Sixty four Upacāra – meditationSixty four Upacāra – meditation
– Shri Ramesh Namboodri
In the Śrī Krama of Śrī vidyā pūja we offer sixty four services (upacārā) to Śrī Lalitāmbikā. These services are most important, since they form the core, central pūja to the main deity invoked and as such they have to be performed with utmost care and involvement (Śraddhā).
Sixty four is two power six, i.e. two multiplied six times. Here, two will point to Śiva Śakti couple (mithuna) and six to five elements and mind. This number six will also point to six pathways (ṣadadhvā), thus identifying them with this universe and Śiva Śakti can also be envisaged from this number. Also, sixty four is eight times eight. Eight is number denoting stability, number of electrons in outermost orbit of an atom. Each atom tends to loose or gain electrons to reach this number. Further if an atom has this number of electrons in its outer orbit, it will be chemically so stable that it will be inactive in any reaction. Thus eight times eight will point to a most stable position, that’s envisaged by the ṛṣis for as aspirant who does these services in both bhāya and āntara pūjā.
We find in our daily ritual manual three types of services are enlisted. First is a basic pañca upacārā – five services, more elaborate ṣodaśa upacarā – sixteen services, as seen in all vrata kalpa pūja and in saparya most elaborate catuṣṣaṣti upacārās- sixty four services.
‘Upa’ means near and ‘cara’ means move, thus keeping one’s awareness near invoked deity is meant. Further these services are to be done as if to a human form is in front. Since invoked deity is none other than ātma svarūpā, these services carry a subtle meaning for deity and aspirant.
On constant practice of these upacarās, some thoughts on the inner meaning and hidden messages of these services were revealed and are shared.
Some basic ideas to be remembered in this discussion: The Form of the deity is identical to the pañcadaśi mantra. The Face is identical with vāgbhava kūta, middle portion with kāmarāja kūta and lower portion with śakti kūta of pañcadaśi. Devi is in the form of bliss- saccidānanda rūpa.
The First Upacāra – service is ‘pādyam’ – washing of the feet of the invoked Devi’s feet with water. – The feet are indicative of a path and Devi’s feet are indicative of the specific path –Śrī vidyā, which are a pair (two), indicative of outer and inner service paths, internal and external ritual methodology. Literally to wash, indicates some stain or dirt. Here dirt is the supposed inconsistency of two paths said earlier, while we generally find internal methodologist believing themselves as superior to external ritualist. In an equal parlance, they are only contemporary of each other; one cannot be without the other. Thus removing the notion of greatness in any path is this serviceThe feet form a part of the lower body which is identical to the third Śakti kūta of pañcadaśi mantra. This part will point to the sustained awareness of the knowledge that this prapañca is Śiva-Śaktyātmaka in experiential terms. The dirt here again will be the doubts on the sustenance of this awareness. Thus removal of this doubt is this serviceThe body of the deity – Lalitā is in the form of bliss. Again dirt is nāma rūpa prapañca vāsana which is adhering to this universal, all pervasive Śiva tattva, which is blissful. Thus removal of the notion of nāma rūpa in prapañca and viewing with an saccidānanda outlook is this service
The second is ‘ābharaṇa avaropaṇam’ – removal of all ornaments from body of Devi.The meditated form before invocation, in mind, will be with all ornaments and will be invoked thus in pūja idol- bimba. Removal of all these ornaments is the service here. Ornaments are said to be padādhva, one of the six paths (adhvās). Since Devi’s body is the pañcadaśi mantra, ornaments adoring this body which will point to multitudes of various padas or other mantras which are initiated as a pre-requisite in this sādhanā. Now, sādhanā has culminated to that level, wherein focusing on mūla mantra is the only condition, paraśurāma says ‘sadā vidyā anusamhatih’. Thus removal of ornaments will point to constant remembrance of only Śrī vidyā mantra.
The next is ‘sugandhi tailābhyaṅgam’ – anointing the body of the Devi with scented oil. Anointing of oil on the body will have two effects, one is to remove the dirt which is organic in nature, and is not easily removed by gross physical washing and also a cool refreshing effect on the body. Thus now we can infer removal of finer doubts and hence a fresh surge of vigor in sādhanā is meant in this service ‘taila’ mean oil, as per secret code katapayādi will reveal the number thirty six., which is indicative of the thirty six tattvās which make this visible universe. The syllables in mantra are separated into consonants and vowels to get thirty seven syllables. In Paramānanda Tantra correspondence of these syllables with pañcadaśi is explained. The Para Śiva state is represented by ‘E’. Pṛthvi, gandha, ghrāṇa – three ‘L’ ;āpa, rasa, jihvā –three ‘k’ ;Tejah, rūpa, cakṣu –three ‘r’ ; Vāyu, sparśa, tvak-three ‘m’; ākāśa, sabda, śrotra- three ‘nada’; Vāk pāṇi pāda pāyu upastha –five ‘h’; Māyā, kalā, avidyā, rāga, kāla, niyati, prakṛti, ahamkāra, bhuddhi, maṇah –ten ‘a’; Sadāśiva, īsvarā, śuddhavidyā, puruṣa –four ‘ī’; Śiva and Śakti –two‘s’Realization of the above is the ‘real’ anointing of oil on Devi’s body.
