Shirdi Sai Baba - The 'Hinduization' of a Moslem Fakir

- Kevin Shepherd

Shirdi Sai Baba was an Urdu-speaker. He adapted to Marathi, but his basic linguistic and cultural affiliations reveal him as a Muslim, and more specifically as a Sufi of the liberal and unorthodox variety.

One of his early Muslim disciples kept a notebook in Urdu which has permitted a strong insight into the Sufi orientation of the Shirdi Sai Baba

The Muslim disciple Abdul Baba was a close servitor of the Shirdi Sai Baba for almost thirty years until the latter’s death. Thus, we know that the Sufism exposited by Shirdi Sai was in evidence from 1889 until his last years. Abdul would read the Quran in the presence of the Sai Baba, and at the latter’s behest. Sai Baba would make diverse utterances, and these were recorded in the notebook. Abdul's Urdu manuscript was unpublished until very recently. The basic and underlying significances had passed into oblivion.

Dr. Marianne Warren observed that:

“the manuscript largely pertains to Muslim and Sufi material in Deccani Urdu; there are a number of quotations in Arabic included from the Quran and hadith [traditions of the Prophet].... the fact that the manuscript’s Islamic nature does not fit in with the accepted Hindu interpretation and presentation of Sai Baba may explain why it has remained unpublished.”

The major devotional biography, written in Marathi, likewise confirms the Muslim background. Unfortunately for popular assimilation, this book by Govind R. Dabholkar (alias Hemadpant) gained a very misleading English adaptation that seems to have been more widely read than the original.

The Marathi biography, entitled Shri Sai Satcharita, was composed by an early brahman devotee who repeatedly acknowledged and indicated the Muslim faqir identity. Yet the English adaptation by N. V. Gunaji involved an attempt to omit the Muslim context, instead improvising a Vedantic complexion to the subject. For instance, Gunaji ignored the frequent use of Urdu by Shirdi Sai, and omitted sections of Dabholkar which referred to Muslims, Muslim practices, and Sufi teachings. Gunaji deleted reference to the Islamic ritual of goat slaughter (takkya). However, Dabholkar duly reported that Sai Baba would occasionally undertake this ritual so abhorrent to Hindus.

The name (or rather title) of Sai Baba is evocative of Muslim origins. The word Sai appears to be derived from the Arabic sa’ih - a term used to designate itinerant ascetics in the Islamic world. The word Baba is sometimes given a Hindu context, but that is only partially correct. Baba is a common Marathi expression meaning “father,” though it was also employed in the medieval Indian Sufi tradition. Baba is a Turkish word that referred to diverse preachers and shaikhs, having an origin in the itinerant babas from Central Asia.

The Shirdi Sufi was later believed to possess an intimate knowledge of the Sanskrit language, which was the medium for Hindu scriptures. The attribution was based on his explanation of a verse in the Bhagavad-Gita, a classic text associated with Vedanta. That explanation was imparted to a Hindu devotee. Subsequent analysis has strongly contested the "Sanskrit" attribution, favored by B. V. Narasimhaswami, who was writing many years after Sai Baba’s death. “That interpretation was followed by other writers, and served to strengthen the tendency to portray Sai Baba in a Hinduized manner.”

Sai Baba's explanation of the Gita verse has been described as “totally different” to the version of Shankara and other canonical Hindu commentators. According to recent scholarship, the dialogue does not in fact prove that Sai Baba knew the Gita or even Sanskrit, his emphasis being Sufistic. The very convincing version of Dr. Marianne Warren stresses that he gave a unique interpretation, and did not need to know the text at all, as the verse was read out to him along with a statement of grammatical meanings. This was done at his own request. “Sai Baba had all the raw material of the verse given to him, so there is no basis to the supposition that he in fact ‘knew’ Sanskrit or even the Bhagavad-Gita."

During his lifetime, Sai Baba was generally regarded as a Muslim faqir, with Sufi associations not in general well understood. His white robe (kafni) and headgear were clearly Muslim. He used the Islamic name for God, and repeated Islamic sacred phrases, not Hindu mantras. He even had a habit of referring to God as the Faqir.

The influx of urban Hindus from Bombay in the last years of Sai Baba made the Hindus a clear majority in his following, and tendencies to Hinduization appeared in the later reports culled from devotees who were interviewed by Narasimhaswami in 1936. Nearly eighty devotees were then interviewed, though only 51 have a clear religious identity. No less than 43 of those were Hindu, and 26 of that contingent were members of the elite brahman caste. Only four were Muslims, and there were also two Parsi Zoroastrians and two Christians.

A revealing factor emerges. Narasimhaswami asked all the devotees he interviewed a rather pointed question. Did they think that Sai Baba taught Vedanta? “In all cases they said he did not.” It therefore seems the more anomalous that Narasimhaswami improvised his theme of the Sanskrit expert. In the 1940s, Gunaji was giving an erroneous impression via his Vedantic interpretations of Shirdi Sai Baba, which cannot be found in the original work by Dabholkar that Gunaji was rendering.

Narasimhaswami had never met Sai Baba, and arrived at Shirdi nearly twenty years after his demise. He was not familiar with either Marathi or Urdu. Yet his books on the subject became very influential amongst Hindus. He rather reluctantly referred to Sai Baba as a Muslim, and one whose teachings were indistinguishable from Sufism. He nevertheless admitted to knowing little about Sufism, and himself clearly preferred the bhakti (devotion) approach of Hinduism. Narasimhaswami constantly tended to project that conceptualism onto Shirdi Sai Baba. He had initially been repelled by the Muslim identity, and it is evident that this writer would never have become enthusiastic about the subject without the latitude for Hindu associations in reports he edited.

