

Readers, kindly explore the magnificence of Prakriti and Purusha on this portal as they are one and the same, but act in two modes, or as duality, also why Shiva is called Pashu:pathi on this portal.

Devi Brahmacharini Prarthana:

“दधाना कर पद्माभ्यामक्षमाला कमण्डलू।
देवी प्रसीदतु मयि ब्रह्मचारिण्यनुत्तमा॥”
“Dadhana Kara Padmabhyamakshamala Kamandalu।
Devi Prasidatu Mayi Brahmacharinyanuttama॥”

 

Navratri Day 3 (Chandraghanta)

On the 3rdday of Navratri let’s explore the beautiful story of Devi Parvati’s tapasya to reunite with Shiva as His Shakti. And the magnificent Vivah (wedding) of Devi Parvati and Parama:shiva and the fascinating exploits in their wedding.

DeviParvati_Tapasya
Devi Parvati in Tapasya to attain Shiva

After the failed effort of Manmadha to spark Kama within Shiva, Devi Parvati returns home to Her father Himavat. Upon realizing the event Himavat reaches out to meet Lord Shiva, but by which time Shiva left the mountains and ceased His tapasya. Devatas become more desperate, since two new problems arose, one, Devi Parvati is not in the proximity serving Shiva anymore, this limits the likelihood of them noticing each other. The second problem was, Manmadha (Kamadeva) is burnt to ashes, progeny has stopped causing a decline of birth and also a decline in Yagnas and Yagas resulting in less Havis (offerings) to Devatas. This setback caused deep resentment towards Indra for instigating such an approach. The one person who was joyous to this outcome was Tarakasura, whose odds of survival has increased giving him more time to rule and subjugate others. Devatas had no face to reach out to Shiva for a solution, and King Himavat would never allow his daughter to be involved in angering Shiva any further. For this devatas realized to humbly pray for the Divine Shakti in Devi Parvati to present a solution to their problems since She is their mother (Jaganmaatha). Both Shiva and Shakti realized the concern of the Devatas. Shiva Himself dressed as a female fortune teller went to Himavat’s palace to meet Devi Parvati, and suggested Himavat, Menakadevi and Devi Parvati to perform tapasya to win over Lord Shiva. Devi Parvati and agreed, at first both Menaka and Himavat were every concerned and anxious towards such a difficult endeavor, but later were convinced as it was the destiny of Shakti to reach Shiva. Himavat and Menaka send few other female companions to server with Her tapasya. Time passed and Devi Parvati continued to perform Her tapasya with integrity, and reached a point where She just lived by eating few leaves, She became thin like a branch (hence the title ‘Aparna’), at this time Shiva took notice (actually He is all knowing and all this was a beautiful act for us to enjoy and dwell in its magnificence) and wanted to show the worlds (creation) the resolve and the devotion of Shakti (Devi Parvati). He dressed again as a young handsome man and went to the location where Devi Parvati was performing Her tapasya. He went to Her and started talking to Her about Her efforts. He then started to convince Her that Her efforts were waste of time and that Shiva was just an acetic who wears hide (animal skin), has no possessions, lives on arms, whose age is unknown to any, whose parents are unknown, has locks of hair, has snakes around His body, and uses ash instead of fragrance, stays mostly in funeral lands, rides on a bull, and is always surrounded by various ferocious bootha (beings). He asked Her to give up Her efforts and marry Him instead. Devi Parvati became angry and asked Her female companions to push this obnoxious man out of this place, as He has no understanding of the magnificence of Shiva. At this Lord Shiva with a long smile and revealed Himself and expressed that He was very pleased with Her tapasya and delighted to wed Her at that very moment. Devi Parvati was gleeful and overjoyed to unite with Lord Shiva and be at His side. She is always Shiva:Shakti, but to tell us the importance of Shiva and to become an example for us to attain Parama:Shiva, She the Divine Shakti manifests time and again to strives and attain Shiva.

In this way, She become ‘Swadhina Vallabha’ meaning the one who claimed the supreme, and made Him Her own. He who burnt Kamadeva to ashes, She with Her splendid beauty made Him desire Her, hence the title ‘Shiva:kama:sundari”. She took the same bow and flower arrows of Kamadeva and Her hands and sat next to Shiva as ‘Kamakshi’ and as ‘Tripura:Sundari’. Hence for Shiva, She is Shiva:kama:sundari, for us She is the Divine Mother (Jaganmaatha) to us all.

ShivaWeddingProcession
Lord Shiva on Nandi on His way to His wedding in procession with bootha:gana
Shiva_Parvati_Kalyanam
Devi Parvati Weds Parama:shiva

She urged Shiva that this time She wished to follow the rituals involved in Kanyadan and fulfill all the rituals defined by Shastra for Vivah and Panigraha. Param:ishwara agreed and asked the presence of Arundathi and the Sapta Rishes to reach out to Himavat for Devi Parvatis hand on His behalf. The wedding day was discussed and the procession started to come to Himavat mountains. Being from various lokas started towards Himavat mountains. Himavat as the father of the bride stood at the entrance to greet all the visitors. Menaka Devi till date never saw Lord Shiva, she only heard His greatness but never witnessed His presence, so She stood at the balcony to view all the various processions entering the mountains. Sage Narada stood by her side narrating about the identity of the guests entering their house, many congregations of Yaksha, Gandarvas, Oceans, Mountains, Rivers, Sages, Rishi, and more entered, then came Devatas lead by Indira on his majestic white elephant (Iravatam), Menakadevi rose in anxiety assuming Indra was Shiva, Narada corrected that it was Indira the king of Swarga:Loka. Then came beings from Brahmaloka on beautiful Swans lead by Four Headed Lord Brahma, Sage Narada again corrected Menakadevi. A very beautiful and equally splendid as Devi Parvati, with bluish hue riding the majestic Garuda came Sri Maha Vishnu, Menakadevi stood in joy for such magnificent beauty assuming it was Shiva, Sage Narada corrected Her again. Finally, from a remote side progressed a congregation with loud and eerie sounds and music, the congregation were full of ghostly beings and strange bootas, they were led by a Man wearing animal hide and long locks of hair riding a bull, with ash all over his body and skulls around His neck. To Menakadevi its was abnormal sight, she wasn’t sure but ignored them, Sage Narada rose in joy and said, here comes your daughter’s groom, Menakadevi was confused and searched. To her shock, Sage Narada pointed out to the man on the bull. Menakadevi was bewildered and lost conscience and fell. After waking up she ran to Parvati Devi and objected to such wedding. Devi Parvati, being the Para:shakti knew the incomprehensible magnificence of Parama:shiva but realized Her mother’s anxiousness. Devi Parvati reached out to Lord Shiva and urged to show His magnificent true featured under His hair and outer dressing. Lord Shiva, agreed to Devi Parvati’s request and showed His spectacular form, He stood in front of her with beautiful hair, striking handsomeness beyond words, He stood tall and wide like a man never seen or never existed before, He stood brighter then thousand Suns, with calmness and coolness then the Moon, His glow was otherworldly, His smile was dazzling. He stood with Sun as His umbrella, while Ganaga and Yamuna blew fans for cool air. Menakadevi was astonished and bloomed in joy. The grand and one-of-a-kind wedding started, and when the time came to tell Shiva’s predecessors or parents, no one were able to tell who He was born to, or when He was born, or what world He belonged to. Sri Maha Vishu and Lord Brahma and the sages were unable to tell His lineage as he was ISHWARA and the SUPREME. At this time, the worlds gathered in one place, all the worlds very empty as everyone were at the wedding, the creating and Earth went out of Balance, Sri Vishnu reached out to Lord Shiva and expressed this imbalance as He (Sri Maha Vishnu) was the preserver of Creation, for this Lord Shiva understood the situation and called forth Rishi Agustya, and told him to walk to the other side of the world. Rishi Agustya was such a supreme Rishi that he along can correct the balance of the world. Rishi Agustya with the divine grace of Lord Shiva was still able to witness the wedding even from the distance. In this way Devi Parvati as His Shakti reached His side. Coming in the next chapter for the 4thday of Navrati we will see the birth of Lord Kartikeya.

