The Effect of Music


Panchamundi - Navamundi Asana and Kali, Tara & Srividya

Panchamundi

In Pañcamuṇḍī āsana, Kālī stands on Sadāśiva, the fifth part of the āsana. The yogin who identifies with this image performs the sādhanā of the dark fortnight of the kālacakra. It developed from the first night of the dark fortnight to the new moon night. This dark fortnight is associated with the yogic experience of the stages of Bindu or Ardhacandra. In the final stage of Unamanā, represented by the night of the new moon, Mind no longer exists, only the great Void or Mahāśūnya remains. The yogin can proceed this far by his own effort but finds Mahāśūnya a great obstacle. Without the grace of Mahāśakti, the yogin cannot ascend further into the kingdom of citśakti. The image of Kālī standing on the Pañcamuṇḍī āsana represents the yogic work of piercing this Mahāśūnya.

In the Navamūṇdī āsana, Paramaśiva is the āsana#; he is not in the form of a corpse, but only asleep over the corpses of the five deities. Arising from the lotus born of his navel is Rājarājēśvarī or Lalitā who presides over him. In the Pañcamuṇḍī āsana, Kālī symbolizes the new moon and the yogin arrives at the foot of the Goddess, but in the Navamūṇdī āsana, Rājarājēśvarī symbolizes the full moon, where the yogin attains the lap of the Great Goddess. The Pañcamuṇḍī āsana is on this side of Mahāśūnya, but the Navamūṇdī āsana is on the other side of it. The goddess Tārā has a position somewhere between these two Great Goddesses, though Mahāmahōpādhyāya Gopinath Kaviraj has not specified her role in his writings.

We can trace the symbolism associated with these three Great Goddesses to several texts where Krama Dīkṣā is followed by the sādhanā of triśakti - Kālī, Tārā, and Srīvidyā, the three most important Goddesses among the maṇḍala of the ten Mahāvidyās. They are worshiped in succession for the sake of transcending Mahāśūnya. Kālī stands in the cremation-ground signifying the dissolution of the universe; she signifies the end of the fifteen kalās. Srīvidyā is also called ṣōḍaśī, or the stage of sixteen kalās. Tārā is between fifteen and sixteen; some say she is between the yogic experiences of samanā and unmanā. Tārā is the Goddess who leads across to the other shore beyond time; she presides over the transformative process. Tārā, then, would be associated with the coagulation and melting of samskāras, i.e., the repeated ascent and descent of mind that precedes the attainment of the sixteenth kalā as yugala.

Kaviraj specifies that there is indeed the need to cross Mahāśūnya but this is beyond the four aṇḍas of the universe. The Pañcamuṇḍī āsana is said to exist in the causal ocean which is also known as cidākāśa. Sleeping in that ocean is the kṣara puruṣa who contains within himself the five adhikāri dēvatās - Brahmā etc. Beyond him is the akṣara puruṣa who sleeps in the super causal ocean or śuddhākāśa. He is none but Paramaśiva who sleeps because he is deluded by akṣarā prakr̥ti who arises from him to create a dream-universe. The aim of Navamūṇdī āsana is to awaken Paramaśiva which will dispel that dream.

Thus, the akṣara puruṣa is the target of the Navamūṇdī āsana. His sleep is the root-ignorance which must be dispelled forever. Since creation began, the akṣara puruṣa has been separate from the līlā of Parā Prakr̥ti. If he wishes to enter that līlā, he shall have to give up his nature as puruṣa, i.e., he shall have to become a higher order prakr̥ti or Paramā Prakr̥ti Herself. This can be achieved only if he can effect a permanent union with akṣarā prakr̥ti because the union is fusion or synthesis which results in ontic transformation symbolized here as the awakening of Paramaśiva. If viewed within a certain context, we can observe that Kaviraj has homologized akṣarā prakr̥ti with Pūrṇāhantā.

Given the importance of Pūrṇāhantā as a central goal in the traditional schools of Tantra, it is striking to discover that in his discussions, Kaviraj refers to Pūrṇāhantā itself as the basic form of ignorance - it is that which blocks the attainment of collective liberation. Pūrṇāhantā is sakala mahābindu which is the śākta symbolism related to the mystic theory of kāmakalā, is called the sun (sūrya), itself the product of the amorous union of fire (Agni) and moon (Soma), or śiva and śakti. In the śākta tantras, Mahābindu is called the divine desire or aprākr̥ta kāma. The universe appears like a child in the womb of Mahāśakti due to this aprākr̥ta kāma.

If the sleeping Paramaśiva is to awaken from his dream, yōgamāyā or pūrṇāhantā as the root-ignorance must be pierced. As in all Tantra sādhanas as distinguished from darśanas such as Advaita Vedānta and Mahāyāna, ignorance is not only merely to be transcended, but also to be transformed and united with higher principles in a new integration.

Sarasvati Veena

A Note on Kula and Kaula Tantra

Bhagavati Kali

While Kula Tantra or Kulāmnāya can be viewed as a single school of thought with its own lineage of ācāryas, metaphysics and practices, it must also be remembered that different Schools of Tantra have co-opted Kula Tantra and interpreted it based on their own perspectives. As an established school, its first reference by Abhinavagupta is with the epithet, ‘anuttaratrika’.

santi paddhatayaścitrāḥ srōtōbhēdēṣu bhūyasā |
anuttaraṣaḍardhārthakramē tvēkāpi nēkṣyatē ||

Of various Vaktras (or mouths) associated with the origin of the āgamas, Kula Tantra gets associated with different vaktras. For example, Kulārṇava Tantra associates it with ūrdhvavaktra to establish its superiority over other schools.

rahasyātirahasyāni kulaśāstrāṇi pārvati |
ūrdhvāmnāyasya tattvaṁ hi pūrṇabrahmātmakaṁ param ||

At the same time, other sources such as Tantrālōka and ṣaṭsāhasrasaṁhitā associate Kula Tantra with Pātālāmnāya and Picuvaktra, possibly to indicate its secretive nature.

picuvaktrādyaparyāyaṁ yōginīvaktramēva mukhyacakramuktam |
pātālākhyamadhōvaktraṁ sr̥ṣṭyarthaṁ saṁprakīrtitam ||

