Lalitopakhyana (Lalita Mahatmya)

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

This page describes manifestation of seven chambers and the daughters of matanga which is Chapter 31 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 31 - Manifestation of Seven Chambers and the daughters of Mātaṅga

Note: The present chapter deals with the construction of the capital of Śrī-Lalitā and her consort Kāmeśvara. The trinity of gods—Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara, the sons of Lalitā Devī, commissioned Viśvakarman and Maya, the architects of Devas and Asuras to build the cities Śrīpura or Śrī-nagarī.

Agastya said:

1. What is this called Śrīpura? [see notes above] Of what form and nature is it? By whom was it built at the outset formerly. Narrate everything to me.

2. What is its extent? What is its colour? Tell me, O holy lord. You alone are the veritable sun for drying up the mud of doubts.

Hayagrīva said:

3-4. Lalitā Parameśvarī who was born out of the great sacrificial fire, carried out the playful activity viz. of marriage (with Kāmeśvara). On being requested by Brahmā and others, she (secured the chariot Cakraratha endowed with all the characteristics mentioned before) and defeated the Asura named Bhaṇḍa who was thorn (a source of trouble) for the whole world.

5. Thereupon, Devas beginning with lord Mahendra attained great satisfaction. They, therefore, were eager to build a splendid mansion for Kāmeśvara and Lalitā, fully furnished with all the objects of daily utility and enjoyment.

6-7 Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara, the sons of Lalitā devī, invited Viśvakarman [see notes above] the carpenter of the Devas, skilled in all mechanical arts and crafts as well as Maya, the architect of the Asuras, who was a great expert in employing Māyā. At the behest of Lalitā, they received them duly and said.

Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Rudra, the Authorized officials said:

8. O Viśvakarman! Conversant with all arts and crafts, O Maya of great prosperity, you both are well-versed in all sciences (of engineering and architecture), you are experts in the process of building up and creation.

9-10. By mere conception and imagination, you both can evolve wonderful constructions of great artistry. Śrī-Nagarīs should be built by you both for the sake of Lalitādevī who is the great ocean of eternal wisdom. They should be embellished with different kinds of jewels. They must be in the centres of the sacred spots of Ṣoḍaśīs and should be sixteen, in number.

11. It will be there that Lalitā Parameśvarī after dividing herself into sixteen (distinct forms)[1] for the sake of protecting the universe, will stay permanently.

12. This is pleasing to us. It is pleasing to the gods too. It is also pleasing to all the worlds. Let it be built under that name itself.

13. After listening attentively to these words of Kāraṇadevas (Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Rudra, executive officials among gods in charge of specific activities such as creation, sustenance etc.), Viśvakarman and Maya bowed to them and spoke—“Let it be so”.

14. After bowing down once again, both of them asked the Kāraṇapuruṣas—“In which sacred spots should the Śrīnagarīs of great prosperity be built?”

15. On being asked thus, Brahmā and others spoke to those artisans once again, assigning the divisions of the sacred spots in a befitting manner.

Kāraṇapuruṣas said:

16-17. The earthly (terrestrial) sacred spots are nine. The first one is on the top of Meru mountain, then on the Niṣadha mountain, on mount Hemakūṭa and on the Himālaya. The fifth one is on the Gandhamādana. The other four (sacred spots are) on the Nīla, Meṣa, Śṛṅgāra (v.l. Śṛṅga) and the great mountain Mahendra. These are known as the, nine terrestrial sacred spots.

18-20. The Aquatic sacred spots are declared as seven. They are in the seven oceans, viz. the salt sea, the sea of sugarcane juice, the sea of liquor, the sea of ghee, the sea of curds, the sea of milk and the seventh one the sea of pure water.

Thus nine great mountains have been mentioned before, afterwards seven oceans have also been mentioned. Adding together there are sixteen sacred spots for building the Śrīpura of Ambā. You are artisans and craftsmen skilled in erecting buildings of divine workmanship. In those sacred spots, you do build the divine mansions of Lalitā of great prowess.

