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Category Archives: Tantra

Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar and Sri Vidya (6 0f 8)

The structure of Sri Chakra 

The basis of Sri Chakra is its mantra; the fifteen lettered mantra in three groups: a e i la hrim; ha sa ka ha la hrim; sa ka la hrim. The sixteenth letter “srim” is present in a subtle form. Sri Chakra is basically a triad; and, is also related to number nine (tridha chaiva navadha chaiva chakra-samketakam punah) . The triangle which is primary to the chakra has three angles and the deity residing in it is Tripura. The mantra of each of the nine enclosures of Sri Chakra is three lettered; the Mother Goddess is worshiped in her three forms; the Kundalini energy in the individual is threefold, and the phenomenal processes arising out of the union of Shiva and Shakthi are also three. The Chakra design represents Tripura or Tripura Sundari; while her manifest powers (yogini) are nine. There are also three dimensions of the Sri-chakra corresponding to the three sections (kuta) of the mantra; and, each of these dimensions has a further division into three units. Each of these nine units are called as chakras that are encased in Sri Chakra.

All its other interpretations are also in terms of three and nine. The three groups that constitute the mantra are called Kuta (peaks) or Khanda (segments). They are interpreted variously in sets of three as:

  • Agni (fire), Surya (sun) and  Chandra  (moon);
  • srishti (creation), Shtithi (preservation) and laya (dissolution) ; 
  • Iccha ( will), jnana (knowledge) and kriya (action); 
  • Sattva, Rajas and Tamas; Jagrat (wakefulness) ;
  •  swapna (dream state)  and sushupthi (deep sleep);
  • Jnatra (the knower), jnana (the knowledge) and  jneya ( the known) ;
  • as Atma (individual self), Antaratma (inner being) and Paramatma (supreme self); and  also as
  • past , present and future.

In general, the Sri Yantra is a ‘cosmogram’ – a graphic representation of the universal processes of emanation and re-absorption reduced to their essential outline.

The diagram of the Sri Chakra is primarily a Matrix (i.e. womb) of nine interlocking triangles. Five of these triangles have their apex facing downward. They are

Shakthi trikonas, the triangles representing five forms of feminine energy, Shakthi. The other four triangles with their apex facing upward are Shiva trikonas representing the male aspect, Shiva, Consciousness. In Tantra, the feminine is the active principle; and the male is passive. The Tantra texts mention that Sri Chakra is produced when five forms of Shakthi and four forms of Shiva unite. The intersection of these nine triangles creates forty-three triangles. It is customary to regard the point at the centre also as a triangle. Thus, in effect there are forty-four triangles in Sri Chakra; and these are arranged in nine enclosures (navavaranas), in groups of three. 

The intersection of two lines is called Sandhi; and there are 24 such Sandhis. These intersections have certain significance. The meeting of two lines represents union of Shiva and Shakthi. 

And, the points where three lines meet are called marma sthanas. There are 18 such marma sthanas.

The meeting of three lines represents explicit harmony between Shiva and Shakthi; and they are vital spots in the body where the life-energy resides as well as accumulates. The marma has thus been called the Seat of Life or Jiva-sthana.

sri yantra marmas  sri-yantra-horn
A total of 43 triangles are created from the overlapping of the nine original triangles.

As regards the Bindu , the dimensionless point at the core of the Sri Chakra Yantra, the Tantra texts explain  that Bindu is Kameshwara , the ground of the universe; and the immediate triangle is Kameshwari the mother of universe; the union of purusha and prakriti. The union of these two is the Sri Chakra, which represents the entire phenomenal pattern. This is denoted by the secret syllable shrim. In fact, it is this point, coloured red, which really is the Sri Chakra. Every other detail is an expansion or a manifestation of its aspects. The mother goddess worshipped in Sri Chakra is the universe. The devotee has to identify that principle in his body, for his body is the Sri Chakra or the universe in epitome. He is guided in this endeavour by the guru who is the representative of Shiva.

The Bindu also represents, at various times, the principles or activities known as the Pancha Kriya of: Emanation of the cosmos from its primal source; Projection of creation into the primal void; Preservation of the created universe; Withdrawal of the creative and preservative energies in cosmic dissolutions; and lastly, Retention of the withdrawn energy-universe for the next cycle of re-creation. These five activities are regarded as the five modes of expression of the Universal Mother.

There are several other explanations.

Bindu is regarded a sphere in its own right. The expanded form of the Bindu is the triangle formed by three points and is called Sarva siddhi prada (the sphere of fulfilment of all aspirations). It is described as Prakriti (as per the Samkhya ideology – Vyakta the manifest creation) composed of three Gunas (fundamental fabric of all existence) Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. The Kadi School explains sattva as that which covers and conceals (aavarana); while the other two Gunas as that which project the world of duality or multiplicity (vikshepa). The three gods Brahma (creator), Vishnu (preserver) and Rudra (destroyer) are actually the representations of these three gunas. They are in turn the three aspects of the Devi represented as trikona chakra.

It also explained that from Shakthi flashes forth the creative impulse known as nada (sound), which manifests as Kundalini or the creative urge, in all living beings. Here, Bindu is Shiva; Bija is Shakthi; and nada is their union. These give rise to the power of will (icchha shakthi); the power of knowledge (jnana shakthi); and power of action (kriya shakthi).These in turn give rise to Rudra, Vishnu and Brahma.

Another explanation is, Bindu, also called Sarvanandamaya (all blissful), and represents the transcendental power (Para Shakthi) and absolute harmony (saamarasya) between Shiva and Shakthi. This is equivalent to what the Vedanta calls the Brahman. Owing to the power of the will (icchha shakthi) there comes about an apparent differentiation of Shakthi from Shiva, expressed in the form of triangle.  Here again, the triangle is the expansion of the Bindu (bindu vikasana).

If the Bindu represents the Para-nada, the triangle represents the Pashyanti, the second stage of the sound, nada. The enclosure next to this, the eight sided figure (ashta kona chakra) is the Madhyama or the third stage in the development of sound. The rest of the Chakra represents the physical or the phenomenal stage, the Vaikhari, which is the manifest and articulate form of sound. The Vaikhari form is represented by the fifty letters of the alphabet, called matrikas or the source of all transactions and existence.

The sixteen vowels (from aa) constitute the lunar sphere (Chandra mandala), the twenty-four consonants (from ka to tha) the solar sphere (Surya mandala); and the remaining ten consonants (from ma to ksha) the sphere of fire (Agni mandala). Thus, the triangle is also known as tri kuta, tri khanda and tri mandala.

Bindu is identified with Shiva and trikona with Shakthi. The process of evolution (shristi) or the apparent separation of Shiva and Shakthi is referred to as adi-dwandwa. The evolution from the primary state into the mundane level is regarded as a descent, avarohana krama; whereas the withdrawal from the gross to the very subtle state is termed Samhara krama.  Here the devotee moves into higher spiritual levels; and therefore it is termed arohana krama. It is a gradual process.

The significance of the triangle is explained thus:

The name of the goddess is Tripura; and number three is important in approaching her. She is of the nature of the sun, the moon and the fire. She is masculine, feminine and neuter. Her form is red, white and the mixture of the two. Her mantra has three letters (hrim, klim, sauh); and from this mantra three segments of time – past, present and future – emerge. From this mantra too emerge the realms, three Vedas, three states of existence ( waking, dreaming and sleeping) and three gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

sriyantra1

All these geometric designs are contained within Sri Chakra, arranged in nine enclosures or nava-avaranas.They are also termed as nine chakras. Each of this has its name, a characteristic physical form and a spiritual significance. Each has its colour suggesting its tendencies. Each Chakra has its presiding deity (chakreshwari or Chakra nayika); and she is a variant form of the mother goddess abiding at the Bindu. The Chareshwari rules over her set of attendant divinities; such as Yoginis who aid the devotee on in his spiritual progress, and the Mudra Devatas, seal-divinities, who welcome, purify and delight the devotee.

The yoginis have a special role in Sri Chakra worship. They make explicit the union of the male and female aspects of the Sri Chakra in each of its enclosures. They are in fact, the symbols of urges, aspirations, inhibitions, limitations, obstructions and powers active in each individual. The yoginis aid the devotees, but derive their power from the mother goddess.

Sri Chakra is verily the body of the mother goddess, who resides as energy in the universe and as pure consciousness in the individual. The nine enclosures symbolize in a graded series the significance of the universal and individual; the ideological and ritual; expressive and contemplative; and the in inner and outer aspects of Sri Chakra.

The outer group of chakras (1, 2 and 3) symbolizes extension or shristi. They represent Shiva aspect of the chakra. The middle group (4, 5 and 6) symbolizes the preservation or sthithi. They represent Shakthi aspect of the chakra. The inner group (7, 8 and the Bindu) symbolize absorption or samhara. The Bindu represents the transcendental aspect of mother goddess. The other two avaranas (7and 8) are also Shakthi aspects.

The nine chakras are interpreted in terms of Time (kaala), the five elements that compose all things (Pancha-Bhuthas); and three states of awareness-wakefulness, dream and deep sleep.

The nine chakras are also interpreted as corresponding to parts in human body.

No. Chakra Corresponding to part of human body
01 Bhupura First line: feet; Second line: knees; and third line : thighs
Triple girdle Mid portion of the body
02 Shoidasha-dala padma Region below navel and  up to penis region ; kati
03 Ashta-dala padma Navel region – nabhi
04 Chaturdasha Abdominal region-kukshi
05 Bahir -dasha Neck-kantha
06 Antar-dasha Region between eye brows- bhru-madhya
07 Ashtara Forehead-lalata
08 Trikona Top of the head- masthaka
09 Bindu Opening on the crown of the head leading to Sahasra Dala padma (Brahma randra)

The nine avaranas are again recognized as chakras said to be situated along the central channel or the Shushumna nadi.

No. Avarana in Sri Chakra Nadi-chakra
01 Bhupura Muladhara
02 Shoidasha dala padma Svadhistana
03 Ashta-dala padma Manipura
04 Chaturdasha Anahatha
05 Bahir _dasha Vishuddha
06 Antar-dasha Ajna
07 Ashtara Manasa-chakra
08 Trikona Soma-chakra
09 Bindu Sahasra Padma

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The nine avaranas, enclosures that compose Sri Chakra are briefly as under. These are described in the order of absorption (Samhara-krama) according to Dakshinamurthy tradition. It starts with the outermost enclosure-Bhupura- and leads to Bindu, the central point.

1. Bhupura also called Trilokya –mohana-chakra (Deluder of the Realms) , is the four-sided enclosing wall. The three lokas being three levels of experience:  attainments, obstructions and powers. They are also related to the body- mind complex of the devotee.

A tantra design is always enclosed within an outer wall serving as a protective cover. As the devotee enters into the Mandala he leaves behind the normal worldly distractions and conflicts; and emigrates into a world of symbols and visualizations. A Mandala is thus a mansion of gods and goddesses, a symbol of a higher form of existence.

PANCHALOGHA MAHA MERU Sri yanta 3d Maha Meru

There are actually six gateways to the fort Sri Yantra, if we take a three-dimensional view of it; the four obvious dwaras and those ‘above’ and ‘below’. The Eastern gate is the way of the mantras. The Southern gate is the way of devotion or bhakti. The Western gate is for the performance of rites and rituals, or karma-kanda. The Northern gate is the way of wisdom, or Jnana. The gate ‘below’ is the ‘path of words’ while the gate ‘above’ is the way or ‘road of liberation’. These are located at the Southern and Northern gate, respectively, i.e. ‘above’ is north, ‘below’ is south. Each of these gates also stands for one of the six primary chakras in the body.

