Is there some advantage to the Devi having thousands of names? Sheesh. I have seen hundreds of names for the Goddess, so many that you could use a different name in your prayers every day for two or three years. Is there some benefit to having so many names?
Group A friends called me Nora. Group B called me Ann. Teachers from the Fine Arts called me Ashwini Amma [which means Ashwin's mom]. My close families called me another and yes! I have many other names too, but they are all me. I am aware of it and so are others. Names are just attributes we associated with that particular person. That's about it.
Thousands of them? Very confusing. I am Yvonne when I am happy, Yvonne when I am sad, Yvonne when I am angry, Yvonne when I am gentle. I have many different attributes, but they don't require that I have different names.
Let me rephrase that again, instead of why DEVI require so many names, I like to ask Why Nora have so many other names?
A] Nora the cook [ as some of my friends who knows her]
Nora who loves to cook
Nora the one who love to cook chicken curry
Nora the one who love to cook chicken curry using BABA curry powder
Nora the one who loves to cook and listen to her radio
Nora the one who loves to listen to her radio and sing while she does her cooking
Nora the one who loves to listen to her radio, sing and occasionally dance while doing her cooking
These are some of the examples, now what does that tells you. About a person called Nora. Different people that have encountered her have known her attributes and thus identify her with that. But all described a same person and once you read it gives you an idea of the type of person she is.
Lets go back to DEVI. That is what the thousand names is all about. All telling us the attributes of DEVI. The Different attributes that the devotees identify her with that is all. They don't expect you to remember all but these names at least gives you an idea of not just the different attributes but the aspect of DEVI in her many forms, thus making you more closer to her and able to understand her more. And via these names you are able to connect to her more. These are one of ways we do to get ourselves closer to DEVI.
Well yes there are one Yvonne , but Yvonne who is happy have a different facial expression from Yvonne who is an angry or depress person. Yvonne who is happy will behave differently from Yvonne who is a very angry or very depress person.
I think your questions are fair. And I think Nora's answers are accurate. I'd just add a few comments. For example, you note:
*** Thousands of [names]? Very confusing. I am Yvonne when I am happy, Yvonne when I am sad, Yvonne when I am angry, Yvonne when I am gentle. I have many different attributes, but they don't require that I have different names. Is there some advantage to the Devi having thousands of names? ***
There is an advantage only if you perceive an advantage. But the system has evolved through the millennia in this manner, and so there might be some wisdom in it after all. The thing is, there are said to be dozens of devis, all of whom are aspects of the one Great Devi. In turn, a huge number of those named devis have their own thousand-name hymns (the most famous is probably Sri Lalita Sahasranama). Even if you're working from pure memory, it still takes about an hour minimum to chant any one of these lists. But once you've finished, you'll feel (even if you still don't understand) why they exist. There are also 100- (or more commonly 108-) name hymns.
If it helps, do as Nora suggested: Think of them as adjectives or descriptives, rather than "names." When you're not chanting them, it's instructive to simply read them and reflect upon them. Certain names might mean nothing to you at the moment; others are likely to address an essential issue in your life at this moment. Seize on those names. Choose one that seems custom-tailored to your needs at the moment. Reflect on her. Feel her characteristics filling you being. Become her. And watch what happens to your problem.
If you still find no resonance in the multiple-name approaches, there is still the concept of pure bhakti (devotion) to a single Devi form who represents All to you (i.e. the Ishtadevi). That's cool too. Whatever floats your boat. In fact, it's wise to choose (or more accurately, let yourself be chosen by) a particular aspect of Devi, who will be your personal goddess, friend, confidante, advisor and comforter. She is, in effect, the "home base" you return to, regardless of what other poojas and techniques you employ; no matter what other Devi forms you may choose to work with on occasion. All of the devis are like facets on a diamond; each has her own particular qualities and attributes, but all will ultimately act as your portal to the Whole.
Still, just for the sheer experience, or in the spirit of socio- scientific inquiry, you might want to try chanting Sri Lalita Sahasranama sometime when you're in the mood for something different. One of the things I notice in this group sometimes is that people will intellectually debate the system to death, but never actually sit down and simply *try* it.
The logic of the system, the history, the science, the social implications -- all of these are really interesting, provocative subjects that merit discussion. But without the practice, it's like endlessly reading about swimming, arguing over the fine points of stroke form, debating the biomechanics involved, arguing over the distances and speeds that might be possible -- and yet never actually hopping into the water and seeing for yourself.
A conversation about Sri Vidya : Why So many Names?
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