Again body of Devi is sacchidānanda- bliss and pervasiveness, recognition that bliss is inherent in all thirty six tattvās is this service, envisaged here.
The next is ‘majjanasālā praveśanam’ – entering the bath room. The Devi after being anointed will come down from Cakra rāja and reach wash room located in south east corner. The purpose of wash room is to remove all subtle dirt in the body and give a clean feeling. As said above, dirt is doubt in mind and change in practices seen by an aspirant in various lineages. This can be eliminated only by a thorough study of this siddhānta and a deep understanding. To realize this we need the company of learned men. Thus a study with likeminded people is the wash room meant here.Considering further upacarās down, there are three maṇdapās- rooms where Devi enters for different services. These can be equated to three kūtās of pañcadaśi. The above first room point to first kūtā of pañcadaśi, denoting removal of the dvaita bhāva, which in a way is washing off malās.
The next is ‘majjanasālā maṇi pītopaveśanam’ – alighting a jeweled seat in the washroom. Seat is a personification of mind of aspirant. Thus establishing mūla mantra with tattvās vicāra in mind is realization of this upacarā. Here ‘maṇi’ – jewel, is a code of sādhanā of five ‘M’. Thus to establish tattvā vicāra with mūla mantra in mind, with a constant practice as per the Guru’s ritual manual – pūja paddhati – is hinted in a veiled manner.
The next is ‘divya snānīvodvartanam’ – application of high quality lathering material to the Devi’s body. To wash off dirt, lather is used, this idea is trailing from above upacarā, which points to sādhanā and immersion of tattva vicāra, this is the effect of same tattva vicāra, the removal of doubts and confusion in sādhanā line
The next is ‘ushṇodaka snānam’ – bathing with warm water. Water is the residence of all devatās- ‘apo vā idam sarvam..sarvā devatā āpa’. Fire is called suci- clean; it cleans all and never will be polluted. Combining these two elements (aspects) will result in warm water. Thus an unpolluted- pure divinity is envisaged here. The bath will remove the dirt and bring freshness and vigor to the body. Thus washing off., utmost removal of all doubts and confusion, and bringing in peacefulness in sādhanā is realization of this service. Here usage of first ‘M’ – Madhya to tranquil our mind and absorb tattva vicarā is finer aspect of this upacarā.
The next is ‘kanaka kalaśa cyuta sakala tīrthābhiṣekam’ – bathing with waters of sacred rivers/ places poured from golden pot. Water of sacred places / rivers always hold a spiritual power, because of connection with holy sages and divine beings, is traditionally believed to cleanse a person of even unknown sins. Here subtle stains called māyika and kārmika malā are envisaged. Gold always represents Divine and its splendor, and pot will point to a form, most divine form envisaged by a sādhaka is Śrī Guru. Thus blessings of Śrī Guru through the ageless paramparā in form of mantra and energizing it by dīksa for a successful sādhanā are imagery meant by this service. In short Śaktipāta through mantra caitanya is visualized here.
The next is ‘dhauta vastra parimārjjanam’- usage of a dry towel to remove moisture sticking on to the body- (to dry). Drying will mean removal of water drops adhering to the body. As seen in above, use of first ‘M’, denoted washing with water, now a higher stage is envisaged, that without the five ’M’, the awareness has to sustain. This is pointed in this service. Vastra as per katapayādi will point to the number twenty four. This is the ātma tattvā which will cleanse the sthūla sarirā – gross body, and the aṇavamalā. Thus a śodhana – cleansing of aṇava malā is envisaged in this service
The next is ‘aruṇa dukūla paridhānam’- offering red soft garments. Clothes are used to hide nakedness in humans. A person clothed is also a symbol of culture. Soft clothes represent high quality, richness and superior texture. Red is a symbol of indiscriminating Love. Thus offering of red clothes to adored deity will represent civilized thoughts with utmost Love for all humanity. Referring to pañcadaśi mantra, Lower garments will now point to pondering on message of awareness and richness of the idea said in third kūta of pañcadaśi- complete awareness at all times.
The idea of red as said in Bhāvanopaniṣat, denotes the unity of a. nirupādika samvideva kāmaeśvarah – the attribute less Brahman, b. sadānandapūrṇa svātmaiva paradevatā Lalitā – Blissful nature and c. antakaraṇa catushtaya sādhaka- sādhaka with mind (maṇas), intellect (bhuddi), ego (ahamkara) and chitta. . Thus clothing saccidānanda form will now point to realizing of this in practical day to day life.
The next is ‘aruṇa kucottarīyam’- offering red upper garment (blouse). The breasts of woman – Devi are likened to the universe, like the universe they are not fully seen by all in totality except the husband, We can only see limitedly, we know there are places in this world, take example of South America, but we can’t see it, similarly breasts of a woman are known and only seen partially. Hence this is an allegory. Taking the same idea for red and garment from the above, pondering on the nature of universe with unlimited Love and scrutiny will be this service.
