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 an example. We see people going to Amma for darshan. Sometimes Amma asks clear questions. We answer. Amma responds to our answers. We can see this happening. But at other times, when there is a large crowd, we see something else. People might be going to her with great distress, but as they near Amma, the whole atmosphere changes, they become charged with awe-filled love and fall silent.
People from many countries come to her, and often we do not know the language they speak. Not all westerners speak English, so we are unable to even translate their words. We might be able to answer a few questions, not many doubts can be cleared by us. But each one of them, when they come back after Amma’s darshan is happy and uplifted. They come back with peaceful hearts. What can be the reason?
Sometimes Amma responds to us even before we speak. Sometimes she finishes the sentences that we started. Sometimes, we will have no clarity on a particular matter, but Amma will explain various angles to it that we could never conceive. How is it possible?
I enquired about a Brahmachari. How do you talk about various issues with Amma? He said I pray intensely to Her to guide on my path and then I go for darshan. Amma comprehends not just the spoken word. I try and tell her everything in my own fashion, but Amma understands and gives me clear directions”.
It is not only the audible words that Ishwara comprehends, he grasps the feeling, the motivation behind the spoken words. In Sanskrit the sound Vishnu has to be pronounced as “Vishnave”. The sound Rama has to be pronounced as “Raamaya”. A devotee, who did not know Sanskrit chants Vishnaya, instead of Vishnave. It is wrong according to the rules of grammar. But it does not matter. Even if the ignorant chants Vishnaya and the scholar chants Vishnave, the merit accruing to both will be the same. The Lord understands the emotions behind the words.
Therefore, Devi is both the manifest sounds that we hear and the thoughts that are unmanifest. Devi is adored in the form of sound in the mantras “parā, paśyanti, madhyamā and vaikharī.” Shri Lalita Sahasranama describes this subtle form of Devi.
The next mantra, that comes after “nāda rūpā” is “nāma rūpa vivarjitā” (299-300). In the Lalita Sahasranama, we have seen that each mantra has its own unique meaning, but at the same time, many mantras can be strung together to praise the different attributes of Devi and some mantras seemingly contradict each other. The mantra “nāda rūpā” praises Devi who is of the form of Sound.
The next mantra says that she is one who has no name or form. We might consider that the two mantras seemingly contradict each other. The scriptural sciences say that there are five aspects to the Universe. They are Asthi, Bhaathi, Priyam, Naamam, Roopam.
Asthi proves the existence of an object. Bhaathi – that which is known by the intelligence. What we can understand. Priyam – it is because we love life and we love ourselves that we continue to exist. Asthi, Bhaathi, and Priyam are three aspects connected to the Chitgranthi – they are connected and tied inextricably to the awareness or consciousness principle.
Naamam and Roopam, name and form, are possible for inanimate objects also. All objects are perceived by the senses, have name and form. Naama and roopa are connected to inert matter, insentient objects. In-universe there is sentient, animate life that is permeated by the eternal, indivisible consciousness.
There are also insentient and motionless objects that are connected to the inanimate world. It is called ‘Jadagranthi’. It is Devi who is the indweller, the individual self in each living being.