While there is a lot of such varied associations, one commonly used epithet is - “yōginīvaktraparamparā”. Now, it may be noted that according to śrīkaṇṭhīya saṁhitā, Dakṣiṇavaktra is what is popularly referred to as yōginīvaktra. The significance of the word ‘yōginī’ here can be explained in different ways. Primarily, this school and it’s esoteric knowledge is attainable through the Yōginī or Dutī employing practices peculiar to this school. Secondly, borrowing from the Kāpālika school, Bhairava is visualized as surrounded by various fierce deities called yōginīs, and the worship of this mātr̥kula forms the primary aspect of Kula Tantra.

tanmukhyacakramuktaṁ mahēśinā yōginīvaktram |
tatraiṣa sampradāyastasmātsamprāpyatē jñānam ||

Several sources point to the origin of this school, at least in some kind of systematized form, in Kāmarūpa, where this knowledge was transmitted by the divine yōginīs to Matsyendranātha.

bhairavyā bhiravātprāptaṁ yōgaṁ vyāpya tataḥ priyē |
tatsakāśāttu siddhēna mīnākhyēna varānanē .
kāmarūpē mahāpīṭhē macchandēna mahātmanā ||

And then we are told that this school was transmitted to Dakṣiṇapīṭha. There is no unanimous opinion on what ‘dakṣiṇa’ means here; Souther India, or southern part of some region - perhaps Assam. Some others point to its origin in śrīnagara (Kashmir), and to its south is the celebrated Jāladhanra Pītha (Kangra in Himachal Pradesh). By Abhinavagupta’s time, we gather that Jālandhara was a major center of learning for Kula Tantra.

Kula Tantra seems to have been popular in Kashmir much before the time of Abhinavagupta. For example, Kallaṭa who lived in the earlier part of the ninth century was a known practitioner of Kula Tantra. Jayaratha also states in his commentary on Vāmakēśvarīmata that īśvararāśi and śaṅkararāśi taught Kula Tantra in Kashmir around the ninth century. Thus, having originated from Matsyendranātha, Kula Tantra spread far and wide, assuming various names and forms.

Abhinavagupta describes four Gurus for Kula Tantra based on the Yuga. Khagēndranātha in satyayuga, Kūrmanātha in trētāyuga, Mēṣanātha in dvāparayuga and Matsyendranātha for Kaliyuga. During the Gurumaṇḍala Krama, one worships Khagēndranātha and Vijjāmbā in East, Kūrmanātha and Maṅgalāmbā in the South, Mēṣanātha and Kāmamaṅgalāmbā in West and Matsyēndranātha and Kōṅkaṇāṁbā in the North. Matsyēndranātha had six sons who were also his disciples and they propagated his teachings: Amaranātha, Varadeva, Chitranātha, Alinātha, Vindhyanātha and Guṭikānātha. Through these six sons authorized by Matsyēndranātha, the Kula santati is known to have propagated. The word ‘kula’ or ‘clan’ thus originally refers to the clan of Matsyēndranātha. Various rules associated with Kula, which were later generalized to align with Guruparamparā, also originated in this context. For example, the intermingling of practitioners from different Kulas is prohibited (Tantrālōka 4/26). A sādhaka belonging to one Kula cannot indulge in sādhanā except with other savargīya sādhakas. There are restrictions imposed to the extent of even prohibiting conversation between different Kulas.

tādātmyapratipattyai hi svaṁ santānaṁ samāśrayēt |
bhuñjīta pūjayēccakraṁ parasantatinā nahi ..
akulīnēṣu samparkāttatkulātpatanādbhayam .
ēkapātrē kulāmnāyē tasmāttānparivarjayēt ||

There were special signs or marks such as chummā, mudrā, pīṭha etc., which helped one identify other sādhakas from the same Kula. These signs or marks were guarded with utmost secrecy.

When we speak of Kula, it is impossible to not discuss ‘Kaula’. This word simply refers to the followers of Kula Mata (one of the six clans of Matsyēndranātha) and the adherents of scriptures that transmit the knowledge imparted by Matsyēndranātha. However, there are other connotations to the word Kaula. Both Abhinavagupta, as well as Manthānabhairavatantra, refer to Kula and Kaula as two unique and different schools of Tantra. Cinciṇimatasārasamuccaya seems to echo the same classification. But then we also see more popular definitions, albeit more recent, which associate the two words with each other and almost use it interchangeably.

kramikaḥ śaktipātaśca siddhāntē vāmakē tataḥ |
dakṣē matē kulē kaulē ṣaḍardhē hr̥dayē tataḥ ||

In Tantrālōkavivēka, Jayaratha, while explaining the word ‘kula’, refers to four groups: Mahākaula, Kaula, Akula and Kulākula. The exact nature of these groups is not very clear, but it may not be too far-fetched to assume them to have been distinct schools of Kula Tantra at some point in history.

Kamakhya

In the śrīvidyā school, we find various usages of the words Kula and Kaula. Lakṣmīdhara, in his commentary on Shaṅkarācārya’s Saundralaharī, classifies Kaula-mata into Pūrvakaula and Uttarakaula. Other associated schools, such as the one promoted by the author of Subhagodaya, Kaula-mata is described as composed of seven different sub-schools. Pūrvakaula is of three types: mūlādhāraniṣṭha, svādhiṣṭhānaniṣṭha and ubhayaniṣṭha. Uttarakaula includes Mātaṅgī, Vārāhī, Kaulamukhī and Tantraniṣṭhā (hint: Paraśurāma Kalpasūtra). Artharatnāvalī talks of five forms: akula, kula, kulākula, kaula and śuddhakaula. Kaulajñānanirṇaya talks of seven forms: padōttiṣṭha, kaula, mahākaula, mūlakaula, yōginīkaula, vahnikaula, vr̥ṣaṇōttha kaula, siddhakaula. Only two of these are listed in the Mr̥gēndrāgama.

śaivaṁ māntrēśvaraṁ gāṇaṁ divyamārṣaṁ ca gauhyakam |
yōginīsiddhakaulaṁ nōttīrṇaṁ tābhya ēva tat ||

It is impossible to dig deep into Kula Tantra without examining the āmnāyas. While āmnāyas have changed over time - in terms of number, characteristics, deities etc., the oldest system seems to comprise of simply four āmnāyas. Pūrvāmnāya is associated with Trika and is very similar to Mūlakaula. At the center of the triad are the three vidyās of Parā, Parāparā and Aparā. At the center of this triad, surrounded by Brāhmī and other mātr̥kās, the divine couple Kulēśvarī and Kulēśvara are propitiated in what is known as the Kula-cakra. This is the path of the Siddhas such as Khagēndranātha, Kūrmanātha, Mēṣanātha and Matsyendranātha. The Tantras that expound Trika are Siddhayōgēśvarīmata, Mālinīvijayōttara, Triśirōbhairava, Trikasadbhāva, Niśisañcāra tantra etc.

