Daniélou, Alain. The Myths and gods of India – the Classic Work on Hindu Polytheism from the Princeton Bollingen Series
1. the Theory of Polytheism
the Representation of the Transcendent
Transcendent reality is, by definition, beyond the limitations that condition our means of knowledge. Yet, even if we cannot understand its nature, we may indirectly conclude that some form of being beyond the sphere of our perceptions must exist. Whenever he carries any form of experience to its farthest limit, man has a glimpse of an unknowable “Beyond” which he calls divinity. This divinity cannot be grasped nor understood, for it begins where understanding fails, yet it can be approached from many sides; any attempt at understanding its nautre can merely be called a “near approach,” an Upa-nisad. We can only point to the necessity for a substratum, we never experience it directly, although it is ever near; for, at the limit of each form of experience, we apprehend some aspect of it. the more we can seize of the different aspects of the phenomenal world, often apparently contradictory, though which the Divine may be approached, the more we come near to a general, a “real,” insight into the mysterious entity we call God.
Thus divinity has been defined as “that in which opposites coexist.”
[N.B. has the following not been the approach to theAbysmal all along?]
Hindu philosophy studies the mystery of the universe from three main outlooks. These are: (1) the experimental outlook, or Vaisesika, and tis corroborating method, logic, or Nyaya, which envisages the “impermanent” or destructible form of things; (2) the cosmological outlook, or Sankhya, and its corroborating method, direct supramental perception, or Yoga, which studies the “enduring” or permanent law of things: and (3) the metaphysical outlook, or Vedanta, and its corroborating method, the dialectic and semantic study of language, which tries to grasp the nature of the chnageless substratum of all forms and laws.
the Nondual Principle
“The nature of illusion (maya) is [represented by] the number one.”
To speak of the manifest form of a unique God implies a confusion between different orders. God manifeest cannot be one, nor can the number one apply to an unmanifest causal aspect. At no stage can unity be taken as the cause of anything, since the existence implies a relation and unity would mean existence without relation.
“Whatever remains when the mind realizes that the concept of a ‘living being’ and that of a ‘divinity’ are mere illusions, and the reality of all appearances is denied, is [known as] the nondual Immensity.”
Nonduality, the essence of the unmanifest, cannot exist on the manifest plane. Although the doctrine of nonduality is kept as the goal of our efforts toward realization, this goal is ever beyond our reach. It is on a plane different from that of existence and is in no way real from the point of view of manifestation. We cannot imagine, we cannot name, we cannot describe the nondual Immensity, the Brahman. It is a mere abstractino which cannot act nor be experienced or propitiated. It can therefore have nothing wahtever to do with any form of worship, of relition, or morality, or of mystical experience.
Existence is multiplicity.
Monotheism and Polytheism
In the polytheistic religion each individual worshiper has a chosen deity (ista-devata) and does not usually worship other gods in the same way as his own, as the one he fels nearer to himself. Yet he acknowledges other gods. The Hindu, whether he be a worshiper of the Pervader (Visnu), the Destroyer (Siva), Energy (Sakti), or the Sun (Surya), is always ready to acknowledge the equivalence of these deities as the manifestations of distinct powers springing from an unknowable “Immensity.” He knows that ultimate Being or non-Being is ever beyond his grasp, beyond existence, and in no way can be worshiped or prayed to. Since he relaizes that other deities are but other aspects of the one he worships, he is basically tolerant and must be ready to accept every form of knowledge or belief as potentially valid. Persecution or proselytization of other religious groups, however strange their beliefs may seem to him, can never be a defensible attitude from the point of view of the Hindu.
Monotheism is always linked with a culture, a civilization. It is not through its forms but in spite fo them that fited individuals may reach spiritual attainment. We shall see that monotheism is the projection of the human individuality into the cosmic sphere, the shaping of “god” to the image of man. Henced the monotheist commonly visualizes his “god” as an anthropomorphic entity who shares his habits, patronizes his customs, and acts according to his ideals. Religion becomes a means of glorifying his culture or his race, or of expanding his influence. He is one of the elect who follows the “Way of God” as if there could be a Way that did not lead to “God.” We can see all monotheistic religions fighting to impose their god and destroy other gods as if God were not one as they claim. Monotheism is basically the absolute exaltation of the worshiper’s own deity over all other aspects of the Divine, all other gods, who must be considered false and dangerous. The very notion of a false god is, however, an obvious fallacy. If there is an all-powerful, all-pervading divinity, how can there be a false god? How can we worship anything that is not Him? Whatever form we try to worship, the worship ultimately goes to Him who is everything.
the Equivalence of Religions
The classification of the basic energies, of which the cosmological pantheon is an expression, is not an arbitrary creation of the mind but a rational effort to define the component elements of existence. As is the case for any form of knowledge, the classifications first chose in the particular country or time may have been inadequate, they may constitute a first working hypotehsis which can be perfected through deeper insight or later expeirnece, ro they may have deinfed all the essentials from the start. The only important thing, however, is the nature of the permanent realities that these classifications try to represent. This is the story of every science, of every philosophy, of allt he ancient religions.
2. the Nature of the Ultimate
the Origin of Existence
“In the beginning, my dear, this world was just nondual Being (sat). To be sure, some people say that in the beginning this world was just nondual non-Being (a-sat), and that Being arose from non-BEing. But how could that be? How could Being be produced from non-Being? In the beginning, this world must have been pure Being, one and without a second.”
Thus did the sage Aruni state the question of the ultimate origin of gods, men, and the cosmos.
the Perceptible Continua: Space, Time, and Thought
Similiarly time was called an “indivisible rod”, or continuum. This absolute time is an ever-present eternity which seems inseparable from space. Relative time results from teh apparent division of space by the rhythm of heavenly bodies.
the Three Modes of Being: the Substrata of Space, Time, and Consciousness
If we envision the cosmos not merely as an unconscious mechanism but as a creative process, as the manifestation of a conscious power, we are led to search for an active or conscious substratum for each of the percpetible continua.
