A practical note on purascharaNa(cited from kulArNava tantra and muNDamAlA tantra)

yad yad a~Ngam vihiyeta tatsaMkhyAdviguNo japaH|
kuryAd dvitrichatuHpa~nchasaMkhyaM vA sAdhakaH priye||
kurvita chA~Ngasiddhyartham tadashaktau sa bhaktitaH|
tachcheda~Ngam vihiyeta mantri neShTam avApnuyAt||

-kulArNavatantra,pa~nchadasha ullAsa (15th chapter,Kularnava tantra)

In Devanagari:

यद् यद् अङ्गम् विहियेत तत्संख्याद्विगुणो जपः।
कुर्याद् द्वित्रिचतुःपञ्चसंख्यं वा साधकः प्रिये॥
कुर्वित चाङ्गसिद्ध्यर्थम् तदशक्तौ स भक्तितः।
तच्चेदङ्गम् विहियेत मन्त्रि नेष्टम् अवाप्नुयात्॥

-कुलार्णवतन्त्र,पञ्चदश उल्लास

If one limb of a five limbed purashcharaNa is lacking,one does japa dviguNa(twice),triguNa(thrice),chaturguNA or 5 times to make up for it. [Apparently according to Buhnemann,a text called PA;perhaps is it the purashcharyArNava? states that the number of times one has to repeate this substitute japa depends on the varNa of the person doing the purashcharaNa,like brAhmaNas doing 2x,and the others in increasing orders:I’m not able to check for myself the original text of the purashcaryArNava].

Anyway,these are the range of rules the tantra has stated,what suits the individual sAdhaka is best learned from his guru who can clarify(and is the ultimate authority).

So,if one had the homa saMkhyA 10,000:He would have to do at least 20,000 japa to make up for the missed limb(a~Nga) of the purashcharaNa.

Practically,the author has seen mostly people recommending 2x or 4x to make up for the a~Ngas that could not be done(like homa,tarpana,etc).

Another note from muNDamAlA tantra(5h paTala):

nyunAdhikam na japtavyAmAsamAptaM sadA japet|

Also

rAtrisheshe japenna cha|

yastha yAvAn japaH proktastaddashAMshAmanukramAt|
tattaddravyairjapasyAnte homaM kuryAd dine dine||
homasya cha dashAMshena tarpaNaM proktameva cha|
tarpaNasya dashAMshena shiromArjanamiShyate||
taddashAMshena viprendrAn kurvIta kulakanyakAH|
saMbhojayet prItiyuktairdravyairnAnAvidhairapi||
homAdyAshakto deveshi!kuryAchya dviguNaM japam|
yadi pUjAdyAshaktaH syAd dravyAlAbhena sundarI|
kevalaM japamAtreNa purashcharyA vidhIyate||

Translation of the above relevant points that I cited:One should not do more or less japa every day till the very end. One should not do japa at the end of rAtri. One should do successive dashAMshas of homa,tarpaNa,mArjana,and brAhmaNabhojana. If one is incapable of homa,etc,he should do 2x the japa. If he is incapable of pUjA etc a~Ngas due to lack of dravyas,by japa alone he can complete the whole purashcharaNa.
Swami Sacchidananda Saraswati in his Purascharanapradipa states: অশক্তকল্পে:কেবল জপে জপেই যে কোন সাধক পুরশ্চরণ হইতে পারে। এমন কি ব্রাহ্মণভোজন অঙ্গের অন্যকল্পেও জপদ্বারাই তাহা সিদ্ধ হইতে পারিবে। যথা:-(and then quotes the last shloka I had cited here).

Personal note(I am no AchArya):pratyakSha brAhmaNabhojana is still the best option even if one has substituted all the other a~Ngas with japa for the reason it falls in the same category as kumAribhojana:Both of these remove all the doshas that might have been committed in the process of the mantrasAdhanA. And of course,the brAhmaNas should be vedaj~na or should be doing upAsanA of the same mantra as the sAdhaka is doing/be dIkShita in that same mantra.

