Sri Matre Namaha
Nishprapancha – The One Hundred & Fourty Sixth name in Lalitha Sahasranamam.
nirgatah – She who is beyond this world
prapancah yasyah sa
She who is without expansion
Prapanca means expansion, accumulation. She is beyond the manifold, extended phenomena of the world
Prabancha means extension or expansion. She is without extension or expansion. Since the Brahman is athi (first) and anathi (without parentage) it does not have any control and does not require any modifications or changes.
This is because the Brahman is complete which is called poornam. Mandukaya Upanishad verse 7 says ‘total cessation of the world as such, the embodiment of peace (here word ‘shantam’ is used. Refer nama 141 ‘shanta’), the total of all that is good (word ‘shivam’ is used here), one without a second (this is because of athi and anathi), the fourth state (turiya state, the other three being, sleep, dream and deep sleep stages which are called jakrat, svapnam, sushupthi). Think this turiya as the Self and this is to be realized’. The Brahman is beyond the three stages and can be realized only in the turiya or the fourth state. This state is the embodiment of peace and all that is good.
We will deal with this turiya state in a more detailed manner elsewhere. All these interpretations go to indicate the nirguna Brahman. This nama means that She is without any expansion as the Brahman will never undergo changes.
Om sarve ve deva devi upatasthuh kasi twam mahadeviti.
Sabraveeta -aham braham swaroopini.
Mattah prakriti purushatmakam jagat.
Shoonyam cha ashoonyam cha.
Aham brahma – brahmani veditavye.
Aham Panchbhutani apanchbhutani.
Aham akhilam jagata. – DEVI ATHARVA SHEERSHAM
Gods asked the Goddess “O Mahadevi (Great Goddess) who are you?” She answered thus,
I am of the form of Brahma. The world made of Prakrati and purusha has emanated from me. I am the shunya (nothingness) and beyond the shunya.
I am joy and beyond the joy. I am knowledge and beyond the knowledge. I am the Brahman that everyone should Know and also the illusion. I am the world made of five elements and also beyond the world. I am this entire visible world.
To explain this let me give you an incident from the devi Mahatmyam.
The aboriginal Kolas were the enemies of king Suratha, who sustained a defeat at the hands of a smaller army of Kolas and retreated to his own city and country. Knowing the weakness of the vulnerable king, the ministers robbed him blind and nearly emptied the treasury. The military machine, humiliated by the Kolas, dissipated from high attrition. The king decided to take some time for reflection away from the cauldron of conspiracy, deceit and danger and announced that he was leaving for a long overdue hunt. In the forest, he came across intellectually gifted sage, Medhas living in a hermitage among peace-loving wild animals. Yet thoughts of kingdom, his royal elephant, treasury, evil servants and ministers continued to roil his mind. He was particularly distressed to know of the squandering by the ministers of carefully accumulated wealth.
He saw a visitor to the hermitage paying respects to the Brahmana sage. He appeared equally distressed, burdened and afflicted with grief and depression. He talked to him in a kindly manner and felt a sense of empathy and brotherhood. The visitor poured out his story of woe and no weal as follows. “My name is SamAdhi belonging to a merchant class. My sons and and my wife ejected me out of my my own house. Their greed and spendthrift ways depleted my wealth, without which my value and worth to my family suffered. Here I am not knowing the welfare of my sons and my wife.”
The king wondered aloud, ” How is it that you bear such love, concern, and affection to the very wife and children who squandered your wealth and threw you out of your own house?”
The merchant replied to the king, “That very thought occurred to me many times. I don’t have a steely mind and resolve. I love them though they hurt me. How is it, O king, that I love this worthless family? I am abandoned, feel depressed and dejected. How could I steel my mind against the ingrates?
Both of them together came to Medhas, paid obeisance and showed reverence. After some conversation on unrelated subjects, the king said to the sage, “O Sage, I have some questions for you and earnestly wish that you offer some advice and provide answers. My sorrow is beyond control of rational thinking. I lost my kingdom; I lost my wealth; I still cannot get the kingdom out of mind. I know I am an ignoramus. Take this merchant. His wife and children abandoned him after squandering his wealth and yet he loves them. Both the merchant and I, unhappy at our lot, are in love with people not worthy of our love. How could such a paradox exist? What kind of a delusion are we suffering from? We lost our power of discrimination (the power to separate the Real from the unreal). ”
The learned Rishi showed every sign of deep interest in their plight. He said, ” Knowledge comes from senses. The senses of animals and human beings are similar in many ways. Eating, sleeping, procreation, fear, fight or flight are some of the common traits. Take the birds. A mother bird knows it is hungry and yet keeps on dropping the grains into the open beaks of the ravenous chicks. It has the knowledge and yet is full of delusion. Human being are no different from birds. Their attachment to and longing for their children and wife are replete with expectations of reciprocity of similar feelings from them. Mahamaya is the cause of such delusion, the world and attachment. Look no further.