Jagatav:pitarav:vandey  Parvati:Parameshwara

Prarthana:

“पिण्डज प्रवरारूढा चण्डकोपास्त्रकैर्युता।
प्रसादं तनुते मह्यम् चन्द्रघण्टेति विश्रुता॥”
“Pindaja Pravararudha Chandakopastrakairyuta।
Prasadam Tanute Mahyam Chandraghanteti Vishruta॥”

Navratri Day 4 & Day 5 (Devi Skandamaatha & Devi Kushmanda)

On the 4th & 5th day of Navratri let’s explore the magnificent keli केलि of Shiva & Devi Parvati and the story of the birth of Kartikeya.

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Shiva and Parvati Dance

Rishi Sanatkumara was an exalted sage and during his days of Vedabyasa (study of Veda) had a detest towards asuras for their atrocities towards denigrating the Vedas and Rishis. This detest in him because a deep rotted trait hence lingered as vasana (inherent traits carried over by jiva) and lay dormant in him. Coming back to the story of Devi Parvati and Parama:shiva in our Navratri day 3 we experienced their wonderful wedding (Vivah). After the vivah, they both reached Lord Shiva’s abode Kailash and withdrew into divine keli (केलि). Keli though considered as just romance, it actually means a divine play with each other through playful talk, chat, dance, travel, perceive each other in leisure and isolation and to realize and shape each other on a very elemental level of physicality and conscience, at the end of which two entities seize to exits and culminate as a singular entity, and as one hrudaya (heart but not physical heart), and as one conscience see in two physical bodies. During this process, Shiva and Parvati knew that they will have to create a son, but who will become their son, so they reached out to Rishi Sanatkumar who was a Brahma:gyani. When Devi and Shiva manifested in front of him, he had no reaction, why one should ask? Because he was a brahma:gyani and for him, he saw Shakti in the entire Prakriti and Purusha within His own atma and in all atma which is an extension Para:matma, hence he had no reaction. Devi and Shiva asked Sanatkumara that it’s their desire to grant him a wish, for which Sanatkumara said he was not interested in anything, so rather than asking for a wish, he asked if they had any wish he can grant, this was a unique situation in creations where the wish of Ishwara was granted. So, They asked Sanatkumara to be born as their son and he agreed but he had a condition, he said, he has been in this physical body given by Prakriti as Sanatkumara and in future he has no intention to be born again our of Prakriti, hence his condition was to be born to Purusha along, meaning born to Shiva alone. Devi Parvati was surprised and wished that She would like to be his mother as well, for which Sanatkumara said She can raise him as her own from birth but doesn’t wish to be born out of womb. Devi Parvati agreed for this condition.  This keli continued for Shata:varsh (100 divine years, each loka has its own time progression), and the devatas who were happy about the wedding were getting desperate day by day under the rule of Tarakasura. In this desperation and ignorance, a new concern arose in them. During Daksha:yagna:dwamsha (destruction of Daksha:yagna) the worlds witnessed the ferocity of Veerabadhra who came out of a strand of hair of Shiva. They also realized that not ever Lord Brahma nor Sri Maha Vishnu could comprehend Parama:shiva. Based on this they reached a conclusion that this boy born out of Shiva Tejas and Para:shakti will be unimaginable and will wield the army of Devatas to a war as their leader. They were unable to comprehend or gauge such a being and be able to keep up with Him. Hence, they reached out to Lord Brahma and reached to a decided to rather subdue under the rule of Tarakasura than experience this new being born out of Shiva. With the fear of the unknown and with the lack of devotion towards their parents (Shiva & Parvati) they came to an ominous conclusion, to ask Lord Shiva to stop their Keli and to hold back His Tejas and for Devi Parvati not to bear a child. With this hubris idea they all went to Kailash and called for Lord Shiva’s audience. Upon hearing the commotion, Lord Shiva came out and addressed the Devatas. The devatas poured their suffering and rather than expressing their agony and urging for a solution, they presented their ominous and disgraceful idea. The great unconditional and selfless ascetic, and ever calm Lord Shiva who drank the halahala (anti-creation element/poison) created by the greed of devatas and asuras in their desire of Amrut(am) (elixir of immortality), smiled and calmly agreed for this request to stop their Keli and recede back to tapasya. But, Lord Shiva expressed a problem to their request, He said His veeryam (tejas) was already fully blossomed and is about to take physicality, the so Shiva took His ‘Rejus’ (Shakti from His third eye) and merged with His tejas which resulted in ‘Ojas’, and so has to be held by a punya:kshetra since such a divine and supreme brilliance cannot be just discarded, so He asked who among them would be willing to bear it and be that kshetra (auspicious site). Devatas when into turmoil an argued among themselves on who can hold this brilliance that is vibrant then the Sun and the fire. The only one entitled to receive Shiva tejas was Para:devata (Devi Parvati) but the delusional devetas failed to realize this and asked Bhumi (Innate Shakti of Earth) to be the one suitable to received this. So Bhumi was urged by the devatas to accept it and Bhumi agreed. Its to be noticed that another feminine aspect of Shakti other than the Para:shakti agreed to receive Shiva tejas which was very demeaning towards Devi Parvati. Lord Shiva blessed them all to receive the comfort they were looking for and receded back to brahmi:stiti (A state of pure Para:brahmam) into tapasya and left Devi Parvati in isolation. As soon as Bhumi received it, the brilliance spread and covered the entire Earth, Bhumi was unable to bear it and urged devatas to relieve her from this. So they considered Agni:deva to be pure enough to receive havis (offerings in yaga) hence can be its Kshetra. Agnideva agreed and came forward and received that brilliance in astonishment.

