Sundari and Kali
– Ramesh Namboodri
Glory to the pādukās of Guru guiding us in the forest of ignorance
The first of the daśa mahā vidyā is Kālī, also known as ādyā, dakṣiṇakālikā or vidyārāgynī. The third is Sundarī who is known as tripurasundarī, ṣodaśī, or śrīvidyā. The seer or ṛṣi of the former is mahākālā bhairavā and the latter is ānandabhairavā / dakṣiṇāmūrti. The meter of chanting is uṣṇik and gāyatrī respectively. The traditions declare two types of routes for the aspirant, the Kālī kula and the sundari kula.
The tantras declare that the Primordial power when seen on left side is sundarī and on right side is Kālī- “vāme sundarī dakṣiṇe kālikā”. Vāma can mean left and also beauty, creative urge (as referred by vamana- vomiting- world from the dissolute state (laya)–creative urge). dakṣiṇa can mean right and also skill / strength and fee (as in havana dakṣiṇa-completion of any ritual is after offering fee- dakṣiṇa- last activity of ritual – hence will signify an end.). Hence sundari seems to represent creative urge with all the essence of beauty and Kālī to the end (annihilative force) with a fierce aspect. Since matter is neither created nor destroyed, it changes from one form to another, cessation of a particular form is called ‘annihilation’ and emergence of another form is called ‘creation’. Thus we find both have a common point to which one travels, while the other emerges from it.
This is an attempt to find common grounds of these above deities.
The form: The meditative verses of these two deities are examined.
kālī: ‘Śavārūdām mahābhīmām ghora damṣtrām hsanmukhīm
caturbhujām khaDgamuṇDavarābhayakarām śivām
muṇDamālādharām devīm lalajjihvām digambarām
sadā sancintaye Kālīm śmaśānālaya vasinīM’
kālī is meditated in the midst of a cemetery having a huge naked form with a dark hue, terrific fangs, standing on a corpse, having a sword, severed head, gestures of dispelling fear and granting desires in her hands, with her face filled with laughter, wearing garland of severed heads.
Sundarī:dhyaye kāmeśvarāṅkasthām kuruvindamaṇiprabhām
sarvalokaika jananīM smerāsyām lalitāmbikām
Sundarī the personification of beauty and bliss, the only mother of the three worlds, has a red hue, clothed with red garments, decorated with golden ornaments , seated on the lap of Śiva kāmeśvara, holding a noose, goad, sugarcane bow and five flowery arrows, glancing with piety and a smile on her lips on the throne surrounded by aṇimādi devatas,
Though the differences between the above looks very prominent, there is a subtle identity.
Dark hue is absence of any color. The spectrum VIBGYOR represents the whole visible range. . Ultra violet or infra red will seem to us as black only. Violet, Indigo, Blue and green are hues of Rājamātangi Devi; yellow is Mahāvārāhi Devi’s hue. Orange and Red are seen as sundari Devi’s hue. In Śrividyopāsana krama Mātangi and Vārāhi are inherent in Lalitā, since they had emerged from Sugarcane bow and flowery arrows respectively. Hence from above equivalence seen Sundarī’s hue may be taken as to represent whole visible range. Thus continuance of kālī is Sundarī as seen from ultraviolet to violet during creation and from Sundarī to Kālī as seen from red to infra red during annihilation. .
Both are full of joy – “hasan mukhīm” in Kālī and “smerāsyām lalitāmbikām” for sundari, the expression is only different. Kālī’s laughter is like a thunder clap- attahāsa, while sundari has “ānandollasa vilāsa hāsa” – peals of joyful laughter. The same thunderous laughter of kālī that annihilates everything becomes a gentle smile with change of form to Lalitā on commencement of creation.
Both have four arms. Sundarī holds noose and goad denoting attractive- attraction to undivided knowledge and repulsive- repulsion to dual knowledge, which are states of mind, The sugarcane bow denotes pure mind and five flowery arrows denote world- these are held separate not connected, hence detachment from state of doer can be envisaged. kālī displays gestures of removal of fear and granting boon denoting removal of the notion of other and thus bestowing bliss of undivided state of mind. The sword denotes scriptures which help in removal of ego which is shown as severed head. Thus we can conclude noose and goad are identical in function with gestures of dispelling fear and granting boons and sugarcane bow with arrow to sword and severed head.
