Sri Matre Namaha
Bhavaranya-kutarika – The One Hundred & Fourteenth name in Lalitha Sahasranamam.
bhavah ( =samsarah) sa eva aranyam, tasya (=kuthareva) kutharkika
She is an axe which clears (lit., cuts) the forest of samsaras (transmigratory existence)
She who is like the axe used to cut the miserable life of the world.
She by her knowledge clears the bindings of transmigratory existence as the axe cuts the woods of the forest.
She axes the forest of samsara. Samsara means indulging in worldly activities such as desire, attachment, love and affection causing bondage. Samsara is compared to forest. Forest consists of many trees. If you want to clean a forest you have to axe each and every tree in the forest. It is not just enough to axe the trees. You have to remove the roots too; as otherwise, trees will grow from the roots again. Unless every aspect of samsara is removed at the root level, the bondage is bound to rear its ugly head again causing rebirths and associated sufferings. But She does not axe samsara for all. She does it for those who address Her as Bhavani and for those who follow the Bhavana Upanishad. It is to be understood that those who mentally worship Her in terms of Bhavana Upanishad alone, addresses Her by Bhavani and reap the benefits.
When we think of sakthi or devi we always think of her as a divine force who removes our miseries, but we never wait to ask ourselves a simple question.when is the person’s misery removed?The answer is when we start realizing the atman within ourselves, so it means that when we say she removes our miseries it only means that she makes us understand ourselves.
We do not understand why we are born, when we are going to die or whether any part of our mental conciousness survives us after death. The physical form and name with which we are endowed at birth continues right up until the end of our lives. After this disappears as it inevitably must, what happens? The Vedas give many answers. Rebirth is certain for everyone and is irrevocably linked with previous actions and accumulated karma.However, those who have been fortunate to gain the wisdom of the infinite have no rebirth. They merge into the unchanging, attributeless, ever present conciousness.
The energy force that activates the entire universe is Shakthi, the female counterpart of Shiva. In reality, there is no difference between God and his Shakthi just as there is no difference between the Sun and its heat energy. Without the energy of Shakthi, there is no manifestation principle.It is only through the grace of Shakthi and by continuous self introspection that an individual soul can free himself from all attachments that tie him down to the material world and attain spiritual insight.
The Dasha Mahaa Vidyas or the Ten Great Cosmic powers of Knowledge are the ten fundamental aspects of the Supreme Cosmic Mother. Each have a specific function and each leads to a special realisation of the One Reality.The group of Ten Vidyas reflect the dynamic unity of existence in which all aspects of life- the darkest, purest, beautiful, ugly, forceful, and inert combine to form a unified whole. Worship of the Vidyas is to understand the true nature of each Deity as the indweller of the Self.The Ten Mahaa Vidyas reflect ten different ways of knowing ourselves and the universe through identification with the ten fundamental energies of the Cosmos.They represent a vast range of concepts pertaining to life. Each of them focus on a specific topic ; some are pleasant, some are frightening , but all of them are instructive and inspire seekers to delve deeper in their quest for knowledge beyond the realm of the physical limitations of the world they live in.
Kali represents the relentless passage of Time and transformation. Our lives are intextricably caught up in the movement through time. Birth is followed by death and this cyclical process is eternal like the never ending rise and fall of waves in the ocean. Kali represents the awesome power of death as well as the gentle , nurturing spirit of birth. She represents creation both in its fierce as well as gentle aspects , as well as destruction of all things material, pertaining to this world of sense pleasures. To worship her is to get rid of all the negative tendencies we possess. Each day we have to let go of the anxieties, worries, anger, hatred and even the love and attachments we have formed, in order to be reborn spiritually.
Tara represents the power of Sound ( Shabdha) as well as Prana ( life-force). The sound of breath as well as the primordial sound of creation, OM, originate in Her. As the supreme goddess, personification of unmanifest sound, worship of Tara implies worship of the very substratum supporting this universe. The mantra OM contains within it all possible sounds that can be uttered and the silence that both follows and precedes its utterance is the nature of pure conciousness; the attributeless, unchanging, everpresent witness or Sadashiva. In her manifest form, Tara is worshipped as Speech. The many nuances of sound produce words in many languages. Tara represents the power of mental faculties and the birth of knowledge. She is the saviouress who ferries her aspirants across the ocean of life filled with sorrows, miseries as well as happiness. For, it is only when ignorance about the impermanent nature of this world is removed and knowledge dawns , can an individual attain liberation.
Tripurasundari or the goddess of the beauty of the three worlds, is synonymous with all that is perfect, harmonious and beautiful in creation. Yet, it is the perception of divinity in beauty that is emphasised by the worship of this goddess, not just the appreciation of the mere outward, physical forms of beauty that can fade away with time or get destroyed. The inner beauty we perceive shining through objects is in fact nothing but the reflection of our own awareness. To be aware of beauty in nature as divine manifestation is the symbolism of Tripurasundari. As the provider of wisdom or Cit Shakthi, Sundari reveals the identity of the individual atma with the Supreme conciousness or Paramatma ( Brahman).
The three worlds she represents relate to the waking state ( sense perceptions), dreaming state ( senses are absent but the mind still functions), and the state of deep sleep ( where the mind does not exert itself and what remains is just awareness). Beyond these three states , Tripurasundari is the goddess of the fourth state of Turiya or Samadhi which is the state of unending bliss or the merging into absolute conciousness.Tripurasundari is also called Shodasi (a young girl who is eternally 16 years old), and symbolises the energy and exuberance for life in all its `aspects. She is worshipped by meditating on the famous Sri Chakra and by a mantra containing 16 syllables . These 16 syllables can be taken to represent the 16 vowels of the sanskrit alphabet as well as the 15 digits of the moon during the waxing period of the lunar month. In fact, each day is represented by a deity called Nitya ( eternal), and the 16th Nitya is Tripurasundari who is the support and substratum of all the 15 Nityas.
Bhuvaneswari is the Queen of the whole universe and the goddess of Space. She provides the very atmosphere for objects , both animate and inanimate to come into existence. She is the primal support base that brings the universe into a functioning reality , while remaining uninvolved with the interplay of the creative forces and elements. Bhuvaneswari rules over not just the external, visible space filled with objects but also the hidden spaces in the depths of our minds and hearts as well as the total void or emptiness. She fills the heart with love when worshipped sincerely and allows us to find God within ourselves as well as in every aspect of the marvellous creation.
Tripura Bhairavi represents the terrifying energy of transformation and change. She symbolises divine anger and wrath that is focused on removing all the negative tendencies and impurities in individuals. As Chandi or Durga, this warrior goddess fights the demons within each jiva rooting out the ego, and slaying anger, greed and hatred.Tripura Bhairavi is worshipped in her three fold aspects as heat energy; in Fire, Lightning and the Sun. She is the goddess of Sound ( like Tara), within each individual, but in the unmanifest , subtler form of NADA or vibration of heat energy before sound or words can be produced. She is the Kundalini that dwells at the base of the spine which can be raised through the chakra centers of the body as a purifying force. However, this can only be effected through intense concentration and by the total withdrawal of the mind from all thoughts and emotions. Worship of this powerful goddess is to understand the importance of annihilating all negative tendencies completely, even in the deepest recesses of our minds.
The uncontrollable power, unimaginable power and highly disturbing power & image of Chinnamasta holding her severed head in one hand and yet blissfully drinking her own blood signifies going beyond body- conciousness or identification with either the body or thought- ridden mind. At one stoke her image represents both the insignificance of all material and world related objects as well as the eternal bliss resulting from transcending this state.She is the goddess of perception.Chinnamasta , like Tripura Bhairavi, is a terrifying form of Shakthi ( energy form). Like a bolt of lightening, her image jolts us into examining more closely our negativities and impurities. The severing of the head symbolises the death of the ego and all impurities of the mind. Similar to Tripura Bhairavi, Chinnamasta enables those who have attained complete mastery and control of their senses and mind to further their spiritual growth. Worship of this goddess is essential to awaken the Kundalini spirit lying dormant in every individual. Just as Tripura Bhairavi helps the aspirant tap this divine stock of energy within, Chinnamasta plays an active role in directing the vital prana shakthi through the central nadi or sushumna , upwards, into the realms of pure conciousness.
