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[Query] What is Khadgamala and what is its significance?

Khadgamala is not merely a Stotra or a hymn but is a Mala Mantra which invokes Sri Mahatripurasundari along with all her Avarana Devatas. It is a very powerful invocation. Sri Lalita Sahasranama, Sri Lalita Trishati and Sri Shuddha Mala - these are considered to be an absolute must for a Srividya Upasaka. By chanting this Mala Mantra in times which make detailed Navavarana Chakrarchana Saparya not possible, complete fruit of performing Navavarana is assured to the Sadhaka who simply chants this Mala Mantra. Several scriptures have dealt with this immensely powerful and important Mantra, Tripurarnava Tantra, Tantraraja Tantra, Vamakeshwara Tantra, Rudrayamala’s Rajarajeshwari Parishishtha, Lalita Tantra to name a few. Even Brahmanda Purana's Lalitopakhyana gives a Mala named "Sahasrakshari Vidya", on the lines of Shuddha Shakti Mala. The Mala is of five types: Sambudhyanta, Namonta, Swahanta, Tarpananta and Jayanta. By having each of these five Malas for Shiva, Shakti and Shiva - Shakti Mithuna, we end up with fifteen Malas, which along with the three Tripurasundari Mala Mantras, form the eighteen Malas of Srividya.

As per some sources, Sambudyanta is for Japa, Namonta is for Archana, Swahanta is for Homa, Tarpananta is for Tarpana and Jayanta is for Stotra. Thus, most of the things required for a Purashcharana are taken care of. Each of these fifteen Malas are also chanted one per Tithi from Pratipat to Amavasya / Pournami. There are three different sets of Rishyadi Nyasas for these Malas, based on different Tantras and Sampradaya Bhedas. Even the number of letters in each of these Malas is calculated differently based on different readings of the Malas, again due to Sampradaya Bhedas and also depending on whether the Mala is chanted for Kamya or Nishkama purpose. Patha Bhedas depend on one's own Guru Krama. It is actually wonderful if one is able to chant all the fifteen Malas everyday. The next better thing is to chant Shuddha Shakti Sambudhyanta Mala and the Mala of that particular Tithi. The last thing would be to simply recite Shuddha Shakti Sambudyanta Mala, which is considered mandatory. These Malas represent the Avarana Devatas of Srichakra and hence the Sadhaka should internally worship these Devatas in one's own Body, in the seven Chakras. This is the actual way of chanting the Mala Mantra for a Samayacharin. The exact method however is to be learnt from one's own Guru. In Saundaryalahari, in the Shloka 'kshitau', Acharya explains the secret Rashmi Krama of Srividya. The Total number of Rashmis in the bodily Chakras are 360, which correspond to the 360 days of the physical year. Every man, who has healthy living, healthy thinking, healthy food habits i.e. living an ideal and perfect life, evolutes with time. The climax of this evolution is what may known as the state of Moksha. However, due to the difficulties in achieving perfect lifestyles as advocated by the Vedas, evolution goes on at a very slow rate, requiring crores of births for Moksha. There comes the need for techniques like Yoga and Upasana to accelerate this process of evolution.

Kriya Yogis know how to rapidly achieve the evolution of one complete year of healthy living in one day. The chanting of this Mala mantra has a similar effect. The above said shloka of Saundaryalahari can be interpreted in two ways as related to Rashmi Sankalana. One is the complicated technique of Shadanvama Shambhavakhya Maha Mithuna Saparya, which can be performed only by Sadhakas who have received the Purnabhishekanantara Maha Shambhava Diksha. Even Mahashodashi Purna Diksha is not really sufficient to perform this Upasana. Only a Maha Shambhava Dikshita has access to this Mandala of Siddhas invoked during this worship, considered very secretive. It SHOULD not be tried unless one is done with 28 lakhs of Japa of Mahashodashi and 8 lakhs of Prasada Ashtakshari Mahavidyas. One needs to learn the procedure directly from a Guru, observe at least ten Saparyas and then start the practice himself. It may be performed only on five particular days, which again have to be known from one's own Guru. The second interpretation again speaks of Rashmis, which are same as the Avarana Devata Rashmis detailed in Khadgamala. Thus, Rashmi Sankalana may also be done by using Shuddha Shiva Shakti Mithuna Sambudhyanta Mala. Dindima, Vedananda Kavi and other great scholars have given hints with respect to these higher practices of Srividya whereas Saubhagya Kalpalata and Lalita Tantra detail the Prayogika aspects of these two Rashmi Kramas respectively. This matter was discussed here only to throw pointers at the high-end use of Khadgamala and not to encourage people to undertake these Upasana Kramas without the guidance of a Guru. As mentioned earlier, one needs to be initiated into at least Panchadashi to be able to chant Khadgamala and necessarily have Maha Shambhava Diksha with the Purna Shambhava Padukas to be able to undertake the Shadanvaya Rashmi Krama and other advanced practices.

