Lalita Tripura Sundari is described as the “One who plays”. Creation, manifestation, and dissolution, as well as the time in between the dissolution of one Universe and creation of another, are all the play of Divine Mother. She is called Tripura Sundari as she is the most blissful goddess in all of existence, and presides over all the three worlds – the physical world, the nether worlds, and the heavens.
As the 3rd Mahavidya or Great Wisdom Lalita is the most playful and charming goddess of all. Everyone is attracted towards her because she is an ocean of mercy.
She is also called Shodasi and Rajarajeshwari. As Shodasi she appears as the most beautiful 16 year old damsel, who represents the full moon on the sixteenth day. This form of Mother thus rules over all that is full, complete, and perfect. The name Rajarajeshwari refers to her as being the Supreme ruler – the one who rules over all other rulers. Shodasi also symbolizes the sixteen forms of desire.
Lalita is the flower that springs forth from the lotus navel of Shiva, due to his intense meditation. She is the radiant flower which is the final product of all the divinities. Mother Lalita constantly bestows bhoga (material prosperity), moksha (liberation) and abhaya (fearlessness) from her hands. Thus, she is very tranquil and peaceful, bowed down to by all the Gods, and constantly giving prosperity to all the three worlds.
She is the cause of birth, the one who destroys all diseases, sins, and misfortunes. Mother Lalita bestows on her devotees the enjoyments of heaven as well as salvation and the final destination of the soul.
Shree Vidya – Tantra Of Lalita Devi
Her form of worship is called Shree Vidya. Divine Mother is known as Shree. Shree is an opulence that can bestow everything. Shree Vidya is thus that supreme knowledge that gives the ultimate in happiness, material pleasures, and liberation.
Shree Vidya is a secretive and difficult sadhana (spiritual practice) that can only be accomplished after initiation from a qualified guru. Tantra is the path that takes us to God. Shree Vidya tantra is that technique through which we can realize Divine Mother Lalita.
After doing rigorous penance and sadhana through innumerable births, one accumulates enough merit to receive diksha (spiritual initiation) for Shree Vidya sadhana. It is the highest of all spiritual practices. It is said that where there is bhoga (materialism) there will not be moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death), and where there is moksha there cannot be bhoga. In other words material enjoyment and liberation are mutually exclusive. However, Divine Mother bestows bhoga and moksha to all her devotees who perform Shree Vidya sadhana.
Connecting With Goddess Lalita
Shree Vidya tantra has two parts – mantra and yantra. Shree Vidya mantra is the secretive shodasakshari mantra bestowed on one by a qualified Guru through a proper process. Her yantra is the Shree yantra (Shree Chakra) - the great yantra which underlines the entire universe and arises from the mantra Om.
However, Divine Mother is so compassionate that she has given a second easy method to attain her grace, which is accessible to all her children. Those who cannot become initiated into Shree Vidya tantra can approach her through chanting the Lalita Sahasranamam – the 1000 holy names of Mother Lalita.
Lalita Sahasranamam is a perfect poem from the Brahmanda Purana. It was first told by Lord Hayagriva (a form of Lord Vishnu) in the Brahmanda Purana to the great Sage Agastya. Agastya in turn imparted this knowledge to Sage Vyasa who told it to Sage Vaagadevadas.
The Lalita Sahasranamam eloquently describes her form. The various schools that practice Shree Vidya and the different meditation techniques used, are for the purpose of becoming close to Her. It describes both her personal and impersonal cosmic form as well as the various fruits a devotee can obtain by chanting her thousand names. Each of these thousand names is a very powerful mantra in itself.
“I Meditate on that Ambika, Divine Mother as Lalita Tripura Sundari is to be meditated upon as a ravishingly beautiful sixteen year old damsel with a vermilion hued body like the color of sunrise, crowned with a crown of rubies that reflecting red rays of light in all directions, bearing the crescent moon on her head and with the most captivating smile upon her lips. She has splendid breasts and holds a trophy filled with gems in one hand, and is twirling a red lotus in her other hand. She is very, very soft and gentle. We meditate on Her holy feet.”
“We mediate on her whole body anointed with vermillion and emanating the perfume of musk. So headily beautifully fragrant is this perfume that it is attracting bees (bees symbolize the minds of her devotees). She is gently smiling - even her eyes are smiling. She holds the bow, arrow, goad, and noose. She wears a garland of reddish orange flowers and is captivating, hypnotizing everyone. Her body emanates radiance reddish hues like the japaa kusuma flower.”
The Nature Of Lalita Tripura Sundari
In the Brahmanda Purana there is a nice story of how Lalita defeated the demon Bhanda. The demigods congratulated her on this great victory. Brahma then said to Lalita. “Mother, everyone is celebrating your victory except one widow named Rati. A long time ago her husband Kama (Cupid) fired an arrow of sensual desire at Lord Shiva. The lord, his meditation disturbed, became angry and burned Kama to ashes.
Smiling, the Mother of the Universe swept the cosmos with her sidelong glance. From that loving glance a form began to coalesce, and at that moment the widow Rati felt someone materializing beside her. It was her husband, Kama, the god of sexual attraction, in a body even more handsome than the one Shiva had destroyed.”
Kama exclaimed gratefully, “Mother, you have restored my life! Please tell me how I can serve you!” Lalita joyfully exclaimed “My darling son, you have my blessings and protection. Resume your service of enchanting the entire world with romantic desires. Withdraw the joyfulness of those who deny the truth of your power. Embarrass those who believe they have conquered sexual desire and draw them into scandal. Most importantly though, fill the lives of my devotees with great delight!”
Many persons, after hearing this tale object to Shiva's actions and exclaim that without erotic desire there will be no need of a physical universe. How then can the unlimited souls incarnate to fulfill their material desires?
There is no removing the sex impulse. As a reflection of the original creative impetus of the Universe, it is completely natural. However, instead of becoming physically attracted to the sensation, one may channel this energy to create their own life in a very positive, uplifting way, eventually realizing their natural affinity with Divine Mother Lalita and Lord Shiva. Left unbridled, this sexual energy can be very disruptive and eventually wreak havoc on one's life, becoming the cause of unhappiness and misery. What is that unhappiness? It is simply caused by over attachment to the fruits of our activities - be it money, children, or sexual need. These things are all available automatically according to our individual karmas and present desires, but seen rightly and used judiciously in the service of Divine Mother, will eventually produce not only a good family situation, but all successes, including wealth, the fulfillment of desires, and liberation.