Lalitopakhyana (Lalita Mahatmya)

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

This page describes greatness of kamakshi which is Chapter 40 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 40 - Greatness of Kāmākṣī

Agastya said:

1. What are the different sportive and gracious activities of Mahātripurasundarī who is installed on the pedestal of Kāmakoṣṭha and who is well-renowned as Kāmākṣī?

2. That goddess Mahātripura-sundarī who is Maheśvarī herself is well known as Śrīkāmākṣī. She is stationed in the terrestrial sphere. What are the activities of this goddess? O most eloquent one, recount to me her divine life.”

Hayagrīva said:

3. “Although she is stationed here (on the earth) O Pot-born Sage, she abides in the heart of everyone. She bestows the fruit of acts on all embodied beings in accordance with their different activities.

4. Whatever happens in the world is the result of her activities. One may think something, but she disposes of it freely in accordance with her will.

5-7. The Śaktis beginning with Tripurā are her own incarnations. She herself was Mahālakṣmī. She created three eggs formerly. Those eggs were the abode of the three great Devas as well as the three Śaktis. From one egg were born Ambikā and Puruṣottama; from another egg were born Śrī (goddess of wealth) and Viriñca (Brahmā) and from the other the third, were born the goddess of speech and Śiva.

Maheśvarī united (in marriage) Indirā (the goddess of wealth) with Mukunda (Puruṣottama). She joined Parameśāna with Pārvatī and Pitāmaha with Sarasvatī.

8. She employed Brahmā in the task of creating the worlds, Vāsudeva in the task of sustaining and the three-eyed lord (Śiva) in the task of annihilation.

9. All these stay in Brahmaloka, Vaikuṇṭha and Kailāsa (respectively) always meditating on Mahālakṣmī, the bestower of welfare.

10. Once goddess Pārvatī was sporting about on the splendid peak of the Kailāsa. She then closed the two eyes of Maheśa.

11. Since the Sun and the Moon were his two eyes, the whole of the three worlds became enveloped in darkness. It was devoid of light all round.

12. Then the people in all the worlds abandoned the rites pertaining to the Devas and the manes. They were confused as to what they should do. They could not comprehend anything.

13. On seeing it, lord Rudra spoke to Pārvatī thus:—“Sin has been committed by you, O gentle lady, by closing my eyes.

14. The sages have abandoned their penances. The followers of the Vedic injunctions have dropped their Sandhyā rites (Vedic prayers and rituals). O Ambikā, all the Vedic rites have been ruined by you.

15. Hence, for the expiation of the sin, perform the difficult task of penance. Go to Kāśī and perform holy rites and observances there for some time.

16. Go to Kāñcīpura afterwards. There you will see Kāmākṣī. Propitiate this eternal deity Śivā who destroys all sins.

17. Keep the Holy basil Tulasī plant in front of you, perform penance on the banks of Kampā”.

After having directed her thus, Mahādeva vanished there itself.

18-19. Īśānī who wished to follow the instructions of her lord, acted accordingly. By the penance of long duration, she became afflicted but her heart did not turn towards anything else. Kāmākṣī manifested herself in front of Śivā and spoke these words:—

“Dear child, O lady of good holy rites, I have become sufficiently pleased with your severe austerities”

20-23. Afterwards Pārvatī opened her eyes and saw the goddess Ambikā stationed in front of herself. She had the refulgence to ten thousand rising suns. She was bedecked in all types of ornaments such as crown, necklace, armlets, bangles and other types of jewellery. Her hands shone with noose, goad, sugarcane bow and the five arrows. The crescent moon shining on the top of her crown served as the ornament. It was she who engaged Brahmā, Hara, Rudra, Īśa and Sadāśiva in their positions. They call her Saguṇa Brahman. She is designated as the highest goal. She was the creator of two Universes.

