How The 8 Ashta Matrikas Elevate Consciousness
By Swami Ayyappa Giri, Tantracharya,
Yogini Ashram, Norwalk Ca.
Published on 12 February, 2015
The classic battle, from which the ancient eight Mothers (Ashta Matrikas) famously emerged victorious, represents the war between the inmost Divine Self and the ego. Victory over ego and destruction of illusion alone is the great battle of every sincere soul in their journey to enlightenment. On a macrocosmic level, it heralds the ultimate victory of the collective divinity in achieving full awareness of the one limitless undifferentiated consciousness.
From the Mists of Antiquity the Matrikas Emerge
A small group of ancient Mother-Goddesses, known as the Ashta Matrikas, have emerged from hoary antiquity, possibly as early as 2000-3000 BCE or earlier. Tantric literature from the 6th century which has survived to our present time, tell us that worship of these Goddesses became a standard feature in temples throughout India by the 9th century. It is said that each of these eight Goddesses manifested as eight themselves, resulting the the celebrated 64 Yoginis, so central to Tantra. Each of these Goddesses represents the core energy and potency of the primary male deities. Each is associated with a certain level of perfection in the awakened woman and man. This ultimately leads to the attainment of miraculous powers (siddhis) which are manifested in the yantras, mantras, kriyas and pujas associated with these Goddess energies. Seven in number, the Matrikas are Brahmani, Maheshvari, Kaumari, Vaisnavi, Varahi, Indrani, and Chamunda. These Goddesses are found in power shrines throughout the Indian subcontinent. The individual mothers can be identified in various ancient temples by their weapons, ornaments, animal mounts (vahanas), and banner emblems, which are in some cases the same as that of their corresponding male deities. Artifacts from the ancient Indus Valley civilization suggest that this or a similar shakti cluster connected to the constellation Pleiades, emerged many thousand years ago.
The image at right, some 4000 years old, is sometimes referred to as the Seven Matrikas of Harappa. It is considered by adherents of Goddess worship, (Unmani Shaktism) to be the first representation of the the ancient mothers, so treasured by Tantra. These seven Matrikas are thought to be connected to Pleiades and in turn, by Muruga, the dravidian God of war and beauty, whose origins are identified with a constellation in Ursa Major and described in Ancient Tamil texts. During medieval times, an eighth mother, Sri Lakshmi, was added to the Shakti Cluster resulting in the Ashta Matrikas (the eight mothers of wisdom). Were the Matrikas of Indus Valley the origins of the the Matrikas of two thousand years ago?, That question cannot be answered definitively, but the antiquity of the Matrikas that we know today is quite old enough.
Although the specific origins of the ancient mothers are shrouded in the mists of time, devotion to the Matrikas was highly popular and well established by the 6th century, and reached a further peak in terms of followers prior to the 11th century The tradition continues today in tantric and shakti traditions, in whom the divine female is worshipped.
Advent of the Goddesses Kali and Durga
Two overarching Goddesses emerge from ancient times. Kali and Durga. Kali is Durga and Durga is Kali. Although they are differentiated, they are also seen as one. The texts record that even the residents of the celestials in the Divine realm (Deva Loka) could not defeat the buffalo-demon Mahisha, who was running amok creating problems for all those in the light. Mahisha, in fact, is the personification of ego and darkness of consciousness. Turning to Shiva, the celestials were advised to release their inner spiritual power, for the benefit of all. In doing so, Kali Durga was born. Yoga and Tantra have always taught that the impetus and capacity for action comes from the inner divine female and that the capacity for discrimination emerges from the inner divine male. Thus, the inner power, the shakti energy of the Gods emerged in female form as the Matrikas – Maheshvari from Shiva, Vaishnavi from Vishnu, Brahmani from Brahma, Indrani from Indra, and Kaumari from Kumar (Muruga). The Matsya Purana states that Chamunda, both primal and fierce against illusion and ego, was created by Shiva. Although each of the Goddesses maintained their form, they merged their inner power together into a grand light form from which arose a magnificent Goddess with many arms. She would come be known as the invincible Goddess, Ma Durga.
