Updated: Sep 12, 2021
Lalita Chandika Temple
Namaste. This is the next of several posts designed to help you experience Lalita Ambika Devi in everyday life.
We are on the seventh name of Lalita Devi - Catur Bāhu Samanvitā
Catur Bāhu Samanvitā
This seventh name of Mother continues with the description of Mother's form.
The word catur means four, bāhu means arms and samanvitā means possesses, or has, or is joined by.
So this name simply is saying that Mother has four arms. But let's dive deeper into the symbology and understand what this actually means.
The depiction of any Hindu deity is a gallery of symbols and so it is quite useful to look at the symbolism of the deity to understand and integrate their essence into your heart.
While looking at a deity, ask yourself what is the artists trying to depict? If you understand the symbolism, in a snapshot view of a deity, you have at your fingertips their essence. This allows you to more easily integrate with them, to more easlily capture their bhavana, their feeling, and to be reminded of their grace in your life.
This is why so many Hindu homes have pictures of Divine Deities in any room of the house. It's a reminder of our goal to merge with the Divine.
Many of the Hindu deities are depicted in human form but with multiple arms. Arms are a symbol of action, or doing, of getting something accomplished. It is a symbol of power.
So the pictorial illustrations of the Hindu Gods with multiple arms first and foremost symbolically communicates that these deities are stronger and more powerful than human beings. Having many arms shows that the deity can multi-task, and what they hold in their hands, or are doing with their hands, actually describes the qualities and attributes of that particular deity.
In Vedic symbolism, the number four is a square and it actually represents the earth, or the solid manifested state. Seems odd that the earth is depicted as a square, but keep in mind that the earth is our foundation. Any foundation needs to be strong, and for that, there needs to be at least four sides. On earth, the four includes four directions and four dimensions.
So putting this all together, the key meaning behind the four arms of Lalita Devi is to symbolically depict that She has dominion over space (four directions/four dimensions) - she is omnipotent and omnipresent. But there is another meaning. You will also notice that the Sri Yantra has a square as the foundation.
The four arms of Lalita Devi represents the four sides of the Sri Yantra. Each side of the yantra represents the four aims of life: Dharma (right action; right living), Artha (resources, money, assets), Kama (fulfillment of desires), Moksha (ultimate liberation).
So in a snapshot of Lalita Devi - just looking at her four arms, it serves as a reminder to us of our aim in life. I believe the most important of these aims is dharma - right action, because Dharma is the foundation of HOW we relate to the world. It is the guiding principle by which we approach our life. It reminds us to do what is right not what is easy.
As you go through life and capture resources (artha) to fullfill your desires (kama) it is pertinent that this be done in dharma, the right way, without hurting another. For if we get the balance between Dharma, Artha, and Kama right, then Moksha is the outcome.
Just by looking at her picture or even the Sri Yantra, Lalita Devi reminds us of the aim in human life and ultimate goal of spiritual liberation. She is there to help guide us on the path to liberation, for she is our Mother.
This is Mother - the One with four arms who takes us to spiritual liberation.
Let's bow in gratitude to Catur Bāhu Samanvitā
Just Look - Just Notice - Just Become
A few actions for you to consider .....
Consider hanging a picture of Lalita Devi in your home and reference it as we go through the next 50 names or so, because the next 50 names discusses her form.
Pull out a journal and analyze your life. What is your Svadharma (Dharma based on your particular station in life)? What is your right action based on where you are right now? What are your financial and other resources (artha) and your particular desires and how does dharma (your values) support them?
Are there any areas of your life where you are not in Dharma? Red flags are those areas in life in which you have tendencies toward lust, attachment, egoism, anger, jealousy, pride, and greed. Take a look - make a change if you are compelled.