shArikA parameshvarI

shArikA

अघोरव्याधिनाशी च सर्वदुःखविनाशिनी |
अष्टादशभुजा पायात् शारिका श्यामसुन्दरी ||
शारिके शरण्ये त्वां मयि दासे कृपां कुरु |
ऋणं रोगं भयं शोकं रिपून्नाशय सत्त्वरम् ||
प्रद्युम्नशिखरासीनां मातृवक्त्रोपशोभिताम् |
पीठेश्वरीं शिलारूपां शारिकां प्रणमाम्यहम् ||

Vadakalai and Tenkalai

We generally hear of two shrIvaiShNava schools:

1. Vadakalai or the Northern School - also known as the shrI-bhAShya school, with kAnchI as the center.
2. Tenkalai or the Southern School - also known as the prabandha school, with shrIrangam as the center.

But not many seem to know the differences between these two schools, not even many practicing shrIvaiShNavas. Last weekend, when we were discussing a few verses from the kapila-pAncharAtra, it became evident that most of our friends distinguished these two schools on the basis of customs such as the way tilaka is applied or ritualistic differences during a marriage ceremony. While those are true superficially, doctrinal differences are the ones that one should be aware of in this context.

1. Both schools agree that prapatti or sharaNAgati is important to attain mokSha. The vaDakalai school asserts that self-effort is needed on the part of the upAsaka to attain mokSha. The classic analogy here is of the markaTa-nyAya - the bhakta holds on to the Lord even as a baby monkey grasps and holds on to its mother.

On the other hand, the tenkalai school holds that the grace (anugraha) of the Lord is spontaneous, irresistible and unconditional (nirhetukI kripA). This anugraha is showered upon the jIvAtman even if there is no effort on the latter’s part. The analogy here is of the mArjAla-nyAya - the mother cat grasps her baby with her mouth even though the baby cat makes no effort on its part to hold on to its mother.

Though we spoke of prapatti being applicable to both schools, there is a fundamental difference in how one approaches prapatti. According to the Northern school, prapatti is one of the ways or paths adopted by the upAsaka; Tenkalai treats prapatti not as one of the many paths but as an essential frame of mind which should characterize every seeker in search of mokSha; It also rejects other paths in its favor. VaDakalai prescribes prapatti for those who cannot take the routes of bhakti, karma or jnAna whereas Tenkalai asserts the necessity of prapatti for all, whether able or not, to follow other ways. Self-assertiveness, characteristic of the Northern school, is often forbidden in the Southern school.

To summarize, shrI-bhAShya school insists on the concomitancy of the human will for attaining mokSha whereas the prabandha school holds on to the irresistibility of the divine grace. That an 'Indologist' such as Wendy Doniger (who can be credited with monumental work aimed at demonizing Hinduism in every possible and irreverent way) sums up these two great traditions merely as Cat and Monkey schools indicates that she herself is an animal and capable of no greater intellectual perception. I happened to have a quick chat with her last year and could sense her unhidden animosity towards everything Hindu quite clearly. That's quite another topic.

2. The next important disagreement, which is of greater interest of us especially due to our interest in the lakShmI-tantra, is of the doctrinal position of bhagavatI mahAlakShmI or shrI. According to the vaDakalai school, ambA is exactly similar to the Lord, completely indistinguishable from the Lord in every aspect such as being infinite, illimitable etc. She is completely capable of granting mokSha like shrImannArAyaNa, her consort. However, the Tenkalai school regards her as a jIva albeit divine. She represents the most superior of the jIvas in the service of bhagavAn. She is also a mediator between the Lord and the other inferior jIvas. She is endowed with infinite mercy (kAruNya), intercedes on behalf of the jIva and appeals to Lord to grant him maokSha, but cannot grant it herself.

3. Adherence to varNAshrama dharma is another aspect that few like to talk about. VaDakalai school does recommend treating all bhAgavatas with equal respect, but japa, pUjA and other vidhis are to be strictly held according to one’s varNa. Here, praNava and mUlamantra are not imparted outside the group of traivarNika-s. The Tenkalai school on the other hand has negligible emphasis on the varNa dharma.

kodaNDa dIkShA-guruH

vIrarAghava

कोदण्डनिर्मुक्तशराग्रखण्डनं
प्रचण्डविश्वद्भुजदण्डमण्डनम् |
प्रचण्डचण्डांशुसमानभण्डनं
भजामि रामं रणरङ्गमण्डनम् ||

प्रचण्डप्रतापप्रभावाभिभूत-
प्रभूतारिवीर प्रभो रामचन्द्र |
बलं ते कथं वर्ण्यतेऽतीव बाल्ये
यतोऽखण्डि चण्डीशकोदण्डदण्डः ||

दशग्रीवमुग्रं सपुत्रं समित्रं
सरिद्दुर्गमध्यस्थरक्षोगणेशम् |
भवन्तं विना राम वीरो नरो वा-
ऽसुरो वाऽमरो वा जयेत्कस्त्रिलोक्याम् ||

A Prayer

A young boy we knew went missing for the last couple days. Many of us were fond of the little guy and began to wonder where he went missing. His mother lived in her parental farm on the northern most tip of California and that was the only information we had. Finally, he made contact through a friend and the story we heard was horrifying. The boy had been to visit his mother along with some money he had saved for his next term at the school. His mother had assaulted him, taken away the money and locked him up in her farm which was away from civilization and on top of a hill. He was in the same state for nearly three months before a friend happened to drive all the way to check on him. Once we heard about him, a group of kind souls from our yoga group rushed to rescue him. Owing to the grace of the all merciful parAmbA, he made it back alive albeit severely bruised and in a state of shock. It was beyond imagination as to how anyone could hurt a child, let one’s own child! As I sat down today for my daily routine of japa and vipassana, his face stayed in front of me and AchArya’s words began to echo in my ears: kuputro jAyeta kvachidapi kumAtA na bhavati?