Each of the ancient Matrikas in turn further aided Durga by arming her with their magical weapons – Maheshwari gave her his trisul (trident) to awaken the fullness of her inner power, Varahi gave her a rope with which to bind illusion; Indrani, master of electrical energy, offered her thunderbolt; Brahmani gave the shield of knowledge for protection, Vaishnavi his powerful mysterious discus weapon; Kumari a magical lance, the embodiment action energy (kriya shakti). Surya, the sun-god, contributed his magical bow and arrow, which could reach its target at distance with astounding force and accuracy. Chandra, the Goddess of the moon, gave her convulsive axe, and Yama, the god of death, gave his deadly mace; Vayu, the wind-god, gave his conch-horn, which Durga ultimately blew to herald her victory in battle.
Thus armed, Durga, with cosmic wisdom, laid a clever trap for the evil Mahesha. She rode to the top of a mountain on her lion, where she remained silent and still, in majesty and power. As anticipated, Mahisha, seeing her and attracted by her beauty, came to the mountain. Dumbfounded by her latent sexuality and the raw power of her aura, he lost his thinking mind. Unconscious of her intent and her vast potential to destroy him, he proposed marriage. Durga then broke her silence, “I will marry only he who can defeat me in battle,” she said.”
Immediately taken up by his lower vital, and lost in illusion, Mahisha attacked the Goddess Durga with glee. Legions of demon warriors faced off with Durga’s attendants, the ancient Mothers, and the fight was on.
The illustration above demonstrates the chaotic collision of battle, led by Maha Kali (with dark skin) and Durga (on her lion).
As the battles between the demon army and the Matrikas raged on, Durga’s epic fight continued with the great demon general, Mahisha. She hurled many magic weapons at him to no avail, for each time he arose unscathed. Due to powers gained earlier from Brahma, Mahisha was immune even to the weapons of the Gods. Inspired by higher power, Durga kicked him and he immediately succumbed to the powerful touch of her foot. Durga then impaled him with her most powerful weapon of all, Shiva’s trisul, and blew her conch in victory over the demon king.
Durga fought with great power against the Demonic Mahisha but due to a boon received earlier from Brahma, he was immune to her powerful weapons.
The Devi Mahatmya records the story of Raktabija, who was a demon that was thought to be immune from death. That is because whenever a drop of his blood fell to the earth, a duplicate Raktabija demon would rise up. Durga herself could not vanquish Raktabija so the great Goddess Kali stepped forward to battle Raktabija. As she fought the demon, MahaKali caught each drop of blood with her own tongue. Thus, Raktabija was annihilated. With the help of the eight Matrikas, the entire demon army was vanquished. After the battle, the Matrikas danced and became drunk from the blood of their victim’s. The mystical interpretation of this particular battle is that Kali, Durga and the Divine Matrikas have complete mastery over life force, symbolized by blood, and the capacity to conserve and recirculate that life force.
As the war against the demons concluded, all the Gods descended from the celestial realm and saluted this great warrior-Goddesses and celebrated their triumph. Thus, Durga became known as Mahisha-mardini, the killer (mardini) of the great demon (mahisha).
This classic battle, from which the ancient Matrikas famously emerged victorious, represents the war between the inmost Divine Self and the ego. Victory over ego and destruction of illusion alone is the great battle of every sincere soul in their journey to enlightenment. On a macrocosmic level it heralds the ultimate victory of the collective divinity in achieving full awareness of the one limitless undifferentiated consciousness.
Durga’s story appears many sacred texts, including the Skanda Purana, The Brahmanda Purana, Devi Mahatmya, Kulachunamani Tantra and the celebrated epic, the Mahabharata. The Markendeya Purana links the eight Mothers to the eight cardinal directions which places them at the core of many yantra pujas. The Matrikas are also described in the Matsya, Vamana, Varaha, and Kurma Puranas, as well as the Supra-bhed-agama.
The Devi Bhagavata Purana states that the Supreme Mother, Kali Durga, promised that the Matrikas would fight and conquer demons whenever needed. These eight mothers represent and are extoled as the protectors of the directions and, like the ten Mahaviyas, can be used in puja to seal the energy of the puja.