The substratum of space is existence (sat), the substratum of time is experience or enjoyment (ananda), the substratum of thought is consciousness (cit).
Befoer there can be location, place, dimension, there must be something to locate, some sort of existence. There can be no location of the nonexistent. Hence existence must pre-exist space.
Time exists only in relation to perception. A nonperceived time can have no extension, cannot be the measure of anything. The principle of perception must therefore pre-exist time. That first undifferentiated potential perception, that first principle of experience, is sqaid to correspond to pure, absolute enjoyment, the innermost nature of existence.
The experience of pure, unbounded enjoyment as the innermost nature of things implies the realization of absolute time, which is ever-present eternity. The being who reaches that stage is freed from the bonds of action.
The formless Immensity that appears to be the innermost nature of things can be grasped as the void, the silence, the absolute darkness, which lies beyond mind, beyond intellect, and can be realized as the substratum of man’s own nature, as his own Self, his own Soul (atman).
The Sould is teh sum of all the gods. “All the gods are this one Soul, and all dwell in the Soul.”
Immensity (brahman), the Common Substratum
This Immensity, this Void, this Unknown, this nonexistent Absolute, is the innermost nature of everything.
the Three Fundamental Qualities of the Trinity
When–Through the power of illusion, which is its own nature–the first tendnecy, the first movement, appears in the undifferentiated Immensity, this already implies the existence of three elements: two opposing forces and their opposition. Thus the first stage of manifestation from nonduality is, of necessity, a triad. We shall soon discvoer that this triad pervades all things and appears in all the aspects of the universe, physical as well as conceptual. These three basic forces or tendencies, known as the three fundamental-qualities (guna), cannot, in their essence, be directly grasped by the mind. We can only try to understand their nature through the observation of their operation in the different fields of the manifest universe.
In cosmology the three qualities are envisaged as the centripetal-attraction (adana), the centrifugal-force (utkranti), and their equilibrium (partistha), from which originate the revolving impulse and movement of all the spheres.
the Three States of Experience
The realization of the three tendencies is linked with that of existence-consciousness-experience. We find again here the three substrata of space, thought, and time. This realization is said to take place, respectively, in the three states of awareness, dream, and deep sleep. Awareness is linked with rajas, dream with sattva, and deep sleep with tamas.
the Power of Illusion (maya)
The substratum is, of itself, eternally motionless. yet, if any form is to be, there must appear somewhere a motin, a wave, in the unmoving Immensity.
The power that creates the appearance of a polarization , of a localization of a rhythm–likened to the whirlpool that forms a star in teh undifferentiated continuum of ether–is called illusion (maya). This pure movement without substance is represented as the mysterious source of all that is.
The nonsubstantial character of this apparent motion, from which all forms develop, explains the nature of the universe, which seems to exist through it has ultimately no substance.
The power of illusion may be compared to an introspective-deliberation (vimarsa) which would plan things. It may be represented as a “divine thought” of which the universe would be the materialization.
“An illusion is a false appearance, but an appearance is of necessity based on a reality; for no illusory thing can exist without a support, and the reality of the support remains, pervading the illusion. In worshiping the illusion, or its manifestations, one worships the reality behind it, the unkowable Immensity on which it rests.”
Illusion and Ignorance
“Perception veiled by unknowing” is the intrinsic nature of the universe. This is only possible because unkonwing is the nature of existence; the non-existent cannot veil. Unknowing, like illusion, is a veil.
“Before creation, perception (jnana) and its object (artha)–namely, all that may be perceived drsya)–do not exist separately.”
The essential character of manifestation lies thus in the encounter of the perceived and the perceiver, of the power of illusion and that of ignorance, of the cosmos and the living being.
If we envisage Nature (prakrti) as the source of the elaborate structure that constitutes the universe, we must at the same time realize that this structure becomes a “reality” only when perceived by an independent consciousness and that this consciousness becomes “real” only when there is something external to itself to be conscious of. Thus the cosmic Nature and our own nature are interdependent and the term prakrti is used for both.
The word “Nature” (prakrti) is said to mean “that which is transcendent” (parama).
“The prefix pra means ‘higher’; krti (action) stands for creation. Hence she who in creation is transcendent is the transcendent goddess known under the name of Nature (prakrti).”
“Nature (prakrti) is that from which [things] are born.”
“Nature is that which acts constantly. It is the first basis, the state of balance of sattva, rajas, and tamas.”
Ultimately the source of knowledge is ever unknowing (avidya), for this is the only name that can be given to the realizatoin of the unkowable. We shall see that this ultimate power is pictured as a Supreme Goddess, source of all that is.
“She whose shape even the Creator and the other gods cannot konw is called ‘the unkowable (ajneya). She whose end cannot be found is called ‘the endless’ (anata). she who alone is everywhere present is called ‘the One’ (eka).
In all knowledge she is the transcendent consciousness; in all voids she is the Void. She, beyond whom there is no beyond, is sung as Beyond-Reach (Durga).” (Devi Upanishad 26-27. )
the Living Individuality as the Power that can Oppose Nature
Hence the whole pantheon is also a picture of man’s inner life. “The Gods represent the inclinations of the senses enlightened by revelation.”
“Whoever departs from this world without having realized his own inner world, to him life has been of no service; it remains unlived, like the unrecited Vedas or any other undone deed.”
the Power of Nature as the Obstacle of Knowledge
The aim of any creator is to prevent a realization which would destroy his creation. This is why “the Soul is not within the reach of the weak.” It has to be conquered by going against all the forces of Nature, all the laws of creation.
the Fundamental Duality
When dealing with the Hindu trinity and with the forms of the Goddess we shall see the significance of these various entities.
