The Guptavati and Navarna Mantra – Part Two

01 Mar

Continued from Part One


As mentioned earlier, Bhāskararāya Makhin was essentially a Shakta; and was also an ardent Sri Vidya Upasaka. He adopted the Tantra approach in his spiritual pursuit. And, in his Guptavati, he reveres Devi Mahatmya as a mantra of the Devi, embodying her divine presence.

The Tantra School recognizes Vac as the embodiment of the Shakthi. It is the bridge between the physical and the formless Reality. Bhāskararāya approaches the text of the Devi Mahatmya as “the mantra whose form is a multitude of verses (ślokas), consisting of three episodes (caritas), each one describing the glory of one of the three different aspects of the Supreme Goddess – Maha-Kali, Mahālakṣhmī and Maha-Sarasvathi.

[The term Mantra is explained as mananat trayate mantrah; the contemplation of which liberates. It is the harmonious and powerful union of mind (Manas) and word (Vac). It is the living sound, transcending beyond the mental plane. , its relevance is in its inherent Shakthi. Its subtle sounds attempt to visualize the un-differentiated divine principle. Mantra is beyond intellect. Its inner essence has to be grasped in humility, earnestness and faith.

Mantra is said to connect, in a very special way, the objective and subjective aspects of reality. The Mantra, in its sublime form, is rooted in pure consciousness. The Shaiva text Shiva Sutra describes Mantras as the unity of Vac and consciousness:

Vac-chittam (ārādhakasya citta ca mantras tad dharma yogataShiva Sutra: 2.1).

It is the living sound, transcending beyond the mental plane; the indistinct or undefined speech (anirukta) having immense potential.  In its next stage, it unites harmoniously with the mind. Here, it is union of mind (Manas) and word (Vac).  That is followed by the Mantra repeated in the silence of one’s heart (tushnim). The silent form of mantra is said to be superior to the whispered (upamasu) utterance.

If an idol or a Yantra is the material (Sthula) form of the Goddess, the Mantra is her subtle form (Sukshma-rupa). And, beyond that is the Para, the contemplation, absorption into the very essence of the Devi. And, that leads to the realization (Anubhava) of the bliss (Ananda) of one’s identity with her (Pratyabhijna).

It is said; when one utters a deity’s Mantra, one is not naming the deity, but is evoking its power as a means to open oneself to it. It is said; mantra gives expression to the identity of the name (abhidana) with the object of contemplation (abhideya). Therefore, some describe mantra as a catalyst that’ allows the potential to become a reality’. It is both the means (upaya) and the end (upeya).

The reverse is said to be the process of Japa (reciting or muttering the mantra). It moves from Vaikhari through Madhyamā towards Pashyanti ‘ and , ideally, and in very  rare cases, to Para vac.

Ordinarily, Japa starts in Vaikhari form (vocal, muttering). The efficacy of the Japa does depend on the will, the dedication and the attentiveness of the person performing the Japa. After long years of constant practice, done with devotion and commitment, an extraordinary thing happens. Now, the Japa no longer depends on the will or the state of activity of the practitioner. It seeps into his consciousness; and, it goes on automatically, ceaselessly and inwardly without any effort of the person, whether he is awake or asleep. Such instinctive and continuous recitation is called Ajapa-japa. When this proceeds for a long-time, it is said; the consciousness moves upward (uccharana) and becomes one with the object of her or his devotion.

The term Ajapa-japa is also explained in another manner. A person exhales with the sound ‘Sa’; and, she/he inhales with the sound ‘Ha’. This virtually becomes Ham-sa mantra (I am He; I am Shiva). A person is said to inhale and exhale 21,600 times during a day and night. Thus, the Hamsa mantra is repeated (Japa) by everyone, each day, continuously, spontaneously without any effort, with every round of breathing in and out. And, this also is called Ajapa-japa.]


Bhāskararāya asserts that the Goddess is present in every word and every sound of the Devi Mahatmya; and, the recitations of these words can reveal her. Thus, he reveres the Devi Mahatmya as a great Mantra-maya scripture, as also an esoteric text on Yoga Shastra and Sri Vidya.

The Devi Mahatmya or Durga Saptashati is treated like a Vedic hymn, rik or a mantra.  Each of its episodes (charita) is associated with a Rishi (the sage who visualised it), a Chhandas (its meter), a presiding deity (pradhna-devata), and viniyoga (for japa). For instance; for the first episode (Prathama-charita), the Rishi is Brahma; the Devata is Mahakali; the Chhandas is Garyatri; its Shakthi is Nanda; its Bija is Raktha-dantika; and its Viniyoga is securing the grace of Sri Mahalakshmi. The first Chapter is compared to Rig-Veda.

asya śrī prathama caritrasya brahmā ṛṣi mahākālī devatā gāyatrī chanda nandā śakti raktadantikā bījam agnis tattvam । gveda svarūpam śrī mahā kālī prītyarthe prathama caritra jape  viniyoga

durga saptashathi2

Further, it is said that every sloka of the Devi-Mahatmya is a Mantra by itself.  And, the whole text is treated like one Maha mantra.

For instance; the opening sloka of the Devi Mahatmya: “Savarnih suryatanayo yo manuh Kathyate-shtamah” is ordinarily taken to mean “Listen to the story of the king who is the eighth Manu”. But, Sri Swami Krishnananda explains, it is in fact a mantra; and its Tantric interpretation is: “Now, I shall describe to you the glory of Hreem“. The Swami explains; Ha is the eighth letter from among: Ya, Ra, La, Va, Sya, Sha, Sa, and Ha. And add to that ‘Ram’ the Bija of Agni and one hook to make ‘Hreem’. Here, Hreem is the Bija-mantra of Devi; and, is equivalent to Pranava mantra Om

[It is said; the first three Slokas of Saptashati give out in code, the Navarna Mantra: o namaścaṇḍikāyai || o ai mārkaṇḍeya uvāca ॥]

Bhaskararaya concludes just as there is no difference between the cause (karana) and the effect (karya); between the object signified (Vachya) and the word which signifies (Vachaka); and between Brahman and the universe ((Brahmani jagat ithyartha, abedho iti seshaha), similarly this Vidya (Devi Mahatmya) of the Devi is identical with her.