Both have a crown and a crescent of moon on their crown – diadem, Crown is indicative of the royalty, as a consort of Brahman – both have names linked to it- viz., Mahāragyni and vidyāragyni. The crescent of moon is indicative of consciousness at highest level.
The ear rings of Sundarī is ‘tātaṅka yugalībhūta tapaṇodupamaṇdalā’ (sun/moon) and that of kālīka is ‘bāla śava yugma karnāvtamasau’ (young boy’s dead bodies). The first identity is that both of these ear ornaments are inert. Sun /Moon signify the vastness of the creation. Imagine that if they were the ear rings how big the body would be. The agama and nigama are also vast in content, likened to young boys and their death is symbolic of end of all knowledge during dissolution.
The Lord of kālī and Sundarī are Mahā kāla and Śiva Kāmeśvara respectively. Both are in eternal union with their consorts. ’Mahākāla ratāture’ and ‘śiva kāmeśvarāṅgasthā’ describe this state. Both are identical to their consorts, are auspicious and blissful in nature.
There is another meditative verse which unifies both deities:
samvartānala koTi nīradarucam pāśāṅkuśumāśugān
khaDgam muṇdamabhamaikṣvarī varam hastāmbujairaṣtabhih
kāmeśānaśivoparisthitām tryakṣām sadāvahantīm parām
śrīcintāmaṇi bīja rāja vapuṣīm dhyāye mahāṣodaśīm.
The mantra: dakṣiṇa kālī mantra has 22 syllables made up of seven vowels (a+ ā+ i+ ii+ u+ e+M) and nine consonants (k+ṇ+d+r+L+v+s+H+kṣ) totaling to sixteen (matrukā ṣodasi); Śri vidyā is of 15 syllables made up of four vowels (a+ii+E+M) and five consonants (k+ L+ r+ h+ s) totaling to nine (navākṣarī). In the Śrividyā kādi pañcadaśi mantra , the three ‘ka’ and two ‘ha’ letters pertaining to the Śiva and the three ‘hrīm’ are pertaining to both Lalitāmba and Kāmeśvara, the rest are pertaining to Lalitāmba. Similarly in the dakṣina Kālīka mantra the four ‘hūm’ are pertaining to the mahākālā, four ‘hrīm’ to both Mahākākā and Dakṣiṇa, and rest are pertaining to Daksiṇa Kālī. Thus we find the ‘hrīm’ kārās representing the śiva śakti union is there in both mantras, with rest distributed among the respective śiva and śakti.
The breakup of the mantra in to vowels and consonants will result in 37 parts in the śrividyā mantra, while Dakṣiṇa Kālīka mantra will result in 84 parts. These will signify the 36 tattvas and the tattvātīta paraśiva in sundari and the myriad of 84 lakh entities including tattvātiita paraśiva in Dakṣiṇa Kālīka. Since dakṣiṇa is dissolution all the myriad entities are counted while Sundarī is creation, hence tatvās (or basic building blocks) are enumerated.
On seeing vowel distribution in both mantras, it is unique to note that both mantras have
tattvātiita paraśiva indicated by ‘E’ kāra (yad Ekādasamādhāram bījam koṇa trayotbhavam- eleventh vowel is base–substratum of creation). dakṣiṇa has one ‘a’kāra indicative of Śiva tattva (Ekaivāham- Vedas) while Sundarī has ten ‘a’kāras, which signify the creation of various entities (bahusyām prajāyeti). The next vowel ‘ā’ signifying ānandā is there in Dakṣiṇa, as shown in her meditative verse ‘hasan mukhīm’, also she is described as ‘aTTahāsām’. Further there is also next vowel ‘i’ signifying the ichha śakti (will) in DakṢiṇa denoting that dissolution is by the divine will. The vowel ‘ī’ is seen both in Sundarī and dakṣiṇa, denotes the ‘īkṣaṇa’ – the totality of view- which is required for both dissolution and creation. . The Four ‘ī’kārās in sundari will denote four saprśa tattvas by which whole world is first ‘felt’ by creation, since space is more subtle, first solid creation which is felt is air. There are ten ‘ī’kārās in dakṣiṇa which shows her intent for dissolution in all directions.
