"Full many a ray of purest ray serene the dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness to the desert air."
from "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lalitasahasranama - 004 - The Glory of Lalita Devi

There are many levels of understanding – each name of Lalita can be discussed at various levels for hours, I have limited myself to the literal meaning here.
After Lalitadevi killed Bhandasura, her grandeur was praised by Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and other celestials. They requested her to revive Manmatha, who had been turned to ash by Shiva’s third eye, when trying to influence Shiva to have a son who was prophesied to kill Bhandasura’s elder brother Tarakasura. Lalitadevi smiled compassionately and looked at Kameshwara, and Manmatha was born again. Manmatha, along with his consort Ratidevi, praised Lalitadevi who told him to fearlessly go and cast the arrow of his magic on Shiva so he could marry Uma Parvati. Devi also blessed Manmatha that from now on, he would dwell in everyone’s body and allow them to enjoy sensuous pleasures.  
Shiva, struck by Kamadev Manmatha’s arrow went in search of Parvati, who had been performing penance to attain Shiva. The marriage of Shiva and Parvati resulted in the birth of Kumaraswamy who became an army commander and killed Tarakasura. Kumar, or Kartikeya, married Devasenadevi, the daughter of Indra.
The cosmic architect Vishwakarma and the architect of the demons Maya combined efforts to construct 16 palaces in 16 kshetra (sacred sites) for the residence of Lalita and Kameshwara. These are called Shripura. A Shripura has 7 walled squares with the same center, each separated from the inner and the outer square by 7 yojana ( a yojana = about 9 miles) –
the kalayasa (iron) wall with a perimeter of 16000 yojana,
a kansya (bronze) wall with the throne kalacakra on which sit Mahakala and Mahakali,
a tamra (copper) wall where there is a kalpavriksa (wish-granting tree) protected by Vasanta with his consorts Madhushri and Madhavashri
an aarkut (brass) wall with the forests of haricandanavriksha (yellow sandalwood trees) guarded by Varsharitu (monsoon) and his consorts Nabhashri and Nabhasyashri.
a pancaloha (five metal) wall with a garden of mandara trees protected by Sharadrutu (Winter) with his consorts Ishashri and Urjashri.
a raupya (silver) wall that houses the parijata forest, protected by Hemantrutu and his consorts Sahashri and Sahasyashri.
a hema (gold) wall that houses the kadamba forest with Shishira (Winter) as protector with his consorts Tavashri and Tavasyashri. Mantrinidevi resides here, except when she is on duty to protect Lalita which is when she resides close to Lalitadevi in a forest of lotuses.

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