Now we are discussing the meaning of the mantras, –
Om ābrahma kīṭa jananyai namaḥ
(who is the mother of everything from Brahma to the lowliest insect.)
Om varṇāśrama vidhāyinyai namaḥ
(who established the order of the social division in life.)
I remember an anecdote related to this. This happened around 80 to 90 years back to the head of the Kanchi Ashram, Sri Chandrashekara Saraswathi. The swami has traveled the whole of India 3 times.
This happened when he was staying in Kolkata. Different types of worships are conducted in their ashram. One of them is called ‘Sumangalai Puja’. In this ceremony married ladies participate. They are honored and worshipped. This is how it is conducted.
In that instance, Sri Rabindranath Tagore was also there at Kolkata. A lady who was staying at Shantiniketan, the university founded by Sri Rabindranath Tagore, wanted to participate in the worship. She was a Brahmin lady from Tamil Nadu. She went to Tagore to get his permission.
Tagore agreed, but when she was leaving, he asked a question. “You are going to the ashram of Kanchi to participate in the worship. Only Brahmins are allowed there. Will they allow non-Brahmins to participate? Is it not mentioned in the Lalita Sahasranama that Divine Mother is the mother of all?”
There was a hint of criticism in what he said. He was questioning the criticism in what he said questioning the supremacy of Brahmins. The Lady did not give any answers. She participated in the worship. It was true that not everybody is not allowed to participate in the worship conducted by that ashram.
After worship, she went to see the swami personally. She was introduced to the swami. Thus she was also introduced and said that she was staying in Tagore’s Shantiniketan. When she got a chance, she mentioned to Swamiji about the questions that Tagore asked. She asked why certain people are not allowed in the ashram. Even though the Divine Mother is the mother of all beings.
The swami pondered for some time and asked, “What mantra comes after ‘ābrahma kīṭa janani’? “it is ‘varṇāśrama vidhāyini’ she answered. The meaning of that mantra is ‘She who governs the universe by establishing the order of social division in life’. This social division is needed for the existence and smooth functioning of society.
The purpose of social division is to establish a system in society. Only if there is discipline one will be able to progress in life. The basic theory of this order is one should perform the karma that suits him the most.
If a maths teacher is sent to wage war against someone he will surely die. A country will collapse if the soldiers do not perform their duty. A merchant should perform his karma. A farmer should carry out his karma. If a weaver is asked to climb up a coconut tree to pluck coconuts he will surely fall down.
So everybody must evolve in life performing their duties well. Everybody has a right to God-realization. The mantras ‘varṇāśrama vidhāyini’ and ‘ābrahma kīṭa janani’ mean that the Divine Mother is the mother of all. She takes effort for uplifting all beings.
What is implied here is when we chant Lalita Sahasranama we must understand the meaning of these mantras properly, we must determine the goal of our life, and try consistently for attaining that goal.
The head of Kanchi Ashram also meant this. He explained to the lady that they are not allowing certain people to participate in the worship because of the social norms that are suggested in the mantra varṇāśrama vidhāyini.