The very Para:shakti, the Jaganmaatha reached Her peeks of anger for such a foolish act by the devatas. But, She is the mother of creation, She is our abode, She is the shakti that runs this creation and its various realities, its She who makes Shiva to Rudhra when its needed to correct our foolishness and ignorance, and it She who has to sooth Rudhra back to Shiva. She alone, the very Para:shakti, the Ishwari can make the Ishwara be by Her Side and make Him desire Her and stimulate creation. So, She stepped in and saw that it was time to punish this foolishness. So, Devi Parvati punished Bhumi by cursing her that She will endure multiple husbands at a time, and their children when grow up and becoming her husband’s too. This was a very cruel curse, because as another female she accepted Shiva tejas, which was Devi Parvati’s right. This is the reason why multiple kings who own lands are called as Bhu:pathi and when their children grow up and become kings they also become bhu:pathi’s over the same land. The second curse Bhumi received was to have an uneven body and an uneven environment. This is the reason why Earth’s geography is different from place to place. As a third curse Bhumi was cursed to only have a girl as a child and never as a Son to continue the progression of family, hence Devi Sita was born of Bhumi as an Aionija. This is the reason why there is Surya Vamsha (Surya Ancestry) and Chandra Vamsha (Moon Ancestry) and never Bhu Vamsha. Devi Parvati then punished the devatas for steeling her rightful offspring and so She cursed that the devatas will never bear children, and because of the amrut (elixir of immortality) they drank their numbers will always remain the same irrespective of time’s progression in a given creation. One has to take note that in all this events, Devi Parvati has never found fault in Lord Shiva for sacrificing their tejas, this was their depth of devotion towards each other.

Murugan-birth
Birth of Kartikeya

Now, the situation with Tarakasura was not resolved and neither did Kartikeya come into being. So all the Devatas realized their faults and reached out to Lord Brahma again and requested for a solution towards the birth of Kartikeya, because Agnideva was still in possession of Shiva tejas. With this they assumed someone else to give birth to this brilliance so they decided to request the elder daughter of Himavat Devi Ganga (River Ganga) to accept the tejas and give birth. This was not a usual situation to ask another female Shakti to bear a child for another person’s tejas, so they asked Agnideva to reach and urge Ganga to accept this great burden. Ganga manifested and accepted the request, so She grew and covered Agnideva with Her water and took the tejas within Her. All sides of creation watched with curiosity if Ganga will be able to bear a child. Then came shocking news that even Ganga wouldn’t bear it urging devatas to find an alternative. Devatas were again in a turmoil of what to do with Shiva’s tejas, then raised a good question, who in this creation is eligible for such a feet, they realized that other than Para:shakti who else could make the Acetic feel kama, who else than the Adi:shakti is the arthangini (Half of Shiva). They couldn’t go back and so they asked Ganga to let the tejas at the feet of Himalayas. Once Shiva tejas hit the ground a huge lightening came forth and many rare and primary minerals were born from the Shakti of this tejas like Gold, Silver, Copper, Iron and more. At the foot of those mountains was a lake known as Sarvana:tat(aka), which was the essence of Devi Parvati and that this kshetra was one of the many forms of the Ishwari which was born during the time when an asura known as Basmasura took a boon from Lord Shiva and in retun chased Him, to help this situation Devi Parvati manifested as a lake. That lake finally was able to bear that tejas, and since the lake had 6 extensions the tejas split into 6 giving birth to six baby boys. The babies needed a mother so now with this excuse the Devatas asked Devi Parvati to take the children and She with a beautiful large smile upon seeing the babies took them and with Her Shakti made them into one single baby. Since this baby was born in the lake called Sarvanatat, He was called Sarvanabhav, and since He had six heads He was addressed as Shenmukha or Arumugha (meaning 6 faces). Since He was the son of Shiva, He was called Kumara (hence the title Kumara is given to all boys and Kumari to girls) and since He was feed and nourished by the 6 Krutikas (they also are a different manifestation of Ishwari), He was called Kartikeya. Since he was the reincarnation of Sanatkumara and since the tejas slipped rather than entering a womb He was called Skanda. All celebrated in joy for the birth of Kartikeya.

This beautify story with so many twists was actually told by Rishi Vishwamitra to Sri Ram during Treta:yuga.

Kartikeya
Kartikeya or Shanmugha

This boy grew up to be a handsome and a magnificent worrier and was coroneted as the chief of the devata army, and then waged a war with Tarakasura. Great battle was fought that day among the devatas and the auras, and as predicted Kartikeya eliminated Tarakasura and stopped his evil rain of subjugation over various lokas. All lokas rose in joy and celebrated their liberation in praise of Kartikeya.

Jai bolo Devi Skandamaatha.
Jai bolo Devi Kushmanda.

Prarthana of Devi Skandhamaatha:

सिंहासनगता नित्यं पद्माञ्चित करद्वया।
शुभदास्तु सदा देवी स्कन्दमाता यशस्विनी॥
Simhasanagata Nityam Padmanchita Karadvaya।
Shubhadastu Sada Devi Skandamata Yashasvini॥

Prarthana of Devi Kushmanda:

सुरासम्पूर्ण कलशं रुधिराप्लुतमेव च।
दधाना हस्तपद्माभ्यां कूष्माण्डा शुभदास्तु मे॥
Surasampurna Kalasham Rudhiraplutameva Cha।
Dadhana Hastapadmabhyam Kushmanda Shubhadastu Me॥

 

Navratri Day 6 (Katyayani)

On the 6th day of Navratri let’s explore the role of Shakti in Creation (Srsstti), Preservation (Sthiti) and finally Dissolution (Pralaya). And also the role of Shakti as a Guru.

So, where is the reference of Shakti in all three stages of Creation, Preservation and Dissolution? It was Jagad Guru Adi Shankaracharya who used it in His one of a kind magnificent stotram called Kanakadhara, Sloka 10:

“गीर्देवतेति गरुडध्वजसुन्दरीति
शाकम्भरीति शशिशेखरवल्लभेति ।
सृष्टिस्थितिप्रलयकेलिषु संस्थितायै
तस्मै नमस्त्रिभुवनैकगुरोस्तरुण्यै ॥”

“Giir-Devate[aa-I]ti Garudda-Dhvaja-Sundarii-[I]ti Shaakambharii-[I]ti Shashi-Shekhara-Vallabhe[a-I]ti | Srsstti-Sthiti-Pralaya-Kelissu Samsthitaayai Tasmai Namas-Tri-Bhuvanai[a-E]ka-Guros-Tarunnyai ||”

(Green Message Kanakadhara Stotram).

Gyana (jnana) blooms when kama (desire) falls in-line with dharma resulting in sat:karma. Such a lifestyle opens doors for devotion, which when performed with shraddha results in peace and content in life. Sri Shankara hence is giving this last sloka for those who wish to take the next step towards gyana.