Somesystems of philosophy consider the manifesting energy as more fundamental than the underlying continuum. This leads to religious forms where Supreme Divinity is considered femal. God is woman. Such systems are known as Sakta, cults of Energy.
God (Isvara) and the Illusion of Divine Unity
According to the Visnu Purana (6.5.74-76 ): “The six powers, absolute-might (aisvarya), righteousness (dharma), glory (yasas), beauty (sri), knowledge (jnana), and nonattachment (vairagya), are called bhaga (shares). The ‘Changeless Being’ represented by the syllable va is the name given to the embodiment of the notion that beings dwell in the universal Soul, which in its turn dwells in all beings.
Life as the One Deity
In the Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad (3.4.1), the principle of life, or life-breath (prana), is spoken of as the inner Self of all deities. Without life, there can be no individual perceiver, no witness, hence no reality to the appearance of the cosmic manifestation. Life is the manifestation of “existence” envisaged as a “boundless form of reality (satya) and knowledge (jnana)” and is the one Supreme Being.
the Relationship of “God” and the Universe
If we accepte the indefinite term “God” to represent the source of the subtle and supramental stages of the physical, mental, and intellectual spheres that we perceive or believe we perceive, we find that the relationship of this “God” with the world can be of six kinds; these are: “(a) ‘God’ is in the world; (b) the world is in ‘God’; (c) the world is ‘God’; (d) the world and ‘God’ are distinct; (e) ‘God’ is dinstinct from the world, but the world is not distinct from ‘God’; (f) it cannot be said whether the world is distinct from ‘God’ or not.”
We can replace the word “God” by the word “cause” or any other word that suits our thinking habits, and then we see that these definitions cover the main possibilities of relationship. That these different relationships can coexist is illustrated in the traditional example in terms of thread and cloth.
a. There is thread in a cloth.
b. Cloth is in thread (within the sphere of thread).
c. Cloth is thread.
d. Yet cloth is different from thread.
e. Thread has an existence independent from that of cloth, but cloth has no existence independent from that of cloth, but cloth has no existence independent from thread.
f. None can say whether cloth and thread are distinct things or not.
the Causal Word
The process of the manifestation of speech, like that of the universe, takes place in four stages. First, in the undifferentiated substratum of thought, an intention appears. Gradually this intention takes a precise shape. We can visualize what the idea is, though it is not yet bound to a particular verbal form and we are still searching for words to express it. This is the second stage of the manifestation of the idea. Then we find words suitable to convey our thought. This transcription of the idea in terms of words in the silence of the mind is the third stage, the fourth being the manifestation of the idea in terms of perceptible sounds. These four stages are known as the four forms of the word.
The deeper we go in the search for the causal word, the more language becomes meaningful. At the end of the quest we find the first manifestation of articulate langauge, the monosyllable AUM, which is said to include all language and all meaning. AUM is the seed from which speech is derived, the nutshell containing the whole of wisdom. …
“AUM is the one eternal syllable of which all that exists is but the development. The past, the present, and the future are all included in this one sound, and all that exists beyond the three forms of time is also implied in it.”
“AUM is the one indestructible [sound], the Immensity. He who, hiis mind intent upon me [Krsna], abandons his body and leaves the world uttering this syllable attains the supreme purpose of his destiny.”
[Note: the sound AUM is made of the gutteral A, the labial U, and the nasal M, forming the triangle which physically delimits all the possibilities of articulation]
3. the Cosmic Being
The Indestructible Person can further be divided into five main constituent aspects, known as the inner impulse, the indweller, the heart, the outer impulse, and the transmigrant self.
The inner-impulse (antascara) is a tendency toward self-expression, toward manifestation. It corresponds to the revolving tendency and is thus a formof Brahma, the Immense Being.
The indweller (antaryamin) represents the cosmic power latent in all forms of existence. It corresponds to the cohesive or centripetal tendency and it thus a form of Visnu, the Pervader.
The heart (hrdaya) is the center from which emanate the natural laws that rule all things. It corresponds to Indra, the heavenlyt ruler.
The outer-impulse (bahiscara), the perceptible activity found in all individual-bodies (pinda), takes the form of a combustion identified with Agni (Fire).
The transmigrant-self (sutratman) is the substance conscumed by activity. It is identified with Soma, the offering, the seed.
The three last aspects of the Indestructible Person, when envisaged together, are called Mahesvara (the transcendent Lord) or Siva, the lord of sleep. They are the forms of the disintegrating or centrifugal tendency (tamas).
The transient outward form of the universe is the Destructible-Person (ksara purusa). This aspect of the Cosmic Being is also known as “that which evolves” (vikara) or as the “moving universe” (jagat). This is the non-transcendent-Nature (apara prakrti) of the Changelss Person. It is fivefold: the life-breath (prana), the primeval-waters (ap), the word (vac), the devouring (annada), and the devoured (anna). These five aspects of the Destructible Person are the outer expression of the five entities constituting the Indestructible Person.
From the point of view of location, the Cosmic Being appears to manifest itself on three planes, in three orders of things, corresponding to the different channels through which it is perceived. These three planes are called the celestial or angelic (adhidaivika), the individual or subtle (adhyatmika), and the elemental or sensorial (adhibhautika) planes.
These three planes coexist and interpenetrate one another. Each is divided into five concentric spheres (mandala).
On the spiritual plane the five spheres are known as:
1. the Self-born (svayambhu), which is the creative aspect of the Changeless Person.
2. the Supreme-Ruler (paramesthin), that is, the Nature (prakrti) of the Self-born.
3. the sun (surya), the origin of all evolution, source of all that exists in a given universe, is the fiery principle.
4. The moon (candra), the end of all evolution, is the offering (soma). It is the devoured, the substance on which the fiery solar principle lives.
