Goddess Lalita is considered as the embodiment of Para Shakti or the ultimate female power. She is also called ‘Tripura Sundari’ as Her Body consists of three Shaktis that is Brahma, Vaishnavi and Raudri. Goddess Lalita Tripura Sundari is referred in Hindu literature time and again. The Lalita Sahasranama illustrates her charismas from head to foot. She is described as the one who recreates the universe. She was manifested through a Maha Yajna performed by Maha Shambhunatha.
Goddess Lalitha is seated in the lap of Lord Siva, while goddess Sri Lakshmi Devi and Sarswati Devi are there on her right and left holding ‘vinjamarams’ ( fans) in their hands to serve Her as described in Lalita Sahasranama stotram as ‘”sachamara ramavaani savya dakshina sevitha.'” ( Rama (Lakshmi) and Vaani (Saraswathi) are said to do her seva with chamara (fans).
Appearance of Goddess Lalita: Iconography of Goddess Lalita
Lalita or Tripura Sundari together combines the features of Goddess Kali and Goddess Durga. She has Kali’s determination and Durga’s charm, grace and complexion. She is described in great detail as extremely beautiful, gorgeous and erotically inclined. She has a third eye on her forehead. Lalita is said to be four-armed and clad in red dress. She is the heavily ornamented and sits on a lotus seat laid on a golden throne. Lalita carries in her hands various Shaivite attributes.
Goddess Lalita is depicted with four arms and her skin is in golden color. In one of the two fore arms she has carried a rope and in the other a pike. They highlight attachment and repulsion seen in life. In the latter two arms she has carried a sugarcane bow and five flower arrows to represent mind and five sensory organs respectively. Her body is well garlanded by numerous ornaments. Lalita is also the representation of creation, preservation and destruction and considered as the image of sixteen modifications of desires. Usually she is found sitting on a lotus placed on a throne. All these display a royal atmosphere throughout in her environments.
Three Forms of Goddess Lalitha
Goddess Lalita is known in three divine forms. They are Tripura Bala, Tripura Sundari and Tripura Bhairavi who are the representations of body, mind and consciousness respectively. The first form is represented as a young virgin goddess whereas the second as marvelous eternal beauty of the three worlds. The third form Tripura Bhairavi is the ferocity and power of the Goddess Lalita. The devotional methods for Tripura Bhairavi is very much inclined to Mahavidyas while the same regarding the other two forms are according to Sri Vidya tradition based on the worship of Srichakra. Goddess Sri Vidya is prayed for her kind heartedness and glory. Since the Goddess has attained three levels of existence, she is worshipped as Rajarajeshwari, Kameshwari, and Maha Tripura Sundari. These forms are to represent the qualities of her sacred functions.
Legend of Goddess Lalitha
The most famous of legends speaks about the Goddess’ encounter with Bandasura. Once Ganesha is said to have created a demon life figure out of the ashes of Kama Deva, the God of love, who was burnt down by Shiva and gave life to it. This turned out to be Bandasura, the ash-coloured demon. He became the friend and playmate of Ganesha, but later, began showing his true colours of a demon. He began playing serious mischief, burning down mountains and other things, and slowly started creating severe trouble even in Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva. There he was warned first by Nandi, Shiva’s mount and then by the Lord himself and Goddess Parvati, who pulled him up severely. But he was bailed out by Ganesha and was sent out.
Bandasura felt this as a grave insult and he could not be pacified even when his friend Ganesha came visiting him. Instead of mending his ways, he began denigrating Ganesha and mocking his divine parents. Ganesha explained to him about his origin and cautioned him not to go overboard. But Bandasura ignored him, rejected his friendship, and now began attacking the Devas too. He once again entered Kailash, with a view of harassing its residents. There he again encountered Nandi, Ganesha and Parvathi, who all told him to leave the holy place immediately and save himself. Instead, he started playing havoc there, and attacked Nandi too. This infuriated Parvathi, while Devas too pleaded with her to put an end to the demon’s harassments.
Deciding to end the terror of the demon, Parvathi assumed the imposing form of Lalitha, combining in herself vigour and beauty. Armed herself with various weapons, Goddess Lalitha took on the might of Bandasura in a battle, struck him down with her powerful trident and killed him, thus relieving all of his atrocities. Hence, Lalitha is also hailed as Bandasura Sangharini, the slayer of Bandasura.The Devi wounded him all around, defeated him and slayed Bhanda Asura with the Mahakameshwara Astra. The entire retinue of the Deva were relieved that the Devi had finally put an end to their woes. The Deva, including India, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, heaped praises on this heroic deed of the Devi.
This story of the Devi slaying Bhanda Asura, is one of the popular stories of Indian puranic tradition tradition, and is a part of Lalitha Trishati of Brahmanda Purana.
Lalita Sahasranama Stotra
Lalita Sahasranama Stotra, the hymn of 1000 names of Lalita is the best one venerated by the followers of all the traditions. The spiritual masters of the past have written several commentaries on the Lalita Sahasranama Stotra. They have firmly established that the hymn contains the essence of the Mantra Shastra of the entire world. They have thoroughly analysed and described each name of the hymn from various aspects.
Om Lalithambikaye Namah