The sloka ‘Srsstti-Sthiti-Pralaya-Kelissu Samsthitaayai’ refers to Srusti as in the concept of creation, Sthiti as in the concept of Preservation and finally the concept of dissolution of creation back to its original state is called pralaya. Sri Shankara is referring to Sri Lakshmi or rather the unified sense as the Shakti of the Divine mother who operates as phenomena that constitutes the concepts of creation, preservation and dissolution, and since this sloka is about gyanam, it is addressing Ishwara as ‘Guroho’, meaning Guru. It’s under the light of a Guru that one realizes Ishwara, hence, a Guru gives gyanam, so expecting anything other than gyanam from a Guru is an ill thought.

In this phrase ‘Tri-Bhuvanai[a-E]ka–Guros-Tarunnyai’ Sri Shankara is addressing the Shakthi of the Divine Mother as a dharma pathni of the Guru of triloka (meaning three lokas or three worlds). Since this sloka is primarily addressed to Sri Lakshmi as the Shakti, makes Sri Vishnu as the Guru of triloka. Now how is that Sri Vishnu who is the preserver of creation a Guru to all triloka? This can be seen in the sloka from Advaita Guru Paramparā:

“नारायणा समारंभम व्यास शंकर माध्यमम
असमद आचार्य पर्यंतं वनडे गुरु परंपराम”
“narayana samarambhamvyasa sankara madhyamam asmad aacarya paryantamvande guru paramparaam”

Another form of the same sloka from Advaita Guru Paramparā through the concept of Shiva tatva:

“सदा शिव समारंभम शंकराचार्य माध्यमम
अस्मत आचार्य पर्यन्थं वनडे गुरु परंपराम”
“Sada Shiva Samarambham Sankaracharya Madhyamam Asmat aacharya Paryantham Vande Guru Paramparaa”

Ishwara can be comprehended by seeing through any of the three windows of this reality, which is through its creation, preservation or through its dissolution. Ishwara is the supreme entity and supreme singular conscience, which exists even in the absence of the creation, since Ishwara is devoid of a host. He Himself manifests as a host to foster the creation and its various realities, and finally dissolute it to its original state. All this happens within Him, hence there is no secondary entity other than Ishwara. In this sloka Sriman Narayana is the first Guru in the legacy of Gurus, followed by Vyasa in succession (also a manifestation of Sri Vishnu, who compartmentalized the Veda, and composed various Purana(m), Upanishad, the Itihaasa(m) of Mahabharata and many more) in the middle is this hierarchy is Sri Shankara (who revitalized Sanatana Dharma at its brink of corruption) and this succession constitutes as the legacy Gurus to whom we perform our Vanday (salutation).

As discussed, this reality can be preserved through any of the three windows or concepts, and so Sriman Narayana is not limited to the concept of Preservation, He is none other than Ishwara (Vishnu tatvam). This is one of the main reason, Sri Shankara established a culture, wherein all the successors of the four matt (institutions) worship Sri:chakram (the disk held by Sri Vishnu) and chant ‘Narayana, Narayana, Narayana’ whenever someone bows down to them. Since a sanyasi shouldn’t expect anything, including a namaskar, by chanting the title ‘Narayana’ three time means they forward or redirect our namaskar(am) to Narayana instead of accepting it.  It’s widely misconstrued that Sri Shankara is a Shivait (one who follows the discipline of Shivam or a follower and a propagator of Shiva and family) mainly because He and His successors apply the three stripes of Vibhudi (ash) on their forehead. However, this very Kanakadhara with its references to Sri Vishnu and the concept of one Ishwara who operates in three different concepts tells us otherwise. Like a person who plays different roles in a day as a employee at work, a father or a son at home and as a student in the presence of a Guru, similarly Ishwara simulates and gives us the experience of reality as three concepts which can be seen as one Ishwara or one Guru, hence known as ‘Tribhuvanaika Guru’. One should eradicate an ignorant notion that Sri Shankara is a propagator of Shivam.

Brahma_Saraswati
Vani Hiranyagarbha

‘Giir-Devateati’ also addressed in many other version of Kanakadhara as ‘Vaag Devateati’ referes to Vakdevi or Devi Saraswati, the concert and the Shakthi of the Creator Brahma.

Vishnu_Lakshmi
Lakshmi Narayana

‘Garudda-Dhvaja-Sundariiti’ wherein Garudadvaja means the one who rides the great Garudha, which is Sri Maha Vishnu and Sundari meaning the embodiment of beauty, love, and compassion which is Sri Lakshmi (the concert and the Shakthi of the Preserver).

Next should come the Shakthi of dissolution, but Sri Shankara said, ‘Shaakambhariiti’, so who is Shakambhareti? Let’s come back to this unique title in our next day article of Navratri (day 7).

Shiva_Parvati_sculpture
Uma Maheswara

Next, He said ‘Shashi-Shekhara-Vallabheti’ wherein Shashi Shekara means the one who wears the crescent moon on His head who is none other than Shiva. What does the moon signify in this case? For this world, mainly Earth, the moon is the celestial body that represents kaal(am) (progression of time). One can say it’s Sun which represents time, which is also true in terms of determining the beginning and the end of a day along with the seasons. However, to compare one day from the next, and in gauging the progression of days, it can be done through the progression and regression of moon phases in relative to the Sun’s Hoora (predominance of Sun on a given day). Also, Sun in this solar system is stationary (but not in the flow of the expanding universe), whereas the moon revolves and rotates around the earth depicting various phases of distinguishing one day from another. Moon goes through 14 phases of decrements and 14 phases of increment, along with a full moon and no moon day, uniquely defining progression of time and the rate of change, this approach gave us the calendars and the ability to calculate future calendar days to identify a specific celestial occurrence. Hence ‘Shashi Shekara’ represents Shiva, who with the moon on His head represents that He is devoid of kaal(am) (time), hence the title Kaal:aathita (where kaal means time and Aathita is devoid, when read as a whole it means devoid of time). Kaal(am) for us, is a progression of events, but for Ishwara this happen within Him through the concept of dissolution. Finally, ‘Vallabethi’ meaning beloved or dearest, referring to Devi Parvati.

Navratri Day 7 (Kalaratri)

On the 7th day of Navratri let’s explore the unique manifestation of Devi by the title Shakambhari, and the story that shows how this concept goes beyond the three stages of Creation, Preservation and Dissolution.

In yesterday’s article for the 6th day of Navratri we discussed how the Shakti operates in the stages of creation, preservation and dissolution as explained by Jagath Guru Adi Shankaracharya in His one of a kind magnificent stotram called Kanakadhara. Today we will explore the 4th aspect of Devi known as Shakambhari and travel through the story and its tatva. So, lets start with the sloka 10 from Kanakadhara:

“गीर्देवतेति गरुडध्वजसुन्दरीति
शाकम्भरीति शशिशेखरवल्लभेति ।
सृष्टिस्थितिप्रलयकेलिषु संस्थितायै
तस्मै नमस्त्रिभुवनैकगुरोस्तरुण्यै ॥”

“Giir-Devate[aa-I]ti Garudda-Dhvaja-Sundarii-[I]ti Shaakambharii-[I]ti Shashi-Shekhara-Vallabhe[a-I]ti | Srsstti-Sthiti-Pralaya-Kelissu Samsthitaayai Tasmai Namas-Tri-Bhuvanai[a-E]ka-Guros-Tarunnyai ||”

(Green Message Kanakadhara Stotram, n.d.).