The narration of the Devi Mahatmya is interwoven with four sublime Stutis, hymns. While the majority of the verses in the text are in the simpler Anushtup Chhandas, the Stutis are composed in more elegant Chhandas such as Gayatri, Vasantatilaka and Upajati, creating graceful, complex, supple rhythmic patterns when sung with fervour, gusto and reverence.

These four Stutis celebrate the glory and splendour of the auspicious Devi in all her aspects. These sweet, powerful and uplifting hymns are not only devotional and poetic, but are also philosophical and sublime. Bhaskararaya Makhin regards these hymns as Sruti-s (revealed wisdom), the exalted revealed (Drsta) knowledge, equalling the Vedas (apaurueya), rather than as constructed, the Krta by humans.

Bhaskararaya, in his Guptavati, offers comments on 224 out of the 579 verses of the Devi Mahatmya.  The most commented Chapters of the Devi Mahatmya are:  5, 4, 12, 11 and 1, in that order.  These are the Chapters that contain the four celebrated hymns and also the instructions for reciting the Devi Mahatmya.

The four hymns are: 

(1) Brahma-stuti (DM. 1.73-87) starting with tva svāhā tva svadhā tva hi vaakāra svarātmikā;

(2) the Sakaradi-stuti (DM.4.2-27) starting with śakrādaya suragaā nihate’tivīrye; 

(3) the Aparajita-stuti (DM.5.9-82) starting with namo devyai mahādevyai śivāyai satata nama ; and,

(4) the Narayani-stuti (DM.11. 3-35) starting with Devi prapannārtihare prasīda. 

[The Brahma-stuti (DM.1.73-87) also known as the Tantrika Ratri Suktam, establishes the Divine Mother’s ultimate transcendence and her identity as the creator and sustainer and the dissolver of the Universe. She is the all compassing source of the good and the evil, alike; both radiant splendour and terrifying darkness. And yet, she ultimately is the ineffable bliss beyond all duality.

In the longest and most eloquent of the Devi Mahatmya’s four hymns, richly detailed Sakaradi-stuti (DM.4.3-27) Indra and other gods praise Durga’s supremacy and transcendence. Her purpose is to preserve the moral order, and to that end she appears as ‘good fortune in the dwelling of the virtuous; and, misfortune in the house of the wicked’, granting abundant blessings and subduing misconduct (DM.4.5). ‘Every intent on benevolence towards all’ (sarvo-upakāra-karaāya sadārdracittā DM.4.17), she reveals even her vast destructive power as ultimately compassionate, for in slaying those enemies of the world who ‘may have committed enough evil to keep them long in torment’ (kurvantu nāma narakāya cirāya pāpam – DM.4.18) , she redeems them with the purifying touch of her weapons so that they ‘may attain the higher worlds’ (lokānprayāntu ripavo’pi hi śastrapūtā/ ittha matirbhavati tevahiteu sādhvī –DM.4.19).

The Devas, distressed that the Asuras have re-grouped and once again overturned the world-order, invoke the Devi in a magnificent hymn, the Aparajita-stuti or Tantrika Devi Suktam, the twenty slokas beginning with ‘ya devi sarva bhuteshu , praise to the invincible Goddess , which celebrates her immanent presence in the Universe as the consciousness that manifests in all beings (yā devī sarvabhūteu cetanetya abhidhīyate) . In these forceful 24 stanzas ( 19 to 42 of the Fifth Adhyaya ), the Devi is described as present in all forms of life , sensations and matter as :  Maya, Consciousness, Intelligence, Sleep, Hunger, Shadow, Power, Thirst, Patience; Birth, Modesty, Peace, Charm, Fortune, Firmness, Activity, Memory, Compassion, Memory, Satisfaction, Mother, Error, Inheritance, Thinking . Thereupon the Devi appears on the banks of the Ganga. Her radiant manifestation emerging from the body of Parvathi embodies the Guna of Sattva, the pure energy of light and peace. Later, She takes on multiple and varied forms in the course of the battle with the Asuras.

The final hymn, the Narayani-stuti (DM.11.3-35) lauds the Devi in her universal, omnipresent aspect and also in the diverse expressions of her powers .Thereupon, the Devi assures to protect all existence and to intervene whenever evil arises.]

Durga Devi

These hymns describe the nature and character of the Goddess in spiritual terms:

Bhāskararāya identifies Chaṇḍikā-Mahālakṣhmī with the hymn of the fifth chapter Aparajita-stuti; and, her three forms (Mahākālī, Mahālakṣhmī, and Mahāsarasvatī ) with one of the other three hymns each.


In his introduction to the Guptavati, Bhāskararāya emphasises the role of mantras that produce power when properly employed. Therefore, he focuses, particularly, on the Navarna mantra, apart from the Devi Mahatmya, which itself is regarded as a Maha Mantra.

The Navarna Mantra or Navakshari mantra, also known as Chamunda Mantra or Chandi Mantra is the basic mantra of the Sri Durga Saptashati recitation. It is also one of the principal (mula) mantras in Shakthi worship, apart from the Shodasi mantra of the Sri Vidya. There is the faith that one who practices the Navakshari mantra with great devotion will attain liberation and the state of highest bliss -(Vicche Navārnak’ornah syān-mahad’ānanda-dāyakah)

According to the Navakshari mantra nivechanam (p24) : Its Rishi is Markandeya;  Its Chhandas is Jagati; Durga, Lakshmi and Sarasvathi are its Devathas; Hram is its Bija ; Hrim is its Shakthi; Hrum is its Kilaka; and, securing the grace (prasada siddhi) of Durga, Lakshmi and Sarasvathi is its Viniyoga.

Asya Sri Navakshari Maha-mantrasya / Markandeya Rishihi / Jagati Chhandah / Durga Lakshmi Sarasvathi Devata  //  Hram Beejam / Hrim Shakthihi / Hrum Kilakam  //  Durga Lakshmi Sarasvathi Prasada Sidhyarthe  Jape Viniyogaha //

And, Navarna or Navakshari mantra is chanted as an integral part (Anga) of Chandiparayanam, which is performed while reciting (Purashcharana) the Devi Mahatmya. There is also a practice of the reciting of Durga Saptashati as a part of Navarna Purashcharana. Thus, the Saptashati and the Navarna are mutually related (angangi nyaya).


