Lalitopakhyana (Lalita Mahatmya)

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

This page describes the preparation of materials of worship in mahapadmatavi which is Chapter 35 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 35 - The preparation of materials of worship in Mahāpadmāṭavī

Note: The description of the Mahāpadmāṭavī shows that it is a yogic allegory. It is beyond the “great Halls” of Mind (vv 2-23), Buddhi ‘Intellect’—(vv. 24-33), Ahaṅkāra ‘Ego’ (vv.34-40), the sun-god (vv.41-50), the moon-god (vv.51-58) and of Śṛṅgāra ‘love sentiment’ (vv.59-69), the last being the most difficult to cross. The ‘waters’ of tanks (Vāpis) are stated to be Amṛta (nectar), Ānanda (Bliss, delight) and Vimarśa (discrimination?). The whole description suggests that this must be a figurative description of the Yogic process to the realization of goddess Lalitā, the Cit-śakti. A further point to be noted is the Buddhist influence. The deities Tārā, the chief navigator in Amṛta vāpī (vv. 12-17) and Kurukullā, the chief of boats (Naukeśvarī) in Vimarśa-vāpikā, are Buddhist deities adopted in the Lalitā cult.

Hayagrīva said:

1. Henceforth, we shall recount different chambers of Vāpītraya (three tanks) etc. Merely by listening to these, great prosperity can be attained.

2. Within the thousand-columned enclosure and seven Yojanas away is the great chamber named Manaḥ. It is wonderfully built and beautified with all kinds of gems and jewels.

3. It has Gopuras. gateways, panels and bolts as before. The entire space within that chamber (enclosure) is a nectarine lake.

4-5. There is a certain Rasāyana (tonic beverage) by imbibing which Yogins and Siddhas become very powerful persons. Their bodies become as hard as adamant. They become very wise and intelligent too. That same Rasāyana, has become the water of this lake of nectar. By inhaling its smell alone, one can become the master of beautiful ladies in the form of Siddhis.

6-7. O suppressor of the Vindhya mountain, even without touching it (by inhaling alone), a person gets all his sins destroyed. Along the sides of both the enclosures, on the banks of the nectarine lake, there are many small ponds, all squares of sides half a Krośa each. The bottom of the lake is four Yojanas deep.

8. A series of steps in the lake are wonderfully paved with different kinds of gems and jewels. The swans and cranes in the lake are golden and gem-coloured.

9-12. Moving slowly and gently the ripples and waves dash against the two banks. By drinking the water therein, O Suppressor of the Vindhya Mountain, which is full of tonic beverage, the birds get rid of old age and death there. By means of their perpetual chirping, the Kāraṇḍava (A species of duck) birds appear to be performing the Japa of the Mantra of great potentiality of goddess Lalitā. As the region is entirely covered with numerous ponds, there is no other way of approaching that place without a boat. Moreover, without the permission of Mantriṇī and Daṇḍanāthā, no one can enter the region. There is a great Śakti named Tārā working there as the deity in charge of the portals.

13-14. Tārā has many female attendants. They are dark in colour like the blue lotus. With thousands of gemset boats, they sport about in the waters of the lake, playing on their lutes, glutes, drums etc. They go to and fro between the two banks frequently.

15. The boat-women of Tārā are crores in number. They are all in their fresh bloom of youth. They dance and repeatedly sing the meritorious glory of the goddess.

16. Some of them have oars in their hands. Some have horns filled with water in their hands. They drink the nectarine water of that lake. They move about in hundreds of rafts and boats.

17-18. Mother Tārā who is the chief among those Śaktis who row the boats and whose complexion is dark, does not permit even the three-eyed lord to sail in the waters of the lake without the permission of Mantriṇī and Daṇḍanāthā.

19-21a. The group of Śaktis in charge of the boats and rafts of Tārā is very beautiful. They sing and sail about in boats rendered beautiful by means of gems and jewels. At every step they recite instances of the great munificence and exalted state of the empress. They steadily drink wine in goblets of rubies. In every boat there is a jewel-studded abode of fascinating features where they live.

21b-23. Some boats are made and beautified by gold, O sage, some are made of gems and precious stones. Some boats are in the shape of sharks and crocodiles. Some of them are deer-faced Some boats have leonine faces and some are elephant-faced. Surrounded thus by boats of wonderfully variegated forms, Mother Tārā shines splendidly. She possesses her own huge boat.

24. Rowing continuously in the waters of the lake, both clockwise and anticlockwise directions, Tārā guards this enclosure.

25. Within the enclosure of Manaḥśāla (Chamber of mind) and seven Yojanas away from it is the enclosure well-known as Buddhiśāla (Chamber of Intellect). It is four Yojanas in height.