Devi_Shakambari
Devi Shakambhari decorated with fruits and vegitables

Once in a time of severe drought, people, animals, and plant life were in deep suffering (note we read earlier that when a person performs a:dharma, that man suffers, but if a king does a:dharma the entire kingdom suffers). The Divine Mother who couldn’t tolerate the suffering of the people, came forth and manifested, but instead of showering rain and riches, She manifested Herself into flora, or rather into edible vegetation. This vegetation was not just one particular tree but bear many types of vegetables, fruits, and other edible flora. The people and the animals ran towards Her to quench their hunger and thirst. The reason She took this approach was because the people were not in a state to cultivate their own food even if it rained. They had no strength or availability to purchase anything even if provided with riches. It’s a mother’s nature to feed the children, She did exactly that. There is a different between hunger and other necessities compared to craving for riches or fame, because once the stomach is full the hunger disappears even if more delicious food is present, but when a person becomes rich, there is no end to one’s appetite for wealth and its preservation. Now that we understood who Shakambhari is, why did Sri Shankara refer the Divine Mother with a title avert from the concepts of creation, preservation, and dissolution? While dwelling or reciting Kanakadhara, one can always urge and make sure their primary necessities are met. One can always urge for more, like good Health, wealth, prosperity, children and more. Even if we don’t, like a mother, the Divine Mother Shakambhari will always keep an eye on us and will always make sure to suffice our necessities without we requesting them, so that we can continue to cherish dwelling in Kanakadhara leading us in the path to gyanam.

Shakambari_Mata
Devi Shakambhari Sambhar Rajasthan

As said earlier this is a one of a kind stotram with very rich essence providing solutions to our karma and incorporates various fundamentals of Sanatana Dharma.When one reaches content in life (note, this doesn’t mean to reject prosperity if presented itself as a part of karma:phala) and continue to explore Kanakadhara, he or she will reach a point of pure joy of this Dhara.  From Ishwara’s stories and accounts, and with the glimpse of the Divine Mother’s tatva, our world will now look different. When we see a representation of the Divine Mother in a picture, an idol, a sculpture in a temple, or read about Her, we will now see and comprehend Her at a different level than before. Now that we are part of this dhara, our perspective will now be much more evolved. This joy will make us wish to learn more about Sri Vishnu and Sri Lakshmi and relate to what we have learned till now. It will make us wish to hear or read about them again and again and recollect their stories. It’s similar to a song we like, and even after memorizing it, we wish to hear it again and again and sing or hum in joy. This very approach is a path to gyanam. It’s to be noted that anomalies like Sri Shankara are different in this aspect to have achieved gyanam (jnana) at such an young age and walk to a house and make golden amlas rain.

Sri Shankara hence incorporated this sloka into Kanakadhara from Sri Lakshmi Astotara Shatanamavali. It’s in this stotram wherein a critical fact is hidden in plain sight, where in Sri Lakshmi is address by the title ‘Brahma Vishnu Shivatmikayi Namaha’ meaning it’s She the Para:shakthi is the atma swarupam (atma’s manifestation) as Vagdevi (to manifest as veda which is the breath of Ishwara) to support creation alongside Brahma, and as Sri Lakshmi to provider prosperity in order to support the preservation of creation alongside Sri Vishnu and to provider Gyanam (jnana) and witness dissolution (unification) alongside Rudhra as Rudhrani.

Jai Devi Shakambari.

Navratri Day 8 (Mahagauri)

On the 8th day of Navratri let’s explore an unique secret of Devi’s character hidden in the title ‘Mahapralaya Sakshini’. Also let’s explore why Parama:shiva is NOT a destroyer and the different types of Pralaya/Laya (dissolution or creation).

SONY DSC
Shiva Parvati Dance

When a mother notices, the child ignoring studies or proper behavior, she watches, warns but also waits patiently up to a point, let’s say till the grades show up. Now the child needs to understand the severity of studies and good behavior, however, she doesn’t necessarily take matters into Her own hands, nor will she throw a blind eye towards Her child’s mischief. She discusses with the child’s father and sparks a momentary anger in him, at the same time she stands very vigilant to make sure that anger is in check, and jumps in if she senses any likelihood of risk. Later she soothes Her child by explaining the father love and also tried to calm Her husband telling him not to carry his anger since the child is just a child, delicate, young and yet to learn. She makes sure to bring out Her husband’s affection back, so as to pamper, console and express their love towards the child. She explains to the child that their anger was momentary and towards the well-being. It’s to be carefully noticed that the mother’s nature in this event is to both trigger the event and also stand witness to the anger. She herself doesn’t necessarily take matters into Her own hands, at the same time doesn’t lose Her composure. It’s certain that this scenario might bring back many of our own nostalgic memories from childhood.

Now, what is the above occurrence had to do with a hidden secret pertaining the creation and its realities? The secret lies in the phenomenon of mahapralayam (maha:pralayam), which is the dissolution of creation and its universes by Pramashiva (yes it’s plural, because there are many universes with different realities which are explained in Sri Devi Puranam, Srimad Bhagavatam and in Sri Lalitha Sahastranama Stotram). Pramashiva in His Rudhra Trandavam (Cosmic dance of dissolution) devours creation into Himself, to which only Devi Parvathi (Call Her Gowri) bears witness (please note that Rudhra is not a destroyer, He is the concept of Dissolution).  She later sparks an event to foster a new creation through Pramashiva. Countless such dissolution and creations have happened and for all this, She stands witness, hence in Sri Lalitha Sahastranana Stotram, She is called:

‘महा प्रलया शक्षिणी’
‘Maha Pralaya Shakshini’

Shiva_Pralaya_Tandavam
Shiva as Nataraj Tandavam Dancing

‘Maha:pralaya(m)’ meaning the supreme dissolution of creation and ‘Shakshini’ meaning witness. Even in the state of preservation of creation, She is the one who triggers the transformation of Shiva to Rudhra when Her children need to be taught a lesson and then back to Shiva when things calm down. Daksha Yagna, an event from Shiva Maha Puranam is an excellent example to understand this concept of the Devine Mother, wherein She steps into the yoga-agni making Shiva to become Rudhra. She Herself very rarely becomes Rudhrani, incidents of which can be found in Sri Devi Puranam. She again calms Rudhra back to Shiva, for example when the Halahala(m) (anti-creation entity) emerged as a part of Kshera:sagara Madan(am) (an event recorded in Srimad Bhagavatam, wherein the milky ocean is churned), all Devatas and Daityas ran to Parama:shiva for help. Lord Shiva consoled Devi Parvathi to allow Him to consume Halahalam in order to save creation and in return make Sri Vishnu happy, for which She agreed with extreme ease and confidence. It’s to be noted that, it’s Ishwara (Ishvar), who both saves and also punishes, it’s He who both creates and later dissolutes, it’s He who shows both anger and also compassion, yet He, in His true essence of Parabrahma (Para:brahma) is devoid of these contradictions and concepts. Similarly, the Divine Mother both triggers and also consoles, She both witnesses the dissolution and instigates creations. Hence, the title in Parvati Astotarashatanamavali  ‘Srisstiroopai namaha’ and ‘Srisstisamhara Karinai Namaha’. She is both vigilant but also witnesses everything with composure. She opens the path for us towards understanding our Father, She can also toss us further away from knowing Ishwara, deep into the abyss of Her Maya (illusion) making us dwell in desire and into an ever ending cycle of kama and karma. She as Parashakthi (Para:Shakthi) (energy) that manifests as prakruti can cover us with materials and imaginations in Her prakruti and make us forever loop the cycle of janma and karma, or She can open the path towards the Purusha by detaching our bonds to prakruti, so that we understand the supreme singular conscience who is our father. She makes us use His prakruti (call it the physical relam) as a bridge for a jiva to both cherish its existence and walk towards the Purusha, hence, in Sri Lalitha Sahastranana Stotram, She is addressed as:

“पुरुषार्थप्रदा पूर्णा भोगिनी भुवनेश्वरी ।”
Purushardhaprada purna bhogini bhuvaneshvari

This is but a very tiny glimpse of the Divine Mother, so we in the interim of our momentary physical form can make an attempt to comprehend that the Divine Mother’s love is incomprehensible yet tranquil and comforting.

LAYA (Dissolution):

Nataraj_sculpture
Shiva Tandavam while Devi Parvati Witnesses

Shiva and Shivaa (Devi Parvati) are both Pralayakartha (Pralaya:kartha) (who dissolutes) and Pralayashakshini (Pralaya:shakshini) (who witness the dissolution) and should  never to be worshiped separately. One should never misinterpret Shiva as the destroyer, it would an insult to identify Him in such a way. Everything that emerges, dissolves back into its source, even atman should one day become one with Paramatma (Para:matma) (supreme singular conscience) and this happens through gyana(m) (Jnana). Gyana is a state wherein the self or atman realizes and recognizes itself, in other words, the self which associates itself to this physical body detaches itself from the physical realm, to unify with Parabrahma (Para:brahma). This concept of atman unifying with Paramatma is called as laya. During the dissolution of creation (with all its realities and countless universes), becomes a singularity when prakruti (both physical manifestation of energy and pure energy) are unified with Parama:shiva. In the same state, as per Vishnu tatvam (same tatva different perspective), Sri Vishnu is depicted as Vatapatra Sai. During this state, He alone as the supreme singular conscience dwells in the absence of creation and all its realities, devoid of kaal (time). Its to be noted that Ishwara is always alone, since there is no secondary entity other than Him, however, in creation and its various realities, He manifests differently. After maha:pralaya(m) when He decides to restart creation, His Shakthi drips out of Him as prakruti, or rather we should say, His Shakthi emulates within Him to manifest as prakruti. Eventually Prakruti unifies with Him through the concept known as mahapralayam. Countless such creations and dissolutions take place, or rather one should say taking place within Ishwara because time for us might be linear, but for Ishwara, He is Kaalaathita (Kaal:aathita, where ‘kaal’ means time and ‘athita’ means devoid, when read as a whole it means devoid of time). This is the reason why Paramashiva is depicted with a garland of skulls which belong to previous Brahmas (creators) who came and left, and out of respect to the creator of each srusti (creation), Shiva tags them to His garland. Similar message of multiple creations and realities existing in parallel can be seen both in Srimad Bhagavad Gita and Sri Devi Bhagavatam (Sri Devi Bhagavata Puranam). In Vishnu tatva, Sri Vishnu restarts creations, similar to the blossoming of a lotus flower. It’s Sri Lakshmi who blossoms in His hrudaya (as His Shakti) to become strusti (creation) and manifesting as prakruti. In a single word, Sri Vishnu becomes Vishvam (entire creation and its realities) encompassed within Him. This is the reason Sri Vishnu Sahastranama Strotram starts with the word ‘Vishnvam’ and every other name in this stotram is but analogies and subtitle to ‘Vishvam’.

Three forms of Laya (Dissolution):

Swalpakalika (Swalpa:kalika) Laya is a phenomenon of our conscience momentarily detaches itself from the body, the reality, and the outside physical world to slide into a resting state. The atman still exists but dwells in a different state, commonly known as a dream. This type of laya providers our body and mind with rest so as to rejuvenate and restructure itself to perform karma after being awake. The physical body and mind continue to function during this state but in the background.

Aatyantica (Aatyan:tica) Laya is to ignite gyana(m) so that the atman recognizes the paramatma or itself to be the Parabrahma. We have read earlier that its the Divine Mother who has to bring us close to Ishwara by fostering devotion that leads to gyana.

Finally, pralaya(m) is a temporary reset of Bhumi (Earth) either through a calamity or by the beginning of a new era. Pralaya(m) has an extended version known as mahapralaya(m) (maha:pralayam), which is the complete dissolution of creation and all its realities to unify with its source, which is Parabrahma unified with Shakthi becoming a singularity. Hence, Parameshwari  (Para:meshwari) (the Shakthi also Devi Parvati) is the only one to witness this dissolution, hence known by the title ‘Maha Parlaya Shakshini’. Paramatma (the supreme singular conscience) using its Shakthi stores the information required to restate a new creation. His Shakthi eventually oozes out of Him to form both the physical matter and also pure energy with which He (Ishwara) as Brahma structures and builds a reality, as Sri Vishnu He strives towards its preservation and as Shiva, He gives us rest, gyana and eventually takes back this Shakthi within Him. Many such realities exist in His creation, and so, many respective Brahma and Sri Vishnu and Shiva exists for these realities, who are but one Ishwara (this topic can be explored in the Puranas of Sri Devi Bhagavatam and Srimad Bhagavatam). Through the process of pralaya and mahapralaya(m), Ishwara Himself seeks to unify the jiva who were unable to realize the Parabrahma. A good analogy is a ball of moist clay when falls on beads making them stick to itself, hence Ishwara reaches those who couldn’t reach Him (Ishwara).

Above are the three major forms of pralaya performed by the concept known as Shiva and Shivaa. Based on this we should carefully contemplate that there is no anger involved in the phenomenon of mahapralaya. In fact, it is done out of Karunyam (affection from kindness and empathy), because a jiva hops through millions of lives and dwelling in the never ending loop of samsara. Jiva unable to realize atma eventually gets exhausted, at which point Ishwara Himself reaches them and assimilates them with Himself, hence, this concept is not something to be feared, rather one must contemplate upon the tatva(m), and when understood, life and its unanswered questions automatically fall in place.

