Some Primary Mantra Beejas
The objective of this section is not to exhaustively explain about the different beejas, but to indicate how a beeja forms the base of an entire Vidya and its philosophy.
Maya and Sakti Beejas
Devi represents the feminine force. There are two beejas that represent Stri sakti – “ee” and “aa”. But more so, “ee”. Some of the names of Devi like Vamakshi refer directly to “ee” beeja. That is why Sri Suktam praises the mother as “eem”, apart from “sreem”. Sri Sukta is a part of RigVeda Khila, and not the core samhita. And unlike Samhita we can see the mantra sastra and beejas being directly mentioned.
As Saktas take pride in saying, “i” in “Siva” is said to be Devi, without who the Lord is a corpse. This follows directly from the beeja for Sakti being “ee”. This is also why Vaishnavas take pride in saying that worshiping Vishnu is equal to worshiping Devi and Siva together: Hara + “i” = Hari. However, both Hara, Hari seem to be derived from the Bhuvaneswari beeja “Hreem”.
Bhuvaneswari is the primal model of Sakta, with Vedic origin. She is the Aditi of Veda, the Mother of Aditya loka. This is also how She is a sibling of Vishnu/Aditya. Bhuvaneswari is the Mother and ruler of all the worlds. But by Bhuvaneswari beeja one means the one that corresponds to Aditya loka.
“Hreem” beeja can be found in the earliest of Vedic literature. Purusha Sukta of Rig Veda says “Hreesca te Lakshmeesca patnyau” – “hreem” and Lakshmi (sreem) are the wives of Purusha. Hreem is also called lajja beeja.
Hreem is the Bhuvaneswari beeja and has many names, like Maha Maya, Hrillekha, Taraka, Akasa. This has four matrikas or seeds – “ha”, “ra”, “ee” and “m”. The “ha” is akasa beeja, and She is thus of the form of Akasa, both bahya and daharakasa. The Mother is called the Moon of daharakasa. “Ra” is Agni beeja. She is Agni Sikha and Agni kunda samudbhava. “ee” is Maya beeja, She is Maha Maya thus. “m” is the anuswara, samhara beeja.
The qualities of a devata can be seen from the beejas of the devata. Each matrika/beeja’s qualities can be seen in the attributes of dhyana sloka. For instance, Bhuvaneswari is one of the most pleasant forms. This is because Bhuvaneswari beeja has Maya beeja, and Maya corresponds to Ananda maya kosa. She is bound to be a personification of bliss. (The same reason holds why Lalita is also a blissful being – Pancadasi has three occurrences of “hreem”, and then repititions of “ha” and “ee”.) Then, Akasa – She is daharakasa rupini for this reason, and hence trinetra – third eye stands for vision of the Causal. Then She is a shining vast, indicating Agni and Aditya both. Varada and abhaya mudras derive from the fact that She is bhava tarini. She has Moon-adorned crown, which stands for bindu in the beeja. This is how Kalika Devi’s black color, lolling tongue, skulls etc also derive – from the beejas of the mantra. Same with every devata – Rama or Krishna. We can see that subsequently.
Specifically, the four matrikas of the beeja are said to be the head, two breasts and yoni of the Mother. There is not a lot of praise about other limbs – feet etc. That is why Her picture is drawn as if She is folding both Her legs in padmasana. Same with Lalita. Whereas Raja Rajeswari is said to be in Veerasana – with one leg folded and one leg down on a pedestal. Though Lalita and Raja Rajeswari are basically Tripura Sundari, there are differences like this, that follow from Mantra Sastra.
Then, “hreem” is also called hrillekha – since it is the letter of hridaya or Vishnu granthi. But it is not limited to it – three hrillekhas of pancadasi are said to be three granthis themselves. Alternately in Pancadasi the remaining letters are to be meditated on the six cakras while hrillekha at sahasrara. There is a variety of practices, but hrillekha is the central beeja and occupies huge importance in mantra sastra.
“Hreem” is called taraka beeja, the one that let us cross the ocean of causation and karma-janma cycle. The vidya with single beeja is called Tarakamba or Paramba. This is the combination of the Mother and the Lord, the “Sakala”. (The Lord alone, Para Nishkala, is Aum.) The three Bhuvaneswari beejas “aim”, “hreem” and “sreem” that correspond to Vak, Aditya and Sri are called taara traya. Bhuvaneswari maha vidya does not have many nama mantras, as it corresponds to lokas more than devatas. The Devata of the Vidya, is the tatva beyond all lokas. She is the Bhuvaneswari Loka vasini and Mani dweepa vasini as described in Devi Bhagavata. No one can enter it except with Her grace. Any one who enters it, becomes a female and enters. There is no place for men in that world, indicating that one cannot enter Her abode unless one transcends gender consciousness or gender-caused duality. The “nama”s that correspond to Bhuvaneswari are like Durga, Bhavani, Amba.
The four matrikas – “ha”, “ra”, “ee” and “m” are akasa, agni, maya and samhara beejas respectively. And if we look at the corresponding theology, “ha” is Siva beeja and “ee” is Sakti beeja. “ra” is Agni, so it is clear that it is Kumara swamy. (That Vedic Agni is Puranic Skanda is a well known fact). Now “m”or anusvara, is samhara beeja. Samhara in a way is nivritti, and thus it is Ganapati. Kumaraswamy and Ganapati, the two siblings, represent pravritti and nivritti margas respectively. And the four, Ganapati, Skanda, Sakti and Siva form the four matrikas in Bhuvaneswari beeja.
This is how, from one single beeja, one single mantra one eventually can progress, experience and realize the entire tatva. The essence of entire universe, the cosmic play, can be understood through one single beeja. Realizing any one mantra is as good as realizing the entire universe, and Brahman.
It is not a Sakta-specific connotation though – hrillekha, like many other primary beejas, is common to all vidyas. It is central in Rama Taraka mantra, is a part of Panca Mukha Anjaneya mula and so on. “Hreem Hari markata”, the mula of Anjaneya, derives from primary beejas and for this reason, in Madhva School of Vaishnava, Anjaneya is the most important deity immediately after Vishnu. Lalita, Bhuvaneswari are pleasant and beautiful forms for the reason that their Vidyas have maya/ananda beejas. It is for the same reason, that Hanuman is called “Sundara” in Manta Sastra.
Pancaratras - the Vaishnava Agamas are a mine of Mantra Sastra and we can acquire a lot of knowledge from there. But the reason we do not see a lot of Mantra Sastra aspects explained in Vaishnava while they are still in Sakta, is that Vaishnavas have come a long way from Mantra Sastra to different Bhava-pradhana worship forms. So their links with Mantra Sastra are kind of obscure and only people who study and practice Vaishnava to a good depth will trace their links/origins. This is the reason why we are approaching the subject from Sakta perspective. But as we will see subsequently, in Mantra Sastra we find the secret that all religions in Hinduism speak of the same eternal.
It has four matrikas, “ka” “la” “ee” and “m”. “ka” is kama. “la” is prithvi beeja, it also thus stands for creation. As seen, “ee” is Maya and “m” is anusvara. One attains fulfillment of all desires with the siddhi of this beeja. Among the yogini ganas or matrikas, those like “ka” are called asuddha or impure ones. Usually “ka” is appended with some Suddha beeja. The suddha-asuddha nature of the beeja determines whether the Devata is worshiped in a pleasant or terrible form – whether adorned with gold and beautiful jewels, dressed well and pleasant, seated on a throne in a beautiful city, or whether adorned with skulls, naked and roaming in burials. It has nothing to do with the beauty or mercy or the capability to give moksha or approachability of the devata.
“Ka” when appended with “la” or prithvi beeja, becomes Kama raja beeja. If in the same sequence Agni beeja “ra” is used instead of prithvi, it becomes “Kreem” – the Kali beeja. And it makes all the difference between a beautiful form and a terrible form. And the preparations, dhyana, nyasa, everything one does preparing for a pleasant devata, end up inviting a different force altogether – leading him in a different direction in mantra yoga and even harming him. This is the reason why, even one matrika should not be messed with in the mantra. And this is why extreme care is needed in mantra yoga. In kamya, one’s expectation can be reversed with errors in chanting. Even in para vidya sadhana, the qualities he thinks he is invoking and what he invokes differ altogether. And without proper redirection from guru, the seeker will end up in a different place.
Manmatha is another concept, after taraka, which is very similar between Sakta and Vaishnava. Manmatha is Vishnu’s son. He occupies important position in Saiva-Sakta stories. He is turned into ashes by Siva. Then Bhandasura emerges from the ash, who is killed by Lalita. Subsequently he is made the king of Kama, and Isvara allows Himself to be defeated by Kama, thereby uniting with Devi (this is how Kumara swamy is born).
The essence of all this is that Kamaraja beeja has significant place in both Vidyas. It is the middle beeja in Bala Tripura Sundari Vidya. Bala is the “daughter” of Lalita, the way Manmatha is the “son” of Vishnu. Bala is Maha Tripura Sundari Herself too. Vaishnava Vidyas have Kamaraja beeja too. In fact it is the primary and central beeja of Sri Krishna mula mantra – “Kleem Sri Krishnaya Gopi Jana Vallabhaya swaha”. The various names of Krishna, such as Syama Sundara and Madana Mohana, indicate the importance of the kama raja beeja in Krishna Vidya.
Kama or desire – iccha has primary role to play in entire creation. The cycle of universe is said to start from the desire of the Lord and the Mother’s cosmic play to please Him. This is the reason why, love for God, His creation and cosmic play, have more important role to play in Sakta and Vaishnava traditions, than Vairagya. The upasana of Suddha Tatva of Vishnu, or Nishkala Siva involve more Vairagya than bhakti.
Vak, is of four forms – Para, Pasyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari. Para is eternal form, pasyanti is when seers “see” it, madhyama is when it translates as sound-form, anahata, and vaikhari is in spoken form. Saraswati Sukta of RigVeda explains this – “Catvari vak parimita padani…”. Saraswati is the presiding deity of Vak, in all the forms.
[ Devi is not only triputi, but trikuta also. She is praised as “trikuta”. Triputi and trikuta, are anuloma - viloma. That is, Brahma – Vishnu - Rudra or Lakshmi – Kali – Saraswati. When we talk of trikuta, it is Vagbhava, Madhya and Sakti kuta – with Vagbhava at throat center, Madhya at heart and Sakti kuta below. We see that the order changes when we talk of consorts. This is because of the rule of similarity. It is said that trimurties came from three golden eggs (brahmandas) – Brahma and Lakshmi from one (rajo guna pradhana, red in hue), Siva and Saraswati from the second (crystal white in hue), Vishnu and Parvati from the third (black in color). Thus when we talk of kutas instead of granthis, the order changes - Brahma-Vishnu-Rudra in upward direction, or Saraswati – Kali - Lakshmi in downward direction.
Vagbhava beeja that represents Vagbhava kuta, originates at the throat center. This is the place from where vaikhari or external sound emanates. Sakti at this center is also called, for the same reason, kriya sakti – the power of action. In Madhya kuta, vak is of madhyama form or anahata. Devi in Madhya kuta is Jnana sakti, the power of knowledge. In Sakti kuta, vak is in para and pasyanti forms. Devi in sakti kuta is Iccha sakti, the power of divine will. Through the power of will, knowledge and action, the entire cosmic sport is performed by Her. (Again, divine will is Agni and She is thus Agni khanda there). In Lalita upakhyana, the Mother is said to have slain Bhanda – She goes with Her minister Raja Syamala (also called Mantrini, Nakuli, Matangi) and general Varahi. These three, the ruler, minister and general are the three powers of will, knowledge and action – corresponding to their roles. Ruler makes the decision, minister devises the strategy and general implements it. However, the Mother has put the responsibility of ruling also, on Her minister Syamala – so She is called Raja Syamala or Raja Matangi too. ]
Vag-bija or Saraswati beeja is “aim”. It is meditated on and chanted at Vagbhava kuta. It is formed from three out of the Sapta matrikas – “a”, “e”, “m”. None of these involve movement of tongue. It is easiest to do this internally, without movement of lips or tongue – at the throat center. So this is the foremost and the best beeja to do, for internalizing japa, develop inward vision. There are many mudras and bandhas in yoga sastra. There is one bandha applied at the throat center, called jalandhara bandha. This is extremely useful in doing prolonged kumbhaka (phase of pranayama in which we hold the breath). When japa of Vagbija is done along with this, it gives the best results. Eventually this will become anahata, then pasyanti and so on. [The Mother is called jaalandhara sthita, for the same reason. Control over the throat center is a very good step in yoga, mantra as well as laya].
Every Sadhana begins, after bowing to Ganapati and then Saraswati, then Guru. Either by nama or by beeja. Saraswati is one of the major deities, Vedic as well as non-Vedic. As a Vedic deity, there are multiple aspects of Her: 1. She presides over Vak 2. She is the vast, called Arnava 3. She stands for inspiration – the originator of divine consciousness in man and hence called the Goddess of knowledge. There are four faculties of divine consciousness – inspiration, intuition, revelation and discrimination represented by Saraswati, Sarama, Ila and Dakshina respectively. Many of these qualities are combined in Saraswati subsequently. In Tantra, Saraswati is worshiped in different forms. One is Neela Saraswati, or Tara Maha Vidya. In that She is Bhava Tarini Herself. Besides, Saraswati beeja is extensively used in all vidya-pradhana mantras like Sangeeta Matangi, Sahitya Matangi, and even other vidyas like Laghu Matangi, Sri Vidya (esp. Bala), Candi Vidya, Ganapati and so on. In Nava Durga/Candi, She is Kala Ratri – the ruler of infinite world of truth. She rules over Satya loka, the world of Truth consciousness. While the six cakras represent six worlds, the seventh at sahasrara represents three worlds – Satya loka, Kailasa and Vaikuntha. They are ruled by Saraswati, Gauri and Lakshmi respectively. In Nava Candi, they are called Kala Ratri, Maha Gauri and Siddhi Dhatri.
It might appear paradoxical that while She is worshiped as pure and as white in hue, She is also called as Neela Saraswati and Kala Ratri. They are two aspects of Truth – purity and infinity are represented by white and black respectively. And every major deity has both these forms like Saraswati. Vishnu is black, but he has a crystal white form – Hayagriva. Siva is crystal white, but has black forms also. In fact His left half, Devi is black, which stands for both aspects in the same. It is because He represents the absolute and She represents the pervasive form, that He is white and She is black. And since Vishnu is the pervasive form, He is said to be black in general.
While Saraswati, the knowledge-form of Devi, is worshiped as Sarada and Rudra bhagini/sahodari, She is also worshiped in the form of Jnana Prasuna as Parvati, the consort of Siva. It should be understood that human scales and relations are insufficient to represent cosmic and spiritual phenomena. Saraswati and Parvati are not exclusive tatvas and run into each other. Vak is Sakti Herself. At the same time, consort relation can sufficiently explain all the relations. Consort is every thing - offspring, parent, sibling and consort. And thus all the aspects of Devi, are related to Siva.
Saraswati, the knowledge-form, is associated with all devatas – because jnana is the ultimate purpose and possession. Saraswati is Rudra bhagini. And She is the face of Brahma, She emerged from and is the consort of Brahma. This is because existence and consciousness are inseparable. And consciousness emerges from existence. Again, applying human relation and scale fails us here. In the form of Ila Devi, Saraswati is the consort of Krishna/Vishnu too. Sarasawti is also a close associate of the Vedic Isvara, Indra. Buddhi, Her aspect, is the consort of Ganapati.
Lakshmi beeja, Sreem is another important beeja. There are very few beejas that are Vidyas themselves. While Para Nishkala is one, Bhuvaneswari beeja is another. Lakshmi beeja too, belongs to the same class. Lakshmi beeja represents the Kamalatmika Maha vidya.
While Bhuvaneswari beeja is central to Sri Vidya and Bala beejas are the sides or aspects, Sri beeja is the Sri Vidya itself. While every Maha Vidya has a name, after the deity, Sri Vidya does not. Every aspect of the Vidya is known by name Sri – the vidya/tantra is Sri Vidya, the devata is Sri Devi, the yantra is Sri Cakra, the abode is Sri Nagara. Sri stands for auspiciousness, plentitude, bliss, and everything noble.
This is why Sri Suktam praises Her as “Srirma” – the Sri Mother. So also does Lalita Sahasra nama start – Sri Mata. “Sreem” has four matrikas, “Sa”, “ra”, “ee” and “m”. “Sa” is Lakshmi or aupsiciousness. From the same beeja, the word “Siva” derives auspiciousness.
In general Sri represents fulfillment and bliss. This is indicated in Nava Candi, the ninth form of Durga is called Siddhi Datri, who is Mahalakshmi. Therefore the worship of Sri is also called Madhu vidya or the worship of nectar/bliss. The worship of Lakshmi begets happiness.
