Shakti and ShÔkta
Essays and Addresses on the ShÔkta TantrashÔstra
by Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe)
It is well said that Ritual is the Art of Religion. As practiced by the Hindus, it is not rightly judged, because the religious and philosophical doctrines of which it is a practical expression and method are either unknown or misunderstood. If we add to incapacity, a temperament hostile to all Ritualism, the resultant criticism is "mummery," "idolatry," "gibberish," and so forth. It is true that Ritual is meaningless to those who do not know its meaning; just as a telegram sent in cipher is without sense to those who are ignorant of the code according to which it is written. It may, however, be admitted that in so far as, and to the extent that Ritual is carried out without understanding on the part of the worshipper, such criticisms may, to that extent, be justified. Despite shallow views, Ritual is a necessity for men as whole. Those who profess to reject it in religion are yet found to adhere to it, in some form or other, in social and political life. The necessity of Ritual is shown by well-known historical reactions. Degeneracy leads to "Protestant" abolitions. The jejune worship of the "reformer" lacks appeal and power and Ritual comes into its own again. This oscillation is well marked in Europe in the history of Catholicism and Protestantism. It is displayed again in the East in Buddhism, which, starting as a revolt from an excessive Vaidik Ritual, adopted in the end the elaborate rites to be found in the Hindu and Buddhist Tantras. The Brahmanic position is the middle and stable way, acknowledging the value of both the "Protestant" and "Catholic" attitude. Its view is that all men need Ritual, but in varying degree and various kinds, until they are Siddha, that is, until they have achieved the end which Ritual is designed to secure. When the end is gained there is no longer need for the means to it. Further, the need becomes less and less as approach is made to that end. The Ritual must be suitable to the spiritual attainments and disposition of the worshipper. For the simple and ignorant the Ritual is of a Sthula or gross kind. The word Sthula in Sanskrit does not necessarily imply any moral censure. It is here used as the opposite of Sukshma or subtle. Again, count is taken of human emotion and of its varieties. The dispositions or temperaments, or Bhava, of worshippers vary. One worshipper may place himself before the Lord in the relation of a servant towards his Master, another in the relation of a friend, and yet another in the relation of a lover. In the same way, Yoga, in the sense of a system of self-control and self-fulfillment, varies. For those who are predominantly intellectual there is the Yoga of Knowledge (J˝ana); for those in whom emotion is strong there is the Yoga of Devotion (Bhakti); for such as belong to neither of these classes there is the great Yoga of Action (Karma). The end to which each medially or directly works is the same. There is, in fact, no religion more Catholic than Hinduism. For this reason, those who dislike and fear it, speak of its "rapacious maw". It has in fact, an enormous faculty of assimilation; for there is in it that which will satisfy all views and temperaments. In the West, we are too apt to quarrel with views and practices which we dislike. We will not, in such case, accept them, but that is not necessarily a reason why those who like them should not do so. Thus, to some, all Ritual is repellent, or some kinds of devotion, such as the use of erotic imagery. Let each take or reject what is suitable or unsuitable to him. Controversy is futile. Fitness or Adhikara is a fundamental principle of Hinduism. Some may be fit for one doctrine and practice, and others not. The wisdom of the universal man with a world-mind converts many an absolute judgment into a relative one. For the judgment, "This is bad," he will substitute, "This is not good for me". In this way he will both save own health and temper, and that of the other.
The term "Ritual," in its religious sense, is included in the Sanskrit term Sadhana, though the latter word has a wider content. It is derived from the root Sadh = to exert or strive for, and includes any exertion or striving for anything. Thus a man who goes through a special training for an athletic match is doing Sadhana with a view to win in that contest. The taking of lessons in a foreign language is Sadhana with a view to attain proficiency in that language. Orientalists frequently translate the term by the English word "evocation". There is, of course, Sadhana, to gain the fruits of magic. But this is only one form of Sadhana. The form of which I write, and that to which reference is generally made, is that effort and striving in the form of self-training, discipline, and worship which has as its end a 'spiritual' and not merely physical or mental result -- though such result necessarily involves a transformation of both mind and body. The end, then, is some form of Unity with God as the Universal Father, or Mother as the Shaktas say. The person who does Sadhana is called Sadhaka or, if a woman, Sadhika. The end sought by the process of Sadhana is Sadhya or Siddhi. Siddhi, or accomplishment, means any successful result, and the man who attains it, is in respect of such attainment, called Siddha. The highest Siddhi is Unity with Brahman, the All-pervader, either by merger in or expansion into It, as some say, or as others hold, by varying degrees of association with and proximity to the Lord. Dogmatic views on this or other points are necessarily, to some extent, reflected in the Ritual presented for their realization, but at the Sadhana stage there is less divergence of practice than might be supposed, because whatever be the doctrine held, a worshipper must practically be a dualist. For worship includes both a worshipper and that which is worshipped. There are persons who, in popular language, "worship themselves," but this is not a spiritual exercise. Whatever God may be in Himself, or Itself, the worship is of a Supreme Person (Purnaham). The world sometimes distracts the Mind from this, its supreme object. Nevertheless there is another universal tendency towards it. This last tendency is proof of man's divine origin. Springing from such a source, he must needs return to it. The striving to realize God, is part of man's nature. Sadhana is such striving in the forms which experience has shown to be fruitful. In the Orphic Mysteries it was said: "I am the child of the earth and starry sky, but know that my origin is divine. I am devoured by and perish with thirst. Give me without delay the fresh water which flows from the 'Lake of Memory'." And again: "Pure, and issued from what is pure, I come towards Thee."
So again St. Augustine said that the Mind was not at rest until it found itself in God. Brahmanic doctrine also states the same and gives the reasons for it. A profound saying by an Indian sage runs: "Identification with the imperfect (Apurnam manyata) -- that is, want of Wholeness, is Disease and the source of every misery." Whole = Hale = Health. Every form of want of wholeness, be it physical, psychical or spiritual, is disease and inflicts unhappiness. God is the whole and complete (Purna), which is without parts or section (Akhanda). Man is the reverse of this. But having sprung from the Whole, he seeks self-completion either by becoming or reflecting the Whole. The greatest of illnesses is that which the Hindu Scriptures call the Disease of Existence itself, in so far as such finite existence involves a hindrance to the realization of perfect infinite Being. For these reasons one of the Cakras or compartments of the great Shri Yantra, is called Rogahara Cakra, that is, the "Disease-destroying Cakra". What is meant by the saying is that man's identification of the self with its particular form, that is with imperfection, is Disease, just as the knowledge that he is one with the whole is Health lasting. To gain this it is necessary that man should worship his Lord in one or other of the many ways in which his fellows have done so. For that purpose he may invent a ritual. But the more effective forms for the mass are those which tradition accredits. Amongst the greatest of ritual systems is that of the Hindus. Hinduism (to use a popular term) cannot be understood without a knowledge of it.
But, it may be said, there are many Rituals. Which are to be adopted, and how can we know that they will give result? The answer is that the Ritual for any particular individual is that for which he is fit (Adhikari). The proof of its efficacy is given by experience. The Ayurveda, or the Veda which teaches the rules to secure a long life (Ayuh) says that that only is a medicine which cures the disease and which, at the same time, gives rise to no other. To those who put the question, the answer of the Teacher is -- "Try". If the seeker will not try he cannot complain that he has no success. The Teacher has himself or herself (for according to the Tantras a woman may be a Guru) been through the training, and warrants success to those who will faithfully adopt the means he has himself adopted.
What, then, are the basic principles of Sadhana, and how does it work? To understand this we must have correct ideas of what the Hindus understand by the terms Spirit, Mind, and Body. I have in my volume The World As Power explained these terms and will now very shortly summarize what is there said, so far as it touches the main principles governing the subject of this paper.
The ultimate object of the ritual -- that is, the realization of God -- is effected by the transformation of the worshipper into likeness with the worshipped. Let us assume that the Sadhaka is doctrinally an adherent of the Advaita Vedanta which is called Monism, but which is more accurately translated "Not two," or non-dual, because, whilst it can be affirmed that the ultimate Reality is not two, still as it is beyond number and all other predicates, it cannot be affirmed to be one. Let us, then, investigate some of the general principles on which the Ritual expressing this doctrine works.
Man is said to be Spirit -- to use an English term -- with two vehicles of Mind and Body. Spirit, or Brahman as it is in Itself (Svarupa), according to the Vedanta is, relative to us, pure infinite Being, Consciousness, Bliss (Sat, Cit, Ananda). That is Spirit viewed from our side and in relation to us. What Spirit is Itself only Spirit in Itself can say. This is only known in the experience of the perfect (Siddha) Yogi, who has completely transformed himself through the elimination of those elements of Mind and Body which constitute a finite individuality. "To know Brahman is to be Brahman." God, or the Lord (Ishvara) is pure, infinite Spirit, in its aspect relative to the world as its Creator, Maintainer, and Ruler. Man is, according to this school, that self-same Spirit or Consciousness which, in one aspect is immutable, and in another is finitized by Mind and Matter. Consciousness and Mind are, then, two different and, indeed, opposite things. Mind is not Consciousness, but is (considered in itself) an Unconscious force. Consciousness is infinite. Mind is a product of a finitizing principle or power inherent in Consciousness itself, which appears to limit consciousness. Mind per se is thus an unconscious force limiting Consciousness. This statement may seem strange in the West, but is coming to be acknowledged to some extent there, where it is now recognized that there is such a thing as unconscious mind. Vedanta says that mind in itself is always an unconscious force. The mind appears to be conscious, not because it is so in itself, but because it is associated with and is the vehicle of Spirit which alone is Consciousness in Itself. The function of Mind, on the contrary, is to cut into sections sectionless Consciousness. Let us suppose that Consciousness is represented by an unbroken light thrown on a blank screen. This unbroken light imperfectly represents -- (for images fail us in one respect or another) -- Consciousness. Let us suppose, then, another metal screen cut up into patterns imposed on the former and thus letting the light through in parts and in various shapes, and shutting it out in others. This last opaque screen represents Mind. Consciousness is self-revealing. Mind occludes it in varying ways, and is a subtle form of the power (Shakti) possessed by Spirit to appear in finite form. Matter or Body is another but grosser form of the same Power. And because Mind and Body have a common origin, the one as subject can know the other as object. Cognition is then recognition. The same Power which has the capacity to so veil itself can unveil itself. The first step towards such unveiling is taken by Sadhana in its form as self-purification, both as regards body and mind, self-discipline and worship in its various ritual forms. At a high point of advance this Sadhana enters what is generally known as Yoga.
How then does Sadhana work? It must be remembered that there is no such thing as mind or soul without some form of body, be it gross or subtle. The individual mind has always a body. It is only Spirit which is Mind-less, and therefore wholly bodiless. Mind and Body are each as real as the other. When there is subject or mind there is always object or matter. The proper discipline purifies and controls both. A pure body helps to the attainment of a pure mind, because they are each aspects of one Power-Substance. Whenever, then, there is mind, it has some object or content. It is never without content. That object may be good or bad. The first design of the Ritual, then is to secure that the mind shall always have a good object. The best of all objects is its Lord. What, then, is the result of meditation on the Lord?
What is the process of knowing? When the mind knows an object, that process consists in the projection from the Mind of a Mind-Ray, which goes out to the object, takes its form, and returns and models the mind itself into the form of the object. Thus, if attention is completely given, that is without any distraction, to an image or Deity, a jar or any other object, the mind so long as it holds that object is completely transformed into the shape of that object. Thus, with complete concentration on the Lord, the mind is shaped into the image of Him, with all His qualities. That image is formulated by what is called the Dhyana. The Ritual gives the Dhyana of each of the forms of God or Spirit.
Let it be assumed, then, that the mind is thus transformed; it is then necessary to keep it so. The mind is so unsteady, agile and variable that it has been compared both with mercury and the restless monkey. If this variability displayed itself in the choice of good thoughts only, it would not so much matter. But there are others which are not good. Moreover, both intensity and durability of transformation are desired. The endeavor then is to attain complete power of concentration and for periods of increasing length. The effect of this is to establish in the mind a tendency in the direction desired. All have experience of the psychological truth that the longer and more firmly an object is held in the mind, the less is the tendency towards distraction from it. A tendency is called Samskara. Such tendency may be physical or psychical. Thus, the tendency of an India-rubber band when stretched to return to its original condition before such stretching, is physical samskara of India-rubber. In the same way, there are psychical samskaras. Thus, a man of miserly disposition is influenced by some sufficient impulse to be, on a particular occasion, generous, but when that or other sufficient impulse lacks, his miserly disposition or samskara asserts itself. On the other hand, but little is required to call out generosity in a naturally charitable man, for the good tendency is there. Sadhana confirms good and eradicates bad samskaras. As tendencies are produced by past action, intellectual or bodily, present and future good actions will secure that good samskaras are kept and others eliminated. Man is both born with samskaras and acquires others. No Hindu holds that the mind at birth is tabula rasa. On the contrary, it is compounded of all the samskaras or tendencies which result from the actions of the previous lives of the individual in question. These are added to, varied, reversed or confirmed by actions taken in the present life. Many of such Samskaras are bad, and steps must be taken to substitute for them others. All are aware that bad acts and thoughts, if repeated, result in the establishment of a bad habit, that is a bad Samskara realized. The object of Sadhana is, then, firstly to substitute good objects for the mind in lieu of bad objects, and to overcome the tendency towards distraction and to revert to what is bad. This means the stabilizing of character in a good mold.
How is this to be effected? The Sadhana must avoid all distractions by keeping the mind occupied with what is good. We accordingly find the repetitions which may be, but by no means necessarily are, "vain". A common instance of this is Japa, or repetition of mantra. This is done by count on a rosary (Mala) or with the thumb on the twelve phalanxes of the fingers. There are also forms of repetition in varying ways. Thoughts are intensified and confirmed by appropriate bodily gestures Mudra. Again, real processes are imagined. Thus, in Nyasa, the worshipper with appropriate bodily actions places different parts of the body of the Divinity on the corresponding parts of his own body. Thus the Sadhaka imagines that he has acquired a new divine body. Again, in the more subtle rite called Bhutasuddhi, the worshipper imagines that each of the component elements of the body is absorbed in the next higher element until all are merged in the Supreme Power of whom man, as a compound of such elements, is a limited manifestation. Whilst this is merely imagined in Sadhana, it objectively and actually takes place in Kundalini Yoga. The mind is thus constantly occupied in one form or another with, and thus shaped into, that which is divine and becomes itself, by being kept in such shape, at length permanently divine. For as the Chandogya Upanishad says: "What a man thinks that he becomes." So also the Gandharva Tantra says: "By meditating on anything as oneself, man becomes that." Thinking always on the Lord, man is transformed, within limits, into an image of Him. The preparatory work of Sadhana is completed in Yoga.
I will next shortly note some of the principal forms of ritual employed in worship, viz., image and emblem, Yantra, Puja, Mantra, Mudra, Nyasa, Bhutashuddhi. These are in constant use, either daily or on special occasions. The ritual of the Sacraments, or Samskaras, are performed once, viz., on the date of that sacrament, such as naming ceremony, marriage and so forth.
The third Chapter (here summarized and explained) of the Sanskrit work called "Wave of Bliss, for worshippers of the Mother-Power (Shakti)," deals with the necessity for the use of images and other forms as representations of the formless All-Pervader (Brahman). The latter is, in Its own true nature, bodiless (ashariri) and pure Consciousness, or in Western language, Spirit. But Brahman, through Its power (shakti), assumes all the forms of the Universe, just as it is said an actor (natavat) assumes various roles. Thus Brahman has two aspects: the subtle, in which It is its own unmanifested Self; and the gross, in which It appears as the manifested universe. Or, if we reserve the word "subtle" for what, though it is not pure Spirit, is yet finer than gross matter -- that is, Mind, we may say that the Ultimate Reality has three aspects: (a) Supreme or transcendent, that is pure formless Spirit; (b) subtle, or the same Spirit as manifested in mind, (c) gross, or the same spirit as manifested in Matter. It is clear that one cannot meditate on that which is wholly formless as is the supreme Brahman, which is without body.
In meditation (Dhyana) there is duality, namely, the subject who meditates and the object of such meditation, though, in fact, the two are (according to the Advaita or non-dualism of the Shaktas), both differing aspects of the one Brahman through Its Power. As the mind cannot remain steady on what is formless (amurta), therefore, a form (murta) is necessary. Form is gross or subtle. Form is necessary both in Sadhana and Yoga -- in the latter for acquiring accomplishment in Trataka-Yoga, that is, steady gaze which leads to one-pointedness (Ekagrata), and this latter to Samadhi or ecstasy. The grossest form is that which is shown in the round, with hands, feet, and so forth -- that is, the image. Nothing is here left to the imagination. The particulars of the image, that is, how it should be shaped, its color. posture, and so forth, is given in what are called the meditations or Dhyanas, and the dimensions may be found in the Silpa Shastras. These describe the form, attitude, the position of the hands and legs, the articles such as weapons and the like carried, the vehicle or Vahana -- and the attendant Divinities (Avarana Devata). Less gross forms are pictures or representations in the flat, emblems such as the Shalagrama stone sacred to Vishnu, the Linga or sign of Shiva, and the inverted triangle which is the emblem of the Mother. Thus a linga set in the Yoni or triangle represents the union of Shiva and Shakti, of God and His Power, or in philosophical language, the union of the static and kinetic aspects of the one Ultimate Reality. A still more subtle form is the Yantra, which literally means "instrument," viz., the instrument by which worship is done. It is as shown on the flat, a diagram which varies with each of the Devatas or Divinities, and has been called "the body of Mantra". Whilst gross (sthula) meditation takes place on the gross image, emblem or Yantra, subtle (sukshma) meditation has as its object the Mantra. The Mantra and the Devata are one. A Mantra is Devata in that form, that is as sound. Hearing is considered the finest of the senses. What is called Supreme Meditation is nothing but ecstasy, or -- Consciousness, freed of both its subtle and gross vehicles, and therefore, limitations.As the Brahman is only directly known in the ecstasy of Yoga, It is imagined with form, or, as some translate this passage, It assumes form for the sake of the worshippers (upasakanam karyyartham). These forms are male or female, such as, in the first class, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and others, and in the second Tripurasundari, Lakshmi, Kali and others. The worship of a Eunuch (napumsaka) form does not bear fruit. What shall be the selected as patron Divinity, depends on the competency (adhikara) of the worshipper, that is, what is suitable or fit for him given his character and attainments. The Yamala says: "Men see Him in various ways, each according to his own inclinations. But an advaitist worshipper should at the same time remember that each is an aspect of one and the same Deity.
Varaha Purana says: "What Durga is, that is Vishnu, and that also is Shiva. The wise know that they are not different from one another. The fool, who in his partiality thinks otherwise, goes to the Raurava Hell." There is, however, from the nature of the case, some distinction in the case of the worship of those on the path of enjoyment, who should worship according to the mode in which they have been initiated. But the renouncer should discard in every way all notions of difference. The Wave of Bliss, citing Samaya Tantra, says: "By the worship of some Deva, liberation is with difficulty attained, and by the worship of others enjoyment is to be had, but in the case of the worshipper of the Mother, both enjoyment and liberation lie in the hollow of his hands." But, unless prayed to, the Mother or Devi does not give fruit, and naturally so. For the Devi is moved to action through the prayers of the worshipper. Essentially the worshipper is the Devi Herself, and unless She in Her form as the worshipper is moved, She in Her aspect as the Supreme Lord -- "Our Lady" -- does not move.
By "worshipper" is meant one who is proficient in Karma and Bhakti Yoga. The J˝anayogi's effort is directed towards the attainment of the formless Brahman. Worship implies duality, and so does Mantra-yoga of which worship is a part. From the Bija-mantra or seed mantra the Devata arises and this Devata is the Brahman. In the Kurma Purana it is said: "Those who think themselves to be different from the Supreme Lord will never see Him. All their labor is in vain." Therefore, the Shrikrama says: "Meditate upon yourself as the Supreme Mother -- the primordial Power -- by your mind, word, and body." All three take part in the ritual. The mind, which must from its nature have an object, is given a good object, that is, the image of its Lord. It holds to that. The worshipper utters the ritual words and with his body performs the ritual acts, such as the gestures (Mudra), the giving of offerings, and so forth. And the reason is, as the Gandharva Tantra says: "By meditating on anything as oneself, man becomes that." The mind assumes the form of its object -- that is, by good thoughts man is transformed into what is good. So the worshipper is enjoined constantly to think: "I am the Devi and none other". By meditating on Vishnu, man becomes Vishnu. By meditating on Devi, man becomes Devi,. He is freed from bodily ills and is liberated, for he attains spiritual knowledge. Such knowledge, in the Advaita sense (though there are also other schools) means "to be". To know Brahman is to be Brahman. Brahman in Itself is not an object, and is not known as such. Brahman is known by being Brahman, which man attains through ritual forms, and Yoga processes, of which worship is a necessary preliminary.
In the preceding paragraphs, I have, in very general outline, dealt with the meaning of Sadhana as ritual worship, both as to its object and the principles on which it is based. I have given at the same time some examples. I propose here to pass a few remarks on certain other particular forms of ritual. I have already referred to image worship upon which, however, I will add a word.
Western peoples speak of the image worshipped as being an "idol," just as some so-called "reformed" Hindus influenced by Western views call it a "doll". The Hindu term is Pratika and Pratima indicating that which is placed before one as the immediate and apparent object of worship, representative of the Invisible Supreme. The mind cannot seize pure Spirit any more than (to use the simile of an Indian author) a pair of tongs can seize the air. The mind must, however, necessarily have before it some definite object, and one of such objects is the image or emblem. At the same time, the Hindu image is something more than a mere aid to devotion such as is the case in general as regards images in the Catholic ritual. For, by the "life-giving" (prana-pratishtha) ceremony the life of the Devata or Divinity is invoked into the image. Deity is all-pervading and therefore cannot come or go. The image, like everything else, is already an appearance of Deity immanent in it, in the particular form or mold of earth, stone, metal, wood or whatever other the substance may be. Therefore, "invocation" (Avahana) and "dismissal" (Visarjana) in the Ritual by which the Deity is invoked "to be present" and bid "to depart" mean this -- that the immanence of Deity in the object of worship is recognized, kept present before, and ultimately released from the mind of the worshipper. In fact, the Deity is there, ritual or no ritual. By the ritual the Deity is not only there in fact, but is so, for the consciousness of the worshipper whose mind is transformed into a Divine mold. The Deity does not move, but the mind of the worshipper does so. It is the particular modification, a Vritti of the mind which comes and goes. Personally, I believe that "Idolatry" in its strictest literal sense is not to be found anywhere. The most ignorant individuals belonging to a primitive humanity are aware that they are, in one sense, in the presence of "stocks and stones," and that the worshipful character of the image is not because it is such stock and stone, for, in that case all stock and stone is worshipful, but for other reasons. It has been noted already that the ritual is graded in this matter, as in others, into gross and subtle. The subtle form is that in which the least is left to the imagination, namely, an image in the round. Less so, in the order given, is the picture on the fiat; the emblem which has no external likeness to Divinity (such as the Linga and Shalagrama stone), and then the Yantra or diagram of worship. This Yantra is made up of different combinations of lines and curves, and is described as the body of the Mantra. Besides these external objects, there are mental representations of them and of other things. Thus actual flowers may be offered physically, or mental "flowers" may be offered by the mind, or the "flowers" of the virtues may be laid before the Devata.
How often the word Mantra is used, and yet how few can say correctly what the term means? It is only possible here to lay down a few general lines of explanation of a subject with which I have endeavored to deal in my recent work, The Garland of Letters; for Garland and Rosary are names given to the alphabet of Sanskrit letters, which are each a manifestation of the Mother of the Universe.
The Universe is movement, of various kinds, of the ultimate substance. This movement is sensed in five ways. Whatever is heard is the sound made by some particular form of movement, and the hearing by mind and ear is again a form of movement. If there be no movement there is nothing to hear. When a letter is uttered in our hearing there is a particular movement which can be represented as a form for the eye, which form again involves color, for what is perfectly colorless is formless, and, therefore, invisible. The letters are temporarily manifested by the action of the vocal organs and the circumambient air, but are in themselves, that is, as attitudes of Power, eternal. As Postures of Power they are eternal, though as manifestations they appear with each universe and disappear with it. They are, like all else, a form of appearance of the Magna Mater, the one great Mother-Power, and are particular world-aspects of Her. The sound which is heard, and the mind and ear which hear it, are each such appearance. Each thing has a double aspect -- one as a produced thing, or effect; the other as the particular Causal Power which produces or more accurately manifests as that thing. That power again, relative to any of its particular productions, is an aspect of the general Mother-Power, and is, as such, a Devata. Thus, the sun is a glorious epiphany of the Brahman or All-Pervader which, in its character as the power inherent in that particular manifestation, is the Sun-Lord or Surya-Devata. Devata in its supreme (para) sense is the Lord of All, manifesting as the All. The Sun Devata is the same Lord in the character of a particular power of the All-Powerful manifesting in this form of the Sun. Whilst, therefore, in a sense, Mantra is the Sound-aspect of all that is, each Devata has His or Her own Mantra, and it is such mantras that the Scripture refers. The Mantra does not merely stand for or symbolize the Devata. Still less is it a mere conventional label for the Devata. It is the Devata. The Devata and Mantra are therefore one.
In each mantra, however, there two Shaktis or powers. The Devata who is the mantra is called the indicating power (Vacaka Shakti). The Devata who is indicated (Vacya Shakti) is the Ultimate Reality, or Supreme Brahman. The former leads to the latter. As each worshipper has his own Patron Deity or Ishtadevata, so each worshipper is initiated in and practices a particular mantra. The Patron Deity is a particular aspect of the One Supreme Reality which cannot be directly worshipped, but which is worshipped indirectly as an aspect of that Reality in a world of duality. What Mantra a worshipper should practice is determined by the Guru who initiates. He should settle what it shall be by reference to the physical, psychical and spiritual characteristics of the worshipper. This is the theory, but in practice a state of things often exists which has led to the criticism that Mantra is "jabber". Thus (to take but one example), I, though not a Hindu, was once asked by a Brahmin lady, through a pundit known to both of us, to tell her the meaning of her mantra, and this though she had passed fifty, she had never been told, nor could she find out even from the pundit. She was led to ask me and thus to reveal her mantra which should be kept secret, because she had heard that I had a manuscript Bija Kosha, or Dictionary, which gave the meanings of mantras. This incident is significant of the present state of things. Initiation has often and perhaps in most cases now-a-days little reality, being merely a "whispering in the ear". A true and high initiation is one in which not merely instruction is given, but there is also an actual transference of power by teacher to disciple which enables the disciple first to understand, and then transforms him by infusing him with the powers of his Guru.
Mantra-sadhana consists of the union of the Sadhana shakti or the power of the individual worshipper and the Mantra shakti or the power of the mantra itself. The worshipper exerts his own individual power to achieve through the mantra, and as he does this, the power of the mantra, which is as far greater than his own as the Devata is greater than he, aids his effort. On the theory this must be so, because as the worshipper more and more realizes the Devata in mantra form, and identifies himself with the Devata, he gains divine powers which supplement his human power as a worshipper. There are some Mantras which may be called prayers, such as the great Gayatri Mantra which prays for illumination of the understanding. A mantra, however, is not to be identified with prayer. which may be said in any form and in any language that the worshipper chooses. Prayer may be, of course, a great power, but it is nevertheless the power of the particular worshipper only whatever that may be.
Worship (Puja) is done with meditation, recital of mantras, obeisance, manual gestures, the making of offerings and the like. The gestures (Mudra) are part of a system which employs both body and mind, and makes the former express and emphasize the intentions of the latter. Similarly, an orator gives expression to his thought and emphasizes it by gesture. Thus, in the Matsya Mudra, the hands are put into the form of a fish to indicate that the worshipper is offering to the Deity not merely the little quantity of water which is used in the worship, but that his intention is to offer all the oceans with the fish and other marine animals therein. This is part of what has been called "mummery". Well -- it is "acting" but it is not necessarily more foolish than touching one's hat as a sign of respect. The charge of mummery as against all religions is largely due to the fact that there are many people who will pass judgments on matters which they do not understand. Ignorant and half-educated persons everywhere people the world with fools because they are themselves such.
Asana, or posture, belongs to Yoga, except that the general posture for worship is Padmasana, and worship is part of Mantra Yoga.
Japa is "recital" of Mantra. There is no exact English equivalent for it, for "recital" signifies ordinary utterance, whereas Japa is of three kinds, namely: (a) that in which the Mantra is audibly uttered; (b) where the lips are moved, but no sound is heard; and (c) mental or by the mind only. The count is done on a rosary (mala) or on the phalanxes of the fingers.
One of the great Mantras is the physical act of breathing. As this is done of itself so many times a day, now through the right, and then through the left nostril automatically, it is called the Ajapa Mantra -- that is, the mantra which is said without Japa or willed effort on man's part. The mantra which is thus automatically said is Hamsah. Breath goes out with Ham, and comes in with Sah. When outbreathing and inbreathing takes place, the throat and mouth are said to be in the position in which they are when pronouncing the letters H and S respectively. In other words, outbreathing is the same form of movement which is heard as the letter H.
An important rite much referred to in the Tantras is Nyasa, which means the "placing" of the hands of the worshipper on different parts of his body, imagining at the same time that thereby the corresponding parts of the body of his Ishtadevata are being there placed. It terminates with a movement, "spreading" the Divinity all over the body. "How absurd," someone may say, "you cannot spread Divinity like jam on bread." Quite so; but the Hindu knows well that the word Brahman means the All-spreading Immense and cannot therefore be spread. But what may be and is spread is the mind -- often circumscribed enough -- of the worshipper, who by his thought and act is taught to remember and realize that he is pervaded by Divinity, and to affirm this by his bodily gesture. The ritual is full of affirmations. Affirm again, affirm, and still affirm. This injunction one might expect from a system which regards man and all that exists as limited forms of unlimited Power (Shakti). Affirm in every way is a principle of the ritual, a principle, which ought to be as easily understood as a child's repetition in order to learn a lesson. A man who truly thinks himself to be becoming divine becomes, in fact, in varying degrees, so.
It is not possible in an account such as this to note more than a few of the leading rituals, and I conclude therefore with the very important Bhutasuddhi. This term does not mean, as an English orientalist thought, "the driving away of demons" but purification of the Elements (Bhuta) of which the body is composed. There are five of these with centers or Cakras in the spinal column. The grossest is at the base of the spine which is the seat of the power called Kundalini. In Yoga, this power is roused, and led up through the column, when it absorbs as it goes, each of the centers and the elements, and then the psychic center, finally merging with Spirit or Pure Consciousness in the upper brain which is the "seat" of the latter. In Yoga this actually takes place, but very few are Yogis: and not all Yogis possess this power. Therefore, in the case of ritual worship this ascent, purification of the body, and merging of Matter and Mind in Consciousness takes place in imagination only. The "man of sin" is burnt in mental fire, and a new body is created, refreshed with the nectar of divine joy arising from the union of the "Divine pair" (Shiva and Shakti) or Consciousness and its Power. This is done in the imagination of the worshipper, and not without result since as the Chandogya Upanishad says: "What a man thinks that he becomes." So also the Gandharva Tantra says: "By thinking of That, one becomes That."
In Kundalini Yoga or Laya Yoga, there is effected a progressive absorption of all limited and discrete forms of experience, that is fact-sections into the Primary Continuum which is Shiva and Shakti united together. Therefore, it is a merging or more properly expansion of the finite into the infinite, of the part into the whole, of the thinkable and measurable into the unthinkable and immeasurable. When we worship, this progress is imagined. There is in time a transformation of Mind and Body into a condition which renders them fit for the spiritual experience, which is the Samadhi of Yoga or the ecstasis or "standing out" of Spirit from its limiting vehicles. Consciousness is then the Purna or Whole.
When your representative asked me to speak this evening, he suggested to me as my subject, that Shastra which is a practical application of the Vedantic teaching. Mere talk about Vedanta is nothing but a high form of amusement. If more than this is to be achieved, definite Sadhana is necessary. In the grand opening chapter of the Kularnava Tantra it is said: "In this world are countless masses of beings suffering all manner of pain. Old age is waiting like a tigress. Life ebbs away as it were water from out of a broken pot. Disease kills like enemies. Prosperity is but a dream; youth is like a flower. Life is seen and is gone like lightning. The body is but a bubble of water. How then can one know this and yet remain content? The Jivatma passes through lakhs of existence, yet only as man can he obtain the truth. It is with great difficulty that one is born as man. Therefore, he is a self-killer who, having obtained such excellent birth, does not know what is for his good. Some there be who having drunk the wine of delusion are lost in worldly pursuits, reck not the fight of time and are moved not at the sight of suffering. There are others who have tumbled in the deep well of the Six Philosophies -- idle disputants tossed on the bewildering ocean of the Vedas and Shastras. They study day and night and learn words. Some again, overpowered by conceit, talk of Unmani though not in any way realizing it. Mere words and talk cannot dispel the delusion of the wandering. Darkness is not dispelled by the mention of the world 'lamp'. What then is there to do? The Shastras are many, life is short and there are a million obstacles. Therefore should their essence be mastered, just as the Hamsa separates the milk from the water with which it has been mixed."
It then says that knowledge alone can gain liberation. But, what is this knowledge, and how may it be got? Knowledge in the Shastric sense is actual immediate experience (Sakshatkara), not the mere reading about it in books, however divine, and however useful as a preliminary such study may be.
How then to gain it? The answer is, by Sadhana -- a term which comes from the root "to exert". It is necessary to exert oneself according to certain disciplines which the various religions of the world provide for their adherents. Much shallow talk takes place on the subject of ritual. It is quite true that some overlook the fact that it is merely a means to an end. But it is a necessary means all the same. This end cannot be achieved by merely sitting in Padmasana and attempting to meditate on the Nirguna Brahman. One may as well try to seize the air with a pair of tongs. How then may the Vedantic truth be realized? The Indian Shastra purports to give the means for the Indian body and mind. What Shastra? Not the Karma-kanda of the Vedas, because with the exception of a few hardly surviving rites, such as Homa, it has passed away. The actual discipline you will find in the Tantras of the Agamas.
I prefer the use of this term to that of "the Tantra," now so common, but which has risen from a misconception and leads to others. Tantra means injunction (Vidhi) or regulation (Niyama) or treatise, i.e., simply Shastra. Thus Shamkara calls the Samkhya "Tantra". One cannot speak of "the Tantra" any more than one can speak of "the treatise". We do not speak of the Purana, the Samhita, but of the Puranas and Samhitas. Why then speak of "the Tantra"? One can speak of the Tantras or Tantra Shastra. The fact is that there is an Agama of several schools, Shaiva, Shakta and Vaishnava. Shiva and Shakti are one. The Shaiva (in the narrower sense) predominantly worships the right side of the Ardhanarishvara Murti, the Shakta worships the left (Vama or Shakti) side, the place of woman being on the left. The Vaishnava Agama is the famous Pa˝caratra, though there are Tantras not of this school in which Vishnu is the Ishtadevata. All Agamas of whatever group share certain common ideas, outlook and practice. There are also certain differences. Thus, the Northern Shaivagama which is called Trika and not "the Tantra" is, as is also the Shakta Tantra, Advaita. The Southern Shaiva school which is called Shaiva Siddhanta and not "the Tantra," as also the Vaishnava Agama or Pa˝caratra (and not "the Tantra") are Vishihstadvaita. There is some variance in ritual also as follows from variance in the Ishtadevata worshipped. Thus, as you all know, it is only in some forms of worship that there is animal sacrifice, and in one division, again, of worshippers, there are rites which have led to those abuses which have gained for "the Tantra" its ill fame. A person who eats meat can never, it is said, attain Siddhi in the Shiva Mantra according to Dakshinopasana. Each one of these schools has its own Tantras of which there were at one time probably thousands. The Shaiva Siddhanta speaks of 28 chief Tantras or Agamas with many Upatantras. In Bengal mention is made of 64. There are numerous Tantras of the Northern Shaiva school of which the Malini-vijaya and Svachanda Tantras are leading examples. The original connection between the Shaiva schools of North and South is shown by the fact that there are some books which are common to both, such as the Matanga and Mrigendra Tantras. The Pa˝caratra is composed of many Tantras, such as Lakshmi and Padma Tantras and other works called Samhitas. In the Commentary to the Brahma Samhita which has been called the "essence of Vaishnavism," you will find Jiva Goswami constantly referring to Gautamiya Tantra. How then has it come about that there is the ignorant notion that (to use the words of an English work on Tibetan Buddhism) "Tantra is restricted to the necromantic books of the later Shaivic or Shakti mysticism"? I can only explain this by the fact that those who so speak had no knowledge of the Tantras as a whole, and were possibly to some extent misled by the Bengali use of the term "the Tantra," to denote the Shakta Tantras current in Bengal. Naturally, the Bengalis spoke of their Tantras as "Tantra," but it does not follow that this expression truly represents the fact. I might develop this point at great length but cannot do so here. I wish merely to correct a common notion.
Well, it is in these Tantras or the Agamas that you will find the ritual and Sadhana which governs the orthodox life of the day, as also in some of the Puranas which contain much Tantrik ritual.
I am not concerned to discuss the merits or the reverse of these various forms of Sadhana. But the Agama teaches an important lesson the value of which all must admit, namely: mere talk about Religion and its truths will achieve nothing spiritual. There must be action (Kriya). Definite means must be adopted if the truth is to be realized. The Vedanta is not spoken of as a mere speculation as some Western Orientalists describe it to be. It claims to be based on experience. The Agamas say that if you follow their direction you will gain Siddhi. As a Tibetan Buddhist once explained to me, the Tantras were regarded by his people rather as a scientific discovery than as a revelation; that is, something discovered by the self rather than imparted from without. They claim to be the revealed means by which the Tattva or other matters may be discovered. But the point is, whether you follow these directions or not, you must follow some. For this reason every ancient faith has its ritual. It is only in modern times that persons with but little understanding of the subject have thought ritual to be unnecessary. Their condemnation of it is based on the undoubted abuses of mechanical and unintelligent devotion. But because a thing is abused it does not follow that it is itself bad.
The Agama is, as a friend of mine well put it, apractical philosophy, adding what the intellectual world wants most to-day is this sort of philosophy -- a philosophy which not merely argues but experiments. He rightly points out that the latest tendency in modern Western philosophy is to rest upon intuition, as it was formerly the tendency to glorify dialectics. But, as to the latter "Tarkapratishthanat," intuition, however, has to be led into higher and higher possibilities, by means of Sadhana, which is merely the gradual unfolding of the Spirit's vast latent magazine of power, enjoyment, and vision which every one possesses in himself. All that exists is here. There is no need to throw one's eyes into the heavens for it. The Visvasara Tantra says, "What is here is there: what is not here is nowhere." As I have said, I am not here concerned with the truth or expediency of any particular religion or method (a question which each must decide for himself), but to point out that the principle is fully sound, namely, that Religion is and is based on spiritual experience, and if you wish to gain such experience it is not enough to talk about or have a vague wish for it, but you must adopt some definite means well calculated to produce it. The claim of the Agama is that it provides such means and is thus a practical application of the teaching of the Vedanta. The watchword of every Tantrik is Kriya -- to be up and doing. You will find in the useful compilation called Yatidharmanirnaya that even Dandins of Shamkara's school follow a Tantrik ritual suited to their state. In fact, all must act, who have not achieved.
This leads me to say a word on the Svami in whose honor we meet to-day. He was always up and doing. The qualities I most admire in him are his activity, manliness and courage. There are still Indians (though fortunately not so numerous as there were when I first came to India 30 years ago) who seem to be ashamed of and would apologize for their life, customs, race, art, philosophy and religion and so forth. The Svami was not of this sort. He was, on the contrary, amongst the first to affirm his Hindu faith and to issue a bold challenge to all who attacked it. This was the attitude of a man. It is also a manly attitude to boldly reject this faith if after fully studying and understanding it you find that the doctrines it preaches do not commend themselves to your reason. For we must, at all costs, have intellectual, as well as every other form of honesty. But this is another thing from the shame-faced apology of which I speak and which is neither one thing nor another. The Svami spoke up and acted. And for this all must honor him who, whatever be their own religious beliefs, value sincerity, truth and courage which are the badge of every nobility. And so I offer these few words to his memory which we all here, either by our speech or presence, honor to-day.
The word "religious" in the title of this lecture has been inserted in order to exclude magical ritual, with which I do not deal, though I have a word or two to say on the subject.
As regards the word "Hindu," it must be remembered that there is considerable variety of doctrine and ritual, for there are a number of communities of Indian worshippers. Though, perhaps, too much stress is generally laid on these differences, and sufficient notice is not taken of fundamental points of agreement, yet there are differences, and if we are to be exact, we must not forget that fact. It is not, of course, possible, during the hour or so at my disposal, to treat of all these differences. I have, therefore, selected the ritual of one of these communities called Shaktas. These worshippers are so called because they worship the great Mother-Power or Mahashakti. Their doctrine and practice is of importance, because, (as an Italian author has recently observed), of its accentuation of Will and Power. He describes it as "a magnificent ensemble of metaphysic, magic and devotion raised on grandiose foundations". And so, whether it be acceptable or not, I think it is. The title, therefore, is, in this matter, not exact. Some of what is here said is of common application and some is peculiar to the Shaktas.
Now as to the word "Ritual". Ritual is the Art both of Religion and Magic. Magic, however, is more completely identified with ritual than is religion; for magic is ritual, using the latter term to include both mental and bodily activity; whereas religion, in the wide sense of Dharma, is not merely ritual-worship, but covers morality also. And so, it is finely said: "The doing of good to others is the highest Dharma." In this sense of the term Dharma, we are not concerned with ritual. Ritual has been the subject of age-long dispute. Whilst there are some who favor it, others are fanatically opposed to it. In this matter, India, as usual, shows her great reconciling wisdom. She holds (I speak of those who follow the old ways) that ritual is a necessity for the mass of men. To this extent she adopts what I may call the "Catholic" attitude. She makes, however, concession on the other hand to the "Protestant" view, in holding that, as a man becomes more and more spiritual, he is less and less dependent on externals, and therefore on ritual, which may be practically dispensed with in the case of the highest.
Then as to the word "Psychology". In order to understand the ritual, one must know the psychology of the people whose it is; and in order to know and to understand their psychology, we must know their metaphysic. There are some who claim to dispense with metaphysic, but the Indian people have been, throughout their history, pre-eminently thinkers. The three greatest metaphysical peoples have been, in the past, the Greeks and the Indians, both Brahmanist and Buddhist, and, in modern times, the Germans. The Greek, Sanskrit, and German languages are pre-eminently fitted for metaphysical use. We must then deal with metaphysic when treating of Hindu ritual. I do not propose, however, here to enter upon the subject more than is absolutely necessary to understand the matter in hand.
Now, when we look around us, we see everywhere Power, or Shakti. The world is called Jagat, which means "the moving thing," because, anticipating modern doctrine, the Ancient Hindus held that everything was in a state of ceaseless activity, which was not the Brahman in Itself (Svarupa), Such movement is either due to the inherent power of mind and matter, or to a cause which, though immanent in the universe, yet is not wholly manifested by, but transcends it. This latter alternative represents the Indian view. Power (Shakti) connotes a Power-holder (Shaktiman). Power as universe is called Samsara. The state of power, as it is in itself, that is, the state of Power-holder, is (to use one of the better-known terms, though there are others) Nirvana.
What, then, is the nature of experience in the Samsara? The latter is the world of form, and Dharma is the Law of Form. Form necessarily implies duality and limitation. Therefore, experience in Samsara is an experience of form by form. It is limited, dualistic experience. It is limited or Apurna (not the whole or complete), relative to the state of Nirvana, which is the whole (Purna) or complete or Perfect Experience. Therefore, whilst the latter is a state of all-knowingness and all-mightiness, man is a contraction (Samkoca), and is a "little-knower" and "little-doer". The Power-holder is called Shiva-shakti -- that is, the supreme Shiva-shakti, for the universe, being but the manifestation of the transcendent Shiva-shakti, is also itself Shiva-shakti. The names Shiva and Shakti are the twin aspects of one and the same Reality. Shiva denotes the masculine, unchanging aspect of Divinity, while Shakti denotes its changing feminine aspect. These two are Hamsah, Ham being Shiva and male, and Sah being Shakti and female. It is this Hamsah, or legendary "Bird," which is said, in the poem called "Wave of Bliss," "to swim in the waters of the mind of the great." The un-manifest Shiva-shakti aspect is unknown, except in the Samadhi or ecstasy of Yoga. But the Shakti aspect, as manifested in the universe, is near to the Shakta worshipper. He can see Her and touch Her, for it is She who appears as the universe, and so it is said: "What care I for the Father, if I but be on the lap of the Mother?" This is the Great Mother, the Magna Mater of the Mediterranean civilization, and the Mahadevi of India -- that August Image whose vast body is the universe, whose breasts are Sun and Moon. It was to Her that the "mad," wine-drinking Sadhu Bhama referred, when he said to a man I know who had lost his mother: "Earthly mothers and those who suck their breasts are mortal; but deathless are those who have fed at the breast of the Mother of the Universe". It is She who personalizes in the form of all the beings in the universe; and it is She again who, as the essence of such personalizing, is the Supreme Personality (Parahanta), who in manifestation is "God in Action." Why, it may be asked, is God thought of as Mother? This question may be countered by another -- "Why is God called Father?" God is sexless. Divinity is spoken of as Mother because It "conceives, bears, gives birth to, and nourishes the Universe". In generation man is said to be a helper only. The learned may call this mothernotion, "infantilism" and "anthropomorphism". But the Shakta will not be afraid, and will reply that it is not he who has arbitrarily invented this image of the Mother, but that is the form in which She has Herself presented Herself to his mind. The great Shakta poet, Ramaprasada, says: "By feeling (Bhava) is She known. How then, can Abhava (that is, lack of feeling) find Her P" In any case he may recall the lines of the Indian poet: "If I understand, and you understand, 0 my mind, what matters it whether any other understand or not?"
Viewing the matter more dryly and metaphysically, we have then to deal with two states. Firstly, the limited experience of Samsara the Becoming, and the Perfect Experience or transcendent Being, which is Nirvana. This last state is not for the Shakta mere abstract Being. This is not a fiction of the ratiocinating intellect. It is a massive, rich, and concrete experience, a state which -- being powerful to produce from out of itself the Universe -- must therefore hold the seed or essence of it within itself. It is a mistake on this view to suppose that those who attain to it will lose anything of worth by so doing.
The first point which is therefore established is that there are these two states. Both are so established by experience -- the first by the ordinary experience man has of this world. and the second by supernormal spiritual experience. For the Hindu holds that the Supreme State is proved not by speculation or argument (which may yet render its support), but by actual spiritual experience.
The second point to remember is that these two states are one. We must not think of "creation" in the sense, in which there is an infinite break between man and God, and, therefore, man cannot become God. Man, in this system of Vedanta, is, though a contraction of Power, nevertheless, in essence, the self-same Power which is God. There is unity (Abheda) as Essence, and difference (Bheda) as Manifestation. Similarly, Islamic philosophy distinguishes between independent Zat,, or essence, and dependent and derivative Attribute, or Sifat. Essence is one, Manifestation is different. The two are thus neither identical nor separate. There is that which the Hindus call Abheda- Bheda.
The third point then is that Man, being such Power, he can by his effort, and the grace of his patron Deity, enhance it even to the extent that he becomes one with Divinity. And so it is said that "by the worship of Vishnu, man becomes Vishnu". To know a being or thing is, according to non-dual Vedanta, to be that thing. To know God, then, is to be God. Man can then pass from limited experience, or Samsara, to Perfect Experience, or Nirvana. This "towering tenet," to use Brian Hodgsons' phrase ("Nepal"), that finite mind may be raised to infinite consciousness, is also held by Buddhism.
The practical question then is: How is this experience of oneness with Divinity, its powers and attributes, obtained? The answer is that this is the work of Sadhana and Yoga.
The term Sadhana comes from the root Sadh, which means to exert, to strive to attain a particular result or Siddhi, as it is called. The person making the effort is called Sadhaka, and if he obtains the result desired, or Siddhi, he is called Siddha. Etymologically Sadhana may refer to any effort. Thus a person who takes lessons in French or in riding, with a view to learn that language or to become a horseman, is doing Sadhana for those purposes respectively. If French or riding is learnt, then Siddhi is obtained, and the man who attains it is Siddha, or proficient in French and riding respectively. But technically Sadhana refers either to Ritual Worship or Ritual Magic. A Sadhaka is always a dualist, whatever his theoretical doctrine may be, because worship implies both worshipped and worshipper. The highest aim of religious worship is attainment of the Abode or Heaven of the Divinity worshipped. This Heaven is not Nirvana. The latter is a formless state, whereas Heaven is a pleasurable abode of forms -- a state intermediate between Death and Rebirth. According to the ordinary view, Ritual Worship is a preparation for Yoga. When a man is Siddha in Sadhana he becomes qualified for Yoga, and when he is Siddha in Yoga he attains Perfect Experience. Yoga is thus the process whereby man is raised from Limited to Perfect experience. The Sadhana with which I am now concerned is religious Sadhana, a spiritual effort to achieve a moral and spiritual aim, though it may also seek material blessings from the Divinity worshipped.
Magic is the development of supernormal power, either by extension of natural faculty or by control over other beings and forces of nature. I use the word "supernormal" and not "supernatural" because all power is natural. Thus one man may see to a certain extent with his eyes. Another man with more powerful eyes will see better. A man with a telescope will see further than either of these two. For the telescope is a scientific extension of the natural faculty of sight. Over and beyond this is the "magical" extension of power called clairvoyance. The last power is natural but not normal. Magic (of which there has been abuse) has yet been indiscriminately condemned. Whether an act is good or bad depends upon the intention and the surrounding circumstances, and this same rule applies whether the act is normal or magical. Thus a man may in defense of his life use physical means for self-protection, even to the causing of the death of his adversary. Killing in such a case does not become bad because the means employed are not normal but "magical". On the other hand, Black Magic, or Abhicara, is the doing of harm to another without lawful excuse. This the Scripture (Shastra) condemns as a great sin. As the Kularnava Tantra says (XII. 63), Atmavat sarvabhutebhyo hitam kuryyat Kuleshvari -- that is, a man should not injure, but should do good to others as if they were his own self. In the Tantra Shastras are to be found magical rituals. Some classes of works, such as the "Damaras," are largely occupied with this subject. It is a mistake, however, to suppose that because a practice is described in the Scripture, it is counseled by it. A book on legal medicine may state the substances by and manner in which a man may be poisoned. It describes the process which, if carried out, produces a particular result, but it does not on that account counsel killing. As regards the magical rites themselves, the view that they are mere childish superstition is not an understanding one. The objective ritual stimulates, is a support of, and serves the Mind-Rays, which, the Hindus would say, are not less but more powerful than the physical forms we call X-rays and the like. It has long been known in India, as it is becoming known in the West, that the mind is not merely a passive mirror of objects, but is a great and active Power. As I have already said, however, I do not propose to deal with this subject, and now return to that of religious worship.
Religious ritual is either formal (Karma), such as the Homa rite, or is devotional (Upasana), according as the act done belongs to the Karma or Upasana Kandas, which together with the J˝ana Kanda, constitute the three-fold division of Veda. The distinction between Karma and Upasana is this. In ritual Karma the result is produced by performance of the rite, such as Homa, independently of the effort of the Sadhaka, provided there be strict ritual accuracy; whereas, the fruit of Upasana, or psychological worship, depends on the personal devotion of the worshipper, and without it the act is of no avail. Upasana, or devotional worship, is again either gross (Sthula) or subtle (Sukshma), according to the degree of competency or advancement of the Sadhaka or person who does Sadhana. We must not understand by the word "gross" anything bad. It is merely used in contra-distinction to the word "subtle". Thus, a worshipper who is doing his Sadhana before an exterior image is performing gross worship, whereas he who worships a mentally conceived image is doing subtle worship. A man who offers real flowers is doing a part of gross worship. subtle worship in such a case would be the offering of flowers of the mind.
I will now shortly examine the Vedantic theory of Mind, which must be known if the ritual is to be understood. There is no Mind without Matter or Matter without Mind, except in dreamless sleep, when the latter is wholly withdrawn. The Mind has always an object. In a literal sense, there is no vacuous mind. It is not aware, of course, of all objects, but only of those to which it pays attention. Nextly, Mind is not Consciousness (Cit) which is immaterial. Mind, on the contrary, is a quasi-material principle of Unconsciousness, which, on one view, appears to be conscious by reason of the association of Consciousness with it. According to the Shakta view, Mind is an unconscious quasi-material force being the power of Consciousness to limit itself, and to the extent of such limitation, to appear as unconscious. How then does Mind operate? A Mind-Ray goes forth to the object, which in its turn shapes the mental substance into the form of the object. Thus, when a man thinks of an image of Divinity intently and without distraction, his mental substance takes the form of the image. The object which is perceived leaves an impress on the mind, and this impress, if repeated, sets up a tendency or Samskara. Thus a man who repeatedly thinks good thoughts has a tendency towards the thinking of such thoughts, and by continued good thought character is molded and transformed. As the Chandogya Upanishad says: "As a man thinks that he becomes." Similarly, the Gandharva Tantra says: "By meditating on anything as the self, one becomes that thing." A man can thus shape his mind for good or bad.
The mind affects the body. As it is said in the West, "the soul is form and doth the body make." Every thought has a corresponding change in the material substance of the brain. Well, then, as the mind must have an object which again shapes the mind, the ritual selects a good object, namely, the Divinity of worship with all good attributes.
The Sadhaka meditates on and worships that. Continued thought, repetition, the engagement of the body in the mental action co-operate to produce a lasting and good tendency in the mental substance. Sincere and continued effort effects the transformation of the worshipper into a likeness with the Divinity worshipped. For as he who is always thinking bad thoughts becomes bad, so he who thinks divine thoughts becomes himself divine. The transformation which is commenced in Sadhana is completed in Yoga, when the difference between worshipper and worshipped ceases in that unitary consciousness which is ecstasy or Samadhi, or transcendent perfect experience.
