Bhaskararaya, the great scholar, wrote a brilliant commentary on Lalita Sahasranama in a book entitled “Saubagya Bhaskara”.
Let me tell you about 2 incidents in his life. One day he was sitting on the veranda of a house. He was silently chanting the names of the Devi. He was absorbed in the thought of Devi and he failed to notice a sanyasi walking by on the road in front of the house. He did not as was the custom, stand up and prostrate before the sanyasi.
The sanyasi felt affronted. He spread the word that Bhaskararaya was a prideful snob. ‘He lacks humility, he is not a good man’. One day the two met each other in a temple. Bhaskararaya understood the hurt pride of the sanyasi, as he was a ‘Sarvajna’ (all-knowing).
In front of everybody, he took from the sanyasi his walking stick. He laid the stick down on the ground and prostrated before it. It is said that the stick blazed up and then was reduced to ashes. This demonstrates the strength and nobility of worshippers of Devi.
In another incident, he was performing a fire ritual of exceptional grandeur in Kashi. He was a profound worshipper of Devi, because of his profundity and grace, there were some who had harbored enmity towards him. They spread malicious slander against him.
An assembly was held, in which the main speaker was Kumkumananda Nadhar Swami, it was said that even if he put ashes or sandal paste on his forehead it would be transformed into kumkum, he was also an ardent worshipper of Devi. The assembly met in his presence.
These men who harbored animosity towards Bhaskararaya probed his knowledge with many questions. Being a profound scholar, who had mastered all the scriptural texts, Bhaskararaya had no difficulty in answering their questions.
Finally, in order to defeat him, they took the mantra, mahā catuḥ ṣaṣṭi koṭi yoginī gaṇa sevitā (who is attended by six hundred forty million yoginis). They asked Bhaskararaya to give the names of the 64 crore Yoginis, they thought that the great scholar would accept defeat.
He meditated upon the goddess, her grace and compassion flowed towards him. Each of the yoginis serving Devi appeared to him and whispered their name, form, and the weapons with which they served Devi, into his ears. Bhaskararaya started to give the names and details of the Yoginis.
The ones who were asking the questions were noting it all down, ten days passed in this manner Bhaskararaya was continuing steadily. His enemies accepted his greatness, prostrated before him, and begged his forgiveness. This is the story of the mantra.
In another incident, it is said that he went into debt and he chanted the mantra, Om aparṇāyai namaḥ (who owes no debt)
There are two meanings given to the word “Aparna”, when Parvati Devi was performing tapas in the Himalayas, as a part of penance she stopped eating for a long time she subsisted on fruits and later only ate leaves and sometime after took only water. So one meaning of the mantra denotes Parvati Devi who did intense penance and did not partake of even leaves.
The meaning of “Ṛnam” in Sanskrit is debt. apakatam ṛnam yasyah aparnā. If we worship her, the Devi who will relieve us of our debts, This is another meaning of the mantra “Aparnaye namah.” Bhaskararaya Chanted the mantra “aparṇāyai namaḥ” and was relieved of his debts.
There are some of the incidents in the life of Sri Bhaskararaya who has written the commentary for thousand names. Other wonderful stories are also there.
The mantra “ bhakti gamyā, bhakti vaśyā” describes how Devi can be attained through devotion. Devi has a form, this form is for her to bless us.
Devi is also nirguna and nirākārā (Beyond qualities and form), she is the divine consciousness that pervades the world.
stree rupam dhyayet devim
pum rupam va vichintayet
athava nishkalam devim
This says that Devi has no particular form, she pervades the universe. We need not say anything in particular to Amma as she knows everything. She is present within everyone as the divine consciousness.
She is constantly with us, She understands without needing to hear anything from us, She is nirvikara (beyond change). The LalitaSahasranama describes in detail the “nirakara rupam” of devi (beyond form).
nir guṇā – niṣ kalā – śāntā – niṣ kāmā – nir upaplavā – nitya muktā – nir vikārā – niṣ prapañcā – nir āśrayā – nitya śuddhā – nitya buddhā – nir avadyā – nir antarā – niṣ kāraṇā – niṣ kalaṅkā – nir upādhir – nir īśvarā – nīrāgā – rāga mathani – nir madā – mada nāśini – niś cintā – nir ahaṅkārā – nir mohā – moha nāśini
The formless aspect of Devi is described in the Lalita Sahasrama. Many other mantras in the Lalita Sahasranama point to the fact that Devi is not confined to her physical form. Her consciousness pervades the entire universe.
She takes on attributes to bless her devotees. Her formless self is described in detail in the Lalita Sahasranama. We shall hear more about Devi in the coming days.