Narasimhaswami could reason that Sai Baba was apparently a Muslim because he lived in a mosque, although the former was very partial to one report (of Mhalsapati) which claimed that he was a Brahman by birth. The Narasimhaswami version basically wishes to regard the subject as a Hindu, not as a Muslim.

The influential testimonies provided by Narasimhaswami were strongly in the direction of hagiology. That enthusiastic promoter of the “Shirdi revival” produced a work entitled Devotees’ Experiences of Sai Baba (1942). This has been described by a recent assessor as:

“a detailed presentation of alleged miraculous phenomena.... the intent of the work is clearly hagiographic, aiming at the expansion of Sai Baba’s popularity among the public at large.”

Discrepancies in reporting apply to many stories as the alleged wrestling match of Sai Baba in Shirdi with Mohidden Tamboli, evidently a Muslim. According to Gunaji, Sai Baba lost this contest, and thereafter changed his apparel to the kafni of faqirs. The dating is obscure. It has been pointed out that this report is in contradiction to Gunaji's own statement that Sai Baba had been wearing faqir garb from the outset of his arrival at Shirdi. Furthermore, the Hindu informant Ramgiri Bua emphasized that Sai Baba did not wrestle, but instead had a disagreement with the son-in-law of Tamboli, as a consequence of which he retreated to the nearby jungle. This obscure episode has been tentatively dated to the 1880s.

The popular theme that Sai Baba was a miracle worker may be regarded as a devotional distraction culminating in the Shirdi revival of the 1930s. He did not perform “miracle” stunts, and was merely in the habit of giving sacred ash (udi) from his dhuni fire as a token of blessing. The ash became credited with healing properties. Devotees like Dabholkar did strongly credit him with miracles, generally of the minor variety, a major preoccupation being the birth of a child.

Writers who followed in the wake of Gunaji and Narasimhaswami produced diversions. They were strongly influenced by the Hinduization tendency. A Parsi writer composed a chapter entitled “What the Master Taught.” There is not a single reference to Sufism, but instead many to Hindu bhakti, and also one or two that can be interpreted in terms of a simplified Vedanta. Furthermore, another chapter includes the statement:

“The saint of Shirdi baffled his admirers ! No one knew whether he was a Hindu or a Muslim. He dressed like a Muslim and bore the caste marks of a Hindu !”

The equivocal theme of “Hindu or Muslim” had replaced the earlier awareness that the revered entity was a faqir, meaning an alien to Hinduism. The reference to caste marks is superficial, arising from hagiological tendencies.

What did Sai Baba actually teach? The original Hindu devotees like Dabholkar testify that he was constantly uttering Islamic sacred phrases such as “Allah malik” (God is the only ruler). Vedanta is not here evident, but rather a version of the Sufi theme tauhid (unity, oneness of God). There were also many parables and enigmatic statements, plus gnostic assertions in the radical Sufi idiom.

These subjects are not the easiest to penetrate, and certainly cannot be brought under any simplified heading such as bhakti or devotion. However, that is what too many writers have done with the mutated legacy of a radical Muslim Sufi.

Strong tendencies to Hinduize the subject influenced writers like Arthur Osborne into making Shirdi Sai Baba a subject of equivocal affiliation. According to Osborne, Sai Baba “did not fully conform to either” religion, meaning Islam and Hinduism. The primary reasons given for this rather deceptive view are that Sai Baba was a vegetarian and was worshipped in Hindu fashion. The vegetarian theory has since been exposed as a myth, one which inadvertently sides with the Gunaji excision of Dabholkar's reference to the Islamic ritual involving goat slaughter. The fact of Hindu worship, in the unusual circumstances prevailing (in a rural mosque), in no way proves an offsetting Hindu identity.

It is relevant to focus here upon the first major account of Sai Baba, and one that has an elite reputation amongst Hindu devotees. I have referred above to Hemadpant, which was the name bestowed by Sai Baba upon his brahman devotee Govind Raghunath Dabholkar. The contact of Dabholkar with Ssi Baba commenced in 1910, and resulted in the devotional biography known as Sri Sai Satcharita. This was written in Marathi verse, and published in 1929. Dabholkar was here following a long Hindu tradition of writing saintly biographies in verse format.

Dabholkar was concerned to describe miracles, and the hagiological tendency is evident. Legendary details and actual events have been discerned to overlap, requiring careful analysis. Another realistic assessment about the verse of Dabholkar is that “when he did not understand the enigmatic mystic, he would rationalize sayings and events in conformity with his own religious background.”

Dabholkar’s poetic biography assimilated the devotional tendency to identify Sai Baba with the god Dattatreya, who is often depicted as an ascetic or yogi. This Hindu deity is associated with the syncretism of Hinduism and Islamic Sufism that has been traced in Maharashtra. The association is said to date back to the fourteenth century, and was revived in the case of Sai Baba circa 1910. Various Hindu gurus gained repute in the nineteenth century as incarnations of the ascetic deity Dattatreya, and most of these figures (and likewise Sai Baba) were reticent about revealing their personal histories.

A well known instance of Dattatreya association is Swami Samarth of Akalkot (d.1878), who was in affinity with Muslims. A subsequent “Dattatreya guru” representing a Hindu context was Narayan Maharaj of Kedgaon (1885-1945), an ascetic who favoured an opulent lifestyle in his later years while acting as a patron of Dattatreya worship at his ashram.

At the beginning of each chapter, Dabholkar extols Sai Baba. The purpose was evidently to link the Shirdi entity with the Maharashtrian Hindu bhakti tradition of saints who also figure as poets. It is obvious that Dabholkar “tried to accommodate the Muslim Sai Baba within the Maharashtrian Hindu milieu for his readers.”