With so much of suffering around, was it selfish to think only of oneself and seek bliss in states of samAdhi emerging out of different degrees of parAvasthA? Was there any meaningful benevolence arising out of my spending every possible waking moment in reciting some sacred formula or the other? Were these spiritual practices a form of escapist intoxication that one uses to separate himself or herself from the harsh reality of the world, relative though it may be? Was there a greater significance than what I had realized to the vow of a bodhisattva that treated even enlightenment to be inferior to universal compassion? Did occasional charity and hours of discourses on yoga and tantra that I dished out serve even a little towards the cause of compassion? For once, the mind refused to accept the rationalization offered by karma-mImAmsA and AvaraNa-vikShepa failed to appeal as concepts. As a sense of disillusionment set in, the breath became coarse, the spinal currents creased to be electric and Presence was lost.

Fortunate are those who are blessed by sadguru and owing to such a blessing, the mind drifted indadvertedly towards the sacred aShTAkshara mahAmantra. As the mantra began to echo within the crystal palace of the skull, a compassionate luminosity seemed to fill the entire being and the Lord answered the question - that He was the answer to all problems, for he was both the problem and the solution; he was compassion, as also its source and destination. He was doing, non-doing and midpoint between the two. The clouds of confusion were cleared by the Mighty Presence as gently as a mother clearing the curls off her child’s forehead. The conflict was dissolved not through words of limited capacity emerging from the realm of thought or emotion, but by the presence of He who is unattainable through logic or emotion. All that remained was unceasing serenity, luminosity and a Presence like never before - the triple gems of Grace all attained through the sacred aShTAkShara yAna.

Nisargadatta’s quote suddenly makes greater sense: Wisdom is knowing 'I am nothing', love is knowing 'I am everything', and between the two my life moves. And so does the new found balance between an Eternal Self (sacchidAnanda) and the Emptiness of Dependent Origination (pratItyasamutpAda).

There now is only one prayer directed towards vAtAlayesha - Lord, bless our hearts always with the presence of compassion which is Thy true form.

And I also can find no words to express my gratitude to those Mothers and Fathers who rushed to protect the child in distress risking their normal and comfortable lives and even livelihood.

An Introduction to Agama and Tantra

- Dr. S Rangachar

Often tantra shAstra is characterized as ‘prayoga shAstra’ - a spiritual technique, a religious technology, a ‘Do-it-yourself’ shAstra for the aspirants. tAntrikI shruti is called a siddhAnta Agama, a sAdhanA shAstra. Amarasimha says:

tAntriko j~nAtasiddhAntaH |

He means thereby that Tantra is siddhAnta - an established system of knowledge and practices. He who is well-versed in the siddhAnta is called a tAntrika. The different established systems of thought such as the mImAmsA, nyAya, vaisheShika usually delineated as darshanas are also often referred to as tantras. For instance, shankara in his brahmasUtra bhAshya (3.3.53), while commenting on pUrva mImAmsA darshana, refers to it in the style - prathama tantre - thereby implying that darshana and tantra are interchangeable terms. Often great scholars are conferred with the title ‘sarvatantra svatantra’ extolling their erudition and mastery of the shAstras. If manu could call the vedas ‘veda shAstra’, veda shAstraM sanAtanam (12-99), the tantras can be called ‘siddhAnta shAstra’ with equal force. For instance, shankara calls sAmkhya, a tantra. Why, the sAmkhya kArikA does so itself, by calling its own darshana a tantra in kArikA.

There is of course the long-standing controversy whether the vedas are really apauruSheya (authorless). While the orthodox believe so, Indologists are of the opinion that the authors of the vedas may be assigned various dates upto 1500 B.C. Recent excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro and also Tilak’s researches have pushed back the origin of the Vedas by many thousands of years. I do not wish to enter into the controversy whether the vedas are apauruSheya or pauruSheya. The point relevant here is that the shrutis lose their claim as revealed literature. If the vedas have their authors, then the tantras will have to have their authors. These very same indologists are of the opinion that the Agamas and tantras are of later origin than the vedas and that they are definitely later than the purANas. They are of the further opinion that the purANas themselves are newly created Post-Buddhistic literature specially formulated in such a way as to offset Buddhistic influences and boost Hinduism. If that is so, tAntric literature is to be considered as of very late origin and cannot be deemed as pari passu with the vedas as claimed earlier in terms of the accredited convictions of the orthodox schools.

The above argument of the Indologists that the tantras are of recent origin later to the purANas, can be easily refuted by pointing out that in the various purANas themselves we find mention made both of the vaidiki and tAntriki forms of worship.

So also the allegation that the tantras are of Post-Buddhistic origin can be easily refuted. Buddha himself condemned the tAntric worships of brahmA, indra, viShNu, kAtyAyanI, gaNapati and others. lalitavistAra, a famous Buddhist work, makes mention of buddha’s denouncement of tAntric cults in its seventeenth chapter. After Buddha, we find Buddhists themselves began to have their own innumerable tantras. They veritably began to worship innumerable deities such as Adi buddha, prajnA pAramitA, manjushrI, tArA, Arya tArA and so on. In other words, Buddhists could not resist the temptations of having their own Tantras on the lines similar to those of the Hindus.

Thus, if Buddha could denigrate tAntric worship, the tantras should have existed earlier to Buddhism.

Quite in contrast with the considered opinion of the Indologists, one of the tantras themselves, namely nArAyaNIya tantra points out that the vedas themselves have originated from the yAmaLas, a class of tantras of considerable importance and also magnitude. The principle yAmaLas are eight in number namely:

1. Rudra yAmaLa
2. Skanda yAmaLa
3. Brahma yAmaLa
4. viShNu yAmaLa
5. Yama yAmaLa
6. Vayu yAmaLa
7. Kubera yAmaLa
8. Indra yAmaLa

Just as the original shaiva tantras or Agamas represent the rudra or sadAshiva tradition, the yAmaLas represent the bhairava tradition and it is further narrated that the yAmaLas were first communicated to mankind by the following eight bhairavas: svacChanda, krodha, unmatta, ugra & kapAlin, jhankAra, shekhara and vijaya.