In this school, the focus is on abandoning all vidhis and niṣēdhas to attain complete harmony with Kulēśvarau. Procedures considered necessary by other schools such as snāna, antaryāga, hōma, nyāsa etc., are of no special significance here.

paratattvapravēśē tu yamēva nikaṭaṁ yadā |
upāyaṁ vētti sa grāhyastadā tyājyō’tha vā kvacit ||
snānamaṇḍalakuṇḍādi ṣōḍhānyāsādi yatra tat |
kiñcidatrōpayujyēta kr̥taṁ vā khaṇḍanāya no ||

The Kulaprakriyā, central to this school, may be accomplished in six ways based on one’s capability: on earth (maṇḍala), objects such as vastra, yantra etc., in a dūtī or śakti, yāmalabhāva employing ādiyōga, within one’s body, within one’s madhya-nāḍī in the path of ascent of prāṇa and within one’s refined consciousness.

bahiḥ śaktau yāmalē ca dēhē prāṇapathē matau |
its ṣōḍhā kulējyā syātpratibhēdaṁ vibhēdinī ||

This school seems to have been popular among householder practitioners of Tantra. While adopting some principles and practices of the much more extreme Kāpālika school, the Kula-mata arrived at a more moderate path that was deemed socially acceptable to an extent.

Uttarāmnāya is characterized by the central position adorned by Kālī. The Kashmir school of this āmnāya is centered around the worship of Kālasaṅkarṣiṇī surrounded by twelve Kālīs. However, if you examine closely, there is not much difference here from Trika. The Mātr̥sadbhāva of Trika is replaced by Kālasaṅkarṣiṇī, the twelve śaktis by twelve Kālīs, and so on. Even practices such as dūtīyāga etc. are very similar.

dēvīyāmalaśāstrē sā kathitā kālakarṣiṇī |
mahāḍāmarakē sā mātr̥sadbhāvatvēna varṇitā ||
ēṣā vastuta ēkaiva parā kālasya karṣiṇī |
śaktimadbhēdayōgēna yāmalatvaṁ prapadyatē ||

One key difference here is the importance awarded to krama - or stage-based approach to sādhanā. Important Tantras of this school include Jayadrathayāmala and Kramasadbhāva.

Dakṣiṇāmnāya is focussed on the worship of Tripurasundarī, the benign form of the Goddess. This school is known by various names such as śrīvidyā, saubhāgyavidyā etc. Important tantras of this school include Vāmakēśvara, Tantrarāja, Jñānārṇava, śaktisaṅgama etc. From words of Jayaratha it is clear that this school was very popular in Kashmir at some point, but moved to other parts of the Indian sub-continent in later times. Works of śivānanda, Vidyānanda, Bhāskararāya, Amr̥tānandayōgī etc., established this school as one of the most prominent schools of Tantra today. This school originated at Oḍḍiyāṇa near Kashmir by Charyānātha. The Guru-krama for Tripurasundarī includes Mitrēśanātha, Oḍḍīśanātha, Shaṣṭhīśanātha and Caryānātha. śivānanda, the celebrated author of r̥juvimarśinī, maps the origin of śrīvidyā to Kashmir. However, Jayaratha seems to differ and suggests that the Tripurā sampradāya was brought to Kashmir by īśvaraśiva and viśvāvarta. The very fact that several important facts refer to śrīvidyā as synonymous with Dakṣiṇāmnāya does suggest its strong association with Southern India (except perhaps Kularatnodyota which associated it with paścimāmnāya).

iyaṁ ca vidēō caturāmnāyasādhāraṇyapi dakṣiṇapakṣapātinī |

Vidyānanda and Amr̥tānanda specifically refer to śrīvidyā as ‘dakṣiṇapakṣapātinī’.

dakṣiṇasrōtaḥpakṣapātinyāḥ saubhāgyaparadēvatāyāḥ |

Of the various interpretations of the śrīvidyā mantra, examination of Kaulikārtha is relevant here. The word Kula, according to this interpretation, is the human body, which is a group (kula) of the thirty-six tattvas.

kulaṁ ṣaṭtriṁśattattvātmakam śarīram |

And Kaulika is one who is immersed in the contemplation on the unity between cakra, dēvōtē, śrīvidyā, guru and himself.

kaulikaṁ kathayiṣyāmi cakradēvatayōrapi |
vidyāgurvātmanāvaikyam ||

The biggest aspect of this school is this - the Kuladr̥ṣṭi here is that of ahantā, and this is also the prescribed vīrabhāva here. This is also the reason why this school has found near universal acceptance by the more orthodox smārtas compared to other three āmnāyas.

The worship of Kubjikā, who is synonymous with Paścimāmnāya is today restricted to Nepal. However, Kubjikā was once propitiated throughout the Indian subcontinent. Kubjikāmata and Manthānabhairava Tantra are the chief scriptures of this school. The core philosophy of this school is similar to Trika. In fact, several Tantras of this school copy and reproduce entire sections from the older Trika tantras. The Guru-krama here is exactly same as that of Tripurasundarī - Mitrēśanātha, Oḍḍīśanātha, Shaṣṭhīśanātha and Caryānātha. The chief practice of this school is Kuṇḍalinī yoga.

The rituals and metaphysics are generally a rehash of Trika - with Kubjikā and Kubjēśvara or Navātman occupying the central position of Kula and Akula.

Thus, we can see that the philosophy, metaphysics and ritualistic aspects of Kula Tantra are different across these four āmnāyas - but if there is one thing common, it is Kuṇḍalinī yoga with some form or another of ādiyāga or pañcama-makāra.

The central focus of śākta tantra is generally the Mantra of one of the main forms of the Goddess. This mantra is practiced either through tantra prakriyā or by kulaprakriyā. Tantra prakriyā is for the beginner or ordinary upāsakas involving Japa, Homa, Tapaṇa etc. Kulaprakriyā is for the advanced practitioner, executed according to his capability (bahiḥ, śakti, yāmala, dēha, prāṇapatha, or finally the buddhi).