Hearing about these primal Goddess will elevate consciousness, but learning the practical yogic techniques, as well as the ritual and meditative practices associated with them provides a powerful source of protection and transformation that can be drawn on whenever needed. The practices lead to freedom, power, inner light, and massive energy. There are two forms of Shakti sadhana, (1) Samani, or active and (2) Unmani, or inactive. These sadhanas require practical kriyas which are linked to specific initiations and must be learned from an authorized teacher (adihardi guru), as there are energy transmissions that occur with each, through the Grace of the Sathguru and lineage of teachers. All of these aspects related to the Great Goddesses cannot be overemphasized and cannot be obtained from a book. A fundamental principle of yoga and tantra is that the Sathguru imparts shakti into the mantra as it is passes on from teacher to student. In this way, there are many aspects of Shakti Sadhana that require a teacher, and books cannot be that teacher. Nevertheless, in order to introduce these Matrikas to the reader, their own self descriptive words are recored below. The following are excerpts from an as yet unpublished text, Kali Yogini Tantra, channeled recently, with commentary by the author. It is a work that has required decades of preparation.
Thus Chamunda Devi Spoke…
“I am the great goddess who is loved by the strong, worshipped by the noble, and experienced as the one of transcendent light by the enlightened. I am by nature the wind itself and of the character of perpetual motion. I swirl about chaotically creating confusion and consequences for those who gossip and tell tales. I am the original witch of whispers. I will clear the air and heal the wounds of gossip pain inflicted by this confusion. I bring forth great clarity, focus and intensity. I have been with you from the beginning as a seed, and I am that which is attained at the end of desire. I am Yamas own,”
Chamunda is known as parianganatha, the ruler of sacred erection, for she is the primal source of creative energy. She sits upon a razors edge of pleasure and pain. She is dynamic to the extreme, securing for her devotees anything to advance their spiritual aspiration. Chamunda is the first of the eight ancient Matrikas. She has the nature of the wind (marut/vayu). Chamunda obtains her name from two great demons that she destroyed during the great battle between the Matrikas and the demon army. The demons, Chanda and Munda, were slain by her and thus her name became Chamunda. Chamunda shares much with the Goddess Bagala Mukhi especially in her fight against gossip. The demon of gossip, Paisunya Asura, is said to be deathly afraid of Chamunda. She is propitiated to free ones life from gossip mongering and tale bearers. She is otherwise rarely propitiated by worldly devotees who find her austerity bordering on fearful. The seriousness of her approach should be noted and regular sadhana to her is to be avoided by the ego clingers, mystic power dabblers, and psychic window shoppers, for she is the real thing! She is the fast track from emancipation from the triple demons, karma, ego and maya, but she will exact a price, to be paid in service to the dharma. Against the recommendation of saints, advanced yogis and tantriks, she is sometimes propitiated by those who seek supremacy over an enemy but beware of unintended consequences. In spite of her intensity, she is quite willing to bestow blessings all around. For the yogi or tantric she offers great assistance in any activity or inner growth that requires discipline for she is the embodiment of self discipline. Linked to the God of death, Yama, she is an ultimate enforcer of the inevitable pendulum of karma. Ironically, for the courageous few who seek her confidence, she will tenderly guide the soul to its spiritual destiny as well.
Chamunda herself is intense beyond any recognized standard. In her stance for truth, she embodies self sacrifice. She is connected anatomically to the inner thighs. Mantra sadhaks who are focussed on the inner goal should understand that She presides over Bij Kshara, the root-letter or the seed-letter in which resides the latent power of all mantra.
Yantra: Her yantra has two small inverted equilateral triangles, one within the other. This, in turn, is surrounded by two intersecting triangles forming a six pointed star. Surrounding that are two interlocked squares, one rotated 45 degrees from the other. These squares thus form an octagon design. This is encompassed by a circle of ten petals, then one of twelve petals, then one of fourteen and finally a sixteen petaled pericarp surrounded by a circle.
