Exploring Mystery,Rahasya, of the MUrti

Image Source: Wikimedia

By Jayant Kalawar, January 17, 2023

In this post I am extending my thoughts from  my last post on role of VyAkaraNA in our cognitive process . I want to explore how our ancestors embedded their insights into mUrtis and the role that plays in our upAsanA (the sitting in contemplation next to the Divya Shaktis). The mUrtis embed a subtle language to provide a reflection (pratibimba) of the self. What I offer here is my mimAmsA (interpretation) through a few examples.

As I have been chanting the Sri LalitA SahasranAma almost daily over more than a decade, I have noticed that some of the names spring up spontaneously as I go about on my long daily walk or during mundane chores like washing dishes or doing the laundry. Not only do the nAmAs arise as sound, they emerge as a visualization of the imagery being described. There is a contemplation, a soft churning in the mind, that seems to happen. And sometimes a small insight may emerge. Let me give you an example.

Consider the 17th nAmA of Sri LalitA: ashTami chandra vibhrAja daLika sthala shobhitA. Most of the thousand names, indeed thousand mantrAs, seem tongue twisting to start with. Chanting them with the rhythm of the anushThuba chandA helps us perform ucchAraNa to bring out the sounds – and the flower of the seed mantra begins to blossom. As I do SravaNa of the mantrA, manana follows. ashTami reminds me of the tithi on which we celebrate rising of Sri DurgA Devi during NavarAtri. I imagine looking up in the night sky on ashtami and visualizing a clear bright chandra, slightly greater than half. The mantrA helps me visualize that part of the sky as the Devi’s forehead. With just a slight cognitive shift, I visualize the mantrA’s message that space (the brilliantly lit forehead in the sky) and time (ashTami tithi) is one aspect of the Devi’s myriad spandanA. As that visualization arises, I stop breathing for a few moments. Stopping of the prANic connection, even momentarily, has the potential, when spurred by the mantra, of dissolving one into the ephemeral, beyond space-time.

This one mantra, describing the forehead of the Devi’s Murti, has the power to raise one to ephemeral heights!

The Four Hands, Chatur Bahu, of the Devi’s MUrti

Now let’s consider a more sanguine set of mantrAs, which describe another aspect of Sri LalitA Devi’s Murti: nAmAs 7 to 11.

The 7th nAma describes Sri LalitAmbA’s mUrti as one having four arms, chatur bAhu samanvitA. And then 8th to 11th go on to describe what each of the four arms hold.

In the lower left arm, the Devi Murti holds the noose. In the lower right arm, the goad. The upper right arm holds five long stemmed flowers described as arrows and the upper left arm holds a sugarcane stalk. Next time you contemplate Sri LalitAmbA’s MUrti notice the four arms and what they are holding. Our ancestors designed MUrtis meticulously embedding them with compressed insights.

It is an entire epic manifesting before you. Sri LalitA SahasranAma holds the keys to the treasure of knowledge embedded in the mUrti of Sri LalitAmbA.

The 8th nAmA, rAga-swarupa-pAshADyA, describes the noose in the lower left hand. The shape (swarupa) of the noose (pAshADyA) stands for hungry desire (rAgA) to consume. The hungry desire to consume material objects. Such desire becomes a noose around our neck. It is as if we are on a leash and the hungry desire leads us to consume mindlessly. Sri LalitAmbA’s mUrti is designed to enable introspection, as a reflection of ourselves (pratibimbA).

The 9th nAmA, krodha-AkArA-kushojjvalA, describes the elephant goad in the lower right hand. As a pratibimba of ourselves, the goad (kushojjvalA)  is the drive that is made of AkArA (knowledge arising in forms, shapes in space-time) and passion (krodha). Thus, the desire (rAga, a form of IcchA shakti, the kAraNA) transforms into AkArA in space-time (a sukshma manifestation) and results in action in the sthula, through the channel of passion (krodha). As we know, each word in Sanskrit can be and has been interpreted differently (the MimamsA-TarkA process). Here I am using the pratibimba paradigm (a reflection of ourselves), while at the same time staying true to the Shruti: the Devi is IcchA shakti – JnAna shakti – KriyA shakti  swaroopiNi (658th nAmA in the Sri LalitA SahasranAma).

