Sri Matre Namaha
Nirmala – The One Hundred & Thirty Fifth name in Lalitha Sahasranamam.
nirgatah malah yasyah sa
She is without spots
She who is personification of clarity
Mala may mean embodied soul. She is without that soul (i.e., upadhiyukta atma). Avidya is also called mala which is the cause of impurity, darkness and confusion.
Mala means dirt arising out of impure matter. She is without such dirt. In the last nama impurity arising out of mind was discussed and in this nama impurities arising out of matter is being discussed. It is to be recalled that mind and matter is Shakthi. Mala is a sense of imperfection that leads to ignorance about the soul and hampers the free expression of the Supreme Self. This ignorance is caused by ego which is called mala or anava-mala.
This nama says that if you get rid of attachments towards matter and dissolving ego, knowledge is attained. Presence of mala causes avidya which leads to confusion, dirt and darkness. This darkness etc can be dispelled by meditation on Her, thereby acquiring knowledge. It is interesting to note that all the namas that talk about niguna Brahman either directly or indirectly refers to meditation.
When we say nirmala it is understood as personification of clarity,I would modify it a little bit and say she gives us the clarity of thought to understand the truth and the glories of Shiva and Sakthi as we have in Soundarya Lahiri:
Vishuddhou the shuddha sphatika visadham vyoma janakam
Shivam seve devimapi siva samana vyavasitham
Yayo kaanthya sasi kirana saaroopya sarane
Vidhoo thantha dwarvantha vilamathi chakoriva jagathi
Bow before the Shiva ,
Who is of the pure crystal form,
In thine supremely pure wheel
And who creates the principle of ether,
And to you my mother,
Who has same stream of thought as Him.
I bow before you both,
Whose moon like light,
Forever removes the darkness of ignorance,
Forever from the mind,
And which shines like the Chakora* bird, Playing in the full moon light.
That eternal immutable existence which transcends the turiya and all other states is the unconditioned Absolute, the supreme Brahman or Para-brahman, without Prakriti (nishkala) or Her attributes (nirguna), which, as being the inner self and knowing subject, can never be the object of cognition, and is to be apprehended only through yoga by the realization of the Self (atmajñana), which It is. For as it is said, “Spirit can alone know Spirit.” Being beyond mind, speech, and without name, the Brahman was called “Tat,” “That,” and then “Tat Sat,” “That which is.” For the sun, moon, and stars, and all visible things, what are they but a glimpse of light caught from “That” .
Shakti is both maya, that by which the Brahman creating the universe is able to make Itself appear to be different from what It really is, and mula-prakriti, or the unmanifested (avyakta) state of that which, when manifest, is the universe of name and form. It is the primary so called “material cause,” consisting of the equipoise of the triad of guna or “qualities” which are sattva (that which manifests) rajas (that which acts), tamas (that which veils and produces inertia). The three gunas represent Nature as the revelation of spirit, Nature as the passage of descent from spirit to matter, or of ascent from matter to spirit, and Nature as the dense veil of spirit.
The Devi is thus guna-nidhi (“treasure-house of guna” ). Mula-prakriti is the womb into which Brahman casts the seed from which all things are born.So understanding her requires clarity of thought that comes only with worship.Her grace plays a major role in determing the clarity of our thoughts. in a split second we can waiver from the thoughts and it is she who determines what is best for us and our actions are guided by her strong hands that is why she is called nirmala.
The Goddess (Devi) is the great Shakti. She is Maya, for of Her the maya which produces the sangsara is. As Lord of Maya She is Mahamaya. Devi is a-vidya (nescience) because She binds and vidya (knowledge) because She liberates and destroys the sangsara. She is Prakriti, and as existing before creation is the Adya (primordial) Shakti. Devi is the vachaka-shakti, the manifestation of chit in Prakriti, and the vachya-shakti, or Chit itself. The Atma should be contemplated as Devi.
