A hagiography of gajapati, a brAhmaNa from Nepal
Though pursued by the grAhin like a sparrow by a hawk, we felt we should record this story. The following is an account from R1’s father. In some cases the mantra-s that he only mentioned as pratIka-s are omitted because I am unable to be certain about them. This account is provided as is and should be treated as a hagiography rather than a historical account.
The brAhmaNa gajapati was the elder of two brAhmaNa brothers who were from a family of dvivedI-s practicing the kauthuma sAmaveda and taittirIya yajurveda and observing smArta and basic shrauta practices. They are supposed to have lived during the first half of the reign of the malla nR^isimha-I (probably around 1620-1640 CE) of Nepal. The younger of the two brothers, vaishravaNa had converted to the nAstika-mata and training under the then Dalai Lama at Lhasa had acquired siddhi in nAstika prayoga-s of great power like trailokyavijayA, nairAtmyA, parNashabarI, hayagrIva, yamAntaka, vajra-kumAra and vajrapANi. However, gajapati remained with his mother and continued his ancestral practice of agnihotra. One day when had gone to have a dip at the mR^ityu~njaya tIrtha he had to take shelter in the porch of an avarNa janitor’s house because of heavy rains. He saw that the avarNa’s kid was creating havoc at home and the avarNa-s wife stabbed the child with a knife in exasperation, killing it. When the avarNa came home he heard the events from his disconsolate wife. Taking the dead kid aside the janitor performed a prayoga with the mantra hrIM jUM saH and revived it. gajapati who was observing all the while was stunned and he decided to observe the avarNa. He observed over the coming days that the janitor was an accomplished mantravAdin. The brAhmaNa kept observing him intently.
One day the avarNa asked gajapati why he was spying over him. The brAhmaNa asked him to initiate him into his tAntrika lore. The janitor said: “You are a brAhmaNa, what do you stand to get from me an avarNa?” The brAhmaNa begged that he should teach him his prayoga-s. The janitor asked him to come back after 4 days with some bilva patra-s. gajapati did so and the janitor asked him to take a bath. The brAhmaNa did so and was about to emerge from the river when the avarNa appeared and asked him to stop. Then he seated himself on a platform for a funeral pyre and started writing mantra-s on the bilva leaves and throwing them to gajapati. He asked gajapati to read each leaf and swallow. Upon doing so he found that he had acquired the mantra-s. Then gajapati asked the janitor to give him the siddhi in the mantra-s. The janitor told him that as a brAhmaNa he had to seek siddhi on his own and he could not receive it from an avarNa. He advised him to do japa daily of the vashamAnaya mantra in the morning at a temple of vinAyaka that apparently exists even today in Patan. After he had done sufficient purashcharaNa, vinAyaka appeared to him and told him the following: “Go to the shrine of bAlA in the outskirts of Patan on the 14th kR^iShNapakSha after the spring equinox and keep on uttering the mantra of three kUTa-s, vagbhava, manmatha and parA. There a band of female tAntrikA-s would come to perform an a~njana prayoga. You must seize their a~njana as soon as it is ready and smear it on your forehead. Then you will attain mantra siddhi.”
Accordingly gajapati did as instructed by the bhutagaNAdhipa and went to the temple of bAlA on the said night [Apparently some believe it happened in a kaumArI temple]. There he noticed the tAntrikA-s prop up an upturned vessel on 3 human skulls and allow it to gather an a~njana by light a fire below it. All the while they kept muttering mantra-s [these seemed like from the uDDAmareshvaraM] an casting oblations of various materials. Finally, when the goddess bAlA appeared to them they knew their prayoga had attained success. But just at that moment gajapati jumped out and seized the soot-laden pot and ran away. He was chased by the tAntrikA-s but before they could get him he reached his house and his mother bolted the door from within. The tAntrikA-s kept a watch outside and kept asking for the pot. Finally, he settled to give them a fragment of the pot and they left. He then scrapped the a~njana of the pot and smeared it on his forehead. At that point he is said to have attained siddhi of all the mantra-s the janitor had given him. On account his tantric prowess he was able to get as his wife the rAja-guru’s daughter. This eventually gave him access to the position of the rAjaguru of the malla king. Apparently, in Nepal they believe that gajapati using his mantra digbandha bound the aShTa-mAtR^ika-s of the magical harasiddhi shrine and brought them to Patan. It is also believed that he similar captured chaNDeshvarI and brought her to his regions. Apparently the aShTa-mAtR^ika-s agreed to come with him only if he offered a human bali for ever stop in the journey. So he sacrificed his students and revived them with the mR^ityu~njaya parA mantra at each stop and thus brought the mAtR^ikA-s to his regions. At midday the mAtR^ikA-s are supposed to dance and a Nepali tradition of a “harasiddhi dance” was set up to emulate this. He is supposed to have performed powerful mantra-prayoga-s throughout his life those were seen with much awe by the people of his times and beyond. The Dalai Lama and he are supposed to have been in good terms and frequently discussed issues of the mantra-shAstra. R1’s father felt that gajapati was a capable performer of pratya~ngirA prayoga-s for the king (for she is after all none other than raudrakubjikA a form the pashchimAMnAya deity kubjikA of the royal clan) and had siddhi of a distinctive mantra of this goddess known as the pratya~ngirAmahAvidyArAj~ni. R1’s father had a manuscript copy titled pratya~NgirA-devi-yoginI-pUjA-vidhAna-paddhati that was copied from gajapati’s descendents that gave him this mantra. He also mentioned that gajapati taught a text known as a the pratya~NgirA-navAkSharI-stotra and an unusual tAntrika upaniShad that has not yet been published known as the bAlA-bhairavI upaniShad.
There is another peculiar rite apparently performed by the bauddha-s every five years. For this rite they needed a simulation of prajApati. So they called gajapati to play the role of prajApati at their rite and he did so by chanting the yajur and sAma veda-s. This role is apparently continued to recent times in this rite by gajapati’s descendents. R1’s father did not elaborate as to what rite this was. But it is interesting to note that the tAthAgata-s deploy a veda-reciting brAhmaNa in their ritual.