ShrInIlatArAdhipate namaste

Sri Ucchishta Ganapati

सामादिवेदकुहरे विहरन्तमाद्यं
सोमाभिरामतरहस्तिमुखेन भान्तम‌् ।
तं मानरक्षणकरं गणनाथमीडे ॥

लम्बोदराय ललनास्मरगेहलग्न-
हस्ताय लोहितरुचेऽलघुविक्रमाय ।
लक्ष्याय योगनयनेन लयापहाय
लावण्यसिन्धुपतये नतिरस्तु नित्यम‌् ॥

sāmādivedakuhare viharantamādyaṃ
somābhirāmatarahastimukhena bhāntam ।
taṃ mānarakṣaṇakaraṃ gaṇanāthamīḍe ॥

lambodarāya lalanāsmaragehalagna-
hastāya lohitaruce.alaghuvikramāya ।
lakṣyāya yoganayanena layāpahāya
lāvaṇyasindhupataye natirastu nityam ॥

PrAsAda Parameshvara

Prasada Parameshvara

तुर्यातीतपदोर्ध्वगं गुणपरं सत्तामयं सर्वगं
सम्वेद्यं श्रुतिशीर्षकैरनुपमं सर्वाधिकं शाश्वतम् |
ॐकारान्तरबिन्दुमध्यसदनं ह्रींकारलभ्यं नुमो
व्योमाकारशिखाविभाविमुनिसन्दृश्यं चिदात्मेश्वरम् ||

turyātītapadordhvagaṃ guṇaparaṃ sattāmayaṃ sarvagaṃ
samvedyaṃ śrutiśīrṣakairanupamaṃ sarvādhikaṃ śāśvatam |
OMkārāntarabindumadhyasadanaṃ hrīṃkāralabhyaṃ numo
vyomākāraśikhāvibhāvimunisandṛśyaṃ cidātmeśvaram ||

Jagannatha of Puri

Puri Jagannatha

- The Jagannatha Temple at Puri: Its Architecture, Art and Cult

Bruton, the first English traveller to visit Purī and to see that mighty ‘pagoda’, “the mirror of all wickedness and idolatry”, made the strange observation in 1633 that the image of Jagannātha “is in shape like a serpent, with seven heads”. Thus the deity of Purī became known to Europeans as a pagan divinity of monstrous form. The iconography of Purī Jagannātha remained a mystery from the time of Bruton’s visit until the 19th century. Bernier, who visited Purī in 1667 and left the first reliable description of the Car Festival, gave no account of the image. Tavernier later on described in detail the priceless jewelry of Jagannātha , which however, he never saw. With the more enlightened views of the 19th century, the problem of the iconography of Purī Jagannātha became a fascinating field for speculation.

After the British occupation of Orissa in 1803, the great temple and its priests received special treatment from the East India Company, which decided to protect the institution for economic and political reasons. Europeans were still excluded from the great sanctuary and even General Cunningham had a rather vague knowledge of the appearance of the Purī images, chiefly based, its seems on secondary sources. The restrictions imposed on non-Hindus did not prevent a number of scholars from observing the rites at Purī, which included the suspension of caste-rules during the Car Festival, nor from drawing conclusions concerning the origins of the cult of Jagannātha. Since the ‘bloody rites of the Brahmins’ had given Christian scholars a low opinion of Hinduism they endeavored in their ignorance to explain the enlightened features of this cult by suggesting that it originated in the noble religion of the Buddha. It was thought, for instance, that the temple of Purī occupied almost certainly the site of an earlier Buddhist shrine, without any real evidence to support this view; While General Cunningham’s suggestion that the image of Jagannātha was derived from the Buddhist symbol of the triratna was duly accepted even by such eminent authorities as Coomaraswamy without proper examination of the facts.