The reported statement of Sai Baba that “I am of the Muslim caste” is significant. Yet in passing from Dabholkar to the adaptation of Gunaji, we here find a serious case of contraction and omission. Gunaji neglected to include the statement about Muslim caste. He even attempted to deny the possibility Sai Baba could have been a Muslim. In a controversial passage, Gunaji poses the question: if Sai Baba was a Muslim, how could he keep a dhuni fire burning in his mosque, and how could he keep a sacred tulsi plant in the yard outside, and how could he permit Hindu music, and how could he have pierced ears, and how could he have donated money to repair Hindu temples? This is more or less the credo of the “Hindu identity” suggestion that became widespread.

The insular thinking can be contradicted. The sacred fires known as dhuni were also favoured by Muslim faqirs. The tolerance of Sai Baba in relation to Hindu ceremonial adjuncts should not be made antithetical to his own excised statement that he was a Muslim. The issue of pierced ears is not definitive. Many Hindus gained pierced ears at birth. Hindu biographers have urged that the he had pierced ears. Against this must be set an assertion of the Hindu devotee Das Ganu, in a well known poem which states that Sai Baba can be called a Muslim because of such characteristics as his ears not being pierced. Das Ganu added his own conclusion that Sai Baba was a Hindu, adducing the dhuni fire as support. Dabholkar is also contradictory, favoring pierced ears but indicating that Sai Baba was circumcised.

The sectarian attitude frequently contradicts a due perspective. In 1930, a foreword was added to the Dabholkar book in Marathi by Hari Sitaram Dixit. This was the same prominent Hindu devotee who had ousted Abdul Baba from the role of tomb custodian nearly a decade before. Dixit always referred to Sai Baba as Sai Maharaj, that title conveying a distinctly Hindu flavor. Dixit had evolved an interpretation of Sai Baba that is considered idiosyncratic in some sectors. He now declared Sai Baba to have been born ayoniya, which literally means without a womb, i.e., without a human mother.

This new concept avoided the issue of whether he was born a Muslim or a Hindu. Yet the innovation was closely linked to an interpretation of divine incarnations in the Hindu tradition, entities who were all considered to be the products of a virgin birth. The Shirdi Sufi had now effectively become a divine incarnation of Hindu association.

Nilataradhipataye Namah



Shadanvaya Shambhava Krama of Pashchimamnaya

Kubjika

Srī Shaṅkara Bhagavatpāda, in his Saundaryalaharī, espouses the advanced practice of Shaḍanvaya Shāmbhava Krama through the verse (14): kṣitau ṣaṭ pañcāśat:

क्षितौ षट्पञ्चाशत् द्विसमधिकपञ्चाशदुदके
हुताशे द्वाषष्टिश्चतुरधिकपञ्चाशदनिले |
दिवि द्विष्षट्त्रिंशन्मनसि च चतुष्षष्टिरिति ये
मयूखास्तेषामप्युपरि तव पादाम्बुजयुगम् ||

From the Mahāpādukā of Parāśakti situated in Sahasrāra, rays of six kinds originate, corresponding to the different elements and Cakras in the astral body.

- Fifty-six rays of the nature of Earth (pārthiva raśmi) in Mūlādhāra
- Fifty-two rays of the nature of Water (vāruṇa raśmi) in Maṇipūraka
- Sixty-two rays of the nature of Fire (taijasa raśmi) in Svādhiṣṭhāna
- Fifty-four rays of the nature of Air (samīra raśmi) in Anāhata
- Seventy-two rays of the nature of Space (nābhasa raśmi) in Viśuddhi
- Sixty-four rays of the nature of Mind (mānasa raśmi) in Ajñā

Srīcakra, which subtly represents the microcosm (consisting of the six chakras within one’s astral body), is three-fold in nature: soma (moon), sūrya (sun) and anala (fire).

- Mūlādhāra and Svādhiṣṭhāna form a group (khaṇḍa) and above this group is situated the Rudragranthi, which is of the nature of Fire.
- Maṇipūraka and Anāhata form the second group and above this group is situated the Viṣṇugranthi which is of the nature of Sun.
- Viśuddhi and Ajñā form the third group and above this group is situated the Brahmagranthi which is of the nature of Moon.

The rays of Fire pervade the first khaṇḍa. Mūlādhāra, which is the seat of element Earth, is encompassed by fifty-six rays (or flames) of Fire, and Maṇipūraka, which is of the nature of the element Water, by fifty-two rays of Fire. Thus, a total of 108 rays of Fire is accounted for.

Svādhiṣṭhāna, the seat of element Fire, is encompassed by sixty-two rays of the Sun, and Anāhata, which is of the nature of Air, by fifty-four rays of Sun. Now, Sun is situated between Maṇipūraka and Viśuddhi - as the Viṣṇugranthi, but here, the rays of sun are described as pervading Svādhiṣthāna instead of Maṇipūraka! Why is that? The reason is due to the sameness in nature of both the Sun and the Fire, and because of the origination of Fire within the Sun. One can refer to the verse 'taṭitvantaṃ śaktyā' and the various commentaries on it to understand this concept in greater depth. And thus,
116 rays of Sun are accounted for.

Seventy-two rays of Moon pervade Viśuddhi, which is the seat of the element Space; and sixty-four lunar rays pervade the Ajñā, which is of the nature of Mind. Thus, 136 lunar rays are accounted for.

