Om Shri Gurubho namah
Om shri matre namah
Om khaḍgaṃ chakragadēṣucāpa parighā gūlaṃ bhuśuṇḍīṃ śiraḥ
śaṃṅkhaṃ sandadhatīṃ karaistrinayanāṃ sarvāṃṅgabhūṣāvṛtām ।
nīlāśmadyuti-māsya-pāda-daśakāṃ sēvē mahākāḻikāṃ॥
yāṃ hasta sapithe harau kamalajo hanthum madhum kaitabham //
“Om Maha kali, salutations, I bow down to you. Maa you hold in your hands the sword, discuss, mace, arrow, bow, iron clubs, spear, human head and conch, with 3 adorned eyes and limbs sparkling like a sapphire. You have 10 faces and 10 legs”.
Bramah is calling and praising Maha kali thus, as he wants Maa Kali to slay Madhu and Kaitabha ( names of 2 demon’s terrorising human kind), as she is the only resort to save humankind, since bhagavan Vishnu is sleeping.
Though, this is the literal meaning of the sloka. It is very important to know the deeper meanings of this vishala ( means deep or wide ) sloka. This sloka invites us first to jump into one of the most profound inner mysteries. The age old question-”How the universe was created? or Came into existence”. Our ancient wisdom is different. Our ancient wisdom of creation is different.
The west has it all different. The name, conception and the creation is different. The western culture says that “ God called forth the world from nothing”. Our ancient wisdom says it’s different. It says you cannot create something out of nothing. It’s not possible, it’s illogical.
Then, we move on to the next wonder. “ How does the one, which is eternal being in itself, manifest as many? – Her one formless divineness, manifests the whole world and the entire bramhanda. The whole humankind and all the little and big living and nonliving things in this world. The question becomes imparted into the nature of the creative process itself. “One which can manifest into many”– is the process of creation itself.
Creation of the universe is a transition from potentiality to actuality. This truth is inherent. This is Creation “ Srishti”. Srishti means creation. It means remission or letting loose. From a latent to a manifestent. The very meaning of srishti is this. Letting loose or emission of something which is related to yet manifested- is srishti.
In Devi mahatmya there are 3 sections- prathama, dvitiya and tritiya sections. Prathama section begins with a meditation on one of the supreme Devi’s – three primary forms. They are MahaKali, Maha Lakshmi and MahaSaraswathi. These MahaKali, Maha Lakshmi and MahaSaraswathi forms are the aspects of Kali, Lakshmi and Saraswati. This Mahakali, MahaLakshmi or MahaSaraswati referred to- in Devi mahatmya or Durga Saptashati is not the Kali , Lakshmi or Saraswathi as we know. The popular goddess of devotion, a more immediate level of human acceptance. Lets move from this level of human experience and go a step ahead than normal human acceptance/ experience.
Each one of these Yeshtis is an immensely more powerful cosmic aspect of the Devi. These Yeshtis-3 cosmic aspects are the universal energies of inertia, dynamism and luminosity. These 3 Yeshtis (sanskrit root word for aspects /Deities) Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and MahaSaraswati are the universal energies. MahaKali is inertia, dynamism – MahaLakshmi and luminosity- MahaSaraswati. And the same 3 are known as tamas, rajas and sattva gunas. In the phenomenal universe , they underline all the subsequent activities of creation, sustenance and disillusion.
At this early stage of differentiation, the pure gunas- sattvika, tamasa and rajasik are avyaktha, (not manifest or not created) as causal energies. These are the casual energies for the manifestation, which are not yet manifested – avyaktha. They cannot be described/ explained. When it can not be described, how can you describe these manifest energies, which are the positive factors for this manifestation of the pure gunas, No, they can not be described! That is why, when we cannot describe something, you can only try to give some form to it. That is why, they are conceived as Mahakali with four arms, Mahalakshmi and MahaSaraswati- initially. Then subsequent modification- vikruthi( ie., after creation. The Sanskrit root word “vi” means “after” and the root word “kruti” means “creation.”) takes place, these inturn become manifest forms, with the same names. It is this, described in the dyanna sloka as MahaKali with 10 arms, MahaLakshmi with 18 arms and MahaSaraswati with 8 arms. What can not be described, Describe the inertia as 10 arms of MahaKali and the dynamism as 18 arms of MahaLakshmi and illumin as MahaSaraswati.