Perhaps the first to suggest some connection between Jagannātha and Buddhism was Lt. Col. Skyes in 1841. His rather discursive article was apparently prompted by accounts of early Chinese travellers, notably Fa-Hien, to which he had access, it appears, in a French translation. He refers to the pilgrim’s description of a Buddhist procession in Khotan, with a car carrying images of the Buddha flanked by a Bodhisattva and devas on either side. At the same time he tentatively identified modern Purī with ancient Dantapura. This account recalled the great car festival of Purī whose temple at Purī was probably founded according to Skyes on that great caitya which previously had contained one of Buddha’s teeth.

Two years later, Stevenson added that the Purī icon was believed to contain the bones of Kṛṣṇa. He pointed out that it formed no part of the Brahminical religion to collect and adore dead man’s bones. However, it was a more meritorious act among the Buddhists to collect and preserve the relics of departed saints and places containing them were esteemed particularly holy. The other peculiarity to which Stevenson ascribed a Buddhist origin was the timing of the Purī car festival. As this comes just before the period of the monks’ retreat during the rainy season, he believed that it had once celebrated their annual triumphant return at the end of their peregrinations.

Laidley was also struct by the very close resemblance between the Buddhist procession described by Fa-Hien and that of Jagannātha. The time and the duration of the Purī festival corresponded to the Buddhist celebration of the coming back of the monks. In addition to the Purī triad was the very counterpart of the image of the Buddha flanked by a Bodhisattva on either side in his car. This writer also pointed to the supposed Buddhist site of the great temple at Purī, to the absence of caste rules, to the relic in the image of Jagannātha, and to the identification of the Purī deity with the ninth Avatāra of Viṣṇu. He concluded that the procession of Jagannātha had its origin in the observances of the Buddhist faith.

General Cunningham was absolutely convinced that the above details and the identification of the Purī deity with the ninth or the Buddha avatāra of Viṣṇu, all indicated the Buddhist origin of the deity. At the same time, he was informed by the future General Maisey of the existence of a symbol at Sanci which bore a marked resemblance to the figure of Jagannātha. This discovery was quickly seized upon by Cunningham as his own and led to his sensational claim that the three Purī icons were derived from the Buddhist dharma or triratna symbol. He writes:

“To these facts I can now add that of the absolute identity in from of the modern Jagannātha and his brother Balarāma, and sister Subhadrā, with the Buddhist monogram or symbol of Dharma. This identity is rendered much more striking and convincing by the occurrence of the symbol of Dharma in a triple form amongst the Sanci bas-reliefs”.

What Cunningham appears to have seen at Sanci are the three Buddhist symbols set side by side in the upper panel, east face, of the left pillar of the southern gateway. He must have been led to his conclusion by a fortuitous conjunction of two quite different things: a certain schematic resemblance between the triratna and the primitive individual figures of Jagannātha, Balarāma and Subhadrā, on the one hand; and on the other, the appearance, in his particular image, of the three triratnas grouped together in the same way as the three well-known Purī images.

The fact remains that these Buddhist symbols set side by side bear little resemblance to the wooden Jagannātha icons and there can be no question of the latter being derived from the former. Cunningham’s own sketch of the Purī images reproduces neither the one nor the other; it can only be called an imaginative synthesis of the two. The whole theory rests on ignorance of the actual appearance of the triad enshrined in the great temple. Cunningham, furthermore, does not mention the wooden Sudarśana cakra in stambha form which is found by the side of Jagannātha on the main altar and which is periodically renewed with the other three icons.

Fergusson agreed in principle with Cunningham’s theory and accepted the identification of Dantapura with Purī. Mitra also thought that the Jagannātha figures were derived from a Buddhist emblem for he believed that the Sudarśana cakra originated in the Dharma chakra. Ananda Coomaraswamy noted that “the crude Vaiṣṇava trinity which forms the principal icon bears a strong resemblance to a modified triratna symbol”. Mahtab in turn refers to a bas-relief discovered at Bhuvaneshwar and now in the Asutosh Museum at Calcutta. It shows some ancient emblems which are identified by him as modified forms of the triratna and which he suggests resemble the Purī figures. He points out that Jagannātha is almost certainly of Buddhist origin because the deity is mentioned in the Jñānasiddhi of Indrabhūti, a Buddhist king in the 8th century.