Her Appearance and Sadhana: Chamunda appears in both a black as well as red form. She rides upon an owl and displays a necklace of human heads. In her two armed form, she carries a trident (trisul) and sword (khadga). In her four armed form, she carries a sword, shield, battle axe and spear, all symbolic of the powers of protection which she gives those who approach her. She sometimes appears as the emaciated and terrifying dark Mother with sunken eyes, sagging breasts and skeletal body. She has a third-eye with veins defined over the course of her entire body. She appears toothless, with heavily hanging earlobes and snake-entwined arms. Her hair is aflame and pulled upwards, wrapped and held in place by a band created from a snake. She is adorned with all manner of scorpions, serpents and other poisonous creatures. The center of her hair bears a terrifying skull. She is witch-like among Goddesses and the Great Powerful Mother among witches. She is meditated upon seated on and engaged in sex with a corpse (maithuna preta). She has full mastery of all mystical powers (siddhis) and can bestow them to those whom she chooses. Her matted hair, like Shiva himself, is adorned with a crescent moon. With an ancient link to both liquor and maithuna, puja to her can include both of these elements and any chakra puja should honor her in some way. She is best worshipped at night with a black or red cloth. Approach her with humility and sincerity and you will be rewarded.
Thus Varahi Devi Spoke…
“I am Satya Ekakini, the Oneness of Truth. I am the expeller of impurities, the multiplier of power. I am the essence of strength, power, and energy. I have dominion over the intellect (Buddhi). As the inner power the boar God Varaha, I enabled his rescue on the physical plane when the demon Hiranya Kashipu, tossed the earth into the cosmic ocean. I plunged into the cosmic waters and destroyed the demon. The spirit of earth, manifesting as a beautiful woman, was carried safely to its place in the universe. I am telling you these things so that you may understand my phenomenal power to rescue any soul caught in unfavorable circumstances. Stand strong within yourself, and look not to others for your power for you have ample strength in your own core, if you care to see it. Doing this, you will find me residing ever within. I am the destroyer of envy, for I free souls from its demonic interference. I am the mystical perfect balance of masculine and feminine energy, divided, yet harmonious. I am the ultimate protection of the pure maiden of 16 summers, guarding all youth and especially females.”
Varahi brings about destruction of ego and self pride and is the second of the eight ancient mothers. She is the cosmic vessel for the God of great tusks, the Boar Avatar. She is the very mother of the peerless Tripurasundari, the youthful Goddess of 16 summers, and is identified as such in the Tantra-raja-tantra. The text Varaha Purana states that Varahi represents the potential to overcome the demon of envy (asuya asurya). Varahi is a granter or boons who rules over the northern direction. Her yantra then is utilized in the north during chakra pujas and other secret tantric practices. Varahi is the goddess with boar form, fighting demons with her tusks while seated upon a corpse (preta). In other times, she powers through Mahamaya on a buffalo. She is the activating force of Lord Yama. She is connected anatomically to the skull, a symbol which reflects her role in the realm of transformation of the intellect. Ruling over manas tatva, she presides over the mind and senses. It is said that her pingala is the mantra “Ham” and her Ida is the mantra “Sah”, thus she integrates with perfection alchemical polarities of kundalini balance.
Yantra: Varahi’s yantra is a bindu around which is an inverted triangle. This in turn, is surrounded by a circle, beyond which is a hexagon followed by two concentric circles.
Her Appearance and Sadhana. Her highest form rests on an island of nine gems, reflecting her reign over the planets. The island of gems rests within an ocean of sweetness, an allegory for the divine elixer (soma) extracted from the depths of the subconscious during Sambhavi mudra, a mystical practice. She is the color of molten gold, with fiery continence, golden clothes, and voluminous hair. She carrying a plough in one hand and a spear in the other. In yet another of her forms, she is the two-armed boar form she wields a magical discus (chakra), and fights with a sword (khadga). In her eight armed forms holds a discus, conch, hook, lotus, noose, and club and displays the mudras of dispelling fear and granting boons. In all her forms, she is worshiped through dhyana yoga, especially at night, with the Ham-Sah mantra and kundalini pranayam as well as any of the 64 tantric kriyas. Sambhavi mudra is particularly appropriate for her puja.
Pilgrimage: She can be seen at the Hiripur 64 Yogini Temple. Varahi is worshipped at Panchasaagar Varahi Shakti Peeth located near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, India. Here, Devi Sati’s lower teeth fell to earth. She is also present at the Bheraghat 64 Yogini Temple.