The 10th nAmA, mano-rupekshu-kodandA, describes the sugarcane stalk in the upper right hand. The kodanda (bow, sugarcane stalk) indicates the potential to manifest the shapes, forms (rupa) in the mind (mana). The shapes, forms in space-time which are referred to as AkArA  are acquired by this potential of kodanda to become rupa in the mind. The cognitive process of acquiring the object and transforming into nAma-rupa is represented by the upper right hand of the mUrti.

The 11th nAmA, panch-tan-mAtra-sAyakA, described the 5 arrows of flowers in the upper left hand. The five arrows represent the five senses, which are deployed to go out and acquire the AkArA, the object, to the manas, to transform it into rupa with an associated nAma. Through such nAma-rupa association, meanings begin to be created.

Thus, the four hands of the Devi’s mUrti are designed to reflect back to the upAsakA (the one who sits at the mUrti’s feet in contemplation), the upAsakA’s own nature. The Lalita SahasranAm is a guide to the upAsakA as she / he visualizes Sri Lalita’S mUrti within themselves and begins to become aware how the Devi’s shakti is manifesting within them.

In that sense LalitAmbA’s mUrti is a yantra, an artifact, embedded with language designed to help us contemplate and understand our cognitive processes as spandanA and how the mAnav spandanA is one of the myriad spandanA of the Devi. As I have shown here through a few examples, guides to open up the mystery, the rahasyA, of each mUrti, are accessible through sravaNa and manana of the corresponding sahasranAmAs[i].

[i] Those, among readers of this article, who wish to research more I would suggest LalitA-SahasranAmA with BhAskararAyA’s Commentary, English Translation (Translated by R. AnanthkrishNa Sastry), The Adyar Library and Research Center, Chennai, 600020, India, 2010. While it is titled as Commentary, it may be more appropriately described as a meticulous compilation of multiple interpretations of each nAmA by many mimamsakAs over millennia. It is a treasure trove of contemplation for upAsakAs.

Letting Go, Building Anew: On Becoming a Somewhat Better Person in 2020

Sri Gayatri MAtA by Raja Ravi Verma Source Wikipedia

ॐ श्री मात्रे नमः Source: Illustration by Raja Ravi Verma as published at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gayatri

By Jayant Kalawar, January 2, 2020

Like clockwork, 2019 has passed us by.

Left us memories of pleasures,

accomplishments and excitements.

Of moments of joy and peace

and exhilaration.

Of disappointments and sorrows,

frustrations and anger.

Deepening some connections,

Beginning new ones.

Weakening some, severing others.


What do I want to keep? What to let go? What do I want to build anew?

Well, actually if I could, I would like to keep just a few specific positive memories from 2019 and let go of the rest, both positive and negative.

I don’t think it is possible to let go of memories. But maybe be they can be moved to some faraway distant storage?! That way they are not lurking around to trigger us every day into doing or saying things that we then regret.

So I begin by thinking backwards from December to January of 2019. Month by month.

For each month I try to remember things that happened that gave me a feeling of well-being and of unease. I think of my health and in my late 60s I have some aches and pains that routinely spring to life. Remembering specific things helps to contemplate on what I should have done differently to manage these little friends that keep springing up. This way I begin to make a ‘lessons learned’ list! I have been able to add a new 3 minute daily exercise for my knees, for example. So I can move my memories of knee pain and weakness away into deep storage and instead add this new exercise segment into my daily activity.

I do the same, to remember the times I may have been upset with my dear and near ones, as I go back in the year, month by month. What could I have done differently so that I would not get so upset? And repeatedly so. The pattern becomes more obvious when I go through such a contemplative exercise for each of the 12 months. Beginning of a new year is a good time to do this, quietly by one self. I learn from it. It is one thing to say I should be more patient. Another to learn for one self how to say something differently, not jump to conclusions for example. Or come up with solutions. Asking more open ended questions in a way that would be less irritating, perhaps. So again, to let go of the memories of the pattern of upsets and hopefully to learn how not to repeat that pattern in 2020.