Trishakti

In the West, the aspect of pañcama-makāra is what has made Tantra both loved as well as shunned as a subject. However, the scriptures are abundant with details on adhikārilakṣaṇa about the specific qualifications of the sādhakas eligible for certain kinds of kulaprakriyā.

atha sarvāpyupāsēyaṁ kulaprakriyayōcyatē |
tathā dhārādhirūḍhēṣu guruśiṣyēṣu yōcitā ||

In Tantrālōka, the qualification is described by the word “dhārādhiṟūḍha’. Once who is accomplished in two of the below ways is what is meant here:

- In the sense of Haṭhayōga where the mind follows the prāṇa
- In the sense of Rājayōga where the prāṇa follows the mind

Either way, before undertaking ādimayōga, the sādhaka needs to enter his prāṇa within the central nāḍī through one of the above Yogas - thus exhibiting a certain mastery over the Mind and the Prāṇa. This is what brings about a certain dēvatā-tādātmya achieved through incessant Mantra Japa leading to translation of mantra tādātmya (oneness with the Mantra) into Bhairavī tādātmya (oneness with the Great Goddess, who is the very essence of the Mantra).

Until this translation or transformation is effected, one is ineligible for Kulaprakriyā.

One may finally ask - why bother with this Kulaprakriyā at all? There are three benefits from ādimayōga.

The very first aspect is a test or a challenge, to qualify the aspirant to the next stage. If the aspirant is unprepared and is bound by greed, gluttony, lust and is enslaved by physical pleasures, he becomes yōginīgrāsa and his spiritual career attains its untimely and unfortunate climax. The use of the makāras should not be in the sense of sādhya but instead as sādhana. Thus, while this is a sādhanā, it is also a test for qualifying to the next stage.

na caryā bhōgataḥ prōktā khyātā kāmānusāriṇī |
svacittapratyavēkṣātaḥ sthiraḥ kiṁ vā calaṁ manaḥ ||

The second objective is to produce enlightened, awakened progeny or yōginībhuḥ, that can contribute to the society in myriad ways. Today, the parents are lacking Tejas in various ways - some are interested in purely materialistic pursuits, some others in jaḍa-vēdānta bordering on māyāvāda resulting in non-action, while others have a non-holistic view of Dharma where society, country, karman etc. are isolated from religion - arthāt we have a myriad problems in our society today. And the progeny of such parents who are the product of this problematic society can obviously be no superwomen and supermen who can bring about a lasting transformation. Kulaprakriyā can produce awakened and empowered santāna blessed by the yōginī-gaṇa who can invigorate the society in a multifaceted and holistic fashion.

The third and the chief objective is to attain the heightened state of Parādvaita where there is the realization of Parābhaṭṭārikā beyond her viśvamaya and viśvōttīrṇa forms.

There is a crucial aspect of Kulatantra which separates it from other popular schools such as Bauddha and Vedānta darśanas. Both these aforementioned schools advocate viṣayaparityāga and sannyāsa (renunciation) for Mōkṣa. They find Bhoga incompatible with Mokṣa and pit one against the other - this is true for most other tāntric schools as well. However, Kulatantra not only dismisses this absurd notion that Bhoga is incompatible with Mokṣa, but also postulates that it is a tool for attaining Mokṣa. Abhinavagupta gives a certain analogy - a well-known truth, when presented as a dry, plainly stated fact - seldom reaches all people; however, when it is presented as an exaggerated, entertaining skit or a ballad, it is not only readily and deeply comprehended, but the audience also lives the characters in its own mind - thus self-actualizing the truth in a very lasting way. This powerful concept is the original and revolutionary contribution of Kulāmnāya to the spiritual world.

Narasimha Yantra

Narasimha Yantra


षट्कोणस्थसुदर्शनं वसुदलप्रोल्लासदष्टाक्षरं बाह्ये द्वादशवर्णपत्रकलमं तत्षोडशार्णच्छदम्‌ । द्वात्रिंशन्मनुवर्णपत्रकमलं वृत्तोलसन्मातृकं मध्योत्थध्रुवमुर्विबीजवलयं चक्रं नृसिंहात्मकम्‌ ॥

Archa Nrsimha


ṣaṭkōṇasthasudarśanaṁ vasudalaprōllāsadaṣṭākṣaraṁ | bāhyē dvādaśavarṇapatrakalamaṁ tatṣōḍaśārṇacchadam || dvātriṁśanmanuvarṇapatrakamalaṁ vr̥ttōlasanmātr̥kaṁ | madhyōtthadhruvamurvibījavalayaṁ cakraṁ nr̥siṁhātmakam ||

Who is a true Shakta?

Adya Bhagavati

त्रिस्थाने शक्तिचक्रे क्रमति क्रमपदे द्योतयन्ती महेशम्‌ |
पञ्चार्णं क्षोभयन्ती शिवरविकिरणैः कुब्जिका मां पुनातु ॥

The concept of śākta upāsanā is an evolving idea, one that has undergone significant changes over time. Not that this is undesirable, for change is the nature of this world and everything with a name and a form is subject to change. Also, with the changing nature of the human interests and approach towards upāsanā, it is but natural for upāsanā to change as well.

The prakr̥ti of a Human can be sāttvika, rājasika or tāmasika. Correspondingly, his upāsanā becomes either Daivī (Divine) or āsurī (infernal), characterized by one of the two aspects of Parāśakti - vidyā or avidyā.

It is not an easy accomplishment to become a śākta, especially a true one who can be considered śuddha (pure) or amiśra (devoid of mixed modes). There are two kinds of śāktas:

1. śuddha śāktas - these are upāsakas of śuddhā mūlā śakti who is adhiṣṭhāna-rahitā
2. miśra śāktas - these are upāsakas of śakti accompanied by śiva, who is adhiṣṭhāna-sahitā

Based on these two approaches to śakti upāsanā, Yantras of Mahāvidyās are propitiated in two ways by the adepts at Tantras:

1. Yantras with a central position accorded to śakti trikōṇa (downward facing triangle) are śuddha-śākta as there is no separate notation for śiva.
2. Yantras with central position accorded to ṣaṭkōṇa (an intersection of upward facing and downward facing triangles) is miśra (mixed) and is śivaśaktyātmaka.

It is generally agreeable that without the agency of śiva tattva, most sādhakas cannot perceive the inconceivable Parāśakti, but there is a minority of accomplished aspirants capable of accomplishing this difficult feat. In other words, they can perceive the ‘Energy’ (śakti) in all its purity without requiring the agency of ‘Matter’ (śiva).

The undesirable state of affairs today is this - forget śuddha śāktādvaita (śākta non-dualism), not even Miśra śākta is prevalent in popular practice. While we claim ourselves to be śākta, there is generally the dual upāsanā of śiva and śakti with an inherent bias of prominence to śiva-tattva. So, technically this makes us śaiva and not śākta, because most upāsakas are incapable of intellectually and practically distinguishing between citśakti and māyā-śakti.