Thus, the Fire, Sun and Moon are present in gross form in the macrocosm (external universe) and in subtle form in the microcosm (within the astral body). This is explained in his Subhagodaya Stuti by Gauḍapādācārya:

त्रिखण्डं ते चक्रं शुचिरविशशाङ्कात्मकतया
मयूखैः षट्त्रिंशद्दशयुततया खण्डकलितैः |
पृथिव्यादौ तत्त्वे पृथगुदितवद्भिः परिवृतं
भवेन्मूलाधारात् प्रभृति तव षट्चक्रसदनम् ||

शतं चाष्टौ वह्नेः शतमपि कलाः षोडश रवेः
शतं षट् च त्रिंशत् सितमयमयूखाश्चरणजाः |
य एते षष्टिश्च त्रिशतमभवंस्त्वच्चरणजा
महाकौलैस्तस्मान्न हि तव शिवे कालकलना ||

These different rays form a sum total of 360. These represent the days in a year and hence the concept of Time. They also represent 360 degrees of Space. Thus, they together account for the wholeness of both Time and Space. These 360 rays represent both the microcosm and the macrocosmic universe. Every of the myriad universes in the infinite creation of Parāmbā constitutes of these 360 rays (marīci). Above and beyond myriad universes of the composite nature of sun, moon and fire lies the Cicchandra maṇḍala, the luminous region of the moon without waxing and waning. This is the seat of the Mahāpādukā of Rājarājeśvarī, which is the origin for all rays that result in infinite number of universes. This is represented in the microcosm as Baindava within the Sahasrāra.

It should be noted that the feet of Parāmbā represent both Shiva and Shakti. What is related to Shiva is called śaiva, and that related to Shakti is called śākta. As these rays (and the deities personified by these rays) originate from the lotus feet of Mahātripurasundarī which is śivaśaktyātmaka, they are said to be śāmbhava. And because they are classified sixfold (in the six chakras), we refer to this scheme as Shaḍanvaya Shāmbhava Krama.

The Shāmbhavāmnāya can be entered through different means. When entered through Dakṣiṇāmnāya or Saubhāgyasundarī Krama, one invokes the 360 rays which manifest as eighteen Nityās, the fifty-letters (mātṛkā) and 292 rays of the Mahāṣoḍaśī mantra. This is the fastest way to enter Shāmbhavāmnāya and is referred to as Devayāna (vehicle of the Gods).

The second option is to enter it through the Siddhayāna or the path of the Siddhas (adpets). Here, the entrance is through the Uttarāmnāya. One contemplates on 36 raśmis of Kāmakalākālī (18X2), 88 raśmis of Aniruddha Sarasvatī (22X4) and 64 raśmis of Mahāsiddhikarālī (16X4). These 188 raśmis, are doubled to represent prakāśa and vimarśa, and the corresponding deities are meditated upon as male, female and in conjugal union based on the time of the day and the specific intent. Thus, 376 raśmis result here. The significance of the excessive 16 count should be understood from an adept Guru, it would suffice here to hint that it represents Tripurasundarī.

The third and the popular option is called Manuṣyayāna or the vehicle of the men. This is entered through the Paścimāmnāya of Navaratna Kubjikā. While the first two are held secretive and should be learned by qualified students from their Guru, we can discuss the third yāna in some detail as Acharya has already dealt with it in his hymn.

One who is initiated into ūrdhvāmnāya, visualizes six hexagons (ṣaṭkoṇa) in six directions within the Mahābindu of the Srīcakra. In the center of the Bindu, Parāmbā is meditated upon in her Ardhanārīsvara svarūpa, and worshiped through śukla, rakta, miśra and nirvāṇa caraṇa vidyā. The procedure outlined below follows sṛṣṭi krama of Dakṣiṇāmūrti sampradāya. In Anandabhairava sampradāya, saṃhāra krama is followed. There is yet another method involving sthiti krama followed by the Gurajaras, which I am only theoretically familiar with and hence will not touch upon here.

In the hexagon visualized in the south-western part of the Bindu, Pareśvara and Pareśvarī are worshiped through their Kubjikāmnāya mantras along with sixty-four rays of the nature of Mind. These rays are invoked as thirty-two couples (mithunas) of Shiva and Shakti, starting with Parānandanātha and Parā parāmbā, till Mantravigrahānandanātha and Mantravigrahā parāmbā.

The Bījakūṭa of Pareśvara śāmbhava is meditated upon as lustrous with a ruddy hue. Pareśvara is six-faced and seated on Sadāśiva, while Pareśvarī, who arises from the vāgbhava bīja of Paścimāmnāya, is seated on a fifty-hooded serpent.

The āvaraṇa devatā raśmis worshiped here are sixty-four - from Sarvarogaharacakrasvāmin to Mahāmahāśayā.

In the hexagon visualized in the western part of the Bindu, Vicceśvara and Vicceśvarī are worshiped through their Kubjikāmnāya mantras along with seventy-two rays of the nature of Space. These rays are invoked as thirty-six couples (mithunas) of Shiva and Shakti, starting with Hṛdayānandanātha and Kaulinī parāmbā, till Parānandanātha and Citparāmbā.

The Bījakūṭa of Vicceśvara śāmbhava is meditated upon as lustrous like a clear quartz crystal. Pareśvara is six-faced and sports twelve hands bearing śūla, cakra, aṅkuśa, śara, vara, śaṅkha, dhvaja, sarpa, nṛkapāla, cāpa and abhaya. Vicceśvarī is similar in form to her consort and is seated on Sadāśiva mahāpretāsana.

The āvaraṇa devatā raśmis worshiped here are seventy-two - from Sarvamantramaya to Kaulinī. The reason for the reversal in the order of male and female forms should be learned from Sadguru.

In the hexagon visualized in the north-western part of the Bindu, Hamseśvara and Hamseśvarī are worshiped through their Kubjikāmnāya mantras along with fifty-four rays of the nature of Air. These rays are invoked as twenty-seven couples (mithunas) of Shiva and Shakti, starting with Khageśvarānandanātha and Bhadrā parāmbā, till Pūjyagurvānandanātha and Rāmā parāmbā.