5. The earth (prthivi) is the substance, the driven-animal (pasu), the spatial aspect, of the Destructible Person.
On teh individual (adhyatmika) plane, the five spheres are:
1. the nonevolved (avyakta), that is, consciousness.
2. the transcendent-principle (mahat), that is, intellect.
3. Mental-knowledge (vijnana).
4. Intuitive-knowledge (prajnana).
5. The body (sarira) is the driven-animal (pasu), the individual form of the Destructive Person.
the Appearance of the Universe
When these all-pervading entities happen to be tied together at a particular point, just as different strings happen to form a knot, this constitutes an individuality. If all of the causal entities are involved in this knot, the individuality is called a universe.
TWO: the Gods of the Vedas
4. the Cosmic Sacrifice
Fire and Offering, Agni and Soma
Agni is all that burns, or devours, or digests: sun, heat, stomach, lust, and passion. Soma is all offering, all fuel, the cold, the moon, the food, the victim, the sperm, the wine. Agni is the warm outward breath of the Indestructible-Person (aksara purusa) [the permanent Law of things]; Soma is the coll inward breath. Fire is the life, Soma the activity; Fire is the enjoyer and Soma all that is enjoyed. Fire is red, Soma is the color of night. “The fiery form is golden red, the offering dark blue.”
the Relation of the Spheres
The inner fire which pervades the body of the earth (prthivi-pinda) is called the fire-of-immortality (amrta agni). it radiates from the earth till it reaches the sun. This expanding radiation can be divided into concentric regions, each of which is called a “completed ritual” (stoma).
the Forms of the Sacrifice
Fire is the all-purifier; hence all that has been purified by fire is worthy of the gods, and “all that purifies is a ritual sacrifice” (Chandogya Upanisad).Since the digestive acids are considered forms of fire, the offering may be eaten, though such a sacrifice is incomplete. … The fire of anger, the fire of lust, open the possibility of other forms of ritual. War is one of the great sacrifices.
THREE: the Trinity
15. Siva, the Lord of Sleep
Time (Kala), the All-Destroyer
Before anything exists, time is. Time is the first condition for the existence of the universe. Although the “point of view of cosmology” (Sankhya) takes time to be a corollary of space, the point of view of logic (Nyaya), as well as that of metaphysics (Vedanta), considers time as prior to space. Time thus understood is distinct from the relative time we perceive. It is Transcendent-Time (maha-kala), absolute, eternal, measureless, ever present. It is also called the “rodlike undivided time” (akhanda dandayamana). The divisions of relative time as we perceive them are merely an apparent division of continuous Time due to the motion of the planets. Relative time is experienced differently by different kinds of beings. The planets whose motions determine the rhythms of relative time, the process of the phenomenal world, may well be regarded as the agencies of eternal laws which rule over our destinies, and viewed under this aspect they are spoken of as deities. So long as we are subject to the rule of the planetary rhythms we remain shut up within the realm of relative existence. It is only when the relative succession of time lapses, or somehow loses its significance, that we can attain rest within absolute time.
Siva, as the Destroyer, is identified with Time (Kala).
19. Brahma, the Immense Being
the Duration of the Universe
“Brahma’s life is one hundred years.”
Once created, the world remains unaltered for one day of Brahma, a period of 2,160,000,000 human years. The world and all that is therein is then consumed by fire, but the sages, the gods, and the principles of the elements survive. Brahma sleeps during the night. When he awakes, he again restores creation, and this process is repeated until he completes his hundredth year, a period which it requires fifteen figures to express in human years.
The duration of each of the four Yugas, or ages of the world, in huma years is as follows:
Krta Yuga 1,728,000
Treta Yuga 1,296,000
Dvapara Yuga 834,000
Kali Yuga 432,000
One thousand cycles of the four Yugas make one day of Brahma; 360 such days make a year. Brahma’s life lasts for one hundred years. When this period is ended Brahma himself ceases to exist. he and all the gods and sages and the whole universe are resolved into their constituent elements.
FOUR: the Divine Power (Sakti) as the Goddess
20. Sakti, the All-pervading Energy
Power as Divinity
The tension between the opposites from which motion arises in the substratum is depicted as the first apearance of energy (sakti). It is from manifest energy, and not merely from teh opposition from which it springs forth, that existence arises. Energy does not pertain to one or the other of the opposites nor to their mere opposition. It is somethign more, something new. Once manifestation has taken place, it appears as the substance of everything, pervading everything. It can be represented as the power of Siva or that of Visnu or that of Brahma. As the power of their combined form, Isvara, it becomes the Supreme-Goddess (Bhagavati), the Resplendent-One (Devi). it can even be conceived as the power which appears in the neutral Immensity, as the maelstrom from which existence and the three basic-tendencies (guna) themselves appear to arise; it is then called Illusion (Maya). From the point of view of cosmology this power, when manifest, is called Nature (prakrti).
Being the creative aspect of divinity, the power through which creation arises, through which the gods are born and procreate, Energy is pictured as female. The notion of divinity rests upon that power. The godsa re the most powerful of beings.
Knowledge (jnana) without action (kriya) is dead knowledge, and so is feeling (rasa) without strength (bala).
21. the Consorts of the Three Gods
the Powers of Procration, Development, and Destruction, Parvati, Sakti, and Kali
Like Siva himself, the pwoer of Siva is envisaged under three main aspects: a creative, all-pervading active aspect called Energy (Sakti), a permanent, peaceful, all-pervading, spatial aspect named Parvati, the Daughter of the Mountain (i.e., Ether personified), a destructive, all-pervading time aspect known as the Power-of-Time (Kali).
