Moonlight revelry, moonlight suffering and miTThu
My pitAshrI reminded that me that many moons ago on this particular full moon we had lazed with our friends and clansmen on the terrace drinking flavored milky hoping that shivAsha~Nkarau would pass over head asking if we were awake. Today, on this full moon night we were passing through the dark alley, with the white disc above our head streaming the nectarine beams. One corner of the mind was filled with suffering of the grip of grahin, shadowed incessantly by the AtatAyin, and the terrifying memory of the mAraNa prayoga that had rattled us before the AtatAyin probed with a needle. The joys of the milk-drinking sessions on the terrace seemed to be a distant, nay, a dream. We indeed wished for somArudrA to bear us aid. Before leaving we read a couple of posts by the learned scholar SDV on the work of miTThu (I felt a bit of a coincidence here). Some time back, in response to a question by SRA and also that jewel of the strI-varga I had looked up miTThu’s haMsavilAsa for extracting a mantra-shloka to mahAdeva. R told me that they called a shloka cited by miTThu to be the sadAshiva stuti and is recited to worship him after the invocations with the prAsAda and/or chintAmaNi mantra-s. This miTThu was an interesting character—he was a learned sAmavedin smArta from the lATa country. As SDV is lucidly translating miTThu’s autobiographical verses on his site, I will say no more on that (SDV feels there might be some similarity between the nIlAmbaras mentioned by bhaTTa jayanta, the nyAya philosopher, and miThThu’s system. Of course one should be very cautious of any such relationship as the former are rather obscure, and linkage of rather diverse courses such as smArta, saMgIta and kAma in miThThu’s system was not out of character amongst the medieval tAntrika-s with a smArta background. The rAsa part was perhaps more extreme and might remind some of the nIlAmbara-s, but reading bhaTTatiri of the chera country perhaps this was not unknown either).
I learned of him in a peculiar way. We had just a post or two ago alluded to GK, who happened to be a successor of the famed tAntrika lakShmaNa rANaDe, a coastal brAhmaNa of the maharATTa country. It was GK who told us of a grotesque shrine owned by some Gujjus and asked us to visit it during our journey to the godAvarI, kapAlIsha and tryambaka on the day after dIpAvalI in 1990. We were then boarding in a Gujju rest house of gargantuan proportions, attached to a peculiar mall-like temple (the image of kumAra there was hidden behind an enclave so that women might not see him even by mistake and there was a guard posted there to ensure that their curiosity did not get better of them.). We were having hell of time, also known as kAkakrIDA :-), with the riotous, mirth-loving people of the lATa country for a good part of the day – fire-works, ghee-dripping food and more. But mAtApitarau, detached from such revelry of ours were seized by the pious instinct of needing to visit some shrines. Our hosts were able to give directions to reach that shrine mentioned by GK. It was a neo-tantric shrine and its sthApaka-s were either successors or biological descendents of miTThu of haMsavilAsa fame who practiced a syncretism of shrIvidyA with the savitrI. Of course the lATa shrIkula tradition is of considerable importance from a parochial viewpoint because of its transmission amongst a stream of my coethnics. In the drAviDa country there are many different traditions of shrIvidyA surviving and generally secret. One of the highly influential lineages is that of the illustrious bhAskararAya makhIndra or bhAsurAnandanAtha. He acquired his pUrNa-dIkSha in ShoDaShI and beyond from shivadatta shukla of the lATa country. He was also known for his emphasis of the sAvitrI-pa~nchadashI syncretism and was also called a vAmAcharin by those more oriented towards the traditions preserved by the sha~Nkara maTha. The hamsavilAsa’s author miTThu appears to belong to a similar tradition.
At an earlier time we were experiencing the bhoga of the kAmikA, we hence turned to those verses cited by miTThu like:
bhagasya maithune devi yat sukhaM mama jAyate |
na tat sukhaM japair homair na dAnais-tapasA.pi vA ||(of course it is much longer prashaMsa of maithuna that might not be appreciated by a prudish modern Ayatollah)
But now we looked at the sky – there was neither the milky beverage in our hand nor the dUtI in our embrace; only the pain of the grAhin’s grip. The pains of naraka seemed closer than the pleasure of 9 types of chumbana or 8 types of Ali~Ngana. We had become a renunciate. Will the last 6 arrows be needed to save us?