Prapanna Pārijāta | Chapter 6
On The Worship of The Attendants of God
Then [after completing the worship of the Lord] the goddess Lakshmi ought to be specially worshipped by a Prapanna along with Bhū-Devi and Nīla-Devi1 and the others also, along with Sūtravatī2 and the other attendants [on Lakshmi].
She (Lakshmi) is the resting place of Gurus and the empress of this world, the divine consort of the God of gods and is eternal and imperishable.3
If the Pāñcharātra Śāstra (Viṣvaksena Saṁhitā) Vishnu said to the attentive Viṣvaksena: —
“It is very rare to meet one on earth who is a devotee a of Lakshmi of Myself and of you.”
After collecting all the materials for the worship of Hari, one shall also worship therewith the Goddess who is the beloved consort of the God of gods, in the same manner.
After mentioning the five kinds of manifestations4 like the Transcendent (para), the Hypostatic (Vyūha) and His own glories, Lord Hari in Tattva-ratna eulogises her as follows:—
“Similarly I shall declare the nature of Lakshmi listen to me attentively: We both share the commonality of Pervasion by quality (guṇa) and essence (svarūpa)5.
Just as the universe is pervaded by Me both in essence and quality all this is also pervaded by Her. Therefore she is the Disposer and Ruler of all.
She is pervaded by Me and similarly I am also pervaded by Her.
Listen, O Senesha to the differences between us:
My consort, who is the ruler of all is dependant on Me. It has been revealed by the Vedas that I am the Controller of both - Her and the Universe.
In the Vedanta and Pāñcharātra Śāstra it is taught that both the realms of Nitya Vibhuti (The eternal transcendental realm) and Līla Vibhūti (The material universe which is the playground of the Lord) are under our control and exist for both of Us.
In the same way Bhūmi and Nīla are also considered subservient to Me6.
As all monads (individual jīvas) are pervaded by consciousness, these two (manifestations) are pervaded only by quality and not by essence.
12 – 13.
In the same Śāstra elsewhere, (Lakshmi Tantra 2;11 – 18.) Lakshmi Herself has also taught about the relation between Herself and Her Lord, their mutual pervasion and rulership:
“Since the Brahman7 is non-differentiated from Shakti, it is said to be non-dual (advaita).
I [Lakshmi] am the Supreme energy (Shakti) of Brahman, and am [to Brahman] as light is to the moon. I am the immortal one, who identifies all states of being with her own self, Brahman’s “notion of self”8.
He [Hari] being “I” (the Self) is regarded as the Self in all beings.
I am the eternal “notion of Self” in all beings9.
I am considered to be the eternal Vāsudeva state of existence. Brahman embraces both the principle of existence and state of existence, hence It (Brahman) is the eternal state (pādaṁ).
[When differentiated] the principle of existence is Nārāyaṇa, and in its state of existence (becoming) it is I, the supreme Lakshmi. Therefore Brahman the eternal is called Lakshmi-Nārāyaṇa because the “I” entity is always inherent in the “notion of self”.
18 – 19.
The I-entity is always cognised as the source of “I-hood”, for one cannot exist without the other and as such each is invariably fused with the other. Realise that the relationship between me and the Lord is that of identity.”
20 - 21.
Sage Parāśara says of Her who is the form of Brahman:—
“She is eternal, the mother of the universe, the imperishable glory of Vishnu. O best of Brahmins! Just as Vishnu is all pervading so also is She”
“Among gods, animals and humankind, O Maitreya! - Bhagavan Hari is the masculine name and Lakshmi is the feminine name, there is nothing higher than these.
23 – 26.
“I salute that consort of the Bestower of boons (Varadā-Vallabha) who by being the Beloved of God, of Her own accord assumes the position of mediatrix for those, who are attached to the performance of offensive acts and have for a long time been unworthy, and fosters maternal compassion and such other feelings in Her Lord.
When the Lord becomes the means [for Liberation of jīvas] She activates His knowledge, energy and other attributes10.