Jitendranath Banerjea, who does not take sides either for or against the Buddhist theory, writes:

“The advocates of the Buddhist theory have, however, more in their favor than those of others. In many of the Orissan versions of the Daśāvatāra slabs, the figure of the Jagannātha occupies the ninth place, the place of Buddha; in various Orissan works of the late medieval and modern periods as well as in many comparatively old Bengali manuscripts, the identity of Jagannātha and Viṣṇu’s Buddha form is accepted”.

It should be pointed out that there is no evidence to support the belief that the great temple at Purī occupies a former Buddhist site. Nor do any of the manifestations of the cult of Jagannātha, such as the great car festival, the icon with the supposed relic of Kṛṣṇa, the absence of caste rules in the temple, or the identification of the deity with the Buddha avatāra of Viṣṇu, suffice to establish a Buddhist origin of the worship of Jagannātha. Nor can Purī be identified with Dantapura. So far no Buddhist remains have been discovered inside the Purī temple or in the neighborhood of the town, with the exception of a life-size stone image of a seated Buddha evidently brought to the temple from elsewhere.

With regard to the site of the shrine of Jagannātha it should be stated that the temple stands on a mound known as the Blue Hill which rises about 20 ft above the level of the surrounding terrain. In the past scholars liked to imagine that the hill concealed a former Buddhist shrine. In fact the mound is almost entirely composed of a high platform, probably built in imitation of the similar base which supports the temple of Varadarāja at Kāñcī. The platform at Purī appears to have been built over a ridge, possibly on the site of a smaśāna or burial ground. At its foot is located an artificial cave shrine dedicated to Shiva which is probably memorial in natural for it is placed on the northern side of the inner enclosure.

As for the very close resemblance between the Buddhist car procession described by Fa-Hien and that of Jagannātha, it would appear that this does not indicate a specifically Buddhist origin, but that both ceremonies stem from a common religious ritual. Thus, like so many other aspects of Indian art and religion, the car in which the deity is taken out in procession is not of sectarian derivation. It is true that early historical and literary references to cars are more often Buddhist than Hindu, but then Buddhism is, in some ways, better documented in the early historical period than Hinduism. In fact there is clear evidence of Brahmanic influence in Buddhist canonical literature. For instance, Brahmā and Indra are continually associated with the main events of the life of the Buddha. Again, the assembly of the gods who controlled the world was held under the Brahmin Sanatkumāra and it was Brahmā who persuaded the Buddha to preach. It is interesting too that the 4th edict of Ashoka, in the Girnar version, refers to festivities of the Dhamma which are not distinctively Buddhist but were evidently traditional in India at that time. Filliozat notes that what this record enumerates in connection with the festivities “are clearly the ordinary elements of festivals and processions of a type still contemporary in Hinduism, and it appears that the content of this Edict constitutes direct evidence of their usage in the middle of the 3rd century B.C.”

Ashoka, himself styled ‘deva’ as well as ‘Royal Majesty’, quite naturally had the proclamation of the Dhamma accompanied by Brahmanic pomp. It is generally believed that in Ashoka’s time there were no images as yet, neither of gods nor of Buddha. However, Filliozat suggests that arcās of divine images were almost certainly displayed in vimānas or cars taken round in processions to the sound of drums and to the announcement of the Dhamma, of which the gods were the protectors.

