[The following post is based on a lecture given by Sri Harshaji in Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, published later in their journal. This is the first of a two part article but we are unable to obtain the second part]
sadAshivasamArambhAM vyAsashankaramadhyamAm |
shankaranandaparyantAM vande guruparamparAm ||
[he bhagavati] – O Mother!
tavAdhAre mUle- in thy mUlAdhAra Chakra having four petals;
manye – (I) conceive;
navAtmAnam – the great Lord Ananda Bhairava;
navarasamahAtANdavanaTam – dancing (the great tANdava Nrtya) with all the nine rasas or sentiments;
saha samayayA lAsyaparayA – along with the great Goddess Sri samayAmbikA who is dancing (the great dance of lAsya)
uadayavidhimuddishya etAbhyAM ubhAbhyAM dayayA sanAthAbhyAM – They, who, out of overflowing grace, have come together for the purpose of creation of the world;
idaM jagat janakajananImat jagne – them I recognize as the parents of this created world;
The shAkta system prescribes a specific dhyAna mUrti of Shiva-Shakti mithuna in every Chakra in the body. Such a mithuna is described for all the 108 major and minor chakras in Tantras like Badabanala, Hamsa Maheshwara etc. In Saundaryalahari, Srimadacharya Bhagavatpada deals with the forms associated with the six major chakras – mUlAdhAra, maNipUraka, swADhiShThana, anAhata, vishuddhi and ajnA. The current verse, which forms the concluding verse of Anandalahari, deals with aspect of Amba and Lord in mUlAdhAra chakra [located at the base of the spine above akula sahasrAra and viShuva chakra] called mahA naTeshwara and samayAmbikA. Different traditions refer to the divine couple differently. The Hayagriva Sampradayins like to speak of them as Adi nAtha and lAsyeshwari, the kaulas refer to them as Ananda Bhairavi and Ananda Bhairava as Sri LakshmidharAchArya points out. But for most of us, it does not really matter how we refer to them, though it is of scholastic interest to know why they are called so. The divine couple is to be meditated in mUlAdhAra chakra as non-different from the mahA shambhava mithuna, shrInavAtmeshwarI and shrInavAtmeshwara, surrounded by fifty-six pArthiva [associated with earth or prthvI] rashmi-s or rays. The uddhAra of the navakUTa vidyA of UrdhwAmnaya is also the intent of this verse, which should be learnt directly from Sadguru.
lAsya and tANDava:
lAsya and tANDava are two aspects of dance which are described as below:
a~Ngairana~NgasarvaswaiH shobhAtishalashAlibhiH |
anvito nR^ittabhedo yaH tallAsyamiti kathyate ||
The form of dance enacted by women, predominantly expressing shri~NgAra rasa (romance or love) which has rati as its sthyAyI bhAva, filled with ample quantities of other sentiments, is called lAsya. The word lAsya originates from the root `las' – lasati, meaning `to shine'. The movements here are characterized by grace and softness. lAsya is of two forms namely jarita and yauvaka. The form of dance enacted by men is called tANdava. The movements here are characterized by briskness and vigor. The form of dance detailed by sage Bharata lists charI, karaNa, angahara and maNDala as its main components. Movement of a single leg is called charI, movement of both legs is called karana and 4 to 9 karaNas constitute of a angahara. A total of 108 karaNas and 32 angahara-s are defined in the nATya shAstra (the scripture of dance). Lord's tANDava is complete with all these elements – 108 karaNas and 32 angahara-s. There are sixteen types of tANDava-s performed by the Lord and these are discussed in various shaivagamas and purANa-s. They include Ananda tANDava, rudra tANDava, gaurI tANDava, tripura tANDava, samhAra tANDava, shakti tANdava, ardhanArI tANDava etc. Of these, the important one is Ananda tANDava which signifies Anugraha, slowly transitioning into srShTi, which is what is described by Srimadacharya in the current verse.
It should be noted that both creation and dissolution are described in our scriptures as being performed by the divine couple in the form of a dance. Dance involves movement or vibration or spanda. Where there is no such vibration, there is perfect equilibrium, like a still lake before and after a series of ripples. This is the original state attained before the commencement and after the culmination of the seemingly eternal play of the divine couple.
The reason for their coming together is to create and this desire is born out of their infinite compassion for the souls. To help all souls undergo redemption and achieve their goal – which is Shiva, the divine couple parents the world, providing an opportunity to all souls to attain their final goal. However, it should be noted that this act is their lIlA, a sport undertaken out of their own free will and not due to any binding rule or compulsion. The same is said by Bhagavan bAdarAyaNa, lokavattu lIlA kaivalyam. One may however think a little `extra' and attribute this lIlA to the extreme compassion of the divine couple, which is how we would like to approach our upAsya mUrtis for our own benefit and this is exactly what Acharya does in the current verse.
