The mantra-s of the kapAla-DAmarIya-s and the early mantra-mArga
The tenth paTala of the guhyakAlI khaNDa of the great mahAkAla-saMhitA (MKS) preserves mantra-s pertaining to the worship of guhyakAlI according the system of the kapAla-DAmarIya-s. This kAlI-kula system is said to be that of the kApAlika-s transmitted by their first teacher, kapAlaDAmara. Indeed, in 10.1037, in the context of the worship of guhyakAlI in the 8-petalled maNDala, it is stated thus:
kapAlaDAmara proktaM kApAlikamataM shR^iNu ||
vedAdi-kAminI-pAshA ichChA nirveda eva cha |
ete pa~nchapi varNAH syuH sarva-mantrAdivartinaH ||
Here the 5 syllabled primal mantra for the worship of guhyakAlI in the said maNDala of the kApAlika tradition, as taught by kapAlaDAmara is specified:
vedAdi=OM; kAminI=kaM; pAsha=AM; ichCha=phAM; nirveda=phrIM
OM kaM AM phAM phrIM ||
Some of the other kAlI-kula systems, which are also mentioned along side the kapAla-DAmarIya-s, are the mauleya-s, the tripuraghna-s, the digaMbara-s and the bhANDikera-s. Further allusions to these traditions are available in the section starting at 10.1251. They are described as being kaula traditions. Here it is again clarified that the kApAlika-s root text was taught by kapAlaDAmara. The root text of the naked digaMbara-s, who wander in cemeteries, is said to be promulgated by bhairava. The mauleya-s are described as followers of the yAmala texts, while the shAbaratantra is said to be root text of the bhANDikera-s. The digaMbara-s and kApAlika-s are described as being sarva-bhakSha-s who eat human meat and beef and participants in incestuous sexual unions. They are clearly described as veda-bAhya-s. So these kApAlika-s are evidently what one might term the “later” kApAlika-s who lie inside the kaula system rather than the early pAshupata kApAlika-s. Nevertheless, it is clearly stated that all the above traditions undergo pAshupata dIkSha and are called shaiva, suggesting the continuity between the two.
One formulation of the kula-chakra, in the midst of which guhyakAlI is worshiped in the system of kapAla-DAmarIya-s (10.1000-1015), is the 12-petalled maNDala (of course the digaMbara-s and tripuraghna-s have their own cognates of the same). The system is interesting in that it incorporates a list of astra-s: 1) brahmAstra; 2) AgneyAstra; 3) vAyavAstra; 4) aiShikAstra; 5) parvatAstra; 6) nAgAstra; 7) prasvApanAstra; 8) sauparNAstra; 9) mAta~NgAstra; 10) dAnavAstra; 11) paiShAchAstra; 12) brahmashiras
The bhairava-s are listed as: 1) ulkAmukha; 2) pi~NgajaTa; 3) dAvAnala; 4) pretAsana; 5) shuShkodara; 6) jvAlAkula; 7) chaNDahAsa; 8) bhUtonmAda; 9) kulachakra; 10) meghanAda; 11) vishvarUpa; 12) antagochara.
These twelve bhairava-s are associated with the 12 astra-s. Their mantra-s are formed by:
kUrcha-rAvav-athAstraM cha namaH svAhA tathaiva cha |
kUrcha: hUM; rAva: phreM; astra: phaT
e.g. ulkAmukhAya huM phreM phaT namaH svAhA ||
In deployment they might be combined with the visheSha saptAkSharI vidyA of guhyakAlI:
tAratrape yoginI cha ramAkAmau cha DakinI |
pralayash chApi phetkArI bijAni stairya-bhan~nji hi ||
Thus the visheSha saptAkSharI of the kapAlaDamarIya-s is:
OM ChrIM shrIM klIM khphreM hsphreM hskhphreM ||
The sAmAnya saptAkSharI is cryptically encoded.
In addition to the several details on the kApAlika practice of the kapAla-DAmara tradition, the text specifies a special ritual of the kApAlika-s known as the ashokArohaNa. It appears to have been performed on the chaitra shukla saptami and was marked by the worship of mahiShAsuramardinI by with ashoka flowers, followed by a pUjA with modaka-s, rice, ku~Nkuma, incense, camphor and several types of flowers. Given the details of the kApAlika practice in the MKS, it is clear that the text is recording a genuine tradition of these kaula kApAlika-s within the kAlI kula. Thus, we may infer that the kApAlika system of the early pAshupata-s eventually merged into this tradition within kaula tAntrika practice in north-eastern India (Bihar, Eastern UP and Bengal; in south India the ancestral kApAlika-s survived in part).