24-27a. On seeing the great imperial Divinity, she became highly delighted. Hairs stood on their ends all over her body. On account of pleasure her eyes beamed. Along with her friends such as Caṇḍikā, Maṅgalā and others, she suddenly circumambulated her and fell (at her feet) with eight limbs (touching the ground). With the palms joined in reverence, she bowed down once again to the goddess who was identical with herself. Mahātripurasunḍarī looked at her kindly and lovingly and after embracing her with both of her arms, said to her thus:

27b-30. “Dear one, obtain Rudra as your husband as desired by you mentally. For the sake of defending everything in the world follow my instructions. Where is the difference between you and me? Undoubtedly you are I myself. What sin can there be in your case, O lady of great felicity? Indeed you are the destroyer of sins. Leading Yogins consider you alone as the deity, in the form of Brahman. O dear one, this is but a sport, a great fascination unto the entire world”.

As the great Empress said thus, Sarvamaṅgalā bowed down to her. By looking at her she attained great pleasure.

31. Even as Pārvatī was eulogising her, the other deity entered the heart of the delighted deity (Pārvatī) O great sage.

32. She was struck with wonder and pondered over the incident again and again—“Is this a dream that has been seen by me? Or is it a misconception and illusion?”

33. After pondering thus she glanced all round. Thereupon, she saw her smiling friends Jayā and Vijayā. As they bowed down to her she became delighted and said to them.

34. “O dear ones, where had you been so long? Did you see Kāmākṣī seen by me?”

35. On hearing her words their eyes beamed with ecstatic delight. After placing the flowers intended for worship in front of her, they said:—

36. “It is true that the great goddess has been seen now by both of us. It is neither a dream nor an illusion. She directly went into your heart”.

After saying this, both of them bowed down humbly and sat beside her.

37. At the root of the sole mango tree, the lord (Śiva) who was in agony due to separation from Bhavānī, controlled his sense-organs and meditated on Kāmākṣī for the sake of acquiring Gaurī.

38. The great presiding deity Śrīvidyā was present there also. Delighted very much she kindly spoke to Śiva who was steadily meditating on her:—

39-41. “Stop your meditation, O destroyer of arrogance of the god of Love. At my behest, accept once again the God of love who too abides by my directions. Stay here perpetually on my Pīṭha named Ekāmra, O deity of holy rites, by coming to my vicinity voluntarily for pleasing me. Do bless Gaurī who resides on the banks of the river Kampā. Eschew two-fold distress that arising from your Yogic activities (i.e. penance etc.) as well as that arising from her Viyoga (separation)”.

After saying this the great goddess Ramā vanished there in his heart.

42-45. Śiva, the intellgent one, immediately got up after getting her blessing. Śiva who was attended upon by all Devas became delighted in his mind. He boldly got up suddenly. He meditated upon Mahātripurasundarī from whom the twofold world consisting of the mobile and immobile beings rises up and in whom it merges. He accepted Śivā who was adorning the river Kampā and whose mind is filled with sympathy. He accepted Śivā in accordance with the (religious) injunctions regarding marriage alliance. He took her with him, rode on his bull and went to the peak of Kailāsa.

46. Listen to another thing, O Pot-born Sage of great intellect. O sinless one, I shall tell you the power of the primordial Lakṣmī.

47-48. The three deities went to the assembly of Brahmā and sat there. The guardians of the quarters, all Suras, Yogins beginning with Sanaka, the celestial sages beginning with Nārada, Vasiṣṭha and other ascetics—all these gathered together there. Both Brahmā and Śiva had five faces. Hence they could not differentiate them.

49-51. They asked one another—“Who is Brahmā? Who is Śaṅkara?” Even as they were discussing among themselves, Śiva vanished immediately.

Then an argument rose between the five-faced Brahmā and dark-coloured Viṣṇu—“O ignorant one, you are born from the lotus that came out of my navel. Hence, you are my son”. I am Brahmā the maker of creation” (said Brahmā). “There is similarity in name. You two—you and Rudra—are my sons since I am the creator”.

52. Thus both of them were deluded by Māyā. Between them appeared Maheśvara in the form of a great column of fire as though to demonstrate his greatness in them as Brahmā.