The Bhupura Chakra, the earth stretch, includes within its spatial scope the entire design even as the earth supports the entire existence. Bhupura is a Shiva aspect and is made up of three lines or ramparts. The first (outermost) line is identified with the attainments of yoga powers called Siddhis. They are needed for self-protection along the inward journey. Such Siddhis are eight in number; and are attained consequent on gaining control over the elements and the mind.

The second or the middle line represents the powers of eight mother-like divinities Mathrika who rule over emotions such as passionate longing (Brahmi), violent anger (Maheshwari), avarice (kaumari) obstinacy (Varahi) etc

The third (inner) line of the square is identified with ten feminine deties, Mudra devathas, carrying seals of authority. The mudras are an approach to the divinities. These could be gross (sthula) being body postures and gestures by hand; subtle (sukshma) by way of seed-mantras; and para transcendental that is mental or intuitional approach.

These three lines are also taken to represent the Mother goddess; the outermost line corresponds to her feet; the middle line to her thighs; and the inner line to her knees.

There are also three concentric circles (trivritta) representing three objectives of life: Dharma, Artha and Kama.

The avarana is Bhoopura and the Chakra is Trailokyamohana chakra ‘enchants the three worlds’. The yogini is Prakata; Mudra is Sarva Somkshibhni; Siddhi is Anima; and the mental state of the aspirant is Jagrata. The presiding deity is Tripura. Her Vidya is Am Am Sauh.The gem is topaz. The time is 24 minutes and the Shaktis are 28 that include the ten starting with Anima, the eight starting with Brahmya and the ten Mudra Saktis. 28 is the dominant number.

This avarana corresponds to the feet of the mother goddess.

2. The sixteen petalled lotus (shodasha dala padma) called sarva asha paripuraka chakra, the fulfiller of all desires, is the second enclosure. In the sixteen   petals, the sixteen vowels of Sanskrit alphabet is inscribed. These symbolize sixteen kalas or aspects or phases. They are also called nithyas and named Kamakarshini (fascinating the desires), Budhyakarshini (fascinating the intellect) etc. These relate to powers in the Five Elements, the ten senses of perception or Indriyas (being further divided into five organs of action and five sense organs) and the Mind.

The significance of this enclosure is explained as self-protection (atma raksha) of the devotee. Since frustrated desire is the strongest obstacle to spiritual progress, the next stage is wisely concerned with satisfying them. Only he who has experienced can renounce. The values of virtue, wealth and pleasure are granted at this stage.

The craving Asha springs from discontent; and is quenched when discontent is eliminated. That is possible when devotee identifies himself with Shiva, ever complete and ever content.

This is achieved by the cultivation or strengthening of power over mind, ego, sound, touch, sight, taste, smell, intellect, steadiness, memory, name, growth, ethereal body, revivification, and physical body.

The avarana is Shodasa Dala, and the Chakra is Sarvasaparipuraka chakra ‘fulfils all expectations’; the yogini is Gupta Yogini; Mudra is Sarva Vidravini; the Siddhi is Laghima; and the mental state is Swapna, The presiding deity is Tripureshi. Her vidya is Aim Klim Sauh.The gem is sapphire. The time is three hours.  The Shaktis are the sixteen starting with Kamakarshini. 16 is the dominant number.

This avarana corresponds to the Savdhistana chakra of the mother goddess.

3. Eight petalled lotus (astha dala padma) called Sarva-samkhobhana –Chakra the agitator of all, is the third avarana. Each petal has a consonant inscribed within it that begins with ‘Ka‘  The petals represent eight divinities associated with erotic urges , independent of physical body(ananga).These relate to mental pleasures derived through five organs and through the modalities of mind: rejection(repulsion or withdrawal), acceptance (attention or attachment) and indifference(detachment).

This enclosure represents the last of the first group of the chakras that symbolizes Shrusti or emanation.

The avarana is ashta dala; The Chakra is Sarva-samkshobana chakra ‘agitates all’. The Yogini is Gupta- Tara; Mudra is Sarvakarshini; the Siddhi is Mahima; and the mental state is Shushupti. The Presiding deity is Tripura Sundari. Her vidya is Hrim Klim Sauh. The gem is cat’s eye. The time is day and night. The Shaktis are the eight starting with Ananga Kusuma. 8 is the dominant number.

This avarana corresponds to the navel region of mother goddess.

4. Fourteen triangles (chaturdasha trikona) called sarva sowbhagya dayaka; the bestower of all prosperity is the fourth enclosure. This is in the form of a complex figure made up of fourteen triangles. The fourteen triangles are inscribed with fourteen consonants beginning with ka and ending with dha. The fourteen corners represent fourteen powers of mother goddess. These are said to preside over fourteen principle channels of vital forces in human body (naadis) corresponding with fourteen powers Sarva -Samkshobhini and others.

They are also related to the seat of Shaktis who represent: the Mind (Manas), the Intellect (Buddhi), Being (Chitta), the Conscious Ego (Ahamkara) and the ten Indriyas.

This enclosure refers to the channels of life currents in the human body (prana) and their identity with the aspects of Sri Chakra. The explanation given in Tantra texts is that the breathing in human body is influenced by five elements present in the body; and in turn those five elements are influenced by the manner we breathe. Normally, we breathe 360 times in a unit of time called nadika (equivalent to 24 minutes). A day (dina) consists 60 such nadikas. Therefore, in a day (24 hours) we breathe 21,600 times. The collection of all breathes is mother goddess herself. This is called nadi-chakra, the organization of winds within the body. The distribution of breathes among the body centres are as follows:

Chakra Number of Breathes Time taken Hrs-mins-sec
Muladhara 0,600 00-40-00
Svadhistana 6,000 06-40-00
Manipura 6,000 06-40-00
Anahata 6,000 06-40-00
Vishuddha 1,000 01-06-40
Ajna 1,000 01-06-40
Sahasra 1,000 01-06-40
Total 21,600 24-00-00

The navel is the central point for distribution of all breathes and life forces moving along the channels. Normally breath alternates between the ida channel reaching the left nostril and pingala the channel reaching the right nostril. The former is moon principle and cools the body; and the latter is sun principle warms the body. The two meet at muladhara, close to kundalini. Around this central channel is a network of 72,000 channels of which the more important are the 14 mentioned earlier in this paragraph. These are referred also as 14 divinities. In this avarana the number 14 is dominant.

Sri Chakra is also described as the diagrammatic representation of the cycle of time (kaala chakra) and of the chakras in human system.

The Avarana is Chaturdasara; the Chakra is Sarva soubhagya dayaka chakra, ‘grants excellence’. The Yogini is Sampradaya Yogini; the Mudra is Sarva Shankari; the Siddhi is Ishitva. The mental state is Iswara Vichara. The presiding deity is Tripura Vasini. Her vidya is Haim Hklim Hsauh.The gem is coral. The time is day and night. The Shaktis are the fourteen starting with Samkshobhini.14 is the dominant number.

This avarana corresponds to the heart of mother goddess.

5. Ten-sided figure (bahir-dasara) called Sarvartha Sadhaka chakra (accomplisher of all objects) consisting ten triangles, is the fifth avarana. It is named “the outer ten cornered figure” (bahir dasara) in order to distinguish it from a similar figure enclosed within it.

The ten triangles in this avarana house ten auspicious deties , such as Sarva siddhi prada, Sarva sampath prada, Sarva priyamkari, Sarva mangala karini and so on. The five of the triangles are inscribed with consonants beginning with Ka; and the other five triangles are inscribed with consonants beginning with Cha..These represent ten powers of mother goddess who presides over ten vital forces pranas active in the body. The idea of vayu the winds or vital currents is fundamental to the concept of channels.

The vital currents are divided into two groups: prana- panchaka andnaga-panchaka. The first group consist:  prana, apana, vyana, udana and samana vayus. These are responsible for body functions such as respiration, blood circulation, digestion, voice and separation of nutrients from food etc.

The second group consists vital currents such as naga, kurma, krkara, devadatta and dhananjaya. These are involved in body movement like belching, yawning movement of eyelids, causing various sounds in the body. The Dhanajaya vayu, it is said, is the last to leave the body at its death. In this avarana the number ten is dominant.

The Avarana is Bahirdasara; the Chakra is Sarvarthasadhakachakra, the ‘accomplisher of all’. The Yogini is Kulotteerna yogini;; the Mudra is Sarvonmadini; and the Siddhi is Vashitva. The mental state is Guroopa Sadanam. The presiding deity is Tripura Shri. Her vidya is is Haim Hklim Hsauh.The gem is pearl. The time is lunar day. The Shaktis are the ten starting with Sarva Siddhi Prada.10 is the dominant number.

This avarana corresponds to the neck of mother goddess.

6. Ten sided figure (antar dasara) called Sarva raksha karaka (one that protects all) consisting ten triangles is the sixth avarana. It is named antar dasara, the inner ten cornered figure, since it is placed within a similar ten cornered figure, mentioned earlier.

The ten triangles are inscribed with ten consonants beginning with the five of Tha and the five of Tta group. They represent the powers of the mother goddess who presides over ten vital fires (vanyaha).These represent the ten specific fires within the body; being the fire of purgation (Rechak), digestion (Pachak), absorption (Shoshak), burning (Dahak), the secretion of enzymes (Plavak), acidification (Ksharak), to take out or excrete (Uddharak), the fires of pessimism and frustration (Kshobhak), the fire of assimilation (Jrambhak) and creating lustre (Mohak).

This enclosure is the third of the second group of chakras representing Preservation. The advent of inner realization begins here. The significance of this avarana is explained as protection from all obstacles. The devotee distances himself from all that hinders his spiritual progress; and he begins to develop an awareness he is Shiva ( the consciousness).

The Avarana is Antardasara; the Chakra is Sarvaraksakara chakra ‘protects all’. The Yogini is Nigarbha Yogini; the Mudra is Sarva mahankusha; and the Siddhi is Prakamya. The mental state is Upadesa. The presiding deity is Tripura Malini. Her vidya is is Hrim Klim Blem.The gem is emerald. The time is Lunar Fortnight. The Shaktis are the ten starting with Sarvagnya.10 is the dominant number.

This avarana corresponds to the middle of the eyebrows (bhrukuti) of the mother goddess.

7. Eight-cornered figure (ashtara) called Sarva roga hara (the remover of all deceases) is the seventh avarana. In the eight triangles formed by this figure, eight divinities presiding over speech reside. Between them they cover all the alphabets in Sanskrit grammar. These shakthis also rule over contradictions in life (dwandwa) such as  cold(water) and heat(fire); happiness(air) and sorrow( earth);  as also the Desire(akasha-space) and the three gunas  of Sattvas (consciousness), Rajas(ego) and Tamas(mind).

The significance of this enclosure is its power to eradicate the most basic disease viz. involvement with impure, fleeting existence that is laden with stress. The blessed state is attained when the distinctions between the subject, the object and transactions between them are dissolved.

The avarana is asthakona; the Chakra is Sarvarogahara chakra ‘cures all ills’. The Yogini is Rahasya Yogini; the Mudra is sarva khechari; and the Siddhi is Bhukthi. The mental state is Manana. The presiding deity is Tripura Siddha. Her vidya is is Hrim Shrim Sauh.The gem is diamond (Vajra).The time is Lunar month. The Shaktis are the eight, starting with Vashini. 8 is the dominant number.

This avarana corresponds to the forehead (lalata) of the mother goddess.

The Four Weapons

In between the mandalas of eight triangles and the central triangles are the four weapons — flowery bow, flowery arrows, noose (pasha) and goad (ankusha). They are red in colour. They are the weapons of both the mother goddess as Kameshwari and also of Shiva as Kameshwara.

8. The primary triangle with its apex downward (East) and coloured white (Sattva) surrounding immediately around the central point, Bindu, is the eighth avarana. It is called Sarva Siddhi prada chakra, the one that bestows all accomplishment. This triangle does not intersect with other triangles; and stands independent. It is Kama Kala. It is feminine in its aspect; and represents three fundamental manifestations of the mother goddess: Kameshwari (symbolizing moon – creation); Vajreshwari (symbolizing sun- preservation); and Bhagamalini (symbolizing fire -dissolution).

