Understanding Death

Tutelary Avaranas worshiped in Srichakra

In our lineage, Srīcakrārcana involves āvaraṇa pūjā for various other deities.

After the completion of the first half of Srīkrama, one begins with Caturāvṛtti tarpaṇa of Mahāgaṇapati, followed by his pañcāvaraṇa krama. This is followed by the rasāvaraṇa pūjā of Bālā Tripurasundarī. While some worship nine āvaraṇas of Bālā, that is not appropriate here as the deity worshiped here is not Yogabālā (uttarāṅga of Lalitā), but instead is Shaḍakṣarī Bālā, a pūrvāṅga vidyā of Lalitā.

Then the Caturāyatana āvaraṇas are worshiped for Prāsāda Shambhu, Nṛsiṃha and Mārtāṇḍa Bhairava.

This is followed by the Pañcāvaraṇa Krama of Medhā Dakṣiṇāmūrti and the Saptāvaraṇa Krama of Svacchanda Bhairava. The Gurumaṇḍala of Kādi Srīvidyā is next propitiated.

One then worships the standard ten or sixteen āvaraṇas of Mahātripurasundarī.

The deities worshiped next are the Pañcapañcikās, four Samayā deities, and the sixty-four deities of the six āmnāyas. The next set of deities worshiped are: ṣoḍaśa-mūlavidyā, ṣaḍādhāra, ṣaḍdarśana vidyā, ṣaḍadhva vidyā, saptaviṃśati rahasya etc.

Before beginning the worship of ūrdhvāmnāya, one completes the āvaraṇas for Rājaśyāmalā, Mahāvārāhī and Parā Bhattārikā.

The first activity of ūrdhvāmnāya krama is the worship of the 360 raśmis of Shaḍanvaya Mahāśāmbhava krama. This is followed by the single āvaraṇa for Kāmakalā. Next in line is the worship of the six āvaraṇas of ūrdhvāmnāya proper that follow the order of Mahāṣodhā nyāsa. Based on the day of the week, this āvaraṇa can be that of Ugratārā, Bhuvaneśvarī, Dakṣiṇā Kālī, Navaratna Kubjikā, Pañcakrama Guhyakālikā, Shoḍaśī and Mahāṣoḍaśī.

The final three āvaraṇas are for Subrahmaṇya (six for saguṇa Subrahmaṇya and six for nirguṇa Brahmaṇya), Ucchiṣṭa Mahāgaṇapati - Nīlasarasvatī and finally Triśakti Chāmuṇḍā. No other āvaraṇas are worshiped after Chaṇḍī as she marks the grand culmination of Saparyā.

If time and inclinations permit, one can also include the āvaraṇas for the guardian deities of the ten directions, after the worship of Mahāgaṇapati and Bālā: Sudarśana Nṛsiṃha, Mahāsudarśana, Kārtavīryārjuna, Svarṇākarṣaṇa Bhairava, Aghora, Pāśupatāstra, Sharabheśvara, Vanadurgā, Shūlinī and Pratyaṅgirā.

This elaborate procedure is too lengthy for everyday execution, but the upāsaka is advised to practice them at least during the Pañca parvas.

Manidvipa Sandarshanam

Navapashanam and Rasamani

Interestingly there is a case study where a group of scientists examined a supposed Navapashana statue, which can be accessed here.



Siddhas who are familiar with the secrets of upāsanā of Bhagavatī Durgā, point out the presence of navārṇa in two places within the Durgā Saptaśatī.

The name Chāmunḍā is of great significance, as is evident by it’s central position occupied within the famous Navārṇa mantra.

यस्माच्चण्डं च मुण्डं च गृहीत्वा त्वमुपागता |
चामुण्डेति ततो लोके ख्याता देवि भविष्यति ||

The word ‘cāmuṇḍāyai’ is composed of nine letters - च्, म्, ण्, ड्, य् and आ, उ, आ, ऐ - and hence is nāvākṣarī in its own right. This very name is considered very powerful and a mantra in itself.

There is yet another powerhouse verse in Saptaśatī that is described as nāvārṇa by Siddhas of the yore:

शूलेन पाहि नो देवि पाहि खड्गेन चाम्बिके |
घण्टास्वनेन नः पाहि चापज्यानिःस्वनेन च ||

If one carefully observes, this verse contains the letter ‘na’ (न) nine times.