Also, the significance of their dance is rooted deeply both in cause and effect. It is their desire to procreate that resulted in them coming together for the cosmic dance of creation, the activity of `dance' itself signifying activity of creation in this case. The result or effect of this dance/creation is the appearance of a world, which has them as its parents. The dance continues further after the creation as now it is the joyful dance of two parents who are celebrating the birth of a progeny.
Navarasa-s are the nine sentiments classically dealt in the various kAvyas in Sanskrit literature. Rasyate AswAdyata iti rasaH – that which is experienced, relished or enjoyed is called rasa. Bharata's nATya shAstra lists only eight rasas. But Uddhata, the celebrated commentator on the nATya shAstra, lists nine rasas or navarasa-s. The navarasa-s are:
Sringara (love, romance or eroticism)
shAnta (the state of equilibrium or peace)
Here is a beautiful Shloka from Sri Rama Karnamritam, which lists all the nine rasa-s, associating them with the different actions of Lord Sri Ramachandra:
sringAraM kShitinandinIviharaNe – exhibiting Sringara rasa while with Smt sItA devi
vIraM dhanurbhanjane – exhibiting vIra rasa while breaking Shiva dhanus and narayaNa dhanUs
kAruNyaM balibhojane – exhibiting karuNA rasa to kakAsura
adbhutarasaM sindhau giristhApane – expressing adbhuta rasa looking at the bride across the ocean
hAsyaM shUpaNakhamukhe – expressing humor looking at the face of shupanakha, whose nose was severed by Saumitri
bhayamaghe – expressing fear towards sinful activities (i.e. non-indulgence in sin)
bhIbhatsyamanyamukhe – expressing disgust at the face of parastrI or another's woman
raudram rAvaNamardane – exhibiting raudra rasa while slaying dashAsya
munijane shANtaM – exhibiting shAnta rasa while gracing sages
vapuH pAtu naH – May that navarasa mUrti of Sri Ramachandra protect us!
The Shloka `shive shrngArArdrA' from Saundaryalahari describes in a similar spirit, the navarasa-s as expressed by Amba. In the current verse, it should be noted that the dance enacted by Lord is complete with all the nine rasa-s. It has already been explained that lAsya, though constituting of all rasa-s in ample quantities, is dominated by Sringara rasa. In the case of Ananda tANdava as well, the predominance of srngAra rasa becomes implicitly indicated as sringAra is said to be rasa rAja [the king among the nine rasas] and by using the phrase navarasa-mahatANDavanaTa, Srimadacharya is hinting at this aspect of Ananda tANDava dominated by Sringara rasa. As the hetu or reason for the Brahman, who is one, appearing as many (Shiva and Shakti here) and coming together as a couple enacting lAsya and tANDava, is procreation, it becomes evident that it is SrngAra rasa that predominates over other rasas.
Sri Ananda Bhairava is called navAtmA as he is characterized by nine groups called vyUhas. They are:
1. kAla vyUha – the period signifying the summation of time, starting from the twinkling of an eye (of Amba which signifies creation) till mahA praLaya (the great dissolution brought about by mahA Bhairava)
2. kula vyUha – group of things which have form and color, based on which they can be grouped
3. nAma vyUha – group of all objects/creatures identified with a name
4. jnAna vyUha or bhAga vyUha – intelligence, which is of two forms savikalpa (mixed and changing) and nirvikalpa (pure and unchanging) or of the forms concrete and abstract
5. chitta vyUha – consists of the group if five aspects related to mind-matter namely, ahaMkAra, chitta, buddhi, mahat and manas (or unmana instead of mahat according to some traditions)
6. nAda vyUha – consists of rAga (desire), icChA (strong desire), krti (the mental conception of the action which can fructify the desire) and prayatna (the actual effort to accomplish the desire). These four respectively correspond to the four stages of nAda: parA, pashyantI, madhyamA and vykhari.