The Bījakūṭa of Hamseśvara śāmbhava is meditated upon as lustrous with a smoky hue. Hamseśvara is six-faced, of a smoky complexion, sports twelve hands bearing svarṇapātra, śūla, cakra, aṅkuśa, bāṇa, vara, śaṅkha, dhvaja, sarpa, nṛśira, cāpa and abhaya. He is resplendent with twelve lotus feet. Hamseśvarī is similar in form to her consort and they are seated on īśvara pretāsana.

The āvaraṇa devatā raśmis worshiped here are fifty-four- from ātmākarṣiṇī to Sarvasaṃpattipūraṇa.

In the hexagon visualized in the north-eastern part of the Bindu, Samvarteśvara and Samvarteśvarī are worshiped through their Kubjikāmnāya mantras along with sixty-two rays of the nature of Fire. These rays are invoked as thirty-one couples (mithunas) of Shiva and Shakti, starting with Parāparānandanātha and Caṇḍeśvarī parāmbā, till Samayagurvānandanātha and Nivṛtti parāmbā.

The Bījakūṭa of Samvarteśvara śāmbhava is meditated upon as lustrous with a ruddy hue. Samvarteśvara is five-faced, fifteen-eyed, sports ten hands bearing śūla, cakra, dhvaja, brahmakapāla, pārijāta, japamālā, pustaka, abhaya and ṭaṅka. He is resplendent with ten lotus feet, tied hair and protruding sharp teeth. He is eternally sixteen and is decorated with precious gems and bones of nine great snakes. He stands on a single foot atop Rudra pretāsana, with a muṇḍamālā adorning his neck. Samvarteśvarī is similar in form to her consort. During this vidhi, it is the practice to perform ekavaktra, daśavaktra, viṃśativaktra, śatavaktra and śakti nyāsas.

The āvaraṇa devatā raśmis worshiped here are sixty-two - from Kaumārī to Bījākarṣaṇa.

In the hexagon visualized in the eastern part of the Bindu, Dvīpeśvara and Dvīpeśvarī are worshiped through their Kubjikāmnāya mantras along with twenty-six rays of the nature of Water. These rays are invoked as thirty-one couples (mithunas) of Shiva and Shakti, starting with Sadyojātānandanātha and Māyā parāmbā, till Sarveśvarānandanātha and Sarvamayī parāmbā.

The Bījakūṭa of Dvīpeśvara śāmbhava is meditated upon as lustrous with a bright white hue. Dvīpeśvara is meditated upon as dark complexioned and sporting in his twelve hands śūla, cakra, khaḍga, aṅkuśa, vara, khaṭvāṅga, paraśu, gadā, pāśa, gajacarma and abhaya. He is resplendent with protruding sharp teeth. Dvīpeśvarī is also dark complexioned, seated on Viṣṇu pretāsana, and sports in her eight hands śaṅkha, cakra, gadā, padma, śūla, pāśa, vara, abhaya.

The āvaraṇa devatā raśmis worshiped here are fifty-two - from Lopāmudrāmayī to Māheśvara.

In the hexagon visualized in the south-eastern part of the Bindu, Navātmeśvara and Navātmeśvarī are worshiped through their Kubjikāmnāya mantras along with fifty-six rays of the nature of Earth. These rays are invoked as twenty-eight couples (mithunas) of Shiva and Shakti, starting with Uḍḍīśvarānandanātha and Uḍḍīśvarī parāmbā, till Charyādhīśānandanātha and Kulajā parāmbā.

The Bījakūṭa of Navātmeśvara is contemplated on as lustrous with a bright red hue. Navātmeśvara is meditated upon as dark complexioned like the dye of the eye, five faced, fifteen-eyed and sporting in his ten hands śūla, cakra, dhvaja, vara, brahmakapāla, pārijāta, japamālā, pustaka, abhayaand ṭaṅka. He is resplendent with protruding sharp teeth and ten feet. Dvīpeśvarī is dark blue complexioned, seated on Brahma pretāsana, six-faced, of the very form of the great Paścimāmnāyeśvarī Kubjikā, and sports in her twelve hands śūla, cakra, vajra, aṅkuśa, śara, kartarī, padma, nīlotpala, muṇḍa, khaṭvāṅga, ghaṇṭā, pustaka, cāpa, kapāla. She is of a fearful countenance, with each face resplendent with sharp protruding teeth. She is of twenty-eight years age, hair matted into an upward bun, decorated with bones of serpents and nāgamaṇi, and is draped in lion skin.

The āvaraṇa devatā raśmis worshiped here are fifty-six - from Tripurasundarī to Charyānandanāthamaya.

Finally, in Sahasrāra, Mahāpādukā, ūrdhva pāśupata, Nirvāṇa caraṇa are worshiped along with the Mūlamantra and two raśmis: Mahāmahāśrīcakranagarasaṃrāṭ and Mahāmahāśrīcakranagarasāmrājyalakṣmī.

While the ignorant and the uninitiated claim otherwise, an advanced procedure such as this should not be considered lightly or taken up for daily practice without the proper guidance of Guru. Brahmasri Chidānandanātha warned his students to follow this procedure only on Pancha Parvas, till the Rudragranthi is pierced and Kuṇḍalinī ascends past the tāmisra cakras. Also, without a solid foundation of Japa of Prāsāda, Parā, Parāprāsāda, Prāsādaparā and Shambhava mantras, followed by a dedicated daily practice of Mahāṣoḍhā nyāsa for 360X3 days, practices such as these may result in great harm to the upāsaka on account of his unpreparedness. Also, as the entry point to Shāmbhavāmnāya here is through the western quarter, a puraścaraṇa of Kubjikā mantra with dāśāmśa japa of Navātman is considered important.

