The code of the aShTAkSharI vidyA

It is well-known that the atharva vedic tradition provides the vidhi for one of the great rites of kumAra- the skanda yAga promulgated by gopatha. But known only to a select few, who maintain the continuity with the divyaugha via the mAnavaugha on the kaumAra path the AV provides that most supreme rahasya of skanda – the mahA-mantra with which the manifestation of deva attains completeness. This great mantra is the aShTAkSharI vidyA of the atharvaveda. It is to deployed only by a practitioner of the atharvaNa-shruti, who has been introduced to the rahasya-s of the bhR^igu veda. One who has not sworn his allegiance to the veda of the bhR^igu-a~Ngiras should undergo a new upanayana and study the AV. He then performs oblations to the atharva veda with the two sUktaMs (AV-vulgate edition 19.22 and 19.23) as done by the atharva vedI-s on the upAkarma day, before learning this mantra (AV 20-132.16). This mantra belongs to the khila section found in kANDa 20 of the vulgate text known as the kuntApa hymns that are deployed in the shrauta context during the mahAvrata rituals. The kuntApa-s are all enigmatic hymns that at the face of it make no sense. They are attributed to the bhArgava aitaSha (the aitaSha pralApa), a descendant of aurva. The mantra’s R^iShi is bhR^igu, the Chandas is eka-pada gayatrI and its devatA is skanda.

He first performs japa of the mantra a 108 times in a silent voice, but noting all the svara-s as ordained in atharva vedic recitation. Then he shall light the fire on a sthaNDila as mentioned by gopatha in the dhUrta-kalpa. Then he shall make oblations of ghee or white/wild sesame seeds with the aShTAkSharI vidyA. During this he may combine it with the atharvanic brahmashiras with the special atharvanic vyAhR^itis: bhur-bhuvas-suvo-janad-vR^idhat-karat-ruhan-mahat-tac-Cham-OM. In the end he utters the formulae: “mayi bhargaH; mayi mahaH; mayi yashaH mayi sarvaM”. Then he shall perform upasthAnaM again as in the dhUrta kalpa after reciting the formula “sadyojAtaM prapadyAmi…”

The key secret of the aShTAkSharI lies in the sampuTIkaraNa with the two ShaDakSharI-s that result in the emanation of the two basic maNDala-s of kArttikeya: the vajra-maNDala and the ghana-maNDala. When the aShTAkSharI is combined with the ShaDakSharI (namaH kumArAya) then it results in the expansion of the planar ShaTkoNa yantra defined by the ShaDakSharI’ syllables occupying the vertices of the yantra into the 3D octahedral vajra-maNDala. Now the 6 syllables of the ShaDakSharI occupy the 6 vertices of the octahedron, while the 8 syllables of the aShTAkSharI occupy the 8 faces of the maNDala.

vajra-maNDala

When the aShTAkSharI is combined with a ShaDakSharI (vachadbhuve namaH) then it results in the expansion of the planar ShaTkoNa yantra defined by the ShaDakSharI’s syllables occupying the 6 equilateral compartments of the yantra into the 3D cubic ghana-maNDala. Now the 6 syllables of the ShaDakSharI occupy the 6 faces of the cube, while the 8 syllables of the aShTAkSharI occupy the 8 vertices of the maNDala.

ghana-maNDala

A praNava is located in the center of each of the two polyhedra. The maNDala-s must be made solid ideally using a noble metal; other substances might also be used, but require repeated reconsecration. They can be made as separate polyhedra but ideally should be combined as an octahedron mounted on a cube.

This symmetry in the saMpuTIkaraNa of the aShTAkSharI and the two ShaDakSharI-s illustrates a geometric relationship of the two polyhedra known as the dual. The dual of a polyhedron A is defined as polyhedron B, which constructed by taking the centers of the faces of the A as the vertices of B. The cube (ghana maNDala) and the octahedron (vajra-maNDala) are duals of each other.

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