Advaita Vedanta and Kashmir Shaivism

- Nṛsiṃhacaraṇa Paṇḍā

Gauḍapāda holds that the world-appearance is due to the vibration of prāṇa or chitta or vijñāna. Shabdabrahman is a synonym of Prakṛti or Māyā. The concept of Vibration or Spanda is implied in this word. The world of diversity and multiplicity is produced as a result of the vibration of the Māyā śakti, the power of Brahman. The Upaniṣads use the term Sūtrātman for Brahman. The whole universe is the vibration of the single string (sūtra), the Self of which is Brahman. The Brahmasūtra traces the manifestation (vyakta) of the unmanifest (avyakta or Mayā) to the origination of prāṇa and its subsequent vibrations (kampana). Thus the Shaiva Doctrine of Vibration gets support from the Vedāntic scriptures.

But there are some salient points of differences between Kashmir Shaivism and the Vedāntic non-dualism. Brahman is Advaita Vedānta is motionless and actionless. According to the logic of Advaita Vedānta motion is an activity and any activity necessitates an expenditure of energy. If Brahman has activity, it cannot be permanent and unmodifiable. Hence, says Advaita Vedānta, Brahman, the Absolute Being, is devoid of becoming. Its power (Māyāśakti) which is indescribable (anivarcanīya) has attributes and activity. The three strings (sattva, rajas and tamas) produce the empirical universe. Vedānta holds that Māyāśakti vibrates whereas Brahman is completely unmoving (niḥspanda). In the process of the activity of Māyāśakti, there is a perpetual degradation (entropy) of energy. Hence, in order that the available energy of Māyāśakti is not rendered zero and the cosmic process is not brought to a stand-still condition, the world energy is recycled through the process of pralaya (dissolution). The totality of the manifest universe is dissolved in Māyā, to be manifested in the next cycle of emanation, maintenance and dissolution.

In the Shaiva view, a pulsation (spanda) consisting of two phases - a phase of expansion and another phase of contraction - is not a motion. Of course, it is not a motion in the sense of change of position, movement from position P1 to P2. But it cannot be denied that pulsation is a movement. Any movement needs expenditure of energy and pulsation (vibration) is not possible without expenditure of energy.

By “pulsation”, we refer to the cosmic cycles of emanation, sustenance and dissolution and also the perpetual pulsations with regard to the sustenance of the universe. The atoms, the molecules, the galaxies and the super-galaxies are all products of the pulsations of the second type. There is no loss of energy is any pulsation; there is, however, degradation of energy (conversion of utilizable to non-utilizable) in the second type. The existence and the activities of the universe necessarily involve degradation of energy. The degraded energy is reconverted to utilizable energy in the process of cosmic dissolution (pralaya). If considered from this point of view, the Doctrine of Vibration is free from any conceptual defect.

In Advaita Vedānta, Brahman is functionless and Māyā is active. This is however not the case in Kashmir Shaivism, in which Paramaśiva, the Universal Consciousness, is ever active. He is self-luminous light (Prakāśa); He is also the self-conscious and active agent. He is the Svātantrya śakti (the Absolute Freedom of the Divine), otherwise known as Vimarśa, appearing as the Power of Will (Iccāśakti), the Power of Action (Kriyāśakti) and the Power of Knowledge (Jñānaśakti).

In reality, Shakti is one, although Her manifestations are many. The Shaiva holds that the power (śakti) is non-different from the possessor of the power - śaktiśaktimatorabhedaḥ. There is no Shiva without Shakti nor is Shakti without Shiva. Like fire and heat, Shiva and Shakti are ever non-different. Prakāśa is the Shiva polarity and Vimarśa is the Shakti polarity of the undivided unity of the Universal Consciousness. In fact, Shakti vibrates, but the agency of the vibration is attributed to Paramaśiva Who is free from duality. Thus both in Advaita Vedānta and the Spanda philosophy, it is Shakti that vibrates. The details of the concepts of Māyā and Shakti in the two systems are not identical; there are subtle differences which are not insignificant. But, at least on the surface, the one common factor that needs emphasis here is that the active agent is Shakti, named as Vimarśa or Māyā. Even though the Pratyabhijñā and Spanda philosophy is monistic, the Spandaśakti (the Energy of Creative Pulsation) has been termed as śāṅkarī (of śaṅkara or Maheśvara) in Kṣemarāja’s propitiatory verses in his Spandanirṇaya. Vasugupta, in his Shivasūtra, has prayed to Shankara in the first verse and has used the term śāṅkaraṃ caitanyam for the same Svātantrya śakti. Thus, as Māyā is the power of Brahman, so also is Shakti, the power of Maheśvara.