The yAmaLa tradition believes in a huge pantheon of gods and goddesses; the tAntric sAdhana here is open to all castes. Some of the yAmaLas describe that the rigveda originated from rudra yAmaLa, sAma veda from the brahma yAmaLa, yajurveda fom viShNu yAmaLa and atharva veda from shakti yAmaLa.

Siddha sarvAnanda in his compendium called sarvollAsa means to convey the idea that the yAmaLas are so ancient that they precede even the tantras. All these of course are highly controversial issues. According to brahma yAmaLa, it is believed that Ishvara communicated the secret knowledge to shrIkaNTha. This shrIkaNTha reincarnated himself near prayAga and communicated the tantra in 1,25,000 anuShTubh shlokas to various disciples and that one of those disciples was a bhairava and that was how many bhairavas came to know of it.

According to mahAsiddhasAra tantra, bhArata is divided into three krAntas or sub-divisions and eah krAnta is said to possess 64 tantras. The three krAntas are:

1. Vishnukranta
2. RathakrAnta
3. Ashvakranta

Shaktisangama tantra defines the krAntas:

1. The land east of the vindya hills extending upto Java comprise Vishnukranta.
2. The country north of the vindhya hills including mainland China forms Rathakranta.
3. Rest of India westwards is Ashvakranta.

Hindu temples could be found in Indo China, Indonesia, Bali and many other islands. kAlI, tArA, rudra could be found all over the far east and south-east Asia.

Even Egypt came under Ashvakranta and worship of the Indian linga was very popular there. In the brhannIla tantra it is said worship of paramAnanda was vogue in Persia. In Rhodesia, phallic emblems made of gold have been discovered. The worship of Ashtaroth, Astarte, Ishtar referred to in the Old Testament of the Bible is interpreted to be none other than the bIjAkShara strIm of tArA. Thus it is evident that tAntric worship was widely prevalent in ancient times in many parts of the world other than India even and that Indian influence was all over Asia, Africa and the Middle East too. The ShaT shAmbhava rahasya mentions four famous sampradAyas of bhArata, four famous schools very popular all over:

1. gauDa in the East
2. Kerala in the Center/South
3. kAshmIra in the North
4. vilAsa, an eclectic sampradAya all over.

Whether we agree with the view or not that the vedas themselves have their source in the yAmaLas, we can at least be convinced that the tantras are of very ancient origin and they are not post-purANic or post-Buddhistic literature.

Then there is another insinuation against the tantras namely that the Agamas and tantras represent a revolt against the vedas. The objectioners quote the bhagavadgItA sometimes, stanzas 45 and 46 in Canto II. Sometimes it is argued that the tantras cannot be on par with the Vedas for the simple reason that in many places black magic is described in the tantras, that in some parts they contain obscenities and that therefore they are not of good taste. In reply we may raise the question - what about the vedas themselves?

Manu says:

shrutiratharvA~NgirasIH kuryAdityavichArayan.h |
vAk.h shastraM vai brAhmaNasya tena hanyAdarIn.h dvijaH ||

On certain occasions a brahmin can undoubtedly make use of the atharvaveda. A brahmin’s strength lies in his tongue (vAk) meaning thereby mantra. To overcome an enemy a brahmin is permitted to resort to the practices enjoined in the atharvaveda. The following sUktas deal directly with the so-called ‘black arts’ and magic in the atharva veda:

First khaNDa - sUktas 14-17
Second khaNDa - sUktas 17-31
Third khaNDa - sUktas 25-30
Fourth khaNDa - sUktas 12-16-36
Fifth khaNDa - sUktas 14-23-27
Sixth khaNDa - sUktas 37-105-130

Even in Rigveda and yajurveda, there are references to abhichAra krtya:

Rigveda - Tenth maNDala - Suktas 14, 16, 163 and 58-60.
Yajurveda - taittirIya brAhmaNa - kANDa 2, pra 4, anu -2

To make a sweeping remark that all the tantras teach is Black Art and nothing else is wrong and smacks of an unwarranted hasty generalization and bad faith. There may be separate tantras exclusively meant for Black Arts and they are exclusively known by their distinctive appellations such as gAruDa, vAma, bhUta etc.

If the vedas themselves could advocate and enunciate a few items of black arts to bring couples together or punish the enemies of the veda and brahmins, why should any one denounce an assemblage of tantras? When we take into consideration any discourse on Creation in the vedas, we can easily observe similarity of views between the vaidikI and tAntrikI shrutis. Everyone is aware of the pancha brahma mantras beginning with sadyojAtam prapadyAmi and ending with IshAnaH sarvavidyAnAm. To understand the pancha brahma mantras, we have to clearly know about the pancha sAdAkhyas. So also about the mantras such as adhvapate etc. To understand the significance of these mantras it is absolutely necessary to have recourse into the Agamas. The brahma-svarUpa as suggested in the shruti is clearly explained and illustrated in the Tantras.

Tantra is defined as:

tanyate vistAryate j~nAnamanena iti |

That which amplifies and nurtures knowledge. Tantra is that branch of knowledge that not only enlarges and illustrates, but also sustains shruti j~nAna.

In kAmikAgama, it is stated:

tanoti vipulAnarthAn.h tattvamantrasamanvitAn.h |
trANaM cha kurute yasmAt.h tantramityabhidhIyate ||

Not only does tantra promulgate profound knowledge concerning tattva (Cosmology) and mantra (the science of mystic sounds), it breathes life into them so to say and makes them practicable. It helps in true practical realization through self-elevation.

One of the oldest tantras, the niHshvAsa tantra samhitA is of the view that tantra is just a culmination of the esoteric aspects of vedAnta and sAmkhya for the reason that it upholds the ultimacy of puruSha with the validity of the world as an expression of His shakti. prapanchasAra cites vaidika mantras and mahAvAkyas. Meru tantra describes mantras as part of the vedas. According to prANatoshinI tantra, tantra is an extension of the vedas. Niruttara tantra calls tantra the fifth veda. kulArNava tantra reiterates that the shAstras have as their heart both the veda and the tantra.