Kaumari Devi Spoke…
“I am the one with overarching will, who experiences the awakened fire, and who awakens the fire in others. I am the very energy of the Muruga Avatar. I am the warrior among warriors, the single minded and horrendous destroyer of separateness and illusion. I am master of the rising up energy, the primordial power in the great staff of life. I clear the fog of confusion and fear and enable those who approach me with humility to overcome the limitations of fear, illusion and fallacy. I free the devotee from the interference of falseness. The ultimate aspect of falsity is the cosmic illusion of Maya that I control with mere will. I lift the veils of the dream-like state and awaken the sadhak to spiritual reality. I have dominion over vacuity, Divine space (akasha), and the realm where the ancient records of all souls are stored, for I am the record keeper of the book of life. Thus, I am propitiated to those who seek long lost or hidden knowledge.”
Koumari is the embodiment of Kriya Shakti, the energy of dedicated action. She is the third of the eight ancient mothers. She attacks illusion (moha asura), promotes unity and oneness, engenders acceptance and inclusion, and rules over both sexual bliss and progeny in intimate relationships. Her namesake, Kumar, is the second son of Yogi Shiva and deeply connected to the three great powers that are needed before any accomplishment can be realized. (1) Iccha Shakti, (2) Jnana Shakti and (3) Kriya Shakti. Iccha Shakti is the energy of desire. Without desire, no advancement can be made in any arena of life, as there is no motivation. Jnana Shakti is the energy directed in a knowledgeable way. One must have the knowledge to direct the motivation, without which there is no further advance. Kriya Shakti is the energy of action, essential for progress and completion of any goal. Iccha Shakti and Jnana Shakti are concentrated in the avatar Kumar through his two consorts (Valli and Devanai). Kriya Shakti, which he obtained from his magical spear or Vel, was given to him by his mother, Parvati, which she pulled out of her own body, as he approached a great battle with the demon, Soorapadman, who was enslaving even the Gods. Ultimately, the enslavement is lack of knowledge of Self. The result is that Goddess Kaumari has inherited massive Shakti grace, and particularly the end stage Kriya Shakti to accomplish any task for her devotees. Anatomically, she is connected to Scarpas’ triangle in the upper inner thigh. She presides over Urdhvamnaya Bhava, the ultimate absorption and recirculation of the sexual energy.
Her Appearance and Sadhana: Kaumari appears on her vahana, the peacock. She is clad in red and holds the trisul of Shiva in her upper right hand. In her upper left she holds the battle spear (vel) of Muruga. In her two lower arms she displays abhaya mudra and vara mudra. All of the Urdhvamnaya practices, including Bhairavi Kriya are desirable when performing sadhana specifically to her. Meditation upon space (akash) is ideal.
Yantra: Careful observation of her yantra reveals that it has twelve stars, each with six points. In the center is an inverted triangle and within that, a circle. On the outside of the pericarp is sixteen petals.
Pilgrimage: She can be worshipped at the Hirapur 64 Yogini Temple. She can also be worshipped at the Bheraghat 64 Yogini Temple where her image is found.
Thus Indrani Devi spoke…
“I preside over adi – the beginning; the first. I am the Divine warrior, born at the birth of bindu itself, repelled by the brutality of the unenlightened, who emerges with world shaking force, fully dedicated to the destruction of every jealousy in the three worlds. I attack jealousy even in the realm of the Devas. I uproot such limitations and release them to the vastness above for I am the Goddess of the sky. I will remove compulsive attachment to brute lust and expunge jealousy that destroys heart and brings unnecessary suffering to friends and lovers. I release the devotee from the bonds of fault finding and misplaced criticism.”
Commentary: Indrani is mukti niyantri, the guide to bliss. She is the guide to bliss because she shows the way of escape from the clutches of jealousy and fault finding (matsanya asura), which pollutes every relationship it touches, and destroys self respect. It is one of the greatest barriers to both human and cosmic bliss. Indrani Devi stands firmly against fault finding whether to ones self or others. Indrani is the fourth of the eight Matrikas. She is highly auspicious to all male-female relationships. She is connected anatomically to the outer thighs. She presides over those crucial points of change within nature which create change (Bindu Kshara Bhava).
