Sri Devi Lila has been in my library for at least a decade now. I bought it at an exhibition in Delhi. Why did I buy this book then? I have no clue, I assume I picked it up intuitively as I pick up books. It was now when I studied Devi Mahatmay, that picked up this book to look for some questions that were unanswered. What a wealth of wisdom I discovered in this book!
Vanamali is a delightful author to read. She explains the complex and complicated concepts with ease but without diluting the depth they need to take you to. Divided into 30+ chapters, each with a Devi Name as title, she explains the various aspects of Devi. She begins by explaining the creation as described in various scriptures and the structure of Puranas for the reader.
She then tells you about Devi Geeta as mentioned in Devi Bhagwat Purana before moving to various aspects of Devi. She introduces you to Devi and then tells you the story of her creation and stories from the scriptures where she finds a mention. Towards the end, she has chapters on Tantra that answers some of the most commonly asked questions about the much-misunderstood aspect of Shakta tradition. She answers each and every aspect in detail and also introduces the reader to the lesser-known aspect of Tantric traditions. She tells you what you can do without a Guru or a mentor and what are the things you must do under guidance only.
Buy Sri Devi Lila by Vanamali at Amazon
At the very end, she explains the Sri Yantra, a geometric representation of the universe both as a microcosm and macrocosm. I liked the way she explained it with diagrams and with reference to the 7 chakras in our body. You read about it in various texts but it is not easy to understand.
Devi Mahatmay and Lalita Sahasranama are the texts that she keeps going back to explain various concepts and different aspects of the Devi. She covers both the benevolent and gruesome aspects of Devi. She makes you aware of the fact that Devi presides not just over the good things but also the things that look negative. You learn about the world being a play of the Devi. It is not an easy concept to digest but Vanamali makes it look simple.
Having said that, I must admit I have read Devi Mahatmay, I chant Lalita Sahasranama regularly and I have read many commentaries on these texts. So, it is quite possible that I was prepared to read this book and you may not have the same experience.
Structure of the book
Language of the book is simple without being frivolous. The best part of the book is its structure that takes you one step at a time towards the Devi. I read this book over 2 months period, one chapter at a time. I strongly suggest that you read it slowly, very slowly. You would need time to absorb and understand the subject of the book.
Read More – Banaras City of Light by Diana L Eck
There are lovely illustrations in the book. You get to see the iconography of the different forms of Devi. Colored illustrations of seven chakras with their mantras are beautiful.
Personally, I am very thankful to author Vanamali for writing Sri Devi Lila. It has brought me closer to Devi in ways that I may never be able to put in words.