Verse 6 – Worship of Śakti
சென்னியது உன்பொன் திருவடித்தாமரை; சிந்தையுள்ளே
மன்னியது உன் திருமந்திரம்; சிந்துர வண்ணப்பெண்ணே!
முன்னிய நின் அடி யாருடன் கூடி முறை முறையே
பன்னியது என்றும் உன் தன் பரமாகம பத்ததியே.
Śĕnniyadu unbŏn tiruvaḍittāmarai; śindaiyul̤l̤e
Manniyadu un tirumandiram; śindura vaṇṇappĕṇṇe!
Munniya nin aḍi yāruḍan kūḍi muṟai muṟaiye
Panniyadu ĕṇḍrum un tan paramāgama pattadiye.
Your golden lotus like feet are on my head. In my thoughts is your auspicious mantra forever embedded. O damsel with a red hue! I have followed your devotees and with the right procedures have practiced your methodical worship.
Śĕnniyadu – on the head unbŏn - golden tiruvaḍittāmarai – lotus feet. Abirāmi Bhattar in this stanza speaks the means and knowhow of worshipping Devi. He constantly contemplates on Her holy feet and imagines that they are placed on his head. This kind of worship is also prescribed in the Bhāvanopaṇiṣad, which instructs the sādhaka to invoke the aspects of the great goddess in various parts of body and mind and finally contemplate Her on the crown cakra. Golden lotus could also subtly convey here the crown cakra.
Tirumandiram verse # 1200 states as below:
Āre tiruviṉ tiruvaṭi kāṇpārkal̤
Nere niṉṟuoti niṉaiyavum vallārkkuk
Kārer kuḻali kamala malaraṉṉa
Cīreyum cevaṭi cintaivait tāl̤e tāl̤e.
On Whom She Confers Her Grace
Who shall behold the Feet of that Holy One?
To them who seek Her Presence
And constant meditate,
The Lady of cloud-dark tresses
Revealed Her Holy Feet, Lotus-like,
And placing them on their thoughts,
Blessed them with Her Grace.
Author’s Translation: To the one who contemplates upon the Divine Mother with a single pointed focus and recites Her mantra, the one with dark cloud like tresses, will place Her lotus feet in the mind/thoughts of such a sādhaka without fail! In order to have Her lotus feet upon their head, the sādhaka has to follow the dictums as per Tirumandiram, which is again equivocally advocated in this verse of Abirāmi Anthathi. That is, possess a single pointed focus and contemplate on Her in meditation. The line Manniyadu - Sedimented/ repeated -un – yours, tiru- Auspicious. Śrī Mandiram- Mantra explains this further - ‘Manniyadu’ means, the mantra has to be absorbed in the mind which would eventually lead to the Ājapa state, which facilitates the sādhaka to remain in a state of constant repetition of the mantra. There are various prescribed ways for a person to enter into the Ājapa state. One such way, is aligning the mantra with breath. Shri Ravi Guruji’s article on Aligning Breath with mantra deliberates on how to achieve this. When Abirāmi Bhattar says ‘Manniyadu’, he alludes to the state of Ājapa.
Also, this line while referring to the Tiru Mandiram, alludes to Her auspicious mantra and also subtly states that all Her mantras are auspicious. However, the subtlest message conveyed is that, it is Her Ṣoḍaśī mantra that Bhattar has recited. Mantra also means constant contemplation on the conscious existence of oneself, according to the Śiva Sūtras, the supreme mantra is “aham” where ‘A’-represents Śiva, ‘Ha’ represents Śakti and ‘M’ represents the existence of the individual self. The idea is to go back to the source which is ‘A’, through the means of constant contemplation of Śakti in ‘Ha’ by the Nara - human being, present in ‘M’ or ‘Ma’.
Shri Ravi Guruji’s commentary on Shiva Sutras Verse #22
further states that all the collective sounds of the fifty-one letters of Sanskrit, lead to the sound ‘aham’, which is nothing but the one supreme consciousness. Śakti as a connecting principle, leads one to this supreme consciousness as She is the one who manages the expansion between subtle to gross and vice versa.
The ‘Ha’ syllable also represents the ‘hamsa’ mantra, which is the natural breathing rhythm of human beings, which when properly aligned, takes us back to the source.
śindura vaṇṇappĕṇṇe! – A lady with red complexion – Devi is referred to as possessing a reddish complexion throughout this literature. Red here deals mainly with the act of Creation and compassion towards the beings and also taking them back to the source, when they are ready for the final merger.
Munniya nin aḍi yāruḍan – Devotees who are senior to me / guru, kūḍi - Be with them muṟai muṟaiye – Follow the dictums and process recommended in the worship. Panniyadu – Performed, ĕṇḍrum – Every day, un tan – yours, paramāgama pattadiye – Supreme methodical worship.
Bhattar has approached a guru, performed the guru seva to his guru and thereby earned his consent and learnt all the methodical means of worship - “Krama” of Devi from him. Thereafter, he performed the daily pūja to Devi, as dictated by the Āgamās/Tantras (the Śaktā tantras are also known as a Śaktā Āgamās). Among the Śaktā Āgamās, Bhattar has followed the supreme Āgamā (Śrī Vidyā) and its methodical instructions, which is clearly known by his choice of word “Parama” which means supreme.
Since Bhattar has mentioned Her mantra as “Tiru Mandiram” or mantra with Śrīṁ in it, we can safely conclude that the mantra is Soḍaśī and the tantra or Āgamā he followed for his personal worship is Śrīvidyā. It is interesting to note his accomplishment despite being a priest of a Śiva temple governed by Śaiva Āgamās containing precise instructions for offering prayers at the temple as well as their own personal worship, with higher prominence assigned to Śiva worship vs that of Devi, who would be treated as a consort with lesser prominence.
Referring to multiple other stanzas for which commentaries will follow in due course, Abirāmi Bhattar refers to the form of Abirāmi with a sugarcane bow, flowery arrows etc., which are unique to Śrīvidyā tantra. The weightage to Śrīvidyā tantra is prominent in his verses. Temple idols installed as per Śaiva Āgamā rules, will rarely have an image of Devi with a sugarcane bow and flowery arrows, as most images that follow the Śaiva Āgamā rules, advocate a less prominent and minimalistic image for Devi.
Abirāmi Bhattar in this stanza, if read from bottom up, provides the steps for a sādhaka on how to move towards the source of the entire Creation. He also gives his practical experiences through this stanza. It is also interesting to note that in this stanza, Abirāmi Bhattar did not advocate the contemplation on Her form, rather advised on the mantric form, subtly conveying that the sādhaka should slowly move towards subtler forms of worship.
To summarize, this verse conveys the following -
1. Be with the devotees of Devi.
2. Learn the methodical worship of Her and understand it completely.
3. Perform regular pūja every day, there by setting a discipline for sādhana.
4. Approach a suitable guru who is devoted to Devi.
5. Learn from him the supreme Ṣoḍaśī mantra.
6. Act on the instructions given by one’s guru.
7. Advance to the Ājapa state by contemplating on her Supreme Mantra.
8. Finally realize Her feet on the Crown cakra.
This article is wirtten by Shri Arun who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org