In the Sri Vidya tradition, the Panchadasi (Pancha-dasakshari) and the Shodasi are the cardinal and exclusive (rahasya) Mantras. The Panchadasi mantra of very potent fifteen letters or syllables (Bijakshara) composed of three segments (kūa) is indeed the very heart of the Sri Vidya Upasana.

Its three as are:

  • Vāgbhava kū of five bīja-s (ka – e – ī – la- hrī,   ह्रीं);
  • Madhya or kamaraja kūa  of six bīja-s (ha – sa – ka – ha – la – hrī,   ह्रीं ) ; and,
  • the śhakti kūa  of four bīja-s  (sa – ka – la – hrī ह्रीं ).

The mantra is composed of a series of individual Bija-akshara (syllables), each having its own identify and association; and, each representing a certain aspect of the Goddess. But, when these Bija-aksharas are taken together, they manifest the subtle form (Sukshmarupa) of the Mother Goddess.

This fifteen lettered Pancha-dasakshari mantra is revered as the verbal form of the Mother Goddess. By adding   to it the secret syllable ś (श्रीं) it is transformed into the sixteen lettered Shodasi mantra. The Bijakshara śrī (श्रीं) is regarded as the original form of the Mother Goddess Sri.

The mantra which till then was dormant becomes explicit by adding śrī (श्रीं); and, the knowledge of her is celebrated as Sri Vidya. It is with this Vidya of Shodasi mantra that the Mother Goddess is worshiped through the Sri Chakra. It is said; this mantra is known as Ṣhoaśī or Shodasa-kala-vidya, because each of its sixteen Bījas represents a phase (kalā) of the moon. It is also said; the verbal expression of her Vidya is the Shodasi mantra; and, its visual expression is the Sri Yantra (Sri Chakra). And, the two are essentially the same.

The Navarna (also known as Navakshari and Chandi Gayatri) mantra of nine syllables is closely related to the extended Maha-shodasi mantra of twenty eight bīja-s of Sri Lalitha tradition. Both are Navarna; as they are worshiped in nine levels (Navaavarana), where the Devi is worshipped in her nine forms. It is described as a mantra that grants the highest bliss – mahad-ananda dayakah.

[The Mahāṣoḍaśī mantra is actually not sixteen; but , it is a set of six kutas ( sections) :(1)  srim, hrim, klim , aim sauh  ; (2) aum hrim srim ; (3) ka e i la hrim ; (4) ha sa ka ha la hrim ; (5) sa ka la hrim ; and, (6) sauh aim klim hrim srim . Thus Mahāṣoḍaśī has twenty eight bīja-s.]


While Sri is the presiding deity of the Sri Vidya; Chandi is the Goddess of the Chandi Vidya. There is also a view which asserts that the Chandi Vidya is the older tradition and, the Sri Vidya is its refined form.  In some places (for instance, in Kanchi), both Chandi Navarna and Sri Vidya worship procedures are followed.

Bhāskararāya, a dedicated Sri Vidya Upasaka, in his Guptavati equates Chandi with the Supreme Goddess Devi who indeed is the Brahman, the Supreme non-dual reality. He regards the Chandi Vidya as the Navarna Vidya, which corresponds to the Vidya of Sri Lalitha.

navarna mantra

The Navārna-mantra (Śrī Chaṇḍi Navākṣharī Mantra) is composed of the following syllables:   Om aiṁ hrīṁ klīṁ cāmuṇḍāyai vicce  ऐं ह्रीं क्लीं चामुण्डायै विच्चे ॥ 

The syllables of the Navārna mantra are taken from the first line of the Mahāṣoḍaśī mantra —   śrī – hrī – klī – ai – sau ( श्रीं ह्रीं क्लीं ऐं सौः)

The Shakthas have an immense faith that Navarna mantra has the power to bestow liberation (Mukti).

Bhaskararaya mentions that this mantra has been explained in one of the Shaktha Upanishads the Devī-Atharva-Śira-Upaniṣhad  (Devi Upanishad) from which he quotes the first verse “I am of the very same form (Svarupini) of the Brahman’. I am an aspect of Brahma. From me this Universe, in form of Prakriti and Purusha, is generated; which is both void and non-void.

sābravīt- aha brahmasvarūpiī  matta praktipuruātmaka jagat  śūnya cāśūnyam ca

I am both bliss and non-bliss. I am knowledge and non-knowledge. I am Brahma and non-Brahma (the non-manifest state called A-Brahma). I am the five primordial principles and non-principles. I am the whole perceived Universe.

aham ānandā qnānandau  aha vijñānāvijñāne  aha brahmā brahmaī veditavye  aha pañcabhūtānyapañcabhūtāni  ahamakhila jagat 3

The Devi Upanishad or Devi Atharvashirsha Upanishad explains the Navarna mantra Om ai hrī klī cāmuṇḍāyai vicce:

  • 1. Om – the Pranava Mantra represents the Nirguna Brahman
  • 2. Aim – is the Vakbija the seed sound of Mahasarasvathi—the knowledge that is consciousness. – Chit;
  • 3. Hreem –the Maya Bija the sound of Mahalakshmi – the all pervasive existence. —Sat;
  • 4. Kleem – is the Kamabeeja the seed sound of Mahakali – the all consuming delight – Ananda;
  • 5. Chamunda – the slayer of the demons Chanda and Munda, representing passion and anger ;
  • 6. Yai– the one who grants boons;
  • 7. Vicce– in the body of knowledge, in the perception of consciousness.

The Chit, Sat and Ananda are involved in the creation in physical, vital, and mental aspects – as Anna, Prana and Manas. They all are integrated into Chamunda Devi.

[The meaning of the Navarna mantra is said to be : ‘O the Supreme Spirit Mahasarasvathi, O the purest and most propitious Mahalakshmi, O embodiment of joy Mahakali, to achieve the highest state of knowledge we constantly meditate upon You. O Goddess Chandika who embodies the three formed Mahasarasvathi-Mahalakshmi-Mahakali, obeisance to you! Please break open the tightened knot of ignorance and liberate us’]

māyā brahmasūstasmāt aṣṭha vaktrasamanvitam / suryo ̕vāma śrotra bindu sayukta ṣṭātttīyaka । nārāyaena samiśro vāyuścādharayuk tataḥ / vicce  navārako ̕ra syānmahadānandadāyaka 20


The Siddha Kunjika Stotra is a well known Tanric stotra, which occurs in the Gauri Tantra (section) of Rudra-yamala Tantra. It is in the traditional format of a Samvada, a discourse that takes place between an enlightened Guru and an ardent disciple- śrīrudrayāmale gaurī-tantre śiva-pārvatī-savāde kuñjikā-stotra.