There are a few early Hindu cave reliefs which depict Sūrya, the Sun God as a royal figure, riding in his chariot. One well-known example is at Bhaja, and another can be found at Khandagiri in Orissa. Both date probably from the early 1st century A.D. In fact from the 12th century onward the god or goddess in his or her sanctuary was surrounded by regal pomp and taken out in procession. Almost every large temple in South India possesses a temple car and car festivals are connected with both Shaiva and Vaiṣṇava shrines in Orissa. It seems likely that the Eastern Gangas, who were of southern origin, instituted the great car festival at Purī. They appear to have been so fond of car festivals that both the shrine of Bhāskareśvara and particularly, of course, that of Sūrya of Konak are modeled on the processional car. Thus there is no reason to take the car procession at Purī as of Buddhist origin.

There is also no reason to attribute a specifically Buddhist origin to the idea of the relic which is found in the body of Jagannātha. The Jainas too seem to have venerated relics of departed saints, and in fact the Hathimgumpha inscription of Kharavela refers specifically to worship of a relic memorial at Udayagiri-Khandagiri in the vicinity of Bhuvaneshwar. In fact, the relic in the body of Jagannātha has not been examined and it is not clear whether the object is simply a piece of wood or perhaps a sālagrāma (ammonite).

As for the argument that the suspension of caste restriction is the survival of a Buddhist tradition, it should be pointed out that similar customs elsewhere are usually connected with Tāntric practices. The degree to which caste is recognized and restrictions correspondingly imposed varies enormously from temple to temple. The celebrated shi=rine of Shiva at Chidambaram, for instance, is virtually an open temple; it must be admitted that Shaiva holy places are generally less restricted than Vaiṣṇava. In the case of Jagannātha the reason for the suspension of caste rules is probably to be found in Hindu Tāntric elements. The presence of the ancient chlorite figures of the Aṣṭamātṛkās near the Mārkaṇḍeśvara Lake at Purī indicates the existence of a tāntric cult of śakti in the period before Codaganga. The tāntric Goddess Vimalā at Puruśottama (not the wooden Kṛṣṇa) is mentioned in the Matsya Purāṇa. Tradition also relates that the great Shaṅkara defeated the Buddhists at Purī, established the ritual worship of Jagannātha, and founded the Govardhanapīṭha where the ādyāśakti is the Goddess Vimalā. It should be remembered, of course, that Shaṅkara himself is traditionally credited with the composition of the Saundaryalaharī, which is considered the canonical text of Srīvidyā. Some of the most important Tantras like the Mahānirvāṇa refer to him as the ādiguru.

Goddess Vimala

It would appear that the Blue Mountain founded by King Anantavarman Codaganga at Purī was a shrine dedicated to the worship of Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Shiva as well as the three aspects of śakti (Sarasvatī, Lakṣmī and Pārvatī or Vimalā). It was principally engaged in the cult of Srīvidyā and remained predominantly so until the 17th century. Important śākta and śaiva elements were thenceforward excluded from it progressively so that now only vestiges remain, and the appearance of exclusive Vaiṣṇavism prevails. It was not until the reign of King Narasimhadeva (1623-47) that worship of the Goddess Vimalā with daily offerings of meat and wine was abolished. In abut 1800, the image of Shiva Bhairava which stood alongside Jagannātha on the main altar was destroyed and removed by Vaiṣṇava fanatics. The offerings made to the trinity are in fact based on the tāntric ‘five makāras’ but now fish is substituted by green vegetables mixed with hinge, meat by ginger, wine by green coconut water, grain by kanti, a preparation of flour and sugar, and maithuna by the dance of the devadāsīs and the offering of the aparājitā flower. Somewhat elusive elements as the sprinkling of wine on the prasāda are definitely tāntric in origin and connotation. However, the relaxation of caste distinctions during the car festival may have been related to feeding the poor in memory of Codaganga by Smārtas.

