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chatuHShaShTyupachArADhyA

 

shivAdi gurubhyo namaH

The number 64 is a very significant one. Various authorities have explained the significance of numbers in Srividya. To quote an example, which was revealed by Sri Chidanandanatha (Brahmasri Subrahmanya Iyer of Guhananda Mandali) – the four most important Mantras used in Srividya Upasana (as taught by Sri Guhanandanatha Avadhuta) are:

Mahaganapathi Mantra – 28 letters.
Saubhagya Vidya mantra along with Shodashi Kala (together called Purna Shodashi) – 19 letters.
Mahashodashi – 28 letters
Utkrishta Ganapathi mantra – 37 letters.

All these mantras, when added result in the number –1. For eample, 28 -> 2+8 = 1. Similarly, 6+4=10; 1+0 = 1. Thus, the objective of 64 Upacharas, like the above listed mantras, is to expereince the swAtmAbhinna parA samvit called Sri Lalita. Sri Bhaskararaya says in Setubandha that the number of Upacharas prescribed during Navavarana Archana are 64 but `kechit', `some others' follow different numbers (more or less than 64). He clearly objects to this practice by quoting Vamakeshwara Tantra, Parashurama Kalpasutra and LS (chatuShShaShTyupachArADhyA), calling it asAmpradAyika [ 3, 84 – Setubandha]. But at another place in the same bhAShya, he also mentions saMpradAyavishwAsabhyam etc. from the Kalpasutras and agrees to the fact that differences in Upachara Samkhya and Patra Sthapana are agreeable, if followed as per one's Sampradaya.

So, the number difference should not matter. Further, Natananandanatha oberves in a commentary that the number 64 is indicative of the Bijas to be prefixed during Chakrarchana. He reads 6 as the six Vyahritis or Pranavas of Srividya and 4 as the Kamakala Bija. He is of the opinion that this group of Bijas should be used while offering 64 Upacharas and quotes Nitya Tantra as the pramANa. Sri Tetiyur Subrahmanya Shastrigal, who was the Guru an elderly relative of mine, followed a somewhat less-known practice during Chatushshtypachara. He would offer the 64 Upacharas with some Samputikarana of the mantras for the 64 Yoginis. He explained this as a very esoteric practice and dealing with Mahayaga, involving AshtAShtaka Yoginis (8 X 8 = 64). People belonging to his Shishya Parampara should know more about the significance of this practice.

Though `bhAvanA' is the best method of upAsanA, the path of Bahiryaga is unavoidable for the beginners. As rightly indicated, one cannot give up any of these Upacharas (physically) as long as he is able to offer them. The Vamakeshwara Tantra prescribes substitution with PuShpAkShata saying. `yadyashaktaschet' – only if the Upasaka is unable to perform the Upacharas physically. While following Bahiryaga, if a person neglects any of the Upacharas, even those which can be offered in his capacity, he incurs sin (Yogini Hridaya Dipika). However, if due to constraints factors like time, resource etc., the Sadhaka is really unable to offer one or more of these Upacharas, by offering Pushpakshata with devotion, he obtains the same merit as having offered the Upachara physically. But these days when Dravya Shuddhi is a difficult thing, one should seriously consider before using things in Srichakrarchana. Also, it should be borne in mind that the Upacharas should be offered without any desire for fruits and with dispassion for their worldly features. The Sadhaka should ever be aware of the fact that Bahiryaga is a step to perfection; that it is a path and not the goal.

It is technically possible to offer chatuH ShaShTi upachAras to other deities, only if they are worshipped as lalitAbhinna mUrtis. There are various reasons for this statement.

