Brahmachamundi

Brahmachamundi

वेदाननां वेदकराम्बुजां तां
त्रिशूलरुद्राक्षस्रगब्जपात्रान् |
धरां सदा चिन्तयतीं महेशं
श्रीब्रह्मचामुण्डिमहं नमामि ||

चतुर्हस्तपद्मैर्धृताम्भोजपात्र
त्रिशूलाक्षदामां त्रिनेत्रारविन्दाम् |
शवस्थां च वीरासनस्थां च दुर्गां
स्मराम्यद्य चित्ते सदाऽहं सुखाप्त्यै ||

चतुर्वेदशिरोरूपचतुर्वक्त्रकराम्बुजाम् |
चक्रशङ्खगदाखड्गधरां चण्डीं सदा भजे ||
वेदवक्त्रां चतुर्हस्तां सर्वालङ्कारभासुराम् |
त्रिशूलं चाक्षमालां च पानपात्राब्जशोभिनीम् ||
प्रेतासनस्थितां देवीं ब्रह्मचामुण्डिकात्मिकाम् |
ब्रह्ममायामयीं कालीं सन्ततं चिन्तयाम्यहम् ||
बालार्कसदृशाकारां बालचन्द्रार्धशेखराम् |
ब्रह्मचामुण्डिकामन्तर्बहुधा प्रणमाम्यहम् ||

vedānanāṃ vedakarāmbujāṃ tāṃ
triśūlarudrākṣasragabjapātrān |
dharāṃ sadā cintayatīṃ maheśaṃ
śrībrahmacāmuṇḍimahaṃ namāmi ||

caturhastapadmairdhṛtāmbhojapātra
triśūlākṣadāmāṃ trinetrāravindām |
śavasthāṃ ca vīrāsanasthāṃ ca durgāṃ
smarāmyadya citte sadā.ahaṃ sukhāptyai ||

caturvedaśirorūpacaturvaktrakarāmbujām |
cakraśaṅkhagadākhaḍgadharāṃ caṇḍīṃ sadā bhaje ||
vedavaktrāṃ caturhastāṃ sarvālaṅkārabhāsurām |
triśūlaṃ cākṣamālāṃ ca pānapātrābjaśobhinīm ||
pretāsanasthitāṃ devīṃ brahmacāmuṇḍikātmikām |
brahmamāyāmayīṃ kālīṃ santataṃ cintayāmyaham ||
bālārkasadṛśākārāṃ bālacandrārdhaśekharām |
brahmacāmuṇḍikāmantarbahudhā praṇamāmyaham ||

Agnishtoma at Panjal, Kerala in 1975


I came across this documentary that chronicles the famously recounted Yajña held by the Nambūdaris of Kerala at Panjal in 1975. During this sāgnicitya atirātra, rows of eleven packed rice flour were wrapped in banana leaves and these were used as substitutes for sacrificial goats. The āhitāgnis of Andhra was quite scandalized by this ritual who refused to accept it as a Yajña without an actual sacrifice. The Konasima Vaidikas or Chayanulu had quite boycotted this event for this very reason.

Panchamakaras

- Reflections on the Tantras

In both the Mahācīnācārakrama and Brahmayāmala, almost a similar story is given where the Buddha is represented as advising Vasiṣṭha that real worship of the Mother-Goddess should be performed in the cīnācāra system centering round five makāras or five Ms, i.e., madya (wine), matsya (fish), māmsa (meat), mudrā (cereal) and maithuna (copulation).

madyairmāmsaistathā matsyairmudrābhirmaithunairapi |
strībhiḥ sārdhaṃ mahāsādhurarcayed jagadambikām ||

Other Tantras like the Kulacūḍāmaṇitantra, Bhairavayāmala etc. give different meanings of the ingredients to suite the taste of the orthodox class to whom many of the above injunctions would appear to be repulsive.