This imagery is required/ intended to facilitate the tantric technique of meditation to visualise. How to visualise the inertia, this dynamism or luminosity. So, for visualisation purposes in tantric meditation this were given- 10 arms and the other forms. Also for physical purpose is given this. If the animals have wisdom, and if they try to understand the universal consciousness or the cosmic energy, responsible for all this creation, this illusion, they would have created different forms, in their own forms. So, that is what we also did. This imagery is to facilitate a physical image, a sculptor painting or a mental image in meditation. Allow us to approach the infinite through finite symbols. In these finite symbols we try to interact with the divinity. Such symbols correspond to the psychological or spiritual truths and every gesture, posture, colours and all this of any object or any divine, stands for a particular attribute or power. A symbol attributes a power. A few symbols have universal significance. Everybody can know. Some are very secret, aesthetic, with meanings not really readily easily understood, even all symbols though implication found in ancient places such as puranas, even they differ among themselves. Later also, explanations of some symbols grow increasingly divergent. But even around the old ancient wisdom of interpreting these symbols, even the modern reinterpretations, can convey valid new insights.
MahaKali the Devi’s tamasic aspect, who presides over the prathama charitra, has 10 hands, they symbolise 10 directions. The four ordinal directions ( East, West, North and South) and four cardinal directions ( North-East, South-East, South-West, and North-west ) and the points urdhva (Akasha ) and pathala ( underground)- total 10. These 10 arms referred to as 1 directions, convey the idea of her omnipresence. Something in all 10 directions, what does it mean, “I am Omnipotent”.
You remember Vamana Avatar of Bhagavan Narayan, the Bali and Vamana Iyer story. Same thing omnipresence (the ability to be everywhere or in many places at once. This includes unlimited temporal presence). One leg on top , one leg on the whole earth and third leg what to do. This is to say Vamana is very symbolic. He is omnipotent (having unlimited power; able to do anything).
It’s the same thing here, by telling about the 10 arms of Kali, her omnipresence is implicated. Her sword represents the knowledge that destroys ignorance, by severing what is apparent and transitory, from what is real and abiding. So, sever the ignorance. The discus- chakra, is the turning wheel of time. Which destroys all those aspects that come name and form. In Varaha purana the mace (gadhe) destroys adarma- unrighteousness. Vishnu purana interprets the bow as the tamasic aspect of ego. And the arrows destroy the sensory and organs. Look how beautifully the Imagery of Kali is built. Iron bar, the danda, is self control. In Devi Mahatmya battle narratives the divine mother’s sphere(eeti) is a metaphor, for penetrating inside- for spiritual awareness. The severed human head represents the maleficent ego and thus the triumph over the limitation of personality that obscures the infinite atman. The conch destroys ignorance. This auspicious sound of Shankh is very auspicious, it symbolises the power of awakening to divine awareness. Her 3 eyes represent witnessing past , present and future. This is the only explanation puranas given to us and thus her three eyes symbolise her omniscience. She has a complexion of a combination of blue black. The blue black color , not only expresses the tamasic power, but also speaks about the very vast dark night sky. So as to say that she is infinite. This is the meaning and explanation of the dhyana sloka. She is infinite- limitless or endless in space, extent, or size; impossible to measure or calculate.
She is infinite
Note: The article is based on the Jnana Yajna sessions conducted by ‘Atmanandanatha’ Guruji.
शरीरं त्वं शम्भोः शशि-मिहिर-वक्षोरुह-युगं
तवात्मानं मन्ये भगवति नवात्मान-मनघम् ।
अतः शेषः शेषीत्यय-मुभय-साधारणतया
स्थितः सम्बन्धो वां समरस-परानन्द-परयोः
sariram tvam samboh sasimihira vaksorhayugam
tavatmanam manye bhagavati navatmanam anagham
atah sesas sesity ayam ubhayasadharanataya
sthitas sambandho vam samarasa parananda parayoh