The hallucinations caused by uchchaTA

The history of the rasatantra branch of the kaula system is a vast topic in itself with numerous texts and practitioners. We may, if we get the chance, provide some glimpses of this material here. The medieval shaiva lore preserved by the nAtha yogin-s in north India had the following tale about this matter (narrated in a text termed the bhUti-prakaraNa relating to rasa-bandha. It might stem in part from an older kubjikA tantra):
svachChanda bhairava manifesting from the southward aghora face (bhUtiprakaraNa mentions the aghora mantra multiple times) had a discussion with kubjikA in the on the himAlaya on the secrets of rAsAyana. She having heard his vast 25,000 verse tantra (a usual tantric number) rewrote in a 12,000 verse text the mahodadhi. Then during her incarnation as umA haimavati she again re-composed it in 6000 verses as the rasopaniShad. Her elder son, skanda then re-wrote a treatise in 6000 verses termed the rasa-tantra. An abbreviated rasa-tantra was then produced in 1000 verses by the gaNa vIrabhadra. shukra having learned it from rudra rewrote it in 6000 verses termed the rasAvaloka. His rival bR^ihaspati did the same in 8000 verses termed the rasachakra. Then chandrAtreya composed a rasA~NkuSha in 10000 verses and gaNapati composed the rasodaya in 8000 verses.

This bhutiprakaraNa might contain early material of the rasa stream that was originally associated with the kubjikA tantra-s, but there is no guarantee that it is an early text as a whole. The other text that certainly contains some early material of the core rasa stream is the Anandakanda. But this again is clearly a composite text that was redacted in the medieval period by the rasa-yogin-s who followed the kAkinI muktA from the mahArATTa country and others who followed the va~Nga nAstika kukkuripAda. It is ironic that the rasa school of the independent kAkinI muktA (considered by some sister of the ascetic j~nAneshvara, born 1279 CE) is largely forgotten among her coethnics, who only identify her as a devotional vernacular poetess. Other than the mention in the Anandakanda as renowned rasa-siddhA, the work of nityanAtha on rasa records her activity as the only female rasa-siddhA before her death at a young age in a flood in northern Maharashtra. Another hypothesis is that muktA might have been a rasa-yoginI of the tradition of the nAtha-s who was independently historicized in the mahArATTa country in the context of jn~Aneshvara and also in the southern country. What ever the case, her position as a successor of the nAtha yogins in the rasa tradition is rather clear. While pure early texts of the rasa tradition are not yet known to me, it does appear that two texts of the middle layer are available to us: the kAkachaNDIshvara-kalpa tantra and the kAkachaNDeshvarI-mata.

The kAkachaNDeshvarI-mata is a discourse of shiva given to his shakti kAkachaNDI or kAkachAmuNDA surrounded by yoginI-s named krandanandI, mahAkAlI, bhR^i~NgachaNDI vinAyakI, kapAlI, kAlarAtrI, kAlachandrA, kAlAmbikA, karAlI, kAlakarNI and kAkachaNDeshvarI. The devI asks rudra to expound on the vidyA-s of rasAyana and dhAtuvAda. The kAkachandeshvara kalpa occurs as a kalpa of the former tantra or occurs as a standalone copy. This text has several interesting plants of which one is uchchaTA

rAsAyanaM pravakShyAmi yat-surair-api durlabhaM |
uchchaTetyoShadhI kAchij-jAyate pR^ithivI-tale ||

I will narrate the chemical preparation that is even rare amongst the gods. It is known as uchchaTA, which grows on the land.

vartulaM parNam asyAtashcha rUpam evaM pradR^iShyate |
eka nAlA bhavet sA tu varNenA kR^iShNa nIlikA ||

It displays the following form: circular leaves, a single stalk and a dark bluish color.

tasyAH puShpaM bhaved bhugnaM shuka-tuNda-samaprabhaM |
kandaM kUrma-pratIkAshaM tasyA lakShaNam IdR^ishaM ||

It is endowed with the following features: Its flowers are drooping and have the color of a parrot’s beak. Its tuber is of the form of a tortoise

uparyAruhyA tasyA apy antarikShaM nirIkShayet |
deva-yakSha-gaNAH sarve dR^ishyante nAtra saMshayaH ||

By it one can rise upwards and verily examine the sky. One can see without doubt all the deva-s and yakSha-s.

rasash-cha dravate devi madhurash-cha visheShataH |
sAdR^ishyaM sarvalohAnAM sakR^il lepena yAti saH ||

O goddess it oozes a liquid that is particularly sweet. By making a paste of it and using everything appears as though made of metals. Or more literally, he makes everything to appear to like metal by using its paste.

kA~nchanaM kurute divyaM kShipraM chaiva cha vahninA |
maj-jayitvA~nguliM tatra lihet taM tu sakR^it pumAn ||

It rapidly becomes shiny golden in color [when heated] by fire. A man must dip his finger into it and lick it.

vimAnAni cha sarvANi tatra patrasthitA narAH |
pashyanti nAtra sandeha oShadhyAstu prabhAvataH ||

All kinds of aircraft with men riding by their wings one sees without doubt under the influence of the drug.

What is pretty remarkable is that hallucination produced by using this herb is said to be one of flying on an aircraft or more generally flying in the sky where one sees celestials. In the least we know that Hindus at least hallucinated of being on a vimAna even if the vimAna-s like those of bhoja did not take off. Despite use of terms like loha and kA~nchana in this kalpa I believe that the primary thrust is about its psychotropic effects rather than anything else.

~ by mAnasa-taraMgiNI on May 18, 2009.

 
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