The three angles of the triangle also represent three forms of speech: Pashyanthi, Madhyama and Vaikhari. The triangle is therefore the speech aspect Vak Bhava.

It also represents the three powers of iccha (will) , jnana (knowledge) and kriya(activity).The three corners of the triangle stand for three peaks(kuta) of the fifteen-lettered mantra; or as three dimensions of all existence. The triangle itself is regarded the abode of the mother goddess (kama-kala).

The Avarana is Trikona; the Chakra is Sarva-siddhi-prada chakra, ‘grants all attainments’. The Yogini is Athi Rahasya Yogini; the Mudra is Sarva Beeja; and the Siddhi is Iccha. The mental state is Nitidhyasana. The presiding deity is Tripuraamba. Her vidya is is Hsraim Hsrklim Hsrsauh..The gem is Gomaya .The time is a ritu- two months. The Shaktis are the three starting with Kameshwari. (4+3=7) is the dominant number.

This avarana corresponds to the top of the head (masthka) of the mother goddess.

9. The ninth enclosure is strictly not an enclosure. It is the central dimensionless point, the Bindu. It is called Sarvananda-maya chakra, the supremely blissful one.  It is independent of the intersecting triangles. It is coloured red. This, in a temple, would be the sanctum sanctorum, with all the other circles or enclosures representing various parts of the temple as you move inwards.

It is this Bindu that is in reality the Sri Chakra; it represents the mother goddess Maha Tripura Sundari, Lalitha or Rajarajeshwari herself; and everything else is a manifestation of her aspects.

The goddess is nothing other than the devotees own self. The self here does not refer to jiva, engaged in organizing the body, mind and senses. The self here refers to individual consciousness (buddhi) which is beyond the body-mind complex. It is filled with all bliss (sarvananda maya). This constant, abundant bliss is the expression of the union of Shiva (consciousness) and Shakthi (power of deliberation Vimarsha). It is the very basis of existence. It is called beautiful, sundara, in this sense. It is in this sense the supreme mother goddess is called Maha Tripurasundari.

The significance of this avarana is the complete harmony (samarasya) of principles of pure consciousness (Shiva) and the principle of energy as deliberation (vimarsha shakthi).It signifies a state of non-duality, where all tendencies of approach and withdrawal become nonexistent, dissolve in a state in which the devotee ultimately rests. Bliss, in Tantra, is explained as resting in oneself (Svarupa pratishta).

There is also a school which propounds that the central point is composed of three dots or drops(Bindu traya) representing three fires(vanhi): Moon(soma);Sun(surya); and Fire(Agni).The top dot symbolizes the head of the deity; and the pair of dots at the bottom symbolize the breasts of the Mother. It is explained that the central point expanding into the three is an act of swelling (ucchuna); and that is how the central point becomes the primary triangle in Sri Chakra.

The avarana is the Bindu and the Chakra is Sarvanandamaya chakra, ‘replete with bliss’. The yogini is parathi para Rahasya; the Mudra is sarva yoni; and the Siddhi is Prapthi. The mental state is Savikalpa Samadhi. The presiding deity is her Transcendent Majesty Lalita Maheshvari Mahatripurasundari. Her vidya is Kamaraja vidya: ka e i la hrim ha sa ka ha la hrim sa ka la hrim, plus a secret 16th syllable. The gem is ruby. The time is year. The Shakti is Maha Tripura Sundari the personification of Brahman.

This avarana corresponds to Brahma-randra on the top of the head of the mother goddess.

srichakra002

Travelling from the outer periphery wall to the inner bindu is an ascent through various levels of consciousness and mystical significance, overcoming myriad obstacles of conditioning and fears along the way. As he proceeds inward from the outermost enclosure the devotee’s thoughts are gradually refined; and the association of ideas is gradually freed from the constraints of conventional reality. The Devi is felt or visualized in his heart and then drawn out through the breath and installed in the yantra. She is then worshipped as actually residing there. The true home of Devi is however in his heart .The devotee identifies himself with the Devi and goes through the worship guided by the symbolism. Whatever be the details, the symbolism involved is important in the external worship  (baahya pooja); and more so in internal worship ( Antahpooja- contemplation on the import of the chakra).In baahya pooja, the sadhaka or the practitioner worships the deity with a feeling that he and the Goddess are two different entities ; and , for fulfilling a desire or kaamyasaadhana . The Antahpooja is sublime seeking identity with the Goddess.  For more on this , please click here 

Sri Chakra is also a construct of space and time, just as the universe is a space time continuum. The way of the universe is continuous and constant change. That change, in a relative existence, is measured by the phases of moon. Mother goddess is the principle of time; she is kala or nitya. The Sri Chakra also puts forth the interdependence of time and space. The devotee views the evolution of the universe as the unfolding of a changeless reality of Mother Goddess.

The Sri Chakra represents the interplay of the purusha and prakriti; the universe and its energy. The union of the Devi (energy) and Shiva (consciousness) worshipped in Sri Chakra is the universe and its evolution. The universe is thus stylized into a pattern of energies, symbolized by the patterns and layout of Sri Chakra. It provides a model to the individual for transformation. The consciousness of the individual finds in it an articulation; and the model helps in breaking the barriers of subjective feelings and limitations of the objective world. The devotee identifies that his body is the Sri Chakra or the universe in epitome; and that The Yantra too is the Devi. The aim is to realize that oneness, the bliss of pure consciousness.

Continued in the Next Part

Kamalamba Navavara kritis –Part One

Reference;

The Tantra of Sri Chakra by Prof.SK Ramachandra Rao(1953)

Lalita Tripurasundari, the Red Goddess

http://www.shivashakti.com/tripura.htm

Sri Yantra – the Significance and Symbolism of its design

http://www.sriyantraresearch.com/

http://www.sriyantraresearch.com/Optimal/optimal_sri_yantra.htm
Sri Yantra Definition
http://www.sriyantraresearch.com/Definition/sri_yantra_definition.htm
Hymns of Sri Chakra
http://www.bhagavadgitausa.com.cnchost.com/HYMNS%20OF%20SANKARA.htm

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in Muthuswami Dikshitar, Sanskrit, Sri Vidya, Tantra

 

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Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar and Sri Vidya (5 0f 8)

Sri Chakra and Sri Vidya

According to Tantric texts, the Chakra, Mandala or Yantra is a sphere of influence and a consecrated environment. It is an instrument to harmonize feelings; and also to coordinate inner and outer forces.

The term Yantra is derived from the root yam suggesting a sense of control (say, as in niyantra to control), giving raise to the meaning of an instrument that can control or be controlled. In that sense, the body is a yantra. The other term tra is from the root word trayati, that which liberates. Yantra is that which controls and liberates. It draws towards the centre as also takes away from the centre of all reality.

The basic energies of the universe, which are idealized as the deities, can be approached through a mental creative process, that is, through words or through created forms. The Deities are therefore represented both in words and forms.

There are different degrees of abstraction. We can represent a deity through the description of its characteristics in words, or sounds, that is, mantras. Similarly, we can represent a deity through diagrams, geometrical abstractions   or patterns, the yantra. The representation of a deity through mantra or yantra is considered more subtle than through an image.

Yantras are the visual equivalents of the mantras. The yantra has the mantra as its soul; and the deity is the soul of the mantra. The difference between the mantra and the deity is the difference between the body and the soul. The deity is invoked by drawing its yantra and calling its subtle name (bija akshara).

All the elementary geometric figures –lines, triangles, crosses, and point (bindu) – have a symbolic value corresponding to their basic notions. They can be combined to form complex figures to give expression to forces, the inner aspects and qualities embodied in a given form of creation. It is said, there no shape, no form which may not be reduced to yantra patterns. Every shape, every leaf, every flower is a yantra, which through its shape, colour, formation, perfume can tell the story of its creation.

srichakra0001

Yantras which are drawn on flat surfaces are basically conceived as solid forms. The drawing is a mere suggestion of its three dimensional aspects of the yantra. And, the yantra is itself a static image of the moving, living combination of forces represented in a divinity.

PANCHALOGHA MAHA MERU Sri yanta 3d

A Yantra is structured in three levels, of spaces(i) the level of physical world of beings and things (mahakasha); (ii) the level of thoughts and feelings (Chittakasha); and (iii) the level of pure, undifferentiated consciousness (Chidakasha).

The first level is predominantly inert , Tamas; while the second level is active and emotional, Rajas. The third level is of light and pure awareness Sattva.

A Yantra is a means to progress from the gross to the subtle, sukshma.

To put it in another way, Yantra is an instrument to transform matter into energy ; and, the energy into consciousness. In the final analysis, the walls separating the objective world, the subjective person and the Universal consciousness break down; and, it is all One at the end. This complete harmony of existence is symbolized by Bindu; a dimensionless point at the center of the Yantra or Chakra.

In fact, chakra is regarded the expansion or the evolution of that Bindu. The Bindu , in turn, is epitome or the microcosm of the Chakra. The Yantra facilitates the movement of consciousness from the concrete form of Chakra to the abstract Bindu. It also enables movement from the abstract Bindu to the form of Chakra. A Yantra , in essence,  is a map of the universe in its emanation and absorption.

Sri Chakra

Sri Chakra Yantra is regarded the supreme Yantra; the Yantra Raja, the king of Yantras. It is the Yantra of the Shaktha school of Tantra. It is also variously regarded as the visual representation of the city, mansion, island or the body of the Mother Goddess Devi, Tripurasundari, Lalitha, Rajarajeshwari and Parabhattarika, the supreme controller. The design also stands for this divinity’s court with all her attendant aids, guards, pavilions, enclosures and entrances. The principal divinity is regarded as being at the center, the Bindu at the heart of the Chakra.

Rajarajeswari

The prefix Sri denotes that the Yantra is auspicious, beneficent, salutary, benign and conducive to prosperity. Sri is Lakshmi, the goddess of beauty and prosperity. Sri is also the Mother Goddess who rules the universe (tvam sris tvam ishvari).She is called Mother, because all living beings depend upon her for being, for happiness for fulfillment of their destiny (sriyete sarvair iti sriah). Sri Chakra is a representation of the interplay of the principles of pure consciousness (Shiva) and primordial power (Shakthi). Sri Chakra represents the essential aspects of the universe ;and also of the constitution of the devotee’s body-mind complex.

The concept and worship of Sri Chakra is relevant in the context of an esoteric discipline known as Sri Vidya.

Sri Vidya is hailed as the Vidya of Sri (the knowledge that leads to the ultimate benefit mukthi – liberation), she therefore is the highest divinity. Sri Vidya is also the Vidya that yields Sri (prosperity). Sri Vidya is thus Bhukthi Mukthi prada the bestower of well-being, prosperity and liberation. Sri Vidya is the path and also the goal.

The term Vidya usually stands for knowledge, learning, discipline and a system of thought. But, in the context of Tantra, it has an extended meaning. Here, it variously refers to a female deity, to the personification of her consciousness; or to the manifestation of her power.Each of these vidyas has a characteristic form and particular dhyana, mantra, kavacha and other  worship details .

Devi Durga is described as the Vidya in all beings (Ya Devi sarvabhutheshu, Vidya rupena samsthita); and , the form of her Vidya is the primordial energy Adi prakrithi.

The Tantra texts classify ten divinities into three levels of Vidyas:

(1) Maha_vidya, the extraordinary Vidyas, consisting Kali and Tara. The worship of these divinities requires great rigor, austerity, devotion, persistence and a sort of detachment. The practice of Maha_vidya is very difficult and filled with risks and dangers ;

(2) Vidya, the normal Vidyas consist deities Shodashi (or Tripura), Bhuvaneshwari, Bhiravi, Chinmastha and Dhumavathi. The practice of this class of Vidya is considered safe and suitable for householders;

and

(3) Siddha Vidya, the Vidya for adepts involves deities Kamalaa, Matangi and Bhagalamukhi. This class is not for normal persons as it involves rituals that cannot be practiced normally.