1 Madya or madirā - milk in the case of a Brāhmaṇa, ghee or boiled butter in the case of a Kṣatriya, honey in the case of a Vaiśya, liquor made from rice in case of a Shūdra (or he may take coconut water in a copper pot)

2 Matsya - the pāṇiphala, masur dāl, or white bring or red reddish or red sesame may be taken as the substitutes

3 Māmsa - the substitutes are garlic, ginger, sesame and salt

4 Mudrā - in place of parched kidney bean, the substitutes are paddy, rice, wheat and grain

5 Maithuna - the offering of Karavīra and Aparājitā flowers with hands in the kaccapa mudrā or union with sādhaka’s own wife

Even a heterodox text like Mahācīnācārakrama blows coition with one’s own wife in the absence of other women. It may be noted in this connection that such sādhanā with five Ms appeared to be somewhat repugnant in the eyes of the orthodox class, but it could hardly set it aside as it had already made a place in the Tantras. Hence the orthodox Tantras explained the whole scheme as nothing but different forms or stages in the Prāṇāyāma. Thus an early Tantra like Kulārṇava maintains regarding surā or wine etc.

āmūlādhāramābrahmarandhraṃ gate punaḥ punaḥ |
ciccandrakuṇḍalīśaktiḥ saśvāsasya sukhodayaḥ ||
vyomapaṅkajaniṣyandasudhāpānarato naraḥ |
madhupāyī samaṃ proktastvitare madyapāyinaḥ ||

This clearly demonstrates that from the very beginning, two different theories prevailed regarding the pañcamakāra sādhanā - one orthodox and the other heterodox which appears to have been influenced by ideas as prevalent in the northern form of Buddhism. It must however be admitted that the heterodox form of worship is more difficult than the orthodox one.

Union with Sādhaka’s own wife defeats the very purpose of such sādhanā thinks himself to be Shiva and his wife as the goddess and refrains from discharging the semen. This is indeed the most difficult aspect of this form of sādhanā.

The Prāṇatoṣanītantra which was composed in Bengal gives the following account of the pañcamakāra.

yā surā sarvakāryeṣu kathitā bhuvi muktidā |
tasya nāma bhaveddevi tīrthaṃ pānaṃ sudurlabham ||
śūdrānāṃ bhakṣayogyānāṃ yanmāmsaṃ devanirmitam |
vedamantreṇa vidhivat proktā sā śuddhiruttamā ||
bhakṣayogyāśca kathitā ye ye matsyā varānane |
te rahasye mayā proktā mīnaḥ siddhipradāyakaḥ ||
pṛthukataṇḍulā bhṛṣṭā ghodhūmacaṇakādayaḥ |
teṣāṃ nāma bhaveddevi mudrā muktipradāyinī ||
bhagaliṅgasya yogena maithunaṃ yadbhavet priye |
tasya nāma bhaveddevi pañcamaṃ parikīrtitam ||
prathamaṃ tu bhavenmadyaṃ māmsaṃ caiva dvitīyakam |
matsyaṃ cive tṛtīyaṃ syānmudrā cive caturthikā ||
pañcamaṃ pañcamaṃ vidyāt pañcaite nāmataḥ smṛtāḥ ||

M Winternitz maintains that the original home of the Tantras was in Bengal whence it went to Nepal, Tibet and other places. R P Chanda draws our attention to a verse of unknown origin affirming that the vidyā first appeared in Bengal, became very strong in Mithilā, some traces of it were to be found in Mahārāṣtra, while it met its end in Gurjara. When, however, we find that of the four original pīṭhas mentioned in the Tantras, three are located not far from the Indus and one in Assam, such theories can hardly be maintained. Bagchi has shown that the inspiration came possibly from extra-Indian region. H P Shastri thinks that Tantra was introduced into India by the priests of Turkistan when the local religion of the place was ousted by Islam. But as we have already seen Tantra must have flourished much earlier i.e., in the early Gupta age or little earlier when the Scytho-Kuśāna influence had been operating in India.

If we can understand the maithuna aspect of the sādhanā in its proper perspective, the significance of the yāmala works and some sculptures of the medieval age may become clear to us, instead of exhibiting a vulgar aspect of worship. Example of maithuna mūrtis are quite in prevalence in almost all the South Indian temples. The characteristic and aesthetic differences with their northern counterparts in, say, Khajuraho or Konark are quite marked and they are as follows:

1 Composition with single couple is few and far between

2 More than a single couple, sometimes three or four pairs appear in the composition actively engaged or in the process of engaging themselves in the act of coupling. In a number of examples more male-folk are present than the actual number of women-folk or vice versa. In some other cases more than one man are engaged in different maithuna postures with a single lady while the other ladies simply stand and stare or at times assist

3 The couples are invariably always in the erotic posture and graceful, playful, attenuated, while the elegantly standing figures of the North are extremely rare in South Indian temples.