Matsyamukha tantra says that the tAntric disciple must be a pure soul (shuddhAtmA) and a knower of the vedas. Knowledge of the vedas is largely considered as an essential preliminary to initiation into the tAntric cult. mahArudra yAmaLa says that a person bereft of veda-kriyA is disqualified for the study and practice of tantra. Gandharva tantra asserts that the tAntric sAdhaka must be an Astika and have faith in the vedas.

That Hinduism or sanAtana dharma as it should be rightly called is revealed in the six darshanas is a well-known fact. The six darshanas are the six stages through which the mind progresses in its quest for brahman. The six darshanas are the six limbs. These six systems are not to be treated separately. Tantra thus is also precisely a darshana and a sAdhanA shAstra. In general it lays down different forms of practice for the attainment of the highest aim of human existence by one living the ordinary life of a householder. In this respect, tantra corresponds to the upAsanA part of the shruti. It helps in achieving two ends namely:

1. Abhyudaya - General progress or uplift
2. niHshreyasa - Attaining liberation or salvation

Tantra may aptly be described as sAdhana reduced to a science. The siddhi achieved is a demonstrable fact, experimentally verified. Tantra not only helps in achieving the supreme end of self-realization and liberation but also helps to achieve the ordinary ends of living existence such as dharma, artha and kAma. The tantra shAstra is based on the firm convictions that mantra is efficacious, that yantra is potent and that ultimate siddhi at the level of sacchidAnanda is a certainty. It helps in the coordination of karma, yoga, jnAna and bhakti. Although it emphasizes will and effort on the part of the individual sAdhaka, it glorifies self-surrender to the Almighty and seeking Her mercy and grace. It demands bhakti and prapatti. The tantra employs both the exoteric rituals of the vedic kind and the the esoteric rituals of the yogic type. The tantras in general simplify the vedic rituals and make greater use of esoteric symbols. 




shrI kubjikA stavarAja

श्रीभैरव उवाच
जय त्वं मालिनी देवी निर्मले मलनाशिनी |
ज्ञानशक्तिः प्रभुर्देवी बुद्धिस्त्वं तेजवर्धिनी ||
जननी सर्वभूतानां संसारेऽस्मिन् व्यवस्थिता |
माता वीरावली देवी कारुण्यं कुरु वत्सले ||

जयति परमतत्त्वनिर्वाणसंभूति तेजोमयी निःसृता व्यक्तरूपा परा ज्ञानशक्तिस्त्वमिच्छा क्रिया ऋज्विरेखा पुनः सुप्तनागेन्द्रवत् कुण्डलाकाररूपा प्रभुर्नादशक्तिस्तु संगीयसे भासुरा ज्योतिरूपा सुरूपा शिवा ज्येष्ठनामा च वामा च रौद्री अनाख्याम्बिका बिन्दुरूपावधूतार्ध चन्द्राकृतिस्त्वं त्रिकोणा अ उ म कारा इकारा एकार संयोजितैकत्त्वमापद्यसे तत्त्वरूपा भगाकारवत् स्थायिनी आदितत्त्वोद्भवा योनिरूपा च श्रीकण्ठसंबोधिनी रुद्रमाता ततानन्तशक्तिः सुसूक्ष्मा त्रिमूर्त्यामरीशार्घिनी भारभूतिस्तिथीशात्मिका स्थाणुभूता हराख्या च झण्टीश भौक्तीश सद्यात्मिकानुग्रहेशार्चिता क्रूरसङ्गे महासेनसंभोगिनी षोडशान्तामृता बिन्दुसन्दोह निष्यन्द देहप्लुताशेष सम्यक्परानन्द निर्वाणसौख्यप्रदे भैरवी भैरवोद्यानक्रीडानुसक्ते परा मालिनी रुद्रमालार्चिते रुद्रशक्तिः खगी सिद्धयोगेश्वरी सिद्धमाता विभुः शब्दराशीति योन्यार्णवी वाग्विशुद्धासि वागेश्वरी मातृकासिद्धमिच्छा क्रिया मङ्गला सिद्धलक्ष्मी विभूतिः सुभूतिर्गतिः शाश्वता ख्याति नारायणी रक्तचण्डा करालेक्षणा भीमरूपा महोच्छुष्म यागप्रिया त्वं जयन्त्याजिता रुद्रसम्मोहिनी त्वं नवात्मानदेवस्य चोत्सङ्गयानाश्रिता मन्त्रमार्गानुगैर्मन्त्रिभिः वीरबोधानुरक्तैः सुभक्तैश्च संपूज्यसे देवि पञ्चामृतैर्दिव्य पानोत्सवैरेकजन्म द्विजन्म त्रिजन्म चतुःपञ्चषट् सप्त जन्मोद्भवैस्तैश्च नारैः शुभैः तर्प्यसे मद्यमांसप्रिये मन्त्रविद्याव्रतोद्भासिभिः मुण्डकङ्काल कापालिभिः दिव्यचर्यानुरूढैः नमस्कार ॐकार स्वाहास्वधाकार वौषड्वषट्कार फट्कार हूङ्कार जातीभिरेतैश्च मन्त्राक्षरोच्चारिभिः चाक्षसूत्रावळीजापिभिः साधकैः पुत्रकैर्मातृभिर्मण्डले दीक्षितैर्योगिभिः योगिनीवृन्दमेलापकैः रुद्रक्रीडालसैः पूज्यसे योगिनां योगसिद्धिप्रदे देवि त्वं पद्मपत्रोपमैर्लोचनैः स्नेहपूर्णैस्तु यं पश्यसे तस्य दिव्यान्तरिक्षस्थिता सप्तपाताल षट्खेचरी सिद्धिरव्याहता वर्तते |