There is both idealism and realism in Pratyabhijñā philosophy. Reality is Universal Consciousness. Without undergoing any change and affecting its undivided, unitary existence, it manifests as the world of diversity and multiplicity. It reflects on its own mirror. This is the doctrine of appearance (ābhāsavāda) in the Pratyabhijñā philosophy. But, in spite of this concept of ābhāsa (appearance), the world is real in this system.

Advaita Vedānta is absolute idealism. Brahman is Pure Consciousness and is the Reality. The world is an illusion; it is not real although not non-existent. A rope is mistaken, due to ignorance, as a snake. In this case, the rope is the substratum (adhiṣṭhāna) and the snake is the illusory appearance. And so is the world which is the illusory appearance of the substratum, Brahman. The whole cosmos is ever-changing. But all these changes are apparent only. Any change is not real since there is nothing other than Brahman that does not change. As gold takes forms of a ring, a necklace, a bangle and still remains as the same gold, the change being in the form and name (ṇāma rūpa) only without changes in the substance, so does Brahman appear as the manifold world of names and forms without undergoing any modification. This is the vivartavāda (doctrine of apparent change) of Advaita Vedānta. There is pratibimbavāda (doctrine of reflection) in Advaita Vedānta. According to this doctrine, the one Brahman (Self or Consciousness) is reflected on its power, Māyā and also on the empirical subtle bodies (liṅgaśarīras). The former reflected image is īśvara (god) and latter reflected images are the empirical selves (jīvas). Although the source of the reflected images (jīvas) is one Brahman only, each jīva is different from the others. One Sun is reflected on many water-reservoirs to appear as many Suns and so is Brahman.

If the fundamentality of the ābhāsavāda of Pratyabhijñā and the pratibimbavāda of Advaita Vedānta is considered at the exclusion of the minute details of the two systems, there seems to be more commonness and less distinctions. Realism, in its rigorous form, does not operate in the Spanda philosophy. Reality (the Universal Consciousness) is one and one only. Due to the vibration or pulsation of one of its bipoles, the world of diversity and multiplicity appears. As different musical tones are produced by the vibration of the string of the violin, so appears the manifold world as a result of the vibration of the Shakti of the Self. This is the essence of the Spanda philosophy. It does not stand the rigors of strict realism. Thus it is not much meaningful to say that Advaita Vedānta is illusionistic and Spanda philosophy is realistic. There has been much confusion over the use of the word “illusion”. Saaṅkarācārya does not deny the existence of the world. He recognizes the absolute existence of Brahman and refutes the absoluteness of the existence of the world. And so is Shaiva monism that recognizes Paramaśiva as the Absolute Universal Consciousness and the world with its phases of manifestation, sustenance and dissolution as the reflection of the Consciousness. Gauḍapāda contends that the prāṇaśakti vibrates. The Shaiva monism maintains that the spandaśakti vibrates. Except the difference in the philosophical jargons, basically the concept seems to be one and the same.

The tāṇḍava dance of Shiva is a symbolic expression of the creative pulsation (spanda). The beating of His drum (damaru) is the further confirmation of the doctrine of vibration. The image of Naṭarāja is a symbolic exhibition of the vigorous steps of the divine dance with the vibrating sounds of the drum. The cosmic creative pulsation comes into being as an external manifestation of the supernal creative joy (ānanda) of Paramaśiva. The ānanda wells up from the Universal Consciousness and vibrates rhythmically to be manifested as the universe.


There were several queries received about Pūrṇadīkṣā and there is no one standard answer for them really. Every Guru Sampradāya has its own technicalities and peculiarities derived from different pramāṇa granthas.

In most South-Indian lineages (obviously of Srīvidyā), Paraśurāma Kalpasūtra is the primary pramāṇa but this work really does not get into the specifics in terms of which mantra is considered as conferring pūrṇadīkṣā. In practice, Mahāṣoḍaśī and Mahāpādukā are generally considered as constituting the Pūrṇābhiṣeka.

