Westerners and our traditions

The question on how to interact with Westerners or even those who are deeply influenced by post-enlightenment,Christianized ideals is an important one to deal with. How should they be accepted in sampradAyas/institutions belonging to sampradAyas?

From my brief survey of some institutions,the institutions that have heavily accepted westerners have had massive degradations that have negatively affected the sampradAyas overall. Like ISKCON and the insiduous Abrahamic strains(like suggesting that jIvas fall from vaikunTha,despite baladeva’s bhASya on the last sutra of the brahma-sutras,and too many other things that can’t be spoken about here now and the other splinter groups. Or Yogananda distorting the Kriya Yoga paramparA.

From these examples(one may also refer to the mass influx of Jatts within Sikhi or briefly the post Banda Bahadur period to note that mass influx of people who haven’t had a perparatory period isn’t really a helpful thing). On the other hand,we also have to contend that we really can’t stay shut up in cocoons in the West all the time. Still,we have to deal with its secularizing tendencies while we are there. We’re losing both our men to its secularism and our women to both secularism and marriage to other traditions,which very frequently result in a much reduced ability to pass down our traditions to our children.

This is a problem,which doesn’t seem to have any easy solution,frankly. The most successful and orthodox orgs in the West seem to have been those related with the Saiva Siddhanta Church(not that I am recommending or pushing for them,anyway). A few disciples of Swami Dayananda maybe also? Maybe one or two students of Lakshman joo? We don’t even have the fire of Sridhar Ketkar who married a Jewish wife,bringing her into the Hindu fold.

Rupa Goswami’s advice : saGga-tyAgo vidUreNa bhagavad-vimukhaira janaiH/ziSyAdy ananuvandhitvaM mahArambhAdy anudyamauH (One should keep a distance from those who are averse to the Lord, avoid accepting too many disciples(emphasis mine) and not be overly enthusiastic about initiating great projects) seems to ring truer than ever.

Worshipping Sai Baba and other Siddhas

SV: bANAmati(by the Telugu author Viswanatha Satyanarayana) is a story of a guy possessed by a piSAca. There is a dead saint who is worshiped in that region and the guy uses pUja flowers from that place to rid himself and eventually help the piSAca rid of its piSAci state.

Me: How does this work?Reverence for a dead Siddha?

SV: There are many regions where a local siddha is not cremated but buried, and around that place some effect is felt in times to come.

Me: Elaborate please.

SV: In those places it is not uncommon to have kids named after those siddhas, promises and offerings made in their name etc.

SV: In case of infections, infant deaths etc they pray and name after the siddha for the newborns to survive. Or in cases where kids see “air” or frequent ill-health. But most of this is very specific to those regions, because there is no formalized mantra or devata associated with siddha.

Me: So… Apart from the no formalized procedure,the difference is…?

SV: Besides, devata has several layers whereas dead siddha effect is limited to lower layers of consciousness.Like a ghost, the siddha effect will also be possible at the outermost sheath of subtle body (the vital). Trying to elevate a dead siddha to devata is not going to fly because there is no drashTa given mantra or procedure for worship. Nor is such devotion going to melt the mind’s deeper sheaths.

Me: So… In the case of Sai they are trying to retrofit a Dēvatās role?

SV: Yes and and which is why it is not going to work.

S: SV – something similar. http://www.srireddammathalli.com/history.html .I personally have very close family who have had kids after going to Reddemma Konda. and as is the norm they are named Reddamma / Reddappa and no particular mantra or anything for her worship.

SV: Instead of “rAjA rAm candra ki jai” or “har har mahAdev” if you shout “jai sai nAth” it is not likely to produce anything in a battle or anything of civilizational purpose.

S: SV – agree,and many sai temples do Rudrakbhishekam to Sai Baba.It is their wish but i find it odd.

