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Śrī Jvālāmukhī Devī
I meditate in my heart on that beautiful jewel throne of bindu and nāda, the circle of consciousness, in that cavity where a bright lightning-like colour competes with the effulgence of a pale red gem – Māṭrikābheda Tantra
Her name means ‘Fiery Mouth’, she is the goddess of fire and while this word is a synonym for a volcano, her name refers to her main cult site where nine natural flames have burnt from time immemorial. She is certainly fiery.
As Lalitā represents the waxing moon and Kālī represents the waning moon, this third goddess unites the two. Here, Kālī represents moon, Lalitā represents sun, but Jvālāmukhī represents fire, and the primordial property of fire, which is to reduce all to ashes.Ashes are sacred to Śiva and to all sādhus. There is even an Upaniṣad which deals with the miraculous properties of ash — the Bṛhajjābālopaniṣat.
It is this ash which is left after the body is consumed on the funeral pyre. The cremation ground is sacred in Nātha symbolism. Further the ash produced by Jvālāmukhī’s fire is the ash of all material things at the end of time. It is also the ash left after sexual intercourse, and has sacred and healing properties. The dhūnī is the sacred fire of the Nāths and the sādhus. These fires were kept lit for so many years that there exist hills of ashes (bhasmagiri) all over India.
Just as Lalitā and Kālī have their own internal symbolism, their own mantras and their own yantras, so too with Jvālāmukhī. The following extract is from the “Five Limbs of Jvālāmukhī”, an appendix to the Devīrahasya Tantra, and including the worship details, yantra, mantras and 1,000 names of this goddess:
“Śrī Bhairava said — Listen Devī as I speak to you of Jvālāmukhī, the essence of all, and her encompassing Devī-s, the knowledge which is hard to get, even for gods. Śrī Devī said — O Thou With Matted Locks! You are the Lord of All, Knower of all Śāstras. From your lotus-like mouth I have heard of many books and pūjā injunctions. O Nātha, I pray You, speak to me of Jvālāmukhī’s great mantra, yantra, pūjā, and sādhanā, her limbs and her practice.
“Śrī Bhairava said — Listen, O goddess Bhairaveśvarī, to the mantra, yantra and limbs. I will speak of her rituals and sādhanā. One should conceal and keep this very secret. There is one method to transcend this great universe, cruel and devoid of love O Māheśvarī. This is by employing the mantra Haṃsa.
“O Deveśī, this mantra was revealed by the eternal grace of Jvālāmukhī. This mantra caused the creation of the universe and the maintenance of all that moves. (She said) “Day and night I create, I withdraw and I maintain. Whoever has obtained this mantra bestowing prosperity has attained the ultimate power of dominion. Jvālāmukhī is the world mother, the very essence of the three guṇas.
“By sattvas She creates the universe, by rajas She maintains, and by tamas She withdraws –therefore She is the self of the three guṇas. She is the mother of the three worlds, the mother of the Devīs. Listen attentively, Parāmeśvarī, as I relate to you her mantra, yantra, meditation image, limbs and pūjā.
“In the Āgamas the fixed rule is to commence with the mantra. This I now declare, Māhadevī. One should not reveal it, except to sincere seekers. At first pronounce Oṃ, then Hrīṃ Śrīṃ Jvālāmukhī mama sarvaśatrun bhakṣaya bhakṣaya Hūṃ Phaṭ Svāhā (Oṃ hrīṃ śrīṃ – eat, eat all of my enemies, hūṃ phaṭ svāhā). This is the mantra of Jvālāmukhī, and gives power over time, whatsoever is desired, wiping out (sins such as) killing brāhmaṇas or a guru or a woman, or eating what should not be eaten, or having sexual intercourse with those with whom it is evil, such as one’s mother or one’s children. This mantra is the washer-away of all this, O Devī, this is true, without doubt.
“Now listen, Deveśī, to the unfolding of the highest of the high of yantras. One should carefully conceal this bestower of enjoyment and liberation. At first one should make a hexagon consisting of interlacing triangles. In the centre one should draw a triangle, and in its centre should place the bindu, the abode of Śiva. In the central triangle and bindu is the great temple of Jvālāmukhī. In the upper triangle is the Sundarī temple, it is said. In the lower triangle is the Dakṣiṇakālikā temple. Then one should draw a circle, and draw eight petals, outside of this drawing 16 petals. Outside this draw 10 petals. Outside of this draw three circles, and then an earth-square.
“This yantra of Jvālāmukhī is like the creation of the qualities of the three worlds. One should not give it to the pupil of another, or to a bad person, or else one incurs the sin of killing a brāhmaṇa. Now listen to the Layāṅga, Deveśī, worshipped by Brahmā and Viṣṇu. O Deveśī, whosoever has this King of Yantras has whatever he desires.