If primary importance is to Prākāśarūpī śiva (of course with some lip service to vimarśa echoing their inherent unity), it essentially makes one a śaiva. This is not only true in the case of officially śaiva schools, but also in several schools of Hādimata. Shaktisaṅgama Tantra states:

प्रपञ्चमूलो हि शिवः |

When we use the word śiva here, it does not mean the drāṣṭā brahma, who for us śāktas is Mūlā Parāśakti (who is the dharmī) - as this draṣṭā brahma is the Divine Feminine Herself, seated on a Lotus, enjoying the energetic dance of śiva Mahākāla:

मेघाङ्गीं शशिशेखरां त्रिनयनां रक्ताम्बरं बिभ्रतीं
पाणिभ्यामभयं वरञ्च विलसद्रक्तारविन्दस्थिताम्‌ ।
नृत्यन्तं पुरतो निपीय मधुरं माध्वीकमद्यं महा
कालं वीक्ष्य विकासिताननवरां आद्यां भजे कालिकाम्‌ ॥

In the same way that one knows both dharmī and dharma śaktis from śakti, both kartā and draṣṭā brahma are known from śiva. In the case of śhaiva siddhānta, śiva is everything - both the draṣṭā and bhōktā; similar is the case for śuddha śākta siddhānta.

At the cost of sounding blasphemous, what I am trying to say is simply this:

- In śaiva Tantra, śakti is vimarśa and śiva is prakāśa
- In śuddha śākta, śakti is prakāśa and śiva is vimarśa

Having forgotten this core concept of śuddha-śākta siddhānta, ‘impure’ śāktas refer to ādyā kālikā as the śakti of Mahākāla; or refer to Rājarājēśvarī as the śakti of Kāmēśvara - conveniently forgetting the crucial name in Lalitā Triśatī - labdhapatiḥ. When Tantras refer to Kālaśakti, it does not mean - ‘she is Kāla’s śakti’. It rather means ‘she, whose kriyāśakti is Mahākāla’. In other words, Parāśakti is the origin of both Dikśakti (space) aka Sadāśiva and Kālaśakti (time) aka Mahākāla. This concept central to śākta mata is reiterated by the Tantras:

अवष्टभ्य पद्भ्यां शिवं भैरवं च स्थिता तेन मध्ये भवत्येव मुख्या ।

Hopefully, knowledge of this true import of the word śakti will inspire aspiring śāktas to critically investigate further and dwell deeper.

ब्रह्मेन्द्ररुद्रहरिचन्द्रसहस्ररश्मि-
स्कन्दद्विपाननहुताशनवन्दितायै ।
वागीश्वरि त्रिभुवनेश्वरि विश्वमातः
अन्तर्बहिश्चकृतसंस्थितये नमस्ते ॥

Ashtananam tam sharanam prapadye

Chaturbhuja Nrsimha

विधिवेदप्रदं वीरं विघ्ननाशं रमापतिम्‌ ।
वज्रखड्गधरं धीरं श्रीं क्ष्रौं ह्रीं नृहरिं भजे ॥

म्हं म्हं म्हं शब्दसहितं मन्त्रराजपदस्तुतम्‌ ।
भल्लूकवक्त्रं भीतिघ्नं श्रीं क्ष्रौं ह्रीं नृहरिं भजे ॥

सर्वाण्डकोशमालाढ्यं सर्वाण्डान्तरवासिनम्‌ ।
अष्टास्यगण्डभेरुण्डं श्रीं क्ष्रौं ह्रीं नृहरिं भजे ॥

vidhivēdapradaṁ vīraṁ vighnanāśaṁ ramāpatim |
vajrakhaḍgadharaṁ dhīraṁ śrīṁ kṣrauṁ hrīṁ nr̥hariṁ bhajē ||

mhaṁ mhaṁ mhaṁ śabdasahitaṁ mantrarājapadastutam |
bhallūkavaktraṁ bhītighnaṁ śrīṁ kṣrauṁ hrīṁ nr̥hariṁ bhajē ||

sarvāṇḍakōśamālāḍhyaṁ sarvāṇḍāntaravāsinam |
aṣṭāsyagaṇḍabhēruṇḍaṁ śrīṁ kṣrauṁ hrīṁ nr̥hariṁ bhajē ||

Srīvidyā can be approached through various āmnāyas. The popular way, especially in Southern India, is through the Dakṣiṇāmnāya where the upāya is of Bhakti Yoga. Only accomplished sādhakas can enter śrīpura through Uttarāmnāya utilizing the upāya of Jñānayōga. Here, the preceptor is Svacchanda Bhairava and the śakti is Mahācaṇḍayōgēśvarī. Bhagavatī Mahākālasaṅkarṣiṇī can be approached through one of these forms: Siddhilakṣmī, three forms of Guhyakālī (Siddhikarālī, Siddhikarālika, Siddhikapālinī) or Kāmakalā Guhyakālī. In our lineage, the procedure is to propitiate all of these, with the exception of Siddhikapālinī, whose practice is prohibited in the current age, though there are some disagreements here. Also, the aṣṭādaśākṣarī vidyā of Kāmakalākālī is not prescribed here as she is not considered to be Prakr̥tirūpā, but is instead a vikr̥ti or vibhūti of Mahācaṇḍayōgēśvarī. Hence, Baḍabānala Tantra teaches the practice of Kāmakalā Guhyakālī in its place.

Nr̥simha is of great importance to Uttarāmnāya. The well-known form of Svacchanda Bhaṭṭāraka is invoked as Gurumūrti for other āmnāyas of Nirvāṇasundarī krama but he assumes Nr̥siṁharūpa when he is the preceptor of the Mahāvidyā of Uttarāmnāya. However, this Nr̥siṁha is not Mahāviṣṇu.

Siddhikarali

कालाग्निरुद्रो भगवान्‌ स्वयमेव महेश्वरः ।
निरीक्ष्याकारमेतस्या विकरालं महोत्कटम्‌ ॥
सौम्यरूपैः सन्निधातुमशक्तः साध्वसाकुलः ।
कृत्वा घोरतरं रूपं सिंहाकारं विभीषणम्‌ ॥
उपासांचक्र ईशानीं दुर्निरीक्ष्यतराकृतिम्‌ ॥
कालाग्निरुद्ररूपस्य भीषणस्य महेशितुः ।
ज्वालामालीनृसिंहेति तस्य नाम निगद्यते ॥

When Lord Mahākālāgnirudra was unable to approach the fierce Goddess, he assumed the form of Narasimha and came to be known as Jvālāmālī Nr̥simha. He worshiped her, both as her consort, as well as her upāsaka, thus becoming the first in this line of ācāryas.

