We are discussing the meaning of the mantra,
catuḥ ṣaṣṭi kalā mayi
(who embodies the sixty-four fine arts.)
Some interpret the word kala as Tantra. There are several medical knowledge systems like Salya Tantra, Salakya Tantra, etc. The word Tantra is also used to denote spiritual traditions. It is said that Lord Shiva has taught ‘Tantra to the Divine Mother Parvati.
Bhaskara Rayar has explained sixty-four types of Tantras in his book. Tantra cannot give liberation on its own. For example if you learn and practice music, you may not get liberation. Only if you practice it with an attitude of worship you get moksha.
That is why Adi Shankaracharya is giving instruction as to how these tantras are to be practiced.
चतुः-षष्टया तन्त्रैः सकल मतिसन्धाय भुवनं
स्थितस्तत्त्त-सिद्धि प्रसव परतन्त्रैः पशुपतिः |
स्वतन्त्रं ते तन्त्रं क्षितितल मवातीतर-दिदम् ‖ – Soundarya Lahari 31
“Pashupati at first remained satisfied after giving to the world, the sixty-four tantras which expound practices conferring only one or another of the various psychic powers and worldly fulfilments.
Afterwards, on Thy special insistence, He revealed this Thy own tantra to the world, independent of all the others and capable of conferring all the four aspirations of men-dharma, artha, kaama and moksha.”
Pashu means living beings, Pashupati is one who protects all living beings. It is said that Pashupati (Lord Shiva) formulated sixty-four tantras. But people did not get the result they expected by practicing these tantras. They could not attain liberation.
punastva-nnirbandhād akhila-puruśhārthaika ghaṭanā svatantraṃ
So the Divine Mother, with her immense love for her children insisted her consort Lord Pashupathi that he should formulate tantra which has the quality of devotion.
Thus the lord formulated the tantra called Svatantra Tantra or Sri Vidya to worship the Divine Mother. Everybody was delighted with that. By practicing this, ordinary people become good spiritual seekers. Average seekers become ideal seekers. Ideal seekers attained liberation.
Good people evolved into excellent people. It is said in the ‘Saundarya Lahari’ that Lord Pashupati had formulated the method that is suitable for all types of seekers for worshipping the Divine Mother.
We are discussing the general meaning of the mantras,
catuḥ ṣaṣṭi kalā mayi
mahā catuḥ ṣaṣṭi koṭi yoginī gaṇa sevitā
(who is attended by six hundred forty million yoginis.)
We already discussed a story about this that happened in the life of Bhaskararaya.
The next mantras are
Om manu vidyāyai namaḥ
(who is the embodiment of Manuvidya.)
Om candra vidyāyai namaḥ
(who is the embodiment of Candravidya.)
Om candra maṇḍala madhyagāyai namaḥ
(who resides in the center of candramandala, the moon’s disc.)
We always say that we are very busy. We don’t have time for prayer. ‘Did you chant the Thousand Names of the Divine mother today?’ “No, no I just chanted the 108 names, I was on tour, I was busy in the office”.
We will say some excuses like this. But it is not difficult to do Hundred tasks to do one more. Out of 24 hours it takes only half an hour to chant the thousand names. If anybody says that he cannot spare even that much time, is not being reasonable.
Let us see the names of twelve devotees of the Divine Mother. Manu, Chandra, Kubera, Lopamudra, Lord Shiva himself, Skanda, Durvasa, Manmata. They all do the greatest tasks in the world.
Manu is the son of Lord Brahma. He is considered as the head of this Manvanthara. There is also a king in the same name who has written Manusmriti.
Kubera the lord of wealth is also a devotee of the Divine Mother. Lord Brahma, Lord Parameshvara (Shiva). While mentioning the unique benefits of the worship, it is observed that these devotees are immersed in the meditation of the Divine Mother chanting the 1000 names 24 hours a day.
These noble beings who perform the greatest tasks in the universe are performing this worship and are benefited. Then why can’t we chant this sacred prayer? It is a lame excuse that we don’t have time.
Manmatha is the seer of a mantra of Sri Vidya. There is a form of practice formulated by him. All these have formulated forms of practice for the worship of the Divine Mother.
People practiced these forms an enjoyed the benefits. We are discussing the mantras, “manu vidyā”, “candra vidyā”. In our scriptures, all the Divine names are not called mantras…….
Single words are called beejam (seed). We call them ‘seed mantras’. When deities in the male form are indicated it is called mantras. When the word in the mantra is more than 24 letters it is called ‘mantra mala (the chain of mantras)’.
Sri Lalita Sahasranama is a unique composition. Some mantras from this Sahasranama is used for initiation. Mantras like ‘Om Hrim Mahadevyai Namah’, ‘Om Parashakthyai Namah’ are inscribed in temples. These mantras are used by the spiritual masters for initiating their disciples.
Thus Lalita Sahasranama is a chain of mantras. We usually make garlands with flowers or gold or diamonds. Only Rich people will be able to do that. Common people decorate the Divine Mother with this garland of mantras. When we chant the Sahasranama it becomes a garland of mantras.
When the deities are in the female form, the worship is called Vidya. Adding the prefix ‘Sri’, this message is called Sri Vidya. As mentioned earlier The Divine Mother has twelve main devotees: Manu, Chandra, Kubera, Lopamudra, Agasthya, Manmatha, Agni, Surya, Indra, Skanda, Shiva, and Durvasa.
These exalted beings have visualized the mantras in their hearts. It is not right to say that they have composed the mantras, these mantras are visualized by them. The form of worship formulated by them is Vidya. Here two examples are given, Manu Vidya, Chandra Vidya.
Depending upon the qualities of the seeker one can even attain liberation by practicing this form of worship. The ordinary seeker will become better seekers, Average seekers become ideal and the ideal seeker will evolve to still greater heights. We will discuss the principles and greatness of the Divine Mother further in the coming days.