And then there is problem-solving we all do every day. Whether at home or at work or at play. This is something I particularly like to contemplate on. To see what problem solving was difficult for me. What caused anxiety and how was it resolved. How could I have done that problem solving differently. Much of the problem solving we do is collaborative. Going to buy or sell a car for example. To solve that problem requires many different players and many different factors coming into play. I have to come up to speed on who does what and so on in the car buying or selling process. Lots of prep work needs to be done before going in and engaging to solve the problem of buying or selling a car. Same thing with investing: buying or selling stocks or bonds for example. Or buying or selling a house. Same rules apply: contemplate on specific problem solving events backwards month by month in 2019. What could I have done differently to have better outcomes? What can I learn from that and how can I change how I solve problems in 2020? More research, patience, asking questions, being pro-active are some general things. All this take more time. So giving more time up front in how I plan the problem solving process is something that I hope to build in to the way I solve complex problems in 2020.

Hope you get some idea from these examples of my own step by step attempts to learn from 2019, so I can move most of the memories into far away distant storage while keeping most of the lessons learned. And so, hopefully, become a somewhat better person in 2020 (my new year’s resolution). Perhaps you may try some of this for yourself. Especially if you believe there is room for you to be a somewhat better person in 2020.

To be human is to be….A view from the Devi Lens

Devi Cover for Outsider European Enlightenment Kindle 190506

WIth the Devi’s Blessings. Cover art by Jayant Kalawar 2018.

By Jayant Kalawar

When I wrote the essay Outsider Deconstructing European Enlightenment it was a way of describing what it means to be human, by telling a story of how some humans have done things with each other and with nature around them. Many of us call such descriptions history.

So these humans I describe have a quite a bit of potential to act in different ways. However, much of it has not been switched on (yet).  Most of these humans seem to be very good at utilizing some of their potential, for example: to survive, reproduce, acquire material things and consume them.

That leaves out the potential for courage to be compassionate, to connect with all species on Earth and the Earth itself and to explore and connect with cosmic spiritual vibrations. Such potentials, in most humans, remain untapped. In my essay I talk about how each of these seven potentials (yes, if you go back and count you will see there are seven) are channeled through seven chakrAs.  which I posit makes for being human, when you see humans through the Devi Lens (all that in the essay).

What switches on these potentials? The culture you live in and how you are nurtured plays a big role in throwing these switches on and off. It’s this cultural driver that I focus on in my Outsider essay, to show how it switches on some of our potentials and lets others remain dormant.

In current usage in our digital world, we all live in now, I think it is better to call this driver memetic complex, rather than culture. New memes are produced and old ones are morphed or die every day now in this relatively new digital age. So unlike the past, we have a real chance to develop many memetic complexes (is that the right plural? – but you get the point) that may switch on the entire range of potentials in humans.

I think there are two more drivers for switching on potentials in humans.

One of those drivers I think is the natural environment we interact with, including through breathing, consuming and generally our physical living conditions. I want to explore how this driver actually works within us at the cellular level, through gene expressions and protein pathways. I have barely begun learning about this. But at the moment, my sankalpA is to write my next essay on how natural environment and genetics drive the switching of human potentials on and off. It took me about 3 years to write and self-publish the Outsider essay, after almost 15 years of reading and research (not knowing where it would take me, if at all). So, I have no sense of what may emerge and when that may end up being an essay about this cellular / endocrine driver and how it is tied to the chakrAs. But the general broad intention is present.

The other driver is personal practices, sAdhanA leading to upAsanA. You will notice I am not translating when I drop Sanskrit words into what I write here. It is easy to find meanings with Google search these days. If you are really interested you will do so and in the process perhaps get more and more comfortable with living in a global memetic complex! That one is so personal that I am not sure it could even be an essay. Perhaps a short memoir, some distant time in the future, when some sense emerges that there is something worthwhile to share.