Nr̥siṁha can be propitiated along with the Mahāvidyā in various ways, based on one’s capacity. The beginner worships the Devī with Narasimha at her feet, as the mūlaguru, employing the famous Mantrarāja of Ugraviṣṇu. At the next stage, he is worshiped as the consort, stationed to her right. In the next stage, the divine couple is meditated upon in the yuganaddha fashion. Finally, Parāmbā is worshiped with an added Nr̥simha mukha (the eleventh, ēkādaśa mukha), representing the secret beyond the secrets (pūrṇāhantā). The mantras at each stage are different - the 28-lettered Jvālāmālī mantra is typically used in practice for the last stage.

Thavam Petra Nayaki


Kashmir Shaivism vs Advaita Vedanata: A Summary by Mahamahopadhyaya Gopinath Kaviraj

- Dr. Navjivan Rastogi (from Sri Kaviraj-ji's commemoration compendium)

Kaviraj-ji once remarked “in spite of the antiquity of śākta Culture and of its philosophical traditions, the reason why no serious attempt was made is said to have been that it was deemed improper to drag down for rational examination truths inaccessible to the experience of ordinary man. This reason is not convincing enough, for if the Upaniṣads could be made the basis of philosophical system, there is no reason why the śākta āgamas could not be similarly utilized. For the function of philosophy is, as Joad rightly remarks, to accept the data furnished by the specialists who have worked in the field and then to assess their meaning and significance”.

A comparative estimate of Advaita Vedānta and Kashmir Shaivism by Kaviraj is a classical example of philosophical insight and assumes enormous significance for proper appraisal of the Shaiva absolutism of Kashmir. This has in fact helped to bring about distinctive character of the two excellent systems of thought. the main distinctions may be recounted as under: Brahmavāda describes Māyā as different from both real and unreal, and indescribable. The Shaivas hold that this does not totally eliminate the impression of duality. It is admitted that Māyāis non-entity, unreal when viewed from the Absolute’s angle and also that the reality of empirical level has no bearing on the transcendental principle of Brahman. But the question is: why does duality appear at all, if there is only one non-dual conscious principle? To the Vedāntin, pure Brahman is simply the substratum of the begginingless world-order whose appearance is rooted in the illusory transformation aka vivarta. To assert that the properties such as creativity etc., are superimposed upon Brahman, makes it all the more difficult to grasp as to how the Absolute becomes the finite being, world or God? There is no denying the fact that there too is ignorance, Māyā, in the Shaiva absolutism, but its appearance is not contingent. It represents an Absolute mode occasioned by voluntary exercise of the Absolutic freedom. By fully exploiting the analogy of cloud and sun, Kaviraj emphasizes that there is no deviation from its unobscured nature even when it veils itself by its own power. The worldly variety is nothing but the reflection or awareness (vimarśa) of its own being. The manifestation of variety constitutes the nature i.e., self-being (svabhāva) of the Absolute.

Brahmavādins too admit that the Self has its own nature. In their view, however, the Self is pure witness or constitutes locus consciousness (adhiṣṭhāna caitanyātmaka), while īśvaravādins subscribe to its nature as consisting of freedom, and as agency. Here lies the major disagreement between the two - a feature proudly noted by Kṣēmarāja.

svatantraśabdō brahmavādavailakṣaṇyamācakṣāṇaścitō māhēśvaryasāratāṁ brūtē |

In fact, the description of the Absolute in both the systems admits of similar terminology except that Brahman is devoid of Kartr̥tva (agency), whereas Vimarśa or Kartr̥tva constitutes the Absolute essence of Paramashiva. The Shaiva absolutists never try to conceal their attitude towards Brahmavādins. The description of Vedāntin’s position as Nirvimarśabrahmavāda or Shāntabrahmavāda does not appear to be laudatory. Shaivas assign Sāmkhya’s Puruṣa and Vedānta’s Brahman to the lower state of aparāvasthā of the Self. They are not even prepared to accommodate them in the penultimate (parāparā) state, not to the talk of the ultimate state of the Self. According to Shaiva texts, such state has never come up for discussion in the Vedānta texts.
The absence of vigorous affirmation of freedom in the Vedāntic Absolute compels Kaviraj to conclude, hesitantly though, that appearance of duality is not actually eliminated from Shankara’s Vēdānta.

In the Shaiva monistic tradition the term Advaita denotes eternal synthesis of the two. In Shankara’s view, Advaita means negation of the two. Shankara describes Brahman as real and Māyā as indefinable. He cannot accept Mayā to be real or treat it at par with the Absolute. That is why the Vedāntic absolutism, according to Kaviraj, is exclusive and based on renunciation or elimination. Unlike the āgamas, it fails to become inclusive or all-embracing. In the āgamic view, the identity of the Absolute and Mayā is automatically established by showing Māyā as stemming from Brahman and also as real. If we adhere to the logic of Shankara’s Vedānta, we will have to concede that Brahman too is unreal and indefinable, because in the condition in which Māyā is stated to be unreal/indefinable, the knowledge of Brahman in that stage will be a byproduct of Māyā. Even while assuming the correctness of Shankara’s premise, ‘of the two opposed to another like darkness and light’, it may be stated that darkness arises from light by friction and it is darkness again that culminates in light by friction. Both are eternally united, both exist totally integrated in their being. This is what has been pronounced time and again as Sāmarasya of Shiva-Shakti or attainment of Cit-ananda which marks a unique feature of Kashmir Shaivism.

Jnāna-Bhakti Synthesis

Kaviraj goes on enlarging the equation of Cidānanda synthesis. According to him, the additional peculiarity of the Shaiva absolutism lies in the fact that it neither advocates the path of ‘dry’ knowledge, nor the path of devotion bereft of knowledge, rather it lays down a path that integrates knowledge and devotion both. Logically Bhakti has no place in the ultimate stage of the absolutism propounded by Shankara. According to him, devotion is basically duality-centric, and as such does not exist in the Absolutic state on attainment of knowledge. Needless to say, this devotion is ignorance-based and instrumental in character.