The Mithuna Shuddha Mala addresses all the 360 Rashmis and brings about the evolution that should have normally happened in a year. This information was revealed one morning by Brahmasri N. Subrahmanya Iyer (Chidanandanatha).

[Query] Does Khadga mean sword or mantra?

shrImAtre namaH

Sanskrit words can have many meanings and khaDga could mean stuti. I am not aware of it though. I looked up the kosha and could not find a related reference. As I said, gIrvANa vANI has her own ways!

Sword seems to be a correct interpretation as well. Each of the fifteen [or seventeen if you insist] mAlAs seem to be popularly recognized by upAsakas in two ways:

1. The actual type: shuddha shakti sambuddhyanta, shuddha shiva jayAnta etc.
2. Based on the Siddhi granted by the mAlA [in sakAma pakSha], it is identified as khaDga mAlA, pAdukA mAlA etc.

This becomes clear by observing the viniyoga of the mAlA, khaDgasiddhau, as stated in lalitA parisiShTa. It is this mAlA that promises the following:

tAdR^isham khaDgamApnoti yena hasta sthitena vai |
aShTAdasha mahAdvIpa samrAd bhoktA bhaviShyati ||

As shuddha shakti mAlA is the most popular, and the siddhi associated with that is khaDga siddhi, people popularly refer to all the mAlAs as khaDgamAlA-s which is technically rather incorrect. It is only the first of the seventeen that is called khaDgamAlA. Now the panchadasha mAlAs are discussed in lalitA parishiShTa and rudrayAmaLa, also in tripurArNava. But bR^ihadvAmakeshwara, while describing ShaTkarmas, does the uddhAra of the mAlA mantra. This mAlA has a longer phalashruti which is mostly about protection: agnivAta mahAkShobhe etc. khaDga is used for defense and offence and the utility of the mAlA [shuddha shakti sambuddyanta] for both these purposes is detailed in the tantra. One can see that the phalashruti was modified later to drop some lines indicating its use for ShaTkarmas, possibly to avoid abuse, which obviously is not the best thing to do. The corrupted readings of the phalashruti are abundant. Every text published in Kannada reads:

ApatkAle nityapUjAM vistArAt kartumArabhet |

Now, we are talking of situations like bhUkampa, agnivAta, viplava etc. When nitya pUjA itself is difficult, would Amba be foolish to expect a detailed mAhAyAga at that time? The correct reading is:

ApatkAle nityapUjAm vistArAt kartumakShamaH |

During ApatkAla, when one is unable to perform nityapUjA, he can recite the mAlA mantra and obtain the benefit of nityapUjA. It is with this pramANa from vAmakeshwara that Brahmasri Chidanandanatha composed the laghu pUja paddhati using khaDgamAlA. Of course, unlike the incorrect practice followed by many, he correctly teaches the use of namo.anta and tarpaNanta for pUja and tarpaNa as sambuddhyanta is specifically for japa. shankarAraNya, while commenting on rahasya sahasranAma touches on this subject when dealing with the shloka:

chakrarAjArchanam devyA japo nAmnAm cha kIrtanam |
bhaktasya kr^ityametAvadanyadabhudayam viduH ||

During ApatkAla, japa without nyAsa etc., sahasranAma and khaDgamAlA [as a substitute for chakrArchana] is prescribed in sundarI tantra [this is his quotation]. Moreover, the phalashruti of the mAlA in bR^ihadvAmaka also says: ekavAram japadhyAnam sarvapUjA phalam labet. However, it is to be noted that this statement is only referring to ApatkAla charyA.