Her Appearance and Sadhana: She appears with golden skin displaying massive allure and great sensuality. She rides upon an elephant, has four arms, with which she blesses with two, (vara and abhaya mudras), while carrying a bolt of lightening in one and a spear in another.
Yantra: The central bindu of her yantra is surrounded by an inverted triangle. Beyond that are two interlaced triangles, one inverted. This forms a six pointed star on a pericarp which supports eight petals. Around those eight petals are two concentric rings.
Pilgrimage: She is present at the Hiripur 64 Yogini Temple. There is a temple in Sri Lanka dedicated to Indrakshi, while pneumatically different is nevertheless identical with Indrani. Known as Nellore Shakti Peeth it is believed to be the spot where Sati’s Anklet fell. She is also present at the Bheraghat 64 Yogini Temple.
Brahmani Devi Spoke…
“I am Ananda Moorthi, the form of bliss. I am the quintessential earth goddess. I am at the center of all creation energy. I have the power to move all souls to the realm of timelessness and unlimited wisdom. I reside within as the force that opens Manipura to mystic light. I am the lover of all men, expansive as the universe, and with the qualities of irresistible passion. I have dominion over all that is solid (Prvhti) and am the very essence of stability. I create stability and security in the lives of those who entreat me. In my hands, the devotee will overcome the limitations of pride and ego. I free the sadhak from all arrogance for I am the great goddess who liberates all who approach me from false pride.”
Brahmani rescues the sincere sadhak from the demon of pride (mada asura). Spiritual pride, left unchecked, leads to ignorance, confusion and darkness. Brahmani presides over the Kalaa Vidya Tatva. Kalaa is the quality that reduces the reality of timelessness to time that is limited in the relative plane of human experience. As consciousness expands, the experience of time is slowed. Vidya is the quality that reduces wisdom to that limited to human knowledge. In full realization eternity shines as the present moment. Brahmani is the fifth of the eight ancient Matrikas. She can be relied on to assist whenever the need arises to obtain proficiency in any language. Brahmani is Kshiti, the goddess of the earth. She is connected anatomically to the mound of Venus in the supra-pelvic area. She also works in harmony with Lakini Devi to transmute gross energies within the solar plexus vortex and all of the lower chakras into high vibratory light energy (tejas). She is the first of the three divine forms (trimurtis) in the Tantric sadhana of Hong Sau. This focused practice leads to the transformation of the umbilical, heart, and the third eye chakras.
Yantra: Her yantra is an inverted triangle around which is a pericarp surrounded by two rings both identically divided into eight segments, around which are eight petals.
Her Appearance and Sadhana: With four heads, Brahmani sits atop her carrier, a white swan, wearing all white. In her two upper arms she holds a water pot and a mala. With her two lower arms gives blessings and carries a book of wisdom (erdu). She is associated with Hong Sau Kriya and meditation on the manipura chakra. Her yantra is adorned with white cloth.
Pilgrimage: She can be worshipped at the Hiripur 64 Yogini Temple. She is also present at the Bheraghat 64 Yogini Temple.
Thus Vaishnavi Devi Spoke…
“I am the sacred sovereign of the preservation principle. Take refuge in me and be protected from every threat or challenge. Wealth and comfort of every type are at my feet. Seek my blessing, or seek me, for I am Satya Rupini, the form of truth. I am the calm one, the shakti of inexhaustible compassion, the goddess in the heart of every woman. I help the devotee overcome the limitations of fear, anxiety, envy and especially covetousness. I destroy the darkness within which yearns for the possessions of others. I am fluid in nature for I am the Goddess who presides over all things fluid. Thus I always take the form that the devotee holds dear for the benefit of their soul.”