The next is ‘ālepa maṇdapa praveśanam’- entering into the dressing room for perfume application. The earlier washroom was identified as congregation of likeminded people, which was to remove doubts. This is the same idea of congregation with likeminded people to study texts and get good appreciation of vāsanās and their nature. This second maṇdapā will now point to second kūtā of pañcadaśi, rise of undivided śiva Śakti mithuna knowledge, is akin to the study and assimilation of knowledge.
The next is ‘ālepa maṇdapa maṇi pītopaveśanam’- alighting a jeweled seat in the above room. As said earlier, fixing on mind in such a situation is service indicated here, same idea of ‘maṇi’ the sādhanā with five ‘M’ is hinted here. This will now be more subtle.
The next is ‘candanāgaru kuṅkumaśaṅku mṛgamada karpūra kastūri gorocanādi divya gandha sarvāṅgīna vilepanam’- anointing of fine perfumed sandal paste with wood resin, saffron, edible camphor, musk, cow’s bile and other fragrance. The various perfumes mentioned are multitudes of texts available with us, this is an allegory. Sandal tree takes years to grow and this will indicate older texts- like the tantra rāja, kalpasūtra vāmakeśvara, wood resin will point to the commentaries of the texts by various guru’s and sādhakas, saffron and edible camphor will hint at the kaula texts like kulārṇava, kastūri to agamas like mṛgendra , gorocana will be digest of all agamas like Śrī vidyārṇava as well as pūja paddhatis, the suffix ādi- like wise will encompass all other agama texts , their commentaries and philosophical / mantra digest available to sādhaka. Thus study of mūla mantra with respect to these texts is the service meant here.
The next is ‘keśabhārasya kalāgaru dhūpam’- drying the hair with incense smoke of black eagle wood resin. The invoked deity’s form has shadhavā in it, hair is bhuvanādhvā. There are three, fourteen and two hundred and twenty four bhuvanā as said in Vedic to āgama texts. A thorough understanding of this is needed for an aspirant, since both cakra and body is replica of this universe, this study in necessary, as seen from above service, resin denotes commentary. Thus a thorough study of the bhuvānadhvā using commentaries is message in this service.
The next is ‘mallikā mālati jāti campakāsoka satapatra pūga kudmali punnāga kalhāra mukhya sarav ṛtu kususma mālā’- adorning a garland made of jasmine, campa, asoka, betel nut buds, punnāga, blue lotus and flowers of all seasons. Flowers are symbol of space, since they form and expand from a bud; here expansion is likened to space. The different seasons point to the time, thus a time space-continuum is envisaged in this service. The whole visible experiential universe is said to be body of paradevatā and also is identified with Śrī cakra as below:
The next is ‘bhūṣaṇa maṇdapa praveśanam’- entering into the dressing room for wearing ornaments. The dressing room is identified as congregation of likeminded people, which is to remove doubts with study. This is same idea of congregation with likeminded people to study texts and get good appreciation of vāsanās and their nature. The third maṇdapa will now surely mean third kūta of pañcadaśi, continual experiential knowledge. They are similar the ornaments worn, have dazzling luster and are precious.
The next is ‘bhūṣaṇa maṇdapa maṇi pītopaveśanam’- alighting a jeweled seat in the above room. As said earlier, fixing on mind in such a situation is the service indicated here, same idea of ‘maṇi’ the sādhanā with the five ‘M’ is hinted here. This will now be more subtle with textual study and introspection
From here we find a list of ornaments being adorned to the Devi one by one and each is treated as an upacārā. There are twenty five ornaments, four weapons and a pair of sandal offered to the Devi at the end. Thus thirty services from now will focus on decorating Devi. The word ‘dhāraṇa’ will also mean to realize the import of the said text in totality. Thus realization of the text in totality with the pañcadaśi will be these services. All these services have a third kūta –‘sakalahrīm’ idea in it is the continual experiences of the bliss and the divine manifestation of the universe. Simultaneously we can also see from the Lalitā sahasranāma (LSN) on these ornamental details. As seen in second upacārā ornaments were different mantras as a pre-requisite for Śrī Vidyā upāsana, now we are seeing the same, as mantras adoring Devi.
1. Navamaṇi makutam: Nava means new, maṇi means jewels or gems, makūtam is the crown. Crown is worn over the head, which is the place of sahasrāra- the thousand petal lotus. Gems have luster, an inner luminance. Thus the experience of the bliss in the sahasrāra, which is the inner bliss, allegorically said as inner luminance, ever new in each second is the service here. LSN-‘kuruvinda maṇiśreni kanat kotrīra maṇditā’- kuruvinda maṇi is red in color and kotrīra is the tiara like crown. The mantra envisages is the Guru pādukā- Nava will point to the vidyāvatāra nava nātha guru.
2. Candra sakalam: The crescent of moon of the crown. Candra is mind – ‘sakala’ is the hidden form of third kūta- sakalahrīm, which denotes continual experience without any gap, thus we are amazed to see that this service is immersion in bliss always. The LSN dhyana sloka says-‘maṇikya mauli sphurat tārā nāyaka śekharām’- the crescent on the ruby crown. This will point to most secret śodaskṣari bija – lakṣmi bija, veiled reference from Candra as Candra sahodari.
