Keshadi Pada description – രചനാ സൗന്ദര്യം

There are exactly 1000 names in Lalita Sahasranama. Using a special aphorism known as Chalaakshara Sutra it is pre-determined how to chant the mantras.

We can see many aspects of knowledge in Lalita Sahasranama. They are mainly classified into the following subject matters. It starts with Keshadi Pada (Head to toe) description of Devi followed by the palace and the city where Devi resides. Next, come the war and slaying of Bhandasura. We could see Mantra Shastra next like Sri Vidya Upasana, Kaula Marga, Dakshinachara, Vamachara, etc. If we look into Lalita Sahasranama deeply, we could see that it is an infinite ocean of knowledge. We could say that there is nothing that has not been touched upon.

The famous commentator, Bhaskararaya in his commentary Saubhagyabhaskaram, has pointed out that Lalita Sahasranama is having mentions about 170 topics from various Indian scriptures. Only if one understands the entire Indian knowledge system well, then only he will be able to appreciate Lalita Sahasranama in its entirety. It is said to be so expansive and deep.

As said earlier, Vashinyadi Vagdevis are said to the Rishis who have composed Lalita Sahasranama. In Sanskrit, there are 51 letters, but the most auspicious 32 were only used in Lalita Sahasranama.

Om śuddha vidyāṅkurākāra dvija paṅkti dvayojjvalāyai namaḥ
(who has radiant teeth which resemble the buds of pure knowledge.)

Devi’s teeth are compared to pure knowledge. Whatever Devi utters, they are the core philosophy of Veda & Vendantas. There are 32 teeth that represent the first letters of Lalita Sahasranama mantras. Vashinyadi Vagevi’s are considered the presiding goddesses for each of the 32 sounds. It is believed that the mantras with each of the sounds are composed of each Vagdevis who represent each sound. The vagdevi named Vashini is the presiding goddess for the sound अ / ‘A’, hence the mantras that start with syllable अ like Om ambāyai namaḥ were considered to be composed by Vashini. Like this, the vagdevis divided the composition of Lalita Sahasranama and conceived the mantras that describe the best of the qualities of Devi.

पूजनीया जनैर्देवि स्थाने स्थाने पुरे पुरे |
गृहे गृहे शक्तिपरैः ग्रामे ग्रामे वने वने ||

Everyone in every house should worship Devi as She is the most auspicious. Whatever be the status, age, or varna everyone should worship Devi. In which place should one worship Her? It can be in a temple or in our own heart. It can be through an idol or an image, it can be through whatever means. In each village, or even while going to the forest. When you are in any trouble or not, when you are happy or sad, one should chant Devi’s mantra.

There are exactly 1000 names in Lalita Sahasranama. Using a special aphorism known as Chalaakshara Sutra it is pre-determined how to chant the mantras. Hence it is not needed to add or reduce anything. In many other stotras, it is said that it contains 1000 names but we could see that it is not so. Sometimes it might be more than 1000 or less. The same way with 108 names as well. We cannot see any such defects in Lalita Sahasranama. No meaningless words are used.

Some syllables like cha, tu , hi, eva, etc are used in Sanskrit to complete some words. We cannot see even a single word like that in Lalita Sahasranama. Even this is praising Devi (the feminine aspect), we can see many masculine sounds like guṇa nidhi, ātma, roga parvata dambholir, mahā lāvaṇya śevadhi and neutral sounds like tat, brahma, paramdhama, sadhu, paramjyoti. Svāhā, Svāhā are avyayas. Everything else is feminine sounds.

Understanding the Lalita Sahasranama well will help us to pronounce it in a better way. We see many people making mistakes while chanting Lalita Sahasranama. Especially the mantras like

Om annadāyai namaḥ
Om vasudāyai namaḥ
Om vṛddhāyai namaḥ

The stress ‘yai’ at the end of these mantras are very important otherwise it would be mistaken as masculine but they are not.

But mantras like
Om svāhāyai namaḥ
Om svadhāyai namaḥ

can also be chanted as
Om svāhā namaḥ
Om svadhā namaḥ as they are avyayas.