Matters of religion-2
Indrasena and Vrishchika were visiting the house of Somakhya and Lootika. They were seated in a corner of the fire-room, where the latter had installed an image of the god Kumāra in the midst of a ṣaḍara-cakra. Around the image of the god was a circle of images of the twelve dreadful goddesses and a row of images of the seven Mātṛkā-s.
Somakhya: “Good to see you all back safe from the Himālaya.”
Lootika: “I have been dying to hear the highlights of the trip.”
Vrishchika: “I must say we learned that you two might have fooled us!”
Lootika looked puzzled and smiled: “Why so anujā?”
Vrishchika: “You might have imparted to us the incomplete kaumāra-vidyā.”
Somakhya: “Why don’t you tell us the whole story?”
Vrishchika turned to look at Indrasena.
Indrasena: “Alright, here it is in short. Having reached the land once ruled by the great Pṛthivīnārāyaṇa we visited the shrine of Jaya-vāgīśvarī and then went to the cave of the old paṇḍitā Guhyasomā to whose lineage our wives belong. Then we went the yajurvedin whom you had mentioned and paid our respects. He in turn directed us to a somewhat isolated slightly elevated place on the over-lying incline. After trekking out there we visited the man we were supposed meet; Dev Rudrapal was his name, evidently of a local viśvakarman or takṣaka jāti. He was a young man making a profusion of idols of various deities with extraordinary dexterity. For a while we quietly watched. By then I realized he must be a capable mantravādin. He looked up and asked us to come along. He then opened a wooden case showed us the idols of the seven Mātṛkā-s. This is what you have come for. We responded in the affirmative with the surprise clearly writ on our faces. Having obtained those we then began to ask him about the idols of the kaumāra-cakra. Before we could complete the sentence he opened another box and showed us those idols. But as we completed the transaction of giving him the dakṣiṇa he remarked: “Those kaumāra idols will be ‘avīrya’”. We asked why that was so. He brusquely said: “Now go to your teachers and ask them why not me. But let me tell you the nirmālya devatā does not favor you.”. Now my wife here of pretty tresses, as you know, is not exactly the one to wait for niceties and has come to the issue as curtly as our viśvakarman in the Himapradeśa.”
Vrishchika: “When you completed the instruction to Indrasena and me did you all not say: “with this you have all that is needed to attain the vyūha of the six-headed god.””
Lootika: “Dear anujā how can you be sure that your viśvakarman told you something true?”
Vrishchika: “Indrasena and me know enough of mantra-siddhānta to know what he said is the truth. Even those who know the kṛtāgamāḥ kaumāra-vidyāḥ are merely upāsaka-s not on the path of being siddha-s in the kaumāra-śāsana. After all only one who knows the nirmālya-devatā as per the udīcyo gharāṃnāyaḥ, as Manvarṇavanātha and Sarvamaṅgalā did in the Lāṭadeśa during the days of emperor Harṣavardhana, can be on that path. Moreover, one who knows it by the navya-draṃiḍa-rīti only attains the lower path.”
Somakhya: “Vrishchika, as a mantravādinī whom I have seen in action from when you were a kid I am sure that you know that some instructions are not directly revealed.”
Indrasena: “That’s what I told her. Since the pūrvatantram is not accessible to anyone except the knowers of the complete siddhānta I knew we would need the direct signal from the devatā. I believe we have got it that’s why we approach you for a confirmation so that we may now receive the complete siddhānta.”
Somakhya: “When I revealed the vidyā to Lootika, I did not give her the nirmālya-devatā too. The test to see whether she was fit for sādhana was whether she got it on her own seeing my actions – since you know well that we have no idol of the nirmālya-devatā unlike for Indra or Rudra. I would let her tell you how she arrived at it without mentioning their names and then you can see if you obtained the right signal.”