3. Sīmante sindūram: Sīmanta is the partition of hair in the fore head, Sindūra is red – crimson colored powder worn there by ladies whose husband is alive. ‘sīma’ means border and ‘anta’ is end, denotes last alphabet ‘h’, which is seen universe- outward visarga. Sindūra is red in color which is the identity of the attribute-less Brahman, with an attribute called bliss and with the four organs if the individual cognition. Thus a continual experience of the divine and its bliss is said here. The mantra is surely the pañcadaśi mantra, the redness by sindūra points in that direction.
4. Tilaka ratnam: The mark on the fore head with gem. ‘tilaka’ seen by katapayādi code is 136, the total raśmis of third khaṇda–viśuddhi and āgynā, which is third kūta of pañcadaśi. Thereby enforcement of the identity with bliss and the universe and the individual is the luminance pointed by the ratna- jewel. LSN- mukha candra kalaṅkābha mṛganābhi visheṣakā’- The blemish in moon is equated to mark on fore head of Devi. Here moon also hints at soma khaṇda – third kūta –‘sakalahrīm’. The ratna – jewel will point to the third eye and thus the pañcākṣarā of Lord Śiva- the tryambaka.
5. Kālañjanam: Application of collrium on the eyes, this application to humans will clear any dirt and help to have a clear vision. Kāla according to katapayādi will point to number thirty one, māyā tattvā. Thus understanding māyā tattva will clear vision, outlook and finally lead to experiential knowledge- import of ‘sakalahrīm’ Surely ‘blackness’ will lead us to ‘kālika’
6. pāli yugalam: The adoring ornaments on the ear upper part. Flower shaped ornaments or kadamba tree flowers on the top of the ears. Pāli also according to katapayādi will mean thirty one, māyātattva said above, earlier it was vision; here it is the hearing, and understanding of the tattva leading to the experience LSN-‘kadamba mañjarīklṛpta karṇa pūra manoharā’ The ears are said here, hence the śrutidhāriṇi vidyā.
7. Maṇikuṇdala yugalam: Ear rings. LSN-Tataṅka yugalībhūta tapaṇodupa maṇdalā. The universe seen by us consists of mainly sun in day time and moon during night. They are the ear rings. One is the prakāśa aspect and the other is the vimarśa aspect. They are on the ears which are –ākāśa tattva – in turn the sabda tattva in other words, the learning aspect. Thus knowledge of identifying the seen universe with mūla mantra and its experience is the idea behind this service. The sun and moon are seen here thus all navagraha mantras are seen
8. Nāsābharaṇam: Nose ring. Nose represents gandha tattva- which in turn denotes Pṛthvi tattva – gross or in other words the created and visible universe. LSN-‘tarākānti tiraskāri nāsābharaṇa bhāsurā’. The evening star is equated to nose ring. This is one more celestial object which has a reflected glow, other than moon. This reflected light is vimarśa and thus third kūta’s experience of bliss forever in seen universe is envisaged. The earth element said by nose- gandha will point to the vārāha, dhārani mantras; evening star- śukra- also meaning progeny, will point to the Santāna gopāla.- in short all vaiṣṇava mantras.
9. adhara yāvakam: lip gloss. LSN- ‘Nava vidruma bimba Śrī nyakkāri radanachadā.- The splendor and redness of fresh coral or the bimba fruits fails in comparison with the lips. The lips help in the production of sound which communicates ideas through hearing / listening. Thus they can be equated to the Vedas – called śruti – heard sound. The redness as seen above is the one ness of attribute-less Brahman, with an attribute ānandā and individual aspirant. Thus Vedic identity of awareness of this unique identity said above is this service. The lips are indicative speech and logic arguments and hence directly vāgvādini and nakuli mantras are envisaged.(A small outcome of the above services are that they focus on the gyāna indriyas, skin (tvak) in sindūra and tilaka, ear (śrotra) in pāli and maṇikundala yugala, eye (cakṣus) in the kālāñjana , nose (ghrāṇa) in nāsābharaṇa, lips – suggestive of tongue ( jihvā) in adhara yāvaka. Thus the gyāna – knowledge of the undifferentiated universe self and Devi – the kaulikārtha is emphasized).
10. prathama bhūṣaṇam: The main auspicious ornament, maṅgalya- tāli. This signifies that the wearer of this symbol is married. This symbolizes Primordial pair – Śiva Śakti mithuna bhāva. Identifying prathama (initial) spanda (movement) –ekai vāham, bhahusyām prajāyayeti – with mūla mantra ( Bhāskara rāya identifies this movement as ten ‘a’ kāras in mūla mantra, ‘a’ is Śiva vācaka – the auspicious) The vimarśa aspect – experiential knowledge and its synthesis is the service done. LSN – ‘Kāmeśa bhaddha maṅgalya sūtra shobita kandarā’.The saubhāgya devatā – Svayamvarā kalyāṇi mantra is directly seen.