53-54. After realising that it was Maheśāna, Viṣṇu remained silent. But the five-faced Brahmā stood there showing disregard to him. Over Brahmā’s heads there was a wheel of brilliant splendour.

In the middle of that circle the lord Śiva manifested himself along with Umā. Brahmā looked up once again and spoke these words disparagingly.

55-56. On hearing those words, the destroyer of the Tripuras became enraged. He glanced at Viṣṇu too like this angrily and emotionally. From them both was born Bhairava endued with anger. With his nail he picked off one of the heads of Brahmā. All the persons there shouted and shrieked “Alas!” and ran away.

57. The skull of Brahmā stuck to the nail of Bhairava who tried to shake it off again and again but it did not fall off.

58. In order to get rid of that sin of Brahmin-slaughter, he wandered over the whole of the Earth visiting all holy spots and the great rivers, like Gaṅgā etc.

59. Kapālī (one holding the skull i.e. Bhairava) was not released from that sin of Brahmin-slaughter. His very face indicated his despondent state. He appeared dejected and devoid of splendour. After a long time he reached Kāñcī where Brahmā had stayed before.

60-63. There he begged for alms every day and served the great goddess Śrī. He took bath every day in the Pañcatīrtha (Holy waters of that name) that had all the characteristics of a sacred place. Bilvala (? Bhairava) stayed there for some time as though utterly confused. On account of his stay in the holy place viz. Kāñcī he gradually became pure in heart and got rid of all agony. He mentally meditated on Śrīdevī who was served by Lakṣmī on the north and Vāsudeva on the South. He came to the Śrikāmakoṣṭha and stood in front of it. Practising self-control he meditated upon the feet of Ādilakṣmī.

64. Checking the movement of vital airs within, Acaleśvara (i.e. Lord Bhairava who did not move) remained motionless like a lamp in a place where no wind blows and like a sea with no ripples on it.

65-66. Bhairava who was unrestricted in his activities performed an unbroken series of meditations—unbroken as like the continuous flow of oil—on the lord of the daughter of the mountain and Śrī (the greatest goddess). Neither Brahmā nor Viṣṇu, nor Kapila the great Siddha, nor Sanaka and others, nor the sages like Śuka and others were competent to perform such a deep, concentrated meditation.

67. On account of the sacred feelings regarding Śrī and Yogic practice, Śiva attained identity with Ṣrī. Thereupon, goddess Śrī Devī was delighted. In the middle of the night she stood before him surrounded by a halo of brilliant refulgence. She who was identical with speech (i.e. goddess of speech) spoke these words—

68-69. “O Śrīkaṇṭha, the destroyer of all sins, what is the sin unto you? You are identical with my form, what about difference in body? This is the delusion of the whole world. By tomorrow you will be instantaneously liberated from the sin of (Brāhmaṇa slaughter). After saying this, Mahāsiṃhāsaneśvarī (Goddess of the great throne) vanished there.

70-71. Bhairava became delighted in his mind. He considered himself blessed due to the vision of Śrī. He spent the remaining part of the night by engaging himself solely on meditation on Śrī. Early in the morning he took his bath in the Pañcamahātīrtha and performed Sandhyā rites. Thereafter, he repeatedly shook hand (in order to remove) the skull sticking to it.

72-74. Even then, it did not drop down. Hence, he became very much despaired. “Was that a dream? or (the deceptive) Māyā? Or was it a hallucination? Thinking thus repeatedly Īśa became utterly perplexed in his mind due to grief. Thereafter, he controlled his grief. Śiva, the leader of courageous persons, bowed down to the dais of the holy basil plant and worshipped it. He stood before it with all the sense organs perfectly under control. Then once again he entered the state of ecstatic trance.