“The lord-of-sleep (Siva), the phallus clasped by the womb that is his energy, gives forth the seed of the spatial universe. When conceived as a personified entity, the lord of sleep appears inactive while his energy seems alive. As the instrument of Siva’s procreating power, this energy is the Power-of-Lust (Rati). She then appears to be the very opposite of the power of destruction that is Kali, the Power of Time. When Energy, which is also the power-to-think (vimarsa), unites with the lord of sleep, this leads to a state of agitation, of unrest (unmana), from which creation springs forth. When she is aloof from him, this leads to the state of sleep, of equalization (samana), in which the world dissolves.” When Sakti clasps Siva, the universe is shaken. She is the all-pervading power of lust, of enjoyment, and also the power of liberation, for liberation from Nature’s bonds is not a neutral state but an active fight.
As Sati, the Faithful, Siva’s beloved threw herself into the ritual fire so that the cosmic sacrifice might be completed. She is therefore reprensented as the daughter of Ritual-Skill (Daksa), as Daksina, the wealth offered during the sacrifices.
[NOTE: In the “Five NIghts of Narada (Narada Pancaratra), it is said that, in the beginning of creation, everything was female except the Giver-of-Peace (Sankara-Siva). Brahma, Visnu, Daksa, and many others performed austerities to evoke the goddess of time, Kalika, who appeared and permitted them to ask a boon. The gods said, “You must become the daughter of Ritual-Skill (Daksa) and seduce Siva.”
It is under her fierce aspect as the Power-of-Time (Kali), the power of disintegration closely connected to the power of liberarion, that the consort of Siva is mainly worshiped. She is then shown under a fearful form. She is a fierce-looking goddess, fond of intoxicants, of lust, of bloody sacrifices. Cruel and orgiastic rituals are performed in her honor by the followers of the Tantra cult.
the Names of the Goddess
As the gentle companion of Siva’s pleasures the Goddess is mainly known as the Daughter-of-the-Mountain (Parvati) or the Mountain-born (Adri-ja or Giri-ja), the Daughter-of-the-Snow-capped-One (Haima-vati). She is also the Earth-born (Ku-ja), the Fair-one (Gauri), the World’s-Most-Fair (Jagad-Gauri), the Peace-of-the-Night (Uma). Auspicious (Siva), she is the Mother (Ambika), the Mother-of-the-World (Jagad-mata), the Giver-of-Exitence (Bhavani). She is the Youngest (Avara), the Virgin (Kanya), the Virgin-Girl (Kanya-kumari). She is the Sustainer-of-the-World (Jagad-dhatri), the Auspicious-Power-of-Time (Bhadra-Kali), the Giver-of-Food-and-Plenty (Anna-purna), the Shining-One (Devi), the Consort-of-the-Great-Lord (Maha-devi). As the embodiment of lust she is Wanton-eyed (Kamaksi), Her-very-Name-is-Lust (Kamakhya). She is the Rubbing- or Squeezing-One (Mrda, Mrdani), Noble (Arya), Rich (Rddhi), Pearl-eared (Karna-moti), Recognizable-from-her-Lotus (Padma-lancana); she is Always-Auspicious (Sarva-mangala). Like-a-Bee (Bhramari), she is Siva’s-Messenger (Siva-duti).
She is the Goddess Beyond-Reach (Durga), the Endless (Ananta), the Everlasting (Nitya).
Fearful, she is Tawny-Dark (Pinga), Spotted (Karburi), Naked (Kotari), Violent (Candi), DArk (Syama), Terrible (Bhairavi). She is the Fearful-Goddess (Bhima-devi), the Power-of-the-Antigods (Mahasuri), the fierce (Rajasi), Red-toothed (Rakta-danti); she is the Mother-of-the-God-of-War (skanda-mata), the Victorious (Vijaya).
The Candi Mahatmya, one of the hymns of praise dedicated to her, depicts her as Tne-armed (Dasa-bhuja), Riding-on-a-Lion (Simha-vahani or Simha-rathi). She is the “Destroyer of the Buffalo-Demon” (Mahisa-mardini), the Disheveled (Mukta-kesini).
Being addicted to austerities, she is the Leafless (Aparna), the Widow (Katyayani), Grass-robed (Sakambhari).
From Siva she obtains names which are the feminine form o fhis, such as the TAwny-One (Babhravi), the All-Powerful (Bhagavati), the Ruler (Isani), Divinity (Isavari), Dwelling-in-the-Kalinjar-Mountain (Kalanjari), Adorned-with-Skulls (Kapalini). She is the Sentiment-of-Lvoe (kausiki), the Savage-Girl (Kirati), the Graet-Goddess (Mahesvari), the Goddess-of-Tears (rudrani), Universal (Sarvani), Auspicious (Siva), Three-eyed (Tryambaki).
22. the Ten Objects-of-Transcendent-Knowledge (maha-vidya)
Every day we see the twilight dissolve into darkness. Midnight is the hour of deepest ogbscurity, the time most remote from the day. If we compare the cycle of the day to that of the ages, the midnight of the universal night will be the time of agbsolute silence over which the universal power of destruction, the transcendent power of Time, Maha-Kali, rules unchallenged.
The whole cycle of existence, like that of the day and night, can be divided into ten main parts connected with the symbolism attached to the number 5–the five aspects of Siva and the five aspects of the Goddess united as day and night.
The ten aspects of the cycle of time are conceived as an epitome of the entire creation, a summary of all the stages of existence, of all that is to be known. They are the ten aspects of the power of Siva. To konw them is equivalent to knowing the secret of the universe. They are the energies of which the universe is the pulsation, the outer expression.
These ten energies are called teh ten objects of transcendent knowledge, the Maha-vidyas. They are the source of all that is to be known, the various aspects of the divine night. Through the language of their symbols appears a picture of our destiny. They are ultimately the powers of destruction, hence Manu speaks of night as a fearful demoness, but it is through the destruction of all that appears to us desirable an dby facing what appears to us most fearful, namely, the power of time, of death, that we can become free from bondage and attain the aim of our existence, the limitless supreme bliss of nonexistence.