11. Kanaka cintākam: The golden necklace – a tight fitting ornament. Gold, the noble metal will point to the guru and the guru maṇdala. Cintāka is the necklace, a guru paramparā . Like the necklace which is close to body, that too near the neck, will symbolize vaikhari vāk, expressed sound as mantras and mantra upadeśa, they are close to mūla mantra svarūpa Paradevatā in the bindu of Śrī cakra . Thus an identity of these gurus with Mūla mantra and amba and the self – the kaulikārtha is envisaged here. LSN – Ratna graiveya cintāka lola muktā phalanvitā. The three types of necklaces are said here, graiveya, cintāka, lola. They can be taken as divya, siddha and manava gurunāthas, graiveyaka close to neck, the divyas are always in Śrī nagara, cintāka – a loose-fitting one which will dwell on the body and sometimes may not dwell, like siddhas who dwell both in Śrī nagara and in this world, and finally most loose – dangling from neck, ‘lola’ they are on this earth field and are held by amba, the mānavaughā. The golden necklace will show the Goddess of wealth – Śrī Mahālakṣmi and her mantra.
12. padakam: The Pendant. Padaka according to katapayādi sankhya will mean 181, the number of deities in the khadgamālā. Thus the identity of cakra with all attendant deities with mūla mantra – pañcadaśi is envisaged in this upacārā. – aṇimādyābhir mayūkhaih .. bhavānīm. The khadgamālā is a mantra itself.
13. Mahā padakam: A bigger pendant. The ‘Mahā’ in the front will point to ‘ma’ as ānanda in the upastha tattva and ‘ha’ is agni rūpa Śiva tattva, Hence taking the above padaka number-181, will now point to the Śiva Śakti mithuna mālā, identity of these devatās with paradevatā and mūla mantra pañcadaśi is meant in this service. The Mithuna khadgamālā is a mantra too.
14. Muktāvali: Strands of pearls. This is trailing from the above upacārās. The strand of the above will mean all the fifteen types of khadgamālā chanted as per Lalitā pariśiṣta tantra. Here these pearls will point to Candra and thus waxing and waning of moon is envisaged. Chanting above khadgalmālā along with tithi- lunar phases, and identifying them with pañcadaśi is this upacārā.
15. Ekāvali: A strand of twenty seven big pearls. Here pearls point to Candra and mind, thus offering this necklace will mean that mind is continually engaged in reflecting mūla mantra- paraśurāma kalpa sūtra says- ‘sadā vidyā anusamhatih’. Trailing from above, this will point to suvarna kusuma puṣpāñjali, wherein kadi vidyā guru paramparā along with svaguru paramparā will be worshipped. Reversing ‘eka’, will be ‘ka’, ‘e’ and āvali means series, so mūla mantra pañcadaśi is envisaged here. (A corollary from the above two upacārā – Pearls are white in color, indicative of satva guṇa, and pañcadaśi is saccidānandā svarūpa, hence ānandā in sātvic state is essence of above two upacārās).
16. channavīram: Sari pin. Channa will mean hidden, vīra will point to a position, hence the hidden positioning of the garments are meant by this service. The Sari pins are used for this effect. In the above service garment’s red color was indicative of unity of attribute less Brahman, with bliss (an attribute) and individual. Keeping them in position by hidden will mean kaula sādhanā, these garments are covering body– mūla mantra pañcadaśi, hence kaula sādhanā to re-affirm the idea said and to bring an experiential knowledge is meant in this service. The hidden mantras in anuttaramnāya – ṣodaśa mūla vidyā are referred here
17. keyurayugala catushtayam: Four pairs of Ornament of the upper arm shaped, like serpent- the armlet. A pair of upper armlet made of gold. Gold is precious and rare metal, thus pointing to Śrī Guru, A pair will be guru dampati. Arm explicitly points to the organ of work- karmendrya. Four will now show mahā vakyas initiated by guru dampati. ‘pragynānam brahma, aham brahmāsmi, tattvamasi, ayamātmā brahmā’. Thus as awareness of Mahā vāykyā’s meaning as said by Guru in action (Karma) with remembrance of mūla mantra is this service. LSN- kanakāngada keyura kamanīya bhujānvitā.
18. valayāvali: Bangles. ‘va la ya’ as per katapayādi is 134, total is eight. The puryaṣtaka jīva is seen, and also experiential universe is visualized. There are two hundred and twenty four such experiential universes as per Kashmir śaivam, thus word āvali – in a line, which means a collection of those bhuvanas. Recognizing that they are a part of mūla mantra is this service. The Bhuvaneśvarī mantra, Gāyatrī mantra with the three vyāhṛdi is seen here.