The Kunjika Stotra, per se, is short, running into just eight verses. And, it is submitted to the most glorious Devi Chamunda, in all her varied forms.

Here, Lord Shiva, the Adi Guru, imparts instructions to his consort Parvathi; and, extols the virtues of the Kunjika Stotra.

Shiva Parvathi

Shiva mentions that the mere chanting of the most sublime (uttamam) and exclusive (ati guhyatara) Kunjika Stotra, confers on the devotee the benefits that would accrue by the recital of the Durga Paatha (Durga Sapta Shathi) – kuñjikā-pāha-mātrea durgā-pāha-phala labheth.

Right at the at the outset, Shiva clarifies that the Kunjika Stotra is simple, direct and very effective. Its recital need not be prefaced with the usual citing, such as the Kavacha, Argala, Keelaka, Rahasyaka, Sukta, Dhya, Nyasa etc.

na kavaca nārgalāstotra kīlaka na rahasyakam na sūkta nāpi dhyāna ca na nyāso na ca vārcanam 2

And yet, it is powerful; it protects the devotee (hamātrea sasiddhyet); and, drives away all sorts of evil or negative influences that might hinder the devotee’s progress.

It is also said; the Kunjika Stotra encapsulates the essence of the Chandi paatha; as also that of the Navarna Mantra. In fact, the mantra segment of the Kunjika Stotra commences with the chanting of the Navarna Mantra: Om̃ ai hrī klī cāmuṇḍāyai viccey.

Therefore, the Kunjika Stotra is chanted both at the commencement of the recital of the Durga Saptashati (प्रथम चरित्र); as also towards its conclusion.

It is said; the term Kunjika suggests the meaning of the Key that unlocks the powers of the Chandi Paatha. The prefix ‘Siddha’ implies that the stotra leads to the attainment of the  ideal state.

It is also said; Kunjika, here, is in form of the Devi Chamunda, the Supreme Goddess; and, there is nothing beyond Her (Anuttara).

While invoking the Devi Chamunda, the Kunjika Stotra also explains the meaning  of the syllables (Bija mantras) in the Navarna MantraOm̃ ai hrī klī cāmuṇḍāyai viccey.

Accordingly, the Bija mantra Aim stands for the  power and the creative aspect of the Devi (aikārī sṛṣṭirūpāyai); the Bija Hrim is the form of the Devi , who protects and sustains all this existence (hrīkārī pratipālikā); the Bija Klim, symbolizes  her all pervasive existence embodying and energizing every being and every aspect of the universe (klīkārī kāmarūpiyai bījarūpe); Chamunda is the mighty Devi who destroys the evil forces; and , confers grace and blessings on all (cāmuṇḍā caṇḍaghātī ca yaikārī varadāyinī); and, Vicchey is the merciful aspect of the Devi Chamunda who liberates from darkness and delusions.

aikārī sṛṣṭirūpāyai hrīkārī pratipālikā klīkārī kāmarūpiyai bījarūpe namo’stu te 8 cāmuṇḍā caṇḍaghātī ca yaikārī varadāyinī vicce cābhayadā nitya namaste mantrarūpii 9


[According to the learned Animesh Nagar , there are different versions of the Kunjika Tantra; depending upon the Sampradaya (tradition) and/ or Guru-parampara (master-pupil lineage) that is followed.

The known versions of the Kunjika Stotra are said to be: Gauri-tantrokta; Damara – tantrokta; Kali- tantrokta: Bagla-tantrokta; and , the Siddha- SarasvatI – tantrokta .

For instance; it is said, the Kali-tantrokta version is highly tantric ; and, is embedded (garbhasta) with Matrika mantras. And, the Damara version focuses on the Siddhi aspect; and, aims to unlock the secrets of the Durga Saptashati.  


Bhaskararaya explains: Even Brahma and the other Devas do not know Her real form; and, therefore, she is called Ajñeya. We do not find its limit, so she is called Ananta. We cannot find the meaning, so she is called Alakshya. Her birth is not known, so she is called Aja. She is found everywhere, so she is called Eka, the One. She has taken up all the various forms, so she is called Naika. Because of this she is called these various names.

yasyā svarūpa brahmādayo na jānanti tasmāducyate ajñeyā 

yasyā anto na labhyate tasmāducyate anantā  yasyā lakya nopalakyate tasmāducyate alakyā 

yasyā janana nopalabhyate tasmāducyate ajā  ekaiva sarvatra vartate tasmāducyate ekā 

ekaiva viśvarūpiī tasmāducyate naikā  ata evocyate ajñeyānantālakyājaikā naiketi 23


 As regards the Mantra aspect of the text, Bhaskararaya, following the Sri Vidya tradition, regards the Navarna mantra as the subtle form (sukshmarupa) of the Goddess.   For Bhaskararaya, the Bijaksharas of the mantra are the more accessible forms of the Goddess’s ultimate form as Brahman.

Bhaskararaya analyses the Navarna-mantra, dedicated to the Great Goddess Chamunda, syllable-by-syllable, beginning with Chamundayai. He explains that the power of the mantra is particularly associated with the recitation of the name Chamunda.

In his introduction to the Guptavati, Bhaskararaya explains the etymology of the name Chamunda. Here, he differs from the explanation provided in chapter seven of the Devi Mahatmya.

According to the text of the Devi Mahatmya, Kali is celebrated as Chamunda after she overpowers and beheads Chanda and Munda.

śiraścaṇḍasya kālī ca ghītvā muṇḍameva ca prāha pracaṇḍā aṭṭahāsa miśra mabhyetya caṇḍikām 7.23॥

The Devi, then, declares that since Kali presented her with the heads of these two demons, she would henceforth be renowned in the world as Chamunda – cāmuṇḍeti tato loke khyātā Devī bhaviyasi .Thereafter in the text, Kali and Chamunda become synonyms.