26. The entire space in the middle of that chamber is occupied by Ānandavāpikā (the lake of Bliss). The great divine wine rendered highly fragrant by the Bahula (Mimusops elengi) flowers and having the lustre of heated gold serves the purpose of water in that river.

27. The depth etc. of the lake of bliss are recounted as before. The structure of the series of steps etc. and the nature and features of the birds—everything is as before.

28. By frequently drinking the water therein viz.: wine, the Śaktis stationed on its banks become mad with inebriation and play about. They become excessively red (in their faces) due to intoxication.

29. The goddess Vāruṇī herself is the official in charge of the fleet of boats. They call her Sudhāmālinī and also Amṛteśvarī.

30. She is surrounded by an army of Śaktis stationed in the boats studded with gems and jewels. By her mere glance, she makes the three worlds perfectly inebriated.

31-33. She resembles the midday sun (in refulgence). Her cheeks become red on account of intoxication. Her tresses are exquisitely embellished with garlands of Pārijāta flowers with which they are tied. She holds the goblet filled with wine where lotus flowers move to and fro. In another vessel set with jewels, she holds well-cooked piece of meat. Thus Vāruṇī, the leader of the fleet of boats, shines. Only at the bidding of Mantriṇī and Daṇḍanāthā does she give permission to anyone to cross the lake and not otherwise, even in the case of the three-eyed lord.

34. Then within the great enclosure of intellect and seven Yojanas away from it, is Ahaṃkāra Mahāśāla (the great chamber of Ego). It is fitted with Gopuras as before.

35. The entire ground, O sage, between those two chambers is occupied by the pond named Vimarśavāpikā (the lake of deliberation and consideration). It is in the form of the Nectar of the Nerve Suṣumnā (or of the Suṣumnā ray of the sun).

36. Within the great Yogins, in their inner mind, there is wind filling it. In the hollow of the bonelike nerve Suṣumnā there is the most excellent Amṛta (Nectar).

37. The same is the water in that lake, O ascetic. It is remembered that the series of steps from the banks, birds, fleet of boats everything is as before.

38. The gentle lady, the deity of the boats is well known as Kurukullā. She has dark complexion and features like Tamāla tree. She wears dark-coloured bodice.

39. She is surrounded by other deities of boats, all on a par with herself. Her hands are placed on a jewel-set oar. She is perpetually in a state of intoxication.

40. Seated in her jewel-studded boat, O sage, she moves about all round. The depth of water in the lake is mentioned as before.

41. Within the enclosure of ego and seven Yojanas away from it is the Sūryabimbamahāśāla (the great chamber of the solar disc). It is four Yojanas in height.

42-43. The space in the middle of that chamber is filled with Kuruvindakas (the fragrant grass called cuperus rotundus). Formerly, the rising Aruṇa (charioteer of the sun) was greater than the sun (in refulgence). The great goddess Lalitā stays[1] (?) there where the early morning sunlight spreads. The sun performed a great penance and secured that lustre.

44. The groups of planets, the constellations and stars—all these performed penance here and attained the power of illuminating the worlds.

45. Mārtaṇḍa Bhairava is present there, O sage, in twelve different forms. He is accompanied by Śaktis of fiery refulgence numbering crores.

46. He is Mahāprakāśarūpa (having the form of great radiance). His eyes are pink due to inebriation. He is eagerly engaged in perpetual sports among the groves of Kaṅkola (piper cubeb) trees, O suppressor of the pride of the Vindhya mountain. He is wholly absorbed in it.

47. His great Śakti is Mahāprakāśā by name. Cakṣuṣmatī is another Śakti. The deity Chāyā[3] is remembered as another (Śakti).

48. Thus he is surrounded by three beloved Śaktis. He continuously repeats the Mantras of Lalitā Maheśānī mentally.

49-50a. He illuminates the sense organs of her devotees and makes them refulgent. He exterminates the dense darkness within and without. There in the region of Bālātapodgāra (where the early morning rays of the sun spread) Mārtaṇḍa Bhairava shines.

50b-51. Within the great enclosure of solar disc and seven Yojanas away from it, is the chamber of Lunar disc. It is four Yojanas in height. It is endowed with Gopuras, doorways, panels and bolts or before.

52-54. The entire space within it is called Candrikādvāra (the doorway of Moonlight). It was here in Candrikādvāra that the Moon-god performed a severe penance and attained his splendour and was born of the eye of Atri. Here he stays with the name Somanātha. He has pure form and features. He shines as the destroyer of darkness in all the three worlds. He enables the world to function properly.

55. He drinks the nectar of moonlight in gobletfuls. He is surrounded by the Śaktis of twenty-seven constellations.

56. Lord Śaśī stays there itself in Candrikādvāra always in his full form. He has his own form and features and is devoid of black spot.