19. ūrmikāvali: Rings on fingers. The fingers are real executors of any work. Thus this will point to karma. ‘ū’ is left ear in mātṛkā nyāsa, we can now envisage upadeśa by reference of ear– Śakti prādhānya by left side. ‘āvali’ means a lineage, here lineage of Guru, who has done this mantropadeśa. In short mantra dīkṣā, golden rings are thus envisaged as grace of gurunātha. So, remembrance of mantra during all acts (sadā vidyā anusamhatih) is meant in this service done here.‘ūrmi’ will also mean waves of existence and ‘āvali’ to six waves said in texts – they are śoka sorrow, Moha temptation, Jarā old age, Mṛtyu death, kṣudhā hunger, Pipāsā thrist; another set of ṣadūrmi is Bhayā fear, Dveṣa hatred, Viṣāda regret, śoka grief, asuyā jealousy, avamāna shame. These ‘waves’ will plunge us into the ‘ocean’ of existence. It is very appropriate that ten avatāra of Mahā Viṣṇu came out of the fingers of Devi, as seen above these waves are for sustenance of existence to be in a cycle of birth and re-birth, which is his portfolio. The rings bring golden can be meditated as the grace of Guru who tides us over these waves and finally removes us from this cyclic existence. LSN- Karāṅguli nakhotpanna nārāyaṇa daśākṛtih’- the ten avatar mantras of Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu are seen here.
20. kāñci dāma: A broad golden ornament as waist band- Odyanam- ‘kāñci’ is split as ‘ka’ and ‘āñci’, respectively meaning fire sacrifice done by Creator Brahma to get back his creative power. The mid portion of the woman holds womb and ovaries – which have creative power and nourishes new born in its initial stages of growth. ‘dāma’ means a garland, a respectful sign, thus respecting mother hood in all living beings is meant in this service. The waist is midpoint of body, where second kūta ends ‘kati paryanta’, and third kūta starts ‘katyadhobhāga’. The hṛllekha bija is seen in mantra at this juncture, thus sound representation of creative force is visualized here. LSN -ratna kiṅkiṇikāramya racanā dāma bhūṣitā. There are tiny bells in the beautifully adorned waist band. Here sound being first element’s –space- aspect is in tune with above idea.
21. kati sūtra: A rope like ornament on the waist. Sūtra means ‘sūcana’ – giving ideas in a gist, rather a pointer. Hip ‘Kati’ is starting of Śakti kūta which is a constant reminder of blissful state, hence the onus is on pointer and this service reminds us that the goal is everlasting blissful state. The concise pointers like paraśurāma kalpa sūtra are seen here.
22. saubhāgya ābharaṇa: Special auspicious ornament worn at waist. This decoration is meant for covering the genitals. Thus most auspicious act in third kūta said by ‘below waist’ – katyadhobhaga- is continual remembrance of bliss in all actions. The triangular shaped alphabet (like female genital) denotes Para Śiva state, as seen in oil anointing service; thus, this ornament will point to manifestation of universe. This service is reminding us that same. The mantra here is ‘Bhagamālini’- The second nityā Devi.
23. pāda kataka: Anklets – thick ones filled with pearls / gems. Anklets make sound when the person moves. Hence the primordial sound element and its first expansion as the Vedas are inferred. The Vedas have strict procedures and pronunciations; this is signified d by the hardness of this anklet. Identifying that all Vedas and Vedic procedures are in turn with the third kūta of pañcasdaśi- the continual experience of the bliss is this service
24. ratna nūpura: Anklets of gems. This is a loose fitting one made of red gems. The redness and slack will point to the tantra – esp. redness to the Śrī vidyā, wherein mental modifications are stressed (Bhāvanās); the slack to more freedom in procedures. Thus identifying that all the tantric procedures are in tune with third kūta of pañcadaśi wherein the continual experience is stressed. LSN – siñjānamaṇi mañjīra maṇdita Śrī padāmbujā.
25. padāṅguliyaka: rings on the toes. The feet points to the way and the golden rings already was envisaged as the grace of guru, thus the grace of the guru in leading in both the ways are this service. The pūja paddati mantras are seen here. It is apt that after the two above services which are depicted as Veda and tantra, here the personalized Guru Kripa and the pūja paddhati is seen. LSN – ‘nakha dīdhiti sajjanna namajjana tamogunā’.
1. Eka kare pāśam: A coral noose (rope) on one hand, LSN – rāga svarūpa pāśādhyā. The attraction or desire personified is the noose. Since the first creation itself is desired, all living beings have this desire inherently. Hence the re color and a stone material – coral, is the form of hardness and the deepness this idea has in all Recognizing that all desires are due to the divine’s will and command is this service. The Pratyaṅga devatā aśvarūdhā riding a horse aparājitā, had emerged from this weapon. LSN – Aśvārūdādhiṣtitāśva koti koti bhirāvrt ‘pāśa’ according to katapayādi will mean 51, mātṛkā alphabets. Since all creation is from sound this primordial aspect of desire is also shown thus.
2. anya kare aṅkuśam: A silver goad in the other, LSN – krodhākārāṅkuśojvalā. The repulsive force or hatred, opposite of above idea said is seen here, since all creation is paired, this pair also exists. This will cause the expansion of this universe due to diversity that this aspect will cause. Silver is śukra the progeny or expansion into multifold. The devi – Sampatkari riding the elephant raṇakolāhala has emerged from this weapon. LSN – ‘Sampatkari samārūdha sindhura vraja sevitā’(The above two weapons have a control effect, the noose will tie a person a goad will control a big elephant. Thus kaulopaniṣat says- ‘sarvendryānām nayanam pradhānam’- to controlled lead of the senses is the foremost approach.)
