An important, but neglected aspect of the history of India before the cataclysmic Islamic interruption, was the role played by the mantra-mArga siddhAnta shaiva-s in the unification of the country. We had earlier spoken of our historical clansman, the great varmashiva of vodAmayUtA, who converted to this lineage of shaiva-s and had considerable influence with the royal patron of his age. But this just one point in the broader scheme of things. A truly influential but now forgotten branch of these shaiva-s was the branch of matta-mayUra, whose history now can only be reconstructed from various scraps of information such as the numerous inscriptions from various parts of India. The idea here is not to enter into a detailed discussion of the controversial and investigative aspects of this history – to be frank my own studies on the matter are currently slow-moving due to preoccupation with interesting problems in other areas of research. We simply present a few of note here.
Their own tradition states that when rudra appeared at dArukavana to perform fearsome deeds, he initiated a lineage of muni-s into the tantras of the Urdhvasrotas. The teachers of this sampradAya descended from this first initiate propagated these tantras, studying in the forests around kadaMbaguha, shankhamaThika, and toraMbi all in the region south of the charmanvati (Chambal) River near Gwalior and Amardaka in Maharashtra (auNDhA nAganAtha). In the 800s of the CE a brahmin of this lineage named purandara practiced yoga in the Himalayas and became a siddha puruSha. The local chieftain avantivarman of the matta-mayUra dynAsty became a student of purandara in the mantra shAstra and as dakShiNa conferred his capital city of matta-mayUra to his guru. purandara built a great maTha here and continued to teach the tantras here; after which his school and sampradAya came to be known as the matta-mayUra vaMsha. He then founded another maTha at raNipatra (in direction of Jhansi traveling from Gwalior) where he consecrated his student kavacha-shiva as his successor. His student in turn was sadA-shiva, followed by hR^idaya-shiva, followed by the notable vyoma-shiva. vyoma-shiva was a great exponent of the vaisheShika darshana and developed the Hindu atomic theory. In this line came lambakarNa, who migrated to dhAra, the capital of the paramAras and founded the gorATika maTha. This maTha became associated with bhoja-deva paramara, one of the greatest kings of the world, who wrote the famed work on the siddhAnta doctrines known as the tattva prakAsha. In this line of the matta-mayUravaMsha arose vimala-shiva and his successor the illustrious IshAnashiva mishra. Like wise distributed throughout the country where various mantra shAstra proponents stemming from the matta-mayUra vaMsha and were teachers for various kings of shilahara, chola, rAShTrakUTa, chAlukya, paramAra and bhUpAla dynasties. Thus spreading over the country they played a major role in unifying the country even as the tripartite struggle of Indian history was playing out.
IshAna shiva mishra was definitely a major figure of this lineage. His paddhati covering all aspects of the siddhAnta mantra-mArga survives to date. However, there is much controversy as to whether the paddhati as we have is the original work of his. Provided below is the list of prayogas that need to be mastered by a mantra-mArga shaiva as per the tradition of IshAna shiva (described in the mantra pAda section of his massive paddhati):
1) prapa~ncha gaNapati 2) mahAgaNapati 3) vinAyaka ekAkShara mantra 4) siddhivinAyaka 5) uchChiShTa vighneshvara 6) dashabhuja gaNapati 7) tripurA-saMgraha 8) haMsa-vAgIshvarI 9) dashAkShara vAgIshvarI 10) siddha-vAgIshvarI 11) shrI-hR^idaya 12) sAmAnya shakti-pUja 13) hR^illekhA-pUja 14) bhuvanAdipati pUja 15) ekAdashAvarNa-pUja 16) khadga-sAdhana 17) tvaritA 18) tvaritA-pa~njara 19) nitya-klinnA 20) vajraprastAriNi 21) nityA tryakShari and ekAkSharI mantras 22) mAtR^ikA-mAlini 23) gaurI 24) mahAshakti 25) durga-pa~chakaM 26) vanadurga krama 27) shUlini 28) vasudharA 29) bhUhR^idaya 30) annapUrNA 31) devI-mantra prayoga 32) mAta~NgI/shyAmalA 33) sUrya 34) bhAskara ShADAkShara 35) saMgrAmavijaya 36) mArtANDabhairava 37) shaiva aShTAkSharI 38) tantric mR^ityu~njaya 39) vedic mR^ityu~njaya/tryaMbaka 40) shatAkShara shiva mantra 41) dakShiNAmUrti mantra 42) aghorAstra 43) pAshupatAstra 44) vyomavyApin 45) chintAmaNi 46) shAstA 47) kShetrapAla 48) chaNDeshvara 49) indra 50) jambhala 51) karNa yakSha 52) yakShINi prayogas 53) vaiShNava aShTAkSharI 54) viShNu hR^idaya 55) narahari mantra 56) nR^isiMha rasAyana prayoga 57) nR^isiMha mAlA mantra 58) mahAvarAha mantra 59) sudarshana prayogas 60) trailokya mohana viShNu.
Thus one can see that the mantra mArga shaiva-s were pretty eclectic acquiring mastery over a wide swath of the mantra shAstra, over and beyond the basic shaiva mantras, like the pa~nchAkShari and pa~nchavaktra. The resemblance between the Ishana-shiva mantra pAda and other mantra manuals is rather obvious. Many mantras described here overlap with the shAradA tilakA of lakShmaNa deshikendra, prapa~ncha sAra presented by sha~Nkara bhagavatpAda, the phetkAriNi tantra, mantra mahoddadhi of mahIdhara the yajurvedin, shrividyArNava of vidyAraNya yati, and the tantra-sAra-saMgraha (sammuchaya) of chennas nArAyaNan nambUtiripAD. The resemblance with the latter is particularly striking, because after the mantra section the ishAna shiva mantra-pAda gives a brief coverage of topics of relating to the viSha tantras and viSha prayogas that are extensively covered in the work of the nambUtiri.
From the citations it is clear that ishAnashiva was after the prapa~nchasAra and used it as a guide. There is absolutely no evidence that he used the shArada tilakaM, shrIvidyArNava or mantra-mahodaddhi. At the same time he cites the works of king bhoja-deva paramAra under the name bhojendra, which is consistent with his belonging to the dhAra branch of the matta-mayUra vaMsha. This is generally consistent with the idea that he probably lived in the century after bhoja. This is also supported indirectly by the fact that kShatriya vairochana, the student of ishAna-shiva mishra, cites kumAra-shiva, the notable matta-mayUra vaMsha AchArya at vArANasi, who initiated the chAlukya king mUlarAja in the late 900s of CE into the mantra shAstra. Thus, ishAna-shiva should have been after both mUlArAja and bhoja-deva and around the time of the kShatriya chief dvAranatha who was the father of vairochana-deva. It appears most likely that IshAna-shiva’s mantra pAda served as the model for the work the nambUthiri while composing tantra-sAra-saMgraha. However, it is clear that both of them drew their viSha-tantra related work from the magico-medical treatise kAshyapa saMhitA or a work related to it. The chera magician seems to have directly provided the material from this work in the TSS rather than abbreviating it as done by ishAna-shiva in his mantra-pAda. In contrast he seems to have contracted the ishAna-shiva mantra pAda in composing his mantra section in the TSS.