salomAsthi svairaM palalamapi mArjAramasite
para~nchauShTraM maiShaM naramahiShayocChAgamapi vA |
baliM te pUjAyAmapi vitaratAM martyavasatAM
satAM siddhiH sarvA pratipadamapUrvA prabhavati ||
ayi asite – O Mother Kalike; sita refers to bandhana or being bound. On account of being nityamuktA, lalitA is referred to as asitA here;
te pUjAyAM – As a part of your naimittika pUjA (as opposed to nitya); bali etc. are prescribed literally for the adhamAdhikArins whose qualification lies in bahiryAga or aparA upAsana alone. For those involved in mishra or parA upAsanas, the word pUjA here is to be interpreted respectively as mAnasika pUjA and antaryAga. There is an ‘api’ added here that suggests nitya and naimittika for the qualified upAsaka. In that case, according to shyAmArahasyasArasangraha, one can adopt the reading pratidinam instead of pratipadam as well. I have explained later why I think naimittika is appropriate here;
mArjAram – cat or lobha
auShTram – camel or mAtsarya
maiSham – sheep or moha
nara- men or mada
mahiShayoH – buffalo or krodha
athavA ChAgam – goat or kAma
salomAsthi – salomAsthi palala refers to balipashu that is sarvAvayava paripUrNa i.e. along with hair and bone. DAmara tantra states the need for sarvAvayava pUrNa bali failing which the uddiShTa devatA becomes furious. Esoterically, this indicates the entire gamut of ShaD ripus failing to sacrifice even one limb of which results in incomplete fruit.
paraM – which is utkR^iShTa
palalam – flesh
baliM – as an upahAra during pUjA
svairaM – willingly and fearlessly
vitaratAm – offers
satAm – to such an upAsaka
pratipadam – again and again
apUrvA – astounding
sarvA – of all kinds
siddhiH – siddhis
prabhavati – arise in him (due to the grace of bhagavatI that shines after the bali of ShaDripu-s)
Note: The above explanation is what vimalAnanda gives in his commentary on karpUrAdi stotra. But a similar tone can be seen in various verses in mahAkAlasamhitA and quotations from purashcharyArNava as well. One may also refer to the work of mahAmahopAdhyAya rAjachUDAmaNi shAstry of Benares Hindu University who deals extensively with medha and medhya as related to the vaidika yajna and its transmutation in the upaniShadic thought.
Thus, the purport of this verse is to offer singly or together the ShadUrmis as bali through the sword named viveka or discrimination to kAlikA, who is chidrUpA or the form of pure consciousness that transcends phenomena. It is said:
kAmakrodhau ChAgabAhau baliM datvA prapUjayet | [annadA kalpa]
An upAsaka, only after offering such an upahAra, qualifies to be called sAdhu or wise (satAm martyavasatAm) and he will attain, through her grace, krama siddhi – which is panchavidhA mukti or liberation in successive steps:
sAlokyamapi sArUpyaM sArShTyaM sAyujyameva cha |
kaivalya~ncheti tAM viddhi muktiM rAghava pa~nchadhA || [shivagItA]
This krama mokSha is unattainable through ChAgAdi bali.
And how is it that such a bali is offered?
dharmAdharmahavirdIptAvAtmAgnau manasA sruchA |
suShumnAvartmanA nityamakShavR^ittIrjuhomyaham || [bR^ihannIlatantre]
One should also refer to the following interpretation from the ever dependable bhAskara rAya which corroborates with what is conveyed by mahAkAla in karpUrAdi stavarAja:
balipriyA: balino.avidyAnirAsasamarthAH kAmAdishatrujetAraH priyA dayApAtraM yasyAH |
The adhikAra for bali is yet another thing that needs to be carefully examined. It is a common practice to offer bali during the sharatkAlIna mahApUjA that occurs during the sandhi of sparshAshTamI and navamI (sharatkAle mahApUjA etc. in saptashatI and bali nirdesha in rahasyatraya). During the mahApUjA of kAlikA, balidAna is one of the four prescribed rituals:
homaH saptashatIpATho balirvAditravAdanam |
chatuShTayamidaM shastaM mAsIShe kAlikArchane |
prabhUtabalidAnaM cha kAryaM bhUtyanusArataH ||
As I pointed out earlier, the opinion of the majority is that bali is a necessity during naimittika pUjA and not nitya pUjA:
tasmAnnaimittikArchAyAm balirAvashyakaH priye |
visheSheNa pradAtavyo devIsantoShahetave |
baliM vinA naiva devI pUjAma~NgIkaroti hi ||
While the need for balidAna is established in various pUjA prayogas, bali can be of two kinds:
vidhistu dvividhaH proktaH shrauta AgamikastathA |
shrautaH shrutyuktamantreNa AgamastantroktamantrakaiH |
shrauto.api svasvagR^ihyoktavidhinA sampradIyate || [mahAkAla samhitA]
Three categories are obtained by splitting vaidika into vaidika and smArta:
balistu trividho j~neyaH tAntrikaH smArta eva cha |
vaidikashcheti tatrAdau tAntriko.aShTavidhaH smr^itaH ||
Of these, vaidika bali involves the same procedure as adopted during yajnas:
shrautaH shrutiShu sandheyo yo.adhvareShu nirUpitaH |
There is an addition in the case of a krUra devatA:
vaidikaM tu baliM dadyAdodanam svinnamAShavat |
sarochanamatikrUradaivate vaTakAnvitam ||
The above is the procedure used in the case of kAlikA pUjA in our mandali after the mUla mantra homa.