3. itara kare puṇdrekṣu cāpam: The red variety of sugar cane in the next hand. Sugar cane has lot of fiber and juice, it is a type of bigger grass hence will bend and adjust to the wind not break down in stormy weather. Each digit length of the sugarcane when planted will bring forth more sugarcane. These ideas are identical to mind, It has lot of essence as well as garbage, will adjust to the situations and will not breakdown, will have lots of inherent potential for new ideas and visions. Thus offering mind to the pañcadaśi svarūpa paradevatā is this service. LSN – .mano rūpekṣu kodaṇdā. ‘Capa’ per katapayādi will point to sixteen, ṣodaśi and its blissful experience. Thus recognizing the bliss of mind in the highest level of identity is this service. Śrī RājaMatangi Devi riding the geya cakra emerged from this weapon LSN – ‘geya cakra rathārūda mantriṇi parisevitā’.
4. apara kare puṣpa bāṇam: Flowery arrow- mango, red lotus, white lotus , red lily and white lily in the other hand. Flowers are signifying the expansion of the universe, lotus and lily will show the day and night, white i.e. the time, the colors white will comprise of all colors, red is the love, mango flower to the spring season. Thus the whole time-space continuum experienced as the universe is visualized. This is no way different from mūla mantra is the service is envisaged here LSN – pañca tanmātra sāyakā. ‘b’ and ‘ṇ’ are three and five respectively as per katapayādi code, the three will point to the three worlds- bhūr, bhuvah and svah and five to the five elements. Śrī Mahā vārāhi Devi riding the kiri cakra emerged from this weapon. LSN – ‘kiri cakra ratharūda daṇdanāthā puraskṛtā’.
(Tantra says – icchaśakti mayam pāśam aṅkuśam gyāna rūpiṇam, kriyaśakti mayī bāṇa dhanuṣī’- noose represent divine will, goad to divine knowledge and bow with arrows to divine deeds.)
Srīman maṇikya pādukā: Ruby studded sandals. ‘Pādukā’‘s etymology is ‘pālanāt- that which sustains, ‘durita kṣalanāt’- cleaning discomfort or sadness. The redness as said above will show the identity of the attribute-less parabrahma, with bliss as an attribute and the aspirant with his four organs for cognition. Thus the discomfort is removed and ‘Śrī’ -highest bliss is experienced. The katpayādi of ‘Pāduakā’ will be 181. This will now show the 180 mithunas in the six ādhāra cakras and the final pair at the sahasrāra- ‘teṣām api upari tava pādāmbuja yugam’- above all these is your divine feet. Realization of this is the service here.
Sva samāna veṣābhih āvaraṇa devatābhih saha Mahā cakrādhirohaṇam:: Alighting Śrī cakra rāja chariot along with attendant deities, who are also attired like her. Using the above sandals walking up nine tiered chariot called Śrī cakra. The sandals indicate guru and his directions, understanding identity of mūla mantra and the Śrī cakra as said by guru is service envisaged here.
In the Śrī vidyā mantra, the three ‘ka’ and ‘ī’ are identified with bindu, the trikoṇa and aṣtakoṇa are identified with three ‘hrīm’ ; the two daśa koṇa and the caturdaśāra are identified with two ‘ha’ and ‘E’; the aṣta and ṣodaśa dala are identified with two ‘sa’ and the bhūpura with two ‘la’.
Another way of looking at this is, without repetition, fifteen syllables in Śrī vidyā mantra are reduced to nine syllables which are identified with nine enclosures of Śrī cakra.
Śrī cakra – mantra
Bindu – Bindu
Trikoṇa – Nada
Aṣtakoṇa – ka
Antar daśāra – ra
Bahir daśāra – E
Catur daśāra – ī
Aṣtadala – ha
Sodaśa dala – sa
Bhūpura – la
Kāmeśvarāṅga paryaṅkopaveśanam: Being seated on the lap of Kāmeśvara. Kāmeśavra is the attribute-less, unqualified Brahman, Devi is the same Brahman with an attribute called ānanda. Recognizing that like inseparableness of the dye and cloth, the unqualified Brahman is identical to the blissful state is this service.
Amrtāsava caṣakam: Offering a drink –ambrosia – filled cup. Cup here is indicative of the body and amṛta is deathless state, on realization of the above identity the same identity is extended to the aspirant, that realization is this service.
ācamanīyam: Water taken ritually for purification. Is there a necessary for purification of Devi? This ritual is seen for aspirants. ācamana will also serve as a reminder, thus the reminder of the above state of unity is this ācamana to Devi.
Karpūra vītikām: offering a betel pan for chewing. The royalty sign is chewing the betel pan, the word ‘rāja’ denotes this state, ‘Rāja’ per katapayādi is sixteen, the ṣodaśi, and the continual experience of the above blissfulness is this service.
Ānandaollasa vilasa hāsam: Hearty laughter. The expression of the blissful state is by a hearty laughter. ‘hāsa’ has in it the ‘hamsa’, which is breath personified. Thus identifying breath with mūla mantra on a continual blissful state is meant in this service.