Shakti or Devi is thus the Brahman revealed in Its mother aspect (shri-mata) as Creatrix and Nourisher of the worlds. Kali says of Herself in Yogini Tantra “Sachchidananda-rupaham brahmaivaham sphurat-prab-ham.” So the Devi is described with attributes both of the qualified Brahman; and (since that Brahman is but the manifestation of the Absolute) She is also addressed with epithets, which denote the unconditioned Brahman.
She is the great Mother (Ambika) sprung from the sacrificial hearth of the fire of the Grand Consciousness (chit); decked with the Sun and Moon; Lalita, “She who plays”; whose play is world-play; whose eyes playing like fish in the beauteous waters of her Divine face, open and shut with the appearance and disappearance of countless worlds now illuminated by her light now wrapped in her terrible darkness.
The Devi, as Para-brahman, is beyond all form and guna. The forms of the Mother of the Universe are threefold. There is first the Supreme (para) form, of which, as the Vishnu-yamala says, “none know.” There is next her subtle (sukshma) form, which consists of mantra. But as the mind cannot easily settle itself upon that which is formless, She appears as the subject of contemplation in Her third, or gross (sthula), or physical form, with hands and feet and the like as celebrated in the Devi-stotra of the Puranas and Tantras. Devi, who as Prakriti is the source of Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh-vara, has both male and female forms. But it is in Her female forms that She is chiefly contemplated. For though existing in all things, in a peculiar sense female beings are parts of Her.
The Great Mother, who exists in the form of all Tantras and all yantras, is, as the Lalita says, the “unsullied treasure-house of beauty” ; the Sapphire Devi, whose slender waist, bending beneath the burden of the ripe fruit of her breasts, swells into jewelled hips heavy with the promise of infinite maternities.
Devi, as Sati, Uma, Parvvati, and Gauri, is spouse of Shiva. It was as Sati prior to Daksha’s sacrifice (dakshayajna) that the Devi manifested Herself to Shiva in the ten celebrated forms known as the dasha-mahavidya referred to in the text, Kali, Bagala, Chhinnamasta, Bhuvaneshvari, Matangini, Shodashi, Dhumavati, Tripura-sundari, Tara, and Bhairavi.
When, at the Daksha-yajna She yielded up her life in shame and sorrow at the treatment accorded by her father to Her Husband, Shiva took away the body, and, ever bearing it with Him, remained wholly distraught and spent with grief. To save the world from the forces of evil which arose and grew with the withdrawal of His Divine control, Vishnu with His chakra cut the dead body of Sati, which Shiva bore, into fifty-one fragments, which fell to earth at the places thereafter known as the fifty-one maha-pitha-sthana (referred to in the text), where Devi, with Her Bhairava, is worshipped under various names.
Besides the forms of the Devi in the brahmanda there is Her subtle form called Kundalini in the body (pindanda). These are but some only of Her endless forms. She is seen as one and as many, as it were, but one moon reflected in countless waters. She exists, too, in all animals and inorganic things, since the universe with all its beauties is, as the Devi Purana says, but a part of Her. All this diversity of form is but the infinite manifestations of the flowering beauty of the One Supreme Life, a doctrine which is nowhere else taught with greater wealth of illustration than in the Shakta Shastras, and Tantras.
The great Bharga in the bright Sun and all Devatas, and, indeed, all life and being, are wonderful, and are worshipful, but only as Her manifestations. And he who worships them otherwise is, in the words of the great Devi-bhagavata, “like unto a man who, with the light of a clear lamp in his hands, yet falls into some waterless and terrible well.” The highest worship for which the sadhaka is qualified (adhikari) only after external worship and that internal form known as sadhara, is described as niradhara. Therein Pure Intelligence is the Supreme Shakti who is worshipped as the Very Self, the Witness freed of the glamour of the manifold Universe. By one’s own direct experience of Maheshvari as the Self. She is with reverence made the object of that worship which leads to liberation.