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.

Khechari

Khechari

विनिन्द्रकमलोत्पलैर्मुनिभिरर्चिताङ्घ्रिद्वयां
सितां सितकराम्बुजां सितकरोज्ज्वलच्छेखराम्‌ ।
रवीन्दुशिखिलोचनामभयपुस्तकौ बिभ्रतीं
स्मरामि हृदि खेचरीं भुवनमातरं सिद्धिदाम्‌ ॥

vinindrakamalōtpalairmunibhirarcitāṅghridvayāṁ
sitāṁ sitakarāmbujāṁ sitakarōjjvalacchēkharām .
ravīnduśikhilōcanāmabhayapustakau bibhratīṁ
smarāmi hr̥di khēcarīṁ bhuvanamātaraṁ siddhidām ..

Sri Dakshina Kali Saptavarana Chakram

Sri Dakshina Kali

Kali Avarana Chakram

Kalika Saptavarana Table

Note: Click on the images for a larger picture.

Saubhayabhaskara vs Jayamangala: Two commentaries on Lalita Sahasranama


सृण्ये वसितया विश्वचर्षणिः पाशेन प्रतिबध्नात्यभीकान्‌ ।
इषुभिः पञ्चभिर्धनुषा च विध्यत्यादिशक्तिररुणा विश्वजन्या ॥

Of the several commentaries on Srī Lalitā Sahasranāma, the Saubhāgya Bhāskara commentary of Bhāskararāya is the most popular.

Bhāskararāya was a great master of Mantra and Tantra vidyās. He has profusely quoted from various Upaniṣads, lexicons, Tantra works and Purāṇas. He has offered a number of alternative explanations, displaying deep erudition in many śāstras. It appears from the commentary that he is more inclined to the Vāmamārga of the Tantras.

Bhāskararāya has pointed out 32 syllables selected as the beginning letters of epithets of the text of Lalitā Sahasranāma. The epithets, according to him, are in all the three genders and so they qualify the Brahman only. This commentary presupposes a good deal of acquaintance with the Tantra and Vedānta works on the part of the reader.

Another commentary on Lalitā Sahasranāma, Jayamaṅgalā by Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa is also unique in many respects. We learn from the beginning and from the colophon of Jayamaṅgalā that Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa was the son of Vēṅkaṭādhvari, an Advaita teacher. The name of his mother was Nārāyaṇāṁbā. His Guru in śrīvidyā was Paramaśivānandanātha. Nothing more is known about him.

P.G. Lalye provides a comparison between the two commentaries in his introduction to Jayamaṅgalā. I have summarized the gist of his comparison below - but the disclaimer is that I have heavily edited and added content to it as Dr Lalye’s knowledge of Bhāskararāya’s work and of Tantras seems largely lacking, and often grossly incorrect.

Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa has divided the text into ten sections while Bhāskararāya divides it into twelve kalās or sections. both the scholars have quoted profusely from the earlier scriptures. Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa has quoted verses of Hayagrīva and citations from many śaiva and Tāntric works. Though these two are prominent commentators, their arrangement of the thousand words differs in many respects. the thousand epithets are sometimes split into parts for the commentarial felicity. Some epithets are clubbed together, but the number 1000 remains unchanged. A few examples of variant readings are given below (first Jayamaṅgalā, followed by Saubhāgya Bhāskara):

1 tattvamayī - tat tvam ai
2 kaumārī gaṇanāthāmbā - kumāragaṇanāthāmbā
3 śōbhanāsulabhākr̥tiḥ - śōbhanāsulabhāgatiḥ
4 lajjārambhavivarjitā - lajjā rambhādivanditā
5 anaghādbhutacāritrā - anaghā adbhutacāritrā

At some places, Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa has clubbed two epithets together. No cogent reason has been given for that:

1 śivā + svādhīnavallabhā
2 kṣētrasvarūpā + kṣētrēśī
3 mūrtā + amūrtā
4 bālā + līlāvinōdinī

Some epithets have been left off by Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa though Bhāskararāya has commented on them. For example:

1 kaulinī
2 śrīkarī
3 nirmōhā
4 bhaktamānasahaṁsikā
5 samastabhaktasukhadā
6 lākinyambāsvarūpiṇī
7 caturvaktramanōharā
8 vīrārādhyā

It is observed that both the commentators have recorded different readings in about fifty epithets. For example (first Jayamaṅgalā, followed by Saubhāgya Bhāskara):

1 kamanīyacaturbhujā - kamanīyabhujānvitā
2 sumērumadhyaśr̥ṅgasthā - sumēruśr̥ṅgamadhyasthā
3 bhadrapradā - bhadrapriyā
4 nirañjanā - nirantarā
5 satkulāgamasandōhaśuktisampuṭamauktikā - sakalāgamasandōhaśuktisampuṭamauktikā
6 kurukulyā - kurukullā
7 barbarālakā - bandhurālakā
8 bhīmarūpā - bhūmarūpā
9 nityatr̥ptā - anityatr̥ptā
10 vijñānakalikā - vijñānakalanā
11 śivaṅkarī - vaśaṅkarī
12 dharmavanditā - dharmavardhinī
13 dayāḍōlitadīrghākṣī - darāndōlitadīrghākṣī

According to Dr. Lalye, in some cases, such as Bhagamālinī, Kāmapūjitā, mādhvīpānālasā, yōninilayā etc., Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa’s explanation is more convincing than Bhāskararāya. We can elaborate on two examples to illustrate the point that Dr Lalye is partially correct.

Let’s take the epithet Bhagamālinī. Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa explains the word ‘bhaga’ to mean aiśvarya, and infers the epithet to refer to the Great Mother as the possessor of the entire gamut of aiśvarya in the cosmos. On the other hand, Bhāskararāya quotes both Liṅga and Devībhāgavata Mahāpurāṇas to infer bhagāṅka as vibhūti of gaurī, while also pointing out the crucial fact that this is a specific Tithinityā deity (something clearly missed by Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa). He also hints at some mantrasaṅkēta as well as pūjāsaṅkēta here without transgressing the kulaśāsana. So, in my opinion, Dr Lalye’s observation is incorrect in this case. Moreover, Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa's explanation of Bhaga has been previously offered by Bhāskararāya in the context of the epithet Bhagavatī.

Let’s take another name, kāmapūjitā. Bhāskararāya here explains, quite correctly, that this indicates the worship of Parāmbā by Manmatha, son of Lakśmī (probably hinting at a story narrated in the Tripurārahasya), eventually establishing him as one of the main preceptors of a school of śrīvidyā. Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa explains this epithet to mean Kāmagiripīṭha, which is mūlādhāra trikōṇa in Yogic parlance. Though both their explanations are valid, I resonate more with Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa in this case based on the context. One must remember that Lalitā Sahasranāma, unlike Viṣṇu Sahasranāma, is not a loosely strung garland of epithets; it narrates a story and builds a well-defined, multifaceted narrative. If one observes other names before and after this specific epithet, such as jālandharasthitā, ōḍḍyāṇapīṭhanilayā etc., Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa’s explanation is certainly more contextual.

Chakshushmati Mahamantra

Suryanarayana

The document can be accessed here.