Shodashi is the first among the Vidyas in the middle group; she is otherwise known as Sri Vidya. Shodashi literally meaning “a girl of sixteen” , is identified with deities Lalitha, Raja_rajeshwari, Sundari, Kameshwari and Bala. Lalitha is the playful one; all creation, manifestation and dissolution is her play. She is Mahatripura Sundari the most magnificent transcendental beauty without a parallel in all the three worlds. She is the conqueror of three levels of existence.

The Tantra texts however explain that the Vidya is called Shodashi because the mantra of the Vidya is made up of sixteen seed-syllables (bija akshara). There is another school (Kadi Vidya) which says the mantra consists fifteen visible syllables (ka e i la hrim; ha sa ka ha la hrim; sa ka la hrim). It is explained that ka represents the air; ha the fire; sa the water; la the earth; and, e the space. The fifteen syllables are: one of space, two of air; three of fire; four of water; and five of earth. The sixteenth letter is “srim” in subtle form. The mantra then becomes Shodashi, the sixteen lettered.

The fifteen lettered (panch-dasha-akshari) mantra  is  considered the verbal form of the Devi. But, it is implicit or hidden. It is only when the sixteenth syllable ‘Srim’ is included; the mantra becomes explicit or becomes visible. Srim is regarded the original or the own form of the Mother Goddess. And, with the sixteenth syllable (Srim) the She comes to be celebrated as Sri-vidya.  And, the mantra itself becomes the body of the Mother Goddess. She manifests the un-manifest. She is Prakrti. The auspicious Sri (Srim) is thus revered as Saguna Brahman,  the sa-kara approach to the absolute principle of the Devi. 

The mantra (fifteen or sixteen letters) is , thus, an expression of Sri Vidya. The verbal expression (nada or sound) of the Vidya is mantra ; and, its visual expression is the Sri Chakra Yantra. The two are essentially the same. Both seek identity of consciousness with Maha Tripura Sundari.

Ka is the first letter in the fifteen-lettered (pancha-dashi) mantra of the Devi in the Sri Vidya tradition. Ka is an important syllable in the fifteen-lettered mantra, for it appears three times. Here, Ka variously stands the principle from which everything arises; for illumination (Kan dipatu); or for the principle of consciousness (buddhi) in beings; and, also for the symbol of Self.  And Ka also stands for  the form-less Brahman (ka iti Brahmano naamah). 

The fifteen lettered mantra is divided into three groups: ka e i la hrim; ha sa ka ha la hrim; and; sa ka la hrim. The three groups that constitute the mantra are called Kuta (peaks) or Khanda (segments). They are interpreted variously in sets of three as: 

  • Agni(fire) , Surya(sun) and Chandra(moon); 
  • Srishti (creation), Shtithi (preservation) and laya (dissolution);
  •  Iccha ( will), jnana(knowledge)and kriya (action);
  • Sattva, Rajas and Tamas;
  • Jagrat (wakefulness); swapna (dream state) and sushupthi (deep sleep);
  • jnatra (the knower), jnana (the knowledge) and jneya ( the known) ;
  • Atma (individual self) , Antaratma (inner being) and Paramatma (supreme self); and as ,
  • Past , present and future ( the three assumed layers of Time).

There is also a view that the first group starting with ka is kadi_matha (ka e i la hrim); the second group starting with ha is Hadi_matha ( ha sa ka ha la hrim ); and the third group starting with sa is Sadi_matha (sa ka la hrim ).

Another interesting aspect is that the vowels (aa, e, i etc.,) are regarded as representations of Shakthi; while the 35 consonants are basically inert and depend on vowels (just as Shiva depends on Shakthi) to manifest in a meaningful form. It is only when the germinating power (bija) of the vowels is infused with consonants, the latter gain meaning. That is the reasons the vowels are Bija-aksharas. They transform ordinary letters into mother like condition (matrika); that is, they impregnate ordinary letters with meaning and power.

Sri Vidya is also described as Chandra_kala_vidya, the lore of the lunar digits. This school of Sri Vidya explains that the fifteen letters of the mantra correspond to fifteen digits of the moon in each fortnight, commencing from prathipada, the first day of the brighter half, when the moon “comes out of the sun”; and, ending with the full moon on the fifteenth day. Similarly, in the dark half of the moon cycles, all digits “return to the sun”. The emanation of the fifteen digits of the moon from the Sun culminates in the full moon (purnima); while the absorption of the digits into the Sun results in new moon (Amavasya).The sixteenth letter (Shodasha kala or Srim) is said to be present in each of the digits which are called Kalas or nityas. The digits are invoked as forms of the Mother goddess.

The first digit is Maha Tripura Sundari; the second is Kameshwari; and, the third is Bhagamalini. These three together form the primary triangle which is the immediate unfolding of the central Bindu representing Mother Goddess.

The Sri Vidya tradition which centers on the worship of Sri Chakra, considers the following twelve gods and sages as its Gurus: Manu, Chandra, Kubera, Lopamudra, Manmatha, Agasthya, Nandisha, Surya, Vishnu, Skanda, Shiva and Durvasa.

It is said each of the twelve gurus propagated a school with regard to the worship and significance of Sri Chakra.  Of these, only two schools have survived to this day; one is the school started by Manmatha (also called Kamaraja) – known as Kadi_matha. The Kadi tradition was continued by Sage Agastya. The other school is Hadi_matha , started by Lopamudra , wife of the Sage Agastya. There is also a mention of an obscure third school called Sadi_matha.

Of the three, the Kadi_ matha (with its mantra starting with letter Ka) is regarded the oldest ; and , its attitude and worship is Sattvic. It insists on virtue, discipline and purity of rituals. The prominent Gurus of this School are Paramashiva, Durvasa, Hayagreeva and Agasthya. Of the other two schools, Hadi_matha is Rajasik ; and, the Sadi _matha is Tamasik.

Kadi matha accepts Vedic authority ; and, formulates its position in accordance with the Vedic tradition. The other School is considered different (iyam anya cha vidya).The term Samaya also means Vedic convention; as orthodox and valid. Hence Kadi School came to be known as Samaya.

Samaya believes in sameness of Shiva and Shakthi; and, the form of worship is purely internal. Hence , Kadi School is also known as Para Vidya , where the worship (archana) is conducted in the space of one’s heart (hrudayakasha madhye).

The external worship conducted, say by Kaulas, lays greater importance on the Muladhara and Swadhistana Chakras, which are said to be situated at the base of the spinal column; and, which relate essentially to physiological needs and psychological urges.

The Samaya School , on the other hand, prescribes that the internal  worship (antar aradhana) be conducted  at higher levels, viz., from Manipura to Sahasra. The seat of Tripura is at Sahasra, beyond the six Chakras. It is also the seat of supreme consciousness, Shiva from which Shakthi springs forth.

Shakthi is of the same nature as Brahma (Brahma rupini) that divides itself five-fold. It is a spontaneous un-foldment. In Samaya system, Brahman is called Sadashiva; it is the Bindu, from which emerges Nada which is Para_shakthi. It is at the Sahasra, the Bindu Sthana that Shiva and Shakthi reside. They are the same; one cannot be without the other.

Samaya is centered on knowledge (jnana), which is the realization of the identity of Shiva and Shakthi: Shiva becomes Kameshwara and Kameshwari becomes Shiva. Their names too get intertwined; for instance: Shiva and Shivaa; Tripura and Tripuraa; Bhava and Bhavani; Shambu and Shambhavi; Rudra and Rudrani; and , Sundara and Sundari etc.

Dakshinamurthi is a revered seer of the Kadi (Samaya) School. The term Dakshina literally means a woman and refers to the feminine principle, which can create, unfold and manifest. When Dakshina assumes a form, it results in Dakshinamurthi a variety of Shiva’s forms. Dakshinamurthi, as Ardha_nari; Kameshwara and Kameshwari, are together regarded the principle deities of Kadi School.

Sri Chakra is the main device employed by Kadi (Samaya) school; and the worship is mainly through symbolism ; and, successive identifications. The symbolism involves identification (saamaya) of the arrangements and the lines of the diagram with the structure of the Universe; the psycho-physical aspects of the devotee with the spatial arrangement of the diagram representing the goddess; and identifying the Mantra with the Yantra.

As regards the worship of Sri Chakra, there are three recognized procedures :

:- Hayagreeva tradition regarded as Dakshina_chara, the right handed method, reciting Lalitha_sahasra Nama and Lalitha_tristathi offering kunkumam.

:- Anandabhirava tradition , a Vama_chara,a left handed method; and

:-  Dakshinamurthy tradition , a doctrinal school.

Of the three, the last one is considered the best.

*

Sri Vidya  traditions speak of two forms of Sri Chakra. One is its physical representation of lines and forms. This form entails external worship (puja) according to prescriptions of kalpa sutra, spread over 26 steps. Here, Kameshwara and Kameshwari are the deities that receive worship.

There are, again, three methods of worship of Sri Chakra.

The shrishti_krama the expansion mode of worship, carried out in morning, comprehends the chakra from the central point the Bindu to the outer square.

The Sthithi_krama the preservation mode of worship, carried out in the afternoon, comprehends the Chakra from the outer square to the eight-fold lotus ; and, from the Bindu to the fourteen cornered figure.

The third, Samhara_krama the absorption mode of worship, carried out in the night, comprehends the chakra from the outer square to the central point.

 [Even in this method the visualizations and contemplations are not entirely dispensed with.]

The other form of worship is Viyacchakra, the chakra emerging within ones heart. This entails visualization of Bindu, which is in the center of the Sahasra, within ones heart. The ability to visualize Viyacchakra is known Assamaya. The worship (maanasa puja) is offered internally and consists wholly of visualizations and contemplation; and , is carried out in seclusion by one who is in control of his senses.

The process here involves a four-fold conceptualization of identity (aikya chintana). They are , briefly :

:- Identity of the Supreme goddess who is un_manifest with Sri Chakra which is manifest;

:- Identity of the design of Sri Chakra with the Universe. It is viewed as a cosmogram ;

:- Identity of the individual with the Universe . This is done primarily on the basis of the Shat chakra ideology (six chakras- muladhara, svadhistana, manipura, anahata, visuddha and ajna) and the tattvas , the principles , of Shaivagama;  and ,

:-  Identity of the letters of the alphabets (matrikas) with the deities located in various segments of the Sri Chakra.

As can be seen from the above the six factors involved are :

  1. the Universe (Brahmanda);
  2. the individual (pindanda);
  3. the structure of Sri Chakra;
  4. the letters of the alphabets(matrikas);
  5. the goddess (Devi); and
  6. the mantra specific to her.

[It is explainedMatrka-cakra, is the articulate sound over which all our thoughts, emotions, aspirations fears and pleasures are woven, as nothing can go beyond the articulate sound, which evolves into an extremely complex universe of sentence to meanings, meanings to mental images and mental images to pleasures and pain. This is called as matrka-sakti that can spread out externally by way of object-denotations, cognition, intentions (raja), emotions like sorrow, pleasure, envy, memory traces etc.(vikalpa), and the world of endless differentiation. This is the outward emanation (vikasa), standing for creation (srishti-krama); and, it can also contract (sankocha) by withdrawing the world of differentiation into pure awareness (samhara)]

The Tantra texts emphasize the merit of inner worship (antar_yaga), once a fair degree of understanding has been gained. They said “Best of all forms of worship is inner worship. External worship (ritualistic) is to be resorted until the dawn of understanding.”