Lootika: “Indeed Somakhya did not impart me the rahasya of the nirmālya-devatā upon imparting the kalpoktā vidyā-s to me when we were young. Having studied the ritual I wondered if the Skanda ever had a nirmālya-devatā. Sometime during the summer festival of Kārttikeya our family and that of Somakhya’s were visiting the hilltop shrine of the god. There during the public service I closely observed the deśika the temple had called perform the rite. He offered the nirmālya to the gaṇa Vīrabāhu. Indeed, that’s not a wrong procedure. In the old days among the dramiḍa peoples ruled a powerful line of kings well-versed in rituals known as the Pāṇḍya-s with their capital at Dakṣiṇa-mathura. On the outskirts of the old town of these dramiḍa-s was a giant temple of Guha. There the deśika-s of the Pāṇḍya-rājan performed the ritual as specified in the dakṣiṇa-gharāṃnāya taught by Madhurai Mārkaṇḍeya the Vaikhānasa. In that the proper vidhi with the nirmālya-devatā as Vīrabāhu was specified. But the dakṣiṇa-gharāṃnāya-s kalpa was completely lost though the kaumāra-śāsana continued to flourish in that part of the country. Only allusions of that ancient tradition survive in old dramiḍa songs. So the nirmālya offering has no appropriate mantra. After that the families got to do their own rituals. Somakhya’s father asked him to perform it on all our behalf. I observed closely and saw that he placed a piṇḍa of haridra prepared with the juice of the Calotropis gigantea plant. Before invoking the nirmālya-devatā I saw him sever it vertically into two halves with the darbha grass. Immediately I knew the nīrmālya devatā as per the northern gharāṃnāya as was expounded by Acalanātha and his dūtī Mayūraśikhā at the Acalakṣetra in the Pāñcanada.”
Indrasena: “So indeed the devatā-s are M…”. Somakhya extended his hand to stop Indrasena from uttering their names aloud. Vrishchika seeing that remarked: “Then that must be it!”
Somakhya: “Before commencing with the instruction of their mantra first worship the liṅga of Rudra with the mantra-s starting with “nidhanapataye namaH | …”. Then utter the following incantations and offer arka flowers to each of the deities of those mantra-s:
oṃ ya ra la va śa ṣa sa hoṃ sohaṃ haṃsaḥ sohaṃ haṃsaḥ lohitāyanyai namaḥ ।
oṃ ya ra la va śa ṣa sa hoṃ sohaṃ haṃsaḥ sohaṃ haṃsaḥ vṛkṣikābhyo namaḥ ।
oṃ ya ra la va śa ṣa sa hoṃ sohaṃ haṃsaḥ sohaṃ haṃsaḥ bhuvodbhūbhyo namaḥ ।
oṃ ya ra la va śa ṣa sa hoṃ sohaṃ haṃsaḥ sohaṃ haṃsaḥ arkaraśmikābhyo namaḥ ।
oṃ skanda-pārṣadīṃ tarpayāmi । oṃ ṣaṣṭhī-pārṣadīṃ tarpayāmi । sarvebhyo rudra-retasa udbhavebhyo gaṇebhyo namaḥ ॥
Thereafter Somakhya whispered mantra of the devatA-s in the ear of Indrasena and Lootika did the same Vrishchika.
Somakhya: “Now we shall proceed with that old rahasya of the kaumāraśāsana, the prayoga of Bhāllavi. The Bhāllavi-brāhmaṇa states:
haraḥ kumāra-rupeṇa bruvaṃs tām abhayabhāṣata ।
vijyotiṣeti coktāyāṃ sahasāgnir udjvalat ।
sahamānaḥ samāyāntaṃ prakāśaṃ ca prakāśyan ।
piṣācīm adhatāt tāṃ sa yatra copaviveśa sā ॥
This refers to the tale of Vṛśa the badger-like purohita of the Ikṣvāku lord Tryaruṇa of the lineage of the great ārya conqueror Trasadasyu. Vṛśa the master of Atharvan charms noted that a piśācī in the form a woman had taken over Tryaruṇa and sucked away all the energy from his ritual fires. He seated himself next to her addressed the fiery energy with the mantra “spreading with light”. That energy in the form of Kumāra emerged forth conquering all those who came at him lit up even what was already illuminated. He then burned down the piśācī right where she was seated.”
Somakhya continued: “Indrasena, now of course I know you will identify the sūkta being referred to. But we must test your wife. So upagautamī can you identified the sūkta being indicated for the prayoga?”
Vrishchika: “Well, while the badger-like Vṛśa was the purohita of the Ikṣavāku-s of the lineage of emperor Trasadasyu, they were patrons of brāhmaṇa-s of the Atri lineage. It was these Atri-s who composed a sūkta to Agni as Kumāra, which Vṛśa used. Thus, it is the mysterious sūkta beginning with kumāram mātā yuvatiḥ samubdhaṃ.
Somakhya: “That’s good upagautamī.”