Things are slightly different in the case of Krama Dīkṣā where a lot more technicalities are discussed. This does not mean that the Dākṣiṇātya Sampradāya of Srīvidyā is not a Krama system - even there one progresses through different steps such as Mahāgaṇapati, Bālā, Shyāmalā, Vārāhī, Pañcadaśī, Shoḍaśī, Parā etc. However, in the complex and syncretistic Krama system of the east, each step is greatly delineated. In the case of Pūrṇadīkṣā, which is obtained for all three Mahāvidyās, is the starting point to higher initiations.

The pramāṇa clearly states:

पूर्णाभिषेकः सुन्दर्यां षोडश्यामेव कीर्तितः |
अभावे लघुषोडश्यां अक्षरत्रितयेऽपि च ||

In the case of Tripurasundarī, pūrṇadīkṣā is always accomplished through Shoḍaśī. When this is unavailable, one will have to use Laghuṣoḍaśī (adhama pakṣa) or Saubhāgya ṣoḍaśī (madhyama pakṣa). By this statement, it becomes evident that uttama pakṣa is clearly Mahāṣoḍaśī.

Elsewhere it is said:

राजराजेश्वरी विद्या पञ्चमी परसुन्दरी |
श्रीमहाषोडशी पूर्णा पूर्णदीक्षितपूर्तिदा ||

Pūrṇadīkṣā is attained through:

(a) Rājarājeśvarī (aṣṭādaśī)
(b) Pañcamī
(c) Parāṣoḍaśī
(d) Mahāṣoḍaśī

In the case of Dakśiṇā Kālī, the pūrṇadīkṣā is always through Kāmakalā Kālī of Uttarāmnāya:

तथा कामकला काली दक्षिणायामपि स्मृता |

That said, for every form of Kālī, the final dīkṣā is indeed through Guhyakālī who encompasses both Uttara and ūrdhvāmnāyas:

गुह्यकाली सैव विद्या तत्त्वानां नवकैर्युता |
सप्तप्रेतसमासीना महागुह्येश्वरी तथा ||

Generally, the dīkṣā is obtained through Rāmopāsitā and Bharatopāsitā forms, who is Daśavaktrā. Some advanced and fearless upāsakas also venture into shatavaktrā Guhyakālī but those are rare to find.

Again, there is no single standard answer here, one simply needs to follow the valid pramāṇa adopted by one’s lineage.


Yochana Kamalalochana

Ardhanarishvara Stotram


जय देव महादेव जयेश्वर महेश्वर |
जय सर्वगुणश्रेष्ठ जय सर्वसुराधिप ||
जय प्रकृतिकल्याणि जय प्रकृतिनायिके |
जय प्रकृतिदूराङ्गि जय प्रकृतिसुन्दरि ||
जयामोघमहामाय जयामोघमनोरथ |
जयामोघमहालील जयामोघमहाबल ||
जय विश्वजगन्मातर्जय विश्वजगन्मयि |
जय विश्वजगद्धात्रि जय विश्वजगत्सखि ||
जय शाश्वतिकैश्वर्य जय शाश्वतिकालय |
जय शाश्वतिकाकार जयशाश्वतिकानुग ||
जयात्मत्रयनिर्मात्रि जयात्मत्रयपालिनि |
जयात्मत्रयसंहर्त्रि जयात्मत्रयनायिके ||
जयावलोकनोत्कृष्टजगत्कारणबृंहण |
जयापेक्षाकटाक्षोत्थ हुतभुग्भुक्तमौक्तिक ||
जय देवाद्यविज्ञेयस्वात्मसूक्ष्मदृशोज्ज्वले |
जय स्थूलात्मशक्त्यंशव्याप्तविश्वचराचरे ||
जय नानैकविन्यस्तविश्वतत्त्वसमुच्चय |
जयासुरशिरोनिष्ठश्रेष्ठानुगकदम्बक ||
जयोपाश्रितसंरक्षा संविधानपटीयसी |
जयोन्मूलितसंसारविषवृक्षाङ्कुरोद्गमे ||
जय प्रादेशिकैश्वर्यवीर्यशौर्यविजृंभिणे |
जय विश्वबहिर्भूत निरस्तपरवैभव ||
जय प्रणीतपञ्चार्धप्रयोगपरमामृत |
जय पञ्चार्थविज्ञानसुखस्रोतःस्वरूपिणे ||
जयातिघोरसंसारमहारोगभिषग्वरे |
जयानादिमलाज्ञानतमःपटलचन्द्रिके ||
जय त्रिपुरकालाग्ने जय त्रिपुरभैरवि |
जय त्रिगुणनिर्मुक्ते जय त्रिगुणमर्दिनि ||
जय प्रमथसर्वज्ञ जय सर्वप्रबोधक |
जय प्रचुरदिव्याङ्ग जय प्रार्थितदायिनि ||