 

Navratri day 9 (Durga)

On the 9th day of Navrati let’s explore the story of Mohini, a manifestation of Sri Maha Vishnu or is it really a manifestation of Devi Parvati? This is a very unique story, rich in essence and tatva. And also let’s explore the aspect of Kama (Desire).

Lets start with a question, Are Devi Parvati and Sri Vishnu Siblings (Brother and Sister)? Who is Narayana and Narayani?

Devi Parvati is the essence and the concept of Prakruti, and as discussed our earlier articles, is the adobe for our existence, wherein the creation is transformed, sustained, fostered and preserved (for certain time). Hence, She assimilates the very nature of preservation and creation in this physicality. On the other hand (Vishnu tattva) Sri Maha Vishnu attains the nature of preservation, and hence is the concept of sustainability, and well-being of creation in His purview, especially the upliftment of Dharma. Hence, the sloka from Srimad Bhagavat Gita, part of Sri Maha:bharath(am), composed by Rishi Veda Vyasa, said in chapter 4, sloka 8:

परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय दुष्कृताम्।
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय संभवामि युगे युगे।।

(Gita Supersite. n.d.)

Meaning, I (Sri Maha Vishnu as Sri Krishna) will take care of those who are pious, rishis, humble and the eradicator of those who are perform wicked deeds and to establish dharma, I will manifest again and again. Same essence can be found in Devi Bhagavatam as well.

Vishnu_Durga
Sri Maha Vishnu and Durga

It’s because of this very nature, both Sri Maha Vishnu and Devi Parvati manifest into different forms in different times in their own creation (especially Bhumi/Earth). Sri Vishnu takes birth mostly from a womb of Prakruti (female) and Shakthi as ayonija (meaning not born out of a womb). Sri Maha Vishnu manifests as Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, Vamana, Varaha and more. Similarly, Devi Parvati (as Shakthi or Prakruti) manifests as Himavati (as a daughter of Parvata Raja or Himavat), Dakshayani (Daughter of Daksha Prajapathi), Katyayani (daughter of Sage Katyayna), Bhargavi (daughter of Rishi Bhrugu) and many more. Both manifest time and again, sometimes together (Sri Krishna and Durga) and sometimes apart, to upheld Dharma and preserve creation. Hence, they are siblings, and bear the same color or hue, and so are addressed as Narayana (Sri Maha Vishnu) and Narayani (Devi Parvati/ Shakthi). Hence, the title in Parvati Astotarashatanamavai as ‘Vishnu Sodariyai Namaha’. The gist of all this is that, Devi Parvati and Sri Maha Vishnu are the same or rather mirror images or each other. They are the same tatva in two manifested aspects. They both are one essence with two modes of presentation. If we compare Srimad Bhagavatam and Devi Bhagavatam we will see this resemblance very clearly. Their actions, their approaches, their manifestation, their message, their role as a Guru, their role in preservation of creations, their role in establishment of Dharma, their role in eradication of beings following a:dharma and more.. are all the same. Lets see one such story to get this essence.

Let’s discuss a little about Manmadha (Son of Sir Vishnu and Sri Lakshmi) first. Sri Shankara referred him as ‘Anangga’ meaning not to have a body or limbs. Then how can someone without a body or limbs able to win and put his spell on us? Sri Shankara’s sloka from Soundarya Lahari, Sloka 6, wherein He says:

“धनुः पौष्पं मौर्वी मधुकरमयी पंच विशिखाः
वसंतः सामंतो मलयमरु-दायोधन-रथः ।
तथाप्येकः सर्वं हिमगिरिसुते कामपि कृपां
अपांगात्ते लब्ध्वा जगदिद-मनंगो विजयते”

“Dhanun paushpam maurvi madhu-kara-mayi pancha visikha Vasantaha samanto Malaya-marud ayodhana-rathah;
Tatha’py ekah sarvam Himagiri-suthe kam api kripaam Apangat te labdhva jagadidam Anango vijayate”

(Hindu Literatrue. S.K.K. n.d.).

From above the words ‘Apangat te labdhva’ meaning the eyes of the Divine Mother when fell on Manamadha give him the power to win and cast his spell on us. If that’s the case, then will the spell of Manmadha corrupting us? So here lays the secret to one of the most important questions, is Kama(m) (Desire) corrupting us? And the answer is no, provided kama (desire) is assimilated with dharma. As long as the Kama is entwined in the wheel of dharma then the Kama will not corrupt us. For example, the Kama or a desire towards reaching and understanding Ishwara is a good desire, and so helps uplift us. When one realizes that, one can explore Ishwara’s essence, learn a good stotram, read a good book, perform a pooja with devotion, and so on, then such a desire towards Ishwara will help us towards reaching higher plains of conscience. Sri Shankara’s sloka from Soundarya Lahari, Sloka 5, wherein He says:

हरिस्त्वामारध्य प्रणतजनसौभाग्यजननीं
पुरा नारी भूत्वा पुररिपुमपि क्षोभ मनयत्
स्मरोपि त्वां नत्वा रतिनयनलेह्येन वपुषा
मुनीनामप्यंतः प्रभवति हि मोहाय महताम्

“Haris tvam aradhya pranata-jana-saubhagya-jananim
Pura nari bhutva Pura-ripum api ksobham anayat;
Smaro’pi tvam natva rati-nayana-lehyena vapusha
Muninam apyantah prabhavati hi mohaya mahatam.”

(Hindu Literatrue. S.K.K. n.d.).

Shiva_Mohini
Lord Shiva and Mohini
Vishnu_Mohini
Sri Maha Vishnu as Mohini

Meaning Sri Vishnu once through Upasana (worship) of the Divine Mother (Devi Parvathi) attained Her beauty, for this Shiva, curiously (knowingly) asked Sri Vishnu to show that form. The story as follows, Shiva upon hearing Sri Vishnu’s achievement of attaining the beauty of His wife, curious to see (knowingly), reached Vikuntam (residence of Sri Vishnu and Sri Lakshmi) and asked Sri Vishnu to show His female form (the form of Mohini). Shiva who burnt the cities of Tripurasura, a sage (Adi Yogi) whose mind cannot be moved or disturbed by any desire, a sage who burnt Manmadha (the God of kama) whose arrows of love failed to flaw Him, however on that day His mind fluctuated by looking at His wife’s form in Sri Vishnu. Now the Divine Mother, in this case, Devi Parvathi, who is Shiva’s dharma:patni, by granting Her beauty to Sri Vishnu, has She caused Shiva to drift in desire and in return blemished His character? Then why did Sri Shankara compose such a sloka in Soundarya Lahari? Because of Devi Parvathi, who is the Mother of all worlds, created desire and love to fabricate Creation itself (which includes us) causing it to flourish by making a being to strive for self preservation and progression of one’s body and mind to continue in this creation as a son or daughter. Therefore, She is the only one who can pull Shiva into the notion of Desire. She is the only one who directed Shiva to move towards Sri Vishnu by cloning Him into Herself. Since Shiva can only desire Devi Parvathi, desired Mohini a clone of Devi Parvati, which resulted in the remarkable birth of Ayyapa (Manikanta). Who is none other than the unified form of Shiva and Sri Hari (Technically Devi Parvathi posing as Sri Vishnu)? In this unified form, Ayyapa then abolished the evil Maheshe who was threatening the worlds with Her power. Maheshe took a boon from Brahma Deva, that only a unified form of Shiva and Sri Hari can diminish her, which she assumed would never be possible, hence proclaimed immortal. Maheshe assumed that the concepts of Preservation and Dissolution are two separate and failed to recognize that its one Ishwara who operates in two modes, for creation to progress towards dissolution in a slower phase, hence with pride and ego failed to evolve in conscience. We can now understand how Devi Parvathi did such unique and flavorful fabrication to save the worlds and safeguarding creation from various calamities that we and other beings of this creation bring upon ourselves through our own ignorance.