In any case, Sri Vidya is the worship of Mother Goddess incarnated in the Sri Chakra. Her worship includes the worship of her consorts (Devata) and aids (yogini); all of whom are female. The ritualistic details are characteristically feminine.

The Upaasana of Srividya is explained in Upanishads like Kenopanishad and Bhavanopanishad ; and , in various Tantra texts, extensively. For more on the worship practices, please click here.

A Sri Vidya Upasaka worships beauty and grace; rejecting ugliness in thought, word and deed.  Sri Vidya is the path of devotion and wisdom. The wisdom consists in realizing ones identity (sva svarupa prapti) with the Mother Goddess. It is this wisdom that liberates the devotee (jivan Mukthi). This liberating wisdom is granted to him by the Mother out of pure love, when the devotee surrenders to her completely in full faith and devotion. The Mother is the path and the goal. Sri Vidya is the culmination of all paths, the consummation of all transformations.

lotus-flower-meaning-3

[ Śri-Vidyā as a living Tantra has always countenanced change as part of the dynamic of a universe construed to be power itself. ..Śri-Vidyā embodies her contrast as saubhāgya-sampradāya, the tradition that entreats to prosperity by invoking divine self-identification with grace, beauty, and good fortune

The Goddess is transcendence and immanence, outside and in, macrocosm and microcosm and she is more: She is whatever she needs to become to be anything that is possible and all that precludes possible or impossible. Whatever transcendence is, she manifests as, for there is at once the narrowest sense of her fullness recovered through specific ritual arts of identification and the broadest sense of her inclusion in every kind of experience, in every aspect of reality. Unlike those who would prefer the perfection of final liberation to make for simple extrication from a world of opposites, Śri-Vidyā asserts that transcendence possesses no otherness and demands immanence without exception must be none other than she, the goddess herself in some manifestly karmic or playful form. Such a universe is not inscrutable nor can it be reduced to comprehension; illusions must be real in so far as they refuse any sensibility of falsity; options trump exiguity without the slightest diminishment of integrity.

What makes Śri  “the auspicious” is that there can be no scarcity, no summation, no ultimacy  that finalizes  less than another possibility; and all of this Śri reveals herself as Vidyā , a science, a process of veracity, an impeccable wisdom, a mantra  feminine-encoded as reality true to itself but beholden to none. Śri-Vidyā conceals itself in contradictions that pose no threat to those who embrace paradox as the solution to a world that is itself not a problem to be solved.. Śri-Vidyā flourishes, never fails; it assimilates, takes on new characters  in varied forms.

Douglas R. Brooks in the Forward to an Article concerning Sri Vidya and Tantra byJeffrey S Lidke ]

lotus red

Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar was initiated into Srividya Maha Shodasakshari Diksha. In his first kriti , he referrers  to its Guru tradition, its twelve gurus and three schools of worship, Kadi, Hadi and SadiKamaadi dwadashabhirupa_sthitha kadi hadi sadi mantra rupinya .

Sri Dikshitar also mentions that he followed the tradition of the Sages Durvasa , Agasthya and Hayagreeva ; and, declares he belonged to Kadi School: maatmaka kadi mathanusthano.

Sri Dikshitar followed the Kadi practice of worship of Sri Chakra from Bhupura , the outer square to the Bindu, the central point. He had a certain pride in his tradition; in his kriti Kamalambikai, he states “prabala guruguha sampradaya anthah karayayai – referring to his hallowed tradition

Sri Dikshitar composed about forty kritis,  spread over four sets of compositions on the subjects related to Sri Vidya;  Kamalamba Navavarana (11+ 2 kritis); Nilothpalamba kritis (8 kritis); Abhayamba kritis (10 kritis); and, Guru Kritis (8 kritis). Of these the Kamalamba set of kritis, is highly well organized; and,  is truly remarkable for its classic structure , majesty and erudite knowledge. More of that in the succeeding sections.

Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar, in his kritis, yearns for Videha Mukthi. He beseeches the Divine Mother repeatedly and addresses her as one who grants Videha mukthi (Mamaka videha mukthi sadanam– Ranganayakam-Nayaki); the bestower of videha mukthi (vikalebara kaivalya danaya– Guruguhaya-Sama); and , at times , he feels he is nearing videha mukthi(Videha kaivalyam yami-Tyagaraje-Saranga). Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar was a jivan Muktha who attained his Videha Mukthi.

Videha mukthi is a concept of the later Advaita Schools. It believes, one can attain liberation (moksha) from attachments while still encased in a body. Such an attained one is Jivan Muktha. The body continues to function till its Prarabdha Karma is exhausted; thereafter, the mortal coils fall away. Videha mukthi is shedding off the body by a Jivan muktha, the one who has already attained liberation.

Jivanmukthi, emancipation while yet alive, is also a concept of the Tantra Siddantha , which believes that it is possible for a person to transact with the world without getting involved in it. In other words, one lives on actively and cheerfully, amidst distractions and confusions of the world without letting his self reflect them. His moorings in the phenomenal world have withered away; his instinct of self-preservation and insecurity has been minimized. He is alive only to essential thing in life that is the source of life. The real world continues to exist for him. But he does not rest in the world but rests in himself (Svarupa pratishta).

In the Sri Vidya  tradition, a jivan muktha is a devotee, a Bhaktha as well as a Jnani the wise one. Here, the wisdom consists in realizing his identity (sva svarupa prapti) with the Mother goddess. It is this wisdom that liberates him (jivan Mukthi). This liberating wisdom is granted to him by the Mother , out of pure love, when he completely surrenders to her in full faith and devotion.

Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar, either way, was a jivan Muktha who attained Videha Mukth with the grace of the Devi.

Rajarajeshwari

Continued in the Next Part

The structure of Sri Chakra

 

Reference;

The Tantra of Sri Chakra by Prof.SK Ramachandra Rao (1953)

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in Music, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Sri Vidya, Tantra

 

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Abhinavagupta

Though Hinduism has now virtually been rooted out of Kashmir, the region, at onetime, was a renowned center of learning. And,  its erudite and enlightened scholars such as Abhinavagupta (10th century), Augusta (8th century), Somananda (9th century), Utpaladeva (9th century), Anandavardhana (9th century) and others made immense contribution to the development of Indian Philosophies, literature and art.

The most outstanding of them was Abhinavagupta Acharya (c. 950 to c. 1020 C.E) a great philosopher, intellectual and a spiritual descendant of Somananda the founder of the Pratyabhijna, the “recognition” metaphysics school of Kashmiri Saivite monism. Abhinavagupta was a many sided genius and a prolific writer on Shaivism, Tantra, aesthetics, Natya, music and a variety of other subjects. Among his most notable philosophic works are the Isvara-pratyabhijña-vimarshini and the more detailed Isvara-pratyabhijña-vivrti-vimarsini, both commentaries on Isvara-pratyabhijña (Recognition of God) by Utpaladeva , an earlier philosopher of the pratyabhijna school .

Abhinavagupta’s  works on poetry , drama, and dance, include the Lochana a commentary on the Dhvanyaloka by Anandavardhana; and, the Abhinavabharati a detailed commentary on Bharata Muni’s Natyasastra covering almost every important aspect of Indian aesthetic and poetics . His theory of Rasa is a land mark in Sanskrit art and literature.

Abhinavagupta was born in Kashmir, probably around 950 A.D. The tradition has it that after his 70th year Abhinavagupta entered the Bhairava cave near the village Bhiruva, along with his 1200 disciples;  and , was never seen again.

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Abhinavagupta opens his work Tantrasàra, with the Verse :

Vimalakalà-asrayàbhinavasrstimaha janani / bharitatanus ca pancamukha-guptarucir janakah / tadubhaya-yàmala-sphurita-bhàva- visargamayam / hrdayam anuttaràmr-takulam mama samsphuratàt //

May my heart shine forth, embodying the bliss of the ultimate, for it is  one with the state of absolute potential made manifest in the fusion of these two, the `Mother’ grounded in pure representation, radiant in ever new genesis, and the `Father,’ all-enfolding [Bhairava], who maintains the light [of consciousness] through his five faces  {formed from the emissions produced through the fusion of these two, my mother Vimalà, whose greatest joy was in my birth, and my father [Nara]Simhagupta, [when both were] all-embracing  in their union. Translation by Alexis Sanderson

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What little is known of him comes from his works; and, in his own words. At the end of Ishwar Pratyabhijna Vimarshini, a commentary on Kashmir Shaivism text ascribed to  Utpaladeva, Abhinavagupta states that his remote ancestor Attrigupta, a great Shaiva teacher, who lived in Antarvedi – a tract of land lying between the Ganga and the Yamuna – migrated to Kashmir at the invitation of the King Lalitaditya (700-736 A.D) . He was followed, many generations later, by  Varahagupta another great scholar of Shaiva philosophy. His son, Narasimha Gupta, a great Shaiva teacher , was the father of Abhinavagupta. And Vimla or Vimalkala was the mother of Abhinavagupta (vimalakalāśray ābhinavasṛṣṭi mahā janan. His father’s maternal grandfather, Yashoraja, was a man of great learning and wrote a commentary on Paratrinshika . a dialogue between Bhairava (Shiva) and Bhairavi (Shakti) .

abhinavagupta parent


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Abhinavagupta always described himself as kashmirika, as one hailing  from the land of Kashmira.

It is believed that Abhinava was a Yoginibhu, i.e. born of a Siddha and  Yogini. The Kaula system believes that a progeny of parents who are sincere devotees of Lord Shiva is endowed with exceptional spiritual and intellectual prowess; and ,will be a depository of knowledge.

Abhinava might not have been his real name, but one assigned to him by his teachers, because of his brilliance. He describes his work Tantraloka (1.20) : ‘This is the work written by Abhinavagupta, who was so named by his Gurus”- abhinavaguptasya kṛtiḥ seyaṃ yasyoditā gurubhirākhyā. The name Abhinava suggests the virtue of being “ever-new and ever creative, progressively innovating oneself”.And, it also suggests competence and authoritativeness. Abhinavagupta was, in fact, all these and more.

He was also referred to as Abhinavagupta-pada. The suffix pada signifies a reverential form of address (say, just as in Sri Shankara Bhagavat-pada) .  There is also a clever explanation of the term “gupta_pada” which translates to “one with hidden limbs” , a poetic synonym for snake. Thus, Abhinava was also regarded as an incarnation of Sesha , the legendary serpent.

Abhinava lost his mother Vimalakala when he was just two years of age. The pain of separation and the longing for his mother haunted him all his life. He, later in his works, frequently referred to his mother with love and reverence. The relation between the mother and the child, he said, is the closest that nature can forge. The bond of love and friendship between the mother and the child is the strongest; and, is the most enduring bond in the world.

While ruing the loss of his mother early in his childhood, Abhinavagupta reconciled to the fact , saying : It is the will of God , who prepares men  for the future work to be accomplished through them – Mata vyayu-yujadamum kils balya eva / Devo hi bhavi-parikramani samskaroti//

His father Narasimha-gupta (aka. Cukhulaka), after the death of his wife Vimalakala, assumed an ascetic way of life; and yet continued to bring up his three children (two sons : Abhinava, Manorata and the daughter Amba). He became more focused on his spiritual endeavor. He was Abhinava’s first teacher. Abhinava, later, recalled his father with gratitude for the training he received from him in Grammar (pitra sa sabda-gahane-krta-sampravesah), logic, literature and music (geya vidya).

Abhinava was a diligent pupil ; and, put his heart and soul in to his studies. By one account, Abhinava had as many as fifteen teachers; Narasimha Gupta, his father being his first teacher.  His other teachers were said to be : Vamanatha; Bhutiraja; Bhutiraja-tanaya; Laksmanagupta; Induraja; and Bhatta-Tota. These teachers taught the boy Abhinavagupta  varied subjects , such as : Tantras; Brahmavidya; monistic Saivism; Krama ; Trika; Dhvani; and Dramaturgy 

Among his teachers.  Lakshmana Gupta was the son and a direct disciple of Somananda, in the lineage of TryambakaHe taught Abhinavagupta the monastic subjects:  Krama,  Trika  and  Pratyabhijna   (except Kula).