4 The integrity of composition and space division, the technical manipulation and surface treatment and the aesthetic maturity of the North with regard to form and content are lacking in these panels.

The following are the temples where example bound. The Hall of Thousand Columns, Srīraṅganātha temple, Srīraṅgam; Mīnākṣī temple of Madurai, Padmanābhasvāmī temple of Kerala etc.

These sculptures, judged in the background of the Tāntric treatise, Kāmākhyātantra, instead of showing any vulgarity exhibits before us the extreme and the most difficult form of renunciation. Wine, meat, fish and arched kidney beans, when taken together, provoke passion in human body, and the Tāntric form of maithuna, in which the seeds will not flow, under such condition, only show the extreme form of self restraint. Such a sādhaka is called vīra or hero, and the whole process is called vīra sādhanā.

As such form of sādhanā is not possible for ordinary man it has not been recommended in some of the Tantras. Thus the system of pañcamakāra sādhanā is conspicuous by its absence in the Shāradātilaka which has been regarded as one of the earliest Tāntric works.

Akbar: the picture of a Tyrant

Akbar, the Barbarian

Akbar is frequently projected as a flag bearer of religious harmony by the usual suspects - the pseudo-secular liberal folks of Mera Bharat Mahaan. How true is that?

"The conquest of Chitor was achieved at the cost of thousands of lives. It was represented by the chronicler of Akbarnama as a struggle against the infidel, and Akbar as a hero of Islam. It should be remembered that only twelve years previously Akbar had achieved victory over Hemu in the second battle of Panipat, and after the battle he constructed a tower with the skulls of the slain enemy, as his forefather Timur had often done, and Babur also, according to reports."

- The Empire of the Mughals: History, Art and Culture

"On the demolition of Hindu temples, as an act of state policy, the evidence is varied though rich. Bayazid Biyat, Humayun's personal assistant, commissioned to write his memoirs by Akbar, notes that he, Bayazid, had converted a temple into a mosque and a theological school, madrasa, in the presence of Todar Mal, the highly respected, orthodox Hindu minister of Akbar. Akbar assigned two villages for the maintenance of the madrasa. During Akbar's reign, too, the zealot Hussain Khan Tukriya was out to demolish rich temples. Historian Abd al-Qadir Baduni also records during Akbar's reign that in Nagarkot, near Kangra, on one occasion 200 cows were slaughtered, many Hindus killed and a temple was demolished by the Muslim soldiers.

Jahangir made some rude comments about 'the worthless religion of the Hindus' when he learnt of the construction at Ajmer of a temple of great magnificence by Rana Shankar. It was not the magnificence of the temple that the Emperor found distasteful; it was the image of a boar - sacred to the Hindus as Varaha, one of Vishnu's 10 avatars and abominable to Muslims - that was the cause for his irritation. The image was destroyed and thrown into a tank. If the Durga temple at Kangra fort had to give way to a mosque after being defiled by the slaughter of a bull, the temple of Goddess Bhavani just below the fort survived.

Shah Jahan ordered that 'whatsoever idol-temples had been recently built be razed to the ground. Accordingly, it was reported from the province of Allahabad that 70 had been demolished in Banaras alone'. In Kashmir, he ordered the demolition of an ancient temple at Anantnag and renamed the town Islamabad, although there was no particular provocation for either action.

