adhika mantra-s of the nIlarudropaniShat
The nIlarudropaniShat has some additional mantra-s beyond those included in the nIlarudra sUktaM. These mantra-s are drawn from the raudra gaNa of the paippalAda saMhitA of the AV. The combination of the nIlarudra sUktaM along with the raudra gaNa (AV parishiShTha 19b3.4-5) is mentioned as being part of the mantra deployment in the peculiar atharvavedIya brahma yAga of bhArgava. This is a proto-tAntric ritual of the atharvanic tradition involving the worship of brahmA identified with rudra installed in a maNDala (AV pari 19b2.3-5) followed by a fire ritual. Further, some of these adhika mantra-s of the nIlarudropaniShat have an extremely important place in atharvaNIya prayoga. These prayoga-s are themselves kept secret and passed only between dIkShita-s.
namo .astu sarpebhyo ye ke ca pR^ithivIm anu |
ye antarikShe ye divi tebhyaH sarpebhyo namaH ||
ye chAmI rocane divo yash cha sUryasya rashmiShu |
yeShAm apsu sadas kR^itaM tebhyaH sarpebhyo namaH ||
yA iShavo yAtudhAnAnAM ye vA vanaspatInAm |
ye vAvaTeShu sherate tebhyaH sarpebhyo namaH ||
The first three of these mantra-s constitute the sarpa-bali mantra-s. Here the sarpa-s are identified with the arrows of rudra. In the AV-saMhitA-s there are two famous sUkta-s known as the praise of the arrows of rudra. In one of these sUkta-s the arrows are identified with various types of snakes.
yaH svajAnAM nIlagrIvo yaH svajAnAM harir uta |
kalmASha-puchCham oShadhe jambhayAsy arundhati ||
This mantra is the one which gives the famous viSha-nivAraka prayoga. The venoms of three types of vipers are countered using an extract of the Aristolochia indica (At least as per contemporary tradition)
babhrush cha babhru-karNash cha nIlAgalasAlA shivaH pashya |
tauvilike .avelayAvA ayam ailaba ailayIt ||
The second hemistich of this mantra is missing in most extant nIlarudra manuscript. I suspect what has been handed down to us is also corrupt and hope to investigate it further using a manuscript of the Orissan paippalAda saMhitA. The snake in the first hemistich (babhru/babhru-karNa) is the viper Pseudocerastes bicornis
sharveNa nIlashikhaNDena bhavena marutAM pitrA |
virUpAkSheNa babhrUNAM vAcaM vadiShyato hataH ||
This is a celebrated mantra of the secret prayoga. It is the head of that which the mahAbhArata refers to when it compares an astra to the atharvA~Ngirasa. When combined with the uchChuShma-s it is like the pAshupata praised by arjuna (The bhArata subtly lets you in on the secret).
sharva nIlashikhaNDa vIra karmaNi-karmaNi |
imAm asya prAshaM jahi yenedaM vivadAmahe* ||
Most nIlarudra manuscripts have the erroneous vibhajAmahe in place of vivadAmahe. The latter reading is confirmed by the paippalAda manuscripts of the Orissans.
namo bhavAya namaH sharvAya namaH kumArAya shaMbhave* |
namo nIlashikhaNDAya namaH sabhAprapAdine ||
Here the Orissan pATha has the peculiar kumAra-shatrave in place of the kumArAya shaMbhave. At first sight it is incongruous. But in the AV-P in the very next mantra kumAra-shatru is explained as a semantically equivalent formation modeled on shishumAra. Interestingly, in the taittirIya AraNyaka 2.19 shishumAra is explained as the Northern constellation (comprised of stars of Draco and possibly Ursa Minor) and is identified with rudra. Thus, the kumAra-shatru reading in the AV-P most probably has nothing to do with the god kumAra but is a homonym for shishumAra which is identified with rudra. However, in an interesting twist the TA 2.19 also identifies shishumAra with the god kumAra (perhaps as a name of rudra; given that the shatapatha brAhmaNa mentions kumAra as a name of rudra). The mantra to kumAra given in TA 2.19 is taken as the vaidika pramANa for the glorious aShTAkSharI vidyA in the kaumAra parlance.
yasya harI ashvatarau gardabhAv abhitaHsarau |
tasmai nIlashikhaNDAya namaH sabhAprapAdine ||
This is a unique reference to rudra’s chariot being drawn by a pair of yellow mules and a pair of donkeys. This mantra is similar to another AV-P mantra to rudra:
naktaM harI mR^igayete divA suparNA rohitau |
bhavAya ca sharvAya chobhAbhyAm akaraM namaH ||
Here at night the two yellow deer run and during the day two red birds fly. These are the animals of rudra worshiped in the next hemistich as bhava and sharva. There could be an astronomical allusion here. In the shiva sahasranAma from the anushAsana parvan of the mahAbhArata we see that rudra is called: hayagardabhiH. This suggests that some memory of this tradition continued in later times.
tvaM devAnAm asi rudra shreShThas tavas tavasAm ugrabAho |
hR^iNIyasA manasA modamAna A babhUvitha rudrasya sUnoH ||
yaH samAno yo .asamAno .amitro no jighAMsati |
rudraH sharavyayA tAn amitrAn no vi vidhyatu ||
These additional mantra-s are recited by few atharvavedin-s after the core nIlarudropaniShat. They together with sharveNa… mantra are part of the mighty secret prayoga. They for the three prongs of the “…” which is alluded to by manu and known to the practitioners of bhR^igu’s spells.