What is Śrī Vidyā ?

Śrī Vidyā is the name of a Hindu religious system devoted to the worship of the Goddess in her various forms such as Lalitā Tripurasundarī, Bhuvaneshvari or simply ‘Beautiful Goddess of the Three Cities’. It is the highest form of advait-sadhna.

 

Śrī Vidyā (also spelled “Shri Vidya”) is the name of a Hindu religious system devoted to the worship of the Goddess in her various forms such as Lalitā Tripurasundarī, Bhuvaneshvari or simply ‘Beautiful Goddess of the Three Cities’. It is the highest form of advait-sadhna (non-dual worship). It provides both Bhoga (material prosperity) and Moksha (self-reaisation) to its practitioner. Its Deeksha (initiation) must be given by a Siddha Guru (Self-Realised teacher). For definition of विद्या (IAST: vidyā) as “knowledge, learning, lore, science” see: Apte 1965, p. 857. A thousand names for this form of Devī are recited in the Lalitā Sahasranāma, which includes Śrī Vidyā concepts.
The Sri Yantra (shown here in the three-dimensional projection known as Sri Meru Chakra or Maha Meru used mainly in rituals of the Srividya Shakta sects) is central to most Tantric forms of Shaktism.
Meru Chakras are frequently a central focus and ritual object for this worship of the Goddess. They are a more potent form of the Sri Yantra, since they are three-dimensional. Meru Chakras can be found in rock crystal and in metal, often a traditional panchaloha formula of silver, antimony, copper, zinc, and pewter, which enhances the flow and generation of Sri’s beneficial energies, covered in gold. Subhash Kak argues that the description of Sri Yantra is identical to the yantra described in the Śvetāśvatara Upanisad.
In the principally Shakta theology of the Śrī Vidyā the goddess is supreme, transcending the cosmos which is a manifestation of her. The school has an extensive literature of its own. The details of the beliefs vary in different texts, but the general principles are similar to those found in Kashmir Shaivism.

 

The goddess is worshipped in the form of a mystical diagram (Sanskrit: yantra) of nine intersecting triangles, called the śrīcakra (“Chakra of Śrī”) that is the central icon of the tradition.
The first mantra initiated in Srividhya is the Bala Tripurasundari mantra. Here is the Goddess is visualized as a small Child. The next level mantra is the Panchadasi or panchadasakshari mantra which is a 15 lettered mantra. The higher mantra is the Shodasi or shodashakshari mantra which is a 16 lettered mantra.Though many Sri Vidya mantras are available in print, they are often considered more potent if they are empowered by an enlightened teacher who will give greater life to it.
The underlying principle of the practice is to realise the ultimate unity of the Devata or deity, the mantra or sound syllable, the teacher, and the practitioner. There are various schools of srividya. The left-handed path; the right-handed practice etc. ie. Vama, Dakshina, Samaya etc. Considerable controversy exists between the practitioners of each of the branches regarding superiority, though serious practitioners just follow their teaching without criticising other methodologies.

 

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