This inference of the absorption of the kApAlika-s through a merger with the kAlI kula also helps understand the situation with the other mata-s and tantra-s mentioned in the above-stated matanIrupaNa section of MKS. The only mata-s described as shaiva are the kApAlika-s, digaMbara-s, mauleya-s and bhANDikera-s and all of them are described as being kaula-s. Beyond these the text mentions yAj~nika-s as the performers of vaidika rituals, the jaina-s, bauddha-s, chArvAka-s, nirIshvara sAMkhyavAdin-s, vedAntin-s, saura-s, vaiShNava-s, gANesha-s, shrauta-s and smArta-s. Thus, it is clear that the MKS is seeing the shaiva practice as being solely kaula (i.e. It does not even mention the saiddhAntika-s). But how do these mata-s being described as kaula in MKS compare with the actual textual situation (especially in terms of the texts attributed to them)? Below is a chart of the traditions and their saMhitA-s as per the MKS:
Now we may compare this with the system of development of the shaiva shAstra-s:
Within the shaiva shAstra-s both tradition and an objective analysis point to a consistent picture. There are two major traditional classifications: One follows the srotas system (see above picture). The second, the pITha system, is used in addition to the srotas system by the kaula-s. The latter is largely consistent with the layers of development within the bhairava srotas. What we observe is that the classical bhairava tantra-s are the root layer comprising the mantra-pITha and correspond to what are termed the tantra-s of the digaMbara-s according to the MKS. The next layer in the pITha system is the vidyApITha which includes three streams in it. Of these the right and the middle streams are dominated by the yAmala tantra-s. The jayadratha yAmala which has absorbed tantra-s of the vAma-srotas belongs to the middle stream of the vidyApITha along with yoginI-jAla-shaMbara, vishvAdya, siddhayogeshvarI-mata and shrI-chakra. The left stream includes tantra of the vAma srotas like saMmohana, the DAmara tantra and others like mahAraudra. Thus, it appears that the the yAmala-s in the right and middle stream of the vidyApITha map to the tantra-s that are termed as belonging to the mauleya-s in the MKS. A part of the left stream is the DAmara which belong to the kApAlika-s according to the MKS. The srotas classification reports that the shAbara tantra was a section of the garuDa srotas. We suspect that this mapping preserves within it a remnant of the relationship between the old ati-mArga systems and the mantra-mArga elements that evolved from it. Thus, not only the kApAlika-s but also the rest like the mauleya-s, digaMbara-s and bhANDikera-s are likely to represent streams originally within the ati-marga that eventually adopted the mantra-mArga. The above mapping might provide hints regarding how this might have happened. From the early layer of the siddhAnta tantra-s it is clear that the Urdhvasrotas had a close affinity with the various atimArga pAshupata-s who primarily emphasized purity. However, they did not entirely exclude the elements of niHsha~NkAchAra such as the asidhara-vrata and latA-sAdhAna. These latter elements were emphasized to differing degrees in the kApAlika and related stream of the atimArga. So it is quite possible that these were the precursors of the cognate streams of the mantra-mArga that included such practices. It also suggests that there might have been a core mantra-mArga of this type, i.e. that of the vAma tantra-s and bhairava tantra-s, while various miscellaneous tAntrika practices developed by the transitioning ati-mArga schools were incorporated into these core mantra-mArga systems. In this light we suspect that the DAmara tantra-s containing early mantra material that may have been developed by the kApAlika-s might have been incorporated into the vAma srotas or the left stream of the vidyApITha. This is supported by an archaic core seen in the uDDAmareshvara tantra, which we will consider separately on a different occasion. Similarly, the bhairava tantra-s and the yAmala tantra-s themselves might have been evolutes of the mantra systems of the other originally ati-mArga streams, the digaMbara-s and mauleya-s. The bhANDikera-s in contrast might have preserved a parallel redaction of the mantra material similar to that used by the kApAlika-s in their shAbara tantra-s. It is possible that these were also associated with the shabara tribes whose rituals were used in the shAkta context for durgA (especially vanadurgA and vindhyavAsini) on the vijayadashamI day. They appear to have been finally incorporated into the garuDa srotas, probably on account of their general topical similarity to other material incorporated into this srotas, such as the herbal antidotes, use of avian feathers and certain sylvan rituals. Today, the rare surviving bhANDikera-s in Southwestern India appear to have entirely lost their affinities to niHsha~NkAchara and are followers of the shaMkara maTha.