If duly performed, this practice leads one to the state of not only Jīvanmukti, but also the attainment of Shāmbhava śarīra.

In essence, it is really Kubjikā and Navātman who assume the six variant forms and the underlying mithunas. In case of Srīvidyā, they are appropriated to represent Kāmeśvarī and Kāmeśvara. This characteristic Yoga of Kubjikā and Tripurasundarī sets these schools apart from not only older Trika and Kaula, but various other śaiva schools of the yore. Some of the important works dealing with this subject include Maheśvarataijasānandanātha’s Anandakalpalatikā, Shaḍanvayamahāratna, Shaḍanvayamahākrama of Umākānta and Guhyakālī Krama of Pratāpacandra.

Subrahmanya Kavacham

Subrahmanya Shadanana

ॐ अस्य श्रीसुब्रह्मण्य कवचस्तोत्र महामन्त्रस्य बोधायनो भगवान् ऋषिः अनुष्टुप् छन्दः श्रीसुब्रह्मण्यो देवता सां बीजं मं शक्तिः यं कीलकं सर्वाभीष्टसिद्ध्यर्थे आत्मसंरक्षणार्थे सर्वव्याधिनिवारणार्थे समस्तपापक्षयार्थे जपे विनियोगः ||

[ॐ त्रिपुरभावाय -ॐ दीप्ताय -ॐ शरवणभवाय -ॐ शैलभवाय -ॐ भवहरशिखाय -शिवहरभवाय]

ध्यानम्
द्विषड्भुजं षण्मुखमम्बिकासुतं
कुमारमादित्यसहस्रतेजसम् |
वन्दे मयूरसनमग्निसम्भवं
सेनान्यमत्यद्भुतमिष्टसिद्धये ||

[सुब्रह्मण्य द्वाविंशाक्षरीं प्रजपेत्]

सुब्रह्मण्योऽग्रतः पातु सेनानी पातु पृष्ठतः |
गुहो मां दक्षिणे पातु वचद्भूः पातु वामतः ||
शिरः पातु महासेनो स्कन्दो रक्षेल्ललाटकम् |
नेत्रयोः द्वादशाक्षश्च श्रोत्रं मे पातु विश्वभूः ||
मुखं मे षण्मुखः पातु नासिकां शङ्करात्मजः |
ओष्ठं वल्लीयुतः पातु जिह्वां पातु षडक्षरः ||
देवसेनापतिः पातु चिबुकं बहुलासुतः |
खण्डं तारकजित् पातु बाहू द्वादशबाहुमान् ||
हस्तौ शक्तिधरः पातु वक्षः पातु शरोद्भवः |
हृदयं ब्रह्मभूः पातु कुक्षिं पात्वम्बिकासुतः ||
ऊरू पातु गजारूढो जानू द्वौ जाह्नवीसुतः |
जङ्घे विशाखो मे पातु पादयोः शिखिवाहनः |
सर्वाण्यङ्गानि देवेशो सप्तधातूंश्च षण्मुखः ||
सन्ध्याकाले निशीथिन्यां सङ्कटे दुस्तरे जले |
दुर्गमे च महारण्ये राजद्वारे सुदारुणे ||
मूले चरणमध्ये च सर्वदुष्टमृगादिषु |
चोरादिसप्तभेधे च ज्वरादि व्याधिपीडने ||
दुष्टग्रहोपशमने दुर्निमित्तादि भीषणे |
अस्त्रशस्त्रनिपाते च पातु मामिष्टसिद्धिदः ||

सुब्रह्मण्यस्य कवचं इष्टसिद्धिफलं लभेत् |
तस्य तापत्रयं नास्ति सत्यं सत्यं वदाम्यहम् ||
धर्मार्थी लभते धर्ममर्थार्थी धनमाप्नुयात् |
कामार्थी लभते कामं मोक्षार्थी मोक्षमाप्नुयात् ||
यत्र यत्र जपेन्नित्यं तत्र सन्निहितो गुहः |
पूजाप्रतिष्ठाकाले च जपकाले पठेदिदम् |
सर्वाभीष्टप्रदं तस्य महापातकनाशनम् ||
सुब्रह्मण्यप्रसादेन अपमृत्युर्विनश्यति |
आयुरारोग्यमैश्वर्यं पुत्रपौत्रविवर्धनम् |
इह लोके सुखी भोगी देहान्ते मोक्षमाप्नुयात् ||

|| इति कुमारतन्त्रे कौशिकप्रश्ने महासंहितायां सुब्रह्मण्यस्य कवचस्तोत्रम् ||

OM asya śrīsubrahmaṇya kavacastotra mahāmantrasya bodhāyano bhagavān ṛṣiḥ anuṣṭup chandaḥ śrīsubrahmaṇyo devatā sāṃ bījaṃ maṃ śaktiḥ yaṃ kīlakaṃ sarvābhīṣṭasiddhyarthe ātmasaṃrakṣaṇārthe sarvavyādhinivāraṇārthe samastapāpakṣayārthe jape viniyogaḥ ||

[OM tripurabhāvāya -OM dīptāya -OM śaravaṇabhavāya -OM śailabhavāya -OM bhavaharaśikhāya -śivaharabhavāya]

dhyānam
dviṣaḍbhujaṃ ṣaṇmukhamambikāsutaṃ
kumāramādityasahasratejasam |
vande mayūrasanamagnisambhavaṃ
senānyamatyadbhutamiṣṭasiddhaye ||