For enhancement of the pleasure of the Liberated ones, She augments [the Lord’s] attributes of beauty etc.11 and is endowed with the three capacities12 and who dwells in a lotus and is the empress of the whole world.
Similarly one shall worship Bhūmi and Nīla and other innumerable consorts13 and the foremost of the eternals (Nitya-Sūrīs) by their respective mantras.
One shall worship the Divine Retinue beginning with the chief minister of Vishnu; Senesa who carries the rod of justice and in whose hand the entire world consisting of the sentient (chit) and insentient (achit) beings lies.
29 – 30.
In due order one should also worship, Ananta and Garuda and all the other eternals along with all their retinues, [also] the [personified] weapons [of the Lord] such as Discus (Sudarśana) etc. as well as all the goddesses such as Sūtravatī (consort of Viṣvaksena) and others; who serve Lakshmi.
Those who desire Liberation should not worship the other gods who have casually gone to the temple of Vishnu to serve Him, unless they are ranked as eternals.
32 – 33.
Brahma, Rudra, Arjuna, Vyāsa, Bhārgava of a thousand arms, Kākutstha14, Ātreya, Kapila, Buddha these and innumerable others - are Shaktyavesha avatāras — jīvas that are utilised by the Lord for accomplishing some specific task,
they, along with Indra, Agṇi and the other eight guardian deities of the directions ought not to be worshipped by those who are desirous of Liberation.
34 – 37.
As the Lord said to the attentive Viṣvaksena; —
“Those who have been entrusted with some cosmic authority should not be worshipped by those desirous of Liberation.
I shall specifically mention those partial manifestations (prādurbhāvas):
The four-faced Brahma was entrusted with the work of projecting the universe into being (sṛishṭi) and the great God Śankara with the work of withdrawal of the universe (saṁhāra).
The function of Buddha was to delude15 and Vyāsa was appointed to compile the Vedas. Arjuna was the greatest of archers and Paraśurāma (Jamadagni) of powerful beings. Agni is the foremost of the Vāsus and Vitteṣa (Kubera) [of the Eight directional lords].
38 – 39.
O Senesha! Whoever is possessed of sovereignty and harmony, prosperity and is agreeable, and devoid of attachment and hatred and of itself influential and exceptionally endowed [for good], is to be known as a portion of Myself, manifested for the purpose of fulfilling My objectives.
All of them are governed by Divine decree; they are individual jīvas and should not be worshipped by those desirous of Liberation.
40 – 41.
They are merely entered into O Limitlessly glorious one! - by my spirit on purpose and they are all unworthy of worship because they indeed partake of the nature of jīvas and are possessed of egotism.
41 – 43
Those manifestations who, on account of being largely parts of My spirit are important, who have not given up their own true essence and who are Divine and have non-material bodies, who have arisen like one light from another for the protection of the world –
those O Sensesha, are indeed worthy of worship in order to cross the ocean of samsāra.”
44 – 46.
As Bhagavan Vyāsa has said to Parāśara [in the Mahabharata Sha. 350]
“O tiger among men! Brahma and Shiva and all the other Devatās should not be served as their rewards are limited. Other deities are not proper objects of resort for the sages — all of them are impure; for the Devas and other celestial beings are born from Karma.” (Vishnu Purāṇa 6:7:77)
- 1. Lakshmi who is personification of compassion, is considered to have many expansion, the three most important being Bhu-devī who is the personification of the Earth and represents the quality of forbearance and Nīla-Devi is the lord’s Hlādinī-śakti — or pleasure potency.
- 2. Sūtravatī is the consort of Viṣvaksena the Commander in Chief of the Lord’s entourage.
- 3. The term used is anapayini which can generally mean imperishable or specifically inseparable from the Lord.
- 4. The Five manifestations of God (Iśvara) according to the Pāñcharātra Śāstras are:
(1) Para — the transcendental Super Absolute form from which all the others emanate.
(2) Vyūha — the four hypostatic emanations Vāsudeva, Sankarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha; which have cosmic function of projection, preservation and transformation.
