Lalitopakhyana (Lalita Mahatmya)

by G.V. Tagare | 1958 | 103,924 words | ISBN-10: 8120838246 | ISBN-13: 9788120838246

This page describes agastya’s pilgrimage to sacred places: manifestation of vishnu which is Chapter 5 of the Lalitopakhyana (or Lalita-Mahatmya), an important scripture within Shaktism embedded as the final part in the Brahmanda-Purana. It is presented in the form of a dialogue between sage Agastya and Hayagriva, which is incarnation of Vishnu and also includes the Lalita Sahasranama.

Chapter 5 - Agastya’s pilgrimage to sacred places: Manifestation of Viṣṇu

Obeisance to Śrī Gaṇeśa: The episode of goddess Śrī Lalitā is now being commenced:

[Notes: As stated in Introduction Śrī Lalitopākhyāna is an Appendix—an apocryphal part—of the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa (Bd. P.) It starts with a fresh set of Maṅgalācaraṇa verses—a prayer of Śrī Lalitā, the main divinity of this Upākhyāna and has a different set of interlocutors viz. Sage Agastya and Hayagrīva (a partial incarnation of god Viṣṇu as another sage). ]

1. Obeisance unto you, O sole mother of the Universe, the mother who has four arms, is adorned with the digit of the moon (on her forehead), whose breasts are plump and full, who has been rendered red by the red saffron and who holds a white lotus, a sugarcane, a noose, a goad, flowers and arrows in the hands.

2. Let the eternal Reality, a beautiful female Deity of lovely form, be gracious for our welfare for ever—the Deity from whom learned men acquire the third Puruṣārtha viz.: Kāma i.e. all their desires and whose splendour is supreme.

3-4. The divine sage named Agastya, who had mastered the Vedas and Vedāṅgas, who was conversant with the essence of (the established doctrines) of all schools of philosophy (Darśanas) and whose soul experienced the joy of Bliss of Brahman, moved round pilgrim-spots and shrines of wonderful miracles, mountains, forests, important (sacred) rivers and all countries.

5. In those different places, he saw all creatures enveloped in the darkness of ignorance and devoted to the satisfaction of the urges of hunger and sexual desire. Hence, he thought worriedly about them.

6. Even as he was pondering over thus in the course of his travel round the Earth, he happened to reach the excellent and highly meritorious city of Kāñcī.[1]

7. There the wise sage worshipped Śiva installed in the shrine of Ekāmra, the lord of Vāraṇa Śaila as well as goddess Kāmākṣī, the destroyer of sins and defects of the Kali Age.

8. Janārdana (god Viṣṇu) was delighted by the longterm penance of the intelligent sage who constantly engaged himself in deep thoughts for the welfare of the world and who melted with pity (for the world).

9-10. Assuming the Hayagrīva (Horse-headed) form the lord manifested himself in front of the sage. The person of the Lord was constituted of pure cit (consciousness), with his arms brightly shining with a conch, a discus, a rosary of beads and a book. It filled the entire universe with its lustre of immeasurable brilliance.

11. On seeing him, the sage was filled with delight. He frequently bowed down with great humility and eulogised the lord of the universe.

12. Then the lord of the universe said, “I am pleased with your penance. O excellent Brāhmaṇa, welfare unto you. Choose your boon.”

13-14. Asked thus by the lord, the excellent sage said—“O Lord, if you are delighted with me, it behoves you to tell me how and by what means can the ignorant and vulgar creatures get released”.

On being asked by the Brāhmaṇa thus, Janārdana the lord of Devas said:

15-17. “This same question was put tome formerly by Śiva. The same question was asked thereafter by god Brahmā. Then it was put by Durvāsas as subsequently by you. Let my advice and directive be popularised among the people of all worlds by the noble-souled persons like you, the teachers of all living beings. This is my boon.

18. I am the prime cause of living beings, the original creator and the lord. I am the cause of creation, sustenance and dissolution of everything.