21. The names of the mansions of Devī who killed the great Asuras shall be famous certainly by the names of the Nityā deities.

22. That supreme Deity by her Nityā form pervades Kāla. The goddess controls the whole of the world by her power of subduing.

23-24. She is the great queen of the Nityā deities. Hence she is Nityā. There is no difference between them. Hence the different cities are famous by the respective names of the Nityās such as Kāmeśvarīpurī Bhagamālāpurī, Nityaklinnāpurī etc., These names are well-known.

25. Hence, both of you build the excellent city in accordance with the great principle of architecture (beginning) on an auspicious and suitable day, (on the day fitting with the ṃitial letter of the name?)

26. On being told thus by Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara, who were the leaders entrusted with the work of causation (i.e. creation, sustenance and annihilation) both of them built Śrīpurīs in the different sacred spots.

27. Further, I shall mention the extent of Śrīpura and the deities presiding over the cities. Listen attentively, O husband of Lopāmudrā.

28-29. The mountain Meru[2] is the support of everything. It is many Yojanas in height. Its body passes through all the fourteen worlds. It has four peaks in the east, in south-west, in north-west and in the middle. Their height is being mentioned.

30. The three peaks mentioned in the beginning are each hundred Yojanas in height. There are three Lokas (worlds) there.

31. They are Brahmaloka, Viṣṇuloka and Śivaloka. I shall narrate how the abodes are arranged in these worlds on another occasion.

32. Listen to the extent and height of the peak in the middle. It is four hundred Yojanas in height and extent.

33. It was on that great peak that Śrīpura was built by the artisans. O Pot-born sage, it extended to four hundred Yojanas.

34. The various divisions therein are being pointed out to you severally.

It is said that the first (outermost) fort-wall was built of iron.

35. Its circumference was a thousand and sixteen Yojanas. It had gateways in the four directions. Its height was four Yojanas.

36. The girth of the root of the chamber (i.e. at the bottom) was, O sage who drank the ocean, ten thousand Yojanas. Two Krośas beneath the top, separate windows were made.

37. The height of the doorway of the chamber was a Yojana. In every gateway there were two door panels each half a Gavyūti wide (i.e. one Krośa).

38. Every door frame was a Yojana in height and was made of iron. The bar for fastening the two door panels was half a Krośa long.

39. Thus everything was the same in all the four doorways. I shall mention the situation regarding the principal gate (Gopura), O Pot-born sage.

40-43. (Partially defective text). At the foot of the enclosure mentioned before, a distance of a Yojana is left in the middle. On either side, two Yojanas are taken and the whole edifice is erected.

The width is also the same with the doorway in the middle. Two Yojanas on either side and one Yojana of the enclosure in the middle. Together O sage, the extent comes to five Yojanas. The two sides (? side-domes etc.) were two and a haīf Krośas wide; each together the width comes to five Yojanas (? Krośas). It was thus, O sage, that the Gopura (ornamental gateway) was built.

44. Hence the total girth at the bottom of the Gopura was twenty Yojanas (i.e. a square of sides each five Yojanas in length). The higher we go up the Gopura the girth decreases.

45. The height of the Gopura is mentioned as twenty-five Yojanas. At intervals of a Yojana each there were beautiful doorways with doors.

46. The storeys were also as many. The higher one ascended the narrower they became. The extent of the top of Gopura was one Yojana.

47. The length also was the same. But three crowns (domelike structure) were fixed there. The extent of the dome, O Pot-born sage was a Krośa.

48. The height of each crown was two Krośas, the tapering feature, O sage, was the same as in the case of Gopura. The space within the crown (or between two crowns) was measured as half a Krośa.

49. On the Gopura of the southern gateway the crowns were arranged from west to east. On the Gopura of the western gateway the crowns were arranged from south to North.

