നാദരൂപയായ ദേവി – The origin of the sound is Devi

The four forms of sound are classified as parā, paśyanti, madhyamā, and vaikharī.

In the Lalita Sahasranama, we have heard the descriptions of the mantras

“ābrahma kīṭa Janani – varṇāśrama vidhāyini – nijājñā rūpa nigamā – puṇyāpuṇya phala pradā”

Devi is not only the creator who is the mother to all, from Brahma to the littlest living thing, she established the social order, the four varnas, and four Ashramas necessary for each stage of life. She is not only the creator, but each birth is granted by her to experience the result of past actions from previous lives.

Devi guides them to exhaust their karma and attain liberation, which is the ultimate goal of life. She is also
nijājñā rūpa nigamā (287),
puṇyāpuṇya phala pradā (288)

Through Nigamas, Agamas, Shastras, (Hindhu scriptural sciences) and sacred rituals Devi guides us into upholding the right values in life.

One of the most essential qualities of the devotees of Devi is that they must bear no malice, nor should they demean, whether it may be the arts, or people of different religions, whether they are devotees of Shiva or Vishnu. All paths ultimately lead to Devi. This is called “nahi ninda nyayam” where no person, art, or object is demeaned.

The philosophy advises us to adore the Devi within our hearts, dress in a manner befitting the devotees of Shiva by wearing rudraksha and sacred ash, and live in the manner of a devotee of Vishnu, following their food habits, restrained behavior, and sweet words. This is advised by the Shakthas.

Devotion to Shiva, Vishnu, or Devi is not separate from one another. A true devotee of Devi would want to hear numerous stories of Vishnu, sing hymns in praise of him and chant his names.

There is a very popular evening prayer chanted in Kerala “Shiva Rama Govinda Narayana Mahadeva Krishna Hare Hare Krishna Mahadeva Narayana Govinda Rama Shiva” This is chanted as the evening prayer. The holy names of Shiva, Rama, Govinda, Mahadeva, Krishna are not different from each other. They should all be chanted. There should be no discrimination between Shiva and Vishnu and Shakti .

The next mantra in Lalita Sahasranama is about nāda (sound). This is a topic that we normally do not think about. Devi is praised as

nāda rūpā – nāma rūpa vivarjitā (299, 300). The Lalita Sahasranama reveals that naadam (sound) has four classifications.

“parā pratyak citī rūpā – paśyanti para devatā – madhyamā vaikharī rūpā – bhakta mānasa haṁsikā.

The four forms of sound are classified as parā, paśyanti, madhyamā, and vaikharī. We do not usually think about the sound that is unmanifest or inaudible. We consider sound to be only that which is audible to our ears. This gross, manifest, and audible sound is called Vaikhari. Sound has subtle and unmanifest stages also.

Parā is the state of utmost subtlety (366). Paśyanti is the second level of sound after parā (367). Madhyamā – she who stays in the middle between the subtle and the gross (368). Vaikharī is the sound in the gross, manifested form audible to the ear (371).

Let us take the example of the sun before and after sunrise. There is darkness before sunrise, nothing is clear to us. We are unable to see anything with our eyes. After a while, a dim light seeps in. Things become clearer as the sky becomes lighter and the sun dawns up in the sky. In midway, the sun is blazing high above us, where everything is clear.

In the same manner, Vaikharī is the sound that our external ears are capable of hearing in the grossest, audible, and manifest form. Madhyamā is twilight. The time of the day just before twilight, when things can be dimly perceived is Paśyanti, para is the unclear, unseen.

In the individual, the power of speech resides in the kundalini and our prowess in speech depends on the latent tendencies of our past lives. The source of sound resides at such a subtle level. We call it para. Paśyanti has a simple form, but it has not become a sound or a syllable.

Such a stage is called Paśyanti. Madhyamā is the middle stage, where sound becomes more amplified and clear. Vaikharī is the sound that we hear, that becomes manifest as audible syllables. The origin of the sound is the kuṇḍalini (110) arising from the ‘anāhatābja’ Ajna chakra, (103) viśuddhi cakra (475) in Lalita Sahasranama.