SV: No its not their wish it is dogma and rowdyism – neither is rudra mantra their property (it belongs to the vedAgama tradition) nor is the procedure of worship.That anything in the land belongs to my and i have the freedom to use it the way i want is quite dushTa 🙂

S: I understand. my point was/is that – just because they do rudrabhishkeam to Sai, it ain’t gonna give any benefit.

SV: Many Sai cultists also know the limitations of the effect, and hence try to bring into sai temples, along with bhajan, the vedAgama worship so that the “charge” is maintained. It might – after all regardless of where  you pour it, the mantra has its effect. Which is attributed to Sai and not the greatness of Rudra mantra. Which is the main problem.

Me: >and many sai temples do Rudrakbhishekam to Sai Baba


SV: Like rAma jaya there is a “sai jaya” mantra that all Sai cultists chant 🙂

S: Replace Shiva with Sai is how it is there. I am not kidding.4 times aartis. Abhishekams with Rudram. Dhuni for Vibhuti.Tulasi Brindavan.

Me: Most I’ve been to is Lokenath Baba shrines

SV: “brahma vishNu SivAtmakAya namaH” one among the sai ashTottara mantra-s if I remember 🙂 Majority of devata mantras are plagiarized and perverted by inserting sai name.

S: There is a Sai Satyavrata poja,and I’m not kidding.

SV: Plagiarized satya nArayaNa vrata 🙂


An aśṭamukhaliṅga of Paśupatināth at Mandsaur


pitāmaha uvāca।

namaste bhagavan rudra bhāskarāmitatejase.
namo bhavāya devāya rasāyāmbymayāya te..
śarvāya kṣitirūpāya sadā surabhiṇe namaḥ.
iśāya vāyave tubhyaṃ saṃsparśāya namo namaḥ.
paśunāṃ pateye caiva pāvakāyātitejase..
bhīmāya vyomarūpāya śabdāmātrāya te namaḥ.
mahādevāya somāya amṛtāya namo’stute.
ugrāya yajamānāya namaste karmayogine..


yaḥ paṭhed śṛṇuyadvāpi paitā mahamimaṃ stavaṃ.
rudrāya kathitaṃ viprāñśraāvayedvā samāhitaḥ..
aṣṭamūrtestu sāyujyaṃ varṣādekādavāpnuyāt.

The first attestation of this aspect(rather,collection of aspects of Śiva) is in the Śāṅkhāyana Brāhmaṇa,where Rudra,on his own request after being generated by Prajapati,takes on 8 names: Bhava,Śarva,Paśupati,Ugra,Mahādeva,Rudra,Iśāna and Aśani,respectively the waters(āpaḥ),Agni,Vāyu,plants and trees,the sun,the moon,food and Indra respectively. The text then ends with “sa eṣo’ṣṭanāmāṣṭadhā vihito mahān devaḥ“. Also,a similar attestation exists in the Śaṭpāṭha Brāhmaṇa where he takes teh epithets Rudra,Sarva,Paśupati,Ugra,Aśani,Bhava,Mahādeva and Īśāna each manifested through a rūpa. In this version,Agni becomes the form of Rudra,the waters(āpaḥ) of Śarva,the plants of Paśupati,Vāyu of Ugra,lightning of Aśani and the sun of Īśāna.

The Liṅga Purāṇa version(mentioned here) identifies Rudra with the sun,Bhava with the waters and taste,Śarva with earth and smell,Īśa with vāyu and touch,Paśupati with fire(pāvaka),Bhīma with ether,Mahādeva with candra(the moon) and Ugra with the yajamāna.

It is also attested in the Anuśāsana parvan of the Mahābhārata(ch.16)

bhūr-ādyān sarvanhuvanān-utpādya sadivaukasaḥ.
dadhāti devastanubhuraṣṭābhiryo bibharti ca..

In South India,it is first attested int he Maṇimekhalai epic where it talks about the Śaivavādin,the expounder of the doctrine of eight forms of Īśvara.

Manikkavāsagar also attests this in his Tiruvāsagam,Appar and Sambandhar.