The yantra of sundari is the well-known śricakra. The yantra has a bindu, triangle (trikoṇa), astakoṇa, two daśa koṇa, fourteen koṇa, eight and sixteen petals, and a bhūpura- square with three lines; the central figure consisting of triangles is formed by the intersection of four upward triangles and five downward triangles.
kālīka has a yantra with bindu, five triangles- pointing downward, eight petals and a bhūpura -square
On a real time view yantra of Kālīka can be mapped onto śri yantra. Thus Kālīka is inherent in Sundarī. There is a pūja paddati wherein śri yantra has kālīka attendant deities mapped onto it, Thus Sundarī is inherent in kālīkā.
The āttending deities:
The initial main worship in a pūja is to layāṅga devatās, they are a part of central deity. Sundarī and kālī have layāṅga devatās in same format. The ṣadaṅga devatās, tithi nitya devatās and gurumaṇdala are there for both. The vidyāvatāra guru maṇdala of nine gurus is there separate for each Devi. Thus the identity found here is the format of the pūja which have the same notation though there are varying deities.
There are a set of 108, 1000 and 300 names – aṣttotara śata, sahasranāma and triśati for both devis. There is a kavaca (armor) made of various variations of the mantras of the deity in both the system of worship, respectively called jaganmaṅgala kavaca and trailokyamohana kavaca. Both have got the list of attendant deities called a khadagmālā. (khadga by katapayādi code is thirty two – suddha vidyā tattva which is the unity of the world, creator and the self.)
The ‘ka’kāra Kālī sahasranāma (DKSN) called ‘sāmrājya medhā’ has six names with first (prathma) kūta of sundari from 498 to 503 name. There are names on creative aspect like ‘kāraṇāhvayā’ (Cause of creation), Kaha hetuh (Cause of mantra arise), Kāmā (primordial Creative urge). This shows clearly identity of kālīkā and Sundarī.
The Lalitāsaharanāma (LSN) called rahasya nāma sahasra has a name ‘klīMkāri’- ‘ra’ and ‘la’ being interchangeable, this can also be read as ‘krīm kāri’; The name ‘rasagynā’ is a direct reference to the “krīm’-kārā , since this bija akṣara is denoted as ‘rasa’ by many Kālī tantras. There are also direct names on annihilative aspect like ‘mahā Kālī’, ‘mahā grāsā- the great (big) swallower’, ‘mahā aśanā- the great (big) devourer’, ‘layakarī’(Cause of dissolution). These show identity of Sundarī and kālīkā.
The Triśati of both devatas are unique in that, they are made up of the names starting with the respective mūla mantras; dakṣiṇa kālī Triśati (DKT) is called sarva maṅgala vidyā has fourteen names of the twenty two syllables totaling to three hundred and eight; Lalitā triśati (LT) is called Sarva pūrtikara stava has twenty names for each of the fifteen syllables totaling to three hundred.