The First Object of Transcendent Knowledge: Kali, the Power of Time, and the Night-of-Eternity (Maha-ratri)
The Cycles of Time
We have seen that Siva, as eternal time, was considered the substratum from which all the secondary cycles of time and the energies which rule them are formed, beginning with the cycles of creation and including all the cycles which determine the existence of the universe, of solar systems, of atoms, and the cycles which rule the existence of species, of life, and of each day, each moment, and each life.
The cycle of the day and night is, for us, the closest image of the cycle of time. It is a constant reminder of the rhythmic pattern of creation and dissolution of all that exists.
the Eternal Night
Absolute time is the measure of an eternal night. The concentrations of energy which give rise to light, to divisible time, are only temporary phenomena implying a location and some form of relative time. The state of deep sleep bears some reseemblance to the absolute quiescence which spreads everywhere when the universe dissolves and all beings and forms enter into eternal sleep in the lap of hte boundless night.
Deep sleep is for us an image of the total peace that follows the dissolution of the universe, of the stage where nothing remains but the transcendent power of Time, Maha-Kali, the absolute night.
We saw that the word Siva can be derived from teh root sin, which means “to sleep.” Hence Siva is described as he in whom “all goes to sleep,” “he who puts all things to sleep,” etc. His power is represented by the eternal night in which all goes to sleep.
As absolute eternal time, Siva is beyond the universe. He is the “Beyond the beyond” (parat parah) of the Upanisads. The absolute, indivisible nigth (Maha-ratri) is the abode of the Transcendent-power-of-Time (Maha-Kali).
“From the ‘Hymn to the Night’ (Ratri Sukta of the Rg Veda 10.127) we can understand that there are two divinities of night, the one experienced by mortal beings, the other by the divine Being; the one experienced by all the spheres and in relation to which all activities come daily to rest, the other in which the activity of divinity also comes to rest. This absolute night is the night of destruction, and is the nature of the Power-of-Time (Kali). Nothing then remains except the transcendent Immensity checkered with its power of illusion. This stage is the stage of Unmanifest-Nature (avyakta).”
“Night has for its substance the power of illusion of the Immensity (brahmamayatmika); the nature of night is dissolution into supreme divinity (paramesalayatmika). The principle presiding over this absolute night is celebrated as the goddess-of-the-spheres (Bhuvanesi).
The approaching night, in her display, spreads over the twilight, which is but the reflected remnant of an apparent consciousness, itself but the veiling-power (avarana-sakti) of ignorance (avidya), of unconsciousness. It seems to us impossible that night may ever entirely drive away twilight, as well as all remnants of thought or perception, but the absolute night is the ultimate form of consciousness, and when perception of all appearances vanishes, she appears supremely resplendent. By comparison with her, twilight and dawn are but obscurity. Just as dawn vanishes when the sun rises, so also the veiling power of ignorance dissolves when illumined by the power of consciosness. When the veiling power which appears to us as light is consumed to its root, and “previous deeds” (prarabdha) cease to bear consequences, then the nontranscendent darkness which is the root-0f-unknowing (mula-ajnana) is forever destroyed.
Mmay the divinity of night (Ratri), the transcendent power of consciousness (cit-sakti), be pleased, so that we may nestle in happiness like birds in their nests at night. Dwellers in the villages, their cows and horses, the birds of the air, men who travel on many a business, and jackals and wild beasts, all welcome the night and joyfully nestle in her; for to all beings misguided by the journey of the day she brings calm and happiness. Then all comes to rest. Even those beings who have never heard the name of the lady-of-the-spheres (Bhuvanesvari) come to her lap, where they sleep as happily as unconscious children. O merciful! O power of consciousness! O enfolding darkness! O divinity of night! Overlook our deeds; take us away from killers who harm us, the wolf that is sin, and the she-wolf that is never-ending desire. Remove us from lust and the other passions which rob us of wisdom and wealth, and be for us the ship of gladness that brings us to the other shore and leads us to beatitude.” (Kara-patri, “Sri Bhagavati tattva.”)
The word ratri (night) is symbolically derived from the root ra, “to give,” and is taken to mean “the giver” of bliss, of peace, of happiness.
Kali, the Power of Time
The chief quality of the eternal night is eternity, that is, the transcendent power of Time, Maha-Kali, also called Origin (Adya) or the First-Power (Prathama). Conceived as a divinity, the Power of Time is represented as a goddess, consort of the aspect of Siva known as Transcendent-Time (Maha-Kala).
Time (Kala) is that “which dissociates all things. ” It is considered the comological aspect of Siva, the Destroyer. “I am Time, ever inclined to destroy the worlds,” says the Bhagavadgita. Kali, the feminine form of the word kala, is taken to represent the “energy” or “power” of time.
The Image of Kali
The Kali Tantra depicts the image of Kali:
“Most fearful, her laughter shows her dreadful teeth. She stands upon a corpse. She has four arms. Her hands hold a sword and a head and show the gestures of removing fear and granting boons. She is hte auspicious divinity of sleep, the consort of Siva.
“Naked, clad only in space, the goddess is resplendent. Her tongue hangs out. She wears a garland of heads. Such is the form worthy of meditation of the Power of Time, Kali, who dwells near the funeral pyres.” (Kali Tantra.)
Kali is represented as the supreme night, which swallows all that exists. She therefore stands upon “nonexistence,” upon the corpse of the ruined universe. So long as the power that gives life to the universe remains predominant it is favorable (siva), but when it is without strength it becomes as a corpse (sava). Hence it is said that without i, symbol of his power, the lord-of-life (Siva) is a corpse (sava). The lifeless body is indeed the symbol of whatever is left of the manifested universe when it reverts to the sole control of eternal time. At the time of universal destruction, the Power of Time, the power of destruction, is all that remains. It can well be represented as standing upon the debris of a universe in ruins, which lies powerless as a corpse.
the Fearful Appearance
At the end of the fight, when the warrior “finishes” the vanquished enemy and remains alone on the field fo battle, his appearance inspires no emotion but fear. Who could dare to look him in the face? So terrible is Kali. Her dread appearance is the symbol of her boundless power of destruction.