Mahamaya is Yoganidra of Vishnu
(The power of Vishnu is always of female connotation; her other name is Bhagavati.)
It is she who deludes this world.
(There is a reason why she gave us this delusion. Our soul is covered with impurities. The embodied soul takes birth in this world to attend the school of hard knocks, so that the impurities ripen and fall off resulting in a pristine soul, acceptance by the Mother Goddess, and liberation.)
Mahamaya has the power to force even the most sagacious one into a world of delusion. She is creatrix of this world of the mobile and the immobile. She is also the liberator from the world of delusion, by giving boons and Moksa. She is eternal with no beginning, middle or end; She is the Supreme Knowledge; She is the architect of the transmigration of the soul in this world of Samsara; She is Sarveshvareshvari (the Empress of all, Saraveshvari = the Goddess of all, Empress of all).”
The king said to the sage, O Your reverence, Who is Mahamaya? How did she come into existence? What does she do? What are her nature and form? Where did he come from? We want to know all this from you, O the best among the knowers of Brahman.
The Rishi replied to the king and the merchant as follows. “She is the polar opposite of temporality; She is eternal in its true sense; She is the Universe, which She pervades through and through. She takes incarnation in this world on behalf of the Devas. The universe becomes one ocean at the end of a Kalpa (aeon); Vishnu goes into Yoganidra on serpent Sesha; at this inopportune time of suspended animation, two Asuras (the enemies of Suras, gods) crawl out of the cerumen (earwax) of Vishnu’s ears. As they emerged from the dark recess of the ears, the first being they saw was god Brahma sitting imperially and yet of sheepishly meek disposition, on the lotus flower balanced on a stalk emerging from Vishnu’s navel. Brahma, apparently threatened by these demons, saw Vishnu and Yoganidra residing in Vishnu’s eyes. (Vishnu goes into cosmic yogic sleep (Yoganidra = meditation sleep) after the deluge on serpent Adisesha.
Yoganidra is a personified goddess (a form of Durga), residing in the eyes of Vishnu. Her arrival into Vishnu marks the onset of Yoganidra and her departure awakens Vishnu to start the cycle of creation, preservation and destruction.) Brahma tried very hard to wake up Vishnu but could not budge Yoganidra. He started praying to Yoganidra to take leave of Vishnu, so that he would be rescued from the two demons by awake Vishnu. The prayerful pleading worked; Yoganidra, the empress of the cosmos, the supporter of the worlds, the preserver and destroyer of the universe, packed up and left;You bear this world, You created this world, You protect this world, You destroy this world. You are Mahavidya (Great Knowledge), Mahamaya (Great Illusion), Mahamedha (Great Intelligence and wisdom), Mahasmriti (Great Memory), MahAdevi (Great goddess), Mahesvari (Great Goddess). Some texts says she is MahAsuri (Great demoness).
You are the origin of everything to which You applied the three qualities of Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas–GunatrayavibhAvinI. You are the KAlarAtri, the dark night of dissolution. You are MahArAtri, the Great Night of Final dissolution. You are MoharAtri, Night of delusion. You are endowed with auspicious qualities (good fortune, all signs of intelligence and knowledge, bashfulness, sustenance, contentment, Shanti (peace and tranquility), forbearance). You are Khadgini (wielder of the sword), ShUlini (Trident Wielder), GhOrA Gadini (Wielder of vlub), Chakrini (wielder of Discus), Shankini (holder of Conch), and wielder of bows and arrows, slings, and mace. You are terrible and yet beautiful and pleasing. You are Paramesvari, Supreme Master and Lord.
There are three stages of transformation described in the three sections of the Devi-Mahatmya. The first one is where Adi-Sakti awakes Maha-Vishnu who was asleep, so that He may destroy or overcome the original demoniacal forces, Madhu and Kaitabha. The second stage is where the same Sakti manifests Herself as Maha-Lakshmi and overcomes Mahishasura and Raktabija. The third one is where Sumbha and Nisumbha are destroyed by Maha-Sarasvati. And the nine days of worship comprehend these three stages adored in three days of worship, each. The final victory is called Vijaya-Dasami, the tenth day, as you know. That is the day of Victory, where you master the forces of Nature completely and your goal is reached. When you step over nine, you enter into Infinity. Numbers are only nine, you do not have ten numbers. All the arithmatic is within nine numbers only. The whole cosmos is within nine.