[subrahmaṇya dvāviṃśākṣarīṃ prajapet]

subrahmaṇyo.agrataḥ pātu senānī pātu pṛṣṭhataḥ |
guho māṃ dakṣiṇe pātu vacadbhūḥ pātu vāmataḥ ||
śiraḥ pātu mahāseno skando rakṣellalāṭakam |
netrayoḥ dvādaśākṣaśca śrotraṃ me pātu viśvabhūḥ ||
mukhaṃ me ṣaṇmukhaḥ pātu nāsikāṃ śaṅkarātmajaḥ |
oṣṭhaṃ vallīyutaḥ pātu jihvāṃ pātu ṣaḍakṣaraḥ ||
devasenāpatiḥ pātu cibukaṃ bahulāsutaḥ |
khaṇḍaṃ tārakajit pātu bāhū dvādaśabāhumān ||
hastau śaktidharaḥ pātu vakṣaḥ pātu śarodbhavaḥ |
hṛdayaṃ brahmabhūḥ pātu kukṣiṃ pātvambikāsutaḥ ||
ūrū pātu gajārūḍho jānū dvau jāhnavīsutaḥ |
jaṅghe viśākho me pātu pādayoḥ śikhivāhanaḥ |
sarvāṇyaṅgāni deveśo saptadhātūṃśca ṣaṇmukhaḥ ||
sandhyākāle niśīthinyāṃ saṅkaṭe dustare jale |
durgame ca mahāraṇye rājadvāre sudāruṇe ||
mūle caraṇamadhye ca sarvaduṣṭamṛgādiṣu |
corādisaptabhedhe ca jvarādi vyādhipīḍane ||
duṣṭagrahopaśamane durnimittādi bhīṣaṇe |
astraśastranipāte ca pātu māmiṣṭasiddhidaḥ ||

subrahmaṇyasya kavacaṃ iṣṭasiddhiphalaṃ labhet |
tasya tāpatrayaṃ nāsti satyaṃ satyaṃ vadāmyaham ||
dharmārthī labhate dharmamarthārthī dhanamāpnuyāt |
kāmārthī labhate kāmaṃ mokṣārthī mokṣamāpnuyāt ||
yatra yatra japennityaṃ tatra sannihito guhaḥ |
pūjāpratiṣṭhākāle ca japakāle paṭhedidam |
sarvābhīṣṭapradaṃ tasya mahāpātakanāśanam ||
subrahmaṇyaprasādena apamṛtyurvinaśyati |
āyurārogyamaiśvaryaṃ putrapautravivardhanam |
iha loke sukhī bhogī dehānte mokṣamāpnuyāt ||

|| iti kumāratantre kauśikapraśne mahāsaṃhitāyāṃ subrahmaṇyasya kavacastotram ||

Mantragarbha Bhadrakali Dhyanam

Bhadrakali

डिम्भं डिम्भं सुडिम्भं पच मन दुहसां झ प्रकंपं प्रझंपं
विल्लं त्रिल्लं त्रित्रिल्लं त्रिखलमखमखा कं खमं खं खमं खम् |
गूहं गूहं तु गुह्यं गुडलुगुडगुडा दाडिया डिंबुदेति
नृत्यन्ती शब्दवाद्यैः प्रलपितृवने श्रेयसे वोऽस्तु काली ||

ḍimbhaṃ ḍimbhaṃ suḍimbhaṃ paca mana duhasāṃ jha prakaṃpaṃ prajhaṃpaṃ
villaṃ trillaṃ tritrillaṃ trikhalamakhamakhā kaṃ khamaṃ khaṃ khamaṃ kham |
gūhaṃ gūhaṃ tu guhyaṃ guḍaluguḍaguḍā dāḍiyā ḍiṃbudeti
nṛtyantī śabdavādyaiḥ pralapitṛvane śreyase vo.astu kālī ||

Worship of Durga in Srividya

There was a question on the relevance of worship of Durgā within the precincts of Srīvidyā. I asked our Guru and he mentioned a few things of which I could capture a few below – Aileen

1. Durgā is one of the chief dvāradevatā stationed outside the Bhūpura chakra, along with Indra and other dikpālakas. She is worshiped along with Gaṇapati, Kṣetrapāla and Vaṭuka in the prathamāvaraṇa (of saṃhāra krama) or ṣoḍaśāvaraṇa/daśamāvaraṇa(of sṛṣṭi krama of Dakṣiṇāmūrti school). Even Kālidāsa notes her worship in Shyāmalā Daṇḍaka: devi durgāvaṭukṣetrapālairnute.

2. Jayadurgā is worshiped as one of the five samayās along with Srīvidyā, Bagalāmukhī, Kālarātri and Chinnamastā - after the completion of āmnāya, darśana, pañcapañcikā, pañcasiṃhāsanī, and ṣaḍanvaya śāmbhavī archanas.

3. On special occasions, one can perform elaborate worship of Durgā during the archana of Uttarāmnāya in Srīcakra (durgā kālī tataścaṇḍī). The nine forms of Durgā worshiped in Biṃbāmbikā krama are: Vanadurgā, Shūlinī durgā, Dīpadurgā, Atidurgā, Shabarī durgā, Shānti durgā, Jvaladurgā, Lavaṇadurgā and āsurī durgā.

4. Right before Balidāna, to ensure successful completion of the vidhi and to reign in the Yoginī and Bhairavas, one offers tarpaṇa of Pañcaratna Durgā: Bījadurgā, Mūladurgā, Jayadurgā, Kātyāyanī durgā and Bhadrakālī durgā.