Then Somakhya kindled the fire on the sthaṇḍila placing a samidh on it using the mantra:
mitro agnir bhavati yat samiddho mitro hotā varuṇo jātavedāḥ ।
mitro adhvaryur iṣiro damūnā mitraḥ sindhūnām uta parvatānām ॥
Agni becomes Mitra when kindled, the hotṛ is Mitra and Varuṇa is Jatavedas.
Mitra is the agile Adhvaryu, friend of the household, [he is] the Mitra who is in the rivers and the mountains.
Somakhya: “A knower of the kaumāraśāsana should realize why it is important to use the mantra of the old vipra Viśvāmitra to kindle the fire for he was the “discoverer” of Kumāra.”
Then Lootika filled the sruk to the brim with ghee using the sruva and handed it over to him. As she touched Somakhya with a tuft of darbha grass, holding the sruk aloft with the flange Somakhya uttered the following six mantra-s and after each of the first five mantra-s made an offering in the fire with svāhā (idaṃ kumārāya āgneyāya na mama):
1) kumāram mātā yuvatiḥ samubdham …
2) kam etaṃ tvaṃ yuvate kumāram …
3) hiraṇyadantaṃ śucivarṇam ārāt …
4) kṣetrād apaśyaṃ sanutaś carantaṃ …
5) vi jyotiṣā bṛhatā bhāty agniḥ …
6) uta svānāso divi ṣantv agneḥ …
After the 6th mantra he made an offering with vaṣaṭ.
Then Lootika filled the sruk again and handed it over to Somakhya as he uttered the following mantra and made a offering pouring out the ghee entirely with svāhā (idaṃ saptamātāparivṛtāya na mama) :
jajñānaṃ sapta mātaro vedhām aśāsata śriye ।
ayaṃ dhruvo rayīṇāṃ ciketa yat ॥ +svāhā ॥
At his birth for glory, the seven mothers instructed him as the wise one, by knowing which he is firm of opulence.
Somakhya: “These are the vedokta oblations as promulgated by the Bhāllavi-s. They have an important role in abhicārika function. However, if a further offering is made with the following mantra taught by sage Bodhāyana it also serves a pediatric function:
oṃ aghorāya mahāghorāya nejameṣāya namo namaḥ ॥
It was the mantra that was deployed by the kṣatriya-s for the birth of the nagna, the founder of the nāstika-mata of the nirgrantha-s.”
Vrishchika: “That is interesting. In this context our mother would tell a mysterious tale in this regarding the births of us four sisters. Each time she was carrying one of us in her womb she would have a dohada to go to the west coast. There, even as she felt one us to be moving particularly actively in her womb, she would see a dream wherein would appear a terrifying goddess who would say: ‘Behold me. I am none other than Pūtanā. The bhāgavata-s might have fed you the fiction that Devakīputra slew me but remember all that is a brazen lie much like their myth that he defied the great Indra by lifting a mountain. You may run to Indra or to Viṣṇu but none of them can save your daughter from my grip unless the god Kumāra so wishes.‘ Suddenly whichever of us she would be bearing in her womb would cease to move. Filled with fear, she would get up and at once go to a small, ancient shrine of Skanda which had been installed originally by Ṣaṣṭhīśanātha. Having seen the image of the god through the railing she would come back very tired and lie down again. Then she would have another dream. Therein she would see four youthful gods and a youthful goddess, an ape-headed deity carrying a trident and a goddess wearing a mask. The masked-goddess would then say: ‘If you name your daughter with a poisonous name by which lay people would be repelled then she would live past her sixth day and attain great glory.’ That’s how we came to be named. But after Jhilleeka’s birth she witnessed three goddess in her dream. One was six-headed like the youthful goddess she saw before, the other was dolphin-headed and the third had a single beautiful head. On seeing them she forgot whatever mantra-s of those deities which the masked goddess had revealed to her.”
Lootika: “Indeed, it is said Kumāra is a dangerous deity. While conferring vara-s that bestow extraordinary abilities his agents can also cause possession or harm at the same time of conferring those vara-s. Hence, knowing and appropriately propitiating that pantheon of deities is important. The four youthful deities who appeared in our mother’s dream were Skanda, Śākha, Viśākha, and Nejameṣa. The youthful goddess was ṣaṣṭhī; the ape-headed deity was Nandikeśvara and the masked goddess was Mukhamaṇḍikā. The goddesses who took away the mantra-s from her were in addition Catuṣpathaniketā and Śiśumāramukhī. A key to the complete siddhānta is średhividyā and the corresponding yantra.”