75-79. When a Yāma (3 hours) passed by, the goddess again appeared before him. “O Śambhu, stop your meditation. Dip yourself here in this excellent lake”. After commanding thus she vanished. He became worried “Is this too a Māyā (delusion) Or is this a dream? What should be done by me? Previously this had been mentioned by the Supreme goddess Śrī Devī.” By tomorrow you will be instantaneously liberated from the sin of Brahmahatyā”. A period of three hours has elapsed in the course of this day. Such being the case, everything is false”. Thus the lord became agitated with more worries. At that time a roaring sound was produced by the ethereal voice—“Dip yourself in the water”. On hearing this, Śaṅkara got rid of his suspicions and came to a decisive conclusion. He dipped himself in the lake but got up in Gaṅgā.

80-82. On seeing Kāśī there, he began to think “What is this?” He stood thus silently for a Muhūrta (short period) with the skull still sticking to his finger-nail.

On seeing that the sun had sufficiently risen up to scorch everyone’s forehead, Śiva of great self control and having the crescent moon (over his forehead) entered the city for the sake of alms.

Wandering along the main street, he went to a few houses. Then he saw in front of him a certain woman having the same form and features as those of Śrī Devatā of Kāñcī.

83. She gave him alms in the form of a refulgent mass of splendour and immediately vanished. Instantaneously that Kapāla (skull) of Brahmā dropped down from the tip of his nail.

84. On seeing that wonderfully excellent act of Kāmākṣī, the lotus-like face of Śiva became delighted. He honoured it very much.

85. He thought that the city in front of him was the city of Kāñcī that the holy river in front of him was the great river Kampā and the deity was Kāmākṣī herself.

86. Thus, due to the power of the goddess, Hara was liberated from his difficulty. Regaining normalcy he went to his own abode, praising the greatest Śrī.

87. I shall recount another gracious activity of great potentiality of Śrīmahādevī. Listen, O Pot-born Sage. To those who listen to it, it always yields whatever is desired.

88. There was a glorious king named Daśaratha ruling over Ayodhyā. For a long time, he had no issue and he was grief-stricken.

89. The intelligent king, very pure in conduct, secretly called his priest Vasiṣṭha who was conversant with the subject matter of all Śāstras (scriptures) and said—

90. “O glorious one, I have spent a long time but I have not obtained a single son. My agony due to (yearning) for a son increases continuously. What shall I do whereby I will get a child? Please tell it to me.”

Vasiṣṭha said:—

91-95. “O great king of Manu’s race, I shall tell you a secret—Ayodhyā, Mathurā, Māyā, Kāśī, Kāñcī and Avantikā—these are mentioned as highly meritorious (cities). They are the most excellent ones among the excellent cities. Men in Ayodhyā worship Mahātripurasuṇḍarī, the presiding deity, merely by her presence. There is no other great goddess equal to or similar to her. It is this Śrīdevatā, O king, that all others, Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Maheśa etc. along with their womenfolk always worship with clusters of coconuts, jack fruits, plantains and plenty of excellent articles such as honey, ghee, sugar and varieties of milk puddings. One should worship Tripurāmbikā with all these articles and other special varieties for readily prepared things. She alone will grant ere long all that we desire”.

96. The king duly honoured hís preceptor who told him thus. For the sake of obtaining a bosom-born son, the king duly presented to his preceptor various articles of gifts that he desired and sent him back.

97. Thereafter, the leading king endowed with great devotion worshipped Lalitā Parameśvarī in the manner mentioned by his preceptor.

98.[1] (Defective Text) Thus he performed the worship every day with delighted mind and having appropriate contacts, he ruled over Ayodhyā which had become the abode of the deity.

99-100. When the midnight hour had passed, the lamps continued to burn quietly. Due to sleep he was a bit lethargic. Goddess Tripurāmbikā appeared in front of him in a romantically exquisite dress and make-up. She held the noose, goad, bow and arrows in her four hands. She was embellished in all ornaments. Standing there she gently spoke these words to the son of Indumatī, Daśaratha.

Devī’s Speech:

101. O glorious and sinless Daśaratha, you are destined to have sons. There are certain sinful activities performed by you before, such as breach of faith, treachery etc.

102. For the purpose of subduing such sinful activities, go to the excellent city of Kāñcīpura. After taking your bath in the Kampā, see me the sanctifying (goddess installed there).