But, on the contrary, in the Trika philosophy Mōkṣa has been portrayed as Cidānanda lābha (attainment of Consciousness-Bliss) or Pūrṇāhaṁtācamatkāra (self-relish flowing from perfect I-hood). Now the aspect of consciousness (cidamśa) is knowledge and that of bliss (ānandāmśa) devotion. The perfect I-hood or self-relish which marks the limit of knowledge, also marks the limit of love or devotion. It is why it offers congenial ground for synthesis. Here the element of consciousness i.e., Shiva-state, and that of bliss i.e., Shakti-state, stand fused together instantly turning it into synthesis of devotion-knowledge or equipoise of Shiva-Shakti.

Synthesis of the efficient and material causes

By expounding the analogies of Yogin and Māyāvin employed in Tripurā and Pratyabhijñā, Kaviraj has drawn our attention of the creation of world as being rooted in the Absolutic will or as being totally independent of the material cause. Citing a kārikā from Utpala, he says creation means externalization of the inner content.

cidātmaiva hi dēvō’ntaḥsthitamicchāvaśādbahiḥ |
yōgīva nirupādānamarthajātaṁ prakāśayēt ||

The objective totality exists in the consciousness-Self (cidātmā), only part of it occasionally gets manifested due to its Will. In the creation of this kind, the material cause is rendered irrelevant. This independence from the material cause in the Shaiva absolutism is very well known in the form of the doctrine of the unity between efficient and material causes (abhinna nimittōpādānavāda) in Shankara’s Advaita. Indeed, belief in absolutism presupposes the rejection of distinction between the efficient and the material. But, since Shankara’s Advaita hesitates to admit the real agency in the Absolute, the creation turns out to be an offspring of ignorance, instead of Self-will.

The Art and Science of Daoist Feng Shui


- Dr. Jerry Alan Johnson

The art of Feng Shui dates back at least four thousand years, although the philosophies and magic symbols it incorporates date back to an even earlier period. According to the Shu Jing (Book of History), written by Si Ma Qian, “When the Yellow Emperor first started to divide the country into cities and provinces, he consulted Qin Niao Ze on the project, because Qin was a master of geometrically surveying the landform.” Being an officer in the court of the Yellow Emperor sometime around 2600 B.C., Qin Niao Ze is regarded as the originator of the art of Feng Shui. During that time period, Feng Shui was known as ‘the art of Qin Niao Ze’. He is said to have written three books on geomancy: The Classics of Burial Geomancy, Reading Graves and How to Examine the Earthly Bones. Unfortunately, none of these books have survived to the present day, and we only know of them from references to them in much later texts.

The earliest reference to Feng Shui is in the History of the Former Han (206 B.C. - 220 A.D.). In this ancient document, references to The Golden Box of Geomancy and The Terrestrial Conformations for Palaces and Houses were mentioned, however, neither of the books survived. Over the years, two books that were believed to have a profound influence of the art of Feng Shui were included in the Imperial Encyclopedia, under arts and divination. These books were titled: The Ancient Burial Classics (written by Guo Bu during the fourth century AD.), and The Yellow Emperor's Dwelling Classics (written by Wang Wei during the fifth century A.D.). The writings of The Yellow Emperor's Dwelling Classics distinguished between the energetic natures of the Yin dwellings for the dead and the Yang dwellings for the living, a distinction that is still used in modem times.

In the early years of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 A.D.), the founding Emperor Ju Yuanzhuan was afraid that the ancient Daoist skill of Feng Shui might be used to overthrow him. He therefore persecuted and executed all Feng Shui practitioners and disseminated fake Feng Shui texts in order to confuse the public. During the Qing Dynasty (1644 A.D.) however, Feng Shui enjoyed a revival in the capital and has been popular ever since.

Feng Shui is divided into two prominent schools: the Form School and the Compass School. Both school borrow from ancient Daoist principles, and they often overlap each other both in theory and in practice.

The Form School is considered to be the" original school of Feng Shui." It focuses on the study of topography and the environmental Elements existing within and around a particular site. Emphasis is placed on the shapes and heights of mountains, and the speed and curves of watercourses.

The Form School has its roots in Southwest China, and its founding fathers are Yang Yunsong and his disciples Zen Wenshan and Lai Wenjun. Since Yang Yunsong, Zen Wenshan, and Lai Wenjun were all natives of Jiangxi province, the Form School also came to be known as the Jiangxi school of Feng Shui.

Yang Yunsong served at one time as a high-ranking official in the Later Tang Dynasty (923 - 936 A.D.). He eventually became known as one of the most prolific writers on the subject of Form School Feng Shui. His works include Shaking the Dragon, Verifying the Dragon, Methods ofMr. Yang, The Golden Classics, Books of Heavenly Jade, Secret Words ofMr. Qin Niao Ze, and Precious Classics That Light Up the Heavens. All of Yang Yunsong's original works on Form School teachings have had a profound influence on the development of Feng Shui up to modem times.

The Form School focuses on the energetic quality and quantity of Qi existing within waterways, bodies of water, mountain veins, individual hills, and Dragon Lairs. To a master of Form School Feng Shui, it is important to understand that it is the form of the land or topography that provides the site with its energetic substance. The geometric patterns contained within nature are similar in energetic composition to those represented in the geometric patterns of art. The understanding of these energetic forms is a prerequisite to mastering the magical skill of ancient Daoist Feng Shui.

To the Feng Shui master, no form of matter is considered to be solid. It is merely composed of vibrating waves of living energy. The ancient Daoists therefore observed the energetic Form of the land not as simple the illusion of rocks, trees, and water, but as condensed, crystallized energetic structures and illuminating fields of many colored lights.

The Form School also relies on the artistic perspective of the geomancer. According to the Form School Feng Shui Classic Verses of the Heart of Snow, written by Daoist master Meng Hao: "All depends on the individual's intuition to ponder over the appropriate height of mountains, and his reasoning power to determine which exposure to take."

The Form School focuses primarily on developing environmental harmony by observing the shape and form of the terrain and how these interact with the energetic qualities of the animals of the four Elements (Red Phoenix, Black Turtle/Snake, White Tiger and Green Dragon). These four animals act as guardians and also serve to establish a relationship between the individual's Eternal Soul (Shen Xian) and the external Elemental Energies.


The Compass School is the second school of Feng Shui. It focuses primarily on understanding the accurate alignment of a particular site and its building with appropriate stars. This alignment is strictly based on the theory of the Five Elements, the eight characters of an individual's birth, and the Eight Trigrams of the Yi-Jing.