19-22. I am Trimūrti (the Trinity). I transcend the three Guṇas. I am devoid of Guṇas as well as am the substratum of Guṇas. I sport as I wish. I am the soul of all living beings. I am of the nature of Pradhāna and Puruṣa. Even as I, O Brāhmaṇa, continued the assumption of the Cosmic form it was split into forms namely Pradhāna and Puruṣa. My form as Praḍhāna is of the nature of all Guṇas and the worlds. The other form which is beyond all Guṇas, is the Great one. It is greater than the greatest. On knowing these two aspects of those two forms thus, one is liberated from Saṃsāra.

23. At the end when the effects of evil actions perish on account of austerities continued for a long time as well as through Yamas[2] and Niyamas[3] (Restraints and holy observances) and Tyāgas (renunciation of things), Salvation is immediately attained.

24. That form which is endowed with Guṇas is attained by means of identity with these Guṇas. The other one which is the Cosmic form is acquired as a result of good actions and their enjoyment.

25. What is obtained by good actions is obtaṃed by renunciation and generosity too. Of those two, O ascetic, Tyāga (renunciation and generosity) is very difficult to be practised by all.

26. The means that is easy of access and free from loss and decay is that based on Sat and Asat (Good and evil) Karmans.

27. The Jñāna (knowledge) that is acquired by means of the Guṇa present in one’s own self, whether it is Sat or Asat and by means of unity of souls, bestows all Siddhis.

28. Merely by meditating on that form, the sins and evils of those men who commit heinous crimes and those who are outside the pale of three Varṇas, turn into meritorious-deeds.

29. There is no doubt indeed that those who worship the supreme Śakti (power) in accordance with the injunctions or otherwise are liberated souls. They (do not suffer due) to worldly existence.

30. By worshipping and propitiating her (the Parāśakti) and a so by means of the power of meditation and Yogic practice, Lord Śiva became the leader of all Siddhas and also became the lord, half of whose body has the female Śakti form.

31-34. Other Devas too with god Brahmā (the lotus-born lord) as their leader have become Siddhas due to the power of meditation on her.

Hence, in regard to the entire world, nowhere can there be a simultaneous attainment of worldly enjoyment and salvation without the propitiation of Goddess Tripurā.

You shall attain liberation by keeping your mind and vital air fixed in her, by performing worship unto her, by directing all desires unto her and by performing all holy rites with the soul identified with her.

This esoteric doctrine has been recounted, O excellent sage, by me, because I have been pleased with your penance. Further, it is recounted with a desire for the welfare of all.

May Devas, sages, Siddhas, human beings and others attain Siddhi (spiritual achievement) greater than the greatest, by acquiring (this doctrine) through your lotus-like mouth”.

35. On hearing these words of Hayagrīva, the lord wielding Śārṅga bow, (sage Agastya) bowed down to him and spoke these words to Viṣṇu (slayer of Madhu).

36. “O Lord! It behoves you to recount to me of what sort is that form that has been mentioned by you before, what is its power and of what-type are its sports.

Hayagrīva said:

37. This divine sage Hayagrīva is another partial (incarnation) of mine. Whatever you wish to hear he deserves to relate to you.”

38. After saying this and commanding sage Hayagrīva (like-wise) Hari, the lord of the universe, vanished in front of the pot-born sage Agastya.

39. Thereafter, ascetic Agastya who was struck with wonder and whose hair were standing on their end (due to surprise and emotion) went back to his Āśrama (hermitage) along with sage Hayagrīva.

Footnotes and references:


Conjeveram, 43 miles SW of Madras. The eastern portion of the town is Viṣṇu-Kāñcī and the western is Śiva-Kāñcī. The chief deity of Śiva-Kāñcī is Śiva called Ekāmranātha and his consort is Kāmākṣī. The story seems to have a Dravidian background as Kāñcī and the south appear now and then.


The moral observances viz. Non-violence, Truth, Non-stealing, Celibacy, Possession-lessness. Some Smṛtis enumerate ten Yamas. Yamas are obligatory.


The restraints, Yogasūtra II. 32 enumerate the following: Śauca (cleanliness), santoṣa (contentment), tapas (austerities), svādhyāya (study of the Vedas) and Īśvara-Praṇidhāna (complete submission to God), as Niyamas. There is variation both in the number and restraints under ‘Niyamas’. cf. KP. II. 11-20-29.

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