Goddess Lalitha Tripura Sundari is part of the constellation of Goddesses in Shaktism or worship of the Divine Mother. She is the third among the Mahavidyas, who are Tantric or wisdom Goddesses. Another name for her is Shodashi, the 16-year-old, as she is believed to be 16 years.
Tripura means ‘3 cities’ or ‘3 worlds’, while Sundari means ‘beautiful woman’. The three cities represent the body, mind, and consciousness. Thus, Lalitha Tripura Sundari is the beautiful lady of the three cities or the three worlds. She is an aspect of Adi Parashakti and a manifestation of Goddess Parvati, like Durga and Kali. She is the primeval creator, along with her consort, Lord Shiva. Tripura Sundari is the highest aspect of Adi Parashakti, says the Srikula tradition. She represents 16 different desires or urges. As per the Shodashi Tantra, she is the light in Shiva’s eyes. She is said to be the penultimate version of enlightened consciousness. She is also known as Kameshwari and Rajarajeshwari.
Goddess Tripura Sundari has 3 forms: Tripura Bala, Tripura Sundari, and Tripura Bhairavi. The first is a young virgin goddess, the second represents the marvelous and eternal beauty of the three worlds. Tripura Bhairavi represents her terrible form. Goddess Tripura Sundari, along with Shiva, creates, protects, and destroys the universe. She is the same as Sati, Durga, and Kali.
Tripurasundari has different names in different texts and stories. She likes to play, seek experience, and charm others with her innocence..
Shodashi leads sadhaks on the spiritual path with discrimination. She is also called Lalita, which means ‘brilliant’. Another name is Rajarajeshwari meaning ‘governess of the entire Universe’. It is important to respect her. We need her grace when making difficult decisions in our lives.
Tripura Sundari glows like a rising sun and sits on a lotus which rests on Shiva’s body that lies prone. She wears red silk attire and has long flowing tresses. Shiva himself lies on a throne. Vishnu, Brahma, and Rudra are its legs. She is beautiful, with red and golden skin, and has three eyes, a wagging tongue, sharp teeth, and four arms.
The Goddess has a noose, a goad, a bow, and an arrow in her hands. The noose represents attachment, while the goad symbolizes repulsion. The sugarcane bow signifies the mind and desires, while the flowery arrows are the five senses. Her beauty was such that Shiva could not take his eyes away from her. She is covered with ornaments. The portrayals of her are very diverse. As Kali, she is naked and shares the former’s fierce traits. In some images, she has a crescent moon on her forehead. Her mount is a bull.
Story of Goddess Lalitha Tripura Sundari
After Sati immolated herself in Daksha’s sacrificial fire, Shiva was inconsolable. He began doing severe penance. Meanwhile, Sati was reborn as Parvati, the daughter of Himavat, the mountain king. She was determined to marry Shiva. At this time, the gods were being tormented by a demon called Tarakasura. He had obtained a boon whereby only a son of Parvati and Shiva could kill him. But first, Shiva had to come out of his meditation. Kamadeva, the god of love, was sent to disturb his meditation. When his arrows struck shiva, the latter became angry and opened his 3rd eye. Kama was reduced to ashes. However, he took pity on Rati, Kamadeva’s wife, and restored her husband to life.
When Shiva looked at the ashes of Kamadeva, a demon called Bhandasura arose from them. He began to harass the Gods, and it was to slay him that Goddess Lalitha came into being. She emerged from the fire of a maha Yagna in which all of creation was offered as the oblation. The Goddess then split into 2 – Kameshwara (Purusha) and Kameshwari (Prakriti) and recreated the universe as it was before.
Yet another legend says that Parvati took the form of Tripura Sundari to charm Shiva with her beauty and omnipresence in all the 3 worlds.
Sri Lalitha Tripura Sundari Mantra
Lalitha Sahasranamam is the most well-known Mantra that is dedicated to the Goddess. Devotees chant this Mantra to invoke her blessings and protection. She bestows success in all endeavors. Tripura Sundari Ashtakam, written by Adi Shankaracharya, and Lalita Trishati Stotra from the Brahmanda Purana, are also popular.
Lalitha Tripura Sundari Stotram can protect one from enemies eliminate the problems caused by them. Her blessings can resolve arguments, disputes, and hatred between family and friends. Married couples who desire progeny can be blessed with children by praying to her. She also ensures safe delivery for pregnant women.
Temples for Goddess Tripurasundari
There are Tripurasundari Temples in many places in India. One can find them in Banswara, Rajasthan; Manali, Himachal Pradesh; Mysore, Karnataka, Udaipur, Tripura, etc.
The Goddess is the epitome of compassion and grace, as well as beauty. People pray to her for relief from many problems like delays in marriage, marital discord, infertility, debts, poverty, and other misfortunes.
Some Interesting Facts
- Supposedly, the northeastern state of Tripura got its name from the Goddess.
- Tripura Sundari is the instructor for the Universe and gives guidelines on how to rule it.
- People who desire a gorgeous appearance often perform Tripura Sundari Homa.
- Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Lakshmi, and Saraswati serve her.
- She is the divine energy of Sri Chakra.
- She is the most important of the Mahavidyas.