A hymn of similar nature is the khaDgamAlA of bhagavatI dakShiNA kAlI. In the phalashruti there, Lord Bhairava states that every name invoked in the mAlA is like a protective sword, which protects the upAsaka and destroys his foes. I only learnt the mAlA and not the phalashruti owing to laziness, like every other stava I know of and hence cannot reproduce the exact verse right away.

[Query] Should garimaa siddhi be used in Khadgamala?

The Structure of Srichakra varies in the three Prime Sampradayas of Srividya. The popular shloka which describes the Srichakra is as follows:

bindutrikoNa vasukoNa dashArayugma manwashranAgadalasaMyuta ShoDashaaram |
vR^ittatrayaM cha bhuumIsadanatrayaM cha shrIchakrametaduditaM paradevataayaaH || (Rudrayamala - 25, 3) and (Siddheshwarimata - 13,5)

This describes vR^ittatraya (three girdles or circles) after the bhUpUra trailokyamohana chakra. As per Samhara Krama, this will thus become the dwitIyAvaraNa of the chakrarAja. In Hayagriva Sampradaya, these three circles will be absent in the Srichakra. In the Anandabhairava Sampradaya Chakra, these lines are present in the Srichakra, but there is no Archana performed for this AvaraNa. However, in the Dakshinamurti Sampradaya, these three lines are present in the Srichakra and are also worshipped as one of the AvaraNas. In the outermost line, which is described as white in color, the mAtR^ika shaktis or Yoginis of the letters kaM to kShaM (kalarAtri and others) are worshipped. In the second circle, which is described as red in color, following an anti-clockwise pattern, the shaktis of the swaras i.e. aM to Ah (amR^itA etc.) are worshipped. In the third and the innermost circle, described as having kR^iShNa varNa, the nityA goddesses are worshipped. The chakreshwari of this AvaraNa is tripureshinI, mudrA is mahAyoni and the siddhi is garimA. So, this is where the garimA siddhi fits in. Hence, people who are following the khadgamAla of the sampradayas other than Dakshnimaurti, should not include garimA siddhi in the first AvaraNa. Also, this AvaraNa, which is found only in Dakshiamurti Sampradaya and which houses garimA siddhi is called Trivarga sAdhaka Chakra.

[Query] Namasthe, please guide me where I can find 75 khadgamalas.

There are only fifteen malas:

Shiva-Shakti mithuna

These combined with:

Namo anta

Together, they form 3X5 = 15 mala manthras. Some upasakas use 18 malas but the three malas are guptha and I do not know about them. The use of these three malas is for siddhi of the three kutas at some level is all I know from an old conversation with my Guru. There are many articles on Khadgamala. Please look for them in the archives of this group. 75 malas are probably a result of bad mathematics.

[Query] I have a minor doubt in khadga maala, whether it is mahaaskandhe or mahaaspandhe? Please clarify.

As far as the pATha for khaDgamAlA is concerned, both these words are used, based on the pAtha followed in Sringeri, which also has the related uddhAra shloka. So, it reads:

1. mahAmAheshwari
2. mahAmahArAj~ni
3. mahAmahAshakte
4. mahAmahAgupte
5. mahAmahAj~napte
6. mahAmahAnande
7. mahAmahAskandhe
8. mahAmahAspande
9. mahAmahAshaye
10. mahAmahAshrIchakranagarasAmrAjyalakShmi

pAThantaras are present of course, based on various other tantras where uddhAra of mAlA mantra is seen. Based on these, great men like shrI sundararAma shAstrigal, Brahmasri Chidanandanatha of Guhananda Mandali etc., have included nine from this list. Any of these versions with a valid pramANa are fine and which among those needs to be followed is something that is decided based on the lineage. Whatever does not have shAstra pramANa cannot be blindly followed merely because the so called "lineage" has handed it down with a diluted essence. You may please refer to the archive for a related discussion on the use of garimA siddhi in the mAlA by some misguided folks who neither understand the structure of shrIchakra nor the placement of deities therein.