Notice the use of emerging. Rather than aspiring.

If you do download and read my Outsider essay on Kindle, I hope you write and post your comment here. Especially how it made you think differently about what it is to be human and how we go about doing things in this world.

The Feminine and Masculine in Each of Us: Dancing with our Chakras

Reading my previous post may give the reader context for this post.

The Chakras and their Significations

There are six subtle energy centers, which we call chakras, aligned along the spine.

These centers channel energies, which then drive changes in the physical body, and actions by the physical body.

The energy combinations channeled through the six chakras, at any given moment, give rise to our actions.

The MooldhArA chakrA is the root center. Its energy drives actions to support the instinct to survive and grow physically.

The SwadhisTAnA is the creative and pro-creative center. Its energy drives creative energies, including pro-creative actions out of and within the physical body. It manifests as sexuality, which may be channeled both positively and negatively.

The MaNipurA is the acquisitive center. Its energy drives appetite for acquiring and storing all things material. It manifests as risk-taking behavior. It is sometimes described positively as courageous and ambitious and at other times as greedy and deceitful. In the negative it gives rise to actions based on fear.

The AnahatA is the emotional center. Its energy drives nurturing and affection on one hand. It can also give rise to the opposite: anger and hate.

The ViSuddhA center provides energy for articulation. Its energy drives vocalization and expression of the balance between the energies of the AnahatA and the AjnA centers. Depending on which of the two centers are more dominant, the ViSuddha will channel more emotional or more analytical expression.

The AjnA is the center for analytical intelligence. Its energy drives processing of information gathered by the 5 senses, comparison with memories of past experiences with corresponding actions directed at the action centers of ViShuddha, AnahatA, MaNipurA, SwadhishTAnA and MooldhArA.

The SahasrArA is the center for conceptual abstractions. Its energy drives the direction of the other six chakrAs described above, more towards spiritual, and relatively less towards the material.

Correlating Chakra significations with Gender: Role of the Physical Body

The female physical body manifests capability to pro-create and nurture. To activate these capabilities it draws upon the energies of the MooldhArA, SwadhishTAnA, MaNipurA and AnAhata.

When the female body is more focused on acting out its role of pro-creation and nurturing, its Vishuddha center expresses more emotion reflecting the active AnAhatA than the analytical energy of the AjnA.

The male physical body manifests capability to acquire and protect what it has acquired. It therefore draws upon energies of the MaNipurA and AnahatA (channeling those energies more towards determination and fixedness and competition, than towards nurturing and affection and collaboration), which it expresses through Vishuddha.

The entire range of energies are available to all physical bodies, whether female or male.

Which energies the body draws upon depends on which aspect is most open to be activated in a given phase in life and in particular social configurations and contexts:

  • Different phases in life e.g. whether in puberty and youth, vs in old age, for example.


  • Different social configurations e.g. whether in hunter-gatherer, agricultural, industrial or digital social configurations.

Social rules of thumb, in different social configurations, have been formed over time with general observations about what works best to sustain that particular social configuration.

These social rules of thumb, to enable sustenance of a particular social configuration, may lead to gender differentiated roles and expectations.

For example:

  • certain expected division of labor for pro-creation and maintenance of family, on one hand


  • acquisition and accumulation of material requirements for sustenance, on the other,

in an agriculture based social configuration

  • may have led to certain social rules of thumb of roles to be played by those with female bodies and those with male bodies.
  • This in turn would have led to the need to access different combination of chakra energies by female bodies, as compared to the male bodies.

As social technologies (i.e. how technology is used within a society) have changed, so have the social configurations and the possible roles played by individuals, whether with female or male bodies.

The lines between the social roles played by those with female bodies and those with male bodies may become blurred, especially as the need to for focus attention and energy on basic survival and pro-creation decreases, as we move from agricultural and industrial configurations to digital configurations, as we move from agricultural and industrial configurations to digital configurations.

