What is Sri Vidya?
Srividya is an ancient and influential school of Goddess-centered Shakta Tantrism. Centering on the goddess's three manifestations
1.The beneficent deity Lalita Tripurasundari
2. Her mantra;
3.and the yantra known as Sri Chakra.
Srividya creates a systematic, esoteric discipline combining elements of the yogas of knowledge, of devotion, and of ritual.
In the Shakta form of worship, Srividyopasana (i.e., the pursuit of enlightenment via Srividya) is considered the pinnacle of achievement. If the aspirant is initiated properly, it is the ultimate path, because it gives you the experience of union with the Universe, the Cosmos - or whatever name you prefer to call IT by. It is said you must, in past lives, have done thousands of years of sadhana of all the devatas such as Vishnu, Shiva, etc. to reach this point. It is said that one can obtain initiation into Srividya only if one is in his/her or his final birth - or is verily Shiva Himself.
And within Srividyopasana there are stages of practice - from simple recitation of mantras to long and ritually complex mediations, all of which are followed progressively until suddenly you are THERE. In this context it is said that even if you are not really competent, some past meritorious karma can still you get initiated into Srividya, and you will become a yogabhrashta (an outcast in spiritual practice) – then in the next birth you will start where you stopped and will attain the union faster.
HOW DO I BEGIN?
There are many paths of sadhana within Srividya. Some are suitable for some and some are suitable for others. Which is right for a given aspirant depends not only on one's level of spiritual development, but also upon one's circumstances. Not everyone can cope with the rigorous rituals required by full-blown Srividyopasana, whether due to unfamiliarity with details, or lack of time and/or facilities. Not everyone can undertake daily austerities running into hours. The main practice of Srividya - worship of Sri Yantra - can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a full day, depending on how you do it. You have to go by your gut feeling to decide what's right for you.
The two main types of pooja are srishti krama and samhara karma - or in English, the creation method and the dissolution method. In samhara karma, each Devi is worshiped and is absorbed into the next Devi, and it continues until we reach Lalita, in whom, by that time, all the Devis will be absorbed. In srishti karma, Lalita is worshipped first, and from her the next Devi is extracted, and from her the next one, and onward until all the Devis are in their rightful places.
The full pooja takes hours, because at each point we pause and do smaller, detailed poojas. (What is pooja but an attempt at meditating on the form of Devi?) Hence the sages of yore created a recitation known as the Khadgamala Stotram. The Devi herself must have inspired the great Upasakas to create a capsule that contains everything so that for this time and clime it is THE upasana. All of the sadhana of Srividya can be achieved by the recitation of the Khadgamala. Hours of long ritual compressed to less than half an hour of intense meditation that will give you a ticket on the same plane as the great Srividya Upasakas. Says one experienced Srividya Upasaka, "Whatever your developmental stage, this is IT!" Even those who have not been initiated into Srividya can benefit from the Khadgamala.
Amritananda Natha Saraswati himself describes it as follows:
"The Khadgamala is the equation I=WORLD=BEYOND. Regular practice protects you, nourishes you, and takes you beyond. It fulfils all wishes, more than you desire, instantly. Therein lies its power. How should you practice Khadgamala? As you are reciting each name, a portion of Sri Chakra should spring up in your imagination. The power comes from intensifying concentration to visualize the form, hear the sound, feel the touch, taste, and smell of the divine perfume of the goddess manifesting that part of the ever youthful Goddess. You can sit in front of each of the sculptures in Devipuram [those who will now, and for the next two years, grace the front page of Shakti Sadhana] to get training into such visualizations. The Goddess loves fun. She is deeply in love with You, making You HER Siva. So begin your journey to Goddess today, no matter how feebly. You can add power and depth as you move along. We are there to help you."
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