Speaking from the point of Krama tantra, each of these ten names has a special significance. Even in the tradition followed by Sringeri, widely misrepresented by the likes of Tummalapalli Ramalingeshwara Rao etc., there is a procedure to offer tarpana to these ten divinities during navAvaraNa pUjA. Though the practice exists, the intention behind this practice is not generally known to most. In the Krama system, each of these ten epithets represents specific divinities. For example, mahAmahAguptA refers to bhagavatI guhyakAlikA. As per the system followed in regions around Tibet and Nepal, each of these ten refer to the ten AmnAya nAyikas of the nirvana shrIchakra, following the pramANa of UrdhvamnAya tantra, baDabAnala etc. The same Krama is listed in the procedure taught by H H shrI karapAtri Swamiji, H H Sri mUrkhAranyaji mahArAj etc. Based on what I have been taught [the gurus of the lineage being padmapAda, bimbA bhaTTarikA, shIlA bhaTTArikA etc.], these ten do not exhibit a one-to-one mapping with the AmnAya nAyikAs but instead with the dasharatnas discussed in kramamuktAvaLi. shrI shrIdharAnanda brahmachAriji, a learned scholar who did shiShya vrtti under a disciple of Dhenuka baba in Benaras, describes the use of these epithets in kAlI Krama as well, but with minor differences. Also, my master shrI appa once mentioned that there is a small shrine dedicated to bhagavatI bimbAmbikA somewhere near dvArakA mutt and the carving below the idol of bhagavatI reads: mahAmahAj~naptA. Finally, notice the number of letters in the tenth epithet which is of significance not only from the mAntric view point but also from the view point of the shrIchakra AvaraNa kalpanA in shrIkrama tantra, referred to as sumeru or Ananda vajra.

[Query] Can I chant khadgamala learning it from the web?

Khadgamala should never be chanted without initiation into Srividya. The very basic mistake is to even refer to it as Khadgamala Stotra. It is not a Stotra but a mantra, a Mala mantra. The popular version, now being broadcasted without discrimination, is called Shuddha Shakti Sambudhyanta Mala, the first of the fifteen Malas (or 18 malas). Because it confers Khadga Siddhi on the Sadhaka, it is referred to as Khadga Mala. This Mala mantra can be chanted with Sakama or NiShkama attitudes. By merely referring to it as Khadgamala, one automatically hints as the Sakama mode. It is said, "During Diksha, the Guru invokes the Navavarana Devatas into the disciple by reciting the powerful Mala mantra. He then recites the same in the Shishyas ears and then explains the fifteen variations of the Mala. He also then warns the Shishya against even mentioning the Mala in front of a person who is a non-initiate" (Lalita Parishishtakhye Tantre). It becomes clear here that like other mantras, even Shakti Mala is given during Diksha by the Guru to the Shishya. Again, each of the fifteen Malas belongs to a particular Prakriti and arises from the fifteen letters of the Panchadashi Mantra.

Rudrayamala says, "One should repeat Shakti Mala after the Japa of the Moola mantra (Panchadashi / Shodashi). This increases the merit obtained by chanting the Moola thousand times. O Uma, a person who is not duly initiated into the secrets of Srividyachara, destroys his life here and thereafter, by chanting this Mala. Kurukulla destroys his family and dynasty". By reciting Shakti Mala, one begins to awaken the Kundalini and begins to lead her through the various Chakras. This is an advanced practice and requires the grace to Guru. Without the Moola mantra and the energies of one's Guru lineage, the aspirant is incapable of handling or channeling the huge amounts of energies generated by chanting mantras like Khadgamala. The deities, who are various forms of energy, begin manifesting in the Sadhaka and without the energy of the Moola mantra, they attain a state of non-synergy and create havoc. The aspirant thus brings on himself a great risk. By ignoring the words of the scriptures, of Lord Adinatha Shiva, one brings about his own self-destruction.

gatyAlasA ghUrNitanetrapadmA
vANyA svabhaktoShmaharApi saumyA |
jAne duraj~nAnavinAshanena
chaNDIti gItA subhagA bhavAnI ||

yamAmananti shrutayaH padArtham na sanna chAsanna bahirna chAntaH |
sa sacchidAnandaghanaH parAtmA nArAyaNastvaM puruShaH purANaH ||