The sculptor of Ma Bhavatarini of Dakshineshwar : Nabin Bhaskar

Translating Ranadeb Mukherjee’s post

The one whom Thakur Sri Ramakrishna called ‘Ma’,the one for whom without giving water,he would not take anything in his mouth:That same image of Ma Bhavatarini was made by the sculptor Nabin Bhaskar of Dainhat at Katwa . At the wish of Rani Rashmoni in 1855 he made the image of Bhavatarini Kali. For the time of a month he went to Kolkata,subsisted on haviShyAnna,followed AchAra and when he finished the work(of sculpting),then the image was not proportionate to the garbhagriha. She then ordered him to make another mUrti of Ma Bhavatarini again and told him to make that mUrti larger than the previous one.

Nabin Bhaskar made two images of Bhavatarini Kali. One is in Dakshineshwar and another in some house in Goa Bagan at Kolkata. His family claims that Rani Rashmoni donated an image to someone she knew. Nabin Bhaskar’s fame was such that the Rajas in Bengal presidency came to to Dainhat. Nabin Bhaskar got his raw material from Bihar. For procuring ‘kosthi pathor'(black stone) he purchased a hill in Jamalpur. At Nabin’s good fame,apart from the Burdwan Royal family,he was also commisioned by the royal families of Cossimbazar,Natore,Puntia,Rangpur,Dinajpur,Jemo,Muktagacha,Mymensingh,Manipur,Lalgarh to sculpt their grihadevatas. It is said that the Maharani of Dinajpur was so spellbound at Nabin Bhaskar’s skill that she gifted him a golden chisel.

Bhaskar took his craft to new heights on his sculpting the image of Dakshineshwar. His best creation is the creation of the murti of Yogadya at Kshirgram. Even today in his house broken images can be found that are in a state of neglect. Still,a very beautiful 10 inch idol of Kali has been closely kept in his successor Nimai Bhaskar’s possession. Along with this Kali Murti  he keeps a dazzling statue of ‘shwet pathor’. This is the last creation of Nabin. Today his workshop is broken and filled with weeds,and the naach-mahal is also dilapidated .His  ancestral dwelling has but one room, even it is mired in household disputes. This generation has but forgetten such a fabulous sculptor.

Nabin Bhaskar’s house is now in a state of decay,swallowed up by time. His descendants no longer carry the illustrious legacy of his sculpting. His left over creations are also slowly going to ruin, due to lack of care.  Due to the lack of anyone to look after that place,that family house at Dainhat is now like a dump. Some valuable works of that sculptor are still in that house.

Book Review:Fighting Proud:The Untold Story of the Gay Men Who Served in Two World Wars

Okay,this is going to be less a review and more of an outpouring of my personal feelings on my reading that book.

This book by Stephen Bourne is a book that deals with a sample of the materials available;gay men who served in the World Wars despite the difficulties faced by them due to a society prejudiced against them. I found the values of bravery,sacrifice,heroism and over all that,despite official bigotry from time to time;even the most outrageously camp/effeminate types were accomodated in roles as entertainers even if not directly in fighting. And the ones who were in the frontlines;their values of sacrifice,and the permanent relationships they could form(this was relatively successful over time,surprisingly) despite how formally society looked down upon them but unofficially tolerated them-because they were men of virtue beyond just liking men-IMO are ideals to look upto even after all these days and emaluate.

On worldly usages of Krishna mantras as seen in the 3rd rAtra of the Narada Pancharatra

The 3rd rAtra of the Narada Pancharatra(of the Krishna centred stream) gives various Krishna mantras and their dhyAnas and kAmya usages

  1. 18 and 20 akShara:smR^iti medhA mati balam labdhvA sa kavi vAgbhavet+mukundacharaNa lAbha
  2. bAlagopAla(11 akShara)[seated on yashodA]:gaining one’s desireSh
  3. puntanA-nAshaka(30 akShara):Relief from afflictions like bhUtas,bAlagrahas,loss of memory
  4. shakaTAri dhyAna[as the one who upturned shakaTAsura’s cart]:For vighnanAshana
  5. bAlagopAla(another dhyAna):For AyuH and Arogya
  6. puruShottama(10 akShara):For long life
  7. Krishna(30 akShara):For long life
  8. Poison eradicating mantras and dhyAnas:As dancer on kAliya’s heads
  9. govardhananAtha dhyAna+gopIkrIDA in yamunA dhyAna: For controlling rain
  10. kR^iShNa as the saviour of sandIpani muni’s sons:apamR^ityu nAsha
  11. putralAbha is also referred to
  12. A dhyAna regarding the vanquishing of enemies [Him emitting fire from His mouth,mounted from Gaurda,and also being referred to as the vanquisher of Rukmi]
  13. Krishna as pulling Kamsa from his throne:Destruction of enemies(even those who have taken amR^ita)
  14. Krishna as pArthasArathi on ratha with hand in vyAkhyAna mudrA/vishvarUpa dhyAna:For dharmavR^iddhi/explaining all shAstras respectively.

All the above are to be learned by sadguru to be effective,and I apologize if I have been misleading or anything wrong has been done.

Review of Samanya Dharma by Nithin Sridhar

Book title: Samanya Dharma

Author:Nithin Sridhar

This book gives a good introduction to dharma,and what dharmas are common to all humans,but specifically to those who are Hindus(since devotion to devas and gurus is definitely a part of some of its definitions,which are more expanded versions of the more concise definitions that don’t explicitly state it). It notes the seeds of these ideas in various shrutivAkyas and then nicely,in various places puts them as elucidated in various smR^itis and purANas,and notes their social benefit and usefulness/importance in yoga of all forms(pAta~njala,bhaktimArga,etc) and sAdhanA.

This is a book that is useful in educating Hindus about the basic dharma-s that they need to follow,especially in an era where certain classes of middle-class people do not have anything substantial to explain dharma beyond ‘way of life’ platitudes,and claiming ‘anything goes’ in Hinduism. All in all,a very good,neat little book that I would recommend to any Hindu(and in whatever language they know/speak).

 dharmaviduttamAbhyAm hariharAbhyAm namaH|

(Obeisances to Hari and Hara,the best of knowers of dharma)

A rambling note on the origins of the ideology of karmayoga

Karmayoga is a much abused concept these days,nowadays people think that it is doing whatever job one’s bosses or political superiors assign to them perfectly and  chores)pleasingly(or even daily. Or sometimes school students are told that their studying hard and getting good grades means they are good karmayogis, but no,it means nothing like that. This idea had its origins amongst(specifically) shuklayajurvaidika circles(as noted in the 2nd mantra of the ishopanishad). Karmayoga means doing one’s nitya and naimittika karmas and yAgas as laid down in the smArta systems as appropriate to one’s varNa while dedicating all its puNyas and other results to the supreme deity of whatever system your ideal is:vAsudeva,shiva,etc. In fact,this was probably the ideology of an old set of ritualists who later became the one of the groups that went into the formation of pA~NcharAtra:The mantrasiddhAntins are a group of brAhmaNas belonging to the kANva and mAdhyadina shAkhAs of the shuklayajurveda,who are supposed to meditate on vAsudeva as they are doing somayAga and dedicate their fruits to him. It is this strain of ritualist thought that found its expression in the karmayoga idea of the Gita(which,textually speaking is belonging to an old sAtavata esque strain of thought in ancient India). And of course,the other tendency of ancient Hindu thought to homologize all actions as ritual:even sex,would mean ending up in an Aurobindo-esque ‘All life is yoga.’ conclusion.

 

Above are verses from the charyapAda of the pAdmasaMhitA which note that the followers of mantrasiddhAnta do contemplation of vAsudeva with trayimantras(vedamantras),associated with the kANva and mAdhyadina shAkhAs,and thee brAhmaNas worship vAsudeva while performing somayAga. This was the original ideal of karmayoga,historically speaking.

An end (semi) rant: The vyAdha gItA has been completely hopelessly ripped out of its original context to a society which is scarcely little like anything that would have supported the historical-cum-mythical vyAdha.