While different beejas indicate different devatas and their corresponding nadis/cakras, Sri beeja indicates the complete opening of all cakras (also, the upasana of Sri opens all the six cakras much quicker). This is precisely the reason She is called Siddhi datri, one who gives completeness and all siddhis. She is the personification of fulfillment of sadhana, of tapas, of the result of all noble efforts, of sampatti. She is Yoga Siddhi Herself. Hence She is praised as “subha karma phala prasuti” in Kanaka dhara. While Durga is Karma phala prada (who ascertains and gives the fruits of all the actions of all the creatures), Lakshmi is specifically subha karma phala prada. She acts when one is near the fulfillment of his purpose. She represents only the auspicious aspect of divine, and not the terrible.
Because of Her nature of quick blessing, She is said to be of rajo guna. However there are different forms in which Lakshmi is worshiped, She is said to be red in hue in general. In Kamalatmika vidya, She is worshiped as having golden color. In fact Sri Sukta too, worships Her as golden in hue – Hiranya Varnaam. Like Bhuvaneswari, She is golden and shining, ever blissful.
Sri is the daughter of the Ocean of Milk, Ksheera Sagara tanayaa. She is born as the result of great churning of the ocean of bliss, by all the powers of the universe – positive and negative. And She is the personification of infinite bliss. And She is the consort, and resides in the heart of Sri Maha Vishnu who sleeps in the ocean of bliss. The resident of the Lord sleeping in the ocean of bliss, on the coils of Ananta in yoga nidra, in extreme bliss, is the symbol of all the bliss of His heart. She is all the beauty, bliss of the universe and the Lord personified.
There is another thing worth observing – the lords have their abode in the cities of their fathers-in-law. While Siva lives in Kailasa, His consort is Parvati the daughter of Parvata raja. While Vishnu resides in the Ksheera Sagara, His consort is the daughter of Ksheera Sagara.
Lakshmi too, like Saraswati, is associated with many deities. As Sri She is the consort of Vishnu. As Siddhi She is a consort of Ganapati. She is also associated with Siva, and shares with Him the aspect of auspiciousness.
Tara beeja is “streem”, or “treem”. Tara mantras have many beejas, but these are the primary beejas in Taresi Maha Vidya. Both are used in Sakta schools. Tara is from “tar”, to float. Alternately, it is from “tra”, to protect. (Tar does not become tra, but “taar” is a derivative or “tr”. The way Pritha’s son is Partha.) Tarini is one who takes us through the ocean of happening. The epithets Bhava Tarini, Taraka, Taresi are all from the root Tara.
There are multiple vidyas in Tara maha vidya, meaning multiple forms in which Tara is worshiped. Neela Saraswati, Smasana Tara, Ugra Tara are some of them. Tara is not a “Satvic” form. She is portrayed as naked, standing on a corpse and terrible.
In Vaishnava parlance, Rama is called Taraka. According to some scholars who map Dasa Maha Vidyas of Sakta to Dasavataras of Vishnu, Tara is Rama. There are different versions in those mappings. While such one-one mapping is not very appropriate and looks improper in some places, the basic premise of beejas defining the nature of devatas, devatas having resemblances based on that nature is perfectly valid. Rama is a Satvic Devata and Ugra too. The resemblance with Tara is on the basis that both are Taraka. Some scholars equate Rama to Gayatri, some to Lalita and some to Tara. All these are valid in different premises – from Vedic perspective Rama is basically derivative of Gayatri, from Sakta perspective Tara resembles Rama, from the perspective that He rules the universe He resembles Lalita.
The Tara beeja too, is compared to pranava. The five matrikas “s”, “t”, “r”, “ee” and “m” are compared to “a”, “u”, “m”, bindu and nada of pranava, which are the five activities of the Mother (Panca kritya parayana – sristi, sthiti, laya, tirodhana and anugraha).
Tara is said to be mainly a Bauddha vidya imported by Hindus. In fact in Tantra Bauddha borrows heavily from Hinduism and vice versa. Siddhi of Tara is said to be easier in China. There is a story that says Vasistha did not have easy siddhi of Tara and he had siddhi when he went to China and practiced. Also, Tara sadhana is done in Vamacara marga.
There are some devatas like Bhuvaneswari that are to be worshiped in Vedic method alone. Many other forms of Sakti can be worshiped in either method. Vamacara involves 5 makaras – matsya, mamsa, mudra, madya and maithuna.