nAstika notes

R1’s father was not the kind like the prudish modern Hindu who was shy of laying out the realities of sAdhana and the subject matter of certain shAstra-s to me. Yet he was not exactly thrilled with the prospect of discussing nAstika tantra-s with me even in the privacy of his study. He had considerable practical knowledge about them having faced them in action during his life in Nepal. But still he feared in those days that it might have a “corrupting” influence on a youngster like me :-) and perhaps he felt it was socially unacceptable and seen as irresponsible. Still he had an inkling that I was even then sort of beyond such dualities, at least in the realm of study. He had a collection of nAstika tantra-s he had amassed with a friend of his from the va~Nga country, but generally kept it secret. Nevertheless, after giving me a basic introduction, he said studying them was up to me and it was best never discussed in public. I studied them to a degree laboring with their bhAShA — I could have benefited much from his erudition in saMskR^ita and its vulgar derivatives [e.g. the use of bhonti or bhoti for bhavanti or bhavati – a clear vulgarity of language associated with the prAchya-s initially puzzled my unerudite mind]. Nor could I discuss the issues with two learned tAntrika-s, scholars of the devabhAShA, about this matter because these tantra-s were like ordure to them. Nevertheless, R1’s father did perceptively give me assistance in matters of saMskR^ita in course of the process without ever explicitly discussing the material in these nAstika tantra-s. As I mentioned before, in my study I was learning of the vast web of lateral transfer between the nAstika and sectarian Astika sources and had a thought of putting it down more systematically. I learned at that point of the scholarly efforts of white scholars e.g. Sanderson and Dyczkowski along some similar lines and wondered if it was worth doing it at all, especially given the enormous magnitude of the task, and the insufficiency of our education. In any case I make a few notes even if the conceived synthetic overview is no where near.

In the chaNDamahAroShaNa tantra (CMT), a nAstika yoginI tantra, the mantra for invocation of the devatA into the maNDala is thus:
OM shrI-chaNDamahAroShaNa sarvaparivAra-sahita-AgachCha 2 jaH huM vaM hoH atra maNDale adhiShTAnaM kuru hUM phaT svAhA ||
Then the CMT adds: anenAkR^iShya praveshya baddhvA vashikR^itya puyajet ||
The sAdhaka here is actually conceives the mantra as attracting, causing to enter, binding and controlling the deity in the maNDala. The bIja-s jaH=AkR^iShya:a~Nkusha; hUM=pravesha:pAsha; vaM=baddhvA:tAla; hoH= vashikR^itya:vajra. This action of actually capturing the deity into the maNDala is something which seems to have rubbed on to the praxis of the Astika tAntrika-s in Nepal and to a degree even in the chera country, where they conceive the deities as being captured and held in maNDala-s (see note on gajapati, the Nepali tantrika). There is even an apocryphal myth in the hagiographies of advaitAcharya sha~Nkara who is imagined to have captured shAradA in Kashmir and installed her in a maNDala in shri~Ngagiri. However, this conception is generally absent in regular Astika maNDala sthApana (there is only entry of the deity).

The CMT also has a specific procedure of dIkSha or abhiSheka for a female student:
strINAM tu makuTAbhiShekaM tyaktvA sindhUrAbhiShekaM dadyAt |
paTTa-mahAdevI-rUpAM shiShyAM Alambya |
OM bhagavati Avisha Avisha asyA hR^idaye huM phaT |
lauhAdikArttikAM tasyA dakShiNa-haste dadyAt |
OM kArttike sarvamArANAM mAmsaM kartaya kartaya huM phaT |
vAmahaste nR^ikapAlaM darvAdikR^itaM dadyAt |
OM kapAla sarvashatrUNAM raktaM dhAraya dhAraya hUM phaT |
tato bhagavatI-mudrayopaveshya tadAkAreNa chAlambya |
OM he shrI-dveSha-vajrI siddhA tvaM hUM phaT |
evaM striyaH kR^iShNAdi-varNa-bhedenena pa~nchayoginInAM nAmnAbhiShi~nchet |

Here the tAntrika should lead the female aspirant dressed like a queen by his hand and invoke the bhagavatI into her heart (the consort of chaNDamahAroShaNa). Then he makes her hold a chopper in her right hand utters the mantra to cut the flesh of all the mAra-s. Then he gives a human skull and ritual ladle in her left hand and utters the mantra to hold the blood of all the enemies in the skull. Then he makes her bear the signs (pose) of the bhagavatI and holding her hand in hand he invokes one of the five yoginI-s into her according to her complexion and bestows on her the name of that yoginI.
dveShavajri- black; mohavajri- white; pishunavajri- yellow; rAgavajri-red; IrShyAvajri- grey.