His  two other teachers on these subjects were Bhutiraja and his son Helaraja, both of whom were adepts in Prathyabhijnana and Karma systems

The most prominent of his teachers was , of course, Shambhu Natha of Jalandhara (in the present-day Punjab). Guru Shambhu Natha, who preached monistic shaivism, initiated Abhinava in to Ardha_thrayambaka , a doctrine of Kaula school of Tantric tradition. It is said that Shambhu Natha asked his wife to act as a conduit (dauti) for transmitting the initiation through Kaula process (having sexual connotations). It was at the instance of Shambhu Natha that Abhinava authored his monumental Tantraloka, in which he compared Shambhu Natha to the sun in his power to dispel the darkness of ignorance; and to the moon shining over the ocean of Trika knowledge.

śrī śambhunātha bhāskara caraṇa nipāta prabhā pagata saṃkocam abhinavagupta hṛdambuja metad vicinuta maheśa pūjana hetoḥ //1. 21

[While on the topic of teachers, let me suggest to you , a  very scholarly dissertation submitted by Benjamin Luke Williams to the Harvard University during December 1917-Abhinavagupta’s Portrait of a Guru: Revelation and Religious Authority in Kashmir. Mr.Williams observes, among other things, : The conception of an ideal guru in the writings of Abhinavagupta lays stress on the guru’s capacity to awaken their disciple to an all-encompassing grasp of reality. It also exceeds this requirement through an implicit argument – modeled by Abhinavagupta’s narration of his own religious education – that the guru should be scholastically trained; and, be sensitive to the beauty of Sanskrit literature….the ideal guru should not only be a fully-enlightened master; but, should also be schooled in the finer points of Indian scholastic discourse and a connoisseur of Sanskrit poetry; in short, a multi-cultural Siddha. ]

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As regards his immediate family, it is said, Abhinava had a younger brother Manoratha and an elder sister Amba. Manoratha was one among Abhinava’s earlier batch of disciples. And, one of his fellow students was Karna married Amba. Karna and Amba had a son Yogeshwardatta , who was precociously talented in Yoga. After the death of her husband, Amba too devoted herself entirely to Yoga and to the worship of Shiva. Later, Amba’s in-laws too became devote followers of Abhinava.

A cousin of Abhinava was Kshema who later became renowned as his illustrious disciple Kshemaraja. Mandra, the cousin and childhood friend of Karna, too became Abhinava’s disciple. Vatasika, Mandra’s aunt, took exceptional care of Abhinava and offered him support to carry on his life’s work. It was while staying in her suburban house at Pravapura (eastern district of the present-day Srinagar) that Abhinava wrote and completed his Tantraloka, in which he recorded his gratitude towards Vatasika for her concern, dedication and support. Abhinavagupta also mentioned his disciple Rāmadeva as being  faithfully devoted to scriptural studies and for serving his master.

He also mentions that while writing this text, he recollected all the shastras he had earlier learnt from all his Gurus

Ittham grhe Vatsalika-avartane sthitah samadhyaya matim/  bahuni purva-srutanya-kalayan svabhuddhya shashtrani tebhyah samavapya saaram

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Abhinava did not become a wandering monk nor did he take on Brahmanical persuasions. He did not marry  (Dara-suta-prahrti-bandhakatham-naptaha); he followed an ascetic way of life; and yet, he lived in his ancestral home surrounded by the members of his family, loving friends and disciples. He lived the life of a scholar, a teacher and a Yogi immersed in Shiva. Referring to the atmosphere in his family, Abhinava said,” All the members of the family regarded material wealth as a straw and they set their hearts on the contemplation of Shiva”- Ye sampadam truna-mamamsata Shambh-seva –sampuritah svahrudayam hrdi bhavayantah (Tantraloka 12.)

He lived in a nurturing and a caring environment. An epoch pen-painting depicts him  seated in Virasana, surrounded by devoted disciples and family, performing on Veena while dictating verses of  Tantrāloka to one of his attendees, as  two dauti (women yogi) wait on him. He was ever surrounded by his friends and disciples.

Madhu raja , a disciple of Abhinavagupta, in his stotra praising his Guru,  calls him  ‘Abhinava Dakshinamurthi Devah’ – an incarnate of Sri Dakshinamurthi. The following is the gist of the Dhyanasloka composed by Madhuraja in honor of his Guru, as  translated by Dr. K . C. Pandey.

May that Supreme Being Sri Dakshinamurthi in the form of my Guru Abhinavagupta , who is an incarnation of Shiva Srikantha  ; and ,who has come to Kashmir ; may he protect us all.

His eyes are glowing with spiritual bliss. The center of his forehead is clearly marked with tri-pundraka, three lines drawn with the sacred ash (Bhasma). His ears adorned with Rudraksha are beautiful. His luxurious hair (Shikha) is tied with garland of flowers. His beard is long. His body shining like roses. His neck appears black, because of its being smeared with paste of camphor , musk , sandal, saffron etc., indeed looks splendid.

Abhinavagupta

His long Yajnopavita is left loose. He is attired in silk cloth, white like the moon-beams. He is sitting majestically in Virasana, on a soft cushion placed over a throne of gold, over which is a canopy decked with strings of pearls . His right hand wearing the rosary of Rudraksha is resting on his right thigh; with his fingers gesturing Jnana-mudra . He, with his lotus-like delicate fingers of the left hand is also playing upon the Veena  spreading melodious and enchanting Music  (Nada) all around.

 He is seated in an open hall decorated with beautiful eye-catching paintings . And, the hall looks superb with rows of lamps and sweet-smelling garlands, colourful  flowers . And, the entire area is pervaded by the fragrance of incense and sandal etc. The hall is resounding with melodious songs and music on various instruments. There are also dancers displaying their skills joyfully. His assembly was also honoured by the presence of Yoginis and Siddhas who attained a high status.

The Great Guru Abhinavagupta is attended by all his pupils, such as Kshemaraja who devotedly sits at the foot of his master and studiously writing down the utterances of the Master. There are also two female messengers (Dutis) standing beside the Guru ; and, serving him with whisks. They also hold a jar full of water distilled from the grain kept soaked in water for three nights (Shiva –rasa). They also carry a box of betel-leaves, a basket of citron and lotus.

No wonder that about 1,200 of his friends and disciples faithfully followed Abhinavagupta, as he marched in to the Bhairava cave, reciting loudly his Bhairara_stava, never to be seen again.

[ Please click here for

Kāśmīrīya Mahāmāheśvara Ācārya Abhinavagupta (A biographical docu-feature on his life & works)]

Svacchanda Bhairava

A prolific writer on a wide ranging subjects , Abhinava  authored more than about 40 works, some of which survive to the present day.

Abhinavagupta’s works are sometimes classified according the branches of his triad (trika) will (icchā) – knowledge (jnana) – action (kriya).

But according to another classification, Abhinavagupta’s works fall into four broad groups.

The first group of his works deals with Tantra. His monumental encyclopedic work the Tantraloka or Light on the Tantras is an authoritative text. It explores doctrine and the inner meaning of rituals in the Shaiva and Shakta Agamas.

The text is named as Tantraloka; because, it is said to light up the path of the ardent followers of the Tantra (Alokamasadya yadiyamesha lokah sukham sancharita kriyashu)

The work came to be written at the request of  Manoratha  , his cousin and his pupils Mandra and others.The actual writing took place, while Abhinavagupta was staying in the house of Mandra , located in Pravarapura ( eastern district of the present-day Srinagar)

The text enumerates the Tantrik Agamas and the three methods of realizing the Ultimate Reality: SambhavopayaSaktopaya and Anovapaya. The Tantraloka , apart from being a philosophical work, is also a practical guide to the arnent students of Tantra-vidya.

iti samadhikamenam trimsatam yah sada budhah / ahnikanam samabhyasyetsa saksadbhairavo bhavet

Tantraloka is a detailed work divided into thirty-seven Ahnikas (Chapters).  It has been published with commentary of Jayaratha.  The topics discussed therein are : (1) the cause of bondage;(2) the way to freedom;(3)knowledge as distinct from ignorance;(4) the concept of Moksha ;(5) what is the ultimate reality ; (6) manifestation of the universe ;(7) Bimba-Pratibimba Vada; (8) Shaiva Agama; and,(9) Biographical notes.

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Tantrasara is a summarized version of Tantraloka. The Tantrasara containing twenty-two Ahnikas deals with a variety of topics which have a  bearing on varied spiritual disciplines. It gives prominence to the various modes of spiritual disciplines prescribed for different classes of spiritual aspirants. It also explains the ancillary topics such as the concept of Divine Grace; different kinds of initiatory rites (Diksha); and, the modes of Shaiva worship etc. Besides, it also discusses the abstract aspects of   Trika School of philosophy. The entire text is replete with mystic symbols and description of esoteric practices.

Tantra-Vata-Dhanika is a small work in verse form, which aims to teach the principles of Shaiva Tantras in a nutshell.  Basically, this text is a brief summary of Tantraloka. It is like a seed, dhanika of the huge banyan tree, vata of Tantra ideology.

Paramartha-sara is text containing 105 karikas. It is called   Paramartha-sara,  because it encapsulates the essence (Sara) or the hidden (ati-gudham) principles of the Trika Philosophy, as explained by Abhinavagupta – aryasatena  tadidam samksiptam  sastra-saram-atigudham. This text is said to be an adaptation of the Adhara-karikas of the revered sage Sesha Muni, who is also referred to as Adhara  Bhagavan. The Paramartha-sara of Abhinavagupta, mainly, deals with subjects such as: metaphysical reality; ontology of Shaiva Siddantha; theories concerning creation; manifestation of thirty-six Tattvas; causes for human bondage;  and, the ways leading towards liberation etc. Yogaraja,one of  the  disciples  of Ksemaraja wrote a detailed  commentary on Paramartha-sara.

The other important work of this group is Malini-Vijaya Vivrti , a commentary. It is a voluminous work, composed in simple Sanskrit verse on the philosophic principles and doctrines of practice of Kashmir Shaiva Siddantha The alternate title of this text is Sripurva-shastra. It was, initially, addressed to two of his pupils: Karna and Mandra – sacchisya-karna-mandrabhyam codito‘ham punah.

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The second group consists few small treatises like Bodh-Punch Dashika;  and  Stotras  or hymns in praise of deities such as Bhairava. The text is made of sixteen Sanskrit verses. It is called Bodha-panca-dasika, because,  in fifteen verses, it teaches  the basic principles of monistic Shaiva doctrine . It speaks of the Shaiva conception of Shiva and Shakthi; their relation; and, the consequent emanation of the universe etc .The last  and the sixteenth verse ,briefly  states  the object of the composition- sukumara-matin sisyan-prabodhay-itumanjasa / ime Abhinava-guptena slokah pancadasoditah// 

The Bhagavadgitartha-sangraha is a short commentary on Bhagavad-Gita, where Abhinavagupta gives the traditional interpretation from the Shaiva point of view.

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A third group includes his works on art of the theater and art of writing plays; poetics; aesthetics and the rhetoric. The great scholar Prof. P.V. Kane remarked “his two works, i.e. Lochana and Abhinavabharati are monuments of learning, critical insight, literary grace and style.” Lochana, his commentary on  Dhvanyaloka of Anandavardhana is a highly regarded work in aesthetics. Abhinavabharati is an extensive commentary on Natyasastra of Bharata Muni. His analysis of Rasa is very appealing and distinguishable from other interpretations. For example, Bharata talks about eight types of Rasa, while distinguishing it from sthaayibhaava.