57. The moon spends his time there in Japas, meditations, eulogies and hundreds of worships of Lalitā, along with Aśvinī and others (i.e. constellation Śaktis)

58. There are thousands of other Śaktis named Tārās. They stay near him. That chamber is filled with them.

59. Within the chamber of Moon’s disc and seven Yojanas away from it, is the chamber named Śṛṅgāra (toilette.) It is four Yojanas in height.

60. It is made of Kaustubha jewels in the form of dressing chambers.

In its centre the entire space is called Mahāśṛṅgāra Parikhā (moat of great amorous sentiment).

61. Within the encircling Parikhā (moat) filled with Śṛṅgārarasa (the essence of the sentiment of Love) there are Śṛṅgāra Śaktis. They sparkle in their diverse kinds of jewels and ornaments.

62. Haughty with intoxication, they move about in thousand boats. They always worship and serve the flower-weaponed lord (Kāma) who is also intoxicated and who is seated in his boat.

63. Subject to the control and commands of Lalitā he enchants all the worlds, entire universe by means of his arrows beginning with Sammohana (that which fascinates and deludes).

64. Those who are enchanted by his power go to the region of Mahāpadmāṭavī in order to honour and worship (Lalitā). They take up and assure pure guise and garments. They are full of devotion to Lalitā. With great concentration in their minds they proceed towards the region of Padmāṭavī (Park of lotus flowers).

65. But neither Suras nor human beings nor the celestial Siddhas become competent to go there. But Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśa, who are naturally pure in their minds go to the region of Mahāpadmāṭavī at her bidding.

66-67. Men of worldly inclination, those who are blind with passion, those who indulge in wishful thinking and too much of fanciful imagination, men excessively excited, those who are dusty and dirty due to doubtful and indecisive knowledge, men who are deeply immersed in passionate attachments—all these are not competent or clever enough to cross the moat of Mahāśṛṅgāraparikhā which causes delusion even to the mature people.

68-69. The officer incharge of Mahāśṛṅgāraparikhā is Smara (God of Love) who enchants even the three worlds. Therefore, no one becomes powerful enough to go to Mahāpadmāṭavī after going beyond all his (army)[4] that causes fascination and delusion even to the great.

70. Then, within the chamber of Śṛṅgāra and seven Yojanas away from it, is the great abode of Cakrarāja named Cintāmaṇigṛha (the abode of Philosopher’s stone).

71. The entire ground in its centre is embellished with jewels and precious stones. It is called Mahāpadmāṭavī.[5] It bestows all good fortune, exalted grandeur and great felicity.

72. There are Gopuras in the chambers (beginning with) Śṛṅgāra and ending with Mahākāla, O sage. The arrangement of Gopuras, in all the four directions is like this.

73. It is mentioned that in all the quarters, there are altogether a hundred Gopuras, O sage. The chambers are splendid and it is mentioned that they are twenty-five in number.

74. I shall describe the region of Padmāṭavī which extends to one Yojana and which is the root of all the chambers, O sage, listen attentively[6].

75. An intervening space of six Yojanas is entirely paved and beautified with Ratnas (jewels and gems). All round the place there are Sthalapadmas (Dry land-lotuses) of huge stalks.

76. The stalks are one Yojana in length covered with soft thorns. The length of the leaves is equal to the height of ten palm trees.

77. The filaments of the lotuses have a length equal to the height of five Tālas (Palm trees). The pericarps are reputed to be as high as ten palms.

78. There are many crores and crores of lotuses here. They are very tender and in perpetual bloom. They have very agreeable fresh fragrance and wide petals.

79-80. O Pot-born sage, in the eastern portion of the Mahāpadmāṭavī chamber is the base of the Arghya vessel (vessel for materials of worship to venerable persons). It is fiery by nature and a Krośa high. It is circular in shape extending to a Yojana. It is endowed with ten Kalās, O Pot-born sage.

81-83. All round that base there are Śaktis with blazing bodies. The chief among them is Dhūmrārcis. They are the ten Kalās of Vibhāvasu (Fire-god). They have radiant youthful splendour. They are adorned with different kinds of ornaments. They are gracefully lethargic due to love. They stay all round the fire-god in close embrace, the fire-god of great glory who constitutes the base (of the Arghya vessel). The following are mentioned as the ten Kalās of Vahni (the fire-god) who stays in the form of the base, viz.: Dhūmrārcis, Uṣṇā, Jvālinī, Visphuliṅginī, Suśrī, Surūpā, Kapilā, Havyavāhā and Kavyavāhā.

84. The sun-god assumes the form of a vessel and occupies that base, the sun-god whose rise is well reputed as the destroyer of darkness of the three worlds.