The CMT also gives a long list of female entities who should be worshiped as the forms of the bhagavati:
yAvad dhi dhR^ishyate loke strI-rUpam bhuvanatraye |
tan madIyaM mataM rUpaM nIchAnIcha-kulaM gataM ||
devI chAsurI chaiva yakShiNI rAkShasaI tathA |
nAginI bhUtinI-kanyA kinnarI mAnuShI tathA ||
gandharvI nArakI chaiva tiryak-kanyAtha pretikA |
brahmANI kShatriNI vaishyA shUdrA chAtyantavistArA ||
kAyastrI rAjaputrI cha shiShTinI karauttinI |
vaNijinI vAriNI veshayA cha tariNI charma-kAriNI ||
kulatriNI hatriNI doMbI chANDAlI shavariNI tathA |
dhobinI sauNDinI gandhavAriNI karma-kAriNI ||
nApiNI naTinI kaMsa-kAriNI svarNa-kAriNI |
kaivartI khaTakI kuNDakARiNI chApi mAlinI ||
kApAlinI shaMkhinI chaiva varuDinI cha kemAlinI |
gopAlI kANDakArI cha kochinI cha shilAkUTI ||
thapatinI keshakArI cha sarva-jAti-samAvR^itA |
mAtA cha bhaginI bhAryA mAmikA bhAgineyikA ||
khuTTikA cha svasA chaiva anyA cha sarva-jAtinI |
vratinI yoginI chaiva raNDA chApi tapasvinI ||

This long list of “professions” is of some historical interest. It is dubious if women had all these professions – some might are simply feminines of standard professions. This is probably true of some names like kAyastrI and karauttinI (female scribes or tax-collectors? unlikely. Females of scribes and tax-collectors). My discreet discussion with the paNDita suggested an emendation of kulatriNI to kulatthriNI: a maker or vendor of collyrium or an eye-shade. The hatrinI could be taken to be a murderess but more likely it is a form for hastriNI or an elephant-tender. The kapAlinI is reminiscent of the kApAlikA-s encountered in saMskR^ita plays.

atrAnuraktA ye tu sattvAH sarvadikShu vyasthitAH |
devAsurA narA nAgAs te .api siddhyanti sAdhakAH |
athaivaM shrutvA maheshvarAdayo devA gaurI-lakShmI-shachI-ratyAdi-devatIM gR^hItvA bhAvayituM ArabdhAH |
atha tat kShaNaM sarve tadaivaM tan muhUtakaM chaNDaroShaNa-padaM prAptA vicharanti mahItale |
tatra mahesvaro vajrasha~Nkaratvena siddhaH | vAsudevo vajranArAyaNatvena | devendro vajrapANitvena | kAmadevo vajrAna~Ngatvena | evampramukhA ga~ngA-nadI-bAlukA-samA devaputrAH siddhAH |
pa~ncha-kAma-guNopetAH sarva-sattvArthakArakAH |
nAnAmUrtidharAH sarve bhUtA mAyAvino jinAH |
yathA pa~NkodbhavaM padmam pa~nkadoShair na lipyate |
tathA rAganyodbhUtA lipyante na cha doShakaiH ||

This represents a clear attempt of the nAstika to digest the Astika deities into his scheme by the process of “vajrification”. The bodhisattva states that all the Astika deities headed by maheshvara along with their wives gaurI, lakShmI, shachI, rati etc (notice the vulgar bauddha bhAshA: “devatIM” among other vulgarities of the bhAShA) have become at the very instance of practicing the chaNDamahAroShaNa teachings one with that deity. Then they moved about in the earthly sphere as vajrasha~Nkara, vajranArAyaNa, vajrapANi, vajrAn~Nga etc. Then the tantra adds that even though these deities are manifestations of mAyA they have become perfected beings by the practice of these teachings (jinAh). It then uses the analogy of the lotus: Even though the lotus is born from filth, it is not soiled by that filth. Likewise these deities and those who practice the teaching of chaNDamahAroShaNa, even though it is full of filthy and contra-normative sexual practices are not smeared by the faults from such practice.