When Gender Generalizations and Differentiations Do Not Work: Welcome to the 21st Century

As the demand for varying combination of chakra energies to survive, pro-create, acquire and accumulate decrease in a particular social configuration due to changes in social technologies:

  • individuals, with both female and male bodies, tend to move towards drawing upon the energies of AnahatA, AjnA and SahasrArA to express through the VishudhA.

The social technologies of the 21st centuries appear to be going, at least in early 2017, more towards the human body making less demands of both the basic survival and pro-creative energies from the MooldhArA and the SwAdhisTAnA. The acquisitive, accumulative energies still continue to be in demand, at the moment. We therefore see corresponding changes in how human bodies are acting: mostly by accessing MaNipurA (acquisitive), AnahatA (passionate determination) and AjnA (analytical intelligence). This configuration does not need to differentiate between male and female bodies.

Social roles based on gender differentiation focused on basic survival and pro-creation now make less sense.

Social context in practice of vibrational mantra for activating energy centers

Vibrational mantras (set apart from contemplative mantras) are practiced to activate specific energy centers.

The GAyatri mantra is a vibrational mantra, practiced to activate the AjnA energy, to enable access to analytical intelligence.

Practice of the GAyatri mantra on a daily basis over a sustained period of time may lead to more energy channeled towards analytical (AjnA) actions and relatively less energy towards survival (Mooldhaara) and pro-creative (SwadhisTAnA) actions.

The VishudhA expressions may also be more analytical and less compassionate and nurturing, by those practicing the GAyatri.

The GAyatri mantra practice, therefore, may not make sense to be practiced for those with female bodies, who wish to be mostly active in pro-creation and compassionate nurturing.

In the 21st century social configurations there are many with female bodies who do not find themselves in roles requiring long-term focus on pro-creation and nurturing.

They may be expected and required to perform roles which require sustained access to analytical energies.

The number of those with female bodies who will be playing these analytical roles may increase quite substantially in the next few decades.

Whether they will be assisted in their endeavors by chanting the GAyatri in a sustained manner in the long-term, is something that would need to be observed.

To sum up, ChakrA energy centers by themselves are gender neutral. The female and male physical body requires varying combination of energies from each of these energy centers in different phases of their lives, depending on the roles they are playing in the particular social context they find themselves in.

A well-designed comparative empirical study, of a carefully chosen test group and control group of women (and a similar parallel test and control groups of men), would certainly help to validate (or otherwise) the implicit multiple hypotheses, laid out in this article, about how vibrational mantras may impact male and female physical bodies differently.

The comments and suggestions from readers are welcome directly via email to the author at 21Banyantree@gmail.com .

KulAmrutarasikA: the 90th MantrA of the LalitAsahasranAmA


Sri Chakra representation drawn by Jayant Kalawar

By Jayant Kalawar

In the 22 mantras, spanning the 90th through 111, the LalitA SahasranAmA (those unfamiliar, please read this overview link) describes how LalitAmbA, Mother LalitA plays within us, as She rises from the MooldhArA to the SahasrArA.

The 90th mantra describes her at the top in the Sahasrara:

kuḷāmṛtaika rasikā

This mantra occurs in the 36th verse of the LalitA SahasranAmA, which is:

mūlamantrātmikā, mūlakūṭa traya kaḷebarā |

kuḷāmṛtaika rasikā, kuḷasaṅketa pālinī || 36 ||


The vibration of the mantra connect us to LalitAmbA, LalitA-Mother (AmbA). Listen to the link above and chant the mantra. You are calling out to the Devi LalitA, the Mother (Devi pronounced it as They-vi, for those unfamiliar with SamskrutA). And the Mother responds to your call.

Many of us though would like to know the ‘meaning’ of the mantra. That helps too, as it helps to create a visualization. How to chant a particular mantra with what focus and visualization is best as a one-on-one conversation. The vibration of the mantra along with the visualization can and does begin to change the vibrational structure of the individual. It is something to be learned when one is ready to begin connecting with the more subtle aspects of oneself, after gradually stepping away from the attachments of sense based objects.