First and foremost, which set of 64 upachAras are we talking about? As the question mentions rAjarAjeshwarI, I assume the reference here is to the 64 upachAras of tripurA tantra. The Agamas and tantras describe different number of upachAras for different deities. 12 for Aditya, 16 for viShNu, 3 for bhairava, 5 for mAtR^ikas, 25 for sadAshiva, 32 for durgA etc. The said set of 64 upachAras is peculiar to tripurA tantra. There seems to be no shAstra pramANa for using this set of sixty-four upachAras outside lalitA Krama. Moreover, the number 64 itself is very significant in shrIvidyA tantra [chatuHShaShTyupachArADhyA, chatuHShaShTikalAmayI, mahAchatuHShaShTikoTiyoginIgaNasevitA]. naTanAnandanAtha observes in a commentary that the number 64 is indicative of the Bijas to be prefixed during Chakrarchana. He reads 6 as the six vyAhritis or praNavas of Srividya and 4 as the kAmakalA bIja. He is of the opinion that this group of Bijas should be used while offering 64 Upacharas and quotes Nitya Tantra as the pramANa. Now the source of these 64 upachAras seems to be primarily rudrayAmaLa and the kalpasUtra of bhArgava rAma. One of these two sets is repeated in siddhayAmaLa, navaratneshvara Krama, tripurasundarI bAhya varivasyA, nityotsava, kramakalpalatA etc. There are minor differences in the two sets but both are exclusively described in the light of tripurA tantra.

bhAskararAya builds a list of 72 upachAras by adding 8 to the existing 64:

1. shivapAdaprasUnAnAm dhAraNam
2. AtmaropaNam
3. parivAravisR^ishTiH
4. guru-bhaktArchanam
5. shaivapustakapUjA
6. shivAgniyajanam
7. shivapAdodakAdAnam
8. sA~NgaM prANAgnihotrakam

Though bhAskara lists these, he does not prescribe the use of these additional upachAras during lalitA Krama and all of these do not logically fit into the discipline detailed by the kalpasUtra. parivAravisR^iShTi is an example. He clearly states in setubandha that sampradAya does not prescribe the use of these extra ones in lalitA Krama. He does not include these in his saparyA Krama either. Moreover, these additional upachAras seem to be a part of shaiva ritual and we shall see soon why the set of 64 upachAras in focus do not fit in the same form into the worship of other deities.

Now the upachAras in question are the ones starting with pAdya, AbharaNAvaropaNa etc. There are many who print these upachAras within pUja kalpas of other deities [more the better!] and the reason for the same is the lack of even the basic understanding of what each upachAra means. Let us see some examples:

- mA~NgalyasUtra: Why would one offer this upachAra to bhairava or nArAyaNa?
- pAsha, a~Nkusha, puNDrekShu chApa, puShpabANa: These Ayudhas are characteristic of lalitA and it is not logical to offer these to shAradA or ramA
- kAmeshvarA~Nkaparya~Nkopaveshanam: this upachAra is the exclusive right of our deal lady alone. Not even Mr. Kameshwara has access to this upachAra.
- The upachAras are preceded by tritArI and this is an explicit instruction of the sUtra. What would one use for shAradA? I can say vAgbIja but what is the shAstra pramANa for the same?

Of course, if we change upachAras to suit the need, they can be used for all deities. Say nArayaNA~Nkaparya~Nkopaveshana for bhArgavI, ekakare vINAM kalpayAmi for vAgIshvarI etc., but if one worships in that way, why stick to shAstras at all? I can even say, lasagnam kalpayAmi, diet coke kalpayAmi etc. After all, Amba only cares for Bhakti. On a more serious note, upAsanA is for those without chitta shuddhi and this fact itself is indicative of absence of sAtvika bhakti in those cases.

So it becomes clear that the use of 64 upachAras peculiar to tripurA tantra should not be or rather cannot be used elsewhere. Reasons are: does not make sense, there is no shAstra pramANa.

If one does want to use 64 upachAras for other deities, one would have to find one such set prescribed by the shAstras for that particular deity. There is one such set of 64 prescribed by the pAcharAtra Agamas for shrImannArAyaNa, starting with suprabhAta sevA and ending with shayanotsava. Of course, if you are one of those who does not accept the pramANa quoted by many well-respected smArta Gurus and scholars of the past and present, including the famed bhAskararAya [shamkhachakrayana prayashchitta]:

pA~ncharAtraM bhAgavataM tantraM vaikhAnasAbhidham |
vedabhraShTAn samuddishya kamalApatiruktavAn ||