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.


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.


Kalika Purana

There are a dozen lists of Upapurāṇas available in various works and the only thing common to them is a lack of consensus. However, Kālikā Purāṇa finds a mention in almost all of such lists and that in itself is a testimony to its importance and popularity. While the Purāṇa has not been explicitly associated with the upasarga “upa” on account of it being ruled out quite clearly from the list of Mahāpurāṇas, it was but natural to group it along with Upapurāṇas.

It is quite clear that the original Kālikā Purāṇa is now lost in the oblivion of time. The version available today is not what is quoted by various Dharmaśāstras. The version currently available as Kālikā Purāṇa was originally critically edited by Baladeva Upādhyāya and is clearly a Tāntric addendum rather than a classic purāṇa.

The version of the Purāṇa available today seems to be a combination of two separate works. The first half is characterized by elaboration of the mythology of Shiva and Satī, Shiva and Pārvatī, whereas the second half is centered around the Tāntric worship of Goddess Kāmākhyā. There is no other work which provides a description of the hills, rivers, ponds, deities and shrines at Kāmarūpa in as much detail as this work. Though this work is clearly Shākta in flavor, dealing with controversial topics such as Paśubali and Narabali, it establishes Viṣṇu and Viṣṇumāyā in a more elevated position than Shiva and Shakti. There are several scholars who hint at a later 'Vaiṣṇavaization' of this Purāṇa during the periods of conflict between Shāktas and Vaiṣṇavas in Bengal and Assam.

Important works that quote Kālikā Purāṇa are:

1 Kalpataru of Lakṣmīdhara
2 Aparārka ṭīkā on Yājñavalkya smṛti
3 Dānasāgara of Ballālasena
4 Chaturvargacintāmaṇi of Hemādri
5 Samayapradīpa and ācāradarśa of Srīdatta Upādhyāya
6 Gṛhastha ratnākara of Chandraśekhara
7 Madanapārijāta of Madanapāla
8 Kālanirṇaya and Pārāśara smṛti bhāṣya of Mādhavācārya
9 Gaṅgāvākyāvali of Vidyāpati
10 Dvaitanirṇaya of Vācaspati
11 Kṛtyacintāmaṇi and Shuddhicintāmaṇi
12 Madanaratnapradīpa of Madanasimha
13 Shuddhiviveka of Rudradhara
14 Nityācārapradīpa of Narasimha Vājapeyī

The verses quoted in the above works are not found in the version of Kālikā Purāṇa currently available. The current editions list names of other Nibandhakāras as well such as Shūlapāṇi, Srīnātha, Govindānanda, Raghunandana, Kṛṣṇānanda āgamavāgīśa, Gajādhara, Mitramiśra, Anantabhaṭṭa, Kamalākara Bhaṭṭa and Nandapaṇḍita.

Kālikā Purāṇa is not a Pañcalakṣaṇa purāṇa as it lacks five details: Vaṃśa, Manvantara, Vaṃśānucarita etc., in detail or in brief. This work follows an independent style not reminiscent of other classic Purāṇas. The currently available edition consists of around 9000 verses and 90 adhyāyas, divided into two halves. The first half deals with the famous mythologies of Shiva and Satī, as well as Shiva and Pārvatī. The second half deals with the worship of Goddess Kāmākhyā in great detail. It is this part which stands out and in general, the current popularity of the work is mainly on account of this second portion of the Purāṇa.

This Purāṇa does not currently find itself listed among other Mahāpurāṇas, but there are theories that there was a version of this Purāṇa which was identified as Bhāgavata which was considered to be a Mahāpurāṇa. This is stated by Hemādri in his Dharmacintāmaṇi:

यदिदं कालिकाख्यानं मूलं भागवतं स्मृतम् |

In the twelfth century, the author of Kṛtyakalpatru, Lakṣmīdhara, the Guru of King Jayachandra of Gahadvala, accepts Kālikā Purāṇa as an Upapurāṇa:

अष्टादर्शभ्यस्तु पृथक् पुराणं दृश्यते विजानीध्वं मुनिश्रेष्ठास्तदेतेभ्यो विनिर्गतम् | उद्भूतं तथा कालिकापुराणादि ||

Thus, Lakśmīdhara accepts the origin of Kālikā Purāṇa from the eighteen main Purāṇas. Chandraśekhara accepts the same in his Kṛtyaratnākara. The famous Bengali Nibandhakāra Ballālasena names this Purāṇa along with Sāmba purāṇa in his Dānasāgara:

उक्तान्युपपुराणानि व्यक्तदानविधीनि च |
आद्यं पुराणं साम्बं कालिकाद्वयमेव च ||

The quotations from this Purāṇa used by Nibandhakāras are centered around topics such as Dāna, Varṇāśrama dharma, Vrata, Shrāddha, Shaucha etc., which are nowhere to be seen in the currently available version of the Purāṇa. The quotations available from older works are clearly devoid of any tāntric character. In fact, Ballālasena clearly states in his Dānasāgara that he only quotes from those works which are not Pākhaṇḍa śāstras, in other words, devoid of tāntric influence. He even uses Bhaviṣya Purāṇa only till the seventh Kalpa beyond which he traces tāntric influence.

