The Sixteen Nitya Devi & The Tithis
The sixteen Nitya Devi (moon phase goddesses) are manifestations of Lalitā Tripurāsundarī, or “she who is lovely in the three worlds.” There is great significance of the number 16 with Lalitā. She is sometimes called Shodashi, which means “sixteen” in Sanskrit, indicating her form as a sixteen year old girl. The sixteen goddesses represent sixteen manifestations of her desire. These Nitya Devis form a narrative of the desires experienced through the waning and waxing of Candra.
These sixteen kalas (phases) are broken up into four groups and are ruled by the sixteen Nitya Devis. They are referred to as the Shodasa Nityas.
First Through Fifth Kalas
The first five (kalas 1-5) represent seduction and the desire for another. This corresponds to “I’m something like you,” or Laksmi.
Fifth Through Tenth Kalas
The second five (kalas 6-10) represent lovemaking and the bliss of oneness and connection. This corresponds to “I’m nothing but you,” or Sarasvati.
- Maha Vajreswari
- Shivadooti (Roudri)
Tenth Through Fifteenth Kalas
The third five (kalas 11-15) represent the reconstitution of the self after dissolvement into another, when we must navigate independence and the complexities of relationship. This corresponds to “I’m nothing like you,” or Kali.
- Chidroopa (Chitra)
These fifteen Nityas of the visible kalas rule the fifteen letters of the Devi mantra, Panchadasakshari Mantra:
Ka E Aie La Hreem Ha Sa Ka Ha La Hreem Sa Ka La Hreem
The sixteenth kala, which is not visible to “mortals,” is represented by Lalitā herself.1
The Shodasa Nityas
Julie Peters. Nityas the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses. http://www.jcpeters.ca/writing/nityas-the-eternal-moon-phase-goddesses/ ↩