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Nityotsava

 

[Query] Sir, please direct me to a clean copy of Nityotsavam of Umanandhanatha.

shrImAtre namaH

An important but implicit statement becomes evident with your question – the current available version of Nityotsava is not clean. Unfortunate, but true.

The most commonly available copy today is the one published by Gaekwad Series – Oriental Institute, Baroda,edited by Swami Sri Trivikrama Tirtha. I am unaware of any other available version of Nityotsava currently. I have discussed elsewhere the authenticity of umAnandanAtha's claim that his work had received the approval of Sri Bhaskara Raya. This copy of Nityotsava seems to be having many mistakes, in spite of the critical editing done in the second edition. Some glaring mistakes that I can think of are:

1.One of the nava chakreshwarI vidyA-s is incorrect.

2.Some of the mudrA-s described do not seem to have any shAstra pramANa. Yes, the Tantras are never unanimous on this topic, but umAnandanAtha defers from his Guru's description of some mudrA-s in works like Setubandha, Tripurasundari Saparya etc.

3.The kAmeshwara mantra is incorrect. The uddhAra of this mantra is seen in two tantras with slight differences: trikUTA rahasya of rudrayAmala and brihadbaDabAnala. The version in the work under examination follows neither of the two uddhAras.

4.Mantras like Dipini, Sanjivini, Nirvana etc. are incorrect. Some bIjas are printed incorrectly, there are rephas added or removed etc. The correct version of the mantras can be seen in paramAnanada tantra, parA tantra, hamsamAheshwara, kAdi mata etc.

5.The pancha ratneshwari mantras – especially the last one, are incorrect. The uddhAra is again in baDabAnala and trikUtA rahasya.

6. Notice the pratiloma nyAsa for rAjamAtangi. Instead of reversing the nyAsa stAnas as directed by the Parashurama Kalpasutra, the text reverses the mantra khandas as well.

These are apart from Rameshwara's criticism of other functional aspects of the work, some of which seem to be legitimate. Again,these could be mere typos introduced later or actual mistakes from the original work. As there are not different versions of the work available in print, this analysis becomes difficult.

a. Other than the printed version,or rather even before I came across the printed version, the first copy I saw was a handwritten version of Sri Nilakantha Mahadeva Joshiji of Rameshwaram,which, along with shUlinI durgA tantra was procured by my Guru on his visit to Rameshwaram along with the Jagadguru Mahasannidhanam of Sringeri. I do not remember the exact occasion but it was the mahasamprokShaNam or something similar of Sri Parvatavardhini shrine. This copy had the correct version of the chakreshwari mantras and completely omitted the section dealing with mudrA-s. The purashcharaNa section was same as the printed version. But, from a copy of japaprakaraNa in Joshiji-s handwriting which illustrates the japa krama for important mantras of his lineage, there is no mention of kAmeshwara, dIpini, sanjIvini, pancharatneshwari etc. Joshiji belonged to the school of thought which held the Kalpasutra as the greatest pramANa for Srividya Upasakas. His logic was plain and simple: "Yes, Kalpasutra asks the user to refer to other Tantras in relation to topics not discussed here. But, in the case of purashcharaNa, Kalpasutra gives out the six vighnahara mantras which are all that are required as pUrvAngas of Srividya. Also, the other angas like annapUrNa, yogabAlA and ashwArUDha are discussed. So, purashchaNa details are complete in the Sutra and this negates the need to further refer to other scriptures [like in the case of nityotsava which gathers information from paramAnanda, parA, trikUTA rahasya and other tantras]". The counter argument,which does not seem to be strong enough, can be: assuming umAnandanAtha had really received the approval of his Guru for his work, the addition of these mantras probably was something that was taught in his paramparA which he learnt from his Guru. If that is the case, then the mistakes in these mantras are typos which crept in later. If this assumption is not true, then, as Rameshwara Suri alleges at many places, umAnandanAtha moved away from his tradition and from the original purport of the Sutras and the mistakes in the mantras are actually present in the original work due to the author's non-familiarity with the correct mantras.

b. Sri Dattatreyanandanatha [Sri Sitaram Kaviraj-ji] of Benares had a manuscript of the work procured from someone in Gujrat by H H anatasri Vibhushita Sri Karapatri Swamiji. This copy is exactly same as the printed version, except for an additional chapter dealing with guhya shoDhA nyAsa and prapancha yAga nyAsa [popular with the gANapatyas of haraduttAchArya's lineage].

