Wednesday 14 October 2009

Chinnamasta/Veena

Chinnamasta is a deity who has always been in my thoughts. She is responsible for veena and the power behind veena-playing. Chinnamasta is the sixth Goddess in the "Dasa Maha Vidya". She resides in the Surya Mandala. She is the deity who represents the planet Rahu. The other deities of Dasa Maha Vidya and their planetary associations are as follows:-
1)KALI-SATURN
2)TARA-JUPITER
3)TRIPURASUNDARI-MERCURY
4)BHUVANESWARI-MOON
5)TRIPURA BHAIRAVI-LAGNA or ASCENDANT
6)CHINNAMASTA-RAHU
7)DHUMAVATHI-KETU
8)BAGALAMUKHI-MARS
9)MATHANGI-SUN
10)KAMALATHMIKA-VENUS
Rahu is the planet which is reponsible for the nervous system (also for breath, bones, nails etc.) that supports veena playing, and veena strings made of the metal associated with Saturn , steel-("Sani Vat Rahu"-which means Saturn and Rahu have similar qualities as per authentic vedic astrology).
Chinnamasta is also known as "Prachanda-Chanda-Chandika" or "Prachanda Chandika". Lord Parasurama was a Sadhaka of Chinnamasta. Guru Sri. Gorakhnath, who belonged to the Natha Sampradaya was a Sadhaka of Chinnamasta.The most popular temple for Chinnamasta Devi is in Himachal Pradesh , in a town called Chintapurni. This temple is among the "Sakthi-Peethas", and known as Chinnapurni, which means, the Goddess who fulfills the desires of Her devotees. People throng to this temple to find solutions for their problems and to achieve peace of mind.
Scriptures state that Goddess Parvathi, accompanied by Her two attendants, Jaya and Vijaya went to bathe in the River Mandakini. The Goddess was deeply engrossed in Her own thoughts, unaware of the hunger pangs of Her attendants. On repeated demands from Jaya -Vijaya for food, the merciful Goddess severed Her own head, which fell on the palm of Her left hand. Three bloodstreams gushed out of Her throat, the right and left falling respectively into the waiting mouths of Jaya and Vijaya and the centre stream falling into Her own mouth.
According to the vedic tale of Rishi Dadhyach Atharvana (who appears as Kabanda Atharvana in the Brihadaranyaka, with the later name of Chinnamasta's spouse) the attendants were known as Dakini and Vamani. This tale states that the two Ashwins, known for their mystic powers had approached Dadhyach for the secret knowledge of "Soma", the nectar of immortality and food of the Devas, 'amrutham'. Lord Indra warned Dadhyach that his head would fall off if he did so, and the sage continued headless, till the Ashwins fixed the head of a horse to his body.
Dadhyach personifies Indra's thunderbolt or Vajra, whose head is cut off in order to reveal "Soma"(Rig Veda 1. 134. 13-15) According to Rig Veda (IX. 108.3) Dadhyach also grants the amrutham and is the Lord of "Soma".
Chinnamasta is Vajra Vairochani, the effulgent thunderbolt, as much as Dadhyach is.The three streams of blood gushing out of Chinnamasta symbolises "granthis"(knots). Chinnamasta is said to remove the three granthis or knots in the Sushumna (representing the three Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra and the three worlds).
While the above is the story, I had the good fortune of receiving more information on Chinnamasta from Sri Duddu Sarma, General Manager of a major Pharmaceutical Company in Minneapolis/St.Paul, US, and a devotee of Sri Vasishta Ganapathi Muni (also known as "Nayana garu"), who was a great follower of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharishi. Sri Nayana Garu (1878-1936) who is a mighty spiritual personality had a large following and famously known as Kavyakantha.He recognised the uniqueness of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharishi's teachings, accepted Him as his Guru and proclaimed Him as the Maharishi to the whole world.
Nayana Garu, in his work, "Uma Sahasram" interprets Sahasrara Chakram as Kamadhenu and Mooladhara Chakram as the calf. He further states that Sahasrara Chakram is Goddess Uma in the form of Renuka and Her son, Lord Vinayaka, the Lord of space and physical existence, as the calf at Mooladhara Chakram. The one who milks is the "atman".