So we have the testimony of Ballālasena who rejects Devīpurāṇa and the eighth and ninth kalpas of Bhaviṣya Purāṇa as Pākhaṇḍa śāstras owing to Tāntric influence; and he sees no such thing in the case of Kālikā Purāṇa! This is a clear indication that the version of the Purāṇa available during his time was probably entirely different from what we see today. That version seems to be lost today as Raghunandana, in his Durgāpūjātattva, says:

दुष्प्राप्य कालिकापुराणान्तरेऽपि |

So, there is ample evidence for the existence of n entirely different Kālikā Purāṇa in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries which was Shaiva in nature and dealt with Yogamāyā who was an accessorial Shakti of Shiva. It is reasonable to assume that the Tāntric influence seen today was absent in the older version. Another discordant note in the version available today is the influence from Vaiṣṇava āgamas, which seems quite out of place when seen within the context of an overall śākta purāṇa. The worship of Viṣṇu in the current edition of Kālikā Purāṇa is derived from the Pāñcarātra stream. Thus, the current edition of Kālikā Purāṇa is a hodgepodge of Shākta and Vaiṣṇava influences.

The question that now arises is: what happened to the original version of Kālikā Purāṇa? Paṇḍita Baladeva Upādhyāya, in his introduction to Kālikā Purāṇa edited by Viśvanārāyaṇa śāstrī, says that he had seen such a copy with Balarāma śāstrī of Benares Sanskrit University which is in the form of a conversation between Tṛṇabindu and Anilāda. Interestingly, according to other sources such as Nānyadeva, Hemādri and Chanḍeśvara, the vaktā and śrotā of Kālikā Purāṇa are Tṛṇabindu and Anilāda. In this version, there is a detailed description of the tales of Shiva, Satī, Pārvatī, Skanda etc. In the Tīrthamāhātmya section, kucharatīrtha is discussed where Devī resides, such as Gaṅgādvāra, Kuśāvarta and Nīlācala. There are also some simple stotras adoring Shiva, Skanda and Ardhanārīśvara. And again, there are no dominant tāntric elements here.

Though vociferously protested by practitioners of Tantra, there has always been a tradition of mainstream proponents which has classified Tantra into Vaidika and Vedabāhya. The author of Mahimna Stava considers Pāśupata, Shaivasiddhānta, Pāñcarātra and Vaikhānasa as Vedabāhya. Even Shaṅkarāchārya rejects the core Chaturvyūha siddhānta of Pāñcarātra in his Brahmasūtra bhāṣya. It is interesting to observe the view of Purāṇas on Tantras and Tāntric practices. According to Devī Bhagavata, certain aspects of Tantra are acceptable to Vedas and it is only these aspects that may be adopted by the Dvijas.

Major influence of Tantras on Purāṇas can be traced to eight century and later. By eleventh century, many Purāṇas has effectively assimilated mini Tantras within their content. While Garuḍa and Agni Purāṇas majorly assimilated content from Tantras, other Purāṇas such as Vāyu, Bhāgavata, Viṣṇu and Mārkaṇḍeya stayed relatively free of elements dealing with Tāntric rituals.

Kothamangalam Vasudevan Namboothiri

Chidambara Rahasyam

Chidambara Rahasyam

श्रीचक्रं शिवचक्रं च ध्वनिचक्रं च ताण्डवम् |
सम्मेळनं श्रीललिताचक्रं चिन्तामणेस्तथा |
गणेशस्कन्दयोश्चैव चक्रं ज्ञेयं नवात्मकम् ||

श्रीचक्रादिविशेषयन्त्रघटितं भित्तिस्वरूपं सदाऽऽ-
नन्दज्ञानमयं नटेशशिवयोः सम्मेलनं बोधयेत् |
कस्तूरीमसृणं चिदम्बरमिदं स्थानं रहस्यं नुमः ||

वाश्चारेट् ध्वजधक् धृतोड्वधिपतिः कुध्रेड्जजानिर्गणेट्
गोराडारुरुडुरस्सरेडुरुतरग्रैवेयकभ्राडरम् |
स स्तादम्बुमदम्बुदालिगलरुड्देवो नटाधीश्वरः ||

(इति सम्मेलनमन्त्रग्राह्यो नटेशः)