103-104. In the middle of the city of Kāñcīpura you will see Kāmakoṣṭha in the middle of the ethereal cavity. It is the destroyer of sins with seven cavities in the form of doorways. It indicates the (attainment of) Empire. It bestows the achievement of the three aims in the life of men (i.e. virtue, wealth and love). I am sitting there facing the East. I am Mahāsaneśvarī (the great goddess of the throne).

105. I am in the form of Mahālakṣmī with only two arms. I hold a lotus (in the hand). I am Cakreśvarī, the great queen, invisible to ordinary persons with the gross (ordinary physical) eyes.

106-109. To my right is seated Mahāgaurī born of my eyes. She is the utmost limit of the essence of beauty. She is bedecked in all ornaments. She has been allotted residence there by me. She has two arms and she holds a lotus (in the hand). She is stationed there in the form of Mahālakṣmī or in the form of a Kṛtyā (female deity presiding over magical rites). She is born of a part of mine. If a person sees her from the pedestal to the crown, all his great sins perish. What then is the case of Upapātaka (minor sin)? Bad inclinations, bad intellect, a series of arguments with evil motives, an ugly untidy physical form, all feelings and atheism—all these perish or disappear.

110. Perform great Pūjā unto me with sugar, honey, ghee, milk puddings, different kinds of edibles and foodstuffs and articles having six tastes.

111. I shall be delighted and shall fulfil your boon”.

After advising him thus the Empress of divine physical form vanished.

112-113. The king got up suddenly. He thought with surprise—“What is this?”. He wakened queen Kausalyā who too had witnessed some auspicious characteristics and eagerly told her details of his nocturnal vision. On hearing it, the queen became contented.

114. Early in the morning the delighted king set out for Kāñcīpura along with his wife, ministers and armies and reached it.

115-122. He took his bath in the river Kampā and visited the sanctifying goddess. Thereafter, the king took his bath in the Pañcatīrtha along with queen Kausalyā. Accompanied by his wife, he pleased the residents of that holy spot and sacred shrine by means of cows, lands, clothes, gold and other articles of gifts. They (in their turn) praised his devotion. With great devotion the excellent king entered the precincts of the temple. With great humility, he circumabulated three times. Thereafter, along with queen Kausalyā, he came to Sannidhi (the front portion of the idol) and observed Mahātripurasundarī whose abode was Kāmakoṣṭha, who is the mother of the Trimūrtis (Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva) and who is present there in the form of Śrīcakra. Along with his wife the devout king bowed down and prostrated with the eight limbs (touching the ground). In his own city, there was a temple of Tripurā formerly built by Ikṣvāku and set apart by Durvāsas along with his disciples for the purpose of worship. It had the full complement of men and women servants and various kinds of festivities and celebrations with hoisting of flags and erection of special abodes. There he had carried out the highly rich worship himself as instructed by his preceptor. At that time in the course of a dream at night, in his own city, he saw a mast of splendour in a particular form. The excellent king saw the very same thing in the Sannidhi (Sanctum Sanctorum) of the goddess and meditated upon it.

123. After meditating for a long time, the great king offered the deity many excellent garments and divine abodes. Thereafter, he eulogised her.

The Prayer:

124. “O goddess appearing splendid and beautiful on account of the great ornaments handing down upto the toe of the feet! O goddess having lotus-like feet rendered beautiful by the rays and lustre of gems and jewels fitted on to the anklets!

O goddess having lovely and delicate golden girdle glittering above yeīlow robes, (O goddess) whose creeperlike arms are beautified by means of armlets, bracelets and bangles.

125. O goddess with the Puṇḍra variety of sugar-cane shining as bow in the delicately soft and tender left hand, with the gem-set ring and flowery arrows beautifying the right hand.

O goddess having white garlands and necklaces lying gracefully over the curves of breasts, O goddess whose body is rendered beautiful with the arms shining brilliantly due to the noose, goad and ornaments of armlets.

