Mantra and the Goddess
Mantra and the Goddess: A Poetic Inspiration of Sri Lalita Sahasranama, Swami Sri Lalitambika Devi, BPI India Pvt Ltd, Pp 245, Rs 350.00
Though the Goddess is given a thousand names by various cultures throughout history, she is worshipped for her capacity to provide a life of inner beauty. She is sometimes depicted as a fierce and powerful warrior, the demon-slayer, the destroyer of ego. At the same time, she is gentle, generous and unconditionally living. She is the ultimate sex symbol to some, yet many consider her to be chaste. According to the author, “The Goddess is one way to experience the presence that is both immanent and transcendent.” The presence is beyond name and form. The book is an offering – “I offer pranams to the guru for revealing our potential to be far greater than anything we could imagine.”
As a child, the author is told about the power of the mantra which resonates with divinity and awakens the presence of the Divine within. Assisting the word mantra, it has Sanskrit roots man and tra, where man refers to mind or thinking and tra is a verb root meaning, ‘to protect, to save, to rescue, to defend’. It also means ‘to support’. It is often understood to mean “that which protects the mind” against negative thinking. The author says, “Experientially, mantra allows us to reach a place of inner peace that is deeper than the mind.” The mind can be thought of as a bridge by which we cross the endless desires “of the ego to selfless inner fulfillment. We cross step by step. Breath by Breath. Syllable by syllable”. Mantra becomes the lifeboat in which we cross “the turbulent river of emotion”
When we have faith, even as the waves dash against the side of the boat, we dock safely in the inner sanctum of peace. By chanting the mantra, we learn to relax which takes us beyond wanderings into realms of memory, fantasy, emotion and projection. “We reach the resting place from which the mind is born.”
The author had an unhappy childhood as her father left them behind to start a new life for himself. So she tries to search the Goddess for solace. She talks of the Dhammapada in which Gautama Buddha’s teachings are given and one of which is “Our life is shaped by our mind.” The author says that while conventional understanding assumes things to happen the other way around, but Buddha’s teachings tell us that the causes and conditions that come together in a certain way at a certain time, shape our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
The author talks of karma which is the law of causality to explain why we go through particular difficulties and which teach us something. According to the natural forces of karma, our present experience is born of past action. By reciting the mantra, we become open, able to feel and remain calm. “Mantra awakens us to our inner radiance. When the mind is at rest, we experience the nourishing light of our own unconditional love” to help us face mental suffering. This love is self-sustaining.
The author also discusses the value of chanting Sri Lalita Sahasranama, as its teachings heal the mind while revealing the power and brilliance of who we are. She weaves her message into contemporary experience by drawing upon myriad of spiritual traditions as well as her own childhood to explain how the mantra can liberate us. Through the Goddess, the Divine Mother, we can discover ourselves by quoting from Sri Lalita Sahasranama. The book explains the virtue, culture and triumph of the Goddess in each of us while helping us to find our true self.
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