The Abhinavabharati and Lochana suggest that bhoga (pleasure) is produced not only by the senses but also by the removal of moha (ignorance). They also suggest that art and literature are not mere vinoda (entertainment) but are outpourings of the ananda arising of knowledge.

The Abhinavabharati is the earliest available, the most famous and celebrated commentary on the Natyashastra of Bharata, expounding , among other things , on the theory Rasa.

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Abhinavagupta emphasized that intuition (prathibha), inner experience was the lifeblood of good poetry. He said , creativity (karaka) was the hallmark of poetry as it brings into the world a new art experience. Poetry need not aim to remind (jnapaka) what is already present; that , he said , was the function of sastras. A poet need not seek justification or approval of scriptural authority. He is the lord of his domain. He is the creator. Abhinava  recommend, the poet need not allow himself to be bound by logic, propriety and such other restrictions.

Abhinavagupta , in his Lochana, says prathibha the intuition might be essential for creation of good poetry . But , that flash of enlightenment alone is not sufficient . He explains , what sustains that vision is the “unmeelana_shakthi” which is something that charges the mind, opens up or awakens the potent faculties. Abhinavagupta clarifies that prathibha is inspirational in nature and it does not, by itself , transform automatically, into a work of art or poetry. It needs a medium to  harness it, bring it forth through lively , delightful or forceful expression . And , that medium has to be cultivated, honed and refined diligently over a period to produce a work of class.

In this context, Abhinavagupta mentions three essentials that a poet has to keep in view. They are Rasa (rasa_vesha), Vaishadya and Soundarya. The rasa concept is well known ; and,  ls expounded by Bharata muni. The second one refers to clarity in thought, lucidity in expression and comfortable communication with the reader. The third is the sense of poetic beauty . A good poetry can manifest, according to him, only when the delightful combination of these three essentials are charged or supported by prathibha.

He cites Valmiki and kalidasa as classic examples; and, states it is the wonderful combination of those poetic virtues and prathibha that sets them apart from the rest of the tribe.

[Abhinavagupta , it appears had a special regard for Kalidasa. In his Locana, while commenting on Anandavardhana’s Dhvanyaloka, Uddyota-1 – DhvK_1.6and speaking of pratibhā-viśeṣam , the creative genius,  Abhinavagupta  ponders :

In this wonderful   stream of literature,  flowing  since the time immemorial, there have been varied types and class of poets . And, there have been some gifted  poets in each generation . But, tell me ; how may of those can even be compared to the matchless , Sovereign (prabhṛtayo) Kalidasa. You might be able to name a very few , say, two , three or , at best, five; but, surely never  more than that.

pratibhā-viśeṣaṃ pari-sphurantam abhivyanakti /
yenāsminnati vicitra kavi paramparā vāhini saṃsāre kālidāsa prabhṛtayo dvitrāḥ pañcaṣā vā mahākavaya iti gaṇyante / ]

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The fulfillment of poetry is Ananda, joy. It therefore needs a good reader (Sah_hrudaya) who can understand, appreciate, empathize and enjoy the beauty of the poetry. He is an integral part of poetic experience.

Subash kak remarks “Abhinava emphasized the fact that all human creativity reveals aspects of the seed consciousness. This explains his interest in drama, poetry, and aesthetics.”

Nineplanets Navagraha 2

The last group constitutes his work on the Pratyabhijnyasastra, the monistic philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism. In this group , we have his matchless contributions to this system. Among his most notable works in this category are the Isvara-pratyabhijña-vimarsini and the concise Isvara-pratyabhijña-vivrti-vimarsini, both commentaries on Isvarapratyabhijna (“Recognition of God”) by Utpaladeva, an earlier philosopher of the pratyabhijna school.

The Para-trisika-vivarana on the Trika system of yoga is very profound text detailing minute ideas regarding the esoteric principles and doctrines of the Trika system of Shaiva-yoga in its highest aspect. The text deals with Ultimate Reality, Para Tattva;  and the path to its realization, centered above on  the theory and practice of  mantra Yoga.

Abhinavagupta was a devotee of Lord Shiva ; and, he led a celibate life. He is considered the greatest exponent of the Kashmiri Saivite monism. This school viewed Shiva (the manifestation of ultimate reality), the individual soul, and the universe as essentially one. The philosophy of pratyabhijna refers to the way of realizing this identity.

Kashmir Shaivism is intensely monistic. It is not much concerned with worshiping a personal god ; its emphasis is upon meditation , reflection and guidance by a guru. It aims at attaining the transcendental state of Shiva consciousness.

It explains the creation as Shiva’s abhasa, shining forth of himself in his dynamic aspect of Shakti. Abhasavada is therefore another name of the system . Shiva the Supreme Self is immanent and transcendent; and performs , through Shakthi , the five actions of creation, preservation, destruction, revealing and concealing. During this process , Shiva as the Universe Vishwanatha, on his own will creates , expands, flourishes , retracts in to a most minute form till the next cycle of creation and expansion.

Kashmir Shaivism is called Trika philosophy because all its interpretations are three fold. Trika stands for threefold science of the individual, the energy and the universal consciousness. It also represents three modes of knowledge of Reality, viz. non-dual (abheda), nondual-cum-dual (bhedabheda), and dual (bheda). The Trika School also argued that reality is represented by three categories : transcendental (para), material (apara), and a combination of these two (para_apara) . This three-fold division is again reflected in the principles of  Shiva, Shakti, anu or pashu. The Trika is also known as Svatantrya vadaSvatantrya and Spanda expressing the same concepts.

The purpose of Trika is to show how an individual rises to the state of universal consciousness through Shakthi. Shiva represents pure consciousness, Shakti its energy, and anu the material world. Pashu is the individual who acts according to his conditioning, almost like an animal; pashas are the bonds that tie him to his behavior; and pathi or pashupathi (Lord of the Flock) is Shiva personified whose knowledge liberates the pashu and makes it possible for him to reach his potential.

Abhinavagupta classified Trika philosophy into four systems : Krama  system,  Spanda  system,  Kula system and Pratyabhijna  system.

The mind is viewed as a hierarchical (krama) collection of agents (kula) that perceives its true self spontaneously (pratyabhijna) with a creative power that is vibrating  or pulsating (spanda)

Explaining the Spanda system, Abhinavagupta says whatever that appears to be moving is actually established in the unmoved point. Although everything seems to be moving , actually, they are not moving at all.

As for the Kula system, he says that Kula means the science of totality. In each and every part of the universe totality shines . Take an infinitesimally small object, in that you will find the universal energy. A macrocosm resides in microcosm .

The fourth, the Pratyabijnya system deals with the school of recognition. The Pratyabhijnya School, initiated by Sri Somananda; and developed by Utpaladeva, reached its culmination in Abhinavagupta. This School conceived Shiva (the manifestation of ultimate reality), the individual soul, and the universe as essentially one; Pratyabhijna refers to the way of realizing this identity.

Abhinavagupta, while explaining this school of recognition, says, man is not a mere speck of dust; but, is an immense force, comprising a comprehensive consciousness and capable of manifesting through his mind and body limitless powers of knowledge and action (Jnana Shakti and Kriya Shakti). The state of Shiva-consciousness is already there, you have to realize that and nothing else.

His non-dual philosophy, in essence, is similar to the one expounded by Sri Shankara. He considers the universe completely real, filled with infinite diversity and not different from Shiva , the supreme consciousness. He expands on this concept and shows that the various levels of creation, from the subtlest to the grossest, are all the same and Shiva.

He conceived Shiva, the I or Consciousness (Aham) , as an expression of the supreme freedom This concept of freedom (Svatrantya) is one of the principal achievements of Kashmiri Shaivism .

Abhinavagupta explains that Shiva brings about the manifestation of the world by the means of His svatantrya –shakthi or absolute autonomy by which he effects all changes without undergoing any change in Himself. The world is abhasa, pratibimba projected or reflected in the mirror of cosmic consciousness. Abhinavagupta  illustrates this  position  with  the aid  of  analogy of the reflection in  a mirror : just as earth,  water etc. are  reflected  in a clean mirror without being contaminated, so also the entire world of objects appears together in the one Lord consciousness- nirmale mukure yadvadbhanti bhumi-jala- dayah.. visvavrttayah.

Abhinavagupta asserts that Shiva, the Ultimate Reality, manifests himself as the world – asthasyadekarupena vapusa canmahesvara! Ghatadivat. He says;  in reality,  the jiva, the individual soul, is none other than the Lord Shiva Himself, having taken up the form of the bounded being – Shiva eva grhita pasu bhavah. The whole of this existence, according to Abhinavagupta, is indeed the manifestation of that Absolute Reality Shiva – Bharupam..paratattvam tasmin vibhati sat trimsad-atma jagat 

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But, the basic difference between the Sri Shankara and Abhinavagupta is that the philosophy of Abhinavagupta is theistic absolutism.  It is similar to Vishitadvaita.  Abhinavagupta accepts the monistic and absolute  pure  consciousness   as  the  only  eternal reality; but, at the same time establishes Shakthi as the very essential nature of such monistic Reality. Hence, the aspect of the pure and perfect I-consciousness is His static aspect in which He is known as Shiva; and, the aspect of His phenomenal manifestation through the five divine activities is His dynamic aspect in which He is known as Shakthi.  Thus, Shiva is the basic eternal Reality and Shakthi is the divine nature of such Absolute Reality. Shiva and Shakthi are also said to be identical; the difference being just in nameittham nanavidhaih rupaih! kridaya prasruto nityameka-eva sivah prabhuh.

Abhinavagupta 3

Abhinavagupta was a mystic and a Sadhaka par excellence. According to him; one’s body is indeed a worthy place of worship. All the devatas , vidyas, cakras, trisulas, mandalas  etc. are present in the body.

Beyond this there is no other Dhama  , a place, which is more   suitable for true worship – deha-eva-param-lingam  sarvata tat-vatmakam  shivam.. Atraiva  devata cakram  bahirantah sada yajet .

Abhinavagupta advises that a serious seeker should  obtain proper initiation , Diksha , from a worthy Guru, who  has the immense power of grace. The Sadhaka through relentless practice of Mantra, Japa and Bhavana (contemplation), should strive to attain true realization – tat svarupam japah prokto Bhava –bhavapada-cyutah.

He categorized such means of achievement (Upaya) into:  Anavopaya; Saktopaya and Sambhavopaya.. These Upayas are hierarchical; and, are meant for different levels of  Sadhakas.

Abhinavagupta asserts  that Moksha is nothing else  but  the  awareness   of  one’s  true  nature –  Moksha hi nama naivanyah sva-rupa-prathanam hi sah . He assures,  an  aspirant  who  meditates on that Great Brahman, will truly realize Shiva in his heart.

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Kashmir Shaivism, reached its culmination in the philosophy of Abhinavagupta and Kshemaraja (10th century) ; and,  in the theory of Recognition , Shaivite philosophy found its full flowering .

Together with Somananda’s disciple Utpaladeva, Abhinavagupta is the most important representative of the School . Many believe Shiva himself appeared in Kashmir in the form of Abhinavagupta to enlighten the people. In any case , Abhinavagupta is a precious jewel of our heritage . His works and teachings continue to influence our thoughts.

Abhinavagupta talks about Shadanga_yoga, a system of yoga comprised of six aspects. According to him, prana (life force) and manas (mind) are interdependent. The Yoga consists in harnessing these two together. The disciplines of yama, niyama and aasana prescribed by Patanjali are meant for conditioning the body; they are the indirect methods.

