Sri Kamakoti Mandali  
shrImAtre namaH  
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Pancha Nishedhas


A rather strange prescription for the followers of kaulAchAra can be seen in several tantras including tArA tantra, kulamAlinI tantra, bheruNDA(a) tantra and also in tArA-rahasya of brahmAnanda giri:

upavAsaM bhR^igoH pAtaM sandhyA savratadhAraNam |
tIrthaparyaTanaM chaiva kaulaH pa~ncha vivarjayet ||

The anuyAyI of kaula mArga is advised to give up the following:

1. upavAsa or fasting
2. vIrya pAta or loss of regenerative fluid
3. observance of sandhyA
4. observance of vratas
5. tIrtha yAtrA or pilgrimage

Of these, the first related to upavAsa can be seen in various other scriptures unrelated to vAmAchAra or kaulAchAra. A married woman whose husband is alive is prohibited from observing fasts by various smR^it is and purANas. nityA tantra prohibits a pUrNAbhiShikta from fasting, except when ordered by Sadguru. bhAskara bhaTTa, a great mImAmsaka, in his work pUrva mImAmsA darshana in Kannada quotes a verse from dakShiNAmUrti saMhitA where an initiated upAsaka is advised not to fast. As the use of pancha mAkAra is not kAmya or naimittika for a kaula, but instead nitya (which is sufficiently discussed in the chapter dealing with kaula dharma in rudrayAmaLa, and in paramAnanda tantra and its commentary), fasting would cause bAdhA to nitya karma for a kaula. As the kaula doctrine follows the principle, bhogo mokShAya jayate, it is natural that the concept of fasting which is reflective of tyAga is considered alien to the kaula system.

Bindu patana is undesirable be it to a yogi following dakShiNAchAra or to an adherent of kaula tantra engaged in practices such as dUtI yajana or chakra pUjA. The view of both these schools seems to have been directly derived from the principles of haTha yoga. The next three prescriptions, at least in part, seem to reflect the attitude of rebellion of the kaulika against the mainstream vedic religion, from which his own school derived much of its source material. All the taboos of the mainstream religion become valuable tools of ascension to the extreme kaulika and the various modes of worship of the mainstream religion seem to be bindings that need to be severed. If this category of extreme kaulikas and their over enthusiasm to rebel against every social norm is ignored, the class of the more moderate and sophisticated kaulas remains, offering scope for further analysis. It is this class that is generally interested in associating some kind of metaphysics with their practices. It is in the literature of such kaulas that an attempt has been made to explain some such prescriptions and practices. The ban on observance of sandhyA, at least to a class of kaulas, is referring to vaidikI sandhyA and not tAntrikI sandhyA. tArA tantra for example, which asserts this prohibition, also discusses at length the details of nIlasarasvatI sandhyA vidhi. Some scholars interpret in this nindAtmaka vAkya, stuti of tAntrikI sandhyA thus terming this arthavAda. But this explanation, while not completely disagreeable, does seem farfetched. The observance of vrata, according to some, is specifically regarding sannyAsa vrata. However, as stated in kulamAlinI tantra, a kaulika is prohibited from embracing any other vrata such pAshupata, pAncharAtra etc. after embracing the mahAvrata. On similar lines, a kaulika is prohibited from undertaking tIrthayAtrA as the merit of all such practices is promised through the svIkAra of dvitIya. But a kaulika is advised to undertake pilgrimages to certain shAkta pIThas. For example, an upAsaka of tArA is advised to visit tArA pITha:

mahApIThaM vrajennityaM na chetpIThamanuttamam |
tArApuraM mahApIThaM gantavyaM yatnataH sadA ||
IshAne chakranAthasya vaidyanAthasya pUrvataH |
tArApuramidaM khyAtaM nagaraM bhuvi durlabham ||

Buddhist influence on many of the so-called tantras belonging to the extreme kaula school is another reason for such prescriptions.