Let us now examine some illustrations of the psychological principles stated.
Divinity as it is in Itself cannot (as an Indian writer has said) be seized by the mind any more than air can be grasped by a pair of tongs. It is necessary, therefore, to have something placed before one as a representative of something else, which is what the Sanskrit terms, Pratika and Pratima, for the object worshipped, mean. This may be an external object or a mental one. As regards the former, there are varying degrees of grossness and subtlety. The grossest is that in which there is no call upon imagination -- that is, the Image of three dimensions. Less so is the painting on the flat; then comes the emblem, which may be quite unlike the Devata or Divinity, of which it is an emblem, such as the Shalagrama stone in the worship of Vishnu, and, lastly, the Yantra, which is the diagrammatic body of a Mantra.
Worship is outer -- that is, of an outer object with physical acts such as bodily prostrations, offering of real flowers, and so on; or it may be partly or wholly mental, as in the latter case, where both the form of the Divinity is imagined (according to the meditational form or Dhyana given in the Scriptures) as also the offerings.
The forms of worship vary according to the capacity of the worshipper. In the simplest form, the worshipper draws upon the daily life, and treats the Divinity whom he invokes as he would a guest, welcoming It after its journey, offering water for the dusty feet and the mouth, presenting It with flowers, lights, clothes, and so on. These ingredients of worship are called Upacara. In the psycho-physiological rites of some Shaktas, the abuse of which has brought them ill-fame, the Upacara are the functions of the body. In image-worship, the mind is shaped into the form of the object perceived. But the perception of a material image is not enough. The worshipper must see Divinity before him. This he invokes into the image by what is called the welcoming (Avahana) and Life-giving (Pranapratishtha) ceremonies, just as, at the conclusion of the worship, he bids the Deity depart (Visarjana). Uncomprehending minds have asked: "How can God be made to come and go?" The answer is that He does not. What come and go are the modifications, or vrittis, of and in the mind of the Sadhaka or worshipper. To invoke the Deity means, then, a direction not to the Deity, but by the worshipper to himself to understand that the Deity is there. Deity which is omnipresent is in the Image as elsewhere, whatever the Sadhaka may do or not do. The Sadhaka informs his own mind with the notion that the Deity is present. He is then conscious of the presence of and meditates on Divinity and its attributes, and if he be undistracted, his mind and its thought are thereby divinely shaped. Before the Divinity so present, both objectively and to the mind of the Sadhaka, worship is done. It is clear that the more this worship is sincerely continued, the greater both in degree and persistence is the transformation effected. The body is made to take its part either by appropriate gestures, called Mudra, or other acts such as prostrations, offerings, libations, and so forth. By constant worship the mind and disposition become good, for good thoughts repeated make a man good. Ritual produces by degrees, transformation, at first temporary, later lasting. "Ridding the Divinity depart" means that the mind of the Sadhaka has ceased to worship the Image. It is not that the Deity is made to retire at the behest of his worshipper. A true Sadhaka has Divinity ever in his thoughts, whether he is doing formal worship or not. "Invitation" and "Bidding Depart" are done for the purposes of the worship of the Image only. Personally, I doubt whether idolatry exists anywhere in the sense that a worshipper believes a material image as such to be God. But, in any case, Indian image-worship requires for its understanding and practice some knowledge of Vedanta.
Transformation of consciousness-feeling by ritual may be illustrated by a short examination of some other of its forms. Gesture of the hands, or Mudra, is a common part of the ritual. There is necessarily movement of the hands and body in any worship which requires external action, but I here speak of the specially designed gestures. For instance, I am now making the Fish gesture, or Matsya Mudra. The hands represent a fish and its fins. The making of this gesture indicates that the worshipper is offering not only the small quantity of water which is contained in the ritual vessel, but that (such is his devotion) his intention is to give to the Deity all the oceans with the fish and other marine animals therein. The Sadhaka might, of course, form this intention without gesture, but experience shows that gesture emphasizes and intensifies thought, as in the case of public speaking. The body is made to move with the thought. I refer here to ritual gestures. The term Mudra is also employed to denote bodily postures assumed in Hathayoga as a health-giving gymnastic.
Asana, or seat, has more importance in Yoga than in Sadhana. The principle as regards Asana is to secure a comfortable seat, because that is favorable to meditation and worship generally. If one is not comfortable there is distraction and worry. Both Mudra and Asana are, therefore, ancillary to worship as Puja, the principle of which has been described.
Japa is recital of Mantra, the count being done either on a rosary or the phalanxes of the fingers. What is a Mantra P A Mantra is Divinity. It is Divine Power, or Daivi Shakti, manifesting in a sound body. The Shastra says that those go to Hell who think that an image is a mere stone, that Mantras are merely letters, and that a Guru is a mere man, and not a manifestation and representative of the Lord as Supreme Teacher, Illuminator, and Director. The chief Mantra is Om. This represents to human ears the sound of the first general movement of Divine Power towards the manifestation of the Universe. All other Mantras are particular movements and sounds (for the two co-exist) derived from Om. Here the Sadhaka strives to realize his unity with the Mantra, or Divinity, and to the extent that he does so, the Mantra Power (Mantra-Shakti) supplements his worship-power (Sadhana Shakti). This rite is also an illustration of the principle that repetition makes perfect, for the repetition is done (it may be) thousands of times.
Japa is of three kinds -- gross, subtle, and supreme. In the first, the Mantra is audibly repeated, the objective body-aspect or sound predominating; in the second, there is no audible sound, the lips and other organs forming themselves into the position which, together with contact with the air, produce the sound of the letters; in the third, the Japa is mental -- that is, there is emphasis on the Divine, or subjective aspect. This is a means for the ritual realization -- that is, by mind -- of the unity of human power and Divine Power.
Nyasa is an important rite. The word means "placing" -- that is, of the hands of the Sadhaka on different parts of his body, at the same time, saying the appropriate Mantras, and imagining that by his action the corresponding parts of the body of the Deity are placed there. The rite terminates with a movement of the hands, "spreading" the Divinity all over the body. It is not supposed that the Divinity can be spread like butter on bread. The Supreme Mother-Power is the Brahman, or All-Pervading Immense. What is all-spreading cannot be moved or spread. What can however, be "spread" is the thought of the worshipper, who, with appropriate bodily gesture, imagines that the Deity pervades his body, which is renewed and divinized. By imagining the body of the Deity to be his body, he purifies himself, and affirms his unity with the Devata.
An essential element in all rites Bhutasuddhi, which means the purification of the elements of which the body is composed. Man is physical and psychical. The physical body is constituted of five modes of motion of material substance, which have each, it is said, centers in the spinal column, at points which in the body correspond to the position of various plexuses. These centers extend from the base of the spine to the throat. Between the eyebrows is the sixth or psychical center, or mind. At the top of the brain, or cerebrum, is the place of consciousness; not that Consciousness in itself -- that is, as distinct from Mind -- can have a center or be localized in any way; for, it is immaterial and all-pervading. But, at this point, it is the least veiled by mind and matter, and is, therefore, most manifest. This place is the abode of transcendent Shiva-Shakti as Power-holder. In the lowest center (Muladhara), which is at the base of the spine, there sleeps the Immanent Cosmic Power in bodies called Kundalini Shakti. Here She is ordinarily at rest. She is so, so long as man enjoys limited world-experience. She is then roused. "Jagrati Janani" ("Arise, 0 Mother!"), calls out the Sadhaka poet, Ramaprasada. "How long wilt thou sleep in the Muladhara?" When so roused, She is led up through the spinal column, absorbing all the physical and psychical centers, and unites with Shiva as consciousness in the cerebrum, which is known as the "thousand-pealed lotus". The body is then drenched with and renewed by the nectar which is the result of their union and is immortal life. This is the ecstasy which is the marriage of the Inner Divine Man and Woman. Metaphysically speaking, for the duration of such union, there is a substitution of the Supreme Experience for World-Experience.
This is the real process in Yoga. But in ritual (for all are not Yogis) it is imagined only. In imagination, the "man of sin" (Papapurusha) is burnt in mental fire, kundalini absorbs the centers, unites with Shiva, and then, redescending, recreates the centers, bathing them in nectar. By the mental representation of this process, the mind and body are purified, and the former is made to realize the unity of man and the Supreme Power, whose limited form he is, and the manner whereby the Universe is involved into and evolved from Shiva-Shakti. All these, and other rituals keep the mind of the Sadhaka occupied with the thought of the Supreme Power and of his essential unity with It, with the result that he becomes more and more that which he thinks upon. His Bhava, or disposition, becomes purified and divinized so far as that can be in the world. At length practice makes perfect in Sadhana, and on the arising in such purified and illuminated mind, of knowledge and detachment from the world, there is competency for Yoga. When in turn practice in Yoga makes perfect all limitations on experience are shed, and Nirvana is attained.
Ordinarily it is said that enjoyment (Bhoga) only enchains and Yoga only liberates. Enjoyment (Bhoga) does not only mean that which is bad (Adharma). Bad enjoyment certainly enchains and also leads to Hell. Good -- that is, lawful -- enjoyment also enchains, even though Heaven is its fruit. Moreover, Bhoga means both enjoyment and suffering. But, according to the Bengal Shakta worshippers, Enjoyment (which must necessarily be lawful) and Yoga may be one. According to this method (see Masson-Oursel, "Esquisse d'une Histoire de la Philosophie Indienne"), the body is not of necessity an obstacle to liberation. For there is no antinomy except such as we ourselves fancy, between Nature and Spirit, and therefore there is nothing wrong or low in natural function. Nature is the instrument for the realization of the aims of the Spirit. Yoga controls but does not frustrate enjoyment, which may be itself Yoga in so far it pacifies the mind and makes man one with his inner self. The spontaneity of life is under no suspicion. Supreme power is immanent in body and mind, and these are also forms of its expression. And so, in the psycho-physiological rites of these Shaktas, to which I have referred, the body and its functions are sought to be made a means of, as they may otherwise be an obstacle to, liberation. The Vira, or heroic man, is powerful for mastery on all the planes and to pass beyond them. He does not shun the world from fear of it, but holds it in his grasp and learns its secret. He can do so because the world does not exist in isolation from some transcendent Divinity exterior to Nature, but is itself the Divine Power inseparate from the Divine Essence. He knows that he is himself as body and mind such power, and as Spirit or Self such essence. When he has learned this, he escapes both from the servile subjection to circumstance, and the ignorant driftings of a humanity which has not yet realized itself. Most are still not men but candidates for Humanity. But he is the illumined master of himself, whether he is developing all his powers in this world, or liberating himself therefrom at his will.
I conclude by citing a verse from a Hymn in the great "Mahakala Samhita," by a Sadhaka who had surpassed the stage of formal external ritual, and was of a highly advanced devotional type. I first read the verse and then give a commentary thereon which is my own.
"I torture not my body by austerity."
For the body is the Divine Mother. Why then torture it? The Hymnist is speaking of those who, like himself, have realized that the body is a manifestation of the Divine Essence. He does not say that no one is to practice austerities. These may be necessary for those who have not realized that the body is divine, and who, on the contrary, look upon it as a material obstacle which must be strictly controlled. It is a common mistake of Western critics to take that which is meant for the particular case as applying to all.
"I make no pilgrimages."
For the sacred places in their esoteric sense are in the body of the worshipper. Why should he who knows thistravel? Those, however, who do not know this may profitably travel to the exterior sacred places such as Benares, Puri, Brindavan.
"I waste not my time in reading the Vedas."
This does not mean that no one is to read the Vedas. He has already done so, but the Kularnava Tantra says: "Extract the essence of the Scriptures, and then cast away the rest, as chaff is separated from the grain." When the essence has been extracted, what need is there of further reading and study P Moreover, the Veda recalls the spiritual experiences of others. What each man wants is that experience for himself, and this is not to be had by reading and speculation, but by practice, as worship or Yoga.
But, says the author of the Hymn, addressing the Divine Mother:
"I take refuge at thy Sacred Feet."
For this is both the highest Sadhana and the fruit of it.
In conclusion, I will say a word upon the Tantra Shastra to which I have referred. The four chief Scriptures of the Hindus are Veda, Smriti, Purana and Agama. There are four Ages, and to each of these Ages is assigned its own peculiar Scripture. For the present Age the governing Scripture is the Agama. The Agama or "traditions," is made up of several schools such as Vaishnava, Shaiva and Shakta. It is a mistake to suppose that Agama is a name given only to the Southern Scriptures, and that Tantra is the name of the Scriptures of the Bengal School of Shaktas. The Scripture of all these communities is the Agama, and the Agama is constituted of Scriptures called Tantra and also by other names. To these Tantras titles are given just as they are given to chapters in a book, such as the Lakshmi Tantra of the Vaishnava Pa˝caratra, Malinivijapa Tantra of the Kashmir Shaiva Agama, and the Kularnava Tantra of the Bengal Shakta Agama. These four Scriptures do not supersede or contradict one another, but are said to be various expressions of the one truth presented in diverse forms, suited to the inhabitants of the different Ages. As a Pandit very learned in the Agama told me, all the Scriptures constitute one great "Many-millioned Collection" (Shatakoti Samhita). Only portions of the Vaidik Ritual have survived to-day. The bulk of the ritual which to-day governs all the old schools of Hindu worshippers is to be found in the Agamas and their Tantras. And in this lies one reason for their importance.
This is in every way both a most important, as well as a most difficult, subject in the Tantra Shastra; so difficult that it is not understood, and on this account has been ridiculed. Mantra, in the words of a distinguished Indian, has been called "meaningless jabber". When we find Indians thus talking of their Shastra, it is not surprising that Europeans should take it to be of no account. They naturally, though erroneously, suppose that the Indian always understands his own beliefs, and if he says they are absurd it is taken that they are so. Even, however, amongst Indians, who have lost themselves through an English Education, the Science of Mantra is largely unknown. There are not many students of the Mimamsa now-a-days. The English-educated have in this, as in other matters, generally taken the cue from their Western Gurus, and passed upon Mantravidya a borrowed condemnation. There are those among them (particularly in this part of India), those who have in the past thought little of their old culture, and have been only too willing to sell their old lamps for new ones. Because they are new they will not always be found to give better light. Let us hope this will change, as indeed it will. Before the Indian condemns his cultural inheritance let him at least first study and understand it. It is true that Mantra is meaningless -- to those who do not know its meaning; but to those who do, it is not "Jabber"; though of course like everything else it may become, and indeed has become, the subject of ignorance and superstitious use. A telegram written in code in a merchant's office will seem the merest gibberish to those who do not know that code. Those who do may spell thereout a transaction bringing lakhs of "real" Rupees for those who have sent it. Mantravidya, whether it be true or not, is a profoundly conceived science, and, as interpreted by the Shakta Agama, is a practical application of Vedantic doctrine.
The textual source of Mantras is to be found in the Vedas (see in particular the Mantra portion of the Atharvaveda so associated with the Tantra Shastra), the Puranas and Tantras. The latter Scripture is essentially the Mantra-Shastra. In fact it is so called generally by Sadhakas and not Tantra Shastra. And so it is said of all the Shastras, symbolized as a body, that Tantra Shastra which consists of Mantra is the Paramatma, the Vedas are the Jivatma, Darshanas or systems of philosophy are the senses, Puranas are the body and the Smritis are the limbs. Tantra Shastra is thus the Shakti of Consciousness consisting of Mantra. For, as the Vishvasara Tantra (Ch. 2) says, the Parabrahman in Its form as the Sound Brahman (Shabda-Brahman or Saguna-Brahman), whose substance is all Mantra, exists in the body of the Jivatma.. Kundalini Shakti is a form of the Shabda-Brahman in individual bodies (Sharada-Tilaka, Ch. 1). It is from this Shabda-Brahman that the whole universe proceeds in the form of sound (Shabda) and the objects (Artha) which sounds or words denote. And this is the meaning of the statement that the Devi and the Universe are composed of letters, that is, the signs for the sounds which denote all that is.
At any point in the flow of phenomena, we can enter the stream, and realize therein the changeless Real. The latter is everywhere and is in all things, and hidden in, and manifested by, sound as by all else. Any form (and all which is not the Formless is that) can be pierced by the mind, and union may be had therein with the Devata who is at its core. It matters not what that form may be. And why? What I have said concerning Shakti gives the answer. All is Shakti. All is Consciousness. We desire to think and speak. This is Iccha Shakti. We make an effort towards realization. This is Kriya Shakti. We think and know. This is J˝ana Shakti. Through Pranavayu, another form of Shakti, we speak; and the word we utter is Shakti Mantramayi. For what is a letter (Varna) which is made into syllable (Pada) and sentences (Vakya) '? It may be heard in speech, thus affecting the sense of hearing. It may be seen as a form in writing. It may be tactually sensed by the blind through the perforated dots of Braille type. The same thing thus affecting the various senses. But what is the thing which does so? The senses are Shakti, and so is the objective form which evokes the sensation. Both are in themselves Shakti as Cit Shakti and Maya Shakti, and the Svarupa of these is Cit or Feeling-Consciousness. When, therefore, a Mantra is realized, when there is what is called in the Shastra Mantra-Caitanya, what happens is the union of the consciousness of the Sadhaka with that Consciousness which manifests in the form of the Mantra. It is this union which makes the Mantra "work".
The subject is of such importance in the Tantras that their other name is Mantra Shastra. But what is a Mantra? Commonly Orientalists and others describe Mantra as "Prayer," "Formulae of worship," "Mystic syllables" and so forth. These are but the superficialities of those who do not know their subject. Wherever we find the word "Mystic," we may be on our guard; for it is a word which covers much ignorance. Thus Mantra is said to be a "mystic" word, Yantra a "mystic" diagram, and Mudra a "mystic" gesture. But have these definitions taught us anything? No, nothing. Those who framed these definitions knew nothing of their subject. And yet, whilst I am aware of no work in any European language which shows a knowledge of what Mantra is or of its science (Mantra-vidya), there is nevertheless perhaps no subject which has been so ridiculed: a not unusual attitude of ignorance. There is a widely diffused lower mind which says, "what I do not understand is absurd". But this science, whether well-founded or not, is not that. Those who so think might expect Mantras which are prayers and the meaning of which they understand; for with prayer the whole world is familiar. But such appreciation itself displays a lack of understanding. For there is nothing necessarily holy or prayerful alone in Mantras as some think. Some combinations of letters constitute prayers and are called Mantras, as for instance the most celebrated Gayatri Mantra.
A Mantra is not the same thing as prayer or self-dedication (Atma-nivedana). Prayer is conveyed in the words the Sadhaka chooses. Any set of words or letters is not a Mantra. Only that Mantra in which the Devata has revealed His or Her particular aspects can reveal that aspect, and is therefore the Mantra of that one of His or Her particular aspects. The relations of the letters (Varna), whether vowel or consonant, Nada and Bindu, in a Mantra indicate the appearance of Devata in different forms. Certain Vibhuti or aspects of the Devata are inherent in certain Varna, but perfect Shakti does not appear in any but a whole Mantra. All letters are forms of the Shabda-Brahman, but only particular combinations of letters are a particular form, just as the name of a particular being is made up of certain letters and not of any indiscriminately. The whole universe is Shakti and is pervaded by Shakti. Nada, Bindu, Varna are all forms of Shakti and combinations of these, and these combinations only are the Shabda corresponding to the Artha or forms of any particular Devata. The gross lettered sound is, as explained later, the manifestation of sound in a more subtle form, and this again is the production of causal "sound" in its supreme (Para) form. Mantras are manifestations of Kulakundalini (see Chapter on the same) which is a name for the Shabda-Brahman or Saguna-Brahman in individual bodies. Produced Shabda is an aspect of the Jiva's vital Shakti. Kundalini is the Shakti who gives life to the Jiva. She it is who in the Muladhara Cakra (or basal bodily center) is the cause of the sweet, indistinct and murmuring Dhvani which is compared to the humming of a black bee. Thence Shabda originates and, being first Para, gradually manifests upwards as Pashyanti, Madhyama, Vaikhari (see post). Just as in outer space, waves of sound are produced by movements of air (Vayu), so in the space within the Jiva's body, waves of sound are said to be produced according to the movements of the vital air (Pranavayu) and the process of in and out breathing. As the Svarupa of Kundali, in whom are all sounds, is Paramatma, so the substance of all Mantra, Her manifestation, is Consciousness (Cit) manifesting as letters and words. In fact, the letters of the Alphabet which are called Akshara are nothing but the Yantra of the Akshara or Imperishable Brahman. This is however only realized by the Sadhaka, when his Shakti generated by Sadhana is united with Mantra-Shakti. kundalini, who is extremely subtle, manifests in gross (Sthula) form in differing aspects as different Devatas. It is this gross form which is the Presiding Deity (Adishthatri Devata) of a Mantra, though it is the subtle (Sukshma) form at which all Sadhakas aim. Mantra and Devata are thus one and particular forms of Brahman as Shiva-Shakti. Therefore the Shastra says that they go to Hell who think that the Image (or "Idol" as it is commonly called) is but a stone and the Mantra merely letters of the alphabet. It is therefore also ignorance of Shastric principle which supposes that Mantra is merely the name for the words in which one expresses what one has to say to the Divinity. If it were, the Sadhaka might choose his own language without recourse to the eternal and determined sounds of Shastra. (See generally as to the above the Chapter on Mantra-tattva in Principles of Tantra, Ed. A. Avalon.) The particular Mantra of a Devata is that Devata. A Mantra, on the contrary, consists of certain letters arranged in definite sequence of sounds of which the letters are the representative signs. To produce the designed effect, the Mantra must be intoned in the proper way, according to both sound (Varna) and rhythm (Svara). For these reasons, a Mantra when translated ceases to be such, and becomes a mere word or sentence.
By Mantra, the sought-for (Sadhya) Devata appears, and by Siddhi therein is had vision of the three worlds. As the Mantra is in fact Devata, by practice thereof this is known. Not merely do the rhythmical vibrations of its sounds regulate the unsteady vibrations of the sheaths of the worshipper, but therefrom the image of the Devata appears. As the Brihad-Gandharva Tantra says (Ch. V):
Shrinu devi pravakshyami bijanam deva-rupatam
Mantrochcharanamatrena deva-rupam prajayate.
Mantrasiddhi is the ability to make a Mantra efficacious and to gather its fruit in which case the Sadhaka is Mantra-siddha. As the Pranatoshini (619) says, "Whatever the Sadhaka desires that he surely obtains." Whilst therefore prayer may end in merely physical sound, Mantra is ever, when rightly said, a potent compelling force, a word of power effective both to produce material gain and accomplish worldly desires, as also to promote the fourth aim of sentient being (Caturvarga), Advaitic knowledge, and liberation. And thus it is said that Siddhi (success) is the certain result of Japa or recitation of Mantra.
Some Mantras constitute also what the European would call "prayers," as for instance the celebrated Gayatri. But neither this nor any other Mantra is simply a prayer. The Gayatri runs Om (The thought is directed to the three-fold Energy of the One as represented by the three letters of which Om is composed, namely, A or Brahma, the Shakti which creates; U or Vishnu, the Shakti which maintains; and M or Rudra, the Shakti which "destroys," that is, withdraws the world): Nada and Bindu, Earth, Middle region, Heaven (of which as the transmigrating worlds of Samsara, God, as Om, as also in the form of the Sun, is the Creator). Let us contemplate upon the Adorable Spirit of the Divine Creator who is in the form of the Sun (Aditya-Devata). Map He direct our minds, towards attainment of the four-fold aims (Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha) of all sentient beings. Om. This great Mantra bears a meaning on its face, though the Commentaries explain and amplify it. The Self of all which exists in the three regions appears in the form of the Sun-god with His body of fire. The Brahman is the cause of all, and as the visible Devata is the Eye of the World and the Maker of the day who vivifies, ripens and reveals all beings and things. The Sun-god is to the sun what the Spirit (Atma) is to the body. He is the Supreme in the form of the great Luminary. His body is the Light of the world, and He Himself is the Light of the lives of all beings. He is everywhere. He is in the outer ether as the sun, and in the inner ethereal region of the heart. He is the Wondrous Light which is the smokeless Fire. He it is who is in constant play with creation (Srishti), maintenance (Sthiti) and "destruction" (Pralaya); and by His radiance pleases both eye and mind. Let us adore Him that we may escape the misery of birth and death. May He ever direct our minds (Buddhivritti) upon the path of the world (Trivarga) and liberation (Moksha). Only the twice-born castes and men may utter this Gayatri. To the Shudra, whether man or woman, and to women of all castes, it is forbidden. But the Tantra Shastra has not the exclusiveness of the Vaidik system. Thus the Mahanirvana provides (IV. 109-111) a Brahma-gayatri for all: "May we know the Supreme Lord. Let us contemplate the Supreme Essence. And may the Brahman direct us." All will readily understand such Mantras as the Gayatri, though some comment, which is thought amusing, has been made on the "meaningless" Om. I have already stated what it means, namely, (shortly speaking) the Energy (Nada) in Sadakhya Tattva which, springing from Shiva-Shakti Tattva, "solidifies" itself (Ghani-bhuta) as the creative Power of the Lord (Bindu or Ishvara Tattva) manifesting in the Trinity or Creative Energies. For further details see my Garland of Letters. "Om" then stands for the most general aspect of That as the Source of all. As it is recited, the idea arises in the mind corresponding with the sound which has been said to be the expression on the gross plane of that subtle "sound" which accompanied the first creative vibration. When rightly uttered this great syllable has an awe-inspiring effect. As I heard this Mantra chanted by some hundred Buddhist monks (one after the other) in a northern monastery it seemed to be the distant murmuring roll of some vast cosmic ocean. "Om" is the most prominent example of a "meaningless" Mantra, that is, one which does not bear its meaning on its face, and of what is called a seed or Bija Mantra, because they are the very quintessence of Mantra, and the seed (Bija) of the fruit which is Siddhi (spiritual achievement). These are properly monosyllabic. Om is a Vaidik Bija, but it is the source of all the other Tantrik Bijas which represent particular Devata aspects of that which is presented as a whole in 0m. As a Mantra-Shastra, the Tantras have greatly elaborated the Bijas, and thus incurred the charge of "gibberish," for such the Bijas sound to those who do not know what they mean. Though a Mantra such as a Bija-mantra may not convey its meaning on its face, the initiate knows that its meaning is the own form (Svarupa) of the particular Devata whose Mantra it is, and that the essence of the Bija is that which makes letters sound, and exists in all which we say or hear. Every Mantra is thus a particular sound form (Rupa) of the Brahman. There are a very large number of these short unetymological vocables or Bijas such as Hrim, Shrim, Krim, Hum, Hum, Phat called by various names. Thus the first is called the Maya Bija, the second Lakshmi Bija, the third Kali Bija, the fourth Kurca Bija, the fifth Varma Bija, the sixth Astra Bija. Ram is Agni Bija, Em is Yoni Bija, Klim is Kama Bija, Shrim is Badhu Bija, Aim Sarasvati Bija and so forth. Each Devata has His or Her Bija. Thus Hrim is the Maya Bija, Krim the Kali Bija. The Bija is used in the worship of the Devata whose Mantra it is. All these Bijas mentioned are in common use. There are a large number of others, some of which are formed with the first letters of the name of the Devata for whom they stand, such as Gam for Ganesha, Dum for Durga.
Let us then shortly see by examples what the meaning of such a Bija is. (For a fuller account see my Garland of Letters.) In the first place, the reader will observe the common ending "m" which represents the Sanskrit breathings known as Nada and Bindu or Candrabindu. These have the same meaning in all. They are the Shaktis of that name appearing in the table of the 36 Tattvas given ante. They are states of Divine Power immediately preceding the manifestation of the objective universe. The other letters denote subsequent developments of Shakti, and various aspects of the manifested Devata mentioned below. There are sometimes variant interpretations given. Take the great Bhuvaneshvari or Maya Bija, Hrim. I have given one interpretation in my Studies above cited. From the Tantrik compendium, the Pranatoshini, quoting the Barada Tantra we get the following: Hrim = H + R + I + M. H = Shiva. R = Shakti Prakriti. I = Mahamaya. "M" is as above explained, but is here stated in the form that Nada is the Progenitrix of the Universe, and Bindu which is Brahman as Ishvara and Ishvari (Ishvaratattva) is described for the Sadhaka as the "Dispeller of Sorrow". The meaning therefore of this Bija Mantra which is used in the worship of Mahamaya or Bhuvaneshvari is, that that Devi in Her Turiya or transcendent state is Nada and Bindu, and is the causal body manifesting as Shiva-Shakti in the form of the manifested universe. The same idea is expressed in varying form but with the same substance by the Devigita (Ch. IV) which says that H = gross body, R = subtle body, I = causal body and M = the Turiya or transcendent fourth state. In other words, the Sadhaka worshipping the Devi with Hrim, by that Bija calls to mind the transcendent Shakti who is the causal body of the subtle and gross bodies of all existing things. Shrim, (see Barada Tantra) is used in the worship of Lakshmi Devi. Sh = Alahalaksmi, R = Wealth (Dhanartham) which as well as I = (satisfaction or Tushtyartham) She gives. Krim is used in the worship of Kali. K = Kali (Shakti worshipped for relief from the world and its sorrows). R = Brahma (Shiva with whom She is ever associated). I = Mahamaya (Her aspect in which She overcomes for the Sadhaka the Maya in which as Creatrix She has involved him). "Aim" is used in the worship of Sarasvati and is Vagbhava Bija. Dum is used in the worship of Durga. D = Durga. U = protection. Nada = Her aspect as Mother of the Universe, and Bindu is its Lord. The Sadhaka asks Durga as Mother-Lord to protect him, and looks on Her in her protecting aspect as upholder of the universe (Jagaddhatri). In "Strim." S = saving from difficulty. T = deliverer. R = (here) liberation (Muktyartho repha ukto'tra). I = Mahamaya. Bindu = Dispeller of grief. Nada = Mother of the Universe. She as the Lord is the dispeller of Maya and the sorrows it produces, the Savior and deliverer from all difficulties by grant of liberation. I have dealt elsewhere (Serpent Power) with Hum and Hum the former of which is called Varma (armor) Bija and the latter Kurca, H denoting Shiva and "u", His Bhairava or formidable aspect (see generally Vol. I, Tantrik Texts. Tantrabhidhana). He is an armor to the Sadhaka by His destruction of evil. Phat is the weapon or guarding Mantra used with Hum, just as Svaha (the Shakti of Fire), is used with Vashat, in making offerings. The primary Mantra of a Devata is called Mula-Mantra. Mantras are solar (Saura) and masculine, and lunar (Saumya) and feminine, as also neuter. If it be asked why things of mind are given sex, the answer is for the sake of the requirements of the worshipper. The masculine and neuter forms are called specifically Mantra and the feminine Vidya, though the first term may be used for both. Neuter Mantras end with Namah. Hum, Phat are masculine terminations, and "Tham" or Svaha, feminine (see Sharadatilaka II. Narada-pa˝caratra VII, Prayogasara, Pranatoshini 70).
The Nitya Tantra gives various names to Mantra according to the number of the syllables such as Pinda, Kartari, Bija, Mantra, Mala. Commonly however the term Bija is applied to monosyllabic Mantras.
The word "Mantra" comes from the root "man" to think. "Man" is the first syllable of manana or thinking. It is also the root of the word "Man" who alone of all creation is properly a Thinker. "Tra" comes from the root "tra," for the effect of a Mantra when used with that end, is to save him who utters and realizes it. Tra is the first syllable of Trana or liberation from the Samsara. By combination of man and tra, that is called Mantra which, from the religious stand-point, calls forth (Amantrana) the four aims (Caturvarga) of sentient being as happiness in the world and eternal bliss in Liberation. Mantra is thus Thought-movement vehicled by, and expressed in, speech. Its Svarupa is, like all else, consciousness (Cit) which is the Shabda-Brahman. A Mantra is not merely sound or letters. This is a form in which Shakti manifests Herself. The mere utterance of a Mantra without knowing its meaning, without realization of the consciousness which Mantra manifests is a mere movement of the lips and nothing else. We are then in the outer husk of consciousness; just as we are when we identify ourselves with any other form of gross matter which is, as it were, the "crust" (as a friend of mine has aptly called it) of those subtler forces which emerge from the Yoni or Cause of all, who is, in Herself Consciousness (Cidrupini). When the Sadhaka knows the meaning of the Mantra he makes an advance. But this is not enough. He must, through his consciousness, realize that Consciousness which appears in the form of the Mantra, and thus attain Mantra-Caitanya. At this point, thought is vitalized by contact with the center of all thinking. At this point again thought becomes truly vital and creative. Then an effect is created by the realization thus induced.
The creative power of thought is now receiving increasing acceptance in the West, which is in some cases taking over, and in others, discovering anew, for itself, what was thought by the ancients in India. Because they have discovered it anew, they call it "New Thought"; but its fundamental principle is as old as the Upanishads which said, "what you think that you become". All recognize this principle in the limited form that a man who thinks good becomes good, and he who is ever harboring bad thought becomes bad. But the Indian and "New Thought" doctrine is more profound than this. In Vedantic India, thought has been ever held creative. The world is a creation of the thought (Cit Shakti associated with Maya Shakti) of the Lord (Ishvara and Ishvari). Her and His thought is the aggregate, with almighty powers of all thought. But each man is Shiva and can attain His powers to the degree of his ability to consciously realize himself as such. Thought now works in man's small magic just as it first worked in the grand magical display of the World-Creator. Each man is in various degrees a creator. Thought is as real as any form of gross matter. Indeed it is more real in the sense that the world is itself a projection of the World-thought, which again is nothing but the aggregate in the form of the Samskaras or impressions of past experience, which give rise to the world. The universe exists for each Jiva because he consciously or unconsciously wills it. It exists for the totality of beings because of the totality of Samskaras which are held in the Great Womb of the manifesting Cit Itself. There is theoretically nothing that man cannot accomplish, for he is at base the Accomplisher of all. But, in practice, he can only accomplish to the degree that he identifies himself with the Supreme Consciousness and Its forces, which underlie, are at work in, and manifest as, the universe. This is the basal doctrine of all magic, of all powers (Siddhi) including the greatest Siddhi which is Liberation itself. He who knows Brahman, becomes Brahman to the extent of his "knowing". Thought-reading, thought-transference, hypnotic suggestion, magical projections (Mokshana) and shields (Grahana) are becoming known and practiced in the West, not always with good results. For this reason some doctrines and practices are kept concealed. Projection (Mokshana) the occultist will understand. But Grahana, I may here explain, is not so much a "fence" in the Western sense, to which use a Kavaca is put, but the knowledge of how to "catch" a Mantra thus projected. A stone thrown at one may be warded off or caught and, if the person so wishes, thrown back at him who threw it. So may a Mantra. It is not necessary, however, to do so. Those who are sheltered by their own pure strength, automatically throw back all evil influences, which, coming back to the ill-wisher, harm or destroy him. Those familiar with the Western presentment of similar matters will more readily understand than others who, like the Orientalist and Missionary, as a rule know nothing of occultism and regard it as superstition. For this reason their presentment of Indian teaching is so often ignorant and absurd. The occultist, however, will understand the Indian doctrine which regards thought like mind, of which it is the operation, as a Power or Shakti; something therefore, very real and creative by which man can accomplish things for himself and others. Kind thoughts, without a word, will do good to all who surround us, and may travel round the world to distant friends. So we may suffer from the ill-wishes of those who surround us, even if such wishes do not materialize into deeds. Telepathy is the transference of thought from a distance without the use of the ordinary sense organs. So, in initiation, the thought of a true Guru may pass to his disciple all his powers. Mantra is thus a Shakti (Mantra Shakti) which lends itself impartially to any use. Man can identify himself with any of nature's forces and for any end. Thus, to deal with the physical effects of Mantra, it may be used to injure, kill or do good; by Mantra again a kind of union with the physical Shakti is, by some, said to be effected. So the Vishnu-Purana speaks of generation by will power, as some Westerners believe will be the case when man passes beyond the domination of his gross sheath and its physical instruments. Children will then again be "mind-born". By Mantra, the Homa fire may, it is said, be lit. By Mantra, again, in the Tantrik initiation called Vedha-diksha there is, it is said, such a transference of power from the Guru to his disciple that the latter swoons under the impulse of the thought-power which pierces him. But Mantra is also that by which man identifies himself with That which is the Ground of all. In short, Mantra is a power (Shakti) in the form of idea clothed with sound. What, however, is not yet understood in the West is the particular Thought-science which is Mantravidya, or its basis. Much of the "New Thought" lacks this philosophical basis which is supplied by Mantravidya, resting itself on the Vedantik doctrine. Mantravidya is thus that form of Sadhana by which union is had with the Mother Shakti in the Mantra form (Mantramayi), in Her Sthula and Sukshma aspects respectively. The Sadhaka passes from the first to the second. This Sadhana works through the letters, as other forms of Sadhana work through form in the shape of the Yantra, Ghata or Pratima. All such Sadhana belongs to Shaktopaya Yoga as distinguished from the introspective meditative processes of Shambhavopaya which seeks more directly the realization of Shakti, which is the end common to both. The Tantrik doctrine as regards Shabda is that of the Mimamsa with this exception that it is modified to meet its main doctrine of Shakti,
In order to understand what a Mantra is, we must know its cosmic history. The mouth speaks a word. What is it and whence has it come'. As regards the evolution of consciousness as the world, I refer my reader to the Chapters on "Cit-Shakti and Maya-Shakti" dealing with the 36 Tattvas. Ultimately, there is Consciousness which in its aspect as the great "I" sees the object as part of itself, and then as other than itself, and thus has experience of the universe. This is achieved through Shakti who, in the words of the Kamakalavilasa, is the pure mirror in which Shiva experiences Himself (Shivarupa-vimarshanirmala-darshah). Neither Shiva nor Shakti alone suffices for creation. Shivarupa here = Svarupa. Aham ityevamakaram, that is, the form (or experience) which consists in the notion of "I". Shakti is the pure mirror for the manifestation of Shiva's experience as "I" (Aham). Aham ityevam rupam j˝anam tasya praka-shane nirmaladarshah; as the commentator Natanananda (V-2) says. The notion is, of course, similar to that of the reflection of Purusha on Prakriti as Sattvamayi Buddhi and of Brahman on Maya. From the Mantra aspect starting from Shakti (Shakti-Tattva) associated with Shiva (Shiva-Tattva), there was produced Nada, and from Nada, came Bindu which, to distinguish it from other Bindus, is known as the causal, supreme or Great Bindu (Karana, Para, Mahabindu). This is very clearly set forth in the Sharada Tilaka, a Tantrik work by an author of the Kashmirian School which was formerly of great authority among the Bengal Shaktas. I have dealt with this subject in detail in my Garland of Letters. Here I only summarize conclusions.
Shabda literally means and is usually translated "sound," the word coming from the root Shabd "to sound". It must not, however, be wholly identified with sound in the sense of that which is heard by the ear, or sound as effect of cosmic stress. Sound in this sense is the effect produced through excitation of the ear and brain, by vibrations of the atmosphere between certain limits. Sound so understood exists only with the sense organs of hearing. And even then it may be perceived by some and not by others, due to keenness or otherwise of natural hearing. Further the best ears will miss what the microphone gives. Considering Shabda from its primary or causal aspect, independent of the effect which it may or may not produce on the sense organs, it is vibration (Spandana) of any kind or motion, which is not merely physical motion, which may become sound for human ears, given the existence of ear and brain and the fulfillment of other physical conditions. Thus, Shabda is the possibility of sound, and may not be actual sound for this individual or that. There is thus Shabda wherever there is motion or vibration of any kind. It is now said, that the electrons revolve in a sphere of positive electrification at an enormous rate of motion. If the arrangement be stable, we have an atom of matter. If some of the electrons are pitched off from the atomic system, what is called radio-activity is observed. Both these rotating and shooting electrons are forms of vibration as Shabda, though it is no sound for mortal ears. To a Divine Ear all such movements would constitute the "music of the spheres". Were the human ear subtle enough, a living tree would present itself to it in the form of a particular sound which is the natural word for that tree. It is said of ether (Akasha) that its Guna or quality is sound (Shabda); that is, ether is the possibility of Spandana or vibration of any kind. It is that state of the primordial "material" substance (Prakriti) which makes motion or vibration of any kind possible (Shabdaguna akashah). The Brahman Svarupa or Cit is motionless. It is also known as Cidakasha. But this Akasha is not created. Cidakasha is the Brahman in which stress of any kind manifests itself, a condition from which the whole creation proceeds. This Cidakasha is known as the Shabda-Brahman through its Maya-shakti, which is the cause of all vibrations manifesting themselves as sound to the ear, as touch to the tactile sense, as color and form to the eye, as taste to the tongue and as odor to the nose. All mental functioning again is a form of vibration (Spandana). Thought is a vibration of mental substance just as the expression of thought in the form of the spoken word is a vibration affecting the ear. All Spandana presupposes heterogeneity (Vaishamya). Movement of any kind implies inequality of tensions. Electric current flows between two points because there is a difference of potential between them. Fluid flows from one point to another because there is difference of pressure. Heat travels because there is difference of temperature. In creation (Srishti) this condition of heterogeneity appears and renders motion possible. Akasha is the possibility of Spandana of any kind. Hence its precedence in the order of creation. Akasha means Brahman with Maya, which Mayashakti or (to use the words of Professor P. N. Mukhyopadhyaya) Stress is rendered actual, from a previous state of possibility of stress which is the Sakti's natural condition of equilibrium (Prakriti = Samyavastha). In dissolution, the Maya-Shakti of Brahman (according to the periodic law which is a fundamental postulate of Indian cosmogony) returns to homogeneity when in consequence Akasha disappears. This disappearance means that Shakti is equilibrated, and that therefore there is no further possibility of motion of any kind. As the Tantras say, the Divine Mother becomes one with Paramashiva.
The Sharada says -- From the Sakala Parameshvara who is Sacchidananda issued Shakti; from Shakti came Nada; and from Nada issued Bindu.
Sacchidanandavibhavat sakalat parameshvarat
Asicchhaktistato nado nadad bindusamudbhavah.
Here the Sakala Parameshvara is Shiva Tattva. Shakti is Shakti Tattva wherein are Samani, Vyapini, and Anjani Shaktis. Nada is the first produced source of Mantra, and the subtlest form of Shabda of which Mantra is a manifestation. Nada is threefold, as Mahanada or Nadanta and Nirodhini representing the first moving forth of the Shabda-Brahman as Nada, the filling up of the whole universe with Nadanta and the specific tendency towards the next state of unmanifested Shabda respectively. Nada in its three forms is in the Sadakhya Tattva. Nada becoming slightly operative towards the "speakable" (Vacya), (the former operation being in regard to the thinkable (Mantavya) ) is called Arddhacandra which develops into Bindu. Both of these are in Ishvara Tattva. This Mahabindu is threefold as the Kamakala. The undifferentiated Shabda-Brahman or Brahman as the immediate cause of the manifested Shabda and Artha is a unity of consciousness (Caitanya) which then expresses itself in three-fold function as the three Shaktis, Iccha, J˝ana, Kriya; the three Gunas, Sattva, Rajas, Tamas; the three Bindus (Karyya) which are Sun, Moon and Fire; the three Devatas, Rudra, Vishnu, Brahma and so forth. These are the product of the union of Prakasha and Vimarsha Shakti. This Triangle of Divine Desire is the Kamakala, or Creative Will and its first subtle manifestation, the Cause of the Universe which is personified as the Great Devi Tripurasundari, the Kameshvara and Kameshvari, the object of worship in the Agamas. Kamakalavilasa, as explained in the work of that name, is the manifestation of the union of Shiva and Shakti, the great "I" (Aham) which develops through the inherent power of its thought-activity (Vimarsha-Shakti) into the universe, unknowing as Jiva its true nature and the secret of its growth through Avidya Shakti. Here then there appears the duality of subject and object; of mind and matter, of the word (Shabda) and its meaning (Artha). The one is not the cause of the other, but each is inseparable from, and concomitant with, the other as a bifurcation of the undifferentiated unity of Shabda-Brahman whence they proceed. The one cosmic movement produces at the same time the mind and the object which it cognizes; names (Nama) and language (Shabda) on the one hand; and forms (Rupa) or object (Artha) on the other. These are all parts of one co-ordinated contemporaneous movement, and, therefore, each aspect of the process is related the one to the other. The genesis of Shabda is only one aspect of the creative process, namely, that in which the Brahman is regarded as the Author of Shabda and Artha into which the undifferentiated Shabda-Brahman divides Itself. Shakti is Shabda-Brahman ready to create both Shabda and Artha on the differentiation of the Parabindu into the Kamakala, which is the root (Mula) of all Mantras. Shabda-Brahman is Supreme "Speech" (Para-Vak) or Supreme Shabda (Para-Shabda). From this fourth state of Shabda, there are three others -- Pashyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari, which are the Shabda aspect of the stages whereby the seed of formless consciousness explicates into the multitudinous concrete ideas (expressed in language of the mental world) the counterpart of the objective universe. But for the last three states of sound the body is required and, therefore, they only exist in the Jiva. In the latter, the Shabda-Brahman is in the form of Kundalini Shakti in the Muladhara Cakra. In Kundalini is Parashabda. This develops into the "Matrikas" or "Little Mothers" which are the subtle forms of the gross manifested letters (Varna). The letters make up syllables (Pada) and syllables make sentences (Vakya), of which elements the Mantra is composed. Para Shabda in the body develops in Pashyanti Shabda or Shakti of general movements (Samanya Spanda) located in the tract from the Muladhara to the Manipura associated with Manas. It then in the tract upwards to the Anahata becomes Madhyama or Hiranyagarbha sound with particularized movement (Vishesha Spanda) associated with Buddhi-Tattva. Vayu proceeding upwards to the throat expresses itself in spoken speech which is Vaikhari or Virat Shabda. Now it is that the Mantra issues from the mouth and is heard by the ear. Because the one cosmic movement produces the ideating mind and its accompanying Shabda and the objects cognized or Artha, the creative force of the universe is identified with the Matrikas and Varnas, and Devi is said to be in the forms of the letters from A to Ha, which are the gross expressions of the forces called Matrika; which again are not different from, but are the same forces that evolve into the universe of mind and matter. These Varnas are, for the same reason, associated with certain vital and physiological centers which are produced by the same power that gives birth to the letters. It is by virtue of these centers and their controlled area in the body that all the phenomena of human psychosis run on, and keep man in bondage. The creative force is the union of Shiva and Shakti, and each of the letters (Varna) produced therefrom and thereby are part and parcel of that Force, and are, therefore, Shiva and Shakti in those particular forms. For this reason, the Tantra Shastra says that Devata and Mantra composed of letters, are one. In short, Mantras are made of letters (Varna). Letters are Matrika. Matrika is Shakti and Shakti is Shiva. Through Shakti (one with Shiva) Nada-Shakti, Bindu-Shakti, the Shabda-Brahman or Para Shabda, arise the Matrika, Varna, Pada, Vakya of the lettered Mantra or manifested Shabda.
But what is Shabda or "Sound"? Here the Shakta Tantra Shastra follows the Mimamsa doctrine of Shabda, with such modifications as are necessary to adapt it to its doctrine of Shakti. Sound (Shabda) which is quality (Guna) of ether (Akasha) and is sensed by hearing is twofold, namely, lettered (Varnatmaka Shabda) and unlettered or Dhvani (Dhvanyatmaka Shabda). The latter is caused by the striking of two things together, and is apparently meaningless. Shabda, on the contrary, which is Anahata (a term applied to the Heart-Lotus) is that Brahman sound which is not caused by the striking of two things together. Lettered sound is composed of sentences (Vakya), words (Pada) and letters (Varna). Such sound has a meaning. Shabda manifesting as speech is said to be eternal. This the Naiyayikas deny saying that it is transitory. A word is uttered and it is gone. This opinion the Mlmamsa denies saying that the perception of lettered sound must be distinguished from lettered sound itself. Perception is due to Dhvani caused by the striking of the air in contact with the vocal organs, namely, the throat, palate and tongue and so forth. Before there is Dhvani there must be the striking of one thing against another. It is not the mere striking which is the lettered Shabda. This manifests it. The lettered sound is produced by the formation of the vocal organs in contact with air; which formation is in response to the mental movement or idea which by the will thus seeks outward expression in audible sound. It is this perception which is transitory, for the Dhvani which manifests ideas in language is such. But lettered sound as it is in itself, that is, as the Consciousness manifesting Idea expressed in speech is eternal. It was not produced at the moment it was perceived. It was only manifested by the Dhvani. It existed before, as it exists after, such manifestation, just as a jar in a dark room which is revealed by a flash of lightning is not then produced, nor does it cease to exist on its ceasing to be perceived through the disappearance of its manifester, the lightning. The air in contact with the voice organs reveals sound in the form of the letters of the alphabet, and their combinations in words and sentences. The letters are produced for hearing by the person desiring to speak, and become audible to the ear of others through the operation of unlettered sound or Dhvani. The latter being a maifester only, lettered Shabda is something other than its manifester.
Before describing the nature of Shabda in its different form of development, it is necessary to understand the Indian psychology of perception. At each moment, the Jiva is subject to innumerable influences which from all quarters of the Universe pour upon him. Only those reach his Consciousness which attract his attention and are thus selected by his Manas. The latter attends to one or other of these sense-impressions and conveys it to the Buddhi. When an object (Artha) is presented to the mind, and perceived, the latter is formed into the shape of the object perceived. This is called a mental Vritti (modification) which it is the object of Yoga to suppress. The mind as a Vritti is thus a representation of the outer subject. But, in so far as it is such representation, the mind is as much an object as the outer one. The latter, that is, the physical object, is called the gross object (Sthula artha), and the former or mental impression is called the subtle object (Sukshma artha). But, besides the object, there is the mind which perceives it. It follows that the mind has two aspects, in one of which it is the perceiver, and in the other the perceived in the form of the mental formation (Vritti), which in creation precedes its outer projection, and after the creation follows as the impression produced in the mind by the sensing of a gross physical object. The mental impression and the physical object exactly correspond, for the physical object is in fact but a projection of the cosmic imagination, though it has the same reality as the mind has; no more and no less. The mind is thus both cognizer (Grahaka) and cognized Grahya), revealer (Prakashaka) and revealed (Prakashya), denoter (Vacaka) and denoted (Vacya). When the mind perceives an object, it is transformed into the shape of that object. So the mind which thinks of the Divinity which it worships (Ishtadevata) is, at length, through continued devotion, transformed into the likeness of that Devata. By allowing the Devata thus to occupy the mind for long, it becomes as pure as the Devata. This is a fundamental principle of Tantrik Sadhana or religious practice. The object perceived is called Artha, a term which comes from the root "Ri," which means to get, to know, to enjoy. Artha is that which is known and which, therefore, is an object of enjoyment. The mind as Artha, that is in the form of the mental impression, is an exact reflection of the outer object or gross Artha. As the outer object is Artha, so is the interior subtle mental form which corresponds to it. That aspect of the mind which cognizes is called Shabda or Nama (name), and that aspect in which it is its own object or cognized is called Artha or Rupa (form). The outer physical object, of which the latter is in the individual an impression, is also Artha or Rupa, and spoken speech is the outer Shabda. The mind is thus, from the Mantra aspect, Shabda and Artha, terms corresponding to the Vedantic Nama and Rupa or concepts and concepts objectified. The Mayavada Vedanta says that the whole creation is Nama and Rupa. Mind as Shabda is the Power (Shakti) the function of which is to distinguish and identify (Bhedasamsargavritti-Shakti).
Just as the body is causal, subtle and gross, so is Shabda, of which there are four states (Bhava) called Para, Pashyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari. Para sound is that which exists on the differentiation of the Mahabindu before actual manifestation. This is motionless, causal Shabda in Kundalini, in the Muladhara center of the body. That aspect of it in which it commences to move with a general, that is, non-particularized, motion (Samanya Spanda) is Pashyanti whose place is from the Muladhara to the Manipura Cakra, the next center. It is here associated with Manas. These represent the motionless and first moving Ishvara aspect of Shabda. Madhyama Shabda is associated with Buddhi. It is Hiranyagarbha sound (Hiranyagarbharupa) extending from Pashyanti to the heart. Both Madhyama sound which is the inner "naming" by the cognitive aspect of mental movement, as also its Artha or subtle (Sukshma) object (Artha) belong to the mental or subtle body (Sukshma or Linga Sharira). Perception is dependent on distinguishing and identification. In the perception of an object that part of the mind which identifies and distinguishes and thus "names" or the cognizing part is, from the Shabda aspect, subtle Shabda: and that part of it which takes the shape of, and thus constitutes, the object (a shape which corresponds with the outer thing) is subtle Artha. The perception of an object is thus consequent on the simultaneous functioning of the mind in its two-fold aspect as Shabda and Artha, which are in indissoluble relation with one another as cognizer (Grahaka) and cognized Grahya). Both belong to the subtle body. In creation Madhyama sound first appeared. At that movement there was no outer Artha. Then the Cosmic Mind projected this inner Madhyama Artha into the world of sensual experience and named it in spoken speech (Vaikhari Shabda). The last or Vaikhari Shabda is uttered speech, developed in the throat, issuing from the mouth. This is Virat Shabda. Vaikhari Shabda is therefore language or gross lettered sound. Its corresponding Artha is the physical or gross object which language denotes. This belongs to the gross body (Sthula Sharira). Madhyama Shabda is mental movement or ideation in its cognitive aspect and Madhyama Artha is the mental impression of the gross object. The inner thought-movement in its aspect as (Vacaka) and denoted (Vacya). When the mind perceives an object, it is transformed into the shape of that object. So the mind which thinks of the Divinity which it worships (Ishtadevata) is, at length, through continued devotion, transformed into the likeness of that Devata. By allowing the Devata thus to occupy the mind for long, it becomes as pure as the Devata. This is a fundamental principle of Tantrik Sadhana or religious practice. The object perceived is called Artha, a term which comes from the root "Ri," which means to get, to know, to enjoy. Artha is that which is known and which, therefore, is an object of enjoyment. The mind as Artha, that is in the form of the mental impression, is an exact reflection of the outer object or gross Artha. As the outer object is Artha, so is the interior subtle mental form which corresponds to it. That aspect of the mind which cognizes is called Shabda or Nama (name), and that aspect in which it is its own object or cognized is called Artha or Rupa (form). The outer physical object, of which the latter is in the individual an impression, is also Artha or Rupa, and spoken speech is the outer Shabda. The mind is thus, from the Mantra aspect, Shabda and Artha, terms corresponding to the Vedantic Nama and Rupa or concepts and concepts objectified. The Mayavada Vedanta says that the whole creation is Nama and Rupa. Mind as Shabda is the Power (Shakti) the function of which is to distinguish and identify (Bhedasamsargavritti-Shakti).
Just as the body is causal, subtle and gross, so is Shabda, of which there are four states (Bhava) called Para, Pashyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari. Para sound is that which exists on the differentiation of the Mahabindu before actual manifestation. This is motionless, causal Shabda in Kundalini, in the Muladhara center of the body. That aspect of it in which it commences to move with a general, that is, non-particularized, motion (Samanya Spanda) is Pashyanti whose place is from the Muladhara to the Manipura Cakra, the next center. It is here associated with Manas. These represent the motionless and first moving Ishvara aspect of Shabda. Madhyama Shabda is associated with Buddhi. It is Hiranyagarbha sound (Hiranyagarbharupa) extending from Pashyanti to the heart. Both Madhyama sound which is the inner "naming" by the cognitive aspect of mental movement, as also its Artha or subtle (Sukshma) object (Artha) belong to the mental or subtle body (Sukshma or Linga Sharira). Perception is dependent on distinguishing and identification. In the perception of an object that part of the mind which identifies and distinguishes and thus "names" or the cognizing part is, from the Shabda aspect, subtle Shabda: and that part of it which takes the shape of, and thus constitutes, the object (a shape which corresponds with the outer thing) is subtle Artha. The perception of an object is thus consequent on the simultaneous functioning of the mind in its two-fold aspect as Shabda and Artha, which are in indissoluble relation with one another as cognizer (Grahaka) and cognized Grahya). Both belong to the subtle body. In creation Madhyama sound first appeared. At that movement there was no outer Artha. Then the Cosmic Mind projected this inner Madhyama Artha into the world of sensual experience and named it in spoken speech (Vaikhari Shabda). The last or Vaikhari Shabda is uttered speech, developed in the throat, issuing from the mouth. This is Virat Shabda. Vaikhari Shabda is therefore language or gross lettered sound. Its corresponding Artha is the physical or gross object which language denotes. This belongs to the gross body (Sthula Sharira). Madhyama Shabda is mental movement or ideation in its cognitive aspect and Madhyama Artha is the mental impression of the gross object. The inner thought-movement in its aspect as Shabdartha, and considered both in its knowing aspect (Shabda) and as the subtle known object (Artha) belongs to the subtle body (Sukshma Sharira). The cause of these two is the first general movement towards particular ideation (Pashyanti) from the motionless cause Para Shabda or Supreme Speech. Two forms of inner or hidden speech, causal, subtle, accompanying mind movement thus precede and lead up to spoken language. The inner forms of ideating movement constitute the subtle, and the uttered sound the gross aspect of Mantra which is the manifested Shabda-Brahman.
The gross Shabda called Vaikhari or uttered speech, and the gross Artha or the physical object denoted by that speech are the projection of the subtle Shabda and Artha, through the initial activity of the Shabda-Brahman into the world of gross sensual perception. Therefore, in the gross physical world, Shabda means language, that is, sentences, words and letters which are the expression of ideas and are Mantra. In the subtle or mental world, Madhyama sound is the Shabda aspect of the mind which "names" in its aspect as cognizer, and Artha, is the same mind in its aspect as the mental object of its cognition. It is defined to be the outer in the form of the mind. It is thus similar to the state of dreams (Svapna), as Parashabda is the causal dreamless (Sushupti), and Vaikhari the waking (Jagrat) state. Mental Artha is a Samsara, an impression left on the subtle body by previous experience, which is recalled when the Jiva reawakes to world experience, and recollects the experience temporarily lost in the cosmic dreamless state (Sushupti) which is destruction (Pralaya). What is it which arouses this Samskara? As an effect (Kriya) it must have a cause (Karana). This Karana is the Shabda or Name (Nama) subtle or gross corresponding to that particular Artha. When the word "Ghata" is uttered, this evokes in the mind the image of an object, namely, a jar; just as the presentation of that object does. In the Hiranyagarbha state, Shabda as Samskara worked to evoke mental images. The whole world is thus Shabda and Artha, that is Name and Form (Nama, Rupa). These two are inseparably associated. There is no Shabda without Artha or Artha without Shabda. The Greek word "Logos" also means thought and word combined. There is thus a double line of creation, Shabda and Artha; ideas and language together with objects. Speech as that which is heard, or the outer manifestion of Shabda, stands for the Shabda creation. The Artha creation are the inner and outer objects seen by the mental or physical vision. From the cosmic creative standpoint, the mind comes first, and from it, is evolved the physical world according to the ripened Samskaras which led to the existence of the particular existing universe. Therefore, the mental Artha precedes the physical Artha which is an evolution in gross matter of the former. This mental state corresponds to that of dreams (Svapna), when man lives in the mental world only. After creation which is the waking ( Jagrat) state, there is for the individual an already existing parallelism of names and objects.
Uttered speech is a manifestation of the inner naming or thought. This thought-movement is similar in men of all races. When an Englishman or an Indian thinks of an object, the image is to both the same, whether evoked by the object itself or by the utterance of its name. For this reason possibly if thought-reading be accepted, a thought-reader whose cerebral center is en rapport with that of another, may read the hidden "speech," that is thought, of one whose spoken speech he cannot understand. Thus, whilst the thought-movement is similar in all men, the expression of it as Vaikhari Shabda differs. According to tradition there was once a universal language. According to the Biblical account, this was so, before the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel. Similarly there is, (a friend tells me though he has forgotten to send me the reference), in the Rigveda, a mysterious passage which speaks of the "Three Fathers and three Mothers," by whose action like that of the Elohim "all-comprehending speech" was made into that which was not so. Nor is this unlikely, when we consider that difference in gross speech is due to difference of races evolved in the course of time. If the instruments by which, and conditions under which thought is revealed in speech, were the same for all men then there would be but one language. But now this is not so. Racial characteristics and physical conditions, such as the nature of the vocal organs, climate, inherited impressions and so forth differ. So also does language. But for each particular man speaking any particular language, the uttered name of any object is the gross expression of his inner thought-movement. It evokes the idea and the idea is consciousness as mental operation. That operation can be so intensified as to be itself creative. This is Mantra-Caitanya.
It is said in the Tantra Shastras that the fifty letters of the alphabet are in the six bodily Cakras called Muladhara, Svadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddha and Aj˝a. These 50 letters multiplied by 20 are in the thousand-pealed Lotus or Sahasrara.
From the above account, it will be understood that, when it is said that the "Letters" are in the six bodily Cakras, it is not to be supposed that it is intended to absurdly affirm that the letters as written shapes, or as the uttered sounds which are heard by the ear are there. The letters in this sense, that is, as gross things, are manifested only in speech and writing. This much is clear. But the precise significance of this statement is a matter of some difficulty. There is in fact no subject which presents more difficulties than Mantravidya, whether considered generally or in relation to the particular matters in hand. I do not pretend to have elucidated all its difficulties.
What proceeds from the body is in it in subtle or causal form. Why, however, it may be asked are particular letters assigned to particular Cakras. I have heard several explanations given which do not, in my opinion, bear the test of examination.
If the arrangement be not artificial for the purpose of Sadhana, the simplest explanation is that which follows: From the Brahman are produced the five Bhutas, Ether, Air, Fire, Water, Earth, in the order stated; and from them issued the six Cakras from Aj˝a to Muladhara. The letters are (with the exception next stated) placed in the Cakras in their alphabetical order; that is, vowels as being the first letters or Shaktis of the consonants (which cannot be pronounced without them) are placed in Vishuddha Cakra: the first consonants Ka to Tha in Anahata and so forth until the Muladhara wherein are set the last four letters from Va to Sa. Thus in Aj˝a there are Ha and Ksha as being Brahmabijas. In the next or Vishuddha Cakra are the 16 vowels which originated first. Therefore, they are placed in Vishuddha the ethereal Cakra; ether also having originated first. The same principle applies to the other letters in the Cakras. namely, Ka, to Tha (12 letters and petals) in Anahata; Da to Pha (10) in Manipura; Ba to La (6) in Svadhisthana; and Va to Sa (4) in Muladhara. The connection between particular letters and the Cakras in which they are placed is further said to be due to the fact that in uttering any particular letter, the Cakra in which it is placed and its surroundings are brought into play. The sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet are classified according to the organs used in their articulation, and are guttural (Kantha), palatals (Talu), cerebrals (Murddha), dentals (Danta) and labials (Oshtha). When so articulated, each letter, it is said, "touches" the Cakra in which it is, and in which on this account it has been placed. In uttering them certain Cakras are affected; that is, brought into play. This, it is alleged, will be found to be so, if the letter is carefully pronounced and attention is paid to the accompanying bodily movement. Thus, in uttering Ha, the head (Aj˝a) is touched, and in uttering the deep-seated Va, the basal Cakra or Muladhara. In making the first sound the forehead is felt to be affected, and in making the last the lower part of the body around the root-lotus. This is the theory put forth as accounting for the position of the letters in the Cakras.
A Mantra is, like everything else, Shakti. But the mere utterance of a Mantra without more is a mere movement of the lips. The Mantra must be awakened (Prabuddha) just like any other Shakti if effect is to be had therefrom. This is the union of sound and idea through a knowledge of the Mantra and its meaning. The recitation of a Mantra without knowing its meaning is practically fruitless. I say "practically" because devotion, even though it be ignorant, is never wholly void of fruit. But a knowledge of the meaning is not enough; for it is possible by reading a book or receiving oral instructions to get to know the meaning of a Mantra, without anything further following. Each Mantra is the embodiment of a particular form of Consciousness or Shakti. This is the Mantra-Shakti. Consciousness or Shakti also exists in the form of the Sadhaka. The object then is to unite these two, when thought is not only in the outer husk, but is vitalized by will, knowledge, and action through its conscious center in union with that of the Mantra. The latter is Devata or a particular manifestation of Shakti: and the Sadhaka who identifies himself therewith, identifies himself with that Shakti. According to Yoga when the mind is concentrated on any object it is unified with it. When man is so identified with a Varna or Tattva, then the power of objects to bind ceases, and he becomes the controller. Thus, in Kundalini-Yoga, the static bodily Shakti pierces the Cakras, to meet Shiva-Shakti in the Sahasrara. As the Sadhaka is, through the power of the rising Shakti, identified with each of the Centers, Tattvas and Matrika Shaktis they cease to bind, until passing through all he attains Samadhi. As the Varnas are Shiva-Shakti, concentration on them draws the mind towards, and then unifies it with, the Devata which is one with the Mantra. The Devata of the Mantra is only the creative Shakti assuming that particular form. As already stated, Devata may be realized in any object, not merely in Mantras, Yantras, Ghatas, Pratimas or other ritual objects of worship. The same power which manifests to the ear in the Mantra is represented in the lines and curves of the Yantra which, the Kaulavali Tantra says, is the body of the Devata:
Yantram mantramayam proktam mantratma devataiva hi
Dehatmanor yatha bhedo yantra-devata yoshtatha.
The Yantra is thus the graphic symbol of the Shakti, indicated by the Mantra with which identification takes place. The Pratima or image is a grosser visual form of the Devata. But the Mantras are particular forms of Divine Shakti, the realization of which is efficacious to produce particular results. As in Kundalini- Yoga, so also here the identification of the Sadhaka with different Mantras gives rise to various Vibhutis or powers: for each grouping of the letters represents a new combination of the Matrika Shaktis. It is the eternal Shakti who is the life of the Mantra. Therefore, Siddhi in Mantra Sadhana is the union of the Sadhaka's.
Shakti with the Mantra Shakti; the identification of the Sadhaka with the Mantra is the identification of the knower (Vedaka), knowing (Vidya) and known (Vedya) or the Sadhaka, Mantra and Devata. Then the Mantra works. The mind must feed, and is always feeding, something. It seizes the Mantra and works its way to its heart. When there, it is the Citta or mind of the Sadhaka unified with the Shakti of the Mantra which works. Then subject and object, in its Mantra form, meet as one. By meditation the Sadhaka gains unity with the Devata behind, as it were, the Mantra and Whose form the Mantra is. The union of the Sadhaka of the Mantra and the Devata of the Mantra is the result of the effort to realize permanently the incipient desire for such union. The will towards Divinity is a dynamic force which pierces everything and finds there Divinity itself. It is because Westerners and some Westernized Hindus do not understand the principles of Mantra; principles which lie at the center of Indian religious theory and practice, that they see nothing in it where they do not regard it as gross superstition. It must be admitted that Mantra Sadhana is often done ignorantly. Faith is placed in externals and the inner meaning is often lost. But even such ignorant worship is better than none at all. "It is better to bow to Narayana with one's shoes on than never to bow at all." Much also is said of "vain repetitions". What Christ condemned was not repetition but "vain" repetition. That man is a poor psychologist who does not know the effect of repetition, when done with faith and devotion. It is a fact that the inner kingdom yields to violence and can be taken by assault. Indeed, it yields to nothing but the strong will of the Sadhaka, for it is that will in its purest and fullest strength. By practice with the Mantra, the Devata is invoked. This means that the mind itself is Devata when unified with Devata. This is attained through repetition of the Mantra (Japa).
Japa is compared to the action of a man shaking a sleeper to wake him up. The Sadhaka's own consciousness is awakened. The two lips are Shiva and Shakti. The movement in utterance is the "coition" (Maithuna) of the two. Shabda which issues therefrom is in the nature of Bindu. The Devata then appearing is, as it were, the son of the Sadhaka. It is not the supreme Devata who appears (for It is actionless), but in all cases an emanation produced by the Sadhaka's worship for his benefit only. In the case of worshippers of the Shiva-Mantra, a Boy-Shiva (Bala-Shiva) appears who is then made strong by the nurture which the Sadhaka gives him. The occultist will understand all such symbolism to mean that the Devata is a form of the Consciousness which becomes the Boy-Shiva, and which, when strengthened is the full-grown Divine Power Itself. All Mantras are forms of consciousness (Vij˝anarupa), and when the Mantra is fully practiced it enlivens the Samskara, and the Artha appears to the mind. Mantras used in worship are thus a form of the Samskaras of Jivas; the Artha of which manifests to the consciousness which is pure. The essence of all this is -- concentrate and vitalize thought and will power, that is Shakti.
The Mantra method is Shaktopaya Yoga working with concepts and form, whilst Shambhavopaya Yoga has been well said to be a more direct attempt at intuition of Shakti, apart from all passing concepts, which, as they cannot show the Reality, only serve to hide it the more from one's view and thus maintain bondage. These Yoga methods are but examples of the universal principle of Sadhana, that the Sadhaka should first work with and through form, and then, so far as may be, by a meditation which dispenses with it.
It has been pointed out to me by Professor Surendra Nath Das Gupta that this Varna-Sadhana, so important a content of the Tantra Shastra, is not altogether its creation, but, as I have often in other matters observed, a development of ancient Vaidik teaching. For it was, he says, first attempted in the Aranyaka Epoch upon the Pradkopasana on which the Tantrik Sadhana is, he suggests, based; though, of course, that Shastra has elaborated the notion into a highly complicated system which is so peculiar a feature of its religious discipline. There is thus a synthesis of this Pratikopasana with Yoga method, resting as all else upon a Vedantic basis.
The world has never altogether been without the Wisdom, nor its Teachers. The degree and manner in which it has been imparted have, however, necessarily varied according to the capacities of men to receive it. So also have the symbols by which it has been conveyed. These symbols further have varying significance according to the spiritual advancement of the worshipper. This question of degree and variety of presentation have led to the superficial view that the difference in beliefs negatives existence of any commonly established Truth. But if the matter be regarded more deeply, it will be seen that whilst there is one essential Wisdom, its revelation has been more or less complete according to symbols evolved by, and, therefore, fitting to, particular racial temperaments and characters. Symbols are naturally misunderstood by those to whom the beliefs they typify are unfamiliar, and who differ in temperament from those who have evolved them. To the ordinary Western mind the symbols of Hindusim are often repulsive and absurd. It must not, however, be forgotten that some of the Symbols of Western Faiths have the same effect on the Hindu. From the picture of the "Slain Lamb," and other symbols in terms of blood and death, he naturally shrinks in disgust. The same effect on the other hand, is not seldom produced in the Western at the sight of the terrible forms in which India has embodied Her vision of the undoubted Terrors which exist in and around us. All is not smiling in this world. Even amongst persons of the same race and indeed of the same faith we may observe such differences. Before the Catholic Cultus of the "Sacred Heart" had overcome the opposition which it at first encountered, and for a considerable time after, its imagery was regarded with aversion by some who spoke of it in terms which would be to-day counted as shocking irreverence. These differences are likely to exist so long as men vary in mental attitude and temperament, and until they reach the stage in which, having discovered the essential truths, they become indifferent to the mode in which they are presented. We must also in such matters distinguish between what a symbol may have meant and what it now means. Until quite recent times, the English peasant folk and others danced around the flower-wreathed Maypole. That the pole originally (like other similar forms) represented the great Linga admits of as little doubt as that these folk, who in recent ages danced around it, were ignorant of that fact. The Bishop's mitre is said to be the head of a fish worn by ancient near-eastern hierophants. But what of that? It has other associations now.
Let us illustrate these general remarks by a short study of one portion of the Kali symbolism which affects so many, who are not Hindus, with disgust or horror. Kali is the Deity in that aspect in which It withdraws all things which It had created, into Itself. Kali is so called because She devours Kala (Time) and then resumes Her own dark formlessness. The scene is laid in the cremation ground (Shmashana), amidst white sun-dried bones and fragments of flesh, gnawed and pecked at by carrion beasts and birds. Here the "heroic" (Vira) worshipper (Sadhaka) performs at dead of night his awe-inspiring rituals. Kali is set in such a scene, for She is that aspect of the great Power which withdraws all things into Herself at, and by, the dissolution of the universe. He alone worships without fear, who has abandoned all worldly desires, and seeks union with Her as the One Blissful and Perfect Experience. On the burning ground all worldly desires are burnt away. She is naked, and dark like a threatening rain-cloud. She is dark, for She who is Herself beyond mind and speech, reduces all things into that worldly, "nothingness," which, as the Void (Shunya) of all which we now know, is at the same time the All (Purna) which is Peace. She is naked, being clothed in space alone (Digambari), because the great Power is unlimited; further, She is in Herself beyond Maya (Mayatita); that power of Hers which creates all universes. She stands upon the white corpse-like (Shavarupa) body of Shiva. He is white, because he is the illuminating transcendental aspect of consciousness. He is inert, because he is the changeless aspect of the Supreme and She, the apparently changing aspect of the same. In truth, She and He are one and the same, being twin aspects of the One who is changelessness in, and exists as, change. Much might be said in explanation of these and other symbols such as Her loosened hair, the lolling tongue, the thin stream of blood which trickles from the corners of the mouth, the position of Her feet, the apron of dead men's hands around Her waist, Her implements and so forth. (See Hymn to Kali.) Here I take only the garland of freshly-severed heads which hangs low from Her neck.
Some have conjectured that Kali was originally the Goddess of the dark-skinned inhabitants of the Vindhya Hills taken over by the Brahmanas into their worship. One of them has thought that She was a deified Princess of these folk, who fought against the white in-coming Aryans. He pointed to the significant fact that the severed heads are those of white men. The Western may say that Kali was an objectification of the Indian mind, making a Divinity of the Power of Death. An Eastern may reply that She is the Sanketa (symbol) which is the effect of the impress of a Spiritual Power on the Indian mind. I do not pause to consider these matters here.
The question before us is, what does this imagery mean now, and what has it meant for centuries past to the initiate in Her symbolism? An exoteric explanation describes this Garland as made up of the heads of Demons, which She, as a power of righteousness, has conquered. According to an inner explanation, given in the Indian Tantra Shastra, this string of heads is the Garland of Letters (Varnamala), that is, the fifty, and as some count it, fifty-one letters, of the Sanskrit Alphabet. The same interpretation is given in the Buddhist Demchog Tantra in respect of the garland worn by the great Heruka. These letters represent the universe of names and forms (Namarupa), that is, Speech (Shabda) and its meaning or object (Artha) She the Devourer of all "slaughters" (that is, withdraws), both into Her undivided Consciousness at the Great Dissolution of the Universe which they are. She wears the Letters which, She as the Creatrix bore. She wears the Letters which, She as the Dissolving Power, takes to Herself again. A very profound doctrine is connected with these Letters which space prevents me from fully entering into here. This has been set out in greater detail in the Serpent Power (Kundalini) which projects Consciousness, in Its true nature blissful and beyond all dualism, into the World of good and evil. The movements of Her projection are indicated by the Letters subtle and gross which exist on the Petals of the inner bodily centers or Lotuses.
Very shortly stated, Shabda which literally means Sound -- here lettered sound -- is in its causal state (Para-Shabda) known as "Supreme Speech" (Para Vak). This is the Shabda-Brahman or Logos; that aspect of Reality or Consciousness (Cit) in which it is the immediate cause of creation; that is of the dichotomy in Consciousness which is "I" and "This", subject and object, mind and matter. This condition of causal Shabda is the Cosmic Dreamless State (Sushupti). This Logos, awakening from its causal sleep, "sees," that is, creatively ideates the universe, and is then known as Pashyanti Shabda. As Consciousness "sees" or ideates, forms arise in the Creative Mind, which are themselves impressions (Samskara) carried over from previous worlds, which ceased to exist as such, when the Universe entered the state of causal dreamless sleep on the previous dissolution. These re-arise as the formless Consciousness awakes to enjoy once again sensual life in the world of forms.
The Cosmic Mind is at first itself both cognizing subject (Grahaka) and cognized object (Grahya); for it has not yet projected its thought into the plane of Matter; the mind as subject cognizer is Shabda, and the mind as the object cognized, that is, the mind in the form of object is subtle Artha. This Shabda called Madhyama Shabda is an "Inner Naming" or "Hidden Speech". At this stage, that which answers to the spoken letters (Varna) are the "Little Mothers" or Matrika, the subtle forms of gross speech. There is at this stage a differentiation of Consciousness into subject and object, but the latter is now within and forms part of the Self. This is the state of Cosmic Dreaming (Svapna). This "Hidden Speech" is understandable of all men if they can get in mental rapport one with the other. So a thought-reader can, it is said, read the thoughts of a man whose spoken speech he cannot understand. The Cosmic Mind then projects these mental images on to the material plane, and they there become materialized as gross physical objects (Sthula artha) which make impressions from without, on the mind of the created consciousness. This is the cosmic waking state (Jagrat). At this last stage, the thought-movement expresses itself through the vocal organs in contact with the air as uttered speech (Vaikhari Shabda) made up of letters, syllables and sentences. The physical unlettered sound which manifests Shabda is called Dhvani. The lettered sound is manifested Shabda or Name (Nama), and the physical objects denoted by speech are the gross Artha or form (Rupa).
This manifested speech varies in men, for their individual and racial characteristics and the conditions, such as country and climate in which they live, differ. There is a tradition that, there was once a universal speech before the building of the Tower of Babel, signifying the confusion of tongues. As previously stated, a friend has drawn my attention to a passage in Rigveda which he interprets in a similar sense. For, it says, that the Three Fathers and the Three Mothers, like the Elohim, made (in the interest of creation) all-comprehending speech into that which was not so.
Of these letters and names and their meaning or objects, that is, concepts and concepts objectified, the whole Universe is composed. When Kali withdraws the world, that is, the names and forms which the letters signify, the dualism in consciousness, which is creation, vanishes. There is neither "I" (Aham) nor "This" (Idam) but the one non-dual Perfect Experience which Kali in Her own true nature (Svarupa) is. In this way Her garland is understood.
"Surely," I hear it said, "not by all. Does every Hindu worshipper think such an ordinary Italian peasant knows of, or can understand, the subtleties of either the catholic mystics or doctors of theology. When, however, the Western man undertakes to depict and explain Indian symbolism, he should, in the interest both of knowledge and fairness, understand what it means both to the high as well as to the humble worshipper.
Sadhana is that, which produces Siddhi or the result sought, be it material or spiritual advancement. It is the means or practice by which the desired end may be attained and consists in the training and exercise of the body and psychic faculties, upon the gradual perfection of which Siddhi follows. The nature or degree of spiritual Siddhi depends upon the progress made towards the realization of the Atma whose veiling vesture the body is. The means employed are numerous and elaborate, such as worship (Puja) exterior or mental, Shastric learning, austerities (Tapas), Japa or recitation of Mantra, Hymns, meditation, and so forth. The Sadhana is necessarily of a nature and character appropriate to the end sought. Thus Sadhana for spiritual knowledge (Brahmaj˝ana) which consists of external control (Dama) over the ten senses (Indriya), internal control (Sama) over the mind (Buddhi, Ahamkara, Manas), discrimination between the transitory and eternal, renunciation of both the world and heaven (Svarga), differs from the lower Sadhana of the ordinary householder, and both are obviously of a kind different from that prescribed and followed by the practitioners of malevolent magic (Abhicara). Sadhakas again vary in their physical, mental and moral qualities and are thus divided into four classes, Mridu, Madhya, Adhimatraka, and the highest Adhimatrama who is qualified (Adhikari) for all forms of Yoga. In a similar way, the Shakta Kaulas are divided into the Prakrita or common Kaula following Viracara with the Pancatattvas described in the following Chapter; the middling (Madhyama) Kaula who (may be) follows the same or other Sadhana but who is of a higher type, and the highest Kaula (Kaulikottama) who, having surpassed all ritualism, meditates upon the Universal Self. These are more particularly described in the next Chapter.
Until a Sadhaka is Siddha, all Sadhana is or should be undertaken with the authority and under the direction of a Guru or Spiritual Teacher and Director. There is in reality but one Guru and that is the Lord (Ishvara) Himself. He is the Supreme Guru as also is Devi His Power one with Himself. But He acts through man and human means. The ordinary human Guru is but the manifestation on earth of the Adi-natha Mahakala and Mahakali, the Supreme Guru abiding in Kailasa. As the Yogini Tantra (Ch. 1) says Guroh sthanam hi kailasam. He it is who is in, and speaks with the voice of, the Earthly Guru. So, to turn to an analogy in the West, it is Christ who speaks in the voice of the Pontifex Maximus when declaring faith and morals, and in the voice of the priest who confers upon the penitent absolution for his sins. It is not the man who speaks in either case but God through him. It is the Guru who initiates and helps, and the relationship between him and the disciple (Shishya) continues until the attainment of spiritual Siddhi. It is only from him that Sadhana and Yoga are learnt and not (as it is commonly said) from a thousand Shastras. As the Shatkarmadipika says, mere book-knowledge is useless.
Pustake likhitavidya yena sundari jap yate
Siddhir na jayate tasya kalpakoti-shatairapi.
(O Beauteous one! he who does Japa of a Vidya (= Mantra) learnt from a book can never attain Siddhi even if he persists for countless millions of years.)
Manu therefore says, "of him who gives natural birth, and of him who gives knowledge of the Veda, the giver of sacred knowledge is the more venerable father." The Tantra Shastras also are full of the greatness of the Guru. He is not to be thought of as a mere man. There is no difference between Guru, Mantra and Deva. Guru is father, mother and Brahman. Guru, it is said. can save from the wrath of Shiva, but in no way, can one be saved from the wrath of the Guru. Attached to this greatness there is, however, responsibility; for the sins of the disciple may recoil upon him. The Tantra Shastras deal with the high qualities which are demanded of a Guru and the good qualities which are to be looked for in an intending disciple (see for instance Tantrasara, Ch. I). Before initiation, the Guru examines and tests the intending disciple for a specified period. The latter's moral qualifications are purity of soul (Shuddhatma), control of the senses (Jitendriya), the following of the Purushartha or aims of all sentient being (Purusharthaparayana). Amongst others, those who are lewd (Kamuka), adulterous (Para-daratura), addicted to sin, ignorant, slothful and devoid of religion should be rejected (see Matsyasukta Tantra, XIII; Pranatoshini 108; Maharudrayamala, I. XV, II. ii; Kularnava Tantra, Ch. XIII). The good Sadhaka who is entitled to the knowledge of all Shastra is he who is pure-minded, self-controlled, ever engaged in doing good to all beings, free from false notions of dualism, attached to the speaking of, taking shelter with and ever living in the consciousness of, the Supreme Brahman (Gandharva Tantra, Ch. ii).
All orthodox Hindus of all divisions of worshippers submit themselves to the direction of a Guru. The latter initiates. The Vaidik initiation into the twice-born classes is by the Upanayana. This is for the first three castes only, viz., Brahmana (priesthood and teaching), Kshattriya (warrior) Vaishya (merchant). All are (it is said) by birth Shudra (Janmana jayate Shudrah) and by sacrament (that is, the Upanayana ceremony) twice-born. By study of the Vedas one is a Vipra. And he who has knowledge of the Brahman is a Brahmana (Brahma j˝anati brahmanah). From this well-known verse it will be seen how few there really are, who are entitled to the noble name of Brahmana. The Tantrik Mantra-initiation is a different ceremony and is for all castes. Initiation (Diksha) is the giving of Mantra by the Guru. The latter should first establish the life of the Guru in his own body; that is the vital power (Pranashakti) of the Supreme Guru in the thousand-petalled lotus (Sahasrara). He then transmits it to the disciple. As an image is the instrument (Yantra) in which Divinity (Devatva) inheres, so also is the body of the Guru. The candidate is prepared for initiation, fasts and lives chastely. Initiation (which follows) gives spiritual knowledge and destroys sin. As one lamp is lit at the flame of another, so the divine Shakti consisting of Mantra is communicated from the Guru's body to that of the Shishya. I need not be always repeating that this is the theory and ideal, which to-day is generally remote from the fact. The Supreme Guru speaks with the voice of the earthly Guru at the time of giving Mantra. As the Yogini Tantra (Ch. I) says:
Mantra-pradana-kale hi manushe Naganandini
Adhishthanam bhavet tatra Mahakalasya Shamkari
Ato na guruta devi manushe natra samshayah.
(At the time the Mantra is communicated, there is in man (i.e., Guru) the Presence of Mahakala. There is no doubt that man is not the Guru.) Guru is the root (Mula) of initiation (Diksha). Diksha is the root of Mantra. Mantra is the root of Devata, and Devata is the root of Siddhi. The Mundamala Tantra says that Mantra is born of Guru, and Devata of Mantra, so that the Guru is in the position of Father's Father to the Ishtadevata. Without initiation, Japa (recitation) of the Mantra, Puja, and other ritual acts are useless. The Mantra chosen for the candidate must be suitable (Anukula). Whether a Mantra is Svakula or Akula to the person about to be initiated is ascertained by the Kulakulacakra, the zodiacal circle called Rashicakra and other Cakras which may be found in the Tantrasara. Initiation by a woman is efficacious; that by the mother is eightfold so (ib.). For, according to the Tantra Shastra, a woman with the necessary qualifications, may be a Guru and give initiation. The Kulagurus are four in number, each of them being the Guru of the preceding ones. There are also three lines of Gurus (see The Great Liberation).
So long as the Shakti communicated by a Guru to his disciple is not fully developed, the relation of Teacher and Director and Disciple exists. A man is Shishya so long as he is Sadhaka. When, however, Siddhi is attained, Guru and Shishya, as also all other dualisms, and relations, disappear. Besides the preliminary initiation, there are a number of other initiations or consecrations (Abhisheka) which mark greater and greater degrees of advance from Shaktabhisheka when entrance is made on the path of Shakta Sadhana to Purnadikshabhisheka and Mahapurnadikshabhisheka also called Virajagrahanabhisheka. On the attainment of perfection in the last grade the Sadhaka performs his own funeral rite (Shraddha), makes Purnahuti with his sacred thread and crown lock. The relation of Guru and Shishya now ceases. From this point he ascends by himself until he realizes the great saying So'ham "He I am," Sa'ham "She I am". Now he is Jivan-mukta and Paramahamsa. The word Sadhana comes from the root Sadh, to exert or strive, and Sadhana is therefore striving, practice, discipline and worship in order to obtain success or Siddhi, which may be of any of the kinds, worldly or spiritual, desired, but which, on the religious side of the Shastras, means spiritual advancement with its fruit of happiness in this world and in Heaven and at length Liberation (Moksha). He who practices Sadhana is called (if a man) Sadhaka or (if a woman) Sadhika. But men vary in capacity, temperament, knowledge and general advancement, and therefore the means (for Sadhana also means instrument) by which they are to be led to Siddhi must vary. Methods which are suitable for highly advanced men will fail as regards the ignorant and undeveloped for they cannot understand them. What suits the latter has been long out-passed by the former. At least that is the Hindu view. It is called Adhikara or competency. Thus some few men are competent (Adhikari) to study Vedanta and to follow high mental rituals and Yoga processes. Others are not. Some are grown-up children and must be dealt with as such . As all men, and indeed all beings, are, as to their psychical and physical bodies, made of the primordial substance Prakriti-Shakti (Prakrityatmaka), as Prakriti is Herself the three Gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, and as all things and beings are composed of these three Gunas in varying proportions, it follows that men are divisible into three general classes, namely, those in which the Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas Gunas, predominate respectively. There are, of course, degrees in each of these three classes. Amongst Sattvika men, in whom Sattva predominates, some are more and some less Sattvika than others and so on with the rest. These three classes of temperament (Bhava) are known in the Shakta Tantras as the Divine (Divyabhava), Heroic (Virabhava) and Animal (Pashubhava) temperaments respectively. Bhava is defined as a property or quality (Dharma) of the Manas or mind (Pranatoshini, 570). The Divyabhava is that in which Sattva-guna predominates only, because it is to be noted that none of the Gunas are, or ever can be, absent. Prakriti cannot be partitioned. Prakriti is the three Gunas. Sattva is essentially the spiritual Guna, for it is that which manifests Spirit or Pure Consciousness (Cit). A Sattvika man is thus a spiritual man. His is a calm, pure, equable, refined, wise, spiritual temperament, free of materiality and of passion, or he possesses these qualities imperfectly, and to the degree that he possesses them he is Sattvik. Pashubhava is, on the other hand, the temperament of the man in whom Tamas guna prevails and produces such dark characteristics as ignorance, error, apathy, sloth and so forth. He is called a Pashu or animal because Tamas predominates in the merely animal nature as compared with the disposition of spiritually-minded men. He is also Pashu because he is bound by the bonds (Pasha). The term pasha comes from the root Pash to bind. The Kularnava enumerates eight bonds, namely, pity (Daya, of the type which Taoists call "inferior benevolence" as opposed to the divine compassion or Karuna), ignorance and delusion (Moha), fear (Bhaya), shame (Lajja), disgust (Ghrina), family (Kula), habit and observance (Shila), and caste (Varna). Other larger enumerations are given. The Pashu is the man caught by the world, in ignorance and bondage. Bhaskararaya, on the Sutra "have no converse with a Pashu," says that a Pashu is Bahirmukha or outward looking, seeing the outside only of things and not inner realities. The injunction, he says, only applies to converse as regards things spiritual.
The Shaiva Shastra speaks of three classes of Pashu, namely, Sakala bound by the three Pashas, Anu, Bheda, Karma, that is, limited knowledge, the seeing of the one Self as many by the operation of Maya, and action and its product. These are the three impurities (Mala) called Anavamala, Mayamala, and Karmamala. The Sakala Jiva or Pashu is bound by all three, the Pralayakala by the first and last, and the Vij˝anakala by the first only. (See as to these the diagram of the 36 Tattvas.) He who is wholly freed of the remaining impurity of Anu is Shiva Himself. Here however Pashu is used in a different sense, that is, as denoting the creature as contrasted with the Lord (Pati). In this sense, Pashu is a name for all men. In the Shakta use of the term, though all men are certainly Pashu, as compared with the Lord, yet as between themselves one may be Pashu (in the narrower sense above stated) and the other not. Some men are more Pashu than others. It is a mistake to suppose that the Pashu is necessarily a bad man. He may be and often is a good one. He is certainly better than a bad Vira who is really no Vira at all. He is, however, not, according to this Shastra, an enlightened man in the sense that the Vira or Divya is, and he is generally marked by various degrees of ignorance and material-mindedness. It is the mark of a bad Pashu to be given over to gross acts of sin. Between these two comes the Hero or Vira of whose temperament (Virabhava) so much is heard in the Shakta Shastras. In him there is prevalent the strongly active Rajas Guna. Rajas is always active either to incite Tamas or Sattva. In the former case the result is a Pashu, in the latter case either a Vira or Divya. Where Sattva approaches perfection of development there is the Divyabhava. Sattva is here firmly established in calm and in high degree. But, until such time, and whilst man who has largely liberated himself through knowledge of the influence of Tamas, is active to promote Sattva, he is a Vira. Being heroic, he is permitted to meet his enemy Tamas face to face, counter-attacking where the lower developed man flees away. It has been pointed out by Dr. Garbe (Philosophy of Ancient India, 481), as before him by Baur, that the analogous Gnostic classification of men as material, psychical, and spiritual also corresponds (as does this) to the three Gunas of the Samkhya Darshana.
Even in its limited Shakta sense, there are degrees of Pashu, one man being more so than another. The Pashas are the creations of Maya Shakti. The Devi therefore is pictured as bearing them. But as She is in Her form as Maya and Avidya Shakti the cause of bondage, so as Vidya Shakti She breaks the bonds (Pashupasa-Vimocini) (see v. 78, Lalita-sahasranama), and is thus the Liberatrix of the Pashu from his bondage.
Nitya Tantra says that the Bhava of the Divya is the best, the Vira the next best, and Pashu the lowest. In fact, the state of the last is the starting point in Sadhana, that of the first the goal, and that of the Vira is the stage of one who having ceased to be a Pashu is on the way to the attainment of the goal. From being a Pashu, a man rises in this or some other birth to be a Vira and Divyabhava or Devata-bhava is awakened through Virabhava. The Picchila Tantra says (X, see also Utpatti Tantra, LXIV) that the difference between the Vira and the Divya lies in the Uddhatamanasa, that is, passionateness or activity by which the former is characterized, and which is due to the great effort of Rajas to procure for the Sadhaka a Sattvik state. Just as there are degrees in the Pashu state, so there are classes of Viras, some being higher than others.
The Divya Sadhaka also is of higher or lower kinds. The lowest is only a degree higher than the best type of Vira. The highest completely realize the Deva-nature wherein Sattva exists in a state of lasting stability. Amongst this class are the Tattvaj˝ani and Yogi. The latter are emancipated from all ritual. The lower Divya class may apparently take part in the ritual of the Vira. The object and end of all Sadhana, whether of Pashu or Vira or Divya, is to develop Sattvaguna. The Tantras give descriptions of each of these three classes. The chief general distinction, which is constantly repeated, between the pure Pashu (for there are also Vibhavapashus) and the Vira, is that the former does not, and the latter does, follow the Pa˝catattva ritual, in the form prescribed for Viracara and described in the next Chapter. Other portions of the description are characteristics of the Tamasik character of the Pashu. So Kubjika Tantra (VII) after describing this class of man to be the lowest, points out various forms of their ignorance. So it says that he talks ill of other classes of believers. That is, he is sectarian-minded and decries other forms of worship than his own, a characteristic of the Pashu the world over. He distinguishes one Deva from another as if they were really different and not merely the plural manifestations of the One. So, the worshipper of Rama may abuse the worshipper of Krishna, and both decry the worship of Shiva or Devi. As the Veda says, the One is called by various names. Owing to his ignorance "he is always bathing," that is, he is always thinking about external and ceremonial purity. This, though good in its way, is nothing compared with internal purity of mind. He has ignorant or wrong ideas, or want of faith, concerning (Shakta) Tantra Shastra, Sacrifices, Guru, Images, and Mantra, the last of which he thinks to be mere letters only and not Devata (see Pranatoshini, 547, et seq., Picchila, X). He follows the Vaidik rule relating to Maithuna on the fifth day when the wife is Ritusnata (Ritu-kalam vina devi ramanam parivrajayet). Some of the descriptions of the Pashu seem to refer to the lowest class. Generally, however, one may say that from the standpoint of a Viracari, all those who follow Vedacara, Vaishnavacara and Shaivacara are Pashus. The Kubjika Tantra (VII) gives a description of the Divya. Its eulogies would seem to imply that in all matters which it mentions, the Pashu is lacking. But this, as regards some matters, is Stuti (praise) only. Thus he has a strong faith in Veda, Shastra, Deva and Guru, and ever speaks the truth which, as also other good qualities, must be allowed to the Pashu. He avoids all cruelty and other bad action and regards alike both friend and foe. He avoids the company of the irreligious who decry the Devata. All Devas he regards as beneficial, worshipping all without drawing distinctions. Thus, for instance, whilst an orthodox upcountry Hindu of the Pashu kind who is a worshipper of Rama cannot even bear to hear the name of Krishna, though both Rama and Krishna are each Avatara of the same Vishnu, the Divya would equally reverence both knowing each to be an aspect of the one Great Shakti, Mother of Devas and Men. This is one of the first qualities of the high Shakta worshipper. As a worshipper of Shakti he bows down at the feet of women regarding them as his Guru (Strinam padatalam drishtva guruvad bhava pet sada). He offers everything to the supreme Devi regarding the whole universe as pervaded by Stri (Shakti, not "woman") and as Devata. Shiva is (he knows) in all men. The whole universe (Brahmanda) is pervaded by Shiva Shakti.
The description cited also deals with his ritual, saying that he does daily ablutions, Sandhya, wears clean cloth, the Tripundra mark in ashes or red sandal, and ornaments of Rudraksha beads. He does Japa (recitation of Mantras external and mental) and worship (Arcana). He worships the Pitris and Devas and performs all the daily rites. He gives daily charity. He meditates upon his Guru daily, and does worship thrice daily and, as a Bhairava, worships Parameshvari with Divyabhava. He worships Devi at night
(Vaidik worship being by day), and after food (ordinary Vaidik worship being done before taking food). He makes obeisance to the Kaula Shakti (Kulastri) versed in Tantra and Mantra, whoever She be and whether youthful or old. He bows to the Kula-trees (Kulavriksha). He ever strives for the attainment and maintenance of Devatabhava and is himself of the nature of a Devata.
Portions of this description appear to refer to the ritual and not Avadhuta Divya, and to this extent applicable to the high Vira also. The Mahanirvana (I. 56) describes the Divya as all but a Deva, ever pure of heart, to whom all opposites are alike (Dvandvatita) such as pain and pleasure, heat and cold, who is free from attachment to worldly things, the same to all creatures and forgiving. The text I have published, therefore, says that there is no Divya-bhava in the Kaliyuga nor Pashubhava; for the Pashu (or his wife) must, with his own hand, collect leaves, flowers and fruit, and cook his food, which regulations and others are impossible or difficult in the Kali age. As a follower of Smriti, he should not "see the face of a Shudra at worship, or even think of woman" (referring to the Pa˝catattva ritual). The Shyamarcana (cited in Haratattvadidhiti, 348) speaks to the same effect. On the other hand, there is authority for the proposition that in the Kaliyuga there is only Pashubhava. Thus, the Pranatoshini (510-517) cites a passage purporting to come from the Mahanirvana which is in direct opposition to the above:
Divpa-vira-mayo bhavah kalau nasti kadacana
Kevalampashu-bhavena mantra-siddhir bhaven nrinam.
(In the Kali age there is no Divya or Virabhava. It is only by the Pashu-bhava that men may attain Mantra-siddhi.)
I have discussed this latter question in greater detail in the introduction to the sixth volume of the series of "Tantrik Texts".
Dealing with the former passage from the Mahanirvana, the Commentator explains it as meaning "that the conditions and characters of the Kaliyuga are not such as to be productive of Pashubhava, or to allow of its Acara (in the sense of the strict Vaidik ritual). No one, he says, can now-a-days fully perform the Vedacara, Vaishnavacara, and Shaiva-cara rites without which the Vaidik and Pauranic Yaj˝a and Mantra are fruitless. No one now goes through the Brahmacarya Ashrama or adopts, after the fiftieth year, Vanaprastha. Those whom the Vaidik rites do not control cannot expect the fruit of their observances. On the contrary, men have taken to drink, associate with the low and are fallen, as are also those who associate with them. There can, therefore, be no pure Pashu. (That is apparently whilst there may be a natural Pashu disposition the Vaidik rites appropriate to this bhava cannot be carried out.) Under these circumstances, the duties prescribed by the Vedas which are appropriate for the Pashu being incapable of performance, Shiva, for the liberation of men of the Kali age, has proclaimed the Agama. Now there is no other way."
We are, perhaps, therefore, correct in saying that it comes to this: In a bad age, such as the Kali, Divya men are (to say the least) very scarce, though common-sense and experience must, I suppose, allow for exceptions. Whilst the Pashu natural disposition exists, the Vaidik ritual which he should follow cannot be done. It is in fact largely obsolete. The Vaidik Pashu or man who followed the Vaidik rituals in their entirety is non-existent. He must follow the Agamic rituals which, as a fact, the bulk of men do. The Agama must now govern the Pashu, Vira and would-be Divya alike.
As I have frequently explained, there are various communities of the followers of Tantra of Agama according to the several divisions of the worshippers of the five Devatas (Pa˝copasaka). Of the five classes, the most important are Vaishnava, Shaiva and Shakta. I do not, however, hesitate to repeat a statement of a fact of which those who speak of "The Tantra" ignore.
The main elements of Sadhana are common to all such communities following the Agamas; such as Puja (inner and outer), Pratima or other emblems (Linga, Shalagrama), Upacara, Sandhya, Yaj˝a, Vrata, Tapas, Mandala, Yantra, Mantra, Japa, Purashcarana, Nyasa, Bhutasuddhi, Mudra, Dhyana, Samskara and so forth. Even the Vamacara ritual which some wrongly think to be peculiar to the Shaktas, is or was followed (I am told) by members of other Sampradayas including Jainas and Bauddhas. Both, in so far as they follow this ritual, are reckoned amongst Kaulas though, as being non-Vaidik, of a lower class.
A main point to be here remembered, and one which establishes both the historical and practical importance of the Agamas is this: That whilst some Vaidik rites still exist, the bulk of the ritual of to-day is Agamic, that is, what is popularly called Tantrik. The Puranas are replete with Tantrik rituals.
Notwithstanding a general community of ritual forms, there are some variances which are due to two causes: firstly, to difference in the Devata worship, and secondly, to difference of philosophical basis according as it is Advaita, Vishishtadvaita, or Dvaita. The presentment of fundamental ideas is sometimes in different terms. Thus the Vaishnava Pancaratra Agama describes the creative process in terms of the Vyuhas, and the Shaiva-Shakta Agamas explain it as the Abhasa of the thirty-six Tattvas. I here deal with only one form, namely, Shakta Sadhana in which the Ishtadevata is Shakti in Her many forms.
I will here shortly describe some of the ritual forms above-mentioned, premising that so cursory an account does not do justice to the beauty and profundity of many of them.
There are four different forms of worship corresponding to four different states and dispositions (Bhava) of the Sadhaka himself. The realization that the Supreme Spirit (Paramatma) and the individual spirit (Jivatma) are one, that everything is Brahman, and that nothing but the Brahman has lasting being is the highest state or Brahma-bhava. Constant meditation with Yoga-processes upon the Devata in the heart is the lower form (Dhyanabhava). Lower still is that Bhava of which Japa (recitations of Mantra) and Hymns of praise (Stava) are the expression; and lowest of all is external worship (Bahyapuja).
Pujabhava is that which arises out of the dualistic notions of worshipper and worshipped, the servant and the Lord, a dualism which necessarily exists in greater or less, degree until Monistic experience (Advaita-bhava) is attained. He who realizes the Advaita-tattva knows that all is Brahman. For him there is neither worshipper nor worshipped, neither Yoga, nor Puja nor Dharana, Dhyana, Stava, Japa, Vrata or other ritual or process of Sadhana. For, he is Siddha in its fullest sense, that is, he has attained Siddhi which is the aim of Sadhana. As the Mahanirvana says, "for him who has faith in and knowledge of the root, of what use are the branches and leaves'?" Brahmanism thus sagely resolves the Western dispute as to the necessity or advisability of ritual. It affirms it for those who have not attained the end of all ritual. It lessens and refines ritual as spiritual progress is made upwards; it dispenses with it altogether when there is no longer need for it. But, until a man is a real "Knower", some Sadhana is necessary if he would become one. The nature of Sadhana, again, differs according to the temperaments (Bhava) above described, and also with reference to the capacities and spiritual advancement of each in his own Bhava. What may be suitable for the unlettered peasant may not be so for those more intellectually and spiritually advanced. It is, however, a fine general principle of Tantrik worship that capacity, and not social distinction such as caste, determines competency for any particular worship. This is not so as regards the Vaidik ritual proper. One might have supposed that credit would have been given to the Tantra Shastra for this. But credit is given for nothing. Those who dilate on Vaidik exclusiveness have nothing to say as regards the absence of it in the Agama. The Shudra is precluded from the performance of Vaidik rites, the reading of the Vedas, and the recital of Vaidik Mantras. His worship is practically limited to that of his Ishtadevata, the Vana-lingapuja with Tantrik and Pauranik mantra and such Vrata as consist in penance and charity. In other cases, the Vrata is performed through a Brahmana. The Tantra Shastra makes no caste distinction as regards worship, in the sense that though it may not challenge the exclusive right of the twice-born to Vaidik rites, it provides other and similar rites for the Shudra. Thus there is both a Vaidik and Tantrik Gayatri and Sandhya, and there are rites available for worshippers of all castes. All may read the Tantras which contain their form of worship, and carry them out and recite the Tantrik Mantras. All castes, even the lowest Candala may, if otherwise fit, receive the Tantrik initiation and be a member of a Cakra or circle of worship. In the Cakra all the members partake of food and drink together, and are then deemed to be greater than Brahmanas, though upon the break-up of the Cakra the ordinary caste and social relations are re-established. It is necessary to distinguish between social differences and competency (Adhikara) for worship. Adhikara, so fundamental a principle of Brahmanism, means that all are not equally entitled to the same teaching and ritual. They are entitled to that of which they are capable, irrespective (according to the Agama) of such social distinctions as caste. All are competent for Tantrik worship, for, in the words of the Gautamiya which is a Vaishnava Tantra (Chap. I) the Tantra Shastra is for all castes and all women.
Sarva-varnadhikarash ca narinam yog ya eva ca.
Though according to Vaidik usage, the wife was co-operator (Sahadharmini) in the household rites, now-a-days, so far as I can gather, they are not accounted much in such matters, though it is said that the wife may, with the consent of her husband, fast, take vows, perform Homa, Vrata and the like. According to the Tantra Shastra, a woman may not only receive Mantra, but may, as Guru, initiate and give it (see Rudrayamala II, ii, and XV). She is worshipped both as wife of Guru and as Guru herself (see ib., I. i. Matrikabheda Tantra (c. vii), Annadakalpa Tantra cited in Pranatosini, p. 68, and as regards the former Yogini Tantra chap. i. Gurupatni Maheshani gurur eva). The Devi is Herself the Guru of all Shastras and woman, as indeed all females Her embodiments, are in a peculiar sense, Her representatives. For this reason all women are worshipful, and no harm should be ever done them, nor should any female animal be sacrificed.
Puja is the common term for ritual worship, of which there are numerous synonyms in the Sanskrit language such as Arcana, Vandana, Saparyya, Arhana, Namasya, Arca, Bhajana, though some of these stress certain aspects of it. Puja as also Vrata which are Kamya, that is, done to gain a particular end, are preceded by the Sankalpa, that is, a statement of the resolve to worship, as also of the particular object (if any) with which it is done. It runs in the form, "I--of--Gotra and so forth identifying the individual) am about to perform this Puja (or Vrata) with the object -- ". Thereby the attention and will of the Sadhaka are focused and braced up for the matter in hand. Here, as elsewhere, the ritual which follows is designed both by its complexity and variety (which prevents the tiring of the mind) to keep the attention always fixed, to prevent it from straying and to emphasize both attention and will by continued acts and mental workings.
The object of the worship is the Ishtadevata, that is, the particular form of the Deity whom the Sadhaka worships, such as Devi in the case of a Shakta, Shiva in the case of the Shaiva (in eight forms in the case of Ashtamurti-puja as to which see Todala Tantra, chap. V) and Vishnu as such or in His forms as Rama and Krishna in the case of the Vaishnava Sadhaka.
An object is used in the outer Puja (Bahyapuja) such as an image (Pratima), a picture and emblem such as a jar (Kalasa), Shalagrama (in the case of Vishnu worship), Linga and Yoni or Gauripatta (in the case of the worship) of Shiva (with Devi), or a geometrical design called Yantra. In the case of outer worship the first is the lowest form and the last the highest. It is not all who are capable of worshipping with a Yantra. It is obvious that simpler minds must be satisfied with images which delineate the form of the Devata completely and in material form. The advanced contemplate Devata in the lines and curves of a Yantra.
In external worship, the Sadhaka should first worship inwardly the mental image of the Devata which the outer objects assist to produce, and then by the life-giving (Prana-Pratishtha) ceremony he should infuse the image with life by the communication to it of the light, consciousness, and energy (Tejas) of the Brahman within him to the image without, from which there then bursts the luster of Her whose substance is Consciousness Itself (Caitanyamayi). In every place She exists as Shakti, whether in stone or metal as elsewhere, but in matter is veiled and seemingly inert. Caitanya (Consciousness) is aroused by the worshipper through the Pranapratishtha Mantra. An object exists for a Sadhaka only in so far as his mind perceives it. For and in him its essence as Consciousness is realized.
This is a fitting place to say a word on the subject of the alleged "Idolatry" of the Hindus. We are all aware that a similar charge has been made against Christians of the Catholic Church, and those who are conversant with this controversy will be better equipped both with knowledge and caution against the making of general and indiscriminate charges.
It may be well doubted whether the world contains an idolater in the sense in which that term is used by persons who speak of "the heathen worship of sticks and stones". According to the traveler A. B. Ellis ("The Tshi speaking peoples of the Gold Coast of West Africa"), even "negroes of the Gold Coast are always conscious that their offerings and worship are not paid to the inanimate object itself but to the indwelling God, and every native with whom I have conversed on the subject has laughed at the possibility of its being supposed that he would worship or offer sacrifice to some such object as a stone". Nevertheless a missionary or some traveler might tell him that he did. An absurd attitude on the part of the superior Western is that in which the latter not merely tells the colored races what they should believe, but what notwithstanding denial, they in fact believe and ought to hold according to the tenets of the latter's religion.
The charge of idolatry is kept up, notwithstanding the explanations given of their beliefs by those against whom it is made. In fact, the conviction that Eastern races are inferior is responsible for this. If we disregard such beliefs, then, anything may be idolatrous. Thus; to those who disbelieve in the "Real Presence," the Catholic worshipper of the Host is an idolater worshipping the material substance, bread. But, to the worshipper who believes that it is the Body of the Lord under the form of bread, such worship can never be idolatrous. Similarly as regards the Hindu worship of images. They are not to be held to worship clay or stone because others disbelieve in the efficacy of the Prana-Pratishtha ceremony. When impartially considered, there is nothing necessarily superstitious or ignorant in this rite. Nor is this the case with the doctrine of the Real Presence which is interpreted in various ways. Whether either rite has the alleged effect attributed to it is another question. All matter is, according to Shakta doctrine, a manifestation of Shakti, that is, the Mother Herself in material guise. She is present in and as everything which exists. The ordinary man does not so view things. He sees merely gross unconscious matter. If, with such an outlook, he were fool enough to worship what was inferior to himself, he would be an idolater. But the very act of worship implies that the object is superior and conscious. To the truly enlightened Shakta everything is an object of worship, for all is a manifestation of God who is therein worshipped. But that way of looking at things must be attained. The untutored mind must be aided to see that this is so. This is effected by the Pranapratishtha rite by which "life is established" in the image of gross matter. The Hindu then believes that the Pratima or image is a representation and the dwelling place of Deity. What difference, it may be asked, does this really make? How can a man's belief alter the objective fact? The answer is, it does not. God is not manifested by the image merely because the worshipper believes Him to be there. He is there in fact already. All that the Pranapratishtha rite does is, to enliven the consciousness of the worshipper into a realization of His presence. And if He be both in fact, and to the belief of the worshipper, present, then the Image is a proper object of worship. It is the subjective state of the worshipper's mind which determines whether an act is idolatrous or not. The Prana-Pratishtha rite is thus a mode by which the Sadhaka is given a true object of worship and is enabled to affirm a belief in the divine omnipresence with respect to that particular object of his devotion. The ordinary notion that it is mere matter is cast aside, and the divine notion that Divinity is manifested in all that is, is held and affirmed. "Why not then" (some missionary has said) "worship my boot?" There are contemptible people who do so in the European sense of that phrase. But, nevertheless, there is no reason, according to Shakta teaching, why even his boot should not be worshipped by one who regards it and all else as a manifestation of the One who is in every object which constitutes the Many. Thus this Monistic belief is affirmed in the worship by some Shaktas of that which to the gross and ordinary mind is merely an object of lust. To such minds, this is a revolting and obscene worship. To those for whom such object of worship is obscene, such worship is and must be obscene. But what of the mind which is so purified that it sees the Divine presence in that which, to the mass of men, is an incitement to and object of lust? A man who, without desire, can truly so worship must be a very high Sadhaka indeed. The Shakta Tantra affirms the Greek saying that to the pure all things are pure. In this belief and with, as the as the J˝anarnava Tantra says, the object of teaching men that this is so, we find the ritual use of substances ordinarily accounted impure. The real objection to the general adoption or even knowledge of such rites lies, from the Monistic standpoint, in the fact that the vast bulk of humanity are either of impure or weak mind, and that the worship of an object which is capable of exciting lust will produce it, not to mention the hypocrites who, under cover of such a worship, would seek to gratify their desires. In the Paradise Legend, just as amongst some primitive tribes, man and woman go naked. It was and is after they have fallen that nakedness is observed by minds no longer innocent. Rightly, therefore, from their standpoint, the bulk of men condemn such worship. Because, whatever may be its theoretical justification under conditions which rarely occur, pragmatically and for the bulk of men they are full of danger. Those who go to meet temptation should remember the risk. I have read that it is recorded of Robert d'Arbrissel, the saintly founder of the community of Fonte d'Evrault that he was wont on occasions to sleep with his nuns, to mortify his flesh and as a mode of strengthening his will against its demands. He did not touch them, but his exceptional success in preserving his chastity would be no ground for the ordinary man undertaking so dangerous an experiment. In short, in order to be completely just, we must, in individual cases, consider intention and good faith. But, practically and for the mass, the counsel and duty to avoid the occasion of sin is, according to Shastrik principles themselves, enjoined. As a matter of fact, such worship has been confined to so limited a class that it would not have been necessary to deal with the subject were it not connected with Shakta worship, the matter in hand. To revert again to the "missionary's boot": whilst all things may be the object of worship, choice is naturally made of those objects which, by reason of their effect on the mind, are more fitted for it. An image or one of the usual emblems is more likely to raise in the mind of the worshipper the thought of a Devata than a boot, and therefore, even apart from scriptural authority, it would not be chosen. But, it has been again objected, if the Brahman is in and appears equally in all things, how do we find some affirming that one image is more worthy of worship than another. Similarly, in Catholic countries, we find worshippers who prefer certain churches, shrines, places of pilgrimage and representations of Christ, His Mother and the Saints. Such preferences are not statements of absolute worth but of personal inclinations in the worshipper due to his belief in their special efficacy for him. Psychologically all this means that a particular mind finds that it works best in the direction desired by means of particular instruments. The image of Kali provokes in general only disgust in an European mind. But to the race-consciousness which has evolved that image of Deity, it is the cause and object of fervent devotion. In every case, those means must be sought and applied which will produce a practical and good result for the individual consciousness in question. It must be admitted, however, that image worship like everything else is capable of abuse; that is a wrong and (for want of a better term) an idolatrous tendency may manifest. This is due to ignorance. Thus the aunt of a Catholic schoolboy friend of mine had a statue of St. Anthony of Padua. If the saint did not answer her prayers, she used to give the image a beating, and then shut it up in a cupboard with its "face to the wall" by way of punishment. I could cite numbers of instances of this ignorant state of mind taken from the past and present history of Europe. It is quite erroneous to suppose that such absurdities are confined to India, Africa or other colored countries. Nevertheless, we must, in each case, distinguish between the true scriptural teaching and the acts and notions of which they are an abuse.
The materials used or things done in Puja are called Upacara. The common number of these is sixteen, but there are more and less (see Principles of Tantra, Part ii). The sixteen which include some of the lesser number and are included in the greater are: (1) Asana (seating of the image), (2) Svagata (welcoming of the Devata), (3) Padya (water for washing the feet), (4) Arghya (offerings which may be general or Samanya and special or Vishesha) made in the vessel, (5), (6) Acamana (water for sipping and cleansing the lips -- offered twice), (7) Madhuparka (honey, ghee, milk and curd), (8) Snana (water for bathing), (9) Vasana (cloth for garment), (10) Abharana (jewels), (11) Gandha (Perfume), (12) Pushpa (flowers), (13) Dhupa (incense), (14) Dipa (lights), (15) Naivedya (food), and (16) Vandana or Namaskriya (prayer).
Why should such things be chosen? The Westerner who has heard of lights, flower and incense in Christian worship may yet ask the reason for the rest. The answer is simple. Honor is paid to the Devata in the way honor is paid to friends and those men who are worthy of veneration. So the Sadhaka gives that same honor to the Devata, a course that the least advanced mind can understand. When the guest arrives he is bidden to take a seat, he is welcomed and asked how he has journeyed. Water is given to him to wash his dusty feet and his mouth. Food and other things are given him, and so on. These are done in honor of men, and the Deity is honored in the same way.
Some particular articles vary with the Puja. Thus, Tulasi leaf is issued in the Vishnu-puja; bael leaf (Bilva) in the Shiva-puja, and to the Devi is offered the scarlet hibiscus (Jaba). The Mantras said and other ritual details may vary according to the Devata worshipped. The seat (Asana) of the worshipper is purified as also the Upacara. Salutation is made to the Shakti of support (Adhara-shakti) the Power sustaining all. Obstructive Spirits are driven away (Bhutapasarpana) and the ten quarters are fenced from their attack by striking the earth three times with the left foot, uttering the weapon-mantra (Astrabija) "Phat," and by snapping the fingers round the head. Other rituals also enter into the worship besides the offering of Upacara such as Pranayama or Breath control, Bhutasuddhi or purification of the elements of the body, Japa of Mantra, Nyasa (v. post), meditation (Dhyana) and obeisance (Pranama).
Besides the outer and material Puja, there is a higher inner (Antarpuja) and mental (Manasapuja). Here there is no offering of material things to an image or emblem, but the ingredients (Upacara) of worship are imagined only. Thus the Sadhaka, in lieu of material flowers offered with the hands, lays at the feet of the Devata the flower of good action. In the secret Rajasik Puja of the Vamacari, the Upacara are the five Tattvas (Pa˝catattva), wine, meat and so forth described in the next Chapter. Just as flowers and incense and so forth are offered in the general public ritual, so in this special secret ritual, dealt with in the next Chapter, the functions of eating, drinking and sexual union are offered to the Devata.
A marked feature of the Tantra Shastras is the use of the Yantra in worship. This then takes the place of the image or emblem, when the Sadhaka has arrived at the stage when he is qualified to worship with Yantra. Yantra, in its most general sense, means simply instrument or that by which anything is accomplished. In worship, it is that by which the mind is fixed on its object. The Yantra, in lieu of the image or emblem holds the attention, and is both the object of worship, and the means by which it is carried out. It is said to be so called because it subdues (Niyantrana) lust, anger and the other sufferings of Jiva, and the sufferings caused thereby. (Tantra-tattva. Sadharana Upasana-tattva.)
The Yantra is a diagram drawn or painted on paper, or other substances, engraved on metal, cut on crystal or stone. The magical treatises mention extraordinary Yantras drawn on leopard's and donkey's skin, human bones and so forth. The Yantras vary in design according to the Devata whose Yantra it is and in whose worship it is used. The difference between a Mandala (which is also a figure, marked generally on the ground) is that whilst a Mandala may be used in the case of any Devata, a Yantra is appropriate to a specific Devata only. As different Mantras are different Devatas, and differing Mantras are used in the worship of each of the Devatas, so variously formed Yantras are peculiar to each Devata and are used in its worship. The Yantras are therefore of various designs, according to the object of worship. The cover of "Tantrik Texts" shows the great Sri Yantra. In the metal or stone Yantras no figures of Devatas are shown, though these together with the appropriate Mantras commonly appear in Yantras drawn or painted on paper, such as the Devata of worship, Avarana Shaktis and so forth. All Yantras have a common edging called Bhupura, a quadrangular figure with four "doors" which encloses and separates the Yantra from the outside world. A Yantra in my possession shows serpents crawling outside the Bhupura. The Kaulavaliya Tantra says that the distinction between Yantra and Devata is that between the body and the self. Mantra is Devata and Yantra is Mantra, in that it is the body of the Devata who is Mantra.
Yantram mantra-ma yam proktam mantratma devataiva hi
Dehatmanor yatha bedo yantradevata yos tatha.
As in the case of the image, certain preliminaries precede the worship of Yantra. The worshipper first meditates upon the Devata and then arouses Him or Her in himself. He then communicates the Divine Presence thus aroused to the Yantra. When the Devata has by the appropriate Mantra been invoked into the Yantra, the vital airs (Prana) of the Devata are infused therein by the Pranapratishtha ceremony, Mantra and Mudra (see for ritual Mahanirvana, VI. 63 et seq.). The Devata is thereby installed in the Yantra which is no longer mere gross matter veiling the Spirit which has been always there, but instinct with its aroused presence which the Sadhaka first welcomes and then worships.
In Tantrik worship, the body as well as the mind has to do its part, the former being made to follow the latter. This is of course seen in all ritual, where there is bowing, genuflection and so forth. As all else, gesture is here much elaborated. Thus, certain postures (Asana) are assumed in worship and Yoga. There is obeisance (Pranama), sometimes with eight parts of the body (Ashtangapranama), and circumambulation (Pradakshina) of the image. In Nyasa the hands are made to touch various parts of the body and so forth. A notable instance of this practice are the Mudras which are largely used in the Tantrik ritual. Mudra in this sense is ritual manual gesture. The term Mudra has three meanings. In worship (Upasana,) it means these gestures. In Yoga it means postures in which not only the hands but the whole body takes part. And, in the secret worship with the Pa˝catattva, Mudra means various kinds of parched cereals which are taken with the wine and other ingredients (Upacara) of that particular worship. The term Mudra is derived from the root "to please" (Mud). The Tantraraja says that in its Upasana form, Mudra is so called because it gives pleasure to the Devatas. These Mudras are very numerous. It has been said that there are 108 of which 55 are in common use (Shabdakalpadruma Sub Voce, Mudra and see Nirvana Tantra, Chap. XI). Possibly there are more. 108 is favorite number. The Mudra of Upasana is the outward bodily expression of inner resolve which it at the same time intensifies. We all know how in speaking we emphasize and illustrate our thought by gesture. So in welcoming (Avahana) the Devata, an appropriate gesture is made. When veiling anything, the hands assume that position (Avagunthana Mudra). Thus again in making offering (Arghya) a gesture is made which represents a fish (Matsya Mudra) by placing the right hand on the back of the left and extending the two thumbs finlike on each side of the hands. This is done as the expression of the wish and intention that the vessel which contains water may be regarded as an ocean with fish and all other aquatic animals. The Sadhaka says to the Devata of his worship, "this is but a small offering of water in fact, but so far as my desire to honor you is concerned, regard it as if I were offering you an ocean." The Yoni in the form of an inverted triangle represents the Devi. By the Yoni Mudra the fingers form a triangle as a manifestation of the inner desire that the Devi should come and place Herself before the worshipper, for the Yoni is Her Pitha or Yantra. Some of the Mudra of Hathayoga which are in the nature both of a health-giving gymnastic and special positions required in Yoga-practice are described in A. Avalon's The Serpent Power. The Gheranda Samhita, a Tantrik Yoga work says (III. 4. 8. 10) that knowledge of the Yoga Mudras grants all Siddhi, and that their performance produces physical benefits, such as stability, firmness, and cure of disease.
Bhutasuddhi, an important Tantrik rite, means purification of the five "elements" of which the body is composed, and not "removal of evil demons," as Professor Monier-William's Dictionary has it. Though one of the meanings of Bhuta is Ghost or Spirit, it is never safe to give such literal translations without knowledge, or absurd mistakes are likely to be made. The Mantramahodadhi (Taranga I) speaks of it as a rite which is preliminary to the worship of a Deva.
Devarca yog yata-praptyai bhuta-shuddhim samacaret.
(For the attainment of competency to worship, the elements of which the body is composed, should be purified). The material human body is a compound of the five Bhutas of "earth," "water," "fire," "air", and "ether". These terms have not their usual English meaning but denote the five forms in which Prakriti the Divine Power as materia prima manifests Herself. These have each a center of operation in the five Cakras or Padmas (Centers or Lotuses) which exist in the spinal column of the human body (see A. Avalon's Serpent Power where this matter is fully described). In the lowest of these centers (Muladhara), the Great Devi kundalini, a form of the Saguna Brahman, resides. She is ordinarily sleeping there. In kundalini-yoga, She is aroused and brought up through the five centers, absorbing, as She passes through each, the Bhuta of that center, the subtle Tanmatra from which it derives and the connected organ of sense (Indriya). Having absorbed all these, She is led to the sixth or mind center (Aj˝a) between the eyebrows where the last Bhuta or ether is absorbed in mind, and the latter in the Subtle Prakriti. The last in the form of Kundali Shakti then unites with Shiva in the upper brain called the thousand-petalled lotus (Sahasrara). In Yoga this involution actually takes places with the result that ecstasy (Samadhi) is attained. But very few are successful Yogis. Therefore, Bhutasuddhi in the case of the ordinary worshipper is an imaginary process only. The Sadhaka imagines Kundali, that She is roused, that one element is absorbed into the other and so on, until all is absorbed in Brahman. The Yoga process will be found described in The Serpent Power, and Ch. V. 93 et seq. of the Mahanirvana gives an account of the ritual process. The Sadhaka having dissolved all in Brahman, a process which instills into his mind the unity of all, then thinks of the "black man of sin" in his body. The body is then purified. By breathing and Mantra it is first dried and then burnt with all its sinful inclinations. It is then mentally bathed with the nectar of the water-mantra from head to feet. The Sadhaka then thinks that in lieu of his old sinful body a new Deva body has come into being. He who with faith and sincerity believes that he is regenerated is in fact so. To each who truly believes that his body is a Deva body it becomes a Deva body. The Deva body thus brought into being is strengthened by the Earth-mantra and divine gaze (Divyadrishti). Saying, with Bijas, the Mantra "He I am" (So'ham) the Sadhaka by Jiva-nyasa infuses his body with the life of the Devi, the Mother of all.
Nyasa is a very important and powerful Tantrik rite. The word comes from the root, "to place," and means the placing of the tips of the fingers and palm of the right hand on various parts of the body, accompanied by Mantra. There are four general divisions of Nyasa, viz., inner (Antar), outer (Bahir), according to the creative (Srishti) and dissolving (Samhara) order (Krama). Nyasa is of many kinds such as Jiva-nyasa, Matrika or Lipi-nyasa, Rishi-nyasa, Shadamganyasa on the body (Hridayadi-shadamga-nyasa) and with the hands (Amgushthadi-shadamga-nyasa), Pitha-nyasa and so on. The Kularnava (IV. 20) mentions six kinds. Each of these might come under one or the other of the four general heads.
Before indicating the principle of this rite, let us briefly see what it is. After the Sadhaka has by Bhuta-shuddhi dissolved the sinful body and made a new Deva body, he, by Jiva-nyasa infuses into it the life of the Devi. Placing his hand on his heart he says, "He I am" thereby identifying himself with Shiva-Shakti. He then emphasizes it by going over the parts of the body in detail with the Mantra Am and the rest thus.' saying the Mantra and what he is doing, and touching the body on the particular part with his fingers, he recites: "Am (and the rest) the vital force (Prana) of the blessed Kalika (in this instance) are here. Am (and the rest) the life of the Blessed Kalika is here; Am (and the rest) all the senses of the Blessed Kalika are here; Am (and the rest) may the speech, mind, sight, hearing, sense of smell of the Blessed Kalika coming here ever abide here in peace and happiness. Svaha". By this, the body is thought to become like that of Devata (Devatamaya). Matrika are the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, for as from a mother comes birth, so from the Brahman who, as the creator of "sound" is called "Shabdabrahman", the universe proceeds. The Mantra-bodies of the Devata are composed of the Matrika or letters. The Sadhaka first sets the letters mentally (Antar-matrika-nyasa) in their several places in the six inner centers (Cakra), and then externally by physical action (Bahya-matrika-nyasa). The letters of the alphabet form the different parts of the body of the Devata which is thus built up in the Sadhaka himself. He places his hand on different parts of his body, uttering distinctly at the same time the appropriate Matrika for that part. The mental disposition in the Cakra is that given in Serpent Power by A. Avalon, each letter being repeated thus, Om Ham Namah (obeisance), Om Ksham Namah and so on with the rest. The external disposition is as follows: The vowels are placed on the forehead, face, right and left eye, right and left ear, right and left nostril, right and left cheek, upper and lower lip, upper and lower teeth, head and hollow of the mouth. The consonants, 'Ka' to 'Va' are placed on the base of the right arm and the elbow, wrist base and tips of fingers, left arm, and right and left leg, right and left side, back navel, belly, heart, right and left shoulder, and space between the shoulders (Kakuda). Then, from the heart to the right palm, Sa; from the heart to the left palm, Sa (second); from the heart to the right foot, Sa; from the heart to the left foot, Ha; and lastly from the heart to the belly and the heart to the mouth, Ksha. This Matrikanyasa is of several kinds.
One form of Rishi-nyasa is as follows: "In the head, salutation to Brahma and the Brahmarishis; in the mouth, salutation to Gayatri and other forms of Verse; in the heart, salutation to the primordial Devata Kali; in the hidden part (Guhya), salutation to the Bija Krim; in the two feet, salutation to Hrim; in all the body, salutation to Shrim and Kalika. In Shadamga-nyasa on the body, certain letters are placed with the salutation Namah, and with the Mantras Svaha, Vashat, Vaushat, Hrim, Phat on the heart, head, crown-lock (Shikha), eyes, the front and back of the palm. In Karanyasa, the Mantras are assigned to the thumbs, index fingers, middle fingers, fourth fingers, little fingers, and the front and back of the palm. From the above examples the meaning of Nyasa is seen. By associating the Divine with every part of the body and with the whole of it, the mind and body are sought to be made divine to the consciousness of the Sadhaka. They are that already, but the mind is made to so regard them. "What if it does?" the English reader may ask. How can the regarding a thing as divine make it so? In one sense it does not, for mind and body are as Shakti divine, whether this be known or not. But this must be known to the Sadhaka or they are not divine for him. His mind is trained to look upon them as divine manifestations of the One Supreme Essence which at base he and they are. According to Hindu views, primary importance is attached to mental states, for as the Divine Thought made the World, man makes his character therein by what he thinks. If he is always thinking of material things and has desires therefor, he becomes himself material and is given over to lust and other passions. If, on the contrary, he has always his mind on God, and associates everything with the thought of Him, his mind becomes pure and divine. As the Upanishad says, "What a man thinks that he becomes." Thought is everything, molding our bodily features, moral and intellectual character and disposition, leading to and appearing in our actions. Much superficial criticism is leveled at this or other ritual, its variety, complexity, its lengthy character and so forth. If it is performed mechanically and without attention, doubtless it is mere waste of time. But if it is done with will, attention, faith and devotion, it must necessarily achieve the result intended. The reiteration of the same idea under varying forms brings home with emphasis to the consciousness of the Sadhaka the doctrine his Scripture teaches him, viz., that his essence is Spirit and his mind and body are its manifestation. All is divine. All is Consciousness. The object of this and all the other ritual is to make that statement a real experience for the Sadhaka. For the attainment of that state in which the Sadhaka feels that the nature (Bhava) of the Devata has come upon him, Nyasa is a great auxiliary. It is as it were the wearing of Divine jewels in different parts of the body. The Bijas of the Devatas (which are Devatas) are the jewels which the Sadhaka places on the different parts of his body. By the particular Nyasa he places his Abhishtadevata in such parts, and by Vyapaka-Nyasa he spreads its presence throughout himself. He becomes thus permeated by the Divine and its manifestations, thus merging or mingling himself in or with the Divine Self or Lord. Nyasa, Asana and other ritual are necessary, for the production of the desired state of mind and its purification (Cittashuddhi). The whole aim and end of ritual is Citta-shuddhi. Transformation of thought is transformation of being, for particular existence is a projection of thought, and thought is a projection from the Consciousness which is the Root of all.
This is the essential principle and rational basis of this, as of all, Tantrik Sadhana. Nyasa also has certain physical effects, for these are dependent on the state of mind. The pure restful state of meditation is reflected in the body of the worshipper. The actions of Nyasa are said to stimulate the nerve centers and to effect the proper distribution of the Shaktis of the human frame according to their dispositions and relations, preventing discord and distraction during worship, which itself holds steady the state thus induced.
In the Chapters on Mantramayi Shakti and Varnamala, as also in my Garland of Letters, I have dealt with the nature of Mantra and of its Sadhana. An account will also be found of the subject in the Mantratattva Chapter of the second part of Principles of Tantra. Mantra is Devata and by Sadhana therewith the sought-for (Sadhya) Devata is attained, that is, becomes present to the consciousness of the Sadhaka or Mantrin. Though the purpose of Worship (Puja), Reading (Patha), Hymn (Stava), Sacrifice (Homa), Meditation (Dhyana), and that of the Diksha-mantra obtained on initiation are the same, yet the latter is said to be far more powerful, and this for the reason that in the first, the Sadhaka's Sadhana-shakti only operates whilst in the case of Mantra that Sadhana-shakti works in conjunction with Mantra-shakti which has the revelation and force of fire, than which nothing is more powerful. The special Mantra which is received at initiation (Diksha) is the Bija or Seed-Mantra sown in the field of the Sadhaka's heart, and the Tantrik Sandhya, Nyasa, Puja, and the like are the stem and branches upon which hymns of praise (Stuti) and prayer and homage (Vandana) are the leaves and flower, and the Kavaca consisting of Mantra, the fruit. (See Chapter on Mantra-tattva, part ii, Principles of Tantra.)
The utterance of a Mantra without knowledge of its meaning or of the Mantra-sadhana is a mere movement of the lips and nothing more. The Mantra sleeps. This is not infrequently the case in the present degeneracy of Hindu religion. For example, a Brahman lady confided to me her Diksha-mantra and asked me for its meaning, as she understood that I had a Bija-kosha or Lexicon which gave the meaning of the letters. Her Guru had not told her of its meaning, and inquiries elsewhere amongst Brahmanas were fruitless. She had been repeating the Mantra for years, and time had brought the wisdom that it could not do her much good to repeat what was without meaning to her. Japa is the utterance of Mantra as described later. Mantra-sadhana is elaborate. There are various processes preliminary to and involved in its right utterance which again consists of Mantra. There are the sacraments or purifications (Samskara) of the Mantra (Tantrasara, p. 90). There are "birth" and "death" defilements of a Mantra (ib., 75, et seq.,) which have to be cleansed. This and, of course, much else mean that the mind of the Mantrin has to be prepared and cleansed for the realization of the Devata. There are a number of defects (Dosha) which have to be avoided or cured. There is purification of the mouth which utters the Mantra (Mukha-shodhana) (see as to this and the following Sharada Tilaka (Chap. x), purification of the tongue (Jihva-shodhana) and of the Mantra (Ashauca-bhanga). Mantra processes called Kulluka, Nirvana, Setu (see Sharada Tilaka, loc cit, Tantrasara, and Purashcaranabodhini, p. 48) which vary with the Devata of worship, awakening of Mantra (Nidrabhanga) its vitalizing through consciousness (Mantracaitanya), pondering on the meaning of the Mantra and of the Matrikas constituting the body of the Devata (Mantrartha bhavana). There are Dipani, Yonimudra (see Purohita-darpanam) with meditation on the Yoni-rupa-bhagavati with the Yonibija (Eng) and so forth.
In ascertaining what Mantra may be given to any particular individual, certain Cakra calculations are made, according to which Mantras are divided into those which are friendly, serving, supporting or destroying (Siddha, Sadhya, Susiddha, Ari). All this ritual has as its object the establishment of that pure state of mind and feeling which are necessary for success (Mantra-siddhi). At length the Mantrin through his Cit-shakti awakening and vitalizing the Mantra which in truth is one with his own consciousness (in that form) pierces through all its centers and contemplates the Spotless One (Kubjika Tantra V). The Shakti of the Mantra is called the Vacika Shakti or the means by which the Vacya Shakti or ultimate object is attained. The Mantra lives by the energy of the former. The Saguna-Shakti in the form of the Mantra is awakened by Sadhana and worshipped and She it is who opens the portals whereby the Vacya-Shakti is reached. Thus the Mother in the Saguna form is the Presiding Deity (Adhishthatri Devata) of the Gayatri Mantra. As the Nirguna (formless) One, She is its Vacya Shakti. Both are in truth one and the same. But the Sadhaka, by the laws of his nature and its three Gunas, must first meditate on the gross (Sthula) form before he can realize the subtle (Sukshma) form which is his liberator. So for from being merely superstition, the Mantra-sadhana is, in large part, based on profound notions of the nature of Consciousness and the psychology of its workings. The Sadhaka's mind and disposition are purified, the Devata is put before him in Mantra form and by his own power of devotion (Sadhana Shakti) and that latent in the Mantra itself (Mantra-shakti) and expressed in his mind on realization therein, such mind is first identified with the gross, and then with the subtle form which is his own transformed consciousness and its powers.
Japa is defined as Vidhanena mantroccaranam, that is (for default of other more suitable words), the utterance or recitation of Mantra according to certain rules. Japa may however be of a nature which is not defined by the word, recitation. It is of three kinds (J˝anarnava Tantra, XX) namely, Vacika Japa, Upamshu Japa, Manasa Japa. The first is the lowest and the last the highest form. Vacika is verbal Japa in which the Mantra is distinctly and audibly recited (Spashta-vaca). Upamshu Japa is less gross and therefore superior to this. Here the Mantra is not uttered (Avyakta) but there is a movement of the lips and tongue (Sphuradvaktra) but no articulate sound is heard. In the highest form or mental utterance (Manasa-japa) there is neither articulate sound nor movement. Japa takes place in the mind only by meditation on the letters (Chintanakshararupavan). Certain conditions are prescribed as those under which Japa should be done, relating to physical cleanliness, the dressing of the hair, garments worn, the seated posture (Asana), the avoidance of certain states of mind and actions, and the nature of the recitation. Japa is done a specified number of times, in lakhs by great Sadhakas. If the mind is really centered and not distracted throughout these long and repeated exercises the result must be successful. Repetition is in all things the usual process by which a certain thing is fixed in the mind. It is not considered foolish for one who has to learn a lesson to repeat it himself over and over again until it is got by heart. The same principle applies to Sadhana. If the "Hail Mary" is said again and again in the Catholic rosary, and if the Mantra is similarly said in the Indian Japa, neither proceeding is foolish, provided that both be done with attention and devotion. The injunction against "vain repetition" was not against repetition but that of a vain character. Counting is done either with a Mala or rosary (Mala-japa) or with the thumb of the right hand upon the joints of the fingers of that hand according to a method varying according to the Mantra (Kara-japa).
Purashcarana is a form of Sadhana in which, with other ritual, Japa of Mantra, done a large number of times, forms the chief part. A short account of the rite is given in the Purashcarana-bodhini by Harakumara Tagore (1895). (See also Tantrasara 71 and the Purashcaryarnava of the King of Nepal.) The ritual deals with preparation for the Sadhana as regards chastity, food, worship, measurements of the Mandapa or Pandal and of the altar, the time and place of performance and other matters. The Sadhaka must lead a chaste life (Brahmacarya) during the period prescribed. He must eat the pure food called Havishyannam or boiled milk (Kshtra), fruits, Indian vegetables, and avoid all other food which has the effect of stimulating the passions. He must bathe, do Japa of the Savitri Mantra, entertain Brahmanas and so forth. Pa˝cagavya is eaten, that is, the five products of the cow, namely, milk, curd, ghee, urine, and dung, the two last (except in the case of the rigorously pious) in smaller quantity. Before the Puja there is worship of Ganesha and Kshetrapala and the Sun, Moon, and Devas are invoked. Then follows the Samkalpa. The Ghata or Kalasa (jar) is placed in which the Devata is invoked. A Mandala or figure of a particular design is marked on the ground and on it the jar is placed. Then the five or nine gems are placed in the jar which is painted red and covered with leaves. The ritual then prescribes for the tying of the crown lock (Shikha), the posture (Asana) of the Sadhaka, Japa, Nyasa, and the Mantra ritual. There is meditation as directed, Mantra-chaitanya and Japa of the Mantra the number of times for which vow has been made.
The daily life of the religious Hindu was in former times replete with worship. I refer those who are interested in the matter to the little work, The Daily Practices of the Hindus by Srisha Candra Vasu, the Sandhyavandana of all Vedic Shakhas by B. V. Kameshvara Aiyar, the Kriyakandavaridhi and Purohita-darpanam. The positions and Mudras are illustrated in Mrs. S. C. Belons' Sandhya or daily prayer of the Brahmin published in 1831. It is not here possible to do more than indicate the general outlines of the rites followed.
As the Sadhaka awakes he makes salutation to the Guru of all and recites the appropriate Mantras and confessing his inherent frailty ("I know Dharma and yet would not do it. I know Adharma and yet would not renounce it,") -- the Hindu form of the common experience "Video meliora," he prays that he may do right and offers all the actions of the day to God. Upon touching the ground on leaving his bed he salutes the Earth, the manifestation of the All-Good. He then bathes to the accompaniment of Mantra and makes oblation to the Devas, Rishis or Seers and the Pitris who issued from Sandhya, Brahma the Pitamaha of humanity, and then does rite.
This is the Vaidik form which differs according to Veda and Shakha for the twice-born and there is a Tantriki Sandhya for others. It is performed thrice a day at morn, at noon, and evening. The Sandhya consists generally speaking, of Acamana (sipping of water), Marjjana-snana (sprinkling of the whole body), Pranayama (Breath-control), Aghamarshana (expulsion of sin), prayer to the Sun and then (the canon of the Sandhya) Japa of the Gayatri-mantra. Rishi-nyasa and Shadamga-nyasa (v. ante), and meditation of the Devi Gayatri, in the morning as Brahmani (Shakti of Creation), at midday as Vaisnavi (Shakti of maintenance), and in evening as Rudrani (Shakti which "destroys" in the sense of withdrawing creation). The Sandhya with the Aupasana fire-rite and Pa˝cayaj˝a are the three main daily rites, the last being offerings to the Devas, to the Pitris, to animals and birds (after the Vaishvadeva rite), to men (as by entertainment of guests) and the study of Vaidik texts. By these five Yaj˝as, the worshipper daily places himself in right relations with all being, affirming such relation between Devas, Pitris, Spirits, men, the organic creation and himself.
The word "Yaj˝a" comes from the root Yaj (to worship) and is commonly translated "sacrifice," though it includes other rituals than what an English reader might understand by that term. Thus, Manu speaks of four kinds of Yaj˝a as Deva, Bhauta (where ingredients are used), Niryaja and Pitryaj˝a. Sometimes the term is used in connection with any kind of ceremonial rite, and so one hears of Japa-yaj˝a (recitation of Mantra), Dhyana-yaj˝a (meditation) and so on. The Pa˝catattva ritual with wine and the rest is accounted a Yaj˝a. Yaj˝as are also classified according to the dispositions and intentions of the worshipper into Sattvika, Rajasika and Tamasika Yaj˝a. A common form of Yaj˝a is the Devayaj˝a Homa rite in which offerings of ghee are made (in the Kunda or fire-pit) to the Deva of Fire who is the carrier of oblations to the Devas. Homa is an ancient Vaidik rite incorporated with others in the General Tantrik ritual. It is of several kinds, and is performed either daily, or on special occasions, such as the sacred thread ceremony, marriage and so forth. Besides the daily (Nitya) ceremonies such as Sandhya there are occasional rites (Naimittika) and the purificatory sacraments (Samskara) performed only once.
The ordinary ten Samskaras (see Mahanirvana Tantra, Ch. IX) are Vaidik rites done to aid and purify the individual in the important events of his life, namely, the Garbhadhana sanctifying conception prior to the actual placing of the seed in the womb, the Pumsavana and Simantonnayana or actual conception and during pregnancy. It has been suggested that the first Samskara is performed with reference to the impulse to development from the "fertilization of the ovum to the critical period: the second with reference to the same impulse from the last period to that of the viability stage of the fetus," and the third refers to the period in which there is viability to the full term (see Appendix on Samskaras. Pranavavada, I. 194). Then follows the Samskara on birth (Jata-karma), the naming ceremony (Nama-karana), the taking of the child outdoors for the first time to see the sun (Nishkramana), the child's first eating of rice (Annaprasana), his tonsure (Cudakarana), and the investiture in the case of the twice-born with the sacred thread (Upanayana) when the child is reborn into spiritual life. This initiation must be distinguished from the Tantrik initiation (Mantra-diksha) when the Bija-mantra is given by the Guru. Lastly there is marriage (Udvaha). These Samskaras, which are all described in the ninth Chapter of the Mahanirvana Tantra, are performed at certain stages in the human body with a view to effect results beneficial to the human organism through the superphysical and subjective methods of ancient East science.
Vrata is a part of Naimittika -- occasional ritual or Karma. Commonly translated as vows, they are voluntary devotions performed at specified times in honor of particular Devatas (such as Krishna's birthday), or at any time (such as the Savitrivrata). Each Vrata has its peculiarities, but there are certain features common to all, such as chastity, fasting, bathing, taking of pure food only and no flesh or fish. The great Vrata for a Shakta is the Durga-puja in honor of the Devi as Durga.
The fasting which is done in these or other cases is called Tapas, a term which includes all forms of ascetic austerity and zealous Sadhana such as the sitting between five fires (Pa˝cagni-tapah) and the like. Tapas has however a still wider meaning and is then of three kinds, namely, bodily (Shariraka), by speech (Vacika) and by mind (Manasa), a common division both of Indian and Buddhist Tantra. The first includes external worship, reverence, support of the Guru, Brahmanas and the wise (Praj˝a), bodily cleanliness, continence, simplicity of life and avoidance of hurt to any being (Ahimsa). The second form includes truth, good, gentle and affectionate speech and study of the Vedas. The third or mental Tapas includes self-restraint, purity of disposition, tranquillity and silence. Each of these classes has three sub-divisions, for Tapas may be Sattvika, Rajasika, or Tamasika according as it is done with faith, and without regard to its fruit, or for its fruit; or is done through pride and to gain honor or respect or power; or lastly which is done ignorantly or with a view to injure and destroy others such as Abhicara or the Sadhana of the Tantrik Shatkarma (other than Shanti), that is, fascination or Vashikarana, paralyzing or Stambhana, creating enmity or Vidveshana, driving away or Uccatana, and killing or Marana when performed for a malevolent purpose. Karma ritual is called Kamya when it is done to gain some particular end such as health, prosperity and the like. The highest worship is called Nishkama-karma, that is, it is done not to secure any material benefit but for worship's sake only. Though it is not part of ordinary ritual, this is the only place where I can conveniently mention a peculiar Sadhana, prevalent, so far as I am aware, mainly if not wholly amongst Tantrikas of a Shakta type which is called Nilasadhana or Black Sadhana. This is of very limited application being practiced by some Vira Sadhakas in the cremation ground. There are terrifying things in these rituals and therefore only the fearless practice them. The Vira trains himself to be indifferent and above all fear. A leading rite is that called Shava Sadhana which is done with the means of a human corpse. I have explained elsewhere (see Serpent Power) why a corpse is chosen. The corpse is laid with its face to the ground. The Sadhaka sits on the back of the body of the dead man on which he draws a Yantra and then worships. If the rite is successful it is said that the head of the corpse turns round and asks the Sadhaka what is the boon he craves, be it liberation or some material benefit. It is believed that the Devi speaks through the mouth of the corpse which is thus the material medium by which She manifests Her presence. In another rite, the corpse is used as a seat (Shavasana). There are sittings also (Asana) on skulls (Mundasana) and the funeral pyre (Citasana). However repellent or suspect these rites may appear to be to a Western, it is nevertheless the fact that they have been and are practiced by genuine Sadhakas of fame such as in the past the famed Maharaja of Nattore and others. The interior cremation ground is within the body that being the place where the passions are burnt away in the fire of knowledge.
The Adya Shakti or Supreme Power of the Shaktas is, in the words of the Trishati, concisely described as Ekananda-cidakritih. Eka = Mukya, Ananda = Sukham, Cit = Caitanyam or Prakasha = J˝anam; and Akritih = Svaruipa. She is thus Sacchidananda-brahmarupa,. Therefore, the worship of Her is direct worship of the Highest. This worship is based on Advaitavada. Therefore, for all Advaitins, its Sadhana is the highest. The Shakta Tantra is thus a Sadhana Shastra of Advaitavada. This will explain why it is dear to, and so highly considered by Advaitins. It is claimed to be the one and only stepping stone which leads directly to Kaivalya or Nirvanamukti; other forms of worship procuring for their followers (from the Saura to the Shaiva) various ascending forms of Gaunamukti. Others of course may claim this priority. Every sect considers itself to be the best and is in fact the best for those who, with intelligence, adopt it. Were it not so its members would presumably not belong to it but would choose some other. No true Shakta, however, will wrangle with others over this. He will be content with his faith of which the Nigamakalpataru says, that as among castes the Brahmanas are foremost, so amongst Sadhakas are the Shaktas. For, as Niruttara Tantra says, there is no Nirvana without knowledge of Shakti (Shaktij˝anam vina devi nirvanam naiva jayate). Amongst the Shaktas, the foremost are said to be the worshippers of the Kali Mantra. The Adimahavidya is Kalika. Other forms are Murttibheda of Brahmarupini Kalika. Kalikula is followed by J˝anis of Divya and Vira Bhavas; and Shrikula by Karmin Sadhakas. According to Niruttara, Kalikula includes Kali, Tara, Raktakali, Bhuvana, Mardini, Triputa, Tvarita, Pratyamgiravidya, Durga, and Shrikula includes Sundari, Bhairavi, Bala, Bagala, Kamala, Dhumavati, Matamgi, Svapnavatividya, Madhumati Mahavidya. Of these forms Kalika is the highest or Adyamurti as being Shuddhasattvagunapradhana, Nirvikara, Nirgunabrahma-svarupaprakashika, and, as the Kamadhenu Tantra says, directly Kaivalyadayini. Tara is Sattvagunatmika, Tattvavidyadayini, for by Tattvaj˝ana one attains Kaivalya. Shodashi, Bhuvaneshvari, Cinnamasta are Rajahpradhana Sattvagunatmika, the givers of Gaunamukti and Svarga. Dhumavati, Kamala, Bagala, Matangi are Tamahpradhana whose action is invoked in the magical Shatkarma.
The most essential point to remember as giving the key to all which follows is that Shaktadharma is Monism (Advaitavada). Gandharva Tantra says, "Having as enjoined saluted the Guru and thought "So'ham,' the wise Sadhaka, the performer of the rite should meditate upon the unity of Jiva and Brahman."
Gurun natva vidhanena so'ham iti purodhasah
Aikyam sambhavayet dhiman jivasya brahmano'pica.
Kali Tantra says: "Having thus meditated, the Sadhaka should worship Devi with the notion, 'So'ham'."
Evam dhyatva tato devim so'ham atmanam arcayet.
Kubjika Tantra says: "A Sadhaka should meditate upon himself as one and the same with Her" (Taya sahitamatmanam ekibhutam vicintayet). The same teaching is to be found throughout the Shastra: Nila Tantra directing the Sadhaka to think of himself as one with Tarini; Gandharva Tantra telling him to meditate on the self as one with Tirupura not different from Paramatma; and Kalikulasarvasva as one with Kalika and so forth. For as the Kularnava Tantra says: "The body is the temple of God. Jiva is Sadashiva. Let him give up his ignorance as the offering which is thrown away (Nirmalya) and worship with the thought and feeling, 'I am He'."
Deho devalayah proktah jivo devah Sadashivah
Tyajed aj˝ananirmalyam so'ham bhavena pujayet.
This Advaitavada is naturally expressed in the ritual.
The Samhita and Brahmanas of the four Vedas are (as contrasted with the Upanishads) Traigunyavishaya. There is therefore much in the Vaidik Karmakanda which is contrary to Brahmaj˝ana. The same remarks apply to the ordinary Pashu ritual of the day. There are differences of touchable and untouchable, food, caste, and sex. How can a man directly qualify for Brahmaj˝ana who even in worship is always harping on distinctions of caste and sex and the like? He who distinguishes does not know. Of such distinctions the higher Tantrik worship of the Shakta type knows nothing. As the Yogini Tantra says, the Shastra is for all castes and for women as well as men. Tantra Shastra is Upasana Kanda and in this Shakta Upasana the Karma and J˝ana Kanda are mingled (Mishra). That is, Karma is the ritual expression of the teaching of J˝ana Kanda and is calculated to lead to it. There is nothing in it which contradicts Brahmaj˝ana. This fact, therefore, renders it more conducive to the attainment of such spiritual experience. Such higher ritual serves to reveal J˝ana in the mind of the Pashu. So it is rightly said that a Kula-j˝ani even if he be a Candala is better than a Brahmana. It is on these old Tantrik principles that the Indian religion of to-day can alone, if at all, maintain itself. They have no concern, however, with social life and what is called "social reform". For all secular purposes the Tantras recognize caste, but in spiritual matters spiritual qualifications alone prevail. There are many such sound and high principles in the Tantra Shastra for which it would receive credit, if it could only obtain a fair and unprejudiced consideration. But there are none so blind as those who will not see. And so we find that the "pure and high" ritual of the Veda is set in contrast with theca supposed "low and impure" notions of the Tantra. On the contrary, a Tantrik Pandit once said to me: "The Vaidik Karmakanda is as useful for ordinary men as is a washerman for dirty clothes. It helps to remove their impurities. But the Tantra Shastra is like a glorious tree which gives jeweled fruit."
Sadhana, as I have said, is defined as that which leads to Siddhi. Sadhana comes from the root "Sadh" -- to exert, to strive. For what'? That depends on the Sadhana and its object. Sadhana is any means to any end and not necessarily religious worship, ritual and discipline. He who does Hatha-yoga, for physical health and strength, who accomplishes a magical Prayoga, who practices to gain an "eightfold memory" and so forth are each doing Sadhana to gain a particular result (Siddhi), namely, health and strength, a definite magical result, increased power of recollection and so forth. A Siddhi again is any power gained as the result of practice. Thus, the Siddhi of Vetala Agni Sadhana is control over the fire-element. But the Sadhana which is of most account and that of which I here speak, is religious worship and discipline to attain true spiritual experience. What is thus sought and gained may be either Heaven (Svarga), secondary liberation (Gaunamukti) or full Nirvana. It is the latter which in the highest sense is Siddhi, and striving for that end is the chief and highest form of Sadhana. The latter term includes not merely ritual worship in the sense of adoration or prayer, but every form of spiritual discipline such as sacraments (Samskara), austerities (Tapas), the reading of Scripture (Svadhyaya), meditation (Dhyana) and so forth. Yoga is a still higher form of Sadhana; for the term Yoga means strictly not the result but the means whereby Siddhi in the form of Samadhi may be had. Ordinarily, however, Sadhana is used to express all spiritual disciplines based on the notion of worshipper and worshipped; referring thus to Upasana, not Yoga. The latter passes beyond these and all other dualisms to Monistic experience (Samadhi). The first leads up to the second by purifying the mind (Cittashuddhi), character and disposition (Bhava) so as to render it capable of J˝ana or Laya Yoga; or becomes itself Parabhakti which, as the Devibhagavata says, is not different from J˝ana. The great Siddhi is thus Moksha; and Moksha is Para-matma, that is, the Svarupa of Atma. But the Sadhaka is Jivatma, that is, Atma associated with Avidya of which Moksha or Paramatma is free. Avidya manifests as mind and body, the subtle and gross vehicles of Spirit. Man is thus therefore Spirit (Atmasvarupa), which is Saccidananda, Mind (Antahkarana) and body (Sthula-sharira). The two latter are forms of Shakti, that is, projections of the Creative Consciousness through and as its Maya. The essential operation of Maya and of the Ka˝cukas is to seemingly contract consciousness. As the Yoginihridaya Tantra says, the going forth (Prashara) of Consciousness (Samvit) is in fact a contraction (Sankoca as Matri, Mana, Meya or known, knowing, being known). Consciousness is thus finitized into a limited self which and other selves regard one another as mutually exclusive. The Self becomes its own object as the many forms of the universe. It conceives itself as separate from them. Oblivious in separateness of its essential nature it regards all other persons and things as different from itself. It acts for the benefit of its limited self. It is in fact selfish in the primary sense of the term; and this selfishness is the root of all its desires, of all its sins. The more mere worldly desires are fostered, the greater is the bondage of man to the mental and material planes. Excessively selfish desires display themselves as the sins of lust, greed, anger, envy and so forth. These bind more firmly than regulated desire and moreover lead to Hell (Naraka). The most general and ultimate object of Sadhana is therefore to cast off from the Self this veil of Avidya and to attain that Perfect experience which is Atmasvarupa or Moksha. But to know Brahman is to be Brahman. Brahma veda brahmaiva bhavati as Shruti says. In essence man is Brahman. But owing to Avidya it is necessary to do something in order that this ever existent fact may be realized. That action (Kriya) is the work of Sadhana in its endeavor to clear away the veiling of Avidya which is ignorance. In the sense that Avidya is being removed man may be said by Sadhana to become Brahman: that is, he realizes himself as what he truly is and was. Sadhana, therefore, by the grace of Devi or "descent of Shakti" (Shaktipata) "converts" (to use an English term) the Sadhaka, that is, turns him away from separatist worldly enjoyment to seek his own true self as the pure Spiritual Experience. This transformation is the work and aim of Sadhana. But this experience is not to be had in its completest sense at once and at a bound. It is, as Pata˝jali says, very rare. Indeed those who truly desire it are very few. Brahman is mindless (Amanah); for mind is a fetter on true consciousness. This mindlessness (Niralambapuri) is sought through the means of Yoga. But no would-be Yogi can attain this state unless his mind is already pure, that is, not only free from gross sin, but already possessing some freedom from the bondage of worldly desires, cultivated and trained, and desirous of liberation (Mumukshu). The aim, therefore, of preliminary Sadhana is to secure that purification of mind (Cittashuddhi) which is alone the basis on which Yoga works. The first object then is to restrain the natural appetites, to control the senses, and all that excessive selfishness beyond the bounds of Dharma which is sin (Papa). Dharma prescribes these bounds because unrestricted selfish enjoyment leads man downward from the path of his true evolution. Man is, as regards part of his nature, an animal, and has, according to the Shastra, passed through all animal forms in his 84 lakhs of previous births. But he has also a higher nature and if he conforms to the path laid out for him will progress by degrees to the state of that Spirit whose limited form he now is. If he strays from that path he falls back, and continued descent may bring him again to the state of apparently unconscious matter through many intervening Hells in this and other worlds. For this reason, the Shastra repeats that he is a "self-killer" who, having with difficulty attained to manhood, neglects the opportunities of further progress which they give him (Kularnava Tantra I). Therefore, he must avoid sin which leads to a fall. How can the impure realize the Pure? How can the mere seeker of sensual enjoyment desire formless liberating Bliss? How can he recognize his unity with all if he is bound in selfishness which is the root of all sin? How can he realize the Brahman who thinks himself to be the separate enjoyer of worldly objects and is bound by all sensualities? In various forms this is the teaching of all religions. It would be hardly necessary to elaborate what is so plain were it not apparently supposed that the Tantra Shastra is a strange exception to these universally recognized principles. "I thought," said a recent English correspondent of mine, "that the Tantra was a wholly bad lot belonging to the left hand path." This is not so: common though the notion be. The Shastra teaches that the Sadhaka must slay his "Six Enemies" which are the six cardinal sins and all others allied with them. Whether all the means enjoined are good, expedient, and fitting for the purpose is a different matter. This is a distinction which none of its critics ever makes; but which accuracy and justice require they should make if they condemn the method. It is one thing to say that a particular method prescribed for a good end is bad, dangerous, or having regard to the present position of the generality of men, unadvisable; and a totally different thing to say that the end which is sought is itself bad. The Tantra, like all Shastras, seeks the Paramartha and nothing else. Whether all the forms of search are good (and against the bulk of them no moral objection can be raised) is another question. Let it be for argument supposed that one or other of the means prescribed is not good but evil. Is it accurate or just to condemn not only the particular Shastra in which they occur (as the discipline of a particular class of Sadhakas only), but also the whole of the Agamas of all classes of worshippers under the misleading designation "The Tantra"?
I am here speaking from the point of view of one who is not a Hindu. Those, however, who are Hindus must logically either deny that the Tantra Shastra is the Word of Shiva or accept all which that Word says. For if a Tantra prescribes what is wrong this vitiates the authority, in all matters, of the Tantra in which wrong is ordained. It may be that other matters dealt with should be accepted, but this is so not because of any authority in the particular Tantra, but because they have the countenance elsewhere of a true authoritative scripture. From this logical position no escape is possible.
Let us for the moment turn to the celebrated Hymn to Kali (of, as those who read it might call, the extremist, that is Vira Shakta worship) entitled the Karpuradi Stotra (Tantrik Texts, Vol. IX), which like most (probably all) of its kind has both a material (Sthula) and a subtle (Sukshma) meaning. In the 19th verse it is said that the Devi delights to receive in sacrifice flesh, with bones and hair, of goat, buffalo, cat, sheep, camel and of man. In its literal sense this passage may be taken as an instance of the man-sacrifice of which we find traces throughout the world (and in some of the Tantras) in past stages of man's evolution. Human sacrifices permitted by other Semites were forbidden by the Mosaic Code, although there is an obvious allusion to such a custom in the account of the contemplated sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham (Gen. xxii). The Israelites, however, offered bloody sacrifices the savor of which God (Yahweh) is represented as enjoying, they being necessary in His honor and to avert His wrath (Gen. viii. 21; Lev. i. 9. 13, 17; Judges vi. 17, xii. 15; Gen. viii. 20-21; 1 Sam xxvi. 19). Nothing is more common in all religions (and Christianity as by some understood provides many examples) than to materially understand spiritual truths. For such is the understanding of material of Sthuladarshin (grossly seeing) men. But, even in the past, those who were spiritual referred all sacrifice to the self; an inner sacrifice which all must make who would attain to that Spirit which we may call Kali, God, Allah, or what we will. But what is the Svarupa-vyakhya or true meaning of this apparently revolting verse? The meaning is that inner or mental worship (Antaryaga) is done to Her who is black (Asita) because She is the boundless (Sita = Baddha) Consciousness (Cidrupa) whose true nature is eternal liberation (Nityamukta-Svabhava). And just as in outer worship material offerings (Upacara) are made, so the Sadhaka sacrifices to Her his lust (the Goat-Kama), his anger (the Buffalo-Krodha), his greed (the Cat-Lobha), his stupidity of illusion (the Sheep-Moha), his envy (the Camel-Matsaryya) and his pride and infatuation with worldly things (the Man-Mada). All will readily recognize in these animals and man the qualities (Guna) here attributed to them. It is to such as so sacrifice to whom is given Siddhi in the form of the five kinds of Mukti.
Competency for Tantra (Tantrashastradhikara) is described in the second Chapter of the Gandharva Tantra as follows: The aspirant must be intelligent (Daksha), with senses controlled (Jitendriya), abstaining from injury to all beings (Sarva himsa-vinirmukta), ever doing good to all (Sarvapranihite rata), pure (Shuci), a believer in Veda (Astika), a non-dualist (Dvaitahina), whose faith and refuge is in Brahman (Brahmanishtha, Brahmavadi, Brahma, Brahma-parayana). "Such an one," it adds, "is competent for this Scripture otherwise he is no Sadhaka" (So'smin shastre'dhikari tad anyatra na sadhakah). It will be allowed by all that these are strange qualifications for a follower of "a bad scripture of the left hand path." Those who are on such a path are not supposed to be seekers of the Brahman, nor solicitous for the good of all being. Rather the reverse. The Kularnava Tantra (which I may observe deals with the ill-famed Pa˝catattva ritual) gives in the thirteenth Chapter a long list of qualifications necessary in the case of a Tantrik disciple (Shishya). Amongst these, it rejects the slave of food and sexual pleasure (Jihvopasthapara); the lustful (Kamuka), shameless (Nirlajja), the greedy and voracious eater, the sinner in general who does not follow Dharma and Acara, who is ignorant, who has no desire for spiritual knowledge, who is a hypocrite, with Brahman on his lips but not in his heart, and who is without devotion (Bhakti). Such qualifications are inconsistent with its alleged intention to encourage sensuality unless we assume that all such talk in all the Shastras throughout all time is mere hypocrisy.
It is not however sufficient for the Sadhaka to turn from sin and the occasions of it. It is necessary to present the mind with a pure object and to busy it in pure actions. This not only excludes other objects and actions but trains the mind in such a way towards goodness and illumination that it at length no longer desires wrongful enjoyment; or lawful Pashu enjoyment or even enjoyment infused with a spiritual Bhava, and thus finally attains desirelessness (Nishkama-bhava). The mind dominated by matter, then regulated in matter, consciously releases itself to first work through matter, then against matter; then rising above matter it, at length, enters the Supreme State in which all the antithesis of Matter and Spirit have gone.
What then are the means by which spiritual Siddhi is attained? Some are possibly common to all religions; some are certainly common to more than one religion, such as objective ritual worship (Bahyapuja), inner or mental worship (Manasa-Puja or Antarpuja) of the Ishtadevata, prayer (Prarthana), sacraments (Samskara), self-discipline for the control of the will and natural appetites (Tapas), meditation (Dhyana) and so forth. There is, for instance, as I have elsewhere pointed out, a remarkable similarity between the Tantrik ritual of the Agamas and Christian ritual in its Catholic form. It has been suggested that Catholicism is really a legacy of the ancient civilization, an adaptation of the old religions (allied in many respects with Shakta worship) of the Mediterranean races; deriving much of its strength from its non-Christian elements. I will not observe on this except to say that you do not dispose of the merits of any ritual by showing (if it be the fact) that it is extremely old and non-Christian. Christianity is one of the great religions, but even its adherents, unless ignorant, will not claim for it the monopoly of all that is good.
To deal in detail with Tantrik Sadhana would take more than a volume. I have shortly summarized some important rituals. I will now shortly indicate some of the general psychological principles on which it is based and which if understood, will give the key to an understanding of the extraordinary complexity and variety of the actual ritual details. I will also illustrate the application of these principles in some of the more common forms of worship.
It is recognized in the first place that mind and body mutually react upon one another. There must therefore be a physical Sadhana as the groundwork of the mental Sadhana to follow. India has for ages recognized what is now becoming generally admitted, namely, that not only health but clarity of mind, character, disposition, and morals are affected by the nourishment, exercise, and general treatment of the body. Thus, from the moral aspect, one of the arguments against the use of meat and strong drink is the encouragement they give to animal passions. Why then it may be asked do these form a part of some forms of Shakta Sadhana'? I answer this later. It is however a Hindu trait to insist on purity of food and person. Tantrik Hathayoga deals in full with the question of bodily cleanliness, food, sexual continence, and physical exercise. But there are injunctions, though less strict, for the ordinary householder to whom wine and other intoxicating drinks and the eating of beef (thought by some to be a material foundation of the British Empire, but now recognized by several medical authorities to be the source of physical ills) and some other foods, as also all gluttony, as regards permitted food, are forbidden. Periodical fasts are enjoined; as also, during certain religious exercises, the eating of the pure food called Havishyannam made of fruit, vegetable and rice. The sexual life has also its regulations. In short, it is said, let the body be well treated and kept pure in order to keep the mind sane and pure and a good and not rebellious instrument for mental Sadhana. In the Tantras will be found instances of several necessary bodily perfections in the Sadhaka. Thus he should not be deformed, with defective limbs, wanting in, or having excess of any limb, weak of limb, crippled, blind, deaf, dirty, diseased, with unnatural movements, paralyzed, slothful in action (Kularnava, XIII).
Let us now pass to the mind. For the understanding of Hindu ritual it is necessary to understand both Hindu philosophy and Hindu psychology. This point, so far as I am aware, has never been observed Certainly Indian ritual has never been dealt with on this basis. It has generally been considered sufficient to class it as "Mummery" and then to pass on to something supposed to be more worthy of consideration. It is necessary to remember that (outside successful Yoga) the mind (at any rate in its normal state) is never for one moment unoccupied. At every moment of time worldly objects are seeking to influence it. Only those actually do so, to which the mind, in its faculty as Manas, gives attention. In one of the Tantrik Texts (Satcakranirupana), the Manas is aptly spoken of as a door-keeper who lets some enter and keeps others outside. For this reason it is called Samkalpavikalpatmaka: that is, it selects (Samkalpa) some things which the senses (Indriyas) present to it and rejects (Vikalpa) others. If the Manas attends to the sensation demanding entrance, it is admitted and passed on to the Buddhi and not otherwise. So the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says, "My Manas was elsewhere and therefore I did not hear." This is a secret for the endurance of pain which not only the martyrs and the witches knew, but some others who have suffered lesser pains. When the sensation is passed on to the Buddhi, as also when the latter acts upon the material of remembered precepts, there is formed in the Buddhi a Vritti. The latter is a modification of the Mind into the form of the perceived object. Unless a man is a Siddhayogi, it is not possible to avoid the formation of mental Vrittis. The object, there fore, of Sadhana is firstly to take the attention away from undesirable objects and then to place a desirable object in their stead. For the mind must feed on something. The object is the Ishtadevata. When a Sadhaka fully, sincerely and deeply contemplates and worships his Ishtadevata, his mind is formed into a Vritti in the form of the Devata. As the latter is all purity, the mind, which contemplates it, is during and to the depth of such contemplation pure. By prolonged and repeated worship the mind becomes naturally pure and of itself tends to reject all impure notions. What to others is a source of impurity is pure. To the pure, as the Hellenes said, all things are pure. Things are not impure. It is the impure mind which makes them so. He learns to see that everything and all acts are manifestations of the Divine. He who realizes Consciousness in all objects no longer has desire therefor. In this way a good disposition or Bhava, as it is called, is attained which ripens into that which is divine or Devatabhava. This is the principle on which all Sadhana, as well as what is called specifically Mantrayoga, is based. It is profoundly said in the Kularnva Tantra that a man must rise by means of the same things which are the cause of his fall. If you fall on the ground you must raise yourself by it. The mind is thus controlled by means of its own object (Vishaya); that is, the world of name and form (Namarupa). The unregulated mind is distracted by Namarupa. But the same Namarupa may be used as the first means of escape therefrom. A particular form of Namarupa productive of pure Bhava is therefore given as the object of meditation. This is called Sthula or Saguna Dhyana of the five Devatas. Material media are used as the first steps whereby the Formless One is, through Yoga, attained, such as Images (Pratima), emblems (Linga, Shalagrama), pictures (Citra), mural markings (Bhittirekha), Jar (Ghata), Mandalas and Yantras. To these worship (Puja) is done with other rites such as Japa, Nyasa and so forth, and gestures (Mudra). Siddhi in this, is the Samadhi called Mahabhava.
The second principle to be noted is that the object or mind's content, as also the service (Seva) of it, may be either gross (Sthula) or subtle (Sukshma). This distinction pervades all the rituals and rightly so. Men are not all at the same degree of intellectual and spiritual advancement. For the simple-minded there are simple material and mental images. Progressively considered, the objects used to fix in the mind the thought of the Devata are images in human or semihuman form, similar pictures, non-human forms or emblems (such as Linga and Gauripatta, Shalagrama, the Jar or Ghata, Mandalas) and lastly Yantras. The image is not merely used for instruction (ut pictura pro scriptura haberetur), or to incite in the mind a mental picture, but after the Prana-Pratishtha rite is itself worshipped. So also amongst Christians, where however this rite is unknown, "eikones acheiropoietoi" (what are called in Sanskrit Svayambu emblems) and wonder-working images have been directly venerated. Superficial persons doubtless think themselves profound when they ask how the Devata can be invoked (Avahana). To them also the dismissal (Visarjana) savors of childish impudence and absurdity. How (I have read) can God be told to come and go P A Christian who sings the Hymn, "Veni creator Spiritus," is indeed ignorant if he fancies that at his request the Holy Ghost comes to him flying through the skies. As Shamkara says, Spirit (Atma) never comes and never goes. That which in fact moves is the mind of the Sadhaka in which, if pure, Spirit manifests Itself. That Spirit is in all places, and when the Sadhaka's mind fully realizes its presence in the Image, the latter as the manifestation of that Spirit is a fitting object of worship. Some knowledge of Vedanta is needful for the understanding and performance of image worship. Yantra worship is however higher and is fitter for those who have reached a more advanced stage in Sadhana. The term, as I have said, literally means an instrument; that by which anything is accomplished. In Upasana it is that instrument by which the mind is fixed upon the Devata of worship. It is, as drawn, a diagram consisting of lines, angles and curves, varying with the Devata worshipped as also, to some extent, according as it is a Puja or Dharana Yantra, the whole being included in a common Bhupura. A Yantra is three-dimensional, though it is very generally represented by a drawing on the flat. The Yantra and each part of it as representing certain Shaktis, has a significance which is known to the instructed Sadhaka. On the great Sri Yantra with its Baindava and other Cakras there is an entire literature. It is neglected now-a-days. Those who have fully understood it are masters in Tantra Shastras. The subject is shortly dealt with in the Introduction to the Tantraraja Tantra (Vol. VIII, Tantrik Texts). Not only is the object of worship subtle or gross, but so also is the ritual with which it is worshipped. For the simple Indian, worship avails itself of the ordinary incidents of daily life understood by even the most ignorant. And so we see the tending of the idol, waking it, bathing it, giving it food, putting it to sleep and so forth. In ordinary worship there is the offer of flowers, light, incense and the like Upacara. In the subtle inner or mental worship (Antarpuja) these are but symbols. Thus the J˝aneshvara Samhita cited in the Mantrayogarahasyanirnaya speaks of the offering of "flowers of feeling" (Bhavapushpa) to the Divinity -- namely, the virtue of selflessness (Anahamkara), desirelessness (Araga), guilelessness (Adambha), freedom from malice and envy (Advesha, Amatsaryya), and infatuation and delusion (Amada and Amoha) and control over the feelings and mind (Akshobhaka, Amanaka). He who can truly make such offerings to Devi is a high Sadhaka indeed. The Shastra makes wonderful provision for all types. It recognizes that there must be a definite object to which the mind must turn; chooses that object with a view to the capacities of the Sadhaka; and similarly regulates the ensuing worship. Much ignorant talk takes place as to the supposed worship of the Formless. Worship implies an object of worship and every object has some form. But that form and the ritual vary to meet the needs of differing capacities and temperaments; commencing with the more or less anthropomorphic image (Doll or Puttali, as those who dislike such worship call it) with its material service reproducing the ways of daily life, passing through pictures, emblems, Yantras, and mental worship to adoration of the Point of Light (Jyotirbindu) in which at length, consciousness being merged, all worship ceases.
The Shaktirahasya summarizes the stages of progress in a short verse, thus: "By images, ceremonies, mind, identification, and knowing the Self, a mortal attains Liberation (Kaivalya)".
In the same way, meditation is either gross (Sthula) or subtle (Sukshma). The forms of the Mother of the Universe are threefold. There is first the Supreme (Para) form of which the Vishnuyamala says "None know". There is next Her subtle form which consists of Mantra. But as the mind cannot settle itself upon that which is formless, She appears also in physical form as celebrated in the Devi-stotras of the Puranas and Tantras.
The third principle to be noticed is the part which the body is made to take in the ritual. Necessarily there is action in any case to carry out the ritual, but this is so prescribed as to emphasize the mental operation (Manasikriya), and in addition certain symbolic gestures (Mudra) are prescribed. The body is made to take its part in the ritual, the mental processes being thus emphasized and intensified. This is based on a well-known natural tendency. When we speak with conviction and intensity of feeling, we naturally adopt appropriate movements of the body and gestures of the hands. We thus speak with the whole body.
Take for example Nyasa which like Yantra is peculiar to the Tantras. The object of the Sadhaka is to identify himself with the Devata he contemplates and thus to attain Devatabhava for which it is, in its many forms, a most powerful means. Regarding the body of the Devata as composed of Bija Mantras, he not merely imagines that his own body is so composed but he actually places (Nyasa means placing) these Bijas with the tip of his fingers on the various parts of his own body. The Abhishta Devata is thus in imagination (expressed by outward acts) placed in each of the parts and members of the Sadhaka's body, and then with the motion of his arms he, by Vyapaka Nyasa, as it were, spreads the presence of the Devata all over his body. He thus feels himself permeated in every part by the presence of the Devata and identified with the Divine Self in that its form. How, it may be asked, can the Devata be spread as it were butter on bread? These are crude questionings and because critics of the ritual do not get beyond this crude state of mind, this ritual is not understood. Devata is not spread. God is everywhere and He is not to be placed by man's fingers anywhere. What is done is to produce in man's mind the notion that he is so spread. Again with certain ritual acts Mudra is made. This Mudra expresses by the hands the thought of the worshipper of which it is sometimes a kind of manual shorthand.
A further important point for consideration is that the mental Vritti is not only strengthened by the accompanying physical action, but by a prolonged repetition of either or both. There may be a literal repetition of either or both, of which a prominent example is Japa of Mantra with which I have dealt in the Chapters on Shakti as Mantra and on the Varnamala; or the object of contemplation may be severed into parts, as where meditation is done not simply on the Devata as a whole, but on each of the parts of His body and then on the whole; or a particular result, such as the dissolution of the Tattvas in Bhutasuddhi, may be analyzed into the component parts of a process commencing with the first movement and ending with the last. Repetition of a word and idea fixes it in the mind, and if the same essential thought can be presented in varied forms, the effect is more powerful and at the same time less calculated to tire. "Vain repetition" is itself in the mouths of many a vain criticism when not a platitude. If it is in fact vain, it is vain. But it need not be so. In the current gross way of looking at things it is asked, "Will the Deity yield (like a modern politician) to repeated clamor?" The answer is the Devata is not so affected. What is in fact affected is, the mind of the Sadhaka himself, which, being thus purified by insistent effort, becomes a fit medium for the manifestation of a divine consciousness (Devatabhava). In short fact Indian ritual cannot be understood unless the Vedantik principles of which they are a particular practical application are understood. Even when in devotion, complete understanding and feeling are not attained, the intention to gain both will achieve success by quickening worshipper's interest and strengthening the forces of the will.
A word now as to Symbolism, which exists in all religions in varying degrees. The Tantra Shastra is extraordinarily full of it in all its kinds -- form, color, language, number, action. The subject is a highly interesting but very lengthy one. I can only make two remarks with regard to it here. Red is a favorite color in the Shakta Tantras. As pointed out in the Bhavanopanisad (Sutra 28) an Upanishad of the Kadimata and Bhaskararaya's commentary thereon, Redness denotes Raga and Vimarsha Shakti. (See Introduction to Tantraraja Tantra Vol. VIII, Tantrik Texts, and Vol. XI, Tantrik Texts.) There is a good deal of what is called erotic symbolism in some of the Tantras. This is apt to shock many English people, who are by no means all so moral in fact as some might think this sensitivity suggests. "The Hindus are very natural as regards sexual matters." An English clergyman remarks (E. F. Elwin India and the Indians, p. 70) "A leading Indian Christian said to me 'there is no reserve among us in the sense that you English people have it. There is nothing which our children do not know." It should be added, says this author, "that the knowledge of evil (why I may ask is it always evil?) does not as a matter of course produce evil". The mind of the ancients was a natural one and they called a spade a spade and not an horticultural instrument, and were not shocked thereby. For instance, coupled Yab-Yum figures were not thought impure. Another point has been observed upon by the Italian author Guido Gozzano, namely, that the European has lost the power of "worshipping through the flesh" which existed in antique pagan times. (Verso la cuna del Mondo). Fear of erotic symbols is rather indicative in the generality of cases of a tendency to weakness and want of self-control. The great Edward Carpenter speaks of the "impure hush" in these matters. A person whose mind is naturally bent towards sensual thoughts but who desires to control them has no doubt a fear, which one readily understands, of anything which may provoke such thoughts. But such a man is, in this respect, lower than him who looks upon natural things in a natural way without fear of injury to himself; and greatly lower than him to whom all is a manifestation of the One Consciousness, and who realizes this in those things which are the cause of all to the imperfectly self-governed Pashu. Nothing is in itself impure. It is the mind which makes it so. It is however absolutely right that persons who feel that they have not sufficient self-control should, until they gain it, avoid what they think may do them injury. Apart from symbolism there are statements in some Shastras or so-called Shastras which are, in the ordinary modern sense, obscene. Some years ago a man wrote to me that he had come across in the Tantras "obscenities the very reading of which was demoralizing". The very fact that these portions of the Scripture had such an effect on him is a sufficient reason that he and others similarly situated should not read them. The Tantra Shastra recognizes this principle by certain injunctions into which I cannot enter here. The Kularnava expressly says that the Chapter on the Wine ritual is not to be read (Na pathed asavollasam); that is, by the unqualified.
Again it is not necessary to admit either that every Text which calls Itself a Tantra is a genuine one or if so that it was the product of a high class Sadhaka. What is authoritative is that which is generally admitted to be so. Even if the Scripture be one of general acceptance, there is another matter to be remembered. As pointed out in Karpuradistotra (Hymn to Kali, where instances are given), an apparently "obscene" statement may disguise something which is not so. Why it may be asked? An intending disciple may be questioned as to such passages. If he is a gross-minded or stupid man his answers will show it. Those who are not fit for the reception of the doctrine may be kept off on hearing or reading such statements which may be of such a character that anyone but a fool would know that they were not to be taken literally. It may be that the passages which my correspondent read were of this character.
As regards erotic symbolism, however, (for to this I now limit myself) it is not peculiar to the Tantras. It is as old as the hills and may be found in other Scriptures. It is a matter of embarrassment to the class I have mentioned that the Bible is not free from it. Milton, after referring to Solomon's wedded leisures says, "In the Song of Songs which is generally believed, even in the jolliest expressions, to figure the spousals of the Church with Christ, sings of a thousand raptures between those two lovely ones far on the hither side of carnal enjoyment." If we would picture the cosmic processes we must take the materials therefor from our own life. It is not always necessary to go to the erotic life. But man has generally done so for reasons I need not discuss here; and his selections must sometimes be admitted to be very apt. It has however been said that "throughout Shakta symbolism and pseudo-philosophizing, there lies at the basis of the whole system, the conception of sexual relationship as the ultimate explanation of the universe." Reading these words as they stand, they are nonsense. What is true is that some Shakta Tantras convey philosophic and scientific truths by the media of erotic imagery; which is another matter. But so also does Upanishad. The charge of pseudo-philosophy is ill-founded, unless the Advaita-vedanta is such. The Shakta Tantra simply presents the Vedantik teachings in a symbolical ritualistic form for the worshipper to whom it also prescribes the means whereby they may be realized in fact. Those who think otherwise have not mastered the alphabet of the subject.
I will conclude with a reply to a possible objection to what I have above written. It may be said that some of the rituals to which I have alluded are not merely the property of the Tantra Shastras and that they are not entitled to any credit for them. It is a fact that some (many have become extinct) Vaidik rituals such as the ten Samskaras, Sandhya, Homa and so forth are imbedded in and have been adopted by the Agamas. These and other rituals are to be found also in the Puranas. In any case, the Agama is what it is whether its elements are original or derived. If the rites adopted are creditable then praise must be given for the adoption of that which is good. If they are not, blame equally attaches to the original as to the copy. What however the Agamas have adopted has been shaped so as to be suitable for all, that is, for others than those for whom the original rituals were intended. Further many of the rituals here described seem to have been introduced by and to be peculiar to the Agamas. Possibly some of these may have been developed from other forms or seeds of form in the Vaidik ritual. The whole subject of Indian ritual and its origins is still awaiting inquiry. Personally I am disposed to favor the view that the Agamas have made a contribution which is both original and considerable. To me also the contribution seems to have greater conformity with Vedantik doctrine, which is applied by the ritual in a psychological manner which is profound. On an "historical" view of the matter this seems necessarily to be so. For, according to that view, the early Vaidik ritual either antedated or was contemporaneous with the promulgation of the Vedantik doctrine to be found in the Upanishads, for the general acceptance of which considerable time was necessary. It could not therefore (if at all) embody that doctrine in the same way or to the same degree as a Ritual developed at a time when that doctrine had been widely disseminated, generally accepted and at least to a greater degree systematized. Ritual is only a practical expression of doctrine, and the Agamas, according to a generally accepted view, did not come into being earlier than a date later than the first and chief Upanishads, and perhaps at the close of what is generally called the Aupanishadic age. No "historical" argument, however, is yet entirely trustworthy, as the material upon which it is to be based has not been sufficiently explored. For myself I am content to deal with present-day facts. According to the Indian view, all Shastras are various parts of one whole and that Part which as a present-day fact contains the bulk of the ritual, now or recently in practice, consists of the Tantras of the various schools of Agama. As an Indian author and follower of the Shaivagama has said -- the Temple ritual throughout India is governed by the Agamas. And this must be so, if it be the fact as alleged, that Temples, Images, and other matters were unknown to the original Vaidik Aryas. If the Agamas have adopted some of the ritual of the latter, those in their turn in course of time took to themselves the practices of those outside the body of men for whom the Vaidik Karma-kanda was originally designed. Vedanta in its various forms has now for centuries constituted the religious notions of India, and the Agamas in their differing schools are its practical expression in worship and ritual affording the means whereby Vedantik doctrine is realized.
The notoriety of the Shakta Pa˝catattva ritual with wine and women has thrown into the shade not only the practical topics with which I have dealt, but every other, including the valuable philosophical presentment of Vedanta contained in the Shakta Tantra. Notwithstanding, and indeed because, of the off-hand and (in certain respects) ignorant condemnation which this ritual has received, the interests of both scholarship and fairness (which by the way should be identical) require, that we should first ascertain the facts, think clearly and fearlessly, and then determine without prejudice. From both the Shastrik and historical point of view the subject is of such importance that it is not possible for me to here deal with it otherwise than in a very general way. It is necessary, however, in a paper on Upasana, to at least touch upon the matter because as against everything one says about the Tantras, there is raised the express or implied query "That may be all very well. But what about the infamous Pa˝camakara?" Anything said in favor of the Shastra is thus discounted in advance.
We must first disentangle the general principles involved from their particular application. The principle may be sound and yet the application may not be so. We may, for instance, approve striving for Vedantik detachment (Audasinya), whilst at the same time we may reject the Aghora's application of it in eating human carrion. Next, let us see what in fact is the ritual application of these principles. Then let us judge the intention with which the ritual was prescribed. A principle may be good and the intention may be good, but its application may be intrinsically bad, or at least dangerous, and therefore inexpedient as leading to abuse. In life it is a mistake to altogether neglect the pragmatical aspect of any theory. Logic and life do not always go hand in hand. Lastly, let us see whether the application is good or bad or inexpedient; or whether it is partially one or the other.
In the first place it is necessary to clear the air of some common misconceptions. It is commonly thought that all the practitioners of the Pa˝catattva ritual with wine, woman, and so forth are immoral men, professing to follow a Scripture which does not accept the ordinary rules of morality as regards food, drink and woman which enjoin that men should curb their sensual desires. Rather is it thought that it teaches that men should yield to them and thus "enjoy" themselves. This view turns at least this portion of the Shakta Tantra into a scripture of libertinism. thinly veiling itself in pseudo-religious forms. Its followers are supposed to be in the condition of a sensual man who finds his wishes thwarted by the rules of morality of his fellows around him and who, asking himself how he can infringe those rules under color of some supposed authority, gives to the fulfillment of desire a "religious" sanction. In the words of an English writer, the bent towards religion of some sort is so strong in India that some of its people even "sin religiously". They are, on this view, hypocrites putting themselves to a deal of unnecessary trouble, for men can and do in India, as elsewhere, gratify their desires without religious rituals, and if wishful to establish a theory of enjoyment justifying their conduct, they can, as some have also done in India as elsewhere, advocate an "epicurean" materialism for that purpose. For the true sensualist who wishes to get at the object of his desire, these long Tantrik rituals would be obstructive and wearisome. Whatever may be thought of the ritual in question, these notions of it are wrong. The charge, however, if unrefuted, constitutes a blot on this country's civilization, which has been allowed to remain because some who know better are either afraid to acknowledge that they follow these rites, or if they do not, that it may be supposed that they do so. This blot, in so far as it is not justified by actual fact, I propose in the present Chapter to remove.
The word Shastra or Scriptures comes from the root Shas, to control, because its object is to control the conduct of men otherwise prone to evil. Whether its methods be mistaken or not, the Shakta Scripture is a Shastra. Morality or Dharma is preached by all Shastras whether of East or West. That morality (Dharma) is in its essentials the same in all the great Scriptures. For what purpose is conduct controlled? The Indian answer is -- in order that man may make for himself a good Karma which spells happiness in this and the next world (Paraloka), and that then he may at length free himself of all Karma and attain Liberation (Moksha). Bad Karma leads to suffering here and in the Hells of the afterlife. This is taught in the Shakta, as in other Shastras, which seek to train the Sadhaka to attain Liberation. In a work of the present scope, I have not the space to cite authority in support of all these elementary propositions. There is, however, an abundance of Texts in support of them. Consult, for instance, the grand opening Chapter of the Kularnava Tantra, which points out the frailty of Man, the passing nature of this world and of all it gives to Man, and his duty to avail himself of that Manhood which is so difficult of attainment so that he does not fall but rises and advances to Liberation. I cite the Kularnava not merely because it is reputed to be a great Tantra and authority readily accessible, but because it teaches in full the practice of the rituals under consideration. But what is Liberation? It is the state of Brahman the Pure. How can the Pure be attained by counseling the practice of what the author of the Shastra thought to be impure. Every Tantra counsels the following of Dharma or morality. The same Tantra (above cited) in its Chapter dealing with the necessary qualifications of a disciple points out that he must be of good character and in particular must not be lewd (Kamuka) and given over to drink, gluttony and woman. If he is so, he is not competent for this particular ritual and must be trained by other disciplines (Pashvacara).
I here and hereafter deal with these particular infractions of morality because they alone in this matter concern us in our attempt to understand a ritual which is supposed to be an instance of the commission of these very sins.
The Mahanirvana Tantra, which is of special interest because it is an attempt to provide a general code including law (in its European sense) for the followers of its cult, makes provision, amongst other matters, for general decency and so forth, for the state-punishment (unknown to English legislation) of men who go with prostitutes (XI. 43) as also with unmarried girls (ib., 29-34), with women of prohibited degree (ib.), with the wives of others (ib., 35-41), or who merely look with an eye of lust upon them (ib., 47), stating (ib., 46) "A man should consider as wife only that woman who has been married to him according to Brahma (the common) or Shaiva form. All other women are the wives of others." It deplores (I-37) the evil customs of the present age (Kaliyuga) with its irreligion, lust, adultery, gluttony and addiction to strong drinks. How strangely hypocritical are these laments in a Shastra which is supposed to consciously promote the very tendencies it deplores. It has been said that the Mahanirvana is a worthy exception in an unworthy class. It is true that this Tantra evidences what may be called a reforming tendency on account of abuses which had occurred and thus puts restrictions on the ordinary householder as regards particular portions of the ritual, a fact which made a Pandit, of whom I was told, say that in comparison with the Mahanila Tantra it was "a woman's Shastra". Nevertheless on the general matters here dealt with it is not an exception. Possibly those who so speak had only read the Mahanirvana which is the first Tantra to be translated in English. Certainly nothing that they say indicates any real acquaintance with any other. There are in fact other fine and more philosophical Tantras, and all the great authoritative Scriptures are at one, so far as I am aware, on the general question of morality and the search for Liberation with which I here deal. How, as I have said, could it, on commonly accepted principles, be otherwise? Whether the Sadhana they teach is good and effective for the end sought is another matter, and still more so is the question whether it has been productive in fact of abuse.
What then arc the general Indian rules touching drinking, eating, and sexual intercourse? In ancient Vaidik times intoxicating liquor was taken in the form of Soma. Such drink was found, however, in the course of time to be productive of great evils, and was thrice cursed by Brahma, Shukracarya and Krishna. It was then prohibited with the result that India has been the most temperate among the great peoples of the world, Manu having declared that though the drinking of wine was a natural tendency, abstention therefrom was productive of great fruit, The Ushanah Samhita says: "Wine should not be drunk, given or taken" (Madyam apeyam adeyam agrahyam). The drinking of wine is one of the great sins (Mahapataka) involving expiation (Prayashcitta), and otherwise leading the sinner to that great Hell in which the slayer of a Brahmana is confined (Vishnu Purana, II. c. vi). In ancient Vaidik times, meat was eaten by the fair-colored auburn-haired Aryans, including even beef, as is done by their fellow-Aryans of the West. But in process of time the slaughter of cattle for food was absolutely prohibited and certain meats such as that of the domesticated fowl and pig were held to be impure. As regards the eating of flesh and fish to-day, I believe the higher castes (outside Bengal) who submit to the orthodox Smarta discipline take neither. Nor do high and strict Brahmanas in that province. But the bulk of the people there, both men and women, eat fish, and men consume the flesh of male goats previously offered to the Deity. Grain of all kinds is a common diet. I speak, of course, of orthodox Hindus. Some who have adopted Western civilization have taken over with it the eating of beef, the whisky peg and champagne, the curses of Brahma, Shukra, Krishna, and the Hell of their Shastras being nothing to them.
As regards Durga Devi the absurd statement has been made (Empire of India by Sir Bampfylde Fuller, 161) that "to extremists among Her votaries any sexual restraint is a denial of Her authority." Yet it is common ground to all Shastras that sexual intercourse (Maithuna) by a man with a woman who is not lawful to him is a sin. The Vaidik Dharma is strict on this point. It forbids not merely actual Maithuna but what is called Ashtamga (eightfold) Maithuna, namely, Smaranam (thinking upon it), Kirttanam (talking of it), Keli (play with women), Prekshanam (making eyes at women), Guhyabhashanam (talk in private with women), Samkalpa (wish or resolve for sexual union), Adhyavasaya (determination towards it), Kriyanishpatti (actual accomplishment of the sexual act). In short, the Pashu or follower of the ordinary ritual (and except for ritual purposes those who are not Pashu) should, in the words of the Shaktakramiya (cited by Mahamahopadhyaya Krishnanatha Nyayapa˝canana Bhattacarya in his Commentary to v. 15 of the Karpuradistotra, Hymn to Kali), avoid Maithuna, conversation on the subject and assemblies of women.
Maithunam tatkathalapam tadgoshthim parivarjayet
Even in marriage certain rules are to be observed such as that which prescribes intercourse on the fifth day after the termination of the period (Ritukalam vina devi ramanam parivarjayet) which is said by the Nitya Tantra to be a characteristic of the Pashu. Polygamy is permissible to all Hindus.
The Divinity in woman, which the Shakta Tantra in particular proclaims, is also recognized in the ordinary Vaidik teaching. The wife is a House-Goddess (Grihadevata) united to her husband by the sacrament (Samskara) of marriage and is not to be regarded merely as an object of enjoyment. Further, Vaidik Dharma (now neglected) prescribes that the householder should ever worship with his wife as necessary partner therein, Sastriko dharmamacaret (see also Matsyasukta Tantra, XXXI). According to the sublime notions of Shruti the union of man and wife is a veritable sacrificial rite -- a sacrifice in fire (Homa) wherein she is both hearth (Kunda) and flame -- and he who knows this as Homa attains Liberation (see Mantra 13 of Homaprakarana of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and Edward Carpenter's remarks on what is called the "obscenity" of this Upanishad). Similarly, the Tantrik Mantra for Maithuna runs (see Pranatoshini and Tantrasara 698), "Om, Into the Fire which is Spirit (Atma) brightened by (the pouring thereon) of the ghee of merit and demerit, I by the path of Sushumna (the central 'nerve') ever sacrifice (do Homa of) the functions of the senses using the mind as the ladle. Svaha." (In the Homa rite the performer pours ghee into the fire which causes it to shoot up and flame. The ghee is poured in with a ladle. This being internal Homa the mind is the ladle which makes the offering of ghee).
Dharmadharma-havirdipte atmagnau manasa sruca
Sushumnavartmana nityam akshavrittir juhomyaham:
Here sexual union takes on the grandeur of a great rite (Yaj˝a) compared with which the ordinary mere animal copulation to ease desire, whether done grossly, shamefacedly, or with flippant gallantry is base. It is because this high conception of the function is not known that a "grossness" is charged against the association of sexual function with religion which does not belong to it. Grossness is properly attributable to those who mate like dumb animals, or coarsely and vulgarly, not to such as realize in this function the cosmic activity of the active Brahman or Shiva-Shakti with which they then, as always, unify themselves.
It has been already explained that Sadhakas have been divided into three classes -- Pashu, Vira and Divya, and for each the Shastra prescribes a suitable Sadhana, Tamasik, Rajasik and Sattvik accordingly. As later stated, the Pa˝catattva ritual in its full literal sense is not for the Pashu, and (judging upon principle) the Divya, unless of the lower ritual order, should be beyond it. In its fullest and literal sense it is for the Vira and is therefore called Rajasik Sadhana or Upasana. It is to be noted however that Pashu, Vira and Divya are the three primary classes (Mukhyasadhaka). Besides these there are secondary divisions (Gaunasadhaka). Thus in addition to the primary or Svabhava Pashu there is the Vibhava Pashu who is a step towards Viracara. Viras again have been said to be of three kinds, Svabhava Vira, Vibhava Vira, and Mantrasiddha Vira. It is to this Rajasik Puja that the Hymn to Cinnamasta from the Devirahasyakhanda of the Rudrayamala refers when the Vira therein says,
Pashujanavimukho'ham Bhairavim ashrito'ham
Gurucaranarato'ham Bhairavo'ham Shivo'ham.
("I follow the worship wherein there is enjoyment of wine, flesh and wife as also other different forms of Kula worship. In Bhairavi (the Goddess) I seek my refuge. To the feet of Guru I am devoted. Bhairava am I. Shiva am I.")
To the ordinary English reader the association of eating, drinking and sexual union with worship will probably be incongruous, if not downright repulsive. "Surely," he might say, "such things are far apart from prayer to God. We go and do them, it is true, because they are a necessity of our animal nature, but prayer or worship have nothing to do with such coarseness. We may pray before or after (as in Grace) on taking food, but the physical acts between are not prayer. Such notions are based partly on that dualism which keeps separate and apart God and His creature, and partly on certain false and depreciatory notions concerning matter and material functions. According to Indian Monism such worship is not only understandable but (I am not speaking of any particular form of it) the only religious attitude consistent with its principles. Man is, in his essence or spirit, divine and one with the universal Spirit. His mind and body and all their functions arc divine, for they are not merely a manifestation of the Power (Shakti) of God but that Power itself. To say that matter is in itself low or evil is to calumniate that Power. Nothing in natural function is low or impure to the mind which recognizes it as Shakti and the working of Shakti. It is the ignorant and, in a true sense, vulgar mind which regards any natural function as low or coarse. The action in this case is seen in the light of the inner vulgarity of mind. It has been suggested that in its proper application the Maithuna Karma is only an application to sexual function of the principles of Yoga (Masson-Oursel Historie de la Philosophie Indienne, pp. 231-233). Once the reality of the world as grounded in the Absolute is established, the body seems to be less an obstacle to freedom, for it is a form of that self-same Absolute. The creative function being natural is not in itself culpable. There is no real antinomy between Spirit and Nature which is an instrument for the realization of the Spirit. The method borrows, it is said (ib.), that of Yoga not to frustrate, but to regulate enjoyment. Conversely enjoyment produces Yoga by the union of body and spirit. In the psychophysiological rites of these Shaktas, enjoyment is not an obstacle to Yoga but may also be a means to it. This, he says, is an important conception which recalls the discovery of the Mahayana that Samsara and Nirvana are one. For here are made one, Yoga which liberates and Bhoga which enchains (ib.). It will then be readily understood that according to this doctrine only those are competent for this Yoga who are truly free, or on the way to freedom, of all dualism.
External worship demands certain acts and instruments, such as bodily attitude, speech, and materials with which the rite is done, such as flowers, incense, lights, water and other offerings. These materials and instruments are called Upacara. Orclinarily there are sixteen of these, but they may be more or less. There is nothing absolute in either the quality, quantity or nature of the offerings. Ordinarily such things are offered as might be given to guests or friends or others whom the worshipper loves, such as seat (Asana), welcome (Svagata), water to wash the feet (Padya), food (Naivedya), cloths (Vasana), jewels (Abharana), with other things such as lights, incense and flowers. In inner or mental worship (Manasapuja) these are not things material, but of the mind of the worshipper. Pleasing things are selected as offering to the Devata because the worshipper wishing to please Devata offers what he thinks to be pleasant and would be glad himself to receive. But a man who recognized the divinity (and therefore value) of all things might offer any. With such a disposition a piece of mud or a stone would be as good an offering as any other. There are some things the ordinary man looks upon as "unclean" and, as long as he does so, to offer such a thing would be an offense. But, if to his "equal eye" these things are not so, they might be given. Thus the Vira-sadhana of the Shakta Tantra makes ritual use of what will appear to most to be impure and repulsive substances. This (as the J˝anarnava Tantra says) is done to accustom the worshipper not to see impurity in them but to regard them as all else, as manifestation of Divinity. He is taught that there is nothing impure in itself in natural functions though they be made, by misuse or abuse, the instruments of impurity. Here again impurity consists not in the act per se but in the way and in the intention with which it is done. To a Vira all things, acts, and functions, done with right intention, may be instruments of worship. For, a Vira is one who seeks to overcome Tamas by Sattva. Therefore, the natural functions of eating, drinking and sexual union may be used as Upacara of worship. This does not mean that a man may do what he likes as regards these things and pass them off as worship. They must be rightly done, otherwise, a man would be offering his sin to Devata. The principle of all this is entirely sound. The only question which exists is as regards the application to which the ritual in question puts it. Worship and prayer are not merely the going aside at a particular time or place to utter set formulae or to perform particular ritual acts. The whole of life, in all its rightful particulars, without any single exception, may be an act of worship if man but makes it so. Who can rightly deny this? Of course, as long as a man regards any function as impure or a matter of shame, his mental disposition is such that he cannot worship therewith. To do so would distract and perturb him. But both to the natural-minded and illuminated man this is possible. The principle here dealt with is not entirely peculiar to this school. Those Hindus who are not Monists, (and whatever be their philosophical theories, no worshippers in practice are so, for worship connotes the dualism of worshipped (Upasya) and worshipper (Upasaka), of the means or instrument (Sadhana) and that to be attained thereby (Sadhya)), yet make offering of their acts to Devata. By thus offering all their daily speech, each word they say becomes, in the words of Shastra, Mantra. Nor, if we examine it, is the principle alien to Christianity, for the Christian may, in opening his day, offer all his acts therein to God. What he thereafter does, is worship. The difference in these cases and that of the Vira principle lies (at any rate in practice) in this, that the latter is more thorough in its application, no act or function being excluded, and in worship, the Shakta being a Monist is taught to regard the offering not as given to someone other than his own essential Self, but to That. He is thus, according to the theory of this practice, led to divinise his functions, and by their constant association with the thought of Brahman his mind is, it is said, purified and led away from all carnal desires. If these functions are set apart as something common or impure, victory is not easily won. There is still some part of his life into which Brahman does not enter and which remains the source of distraction. By associating them with religion, it is the religious feeling which works first through and then supersedes them. He thus gradually attains Divyabhava and the state of the Devata he has worshipped. For it is common Indian principle that the end of worship is to assimilate oneself to its object or Devata. Thus it is said in the Agni Purana that. by worship of Rudra one becomes Rudra, by worship of Vishnu one becomes Vishnu, and by worship of Shakti one becomes Shakti. This is so because the mind mentally transforms itself into the likeness of that on which it is set. By thinking always, on the other hand, on sensual objects one becomes sensual. Even before worship, one should strive to attain the true attitude of worship, and so the Gandharva Tantra says, "He who is not Deva (Adeva) should not worship Deva. The Deva alone should worship Deva." The Vira or strictly the Sadhaka qualified to enter Viracara -- since the true Vira is its finished product -- commences Sadhana with this Rajasik Upasana with the Pa˝catattva as Upacara which are employed for the transformation of the sensual tendencies they connote. I have heard the view expressed that this part of the Shastra was really promulgated for Shudras. Shiva knowing the animal propensities of their common life must lead them to take flesh and wine, prescribed these rites with a view to lessen the evil and to gradually wean them from enjoyment by promulgating conditions under which alone such enjoyment could be had, and in associating it with religion. "It is better to bow to Narayana with one's shoes on than never to bow at all. A man with a taste for drink will only increase his thirst by animal satisfaction (Pashupana). Rut if when he drinks he can be made to regard the liquid as a divine manifestation and have thought of God, gradually such thoughts will overcome and oust his sensual desires. On the same principle children are given powders in jam, though this method is not confined to actual children only. Those who so argue contend that a Brahmana should, on no account, take wine, and Texts are cited which are said to support this view. I have dealt with this matter in the Introduction to the Kalivilasa Tantra. It is sufficient to say here that the reply given is that such Texts refer to the unauthorized consumption of wine as by uninitiated (Anabhishikta) Brahmanas. In the same place I have discussed the question whether wine can be taken at all by any one in this Kali age. For, according to some authorities, there is only Pashubhava in the Kaliyuga. If this be correct then all wine-drinking, whether ritual or otherwise, is prohibited.
For the worship of' Shakti, the Pa˝catattva are declared to be essential. Without the Pa˝catattva in one form or another Shaktipuja cannot be performed (Mahanirvana, V. 23-24). The reason of this is that those who worship Shakti, worship Divinity as Creatrix and in the form of the universe. If She appears as and in natural function, She must be worshipped therewith, otherwise, as the Tantra cited says, worship is fruitless. The Mother of the Universe must be worshipped with these five elements, namely, wine, meat, fish, grain, and woman, or their substitutes. By their use the universe (Jagad-brahmanda) itself is used as the article of worship (Upacara). The Mahanirvana (VII. 103-111) says that wine which gives joy and dispels the sorrows of men is Fire; flesh which nourishes and increases the strength of mind and body is Air; fish which increases generative power is Water, cereals grown on earth and which are the basis of life are Earth, and sexual union, which is the root of the world and the origin of all creation, is Ether. They thus signify the Power (Shakti) which produces all fiery elements, all terrestrial and aquatic life, all vegetable life, and the will, knowledge and action of the Supreme Prakriti productive of that great bliss which accompanies the process of creation. (See also Haratattvadidhiti XV, Kamakhya Tantra, Nigamatattvasara IV). The Kailasa Tantra (Purvakhya, Ch. XC) identifies this Pentad (Pa˝catattva) with the five vital airs (Pranadi) and the five Mahapreta which support the couch of Tripurasundari.
With these preliminaries, and postponing for the moment further comment, we may proceed to an examination in greater detail of the five (Pa˝ca) elements (Tattva), namely, Wine (Madya), Meat (Mamsa), Fish (Matsya), Parched Cereal (Mudra), and Sexual Union (Maithuna) which stand for drinking, eating and propagation. Because they all commence with the letter M, they are vulgarly called Pa˝ca-ma-kara (or five M's).
These Pa˝catattva, Kuladravya or Kulatattva as they are called, have more esoteric names. Thus the last is known as "the fifth". Woman is called Shakti or Prakriti. A Tantrik commonly calls his wife his Shakti or Bhairavi. Woman is also called Lata or "creeper", because woman clings to and depends on man as the creeper does to the tree. Hence the ritual in which woman is enjoyed is called Lata-sadhana. Wine is called "causal water" (Karanavari) or Tirtha water (Tirthavari).
But the Pa˝catattva have not always their literal meaning. The meaning differs according as they refer to the Tamasik (Pashvacara), Rajasik (Viracara) or Sattvik (Divyacara) Sadhanas respectively. "Wine" is only wine and Maithuna is only sexual union in the ritual of the Vira. To the Pashu, the Vira ritual (Viracara) is prohibited as unsuitable to his state, and the Divya, unless of the lower ritual kind, is beyond such things. The result is that the Pa˝catattva have each three meanings. Thus "wine" may be wine (Vira ritual), or it may be coconut water (Pashu ritual) or it may mean the intoxicating knowledge of the Supreme attained by Yoga, according as it is used in connection with the Vira, the Pashu, or the Divya respectively. The Pa˝catattva are thus threefold, namely, real (Pratyaksha-tattva) where "wine" means wine, substitutional (Anukalpatattva) where wine means coconut water or some other liquid, and symbolical or divine (Divyatattva) where it is a symbol to denote the joy of Yoga-knowledge. The Pashu worships with the substitutional Tattvas mentioned later and never takes wine, the Vira worships with wine, and the Divya's "wine" is spiritual knowledge. There are further modifications of these general rules in the case of the intermediate Bhavas. Thus the author next cited says that whilst the Svabhava Vira is a drinker of wine, the Vibhava Vira worships internally with the five mental Tattvas and externally with substitutes. The Mantra-siddhavira is free to do as he pleases in this matter, subject to the general Shastrik rules. In an essay by Pandit Jayacandra Siddhantabhushana, answering certain charges made against the Tantra Shastra, he, after stating that neither the Vibhava Vira nor Vibhava Pashu need worship with real wine, says that in modern Bengal this kind of worship is greatly prevalent. Such Tantriks do not take wine but otherwise worship according to the rule of Tantra Shastra. It is, as he says, an erroneous but common notion that a Tantrika necessarily means a drinker of wine. Some Sadhakas again in lieu of the material Maithuna, imagine the union of Shiva and Shakti in the upper brain center known as the Sahasrara.
The Divya Pa˝catattva for those of a truly Sattvika or spiritual temperament (Divyabhava) have been described as follows: "Wine" (Madya) according to Kaula Tantra (see p. 85 of Pa˝catattva-vicara by Nilamani Mukhyopadhyaya) is not any liquid, but that intoxicating knowledge acquired by Yoga of the Parabrahman which renders the worshipper senseless as regards the external world. "Meat" (Mamsa) is not any fleshly thing, but the act whereby the Sadhaka consigns all his acts to Me (Mam), that is, the Lord, "Fish" (Matsya) is that Sattvik knowledge by which through the sense of "Mineness" (a play upon the word Matsya) the worshipper sympathizes with the pleasure and pain of all beings. Mudra is the act of relinquishing all association with evil which results in bondage. Coition (Maithuna) is the union of the Shakti Kundalini, the "Inner woman" and World-force in the lowest center (Muladhara Cakra) of the Sadhaka's body with the Supreme Shiva in the highest center (Sahasrara) in the upper Brain (see Essay on Kundalini Shakti post). This, the Yogini Tantra (Ch. VI) says, is the best of all unions for those who are Yati, that is, who have controlled their passions.
Sahasraropari bindau kundalya melanam Shive
Maithunam paramam dravyam yatinam parikirtitam
According to the Agamasara, "wine" is the Somadhara or lunar ambrosia which drops from the Sahasrara. "Meat" (Mamsa) is the tongue (Ma) of which its part (Amsha ) is speech. The Sadhaka in eating it controls his speech. "Fish" (Matsya) are those two (Vayu or currents) which are constantly moving in the two "rivers" (that is, Yoga "nerves" or Nadis) called Ida and Pingala, that is, the sympathetics on each side of the spinal column. He who controls his breath by Pranayama, "eats" then by Kumbhaka or retention of breath. Mudra is the awakening of knowledge in the pericarp of the great Sahasrara Lotus (the upper brain) where the Atma resplendent as ten million suns and deliciously cool as ten million moons is united with the Devi Kundalini, the World-force and Consciousness in individual bodies, after Her ascent thereto from the Muladhara in Yoga. The esoteric meaning of coition or Maithuna is thus stated in the Agama. The ruddy hued Ra is in the Kunda (ordinarily the seed-mantra Ram is in Manipura but perhaps here the Kunda in the Muladhara is meant). The letter Ma (white like the autumnal moon, Sattvaguna, Kaivalyarupa-prakritirupi (Ch. 2, Kamadhenu Tantra)) is in the Mahayoni (not I may observe the genitals but the lightning-like triangle or Yoni in the Sahasrara or upper brain) in the form of Bindu (a Ghanibhuta or "condensed" form of Shakti and transformation of Nada-shakti). When M (Makara) seated on the Hamsa (the "bird" which is the pair Shiva-Shakti as Jiva) in the form of A (A-kara) unites with R (Ra-kara) then Brahman knowledge (Brahmaj˝ana) which is the source of supreme bliss is gained by the Sadhaka who is then called Atmarama (Enjoyer with the Self), for his enjoyment is in the Atma in the Sahasrara. (For this reason too, the word Rama, which also means sexual enjoyment, is equivalent to the liberator-Brahman, Ra + a + ma). The union of Shiva and Shakti is described (Tantrasara, 702) as true Yoga (Shivashaktisamayogo yoga eva na samshayah) from which, as the Yamala says, arises that Joy which is known as the Supreme Bliss (ib., 703) (Samyogaj jayate sauklyam paramanandalakshanam).
This is the union on the purely Sattvik plane which corresponds in the Rajasik plane to the union of Shiva and Shakti in the persons of their worshippers. It will have been observed that here in this Divya or Sattvik Sadhana "Wine", "Woman" and so forth are really names for operations.
The substitutional Tattvas of Pashvacara also do not answer to their names, being other substances which are taken as substitutes of wine, meat, fish (see Kulacudamani; Bhairavayamala, Ch. I). These have been variously described and sometimes as follows: In lieu of wine the Pashu should, if a Brahmana, take milk, if a Kshattriya ghee, if a Vaishya honey, and if a Shudra a liquor made from rice. Coconut water in a bell-metal utensil is also taken as a substitute. Salt, ginger, sesamum, wheat beans (Mashakalai) and garlic are some of the substitutes for meat; the white brinjal vegetable, red radish, masur (a kind of gram), red sesamum and Paniphala (an aquatic plant) take the place of fish. Paddy, rice, wheat and grain generally are Mudra both in Tamasik (Pashvacara) and Rajasik (Viracara) Sadhanas. In lieu of Maithuna there may be an offering of flowers with the hands formed into the gesture called Kachapa-mudra, the union of the Karavira flower (representative of the Linga) with the Aprajita (Clitoria) flower which is shaped as and represents the female Yoni and other substitutes, or there may be union with the Sadhaka's wife. On this and some other matters here dealt with there is variant practice.
The Kaulikarcanadipika speaks of what is called the Adyatattvas. Adyamadya or wine is hemp (Vijaya), Adyashuddhi or meat is ginger (Adraka), Adyamina or fish is citron (Jambira), Adyamudra is Dhanyaja that is, made from paddy and Adyashakti is the worshipper's own wife. Quoting from the Tantrantara it says that worship without these Adya forms is fruitless. Even the strictest total abstainer and vegetarian will not object to "wine" in the shape of hot milk or coconut water, or to ginger or other substitutes for meat. Nor is there any offense in regarding sexual union between the Sadhaka and his wife not as a mere animal function but as a sacrificial rite (Yaj˝a).
At this point we may pass to the literal Tattvas. Wine here is not merely grape-wine but that which is made from various substances such as molasses (Gaudi), rice (Paishti) or the Madhuka flower (Madhvi) which are said by the Mahanirvana Tantra (Ch. VI) to be the best. There are others such as wine made from the juice of the Palmyra and Date tree, and aniseed (Maureya wine). Meat is of three kinds, that is, animals of the water, earth, and sky. But no female animal must be slain. Superior kinds of fish are Shala, Pathina, and Rohita. Mudra which every Orientalist whom I have read calls "ritual gesture" or the like is nothing of the kind here, though that is a meaning of the term Mudra in another connection. They cannot have gone far into the subject, for it is elementary knowledge that in the Pa˝catattva, Mudra means parched cereal of various kinds and is defined in Yogini Tantra (Ch. VI) as:
Bhrishtadhanyadikam yad yad carvani yam pracakshate
Sa mudra kathita Devi sarvesham Naganandini.
(Oh Daughter of the Mountain, fried paddy and the like -- in fact all such (cereals) as are chewed -- are called Mudra).
The Mahanirvana (Ch. VI) says that the most excellent is that made from Shali rice or from barley or wheat and which has been fried in clarified butter. Meat, fish, Mudra offered to the Devata along with wine is technically called Shuddhi. The Mahanirvana says that the drinking of wine without Shuddhi is like the swallowing of poison and the Sadhana is fruitless. It is not difficult to see why. For, wine taken without food has greater effect and produces greater injury. Moreover, another check on indiscriminate drinking is placed, for wine cannot be taken unless Shuddhi is obtained, prepared, and eaten with the necessary rites. Woman, or Shakti, as She is properly called, since She is purified and consecrated for the rite and represents the Devi, is of three kinds, namely, Sviya or Svakiya (one's own wife), Parakiya the wife of another or some other woman, and Sadharani or one who is common. This aspect of the subject I deal with later. Here I will only say that, where sexual union is permitted at all, the ordinary Shakti is the Sadhaka's Brahmi wife. It is only under certain conditions that there can be any other Shakti. Shaktis are also of two kinds, namely, those who are enjoyed (Bhogya) and those who are worshipped only (Pujya). A Sadhaka who yields to desire for the latter commits the sin of incest with his own mother.
Here again, according to Shakta notions, one must not think of these substances as mere gross matter in the form of wine, meat and so forth, nor on woman as mere woman; nor upon the rite as a mere common meal. The usual daily rites must be performed in the morning, midday and evening (Mahanirvana, V. 25). These are elaborate (ib.,) and take up a large part of the day. Bhutasuddhi is accomplished, at which time the Sadhaka thinks that a Deva body has arisen as his own. Various Nyasas are done. Mental worship is performed of the Devi, the Adya Kalika, who is thought of as being in red raiment seated on a red lotus. Her body dark like a rain-cloud, Her forehead gleaming with the light of the crescent moon. Japa of Mantra is then done and outer worship follows. A further elaborate ritual succeeds.
I pause here to ask the reader to conceive the nature of the mind and disposition of the Sadhaka who has sincerely performed these rites. Is it likely to be lustful or gluttonous? The curse is removed from the wine and the Sadhaka meditates upon the union of Deva and Devi in it. Wine is to be considered as Devata. After the consecration of the wine, the meat, fish and grain are purified and are made like unto nectar. The Shakti is sprinkled with Mantra and made the Sadhaka's own. She is the Devi Herself in the form of woman. The wine is charged with Mantras ending with the realization (Mahanirvana Tantra, VI. 42) when Homa is done, that offering is made of the excellent nectar of "This-ness" (Idanta) held in the cup of "I-ness" (Ahanta) into the Fire which is the Supreme I-ness (Parahanta).
Parahantamaye vahnau homasvikaralakshanam.
Here the distinction is drawn between the "I" (Aham) and the "This". The former is either the Supreme "I" (Parahanta or Shiva) or the individual "I" (Jiva) vehicled by the "This" or Vimarsha-Shakti. The Sadhaka is the cup or vessel which is the individual Ego. "This-ness" is offered to the Supreme. Drinking is an offering to that Fire which is the transcendent Self "whence all individual selves ( Jiva) proceed". Wine is then Tara Dravamayi, that is, the Savioress Herself in the form of liquid matter (Maha-nirvana, XI. 105-107). None of the Tattvas can be offered unless first purified and consecrated, otherwise the Sadhaka goes to Hell. With further ritual the first four Tattvas are consumed, the wine being poured as an oblation into the mouth of Kundali, after meditation upon Her as Consciousness (Cit) spread from Her seat, the Muladhara to the tip of the tongue. The whole ritual is of great interest, and I hope to give a fuller exposition of it on some future day.
Worship with the Pa˝catattva generally takes place in a Cakra or circle composed of men and women, Sadhakas and Sadhikas, Bhairavas and Bhairavis sitting in a circle, the Shakti being on the Sadhaka's left. Hence it is called Cakrapuja. A Lord of the Cakra (Cakreshvara) presides sitting with his Shakti in the center. During the Cakra, there is no distinction of caste, but Pashus of any caste are excluded. There are various kinds of Cakra -- productive, it is said, of differing fruits for the participator therein. As amongst Tantrik Sadhakas we come across the high, the low, and mere pretenders, so the Cakras vary in their characteristics from say the Tattva-cakra for the Brahma-kaulas, and the Bhairavi-cakra (as described in Mahanirvana, VII. 153) in which, in lieu of wine, the householder fakes milk, sugar and honey (Madhura-traya), and in lieu of sexual union does meditation upon the Lotus Feet of the Divine Mother with Mantra, to Cakras the ritual of which will not be approved such as Cudacakra, Anandabhuvana-yoga and others referred to later. Just as there are some inferior "Tantrik" writings, so we find rituals of a lower type of men whose notions or practices were neither adopted by high Sadhakas in the past nor will, if they survive, be approved for practice to-day. What is wanted is a discrimination which avoids both unjust general condemnations and, with equal ignorance, unqualified commendations which do harm. I refer in chapter VI (ante) to a modern Cakra. I heard a short time ago of a Guru, influenced by an English education, whose strictness went so far that the women did not form part of the Cakra but sat in another room. This was of course absurd.
The two main objections to the Rajasik Puja are from both the Hindu and European standpoint the alleged infraction of sexual morality, and from the former standpoint, the use of wine. By "Hindu" I mean those who are not Shaktas. I will deal with the latter point first. The Vira Shakta admits the Smarta rule against the drinking of wine. He, however, says that drinking is of two kinds, namely, extra-ritual drinking for the satisfaction of sensual appetite, and the ritual drinking of previously purified and consecrated wine. The former is called Pashupana or "animal drinking," and Vrithapana or "useless drinking": for, being no part of worship, it is forbidden, does no good, but on the contrary injury, and leads to Hell. The Western's drinking (even a moderate "whisky and soda") is Pashupana. The Viracari, like every other Hindu, condemns this and regards it as a great sin. But drinking for the purpose of worship is held to stand on a different ground. Just as the ancient Vaidiks drank Soma as part of the Sacrifice (Yaj˝a), so does the Vira drink wine as part of his ritual. Just as the killing of animals for the purpose of sacrifice is accounted no "killing", so that it does not infringe against the rule against injury (Ahimsa), so also drinking as part of worship is said not to be the drinking which the Smritis forbid. For this reason it is contended that the Tantrik secret worship (Rahasya-puja) is not opposed to Veda. The wine is no longer the gross injurious material substance, but has been purified and spiritualized, so that the true Sadhaka looks upon it as the liquid form of the Savior, Devi (Tara Dravamayi). The joy, it produces is but a faint welling up of the Bliss (Ananda), which in its essence, it is. Wine, moreover, is then taken under certain restrictions and conditions which should, if adhered to, prevent the abuse which follows on merely sensual drinking (Pashupana). The true Sadhaka does not perform the ritual for the purpose of drinking wine, (though possibly in these degenerate days many do) but drinks wine in order that he may perform the ritual. Thus, to take an analogous case, a Christian abstainer might receive wine in the Eucharist believing it to be the blood of his Lord. He would not partake of the sacrament in order that he might have the opportunity of drinking wine, but he would drink wine because, that is the way, by which he might take the Eucharist, of which wine together with bread (Mudra) is an element. I may here mention in this connection that not only are drops of wine sometimes sprinkled on the Prasada (sacred food) at Durga-puja and thus consumed by persons who are not Viracaris, but (though this is not generally known and will perhaps not be admitted) on the Prasada which all consume at the Vaisnava shrine of Jagannatha at Puri.
This question about the consumption of wine will not appear to the average European a serious affair, though it is so to the non-Shakta Hindu. So strong is the general feeling against it, that when Babu Keshab Chandra Sen, in one of his imitations of Christian doctrine and ritual, started an Eucharist of his own, the elements were rice and water. It is, however, a matter of common reproach against these Tantriks that some at least drink to excess. That may be so. From what I have heard but little credit attaches to the common run of this class of Tantriks to-day. Apart from the general degeneracy which has affected all forms of Hindu religion, it is to be remembered that in ancient times nothing was done except under the authority of the Guru. He alone could say whether his disciple was competent for any particular ritual. It was not open to any one to enter upon it and do as he pleased. Nevertheless, we must clearly distinguish between the commands of the Shastra itself and abuses of its provisions by pretended Sadhakas. It is obvious that excessive drinking prevents the attainment of success and is a fall. As the Mahanirvana (VI. 195-197; see also VIII. 171) with good sense says, "How is it possible for a sinner who becomes a fool through drink to say 'I worship Adya Kalika'." William James says (Varieties of Religious Experience, 387) "The sway of alcohol over mankind is unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold fact and dry criticisms of the sober hour. It unites. It is in fact the greatest exciter of the "Yes" function in man. It brings him from the chill periphery of things to the radiant core." In its effect it is one bit of the mystic consciousness. Wine, as is well known, also manifests and emphasizes the true disposition of a man ("In vino veritas"). (As to wine, drugs and 'anesthetic revelation', as to the clue to the meaning of life see R. Thouless, Introduction to Psychology of Religion, 61.) When the worshipper is of a previously pure and devout disposition, the moderate use of wine heightens his feelings of devotion. But if it is drunk in excess, there can be no devotion at all, but only sin. This same Tantra therefore, whilst doing away with wine in the case of one class of Cakra, and limiting the consumption in any case for householders, says that excessive drinking prevents success coming to Kaula worshippers, who may not drink to such an extent that the mind is affected (literally "goes round"). "To drink beyond this," it says, "is bestial."
Yavan na calayed drishtir yavan na calayen manah
Tavat panam prakurvvita pashu-panam atah param.
Yet the fact that the Mahanirvana thought it necessary to give this injunction is significant of some abuse. Similar counsel may be found however elsewhere; as in the Shyamarahasya which says that excessive drinking leads to Hell. Thus also the great Tantraraja Tantra (Kadimata) says (Ch. VIII).
Na kadacit pivet siddho devyarghyam aniveditam
Pananca tavat kurvita yavata syan manolayah
Tatah karoti cet sadayah pataki bhavati dhruvam
Devtagurusevanyat pivannasavam ashaya
Pataki rajadandyash cavidyopasaka eva ca.
(The Siddha should never drink the Arghya (wine) meant for the Devi, unless the same has been first offered (to Her). Drinking, again, should only be continued so long as the mind is absorbed (in the Devi). He who does so thereafter is verily a sinner. He who drinks wine through mere sensual desire and not for the purpose of worship of Devata and Guru is a worshipper of Ignorance (Avidya) and a sinner punishable by the King.)
It must be admitted, however, that there are to be found words and passages which, if they are to be taken literally, would indicate that wine was not always taken in moderation. (See Asavollasa in Kularnava. The Ullasas, however, are stated to be stages of initiation). In reading any Hindu Scripture, however, one must allow for exaggeration which is called "Stuti". Thus if there is much meat and wine we may read of "mountains of flesh" and "oceans of wine". Such statements were not made to be taken literally. Some descriptions again may refer to Kaulavadhutas who, like other "great" men in other matters, appear to have more liberty than ordinary folk. Some things may not be "the word of Shiva" at all. It is open to any one to sit down and write a "Tantra," "Stotra" or what not. The Ananda Stotra, for example, reads in parts like a libertine's drinking song. Though it has been attributed both to the Kulacudamani and Kularnava, a learned Tantrik Pandit, to whom I am much indebted and to whom I showed it, laughed and said, "How can this be the word of Shiva. It is not Shiva Shastra. If it is not the writing of some fallen Upasaka (worshipper), it is the work of Acaryas trying to tempt disciples to themselves." Though a man of Tantrik learning of a kind rarely met with to-day, and a practitioner of the Cakrapuja, he told me that he had never heard of this Stotra until it was sung at a Cakra in Benares. On asking another Pandit there about it, he was told not to trouble himself over "what these kind of people did". Even when the words Shiva uvaca (Shiva said) appear in a work, it does not follow that it has any authority. Though all the world condemns, as does the Shastra itself, excessive drinking, yet it cannot be said that, according to views generally accepted by the mass of men in the world today, the drinking of alcohol is a sin. General morality may yet account it such in some future day.
I pass then to the other matter, namely, sexual union. The ordinary rule, as the Kaulikarcanadipika says (I refer to the exception later), is that worship should be done with the worshipper's own wife, called the Adya Shakti. This is the general Tantrik rule. Possibly because the exception to it led to abuse, the Mahanirvana (VIII. 173), after pointing out that men in the Kali age are weak of mind and distracted by lust, and so do not recognize woman (Shakti) to be the image of Deity, prescribes for such as these (in the Bhairavi Cakra) meditation on the Feet of the Divine Mother in lieu of Maithuna, or where the worship is with the Shakti (Bhogya) in Bhairavi and Tattva Cakra the worshipper should be wedded to his Shakti according to Shaiva rites. It adds (ib., 129) that "the Vira, who without marriage worships by enjoyment a Shakti, is without doubt guilty of the sin of going with another woman." Elsewhere (VI. 14) it points out that when the evil age (Kaliyuga) is at its strength, the wife alone should be the fifth Tattva for "this is void of all defect" (Sarvadosha-vivarjita). The Sammohana Tantra (Ch. 2) also says that the Kali age is dominated by lust (Kama) and it is then most difficult to subjugate the senses and that by reason of the prevalence of ignorance (Avidya) the female Yoni is used for worship. That is, by reason of the material nature of man a material form is used to depict the supreme Yoni or Cause of all. The commentator on the Mahanirvana Tantra, Pandit Jaganmohana Tarkalamkara (see Bhakta Ed. 345) says, however, that this rule is not of universal application. Shiva (he says) in this Tantra prohibited Sadhana with the fifth Tattva with other Shaktis in the case of men of ordinary weak intellect ruled by lust; but for those who have by Sadhana conquered their passions and attained the state of a true Siddha Vira, there is no prohibition as to the mode of Latasadhana. With this I deal later, but meanwhile I may observe that because there is a Shakti in the Cakra it does not follow that there is sexual intercourse, which, when it occurs in the worship of householders, ordinarily takes place outside the Cakra. Shaktis are of two kinds -- those who are enjoyed (Bhogya Shakti) and those who are worshipped only (Pujya) as earthly representatives of the Supreme Mother of all. Those who yield to desire, even in thought, as regards the latter commit the sin of incest with their mother. Similarly, there is a widespread practice amongst all Shaktas of worship of Virgins (Kumaripuja) -- a very beautiful ceremony. So also in Brahmarajayoga there is worship of virgins only.
It is plain that up to this point there is (apart from the objection of other Hindus to wine) nothing to be said against the morality of the Sadhana prescribed, though some may take exception to the association of natural function of any kind, however legitimate, with what they regard as worship. This is not a question of morality and I have dealt with it. The reader will also remember that the ritual already described applies to the general mass of worshippers, and that to which I am passing is the ritual of the comparatively few, and so-called advanced Sadhakas. The charge of immorality against all Shaktas, whether following this ritual or not, fails, and people need not run away in fear on hearing that a man is a "Tantrik". He may not be a Shakta Tantrik at all, and if he is a Shakta, he may have done nothing to which the world at large will take moral exception.
I now pass to another class of cases. Generally speaking, we may distinguish not only between Dakshinacara and Vamacara in which the full rites with wine and Shakti are performed, but also between a Vama and Dakshina division of the latter Acara itself. It is on the former side that there is worship with a woman (Parakiya Shakti) other than the Sadhaka's own wife (Svakiya Shakti). But under what circumstances? It is necessary (as Professor de la Valle Poussin, the Catholic Belgian Sanskritist, says (Adhi-karma-pradipa, 141) of the Buddhist Tantra) to remember the conditions under which these Tantrik rituals are, according to the Shastra, admissible, when judging of their morality; otherwise, he says condemnation becomes excessive ("Je crois d'ailleurs qu'on a exagerÚ la charactÚre d'immoralite des actes liturgiques de Maithuna faute d'avoir fixÚ les diverses conditions dans lesquelles ils, doivent etre pratiquÚs." See also Masson-Oursel Esquisse dune Histoire de la Philosophie Indienne 1923, p. 230, who says that Western people often see obscenity where there is only symbolism.) As I have said, the ordinary rule is that the wife or Adya Shakti should be co-performer (Sahadharmini) in the rite. An exception, however, exists where the Sadhaka has no wife or she is incompetent (Anadhikarini). There seems to be a notion that the Shastra directs union with some other person than the Sadhaka's wife. This is not so. A direction to go after other women as such would be counsel to commit fornication or adultery. What the Shastra says is -- that if the Sadhaka has no wife, or she is incompetent (Anadhikarini) then only may the Sadhaka take some other Shakti. Next, this is for the purpose of ritual worship only. Just as any extra-ritual drinking is sin, so also outside worship any Maithuna, otherwise than with the wife, is sin. The Tattvas of each kind can only be offered after purification (Shodhana) and during worship according to the rules, restrictions, and conditions of the Tantrik ritual. (See Tantrasara, 698, citing Bhavacudamani, Uttara-Kulamrita. In Ch. IV, Brihannila Tantra it is said Paradaran na gacheran gachech ca prapayed yadi, but that is for purposes of worship). Outside worship the mind is not even to think of the subject, as is said concerning the Shakti in the Uttara Tantra.
Pujakalam vina nanyam purusham manasa sprishet
Puja-kale ca Deveshi vesyeva paritoshayet.
What then is the meaning of this "competency" the non-existence of which relaxes the ordinary rule? The principle on which worship is done with another Shakti is stated in the Guhyakalikhanda of the Mahakala Samhita as follows:
Yadrishah sadhakah proktah sadhika'pi ca tadrishi.
Tatah siddhim avapnoti nanyatha varsha-kotibhih.
("As is the competency of the Sadhaka so must be that of the Sadhika. In this way only is success attained and not otherwise even in ten million years.") That is both the man and the woman must be on the same level and plane of development. Thus, in the performance of the great Shodhanyasa, the Shakti must be possessed of the same powers and competency as the Sadhaka. In other words, a Sahadharmini must have the same competency as the Sadhaka with whom she performs the rite. Next, it is not for any man at his own undisciplined will to embark on a practice of this kind. He can only do so if adjudged competent by his Guru. A person of an ignorant, irreligious, and lewd disposition is, properly, incompetent. Then, it is commonly thought, that because another Shakti is permitted promiscuity is allowed. This is of course not so. It must be admitted that the Shakta Tantra at least pretends to be a religious Scripture, and could not as such directly promote immorality in this way. For, under no pretense can morality, or Sadhana for spiritual advancement, be served by directions for, or tacit permissions of, uncontrolled promiscuous sexual intercourse. There may, of course, have been hypocrites wandering around the country and its women who sought to cover their lasciviousness with the cloak of a pretended religion. But this is not Sadhana but conscious sin. The fruit of Sadhana is lost by license and the growth of sensuality. The proper rule, I am told, is that the relationship with such a Shakti should be of a permanent character; it being indeed held that a Shakti who is abandoned by the Sadhaka takes away with her the latter's merit (Punya). The position of such a Shakti may be described as a wife "in religion" for the Sadhaka, one who being of his competency (Adhikara) works with him as Sahadharmini, in the performance of the rituals of their common cult. In all cases, the Shakti must be first made lawful according to the rules of the cult by the performance of the Shaiva sacrament (Shaiva-samskara). From a third party view it may, of course, be said that the necessity for all this is not seen. I am not here concerned with that, but state the rules of the cult as I find it. It is desirable, in the interests both of the history of religion and of justice to the cult described, to state these facts accurately. For, it is sound theology, that good faith is inconsistent with sin. We cannot call a man immoral who is acting according to his lights and in good faith. Amongst a polygamous people such as were the Jews and as are the Hindus, it would be absurd to call a man immoral, who in good faith practiced that polygamy which was allowable by the usage which governed him. Other Hindus might or might not acknowledge the status of a Shaiva wife. But a Shaiva who was bound to a woman in that form would not be an immoral man. Immorality, in the sense in which an individual is made responsible for his actions, exists where what is believed to be wrong is consciously followed. And so whilst a Tantrik acting in good faith and according to his Shastra is not in this sense immoral, other Tantriks who misused the ritual for their libidinous purposes would be so. So, of course, would also be those who to-day, without belief in the Tantra Shastra, and to satisfy their passions, practiced such rituals as run counter to prevalent social morality. Though the genuine Tantrik might be excused, they would not escape the charge. When, however, we are judging a religion by the standard of another, which claims to be higher, the lower religion may be considered immoral. The distinction is commonly overlooked which exists between the question whether an individual is immoral and whether the teaching and practice which he follows is so. We may, with logical consistency, answer the first in the negative and the second in the affirmative. Nevertheless, we must mention the existence of some practices which seem difficult to explain and justify, even on the general principles upon which Tantrik Sadhana proceeds. Peculiar liberties have been allowed to the Siddha Viras who are said to have taken part in them. Possibly they are non-existent to-day. A Siddha Vira, I may incidentally explain, is a Vira who has become accomplished (Siddha) by doing the rite called Purashcarana of his Mantra the number of times multiplied by one lakh (100,000) that the Mantra contains letters. A Pandit friend tells me that the Siddhamalarahasya describes a rite (Cudacakra) in which fifty Siddha Viras go with fifty Shaktis, each man getting his companion by lot by selecting one out of a heap of the Sakti's jackets (Cuda). His Shakti is the woman to whom the jacket belongs. In the Sneha-cakra (Love Cakra), the Siddha Vira pair with the Shaktis according as they have a liking for them. Anandabhuvana-yoga is another unknown rite performed with not less than three and not more than one hundred and eight Shaktis who surround the Vira. He unites with one Shakti (Bhogya Shakti) and touches the rest. In the Urna Cakra (Urna = spider's web) the Viras sit in pairs tied to one another with cloths. A clue to the meaning of these rites may perhaps be found in the fact that they are said to have been performed at the instance, and at the cost, of third parties for the attainment of some worldly success. Thus the first was done, I am told, by the Rajas to gain success in battle. If this be so they belong rather to the side of magic than of religion, and are in any case no part of the ordinary Sadhana to attain the true Siddhi which is spiritual advancement. It may also be that just as in the ordinary ritual Brahmanas are fed and receive gifts, these Cakras were, in part at least, held with the same purpose by the class of people who had them performed. It is also to be noted (I report what I am told) that the body of the Shakti in the Cakra is the Yantra. By the union of Vira and Shakti, who is a form (Akara) of the Devi, direct union is had with the latter who being pleased grants all that is desired of Her. There is thus what is technically called Pratyaksha of Devata whereas in Kumaripuja and in Shavasadhana the Devi speaks through the mouth of the virgin or the corpse respectively. The Siddha Viras communicate with Shiva and Shakti in Avadhutaloka.
This question of differing views and practice was noted long ago by the author of the Dabistan (Vol. 2, pp. 154, 164, Ed. 1843) who says that on a learned Shakta being shown a statement, apparently counseling immorality, in a book, abused it saying that the Text was contrary to custom and that no such thing was to be found in the ancient books. The Muslim author of the Dabistan says that there is another class of Shaktas, quite different from those previously alluded to by him, who drink no wine and never have intercourse with the wife of another.
I, the more readily here and elsewhere state what is unfavorable to this Shastra, as my object is not to "idealize" it (a process to which my strong bent towards the clear and accurate statement of facts is averse) but to describe the practice as I find it to be; on which statement a just judgment may be founded. After all men have been and are of all kinds high and low, ignorant and wise, bad and good, and just as in the Agamas there are differing schools, so it is probable that in the Shakta practices themselves there are the same differences.
Lastly, the doctrine that the illuminate knower of Brahman (Brahmaj˝ani) is above both good (Dharma) and evil (Adharma) should be noted. Such an one is a Svechacari whose way is Svechacara or "do as you will". Similar doctrine and practices in Europe are there called Antinomianism. The doctrine is not peculiar to the Tantras. It is to be found in the Upanishads, and is in fact a very commonly held doctrine in India. Here again, as so stated and as understood outside India, it has the appearance of being worse than it really is. If Monistic views are accepted, then theoretically we must admit that Brahman is beyond good and evil, for these are terms of relativity applicable to beings in this world only. Good has no meaning except in relation to evil and vice versa. Brahman is beyond all dualities, and a J˝ani who has become Brahman ( Jivan-mukta) is also logically so. It is, however, equally obvious that if a man has complete Brahman-consciousness he will not, otherwise than unconsciously, do an act which if done consciously would be wrong. He is ex hypothesi beyond lust, gluttony and all other passions. A theoretical statement of fact that a Brahmaj˝ani is beyond good and evil is not a statement that he may will to do, and is permitted to do, evil. Statements as regards the position of a Jivanmukta are mere praise or Stuti. In Svecchacara there is theoretical freedom, but it is not consciously availed of to do what is known to be wrong without fall and pollution. Svecchacarini is a name of the Devi, for She does what She pleases since She is the Lord of all. But of others the Shaktisangama Tantra (Part IV) says --
Tatha'pi laukikacaram manasapi na langhayet.
("Though a man be a knower of the Three Times, past, present and future, and though he be a Controller of the three worlds, even then he should not transgress the rules of conduct for men in the world, were it only in his mind.")
What these rules of conduct are the Shastra provides. Those who wrote this and similar counsels to be found in the Tantra Shastras may have prescribed methods of Sadhana which will not be approved, but they were not immoral-minded men. Nor, whatever be the actual results of their working (and some have been evil) was their Scripture devised with the intention of sanctioning or promoting what they believed to be immoral. They promoted or countenanced some dangerous practices under certain limitations which they thought to be safeguards. They have led to abuse as might have been thought to be probable.
Let us now distill from the mass of material to which I have only cursorily referred, those principles underlying the practice which are of worth from the standpoint of Indian Monism of which the practice is a remarkable illustration.
The three chief physical appetites of man are eating and drinking whereby his body is sustained, and sexual intercourse whereby it is propagated. Considered in themselves they are natural and harmless. Manu puts this very clearly when he says, "There is no wrong (Dosha) in the eating of meat and drinking of wine, nor in sexual intercourse, for these are natural inclinations of men. But abstention therefrom is productive of great fruit." Here I may interpose and say that the Tantrik method is not a forced abstention but a regulated use with the right Bhava, that is, Advaitabhava or monistic feeling. When this is perfected, natural desires drop away (except so far as their fulfillment is absolutely necessary for physical existence) as things which are otherwise of no account. How is this done P By transforming Pashubhava into Virabhava. The latter is the feeling, disposition, and character of a Vira.
All things spring from and are at base Ananda or Bliss whether it is perceived or not. The latter, therefore, exists in two forms: as Mukti which is Anandasvarupa or transcendent, unlimited, one, and as Bhukti or limited worldly bliss. Tantrik Sadhana claims to give both, because the one of dual aspect is both. The Vira thus knows that Jivatma and Paramatma are one; that it is the One Shiva who appears in the form of the multitude of men and who acts, suffers, and enjoys through them. The Shivasvarupa is Bliss itself (Paramananda). The Bliss of enjoyment (Bhogananda) is one and the same Bliss manifesting itself through the limiting forms of mind and matter. Who is it who then enjoys and what Bliss is thus manifested? It is Shiva in the forms of the Universe (Vishvarupa) who enjoys, and the manifested bliss is a limited form of that Supreme Bliss which in His ultimate nature He is. In his physical functions the Vira identifies himself with the collectivity of all functions which constitute the universal life. He is then consciously Shiva in the form of his own and all other lives. As Shiva exists both in His Svarupa and as the world (Vishvarupa), so union may, and should, be had with Him in both aspects. These are known as Sukshma and Sthula Samarasya respectively. The Sadhaka is taught not to think that we are one with the Divine in Liberation only, but here and now, in every act we do. For in truth all such is Shakti. It is Shiva who as Shakti is acting in and through the Sadhaka, So though, according to the Vaidik injunctions, there is no eating or drinking before worship, it is said in the Shakta Tantra that he who worships Kalika when hungry and thirsty angers Her. Those who worship a God who is other than their own Essential Self may think to please Him by such acts, but to the Shakta, Shiva and Jiva are one and the same. Why then should one give pain to Jiva? It was, I think, Professor Royce who said, borrowing (though probably unconsciously) an essential Tantrik idea, that God suffers and enjoys in and as and through man. This is so. Though the Brahmasvarupa is nothing but the perfect, actionless Bliss, yet it is also the one Brahman who as Jiva suffers and enjoys; for there is none other. When this is realized in every natural function, then, each exercise thereof ceases to be a mere animal act and becomes a religious rite -- a Yaj˝a. Every function is a part of the Divine Action (Shakti) in Nature. Thus, when taking drink in the form of wine the Vira knows it to be Tara Dravamayi, that is, "the Savior Herself in liquid form". How (it is said) can he who truly sees in it the Savior Mother receive from it harm? Meditating on kundalini as pervading his body to the tip of his tongue, thinking himself to be Light which is also the Light of the wine he takes, he says, "I am She", (Sa'ham) "I am Brahman," I Myself offer offering (Ahuti) to the Self, Svaha." When, therefore, the Vira eats, drinks or has sexual intercourse he does so not with the thought of himself as a separate individual satisfying his own peculiar limited wants; an animal filching as it were from nature the enjoyment he has, but thinking of himself in such enjoyment as Shiva, saying "Shivo'ham," "Bhairavo'ham". Right sexual union may, if associated with meditation and ritual, be the means of spiritual advance; though persons who take a vulgar and animal view of this function will not readily understand it. The function is thereby ennobled and receives a new significance. The dualistic notions entertained, by both some Easterns and Westerns, that the "dignity" of worship is necessarily offended by association with natural function are erroneous. As Tertullian says, the Eucharist was established at a meal. (As to sacramental meals and "Feeding on the Gods," see Dr. Angus' The Mystery Religions and Christianity, p. 127.) Desire is often an enemy but it may be made an ally. A right method does not exclude the body, for it is Devata. It is a phase of Spirit and belongs to, and is an expression of, the Power of the Self. The Universe was created by and with Bliss. That same Bliss manifests, though faintly, in the bodies of men and women in union. At such time the ignorant Pashu is intent on the satisfaction of his passion only, but Kulasadhakas then meditate on the Yogananda Murti of Shiva-Shakti and do Japa of their Ishtamantra thus making them, in the words of the Kalikulasarvasva, like sinless Shuka. If the union be legitimate what, I may ask, is wrong in this? On the contrary the physical function is ennobled and divinised. An act which is legitimate does not become illegitimate because it is made a part of worship (Upasana). This is Virabhava. An English writer has aptly spoken of "the profound pagan instinct to glorify the generative impulse with religious ritual" (Time Lit. Sup., 11-6-1922). The Shakta is a developed and typical case.
The notions of the Pashu are in varying degrees the reverse of all this. If of the lowest type, he only knows himself as a separate entity who enjoys. Some more sophisticated, yet in truth ignorant, enjoy and are ashamed; and thus think it unseemly to implicate God in the supposed coarseness of His handiwork as physical function. Some again, who are higher, regard these functions as an acceptable gift of God to them as lowly creatures who enjoy and are separate from Him. The Vaidikas took enjoyment to be the fruit of the sacrifice and the gift of the Devas. Others who are yet higher, offer all that they do to the One Lord. This dualistic worship is embodied in the command of the Gita, "Tat madarpanam kurushva." "Do all this as an offering to Me." What is "all"? Does it mean all or some particular things only? But the highest Sadhana from the Monistic standpoint, and which in its Advaitabhava differs from all others, is that of the Shakta Tantra which proclaims that the Sadhaka is Shiva and that it is Shiva who in the form of the Sadhaka enjoys.
So much for the principle involved to which, whether it be accepted or not, cannot be truly denied nobility and grandeur.
The application of this principle is of greatly less interest and importance. To certain of such ritual applications may be assigned the charges commonly made against this Shastra, though without accurate knowledge and discrimination. It was the practice of an age the character of which was not that of our own. The particular shape which the ritual has taken is due, I think, to historical causes. Though the history of the Agamas is still obscure, it is possible that this Pa˝catattva-Karma is in substance a continuation, in altered form, of the old Vaidik usage in which eating and drinking were a part of the sacrifice (Yaj˝a), though any extra-ritual drinking called "useless" (Vrithana) or Pashu drinking (Pashupana) in which the Western (mostly a hostile critic of the Tantra Shastra) so largely indulges, is a great sin. The influence, however, of the original Buddhism and Jainism were against the consumption of meat and wine; an influence which perhaps continued to operate on post-Buddhistic Hinduism up to the present day, except among certain followers of the Agamas who claimed to represent the earlier traditions and usages. I say "certain", because (as I have mentioned) for the Pashu there are substitutes for wine and meat and so forth; and for the Divya the Tattvas are not material things but Yoga processes. I have shown the similarities between the Vaidik and Tantrik ritual in the chapter on Shakti and Shakta (ante) to which I refer. If this suggestion of mine be correct, whilst the importance and prevalence of the ancient ritual will diminish with the passage of time and the changes in religion which it effects, the principle will always retain its inherent value for the followers of the Advaita Vedanta. It is capable of application according to the modern spirit without recourse to Cakras and their ritual details in the ordinary daily life of the householder within the bounds of his Dharmashastra.
Nevertheless the ritual has existed and still exists, though at the present day often in a form free from the objections which are raised against certain liberties of practice which led to abuse. It is necessary, therefore, both for the purpose of accuracy and of a just criticism of its present adherents, to consider the intention with which the ritual was prescribed and the mode in which that intention was given effect to. It is not the fact, as commonly alleged, that the intention of the Shastra was to promote and foster any form of sensual indulgence. If it was, then, the Tantras would not be a Shastra at all whatever else they might contain. Shastra, as I have previously said, comes from the root "Shas" to control; that is, Shastra exists to control men within the bounds set by Dharma. The intention of this ritual, when rightly understood, is, on the contrary, to regulate natural appetite, to curb it, to lift it from the trough of mere animality; and by associating it with religious worship, to effect a passage from the state of desire of the ignorant Pashu to the completed Divyabhava in which there is desirelessness. It is another instance of the general principle to which I have referred that man must be led from the gross to the subtle. A Sadhaka once well explained the matter to me thus: Let us suppose, he said, that man's body is a vessel filled with oil which is the passions. If you simply empty it and do nothing more, fresh oil will take its place issuing from the Source of Desire which you have left undestroyed. If, however, into the vessel there is dropped by slow degrees the Water of Knowledge (J˝ana), it will, as being behavior than oil, descend to the bottom of the vessel and will then expel an equal quantity of oil. In this way all the oil of passion is gradually expelled and no more can re-enter, for the water of J˝ana will then have wholly taken its place. Here again the general principle of the method is good. As the Latins said, "If you attempt to expel nature with a pitchfork it will come back again". You must infuse something else as a medicament against the ills which follow the natural tendency of desire to exceed the limits which Dharma sets.
The Tantrik Pandit Jaganmohana Tarkalamkara in his valuable notes appended to the commentary on the Mahanirvana Tantra of Hariharananda Bharati, the Guru of the celebrated "Reformer" Raja Ram Mohan Roy (Ed. of K. G. Bhakta, 1888), says, "Let us consider what most contributes to the fall of a man, making him forget his duty, sink into sin and die an early death. First among these are wine and women, fish, meat, Mudra and accessories. By these things men have lost their manhood. Shiva then desires to employ these very poisons in order to eradicate the poison in the human system. Poison is the antidote for poison. This is the right treatment for those who long for drink or lust for women. The physician must, however, be an experienced one. If there be a mistake as to the application, the patient is likely to die. Shiva has said that the way of Kulacara is as difficult as it is to walk on the edge of a sword or to hold a wild tiger. There is a secret argument in favor of the Pa˝cattva, and those Tattvas so understood should be followed by all. None, however, but the initiate can grasp this argument, and therefore Shiva has directed that it should not be revealed before anybody and everybody. An initiate when he sees a woman will worship her as his own mother and Goddess (Ishtadevata) and bow before her. The Vishnu Purana says that by feeding your desires you cannot satisfy them. It is like pouring ghee on fire. Though this is true, an experienced spiritual teacher (Guru) will know how, by the application of this poisonous medicine, to kill the poison of the world (Samsara). Shiva has, however, prohibited the indiscriminate publication of this. The object of Tantrik worship is Brahmasayujya. or union with Brahman. If that is not attained, nothing is attained. And with men's propensities as they are, this can only be attained through the special treatment prescribed by the Tantras. If this is not followed, then the sensual propensities are not eradicated and the work is, for the desired end of Tantra, as useless as harmful magic (Abhicara) which, worked by such a man, leads only to the injury of himself and others." The passage cited refers to the necessity for the spiritual direction of the Guru. To the want of such is accredited the abuse of the system. When the patient (Shishya) and the disease are working together, there is poor hope for the former; but when the patient, the disease and the physician are on one, and that the wrong side, then nothing can save him from a descent in that downward path which it is the object of Sadhana to prevent.
All Hindu schools seek the suppressions of mere animal worldly desire. What is peculiar to the Kaulas is the particular method employed for the transformation of desire. The Kularnava Tantra says that man must be taught to rise by means of those very things which are the cause of his fall. "As one falls on the ground, one must lift oneself by aid of the ground." So also the Buddhist Subhashita Samgraha says that a thorn is used to pick out a thorn. Properly applied the method is a sound one. Man falls through the natural functions of drinking, eating, and sexual intercourse. If these are done with the feeling (Bhava) and under the conditions prescribed, then they become (it is taught) the instruments of his uplift to a point at which such ritual is no longer necessary and is surpassed.
In the first edition of the work, I spoke of Antinomian Doctrine and Practice, and of some Shakta theories and rituals which have been supposed to be instances of it. This word, however, requires explanation, or it may (I have since thought) lead to error in the present connection. There is always danger in applying Western terms to facts of Eastern life. Antinomianism is the name for heretical theories and practices which have arisen in Christian Europe. In short, the term, as generally understood, has a meaning in reference to Christianity, namely, contrary or opposed to Law, which here is the Judaic law as adopted and modified by that religion. The Antinomian, for varying reasons, considered himself not bound by the ordinary laws of conduct. It is not always possible to state with certainty whether any particular sect or person alleged to be Antinomian was in fact such, for one of the commonest charges made against sects by their opponents is that of immorality. We are rightly warned against placing implicit reliance on the accounts of adversaries. Thus charges of nocturnal orgies were made against the early Christians, and by the latter against those whom they regarded as heretical dissidents, such as ManichŠans, Mountanists, Priscillianists and others, and against most of the mediaeval sects such as the Cathari, Waldenses and Fracticelli. Nor can we be always certain as to the nature of the theories held by persons said to be Antinomian, for in a large number of cases we have only the accounts of orthodox opponents. Similarly, hitherto every account of the Shakta Tantra was given by persons both ignorant of, and hostile to it. In some cases it would seem (I speak of the West) that Matter was held in contempt as the evil product of the Demiurge. In others Antinomian doctrine and practice was based on "Pantheism". The latter in the West has always had as one of its tendencies a leaning towards, or adoption of Antinomianism. Mystics in their identification with God supposed that upon their conscious union with Him they were exempt from the rules governing ordinary men. The law was spiritualized into the one precept of the Love of God which ripened into a conscious union with Him, one with man's essence. This was deemed to be a sinless state. Thus Amalric of Bena (d. 1204) is reputed to have said that to those constituted in love no sin is imputed (Dixerat etiamquod in charitate constitutis nullum peccatum imputabatur). His followers are alleged to have maintained that harlotry and other carnal vices are not sinful for the spiritual man, because the spirit in him, which is God, is not affected by the flesh and cannot sin, and because the man who is nothing cannot sin so long as the Spirit which is God is in him. In other words, sin is a term relative to man who may be virtuous or sinful. But in that state beyond duty, which is identification with the Divine Essence, which at root man is, there is no question of sin. The body at no time sins. It is the state of mind which constitutes sin, and that state is only possible for a mind with a human and not divine consciousness. Johann Hartmann is reputed to have said that he had become completely one with God; that a man free in spirit is impeccable and can do whatever he will, or in Indian parlance he is Svecchacari. (See Dollinger's Beitrage zur Sektengeschichte des Mittelalter's ii. 384). This type of Antinomianism is said to have been widespread during the later Middle Ages and was perpetuated in some of the parties of the so-called Reformation. Other notions leading to similar results were based on Quietistic and Calvinistic tenets in which the human will was so subordinated to the Divine will as to lose its freedom. Thus Gomar (A.D. 1641) maintained that "sins take place, God procuring and Himself willing that they take place." God was thus made the author of sin. It has been alleged that the Jesuit casuists were "constructively antinomian" because of their doctrines of philosophical sin, direction of attention, mental reservation, and probabilism. But this is not so, whatever may be thought of such doctrines. For here there was no question of opposition to the law of morality, but theories touching the question "in what that law consisted" and whether any particular act was in fact a violation of it. They did not teach that the law could in any case be violated, but dealt with the question whether any particular act was such a violation. Antinomianism of several kinds and based on varying grounds has been charged against the Manichaeans, the Gnostics generally, Cainites, Carpocrates, Epiphanes, Messalians (with their promiscuous sleeping together of men and women), Adamites, Bogomiles, followers of Amarlic of Bena, Brethren of the Free Spirit, Beghards, Fratricelli, Johann Hartmann ("a man free in spirit is impeccable"); the pantheistic "Libertines" and "Familists" and Ranters of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries ("Nothing is sin but what a man thinks to be so"; "God sees no sin in him who knows himself to be in a state of grace"; see Gataker's 'Antinomianism Discovered and Refuted', A.D. 1632 and see Rufus Jones' Studies in Mystical Religion, Ch. XIX), the Alumbrados or Spanish Illuminate (Prabuddha) Mystics of the Sixteenth Century; Magdalena de Cruce d'Aguilar and others (Mendes v Pelayo -- Historia de los Heterodoxos Espanoles) whose teachings according to Malvasia (Catalogus onmium haeresium et conciliorum) contained the following proposition, "A perfect man cannot sin; even an act which outwardly regarded must be looked upon as vicious cannot contaminate the soul which lives in mystical union with God." "The Holy and Sinless Baptists" held that the elect could not sin, an antinomian doctrine which has often appeared in the history of theological-ethical speculation to the effect that the believer might do what he liked, since if he sinned, it affected the body only, with which his soul had no more to do than with any of the other things of this world (Belfort Bax Anabaptists 35). The Free Brothers held that for the rebaptized, sin was impossible as no bodily act could affect the soul of the believer. Women did not sin who went with Brethren because there was a spiritual bond between them (ib., 38). Kessler alleges that the Votaries practiced sensuality on the plea that their souls were dead to the flesh and that all that the flesh did was by the will of God (ib., 62). The Alumbrada Francisca Garcia is alleged to have said that her sexual excesses were in obedience to the voice of God and that "carnal indulgence was embracing God" (Lea's Inquisition in Spain, III. 62). Similar doctrines are alleged of the French Illumines called Guerinets of the Seventeenth Century; the German "Theosophers" of Schonherr: Eva Von Buttler: the Muckers of the Eighteenth Century; some modern Russian sects (Tsakni La Russie Sectaire) and others. Whilst it is to be remembered that in these and other cases we must receive with caution the accounts given by opponents, there is no doubt that Antinomianism, Svecchacara and the like is a well-known phenomenon in religious history often associated with so-called "Pantheistic" doctrines. The Antinomian doctrines of the Italian nuns, Spighi and Buonamici, recorded by Bishop Scipio de Ricci "L'uomo e nato libero y nessuno lo puo legare nello spirito": "man is born free and none can chain his free Spirit" are here dealt with in more detail, for the writer Edward Sellon ("Annotations on the writings of the Hindus") thought that he had found in the last cited case an instance of "Tantrik doctrine" in the convents of Italy in the Eighteenth Century." I will give some reasons, which refute his view, the more particularly because they are contained in a very rare work, namely, the first edition of De Potter's Vie de Scipion de Ricci Eveque de Pistoie et Prafo, published at Brussels in 1825, and largely withdrawn at the instance of the Papal Court. The second edition is, I believe, much expurgated. Receiving report of abuses in the Dominican convent of St. Catherine de Prato, the Bishop of Pistoia and Prato made an inquisition into the conduct of the nuns, and in particular as to the teaching and practice of their leaders, the Sister Buonamici, formerly Prioress and afterwards novice-mistress, and the Sister Spighi, assistant novice-mistress. De Potter's work contains the original interrogatories, in Italian (I. 381) in the writing of 'Abbe Laurent Palli', Vicar-Episcopal at Prato, taken in 1781 and kept in the archives of the Ricci family. The Teaching of the two Sisters I summarize as follows: "God" (I. 413, 418 ) "is a first principle (Primo principio) who is a collectivity (in Sanskrit Samashti) of all men and things (un cemplesso di tutti le cose anzi di tnttoil genere umano). The universal Master or God is Nature (ci e il maestro, ohe e Iddio ceve la natura). As God is the totality of the universe and is nothing but Nature we all participate in the Divine Essence (Questo Dio non e altro che la Natura. Noi medesimi per auesta ragione participiamo in aualche maniera dell'esser divino). Man's soul is a mortal thing consisting of Memory, Intelligence and Will. It dies with the body disappearing as might a mist. Man is free and therefore none can enchain his free spirit (I. 428). The only Heaven and Hell which exists is the Heaven and Hell in this world. There is none other. After death there is neither pleasure nor suffering. The Spirit, being free, it is the intention which renders an act bad. It is sufficient (I. 460) to elevate the spirit to God and then no action, whatever it be, is sin (Essendo il nostro spirito libro, l'inten zione e quello que rende cattiva l'azione. Basta danque colla mente elevarsi a Dio perche qualsiqoglia azione non sia peccato). There is no sin. Certain (impure) acts not sin provided that the spirit is always elevated to God. Love of God and one's neighbor is the whole of the commandments. Man (I. 458) who unites with God by means of woman satisfies both commandments. So also does he who, lifting his spirit to God, has enjoyment with a person of the same sex or alone (Usciamo con alcuno d'eaual sesso o da se soli). To be united with God is to be united as man and woman. The eternal life (I. 418) of the soul and Paradise in this world is the transubstantiation (or it may be transfusion) which takes place when man is united with woman (Depone credere questa vita eterna dell'anima essere la transustanziazione (forse transfusione nell'unirsi che fa l'uomo con la donna). Marie Clodesinde Spighi having stated that Paradise consisted in the fruition in this world of the Enjoyment of God (la fruizione di Dio) was asked "How is this attained?" Her reply was, by that act by which one unites oneself with God. "How again", she was questioned, "is this union effected?" To which the answer was "by co-operation of man and woman in which I recognize God Himself." I. 428. (Mediante l'uomo nel quale ci riconosco Iddio). Everything was permissible because man was free, though sots might obey the law enjoined for the general governance of the world. Man, she said, (I. 420) can be saved in all religions (In tutti le religione ci passiamo salvare). In doing that which we erroneously call impure is real purity ordained by God, without which man cannot arrive at a knowledge of Him who is the truth (e esercitando erroneamente auello che diciamo impurita era la vera purita: quella Iddio ci comanda e virole no pratichiamo, e senza della quale non vi e maniera di trovare Iddio, che e verita). "Where did you get all this doctrine?" This sister said "I gathered it from my natural inclinations" (L'ho ricevato dall inclinazione della natura'
Whilst it will not be necessary to tell the most ignorant Indian that the above doctrines are not Christian teaching, it is necessary (as Sellon's remark shows) to inform the English reader that this pantheistic libertinism is not "Tantrik". This imperfect charge is due to the author's knowledge of the principles of Kaula Sadhana. I will not describe all the obscene and perverse acts which these "Religions" practiced. It is sufficient that the reader should throw his eye back a few lines and see that their teaching justified sodomy, lesbianism and masturbation, sins as abhorrent to the Tantra Shastra as any other. Owing, however, to ignorance or prejudice, everything is called "Tantrik" into which woman enters and in which sexual union takes on a religious or so-called religious character or complexion. The Shastra, on the country, teaches that there is a God who transcends Nature, that Dharma or morality governs all men, that there is sin and that the acts here referred to are impurities leading to Hell; for there is (it says) both suffering and enjoyment not only in this but in an after-life. It was apparently enough for Edward Sellon to adjudge the theories and practices to be Tantrik that these women preached the doctrine of intention and of sexual union with the feeling or Bhava (to use a Sanskrit term) that man and woman were parts of the one Divine essence. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and this is an instance of it. These corrupt theories are merely the "religious" and "philosophical" basis for a life of unrestrained libertinism which the Tantra Shastra condemns as emphatically as any other Scripture. The object of the Tantrik ritual is to forward the morality of the senses by converting mere animal functions into acts of worship. The Scripture says in effect, "Just as you offer flowers, incense and so forth to the Devata, in the Rajasik worship let these physical functions take their place, remembering that it is Shiva who is working in and through you." The doctrine of the Brethren of the Free Spirit (Delacroix Le Mysticisme speculatif en Allemagne au quatorgiem e siecle) so far as it was probably really held, has, in points, resemblance to some of the Tantrik and indeed Aupanishadic teachings, for they both hold in common certain general principles to which I will refer (see also Preger's Geshichte der Deutschen Mystik im Mittelalter). Other doctrines and practices with which they have been charged are wholly hostile to the Shakta Darshana and Sadhana. Amalric of Bena, a disciple of Scotus Erigena, held that God is all, both creature and creator, and the Essence of all which is. The soul which attains to Him by contemplation becomes God Himself. It was charged against him that man could act in the manner of God's action and do what he pleased without falling into sin. The doctrine that the Brahmaj˝ani is above good and evil is so generally misunderstood that it is probable that, whatever may have been the case with some of his disciples, the charges made against the master himself on this point are false. It has been well said that one is prone to accuse of immorality any one who places himself beyond traditional morality. As regards the Brethren of the Free Spirit also, this alleged doctrine comes to us from the mouths of their adversaries. They are said to have held that there were two religions, one for the ignorant (Mudha), the other for the illuminate (Prabuddha), the first being the traditional religion of the letter and ritual observance, and the other of freedom and spirituality. The soul is of the same substance as God (identity of Jivatma and Paramatma). When this is realized man is deified. Then he is (as Brahmaj˝ani) above all law (Dharma). The ordinary rules of morality bind only those who do not see beyond them, and who do not realize in themselves that Power which is superior to all these laws. United with God (Anima deo unita) man enjoys a blessed freedom. He sees the inanity of prayers, of fasts, of all those supplications which can do nothing to change the order of nature. He is one with the Spirit of all. Free of the law he follows his own will (Svecchacari). What the vulgar call "sin", he can commit without soiling himself. There is a distinction between the act which is called sinful and sin. Nothing is sin but what the doer takes to be such. The body does not sin. It is the intention with which an act is done which constitutes sin. "The angel would not have fallen if what he did had been done with a good intention" (Quod angelus non cecidisset si bona intentione fecissit quod fecit). Man becomes God in all the powers of his being including the ultimate elements of his body. Therefore, wisdom lies not in renunciation, but in enjoyment and the satisfaction of his desires. The tormenting and insatiable passion for woman is a form of the creative spontaneous principle. The worth of instinct renders noble the acts of the flesh, and he who is united in spirit with God can with impunity fulfill the sensual desires of the body (item quod unitus deo audacter possit explere libidinamcarnis). There is no more sin in sexual union without marriage than within it and so forth. With the historian of this sect and with our knowledge of the degree to which pantheistic doctrines are misunderstood, we may reasonably doubt whether these accusations of their enemies represent in all particulars their true teaching. It seems, however, to have been held by those who have dealt with this question that the pantheistic doctrine of the Brethren led to conclusions contrary to the common morality. It is also highly probable that some at least of the excesses condemned were the work of false brethren, who finding in the doctrine a convenient excuse for, and an encouragement of their licentiousness, sheltered themselves behind its alleged authority. As this remark of Dr. Delacroix suggests, one must judge a doctrine (and we may instance that of the Shaktas) by what its sincere adherents hold and do, and not by the practices of impostors who always hie to sects which seem to hold theories offering opportunities for libertinism. One may here recall Milton who says with insight "That sort of men who follow Antinomianism and other fanatic dreams be such most commonly as are by nature gifted to religion, of life also not debauched and that their opinions having full swing do end in satisfaction of the flesh."
Whilst there is a similarity on some points between Kaula teaching and some of the Western pantheistic theories above alluded to, in others the two are manifestly and diametrically opposed. There are some who talk as if intellectual and moral aberrations were peculiar to India. No country is without them, but the West, owing to its chaos of thought and morals, has exhibited the worst. With the exception of the atheistic Carvakas and Lokayatas no sect in India has taught the pursuit of sensual enjoyment for its own sake, or justified the commission of any and every (even unnatural) sin. To do so would be to run counter to ideas which are those of the whole intellectual and moral Cosmos of India. These ideas include those of a Law (Dharma) inherent in the nature of all being; of sin as its infraction, and of the punishment of sin as bad Karma in this and the next world (Paraloka). It is believed and taught that the end of man is lasting happiness, but that this is not to be had by the satisfaction of worldly desires. Indeed the Kaula teaches that Liberation (Moksha) cannot be had so long as a man has any worldly desires whether good or bad. Whilst, however, there is an eternal Dharma (Sanatana Dharma), one and the same for all, there are also particular forms of Dharma governing particular bodies of men. It is thus a general rule that a man should not unlawfully satisfy his sexual desires. But the conditions under which he may lawfully do so have varied in every form and degree in times and places. In this sense, as the Sarvollasa says, marriage is a conventional (Paribhashika) thing. The convention which is binding on the individual must yet be followed, that being his Dharma. Sin again, it is taught, consists in intention, not in a physical act divorced therefrom. Were this otherwise, then it is said that the child which, when issuing from the mother's body, touches her Yoni would be guilty of the heinous offense called Guru-talpaga. The doctrine of a single act with differing intentions is illustrated by the Tantrik maxim "A wife is kissed with one feeling, a daughter's face with another" (Bhavena chumbita kanta, bhavena duhitananam). In the words of the Sarvollasa, a man who goes with a woman, in the belief that by commission of such act he will go to Hell, will of a surety go thither. On the other hand it may be said that if an act is really lawful but is done in the belief that it is unlawful and with the deliberate intention of doing what is unlawful, there is subjective sin. The intention of the Shastra is not to unlawfully satisfy carnal desire in the way of eating and drinking and so forth, but that man should unite with Shiva-Shakti in worldly enjoyment (Bhaumananda) as a step towards the supreme enjoyment (Paramananda) of Liberation. In so doing he must follow the Dharma prescribed by Shiva. It is true, that there are different observances for the illuminate, for those whose power (Shakti) is awake (Prabuddha) and for the rest. But the Sadhana of these last is as necessary as the first and a stepping stone to it. The Kaula doctrine and practice may, from a Western standpoint, only be called Antinomian, in the sense that it holds, in common with the Upanishads, that the Brahma-j˝ani is above both good (Dharma) and evil (Adharma), and in the sense that some of these practices are contrary to what the general body of Hindu worshippers consider to be lawful. Thus Shakta Darshana is said by some to be Avaidika. It is, however, best to leave to the West its own labels and to state the case of the East in its own terms.
After all, when everything unfavorable has been said, the abuses of some Tantriks are not to be compared either in nature or extent with those of the West with its widespread sordid prostitution, its drunkenness and gluttony, its sexual perversities and its so-called pathological but truly demoniacal enormities. To take a specific example -- Is the drinking of wine, by a limited number of Vamacari Tantriks in the whole of this country to be compared with (say) the consumption of whisky in the single city of Calcutta? Is this whisky-drinking less worthy of condemnation because it is Pashupana or done for the satisfaction of sensual appetite alone? The dualistic notion that the "dignity" of religion is impaired by association with natural function is erroneous.
The well-known English writer, Sir Conan Doyle, doubtless referring to these and other wrongs, has expressed the opinion that during the then last quarter of a century we Westerns have been living in what (with some few ameliorating features) is the wickedest epoch in the world's history. However this may be, if our own great sins were here known, the abuses, real and alleged, of Tantriks would be seen in better proportion. Moreover an effective reply would be to hand against those who are always harping on Devadasis and other sensualities (supposed or real) of, or connected with, Indian worship. India's general present record for temperance and sexual control is better than that of the West. It is no doubt a just observation that abuses committed under the supposed sanction of religion are worse than wrongs done with the sense that they are wrong. That there have been hypocrites covering the satisfaction of their appetites with the cloak of religion is likely. But all Sadhakas are not hypocrites, and all cases do not show abuse. I cannot, therefore, help thinking that this constant insistence on one particular feature of the Shastra, together with ignorance both of the particular rites, and neglect and ignorance of all else in the Agama Scripture is simply part of the general polemic carried on in some quarters against the Indian religion. The Tantra Shastra is doubtless thought to be a very useful heavy gun and is therefore constantly fired in the attack. There may be some who will not readily believe that the weapon is not as formidable as was thought. All this is not to say that there have not been abuses, or that some forms of rite will not be considered repugnant, and in fact open to objection founded on the interests of society at large. All this again is not to say that I counsel the acceptance of any theories or practice, not justified by the evolved morality of the day. According to the Shastra itself, some of these methods, even if carried out as directed, have their dangers. This is obvious in the actions of a lower class of men, whose conduct has made the Scripture notorious. The ordinary man will then ask: "Why then court danger when there is enough of it in ordinary life?" I may here recall an observation of the Emperor Akbar which, though not made with regard to the matter in hand, is yet well in point. He said, "I have never known of a man who was lost on a straight road."
It is necessary for me to so guard myself because those who cannot judge with detachment are prone to think that others who deal fairly and dispassionately with any doctrine or practice are necessarily its adherents and the counselors of it to others.
My own view is this -- Probably on the whole it would be, in general, better if men took neither alcohol in the form of spirits or meat, particularly the latter, which is the source of much disease. Though it is said that killing for sacrifice is no "killing", it can hardly be denied that total abstention from slaughter of animals constitutes a more complete conformity with Ahimsa or doctrine of non-injury to any being. Moreover, at a certain stage meat-eating is repugnant. A feeling of this kind is growing in the West, where even the meat-eater, impelled by disgust and a rising regard for decency, hides away the slaughter houses producing the meat which he openly displays at his table. In the same way, sexual errors are common to-day. Whatever license any person may allow himself in this matter, few if any will claim it for others and foster their vices. Nor was this the intention of the Shastra. It is well known, however, that much of what passes for religious sentiment is connected with sex instinct even if religious life is not a mere "irradiation of the reproductive instinct" (see Religion and Sex, Cohen).
I understand the basis on which these Tantrik practices rest. Thus what seems repellent is sought to be justified on the ground that the Sadhaka should be above all likes and dislikes, and should see Brahman in all things. But the Western critic will say that we must judge practice from the practical standpoint. It was this consideration which was at the back of the statement of Professor de la Vallee Poussine (Boudhism Etudes et Materianx) that there is in this country what Taine called a "reasoning madness' which makes the Hindu stick at no conclusion however strange, willingly accepting even the absurd. (Il y regne des l'origine ce que Taine appelle la folie raisonante. Les Hindous vont volontiers jusqua l'absurde). This may be too strongly put; but the saying contains this truth that the Indian temperament is an absolutist one. But such a temperament, if it has its fascinating grandeur, also carries with it the defects of its qualities; namely, dangers from which those, who make a compromise between life and reason, are free. The answer again is, that some of the doctrines and practices here described were never meant for the general body of men. After all, as I have elsewhere said, the question of this particular ritual practice is largely of historical interest only. Such practice to-day is, under the influences of the time, being transformed, where it is not altogether disappearing, with other ritual customs of a past age. Apart from my desire to clear away, so far as is rightly possible, charges which have lain heavily on this country, I am only interested here to show firstly that the practice is not a modern invention but seems to be a continuation in another form of ancient Vaidik usage; secondly that it claims, like the rest of the ritual with which I have dealt, to be an application of the Advaitavada of the Upanishads; and lastly that (putting aside things generally repugnant and extremist practices which have led to abuse) a great principle is involved which may find legitimate and ennobling application in all daily acts of physical function within the bounds of man's ordinary Dharma. Those who so practice this principle may become the true Vira who has been said to be not the man of great physical or sexual strength, the great fighter, eater, drinker, or the like, but
Jitendriyah satavadi nityanushthana-tatparah
Kamadi-balidanashca sa vira iti giyate.
"He is a Hero who has controlled his senses, and is a speaker of truth; who is ever engaged in worship and has sacrificed lust and all other passions."
The attainment of these qualities is the aim, whatever is said of some of the means, of all such Tantrik Sadhana.
In connection with the doctrine and Sadhana just described it is apposite to cite the following legend from Tibet, which shows how, according to its Sadhakas, it may be either rightly or wrongly interpreted, and how, in the latter case, it leads to terrible evils and their punishment.
Guru Padma-sambhava, the so-called founder of "Lamaism," had five women disciples who compiled several accounts of the teachings of their Master and hid them in various places for the benefit of future believers. One of these disciples -- Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal -- was a Tibetan lady who is said to have possessed such a wonderful power of memory that if she was told a thing only once she remembered it for ever. She gathered what she had heard from her Guru into a book called the Padma Thangyig Serteng or Golden Rosary of the history of her Guru who was entitled the Lotus-born (Padmasambhava). The book was hidden away and was subsequently, under inspiration, revealed some five hundred years ago by a Terton.
The first Chapter of the work deals with Sukhavati, the realm of Buddha Amitabha. In the second the Buddha emanates a ray which is incarnated for the welfare of the Universe. In Chapter III it is said that there have been a Buddha and a Guru working together in various worlds and at various times, the former preaching the Sutras and the latter the Tantras. The fourth Chapter speaks of the Mantras and the five Dhyani Buddhas (as to which see Shri-cakra-sambhara Tantra), and in the fifth we find the subject of the present Chapter, an account of the origin of the Vajrayana Faith. The present Chapter is based on a translation, which I asked Kazi Dawasamdup to prepare for me, of portions of the Thangyig Serteng. I have further had, and here acknowledge, the assistance of the very learned Lama Ugyen Tanzin, in the elucidation of the inner meaning of the legend. I cannot go fully into this but give certain indications which will enable the competent to work out much of the rest for themselves from the terrible symbolism in which evil for evil's sake is here expressed.
The story is that of the rise and fall of the Self. The disciple "Transcendent Faith" who became the Bodhisattva Vajrapani illustrates the former; the case of "Black Salvation" who incarnated as a Demoniac Rutra displays the latter. He was no ordinary man, for at the time of his initiation he had already attained eight out of the thirteen stages (Bhumika) on the way to perfect Buddhahood. His powers were correspondingly great. But the higher the rise the greater the fall if it comes. Through misunderstanding and misapplying, as so many others have done, the Tantrik doctrine, he "fell back" into Hell. Extraordinary men who were teachers of recondite doctrines such as those of Thubka, who was himself "hard to overcome," seem not to have failed to warn lesser brethren against their dangers. It is commonly said in Tibet of the so-called "heroic" modes of extremist Yoga, that they waft the disciple with the utmost speed either to the heights of Nirvana or to the depths of Hell. For the aspirant is compared to a snake which is made to go up a hollow bamboo. It must ascend and escape at the top, at the peril otherwise of falling down.
Notwithstanding these warnings many of the vulgar, the vicious, the misunderstanding and the fools who play with fire have gone to Hells far more terrible than those which await human frailties in pursuance of the common life of men whose progress if slow is sure. "Black Salvation", though an advanced disciple, misinterpreted his teacher's doctrine and consciously identifying himself with the world-evil fell into Hell. In time he rose therefrom and incarnating at first, in gross material forms, he at length manifested as a great Rutra, the embodiment of all wickedness. The Tibetan Rutra here spoken of and the Indian Rutra seem to be etymologically the same but their meaning is different. Both are fierce and terrible Spirits; but a Rutra as here depicted is essentially evil, and neither the Lord of any sensual celestial paradise, nor the Cosmic Shakti which loosens forms. A Rutra is rather what in some secret circles is called (though in ungrammatical Sanskrit) an Adhatma, or a soul upon the lower and destructive path. The general destructive energy (Samhara-Shakti), however, uses for its purpose the disintegrating propensities of these forms. The evil which appears as Rutra is the expression of various kinds of Egoism. Thus Matam Rutra is Egoism as attached to the gross physical body. Again, all sentient worldly being gives expression to its feelings, saying "I am happy, unhappy, and so forth." All this is here embodied in the speech of the Rutra and is called Akar Rutra. Khatram Rutra is Egoism of the mind, as when it is said of any object "this is mine". "Black Salvation" became a Rutra of such terrific power that to save him and the world the Buddhas intervened. There are four methods by which they and the Bodhisattvas subdue and save sentient being, namely, the Peaceful, the Grand or Attractive, the Fascinating which renders powerless (Vasikaranam), and the stern method of downright Force. All forms of Egoism must be destroyed in order that the pure "That Which Is" or formless Consciousness may be attained. "Black Salvation" incarnated as the Pride of Egoism in its most terrible form. And, in order to subdue him, the last two methods had to be employed. He was, through the Glorious One, redeemed by the suffering which attends all sin and became the "Dark Defender of the Faith," which by his egoistic apostasy he had abjured, to be later the Buddha known as the "Lord of Ashes" in that world which is called "the immediately self-produced". How this came about the legend describes.
The fifth Chapter of the Golden Rosary says that Guru Padma-Vajradhara was reborn as Bhikshu Thubkazhonnu, which means the "youth who is hard to overcome". He was a Tantrik who preached an abstruse doctrine which is condensed in the following verse:
"He who has attained the 'That Which Is'
Or uncreated In-itself-ness
Is unaffected even by the 'four things'
Just as the cloud which floats in the sky
Adheres not thereto.
This is the way of Supreme Yoga.
Than this in all the three worlds
There is not a higher wisdom."
This Guru had two disciples, Kuntri and his servant Pramadeva. To the latter was given, on initiation, the name "Transcendent Faith," and to the former "Black Salvation". This last name was a prophetic prediction that he would be saved, not through peaceful or agreeable means but through the just wrath of the Jinas. The real meaning of the verse as understood and practiced by Pramadeva and as declared to be right by the Guru was as follows: "The pure Consciousness (Dagpa-ye-shes) is the foundation (Gshihdsin) of the limited consciousness (Rnam-shes) and is in Scripture "That which is," the real uncreated "In-Itself-ness". This being unaffected or unruffled is the path of Tantra. Passions (Klesha) are like clouds wandering in the wide spaces of the sky. (These clouds are distinct from, and do not touch the back-ground of space against which they appear.) So passions do not touch but disappear from the Void (Shunyata). Whilst ascending upwards the threefold accomplishment (Activity, non-activity, absolute repose) must be persevered in; and this is the meaning of our Teacher Thubka's doctrine."
The latter, however, was misunderstood by "Black Salvation" (Tharpa Nagpo) who took it to mean that he was to make no effort to save himself by the gaining of merit, but that he was to indulge in the four acts of sinful enjoyment, by the eye, nose, tongue and organ of generation. On this account, he fell out with his brother in the faith Pramadeva, and later with his Guru, both of whom he caused to be persecuted and banished the country. Continuing in a career of reckless and sin-hardened life, he died unrepentant after a score of years passed in various diabolical practices. He fell into Hell and continued there for countless ages. At the close of the time of Buddha Dipankara (Marmedzad or "Light maker") he was reborn several times as huge sea monsters. At length, just before the time of the last Buddha Sakya Muni, he was born as the son of a woman of loose morals in a country called Lankapuri of the Rakshasas. This woman used to consort with three Spirits -- a Deva in the morning, a Fire Genius at noon, and a Daitya in the evening. "Black Salvation" was reborn in the eighth month as the offspring of these three Spirits. The child was a terrible monster, black of color, with three heads, each of which had three eyes, six hands, four feet and two wings. He was horrible to look at, and immediately at his birth all the auspicious signs of the country disappeared, and the eighteen inauspicious signs were seen. Malignant epidemics attacked the whole region of Lanka-puri. Some died, others only suffered, but all were in misery. Lamentation, famine and sorrow beset the land. There were disease, bloodshed, mildew, hailstorms, droughts, floods and all other kinds of calamities. Even dreams were frightful, and ominous signs portending a great catastrophe oppressed all. Evil spirits roamed the land. So great were the evils that it seemed as if the good merits of everyone had been exhausted all at once.
The mother who had given birth to this monster died nine days after its birth. The people of the country decreed that this monstrous infant should be bound to the mother's corpse and left in the cemetery. The infant was then tied to his mother's breast. The mother was borne away in a stretcher to the cemetery, and the stretcher was left at the foot of a poisonous tree which had a boar's den at its root, a poisonous snake coiled round the middle of its trunk, and a bird of prey sitting in its uppermost branches. (These animals are the emblems of lust, anger and greed respectively which "kindle the fire of individuality".) At this place there was a huge sepulcher built by the Rakshasas where they used to leave their dead at the foot of the tree. Elephants and tigers came there to die; serpents infested it, and witch-like spirits called Dakinis and Ghouls brought human bodies there. After the bearers of the corpse had left, the infant sustained his life by sucking the breasts of his mother's corpse. These yielded only a thin, watery fluid for seven days. Next he sucked the blood and lived a week; then he gnawed at the breast and lived the third week; then he ate the entrails and lived for a week. Then he ate the outer flesh and lived for the fifth week. Lastly he crunched the bones, sucked the marrow, licked the humors and brains and lived a week. He thus in six weeks developed full physical maturity. Having exhausted his stock of food he moved about; and his motion shook the cemetery building to pieces. He observed the Ghouls and Dakinis feasting on human corpses which he took as his food and human blood as the drink, filling the skulls with it. His clothing was dried human skins as also the hides of dead elephants, the flesh of which he also ate. He ate also the flesh of tigers and wrapped his loins in their furs. He used serpents as bracelets, anklets, armlets and as necklaces and garlands. His lips were thick with frozen fat, and his body was covered with ashes from the burning ground. He wore a garland of dead skulls on one string; freshly severed heads on another; and decomposing heads on a third. These were worn crosswise as a triple garland. Each cheek was adorned with a spot of blood. His three great heads ever wrathful, of three different colors, were fierce and horrible to look at. The middle head was dark blue and those to the right and left were white and red respectively. His body and limbs which were of gigantic size and proportions were ashy gray. His skin was coarse and his hair as stiff as hog's bristles. His mouth wide agape showed fangs. His terrible eyes were fixed in a stare. Half of the dark brown hair on his head stood erect, bound with four kinds of snakes. The nails of his fingers and toes were like the talons of a great bird of prey, which seized hold of everything within reach, whether animals or human corpses which he crushed and swallowed. He bore a trident and other weapons in his right hands, and with his left he filled the emptied skulls with blood which he drank with great relish. He was a monster of ugliness who delighted in every kind of impious act. His unnatural food produced a strange luster on his face, which shone with a dull though great and terrible light. His breath was so poisonous that those touched by it were attacked with various diseases. For his nostrils breathed forth disease. His eyes, ears and arms produced the 404 different ills. Thus, the diseases paralysis, epilepsy, bubonic swellings, urinary ills, skin diseases, aches, rheumatism, gout, colic, cholera, leprosy, cancer, small-pox, dropsy and various other sores and boils appeared in this world at that time. (For evil thoughts and acts make the vital spirit sick and thence springs gross disease.)
The name of this great Demon was Matam Rutra. He was the fruit of the Karma of the great wickedness of his former life as Tharpa Nagpo. At that time, in each of the 24 Pilgrimages, there was a powerful destructive Bhairava Spirit. These Devas, Gandharvas, Rakshasas, Asuras and Nagas were proud, malignant and mighty Spirits, despotic masters of men, with great magical powers of illusion and transformation. These Spirits used to wander over these countries dressed in the eight sepulchral raiments, wearing the six kinds of bone ornaments, and armed with various weapons, accompanied by their female consorts, and reveled in all kinds of obscene orgies. Their chief occupation consisted in depriving all sentient beings of their lives. After consultation, all these Spirits elected Matam Rutra as their Chief. Thus all these non-human beings became his slaves. In the midst of his horrible retinue he continued to devour human beings alive until the race became almost destroyed and the cities emptied. He was thus the terrible scourge that the earth had ever seen. All who died in those days fell into Hell. But, as for Matam Rutra himself, his pride knew no bounds: he thought there was no one greater than himself and would roar out:
"Who is there greater and mightier than I? If there be any Lord who would excel me, Him too will I subjugate."
As there was no one to gainsay him, the world was oppressed by heavy gloom. At that time, however, Kali proclaimed,
"In the country of Lanka, the land of Rakshasas,
In a portion of the city called Koka-Thangmaling,
On the peak of Malaya, the abode of Thunder,
There dwells the Lord of Lanka, King of Rakshasas.
He is a disciple of the light-giving Buddha.
His fame far excels thine.
He is unconquerable in fight by any foe.
He sleeps secure and doth awake in peace."
Hearing this, the pride and ambition of the Demon became aflame. His body emitted flames great enough to have consumed all worlds at the great Kalpa dissolution. His voice resounded in a deep thundering roar like that of a thousand clasp of thunder heard together. With sparks of fire flying from his mouth he summoned a huge force. He filled the very heavens with them, and moving with the speed of a meteor he invaded the Rakshasa's capital of Koka-Thangmaling. Encamping, Matam Rutra proclaimed his name proudly, at which the entire country of Lanka trembled and was shaken terribly as though by an earth-quake. The Rakshasas, both male and female, became terrified. The King of the Rakshasas sent spies to find out the cause of these happenings. They went and saw the terrible force, and being terrified at the sight reported the fearful news to their king. He sat in Samadhi for a while, and divined the following: According to the Sutra of King Gunadhara it was said, "One who has vexed his Guru's heart, and broken his friend and brother's heart: the haughty son, being released from the three Hells, will take rebirth here, and he will surely conquer the Lord of Lanka. In the end, he will be conquered by many Sugatas (the blissful ones, or Buddhas). And this event will give birth to the Anuttara-Vajrayana Faith." The Buddha Marmedzad having revealed the event, he wished to see whether this was the Matam Rutra Demon referred to in the prophesy. So he collected a force of Rakshasas and went forth to fight a battle with the Demon force. Matam Rutra was very angry and said:
"I am the Great Invincible One,who is without a peer,
I am the Ishvara Mahadeva.
The four great Kings of the four quarters are my vassals,
The eight different tribes of Spirits are my slaves,
I am the Lord of the whole World.
Who is going to withstand and confront me?
Tutra, Matra, Marutra."
With this battle cry he overcame the forces of the Rakshasas. Then the King of the Rakshasas and all his forces submitted to the King of the Demons, saying "I repent me of my attempt to withstand you, in the hope of upholding the Faith of the Buddhas, and to spread it far and wide. I now submit to you and become your loyal subject. I will not rebel against you." When he had thus overcome the Rakshasas, he assumed the title of Matamka, the Chief of all the Rakshasas. His pride increased, and he proclaimed, "Who is there greater than I'?"
Then, Kali again cleverly excited his ambition and pride by saying, "The Chief of the armies of the Asuras (Lhamin that is "not Devas"), named Mahakaru, is mightier than you." Thereupon he invaded the realms of the Asuras, with his demon force, and all the Asuras becoming affected with various terrible maladies were powerless to resist him. The Rutra caught hold of the Asura King by the leg and whirling him thrice round his head flung him into the Jambudvipa where he fell in a place called the Ge-ne-gynad, meaning the place of eight merits. Then those of the Asuras who had not been killed, the eight planets (Grahas) and the twenty-eight constellations (Nakshatras) and their hosts sought refuge in every direction, but failing to obtain safety anywhere, they returned and surrendered themselves to the Demon Matam Rutra. Then the Asuras guided the Rutra and his forces to a Palace named the Globular Palace like a skull where they established their Capital. In the center of this Palace, the Rutra hoisted his banner of Victory. They arranged their dreadful weapons by the side of the entrance, and the place was surrounded by numerous followers with magical powers. Having thus shown his own great magical powers, he took up the King of Mountains, Meru, upon the tip of his finger and whirling it round his head, he proclaimed these boastful words, "Rutra, Matra, Marutra, who is there in this universe greater than myself? In all the three Lokas, there is none greater than I. And if there be any, him also will I subdue." To these boastful words Kali answered,
"In the thirty-third Deva-Loka and in the happy
celestial regions of the Tushita Heavens,
Sitting amidst the golden assembly of disciples,
Is the Holy Savior of all beings, Regent of the Devas
Having been anointed, He is venerated and praised by all the Deva Kings.
He summons all the Devas to his assembly by sounding
the various instruments of heavenly music
Accompanied by a celestial Chorus.
He is greater than yourself."
On her so saying, the Archdemon blazed forth into a fury of pride and wrath, and set forth to conquer the Tushita Heavens. The Bodhisattva (Dampa-Togkar) was sitting enthroned on a throne of precious metals, in the midst of thousands of Devatas, both male and female, and was preaching Dharma to them. The Archdemon seized Dampa-Togkar from his throne, and threw him down into this world-system. All the Devas and Devis there gathered exclaimed, "Alas, what a fate, O, the sinful wretch!" seven times over. Thereupon the Rutra fiercely said:
"Put on two cloths, and sit down on your seats, every one of you!
How can I be conquered by you? I am the mighty destroyer and subjugator of all.
(The expression "Put on two cloths" was said by way of contempt for the priestly robes which consist of three pieces, being a wrapper above, and one below and one over both. Dampa- Togkar is the Bodhisattva who is coming as Buddha to teach in the human world. He descends from the Tushita Heavens where he reigns as Regent). When the celestial Regent of the Tushita Heavens (Dampa-Togkar) was about to pass away from there, he uttered this prophesy to his disciples, who were around him:
"Listen unto me, Ye my disciples:
This apostate disciple, Tharpa-Nagpo (Black Salvation),
Who does not believe in the Buddha's Doctrine,
He is destined to pervert the Devas and Asuras,
And to bend them to his yoke.
He hates the perfect Buddha, and he will work much evil in this world-system
There are two, who can deprive him of his terrible power;
They are Thubka-Zhonnu and Dad-Phags (Pramadeva, Arya Shraddha called Transcendent Faith)
They will be able to make him taste the fruits of his evil deeds in this very life.
He will not be subdued by peaceful, nor by any generous means.
He will only be conquered by the methods of Fascination and Sternness.
(The various means of redemption have been previously explained. Thubka and his good disciple "Transcendent Faith" who had then become Buddha Vajra-Sattva, and Bodhisattva Vajrapani were selected for this purpose. They assumed the forms of the Devatas with the Horse's head (Hayagriva) and the Sow's head (Vajra-Varahi)
"Who, of the Noble Sangha, will doubt this,
That Hayagriva and Vajra-Varahi will give him their bodies.
(When it is said "These will give him their bodies" this means, as hereafter described, entering the Rutra's body, assuming his shape and destroying his Rutra life and nature. They give him their divine bodies so that they may destroy his demoniac body).
"And who will not trust in the Wisdom of the Jinas, to conquer him by the upward-piercing method,
From this (demon) will come the Precious-nectar, which will be of use in acquiring Virtue.
From this (demon) will originate the changing of poison into elixir.
(There are various Tantrik methods suited to various natures. "The upward-piercing" (Khatar-yar-phig) is that of Vajrayana. This is the method which goes upward and upward, that is straight upward without delay and without going to right or left. To change poison into nectar or elixir is a well-known principle of these schools. "This Demon will have to be ground down and destroyed to the last atom, in one body.
(It is said "in one body" because, ordinarily, several lives are necessary; but in this case and by this method Liberation is achieved in a single life-time and in one body. Not one atom of the Rutra body is left, for Egoism is wholly destroyed.)
"The Divine Horse-headed Deity (Vajra-Hayagriva),
is he who will dispel this threatening misfortune,
Dad-phags, (Pramadeva who was given on initiation
the name "Transcendent Faith") is at present Vajra-pani (Bodhisattva).
And Thubka-Zhonnu is, at present, the Buddha Vajra-sattva.
The divine prophesies of the Jinas are to be interpreted thus:
'They will exterminate their opponents
For myself I go to take birth in Maya-Devi's womb.
I will practice Samadhi at the root of the Bodhi-Tree.
I will not hold those beliefs in doubt.
For it has been said that the Buddha's Faith will triumph over this,
And will remain long in the Jambudvipa.
By means of the mysterious practice of Emancipating
by means of Communion.'
(The practice here referred to is the method called Jordol (sByor sGrol) which has both exoteric and esoteric meanings, such as in the case of the latter the communion of the Divine Male and Female whose union destroys to its uttermost root egoistic attachment; the communion with Shunyata whose innermost significance is the non-dual Consciousness (gNyismed-yeshes) which dispels ignorance and cuts at the root of all Samsaric life by the destruction of all the Rutra forms. "Female" here is Sunyata and not a woman. When a learned Lama is asked why the terms of sex are used they say it is to symbolize Thabs (Upaya) and Shesrabs (Praj˝a) which it is not possible to further explain here (See Mahanirvana Tantra and Kaulavali Nirnaya).
"The Matam Rutra, which is clinging to the body as 'I' will be dispelled,
All forms of worldly happiness and pain, the Egoism of Speech (Akar Rutra),
Will be destroyed.
The saying 'this is mine' of anything,
The mental 'I' (or Khatram-Rutra) is freed.
The true nature and distinguishing attributes of a Rutra,
Which is manifest outwardly, exists inwardly, and lies hidden secretly,
In short all the fifty-eight Rutras, with their hosts,
will be destroyed completely.
(I have already dealt with the meaning of the term, Rutra. Here the Egoisms of body, feelings, mind are referred to. The Glorious One will eradicate the physical and all other Rutras, the monster of the self in all its forms, gross, subtle and causal.)
"The world though deprived of happiness will rejoice again.
The world will be filled with the Precious Dharma of the Tri-Ratna.
The Righteous Faith has not declined, nor has it passed away."
(Thus did the Regent of the Tushita Heavens prophesy the advent of the Tantrik method for the complete destruction and the elimination of the demon of "Egotism" from the nature of the devotees on the path by means of Jordol.)
After uttering these prophecies he passed away and took re-birth in the womb of Queen Maya Devi. Then the Archdemon, having subjugated all the Devas of the thirty-third and the Tushita Heavens, appointed the two Demons Mara and Devadatta, his two chief officers, to suppress Indra and Brahma. The Archdemon himself took up his abode in the Malaya Mountain, in the place called the Human skull-like Mansion. He used to feed upon Devas and human beings, both males and females. Drums, bells, cymbals and every kind of stringed and other musical instruments were played to him in a perpetual concert with songs and dances. Every kind of enjoyment which the Devas used to enjoy, he enjoyed perpetually. (8th Chapter ends).
The 9th Chapter deals with the defeat and destruction of the Archdemon Matam Rutra by the Buddhas of the ten directions.
Then there assembled together Dharmakaya Buddha Samanatabhadra (Chosku Kuntu Zangpo) and his attendants from the Wogmin (Akanishta) Heavens, from other Heavens, Sambhoga-kaya Vajra-dhara with his attendants; and Vajrapani Nirmanakaya with his attendants. In short, from the various heavens of the ten directions came the different Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. All held a consultation together and came to this resolution:
"Unless the power of the Buddhas be exerted to subjugate the Rutra, the Faith of the Buddhas will cease to spread and will degenerate. That body which has committed such violent outrages on every other being, must be made to suffer the agonies of being hurt by weapons, wielded by avengers. If he is not made to feel the consequences of his deeds, the Jinas who have proclaimed the Truth will be falsified. He is not to be destroyed but to be subdued." Having thus agreed, all the Buddhas began to seek with their omniscient eyes, him who was destined to conquer this Rutra. They saw that Thubka-Zhonnu who had attained the state of Buddha Vajrasattva and Dadphags who had become Vajra-pani were to subdue him, and that the time was also ripe. So both of them came with their respective retinue and were blessed and endowed with Power by all the Buddhas, who gave these instructions. "Do ye assume the forms and sexes of Chenrezi and Dolma (Avalokita and Tara) and do ye subdue the Enemy by assuming the shapes of the Deities having the Horse-mane and the Sow's head (Haya-griva and Vajra-Varahi) ."
(The latter is commonly known in English translations as the "Diamond Sow". Vajra is the Sanskrit equivalent of the word Dorje in Tibetan. The latter has many meanings; Indra's thunderbolt, the Lamas' scepter, diamond and so forth: and is in fact used of anything of a high and mystical character which is lasting, indestructible, powerful and irresistible. Thus the high priest presiding at Tantrik Rites is called Dorje Lopon. In fact, diamond is so called because of the hard character of this gem. In the Indian Tantrik worship, Vajra occurs as in Vajrapushpa (Vajra-flower), Vajra-bhumi (Vajra-ground), and so forth, but these are not "diamond" flowers or earth. An extremely interesting inquiry is here opened which is beyond the scope of this Chapter, for the term Vajra, which is again the appellation of this particular school (Vajrayana), and is of great significance in the history of that power-side of religion which is dealt with in the Shakta Tantra. (See Introduction to Shri-Cakra-Sambhara. Here, without further attempt at explanation, I keep the term Vajra adding only that Harinisa is not, as has been thought, Vajra-Varahi (Dorje-phagmo) Herself but the Bija Mantras (Ha, ri, ni, sa) of Her four attendant Dakinis.)
Vajra-Sattva and Vajrapani, Buddha and Bodhisattva of the Vajrayana faith transformed themselves into the forms of Hayagriva and Vajra-Varahi, and assumed the costumes of Herukas. (The Herukas are a class of Vajrayana Devatas, of half terrible features, represented as partly nude with an upper garment of human skin and tiger skin round the loins. They have a skull head-dress, carry bone rosaries, a staff and Damaru like Shiva. The Herukas are described in the Tibetan books as being beautiful, heroic, awe-inspiring, stern and majestic.) Blazing in the nine kinds of physical magnificence and splendor, they proceeded to the Malaya Mountain,-- the abode of the Rutra. On the four sides of the Mountain were four gates. Each gate was guarded by a Demoness, bearing respectively a Mare's, Sow's, Lion's and a Dog's head. These the Glorious One conquered, and united therewith in a spirit of nonattachment. From their union were born the following female issue: (1) The White Horse-faced, (2) The Black Sow-faced, (3) The Red Lion-faced, (4) and the Green Dog-faced daughters. Proceeding still further He met another cordon of sentries, who too were females, bearing the heads of (1) Lioness, (2) Tigress, (3) Fox, (4) Wolf, (5) Vulture, (6) Kanka, (?) (7) Raven, and (8) Owl. With these Demonesses too, the Glorious One united in a spirit of non-attachment, and blessed the act. Of this union were born female offspring, each of whom took after the mother in outward shape or Matter, and after the father in Mind. Thus were the eight Demi-goddesses born: viz., the Lion-headed, Tiger-headed and so forth. Being divine in mind, they possess prescience and wisdom, although from their mother they retained their shape and features, which are those of brutes.
Then again proceeding further inward, He came upon the daughters of the Rutras and of Rakshasas, named respectively, Nyobyed-ma or "She who maddens," Tagbyed-ma "She who frightens," Dri-medma "The unsullied," Kem-pama "She who dries one up," Phorthogma "She who bears the Cup" and Zhyongthogma the "bowl bearer."
The Glorious One united with these in the same manner, and from them, were born the eight Matrikas of the eight Sthanas (sacred places), known as Gaurima and so forth. These, too, possessed divine wisdom from their father and terrific features and shapes from their mothers.
(There are 24 Sthanas which are places of pilgrimage and eight great cemeteries making 32 in all. In each of these cemeteries there is a powerful Goddess also called Mamo, that is, Matrika. These terrible Goddesses are, according to the Zhi-Khro, Gaurima, Tsaurima, Candali, Vetali, Gasmari, Shonama, Pramo, Puskasi. These are in color white, yellow, yellowish white, black, dark green, dark blue, red, reddish yellow, and are situated in the East, South, N.W., North, S.W., N.E., West, S.E., "nerve-leafs of the conch-shell mansion" (brain) respectively. These are the eight great Matrikas of the eight great Cemeteries, to whom prayer is made, that when forms are changed and entrance is made on the intermediate plane (Bardo. See as to this Dr. Evans-Wentz, Tibetan Book of the Dead), they may place the spirit on the clear light path of Radiance (Hodsal).
(These various accomplements denote the union of Divine Mind with gross matter. In working with matter the Divine mind is always detached. Work is possible even for the liberated consciousness when free from attachment, that is, desire (Kama), which is bondage. The Divine Mind unites with terrible forms of gross matter that these may be instruments; in this case instruments whereby the gross Egoism of the Rutra is to be subdued.)
Then going right into the innermost abode, he found that the Rutra had gone out in search of food, which consisted of human flesh and of Devas. Adopting the disguise of the Rutra, the Glorious One went in to the Consort of the Rutra, the Rakshasi-Queen Krodheshvari (Lady of Wrath) in the same spirit as before, and blessed the act. By Krodheshvari, He had male issue, Bhagavan Vajra-Keruka, with three faces and six hands, terrific to behold. Then the Glorious One, Hayagriva, and his divine Consort, Vajra-Varahi, each expressed their triumph by neighing and grunting thrice. Upon hearing these sounds the Rutra was struck with mortal fear, and coming to the spot, he said:
"What sayest Thou, little son of Hayagriva and Vajra-Varahi.
All the world of Devas and Asuras
Proclaim my virtues and sing my praises.
I cannot be conquered. Rest yourselves in peace,
Regard me with humility, and bow down to me.
Even the Regent of the Devas, of the odd garment (priestly dress),
Failed to conquer me in days of yore."
Saying this, he raised his hands, and came to lay them on the young one's head. Thereupon, Hayagriva at once entered the body of the Rutra by the secret path (Guhya) from below and piercing him right through from below up- wards, He showed His Horse's Head, on the top of the head of the Rutra. The oily fat of the Rutra's body made the Horse's head look green. The mane, being dyed with blood, became red, and the eye-brows, having been splashed with the bile of the Demon, became yellow. The forehead, being splashed with the brains, became white. Thus the Glorious One, having assumed the shape and dresses of the Rutra, took on a terrible majesty.
At the same time, Vajra-Varahi, His Consort, also entered the body of the Rutra's Consort Krodheshvari, in the same manner piercing and impaling her. She forced Her own Sow's head right up through the crown of the Demoness' head, until it towered above it. The Sow's head had assumed a black color, from having been steeped in the fat of the Rakshasi. Then the two Divine Beings embraced each other, and begot an offspring, a Divine Being, a male of the Terrific Order, a Krodhabhairava. Having done this, Hayagriva neighed shrilly six times, and Vajra-Varahi grunted deeply five times. Then the hosts of the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas assembled there as thickly as birds of prey settling down on carrion. They filled all space. They were of the peaceful, the wrathful, the half-peaceful and the half-wrathful orders, in inconceivably large numbers. They began to surround the Rutra-Tharpa-Nagpo, who, being unable to bear the pain of being stretched asunder, cried in agony:
"Oh, I am defeated! The Horse and the Sow have defeated the Rutra.
The Buddhas have defeated the Demons.
Religion has conquered Ir-religion,
The Sangha has defeated the Tirthikas.
Indra has defeated the Asuras,
The Asuras have defeated the Moon
The Garuda has defeated the Ocean
Fire defeats fuel, Wind scatters the Clouds
Diamond (Vajra) pierces metals
Oh! it was I who said that last night's dream portended evil.
Oh! slay me quick, if you are going to slay me."
As he said this, his bowels were involuntarily loosened, and from the excreta which, being thus purified, fell into the Ocean, there at once arose a precious sandal tree, which was a wish-granting tree. This tree struck its root in the nether world of the Serpent-spirits, spread its foliage in the Asura-lokas, and bore its fruits in the Deva-lokas. And the fruits were named Amrita (the essence and elixir of life).
Then the two Chief Actor and Actress, Hayagriva and Vajra-Varahi acted the joyful plays called the 'Plays of Happy Cause,' 'Happy Path', and 'Happy Result', in the nine glorious measures. (That is, plays in which the actors are happy being the male and female Divinities, in this case Hayagriva and Vajra-Varahi. They are the cause; their play being exoterically "Dalliance" (Lila, and their result the dispelling of Egoism which is Illumination.)
Just as a victor in a battle, who has slain his enemy, wins the armor and the accoutrements of his slain opponent, and puts them on as a sign of triumph, so also, the Glorious One having conquered the Rutra, assumed the eight accoutrements of the foe, including the wings, and the other adornments which made him look so bright and magnificent. These the Glorious One blessed and consecrated to the use of the Divine Deities. Having done all this, both Hayagriva and Vajra-Varahi returned to the Realm of pure Spiritual Being (Dharmadhatu). Thus it comes about that those costumes, assumed by the Rutra, came to be adopted as the attire of the Deities. Their having three heads, the eight sepulchral ornaments, and the eight glorious costumes and wings, had origin in this event.
Then Pal Chag-na-dorje (Shri Vajrapani) multiplied himself into countless Avataras, and these again multiplied themselves into myriads of Avataras, all of the terrible and wrathful type. The Rutra too showed supernatural powers, for he transformed himself into a nine-headed Monster, having eighteen hands, as huge as the Mount Meru. Should it be doubted, how this sinful being could still possess such supernatural powers, one must know that he was a Bodhisattva of the eighth degree (One who has attained eight Bhumikas or stages of advance out of thirteen) who had fallen back. Hence was it, that even the Buddhas found it difficult to subdue him, not to count the world of Devas and men. Then Vajrapani manifested still greater divine powers of every imaginable description, and all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas fixed their abodes on the greatly enlarged and distended body of the Rutra. The latter being unable to bear the agony of this pressure, roared with pain,
"Come quick to the rescue, O my followers, who inhabit the ten directions
To the right and left of the Skull-like Mansion
And those who live in the gardens and the orchards.
Yakshas, Rakshasas, and Pretas millions in number, advance to the rescue at once.
O ye followers and adherents of the Rutra, who dwell in the twenty-four places, and countries
Numbering millions and tens of million, who have sworn allegiance to me
And promised to serve me faithfully, and ye from the illimitable spaces in every direction
Fill the heavens and the earth with your innumerable hosts
And all in one body strike (at the foe) with the
weapons in your hands, sounding the battle cry
Though he uttered these commands, there was none to obey him. Everyone surrendered to Bhagavan Vajra-Heruka. Thus all the subordinates of the Rutra, the thirty-two Dakinis, the seven Matrikas, and the four "Sisters," (Sringbzhi), the eight Furies (Barmas or flaming ones), the eight Genii (spirits or attendants on the Devatas) and the sixty-four Messengers all came over to the Heruka and the Divine offspring (the Krodha-Bhairava) took upon him- self the duty of serving the food of the Deities.
(This is the Deity usually invoked when any purification and religious contrition has to be performed or done. By this it is seen that his undertaking to serve the food of the Deities means purifying and absolving the sins of the Rutra.)
Vajrapani, producing ten divine beings of the terrific type (Krodhabhairava), gave a Phurpa (triangular-shaped dagger) to each of them, and commanded them to go and destroy the Rutra and his party. Thereupon Hayagriva came again, and neighed three times; upon hearing which sound, the entire host of the Rutra were seized with a panic and all were subdued. Then "Black Salvation" (Tharpa-Nagpo) and his followers were rendered powerless and helpless: humbled and quite submissive. So they surrendered their own homes, personal ornaments, and lives, and uttered these words of entreaty:
"Obeisance to Thee, 0, Thou field of the Buddhas' influence,
Obeisance to Thee, 0, Thou who dost cause Karma to bear fruit.
I and all of us having sown previous evil Karma
Are now reaping the fruits thereof, which all indeed may see.
Our future depends on what we have done now;
Karma follows us, as inexorably as the shadow doesthe body.
Everyone must taste the fruit of what each has himself done.
Even should one repent, and be sorry for his deeds
There is no help for him as Karma cannot be avoided.
So we who are destined by Karma to drink the bitter cup to the very dregs,
We do therefore offer up our bodies to serve as the cushion of Thy footstool.
Pray accept them as such."
Having said so, they laid themselves prostrate, and from this originates the symbolism of every Deity having a Rutra underneath his feet. Then the vassal Chiefs of the Rutra submitted their prayers:
"We have no claim to sit in the middle,
Be pleased to place us at the extremities of the Mandalas.
We have no right to demand of the best of the banquets.
We pray to be favored with the leavings, and the dregs of food and drink.
Henceforth, we are Your subjects, and will never disobey Your commands.
We will obey You in whatever You are pleased to command.
As a loving mother is attracted towards her son,
So shall we, too, be surely drawn near those who remind
us of this oath of allegiance."
Thus did they take the oath of allegiance. Then the Holder of the Mysteries, the Glorious One -- Vajrapani, pierced the heart of the prostrate Rutra with the Phurpa dagger and absolved him. All his Karmik sins and his Passions (Klesha) were thus immediately absolved. Then power was conferred on him, and vows were laid on him, and the water of Faith was poured on him. His body, speech and mind were blessed and consecrated towards Divine Service, and the Dorje of Faith was laid on the head, throat and heart. Thenceforward he was empowered to be the Guardian of the Faith, and named the Good Dark One, and his secret name conferred at the Initiation was Mahakala. Thus was he included in the assembly of the Vajrayana Deities. Finally, it was revealed to him that he would become a Buddha, by the name of Thalwai-Wangpo (the Lord of Ashes) in the World called Kod-pa-lhundrup (that is "self-produced" or "made-all-at-once"). Then the Rutra's dead body was thrown on this Jambu-dvipa, where it fell on its back. The head fell on Sinhala (Ceylon), the right arm and hand upon the Thogar (?) country and the left hand on Le (Ladak country). The right leg fell on Nepal, and the left on Kashmir. The entrails fell over Zahor. The heart fell on Urgyen (Cabul), and the Linga on Magadha. These form the eight chief countries. Thus the eight Matrikas of the eight Sthanas, headed by Gaurima and others: the eight natural Stupas headed by Potala; the eight occult Powers, which fascinate; the eight guardians (female), who enchant; the eight great trees, the eight great realm-protectors (Shing-kyong), the eight lakes, the eight great Naga spirits, the eight clouds, and the eight great Dikpalas (Cyogs-kyong or Protectors of the Directions) as well as the eight great cemeteries originated.
With the end of the sixth Chapter of the Golden Rosary is concluded the account of the Vajrayana Devatas who appeared to aid in the conquest of human Egoism which had manifested itself in terrible form in the person of the great Rutra. As all but the fully pure have in them Rutra elements, they are enjoined in Vajrayana to follow the methods of expurgation there revealed.
The word "Yoga" comes from the root "yuj" which means "to join" and, in its spiritual sense, it is that process by which the human spirit is brought into near and conscious communion with, or is merged in, the Divine Spirit, according as the nature of the human spirit is held to be separate from (Dvaita, Vishishtadvaita) or one with (Advaita) the Divine Spirit. As, according to Shakta doctrine, with which alone we are concerned, the latter proposition is affirmed, Yoga is that process by which the identity of the two (Jivatma and Paramatma),-- which identity ever in fact exists,-- is realized by the Yogi or practitioner of Yoga. It is so realized because the Spirit has then pierced through the veil of Maya which as mind and matter obscures this knowledge from itself. The means by which this is achieved is the Yoga process which liberates from Maya. So the Gheranda Samhita, a Hathayoga treatise of the Tantrik school, says (Chap. 5): "There is no bond equal in strength to Maya, and no power greater to destroy that bond than Yoga." From an Advaita or Monistic standpoint, Yoga in the sense of a final union is inapplicable, for union implies a dualism of the Divine and Human spirit. In such a case, it denotes the process rather than the result. When the two are regarded as distinct, Yoga may apply to both. A person who practices Yoga is called a "Yogi." According to Indian notions all are not competent (Adhikari) to attempt Yoga; only a very few are. One must, in this or in other lives, have first gone through Karma or ritual, and Upasana or devotional worship and obtained the fruit thereof, namely, a pure mind (Citta-shuddhi). This Sanskrit term does not merely mean a mind free from sexual impurity, as an English reader might suppose. The attainment of this and other good qualities is the A B C of Sadhana. A person may have a pure mind in this sense and yet be wholly incapable of Yoga. Citta-shuddhi consists not merely in moral purity of every kind, but in knowledge, detachment, capacity for pure intellectual functioning, attention, meditation and so forth. When, by Karma and Upasana, the mind is brought to this point and when, in the case of Vedantik Yoga, there is dispassion and detachment from the world and its desires, then the Yoga path is open for the realization of Tattva-j˝ana, that is ultimate Truth. Very few persons indeed are competent for Yoga in its higher forms. The majority should seek their advancement along the path of ritual and devotion.
There are four main forms of Yoga, according to a common computation, namely, Mantrayoga, Hathayoga, Layayoga, and Rajayoga, the general characteristics of which have been described in The Serpent Power. It is only necessary here to note that Kundali-yoga is Layayoga. The Eighth Chapter of the Sammohana Tantra, however, speaks of five kinds, namely, J˝ana, Raja, Laya, Hatha, and Mantra, and mentions as five aspects of the spiritual life, Dharma, Kriya, Bhava, J˝ana, and Yoga; Mantrayoga being said to be of two kinds, according as it is pursued along the path of Kriya or Bhava. Many forms of Yoga are in fact mentioned in the books. There are seven Sadhanas of Yoga, namely, Sat-karma, Asana, Mudra, Pratyahara, Pranayama, Dhyana, and Samadhi, which are cleansing of the body, seat, postures for gymnastic and Yoga purposes, the abstraction of the senses from their objects, breath control (the celebrated Pranayama), meditation, and ecstasy, which is of two kinds, imperfect (Savikalpa) in which dualism is no'. wholly overcome, and perfect (Nirvikalpa) which is complete Monistic experience -- "Aham Brahmasmi", "I am the Brahman" -- a knowledge in the sense of realization which, it is to be observed, does not produce Liberation (Moksha) but is Liberation itself. The Samadhi of Laya-yoga is said to be Savikalpa-Samadhi, and that of complete Raja-yoga is said to be Nirvikalpasamadhi. The first four processes are physical and the last three mental and supramental (see Gheranda Samhita, Upadesha, I). By these seven processes respectively certain qualities are gained, namely, purity (Shodhana), firmness and strength (Dridhata), fortitude (Sthirata), steadiness (Dhairya), lightness (Laghava), realization (Pratyaksha), and detachment leading to Liberation (Nirliptattva).
What is known as the eight-limbed Yoga (Ashtanga-yoga) contains five of the above Sadhanas (Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dhyana, and Samadhi) and three others, namely, Yama or self-control by way of chastity, temperance, avoidance of harm (Ahimasa) and their virtues, Niyama or religious observances, charity and so forth, with Devotion to the Lord (Ishvara-pranidhana), and Dharana, the fixing of the internal organ on its subject as directed in the Yoga practice. For further details, I refer the reader to my introduction to the work entitled The Serpent Power. Here I will only deal shortly with Laya-yoga or the arousing of Kundalini Shakti, a subject of the highest importance in the Tantra Shastra, and without some knowledge of which much of its ritual will not be understood. I cannot enter into all the details which demand a lengthy exposition, and which I have given in the Introduction to the two Sanskrit works called Satcakranirupana, and Padukapa˝caka translated in the volume, The Serpent Power which deals with kundalini Shakti and the piercing by Her of the six bodily centers or Cakras. The general principle and meaning of this Yoga has never yet been published, and the present Chapter is devoted to a short summary of these two points only.
All the world (I speak, of course, of those interested in such subjects) is beginning to speak of Kundalini Shakti, "cette femeuse Kundalini" as a French friend of mine calls Her. There is considerable talk about the Cakras and the Serpent Power but lack of understanding as to what they mean. This, as usual, is sought to be covered by an air of mystery, mystical mists, and sometimes the attitude: "I should much like to tell you if only I were allowed to give it out." A silly Indian boast of which I lately read is, "I have the key and I keep it." Those who really have the key to anything are superior men, above boasting. "Mysticism," which is often confused thinking, is also a fertile soil of humbug. I do not, of course, speak of true Mysticism. Like all other matters in this Indian Shastra the basis of this Yoga is essentially rational. Its thought, like that of the ancients generally, whether of East or West, has in general the form and brilliance of a cut gem. It is this quality which makes it so dear to some of those who have had to wade through the slush of much modern thought and literature. No attempt has hitherto been made to explain the general principles which underlie it. This form of Yoga is an application of the general principles relating to Shakti with which I have already dealt. The subject has both a theoretical and a practical aspect. The latter is concerned with the teaching of the method in such a way that the aspirant may give effect to it. This cannot be learnt from books but only from the Guru who has himself successfully practiced this Yoga. Apart from difficulties, inherent in written explanations, it cannot be practically learnt from books, because the carrying out of the method is affected by the nature and capacity of the Sadhaka and what takes place during his Sadhana. Further, though some general features of the method have been explained to me, I have had no practical experience myself of this Power. I am not speaking as a Yogi in this method, which I am not; but as one who has read and studied the Shastra on this matter, and has had the further advantage of some oral explanations which have enabled me to better understand it. I have dealt with this practical side, so far as it is possible to me, in my work, The Serpent Power. Even so far as the matter can be dealt with in writing, I cannot, within the limits of such a paper as this, deal with it in any way fully. A detailed description of the Cakras and their significance cannot be attempted here. I refer the reader to the work entitled The Serpent Power. What I wish to do is to treat the subject on the broadest lines possible and to explain the fundamental principles which underlie this Yoga method. It is because these are not understood that there is much confused thinking and misty, if not mystical, talk upon the subject. How many persons, for instance, can correctly answer the question, "What is Kundalini Shakti?" One may be told that it is a Power or Shakti; that it is coiled like a serpent in the Muladhara; and that it is wakened and goes up through the Cakras to the Sahasrara. But what Shakti is it? Why, again, is it coiled like a serpent? What is the meaning of this? What is the nature of the Power? Why is it in the Muladhara? What is the meaning of "awakening" the power? Why if awakened should it go up? What are the Cakras? It is easy to say that they are regions or lotuses. What are they in themselves? Why have each of the lotuses a different number of petals? What is a petal? What and why are the "Letters" on them? What is the effect of going to the Sahasrara: and how does that effect come about? These and other similar questions require an answer before this form of Yoga can be understood. I have said something as to the Letters in the chapters on Shakti as Mantra and Varnamala. With these and with other general questions, rather than with the details of the six Cakras, set forth in The Serpent Power I will here deal.
In the first place, it is necessary to remember the fundamental principle of the Tantra Shastra to which I have already referred, viz., that man is a microcosm (Kshudrabrahmanda). Whatever exists in the outer universe exists in him. All the Tattvas and the worlds are within him and so are the supreme Shiva-Shakti.
The body may be divided into two main parts, namely, the head and trunk on one hand, and the legs on the other. In man, the center of the body is between these two, at the base of the spine where the legs begin. Supporting the trunk and throughout the whole body there is the spinal cord. This is the axis of the body, just as Mount Meru is the axis of the earth. Hence man's spine is called Merudanda, the Meru or axis-staff. The legs and feet are gross matter which show less signs of consciousness than the trunk with its spinal white and gray matter; which trunk itself is greatly subordinate in this respect to the head containing the organ of mind, or physical brain, with its white and gray matter. The position of the white and gray matter in the head and spinal column respectively are reversed. The body and legs below the center are the seven lower or nether worlds upheld by the sustaining Shaktis of the universe. From the center upwards, consciousness more freely manifests through the spinal and cerebral centers. Here there are the seven upper regions or Lokas, a term which Satyananda in his commentary on Isha Upanishad says, means "what are seen" (Lokyante), that is, experienced and are hence the fruits of Karma in the form of particular re-birth. These regions, namely, Bhuh, Bhuvah, Svah, Tapah, Jana, Mahah, and Satya Lokas correspond with the six centers; five in the trunk, the sixth in the lower cerebral center; and the seventh in the upper Brain or Satya-loka, the abode of the supreme Shiva-Shakti.
The six centers are the Muladhara or root-support situated at the base of the spinal column in a position midway in the perineum between the root of the genitals and the anus. Above it, in the region of the genitals, abdomen, heart, chest or throat and in the forehead between the two eyes (Bhrumadhye) are the Svadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddha and Aj˝a Cakras or lotuses (Padma) respectively. These are the chief centers, though the books speak of others such as the Lalana and Manas and Soma Cakras. In fact, in the Advaita Martanda, a modern Sanskrit book by the late Guru of the Maharaja of Kashmir, some fifty Cakras and Adharas are mentioned: though the six stated are the chief upon which all accounts agree. And so it is said. "How can there be any Siddhi for him who knows not the six Cakras, the sixteen Adharas, the five Ethers and the three Lingas in his own body?" The seventh region beyond the Cakras is the upper brain, the highest center of manifestation of Consciousness in the body and therefore the abode of the supreme Shiva-Shakti. When "abode" is said, it is not meant, of course, that the Supreme is there placed in the sense of our "placing," namely, it is there and not elsewhere. The Supreme is never localized whilst its manifestations are. It is everywhere both within and without the body, but it is said to be in the Sahasrara, because it is there that the Supreme Shiva-Shakti is realized. And this must be so, because consciousness is realized by entering in and passing through the highest manifestation of mind, the Sattvamayi Buddhi, above and beyond which is Cit and Cidrupini Shakti themselves. From their Shiva-Shakti Tattva aspect are evolved Mind in its form as Buddhi, Ahamkara, Manas and associated senses (Indriyas) the center of which is in and above the Aj˝a Cakra and below the Sahasrara. From Ahamkara proceed the Tanmatras or generals of the sense-particulars which evolve the five forms of sensible matter (Bhuta), namely, Akasha ("Ether"), Vayu ("Air"), Agni ("Fire"), Apas ("Water"), and Prithivi ("Earth"). The English translations given of these terms do not imply that the Bhutas are the same as the English elements of air, fire, water, earth. The terms indicate varying degrees of matter from the ethereal to the solid. Thus Prithivi or earth is any matter in the Prithivi state; that is, which may be sensed by the Indriya of smell. Mind and matter pervade the whole body. But there are centers therein in which they are predominant. Thus Aj˝a is a center of mind, and the five lower Cakras are centers of the five Bhutas; Vishuddha of Akasha, Anahata of Vayu, Manipura of Agni, Svadhisthana of Apas, and Muladhara of Prithivi.
In short, man as a microcosm is the all-pervading Spirit (which most purely manifests in the Sahasrara) vehicled by Shakti in the form of Mind and Matter the centers of which are the sixth and following five Cakras respectively.
The six Cakras have been identified with the following plexuses commencing from the lowest, the Muladhara: The Sacrococcygeal plexus, the Sacral plexus, the Solar plexus (which forms the great junction of the right and left sympathetic chains Ida and Pingala with the cerebro-spinal axis.) Connected with this is the Lumbar plexus. Then follows the Cardiac plexus (Anahata), Laryngeal plexus, and lastly the Aj˝a or cerebellum with its two lobes, and above this the Manas Cakra or sensorium with its six lobes, the Soma-cakra or middle Cerebrum, and lastly the Sahasrara or upper Cerebrum. To some extent these localizations are yet tentative. This statement may involve an erroneous view of what the Cakras really are, and is likely to produce wrong notions concerning them in others. The six Cakras themselves are vital centers within the spinal column in the white and gray matter there. They may, however, and probably do, influence and govern the gross tract outside the spine in the bodily region lateral to, and co-extensive with, the section of the spinal column in which a particular center is situated. The Cakras are centers of Shakti as vital force. In other words they are centers of Pranashakti manifested by Pranavayu in the living body, the presiding Devatas of which are names for the Universal Consciousness as It manifests in the form of those centers. The Cakras are not perceptible to the gross senses, whatever may be a Yogi's powers to observe what is beyond the senses (Atindriya). Even if they were perceptible in the living body which they help to organize, they disappear with the disintegration of organism at death.
In an article on the Physical Errors of Hinduism, (Calcutta Review, XI, 436-440) it was said: "It would' indeed excite the surprise of our readers to hear that the Hindus, who would not even touch a dead body, much less dissect it (which is incorrect), should possess any anatomical knowledge at all.......It is the Tantras that furnish us with some extraordinary pieces of information concerning the human body ......But of all the Hindus Shastras extant, the Tantras lie in the greatest obscurity...... The Tantrik theory, on which the well-known Yoga called 'Shatcakrabheda' is founded, supposes the existence of six main internal organs, called Cakras or Padmas, all bearing a special resemblance to that famous flower, the lotus. These are placed one above the other, and connected by three imaginary chains, the emblems of the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the Sarasvati......Such is the obstinacy with which the Hindus adhere to these erroneous notions, that, even when we show them by actual dissection the nonexistence of the imaginary Cakras in the human body, they will rather have recourse to excuses revolting to common-sense than acknowledge the evidence of their own eyes. They say, with a shamelessness unparalleled, that these Padmas exist as long as a man lives, but disappear the moment he dies." This alleged "shamelessness" reminds me of the story of a doctor who told my father "that he had performed many postmortems and had never yet discovered a soul."
The petals of the lotuses vary being 4, 6, 10, 12, 16 and 2 respectively, commencing from the Muladhara and ending with Aj˝a. There are 50 in all, as are the letters of the alphabet which are in the petals; that is, the Matrikas are associated with the Tattvas since both are products of the same creative Cosmic Process manifesting either as physiological or psychological function. It is noteworthy that the number of the petals is that of the letters leaving out either Ksha or the Second La, and that these 50 multiplied by 20 are in the 1,000 petals of the Sahasrara, a number which is probably only indicative of multitude and magnitude.
But why, it may be asked, do the petals vary in number? Why, for instance, are there 4 in the Muladhara and 6 in the Svadhisthana? The answer given is that the number of petals in any Cakra is determined by the number and position of the Nadis or Yoga "nerves" around that Cakra. Thus, four Nadis surrounding and passing through the vital movements of the Muladhara Cakra give it the appearance of a lotus of four petals. The petals are thus configurations made by the position of Nadis at any particular center. These Nadis are not those which are known to the Vaidya of Medical Shastras. The latter are gross physical nerves. Rut the former here spoken of are called Yoga-Nadis and are subtle channels (Vivara) along which the Pranik currents flow. The term Nadi comes from the root "Nad" which means motion. The body is filled with an uncountable number of Nadis. If they were revealed to the eye the body would present the appearance of a highly complicated chart of ocean currents. Superficially the water seems one and the same. But examination shows that it is moving with varying degrees of force in all directions. All these lotuses exist in the spinal column.
An Indian physician and Sanskritist has, in the Guy's Hospital Gazette, expressed the opinion that better anatomy is given in the Tantras than in the purely medical works of the Hindus. I have attempted elsewhere to co-relate present and ancient anatomy and physiology. I can, however, only mention here some salient points, first pointing out that the Shivasvarodaya Shastra gives prominence to nerve centers and nerve currents (Vayu) and their control, such teaching being for the purpose of worship (Upasana) and Yoga. The aims and object of the two Shastras are not the same.
The Merudanda is the vertebral column. Western Anatomy divides it into five regions; and it is to be noted in corroboration of the theory here exposed that these correspond with the regions in which the five Cakras are situate. The central spinal system comprises the brain or encephalon contained within the skull (in which are the Lalana, Aj˝a, Manas, Soma Cakras and the Sahasrara); as also the spinal cord extending from the upper border of the Atlas below the cerebellum and descending to the second lumbar vertebra where it tapers to a point called the filum terminale. Within the spine is the cord, a compound of gray and white brain matter, in which are the five lower Cakras. It is noteworthy that the filum terminale was formerly thought to be a mere fibrous cord, an unsuitable vehicle, one might think, for the Muladhara Cakra and Kundali Shakti. Recent microscopic investigations have, however, disclosed the existence of highly sensitive gray matter in the filum terminale which represents the position of the Muladhara. According to Western science, the spinal cord is not merely a conductor between the periphery and the centers of sensation and volition, but is also an independent center or group of centers. The Sushumna is a Nadi in the center of the spinal column. Its base is called the Brahmadvara or Gate of Brahman. As regards the physiological relations of the Cakras all that can be said with any degree of certainty is that the four above the Muladhara have relation to the genito-excretory, digestive, cardiac and respiratory functions, and that the two upper centers, the Aj˝a (with associated Cakras) and the Sahasrara denote various forms of its cerebral activity ending in the response of Pure Consciousness therein gained through Yoga. The Nadis on each side called Ida and Pingala are the left and right sympathetic cords crossing the central column from one side to the other, making at the Aj˝a with the Sushumna a threefold knot called Triveni; which is the spot in the Medulla where the sympathetic cords join together and whence they take their origin -- these Nadis together with the two-lobed Aj˝a and the Sushumna forming the figure of the Caduceus of the God Mercury which is said by some to represent them.
How then does this Yoga compare with others?
It will now be asked what are the general principles which underlie the Yoga practice above described. How is it that the rousing of Kundalini Shakti and Her union with Shiva effect the state of ecstatic union (Samadhi) and spiritual experience which is alleged. The reader who has understood the general principles recorded in the previous essays should, if he has not already divined it, readily appreciate the answer here given.
In the first place, there are two main lines of Yoga, namely, Dhyana or Bhavana Yoga and Kundali Yoga, the subject of this work; and there is a marked difference between the two. The first class of Yoga is that in which ecstasy (Samadhi) is attained by intellective processes (Kriya-j˝ana) of meditation and the like, with the aid, it may be, of auxiliary processes of Mantra or Hatha Yoga (other than the rousing of Kundalini Shakti) and by detachment from the world; the second stands apart as that portion of Hatha Yoga in which, though intellective processes are not neglected, the creative and sustaining Shakti of the whole body is actually and truly united with the Lord Consciousness. The yogi makes Her introduce him to Her Lord, and enjoys the bliss of union through Her. Though it is he who arouses Her, it is She who gives J˝ana, for She is Herself that. The Dhyanayogi gains what acquaintance with the supreme state his own meditative powers can given him and knows not the enjoyment of union with Shiva in and through his fundamental Body-Power. The two forms of Yoga differ both as to method and result. The Hathayoga regards his Yoga and its fruit as the highest. The J˝anayogi may think similarly of his own. Kundalini is so renowned that many seek to know Her. Having studied the theory of this Yoga, I have been often asked: "Whether one can get on without it." 'The answer is: "It depends upon what you are looking for." If you want to rouse Kundalini Shakti to enjoy the bliss of union of Shiva and Shakti through Her and to gain the accompanying Powers (Siddhi) it is obvious that this end can only, if at all, be achieved by the Yoga here described. But if Liberation is sought without desire for union through Kundali then such Yoga is not necessary; for Liberation may be obtained by pure J˝anayoga through detachment, the exercise, and then the stilling of the mind, without any reference to the central Body-Power at all. Instead of setting out in and from the world to unite with Shiva, the J˝anayogi, to attain this result, detaches himself from the world. The one is the path of enjoyment and the other of asceticism. Samadhi may also be obtained on the path of devotion (Bhakti) as on that of knowledge. Indeed, the highest devotion (Parabhakti) is not different from knowledge. Both are realization. But, whilst Liberation (Mukti) is attainable by either method, there are other marked differences between the two. A Dhyanayogi should not neglect his body knowing that as he is both mind and matter each reacts, the one upon the other. Neglect or mere mortification of the body is more apt to produce disordered imagination than a true spiritual experience. He is not concerned, however, with the body in the sense that the Hathayogi is. It is possible to be a successful Dhyanayogi and yet to be weak in body and health, sick, and short-lived. His body and not he himself determines when he shall die. He cannot die at will. When he is in Samadhi, Kundali Shakti is still sleeping in the Muladhara and none of the physical symptoms and psychical bliss, or powers (Siddhi) described as accompanying Her rousing are observed in his case. The Ecstasis which he calls "Liberation while yet living" (Jivanmukti) is not a state like that of real Liberation. He may be still subject to a suffering body from which he escapes only at death, when, if at all, he is liberated. His ecstasy is in the nature of a meditation which passes into the Void (Bhavanasamadhi) effected through negation of all thought-form (Citta-vritti) and detachment from the world; a comparatively negative process in which the positive act of raising the central power of the body takes no part. By his effort the mind, which is a product of Kundalini as Prakriti Shakti, together with its worldly desires is stilled so that the veil produced by mental functioning is removed from Consciousness. In Layayoga, Kundalini Herself, when roused by the Yogi (for such rousing is his act and part), achieves for him this illumination.
But why, it may be asked, should, one trouble over the body and its Central Power, the more particularly as there are unusual risks and difficulties involved? The answer has been already given -- alleged completeness and certainty of realization through the agency of the Power which is knowledge itself (J˝anarupa Shakti), an intermediate acquisition or Powers (Siddhi), and intermediate and final enjoyment. This answer may, however, be usefully developed as a fundamental principle of the Shakta Tantra.
The Shakta Tantra claims to give both Enjoyment (Bhukti) in the world and Liberation (Mukti) from all worlds. This claim is based on a profoundly true principle, given Advaitavada as a basis. If the ultimate reality is the One which exists in two aspects of quiescent enjoyment of the Self, in liberation from all form and active enjoyment of objects, that is, as pure spirit and spirit in matter, then a complete union with Reality demands such unity in both of Its aspects. It must be known both "here" (Iha) and "there" (Amutra). When rightly apprehended and practiced, there is truth in the doctrine which teaches that man should make the best of both worlds. There is no real incompatibility between the two, provided action is taken in conformity with the universal law of manifestation. It is held to be false teaching that happiness hereafter can only be had by absence of enjoyment now, or in deliberately sought-for suffering and mortification. It is the one Shiva who is the Supreme Blissful Experience and who appears in the form of man with a life of mingled pleasure and pain. Both happiness here and the bliss of Liberation here and hereafter may be attained, if the identity of these Shivas be realized in every human act. This will be achieved by making every human function, without exception, a religious act of sacrifice and worship (Yaj˝a). In the ancient Vaidik ritual, enjoyment by way of food and drink, was preceded and accompanied by ceremonial sacrifice and ritual. Such enjoyment was the fruit of the sacrifice and the gift of the Devas. At a higher stage in the life of a Sadhaka, it is offered to the One from whom all gifts come and of whom the Devatas are inferior limited forms. But this offering also involves a dualism from which the highest Monistic (Advaita) Sadhana of the Shakta Tantra is free. Here the individual life and the world-life are known as one. And so the Tantrik Sadhaka, when eating or drinking or fulfilling any other of the natural functions of the body does so, saying and believing, Shivo'ham, "I am Shiva", Bhairavo'ham, "I am Bhairava", "Sa'ham", "I am She". It is not merely the separate individual who thus acts and enjoys. It is Shiva who does so in and through him. Such an one recognizes, as has been well said, that his life and the play of all its activities are not a thing apart, to be held and pursued egotistically for its and his own separate sake, as though enjoyment was something to be filched from life by his own unaided strength and with a sense of separatedness; but his life and all its activities are conceived as part of the Divine action in nature -- Shakti manifesting and operating in the form of man. He realizes in the pulsing beat of his heart the rhythm which throbs through and is the sign of the Universal Life. To neglect or to deny the needs of the body, to think of it as something not divine, is to neglect and deny the greater life of which it is a part; and to falsify the great doctrine of the unity of all and of the ultimate identity of Matter and Spirit. Governed by such a concept, even the lowliest physical needs take on a cosmic significance. The body is Shakti. Its needs are Sakti's needs; when man enjoys, it is Shakti who enjoys through him. In all he sees and does, it is the Mother who looks and acts. His eyes and hands are Hers. The whole body and all its functions are Her manifestation. To fully realize Her as such is to perfect this particular manifestation of Hers which is himself. Man when seeking to be the master of himself, seeks so on all the planes to be physical, mental and spiritual; nor can they be severed, for they are all related, being but differing aspects of the one all-pervading Consciousness. Who is the more divine: he who neglects and spurns the body or mind that he may attain some fancied spiritual superiority, or he who rightly cherishes both as forms of the one Spirit which they clothe? Realization is more speedily and truly attained by discerning Spirit in and as all being and its activities, than by fleeing from and casting these aside as being either unspiritual or illusory and impediments in the path. If not rightly conceived, they map be impediments and the cause of fall; otherwise they become instruments of attainment; and what others are there to hand? And so the Kularnava Tantra says, "By what men fall by that they rise." When acts are done in the right feeling and frame of mind (Bhava), those acts give enjoyment (Bhukti), and the repeated and prolonged Bhava produces at length that divine experience (Tattvaj˝ana) which is liberation. When the Mother is seen in all things, She is at length realized as She who is beyond them all.
These general principles have their more frequent application in the life of the world before entrance on the path of Yoga proper. The Yoga here described is, however, also an application of these same principles, in so far as it is claimed that thereby both Bhukti and Mukti are attained. Ordinarily, it is said, that where there is Yoga there is no Bhoga (enjoyment); but in Kaula teaching, Yoga is Bhoga, and Bhoga is Yoga, and the world itself becomes the seat of Liberation (Yogo bhogayate, mokshayate samsarah).
By the lower processes of Hathayoga it is sought to attain
a perfect physical body which will also be a wholly fit instrument by which the mind may function. A perfect mind, again, approaches, and in Samadhi passes into, Pure Consciousness itself. The Hathayogi thus seeks a body which shall be as strong as steel, healthy, free from suffering and therefore long-lived. Master of the body he is, master of both life and death. His lustrous form enjoys the vitality of youth. He lives as long as he has the will to live and enjoy in the world of forms. His death is the "death at will" (Iccha-mrityu); when making the great and wonderfully expressive gesture of dissolution (Samhara-mudra) he grandly departs. But it may be said, the Hatha-yogis do get sick and die. In the first place, the full discipline is one of difficulty and risk, and can only be pursued under the guidance of a skilled Guru. As the Goraksha Samhita says, unaided and unsuccessful practice may lead not only to disease but death. He who seeks to conquer the Lord of Death incurs the risk, on failure, of a more speedy conquest by Him. All who attempt this Yoga do not of course succeed or meet with the same measure of success. Those who fail not only incur the infirmities of ordinary men, but also others brought on by practices which have been ill pursued or for which they are not fit. Those again who do succeed, do so in varying degrees. One may prolong his life to the sacred age of 84, others to 100, others yet further. In theory at least those who are perfected (Siddha) go from this plane when they will. All have not the same capacity or opportunity, through want of will, bodily strength, or circumstance. All may not be willing or able to follow the strict rules necessary for success. Nor does modern life offer in general the opportunities for so complete a physical culture. All men may not desire such a life or may think the attainment of it not worth the trouble involved. Some may wish to be rid of their body and that as speedily as possible. It is therefore said that it is easier to gain Liberation than Deathlessness. The former may be had by unselfishness, detachment from the world, moral and mental discipline. But to conquer death is harder than this, for these qualities and acts will not alone avail. He who does so conquer holds life in the hollow of one hand, and if he be a successful (Siddha) Yogi, Liberation in the other. He has Enjoyment and Liberation. He is the Emperor who is Master of the World and the Possessor of the Bliss which is beyond all worlds. Therefore it is claimed by the Hathayogi that every Sadhana is inferior to Hathayoga.
The Hathayoga who works for Liberation does so through the Yoga Sadhana here described which gives both Enjoyment and Liberation. At every center to which he rouses Kundalini he experiences a special form of bliss (Ananda) and gains special powers (Siddhi). Carrying Her to the Shiva of his cerebral center he enjoys Supreme Bliss which in its nature is Liberation, and which when established in permanence is Liberation itself on the loosening of Spirit and Body. She who "shines like a chain of lights", a lightning flash -- in the center of his body is the "Inner Woman" to whom reference was made when it was said, "What need have I of any outer woman? I have an Inner Woman within myself." The Vira (heroic) Sadhaka, knowing himself as the embodiment of Shiva (Shivo'ham), unites with woman as the embodiment of Shakti on the physical plane. The Divya (Divine) Sadhaka or Yogi unites within himself his own Principles, female and male, which are the "Heart of the Lord" (Hridayam Parameshituh) or Shakti and Her Lord Consciousness or Shiva. It is their union which is the mystic coition (Maithuna) of the Tantras. There are two forms of union (Samarasya), namely, the first which is the gross (Sthula), or the union of the physical embodiments of the Supreme Consciousness; and the second which is the subtle (Sukshma), or the union of the quiescent and active principles in Consciousness itself. It is the latter which is Liberation.
Lastly, what, in a philosophical sense, is the nature of the process here described? Shortly stated, Energy (Shakti) polarizes itself into two forms. namely, static or potential (Kundalini) and dynamic (the working forces of the body as Prana). Behind all activity there is a static background. This static center in the human body is the central Serpent Power in the Muladhara (Root-support). It is the Power which is the static support (Adhara) of the whole body and all its moving Pranik forces. This Center (Kendra) of Power is a gross form of Cit or Consciousness; that is, in itself (Svarupa), it is Consciousness; and by appearance it is a Power which, as the highest form of Force, is a manifestation of it. Just as there is a distinction (though identical at base) between the supreme quiescent Consciousness and Its active Power (Shakti), so when Consciousness manifests as Energy (Shakti), it possesses the twin aspects of potential and kinetic Energy. There can be no partition in fact of Reality. To the perfect eye of the Siddha the process of Becoming is an ascription (Adhyasa). To the imperfect eye of the Sadhaka, that is, the aspirant for Siddhi (perfected accomplishment), to the spirit which is still toiling through the lower planes and variously identifying itself with them, Becoming is tending to appear and appearance is real. The Shakta Tantra is a rendering of Vedantik Truth from this practical point of view, and represents the world-process as a polarization in Consciousness itself. This polarity as it exists in, and as, the body is destroyed by Yoga which disturbs the equilibrium of bodily consciousness, which consciousness is the result of the maintenance of these two poles. In the human body the potential pole of Energy which is the Supreme Power is stirred to action, on which the moving forces (dynamic Shakti) supported by it are drawn thereto, and the whole dynamism thus engendered moves upward to unite with the quiescent Consciousness in the Highest Lotus.
There is a polarization of Shakti into two forms -- static and dynamic. In a correspondence I had with Professor Pramatha Natha Mukhyopadhyaya, on this subject, he very well developed this point and brought forward some suitable illustrations of it, which I am glad to avail myself of. He pointed out that, in the first place, in the mind or experience this polarization or polarity is patent to reflection: namely, the polarity between pure Cit and the Stress which is involved in it. This Stress or Shakti develops the mind through an infinity of forms and changes, themselves involved in the pure unbounded Ether of Consciousness, the Cidakasha. This analysis exhibits the primordial Shakti in the same two polar forms as before, static and dynamic. Here the polarity is most fundamental and approaches absoluteness, though of course, it is to be remembered that there is no absolute rest except in pure Cit. Cosmic energy is in an equilibrium which is relative and not absolute.
Passing from mind, let us take matter. The atom of modern science has, as I have already pointed out, ceased to be an atom in the sense of an indivisible unit of matter. According to the electron theory, the so-called atom is a miniature universe resembling our solar system. At the center of this atomic system we have a charge of positive electricity round which a cloud of negative charges called Electrons revolve. The positive and negative charges hold each other in check so that the atom is in a condition of equilibrated energy and does not ordinarily break up, though it may do so on the dissociation which is the characteristic of all matter, but which is so clearly manifest in radioactivity of radium. We have thus here again a positive charge at rest at the center, and negative charges in motion round about the center. What is thus said about the atom applies to the whole cosmic system and universe. In the world-system, the planets revolve round the Sun, and that system itself is probably (taken as a whole) a moving mass around some other relatively static center, until we arrive at the Brahma-bindu which is the point of Absolute Rest, round which all forms revolve and by which all are maintained. He has aptly suggested other illustrations of the same process. Thus, in the tissues of the living body, the operative energy is polarized into two forms of energy -- anabolic and catabolic, the one tending to change and the other to conserve the tissues; the actual condition of the tissues being simply the resultant of these two co-existent or concurrent activities. In the case, again, of the impregnated ovum, Shakti is already presented in its two polar aspects, namely, the ovum (possibly the static) and the spermatozoon, the dynamic. The germ cell does not cease to be such. It splits into two, one half, the somatic cell gradually developing itself into the body of the animal, the other half remaining encased within the body practically unchanged and as the germ-plasma is transmitted in the process of reproduction to the offspring.
In short, Shakti, when manifesting, divides itself into two polar aspects -- static and dynamic -- which implies that you cannot have it in a dynamic form without at the same time having it in a static form, much like the poles of a magnet. In any given sphere of activity of force, we must have, according to the cosmic principle, a static background -- Shakti at rest or "coiled" as the Tantras say. This scientific truth is illustrated in the figure of the Tantrik Kali. The Divine Mother moves as the Kinetic Shakti on the breast of Sadashiva who is the static background of pure Cit which is actionless (Nishkriya); the Gunamayi Mother being all activity.
The Cosmic Shakti is the collectivity (Samashti) in relation
to which the Kundali in particular bodies is the Vyasti (individual) Shakti. The body is, as I have stated, a microcosm (Kshudrabrahmanda). In the living body there is, therefore, the same polarization of which I have spoken. From the Mahakundali the universe has sprung. In Her supreme form She is at rest, coiled round and one (as Cidrupini) with the Shivabindu. She is then at rest. She next uncoils Herself to manifest. Here the three coils of which the Tantras speak are the three Gunas, and the three and a half coils to which the Kubjika Tantra alludes are Prakriti and its three Gunas together with the Vikritis. Her 50 coils are the letters of the alphabet. As She goes on uncoiling, the Tattvas and the Matrikas, the Mothers of the Varnas, issue from Her. She is thus moving, and continues even after creation to move in the Tattvas so created. For as they are born of movement, they continue to move. The whole world (Jagat) as the Sanskrit term implies, is moving. She thus continues creatively active until She has evolved Prithivi, the last of the Tattvas. First She creates mind and then matter. This latter becomes more and more dense. It has been suggested that the Mahabhutas are the Densities of modern science: Air density associated with the maximum velocity of gravity; Fire density associated with the velocity of light; Water or fluid density associated with molecular velocity and the equatorial velocity of the Earth's rotation; and Earth density, that of basalt associated with the Newtonian velocity of sound. However this be, it is plain that the Bhutas represent an increasing density of matter until it reaches its three-dimensional solid form. When Shakti has created this last or Prithivi Tattva, what is there further for Her to do? Nothing. She, therefore, then again rests. She is again coiled, which means that She is at rest. "At rest," again, means that She assumes a static form. Shakti, however, is never exhausted, that is, emptied into any of its forms. Therefore, Kundali Shakti at this point is, as it were, the Shakti left over (though yet a plenum) after the Prithivi, the last of the Bhutas has been created. We have thus Mahakundali at rest as Cidrupini Shakti in the Sahasrara, the point of absolute rest; and then the body in which the relative static center is Kundali at rest, and round this center the whole of the bodily forces move. They are Shakti, and so is Kundali Shakti. The difference between the two is that they are Shakti in specific differentiated forms in movement; and Kundali Shakti is un-differentiated, residual Shakti at rest, that is, coiled. She is coiled in the Muladhara, which means fundamental support, and which is at the same time the seat of the Prithivi or last solid Tattva and of the residual Shakti or Kundalini. The body may, therefore, be compared to a magnet with two poles. The Muladhara, in so far as it is the seat of Kundali Shakti, a comparatively gross form of Cit (being Cit-Shakti and Maya-Shakti) is the static pole in relation to the rest of the body which is dynamic. The "working" that is the body necessarily presupposes and finds such a static support; hence the name Muladhara. In one sense the static Shakti at the Mula-dhara is necessarily co-existent with the creating and evolving Shakti of the body; because the dynamic aspect or pole can never be without its static counterpart. In another sense, it is the residual Shakti left over after such operation.
What, then, happens in the accomplishment of this Yoga? This static Shakti is affected by Pranayama and other Yogic processes and becomes dynamic. Thus, when completely dynamic, that is, when Kundali unites with Shiva in the Sahasrara, the polarization of the body gives way. The two poles are united in one and there is the state of consciousness called Samadhi. The polarization, of course, takes place in consciousness. The body actually continues to exist as an object of observation to others. It continues its organic life. But man's consciousness of his body and all other objects is withdrawn because the mind has ceased, so far as his consciousness is concerned, the function, having been withdrawn into its ground which is consciousness.
How is the body sustained? In the first place, though Kundali Shakti is the static center of the whole body as a complete conscious organism, yet each of the parts of the body and their constituent cells have their own static centers which uphold such parts or cells. Next, the theory of the Tantriks themselves is that Kundali ascends, and that the body, as a complete organism, is maintained by the "nectar" which flows from the union of Shiva and Shakti in the Sahasrara. This nectar is an ejection of power generated by their union. My friend, however, whom I have cited, is of opinion (and for this grounds may be urged) that the potential Kundali Shakti becomes only partly and not wholly converted into kinetic Shakti; and yet since Shakti -- even as given in the Mula center -- is an infinitude, it is not depleted, the potential store always remaining unexhausted. In this case, the dynamic equivalent is a partial conversion of one mode of energy into another. If, however, the coiled power at the Mula became absolutely uncoiled, there would result the dissolution of the three bodies, gross, subtle and causal, and consequently Videha-Mukti -- because the static background in relation to a particular form of existence would, according to this hypothesis, have wholly given way. He would explain the fact that the body becomes cold as a corpse as the Shakti leaves it, as being due, not to the depletion or privation of the static power at the Muladhara, but to the concentration or convergence of the dynamic power ordinarily diffused over the whole body, so that the dynamic equivalent which is set up against the static background of Kundali Shakti is only the diffused five-fold Prana gathered home -- withdrawn from the other tissues of the body and concentrated along the axis. Thus, ordinarily, the dynamic equivalent is the Prana diffused over all the tissues: in Yoga, it is converged along the axis, the static equivalent of Kundali Shakti enduring in both cases. Some part of the already available dynamic Prana is made to act at the base of the axis in a suitable manner, by which means the basal center or Muladhara becomes, as it were, over-saturated and reacts on the whole diffused dynamic power (or Prana) of the body by withdrawing it from the tissues and converging it along the line of the axis. In this way the diffused dynamic equivalent becomes the converged dynamic equivalent along the axis. What, according to this view, ascends, is not the whole Shakti but an eject like condensed lightning, which at length reaches the Parama-Shivasthana. There, the Central Power which up-holds the individual world-consciousness is merged in the Supreme Consciousness. The limited consciousness, transcending the passing concepts of worldly life, directly intuits the unchanging Reality which underlies the whole phenomenal flow. When Kundali Shakti sleeps in the Muladhara, man is awake to the world; when she awakes to unite, and does unite, with the supreme static Consciousness which is Shiva, then consciousness is asleep to the world and is one with the Light of all things.
Putting aside detail, the main principle appears to be that, when "wakened", Kundali Shakti either Herself (or as my friend suggests in Her eject) ceases to be a static Power which sustains the world-consciousness, the content of which is held only so long as She "sleeps": and when once set in movement is drawn to that other static center in the Thousand-petalled Lotus (Sahasrara) which is Herself in union with the Shiva-consciousness or the consciousness of ecstasy beyond the world of forms. When Kundali "sleeps" man is awake to this world. When She "awakes" he sleeps, that is loses all consciousness of the world and enters his causal body. In Yoga he passes beyond to formless Consciousness.
I have only to add, without further discussion of the point, that practitioners of this Yoga claim that it is higher than any other and that the Samadhi (ecstasy) attained thereby is more perfect. The reason which they allege is this. In Dhyanayoga, ecstasy takes place through detachment from the world, and mental concentration leading to vacuity of mental operation (Vritti) or the uprising of pure Consciousness unhindered by the limitations of the mind. The degree to which this unveiling of consciousness is effected depends upon the meditative powers (J˝anashakti) of the Sadhaka and the extent of his detachment from the world. On the other hand, Kundali who is all Shakti and who is therefore J˝anashakti Herself produces, when awakened by the Yogi, full J˝ana for him. Secondly, in the Samadhi of Dhyanayoga there is no rousing and union of Kundali Shakti with the accompanying bliss and acquisition of special Powers (Siddhi). Further, in Kundali Yoga there is not merely a Samadhi through meditation, but through the central power of the Jiva a power which carries with it the forces of both body and mind. The union in that sense is claimed to be more complete than that enacted through mental methods only. Though in both cases bodily consciousness is lost, in Kundalini-Yoga not only the mind, but the body, in so far as it is represented by its central power (or may be its eject) is actually united with Shiva. This union produces an enjoyment (Bhukti) which the Dhyanayogi does not possess. Whilst both the Divya Yogi and the Vira Sadhaka have enjoyment (Bhukti), that of the former is said to be infinitely more intense, being an experience of Bliss itself. The enjoyment of the Vira Sadhaka is but a reflection of it on the physical plane, a welling up of the true Bliss through the deadening coverings and trammels of matter. Again, whilst it is said that both have Liberation (Mukti), this word is used in Vira Sadhana in a figurative sense only, indicating a bliss which is the nearest approach on the physical plane to that of Mukti, and a Bhava or feeling of momentary union of Shiva and Shakti which ripens in the higher Yoga Sadhana into the literal liberation of the Yogi. He has both Enjoyment (Bhukti) and Liberation (Mukti) in the fullest and literal sense. Hence its claim to be the Emperor of all Yogas.
However this may be, I leave the subject at this point, with the hope that others will continue the esquire I have here initiated. It and other matters in the Tantra Shastra seem to me (whatever be their inherent value) worthy of an investigation which they have not yet received.
Brahmanism or Hinduism, as in its later development the former has been called, is not merely a religion. It is a Socio-Economic System, the foundation of which is the Law of Caste and Stages of life. That System has its culture of which several forms of Religion, resting on a certain common basis, are but a part. Dealing, however, with Brahmanism in its religious aspect, we may say that it, together with Jainism and Buddhism, are the three chief religions of India, as opposed to those of the Semitic origin. All three religious systems share in common certain fundamental concepts which are denoted by the Sanskrit terms Karma, Samsara and Moksha. These concepts constitute a common denominator of Indian belief as next stated.
The Universe is in constant activity. Nothing which is Psycho-physical is at rest. Karma is Action. The Psychophysical as such is determined by Karma or action, and, therefore, man's present condition is determined by past Karma, either his own, or that of collectivities of men of which he is a member, or with which he is in relation, as also by the action of natural causes. In the same way, present Karma determines the future Karma. The doctrine of Karma is thus the affirmance of the Law of causality operating not only in this but in an infinity of Universes. As you sow so shall you reap. The present Universe is not the first and last only. It is true that this particular Universe has a beginning and an end called dissolution, for nothing composite is eternal; but it is only one of a series which has neither beginning nor end. There has been, is now, and ever will be an Universe.
Mental action as desire for worldly enjoyment, even though such enjoyment be lawful, keeps man in the Worlds of repeated Birth and Death, or (to use the English term) of Reincarnation. These worlds the Greeks called the Cycle of Becoming, and Hindus the Samsara, a term which literally means the unending 'moving on' or wandering, that is, being born and dying repeatedly. These worlds comprise not only Earth but Heaven and Hell, in which are reaped the fruits of man's actions on Earth. Heaven and Hell, are states of enjoyment and suffering which exist here on earth as well as in the after-death state as the result of man's good and bad actions returning. When man dies there is no resurrection of the gross body. That is resolved into its subtle elements, and the specific relation between man and a particular gross body comes to an end. But there is always some body until bodiless liberation is achieved. On death man in his subtle body enjoys the state called Heaven or suffers in that called Hell. Neither is eternal, but each a part of the Cycle of the Becoming. When, then, man has had Heavenly enjoyment or suffered the pains of Hell in his subtle body, in the afterdeath state, according to his merits or demerits, he is 'reincarnated' in a gross body on Earth. He continues thus to be 'reincarnated' until he has found and desires the way out from the Cycle, that, is, until he ceases to desire world-existence. His desire is then not only for release from the sufferings and limited happiness of the Cycle but also (according to Vedanta) for the attainment of the Supreme Worth which is Supreme Bliss. There is, in short, a change of values and states. Man, as Nietzsche said, is something to be transcended. He cannot transcend his present state so long as he is attached to and desires to remain in it. This liberation from the Cycle is called Moksha or Mukti. For all Three Systems are at one in holding that, notwithstanding the Law of Causality, man is free to liberate himself from the Cycle. Causality governs the Psychophysical. Spirit as such is Freedom from the Psycho-physical. All three Systems assume a State of Liberation.
Whether the Universe as a play of force is the work of a Personal God is a question which philosophers have disputed both in the East and the West. One set of Buddhists professed belief in Deity as the Lord. Another affirmed Svabhava which means the proper vigor of Nature and what is called creation is truly spontaneity resulting from powers inherent in the Psycho-physical substance eternally.
Mayavada Vedanta reconciles to a great extent these two views by its doctrine that the personal Brahman or the Lord is the self-less absolute Brahman as conceived by the Psycho-physical experiencer, though the latter as the Absolute exclusive of all relations is not the former. In Shakta doctrine Brahman is the Lord or Creator and Director of the Universe but in its own nature is more than that.
Whether there is or is not a Personal God or Lord (as held by some systems), belief in such a Lord is no essential portion of the Common Doctrine Both Jainism and Buddhism are atheistic in the sense of being Lordless, though the latter system, in some forms of the later Northern schools, takes on a theistic color. In fact the notion of a Personal God is no essential part even of Brahmanism itself. For putting aside downright atheists in the Western sense, such as the Indian Carvakas and Lokayatas who denied God, Soul, immortality and future life, it is to be observed that some schools posit no such Lord whilst others do.
Two other concepts of first rate importance are Dharma and its correlative adharma. These two terms, in the Brahmanic sense, mean right activity and its opposite. They are therefore connected with Karma of which they are two species. The term Dharma comes from the root Dhri which means to uphold and maintain, for right activity does that. All three systems posit right and wrong activity and their results as well-being and suffering respectively. Dharma is thus the Law of Being as Form. Morality is part of man's nature. It may therefore be said that the substance of the Brahmanic concept is held by all. Dharma as a technical term is not here included amongst the common concepts, because, its sense varies in Buddhism in which it has its own peculiar meaning, whilst in Jainism the word means something wholly different from what it does in any other system.
Each of the common concepts must be interpreted in the case of any particular Indian faith in terms of its own peculiar tenets as regards these concepts and other matters such as the Reality and Dissolution of the Universe, Karma and Liberation. Thus, the latter is defined differently in Buddhism, Jainism and in the various Brahmanical schools. According to all systems, Liberation is described as the release from the bondage of Birth and Death, Limitation and Suffering. In some systems it is not positively said to be Joy, but is described as pure painless state of That which, in association with mind and matter, manifests as the empirical self. The Jainas regard it as a state of happiness. Some Buddhist descriptions are to the same effect, but in general Buddhism deprecates the discussion of so inconceivable a state. The Vedanta, on the other hand, positively describes it to be unalloyed and unending joy so that the nature of such Joy, whether as arising through the identification of the individual self with the Supreme Self or in association therewith, is variously affirmed by the non-dualist, qualified non-dualist and dualist Brahmanic Schools.
Brahmanism adds to these concepts of the Cycle (Samsara) right and wrong action (Dharma, Adharma), Causality (Karma), and Liberation (Moksha), that of the Atman.
All recognized Brahmanic systems affirm the Atman, though they differ on the question of its nature as also whether it is one or many. It is on this question whether there is or is not an Atman that the Brahmanic and Buddhistic Schools are in dispute. The point at issue as formulated from the standpoint of Vedanta may be shortly stated to be as follows:
Everyone admits the existence of a psycho-physical Flux either as the Individual or the Universe of his experience. Indeed, one of the Sanskrit names of the world is Jagat, which means "the moving thing". For the Universe is in constant activity. At every moment there is molar or molecular change. As an object of sensible perception the Universe is transitory, though some things endure longer or shorter than others. The question is, then, whether, besides psycho-physical transience, there is a spiritual enduring Essence of the Universe and of man, which manifests in the latter as the empirical self whereby it knows itself as permanent amidst all its changeful experiences. The Buddhists are reputed to have held that there is nothing but the flow. Man is only a continually changing psychophysical complex without a static center, a series of momentary mental and bodily states, necessarily generated one from the other in continuous transformation. In this Flux there is no principle of permanence on which "as on a thread" the worlds as beads are strung. Man may have the notion that he is a Self, but this does not, it is said, prove that there is an Atman as 'substratum' of such empirical self. To this Vedanta asks -- If so, who is it that is born and re-incarnates? It then answers its question by saying that the embodied self is born and dies, but that the Atman as such is not a self and is neither born nor does it die. Birth and Death are attributed to it when it appears in connection with psycho-physical bodies. It is the embodied Atman which is born and dies. The Atman as it is in its own bodiless nature is unborn and eternal.
Change and changelessness are terms of logical, that is dualistic thinking, and have no meaning except in relation to one another. All activity implies a static condition relative to which it is active. There can be no Universe except by the combination of the active and non-active. Without activity the Universe does not become. Without some principle of stability it cannot exist even for a moment as an object of the senses. The alogical Atman as such eternally endures. The Universe as the Psycho-physical is the product of the Atman as Power. As such product, it is transient. It presents, however, the appearance of relative or limited stability because of the immanence of the Atman. The Atman manifests as the relatively stable and empirical self, and That which manifests as such self is also the Brahman as essence of the Universe which is the object of such self. For Atman and Brahman are one and the same.
According to the second standard, Atman is the seat of consciousness. In the Vedanta, however, Atman is consciousness itself. Whatever may have been its origin, as to which nothing is of a certainty known (Mother Goddess Worship is as old as the World), Shakta doctrine is now a form of Vedanta which may be called Shakti-vada or Shakta Vedanta.
Kularnava Tantra speaks of that "Monism of which Shiva speaks" (Advaitantu Shivenoktam, 1, 108). See also Mahanirvana Tantra, Chapter II, 33-34, III, 33-35, 50-64; Prapa˝casara Tantra, II, XIX, XXIX; Advaitabhavopanisad. For the identity of Jivatma and Paramatma in liberation (Mukti),which the Vedantasara defines to be Jivabrahmanohaikyam, see Mahanirvana Tantra, VIII, 264, 265; V, 105. See also Prapa˝casara Tantra, II, where Hrim is identified with Kundali and Hamsah, and then with "So'ham". See also ib., Chapter XXIV: "That, which. is subtle I am" (Yah Suksmah So'ham); and J˝anarnava Tantra; XXI, 10.
As to Brahmasmi, see Kularnava Tantra, IX, 32, and ib., 41: So'ham bhavena pujayet. The Shakta disciple (Sadhaka) should not be a dualist (Maharudrayamala, I Khanda,, Chapter 15, II Khanda, Chapter 2). Similarly, the Gandharva Tantra Chapter 2, says that he must be devoid of dualism (Dvaitahina) (see Pranatoshini, 108) In fact, that particular from of worship which has earned the Kaula Tantras, their ill name is practical application of Advaitavada. Kaulacara is said to properly follow a full knowledge of Vedantik doctrine. As the Satcakranirupana (see The Serpent Power) says, the Jivatma or embodied spirit is the same, as the Paramatma or Supreme Spirit, and knowledge of this is the root of all wisdom (Mulavidya).
Shakta Vedanta teaches its doctrine from the practical standpoint which Mayavada calls Vyavaharika. It lays stress on the concept of Power. Atman is not mere Being only. Even in the dissolution of the world Being is Power, though Power or Shakti is then consciousness as such (Cidrupini). Atman manifests as the universe by and out of its power. Atman and Power are never separated, and so it is said, that" there is no Shiva without Shakti or Shakti without Shiva." Shiva without power is but a "corpse." Both Shiva and Shakti are of the same nature since they are both Being-Consciousness- Bliss. But Power manifests as the Becoming or Psycho-physical universe. Power is both Power to be, to self -conserve, and resist change, as well as Power to Become the universe and as material cause of the universe itself. Power to be is the static aspect of Shiva-Shakti. Power to become is the changeful aspect of Shiva-Shakti.
In Mayavada the world is said to be produced by the Power of the Lord -- or Ishvara. But whilst Ishvara is Brahman or Godhead as conceived by the Psycho-physical experiencer, Brahman on the other hand is not Ishvara. The former is beyond (in the sense of exclusive of ) all relations with the universe, and so, though wrongly, some people call Ishvara 'Unreal' and the universe created by Him an 'illusion'. According to Shaktivada, not only is Ishvara Brahman, but Brahman is Ishvara, and no question of the reality of either Ishvara or the world arises. We may, however, say at once that Godhead is real, God is real and the universe is real. The use of the term 'illusion' only tends to mislead even in Mayavada. According to the concise definition of Kamala-kanta, a celebrated Sadhaka, Maya is the 'Form of the Form-less' (Shunyasya akara iti Maya). The World is the Divine Mother in form. As She is in Herself, She is formless.
Discussion on the subject of the reality of the World is often vain and tedious, because the word 'Real' has several meanings, and that in which it is used is not stated. The terms "Absolute" and "Transcendental" should also be clearly defined. The distinction between Maya-vada and Shakti-vada hinges on these definitions.
Both "Absolute" and "Transcendental" mean "beyond relation." But the term beyond" may be used in two senses: (a) exceeding or wider than relation; (b) having no relation at all. The first does not deny or exclude relation but says that the Absolute, though involving all relations within itself, is not their sum total; is not exhausted by them; has Being transcending them. The latter denies every trace of relation to the Absolute; and says that the Absolute must have no intrinsic or extrinsic relation; that relation, therefore, has no place in the Being of the Absolute.
Shakti-vada adopts the first view, Maya-vada the second. From the first point of view, the Absolute is relationless Being as well as Manifestation as an infinity of relations. This is the true and complete Alogical-Whole. Inasmuch as the Absolute exceeds all relation and thought, we cannot say that it is the Cause; that it is the Root of Creation; and so forth; but in as much also as it does involve relation and thought, we can say that It is the First Cause; that there has been a real creation, and so forth.
The Maya-vada view by negating all relation from the reality of Brahman negates from its transcendent standpoint the reality of causation, creation and so forth.
"Beyond" may, therefore, mean (1) "exceeding" "fuller than ", "not exhausted by", or (2) excluding, negating, expunging.
In Shakti-vada, the Supreme Reality is fuller than any definition (limitation) which may be proposed. It is even beyond duality and non - duality. It is thus the Experience-Whole, the Alogical. The Maya-vada Pure Brahman is an aspect of It: but it is not the Whole (Purna).
The expression "wider than relation" may be thus illustrated: I am related in one way to my wife; in another way to my children; in yet another way to my brothers, friends and so on. I am not fully expressed by any one of these relations, nor even by their aggregate; for, as a member of an infinite Stress-system, I bear an infinity of relations. Pragmatically, most of these are ignored, and it is thought that I am expressed, by a certain set of relations which distinguish me from another person who has his own "set". But Brahman as Absolute can have no such "Set". It is expressed, but not fully expressed, even by the infinite set of relations which the cosmos is, because relations, finite or infinite, imply a logical, and therefore segmenting and defining thought; but Brahman as Absolute = Experience-Whole = the Alogical.
Since Brahman = Experience-Whole = Cit as Power to-Be-and-Become, it is nothing like the unknown and unknowable Being ("Thing-in itself") of Western Skeptics and Agnostics.
In all Indian Systems, the world is real, in the sense that it has objective existence for, and is not a projection of, the individual mind . In all such systems, Mind and Matter co-exist, and this is so even in that form of Ekajiva-vada which holds that Brahman by its own veiling and limiting Power makes one Primary Self of itself, and that all other selves are but reflexes of the Primary self, having as reflexes no existence apart from that of the Primary one. The world of matter is not a projection of an individual mind, but its reality is coordinate with that of the individual mind, both being derived from the Self-veiling and Self-limiting operation of Brahman appearing as the One Jiva or Primary Self. Brahman, in appearing as Primary Self, also appears as its (logical) Correlate or Pole -- the Not-Self; and this Not-Self is the Root-Matter on which the primary Self is reflected as multiple selves and their varied relations. Matter, in this fundamental sense is not therefore the product of the first or primary individual (Self); it is with Self the co-effect (logically speaking) of a common fundamental activity which is the veiling and limiting action of the Supreme Being.
The version commonly given of Ekajiva-vada -- namely that the one Primary Self is Me, and that You, He and the rest, and the world of objects are the projection of Me -- is loose and unpsychological. In the first place, Me cannot be there (logically conceiving) without its Correlate or Pole -- the Not-Me; so that, by the very act by which Me is evolved from Brahman, its Correlate is also evolved, and this Correlate is Root-Matter. In the second place, projection, reflection and so forth presuppose not only the projecting or reflecting Being (that which projects or reflects), but also something on which the projection or reflection is cast. Projection out of nothing and projection into nothing will give us only nothing.
Where then there is Matter there is Mind. Where there is no Matter there is no Mind. One is meaningless without the other. Each is every whit as real as the other. But there is no Indian system which is Realist in the sense, that it holds that Matter exists when there is no Mind to perceive it. Such a state is inconceivable. He who alleges it, himself supplies the perceiving Mind. In the First standard, Mind and the so-called "atoms" of Matter are separate, distinct and independent Reals. Matter does not derive from Mind nor the latter from the former. In the Second Standard, both Matter and Mind are equally real, but derive from a common source the Psycho-physical Potential which as such is neither. 'Psychic' here means Mind as distinct from Consciousness in the sense of Cit. This Psycho-physical Potential is a Real, independent of Consciousness which is the other Real. In the Third Standard as non-dual Vedanta the position is the same, except that the Psychophysical Potential is not an independent Real but is the power of the One Supreme Real as God. The world is then Real in the sense that it has true objective Reality for the individual Experiencers for the duration of their experience of it. No one denies this.
The next question is the problem of Monism. If ultimate Reality be One, how can it be the cause of and become the Universe. It is said, that Reality is of dual aspect, namely, as it is in relation to the World as Ishvara, the Lord or God, and as it is in itself beyond such relation which we may call Brahman. According to Mayavada, Ishvara is Brahman, for Ishvara is Brahman as seen through the Veil of Maya, that is, by the Psycho-physical Experiencer. But Brahman is not Ishvara because Brahman is the absolute alogical Real, that is, Reality not as conceived by Mind but as it is in itself beyond all relation. The notion of God as the Supreme Self is the highest concept imposed on the alogical which, as it is in itself, is not a Self either supreme or limited. The Absolute as such is not a cause. There is, transcendentally speaking, no creation, no Universe. The Absolute is and nothing happens. It is only pragmatically a Cause. There is from this aspect no nexus between Brahman and the World. In the logical order there is. What then is the Universe? It is in this connection that it is said by some to be an "illusion," which is an inapt term. For to whom is it an "illusion"? Not to the Psycho-physical Experiencer to whom it is admittedly real. Nor is it illusion for the Experience-Whole. It is only by the importation of the logical notion of a self to whom an object is real or unreal that we can speak of illusion. But there is in this state of Liberation no Self. More correctly we say that the World is Maya. But what is Maya in Mayavada? It is not real, for it is neither Brahman nor an independent Real. Nor is it unreal for in the logical order it is real. It is neither Brahman nor different from it as an independent reality. It is unexplainable. For this reason one of the scholastics of this System calls it the doctrine of the Inscrutable.
In the doctrine of Power (Shaktivada),Maya is the Divine Mother Power or Mahamaya. The two aspects of Reality as Brahman and Ishvara are accepted. The Lord is real, but that which we call 'Lord' is more than Lord, for the Real is not adequately defined in terms only of its relations to the Universe. In this sense it is alogical, that is, "beyond Mind and speech". As the one ultimate Reality is both Ishvara and Brahman, in one aspect it is the Cause, and in the other it is not. But it is one and the same Reality which is both as Shiva - Shakti. As these are real so are their appearance, the Universe. For the Universe is Shiva-Shakti. It is their appearance. When we say it is their appearance we imply that there has been a real becoming issuing from them as Power. Reality has two aspects. First as it is in itself, and secondly as it exists as Universe. At base the Samsara or worlds of Birth and Death and Moksha or Liberation are One. For Shiva-Shakti are both the Experience-Whole and the Part which exists therein as the Universe. Reality is a concrete unity in duality and duality in unity. In practice the One is realized in and as the Many and the Many as the One. So in the Shakta Wine ritual, the worshipper conceives himself to be Shiva Shakti as the Divine Mother. It is She who as and in the person of the worshipper, Her manifestation, consumes the wine which is again Herself, the Savioress in liquid form. It is not only he, who as a separate Self does so. This principle is applied to all man's functionings and is of cardinal importance from a Monistic standpoint notwithstanding its well-known abuse in fact.
Real is again used in the sense of eminence. The Real is that which is for itself and has a reason for its being in itself. The Real as God is the perfect and changeless and the "Good." The Universe is dependent on the Ens Realissimum, for it proceeds from it and is imperfect as limited and changeful and in a sense it is that which does not endure and in this sense is called 'unreal.' Though, however, the Universe comes and goes it does so eternally. The Supreme Cause is eternally creative. The Real is then both infinite Changeless Being as also unbeginning and unending process as the Becoming. In this system the Real both is and becomes. It yet becomes without derogation from its own changelessness, as it were a Fountain of Life which pours itself forth incessantly from infinite and inexhaustible source. Both the infinite and the finite are real.
Real is again used in the sense of interest and value and of the worth while". In this sense, the worshiper prays to be led from Unreality to Reality, but this does not mean that the world is unreal, but that it is not the supreme worth for him.
In whatever sense, then, the term Real is used the Universe is that. All is real for as the Upanishad says, "All this Universe is verily Brahman". The Scriptural Text says "All". It does not say "This " but not "That". The whole is an alogical concrete Reality which is Unity in Duality and Duality in Unity. The doctrine does not lose hold of either the One or the Many, and for this reason the Lord Shiva says in the Kularnava Tantra, "There are some who seek dualism and some non-dualism, but my doctrine is beyond both." That is, it takes account of and reconciles both Dualism and Non-Dualism.
Reality is no mere abstraction of the intellect making jettison of all that is concrete and varied. It is the Experience Whole whose object is Itself as such Whole. It is also Partial Experience within that whole. This union of whole and Part is alogical, not unknowable, for their unity is a fact of actual experience just as we have the unity of Power to Be and Power to Become, of the Conscious and Unconscious, of Mind and Body, of freedom and determination, and other dualities of Man's experiencing.