50. It is said that the crowns on the northern gateway were arranged as in the case of the southern gateway. The arrangement of the crowns on the Eastern gateway was the same as in the case of the western gateway.

51. Within the enclosure (chamber) named Kālāyasa (i.e. one made of iron) at a distance of seven Yojanas was the Kāṃsyaśālā (bronze enclosure). Within the enclosure of bronze the arrangement of Gopuras etc. was in the same way as before.

52. The girth of the enclosure at the bottom is described as before. This enclosure of bronze too had doorways in the east and other quarters.

53-54. There were Gopuras on every gateway with the characteristic features of steps (or storeys). The annular space between the iron enclosure and the bronze enclosure, O Pot-born sage, was a big park with various trees. Whatever Udbhijja (sprouting and germinating species i.e. plants and trees etc.), (was in the world) was also there.

55. There were thousands of trees with perpetual blossom flowers and fruits. They possessed the splendour of tender sprouts for ever. They were endued with perpetual fragrance.

56-64. There were thousands of trees[3] such as mangoes, Kaṅkolaka (a plant with waxy aromatic berries, Piper cubela), Lodhra (Symptocos racemosa Roxb), Bakula (Mimusops elengi), Karṇikāra (Cassia fistula Linn), Śiṃśapa (Dalbergia sissoo Roxb), Śirīṣa (Acacia sirissa), Devadāru (Himalayan cidar) Nameru (Elaeocarpus ganitrus), Punnāga Nāgabhadra, Mucakunda (Pteropermunt suberifolium), Kaṭphala (Kayphal in marathi, for description MW.), cardamons, cloves Takkola (Pimenta acris), camphor trees, Pīlu (Salvadora persica), Kākatuṇḍa (the dark Agallochum), Śālaka (N. of a tall tree), Asana (the tree Terminalia tomentosa), Kāñcana (a plant akin to Premna spinosa), Āra (a kind of plant), Lakuca (Artocarpus lacucha—a kind of bread fruit tree), Jack-fruit tree, Hiṅgula, Pāṭala (Bignonia suaveolens—tree bearing trumpet flowers), Phalinī (a species of plant Priyaṅgu), Twisted Ficus oppositifolia, Gaṇikā (= sākuraṇḍa, N. of a plant), Bandhujiva (Pentapetis phoenicea—a plant with red flower) Pomegranates, Aśvakarṇa (the tree Vatica roburta, has leaves like horses-ears) Hastikarṇa (Butea frondosa) Campaka (the campaka tree Cāpta in Marathi) Kanakadruma (A thorn apple and many such plants like Carria sophora) Yūthikā (a kind of Jasmine), Tālaparṇī (Anethum graveolens), Tulasī (the holy basil plant), Sadāphalā (Ficus glomerate, or coconut tree), Palmyras, Tamāla, Hintāla (a variety of Palm), data Palms, Saccharum sara (used for arrows), a Barbura (a species of Ocimum villosum), sugarcane, different species of trees of Ficus, genus, Cordia latifolia, Terminalia belerica, the yellow myrobalan trees, Avākpuṣpa (trees with blossom turned downwards, Ghoṇṭālī (the jujube tree), varieties of plants with heavenly perfumes, the marking-nut plants, Khadira (Acacia catechu), Śākhoṭa (Trophis aspera), sandal trees, aloe wood trees, Kālaskandha (Diospyros embryopteris), Tamarind trees, Banyan trees, varieties of racemosa, Terminalia arjuna, Ficus religiosa, Śamī trees, Dhruva trees, Rucaka (the citron tree), Kuṭaja (Wrightia antidosenterica), Saptaparṇā (Alstonia scholaris) Kṛtamāla (Trees cassia fistula), Kapittha (Feronia elephantum), Tintiṇī (Trees with sour fruits) and thousands of other trees.

65. For the sake of causing and enhancing the romantic feelings of the goddess, the specialities of all the different blossoms were present on those trees. There were excellent trees of various heights.