126. O goddess who had conquered the beauty and splendour of the disc of the autumnal moon by the splendour of your face, whose cheeks have been adorned by the sparkling rays of gems in the earrings; O goddess who hold a lotus with an excellent fibrous stalk in the left hand, O Maheśi (great goddess) with side-glances exuding a stream of kindness.

127. O goddess with conch-like neck sparkling with necklaces set with rubies and other jewels, O goddess having forelocks brightly illuminated by the crescent moon stationed on the forehead, O goddess having sparkling smiles and beautiful nose, O goddess who had conquered the petals of the blue lotus by the brightness of the eyes.

128. O goddess with excellent creeper-like eyebrows, beautiful face and remarkably fine forehead, O goddess who are like a female swan having its abode in the lotus of the Mānasa lake of leading Yogins, O goddess having a large golden crown inlaid with gems and jewels, O goddess who are beautiful in every limb and who are worthy of being saluted by all leading gods.

129. O goddess who are the bestower of boons in accordance with the desires of the devotee, whose mind melts with compassion, who are proud (?) of her imperial assets, O goddess of the mystic wheel, O goddess whose lotus-like feet are served by Indra and other Devas, O great goddess of the throne, be manifest to me”.

130. After eulogising thus with devotion that king came out and visited Mahāgaurī seated in her right side.

131-133. He prostrated before her like a straight staff on the ground. He eulogised her also and offered various kinds of valuable robes and very costly ornaments. Then he circumambulated her along with his wife and came out. He then performed the great Pūjā in accordance with the injunctions of his preceptor. Meditating on her alone, he stayed there for seven days.

134. On the eighth day he bowed down to the goddess with devotion. He mentally prayed thus—“O mother, grant me what I have desired”.

135. Kāmākṣī who was very much delighted, spoke through the ethereal voice:—“O king, four sons will be born to you. They will be my own parts”.

136-137. On hearing this utterance, the face of the son of Indumatī beamed with pleasure. Without having anyone else as his refuge, he prostrated before Śrī with eight limbs (touching the ground). He took leave of the great Mother goddess mentally. Then he went to the city of Ayodhyā along with his wife and ministers.

138. Kāmākṣī has such potentiality. She desires the welfare of all the worlds. She fulfils completely the desires of all her devotees.

139. Many have duly and devoutly worshipped Kāmākṣī the greatest deity in the worlds and have attained all their desires.

140. Even today, the devotees do obtain the benefit, O sage, of the benign glance of Kāmākṣī. Many will be like that (in days to come).

141. Who is competent to extol the greatness of this deity Śrīdevī? Neither I nor Śambhu, nor Brahmā nor Viṣṇu. What then about others?

142. Thus the brilliant conduct (and kindly deposition) of Kāmākṣī has been recounted to you to a certain extent. It is remembered as destructive of sins of those who listen to and read this.

Notes on the greatness of Kāmākṣī:

This chapter gives the following stories about the greatness of Kāmākṣī.

Pārvatī sportingly closes the eyes of Śiva and commits the sin of dislocating the religious life of the world. She is made to atone for it by penance on the Kampā. Śiva, in his loneliness—under Ekāmra tree performs Penance at Kāñci. Due to Kāmākṣī’s blessings to both, they are united forever (vv. 19-45).

(ii) Quarrel between Brahmā and Viṣṇu about Personal Superiority—Śiva’s appearance as column of fire—Brahmadeva’s arrogance to Śiva for which Bhairava plucks Brahmā’s Head—Bhairava relieved of his Sin of Brahmahatyā through Kāmākṣī’s grace (vv.46-86)

(iii) Birth of Sons to Daśaratha, King of Ayodhyā (vv. 87-137)

This story has no basis in Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa; the first two stories have some basis in other Purāṇas, but here (as expected) our author changed them to glorify Kāmākṣī.

Footnotes and references:


N correctly reads:

Ayodhyā-devatā-dhāmni Śiṣye tatraiva saṅgataḥ /

“He slept in the shrine of the goddess of Ayodhyā”.

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