The conqueror laughs in his triumph. That laughter is the expression of absolute dominion over all that exists. It mocks at those who, int eh folly of their vanity, hope to escape.
the Four Arms
the four arms of Kali represent the four directions of space identified with the complete cycle of time. Completeness is usually represented by the four corners. With her four arms, she stands as the symbol of the fulfillment of all and of the absoluteness of her dominion over all that exists. In the strict language of symbolism four arms always represent the idea of absolute dominion. This is also the meaning of the cross.
The sword represents the power of destruction.
the Severed Head
The warrior keeps as a trophy the head of his victim. This trophy shows to the living the fate they must expect. The severed head in the hand of the Goddess reminds all living beings that there is no escape from the Omnipotence-of-Time (Kali).
the Hand Removing Fear
So long as there is existence, ther is fear of destruction. Fear is inherent in all forms of existence; fear is the law of all that exists. “Out of fear of him fire burns; out of fear the sun shines.”
All that has a limit feaws what is beyond its limit. Only absolute time (maha-kala) which pervades all things and has no limit knows no fear. The Upanisads say that he alone who exists “beyond the beyond” “exists without fear.” Kali, the power of time that destroys all, is the embodiment of all fear, while she herself is beyond fear; she alone who is beyond fear can protect from fear those who invoke her. This is the meaning of the hand removing fear.
the Giving Hand
All the pleasures of the world are transcient; all human joy is but a momentary and feeble perception of our true nature, which is unbounded joy. But such perception cannot last and is soon veiled by pain. True happiness can only exist in that which is permanent. Only the Power of Time is permanent; it alone can grant happiness. Thus Kali is the giver of bliss. This is represented by her giving hand.
the Garland of Skulls
Life and death are inseparable. There is no life without death, no death without life. Hence there must be a common support for life and death. She who supports the living as well as the dead is the supreme happiness. She is the only help of the living and the only help of the dead. All life rests on her, and on her also depends whatever remains after life. Death is not immediate, total annihilation. The dead leave traces behind which also rest upon her; hence she is represented as wearing on her breast a garland of skulls, the skulls that once carried life and are left behind as a reminder of death.
The universe which is created and pervaded by the eternal power of time is also its veil. “Having created it, he entered it.” When the universe is destroyed, the Power of Time remains without a veil, naked. Hence hte Goddess is “clad in space” (digambara), having the vast emptiness of space as her only vestiture.
the Funeral Pyre
She is to be found near the funeral pyre of the world in destruction. There alone is she to be attained. Hence she is spoken of as dwelling near funearl grounds.
the Black Color
Being the embodiment of the tendency toward dispersion or obscuration (tamas), Kali is black. But why should the primordial energy, “o whom the sun and the moon are the eyes” and “by whose light eh world is illuminated,” be spoken of as black, as dark like the fearful clouds of the hour of destruction? It is replied tht she is dark because she is the ultimate energy, in which all distinctions disappear. In the Power of Time all colors dissolve into darkness. All shapes return to shapelessness in the all-pervading darkness of the eternal light.
the Dual Aspect of Kali
In the hierarchy of manifestation, Kali stands as the highest, the most abstract, aspect of divinity. In a world where joy is linked with attachment, she represents a stage beyond all attachments and thus appears to us fearful. To reach supreme bliss man has to abandon, one after another, all the things dear to him, all that is his joy as a living being. It is not surprising that the stage attained by renouncing all that seems desirable should appear from outside as the most fearful darkness. yet it is only by facing this inevitable reality, which seems at first the sum of all terrors, that man may gradually realize that this stage which terrifies him represents the essence of all that is to be desired, the boundless supreme bliss. If the supreme stage, the stage beyond manifestation, was but nothingness, death would mean annihilation, and Kali, as the one who destroys all that is manifest, would be nothing more than the embodiment of universal fear. But beyond forms, beyond death, beyond existence, there is a supreme stage which is absolute joy. Kali is fearful only relatively, from the point of view of existence and worldly enjoyment. When, in the course of man’s spiritual adventure, the relative is transgressed, his individuality dissolves into the primordial infinite joy.
Kali, the power of destruction, has thus a dual aspect. She is, from the point of view of finite existence, the fearful destroyer of all that exists. As such she is known as the Power of Time and her male counterpart, known as Kala in cosmology, is called Rudra, the lord of tears, or Bhairava, “the wrathful,” in the religious scriptures. But when all is destroyed and the Power of Time is appeased, the true nature of the eternal night reveals itself as limitless joy, as eternal peace. In this respect Kali is known as the Transcendent-Night (Maha-ratri) or as the Power-of-Ether (Parvati). Her counterpart is known as the auspicious lord-of-sleep (Siva) or the Abode-of-Joy (Sambhu).
The Puranas and the Tantras describe eight main representations of Kali corresponding to the eight main aspects of Siva. These aspects of Kali are called Daksina, Bhadra, Guhya, etc.
In some of the Hindu Scriptures Kali is given a prominent place. In the chapter of the Mahabharata just preceding the Bhagavadgita Arjuna invokes the three aspects of Kali.
“I bow to you, leader of the Realized, noble-goddess (Arya) who dwells in heaven. O tenebrous maiden garlanded with skulls, tawny, bronze-dark, I bow to you who are the auspicous Power of Time, the Transcendent-power-of-time (Maha-Kali).”
the Second Objet of Transcendent Knowledge:
Tara, the Star, the Power of Hunger, and the Night-of-Anger (Krodha-ratri)
Tara and Kali
In the waste of the boundless all-devouring Time, the all-devouring hunger appears. Tara is but a manifestation of Kali with whom she shares the dominion of the void that is the substratum of the universe.