7. bindu vyUha – consists of the group of six kula chakras, from mUlAdhAra to ajnA
8. kalA vyUha – the group of 50 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet
9. jIva vyUha – the group of all jIvas, who are bhoktrus or enjoyers, not aware of their identity with Brahman
As the Lord manifests in the form of these nine groups, he is called navAtman. As Amba and Bhagavan exhibit sameness in various aspects (the concept of sAmya is explained a little later), and are non-different in essence, all upAdhi-s of Shiva apply equally to Amba and hence she is also of the form of these nine vyUha-s (navAtmeshwarI). The concept of Srishthi according to the Kaulas is chiefly centered around these nine vyUhas:
navAtmA bhairavo devaH bhuktimuktipradayakaH |
paranandaparA shaktiH chidrUpAnandabhairavI |
tayoryadA sAmarasyaM jagadutpadyate tadA ||
When Sri Bhairava and Sri Bhairavi unite in harmony with the desire to procreate, the world comes into existence. Here, one needs to understand the concept of sheShi (essential or the primary) and sheSha (accessory or secondary). Due to equality of Shiva and Shakti (acceptable only to pUrva kaulas), the roles of sheSha and sheShi keep rotating between the two. During creation Amba assumes predominance over Shiva and vice versa during dissolution. The first aspect of this is indicated by the first verse of Saundaryalahari (shivaH shaktyA yukto yadi bhavati shaktaH prabhavitum). The second aspect where Amba attains subservience or sheShatva is expressed in the name mahApralayasakShiNI and by Srimadacharya in kalyANa vrShTi stava (kalpopasamhrtiShu kalpita tANdavasya ….. sa sAkShiNI vijayate tava mUrtirekA). This is one interpretation of the name navAtman.
Also, Mahadeva is said to manifest in eight forms: prthvI (earth), ap (water), tejo (fire), vAyu (wind), AkAsha (sky), sUrya (sun), Chandra (moon) and yajamAna (jIva). The original, resplendent form of the Lord, which is the basis for these eight forms (mUlAdhiShThAna swarUpa) forms the ninth form. As Amba is ever united with the Lord, these nine forms as equally applicable to her. Hence, both hold the titles navAtmeshwara and navAtmeshwarI.
There is also a third interpretation. The six kula chakras along with the three granthi-s or knots (brahma, viShNu and rudra granthis). As the Lord is the Atman attained by transcending these nine, he is referred to as navAtman. Needless to say, our lady comes to be called navAtmikA as well.
By using the verse samayA, Srimadacharya establishes clearly that the current verse is equally applicable to both established schools of shAkta philosophy – samaya and kaula. The word samayA in this verse is indicative of the interpretation according to the school of samayAchAra and the word navAtman is indicative of the interpretation of the same based on the tenets of kaulAchAra. We shall restrict our discussion to the Samaya School here. Both Amba and Lord have the name samayA and samayaH as the word `sama' signifies equality or sameness. As Amba and Bhagavan are similar/same/equal in five different ways, they are referred to as Samayeshwari and Samayeshwara. In fact, the very school of samayAchAra is based on this concept of samayatva. Some other Tantras define various AchAras like vedAchAra, vaishnavAchAra, shaivachAra, dakShiNAchAra, vamAchAra, siddhAntachAra and kaulAchAra. Some interpret samayAchAra as identical with dakShiNAchAra, which is a misinterpretation. samayAchAra is blatantly different from dakShiNAChAra in various ways, the prime similarity between the two AchAras being sruti prAmANya (acceptable to Sruti and smrti). There are five schools of samayAchAra elaborated by Shuka, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatkumara and Vasistha in their respective samhitA-s, together referred to shubhAgama panchaka. Also, the dakShiNAchAra elaborated in the above list from mahAnirvANa is a further division within the leftist path, not related to actual dakShiNAchAra, elaborated in Agama, Smrti, purANa, samhitA-s of hayagrIva and daksHiNAmUrti etc. The above list of AchAras from mahAnirvANa should be treated as arthavAda and as applicable only to those qualified/suited for taking the leftist path. Coming back to samayachAra, the worship of kAmeshwara and kameshwari who exhibit the following sAmyas, forms the basic tenet of this shAkta school:
1. adhiShThAna sAmya – the identity of abode
Both Amba and Kameshwara reside in the six chakras, in mahA kailAsa, in the chintAmaNi Grha on mahA meru and in the hearts of the pious. This establishes adhiShThAna sAmya.
2. avasthAna sAmya – the identity of state, condition or position
Both Amba and Kameshwara, in the case of the current verse, occupy the position of dancers. Also, both hold the position as the Supreme emperors of the universe. This establishes avasthAna sAmya.
3. anuShThana sAmya – the identity of function or occupation
In the current verse, both Amba and Kameshwara come together with the same purpose or function – creation of the world. Also, at various stages, they indulge in other functions like sthiti, samhAra, tirodhAna and anugraha. This establishes anuShThAna sAmya.
4. rUpa sAmya – the identity of form
Both are of red (aruNa varNa) complexion [the hAdi school prescribes a different dhyAna of Kameshwara but what should be considered here is the Dhyana of kAmakameshwarI mithuna, described as `japAkusumasankAshau' etc.]. Both sport the same AyudhAs [pAsha, amkusha, dhanuH and bANa]. This establishes rUpa sAmya.