Kālidāsa in his benedictory verse of the Abhijñānaśakuntalam mentions this concept too

yā sṛṣṭiḥ sraṣṭur-ādyā vahati vidhihutaṃ yā havir-yā ca hotṛ
ye dve kālaṃ vidhattaḥ śrṇotiviṣayaguṇā yā sthitā vyāpyā viśvam।
yām-āhuḥ sarvabījāprakṛtir-iti yayā prāṇinaḥ prāṇavantaḥ
pratyakṣābhiḥ prapannas-tanubhir-avatu vas-tābhir-aṣṭābhir-Īśaḥ॥

This aspect of Shiva is also found in the famous Shiva Mahimna Stava.

bhavaḥ śarvo rudraḥ paśupatirathograḥ sahamahāṃstathā bhīmeśānāviti yadabhidhānāṣṭakamidam।
amuṣminpratyekaṃ pravicarati deva śrutirapi priyāyāsmai dhāmne pravihitanamasyo’smi bhavate॥

In Indian epigraphy,this concept finds mention in the following places

* Kurgod inscription of the Cālukya prince Someśvara IV and the prince Rācamalla II(dated 1173 and 1181 CE respectively).

* Devapattana Prashasti of Śridhara()

* Ratta inscription from Saundatti(dated 1229 CE)

In Indian iconography,the Mūrtyāṣṭaka is mentioned,but their depiction is surprisingly uncommon. However,they are invoked and beheld in the bricks when a Śiva temple is built.

Now,as to the epigraphical evidence in East Asia

* Phnom Preah Vihear Stele of Bhavavarman II,Śiva is invoked thus

jayāt īnduravi vyomavāyvātmakṣmā-jalānalaiḥ
tanoti tanubhiśśambhur-yyo-śṭābhir-akhilāṇ-(?)

* Tuol Ang Tnot inscription of Jayavarman I(681 CE)

* Bakong Stele inscription of Indravarman I(881 CE)

* Mebon and Pre Rup steles of Rajendravarman(952 and 961 CE): Installations of Aṣṭamūrtis are alluded to. Symbolized by 8 liṅgas in 8 sanctuaries grouped together.

The relevant texts of the Mebon stele

yenaitāni jaganti yajva-hitabug-bhāsvan-nabhasvan-nabhaḥ-

* Prasat Khna inscription of Udayadityavarman II(1060 CE?)

niyoktṛ-ātmādibhāvena-veditavyā mumukṣubhiḥ..

(Note:The concept of the identity of the ātman and the yajamāna is also implied here.)

* Sdok Kak Thom Inscription of Udayadityavarman II(1052 AD). The Śivācārya would offer a garland of 8 flowers(yo-dāt svayaṃ pratyahaṃ aṣṭapuṣpin-tanūnapāto-ṣṭatanoś ca tuṣṭyai)

* Banteay Srei Inscription of Jayavarman V(968 CE) refers to an offering of an 8-flowered garland by the rājaguru Yajñavarāha.

* My-Son Stele inscription of Prakāśadharma-Vikrāntavarman I(dated 657 CE)

* Another inscription by the same king Vikrāntavarman also at My Son:Here,Siva is described as the deva “whose image,identical with the Universe,is manifested by His forms—earth,water,fire,air,sky,sun,moon and sacrificer,which are fifnified by the titles of deva of great power,named Śarva,Bhava,Paśupati,Īsāna,Bhīma,Rudra,Mahādeva,and Ugra(avanivana-panakasakha-pavanavanadapatha-daśaśatakiraṇa-śatakiraṇa-dīkṣita-tanubhir—atanuprabhāvābhiḥ śarva-bhava-paśupat-īśāna-bhīma-rudra-mahādevogrābhidhāna-pradhāna-samupabṛṅhitābhir—āvirbhāvita-viśvamūrtinā)

* Canggal inscription of Java(describes Rudra as sustaining the world through His eight bodies)

* An aṣṭamukhaliṅga exists at Bali(was dated sometime between the 10th-14th century) at Pedjeng.