Maṅgalārārtikam: Waving of lighted lamps in front. Maṅgala is auspicious. Ārati is array of lamps of light that are waved. This service is to be done in a kneeling position. Now, we can be delighted to see that this awareness has encompassed this world- suggested by kneeling down for feeling world, lights for visible universe. This is further expansion of above idea to a universal level is meant in this service. The lamps can be five, seven or nine in number. The five lamps are five elements, seven lamps are seven ādhāra cakra and nine lamps are nine steps beyond āgynā to reach sahasrāra.
Chatram: offering big royal white umbrella. Umbrella is held over head, white in color signifies the satva guna, Thus we are amazed to see Śrī Guru who is pure satva and above the envisaged personification of mantra, protecting it for aspirants sādhanā. The Sva guru Pādukā is mantra meant here
Cāmaram: fanning with a pair of fly whiskers made of deer hair. The word cāmara can be split as ‘ca’ and ‘amara’ – translated as with eternal beings. From above service, eternal beings with Guru is his paramparā, thus the whole lineage of guru is envisaged as making comfort to mantra for its sādhanā by aspirant. The parama guru and parameṣti guru Pādukā mantra is envisaged here.
darpaṇam: offering a mirror. The tantra advocates a theory called bimba- pratibimba vada, the refection principle. This is said very elaborately by the Kashmir Śaivam. Thus realization that bimba of Śiva, which is Śakti is identical to mūla mantra is meant by this service done here
tāla vrṇtam: fanning with palm leaf hand fans. ‘tāla’ per katapayādi will point to number thirty six. Thus mūla mantra is fanned – literally cooled; which means is made comfortable, with the thirty six tattvas by identifying their unity. (The below five are main services to be done without any substitute, till now any short fall in these services can be reconciled by offering sāmānya arghyā or puṣpākṣatās. These are so important that even during japa sādhanā, they have to be mentally offered to visualized devatās. They do represent five natural elements).
gandham: offering sandal paste or perfumes. The smell is the attribute of the element earth, which is gross in nature. Hence the grossest of all, which can be easily envisaged, is offered and the identity with mūla mantra and para devatā is envisaged. Here we can visualize a yellow colored devatā offering the best of all perfumes to amba and merging in her nostrils.
puṣpam: offering flowers The flowers as already seen will point to the subtlest of all elements , the space. Now we go to the other end of the elements in the universe, which is neither felt nor seen. Only could be envisaged. We can visualize a white crystal colored devatā (white is a combination of all visible range) offering the best flowers to paradevatā and merging in her ears. The attribute of the subtle space is sound, which is heard; hence the ākāsha devatā merges into it.
dhūpa: offering incense smoke .The element air is the next subtlest one, where we can have a ‘feel’ of it. The visibility of the air in dense fumes is clear. Thus the incense smoke will mean the offering or identification of this element with mūla mantra or paradevatā. We can visualize a grey colored devatā offering incense smoke at navel and merging into it. Navel is the source of all nadis, subtle channels of the body, through which the vayus (air) travels. Pre-birth the fetus ‘breathes’ through the navel. Hence this service is done at the navel. After the service the holder (stand) of incense burner is to be kept on the right side of the deity’s altar. The right side of the deity is male- Śiva aspect. Thus it is apt that the experiential most subtle element’s attribute be kept on his side.
dīpam: offering lights. The element which has a form is the fire. The attribute of fire is also warmth and glow. Therefore another word for fire is ‘divya’. We can visualize a red color devatā offering the lamps at the eye level of the deity and merging into it. Eye has the cognition of form and thus this service is done there. After this service the holder (stand) of the lamp is to be kept on the left side of the deity’s altar. The light also points to the vimarśa aspect, deliberation of knowledge. Thus the placement on the left side of the deity- the Śakti- is most appropriate.
naivedya: offering food. The food has all the essence, this aspect is called rasa. The water- liquid is the element envisaged here. We can visualize a white devatā offering food and merging into the tongue of the deity. The food offerings are to be kept in front of the deity, if space doesn’t permit, then the cooked food on the left side and uncooked on the right side of Devi. Tongue will represent idea of taste, another aspect of rasa and hence this service is done so.
This completes the sixty four upacārā pūja.
The below said are for completeness of the above ritual.
Nava mudrā pradarśaya: Show the nine gestures (mudras). Mudam rāti dadhāti – the one aspect which will experience / give bliss is called mudrā. The nine enclosures of the Śrī Cakra are opened by these gestures for the aspirant to reach higher level of bliss. Śrī Devi being totality of all attendant deities in cakra – aṇimādyābhih mayūkaih..’ nava means new also, thus the constant experience of bliss as ever new is this service
Devīm tris santarpya: offering tarpaṇa to Devi Thrice. Here tarpaṇa is only envisaged, so ‘mūlam’- Śrī Lalitām tarpayāmi namah – is mantra. Bhāvanopaniṣat says ‘bhavanā viṣhayānām abheda bhāvanam tarpaṇam’ – undifferentiated knowledge of all action is the act of tarpaṇa. Thus this tarpaṇa in the end will mean that the whole catuṣṣaṣti upacāra pūja is a contemplation of the identity of the nirguṇa, saccidānanda Brahman and antakaraṇa catushtaya sādhaka.