But when you transcend the nine, you have gone to Infinity, which is beyond cosmic relationship. The lower powers of Nature are like dirt. We call them Mala, ‘Vishnukarna-Malodbhuto Hantum Brahmanamudyato’, says the Devi-Mahatmya. The Madhu and Kaitabha, two Rakshasas (demons) are supposed to have come out of the dirt of the ear of Vishnu. The lowest category of opposition is of the nature of dirt, Mala; and psychologically, from the point of view of the seeking soul, this dirt is in the form of Kama, Krodha and Lobha. ‘Kama Esha Krodha Esha Rajo-guna Samudbhavah,’ ‘Kamah Krodhastatha Lobhah Tasmat Etat Trayam Tyajet’–It is desire and anger born of Rajas; desire, anger and greed, these three therefore should be abandoned,–says the Bhagavadgita. These three are the gates to hell. These three are regarded as dirt, because they cover the consciousness in such a way that it appears to be not there at all. It is like painting a thin glass with coal-tar. You cannot see the glass. It is all pitch-dark like clouds. This has to be rubbed off with great effort. When this Mala or dirt is removed, we get into another trouble. Do not think that when you are tentatively a master of Kama, Krodha and Lobha, you are a real master of yourself. “There are more things in heaven and earth than your philosophy dreams of, O Horatio,” said Hamlet.
So do not think that your philosophy is exhaustive. There are many more things that philosophy cannot comprehend. Kama, Krodha and Lobha are not the only enemies. There are subtler ones, more formidable than these visible foes. As a matter of fact, the subtle invisible enemies are more difficult to overcome than the visible ones. Sometimes you know, an angry man is better than a smiling person. Smiling person is more dangerous than the angry one, because he can have a knife under his arm-pit. This is what we will face. When we manage somehow to overcome this Madhu and Kaitabha, Kama and Krodha, we get into the clutches of Mahishasura and Raktabija.
They represent the Vikhepa Sakti, the tossing of the mind. Every minute the mind changes its forms which multiply in millions. You read in the Devi-Mahatmya, how Mahishasura changed his form. Now he is an elephant, now he is a buffalo, now he is something else. If you hit him in one form, he comes in another form. And this is your inexhaustible opponent. His energies are incapable of being exhausted. However much you may try to oppose the Vikshepa Sakti, it will manifest in some form or other. This is described in the form of the demon Raktabija, whose drops of blood were seeds of hundreds and thousands of demons like himself coming up. When the Devi severed the head of one Rakshasa, the blood fell on the ground profusely and from that blood, millions cropped up. And when She killed them, again another million cropped up. So there was no end for it. If you cut off one or two desires, the desire is not over. The root is still there. The branches are only severed. Unless the root is dug out, there is no use of merely severing the branches of the tree. So what did the Devi do? She asked Kali to spread her tongue throughout the earth, so that there is no ground at all for the Rakshasas to walk over. They had to walk over the tongue of Kali.
So huge it was. And now the Goddess started cutting their heads and when the blood fell, it fell not on the ground but on the tongue of Kali. So she sucked everything. Chariots and horses and demons and everybody entered her mouth. She chewed all chariots into powder. So likewise, we have to adopt a technique of sucking the very root of desires and not merely chop off its branches. Otherwise, desires will take various forms like Mahishasura. When we think that Mahishasura has been killed, he comes as a buffalo and when the buffalo is attacked, he again comes as an elephant, and if Devi attacks the elephant, he comes as a bull and attacks Her. So, there is no way of overcoming these desires by merely dealing with them from outside by a frontal attack. Their very essence has to be sucked. Because, a desire is not an outward form or an action, it is a tendency within. You may do nothing, and yet you will have desires. Because, desire is not necessarily an activity. A desireful person need not be very active. He can be sitting quiet, doing nothing, saying nothing, and yet be full of desires. Because, it is a tendency of the mind, an inclination of consciousness, that we call a desire. That can be inside, even if there is outwardly nothing. This is the Vikshepa Sakti,–distraction, tossing and the chameleon-attitude of desire,–which attacks us, when, with Herculean efforts, we try to destroy or gain control over Kama and Krodha, Madhu and Kaitabha. After Madhu and Kaitabha, we get Mahishasura and Raktabija. Thus Mala and Vikshepa are the primary oppositions in our spiritual pursuit.