Devotees often see Vaishnavi, the inherent shakti energy of Vishnu, as the giver of wealth and abundance. Vaishnavi is the antidote when souls covet the possessions or abilities of others, for she destroys the covetousness illusion (lobha asura) In doing so, she liberates souls caught up in materialism, ironically permitting room for true abundance. Vaishnavi is the Goddess who rules the liquidity element (Ap). Although that would suggest a connection to svatisthana, she actually resides within the Hridaya, the spiritual heart. Thus, she works with Kakini Devi to help the sadhak transmute fear and gross vital thought-forms into pure love. She is the sixth of the ancient Matrikas and the essence of Vishnu Bhava. She is a combination of cosmic love (prema) and giver of permanence in all things. Purity springs from her unconditionally and transforms motives which are limited in scope and based in fear. She is part of the critical triad for mystic tantra, Brahmani, Vaishnavi and Maheshwari. The nature of Vaishnavi is preservation of those who approach her. Bhava is her very special domain and thus she is the ruler of ecstasy and self surrender. She is the great doorway to higher consciousness. She is associated anatomically with the perineum, the pelvic floor.
Yantra: Her yantra is a six pointed star atop a circle. That circle sits atop a pericarp with eight petals. Beyond that are three circles with eight petals. Beyond the petals are four concentric circles surrounded by an inverted triangle.
Her Appearance and Sadhana: Vaishnavi, residing within Hridaya, the spiritual heart, rides a sacred half human, half bird (Garuda). She has four arms. In her upper right she holds a conch and in her upper left she holds a discus. In her lower right she holds a scepter and in her lower left, an open lotus blossom.
Pilgrimage: Vaishnavi is present at the ancient Hiripur 64 Yogini Temple. She is also present at the Bheraghat 64 Yogini Temple.
Thus Mahesvari Devi Spoke…
“I am absolute reality. I am ever new joy. I am the apex of yogic and mystic power. When in the relative plane, my energy and consciousness is centered within the third eye. Beyond that, I am consciousness itself. I was born out of flames from the mouth of my beloved Shiva. I am his eternal power. I am the goddess of fire and light (agni/tejas). I am constantly regenerating the grand energies of the Divine mind. I preside over deconstruction and reconstruction for I am the primal cause of positive change. I am the essence of discrimination and the ultimate weapon against illusion. Sweeping down from Deva Loka on Shiva’s massive bull, I come to the aid of yogis, tantrics and mystics in their path to overcome any lingering remnant of anger and rage. I am Para Shakti; the Goddess of Transcendental energy. Anger and ignorance flee from my presence, for I am the ultimate embodiment of emotional balance.”
In the human sphere, Mahesvari resides within the Ajna chakra and works with Hakini Devi in helping the soul plunge into thee sphere of non duality. This links her directly to mastery to the third eye practices (kuthasta) particularly eka neeli kriya, known to initiates of Kriya Tantra Yoga. Mahesvari presides over the absolute final tatva of the complete array of 36 which elevate the embodied soul to mystic truth. She presides over Parama Shiva Tatva. By understanding these tattvas, we progressively come to realize that the individual self (atman) is identical with the Supreme Lord. Due to the influence of Maya, the cosmic illusion, the individual self has forgotten its divine nature, and thinks itself to be different from the very oneness that it imagines itself to be separate from. Mahesvari is the ultimate balm to the grand illusion. She is the embodiment of discrimination. She is the seventh of the ancient Matrikas. She controls the demon of anger (Krodha Asura) and is propitiated to bestow steadiness in the emotional field. She is connected anatomically to the inguinal ligament.
Yantra; Her yantra is the five pointed star of Shiva surrounded by an inverted triangle of Shakti.
Her Appearance and Sadhana: Mahesvari rides upon a bull, holding a trisula in her upper right hand and cobra in her upper left. In her lower right she displays the mudra of blessing (vara) and in her lower left she holds the bowl of a mendicant (wandering sadhu). Eka Neeli Pranayam kriya is a highly auspicious practice for Mahesvari sadhana. Due to her connection to agni and tejas, is very auspicious to include arti and yagna in her sadhana. Tradak kriya is also appropriate.
Pilgrimage: She is present at the Hiripur 64 Yogini Temple. She is also present at the Bheraghat 64 Yogini Temple.
