Sri Vidya

   Sri Vidya is an all-India cult of the worship of the GODDESS Sri Lalita or Tripurasundari. It initiates in the right-handed tantric tradition (see TANTRISM), which emphasizes Sri Lalita as the Great GODDESS. Iconographically, she is seen as a beautiful 16-year old with a parrot on her shoulder; however, this is just her gross form. Her subtle form is the Sri YANTRA or Sri CHAKRA, which is a geometric design around a basic point, showing four entranceways at its outer portion that are representative of temple entranceways.
   The highest form of Sri Lalita is the 16-syl-lable MANTRA that is chanted in worship of her. As is the tantric norm, she is the mantra and one who chants the mantra becomes the goddess. She in effect enters that person and becomes that per-son. The Sri Vidya PUJA (worship and offering) is done at homes and not publicly. The devotee first burns his or her self up symbolically, readying for the transformation into the goddess. “One must become the Goddess to worship the Goddess” is the operative phrase. Doing ritual worship to the diagram of the Sri Yantra, one places mantras on one’s body to transform it into the body of the goddess. The reverse is done when the puja is coming to a close. At the end of the ritual proper the 1,000 names of goddess Sri Lalita are usually chanted.
   South India has a particularly strong cult of Sri Lalita, where the initiates tend to be BRAHMINS. Thus, though there are tantric aspects to this rit-ual, there is no consumption of forbidden things such as beef or alcohol, as in the left-handed rites. Substitutes are used to make the rites palatable to Brahmin practitioners. The philosophical system involved is a tantric ADVAITA non-dual system, understanding that the manifest world is real and an aspect of the supreme Goddess.
   Further reading: Douglas Renfrew Brooks, Auspicious Wisdom (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992); ———, The Secret of the Three Cities (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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