The fact that Jagannātha is often represented in place of the Buddha avatāra of Viṣṇu in Orissan painting and sculpture of more recent times cannot be accepted as evidence for a Buddhist origin of his cult at Purī. There is not a single known Eastern Ganga inscription which identifies Jagannātha specifically with the ninth incarnation of Viṣṇu. However, it was the custom in the 12th century to identify Hari as Puruṣottama with the Buddha. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that a temple of the God Puruṣottama may be associated with reliefs depicting the Buddha, a form taken by Viṣṇu to deceive the chief among the demons. The carvings which represent Jagannātha in the place of the Buddha avatāra of Viṣṇu appear to be found on fairly recent additions to the great temple such as the Eastern gateway of the outer enclosure.

There remains the argument in favor of the Buddha avatāra of Viṣṇu in the form of Jagannātha which is based on the supposed conversion of King Prataparudra (1497 - 1540) to Vaiṣṇavism. It is well known of course that Chaitanya favored the works of Jayadeva and the incarnations of Viṣṇu which were praised by the latter in a hymn composed in the 12th century. Although the king supported the introduction of the singing of Jayadeva’s Gītagovinda in the great sanctuary, this cannot be taken as an indication that Prataparudra was converted by Chaitanya, or that the cult of Jagannātha was completely Vaiṣṇavized. Professor S K De notes that “Prataparudra’s connexion with Chaitanya has probably been much exaggerated. As a man of devout inclinations, he was probably impressed by the religious personality of Chaitanya and paid a willing homage; but beyond this there is no evidence of Prataparudra’s actual conversion”. The Gītagovinda was much admired by various authors in this period independently of their own religious beliefs. Apparently it was in the spirit of the age for writers to introduce into their plays songs set to various tunes, in imitation of the compositions of Jayadeva. Rāmānanda did this for instance, in his Jagannāthavallabha. The influence of Chaitanya on the cult of Jagannātha occurred much later, during the 17th century. It was principally due to the zeal and personality of Shyāmānanda and his disciple Deva Gosvāmī, who visited Purī in about 1623 and secured the patronage of Narasimhadeva.

Buddhist influence in Oriya Literature of the late medieval period cannot be used as a serious argument for the Buddhist origin of Jagannātha. Saraladāsa identified Jagannātha first with Kṛṣṇa, and later said that the three icons without hands and feet resembled the Buddha, apparently in their formlessness. The later Panchasakahs or five famous writers who lived during the time of Chaitanya, believed the numinous Brahman to be identical with śūnyatā, for both ere philosophical ultimates. Hindu Tāntrism is replete with yogic practices and terms used by both Buddhist and Hindu tāntrics. It is moreover, a convention of Tantra to associate Shiva and Viṣṇu with the Buddha. Note, for instance, that in the Hindu Brahmayāmala Viṣṇu reveals in the appearance of the Buddha that the “five makāras” are constituents of Cīnācāra or left-hand worship. Similarly, in another text the Rudrayāmala, Mahādeva is identified with the Buddha. There is no doubt, therefore, that the identification of Jagannātha with the Buddha or with śūnyatā is the result of the influence of Hindu Tāntrism in the works of the Panchasakhas.

It should be pointed out also that the five writers did not identify Jagannātha exclusively with any particular avatāra whether Kṛṣṇa or the Buddha. As Brahman, they considered Jagannātha to be the embodiment and creator of all avatāras. Acyutānandadāsa, perhaps the most famous of the five authors, himself followed the tāntric yoga practices connected with the raising of the vital force. He writes: “Having thus lifted life up, I was soon sitting in the Void and lost in the contemplation of Paramahamsa”. His identification of śūnya with Paramahamsa shows that he considered the experience of the void to be identical with Brahman. From the foregoing it is clear that the argument for the tāntric tendencies in the works of Acyutānandadāsa and the other four writers cannot seriously be taken as evidence for the Buddhist origin of Jagannātha. It is quite usual in tāntric sādhanas to identify the experience of the Innate Light with the realization of the Unborn Void, and to equate the Buddha with Shiva and Viṣṇu.



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

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 ||

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.


- 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


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.