“In the four doors one should worship the four protectors of the doors — Gaṇeśa, Dharmarāja, Vāsuki and Nārasiṃha. In the east is Gaṇanātha, in the south Dharmarāja, in the west Vāsuki, and in the north one should worship Nārasiṃha.
“Then one should worship in the 16 petals the 16 Jvālās (Flames). By doing this in an anticlockwise direction, O Devī, one may gain various magical results. (They are) 1) Vāruṇī 2) Vātyālī 3) Vārāhī 4) Kulasundarī 5) Kūvarī 6) Kulikā 7) Kunṭhī 8) Kutsitā 9) Kuṭilā 10) Kuhū 11) Kunṭī 12) Kumbeśvarī 13) Kunṭā 14) Kūcharī 15) Kāruṇī 16) Kṛtī. These are the 16 Jvālās.
“Then in the eight petal lotus one should worship the eight maidens 1) Māyā 2) Mohinī 3) Bālā 4) Bhagarūpiṇī 5) Bhagāvāsā 6) Bhiruṇḍā 7) Mṛḍānī 8) Baindaveśvarī. These renowned maidens one should worship in the cakra of the eight petals.
“Then one should worship the 10 givers of happiness of Jvālāmukhī, O Pārvatī. If one does so in an anti-clockwise manner one gains success in the sādhanā most certainly. 1) Brāhmī 2) Śāmbhavī 3) Durgā 4) Vārāhī 5) Kulakāminī 6) Nārāsiṃhī 7) Kaumārī 8) Mātaṇgī 9) Bhadrakālī 10) Ugratārā. These renowned Devīs are the 10 Kalās of Jvālā.
“True sādhakas should worship in these 10 petals and then in the triangle above should worship Tripurasundarī. In the triangle below one should worship Dakṣiṇakālikā. In the centre one should worship Devī Jvālāmukhī (with her attendants) Jvālinī, Jaṭinī, Jatī and Jālandharī. Thus the Layāṅga has been spoken to you.
[The numbers in the yantra, above, correspond to the following attendants or avarana deities:
“Now, Māheśvarī, listen to the meditation images. Having meditated on Māhadevī in this manner, O Devī, a mantrin becomes the equal of Bhairava. Seated on a volcanic mountain, three eyed, seated on a triple pedestal, wearing flaming clothes and gems, beautiful of face, in the centre of a six-fold chakra, giving boons, holding an arrow and a lotus and dispelling fear, the form of awake-awareness, the cause of light in everything, (in this way) I bow to Jvālāmukhī!
“With large swelling breasts, her face resembling the rising of a crescent moon, holding in her left hand a blossoming lotus-seed rosary, with her right hand dispelling fear, her beautiful body marked with three lines, seated in the centre of a triangle in an 11 petalled lotus, thus I remember Jvālāmukhī.
“Like a particle of the rising moon, with a moon kāla as her crest gem, with three beautiful eyes, seated in the centre of a 12 petal lotus seat, swaying with wine-intoxication, her body marked with three lines, surrounded by Jvālā and the other Kula Maidens, (thus) I bow to Jvālāmukhī, her transcendent majesty, mother of the three worlds. The three meditation images with their tantra and mantra have thus been declared.”
Her mantra. This is one of those vidyās (a vidyā is a female mantra) which has some direct meaning. The translation is Oṃ Hrīṃ Śrīṃ O Jvālāmukhī, Consume! Consume my Enemies! Hūṃ Phaṭ Svāhā.
The gāyatrī. The gāyatrī is a mantra pronounced at the four twilights of dawn, midday, sunset and midnight. Each tantrik god or goddess has her or his own version. Jvālāmukhī’s is Oṃ Jvālārūpinyaī Vidmahe Jagadbhakṣīnyaī Dhīmahi Tanno Jvāle Pracodayāt. This means: Oṃ Let us be aware of the fiery form, let us meditate on the consumer of the world, may that fire direct our thoughts. To contrast the gāyatrī-s of Lalitā and Kālī: Oṃ Let us be aware of Kālikā, let us meditate on the dweller in the cremation ground, may that terrifying form direct our thoughts. Oṃ Let us be aware of Tripura, let us meditate on the lady of sexuality, may that wet one direct our thoughts.
Her yantra. This is illustrated above. Firstly we have to consider that her attendants are Sundarī and Kālikā, in the top and bottom triangles of the hexagram. The four attendants are in the other angles. The Devī herself is in the bindu of the yantra, as usual. The petals are to be understood as follows: There are 27 Jvālā-s or flames. These are the maidens in the inner circle of 10 petals and the outer circle of 16 petals. Jvālāmukhī herself is the 27th. The circle of eight petals contains the eight Kula maidens. (See Kulacūḍāmani Ch 3).