66. Within the bronze enclosure, at a distance of seven Yojanas, there was the square-shaped copper enclosure. It was seven Yojanas in height.

67-69. The space in between these two is called Kalpavāṭikā (A park of Kalpa, i.e. wish-yielding tree). Those trees bore abundant fruits which were exquisite with golden outer rinds and which had seeds like precious stones and gems emitting the fragrance of camphor. Divine yellow (silk) garments were the tender sprouts and shoots on their branches. Nectar was the honey juice exuding from them and ornaments were their flowers. There were many such glorious wisḥ-yielding trees there.

70. This is the second chamber named Kalpavāpī (? Kalpavāṭī—N.). Within the copper enclosure was the Nāgaśālā (v.l. Sīsa-śālā, tin or lead enclosure).

71. The place in the oblique direction situated in between these two extended to seven Yojanas. The park there-in was Santānavāṭī having the same shape and features as Kalpavāpī (Kalpavāṭī).[4]

72. The space in between them is called Haricandanavāṭikā. It is of the same shape and features as Kalpavāṭi and was full of fruits and flowers.

73. In all these enclosures the arrangement of doorways, Gopuras and the crowns on their tops was as before.

74-75. The measurement of the openings in the Gopura. and that of every doorway and door panels was also the same as before. Within the brass enclosure (Ārakūṭa). If the reading Nāgaśālasya is taken—the lead (tin) enclosure) and seven Yojanas from it was the enclosure made of five metals and it was of the same (size and) shape as the previous one. The space in between them is called Mandāradrumavāṭikā. (A garden of Mandāra trees).

76. Within the enclosure of five metals and seven Yojanas from it, it is said, was the enclosure of silver endowed with, all the characteristic features mentioned before.

77. The space in between them is called Pārijātadrumavāṭikā (Garden of Pārijāta trees). It was filled with divine fragrance and it shone with heavily laden fruits and blossoms.

78. Within the enclosure of silver was the golden enclosure. It was said to be extending to seven Yojanas. It was rendered splendid by means of doorways as before.

79. The space in between them is said to be Kadambataruvāṭikā (A garden of Kadamba-Nuclea (cadamba trees). There were many divine Nīpa (Kadamba) trees two Yojanas in height.

80-81. Liquor flowed down from them always. Those trees sparkled on account of plenty of closely blossomed flowers. Those Nīpa trees from the garden yielded a splendid liquor named Kādambarī which yields pleasure even to Yoginīs and which appealed to Mantriṇī always. They had excellent shade. They had plenty of leaves and shoots. The spaces between the trees were always filled with the humming sounds of swarms of bees eagerly desirous of fragrance.

82-84. The beautiful mansion of Mantranāthā was there itself. In the intermediate points of the quarters beginning with south-east (i.e. S. East, S. West, N. West and N. East) four lofty mansions were built by the primordial Architect. The extent (area) of each of them was five Yojanas by five Yojanas. Their situation was in the shape of a square. In the other intermediate points of quarters there were Priyaka trees (i.e. Nīpa). This is glorified as the city of abode of Śyāma.

85-86. There was another city for the stay of the army in the region of Mahāpadmāṭavī. If her residence too were to be there itself, many Yojanas away it would have been impossible for Mantriṇī to serve Śrīdevī every day. Hence, in the vicinity of the Cintāmaṇigṛha too, a mansion of Śrīmantranāthā was built by the architect of Devas as well as by Maya.

87. What person even if endowed with two thousand tongues will be able to describe the so many (innumerable) good points of the mansion of Mantriṇī-devī in Śrīpura.

88. The honoured daughters of Mātaṅga sport about and sing here with the lute of sweet notes, whose eyes have become reddish on account of (imbibing) the tinge called Kādambarī.

Agastya enquired:

89. Who is this sage called by the name Mātaṅga?[5] How is it that his daughters perpetually serve Mantraṇīnāthā though they are lazy and slow due to intoxication by means of liquor?