Nayana Garu's belief was that Chinnamasta was none other than Renuka (personified as Lord Parashurama's mother and saint Jamadagni's wife). As Parashurama beheads Her (Lord Parashurama who is an avatara of Lord Vishnu, literally beheads His own mother with an aim to teach Her perfection in 'kundalini' for achieving moksha through Sahasraram). Goddess Uma induced Her own Shakthi into Renuka, making Her the immortal "Prachanda Chandi" and hence She is the Maha Vidya of Shakthi. The sahasrara chakram (1000 petalled) is represented by Kartha Veeryarjun (the demon with 1000 hands). Lord Parashurama cutting off the 1000 hands of Kartha Veeryarjun to release His mother from sin is depicted by His act of severing Her head to attain salvation through Sahasrara chakra. It is also likely that Renuka Devi was probably the first female in human form to have achieved this, with Goddess Uma making her immortal by inducing Her own Energy into her.Renuka Devi was also known as Kamadhenu like the Sahasrara Chakra, that which continuously delivers the nectar of life and gnana.
Sri Nayana Garu's message about Chinnamasta is echoed in the beautiful composition of Sri Muthuswami Dikshithar (Raga-Kannada Bangala, Thala- Khanda Jampa).
PALLAVI:-
Renuka Devi Samrakshithoham Anisham
SAMASHTI CHARANAM:-
Venu Vaadyaadiyutha Vijaya Nagarasthithey
Maanikya Bhooshani Madhura Rasa Bhaashini
Baana Sadrusaakshini
Parashurama Janani
MADHYAMA KALAM:-
Konatraya Vaasini Guruguha Vishvaasini
Kannada Bangaley Gaandharva Bhanjani
Sri Renuka Devi's temple is in Vijayapuram, a small village located towards the north of Thiruvarur. The krithi mentioned above, states that the Goddess is the mother of Lord Parashurama and is very closely associated with all the musical instruments ("venu vaadyaadiyutha") and resided in Vijayapuram ("Vijayanagara sthithey!"). Renuka Devi, who manifested as Chinnamasta is an important deity to propitiate for achieving expertise in the field of arts.
Chinnamasta is naked,the jewel on Her forehead is tied with a serpent. She has three eyes. Her breasts are adorned with lotuses and She represents Indrani Shakthi, which is associated with Swadhishtana Chakram which is responsible for creativity and lust.
Her mantra as per Mantra Mahodadhi :
"Om Shreem Hreem HreemAim Vajra Vairochaniyai Shreem Hreem Hreem Phat Swaha!"
More information is availble in an article by Sri Prakhya Madhubabu on Chinnamasta. He quotes Sri Nayana Garu's sloka-
"Chinnaam Bhinnaam Sutharaam Sannaa
Mannaa Bhaavadabhithaha Khinnaam
Ethaam Paathum Bharatha Kshoneem
Jaaye Jishnoho Kurumaam Shakthaha!"
("Uma Sahasram"- Nayana Garu, November 26th, 1907).
Meaning:Oh Devi, please give me the strength to protect the Mother land which is scattered and deprived of food.
In the same article, Sri Prakhya Madhubabu has stated that Renuka (Chinnamasta) is the source of atomic energy. Meditating on Her is extremely powerful and intricate. This practice is conducted in secrecy by tantriks of high order in Himalayas, all the way upto Kerala.In Nepal and Tibet, She is known as 'Vajrayogini' and Buddhists consider Her as the Goddess who grants meditative powers and salvation. Even the harijans in Andhra Pradesh worship Her as the village Goddess, "Ellamma".The villagers and devotees of Ellamma recount the many miracles performed by Ellamma. In Andhra,there used to be a practice of decorating young girls in households as Ellamma and worshipping her. They would also address her as "Mathangi"!
Mathangi or Raja Mathangi, is the presiding deity for veena! Chinnamasta's represents Rahu (the most important planet for veena-playing). The kundalini-sadhana intended through veena -playing derives stength through worship of Chinnamasta, who cuts off the 'ida' and'pingala' nadis for salvation through "Sahasraram".