śrīcakraṃ śivacakraṃ ca dhvanicakraṃ ca tāṇḍavam |
sammeḻanaṃ śrīlalitācakraṃ cintāmaṇestathā |
gaṇeśaskandayoścaiva cakraṃ jñeyaṃ navātmakam ||

śrīcakrādiviśeṣayantraghaṭitaṃ bhittisvarūpaṃ sadā.a.a-
nandajñānamayaṃ naṭeśaśivayoḥ sammelanaṃ bodhayet |
kastūrīmasṛṇaṃ cidambaramidaṃ sthānaṃ rahasyaṃ numaḥ ||

vāścāreṭ dhvajadhak dhṛtoḍvadhipatiḥ kudhreḍjajānirgaṇeṭ
gorāḍāruruḍurassareḍurutaragraiveyakabhrāḍaram |
sa stādambumadambudāligalaruḍdevo naṭādhīśvaraḥ ||

The Bhagavad Gita before the Battle

This brilliant article by Shatavadhani Sri R Ganesh deserves a thoughtful reading.


In the early part of this century, our Guru Sri Chinmudrānandanātha had resided for an extended period of time at the shrine of Lord Daṇḍāyudhapāṇi at Pazhani, practicing a certain Yoga associated with agniśuddhi. In those days, a descendant of Umānandanātha, the disciple of Bhāskararāya Makhīndra known for his work Nityotsava, approached him with a peculiar problem.

This gentleman had been an upāsaka of Mahāgaṇapati and had accomplished añjanasiddhi which enabled him to find lost articles. He had tried to gain favor with certain powerful men using his siddhi. A certain Purohita who competed with this gentleman for royal favors was further infuriated when our Gaṇeśopāsaka married his daughter without his consent. The Purohita, who hailed from a family of well-known mantravādins of Himācala, performed a certain prayoga of Dhūmāvatī. His father had been the panda at the shrine of Dhūpacaṇḍī. The effect was such that this gentleman began to exhibit feminine tendencies, slowly losing his manhood.

There are such gender-change prayogas involving the mantra of Mahāvārāhī, but this was the first time I heard of such a thing associated with Dhūmāvatī. That said, my experience with this one devatā, Dhūmāvatī, is minimal. When he failed to overcome the prayoga through his own administrations, he was advised by his Guru to seek refuge at the lotus feet of Kumāra, who is stationed on the hill of Pazhani as Navapāṣāṇamūrti. Disguised as a eunuch, he stayed at Pazhani, reciting the mantra of Brahmabhūḥ, praying for guidance. How is it possible that one seeks the help of Skanda and his miseries continue? Lord appeared in his dream one morning and sent him to our Guru who decided to reverse the prayoga of Dhūmāvatī.

Our Guru invoked the might vidyā of Bhagavatī Khaḍgavārāhī, the chief characteristic of whose mantra is the use of the bīja 'vrīṃ' which is of special significance in the upāsanā of Kumāra as well. He meditated upon the fearful image of the Mother, reciting the 141 lettered mantra 10,000 times a day:

ghananālaghanākārāṃ kharvasthūlakalevarām |
hastamātraviniṣkrāntapracatpotraraṃdhravat ||
vāmabhāgekṣivadanaṃ dhārayantīṃ dvilocanām |
aṣṭamīcandrakhaṇḍābha daṃṣṭrāyugavirājitām ||
kopādālolarasanāṃ vistārivikṛtānanām |
kalpāntaravisaṅkāśāṃ pūrayantīṃ jagatviṣā ||
bhīmadaṃṣṭrāṭṭahāsāṃ ca raktākṣīṃ raktamekhalām |
kṛpāṇākāraromāliparipūrṇakalevarām ||
bhūdārarūpadhātrīṃ ca sañcarantīṃ vihāyasi |
satādhūnanavitrastaprapalāyitakhecarām ||
sarvālaṅkārasaṃyuktāṃ ghurghurāravakāriṇīm |
abjacāpāṅkuśān pāśaṃ vāmage bibhratīṃ kare |
cakraṃ bāṇaṃ gadāṃ khaḍgaṃ dadhatīṃ dakṣiṇe kare ||
dūrvādalaśyāmalayā dharaṇyā sevitāṃ sadā |
vārāhīṃ cintayeditthaṃ śatrusaṅghavidāriṇīm ||

Within 40 days, the prayoga was reversed and his effeminate mannerisms began to disappear. However, he had forever lost his capacity to bear an offspring.

To show his gratitude to the great Kroḍamukhī, he constructed a small temple outside Pazhani which I am told still exists to the present day. With the grace of Varāhānanā, perhaps we shall visit this shrine some day and pay our respects not only to the great Goddess, but also to our ācārya.