pratya~NgirA and kR^ityA prayoga

There was more than one discussion recently as to whether the tantric goddess pratya~NgirA was associated with a kR^ityA prayoga. The atharvan text clearly deploys the sUkta of pratichIna A~Ngirasa as a counter charm against kR^ityAs. An extension of the deployment, similar in spirit is seen in the R^ig vidhAna of shaunaka. MS Bhat titled his study on the R^igvidhAna as “Vedic Tantrism”. This title is somewhat appropriate because the vidhAna appears to represent intermediate condition through which the evolution of vedic prayogas into tantric prayogas occured. However, Bhat does not pursue the whole evolutionary course. While I have traced much of this evolutionary pathway, the lack of time prevents me from expounding this in a book-length scholarly form. The pratya~Ngira sUktaM and subsequently its first R^ik provide an illustration of this evolutionary process.

There are two extant living paddhatis that I know, and others whose practioners may exist but are unknown to me. The first paddhati is an evolute of the old Atharvavedic ritual of countering abhichara. Here, much of the atharvanic rite, in a relatively unaltered form, using both the pratichIna and vAmadeva rakShohA agni sUktas, has been completely subsumed within a shrIvidyA rite directed towards the invocation of the goddess pratya~Ngira. This procedure is the pratya~NgirA tantra paddhati of the shrIkula tantras and in a more degenerate form their bauddha evolutes.

The second prayoga provides a more tangible hint between the pratya~Ngira rite and the kR^itya prayoga. This is rite is given by the prapa~nchasAra tantra (a tantra narrated by deva viShNu to brahmA, edited by shaMkara bhagavatpAda). This rite recommends fire oblations of the apAmArga plant mixed with goat ghee. This offers an important direct link to the atharvan tradition, because the apAmArga plant is associated with kR^itya destruction as alluded to in the hymn to the apAmArga plant (shaunaka saMhita of AV, sUkta 7.65). However, the prapa~nchasAra rite appears bear faint hints of a kR^ityA prayoga itself:

yAM kalpayantItyasya brahmAnuShtup pratya~Ngirasa R^iShyAdyAH /
oM bIjaM / hR^IM shaktiH /
aShTa chatush-chatush-chatush-ShaD-bhirakSharaira~NgAni /
bhru madhya nayanadvaya gala bAhudvaya hR^innAbhi pArshvadvaya kaTi-dvayAnghupAda-dvayeShu nyAsaH /

khaDga-charmadharA kR^iShNA muktakeshI digambarA sadaMShTrA sa sarpAbharaNA bhakShitAri dhyeyA //

That is: of the formula yAM kalpayanti the deity brahmA, the meter is anuShTubh, the composer is pratichIna the a~ngiras. oM is the seed, hR^iM is the shakti. 8, 4, 4, 4, 6 syllables in in order are taken from the formula and used in a~NganyAsa touching between the brows, the two eyes, throat, hands, heart, navel, ribs on two sides, two hips and the feet.

The deity is meditated as: She bears a sword and shield, is of black color, her locks are let loose, she is space-clad and with sabre-teeth and her ornaments are snakes. She eats away the enemies. [This description of the deity tallies very well with the classical description of kR^ityAs in texts like the shiva or bhAgavata purANa]

Then prescribed oblations are made reciting just 108 times:
yAM kalpayanti no .arayaH krurAM kR^ityAM vadhumiva /
tAM brahmaNA .apanirnudmaH pratyak kartAramR^ichChatu //

This is the paippalAda version of the formula

Then curd oblations are made to indra with the formula:
yo me pUrva gataH pApmA pAvakeneha karmaNA indrastvaM devo rAjA jaMbhayatu staMbhayatu mohayatu vashayatu mArayatu nAshayatu baliM tasmai prayachChatu kR^itaM mama shubhaM mama shivaM mama shAntiH svastyayanaM mama //

That is: In the eastern direction indra is invoked with a bali offering to devour, paralyze, delude, capture, slay, ruin the evil-doer and implored to bring good, auspicious and peaceful things to the performer and provide him safety.

Likewise the deities agni, yama, nirR^iti, varuNa, vAyu, soma, rudra, and surya ( in lower, upper, nether and heavenly quarters) are invoked with balis and similar implored to do away with the foes.

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