So what are these fourteen worlds that our ancient scriptures talk about? Are these other inhabited planets somewhere in the universe?
Happy Navaratri once more! Today I continue with the fourth Navavarana kriti of Dikshithar in my series for Navaratri. If you want to play catch-up, the first of the series starts here. These kritis are in honour of Kamalamba (Goddess Lotus-Mother) who is worshipped in the form of a symbol – the Sri Chakra. So far we looked at Dikshithar’s background in Shakti worship, the use of esoteric symbolism and it’s relevance in today’s world and the symbolism of the Lotus as it is the name of the Goddess and it is part of her symbol. Today we continue with the next kriti which is in honour of the next enclosure called the सर्व सौभाग्य दायक चक्र Sarva Saubhagya Dayaka Chakra. It is represented by fourteen triangles which stand for the fourteen Lokas (worlds) of Hindu mythology as well as the fourteen Nadis in our bodies.
With my liking for science fiction, I confess I always thought of the fourteen worlds with the visuals supplied by Star Trek, Star Wars and Asimov’s worlds! Our Puranas name these worlds as Satyaloka, Tapaloka, Janaloka, Maharloka, Suvarloka, Bhuvarloka, Bhuloka, Atala, Vitala, Nitala, Rasatala, Mahatala, Sutala and Patala. Those who recite the Gayatri will recognize some of these names. Our Puranas describe these worlds as being inhabited with some beings having the ability of inter-Loka travelling. There is an interesting article here analysing the references in the Puranas. The theory is that these Lokas are physical areas occupying the same space. There is another theory elsewhere that they occupy alternative universes.
Another explanation of the fourteen Lokas is that they are specific regions of our bodies. The seven upper Lokas occupy the position of the seven Chakras; the seven lower ones are in the lower parts of our bodies.
A third theory is that Lokas are planes of consciousness. Bhu is physical consciousness, Bhuva is vital consciousness, Suva is the world of the mind. Maha is the world of an idea, Jana the world of creation, Tapa the world of spiritual consciousness (chit), Satya the world of true bliss. The three higher worlds are the equivalents of Sat-Chit-Ananda or Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.
Lots to ponder about, isn’t it? I am not sure which theory I subscribe to. In the Sri Chakra, the fourteen Lokas are represented by 14 triangles. This chakra is presided by Goddess Tripura Vasini supported by 14 Devis called the Sampradaya Yoginis. Dikshithar’s kriti in honour of this chakra is set to the beautiful raga Kambhoji. Listen below the to the very talented young Nisha Rajagopal singing this kriti.
Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :
Composer : Muthuswami Dikshithar
Raga : Kambhoji
Language : Sanskrit
कमलाम्बिकायै कनकांशुकायै कर्पूर वीटिकायै नमस्ते नमस्ते
कमला कान्तानुजायै कामेश्वर्यै अजायै
हिम गिरि तनुजायै ह्रींकार पूज्यायै
कमला नगर विहारिण्यै खल समूह संहारिण्यै
कमनीय रत्न हारिण्यै कलि कल्मष परिहारिण्यै
सकल सौभाग्य दायकाम्भोज चरणायै
संक्षोभिण्यादि शक्ति युत चतुर्थावरणायै
प्रकट चतुर्दश भुवन भरणायै
प्रबल गुरु गुह सम्प्रदायान्तःकरणायै
अकळङ्क रूप वर्णायै अपर्णायै सुपर्णायै
सुकर धृत चाप बाणायै शोभनकर मनु कोणायै
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
सकुङ्कुमादि लेपनायै चराचरादि कल्पनायै
चिकुर विजित नील घनायै चिदानन्द पूर्ण घनायै
karpUra vITikAyai namastE namastE
kamalA kAntAnujAyai kAmEshvaryai ajAyai
hima giri tanujAyai hrImkAra pUjyAyai
kamalA nagara vihAriNyai khala samUha samhAriNyai
kamanIya ratna hAriNyai kali kalmasha parihAriNyai
sakala saubhAgya dAyakAmbhOja charaNAyai
samkshObhiNyAdi shakti yuta chaturthAvaraNAyai
prakaTa chaturdasha bhuvana bharaNAyai
prabala guru guha sampradAyAntaHkaraNAyai
akaLanka rUpa varNAyai aparNAyai suparNAyai
sukara dhRta chApa bANAyai shObhana kara manu kONAyai
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
sakunkumAdi lEpanAyai charAcharAdi kalpanAyai
chikura vijita nIla ghanAyai chidAnanda pUrNa ghanAyai
Salutations, salutations (namastE) to Kamalambika who is clothed (anshukA) in gold (kanaka), who chews (implied) betel leaf (vITikA) flavoured with (implied) camphor (karpUra).
To She who is the younger sister (anujAyai) of the one beloved (kAntA) to Lakshmi (kamalA) (=Vishnu), to Goddess Kameshwari, to She who is unborn (ajAyai), to the daughter (tanujAyai) of the snow-capped mountain (hima giri), to She who is worshipped (pUjyAyai) by the sound hRIm (hRImkAra), to She who dwells (vihAriNyAyai) in the Lotus-city (kamala nagara), to She who destroys (samhAriNyAyai) all the wicked people (khala samUha), to She who is garlanded with (hAriNyAyai) beautiful (kamanIya) jewels (ratna), to She who repels (parihAriNyAyai) the sins (kalmasha) of the age of Kali.
To She whose lotus (ambhoja) -like feet (charaNAyai) are granters (dAyaka) of all (sakala) good fortune (saubhAgya), to She who is of the fourth (chaturtha) enclosure (AvaraNaya) connected with (yuta) the Shaktis such as (Adi) SamkshObhiNi, to She who sustains (bharaNAyai) the fourteen (chaturdasha) manifest (prakaTa) worlds (bhuvana), to She who is the soul (antaHkaraNAyai) of the famous (prabala) tradition (sampradAya) of Guruguha (Kartikeya, also composer’s signature), to She whose form (rUpa) and colour (varNa) is flawless (akalanka), to She who is known as Aparna (she who performed severe penance without even eating a leaf), to She who is known as Suparna, to She whose lovely (su as a prefix) hands (kara) holds (dhRta) a bow (chApa) and arrow (bANa), to She who resides (implied) in the glorious (shObhanakara) triangles (kONAyai) (of this chakra), to She who is anointed (lEpanAyai) with auspicious(su-prefix) kunkuma, to She who is the creator (kalpanAyai) of all which moves (chara), all which doesn’t move (achara) etc (Adi), to She with hair (chikura) which triumphs over (vijita) dark (nIla) clouds (ghana), to She who is the solid form (ghana) of consciousness (chit) and bliss (Ananda).