भक्तितो यः पठेद्दण्डकं एककालं द्विकालं त्रिकालं शुचिः संस्मरेद्यः सदा मानवः सोऽपि शस्त्राग्निचौरार्णवे पर्वताग्रेऽपि संरक्षसे देवि पुत्रानुरागान् महालक्ष्मि ये हेमचौरान्यदारानुसक्तांश्च ब्रह्मघ्न गोघ्ना महादोषदुष्टा विमुञ्चन्ति संस्मृत्य देवि त्वदीयं मुखं पूर्णचन्द्रानुकारं स्फुरद्दिव्यमाणिक्य सत्कुण्डलोद्घृष्ट गण्डस्थलं येऽपि बद्धा दृढैर्बन्धनैः नागपाशैः भुजाबद्ध पादार्गळैस्तेऽपि त्वन्नामसङ्कीर्तनाद्देवि मुञ्चन्ति घोरैर्महाव्याधिभिः संस्मृत्य पादारविन्दद्वयं ते महाकालि कालग्नितेजःप्रभे स्कन्दगोविन्दब्रह्मेन्द्र चन्द्रार्कपुष्पायुधैः मौलिमालालि सत्पद्मकिञ्जल्कसत्किञ्जरैः सेव्यसे सर्ववीराम्बिके भैरवी भैरवस्ते शरण्यागतोऽहं क्षमस्वापराधं क्षमस्वापराधं शिवे ||

|| नमः श्रीपुरभैरव्यै ||

mahAsudarshana vyUha

There are nine Supreme mantras of sudarshana, the chakrarAja of Lord shrImannArAyaNa. It is said that through the vyUha of sudarshana that we describe below, the core power of mahAsaMkarShaNa mUrti is invoked and prayogas including those of dhUmAvatI, bagalAmukhI, simhamukhI, grdhramukhI, pratya~NgirA, shUlinI, sharabha, bhairava, aghora, kShetrapAla, vaTayakShinI and madhumatI are very easily defeated through its successful application.

The navaratna mantras of the great chakrarAja which are derived from the tejas of mahAnR^isiMha are as below:

1. sudarshana bIja
2. sudarshana piNDa
3. ShaDakShara mantrarAja
4. saMj~na mantra
5. kAlachakra mantra
6. pravartaka agnipiNDa mantra
7. nivartaka varuNapiNDa mantra
8. sudarshana gAyatrI
9. sarvashaktigrAsa mahAmantra

The following mantras are used through saMpuTIkaraNa with each of the navaratna mantras:

1. shuddha praNava
2. vaiShNava ShaDaksharI
3. aShTAkSharI
4. dvAdashAkSharI
5. mantrarAja nrsiMha
6. prAsAda
7. hamsa
8. ajapA
9. mUla gAyatrI
10. anutArA
11. sarasvatI
13. rati
14. mahAlakShmI
15. tArA

Thus, this results in a vyUha of 144 mantras (including the navaratna-s in their pure form) - invincible and capable of infinite power. While each of the mantras, with or without their saMpuTa, has its own R^iShyAdayaH, the eight standard sudarshana mudrA-s are used commonly:

sha~NkhaM chakraM gadA padmaM musalaM khaDgameva cha |
dhenu~ncha yamapAsha~ncha mudrA hyetAH prakIrtitAH ||

Stop Fussing over the Sufis please .....

The debate on the proposal to build a mosque at Ground Zero continues to hog the headlines but I took special notice of a certain point made by the Imam who thinks building the Mosque is necessary in order to prevent the enragement of the Radical Islamists in the Middle East. And he claims his being a Sufi automatically implies his non-association with Radical Islam. The first question to ask would be whether there is something called non-radical Islam? There probably are a few non-radical Moslems. It is quite incorrect to assume that the Sufis are all about love, peace and religious harmony. History paints a drastically different picture. When I mentioned this to some of my American friends, they expressed total disbelief and threw around a big fuss.

Now, some examples for our friends:

Hazrat Shaikh Khwaja Syed Muhammad Muinuddin Chishti was accompanied to Ajmer and Khwaja Qutubuddin to Delhi by Muḥammad Shahabuddin Ghori, famously known as Muḥammad of Ghor. Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Masud Ganjshakar aka Baba Fareed came to Pakpattan (now in Pakistan) and Hazrat Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya of Dargah Hazarat Nizamuddin came to Delhi accompanying a contingent of the Muslim invaders.

- Islamization of India, Purushottam

Bengal was not conquered by seventeen Turkish cavaliers (of Bakhtiyar Khalji); but by the barah-auliyas, or twelve legendary Muslim militant saints, the Pirs who cropped up after the seed of Islam had been broadcast in the plains of Bengal.

- Prof K R Qanungo

Fourteenth century happened to be a period of expansion of Muslim authority in Bengal and adjoining territories. A significant part was played in this process by the warrior saints who were eager to take up the cause of any persecuted community. This often resulted [in clash] with the native authority, followed by, almost invariably by annexation.

- The Muslim Community of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent, Dr. I H Qureshi

Whenever a live Hindu fell into the hands of the victorious king he was pounded to bits under the feet of the elephants…

- Amir Khusrau, the famous Sufi Poet writes thus!

According to 14th and 15th century legends, Ismaili propagandist evolved a belief for Hindu converts that Ali, the husband of Fatima, daughter of Prophet Muhammad, was the 10th incarnation of Vishnu, that Adam was another aspect of Siva and that Muhammad was in fact Brahma.

- A History of Sufism in India, Athar Abbas Rizvi

- Shahid Salar Masood Ghazi was a Sufi who was Mohammad Ghazni’s nephew and persuaded him to destroy the Temple at Somnath. The travelled across India along with his father and a few hundred thousand cavalry, destroying Hindus. Graves were built for those Moslems killed by the defending Hindu armies and some of those are now considered shrines and worshipped devoutly by mostly Hindus!

- Hazrat Shaikh Khwaja Syed Muhammad Muinuddin Chisti of Ajmer is probably the most well-known Sufi saint in India. The lobby of secularists frequently use his example to paint a picture of Islam as a religion of peace.

It is told that once when he went to perform the pilgrimage to the holy tomb of the Prophet Muhammad, one day from the inside of the pure and blessed tomb a cry came: ‘’Send for Muinuddin.’’ When Muinuddin came to the door he stood there and he saw that presence speak to him. ‘’Muinuddin, you are the essence of my faith; but must go to Hindustan. There is a place called Ajmer, to which one of my sons (descendants) went for a holy war, and now he has become a martyr, and the place has passed again into the hands of infidels. By the grace of your footsteps there, once more shall Islam be made manifest, and the Kafirs be punished by God’s wrath.’’ Accordingly Muinuddin reached Ajmer in Hindustan. There he said: ‘Praise be to God, May he be exalted, for I have gained possession of the property of my brother. Although, at that time there were many temples of idols around the lake, when the Khwaja saw them, he said: ‘If God and His Prophet so will, it will not be long before I raze to the ground these idol-temples. This is followed by tales of Khwaja coming over those Hindu deities and teachers who were strongly opposed to his settling down there.

- The shrine and cult of Munuddin Chishti of Ajmer, P M Curie

As an author notes:

“It appears that shorn of miracles the story simply suggests that Khwaja came to India determined to eradicated idolatry and paganism and establish Islam in its place. He met with a lot of resistance from the local governor of Rai Pithaura (Prithviraj Chauhan) besides resistance from Rai Pithaura himself. With the help of the immense treasure at his disposal and having converted many gullible Hindus to his faith, he became strong enough to invite Rai Pithaura to convert to Islam. Having failed to persuade him, Khwaja sent a message inviting Sultan Shihabuddin Ghori to attack India. Shihabuddin made unsuccessful invasions. Rai Pithaura always allowed him to go back unmolested after his defeat. Ultimately, however, he defeated Prithvi Raj Chauhan and killed him”.

All were ignorant of Allah and his prophet. None had seen the Kaba. None had heard of the greatness of Allah. After Muinuddin arrived in India, “Because of his sword, instead of idols and temples, there are Mosques, Mimbars and Mihrabs in the land of unbelief. In the land where the sayings of the idolaters were heard, there is now the sound of Allah-O-Akbar.

- Siyar al-arifin

The Sultan forgetting all his royal duties took pleasure day and night in destroying idols. He destroyed idols of Martand, Vishnu, Ishan, Chakravarthy and Tripureshwar. Not a forest, a village or a city escaped where the Turushk and his minister Suha passed…

- Kalhana in his Rajataramgini on Sikandar Butshikan

There hardly ever was a Sufi who walked the Indian soil that seems to have had no ulterior motive.

Pankajalochana



We happened to hear of an updated concert schedule from Gayatri. While those interested should check the Musical duo's website for exact dates and venues, here is a summary of what we heard from Gayatri.

Sep 24 - New Jersey
Sep 25 - Atlanta
Oct 2 - LA
Oct 3 - San Jose
Oct 8 - Dallas
Oct 10 - Boston

Miscellaneous Discourses on Buddhist Tantra

- Ringu Tulku Rinpoche

Compassion and Practice of Tantra

Somewhere in Tibet in a cave there was a very good lama in retreat. He was practicing, when suddenly something appeared in front of him. He saw it as a negative, obstructing spirit. So he tried to say some mantras to drive it away. But it did not go away. It said mantras back. Then he visualized himself as a very strong, wrathful deity and again said mantras. In return, that spirit became even more strong and wrathful and said mantras back. After that, the lama realized that this was a spirit of someone who had practiced all those wrathful deities and mantras. When he understood that, he became very sad, and genuine concern and compassion arose for the person who had become this evil spirit after practicing the Vajrayana methods. Within this genuine concern and compassion, he forgot about his visualization of the wrathful deity, the mantras, and all those things, and his compassion overtook him. At that moment, the spirit began disappearing in front of him. It became smaller and smaller, until in a very weak voice it said, “That I did not have,” and disappeared.

Empowerment and Initiation

Without having received empowerment, one is not allowed to practice any Vajrayana teaching. It is not that easy to illustrate the meaning of the four empowerments. Empowerment is a teaching, a very direct way of instruction, which conveys the very essence of all teachings simultaneously. It is also an introduction to the mind itself. During empowerment a strong condition is created such that the conceptualizations of the student are cut completely, and he or she can obtain a glimpse of the truth. For this reason, it is said that when a highly realized teacher grants empowerment to a highly developed disciple, the disciple can reach realization within that very moment.

Empowerment involves many different aspects. It involves the quality of the teacher’s lifetime of preparation and practice, as well as the quality of the student’s own preparation. This latter aspect is most important. Empowerment depends upon the relationship between the master and the disciple. It relies on the firmness and completeness of their trust and confidence, since it is a transmission from mind to mind. It requires a very strong understanding and trust from both sides; this is called “blessing” in English, though this word is not a sufficiently accurate translation. The Tibetan is jin gyi lab pa and means to be transformed through a certain environment and influence. This is the meaning of “blessing” from the Buddhist point of view. It denotes a total transformation from the core of our being, which is induced by different things happening around us. Empowerment, in its actual sense, should lead us to receive this blessing and to undergo a genuine and complete transformation. The same is true for each of the different methods provided within the Vajrayana: mantra, meditation practices, visualization techniques, and so forth. They all have the same objective: the total transmutation of our body, speech, mind, and our entire being. Because empowerment involves all four of these, there are four empowerments.

The four empowerments are called “vase empowerment,” “secret empowerment,” “wisdom empowerment,” and “word empowerment.” The basic constituents that the empowerments work on are the channels, winds, and the essence, called tsa, lung, and tiglé in Tibetan. These three are used in connection with the mind. Thus, the first empowerment is related to the channels, the second to the essence, the third to the winds or energies, and the fourth to the mind. The purpose of the first empowerment is to awaken and reveal the nirmANa-kAya aspect of the disciple. In the same way, the second empowerment is meant to initiate the manifestation of the sambhoga-kAya; the third, the manifestation of the dharma-kAya; and the fourth, the recognition of the svAbhAvika-kAya aspect of our own being. When these four empowerments or initiations are received for the first time, they are called “seed initiations,” since the teacher plants a seed, which is then cultivated by the disciple to gain an initial understanding and experience.