विज्ञाप्यैवं विधैः सूक्तैः विश्वकर्मा चतुर्मुखः |
नमश्चकार रुद्राय रुद्राण्यै च मुहुर्मुहुः ||
इदं स्तोत्रवरं पुण्यं ब्रह्मणा समुदीरितम् |
अर्धनारीश्वरं नाम शिवयोर्हर्षवर्धनम् ||
य इदं कीर्तयेद्भक्त्या शुचिस्तद्गतमानसः |
महत्फलमवाप्नोति शिवयोः प्रीतिकारणात् ||
जननविनाशविहीनविग्रहाभ्याम् |
सततमहं प्रणतोऽस्मि शङ्कराभ्याम् ||

|| इति श्रीशैवे महापुराणे वायवीयसंहितायां पूर्वभागे त्रयोदशाध्याये अर्धनारीश्वर स्तोत्रम् ||

jaya deva mahādeva jayeśvara maheśvara |
jaya sarvaguṇaśreṣṭha jaya sarvasurādhipa ||
jaya prakṛtikalyāṇi jaya prakṛtināyike |
jaya prakṛtidūrāṅgi jaya prakṛtisundari ||
jayāmoghamahāmāya jayāmoghamanoratha |
jayāmoghamahālīla jayāmoghamahābala ||
jaya viśvajaganmātarjaya viśvajaganmayi |
jaya viśvajagaddhātri jaya viśvajagatsakhi ||
jaya śāśvatikaiśvarya jaya śāśvatikālaya |
jaya śāśvatikākāra jayaśāśvatikānuga ||
jayātmatrayanirmātri jayātmatrayapālini |
jayātmatrayasaṃhartri jayātmatrayanāyike ||
jayāvalokanotkṛṣṭajagatkāraṇabṛṃhaṇa |
jayāpekṣākaṭākṣottha hutabhugbhuktamauktika ||
jaya devādyavijñeyasvātmasūkṣmadṛśojjvale |
jaya sthūlātmaśaktyaṃśavyāptaviśvacarācare ||
jaya nānaikavinyastaviśvatattvasamuccaya |
jayāsuraśironiṣṭhaśreṣṭhānugakadambaka ||
jayopāśritasaṃrakṣā saṃvidhānapaṭīyasī |
jayonmūlitasaṃsāraviṣavṛkṣāṅkurodgame ||
jaya prādeśikaiśvaryavīryaśauryavijṛṃbhiṇe |
jaya viśvabahirbhūta nirastaparavaibhava ||
jaya praṇītapañcārdhaprayogaparamāmṛta |
jaya pañcārthavijñānasukhasrotaḥsvarūpiṇe ||
jayātighorasaṃsāramahārogabhiṣagvare |
jayānādimalājñānatamaḥpaṭalacandrike ||
jaya tripurakālāgne jaya tripurabhairavi |
jaya triguṇanirmukte jaya triguṇamardini ||
jaya pramathasarvajña jaya sarvaprabodhaka |
jaya pracuradivyāṅga jaya prārthitadāyini ||

vijñāpyaivaṃ vidhaiḥ sūktaiḥ viśvakarmā caturmukhaḥ |
namaścakāra rudrāya rudrāṇyai ca muhurmuhuḥ ||
idaṃ stotravaraṃ puṇyaṃ brahmaṇā samudīritam |
ardhanārīśvaraṃ nāma śivayorharṣavardhanam ||
ya idaṃ kīrtayedbhaktyā śucistadgatamānasaḥ |
mahatphalamavāpnoti śivayoḥ prītikāraṇāt ||
jananavināśavihīnavigrahābhyām |
satatamahaṃ praṇato.asmi śaṅkarābhyām ||

|| iti śrīśaive mahāpurāṇe vāyavīyasaṃhitāyāṃ pūrvabhāge trayodaśādhyāye ardhanārīśvara stotram ||