5.3 : From the three-hundred names of lalita
These are names from lalita-triSati, three hundred names of lalitA, just as lalitA-sahasra-nAma is a compendium of 1000 names for the mother goddess. This particular piece, triSati, is considered to be even more sacred and powerful than the sahsra-nAma. The names are not just names, each one of them is a mantra -- in the sense that they have esoteric spiritual meanings and when recited, the very recitation, even without the understanding of the meaning, can give powerful effects, just because of the vibrations they can generate. Every sahasra-nAma and every name of God has this characteristic, but in the case of lalitA-triSati it is expressly certified to be so. Consequently each name is dense with meanings, not only with the obvious ones but with several non-obvious profound interpretations. Our source for the meanings of the names in the triSatI is Adi-Sankara who has written an elaborate commentary on it.
There is a fifteen-letter mantra for the Goddess which is not only famous but at the same time forms the greatest of secrets in the worship of the Goddess -- secret in the sense that the mantra has to be earned from a guru orally after a number of prerequisites are fulfilled to the satisfaction of the guru. The three hundred names in the triSati occur in groups of twenty names, one for each letter of the fifteen-letter mantra. So the first 20 names all start with the letter 'ka' which is the first letter of the mantra. The second 20 names all start with the letter 'e' which is the second letter of the mantra; and so on it goes. The mantra is thus well-known because we can guess the text of the mantra by putting together the first letters of the fifteen groups of 20 names. But we are not supposed to be in possession of the mantra until we have 'got' it from a guru -- who must have himself repeatedly recited it several thousands of times with all the reverence and concentration it demands so that he possesses the spirit of the mantra in him!
This concept of the spiritual possession of a mantra is an important part of the culture of the religions of the East. And In Hinduism particularly, the necessity to repeat the mantra has an extraordinary emphasis because the effect of the mantra is held to be proportional to the intensity of the spiritual possession of it and this latter, is directly proportional to the number of times it has been repeated formally and reverentially. We shall give below the meanings for probably a little less than one-tenth of the triSati garland of names of the Mother Goddess. The numbers in parenthesis indicate the serial number of the name in the triSati.
(3) kalyANa-guNa-SAlinI: the One who is possessed of all auspicious
attributes. But the upanishads speak of Her as ' -- the Witness, the Pure Sentience, the Attributeless'. The sahasranAma itself includes the name nirguNA, the attributeless. In spite of all this the attributeless Absolute is here talked of as possessing attributes. They are actually attributes superimposed on the Mother Goddess, who is the cit-Sakti, the Consciousness Absolute. The Attributes themselves are only adjuncts and what we are praising is only the Absolute seen through these adjuncts. There is nothing wrong in worshipping the Mother in this attributed form rather than in the attributeless way. Thus worshipped the Mother will grace us to become capable of transcending the abyss of plurality and comprehend Her as the Formless Absolute.
(8) kalmashaghnI : the One who destroys defaults, blemishes and sins, thus confirming the Lord's promise:
aham tvA sarva-pApebhyo mokshayishyAmi mA Sucah
bhagavad-gItA - 18-66
The word also means the One who is the Knowledge Absolute, which according to the gItA again, is the Fire of Wisdom that burns to ashes all the luggage of karma that one carries along:
jnAnAgnis-sarva-karmANi bhasmasAt-kurute tathA /
bhagavad-gItA, 4 - 37 .
(20) karma-phala-pradA :the dispenser of the fruits of actions. The actions themselves are insentient and so cannot give their fruits. There must be a sentience behind the dispensing act. It is the Absolute that dispenses. But the Absolute is actionless. It only witnesses. Everything happens in its presence. The original action happens in, and because of, its presence. The dispensing of the fruit also by the prakRti (the Power or Energy of the Absolute) happens in, and because of, its presence. [See also 11.6 Essay on Prakriti] The Lord is the karmAdhyaksha (the director of Actions); He Himself says:
'labhate ca tatah kAmAn mayaiva vihitAn hi tAn'
bhagavad-gItA, 7 - 22.
(23) ekA-nekAksharA-kRtih: She shines in both the forms, that of a single (= eka) syllable (= akshara) and that of multiple (=aneka) syllables. What does this mean? She is both mAyA (deception, illusion) and avidyA (ignorance). The first one is the adjunct of the Lord and it is in His control. Its symbolism is the single syllable 'Om' that represents the Absolute Transcendental Truth. avidyA (ignorance) on the other hand is the adjunct of the individual souls and its multiplicity is as infinite as the number of indiviudal souls. avidyA is individual ignorance that clings to the soul and prevents it from realising its transcendental nature whereasmAyA is Cosmic Ignorance which is in the complete control of the Lord . It is prakRti the Goddess that becomes both.