Sri Kamakoti Mandali  
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Picassos of Dakshina Desha

When we spoke of tales earlier, a member pointed out that it is generally the South Indian smArtas who are accused of conferring metaphysical colors to incidents, names and practices. While this certainly does not seem to be a baneful practice, it is however an inco4rect view blinded probably by a prejudice, somewhat geographic in nature (that the sub-continent has always witnessed in regard to various aspects of human life), to assume that others have not indulged in this practice. As an example, there are many tales regarding matsyendranAtha or mInanAtha, the founder of the yoginI kula and haTha yoga sect. Some texts speak of mInanAtha as the son of mastsyendra and this indeed seems to be correct for most lists of siddhas include matsyendra and mInanAtha separately. yoginIjAla tantra is a discussion between gorakSha and mInanAtha, where mInanatha is described as guruputra.

Most legends speak of his slaying of the fish, which led to his name matsyendranAtha. Abhivanagupta and others however, try to add a philosophical color to the tale to make it sound more metaphysical.

macChAH pAshAH samAkhyAtAH chapalAshchittavR^ittayaH |
CheditAstu yadA tena macChandastena kIrtitaH ||

In many such explanations found in tantrAloka and other works, abhinavaguptAdayaH focus more on the word macChanda, interpreted by them as matsyaghna always, to explain mastya as pAsha, chitta vR^itti etc. As the person who severs the pAsha, they assume, the great Yogi came to be called as macChanda. It is a rather popular analogy in the shaiva school of kAshmIra to figuratively use the word matsya to mean pAsha or indriya and abhinavagupta uses the same analogy here to interpret the name matsyendra as well.

However, it is stated clearly in works by and about mastyendranAtha that he was a brAhmaNa, who, on account of killing the fish that had swallowed the knowledge of the esoteric yoginI kula, attained the title matsyendranAtha:

kaivartattvaM kR^itaM yasmAt kaivarto vipranAyakaH |

In works such as kaulaj~nAnanirNaya attributed to matsyendra, a similar tale is recounted again. It is impossible that abhinavagupta had not heard of this popular tale, which, with a few modifications, is present right from far East to Pujnab. It thus becomes clear that it is not the South Indian vedAntins alone who interpret various concepts in the light of svashAstra. We shall re-visit this discussion in near future to examine scriptures to discover the need to actually view every phenomenon through the eyes of svashAstra for ultimate fulfillment.