5. nAma sAmya – the identity of name
Both Amba and Kameshwara have same/similar names such as shiva/shivA, samaya/samayA etc. This establishes nAma sAmya.
These five kinds of sAmya can be seen in each of the six chakras. However, the crest of the experience of this sAmya panchaka is possible only in Saharara, the seat of total union of Shiva and Shakti or jIva and Brahman. This is the primary reason why a Samayacharin worships Amba and Shiva only in Sahasrara and not in any other inferior chakras unlike his other counterparts. The thousand-petalled lotus called Sahasrara forms the Bindu or the central point of the Srichakra visualized by a Samayacharin. The lunar disc in the Sahasrara (this is the chicchandra maNDala free from waxing and waning) is conceived as chaturashra or the quadrilateral in the Srichakra, which its central Bindu representing the tattva called sAdAkhya, transcending the 25 tattvas of Samaya Mata (shiva, shakti etc). It is this transcendental Tattva representing complete harmony of shiva and shakti that is the central focus of adoration in samayAchAra. As there is no external worship of any form, there are no separate mantras or procedures prescribed for ShoDashopachAra-s, Avahana etc. Samayachara is prescribed only for uttamadhikari-s, those with superior qualifications. For the rest of the traivarNika-s, dakShiNachAra is the prescribed path, where the contemplation of the sAmya is through bhAvanA, mantra, nyAsa and other tools. Thus, it would not be incorrect to assume dakShiNAchAra to be the initial or preparatory stage of samayAchara, in the case of mandAdhikari-s.
The chief observance of a samayacharin is the contemplation on the following four identities or tAdAtmya-s:
1. Identity between the six chakras in the body with the six chakras of Srichakra
2. Identity between the Sahasrara Chandramandala and the Chaturashra hosting the central maha bindu in Srichakra
3. Identity between Shiva and Bindu
4. Identity between Srichakra and Srividya Mahamantra
Some schools of samayAchAra prescribe a separate set of six identities. The three primary constituents in this set are:
1. nAda [parA, pashyantI, madhyamA, vaikharI]
2. bindu [the six kula chakras]
3. kalA [50 or 360 in number]
All the three correspond to the various components of the Srichakra. That Supreme Tattva which transcends nAda, bindu and kalA is represented by the bindu of Srichakra, also representing Shiva-shaktyaikya swarUpiNI or Amba. The identities of these, taken two at a time, between one another and with Srichakra and Srividya, result in six permutations which constitute of the six-fold identity.
The dIkshA imparted by Saduguru to an adhikAri shishya, who has already achieved the required state of purity, is called shAmbhava mahA vedha. This is detailed in Sanaka Samhita. The disciple initially approaches a guru (on Ashwayuja shukla pratipat), surrenders totally to his lotus-feet and begs for instruction. He is given the panchadashI or shoDashI mantra which is chanted according to the prescribed rules, knowing correctly details such as rishi, chandas, nyAsa etc. The mantra is repeated in the fashion of shuShka japa (dry or lacking bhAvanA), mainly to attain further purification. Here, shuShka japa means conditioning oneself through japa to become similar to a dry tree, which will immediately burst into flames of the knowledge of the self, when touched by Sadguru. On the auspicious day of mahAnavami, the disciple approaches guru during the night (some interpret this as associated with vAmAchAra or kaulAchAra where most activities are nocturnal and raise doubts. But this is nonsensical. Mahanavami is that part of the night when aShTami and navami merge into each other, which necessarily occurs during night. Importance here is to this muhUrtA signifying entrance of kuNDalinI shakti into suShumnA and of closure of navarandhras with complete Urdhwa retaH sthiti) and prostrates himself at the lotus feet of Sadguru. The Guru places his hand on the Shishya, imparting six types of dIkSha, gives him the upadesha of Srividya mahamantra with its secret meaning, the method of Kundalini Yoga and ShaTchakropAsti, and the method of ShadvidhaikyAnusandhAna. Due to the power of mahAvedha, the aspirant enters a meditative state contemplating on the six-fold identity. This results in the dissolution of his mind into mahA bindu or sAdakhya tattva, resulting in the realization of the resplendent Self. This is the approach of the school of samayAchAra.
While understanding these technical nuances, one should not forget another important hint given by SrimadAchArya, infinite compassion of Amba and Bhagavan and their role as the doting parents. For those lacking the adhikAra for perceiving them in the ShaTchakras as described above, the path shown by AchArya is of Bhakti, of worshipping them as parents filled with love and compassion for their offspring, which will result in them gracing even an incompetent aspirant by granting competency to undertake the said practices.
namo namaste shiva kAmakoTi