After that, the teacher will give all the instructions necessary to arrive at an actual and genuine realization. In Tibetan these are called tri. Generally speaking, the entirety of the Vajrayana teachings divides into three methods of instruction, called wang, lung, and tri. These are “empowerment,” “reading transmission,” and “explanation.” Of these three, empowerment is the shortest and most direct manner of instruction. Thereafter, one should ask for the reading transmission, which is the means conveying the permission to practice. The teacher bestows this transmission by reading the text that is to be practiced to the disciple, who is supposed to listen carefully and one-pointedly. Finally, explanation consists of a very detailed, experiential, and word-by-word elucidation of the particular transmission. Once these three have been received, one can proceed to the application of the actual practice.

In the course of application the four empowerments are employed again and again. They are the heart of every Vajrayana practice and one applies them in the form of visualization. This is called lam wang, “the path empowerment.” This term indicates that, in the context of the Vajrayana, empowerment actually constitutes the path. Practice is nothing other than the application of the four empowerments through which we purify body, speech, mind, and our entire being. We do this in order to realize the true nature of everything and to reveal true self, which emerges as the four kAyas.

We may wonder what kind of preparation is needed to be able to receive empowerment in its actual sense. The first and most important prerequisite is to find a teacher we can trust completely and unwaveringly. In this context, blind trust is of no avail. Our confidence needs a foundation. The teacher has to be fully qualified, and the disciple’s trust must be based on the recognition of this. In addition to that, every aspect of our previous Dharma activity—be it it study, purification practice, accumulation of merit, or any other type of exercise—is part of our preparation. Even empowerment belongs to our preparation, as long as it has not led us to see the true nature of everything. The aspect of study plays an especially important role at the beginning. In order to be able to practice properly, a correct and clear understanding of the Buddhist teachings is required. We need to know how they relate to and build upon each other and where each instruction belongs. If we endeavor to gain this knowledge first, our practice will have a sound basis.

Everything is a preparation. In this context, we cannot single out certain points. Whatever contributes to our total development—any understanding we gain, any study, purification, and so forth—is part of our preparation. This is even true of empowerment itself, as a practitioner will normally receive more than one. It is extremely rare that one’s first empowerment results in total transformation. Especially in the view of the Tibetan tantric tradition, it is thought that one’s first empowerment is usually not received in a complete way—it is obvious that most people do not become enlightened in the course of that same evening. According to this understanding, empowerment plants a seed that has to be cultivated through practice. In this way, empowerment is also a preparation, as is every aspect of our practice and activity in daily life.

The more we gradually gain understanding, the more our way of seeing things will be transformed. As we incorporate genuine experience and realization into our stream of being, as we become more mature, we will derive greater benefit from the next initiation. For this reason, we may receive a hundred or more empowerments before we reach the maturity required to be able to receive initiation in its actual and final sense. When this happens, all the preceding initiations, as well as all the other aspects of our practice, will manifest within it. Empowerment, in this true and ultimate sense, is not something that the teacher gives to the disciple. It comes from within and is equivalent to full realization.

Empowerment is transmitted in four different ways, described as “elaborate,” “non-elaborate,” “very non-elaborate,” and “extremely non-elaborate.” This indicates that empowerment does not necessarily involve a great deal of ritual. For those who have an affinity for ceremony and who attach great importance to outer form, empowerment can be conveyed in a very elaborate and ritualized manner. For a disciple who does not have this tendency or has an adverse affinity, the teacher can just use the environment, or even no outer support at all. No matter which kind of empowerment we receive, the most important points are our own preparation and state of mind.

The lineage of the Guru is of crucial importance. A reliable ground is needed to evaluate the genuineness of a teacher and see whether an instruction is right or wrong. Anyone can turn up and claim, “I am truly great! I know everything!” But if we have connected with an authentic lineage, we will not fall into traps. Knowing where an instruction comes from enables us to judge its validity. Once we make a decision to pursue serious practice, we will not want to accept everything that comes our way and waste our time on fantasies. Instead, we will look for quality, for something that is pure and authentic and sustained by genuine realization.

In modern terms we might say that a teacher should have a good reputation and proper references, so that we are able to trace the origin of his or her teaching. When a pure and authentic lineage is present, we will find instructions that stem from a truly experienced great master who has received them from an equally accomplished teacher, and so forth. Then, we can have justified confidence that we are practicing the right kind of teaching. Confidence is essential since doubts can arise anytime. Doubt is a very common phenomenon—everybody has doubts. In the course of our Dharma practice, we will fall into doubts again and again until we reach the first bhumi, or level of enlightenment. This is the point at which the truth of cessation is seen directly to a certain extent—no longer in terms of a passing experience but in terms of stable realization.

The Creation Stage Practices

In Vajrayana practice the process of birth and death is exercised through the visualization of a deity. Which deity is visualized will depend on each students’s personal affinity and need, and therefore will depend on the individual instruction of his or her spiritual teacher. Depending upon different sadhanas, or meditation texts, the deity is either visualized in front of oneself, or above the crown of one’s head, or one visualizes oneself as the deity.

Any visualization is preceded by three types of samadhi. During the first samadhi the mind is left in its suchness in order to allow the mind to manifest in its natural state, which is the union of emptiness and compassion. This manifestation is the second samadhi, from which birth takes place in the form of a seed syllable or a color. This initial creation forms the third samadhi, which then transforms into the particular deity to be visualized.

The purpose of any visualization practice is to purify the four modes of birth that we may have undergone countlessly during our various preceding lifetimes. Each of these has left karmic imprints in our mind that need to be cleared away. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that one thorough purification will take care of everything. Every Vajrayana practice is complete in itself. It is therefore not necessary to practice all the different forms of creation stage that the old yogi describes. These are mainly due to different sadhanas. Which of these is used individually again depends on the personal relationship between master and disciple.

