On Sunday, November 24, 2013
Lalita Sahasranama contains a thousand names of the Hindu mother goddess Lalita. The names are organized in a hymns (stotras). It is the only sahasranama that does not repeat a single name. Further, in order to maintain the meter, sahasranamass use the artifice of adding words like tu, api, ca, and hi, which are conjunctions that do not necessarily add to the meaning of the name except in cases of interpretation. The Lalita sahasranama does not use any such auxiliary conjunctions and is unique in being an enumeration of holy names that meets the metrical, poetical and mystic requirements of a sahasranama by their order throughout the text.
Lalita Sahasranama begins by calling the goddess Shri Mata (the great mother), Shri Maharajni (the great queen) and Shrimat Simhasaneshwari (the queen sitting on the lion-throne). In verses 2 and 3 of the Sahasranama she is described as a Udayatbhanu Sahasrabha (the one who is as bright as the rays of thousand rising suns), Chaturbahu Samanvita (the one who has four hands) and Ragasvarupa Pashadhya (the one who is holding the rope). Chidagnikunda Sambhuta (one who was born from the altar of the fire of consciousness) and Devakarya samudyata (one who manifested Herself for fulfilling the objects of the devas) are among other names mentioned in the sahasranama.
Lalitha sahasranama is said to have been composed by eight vaag devis (vaag devathas) upon the command of Lalitha. These vaag devis are Vasini, Kameshwari, Aruna, Vimala, Jayinee, Modhinee, Sarveshwari, Koulini. The sahasranama says that "One can worship Lalitha only if she wishes us to do so". The text is a dialogue between Hayagriva, an (avatar) of Mahavishnu and the sage Agastya. The temple at Thirumeyachur,near Kumbakonam is said to be where Agastya was initiated into this sahasranama. Another alternative version is the Upanishad Bramham Mutt at kanchipuram is where this initiation happened.
This sahasranama is held as a sacred text for the worship of the "Divine Mother", Lalita, and is used in the worship of Durga, Parvati, Kaali, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Bhagavathi, etc. A principal text of Shakti worshipers, it names her various attributes, and these names are organized in the form of a hymn. This sahasranama is used in various modes for the worship of the Divine Mother. Some of the modes of worship are parayana (Recitations), archana, homa etc.
This stotra (hymn of praise) occurs in the Brahmanda Purana (history of the universe) in the chapter on discussion between Hayagreeva and Agasthya. Hayagreeva is an incarnation of Vishnu with the head of a horse who is held to be the storehouse of knowledge. Agasthya is one of the sages of yore and one of the stars of the constellation Saptarshi (Ursa major). At the request of Agasthya, Hayagreeva is said to have taught him the thousand holiest names of Lalita. This has been conveyed to us by the sage Vyasya Mahrishi. Lalitha sahasranama is the only sahasranama composed by vagdevatas under Lalitha's direction. All the other sahasranamas are said to have been composed by Vyasa Maharishi.
Paramashiva is one of the trinity of Hindu pantheons, in charge of moksha (layam). He married Sati, the daughter of Daksha. Daksha and Paramashiva did not get along and consequently Daksha did not invite Paramashiva for one of the great fire sacrifices that he conducted. However Sati went to attend that function in spite of Paramashiva’s protest. Daksha insulted her husband and she jumped into the fire and ended her life. Consequently at the behest of Paramashiva, Daksha was killed and later resurrected with a goat’s head. This incident upset Paramashiva and he entered into deep meditation. Sati reincarnated as daughter of Himavat, king of the mountains, and his wife, the apsara Mena. Naturally, Pārvatī sought and received Shiva as her husband.
The devas faced an enemy in Sura Padma / Banda who had a boon that he could be killed only by a son of Shiva and Parvati. So, to wake Shiva from his deep meditation, the devas deputed Manmatha, the God of love who shot his flower arrows at Paramashiva. Paramashiva woke up and opened his third eye and burnt the God of love into ashes. The Devas and Rathi Devi the wife of Manmatha requested Paramashiva to give life to Manmatha. Heeding their request Paramashiva stared at the ashes of Manmatha. From the ashes came Bhandasura, who made all the world impotent and ruled from the city called Shonitha pura. He started troubling the devas. The devas then sought the advice of Sage Narada who advised them to conduct a fire sacrifice. From the fire rose Lalitha Tripura Sundari.
She is described as extremely beautiful, having dark thick long hair with the scent of Champaka, Asoka and Punnaga flowers. She had the musk thilaka on her forehead, eyelids which appeared as if they were the gate of the house of the God of love, and having eyes like fish playing in the lake of her face. She had a nose with studs that shone more than the stars, ears with the sun and moon as studs, cheeks which were like the mirror of Padmaraga, beautiful rows of white teeth, and she was chewing Thamboola with camphor. She had a voice sweeter than the sound emanating from Veena of Sarswathi, and having such a beautiful smile that Shiva himself could not take his eyes off her. She was wearing Mangala soothra and necklaces, with beautiful breasts which were capable of buying the invaluable love of Kameswara, having wisps of beautiful hair raising from her belly, her stomach having three pretty folds, and she was wearing red silk tied with a string with red bells. She had thighs which steal the heart of Kameshwara, knees which looked like crowns made of precious gems, voluptuous legs, upper part of the feet resembling the backs of tortoises, feet which resembled lamps made of gems which could dispel worries from the mind of devotees and a body with the golden red color. She was given in marriage to Kameshwara and made to stay in Nagara at the top of Maha Meru Mountain.
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