The procedure for smArta bali is as below:
kUShmANdaM nArikelam vA shrIphalam chekShumeva cha |
vastrasamveShTitam kR^itvA Chedayet ChurikAdibhiH |
evaM smArto baliH prokto dharmashAstrAnugAminAm ||
One can adopt the first or second procedure based on varNa and adhikAra. The same shAstras which prescribe bali also state the following:
vAnaprastho brahmachArI gR^ihastho vA dayAparaH |
sAttviko brahmaniShThashcha yashcha hiMsAvivarjitaH |
te na dadyuH pashubaliM anukalpaM charantyapi ||
Thus, the bali offered to the devatA depends on the level of one’s own pashu pravrtti.
For the sAttivikas, the following anukalpa is prescribed:
sAttviko jIvahatyAM hi kadAchidapi no charet |
ikShudaNDaM cha kUShmANDam tathA vanyaphalAdikam ||
kShIrapiNDaiH shAlichUrNaiH pashuM kR^itvA charedbalim |
tattatphalavisheSheNa tattatpashumupAnayet ||
Each of these anukalpas represents a pashu or the corresponding pashu vrtti. For example, kUShmANDa represents mahiSha, panasa a man, pAyasa an elephant, tumbikA a meSha and so on.
In a strict sense, these anukalpas are really for pUrva kaulas and one following dakShiNAchAra should use the below ingredients to offer bali, and there is no sense of a replacement here:
mAShabhaktam tathA lAjA dhAnAH shaktava eva vA |
pR^ithukAstaNDulA vA.api svinnA vrIhaya eva vA ||
AmikShA vA yavAgUrvA kR^isharaM pAyasam tathA |
AjyAbhishiktam dadhi vA pakvAnnAni phalAni cha ||
Even in the case of those offering ChAgAdi bali, there is adhikAra nirNaya to be understood. For example, only kings are allowed certain offerings:
rAjA narabaliM dadyAt nAnyo.api parameshvari | [kAlI tantra]
Here is something I wrote even earlier on pashu bali after a certain secular gentleman went on for years on the banes of vaidika yajna at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. I have not heard back from him though.
“The concept of pashu bali being ‘barbaric’ was publicized by the Catholics as an aid to their rigorous conversion activities. It is quite ridiculous for ‘Catholics’, who eat animals all through their lives, to complain of Pashu Bali during sacrifices as an act of cruelty against animals! In this world, wild animals like lion and tiger kill other animals and devour them. The objective of the shAstra is not to question this act. Even human beings, for selfish reasons, behave cruelly and kill animals to devour them. Such people lack humanity and do not accept the pramANa of the Vedas. For such people, the Vedic injunction, ‘Do not hurt any being’, makes no sense. This injunction is applicable only to those who accept the Veda as pramANa. So, let’s continue this topic only to address the second category of people. The same Veda which specifies the above injunction also instructs pashvAlambha in a sacrifice called Agnishomiya. So how is it that one can accept the first and reject the second instruction? Let’s think about killing an animal. What really happens by killing an animal? Nothing happens then and there. But we are still bothered by the sin that we believe gets accumulated due to the act. Can we see this sin? No! We understand that this act of cruelty generates sin by the pramANa of the Shruti and Smrti. In a country, a man is not allowed to kill another man. But the government can impose a death sentence on a criminal who has killed several men. In this case, should the executioner who carries out the orders of the government and executes the death sentence be considered as a murderer and killed too? It should be understood that the act of the executioner was not himsa but instead it was his dharma. The Vedas are the commands of Paramatman (shrutismrtii mamaivaajne) and hence an act which looks like himsa but done as per the Vedic instruction without a selfish motive, does not generate any sin.
The same concept was explained to Arjuna by Lord Sri Krishna, when Arjuna refused to kill his kin during the battle of Kurukshetra. The objections to this explanation could be: Why should one kill an innocent animal for earning heavenly worlds? Take the example of a king who fights a battle and kills several men. Is he going to be considered as a sinner and punished by the Shastras? No! This is because yuddha is his dharma and though the king has fought a battle for his own sake, he has only followed his dharma. So, even if a Yajamana performs a sacrifice such as Agnishomiya for his own benefit, he would not be considered a sinner, if such a sacrifice is an ordained Karma for him. From the pramANa - yajnArthaM pashavaH sR^iShTAH, it becomes clear that the pashu was created to be sacrificed during a sacrifice. To use a being for an act that fulfills the very purpose of its creation cannot be a sin. Thus, one cannot selectively accept Vedic authority and ignore the so called controversial parts of the Karma Kanda. The subtle Tattva behind this concept of Pashu Bali as related to the microcosm should be learnt from a competent Guru”.
There have been others, like the tathAgata who have not accepted this explanation for the so-called himsA during yajna based on shruti pramANa and rejected the entire ensemble. Some moderation has also been attempted through explanations such as the one above where mahiShAdi pashus are compared to kAma etc., thus refraining from senseless mayhem but still retaining the idea of yajna and its pashu. This approach seems to get stronger in the upaniShads and also finds expression in various tantras. It is all a matter of perspective ultimately …