Creation stage practice itself has seven parts, of which the first five are preliminaries, which will give rise to five experiences, those of movement, attainment, familiarization, stability, and final accomplishment. The preliminaries are: focusing on the deity, curing defects in the visualization, separating from the deity, bringing the deity onto the path, and mixing the mind with the deity. In their course, eight signs of clarity and stability will manifest, which are the sign that the highest stage of shiné meditation is achieved.

When these signs are present, one is prepared for the sixth point, the actual creation stage practice, called “Actualizing the Deity.” It is carried out within the framework of “the four nails,” which are the nails of samadhi, of mantra, of irreversible understanding, and of manifestation and absorption. These nails again form four stages, called the “approach” practice, the “close approach” practice, the “accomplishment” practice, and the “great accomplishment” practice. It is important to understand that the practice of creation stage is not something that is mastered easily. It may take a lifetime or even many lifetimes until the meditative capacity described as its result is achieved, being in fact the capacity of an enlightened being. Nevertheless, the Vajrayana takes the fruit as the path. For this reason, one trains in the full content of the sadhana to be practiced right from the beginning, thereby mastering the different aspects of creation step-by-step.

The seventh aspect of creation stage practice involves the way to carry its impact into every aspect of life. It teaches the view of utter purity and how to practice in light of this view during daytime, during sleep, and during dreams.

During the first samadhi, “the samadhi of suchness,” the mind is allowed to be in its actual uncreated state without making any changes or modifications. The mind is left the way it is, in its present state. It is allowed to abide in the present moment without putting any concept onto it. This is the ground samadhi that stands at the beginning of any creation stage practice. One always starts with leaving one’s mind in its suchness, in complete nowness, in its true uncontrived nature without adding anything to it.

When doing so, the nature of our mind itself proves to be radiant with goodness and warmth, with all-encompassing compassion that manifests in spontaneous bliss. This is the second samadhi, the samadhi of overall appearance. Here the term “compassion” is to be understood in light of the Vajrayana. It is not compassion in the sense of feeling sad and full of pity upon seeing something negative happen. In the experience of the Vajrayana, compassion manifests within spontaneous bliss. This is ultimate bodhichitta, the expression of the deep insight into the true nature of our mind and everything else. Once everything is seen as it is, it is also seen that every being suffers unnecessarily. Suffering is not the nature of sentient beings. Their nature is the union of emptiness and bliss. Nevertheless, as long as this is not understood, sentient beings suffer tremendously in various ways. Upon seeing this, great compassion arises in someone who understands the true nature of mind. This compassion is completely uncontrived and free from any artifice, such as thinking, “I should be kind to my fellow beings.” This is called “the samadhi of overall appearance or manifestation.” For a beginner, though, who does not realize the nature of mind and of everything else, this means to give rise to the feeling of compassion using the methods taught in the Mahayana system.

The foregoing is to say that there are two aspects, completely inseparable from each other. The first is emptiness, the experience of our own true nature or of the way everything really is. This is totally unchanging and cannot be altered. The second is compassion, the radiance native to the nature of mind. The manifestation of their union appears in the form of the seed syllable, which can be visualized as a letter like Hung, or Hri, or it can be visualized as a color. This is the third samadhi, called “the samadhi of the seed.”

The three samadhis described above are the essential points within any visualization, or creation stage practice. “Emptiness” can be spoken of in the context of the three samadhis, but this term should not be understood in its literal sense. It stands for the true nature of mind. The mind is allowed to rest in its natural state without adding or removing anything. Then, there is the flow of its natural spontaneous compassion and bliss. From this union of our ultimate nature and its radiance, also called the union of wisdom and compassion, the first birth takes place. The first thought that comes up is taken as the working material to create the visualization. When a thought appears in our mind, we usually think of something: a sound, color, or anything else. Instead of following our habitual pattern, we try to create something that is related to the deity and the visualization we intend to do. This is the seed syllable which then transforms into or gives birth to something else.

The Completion Stage Practices

The purpose of all creation stage practices is to dissolve our attachment to the solidity and independent existence of ourselves and the phenomenal world around us. We create the image of a deity in our mind that stands out clearly in all its features, and yet is neither solid nor real. It comes into the mind like a rainbow and is not graspable in any way. At the same time it radiates all goodness and any perfect quality, thus being an image of the true nature of mind. Nevertheless, it is still an image, a further creation of our mind, and we may easily develop an attachment to this pure and radiant manifestation that we have created. This is a more subtle attachment, but still an attachment.

The purpose of the completion stage is to cut this attachment as well. We come back to the state of mind from which the first creation of the deity arose, to the samadhi of suchness. Thus the wheel comes full circle: the mind is left in complete emptiness. From this emptiness the pure and vivid manifestation of the deity arises, which while present is not different from emptiness, and which then dies—dissolving back into emptiness.

In the context of the Vajrayana, emptiness is to be understood as “emptiness endowed with all perfect aspects.” This refers to the fact that the nature of mind—when realized—proves to be not just empty. It has radiance and displays appearance, manifesting in unceasing play. Thus it is the inseparable union of emptiness and appearance, or of emptiness and clear light.

The stage of completion practice that the old yogi points out refers to this understanding and therefore requires a very high level of insight into the true nature of mind. It is presented here to give an impression, and an inspiration to aspire to the final goal. Completion stage practice, when carried out in this light, has a more elaborate and a totally unelaborate aspect, the first involving a focus and the second being without focus. The former consists of different practices commonly called “yogas,” such as the “six yogas of Naropa.” They are usually practiced in a retreat situation and involve working with the subtle aspects of the psycho-physical body, which are the channels, chakras, bindus, and winds. Although these methods involve a great amount of technique, such as very detailed visualizations and so forth, they are considered as completion stage practices. The completion stage practice without focus means resting in the true nature of mind itself. This is called “Mahamudra” in the Kagyü tradition and “Maha Ati” in the Nyingma tradition.