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.
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