5. In Srīkula Krama, there is a very significant aspect of worshiping Upāmnāya. There are two aspects to this: one involving Buddhist, Jaina and other deities of Gāruḍa and Bhūtaḍāmara class of Tantras. This worship is taught in the Kālānala Tantra, where the focus is more on Guhyakālī. However, for worshipers of Mahātripurasundarī based on Nirvāṇasundarī Krama, such an āmnāya is rejected by Baḍabānala Tantra and instead, the Upāmnāya worship of Durgā is taught.

- Raktadantikā of pūrvāmnāya and Pañcavaktrā Mahākālī of uttarāmnāya come together to form Daśavaktrā Mahākālī of īśānāmnāya, invoked through Mahākālī navākṣarī.
- Ugratārā of dakṣiṇāmnāya and Mahālakṣmī of pūrvāmnāya come together to form āgneyāmnāya Aṣṭādaśabhujī Mahālakṣmī, invoked through Mahālakṣmī navākṣarī.
- Viparīta Pratyaṅgirā of uttarāmnāya and Mohinī Mātaṅgī of paścimāmnāya come together to form Aṣṭabhujī Mahāsarasvatī of vāyavyāmnāya, invoked through Mahāsarasvatī navākṣarī.
- Nairṛtyāmnāya, mainly composed of yakṣiṇī, Pannagī and other deities of the demi-god class is skipped
- As a combination of Mahākālī, Mahālakṣmī and Mahāsarasvatī - Laghu Chaṇḍī, Ugracaṇḍā and Pūrṇacaṇḍī are worshiped as chief deities of Upāmnāya. Based on one’s varṇa and guṇa, there are changes to the Mantra forming Brahmacaṇḍī, Ugracaṇḍī etc.

6. Just before Kāmakalā Dhyāna, there is a krama in our sampradāya to do the viśvarūpa or samaṣṭi raśmi dhyāna of Mahātripurasundarī. Here, based on the instruction, 'agre siṃhādhirūḍhā nijaparisarayoḥ mantriṇīdaṇḍanāthe', the very first deity invoked as present right in front of Mahātripurasundarī is Durgā. Nine deities are visualized along with Parāmbā, first individually and identified with different organs of oneself, and they are all merged into Parāsaṃvit, leading the way to anusandhāna of Mahākāmakalā.

7. During the performance of Nyāsa, there is a specific Rakṣā Digbandha nyāsa taught in ūrdhvāmnāya tantra, which we perform right after the āvartana of Raśmimālā. Here, the deities invoked are: Sudarśana Nṛsiṃha, Mahāsudarśana, Kārtavīryārjuna, Svarṇākarṣaṇa Bhairava, Aghora Rudra, Paśupati Rudra, Sharabheśvara, Vanadurgā, Shūlinī durgā, Bagalāmukhī, Atharvaṇa Bhadrakālī Prattyaṅgirā and Jvālāmālinī.

Thus, it is easy to see the importance accorded to Durgā within the precincts of Srīvidyā. H H Srī Saccidānanda Shivābhinava Nṛsiṃha Bhāratī always recommended the recitation of Durgā Saptaśatī during the Stotra portion of navāvaraṇa pūjā, and suggested that the only stotra that matched the greatness of navāvaraṇa yajna was Saptaśatī.

Blasphemy is ok when its against Hindu gods

Teesta Setalvad's Blasphemy

Teesta Setalvad, one of the most "popular" Sickularists in our homeland of India, and hence the darling of our mainstream sickular media, has made a living for a decade now running shop on Gujrat riots of 2002. Her only activism has been against RSS and Narendra Modi. Married to Javed Anand, a person well-known for his 'Sickular Jihad', she has attacked everything Hindu through her so-called activism.

As a gift to our Hindu brethren right after we celebrated Janmashtami, Teesta tweets this blasphemous photoshopped pic where:

(a) Beside the photo of the American journalist James Foley beheaded by an Islamic Terrorist, she depicts the picture of Hindu Goddess Kali with the face morphed by an Islamic terrorist's face.
(b) Another Islamic terrorist is depicted as holding the Sudarshana Chakra, a symbol of Lord Vishnu or Krishna - standing beside a row of severed human heads.
(c) The terrorist that posed with the slain photojournalist James Foley just before decapitating him is shown with a halo like a Hindu deity.

Of course, there is no 'outrage' against this by the sickular media in India which is always busy searching for stories on the prosecution of Islamists. Would she dare do this by depicting Mohammed's face as that of the Islamic terrorist, which actually is the logical thing to do here? Of course, anyone and everyone can get away in India taking potshots at Hindus. It's time to kick the rears of the so-called intellectuals of India who have attained unbelievable heights of mental colonization, and tell them that Pagan is not Pejorative. Or we simply just declare India as Islamistan and be done with it.

Balamukundashtakam


Dakshinamurti Stotram


A friend associated with Vedānta Bhāratī of Yedathore Mutt (a branch Mutt of Sringeri), informed us that they now have a Youtube channel and requested we share information about a series on Sri Dakṣiṇāmūrti Stora of Shaṅkara Bhagavatpāda by the pontiff of this Mutt. Sri Shankara Bhāratī, pontiff of this Mutt where a rare idol of Chaturbhuja Rāmacandra is worshiped, was a student of our Gurunātha and we have spent many an evening with him discussing topics on Srividyā and the upāsanā of a certain form of Gaṇapati who happens to be our main area of focus. We hope students of Shānkara Vedānta who can follow Kannada will benefit from these videos.

We also pray to Daṇḍanāthāmbā, resplendent as Kroḍamukhī, bearing Hala and Musala, to grant long life and health to the pontiff and assist him in overcoming all obstacles to his mission.

Vande Guruṃ Shaṅkaraṃ

Sri Varalakshmi Namastubhyam