On May 11 and 12th 2017, thanks to Vanamala Arts, a few of us were lucky to be on board the spiritual flight “Durga Saptashati Shibir” piloted by none other than the renowned scholar and great Harikatha exponent Shri Lakshmandas Velankar. We boarded the flight just like the deluded King Suratha and the merchant Samadhi, and alighted more educated and initiated into the deeper aspects of life and truth. Lakshmandasji who was no less than a Sage Medhas for us, promised a follow-up session in which he would explain to us the Rahasyatraya, the three secrets which would explain the innermost significance of the Devi Mahatmyam. We were looking forward to this much more than the world was looking forward to the secret of Katappa killing Bahubali! The latter was of mere material significance but the former of a deeper spiritual longing!

The day arrived finally on May 20 2017, and we all met for the half day follow-up at Vanamala Center for Art and Culture premises, arranged by Dr A Pranesh and Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh, the pioneers of the Bharatiya Samskriti Darshana.

Many of the participants of the 2 day Shibir were present and looking at the eagerness and enthusiasm around, it did not seem as if two months had gone by. Shri Lakshmandas Velankarji’s divine resplendence was evident the moment he arrived.

The event started with Dr Meera Rajaram welcoming the speaker and the participants. There was a minute of silence observed for Dr Meera’s father V Rajaram, a basket ball player at the national level and also the patron of Vanamala Center who left for the heavenly abode a month ago. It was indeed the loss of a noble soul!

Lakshmandasji started speaking in his usual soft and simple yet impactful tone. He started with the analogy of a seed that grows into a sapling, then a tree, a forest, the trees bear flowers, give fruits, further seeds and an infinite growth results. The cause and source is just a seed. Lakshmandasji was coming to the first secret. For existence of life, there is such a source and seed, and this is what is revealed in the Pradhanika Rahasya or the first secret of Devi Mahatmyam.

These secrets are indeed prayers and in the first prayer, Sage Medhas tells Suratha and Samadhi how Goddess Mahalakshmi was the prime Goddess representing the threefold division of characters. She herself transforms herself in to Maha Kali representing the baser characters and Goddess Saraswathi representing the noble Satva characters. Then each of these Goddess created a male and female. These three pairs are the trinity of Hindu religion and their wives. This great secret is related in this first prayer.

Lakshmandasji said that the image of God and the difference between man and woman is also created by the imagination of humans. Differences lie in the eyes of the beholder!

Simple but profound, we all come from the same seed or source, call it big bang, call it atom or call it anything you wish – this is the prime or Moola Tatva – if we can understand this, we will at least stop contributing to the miseries of this world, even if not solving them!

Then came the second secret or the Vaikruthika Rahasya. Vaikruthika Rahasya refers to the creation of forms from the source. The forms are created to ensure the creation, preservation and destruction of the universe and its forms in cycles of repetition. This is the essence of life. In the second of the prayers the sage tells about how Mahalakshmi, and the other two Goddesses as well as Husband wife of the holy trinity is to be worshipped

Goddess Mahalakshmi is described as the form of all devas, sitting in a lotus pose, and holding in her arms, rosary, lotus flower, arrow, Sword, Vajrayudha, mace, holy wheel, trident, axe, conch Bell, rope, spear, Rod, shield, bow, drinking vessel and water pot!

Goddess Mahakali is described as the Goddess who wears weapons such as sword, arrow, Mace, conch, holy wheel, pistol, iron rod and bow, wears cut heads with blood flowing out of them, as the one who is the Vishnumaya, who can never be attacked!

Goddess Saraswathi is described as one who was full of Satva nature, rose from the body of Gauri, and killed Shumbasura, was having eight hands and carried in them, arrow, pestle, trident, holy wheel, conch, bell, plough and bow, one playing the veena and having the Aksharamala, the goddess of knowledge, the goddess of wisdom!

The ways of worshipping are also described by Sage Medhas, but here again Lakshmandasji pitched in the subtlety where he said true internal Bhakti overrides any external manifestations of forms of worship

The third and final secret is the Moorthi Rahasya. Lakshmandasji mentioned that the worldly manifestations of various God forms by Mahalakshmi is for helping the world realize the ultimate source. The various forms mentioned are Nanda Devi, Raktha Dhandika and several others He gave several examples of forms and types of worship and said that each one has its place. Do not condemn anyone’s mode of worship, he said! We are all heading towards the same destination in life. The secret of the destination lies in the source and the source is same for one and all! The Moorthis or forms are just a means to realization and are needed!

Thus, the event ended and the lucky people present were left with the secrets revealed. Dr Meera Rajaram summarised the discourse aptly by saying that Lakshmandasji took us through a beautiful and meaningful journey from Anekaroopa Ishwara to Ekaroopa Ishwara to Sarvaroopa Ishwara thereby encapsulating the three Rahasyas very nicely.

The above was explained beautifully with analogies and I have just tried to explain the gist through my experience. Once again, my apologies for any errors. The follow-up was a befitting finale to the two-day retreat and has indeed quipped us with the tools for life. It is up to us now to use these tools in the right way! Pranams to our Sage Medhas – Shri Lakshmandasji, to Vanamala for organizing this and to all my fellow Surathas and Samadhis at the Shibir and follow-up! Looking forward to more such enlightening sessions!