Yasmāc-Caṇḍa ca Muṇḍa ca ghītvā tvamupāgatā  Cāmuṇḍeti tato loke khyātā Devī bhaviyasi  7.27

Devi Chamunda sepia

Bhaskararaya Makhin, however, interprets the term Chamunda, differently, as: ‘chamum, ‘army’ and lati, ‘eats’; meaning that Chamunda is literally ‘she who eats armies’—a reference to Kali as Chamunda who drinks the blood of the army of the demon Raktabija.

jaghāna raktabīja ta cāmuṇḍā apītaśoitam sa papāta mahīpṛṣṭhe śastra saghasam āhata 8.61

He then proceeds in his comments on the mantra by elaborating on the first three syllables (Bijakshara): Aim, Hrim, and Klim, by resolving the complex expressions into simpler or more basic ones: marked by analytical reasoning. He brings into the discussion the concepts and the symbolisms of the Sri Vidya traditions.

Here, he explains; the Mahadevi Chamunda, in her integrated form (Samasti) is of the nature of the Brahman- Brahma-svarupini. And, the three Bijaksharas in the Navarna-mantra symbolize the diversified (Vyasti) form of the Devi:  as Aim (ऐं) for Mahalakshmi; and, Hrim (ह्रीं) and Kilm (क्लीं) for Mahasarasvathi and Mahakali, respectively. And again, the essential nature of the Devi as Sat-Chit-Ananda (being, consciousness, and bliss) is associated with each of her forms: Mahalakshmi (Sat); Mahasarasvathi (Chit); and Mahakali (Ananda).

Again, it is said, these three goddesses are the presiding deities of the three Episodes of the Devi Mahatmya, while the text itself is the body of the Devi Chamunda, the Mahadevi. Thus, the divisions and the Chapters of the Devi Mahatmya are but visible (Sakara) the constituents (anga) of the Devi Chamunda, who herself is beyond attributes (Brahma-svarupini).

Thus, Bhaskararaya relates the Vyasti goddess, their corresponding Bijamantras, their symbolisms and sounds, to the most subtle, secretive aspect of the Supreme Goddess. As regards the Vyasti goddess, he follows the explanations given in the Devi Upanishad. But, as said earlier, he differs on its explanation of the term Chamunda.

Here, the Mahadevi Chamunda, in her integrated form (Samasti) is of the nature of the Brahman- Brahma-svarupini. She combines in herself her other diversified (Vyasti) forms of Mahalakshmi (Aim); Mahasarasvathi (Hrim); and, Mahakali (Kilm). 

Devi sri chakra

Bhaskararaya, however, offers a rather lengthy explanation on the final term of the Navarna mantra:’ vicce’.

He points out that the term vicce , at first instance, might look as though it is untranslatable. But, one would appreciate its significance when its etymology is correctly understood.

Bhaskararaya begins his explanation of vicce, by equating it with the Sanskrit word ‘manch’—meaning ‘to grow’ or ‘to move’. He remarks; though the term vicce is rather unusual, yet it has been in use in the Shakta tantric tradition. For instance, he says, the mantra of Bhagamalini, the second of the sixteen Nityas, reads ‘Amogham chaiva vichcham cha tatheshim klinna devatam’. The import of the mantra is said to be:  the goddess symbolized by the Bija-akshara Klim is resplendent and unfailingly liberates (vichcham) the devotee.

[In the Sri Vidya tradition, the sixteen guardian deities, named as Nityas, who form the entourage, of the Devi, are identified with the phases of the moon (Chandra-kalaa); and each Nitya corresponds to a day (tithi) or the aspect of the moon during the fortnight. The sixteen Nityas are: Kameshvari, Bhagamalini, Nityaklinna, Bherunda, Vahnivasini, Mahavajeshvari, Dooti, Tvarita, Kulasundari, Nitya, Nilapataka, Vijaya, Sarvamangala, Jwalamalinika and Chitra]

Nityas of Sri Vidya

Regarding the etymology of the term vicce, Bhaskararaya explains that it originated within the Dravidian language group; and, was later adopted into the Sanskrit vocabulary. He also mentions that importing terms from other languages (bhasha-mishrana) is not unusual; and, has been in practice since the ancient times.  He explains that many of the terms that are used in   Navarna and Bhagamalini mantras are well recognised in Southern languages like Kannada (karnatabhasha), Tamil (Dravidabhasha) and Telugu (Andhrabhasha).

The scholars surmise that Bhaskararaya might have related the term vicce with the Tamil word vichchu/i or vittu/i, meaning ‘to sow’ or ‘to spread’, which has the same connotation as his Sanskrit gloss manch, meaning ‘to grow’ or ‘to move’. They cite another obscure word ‘Puruchi’, which occurs only two times in the Rig-Veda   .  The term Puruchi’, here, suggests the meaning of ‘Foremost or abundant‘, which carries a similar meaning in the Tamil language.

 [śata jīvantu śarada purūcīr antar mtyu dadhatām parvatena || RV_10,018.04c|| and aśvinā pari vām ia purūcīr īyur gīrbhir yatamānā amdhrā | RV_3,058.08a||]

Bhaskararaya, then concludes that in the context of the Navarna mantra, vicce signifies ‘liberation’; and, could be taken as a synonym for the Sanskrit term mochayati – ‘to cause to be liberated’. And, when the term vicce, in the Navarna mantra, is combined with Goddess Chamunda (Chamunda-visheshanam), it gives forth the meaning that Chamunda is, indeed, the resplendent Goddess who ‘causes her devotee to be liberated.

He says that through the Navarna Mantra we invoke the Supreme Goddess and her varied powers; and, pray to her to come into our lives to fulfil our material and spiritual desires with ease (Sri Sundari sevana tatparanam / Bhogascha mokshascha karastaeva).

Thus, for Bhaskararaya, the Navarna is not only a powerful mantra that protects the devotee; but, is also a means to attain liberation (moksha-sadhana).

durga saptashathi3

 The learned scholar Caleb Simmons, in his article, observes:

Bhaskararaya, in the Guptavati, provides a remarkable explanation of the mantra, ritual value of sounds and syllables, and etymology that elucidates our understanding of the relationship between mantra and meaning in which the secret and semantic are coterminous

According to Bhaskararaya, to understand meaning in mantra we must expand our understanding of ‘meaning’ as a category to include not only normative, semantic, and discursive meaning, but to include the hidden meaning of a mantra that contains a truth only perceivable through the direct insight of the initiated practitioner….