Whereas, the methods that help directly are  dhyana  (meditation),  dharana (contemplation),  tarka (reasoning) and  Samadhi (absolute identity with the ideal). Contemplating on the identity of self and the Shiva  is essential; and it can be achieved through divine grace. It leads to emancipation and freedom from ignorance; and roots out the sense of duality. This he called it Pratyabhijnathe new method  (margo navaha).

guru charana

flordeloto

 

References:
http://www.koausa.org/Shaivism/index.html
http://www.koausa.org/Saints/Abhinavagupta/article3.html
http://www.thenewyoga.org/guru_abhinavagupta.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abhinavagupta

https://www.academia.edu/24993006/Abhinavagupta?email_work_card=interaction_paper

Images are from Internet

 
 

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Temple worship and rituals (2 of 5) – Symbolism of Rituals in Temple Worship

Symbolism of the temple

– Symbolism of Rituals in Temple Worship

The Agama texts mention that divinity may be worshipped in one of the four ways: (1) Japa, recitation of the holy name as initiated by the Guru ;( 2) Homa, oblations offered in Agni accompanied by appropriate hymns ; (3) Archana, actual worship (of nine types); and (4) Dhyana, meditation on transcendental and empirical aspects of divinity.

The first approach is through a pattern of sounds (nada/shabda) while the second is through the medium of Agni. Meditation isindependent of concrete representations. All these three are individual approaches. It is the Archa, the worship of a deity individually and in communion with fellow devotees that is easiest. Further, the Archa includes in itself the essentials of the other three approaches as well. Archana in temples is an integrated mosaic of individual and congregational worship; and is the most popular approach.

The formal worship of deities in Hindu traditions broadly follows the Vedic, Tantric or the mixed (Misra) procedures. The Vedic traditions are centered on Agni (fire) the visible representation of divinity and a medium to approach other gods in celestial realm. Oblations offered into Agni accompanied by recitation of appropriate hymns constitute Vedic worship. The Vedic traditions do not generally provide for worship of icons.

Tantric ideology views the divinity in terms of human or semi human forms (murti) and as represented by diagrams (mandala) and incantations of great merit (mantra).

The temple and iconic worship may appear like tantric. However, in practice the worship at temples involves both homa and archa rituals. The rituals here are a combination of concepts, procedures and symbolism. The symbolism behind this method of worship is that God pervades the universe and that the entire creation is his manifestation. The human mind with its limitations cannot easily comprehend God in absolute; but tries to comprehend divine spirit and bestow a form to the formless. (Na cha rupam vina devo dyatum kenapi sakyate, Vishnu samhita 29, 51).

The worship helps the devotee to visualize the incomprehensible divinity in chosen form and attributes so that he may dwell on it and engage himself in a certain service; else, the mind of an ordinary person might lapse into drowsiness or wither away. The texts suggest that human form of God’s image helps the devotee better to meditate on the divine attributes ; and to relate to the spirit of god with love, affection, friendliness, devotion, reverence etc. The temples generally house images of god in human form except in Shiva temples where the image will be in lingam form (even here the processional image will be in human form).

The worshipper is aware all the while that the forms (murti), sounds (mantras) and diagrams (mandalas) employed in worship are human approximations and are inadequate representations of God (prathima svalpa buddhinaam). Yet, he tries to find through them an approach to the Supreme. It is not very important whether it is archa or the Agni you choose, but it is the devotion and sincerity of purpose that matters. Here, concepts are more significant than precepts; procedures more significant than concepts and symbolism more relevant than procedures.

The temple worship ritual has two distinct aspects; symbolic and actual. The former is the inner worship (manasa puja or antar yajna) and the latter is the procedural aspect, the service (Upachara). In manasa puja, God is the worshipper’s innermost spirit; while in Upachara the personified god is treated and revered as the most venerated guest. The services are rendered with gratitude, love  and devotion.

shodoshopachara

The Aagama texts, Tantra Sara and Siddha yamala list as many as sixty-four upacharas. However, in practice, about sixteen upacharas are conducted; hence the expression Shodashopachara puja. They are , in sequence:

  • (1) seating ( aasana),
  • (2) welcoming (swagatha),
  • (3) offering water to wash feet (padya),
  • (4) offering water to wash hands (arghya),
  • (5) offering water to sip and rinse mouth (aachamana),
  • (6) providing a bath (snana),
  • (7) offering fresh clothes and decorations (vastra- abhushana),
  • (8) offering fresh sacred thread ( yajno_pavitha),
  • (9) offering aromatic substances like sandal paste (gandha),
  • (10) offering flowers (pushpa),
  • (11) burning incense (dhupa),
  • (12) waving lights ( deepa),
  • (13) offering four kinds of food (naivedya),
  • (14) offering tambula (betel leaves with areca nut, camphor and spices),
  • (15) prostrations (namaskara) and
  • (16) send off(visarjana).

The offerings during the worship are meant to please different aspects of the divine. For instance, Arghya is offered to please celestial deities (deva priyartha), sandal paste is a favorite of the Brahma; flowers favor prosperity; dhupa is dear to Agni (vaishvanara priya); aarathi signifies victory (jaya prada); and offering food– naivedya or havis is for abundance (samruddhi).

Each of the five senses contributes to our joy in life. The five fold offering (Panchopachara) – of Gandha (sandal paste), Pushpa (flowers), Dhupa (fragrance), Deepa (lights) and Naivedya (food) – are submission to the Lord with a request to direct our five sensestowards the goodand the God.  

Abhishekha (pouring water over the deity) is an act of love and submission. It purifies the worshippers’ mind and fills with devotion. Flowers confer prosperity, gladden the mind   and hence are Sumanas.Dhupas just as the flowers, gratify the deities immediately. Lights represent energy, fame and upward motion. Lights dispel darkness and ignorance. Satvic food(Naivedya)  of  agreeable scent and appearance mixed with milk  along with flowers and fruits ,offered with reverence and devotion gratify the deities .These offerings submitted with devote  bows , prostrations and absolute surrender do please the Lord.

Prasad and Charanmrit (the residue of the offerings made to the Lord) is most precious, sacred and purifying. It is most the sought after and one who receives it considers himself most fortunate and blessed.

These Upacharas are submitted to the deity only after conducting ceremonial purification of various kinds, infusing life force into the deity and establishing a proper communication with the divinity residing in the icon.

The entire ritual of daily worship  is broadly classified into five stages of worship; (1) aasana, welcoming the divinity to partake the worship; (2) sthapana, seating and invoking life force into the deity; (3) sannidhi_karana, establishing proper communication with the deity; (4) archana main worship; and (5) visarjana bidding farewell or literally dismissing. Incidentally, in Mahabharata (Anushasana parva), Bhishma describes , among other things , the virtues of worship and talks about the  significance of offering flowers , fruits , lights and food to the deity .

(KM Ganguli’s translation http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m13/m13b063.htm )

All the sixteen (shodasha) upacharas like tendering invitation, offering seat; offering water for the feet and to sip and to rinse the mouth and also for bath; presentation of dry and fresh garments,; serving food etc. are performed with devotion and reverence. The personified God is also the Lord of the Lords who oversees the universe (lokadyaksha).Therefore the honors that are due to a king are offered to the icon as Rajopachara. These include white umbrella, flywhisk, music, dance, vehicles of various sorts, flower pavilions, swings, chariots etc.

All the while the worshipper and the devotees are aware that the external worship characterized by splendor and spectacle is an overflow of religious devotion and is secondary to the main worship, the inner worship manasa puja of the antaryamin (the inner being) residing in ones heart.

The inner worship that takes place in the privacy of the sanctum is more significant than the external worship. These are in a sequence such as Shudhi (purification of elements), Mudras (assumption of appropriate and effective gestures), Pranayama (regulation of breath to enable contemplation of the divinity), Dhyana (contemplation), Soham_bhava (identity of the worshipper with the worshipped), Mantra (words to help realize the deity in worshipper’s heart) and Mandala (diagrams representing aspects of divinity).

Shuddhi is not merely the purification of the sanctum and its ambiance as the worshipper purifies the earth (bhu shuddhi) and the elements but is also the symbolic transformation and accommodation of all the elements that constitute worshippers body and world around him.

Dhyana is an important sequence in internal worship. It is not a prayer in the sense, it is not recited in praise of the deity nor is the worshipper seeking through it fulfillment of his desires. It is essentially to attune the inherent divine nature of the worshipper with the divinity of the deity. The worshipper visualizes and contemplates on the resplendent form of the deity as abiding in his own heart.

Mantras that seek to evoke the power of the deity and the mystical designs (yantras or mandalas) that serve as fit abodes for the deity are also important.

The next step is very significant. According to Tantra ideology, the worshipper regards his body as a Yantra where the deity resides. As a prelude to worship per se, the worshipper literally breathes life into the deity during prana_prathista sequence. The idol is transformed to divinity itself. The worshipper does this by extracting the power or the luster (tejas) of the divinity residing in his heart by means of inhalations and exhalations (ucchvasa and nishvasa), and investing it upon the deity. At the same time, the worshipper draws the presence of the Highest Spiritual being (paramatma) into his own individual being (jiva).This process symbolizes invoking the divine residing in ones heart, extracting it (bahir agatya) and transferring it with ease (sukham thistathu) in to the deity in front (asmin bimbe).The transferred Tejas stays in the deity until the worship is formally concluded.

The placement (nyasa) of divine presence in the structure of the icon as also in the worshipper is an essential ritual sequence before the actual service (upacharas) commences. Through these nyasas collectively called bhagavad_aaradhana adhikara_yogyata-siddhi, the worshipper secures competence to worship the deity. He invokes divine presence in himself.This takes three forms.

(1) Matrka-nyasa: placement of fifty seed-sounds (beeja mantra) in several psychic centers (chakras) on different parts of the body.

(2) Devata-nyasa: placement of different aspects of divinity on limbs and different parts of body; and

(3) Tattva-nyasa: Endowments of twenty-four basic factors (as per Samkhya) to the deity in order to individualize it.

The first two forms of nyasa are Tantric in character and are intended to transform the abstract form of divinity residing within the worshipper into a concrete form of divine as invested in the icon.

The second form of nyasa is designed to suit a specific type of deity .The Vaishnavas adopt Keshavadi nyasa; the Shaivas adopt Srikantadi nyasa while Shakthas adopt kala nyasa.

The third nyasa is largely Vedic with traces of Tantra. It sometimes provides a structure for abstract form of worship.

It is only after the deity is thus properly invoked (Avahita), established (stapitha), close at hand (sanhita), positioned right in front of the worshipper (sammukha), confined in a place of honor (sanniruddha) and well concealed under a canopy  (avaguntitha), the worship (upachara) commences and acquires a significance. Unless the worshipper establishes his identity with the worshipped, the rituals have no meaning. The Agama texts prescribe, “God is not to be worshipped by one who has himself not become God” (nadevo bhutva devam pujayet).

After the formal worship is completed, the deity is dismissed (visarjana). This ritual signifies withdrawal of the divine presence (temporarily lodged in the icon) and taking it back into worshipper’s heart (which is its permanent residence). The mantras recited in this context say “ Come ,oh God residing in the icon come back into my heart-lotus” (Ehi ehi, prathima sthitha purushottama , mama hrutkamale); “Reside in my heart , O Lord of the worlds , along with your glory” (hrudaya kuru samvasam sriya saha jagatpate).

vishnu with sridevi bhudevi

The foregoing is the broad pattern of ritual worship and its symbolism. However, certain temples where the deity is Self-manifest (Swayambhu) or installed by celestial beings (Deva prathistaha) say, as in Tirumala, follow a slightly different procedure. Here, the deity is the repository of divine powers ; and the priest need not go through the prana-prathista ritual. The Upacharas (services) are rendered not to the main deity but to a smaller image of the Lord (Kauthuka beru).It is the kauthuka beru that is infused with prana at the time of upachara worship. The priest evokes Tejas from the main deity , not from his own heart , and transfers it to kauthuka beru.

Read Next :

Importance of water in temple rituals

pattern2

Reference:

Agama kosha By Prof. SK R Rao

 

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