The following name is exactly common in both sahasranāmās and Triśatis:
1. Kāntā (DKSN – 617) (LSN – 329) (DKT-149)(LT- 154)
The following names are common to both sahasranāmā and Lalitā Triśati
1. Kalyāṇī (DKSN – 3) (LSN – 324) (LT-2)
2. Kalāvatī (DKSN – 6) (LSN – 327) (LT-6)
The following name is common in both triśatis and Lalitā Sahasranāma
1. Hrīm matih ( DKT- 268) (LT-88) (LSN-302)
The following names are common in both sahasranāmās:
2. Kalātmikā (DKSN – 9) (LSN – 611)
3. Kapardinī (DKSN – 377) (LSN – 793)
4. Kalā mālā (DKSN- 390) (LSN – 794)
5. Kalā nidhih (DKSN – 421) (LSN – 797)
6. Kāṣtā (DKSN – 477) (LSN – 859)
7. Kātyāyinī (DKSN -679) (LSN- 556)
8. Kāmarūpiṇi (DKSN -769) (LSN – 796)
9. Kuleśvarī (DKSN – 837) (LSN-439)
10. Kurukullā (DKSN – 846) (LSN- 438)
11. Kūtasthā (DKSN882) (LSN 896)
12. Kuśalā (DKSN 869-886) (LSN-436)
13. Kaulinī (DKSN – 984) (LSN( 94)
The following names are common to Lalitā Sahasranāma and dakṣiṇa kālīka Triśati
1. Svādhīna vallbhā (LSN -54 ) (DKT- 282)
2. Svāhā (LSN- 535) (DKT- 283)
3. Kāmākṣī (LSN- 62) (DKT- 147)
The following names are common in dakṣiṇa kālīka sahsaranāmā and Lalitā triśati
1. Kāmeśī (DKSN- 600) (LT-143)
2. Kamalākṣī (DKSN -50) (LT -7)
3. Karabhoru (DKSN -381) –(LT- 148)
4. Kamanīyā (DKSN 486) (LT- 5)
The following name is common in both Triśatis:
1. Hrīm (DKT-270) (LT-99)
The following names have some slight variations, found in the four said stotras:
1. Kadamba vana madhyagā (DKSN – 211)/ Kadamba vanāntasthā (DKSN-218)= Kadamba vana vāsinī (LSN – 60) = kadamba kānanāvāsā (LT -10)
2. Kamalākṣa pra pūjitā (DKSN- 52)= Kamalākṣa niṣevitā (LSN-558)
3. Kadamba kusumāmodā (DKSN- 212) = Kadamba kusuma priyā ( LSN -323 / LT 11)
4. Kalana (DKSN- 421) = Vigyāna kalanā (LSN-902)
5. Kāmakalā (DKSN- 609) = Kāmakalā rūpā (LSN-322)
6. Kāmeśī (DKSN-600) = Mahākāmeśa mahiṣī (LSN- 233)
7. Kāma rūpā (DKSN- 647) = Kāma rūpiṇī (LSN-796)
8. Kāmadā (DKSN- 706) = Kāma dāyinī (LSN – 63)
9. Kakārā (DKSN- 21) = Kakāra rūpā (LT-1)
10. Kañja netra (DKSN- 99) = Kañja locanā (LT-16)
11. Kālī ( DKT-141)-Kālikā (DKT-148) Mahākalī (LSN-751)
12. Kastūri tilakānanda (DKSN254) Kastūri tilaka priyā (DKSN-255) = Kastūri tilakāncitā (LT160)
13. Kākinī (DKSN – 477) = Kākinī rūpa dhāriṇī (LSN -513)
14. Karuṇā (DKSN – 23) = Karunā rasa sāgarā (LSN- 326)
15. Dayā (DKT-101) Dayāmūrthih (LSN – 581)
16. Dakṣa yagynaghnī (DKT- 100) Dakṣayagyna vināśinī (LSN-593)
17. Dakṣinābhimukhī (DT- 105) Dakṣināmūrti rūpiṇī (LSN- 725)
18. Kevalānanda rūpiṇī (DKT-170) Kevalā (LSN-623)
19. kṣipraprasāditā (DKT- 115) kṣipra prasādinī (LSN- 869)
20. Hāhāhūhvādi gandharvagānalālasā(DKT-306) Hā hā hū hū mukha stutyā (LT-177)
21. Hānivrtyādikaranā (DKT-298) Hāni vrddhi vivarjitā (LT-178)
22. Kāla bhaira pūjitā (DKT- 145) Mahā bhairapūjitā (LSN- 231) Kāla pūjyā (DKSN-619)
23. Kāvyāmrta rasānandā (DKT-153) Kāvyālapa vinodinī (LSN-613) Kavya lolā (LT-242)
24. Svadhistāna padmasthā (DKT-285) Svadhiṣtānāmbujagatā (LSN-504)
25. Kāmakoti vilāsinī (DKT- 154) Kāmakoti nilayā (LT-259) Kāmakotigā (LSN- 589)
The following names are different, but mean the same in the said four stotras:
1. Kārma trotana karī (DKSN-723) = Paramantra vibhedhinī (LSN-812) (Destruction of effects of evil mantra prayogās on the devotees)
2. Dakṣā (DKT- 106) = Kuśalā (LSN- 436) (DKSN 869-886) (Skillful)