The temple at Mathura was demolished in 1670 under Aurangzeb's command. 'In a short time by the exertions of his officers, the demolition of this strong foundation of infidelity was accomplished, and on its site a grand mosque was erected. The name of Mathura was changed to Islamabad' observes Saqi Mustaid Khan, chronicler of Aurangzeb's reign. A decade later, Abu Turab, who had been sent to Amber in Rajasthan to demolish temples there, returned to the court and reported that he had pulled down 66 temples. The demolition of the Vishwanath Temple at Varanasi has on the other hand been recorded rather casually: 'It was reported that according to the emperor's command his officers had demolished the temple of Vishwanath at Kashi'. Similarly casual is the report on the demolition of the temple at Malarna at Rajasthan. It was learnt that in Multan and Thatta in Sind, and especially in Varanasi, Brahmins attracted a large number of Muslims to their discourses. Aurangzeb, in utter disgust, ordered the governors of all these provinces to demolish the schools and temples of the infidels and with utmost urgency put down the teaching and the public practices of these religious misbelievers."

- The Mughals of India

'And black cows, to the number of 200, to which they pay boundless respect, and actually worship, and present to the temple, which they look upon as an asylum, and let lose there, were killed by the Mussalmaan through their zeal and intense hatred of idolatry. They filled their shoes full of blood and threw it on the doors and walls of the temple.'

Source: Muntakhabu't-Tawarikh of Abd al-Qadir Baduni

"Akbar befriended the Rajputs in order to prevent not only their unity but also the possibility of their making a common cause with the Afghans. He decided to prevail on the different Rajput princes by first conquering them one by one and offering them at the same time his hand of friendship. The offer of friendship had two important aspects; important positions for Rajput princes in the Moghul court after theu had accepted Akbar's overlordship, and entry of Rajput princesses in the Moghul harem. This was purely a political arrangement and the entry of Rajput princesses into Moghul harem did not start any fusion between the Hindus and the Muslims on the socio-cultural plane. The Rajput girls could never visit their parents and other relatives because they were considered 'polluted'. Neither could their presence in the Moghul harem produce any mellowing effect even on their own progeny. It is also worthwhile remembering that though Akbar tried to befriend the Rajputs to safeguard the interests of his kingdom, the biggest massacre of Rajputs stands in Akbar's name. It is on record that he ordered a general massacre after he had captured the Chittore fort and collective weight of the sacred threads of the Rajputs slain was a staggering 45 mounds!"

- The Mahatma and the Muslims

Amnayabhedasamsevya Tripura Sarvatomukhi

Tripurasundari

अहं शून्यस्वरूपेण परा दिव्यतनुर्ह्यहं
अहं सा मालिनीदेवी अहं सा सिद्धयोगिनी |
अहं सा कालिका काचित् कुलयोगेश्वरी ह्यहं
अहं सा चर्चिकादेवी कुब्जिकाहं च षड्विधा ||

ahaṃ śūnyasvarūpeṇa parā divyatanurhyahaṃ
ahaṃ sā mālinīdevī ahaṃ sā siddhayoginī |
ahaṃ sā kālikā kācit kulayogeśvarī hyahaṃ
ahaṃ sā carcikādevī kubjikāhaṃ ca ṣaḍvidhā ||

The composition of Ramayana

- Excerpts from: The Society of Ramayana

As the large number of verses which we are induced to regard as accretions shows, the Rāmāyaṇa is anything but an entirely homogenous epic. Each recension contains many passages and verses, which cannot be attributed to Vālmīki, and far less to one definite era. The stages of the composition of our epic, therefore, should be fairly defined before we attempt to fix a date for it, or utilize the data in it for the study of the social conditions of Ancient India.

Since the publication of Jacobi’s researches on the Rāmāyaṇa it is generally accepted that the original poem of Vālmīki consisted of five kāṇḍa (II to VI)/ The first Kāṇḍa as well as the seventh kāṇḍa has been considered to be of late origin. However, it is necessary that at least some parts of the first kāṇḍa should have been a genuine part of the story because the story otherwise has an abrupt beginning, which is contrary to the narrative technique of India. Excepting for a few cantos, which form an essential introduction to the story, the major part of the first kāṇḍa appears to be spurious on account of the numerous internal contradictions, the character of the contents and the drab narrative style as opposed to the poetic elegance of the other five kāṇḍas.

The seventh kāṇḍa is clearly a late interpolation. Its contents, which like those of the first kāṇḍa form ‘an encyclopedia of mythology’, and its style are are cogent proofs while the colophon of the Rāmāyaṇa itself throw further light on its being regarded a supplementary kāṇḍa. The same colophons prove that the seventh kāṇḍa is even later than the first by referring to the former as supplement to the six kāṇḍas. A phalaśruti at the end of the sixth kāṇḍa, also shows that the original Rāmāyaṇa ended there. In India there has been a tradition, which excluded the Uttarakāṇḍa from reckoning; Bhaṭṭi, in his Rāvaṇavadha, ignores it while in the south Pillailokam Jīyar, the annotator of Nāthamuni’s verse on the Tiruvāymolidoes the same. Also Kamban, the repotted translator of the epic into Tamil, omits this kāṇḍa.

But the attitude of some modern Indian scholars to the Uttarakāṇḍa has been somewhat different. Emphasizing that the internal evidences in the works and the “verdict of the Indian tradition” should be taken into Consideration, P P Shastri affirms that Vālmīki composed his Rāmāyaṇa in seven books of 24000 stanzas. Kibe, on the other hand, assumes that the Rāmāyaṇa cannot be a lyrical composition as the tragic end shows and that the disappearance of Sītā is relegated to this kāṇḍa so as to honor the rule of poetics; he, this, concludes that the Uttarakāṇḍa is an essential part of the epic and says, “It is the dislike of the Indians to tragedy that makes them feel shy of this kāṇḍa.” Barua, again, is not in favor of rejecting the whole of Uttarakāṇḍa as an interpolation, but he does not ignore the numerous late additions to it, for he says, “It seems to me that the end of the original epic was tragic and Sītā’s disappearance into the bosom of the earth was very likely the culmination. Hence, the Uttarakāṇḍa is a prodigious accretion round a nucleus which originally formed an integral part of the Rāmāyaṇa .” Vaidya proffered two possible arguments in support of the view that the Uttarakāṇḍa was written by the original author himself: “Firstly the history and the greatness of Rāvaṇa required to be detailed somewhere, for without them the poem would have been incomplete and the greatness of Rāma without a strong relief; Secondly, the painful sequel of the recital of the poem viz., the disappearance of Sītā has so beautifully been conceived that even if the incidents were supposed to be imaginary none but the great poet himself could have conceived them. In fact, they strike us as a part of the grand tragedy of the epic.”

The arguments of these scholars lead mainly to the two conclusions that the contents (at least, the main incidents) of the Uttarakāṇḍa are an essential part of the epic and that the tragic end, if imaginary, should have been conceived by Vālmīki himself. As regards the contents, it is quite probable that there were certain ballads, especially on Rāvaṇa, which were rejected by Vālmīki as irrelevant to his poem; there might also have been ballads on the disappearance of Sītā into the earth composed as a corollary to those about her birth from the bosom of the earth. What we actually see in the Uttarakāṇḍa is a collection of ballads, held together by a flimsy connecting story, more compatible to the Mahābhārata than the genuine Rāmāyaṇa. Sītā’s end, is no doubt, replete with pathos; it is in keeping with an epic which was composed by a poet who drew his inspiration from the shrieks of a bereaved krauñca bird! But the latter story in itself is late.

The fact that the Uttarakāṇḍa preserves an unusually great degree of similarity in all of the different recensions of Rāmāyaṇa is explained to be due to its later development.

Besides the major part of the Bālakāṇḍa and the Uttarakāṇḍa, there are many chunks in the other five kāṇḍas which bespeak of a late origin. The interpolations are easily recognized although in both language and spirit they differ but little from the rest of the epic. There are, however, clumsy because they are either repetitions of ideas already expressed or are altogether irrelevant to the theme. There are also many contradictions between them and the other parts of the Rāmāyaṇa. They are not works of one particular period; the tendency to add and supplement the epics has been there from very early days to very recent times.

Many cantos have been rejected by the commentators themselves as prakṣipta (interpolated) and many more since then have been added. The reasons for such accretions are, as Vaisya suggested, first the theory of Rāma being an avatāra of Viṣṇu borrowed from the Mahābhārata; secondly, the theory that the Rāmāyaṇa was the first Sargabandha kāvya’ thirdly, poetical embellishments or the desire to put in more descriptions of seasons, battles, cities and palaces and more lamentations, eulogies and dialogues; fourthly, the desire to make the Rāmāyaṇa a depository of legendary lore; fifthly, the desire to make it a depository of knowledge; sixthly and lastly the desire to exaggerate the marvelous. The most apparent interpolations are the long tag verses in meters other than the śloka, episodes such as the chasing of the golden deer, the burning of Laṅkā by Hanumat, the story of the Andhamuni, the discussion on whether Vibhīṣaṇa should be killed as a spy, the episode of Kumbhakarṇa and Vibhīṣaṇa peculiar to the NW recession of the Rāmāyaṇa, the coronation of Vibhīṣaṇa and geographical accounts put into the mouth of Suggrīva along with passages which refer to the Buddha, Yavanas, śakas, Pahlavas, Andhras, Pauṇḍras, Cholas, Pāṇḍyas, Keralas, Kāverī, Tāmraparṇi and to Kavāṭa. The legends and some of the didactic and philosophical verses could have been the work of brahminical redactors. But a real brahminical recasting, a sort of a tendentiose Umarbeitung, is not as discernible as in the Mahābhārata except in the Bāla and the Uttarakāṇḍas. On the other hand, a Vaiṣṇavaite revision of at least the first, sixth and the seventh kāṇḍas may be assumed to explain the references in them to Rāma as an incarnation of Viṣṇu.

Kadi Vidyeshvari Kali Stotram of Srikula

Kadi Vidya Kali

Kadi Vidyeshvari Kali Stotram has been uploaded to our Stotra page.

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Sixteen Kavachas of Shodashi Kalpa

From the fifteen letters of Kādi Pañcadaśī Mahāmantra, the fifteen Mālā-mantras originate. These are generally known as the fifteen Khaḍgamālās, although this is technically incorrect as only the Shuddhaśakti Saṃbuddhyanta mālā is called as Khaḍgamālā.

In the context of Shoḍaśī Mahāmantra, Mahāṣoḍaśī Kalpa of Rudrayāmala teaches sixteen Kavachas:

śṛṇu devi pravakṣyāmi kavacāni ca ṣoḍaśa |
eṣāṃ paṭhana mātreṇa devīdarśanamāpnuyāt ||

Traditionally, these sixteen Kavachas are recited after the Japa at midnight, one per tithi. During extraordinary situations, a recitation of all sixteen Kavachas is undertaken, which is a master Prayoga in itself. The sixteen Kavachas correspond not only to each kūṭa of Mahāṣoḍaśī, but also to the sixteen āvaraṇas of the Srīcakra.

1 Vajrapañjara kavaca (Shiva - Paṅkti)
2 Chintāmaṇi kavaca (Bhairava - Paṅkti)
3 Jaganmaṅgala kavaca (Shiva - Paṅkti)
4 Jaganmohana kavaca (Bhairava - Paṅkti)
5 Jagadīśvara kavaca (Kālāgnirudra - Paṅkti)
6 Sarvakāmada kavaca (Sadāśiva - Paṅkti)
7 Tryakṣara kavaca (Vaṭukabhairava - Paṅkti)
8 Trivikrama kavaca (Maheśvara - Paṅkti)
9 Trailokyabhūṣaṇa kavaca (Kālabhairava - Paṅkti)
10 Virūpākṣa kavaca (Vaṭukabhairava - Paṅkti)
11 Sarvārthasādhaka kavaca (Dakṣiṇāmūrti - Paṅkti)
12 Meru kavaca (Bhairava - Paṅkti)
13 Vairināśana kavaca (Shiva - Paṅkti)
14 Trailokyavijaya kavaca (Bhairava - Paṅkti)
15 Viṣāpaharaṇa kavaca (Shiva - Paṅkti)
16 Muktisādhana kavaca (Shiva - Paṅkti)

Sri Muttuswami Dikshitar's Veena


Sharanagata Dinarta Paritrana Parayane - Prayoga from Saptashati

Saranagata Dinarti

Durgā Saptaśatī is a treasure-trove of various mantras and the below mantra is recommended by various scriptures as effective in freeing oneself of various afflictions such as danger, disease, trouble, grief and sorrow. One should perform 1000 Japa everyday till the expected results are experienced.

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