c. Brahmasri Swami Shastrigal, the famed upAsaka of Mahaganapati from Guhananda Mandali had a handwritten version of the work. This work has corrections and notes by Brahmasri Chidanandanatha at several places. Some of these are actual corrections and some are pAthabhedas or alternate readings peculiar to his sampradAya. In this case, the purashcharaNa section was cleaned up by `Sir' but as guhAnanda mandali follows different angas for Srividya [based on dakShiNAmUrti samhitA, kalpasutra to an extent and uDDAmareshwara tantra] when compared to what is described in Nityotsava, the correct readings were not taught or published in any of theworks by `Sir'. While correcting, `Sir' has specified the uddhAra shloka for mahAkAmeshwara mantra [the baDabAnala tantra version]. I obtained a zerox copy of this version from Sri Vedamurti Shastrigal [who attained the lotus feet of Sri Kamakshi recently] but it not clear as to what the original source of Swami Shastrigal's handwritten copy is.

d. Sri Venkata Avadhani, a ghanapAThi whose father was a Srividya Upasaka from the lineage of Kalyanananda Bharati of Hampi Virupaksha Mutt had a version of Nityotsava in Devanagari. This has only gaNapati, shyAmala and vArAhi kramas.

e. H H Sri Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal, the Periyaval of Kumbhakonam Mutt blessed me with a copy of Telugu version of Nityotsava. This copy was a part of Saubhagya Chintamani Kalpa as the two books were bound together. Again, the work is in Telugu lipi and the person who wrote it seems to be one Mahamahopadhyaya Sundararama Shastrigal.The work is indeed Nityotsava with but lot of additions and changes probably because the author used it as his personal manual. In any case, the Purashcrana Khanda has the same errors that are present in the printed version.

f. Sri Gajanan Joshi of Poona, who belonged to one of the many lineages that claim allegiance to Sri Bhaskara Raya had a copy of Nityotsava, again handwritten, which had lot of pAtha bhedas compared to the printed version and omitted the Purashcharana Khanda. This was quite different from the other versions I had seen but before I could manage to get a copy, Joshiji reached the lotus feet of Amba.

g. A Malayalam manuscript that originally belonged to Kandiyoor Mahadeva Shastrigal. This is exactly similar to the version in print.

So, this brings us back to where we started:

- Is there a clean copy of Nityotsava available – the answer seems to be `No'
- Was Nityotsava `originally' clean ever – this is a grey area and till we get hold of a clean copy, I would assume `No'

This highlights the dangers of following any mantra manual blindly. The manual could be incorrect due to the shortcomings of the author or mistakes can creep into the text later. Such errors happen due to various reasons: regional accents, incorrect understanding of the mantras, mistakes during copying, lack of critical proof reading etc. Tamilians and Keralites especially mess up with Mantras as the accent used in pronouncing mantras gets recorded even in writing: ghaNTA becomes khaNDA, 'la' is indiscriminately replaced by 'La' [may be LakShmi or laLitA are ok, but not in panchadashi or in mAtrkA saraswati mantras!], kR^ittikA becomes kiruthigA, vArAhi is vArAgi, pratya~NgirA is prathyinkira etc. I am not trying to pin point at these communities but can quote these examples as I come from the South and most people I talk to are from these two regions. There could be similar issues with other regional accents as well.

But the way mantras are formulated is fool proof. To this day, half of the people recite dakShiNA kAli and ugra tArA mantras incorrectly as people fail to understand where kUrcha bIja is to be recited and where kavacha bIja is to be recited. The Tantras however have uddhAra shlokas for every mantra which prevent incorrect formulations of bIjAksharas. A certain disciple of Swami Lakshman Joo once mentioned to me that the excellent sanity of mantras maintained by many Kashmiri Pundits to this day, especially with the mantras of kAli krama initiations, is because of the stress on understanding the uddhAra shlokas well. To understand these samketas, there are supporting works like bIjanighantu, uddhara kosha in works like purashcharyArNava etc. A dear friend Smt Sharada Kaul, belonging to an illustrious Kashmiri Pundit family was visiting me recently and her 7 year old daughter [yes, really 7!] who has memorized the indrAdi stuti chapter of saptashati was 'showing off' her scholarship. Even though a small girl, every little mistake in pronunciation that the little girl made was immediately corrected by Sharada. Of course, it helped that Sharada had learnt it correctly from her father. There are many who do not work towards improving or correcting their pronunciations with lame reasons such as: this is how it is recited in my sampradAya/region, Devi looks only at Bhakti and she will correct me if I am reciting it wrong etc. Well, all Devi is going to do in the case of such lazy kids is kick their rears [Sorry, I could not come up with a more civilized word]. Neither are we in Satya Yuga nor are we pure hearted like Satyavrata who recited 'ai ai' and Devi graciously accounted for the missing Bindu!

So, the only right way seems to be to get back to the Tantras, to the scriptures, which unfortunately no one wants to learn!