Hayagrīva said:

90. There was a great ascetic, a mass of austerities (as it were) named Mātaṅga. He was richly endowed with great prowess. He was keenly interested even in creating a world.

91-93. By means of his intellect invigorated by the power of penance, he could press his power of command into service everywhere. His son Mātaṅga of courageous mind propitiated Mudriṇī (the deity having the signet ring) Mantrīnāyikā, by means of severe austerities. On being served for a long time by the son of sage Mataṅga, Mantriṇī went over to him and commanded him “Choose your boon”. Mātaṅga the most excellent one among the sages, the storehouse of penance said to Śyāmalāmbikā who manifested herself before him.

Mātaṅga the great sage prayed:

94. O goddess, merely by remembering you all the Siddhis beginning with Aṇimā (minuteness) and all other glorious assets and powers have been realized by me.

95. O mother, in all the three worlds there is nothing which I have yet to attain because I have realized all desires and I have been fortunate enough to remember your activities always in my memory.

96. Still, your presence here shall not be fruitless. I shall request for only this, O mother. Fulfil this boon.

97. Formerly, I had intimate association with Himavān, being friendly with him and cracking jokes with him. Playful and haughty he swaggered with words improper to be uttered.

98. “I am the father of Gaurī”, so boasted he. That statement was not liked by me, because he had more of good things in him.

99. When two friends have the same quality (and position) and if one of them gets something more for any reason, it is natural for the other to covet the same.

100. Though I have realized all my desires yet O Mantriṇīnāthā, I have performed penance to get the glory of being the father of Gaurī. Hence be my daughter.

101. Thereby and undoubtedly you will become well known through my name”.

On hearing these words uttered by Mātaṅga, the great sage, she said, “So be it” and vanished. The sage became pleased.

102. In the course of a dream, she gave the great sage Mātaṅga, with great joy, a bunch of Tamāla flowers as ornaments for the ears.

103. Due to the power of that dream, the wife of Mātaṅga named Siddhimatī conceived Laghuśyāmā in her womb.

104. Since she was born of him, she is glorified as Mātaṅgī. She was called Laghuśyāmā, because Śyāmā was her root cause.

105. Crores and crores of beautiful daughters of Mātaṅga along with the groups of Laghuśyāmā, Mahāśyāmā and Mātaṅgī attained the status of subsidiary Śaktis and they serve Priyakapriyā (Mantriṇī fond of Kadamba i.e. Nauclea cadamba).

106. Thus the origin of daughters of Mātaṅga has been mentioned, O Pot-born sage. So also the seven chambers, the enclosures made of iron etc. are mentioned.

Footnotes and references:


The number sixteen has a special significance in this Māhātmya. The letters of Lalitā’s full Mantra are sixteen, so are her forms and as shown below (vv.16-20) the same number of sacred spots—nine mountains, on the earth + seven oceans—are the sacred sites for building Śrī-nagarīs.


The Verses 28ff describe Śrīpura on mount Meru. Though Pāmīrs are identified with Meru, the mountain described here is fictitious.

This Śrīpura had seven ramparts and enclosures. The walls were made of iron, bronze, lead, copper, silver, gold and within each enclosure the garden of heavenly trees viz. Kalpa, Santāna, Hari-Candana Mandāra, Pārijāta etc. The palace of Mantriṇī had a park of Kadamba trees.

The structures e.g. Gopuras show that the Māhātmya was composed by a South Indian. Constant reference to Kāñcī Kāmakoṣṭha etc. confirms this theory.


The botanical terms for plants mentioned here are taken from MW.


The five trees in Paradise are: Kalpavṛkṣa, Mandāra, Pārijāta, Santāna and Haricandana (yellow Sandal). There are parks or gardens of each of these celestial trees in the text.


This Mātaṅga sage is Lalitā’s devotee and is different from the one in VR or referred to in PE, pp. 492-93.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: