A story today.
All stories from Sanatan Dharm/Hinduism are allegories and have hidden meanings which help you on your path to Yourself.
This story is about the Tripur. It is from the Mahabharat and also mentioned in the Yajurved. First the story in simple words.
There were three brothers named Vidyunmali, Tarakaksh and Kamalaksh, the sons of Tarak-asur. These three brothers did intense austerities, as a result Brahmadev was pleased. They desired three indestructible cities, one for each. But Brahmadev was like, ‘nothing lasts forever’, so the brothers added a caveat that the cities would be impregnable, indestructible etc and would be destroyed only if one single missile hit them all three at once. Brahmadev was ok with this and thus the brothers got their cities. They got their architect, Maya-danav to work on the cities and got the Tripur constructed. The three cities were more like planets, each moved in independent orbits. However the three cities would align with each other, just for one instant, once in a thousand years. These cities were unassailable citadels and ideal for waging war on others. So the three brothers went on a rampage and wrecked havoc on the Universe. Everyone in the Universe rushed to Vishnu for help. He came up with a solution, Shiv would fire the missile at the Tripur at that one instant when they would aligned, thus destroying them all at once. So for this task, the following stuff was sourced,
- Prithvi was the chariot.
- Gandhamadana and Vindhya mountains were the frame of the chariot.
- Shesha was the Aksha/ axis of the chariot
- The Moon and the Sun were the two wheels of the chariot
- Malaya mountain was the yoke of the chariot.
- Gandharva-s named Elapatra and Pushpadanta bound the yoke and the chariot.
- Takshaka the Naag was used to tie the chariot and its yoke, pins, etc together.
- The four Ved-s were the four horses who pulled the chariot.
- The six Vedang were used as the bridles on the horses
- Gayatri and Savitri were the reins
- Om was the whip
- The charioteer was Brahmadev
- The Mandara mountain was the bow
- Vasuki the Naag was the bowstring
- Vishnu was his missile.
- Agni was tip of the missile
- Vayu was the side balancer of that missile
- Yama was the tail-balancer of the missile
- Vajra was used as a whetstone to sharpen the missile
- Meru was the standard/flag which was raised on the chariot.
Shiv also called Shankar, Shambhu, Mahadev, Rudra etc then stood immobile on this chariot with the missile ready on his bow. The three cities, Tripur, came into alignment for that one instant in thousand years. He then sent this missile against the three cities, burning and reducing it to nothingness. The name of the fire which burnt the Tripur was called Yug. Then Shankar marked his forehead with the Tripundra (the three horizontal lines) with the ashes of the Tripur and danced his Tandav. He is called Tripurari, (Tripurasya ari) the enemy of the Tripur.
This day when Shiv destroyed the Tripur is celebrated now as the Tripurari Pournima. This is the full-moon day in the month of Kartik (November). On this full-moon day, the Sun is in the Vishakha Nakshatra. The Moon can be in three possible lunar mansions, in Bharani or Kritika or Rohini. If it is in Kritika and conjunct Jupiter it becomes a very rare Mahapournima, perhaps this happens once in thousand years! However worship of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiv is performed on Tripurari pournima and it gives very auspicious results.
Now the esoteric significance. This story is describes how you experience Moksh. A Sanskrit mini-translation of the words.
Sanatan – eternal, without beginning or end. The beauty of our Dharma is that it derives from the inner self. Even if the knowledge of the Eternal, e.g. books, temples are destroyed, teachers/brahmins/Guru are physically killed etc, it will rise again from the inner soul.
Dharm – foundation, solidity, firmness, virtue, ethics, merit, right, character. It is the right action that you are required to perform as per your conscience.
Tri – three. A lot of things in creation are in triplets. The three-gun, Satva, Raja Tama. The three bodies, Sthool, Sookshma, Karan. The three states of Existance, awake, dream state, deep sleep. The three tendencies in Ayurved, kapha, pitta and vata. The three forms of Gayatri mantra, Gayatri, Savitri, Sarasvati. The three Granthi in the path of the Kundalini, Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra Granthi etc.
Pur – town, fort, body, intelligence, initial creation.
Initial creation starts with the creation of Purush and Prakruti. Prakruti, the active principle, further creates the Manifested. Prakruti is composed of the three Gun, Satva, Raja and Tama. These are the tri-pur, the first created triad. These are seen in the Shri-yantra geometry as the top-most equilateral triangle below the bindu. In the body these are the 3 topmost chakras, Vama, Jeyshta and Raudri. The Bindu is the Prakruti, also called ‘Lalita Tripursundari’.
Lalita means ‘the one who plays the game’. Tripur is the tri-gun. Sundari means yellow, beautiful woman, a meter of prosody, the one who is equally divided, equal streams, equal creation, equal cleaving, equal ignorance. So now, ‘Lalita Tripursundari’ will mean the ‘One who Plays’ who is further divided into the three equal energies of the initial creation. Prakruti is composed of the 3 Gun. Satva, Raja and Tama are equal in strength. As long as they are in perfect alignment the triangle remains equilateral. When they get pulled out of alignment the triangle loses its perfection, ignorance is created and the rest of creation follows. This further creation caused by the action of Raja-gun/Brahma on Satva/Vishnu and Tama/Shiv.
If you want to shoot up your kundalini to the very top, the three Gun have to be brought into perfect alignment again.
Tarak-aksh – blind to the the Unfathomable which exists behind the Light. However covered by superficial shimmering light. (The Reality is hidden by the Splendour that it radiates.) In Dhyan you see the silver/gold lightening at your third eye, the trick is to not get enamoured of this light, as the Reality is concealed behind it.
Vidyunmali – covered by lightening but lacking the real internal lustre. Creation might look very pretty but it is quite insubstantial on the inside.
Kamalaksh – blind to real Prosperity, endowed with superficial wealth. We run behind the objects of the created universe oblivious to the real Wealth that spiritual practice can give us.
Tarak – liberator, saviour, darkness, meteor-light, eye, driver, float.
Asur – spirit, divine, sign of the zodiac, opponent of the light, cloud.
In all the stories there is a common theme, that an Asur rises up becomes powerful and creates havoc in the Universes. Everyone then rushes to the three main deities or their wives for help. The deity kills the Asur and peace is restored. However to understand these stories in the real sense, one has to remember two things,
1. nothing is inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Everything just ‘is’. Your perception and your conscience labels something as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
2. Every action you take leads you to Yourself. You reach the limit of emotion, action anything, you reach the Ultimate. Kunti reached the limit of ‘sorrow’ thus found the Divine. Tarak-asur reached the limit of ‘evil’, thus found the Reality. Everyone’s path is different but it all leads to the Parabrahma. You can only choose your route, the destination is the same.
Brahmadev – conscious potential energy of the Raja-gun. This further creates the energies below the tri-gun. Brahmadev controls the Brahma-granthi which is located at the Muladhar chakra connected to the Prithvi tattva.
Vishnu – conscious potential energy of the Satva-gun, this balances between the creation and destruction (below the tri-gun). The granthi at the Anahata chakra is called the Vishnu granthi.
Shiv – conscious potential energy of the Tamo-gun. Better call him Shankar or Mahadev or Rudra etc. (‘Shiv’ more properly is an epithet for the Advaita.) Tamo-gun is a highly cryptic one. The commonly understood meaning of tama is dull, discordant, dangerous, damaging etc. But there is something called ‘Vishuddha-tamo-gun’, Rudra represents this. Its quality is to still, to dampen, to smother. The time from 10pm to 2am at night is pervaded by this vishuddha-tamo-gun. If you are able to do your sadhana at this time you can progress faster. The granthi at the Vishiddhi chakra is called the Rudra granthi.
Prithvi – earth element of the Pancha-bhoot. The conscious energy of stillness, solidity and firmness.
Gandhamadan – the sound that the muladhar chakra makes. It sounds like a heavy buzzing of the bumble-bee. Literally it means one who is intoxicated by fragrance.
Vindhya – the one who aims single-pointedly for the experience which is desired
Shesh – the remaining energy which remains surplus after the creation. As per Purush Sukta only 1/4th of the created energy is further used to create visible creation. The remaining 3/4th is the Shesh, I think it to be the ‘dark matter’ that the material/quantum scientists have discovered recently. It is visualised as an elephant at the base of the spine and as the Naag/serpent bed on which Vishnu rests at the top of the spine. Shesh is the name of one of the ‘elephants who support the Earth’. Elephants are distinguished by their trunk ie sense of smell thus often associated with the imagery of the Muladhar chakra. The Muladhar chakra is linked to the sense of smell and to the prithvi tattva. Also if you want to access the granthi/energy knot at the base of the Muladhar chakra, you have to first face Ganapati in his terrifying Uddanda-Ganapati form. Thus poetically elephants can be described as supporting the Earth!
Aksh – axis, wheel, pivot, measure, dice, court, 5, balance, cube, weight, snake, soul, vehicle, religious knowledge, bones, blind person, senses. Sanskrit is a palimpsest, you have to know which meaning to use where.
Chandra – moon, left eye, Ida nadi, brilliant, pleasant, camphor, metre, gold. The energy associated with the Ajnya chakra. It is the sum of your existence, past, present, future and parallel.
Surya – sun, 12, pingala nadi, brilliant, gold, auspicious. The energy associated with the Sahasrara chakra. This is your self-ego, your first cut-off from the Universal Reality.
Malaya – a measure, mountain. Mountains are the energies which spike out from the Muladhar chakra. Himalaya is the tallest physical mountain, thus his daughter is called Parvati who wishes to marry Rudra.
Gandharva – ‘small in quantity but very fast moving’. These are a class of beings.
There are several beings who inhabit this earth, Yaksha, Gandharva, Naag, Rakshas, Danav, Daitya, Dev etc. These are found in places not inhabited by humans. In the Himalay there are several ancient temples which were made and used by these beings. Eg the Kasardevi temple in Almora belongs to the Yakshas. The Kotgadi and Haatkali temples belong to the Naags. There is a Yakshavati river in Pithoragad (it is dying now), where the Yakshas would come every full-moon night. Even now there are several remote places in the Himalayas where it is advisable to avoid going, especially on full moon and new moon nights.
Pushpadant – expanding point (this is a paradox)
Elapatra – flowing constant (this is also a paradox). The Parabrahma, Ultimate reality cannot be described in the words of this manifested creation thus is often considered to be a paradox.
Takshak – craftsman, one who creates solid stuff from diffuse materials. This is the name of a Naag. Naag also represent the bindings of karma. You too act and create stuff. When you act with intention and self-ego you create karma. This is also linked to the way kundalini is locked above the muladhar chakra. Mountains and serpents are both connected to the muladhar chakra and represent the karma.
Naag – serpentine, elephantine, cruel, living in water, name of a vital energy/pran, ephemeral, metal, mating. Naag is also derived from Nag meaning mountain. Mountains are again associated with the imagery of the Muladhar chakra.
Ved – perception, knowledge, property, sacred, property, truth. If you do your Dhyan long enough you will be granted the knowledge of the Ved. You will literally hear them, these are the ‘Shruti’, ‘heard’.
Vedang – the six sciences which help understanding the Ved, shiksha, chhand, vyakarana, nikruta, kalpa, jyotish. These are related to the deepest understanding of Sound and Time.
Gayatri – meter of 24 syllables, Gayatri mantra, or more precisely the form of the Gayatri mantra which is recited at dawn.
Savitri – the conscious energy of the internal light which you see at your third eye. Also the form of Gayatri mantra which is recited at midday.
Om – your real name, the origin of this universe. It is created from Prakruti. It is one of the three possible options for mantras to be used in Dhyan, the other two being Soham and Hamsa.
Mandara – mirror, heavy, firm, heaven, chain of pearls, mountain, meter, a tree. Poetically Mandara (Erythrina indica) flowers are worn by Lalita Tripursundari. Actually her energy is of brilliant red color, you will find real tantriks always put a red tilak indicating that they worship Her.
Vasuki – the serpent/Naag which Shankar wears around his throat also ‘desire’.
Agni – 3, third eye, ajnya chakra, fire from the Pancha-bhoot, brilliance, gold. All deities linked to the tri-gun, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiv, Sarasvati, Laxmi and Shakti have three eyes, these have the conscious energies of Sun, Moon and Fire.
Vayu – desirable, vital energy, intelligent energy of the air. One of the panch-bhoot. This is the vital energy which flows in your body. You think you breathe oxygen, but in fact you are pulling in Pran, a type of Vayu from the Universe. Yogi-s do not need oxygen, they can live off pran directly.
Yama – flight, motion, incoming, driver, moral duty, rule, control, self-restraint, key, vibration. For any spiritual practice Yama in all its forms is essential.
Vajra – impenetrable, shaped like a dumb-bell, a form of the moon, spiritual practice. Indra (from the 33 koti devata) carries the Vajra in his hand. It continually generates the silver/gold lightening. This is significant as Indra is your individual soul, you yourself create the glittery veil behind which lies your reality. Sanatan Dharm is all about the individual and his experience. Top priority is to the one who experiences. And you can experience only if you practice. Give yourself these 20mins every day and experience it for yourself.
Meru – the backbone, zenith, the geometry of the Shriyantra in 3 dimensions. The Meru as a symbol of victory is raised on the chariot. This indicates that once the Tri-pur are destroyed, the top of the Meru/ Bindu is achieved.
Yug – time
Tandav – The dance performed by Rudra which results in complete annihilation of the manifested. He destroys Apasmar, ie confusion of the mind by this dance and reminds you what you have forgotten. You have forgotten your real self.
You can now take the meanings and fit them into the story, see what you can make of it! But basically the gist of the story is that you have to take your missile/energy of self-realization, from the Muladhar chakra to the top of the Meru, only then will you remember your Reality. In this journey you have to take the help of so many things/energies which are at your disposal.
(There was a question on the Tripur story so wrote this, my personal understanding of it. This is an important story, as it actually tells you how you have to go about freeing yourself from the Illusion around you. Each one of us will experience this same thing during Dhyan as we move onwards on our spiritual journey to the Self.)