Ancient masters have told us that while Mala or dirt of the psychological structure can be removed by Karma Yoga, by unselfish and dedicated service, Vikshepa or distraction of the mind can be removed only by worship of God, by Upasana. While Karma removes Mala, Upasana removes Vikshepa. But even now, we are not fully safe. While Mala might have gone and Vikshepa is not there, we may have a third trouble, namely, a complete oblivion of consciousness. We will have no knowledge of anything as to what is happening. Ajnana or Ignorance is a subtler opposing power than its effects in the form of Mala and Vikshepa. Distraction and direct sensual desires are the outer expressions of a subtle ignorance of Truth, Avidya or Ajnana. Why do we desire things? Because, we do not know the nature of Truth. Why does a strong wind blow? Because, the sun is covered over with clouds. The sun is covered by the clouds first, then there is darkness and then a gale, cyclone starts blowing from the north, breaking your umbrellas and uprooting trees. All these happen because the sun does not shine.
Even so, when the Atman is covered over by ignorance of its nature, the winds of desire begin to blow, and they come like violent storms. Impetuous is the force of desire. You cannot stand against it, because the whole of Nature gets concentrated in a desire. That is why it is impetuous and uncontrollable. All the powers of Nature get focussed in a desire when it manifests itself, whatever be that desire. So the whole of Nature has to be subdued. You are not to subdue only your individual nature, but the cosmic Nature itself is to be subdued. This is what is depicted in the Epic of the Devi-Mahatmya. It is the subdual, overcoming, transformation of the cosmic Nature in the form of Tamas, Rajas and Sattva. While Mala represents Tamas, Vikshepa represents Rajas.
Now, Sattva is also a Guna, unfortunately. We always praise Sattva and regard it as a very desirable thing. But it is like a transparent glass that is placed between us and the Truth. You can see through it, but you cannot go beyond it. Because, though the glass is transparent, it can obstruct your movement. It is not like a brick-wall, completely preventing your vision, as Tamas does; it is not like a blowing wind which simply tosses you here and there, as Rajas does; it is a plain glass, through which you can have vision of Reality, but you cannot contact Reality nevertheless. How can you contact a thing when there is a glass between you and the thing? Yet you can see it. So they say even Sattva is an obstacle, though it is better than the other two forces, in the sense that through it you can have a vision or an insight into the nature of Reality which transcends even Sattva. There is a glass pane and you can see a mango fruit on the other side of it. You can see it very well, but cannot get it, you cannot grab it. You know the reason. Even Sattva is a subtle medium of obstruction, which acts in a double form; as complacency or satisfaction with what has been achieved, and an ignorance of what is beyond. These two aspects of Sattva are indicated by the two personalities of Sumbha and Nisumbha. They have to be dispelled by the power of higher wisdom, which is Maha-Sarasvati.
So, through the worship of Maha-Kali, Maha-Lakshmi, and Maha-Sarasvati, we worship Mula-Prakriti, Adi-Sakti in her cosmic dance-form of transformation, prosperity and Illumination. In the beginning, what happens to a Sadhaka? There is a necessity of self-transformation. It is all hardship, rubbing and cleaning, washing, sweeping, etc. That is the first stage through the worship of Maha-Kali, who brings about a destruction of all barriers. Then what happens? There is tremendous prosperity. You become a master and a progressive soul commanding all powers, getting everything that you want. This is the second stage. In the first stage, it looked as if you were a poor person, having nothing, very weak. But, when you overcome this weakness, by removing the barrier of Tamas, you become prosperous.
Nobody can be as rich as a Yogi, you know. He can command all the powers. By a thought he can invoke all things, and this is Goddess Maha-Lakshmi working. When Maha-Kali has finished her work of destruction of opposition, Maha-Lakshmi comes as prosperity. A great Yogi is also like a royal personality, because of his internal invocations, though unconsciously done, of cosmic powers. When prosperity dawns, it looks as if the whole universe is a heaven. In the first stage, it looked like a hell. Afterwards, in the second stage, it looks like a heaven, when Maha-Lakshmi begins to work. But this also is not sufficient. Knowledge should dawn. It is not heaven that you are asking for. You want the realisation of Truth. Sarasvati will come for help and a flood of light on Truth will be thrown and you will see things as they are. There is no enjoyment, prosperity, richness, wealth or any such thing. It is Truth unconnected with yourself in the beginning, but later on inseparable from yourself. Thus, from opposition to prosperity, from prosperity to enlightenment, and from enlightenment to Self-realisation do we proceed. So, these are the truths esoterically conveyed to us in the Mantras of the Devi-Mahatmya.