The mantras in the Lalita Sahasranama that we will be seeing today, describing the Devi are
Om sahasra śīrṣa vadanāyai namaḥ
(who has a thousand heads and faces.
Om sahasrākṣyai namaḥ
(who has a thousand eyes.)
Om sahasra pade namaḥ
(who has a thousand feet.)
In Purusha Suktham, Vishnu is praised with the same attributes.
सहस्रशीर्षा पुरुषः सहस्राक्षः सहस्रपात् ।
स भूमिं विश्वतो वृत्वात्यतिष्ठद्दशाङुलम् ॥
पुरुष एवेदं सर्वं यद्भूतं यच्च भव्यम् ।
उतामृतत्वस्येशानो यदन्नेनातिरोहति ॥ – Purusha Suktam 1-2
The Lord has a thousand heads. All the eyes in the universe belong to him. Sahasram need not mean an exact thousand. Even in some Sahasranamas, where a thousand attributes of the deity are described, we can see there might be more or less than a thousand mantras. The Lalita Sahasranama contains exactly a thousand mantras.
‘All the feet in the universe belong to him’. ‘Maha Vishnu pervades the entire universe’. ‘He is beyond this universe’. ‘The Purusha (the Cosmic Self, the Universal Principle) permeating this universe, is Maha Vishnu’. ‘God pervades and permeates this universe’. ‘God is the Absolute Reality that is beyond this Universe’. ‘These are among the various meanings of this mantra’.
A ‘thousand’ denotes the infinite nature of the lord. It does not mean just one thousand. It means that the earth is filled with, replete with the presence of God.
God is both the cause and the effect. Let us take three examples to illustrate this point. Let us take the examples of a pot, an ornament, and a piece of cloth. A pot is a creation, the reason for its existence is the mud that created it. If all gold ornaments are creations, the cause is the gold. Thread is the cause behind all cloth in this world.
The tenet states that there is no distinction between the cause and the effect. Therefore, we cannot say that God is separate from the universe that is His creation. We cannot say that God sits somewhere in the heavens protecting the good and punishing the wicked. We cannot say that the good attain salvation and the wicked fall into hell.
This universe has been created for its inhabitants to experience the effects of their past karma. One of the attributes of God is that he created and pervades this universe in which the fruits of past Karma are correctly experienced. This is the glory of God the mantras used to describe Vishnu in Purusha Suktham,
sahasra śīrṣa vadanā – sahasrākṣi – sahasra padā
are also attributes of the Devi praised in the Lalita Sahasranama.
The next mantra that we are going to explain in the Lalita Sahasranama are
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.)
We have heard that the universe and all of the creation is imbued by Devi. Depending on the fruits of their Karma, souls take birth in different forms. Through the experience and actions of this life, led in accordance with the cosmic law upholding true values, they are able to achieve the purity of mind necessary for liberation.
ābrahma kīṭa janani – She brings alive all creatures, from Brahma to the most insignificant insect. “Janani” or mother, emphasizes once more the motherly nature of Devi. Many mantras in the Lalita Sahasranama glorify Devi as the mother. “Mata, Ambika, Ayi, Jagadhatri, Jagajanani, prasu, viyadadijagatprasu”. These mantras use the Sanskrit terms for Mother to praise Devi. It is Devi who is the mother to all the creation, from Brahma to the lowliest insect.
In Ayurveda the two smallest forms of life, are called Kakerukam and Akerukam. They seem to be even smaller than the atom. In Bhaskararaya’s book, it is mentioned that Devi is the creator of creatures ranging from microbial beings like Kakerukam and Akerukam to Brahma, who is the creator of this universe. “Janani” – the one who has given birth to. This is the word used in the mantra “ābrahma kīṭa janani”.