Through his introduction to the Guptavati, Bhaskararaya incorporates the Sri Vidya perspective of corresponding realities into a theory of meaning and mantra in which discursive (rational) meaning and the hidden meaning are simultaneously individual but ultimately the same.

Devi Durga 2

Salutation to you, O Devi Nārāyaī, who abides as intelligence in the hearts of all beings; and, who grants happiness and liberation, with what words, however excellent, can I praise you?

sarvasya buddhi rūpea janasya hdi sasthite svargāpavargade devi nārāyai namo’stu te 11.8

sarvabhūtā yadā devī bhuktimukti pradāyinī । tvaṃ stutā stutaye kā vā bhavantu paramoktayaḥ ॥ 11.7॥

Please listen to the Mantra – Om Hrim Parashakthai Namaha -chanted by Smt. Padma


lotus twin

Sources and References

Varivasya -rahasya

The secret of the three cities by Douglas R Brooks



Posted by on March 1, 2018 in Devi, Guptavati, Tantra


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

34 responses to “The Guptavati and Navarna Mantra – Part Two

  1. Narasimha Prakash

    May 10, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Dear Shri Sreeniviasa rao garu, Your blog has an excellent content and for someone like me who started reading the philosophical books, find it very very useful. Thank You. Though I have collected many books over the last several years, I did not pursue them very seriously because of the pressure of the job, (though a lame excuse). But now that I am partially retired and with the time at my disposal, I have started picking up those books. But with our huge reservoir of content – Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita, Puranas and Itihasas just to name the major ones, I really get confused and lost as to where should I start. However, blogs like yours surely gives a lot of insights and leads to broaden my understanding and pick-up the links. Thank you once again.

    • sreenivasaraos

      May 13, 2018 at 8:32 pm

      Dear Shri Prakash

      Pardon me for the delay in responding to your comment.

      I am not a scholar of any sort. I had no formal training ; or learning. What I have written here is merely my attempt to understand the older texts.

      I am glad that you found these useful.

      Please see the subjects listed on to your right , under the heading ” Categories”; and read the articles as per your chosen order


  2. n ramachandran

    May 16, 2018 at 12:42 am

    Thanks for the nice article!
    You provide a very nice explanation by Sri Krishnananda. Could you please point out where did he say this? Is it in a book or article? Could you please provide a reference for it?
    Many thanks,
    N Ramachandran

    • sreenivasaraos

      May 16, 2018 at 1:57 am

      Dear Shri Ramachandran

      Thanks for the visit; and for the question

      Here, I have tried to summarize a portion of a talk given by Swami Krishnananda .

      Kindly refer to the Swami’s talks on : Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals – Chapter 14: The Esoteric Significance of the Devi Mahatmya

      For the detailed talk, please check :

      May the Mother Bless us all


  3. n ramachandran

    May 18, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    Many thanks for the reference

  4. Radhakrishna

    June 19, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    You grave explained so clearly about shri bhaskararaya’s guptavathi. Will you please also
    Provide such explanation to bhaskara raya’s varivasyarhasya and sethubandha. We shall be happy to receive your explanation on these subjects also. Please respond.



    • sreenivasaraos

      June 21, 2018 at 6:58 am

      Dear Shri Radhakrishna

      Bhaskararaya was a prolific writer. Of his many works – Saubhagya Bhaskara (a commentary on Sri Lalita Sahasranama Stotra); Setubandha (a commentary on Nitya-shodashikarnava of Vamakeshwara Tantra); and, Varivasya Rahasya (with his own commentary named `Prakasha‘, explaining the techniques and the significance of the internal worship practiced in Sri Vidya) are regarded as the Prasthana-traya (three principal texts) of Sri Vidya lore.

      In his Setubandha, Bhaskararaya deals with the aspects of the external and internal worship of Śrī Tripurasundarī. In the external (bahya) modes of worship, which he describes, the objects like images, Chakra and other substances are used as emblems (prathima); and, several types of Upacharas (services) are offered to the Devi.

      And, in his Varivasya Rahasya, he focused mainly on the internal (antara) worship of the Devi, as prescribed in the Shaktha Agamas. It is said; his motive for compiling this work and in providing his own commentary thereon was to bring out the limitations of mere external worship (bahiryaga) of Devi, without internalization. Bhaskararaya stressed on the realization of the essential unity (pratyabhigna) that underlies Sridevi, Sri Chakra, Sri Vidya, Sri Guru, the universe and the Sadhaka.

      In the internal worship (antaryagna), the Supreme Goddess (Parama Bhattarica) is visualized and contemplated in her most subtle (Para) form as Chaitanya, conscious energy. And, beyond this, is the transcendent aspect of the Lalita Tripurasundari as the sublime Bliss (mahad’ānanda). Experiencing (Anubhava) such Bliss (Ananda); and, realizing ones identity (pratyabhigna) with the essence of the Devi is the ultimate objective of a Sadhaka of the Sri Vidya Upasana.

      At the end, Bhaskararaya emphasizes that the Siddhi (attainment) of the sacred and secret Sri Vidya -Panca -dasakshari – mantra, the vibrant embodiment of the ultimate truth, leads the Sadhaka to realize his identity (Kaivalya) with the Para Devata, the Supreme Goddess, while yet he is living (Jivanmukthii).

      For the text the Varivasya Rahasya and its translation by the renowned d scholar Pandit Shri Subrahmanya Sastri (published by Adyar Library and Research Centre in 1934) – please click here

      These texts are primarily addressed to serious practitioners (Sadhakas or Upasakas) of the Sri Vidya. No; it is not meant for a general reader.

      Many, therefore, do not consider it prudent to discuss, in written form, the worship-techniques detailed in these texts. That is mainly because, particularly in the Varivasya Rahasya, Bhaskararaya takes the line of the left-handed (Vamachara) Kaula Tantric practices, which are not conventional. It goes beyond the ordinary. And, it is a type of Sadhana for which a non-Tantric is disqualified. The Tantric initiate should unwaveringly commit himself to the values as defined by, and to the path as directed by his Guru.