Readers should note that this universe, technically many universes as explained in Lalitha Sahasranama Stotram has innumerable flavors of life, desire, forms and fabrications that are not necessarily convincing to us with our limited comprehension. At the same time, Sanatana Dharma does not filter such content and abstract us from the truth. Hence one needs to understand that there are multitudes of untold flavors in the fabric of creation, which are not limited to our understanding, hence not to be considered flawed or nonexistent. Many theorists today believe in not just one universe but in the existence of multiverse or parallel universes. One lifetime is not necessarily sufficient to experience them all, and again a jiva, which has no death, hops through so many lives in so many upaadi (forms) across so many lokas.

Hence, desire when in line with dharma, uplift us and gives this world many great things. For example, the great Rishi Vyasa (Maharishi Vyasa) who compartmentalized the Veda, composed various Purana(m), and Upanishad, who bestowed the world with such truth through His literature, one day drifted by a desire for Gruthachi, which resulted in the birth of Shuka:brahma (Sage/Rishi who narrated Srimad Bhagavata(m) or Sri Bhagavata Purana(m)). One while chanting about Ishwara, visualizing Ishwara’s beauty and greatness, and in that trans of devotion loses touch with the world outside, and blooms in joy is Sage Shuka:brahma and so was eligible to narrate Srimad Bhagavata(m) (Sri Bhagavata Purana(m)). If such great personality was not born in this world, who else can take up the legacy of (born to) such a great Rishi like Vyasa, otherwise we wouldn’t be fortunate to learn and listen to Bhagavata Purana(m). Sage Shuka is the one who narrated and explained Bhagavata Purana(m) in seven days to King Parikskhit. Ishwara invokes maya (illusion) of desire within great Rishis time and again, so that the world can be fortunate to receive extraordinary personalities, because Rishis by themselves have crossed the state of worldly desire and evolved into higher plains of conscience, if not for Ishwara’s (Devi’s) maya, how else can they be brought back to the simpletons of material and bodily desires. A good example of an uplifting desire would be to be anger towards the inability to control one’s own anger, making such anger a better emotion to uplift us. So, it’s through the same desires and emotions we can channel them and uplift ourselves, because desires and emotions are an inherent nature of human, hence are called vasana. One should properly channel the desires and never suppress them. In Devi Bhagavata(m) (Devi Bhagavata Purana(m)), King Janaka explains about Desires and the greatness of Gruhastu Ashram to Sage Shuka:brahma:

इंड्रीयनी भलिस्तानी ननियुक्तानी मानधहा
“Indreyani Bhalistani Naniyuktani Maanadha”

Meaning, one who forcefully suppresses one’s desires and emotions that transpire from these desires, such desires will one day break loose and bites one back. Hence, these desires should be woven with dharma, which then will result in our progress and upliftment, and eventually evolves to a state where one fully overcomes the desire and climbs up in one’s conscience, such state is called as Vairagyam. Hence Janaka suggested Sage Shuka:brahma to enter Gruhastu Ashram.

Another vital aspect of weaving desires with dharma is its result, which is called Artha, meaning Kama in line with dharma results in Artha (meaningful result), that Artha can be in the form of a Son or a Daughter, in other words, a specific kama (like attraction towards opposite sex) merged with dharma (through vivaham/marriage) gives the potential to becoming a parent and hence releasing oneself from the Pitru Runa, where in ‘Pitru’ meaning father and ‘Runam’ meaning debt. Every person has a debt towards one’s father to have received the opportunity to exist in this upaadi. This debt will get paid when one becomes a father oneself and performs ‘sa-chela snanam’ (holy bath performed by father after the birth of a son or a daughter).  Hence proving that such a kama results in progression of one’s family and legacy.

Then why in few cases desires and emotions lead to blemish or harm? It’s for those who act on their desires without consequence towards one’s actions, not assimilating with dharma, those who don’t gain the understanding or the significance of dharma from exploring Shastra(m) and those who act devoid of faith in Ishwara will face such blemish in life. Let’s take an example, many households use knives in their kitchen for cooking, just by having such sharp objects, are they leading to injuries and suffering every day? As long as such tools are consciously safeguarded understanding the environment of the house (like having children), then such tools will not result in harming anyone. The Same scenario applies to many such objects in our lives, like fire or electricity, making our negligence towards proper usage and proper safeguarding that leads to harmful situations, in the same way, Kama is not the culprit, it’s our inability and negligence towards Shastra and the concept of dharma that leads to unpleasant outcomes. Please note, there lies a difference in possessing such tools that help our daily livelihood versus those which are actual weapons which are not a part of our daily household usage.

From the above content, Ishwara is sharing a crucial message on how a man can gain happiness, reach higher plains of conscience, and have the final question emerge within. That question is to realize and ask if these desires and emotions are real, compared to The supreme bliss (Brahmanandam), in other words, to achieve Vairagya(m) leading to Mosham. The important thing for a man is to cherish all the desires that are in line with the Vedic (Shastra) in respect to the dharma of the ashramam, leading to happiness (like getting married, love, having children, prosperity, fame, serving one’s parents and Guru and receiving their constant blessings and more). It’s a misconception that Shastra(m) suppresses desire, it doesn’t, it only assimilates them based on time and in a fashion that will benefit us to lead a life of content. Ultimately reaching a state where one realizes the flavor of the supreme bliss, that supreme nectar (poetic nectar not real nectar) that can be found by worshiping the feet of the Divine Mother which is unprecedented compared to any other desires or emotion in life. A state also is known as ‘Punaravruthi Rahita Shiva Saahidhya’. It’s a widely expressed misconception that the life in a Gruhast Ashram (Married stage of life) is to be avoided, as it is the cause of many attachment and sufferings. That notion is completely false, because many distinguished devotees like Prahlada went into Gruhast Ashram, Rishi Vyasa, Poet Pothana, King Janaka, Rishi Gautama and many more.

Sources:

Pardhana sloka from :

https://www.drikpanchang.com/hindu-goddesses/parvati/durga/navdurga-brahmacharini.html

Above content is a conscience translating of Guru Sri Changanti Koteswar Rao Gari Pravachanam, can be found at (part 7,8,9,10):

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