The founding fathers of the Compass School of Feng Shui are Wan Ji and Cai Yuanding. Since Wan Ji and Cai Yuanding were both natives of Fujian province, the Compass School also carne to be known as the Fujian school of Feng Shui.

The Compass School focuses primarily on understanding the energies of Heaven and Earth and on developing universal and environmental harmony in accordance with the directional orientation of the Feng Shui compass. The Feng Shui compass is used for calculating the directions of influential energetic currents.

In ancient China, during the time of the Yellow Emperor (2696 - 2598 B.C.), the compass was originally used for navigation. The navigational compass was later modified and used as the center of a Shi (a diviner's square oracle board) in the early Han Dynasty (206 B.C. - 220 A.D.) by the ancient Daoists, who also employed its skill in the art of Feng Shui. A Feng Shui manual written a few centuries later by master Wang Wei called The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Dwelling, popularized this ancient esoteric art of divination. During the early Han Dynasty, the Daoists diviner's board had Twenty-Eight Lunar mansions inscribed on both the Earth (base) Plate and the Heaven (top) Plate.

During the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 A.D.), the original geomantic compass (known as the Lo Pan) was introduced. This compass contained two parts: the top Heavenly Dial Plate and the bot- tom Earthly Plate, described as follows:

The Heaven Dial (Circular) Plate: The top plate was round, signifying Heaven, and its underside was usually curved inward. This enabled it to fit inside and rotate, while being placed in the receiving trough hollowed into the base of the square Earth Plate. The top Dial Plate symbolizes the energy of Heaven through as many as seven- teen concentric rings that surround the Pre-natal Bagua (Eight Trigram) pattern of the Yi-Jing (I-Ching). These energetic patterns correspond to the primary divisions of Heaven and its principle atmospheric or meteorological influences. The concentric rings on the Heaven Dial Plate represent the Ten Heavenly Sterns, Twelve Earthly Branches, Twenty-Four Solar Compass Directions, Twenty-Eight Star Constellations, Nine Palaces (Magic Square), and the Bagua (Eight Trigrams). To this end" they are traditionally all arranged in a circle and divided into specific qualities and virtues according to the 24 divisions of the Earth. The 24 divisions of the Earth are themselves ruled over by the influences of the corresponding 24 divisions of the celestial powers.

The Earth (Square) Plate: The bottom plate was square, signifying Earth, and it acted as the base for the round Lo Pan. The center of the square base had a bowl-shaped recess in which the Lo Pan could be turned and dialed to line up with the specific direction in question. A red thread acted as a "pointer" that was then drawn over the com- pass needle in order to read the directions of the various energetic currents.

The land or area being observed was classically divided into the four quadrants, with each quadrant being associated with one of the four elemental animals of the Form School (North-Turtle/Snake, South-Phoenix, East-Dragon, and West-Tiger).

Each of the quadrants contains seven of the primary star constellations. The constellation stars assert an influence on the energetic qualities and spiritual virtues of their correspond- ing divisions of the Earth in accordance with the great law that "the Dao of Heaven controls the Dao of Earth." Therefore, in the ancient Chinese mode of thought, astrology and Geomancy were interwoven and inseparable.

In ancient China, it was believed that the Dao manifests as "Li" (Pattern) and "Qi" (Energy). Therefore, it is important for the Daoist sorcerer to have a firm understanding of the energetic components of Li and the patterns of Qi.

Li and Qi are interdependent; one cannot exist without the other. While Li determines the order and pattern of a person, place, or thing, Qi animates it so that it is capable of maintaining energetic manifestation. Qi is identified with Yin and Yang as they operate in the changing of the seasons, climate, and landscape. Qi comes and goes in a continuous energetic flow. The study of the continuous and yet often irregular accumulation and-dispersion of Earth Qi is the foundational root of Feng Shui.

By observing the Li of the land, a Daoist sorcerer who has mastered Feng Shui can observe where the Qi accumulates or disperses. He or she understands that shallow, fast flowing rivers disperse Qi, as do hills that are exposed to strong Winds; and he or she also knows that low-lying valleys and pools of water encourage Qi and are sources of peace and quiescence. The ideal site for training and energetic cultivation is protected, peaceful, and open to soft, gentle Winds that allow Qi to circulate.

In ancient Feng Shui, it was taught that each area of land was surrounded by the energetic pres- ence of four animal spirits, the Green Dragon, White Tiger, Red Bird, and Black Turtle/Snake. ,The fact that these four animal spirits correspond to the Four Directions, the Four Seasons, and the Elements of Wood, Metal, Fire, and Water makes them an essential aspect of Daoist Magical Feng Shui.

The Green Dragon: The Green Dragon is the energetic representation of all fish and scaly creatures. In ancient Feng Shui, the Green Dragon was said to bring wealth and prosperity. The Green Dragon also corresponds to the Wood Element, Spring, and the direction of East. In ancient Daoist alchemy, the Green Dragon corresponds to the energetic influences of the individual's Hun (Ethereal Soul) and Imagination.

The White Tiger: The White Tiger is the energetic representation of all mammals and furry creatures. In ancient Feng Shui, the White Tiger was said to bring protection against the dark forces. The White Tiger corresponds to the Metal Element, Autumn, and the direction of West. In ancient Daoist alchemy, the White Tiger also corresponds to the energetic influences of the individual's Po (Corporeal Soul) and Sensation.

The Red Bird: The Red Bird is the energetic representation of all birds and feathery creatures. In ancient Feng Shui, the Red Bird was said to bring opportunity and recognition. The Red Bird also corresponds to the Fire Element, Summer, and the direction of South. In ancient Daoist alchemy, the Red Bird corresponds to the energetic influences of the individual's Shen (Spirit) and Intention.

The Black Turtle/Snake: The Black Turtle/ Snake is the energetic representation of all invertebrates and creatures with shells. In ancient Feng Shui, the Black Turtle/Snake was said to bring patronage and support. The Black Turtle/ Snake also corresponds to the Water Element, Winter, and the direction of North. In ancient Daoist alchemy, the Black Turtle/Snake corresponds to the energetic influences of the individual's Zhi (Will) and Attention.

In Daoist Magical Feng Shui, the Four Animals are considered to be energetic guards that must co-ordinate their powers with one another. These animals are placed around a site or dwelling to balance the Five Elements and the forces of Yin and Yang. When the animal spirits are in balance, the energy of the site will be harmonious and auspicious. However, if one animal becomes too powerful or too weak, problems can result. For example, if the White Tiger becomes too powerful for the Dragon to control, it is believed that the White Tiger will emerge to harm those in the house.