Dhumavati: Dhuma means smoke and this goddess is represented as an old woman, a widow, or potential without the masculine (Shiva) principle to activate it. Her nature is not to enlighten but to hide and obscure. What she causes is poverty, destitution, misery, disease and unhappiness. She represents all the negative aspects of life : disappointment, humiliation, defeat, loneliness, etc. However, it is only when our lives are filled with misery and unhappiness that many of us turn to religion, or have faith in God to help us and strengthen our flagging spirits. This is exactly what Dhumavati teaches us. She creates obstructions and causes miseries in some areas of our life, yet, she also gives us the impetus to discover our hidden potential in other areas and allows us to grow spiritually while giving us the strength to find practical solutions to our problems.She helps us to forget the miseries of samsara and revert to the blissful state of conciousness that existed before the very creation of the universe- As the goddess of darkness, and ignorance, Dhumavati represents both the the veiling power of maya or illusion and at the same time exposes our ignorance so that we can begin the process of learning .
Bhagalamukhi is the force that stuns and paralyzes. She is a goddess of Speech. However, while Tara represents the spoken word, Bhagala symbolises the power of silence and stillness. While Tara represents the divine word OM, Bhagalamukhi is that divine force that stills our minds and forces us to embark on on a quest of finding our own true nature without any distractions from thoughts and emotions. While Chinnamasta uses her lightening bolt energy to remove all our negative habits and impurities, Bhagalamukhi has the power of completing freezing them or stopping them in their tracks. She shatters the ego completely and crushes vagrant thoughts and false perceptions in the mind so that the process of self- enquiry can begin.Like a warrior queen using her powerful vajra or weapon to overcome hostile forces, Bhagala enables us to attain complete mastery over our thoughts and senses, and liberates us from the grip and allure of the material world. This she does by completely silencing our minds, putting an end to all conflict and confusion, and hypnotising us with the greater power of spiritual knowledge.
Matangi is the goddess who rules our thoughts before they can be expressed . Like Tara and Bhairavi, Matangi is related to the power of Speech. However, she also symbolises the ultimate expression or paraa- vak, i.e. the expression of speech in an intuitive state where the employment of mental faculties is not required. Indeed, accomplished writers, orators, poets, artists and musicians are Matangi in manifestation.Matangi is an aspect of Saraswathi, the goddess of wisdom, except that Matangi refers to the inner knowledge or spritual growth. She is the guru or teacher who has the power to guide us and like Lord Ganesha has the power to remove onbstacles in the path of self- knowledge. Her form is the Vedas and her power can be realised through the chanting of mantras. In her highest role, Matangi is the supreme silence that is the nature of the Self. She is the essence and power behind all thoughts, ideas and words.
Kamalatmika is the last of the ten Wisdom Goddesses. Her nature is that of a lotus, a symbol of birth, regeneration, beauty and love. She is the goddess of wealth, beauty, prosperity, and fertlity and is perhaps the most popular deity to be worshipped. As human beings we are constantly seeking gratification from sense objects to provide happiness. We first approach the Divine for a quick fulfillment of all our normal human needs like health, money, family happiness, etc. However, Kamala bestows more than this. She guides the aspirants to search deeper within themselves to discover their real nature, the divine nature that exists covered by layers of accumulated bad habits and negative qualities. In this aspect, she reveals the darker side of this illusory world.The worship of Kamala is the recognition of divinity at play in the entire universe. It involves worship of every aspect of the physical world starting with the greatest source of life-giving energy, the Sun. Kamala herself is effulgent and glowing like the sun. The lotus she holds in her hands symbolises inner awakening and unfoldment. The water denotes spiritual grace and the flowing of love. She bestows boons with one hand while dispelling fear with another. The elephants signify fertility and Kamalatmika reigns supreme as the goddess of all wealth, prosperity and abundance in all forms.
So in all these forms she teaches us a way of life and helps us to remove or axe the miseries.on many occasions i have stressed this point when people ask me whether devi would resolve their problems,she never resolves any problems she guides you to resolve your problems which is nothing but miseries that you have brought upon yourself because of untimely actions on your part.so by understanding her you understand yourself.
I would like to end with the verse from soundarya lahiri:
Japo jalpah shilpam sakalam api mudra-virachana
Gatih pradaksinya-kramanam asanady’ahuti-vidhih;
Pranamah samvesah sukham akilam atmarpana-drsa
Saparya-paryayas tava bhavatu yan me vilasitam.
Let the mutterings that I do,
With the sacrifice in my soul.
Become chanting of your name,
Let all my movements become thine Mudhras,
Let my travel become perambulations around thee,
Let the act of eating and drinking become fire sacrifice to thee,
Let my act of sleeping becomes salutations to you ,
And let all actions of pleasure of mine,
Become parts of thine worship.