      Bhaskararaya admits that the Kaula practices are controversial, ethically suspect and are liable to be misunderstood. And yet, he repeatedly asserts that Kaula elements are essential to the practice of Tantric rituals, particularly in this denigrated age of Kali. He argues that without Kaula left-handed Shaktha (Vamachara) practices, the Tantric loses his ability to transcend the ordinary and the mundane.

      [The others, more conservative Tantrics like Lakshmidhara, disassociated themselves, completely, from the unconventional and controversial Sadhana-techniques. And, they preferred to follow the ethical, orthodox, conservative methods.]

      Though he followed the Tripura Upanishad, which is scrupulously committed to Kaula Tantra, Bhaskararaya advised that a Tantric adept following the Kaula tradition of Sri Vidya, should definitely continue to practice the external forms of worship, with intense devotion and dedication (shraddha , bhakthi), through the image, mantra and Yantra.

      It is said; Bhaskararaya adopted such dual-norm. In his public life, for worldly purposes, he followed the orthodox Vedic conventional way of life. But, in his private worship, he adopted the Kaula tantric mode. He did not, however, see any conflict in his methods of approach.

      It appears, many of the Kaula practitioners, particularly in South India, have a similar approach.

      For more on the subject; please read The secret of the three cities by Douglas R Brooks

      I am not initiated into the Upasana; and, I have not practiced the Kaula techniques as mentioned in Varivasya Rahasya. I am not competent to comment further on the subject. I guess, this should suffice, for now. Sorry.

      Thanks for asking


  5. prathibha nandakumar

    July 2, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Thank you for this

  6. sreenivasaraos

    November 19, 2018 at 8:31 am


    November 18, 2018 at 6:38 pm



    I have a question regarding your entry of Bhaskararaya’s analysis of Kunjika Stotra. You say “As regards the Vyasti goddess, he follows the explanations given in the Devi Upanishad.” In Devi Upanishad as you also say – Aim (ऐं) stands for Mahasarasvathi and Hrim (ह्रीं) for Mahalakshmi. However, when you describe what Bhaskararaya said it’s backwards – Aim (ऐं) for Mahalakshmi and Hrim (ह्रीं) for Mahasarasvathi. Am I reading this correctly?

    Thank you!


    • sreenivasaraos

      November 19, 2018 at 10:13 am

      Dear Max

      Thanks for the visit and reading the article closely

      Yes Sir. You are right. The two read differently.

      There is an explanation; but, it is rather lengthy and complicated.

      Please bare with me.

      As said; the Navarna Mantra includes the syllables: Aim; Hrim and Klim.
      The Atharva-Sirsa -Upanishad identifies these syllables with: Mahasarasvati; Mahalakshmi and Mahakali, respectively.

      Sri Bhaskararaya takes an alternate view.

      Initially, he mentions that this Mantra has been explained in the Shakta Upanishad, the Devi-Atharva – Sirsa –Upanishad.

      He points out that in the first verse of this Upanishad; all the gods ask the Goddess “who are you, Oh mighty Goddess”? She replies: I am the very same form (Svarupini) as Brahman; Ahaṃ Brahma Svarūpiṇī

      Then, Bhaskararaya mentions the verse in the Devi Mahatmya (5.9) where the gods praise the Devi. This, he says, should be understood as addressed to the un-manifest (Samasti) form of Mahalakshmi.

      namo devyai mahādevyai śivāyai satataṃ namaḥ । namaḥ prakṛtyai bhadrāyai niyatāḥ praṇatāḥ sma tām ॥ 9॥

      Bhaskararaya, then goes back to Devi-Atharva-Sirsa-Upanishad; and quotes its verse 22; and, says it means the same as the praise rendered by gods in the Devi Mahatmya

      namāmi tvāṃ mahādevīṃ mahā bhaya vināśinīm । mahā durga praśamanīṃ mahā kāruṇya rūpiṇīm ॥22॥
      Then he cites the classic three fold aspects of Brahman: Sat (being); Cit (consciousness) and Ananda (bliss). He relates all these three qualities with the Vyasti forms of the Goddess; Mahalakshmi, Mahasarasvati and Mahakali, respectively

      Thereafter, he identifies the first three syllables of the Navarna Mantra (Aim, Hrim, Klim) with the Vyasti goddesses Mahalakshmi; Mahasarasvati and Mahakali , in that order .

      Here, he follows the Sri Vidya lore, to connect the Vyasti goddesses with their corresponding Bija mantras.

      Then he identifies the other two forms of the Navarna Mantra (Chamunda, Vicce) with the Samasti form of the Goddess Chamunda.

      The Goddess Chamunda, according to Bhaskararaya, is the highest form, none other than the Brahman. And, it is within Chamunda the three Vyasti goddesses Mahalakshmi (Aim); Hrim (Mahasarasvati) and Klim (Mahakali) reside.

      Then again, Bhaskararaya goes back to the Devi Mahatmya; and, tries to prove how it is related to the Navarna Mantra.

      As regards Mahalakshmi, he asserts that Mahalakshmi is the highest and the foremost of the three Vyasti goddesses, with a predominance of the Rajas (Rajo-Guna). And, Mahalakshmi is the presiding deity of Aa-varga (Aa-group) of the alphabets (Matraka); and, she always appears first.

      . And, therefore, She is represented by the first syllable of the Navarna Mantra (Aim). That indicates the pre-eminence of Mahalakshmi. Then he relates the other two syllables to two other Vyasti goddesses.

      Thus, Bhaskararaya’s interpretation differs from that given in the Atharva-Sirsa-Upanishad

      The scholar Caleb Simmons remarks:

      Bhaskararaya’s compartmental link between the Bija mantras and their goddesses to the ideology of Sat-Cit-Ananda not only demonstrates his association with the Tantric lineage of Sri vidya , but also to a broader tradition of Indian philosophical speculations.

      I could have mentioned all these; but, that would have made an already complicated post, much more painful.