(3) Vibhava — Incarnations which appear from time to time to rectify and restore harmony and balance to the universe, such as Rāma, Krishna etc.
(4) Antaryāmin — the form abiding within all living beings.
(5) Arcā-avatāra — the appearance out of condescension and love, in icons that are made and consecrated according to the Pāñcharātra rituals.
- 5. This teaching on the nature of Lakshmi is a major topic of dispute between the 2 major factions of the Śrī Vaiṣṇavas. Here the learned Āchārya is expounding the Vaḍakalai view. The Teṅkalai counter that she does not have essential pervasion (svarūpa-vyāpti) but only pervasion of qualities (guṇa-vyāpti).
According to the Vaḍakalai, Lakshmi is co-equal to Nārāyaṇa. The Teṅkalai claim that she is a jīva that has a particular relationship with Nārāyaṇa to act as the mediatrix of Grace.
- 6. Bhu-devī and Nīla-devī are considered to be lesser manifestations of Lakshmi. An example would be that of a High Court Judge who has absolute authority in his own court but when playing cricket is limited by the authority of others involved in the game. Lakshmi is the empress of the universe but when she manifests as Bhu and Nīla she is limited by time, place and circumstance.
- 7. Brahman is the Absolute in Vedanta philosophy. It means “the Immensity” or the “Expansiveness”.
This Unitary Absolute splits into male and female — Nārāyaṇa and Lakṣmī for the process of manifestation of the universe. Hence Brahman is said to be “non-dual”.
- 8. This implies that in all manifestations of God, Shakti being His quintessence follows Him.
- 9. Here a subtle difference is being made between the Self and the “notion of self” — between consciousness and self-consciousness. Brahman is the Absolute in which everything is latent and unmanifest. In the Lakshmi/Nārāyaṇa phase the divinities manifest themselves in their fullest glory as Persons. Nārāyaṇa is consciousness and Shakti is self-consciousness, Nārāyaṇa is the principle of “Self” whereas Lakshmi is the “notion of self”. “I-ness and “I-hood”.
- 10. The 6 attributes of the Lord (Bhagavān) that relate to sentient beings are:
jñāna = knowledge, bālā = strength, aiśvarya = sovereignty, śakti = omnipotence, vīrya = creative potency, tejas = splendour.
It is because of these six that He is called ‘Bhagavān.’
- 11. These are known as the svabhāva dharmas and include the attributes of beauty, easy accessibility,
condescension, tenderness, sweetness, compassion, love, friendliness, solicitude etc.
- 12. akara-trayam — there are a number of possible interpretations of this term;
(1) ahaṁtā = “notion of I”, śakti = omnipotence, and bhava = empathy. Or; (2) nityanapayatvam = eternal inseparability form the Lord, vyāpti = pervasion, aiśvaryam = sovereignty. (3) Being the mediatrix, increasing the Lords redemptive graces and promoting His communicable attributes. (4) upayatva = beings the means, upeyatva = being the goal and puruṣa-karata = being the mediatrix.
- 13. There are various lists given in the Purāṇas of the consorts of Lord Vishnu such as the 8 or the 12 śaktis. The 12 are:
1. Lakṣmī — fortune, 2. Puṣṭī — prosperity, 3. Dayā — compassion, 4. Nidrā —sleep, 5. Kṣamā — forgiveness, 6. Kāntī — beauty, 7. Sarasvatī — Communication & learning, 8. Dhṛti— endurance, 9. Maitrī — loving kindness, friendliness, 10. Ratī — Sexual pleasure, 11. Tuṣṭī —satisfaction, 12. Mati — intelligence.
- 14. Kākutstha was a king of the Solar dynasty, the son of Bhagīratha and an ancestor of Rama. His son is Rāghu.
- 15. According to Vaishnavas the Buddha incarnation was taken in order to delude the demons and cause them to reject the Vedas. The function of Śankarāchārya was to re-establish the Vedas and the subsequent Vaishnava acharyas to re-establish Theism.