85. That vessel constituted by the sun is one and a half Yojanas in height and its bottom is a square of length and breadth extending to a Yojana each. It is excessively refulgent and radiant.

86. There are twelve Kalās of extremely sparkling rays with their bodies in contact with that vessel all round like dolls.

87. They are:—Tapinī, Tāpinī, Dhūmrā, Marīci, Jvalinī, Ruci, Śuṣumnā, Bhogadā, Viśvā, Bodhinī, Dhāriṇī and Kṣamā.

88-91. The Arghya intended for the worship of Lalitā is kept in that vessel. It is the cause of great bliss. It is the most excellent Amṛta. It contains the extract and essence of all medicinal herbs. It has an extremely agreeable fragrance. It is rendered sweet smelling continuously by never fading blue and white lotuses of very exquisite scent. It is heartily cool and free from impurities. Its desirable, gentle ripples, hundreds in number, add to its grandeur and splendour It has sparkling appearance with pleasing sounds arising from the moving ripples. It is said to be nectarine Arghya constituted by the Kalās of the Moon. There are many tiny boats made of jewels and gems. The splendid Kalās of the Moon, in their fresh youthful bloom occupy those boats and sport about.

92-93. The following are the Kalās, (digits) of the Moon-god:—Amṛtā, Mānadā, Pūṣṇā, Tuṣṭi, Puṣṭi, Rati, Dhṛti, Śaśinī, Candrikā, Kānti, Jyotsnā, Śrī, Prīti, Aṅgadā, Pūrṇā and Pūrṇāmṛtā. These are the Kalās of the Moon god. They are in full bloom of fresh youth.

Their faces are always beaming with laughter.

94. The following Kalās of Brahmā play there viz.: Puṣṭi, Ṛddhi, Sthiti, Medhā, Kānti, Lakṣmī, Dyuti, Dhṛti, Jarā{GL_NOTE::} and Siddhi.

95. Hari’s Kalās are as follows, Sthiti (Jarā in N.), Pālinī, Śānti, Īśvarī, Tati (Rati, in N.), Kāmikā, Varadā, Hlādinī, Prīti and Dīrghā.

96. The following Kalās of Rudra are also stationed there: Tīkṣṇā, Raudrī, Bhayā, Nidrā, Tandrā, Kṣut, Krodhinī, Trapā (Kriyā in N). Utkarī and Mṛtyu.

97-99. The Kalās of the lord Īśvara are mentioned as four in number with the colours yellow (bright), white, pink and (pale) white, They are Īśvara’s Kalās. Śaṅkara’s Kalās are following sixteen, O suppressor of the Vindhya mountain: Nivṛtti, Pratiṣṭhā, Vidyā, Śānti, Indirā, Dīpikā, Recikā, Mocikā, Parā, Sūkṣmā, Sūkṣmāmṛtā, Jñānāmṛtā, Vyādhinī, Sūkṣmakalā, Vyāpinī and Vyomarūpikā. These Śaktís sport about there.

100. Thousands of Vidyās seat themselves in Rudra’s boats and in the form of Śaktis and play about here and there.

101. They have been employed by Parameṣṭhin to cleanse and purify the Arghya. After drinking that nectarine Arghya, the Śaktis are always elated.

102-103. The Śaktis staying in Mahāpadmāṭavī and Mahācakra always drink this Arghya when they are fresh and rendered fragrant. They fill thousands of gem-set pots and crores of golden pots with that great nectarine Arghya and distribute it among others.

104. The Śaktis attending upon those who stay in the abodes of Cintāmaṇi are proud and intoxicated. They offer this Arghya to Aṇimā and other Śaktis.

105. Thus the preparation and other arrangements of Arghya in the eastern portion of the chamber Mahāpadmāṭavī have been mentioned. Other things also in this matter will be mentioned afterwards.

Footnotes and references:


N. does not mention Lalitā. It simply states : “O sage, there is always the spreading of the early morning light.”


It is strange that Saṃjñā, the legitimate wife of the sun-god, is not mentioned but her shadow (Chāyā) whom she left with her husband and escaped (till the Sun-god’s lustre was modified) is mentioned as ‘beloved Śakti’ of the Sun-god. For Saṃjñā and Chāyā vide VP.III. also PE p.182.


N. reads Sattvam for Sarvam in our text.


The description is continued in the next chapter.


N.B.: The idea seems to be this: All the chambers are connected with Padmāṭavī, the intervals of their joints being one Yojana each.


Sthirā in N. The list of god Brahmā’s Kalās in N. is as follows : Sṛṣṭi, Buddhi, Smṛti, Medhā, Kānti, Lakṣmī, Dyuti, Sthirā, Sthiti and Siddhi. 31-101.

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