      Thanks for asking the question


  7. Christoph

    January 2, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    Thanks for this artikel. Yet so far i could not find in the guptavati any sentence that would Bhaskararaya (BK) make identify ऐं with Mahalakshmi and ह्रीं with Mahasarasvati.
    Let me bring a few quotations from the guptavati:
    Explaining the navarna, BK refers to the devi-upanishad and writes:
    ‘वाक्’ वाग्भवबीजम् (ऐं) । ‘माया’ शक्तिः हृल्लेखैव (ह्रीं) । Thats looks like he explains ऐं as the vagbhavabijam and ह्रीं as the hRllekha Then later in the guptavati he says that Mahalakshmi is the pradhaana bijam of the three. That means, mahalaksmi is the chief bijam of the three. For me that means not necessarily the first bijam.
    Later on he uses the word: महालक्ष्मीबोधकहृल्लेखाया – that i translate as “hRllekha, the call for Mahalaksmi . Again this sounds to me as if he identifies Mahallaksmi with ह्रीं.

    • sreenivasaraos

      January 20, 2019 at 7:18 am

      Dear Christoph

      Pardon me for the delay in responding to your comment. I was not quite well for some time

      Kindly refer to my response to the comment posted by Max


  8. A. Donda

    January 19, 2019 at 9:26 pm

    Thank you for this excellent article! And thank you also for your reply to Max’ question, since I wanted to ask you the same. There is also an interesting analysis of Bhaskararayas commentary in Thomas Coburns “Encountering the Godess: A Translation of the Devi-Mahatmya and a Study of Its Interpretation”, but this was unclear to me before.

  9. Manjula Rajagopal

    April 21, 2020 at 5:20 am

    thank you very much.i keep refering to ur blog..i have a clarification on the mantra “aim “as representing mahalakshmi as per your explanation,in the om aim hrim klim chamundayai vicche it mahalakshmi or mahasaraswathi..

    • sreenivasaraos

      April 21, 2020 at 7:25 am

      Dear Manjula

      You are welcome

      Kindly read the response I posted in reply to the comment made by Max, who also raised a similar issue.

      please let me know if I can be of any assistance

      Thank you Maa


  10. manjula rajagopal

    April 29, 2020 at 10:25 am

    thank you sir for your patience.yes i understood the explanation..and sorry i missed your reply to max.

    • sreenivasaraos

      April 29, 2020 at 1:25 pm

      Dear Manjula

      You are most welcome

      May the Mother Bless you

      Be Happy forever


  11. Priya

    October 31, 2020 at 8:56 am

    Respected Sir, Namaskaram. I was googling the Durga Saptashati and the Navarna Mantra when your webpage showed up. To say that I have found a treasure chest of light and wisdom is an understatement. I feel the excitement of a novice diver eager to explore the secrets of the deep blue sea. Grateful for your generous sharing of the Higher Knowledge. A request Sir, here can I find a copy of the Guptavati? Many thanks and regards, Priya

    • sreenivasaraos

      October 31, 2020 at 1:00 pm

      Dear Priya

      Thank you for the visit; and for the appreciation.

      Regarding the text of the Guptavati

      What is readily available on the Net is its Sanskrit version

      I could not get its translation with commentary in English

      Please check here; and seed if it is of any use to you



      You may refer to the articles written on the Guptavati by scholars like
      Caleb Simmons and Fri opgave and others

      at here

      at here

      And, at here

      You may also read the article regarding Devi Mahatmya at

      May the Mother Bless you

      Be Happy forever


      • Priya

        November 1, 2020 at 10:49 am

        Many thanks for the links, Sir. I was looking for something of this nature:


        I also found the Sanskrit manuscripts that you shared and can only hope the Guptavati is revealed/can be accessed by a greater number of seekers.

        Will definitely look up the scholars you recommended.

        On another note: Is the Navarna mantra to be chanted only upon initiation? What does the practice of this mantra for a householder look like?

        Many thanks once again, Sir.

        Best regards,

  12. Priya

    November 1, 2020 at 10:55 am

    I was referring to this book in the last link –

    Lalitasahasranama with Bhaskararaya’s Commentary Hardcover – January 1, 1986
    by R. Ananthakrishna Sastry (Author)

    • sreenivasaraos

      November 1, 2020 at 3:41 pm

      Dear Priya

      Please check here for

      Lalita sahasranama a study in the light of the commentary of Bhaskararaya Makhindra

      A doctoral thesis by Sri L M Joshi submitted to the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda

      You may hopefully find this comprehensive , critical and analytical study quite useful


      The study is based on numerous texts , including that of Sri Ananthakrishna Shastry

      Please check here for the bibliography

      Cheers and Regards

      • Priya

        November 1, 2020 at 4:44 pm

        Sure will look it up, Sir.

        Best regards,

  13. pillai center2021

    March 9, 2022 at 6:16 pm

    Very Nice blog . You may also like the Annapurna Ashtottara Shatanamavali

  14. MKL Parmeshwaran

    May 6, 2022 at 9:37 am

    Sir do you belong to Bhaskara Prakasha Ashrama?

    Amazing effort to compile huge amount of content.

    • sreenivasaraos

      May 6, 2022 at 11:35 am

      Dear Sri Parameshwaran

      Thank you for the visit ; and, for the appreciation

      No Sir. I do not belong to any Ashram

      Warm Regards

  15. ravi narayan murthy

    November 29, 2022 at 9:38 am

    Please refer to the following para in the narration.

    Here, he explains; the Mahadevi Chamunda, in her integrated form (Samasti) is of the nature of the Brahman- Brahma-svarupini. And, the three Bijaksharas in the Navarna-mantra symbolize the diversified (Vyasti) form of the Devi: as Aim (ऐं) for Mahalakshmi; and, Hrim (ह्रीं) and Kilm (क्लीं) for Mahasarasvathi and Mahakali, respectively. And again, the essential nature of the Devi as Sat-Chit-Ananda (being, consciousness, and bliss) is associated with each of her forms: Mahalakshmi (Sat); Mahasarasvathi (Chit); and Mahakali (Ananda).

    In the above text of the narration i think there is some mismatch while translating – Bijas to connote as follows–Aim for Maha Saraswati,
    Hrim for Maha Lakshmi and Klim for Maha Kali is ok.
    Also Sat to be Maha Saraswati,,Chit to be Maha Lakshmi and Maha Kali is ok for Ananda. Please comment if iam wrong.I just put my views

    • sreenivasaraos

      November 29, 2022 at 10:00 am

      Dear Sri Ravi
      Thanks for a valid observation

      Kindly see the explanation provided to mstetsenko , who had made a similar observation
      Please check the comments segment


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