On Agneeswarar and Haradatta

WhatsApp Image 2020-03-07 at 5.57.36 PMPic:utsavamUrti of Agneeshwarar of Kanjanur. This link mentioned Haradatta who was born as a Srivaishnava undergoing tribaulations to prove his shivabhakti but does not give the details. I have decided to fill in the details.

haradatta was born in a SV family in kanjanUr as sudarshana. As he grew up he showed his love for shiva, shivabhaktas & shivAcAryas.From the age of two, he would run to the nearby shiva temple & receive ash & shout hara hara with the devotees. His father thought that this was just a childish sport & ignored it. He thought it will be fixed after his upanayana. His upanayana was done at 5; his father told him, “From now on, you cannot act as you please. You must not go to shivAlaya. That will be a sin. You must not even see those who wear ash. You must take a bath at their very sight”. As soon as his father left, he wiped off his vaiShNava marks & replaced them with tripundra bhasma and he returned home like that in that very form. His father, vAsudeva was enraged. The other vaiShNavas in the agrahAra cursed him as a disgrace & a ruiner of the shrIvaiShNavas. His father, feeling humiliated, tied him to a pillar & whipped him hard. But after his father got tired & left, he would untie those ropes & run to agnIshvara. His father could bear no more,told him not to enter the house and told his wife not to feed the son. He would ask from outside the house, “mother, I’m hungry, serve me food”. His mother was in a dilemma: “How will I disobey your father, oh dear child? And how will I bear your cry for food? Why don’t you obey your father? You should act as per father’s desire only. I will go to the father & mother of the world for refuge. They will take care of me.”
Then he proceeded to agnIshvara and at there in front of the dakShiNAmUrti there in meditation. Knowing his habit to meditate for long periods, the shivabrAhmaNas left him there & locked up the temple.  He said: “agnIshvara, I have left my parents; you are my father; shakti my mother; Skanda & gaNesha my brothers & the gaNas my friends. This is my family now; accept me as yours oh god! Are you angry that I have done pUjA as  an ignorant child, contrary to vidhi? Even brahmA & viShNu cannot see your feet; who can truly do pUjA to them? Will you not accept me?! Curse me to become a work & get trampled by shivabhaktas; I will accept that fate gladly & reach you. Will you not show mercy to the low ones like me even now?”. Hearing all this, kalpakAmbikA could not bear it any more. She instigated bhagavAn to show mercy to the child, sudarshana, and then the great God smiled. Skanda & gaNesha came there to accept they’re new brother & the gaNas their new comrade. The munis & devas came there to shower flowers with vedaghoSa everywhere. And the parents of the world were there & gave him a divine vision of them. shiva granted him knowledge of all shAstras & made him omniscient. That very night,his father who came there (hearing his overnight stay at the temple) & other vaiShNavas all asked him questions. He was only 5 and answered all of them with shrutipramANas. So the vaiShNavas told him, “sit on a red hot iron bed & preach your shivaparatvam, if you do that, we will accept your doctrine”. He did it. They set up the iron seat at the local temple of varadarAja (as the vaiShNavas would obviously not enter a shiva temple). His father & others fell at his feet & asked him for prAyashcitta for their abuse of shiva & shaivas,and he married a vaidika shivabhakta’s daughter from the vAdhUlagotra & led an exemplary life.

One of his miracles was when a pANDya chieftain sent him an expensive yellow cloth via a brAhmaNa, he was doing a homa & thinking agnIshvara to be the lord of that agni, offered that cloth into the homAgni. The king heard about it & became stunned at the svAmI’s display of his lIlAvaibhavam. In the evening he went to have shrI haradatta’s darshana and asked him if the cloth he sent had safely reached him. “It reached us at an excellent time & has been offered to agnIshvara” replied haradatta. Later when the king went to the temple, that very cloth was on the mUlali~Nga-That cloth which was observed by the brAhmaNa to have been burnt into ashes.

Credit for the narration of this tale goes to @Ghorangirasa.

 

On seeing queer examples where they do not exist:Mīnākṣī in Madurai

Before I begin,may my speech be blessed by Dakṣīṇāmūrti,that noble fount of wisdom,who wears ornaments of both the sexes in His ears,signifying His eternal union with Śaktī.

Screenshot at 2020-02-14 01-06-38

http://srishtimadurai.blogspot.com/2013/06/secrets-of-meenakshi-temple-madurai.html?m=1

While  the author of this article appreciates the good work done by Srishti in Madurai and Gopi Shankar Madurai,there are a number of points in their(or their organization’s article) which he feels is not accurate,and which he feels the need to set right.

  • The author shall refrain from commenting about some of the sculptural evidence that the blog author there has noted,due to his not having seen them/not having examined them by an expert in iconography,notably
    • Neutrois theme in Kala Samhara deity. The deity, typically with a male like body, and represented with lack of any sexual organ typically represents a MTN (Male to Neutrois) person.
    • The Sanishwara deity which is the well known Transgendered deity can be seen in the temple
  • The author does not discount the possibility of erotic carvings in temples which depict homosexual acts.
  • Mīnākṣī being three breasted is not a sign of gender variance. It is one of those sort of tales in which a being loses his/her unique features when they meet a special person(example is Shishupala who was born with three eyes and four arms). Similarly She lost Her third breast when She met Śiva(whom She would marry).
  • Also Ardhanārīśvara is not really a gynandromorph condition….it is more of an ‘consciousness as impartial observer'(Puruṣa)-‘everything as the power inherent in that consciousness'(Prakṛti) represented in one mūrti. Gynandromorphs don’t exist in humans.
  • Harihara as a deity does not fit in the Procrustean bed of gender ideology in any way. The deity merely represents the concept that ‘śivāya viṣṇurupāya śivarūpāya viṣṇave'(Śiva is a form of Viṣṇu and Viṣṇu is a form of Śiva) along with injunctions that they must never be thought of in any manner except as equal and always both very respectful of each other.
  • Sri Pitchandavar=A Tamil name of Bhīkṣaṭana Rudra. As far as I know,there is nothing in His iconography that indicates any third gendered status. The main feature of His form is supreme attractiveness,and which is used in certain tantric rites of vaśikaraṇa(causing attraction of a girl to a boy or vice versa).
  • Bhagavān Vīrabhadra=The author would be very interested in knowing about any upāsana krama of this deity that involves being third gendered,and until one can provide that reliably,one fails to note what is third-gender about Vīrabhadra. He is a guru figure(cited from the Raurava Āgama) and greater than a hundred rudras(Mṛgendra Āgama).  He is the personified wrath of Rudra,who taught the Gods through his violent actions through the greatness and centrality and glory of Rudra. In this author’s limited experience He was worshipped by mostly wandering Jangama ascetics and Lingadhari brahmins in Andhra. All that is required to approach Him is initiation in His mantras,which,to the best knowledge of the author do not have any bearing on the sex of the person who is being initiated.
  • Also,Arjuna ended up in that condition of Brihannala due to a curse by the apsara Uruvashi(which was reduced by Indra to just the duration of one year),which implied that that condition in the times that story was told would be less than a normative/ideal/good one.
  • People who weren’t straight or non-trans,etc were generally kept at a distance in society,though not explicitly harmed:The author is right in this one aspect,definitely.

People who are Gender and Sexual Minorities should make their case using well supported evidence,not evidence that is flimsy(at best) on closer examination to earn the good will of Hindus who know and internalize the understanding of śāstra,and can hope for the best for their dignity in the larger society.

On kShetras and ecology and accessing a devatA

On seeing this article on the ecology and solitude of kShetras by Ashish Dhar as far as I understand(Surajit Dasgupta’s name ended up there by mistake),I have a few comments to make.

  1. There is a section of Hindus who are rightly worried about the demographic concerns of Hindus vis-a-vis Muslims and want to have more Hindus than Muslims in a comfortable proportion. This is a good aim in itself,yes. But one cannot really talk about this on one hand and then complain when the population load avails themselves of the same kShetras ever increasing and shrine boards taking the inevitable changes in infrastructure to manage this load;they cannot really ignore the increasing numbers of pilgrims. This being India at its current stage,something eventually gives way:Either solitude or environment or cleanliness(if it is ill managed). Hindus who have both these issues in mind cannot have their cake and eat it.
  2. Ashish Dhar once got into a heated debate with some other people regarding places like Kedarnath etc. I had made a suggestion elsewhere,which I am recording here for more visibility: In the case of places like Kedar we can make replica kShetras in other places(with the same energy and shakti of the devatA),so that people can visit these and have their spiritual needs fulfilled. This is however very much easier than done(since we don’t seem to be cultivating the sort of tapasvI or niyamadhAri types to be able to cultivate that kind of shakti for such replica kShetras). Example in this vein could be the Balaji temples TTD is building(all vaikhAnasa run I think). Even if it is much easier than done,it is still worthwhile to put efforts in that direction and cultivate environments suitable for sAdhanA and tapasyA.