The mAlA-mantra-s of chaNDamahAroShaNa are very common place mantra-s of this type and follow the general form such mantra-s in the Astika tradition. However, there are few elements that might be found in Astika saura-mantra-s and to a lesser degree in kaumAra mantra-s (CM is often described as a kumAra or bAla). These points are of great importance in the evolutionary sense.
mUla mantra-s:
OM chaNDa-mahAroShaNa hUM phaT ||
OM achala hUM phaT ||
OM huM phaT ||

mAlA mantra-s:
OM hrAM hrIM hrauM chaNDa-rUPe chaTa 2 prachaTa 2 kaTTa 2 prasphura 2 prasphAraya 2 hana 2 grasa 2 bandha 2 jambhaya 2 stambhaya 2 mohaya 2 sarvashatrUnAM mukhabhandhaNaM kuru 2 sarva-DakinInAM graha-bhUta-pishAcha-vyAdi-yakShANAM trAsaya 2 mara 2 mAraya 2 ruru-chaNDa-ruk rakSha 2 [devadattaM] chaNDamahAsenaH sarvam Aj~Napayati | OM chaNDa-mahAroShaNa huM phaT ||
The points of importance that emerge from this mAlA mantra are: 1) the bIja-s used at the beginning (i.e. hrAM hrIM hrauM) are the bIja-s that mark the beginning of the saura mantra-s in Astika saura practice or its incorporation into shaiva, vaiShNava and smArta practice. 2) The name of the primary deity of this tantra and the one invoked in this mAlA mantra is chaNDa-mahAroShaNa which is a homolog of the name of the saura deity used in the primary saura tAntrika practice: tejash-chANDa (chaNDa-ruk is a homonym). The same tejash-chaNDa has also been incorporated into shaiva practice as the equivalent of chaNDeshvara when shiva is invoked as shivasUrya (e.g. in the works of the saiddhAntika scholars somashambhu and aghorashiva). In the vaiShNava realm the worship of tejashchaNDa is seen in the saura kANDa of the hayashIrSha saMhitA of pA~ncharAtra. The mUla mantra of CM also resembles one of tejash-chaNDa: OM tejash-chaNDAya huM phaT || Further, a name of CM, ruru-chaNDa-ruk or chaNDa-ruk (in sAdhana-mAlA 85 of prabhAkara-kIrti) resembles names of sUrya (chaNDa-rochis). In the as yet unpublished chapter 13 of the CMT he is described as tIvratara again reminiscent of a name of sUrya: tIvrabhAnu.

Finally, generic connections suggestive of a saura origin for chaNDa-mahAroShaNa are suggested by the sAdhana-s of the sAdhana-mAla. For example in SM-86 CM is invoked in a huMkAra emerging from the sun and in performing the japa of the first mUla-mantra his dhyana is given is as: “sUrya-prabhA-mAlinam-AtmAnaM…” SM-87 and 88 similarly give an invocation of the deity from within the sUrya-maNDala. e.g.: antarikShe padmopari sUrya-maNDalasthaM huMkAra-sambhavaM…” or “tasyApi hR^idaye padma-sUryasthaM humkAra…”).

Thus, the ultimate origins of the deity chaNDa-mahAroShaNa perhaps lay in the saura realm of the Astika – a lateral transfer of tejash-chaNDa. However, in the nAstika context, at least by the time of the CMT, the deity was incorporated into the system of the bauddha yoginI tantra-s that appear to have been an exaggerated evolute of the non-dual practices of the shaiva-s. In fact the name used for the deity in the CMT, ekalavIra, is reminiscent of shiva as akulavIra in the homologous shaiva sphere. The presence of tejash-chaNDa is Astika texts predating (at least as per my reckoning) the nAstika CMT suggest that the lateral transfer was indeed from the Astika realm.

[kalashajA raised two distinct issues: Could it be mere convergence? After all chaNDa and the bIja-s are common in tAntrika parlance and solar motifs are even more common. He is a neomorphic deity in any case and not a transparent absorption an Astika prototype, though he acquires the typical bhairava characteristics by his incorporation into the yoginI-tantra, the CMT. Of course, I am willing to accept a better hypothesis that falsifies this one. I should point out that CM might have began his career as an attendant deity as suggested by the mahAkaruNa-garbhodbhava-maNDala, which is not inconsistent with the tejash-chaNDa angle. The second issue is whether originally CM began in the west with a direct influence of the Iranian limb of the saura influence i.e. a conflation of Iranian roshana with saMskR^ita roShaNa. An interesting thought … The name chaNDaruk and makes one wonder]

~ by mAnasa-taraMgiNI on January 31, 2009.

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