Just to give a high level sense of the verse:

Rasika is the enjoyer. LalitAmbA is playing and enjoying. What is She enjoying?

Amrut: that which is opposite of Mrut, death. Non-Death. LalitAmba enjoys the state of Non-Death when She reaches the SahasrArA, where she meets and dances with ShivA.

Shiva is always sitting in meditation bathing in peaceful moonlight at the Sahasrara. Awaiting his beloved LalitAmbA to join Him.

LalitAmbA works through a series of obstacles to rise from the MooldhArA to meet her beloved ShivA in SahasrArA.

She awakens Him out of his meditative state in the Sahasrara. They begin their celestial dance.

And the Amrut, Non-Death, flows in the subtle plane.

In the physical plane it flows out of Kula: the body.

Hence, the practitioner tastes the sweetness when the Devi Shakti reaches the SahasrArA. It  flows as KulAmrut.

For LalitAmbA is indeed the RasikA, the enjoyer, of KulAmrut.  Hence KulAmrutaikarasikA.

The reader may have noticed, in the description above, how gender apparently seems to play a role. The feminine principle, LalitA rises to meet the male principle, Shiva.

Where does this take place? In each of our individual subtle bodies. So in that sense, each one of us has something that we may categorize as feminine and also masculine.

It is the meeting of these two principles within each of us culminates in the subtle celestial dance, which produces the A-Mruta, the Non-Death state.

It is also interesting to note that the 1000 mantras of LalitA are roughly divided, in terms of gender ascription, into one third feminine gender nouns, one third masculine gender nouns and the rest as neuter gender nouns.

Many of you may be interested to know more about how both the feminine and masculine principles play a role in each of us. I have written more about that here.


Connecting Your ChakrAs to the Thousand MantrAs

First let us chant the shAnti mantrA, which many of us are familiar with:

purnam adah, purnam idam purnat purnam udachyate; purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate (Brihadaranyaka Upansidhad 5.1.1, which is part of the Shatapatha Brahmana, which is part of the Shukla Yajur Veda)

This verse is repeated in Isha Upanishad (part of Shukla Yajur Veda) as the first verse.

There are various interpretations of this verse. I leave it to the reader to do a web search to get these range of interpretations.

This is my interpretation: what is in the entire cosmos is fully embedded in each micro element, and any composite set of micro elements that we perceive and interact with. I take this as an axiom. I call it the Fullness axiom. Rest is my proposition, arising from this axiom, as applied to specific word descriptions in the Lalita SahasranAmA. The proposition suggests actionable knowledge for you. To help you understand your own nature and have better sense of how to navigate through your world of experiences. Hence what follows may be of interest to you.

The Proposition

Our human body is just such a composite of micro elements. Applying the Fullness axiom, in principle the human body contains all that is in the entire cosmos. Let us view the human body as being made of multiple layers of chemical components moving about in space over time. These layers of chemical components interact with each other through neural vibrations.

The systematic descriptions of the world based on the Veda (known as ShastrAs) speak about three passages which connect the perineum area of the body to the top of the skull. Neural vibrations travel on these major highways. There are six interchanges on these highways, from which local networks lead to different parts of the human body. These six interchanges are called ChakrAs. The Lalita SahasranAmA (LS) specifically speaks of two speed bumps which slow down and serve as check points at each of the interchanges. Some of the interchanges have three check points. Getting past these check points requires the vibrations to have certain energy levels. Proper functioning of these check points and having the required vibrational energy levels are required to ensure smooth flow of neural vibrations throughout the human body. Blockages at these check points can lead to a dysfunctional human body.

In each of the articles linked below (I will add sporadically as I write and post on a mantra, as and when inspired by LalitAmbA), I take up one of 22 mantras, from the 1,000 mantras, in the LS. The 22 mantras span the 90th to the 111th mantra in the LS and describe how LalitAmbA manifests (and what results from such manifestation) as her energy travels the path from the MooldhArA to the SahasrArA.

The 90th MantrA: Kulamrutaikarasika is described at this link: