By Swami Harshananda
Lalitopākhyāna literally means ‘story related to the Divine Mother Lalitā’.
Lalitā is an aspect of Pārvatī which is an extremely popular goddess in South India. The two hymns addressed to her are:
They are considered as mantras, the recitation of which can grant the fulfillment of any wish. They are considered to be a part of the Brahmāndapurāṇa.
The Lalitopākhyāna is said to be an integral part of this purāṇa and appears in its Uttarakhanda. It has 32 chapters and 2743 verses. It is a dialogue between Hayagrīva and Agastya and deals exhaustively with the story of Lalitādevi. This story can be summarized very briefly as follows:
When Śiva reduced Manmatha (Cupid, Eros) to ashes, the same was shaped into a beautiful idol by Citrakarma, one of the attendants of Śiva. By chance, Śiva’s eyes fell on this idol and it sprang to life. Śiva gave this newly born person several boons like a life of 60,000 years and invincibility during this period. He came to be known as Bhaṇḍāsura and started ruling over the devas (gods) and the dānavas. Even Indra, the king of the gods, became subservient to him. By the time his allotted duration of life was over, the gods, under the leadership of Indra, performed a big sacrifice from which Lalitādevī emerged and assured them that she would destroy Bhaṇḍāsura and restore their kingdom to them.
As per the desire of the gods including Brahmā, the creator, Lalitādevī was married to Kāmeśvara Śiva since she was Pārvatī in that form. Then the Devī started on her victory expedition against Bhaṇḍāsura. After a fierce fight, he along with all his associates, were decimated.
The overjoyed gods prayed to her with a long and beautiful hymn. The work ends with the eulogy of the pañcadaśāksari mantra, the mantra of 15 letters, which must be received from a competent guru or spiritual preceptor.
- Lalitopākhyāna Chapter 25, verses 10 to 42
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore