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During a profound meditative experience, I was guided by the divine mother in the form of Maa Varahi towards the concept of Tanmatra. Although I sought to deepen my understanding through reading, contemplation, and discussions with elders, the explanations I encountered initially did not satisfy my inquiries. However, I believe that the one who creates a question also provides the answer. I was divinely guided to explore specific verses in the Lalitha Sahasranama and Soundarya Lahiri, which significantly enhanced my understanding of Tanmatras. I am especially grateful to Meera Aunty from Hyderabad, whose insights deepened my appreciation of the spiritual significance behind Tanmatras.

In forthcoming blog posts, I plan to share how Maa Varahi has embraced me, offering guidance and protection through my spiritual journey. She manifests in various forms: as Mother Kundalini during my Kundalini Sadhana, and as Maa Kali, shielding me from those who oppose my commitment to truth and righteousness. Her abundant grace and blessings have been my shield, preserving my life through numerous challenges. Maa Varahi has continually inspired me with the courage to confront and overcome these adversities.

The Transformative Power of Tanmatras in Spiritual Practice

The eleventh name in the Lalitha Sahasranamam, "Panchatanmatrasayaka," beautifully encapsulates the divine attributes of Goddess Lalitha as she wields the arrows made of the five subtle elements known as Pancha Tanmatras: Shabda (sound), Sparsha (touch), Rupa (form), Rasa (taste), and Gandha (smell). These elements are pivotal to the understanding of the universe in Hindu cosmology, serving as the fundamental building blocks of perception and experience in the material world.

Divine Weaponry and Symbolism

The Sahasranama reveals that Goddess Lalitha possesses four weapons across her four arms, as indicated in the verse "Caturbahu-samanvita" from Lalitha Sahasranama, signifying her four-armed form. Each arm holds a significant item that represents different aspects of divine function and guidance:

  • Ragasvarupa - pasadhya (Nama 8): The Goddess holds a rope symbolizing her control

over the desires of her devotees, illustrating her role in managing the iccā śakti (power of desire) and ensuring they are not overwhelmed by their wishes.

  • Krodhakarankusojvala (Nama 9): This arm features an elephant hook (ankusha), which signifies her power to control and eliminate hatred, equipping her devotees with the wisdom to transcend negative emotions.

  • Manorupeksu- kodanda (Nama 10): Described as a sugarcane bow, it symbolizes the complexity of the mind involving saṃkalpa (resolve or intention) and vikalpa (varied perceptions), highlighting the potential sweetness of enlightened realization akin to extracting sugar from sugarcane.

  • Pancatanmatra - sayaka (Nama 11): This hand holds five floral arrows—lotus, raktakairava, kalhara, indivara, and mango flowers—each corresponding to a subtle element and symbolizing various emotional and spiritual states like excitement, madness, confusion, stimulation, and destruction.

Symbolism of the Five Arrows

Each arrow is not merely a weapon but represents the sensory gateways to human consciousness, linked to the Tanmatras. These arrows are crafted from different flowers in various Tantra Shastras and carry profound symbolic meanings:

  • Lotus Flower (Sound): Signifies purity and spiritual awakening.

  • Raktakairava Flower (Touch): Represents passion and intense desire.

  • Kalhara Flower (Form): Symbolizes resilience and overcoming difficulties.

  • Indivara Flower (Taste): Denotes tranquility and calmness.

  • Mango Flower (Smell): Evokes fertility, love, and bliss.

These floral arrows are imbued with attributes that correspond to their respective Tanmatras, facilitating deeper spiritual insights.

Philosophical and Spiritual Implications

In Sri Vidya Sadhana, these arrows serve as tools for the Sadhaka (practitioner) to transcend the mundane and reach higher states of consciousness. Their use by the Goddess in mythological narratives, where she targets her devotees to liberate them from Maya (illusion), symbolizes the spiritual awakening that comes from mastering the senses and elements.

The Deeper Role of the Arrows in Devotion and Spiritual Practices

In devotion, these arrows are seen as means of divine intervention. The Goddess uses these arrows to pierce through the illusions of her devotees, aiding their journey towards Moksha (liberation). This divine intervention is influenced by the attributes of Varahi Devi, representing perseverance and fierce compassion, as indicated by the lower right hand of the Goddess.

Each arrow carries a deeper philosophical meaning related to human experiences—joy, confusion, captivation, annihilation, and hypnosis—highlighting facets of life that lead one towards spiritual growth.


"Panchatanmatrasayaka" profoundly encapsulates the Goddess's role as both the destroyer of illusion and the guide to enlightenment. Through the symbolism of the five arrows, devotees are reminded of the importance of controlling and transcending the senses to achieve ultimate spiritual realization. This detailed interpretation invites devotees and scholars alike to delve deeper into the layers of meaning behind each element and its significance in the path of spiritual ascension.

In my explorartion of tanmatras, I have come to understand that as the divine mother ascends during our Kundalini sadhana, we transcend the influence of the physical body and its senses,paving the way for our self-realisation.

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