Dharmarāja is the god of death (Yamā). Vāsuki is the king of the Nāgas or serpents. Nārasiṃha is an avatar of Viṣṇu. In the intermediate points are four mudrā-s, and the Devī’s four weapons which are arrow, lotus, dispelling fear and giving boons.
The four attendants of Jvālāmukhī in four angles of the hexagram are Jaṭi and Jaṭinī — terms denoting the hairstyle of the sādhu or sādhvīni (female sādhu). These are similar to dreadlocks. Jvālinī means the flaming one. Jālandharī is the goddess at the sacred centre called Jālandhara.
The attendants of the goddess are worshipped from the outside of the circle to the centre. The order is as follows: Gaṇeśa, Dharmarāja, Vāsuki, Nārasiṃha. The 16 Jvālās. The eight Kula maidens. The 10 Jvālā-s. TripuraSundarī. Dakṣiṇa Kālikā. Śrī Jvālāmukhī Devī in sexual union with Mahādevā-Bhairava in the centre. The four mudrās. The four weapons. The four piṭhas or bases of this Devī.
Various rites. The most important rite in her worship is a pūjā in which the 21,600 breaths are situated on the body of the worshipper. Each section is identified with the seven chakras. In the four petals is Gaṇapati and 600 breaths. In the six petals is Brahmā and 6,000 breaths. In the 10 petals is Viṣṇu and 6,000 breaths. In the 12 petals is Rudra and 6,000 breaths. In the 16 petals is the embodied being and 1,000 breaths. In the two petals is the Paramātmā and 1,000 breaths. In the 1,000 petal lotus are the two lotus feet of the Guru and 1000 breaths.
After this rite one is to resolve to pronounce the mantra Haṃsa, which is called Ajapajapa, a word which means the non-recited mantra which is recited — referring to the Ha Sa or Sun Moon breaths that every man and every woman makes 21,600 times a day.
We quote again from the “Five Limbs”: Oṃ, of this Śrī Ajapajapa Gāyatrī mantra Haṃsa is the Seer, Avyakta Gāyatrī is the Metre, Śrī Paramātmā Paramahaṃsa is the Devatā, Haṃ is the Seed, Saḥ is the Śakti, So-aham (Saḥ + aham) is the Linchpin. The application is liberation from the sādhanā of the unrecited mantra. Oṃ Aiṃ Hrīṃ Śrīṃ. Hail to the Ṛṣi Haṃsa on the head. (4) Hail to Avyakta Gāyatrī the Metre on the mouth. (4) Hail to the Devatā Śrī Paramahaṃsa in the heart. (4) Hail to the Seed Haṃ in the genitals. (4) Hail to the Śakti Saḥ on the feet. (4) Hail to the Heavenly Fragrance So-aham (Saḥ aham) on the navel.
21,600. This number, divided by 27, is equivalent to the 27 lunar mansions (nakṣatrams) of Hindu astrology. Haṃsa has the literal meaning of swan, and is said to be the vehicle of Brahmā. But Brahmā’s true vehicle is Haṃsa as 21600. A Paramahaṃsa is an individual above (parama) Haṃsa, that is to say one in whom Sun and Moon have ceased to revolve, a liberated being, free from time.
The 36 Tattvas. These tattvas are the cause of much confusion and are often viewed as if they were an emanationary system. This seems quite incorrect. The first two tattvas are Śiva and Śakti. These two are inseparable. Surrounding them are the three Śaktis of the supreme called Icchā, Jñāna and Kriyā. It is these three who give rise to all triangles, that is to say to all creation. It is this multitude of Śaktis which collectively is Māyā. Māyā is limitation through delusion. This delusion is caused by the number of possibilities. Māyā Tattva is said to wear five kañcukas or bodices. Two of these are parallels of Śiva and Śakti — limitation in respect of space and time. These two primordial restrictions give rise to three others, which themselves are reflections of Icchā, Jñāna and Kriyā. The first is limited desire, the second limited knowledge and the third limited activity.
An individual deluded by Māyā consists of Śiva and Śakti under the terms Puruṣa and Prakṛti. Puruṣa is the embodied Śiva, Prakṛti the embodied Śakti. Being deluded by Māyā, the three primordial Śaktis of Icchā, Jñāna and Kriyā take the form of ego (ahānkara), intelligence (buddhi) and memory or Association (manas). Incarnated in the five elements of space, fire, air, earth and water, the embodied being has five powers to sense, five powers to act, and five Impressions. These together make the 36 tattvas. It is the delusion of Māyā which prevents an individual from realising her or his oneness with Śiva-Śakti and the three primordial Śaktis of Icchā, Jñāna and Kriyā.
Artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1975-2022. Translations are © Mike Magee 1975-2022.Questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org