A post on sAdhanA I copied(and given a slight addition by Swami Brahmananda,the disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa)

The post by Sri Guru Rohit Arya  who blogs at aryayogi.wordpress.com

As a Guru I get this one consistent question – “Why am I not progressing in my sadhana? It has been years… etc etc” Sometime there are some specific roadblocks that they need help with. But in most cases the cause is simple.
People do not put in the hours needed. Sadhana is cost intensive of time. There is no way to evade this. Some people, because of good samaskaras, do better and move faster when they take up a practice. But the rest of us are shit out of luck and need to grind away. As one of my mentors told me and which I in turn repeat – “Ghisna padtha hain.” You have to grind away and be ground down in turn. There is NO escape from this reality.

This is not welcome news to a generation that believes champagne spirituality is a real thing. Why do I need to be in the mud with the hoi polloi? Is there no rocket route? Nope.
Grind. Burn. Evolve.
Several people do what I call the Futile Dance. In the morning they are huffing and puffing in pranayama, chanting and pujaing and asanaing and rarely meditating. In the evening they are in asuric environments like Pubs and Parliament and all the shakti gains made during the day are frittered away. People want transformation – but they also want an assurance it will not involve change.
People are stupid and deluded.

I get this. I really do. I even sympathize. But there is no help from me. You cannot do sadhana along with a frivolous social life and a thousand daily inputs of chitta pollution. “If we do not go to these parties and get togethers the family is upset and opposes sadhana.” Okay, if that is your choice. Just don’t whine to me that your sadhana is not giving results. It is giving results but you are pouring water in a container that you poke holes in also. Why not accept that this much is the best I can do and work from there? That is facing reality. It also spares me from listening to deluded bullshit.
Unless the hours are put in, and put in consistently, you won’t grow. This is not pleasant, but it is the bloody truth.

The most dangerous trap is when a person gets remarkable experiences at the early stages and loses interest in sadhana when they taper off. These experiences come in cycles, peaks and plateaus, and one must keep going. “Nothing is working because I am not feeling anything” is ridiculous self- important puffery. Your perceptions are not sensitive enough to observe what is happening below the outer surface. That is why you need a guru. But if you are not doing the work that ability never develops…

So how much time is ideal? I would say a minimum of three hours a day with no upper limit. Such people alone get somewhere. If you do one hour or forty minutes you barely flush out the contaminations of travel, people, environment and daily interactions. Some small segment of shakti may accrue. This is not at all a bad place to be in. It is still better than the other 97 percent of humanity. But you are not going to move fast. This sort of steadiness creates punya, creates good vaasana samskara and if you are very lucky and have the blessing of devata and guru kshetram it may even change your circumstances so that you can do more sadhana. But it is a holding operation mainly. No new karma is allowed to accrue. Just the backlog is worked out. If you seriously wish to grapple with lifetimes of conditioning and limitations, three hours a day is the minimum test of seriousness.

Sadhana has to be a priority. For me it was always THE priority. I would let jobs go that I could not afford to let go because they interfered with my sadhana. I was always cranky like that and people thought I was insane. But somehow it all worked out each time because there is a Power that protects and provides for the dedicated sadhaka.
I do not recommend it. People like to say they trust the Divine alone but they always keep a route back to the world in their back pocket. If you do that then you will experience disasters.
But for the normal person living a normal life, sadhana has to be in the top three priorities of life on a daily basis. For most people it is somewhere in the top ten only. If there is a stressful situation, the first thing to stop is the daily practice. That is exactly what you must not do under any circumstances.

You don’t find the time for sadhana. You make it.
If you can watch TV, be on Facebook and pub crawl you can find time for sadhana. The brutal question is – What are you willing to give up so that you can attain this? For most people the answer is – Nothing much. That won’t do.
You cannot expect exemptions will be made for you. Human embodiment comes with many limitations that have to be overcome and that needs time. Consistent practice over time. Don’t be a fool and try to trick your way out of this requirement. Until you are doing three hours a day don’t ask why you are not progressing rapidly. Those who do hit the magic number are normally amazed at how life resets itself to support sadhana.

Sarvam Shivamayam!

Swami Brahmananda:In actual spiritual life we find that unless one strives one’s utmost and one’s best,the Lord’s grace will not descend upon us.