Thus Lakshmi Devi Spoke…
“I am the essence of Divine sweetness, the epitome of celestial beauty and the ultimate in captivating grace. I am the supreme goddess of abundance, prosperity and spiritual unfolding. Even when I am sought for limited means, I give the soul the deeper blessing as well, as the Divine Mother will always do for her child. Whenever good fortune appears, I am present. When I am present, security and abundance prevail. I am the original goddess of love and mercy who emerged from the churning of the ocean of milk when the devas and asuras sought the nectar of immortality. I rose up, resplendent upon a lotus, reclined upon the chest of my beloved Hari, and gazed upon the enraptured Devas. I am the goddess of fulfillment for both health and wealth. I am the supreme Brahman, the all-pervading Atman and the Mother of the universe. I am always one with the supreme consciousness. I am the giver of success. I am without beginning and without end. I am ever pure, both gross and subtle, and giver of both worldly enjoyment and liberation. I am the remover of pain, the giver of boons, and the very essence of the great Mahamantra.”
Sri Lakshmi is Monoramayoni, the one with a beautiful yoni. She is the primary source of strength, even to Maha Vishnu. She is the last of the eight ancient Matrikas. Mahalaksmi joined the Matrika Shakti cluster during early medieval times and is found at the great shakti temples of Aihole and Ellora. She is viewed as a dignified Goddess of great prestige and honor. She is the supreme Goddess, the Divine Mother Herself. As an Aphrodite figure, she emerged from the ocean of milk, when the devas and asuras churned the ocean. The ocean, of course, represents the subconscious and she herself is the divine inner light of truth, beauty and knowledge. She is connected anatomically to the face and her face is always a thing of beauty. She presides over the last moments before the Brahman consciousness is entered and the first experience of Brahman. Although she is popularly know to be a powerful of abundance by the masses, her role mystically is far more important. Her very own body is the source of the six great qualities. (1) Jnana, all wisdom (2) Shakti, transcendental energy or power to create change (3) Aisvarya, or omnipotency and lordship over creation (4) Bala, power to perform creation, preservation and destruction at all times (5) Virya (vigor and valor to do all things (6) Tejas, the source of all light.
Yantra: Lakshmi Devi has a number of yantras, including one for physical health and another for abundance. Specifics should be learned from an authorized teacher.
Her Appearance and Sadhana: Lakshmi holds a night lotus in each of her upper right and upper left hands, symbolic of the spiritual potential which she reveals in all devotees. The night lotus awakens with the emergence of the light. With her lower right hand she blesses with the abaya mudra of fearlessness and with her left she offer vara mudra of incessant grace and abundance.
Pilgrimage: Because Lakshmi is the most beloved Shakti in India, her temples are nearly everywhere. She has a powerful presence at the ancient Hirapur 64 Yogini Temple, an excellent place to meditate. Another ancient and powerful vortex of her incredible energy, is the very spot where Satis neck fell to earth, her temple near Sri Sailam in the village of Joinpur village, in Andhra Pradesh. The Shri Mahalakshmi Temple of Kolhapur, Maharashtra is a shakti peeth whose energy is grand and of great antiquity. There she is worshipped as AmbaBai.
Review of the preceding text would have revealed to the careful reader that for each of these Great Matrika Goddesses, there are several appropriate practical yogic and tantric techniques by which they are specifically propitiated. These techniques assist the sadhak in overcoming human limitations to experience knowledge of Self. Integration of the energy and personality of the Goddesses lead to miraculous yogic powers (siddhis). When the sadhak has connected to the subtle essence of the Goddess energy, and it has permeated the suble bodies (koshas) and subconscious, it will reach the soul level (atma). This is achieved through an integrated path of mantra, dhyana, yantra and puja. Many things are not approriate to this forum such as the link between the Ashta Matrikas and the eight forms of oral congress (aparistaka linga kriyas), an important aspect of the 64 tantric kriyas. The author has observed over the many years that reflection on and allignment with these Great Matrikas literally transforms consciousness. Sincere aspirants who seek a close relationship with the Matrikass should learn the mantras, method of yantra construction, and kriyas directly from an authorized teacher (adikadi guru). Any soul who truly seeks to reach divine realms would benefit from a more direct connection to these great Matrikas. They are each just as real as the incarnated souls who seek clarity and truth. Everything in nature is part of Shakti, including the grand illusion. The siddhas maintained that we should use the form to transcend the form. My Adi Guru, Yogiar S.A.A. Ramaiah, strongly reccomended that we do so. In the process, as the Great Ramakrishna discovered, one finds truth in every part of nature. Jai Ma !!!
Swami Ayyappa Giri
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