By Swami Harshananda
Ṣaḍadhvā literally means ‘six paths leading to the Divine’.
This is a special technical term of the Śakti sect, the sect of the Divine Mother. Adhvā means a path and sat means six. According to the sect of the Divine Mother, there are six paths of spiritual discipline that lead to the Divine Mother. They are:
- Varṇādhvā - letters of the alphabet
- Padādhvā - words made up of these letters
- Mantrādhvā - mantras comprising the words
- Kalādhvā - aspects such as vidyā or knowledge, śānti or peace and so on
- Tattvādhvā - the thirty six categories of Śāktāism
- Bhuvanādhvā - various worlds
By worshiping these six deities in his earlier lives, the śākta-sādhaka becomes fit to worship the Divine Mother. Divine Mother Lalitā is described in the Lalitāsahasranāma to be beyond these six adhvās.
- Lalitāsahasranāma 991
- Six adhvās means ṣaḍadhvātīta-rūpiṇī.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore