Vanamali Ashram


Realm of the Divine Mother
(U.S. Edition of Sri Devi Lila)
Cover Price $19.95                         Paperback

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Published  In The US By:
Inner Traditions

Sri Devi Lila

Sri Devi Lila (Hardcover)

( With 8 Brilliant illustrations by Sahadevan)

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Realm of the Divine Mother
(Title U.S. Edition)

Sri Devi Lila
The Play of The Divine Mother
(Title Indian Edition)

Our first relationship in the world is through the mother. The Earliest memory of any person is that of clinging to the mother's breast and looking into her love-filled eyes. The comfort and security, which the infant gains from this relationship, lasts with him all his life. In the mother is centered a whole world of tenderness, comfort and sustenance. To transfer this concept to a cosmic being was a natural step, which all the ancient cultures took. Therefore the concept of the Divine as the Mother is as old as life itself. Devi is the Divine Mother, the eternal womb of all creatures- human, sub-human and animal. She cradles her children in her loving arms, suckles them and nurtures them with her infinite love. Wherever you see maternal love, in a bird or animal or human, know that to be the love of the Devi for her children, for she is the universal mother. This book takes us on ancient quest to unravel the mystery of the Divine Mother in all her manifold aspects.

From the Jacket:

How do I love thee?
Countless are the ways.
From the tumultuous locks on thy forehead,
To the tips of they lotus feet.
Drenched am I in the radiance of thy form.
Thy arched brows thy shell-like ears,
Thy upper lip of exquisite beauty,
The lower one- a treasure trove of desire.
Soft and sweet like the petals of a rose.
Thy determined chin,
Thy slender neck,
Thy golden breasts,
The tinkling bells around thy waist,
Above all thy doe-like eyes melting with love,
Holding my own in thrall.
O Queen of Desire- Kameswari,
Accept this gift of love,
Filled with the wondrous tales of thy glory,
Timidly I lay this book,
This holy book,
At thy golden feet,
My humble offering of love.


Shakti: Realm of the Divine Mother
Sri Devi Lila: The Play of The Divine Mother


List of Illustrations                                   
1     Prakriti                                               
2     Parameshwari                                    
3     Maha Devi                                        
4     Rajarajeshwari                                  
5     Maheswari                                       
6     Parashakti                                          
7     Lalitha                                               
8     Tripurasundari                                   
9     Kameswari                                        
10    Durga                                              
11    Chandika                                         
12    Mahishasura Mardini                       
13    Chamunda                                       
14    Sati                                                  
15    Dakshaayini                                   
16    Paravati                                           
17    Aparna                                            
18    Gauri                                               
19    Ganga                                              
20    Maha kaali                                      
21    Maha lakshmi                                  
22    Maha Saraswati                               
23    Radha                                              
24    Tulasi                                               
25    Sita                                                   
26    Savitri                                               
27    Shivaduti                                          
28    Adi Shakti                                 
29    Samashan Tara                                
30    Narayani                                           
31    Devi Kundalini                                 
32    Shivani                                             

Glossary of Sanskrit Terms                        
Names of Gods                                         
Names of Demons                                     
Names of Goddess                                     

Dear Vanamali Mataji,

I just completed reading your book Sri Devi Lila.
I think it is the best present that I ever gave myself.

 If "Sri Krishna Lila" induced me to learn Sri Vishnusahasranamam,

Sri Devi Lila is a reward for my learning
Sree Lalitha Sahasranamam.

After reading this book, I have started to cherish every nama of Sree LalithaDevi. Next, I think I am likely to start with another book of yours - Shiva Lila.
There is power in your narration. I profusely thank you for your efforts in making every line so much refreshing and worth remembering.
Please accept my humble prostrations.
- Nandini

Reviews of 
Realm of the Divine Mother


 This Book is a Tremendous Joy to Read

By Vatsala Sperling -

In Tamil Nadu, India, there is a tradition of addressing any woman as Mother. You can call a total stranger as Ma or Amma. Farther north, the traditional address for an older woman is Mata Ji or Devi Ji, for contemporaries, it is Bahan Ji (sister) and for little girls it is `Bitiya' (daughter). Why? Why address a stranger with such a deep and endearing word as Ma? Why not call her Miss, Madam, Sweetie pie, honey or Hey You and so on?

This has to do with the reverential position of the feminine in the old culture of the ancient India. In its Golden Age, the Indian culture recognized the indispensable, undeniable power of the feminine energy in the ongoing cycle of creation, preservation and destruction. The seers and rishis who were then contemplating on the eternal truth and receiving the revelations of Vedas, recognized that the play of the gods, leela, is never complete without an equal input from the goddesses.

Mataji Vanamali brings out this goddess-centered aspect of the Indian culture very well in "Shakti the realm of the Divine Mother". This book (370 pages) is a tremendous joy to read. It answers many questions about the goddesses. Not just that, this book is a deep, engaging, authentic and accurate treaty on the subject of goddesses and a very fit reference source for anyone interested in researching the goddess aspect of the Hindu religion / culture.

The book has some poems by Mataji Vanamali. These poems, devoted to goddess, have an expression of pure devotion or bhakti. Sanskrit language yields very well to expression of bhakti rasa as it has very fluid words oozing with love, devotion, surrender, romance, affection, and softness. Mataji Vanamali has composed her poems in English, but somehow, she has succeeded in expressing the flavor of bhakti rasa.

About twenty-nine goddesses are described in separate chapters complete with a mantra devoted to them. Mataji Vanamali has used stories from the ancient Hindu scriptures that go into the purpose of a particular manifestation of the goddess. In a very picturesque manner, the goddesses are brought to life in the ongoing process of creation, preservation and destruction, the three fundamental and interlinked gunas that generate the universe of cause and effect and the great void beyond that our five senses find impossible to perceive. Purusha (the masculine) commands these three processes, but without his partner, Prakriti (the feminine), the mere Purusha is a pointless, brute force. It is the goddesses who bring spark and zest to the gods!

I read the story part of the book to my 11-year old son and he "got it". The language is clear and the stories are easy to follow. The few Sanskrit words that are used are all explained in a glossary at the end. All the names of the gods, goddesses as well as the demons are explained in the last pages of the book.

In the last two chapters, Vanamali has gone into the detailed explanation of how charkas and kundalini help us understand the inherent presence of the goddess within and all around us.

In my view, this book is a must read for scholars as well as regular, inquisitive folks who are keen about understanding polytheistic, goddess-centered world view of the Hindus that makes them build temples and worship Lakshmi, Kali, Saraswati, Parvati, Durga and so on, and give its people humility to address their woman as "Ma". This book is also a great reference for the Indophiles and Indians when they are asked about `ill-treatment' of women in India. `Ill-treatment' of women, unfortunately, occurs all over the world, in all the countries and cultures, not just in India, but unlike every other religion that has banished the feminine from its scriptures, India has and continues to honor the feminine force by worshiping the goddesses. This aspect is brought out clear and strong in the book and it is supported with relevant references and quotations from the scriptures as well as explanations of meanings and nuances for those not familiar with the Hindu philosophy.

I would strongly recommend that this book be included in the school and university courses that teach about Hindu religion. This book is also a positive, must-read for women so that they realize that a spark of the divine mother, the sacred feminine, Shakti, feminine lives within them.

Oh, such a positive about making it well rounded by highlighting at least one negative aspect of this book? Sorry. No matter how critically I looked, I could not find anything wrong with this unique, deep and smart book written from the heart. Well done, Mataji.

Vatsala Sperling
Author of:
A Marriage Made in Heaven
How Ganesh Got His Elephant Head
How Parvati Won the Heart of Shiva
Ram the Demon Slayer
Hanuman's Journey to the Medicine Mountain
Karna: The Greatest Archer in the World

Dearest Mother Vanamali:

 I can't tell you how much I have been enjoying reading Shakti. Your telling of the legends of Bharat Mata (Mother India) is unique, in that you constantly emphasize, that the demons symbolize the negative aspects of mind, that everyone deals with. This takes the legends to another level of profundity for an age that is searching for ways to deal with its shadows...

Secondly, your constant perspective is the stand-point of illumination, seeing God at every turn as both eminent and transcendent...

You never miss a chance in your mask as sacred bard, to remind us that God is the world and the world is God. I loved your books Sri Shiva Lila and Sri Krishna Lila for your devotion and the profound authenticity of your writing.

Shakti is a rare jewel among the translations of the ancient wisdom, that truly does justice to the enlightened consciousness that is the hallmark of the Sanatana Dharma (Perennial Philosophy).         
                                        ABB 2009

April 2009

Feminist Review
Review by Sunitha Jayan
Nov 2008

Shakti:  Realm of the Divine Mother

By Vanamali
Inner Traditions

As the name suggests Shakti: Realm of the Divine Mother is about Devióthe ancient, eternal Prakriti and mother of universeóand her various forms. There are an increasing number of books about the incarnations of gods and goddesses, but what makes this book different is that Vanamali goes beyond the stories of over thirty avatars in order to discuss the esoteric significance of each incarnation. Vanamali has accomplished the gargantuan task of bringing the many different aspects of Devi into a single book. It has been spectacularly researched with references to the Devi Bhagavatam Purana, Markandeya Purana, Ganga Mahatyam, and Bhagavad Gita, along with other sources. Every chapter begins with a hymn (mantra) to Devi and ends with a verse from the poem "Savitri" by Sri Aurobindo. The appendix of the book contains more poems on divine mother, names of gods and goddesses, and a glossary of Sanskrit terms and Hindu mythology.

Devi is called many names (Maha Maya, Maha Shakti, Maha Prakriti, Lakshmi, Parvati, and Kali, to name a few), and she is portrayed as the universal expression of power, which is both gentle and forceful. Vanamali explains the concept of Maha Maya, one who causes delusion in the minds of humans, as the production of phenomenal world. Maha Maya herself is the sum total of all and is worshiped as the mother, the life energy of the gods and all other creatures. Vanamali writes that, according to the Devi Bhagavatam Purana, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are born of Deviís gunas. Hence, the author states, "Wherever you see maternal love, in a bird or an animal or a human being, know that to be an aspect of Deviís love for the universe, for she is the universal mother.Ē

Vanamali points out that the worship of god as a mother is found in all civilizations and was later repressed. The book accounts around thirty incarnations of Devi, some of which are gentle and peaceful (Lalitha) while some are ferocious and frightening (Kali). Others still depict the ideal housewife (Parvati) and yet others are shown as fierce warriors (Durga). Shakti: Realm of the Divine Mother thus provides an invigorating view of feminine power. This book is a great asset to the Hindu household or to anyone interested in the Hindu religion and its philosophies.

Vanamali Gita Yogasram
Tapovan P.O,Via Shivanand Nagar
Rishikesh, 249192
Utteranchal State


Tel. (91)135-243-1316

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