“In the Great Void, the sphere of the Egg-of-Immensity that is the universe (Brahmanda), there exist fifty forms of void. Five of these are the kingdom of the power-of-hunger (Tara); the rest belong to the power-of-time (Kali).”
“The Transcendent-power-of-Time (Maha-kali) was teh ruling-deity (adhisthatri) of universal-destruction (maha-pralaya). The fearful Tara is the deity of the ‘destruction of a solar system’ (surya-pralaya). To destroy is the law (dharma), the nature of both deities. Therefore there is little difference in the ‘mental picture for meditation’ (dhyana) of both deities.”
the Image of Tara
Tara is always depicted in her fearful form with four arms entwined with poisonous snakes and serpents in her matted hair. She holds a head and a chalice, for in her fearsome mood she drinks blood, the sap of the world.
“Standing firmly with her left foot forward resting on a corpse, she laughs loudly–transcendent. Her hands hold a sword, a blue lotus, a dagger, and a begging bowl. She raises her war cry hum! Her matted tawny hair is bound with poisonous blue snakes. Thus the terrifying Tara destroys the unconsciousness of the three worlds and carries them on her head [to the other shore].”
“She shines upon a white lotus arisen from the water, pervading the world. She holds in her hands scissors, a sword, a skull, and a blue lotus. Her ornaments are snakes, which forma girdle, earrings, a garland, armlets, bracelets, anklets. Round the hips she wears the skin of a panther. She wears a diadem made of bleached bones. one should meditate on Tara, the mother of the three worlds, who is seated on the heart of a corpse, her face resplendent with the power of Never-decaying (Aksobhya).”
As the star Tara is the ship’s pilot and is shown holding a rudder. A ship is shown on her image at Kanheri.
the Third Object of Transcendent Knowledge:
Sodasi, the Girl-of-Sixteen, the Power of Perfection, and the Divine-Night (Divya-ratri)
the Fourth Object of Transcendent Knowledge:
Bhuvanesvari, the Ldy of the Spheres, the Power of Knowledge, and the Night-of-Realization (Siddha-ratri)
The linga is the male principle (purusa tattva), the Cosmic Man; the yoni represents Nature (prakrti tattva). The serpent is ‘Time’ (kala tattva).
the Fifth Object of Transcendent Knowledge:
Chinnamasta, the Beheaded, the Power of Sacrifice, and the Night-of-Courage (Vira-ratri)
“Her left foot forward in battle, she holds her severed head and a knife. Naked, she drinks voluptuously the stream of the blood-nectar flowing from her beheaded body. The jewel on her forehead is tied with a serpent. She has three eyes. Her breasts are adorned with lotuses. Inclined toward lust, she sits erect above the god of love, who shows signs of lustfulness. She looks like the red China rose.” Her eyes are blue.
the Sixth Object of Transcendent Knowledge:
Bhairavi, the Fearful Goddess, the Power of Death, and the Night-of-Death (Kala-ratri)
“Softly smiling, you shine with a crimson glow that may be compared to a thousand newly risen suns. You wear a silken veil and a garland of skulls. Blood smears your breast. Three voluptuous eyes adorn your lotus face; the moon is your diadem. Your lotus hands show the gestures of victory, of wisdom, the granting of boons, and the allaying of fear.”
the Seventh Object of Transcendental Knowledge:
Dhumavati, the Smoky One, the Power of Poverty, and the Night-of-Frustration (Daruna-ratri)
“She appears as a woman of unhealthy complexion, restless, wicked, tall, with a dirty robe and disheveled hair. With gaps in her teeth, she looks like a widow, and holds in her hand a winnowing basket. Her eyes seem cruel, her hands tremble, her nose is long. She behaves deceitfully and is sly in her looks. Insatiably hungry and thirsty, she inspires fear and is the instigator of quarrels.”
the Eighth Object of Transcendent Knowledge:
the Deceitful, Crane-headed Bagala, the Power of Cruelty, and the Second Night-of-Courage (Vira-ratri)
“I bow to the two-armed goddess who with the right hand grasps the tongue of her enemy and with her left hand tortures him. She holdsa mace and is clad in yellow.”
the Ninth Object of Transcendent Knowledge:
Matangi, the Elephant Power, the Power of Domination, and the Night-of-Delusion (Moha-ratri)
“We meditate on Matangi, the Elephant power, delight of the world. DArk, with a white crescent in her garland, and with three lotus eyes, she sits resplendent on a jeweled throne, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees. Her two feet are honored by the hosts of the gods. She shines like a blue lotus, resembling the forest fire which consumes the abode of the demons. Holding in her four beautiful lotus hands a noose, a sword, a shield, and an elephant hook, she gives to those who invoke her all they may wish for.”
the Tenth Object of Transcendent Knowledge:
the Lotus-Girl, Kamala, the Power of Wealth, and the Night-of-Splendor (Maha-ratri)
“With a golden complexion, bathed in the stream of ambrosia flowing from golden vessels held by the trunks of four white elephants, she looks like the abode of snow, the Himalaya. Her hands grant boons, allay fear, and hold two lotuses. She has a brilliant diadem. Her hips, like ripe fruits, are loosely draped in a silken garment. We bow to her who stands upon a lotus.”
23. Some Other Aspects of the Goddess
the Destroyer-of-the-Genii (Camunda)
“From the forehead of the Mother (Ambika, i.e. Durga), contracted with frowns, sprang forth a black goddess of fearful aspect. She carried a sword, a noose, and a heavy mace. Round her neck was a garland of dead corpses. Dry, withered, and hideous, she was dressed in the hide of an elephant. Her mouth open, her tongue hanging out, her eyes bloodshot, she filled the quarters of heaven with her shouts.”
the Destroyer of the Buffalo-Demon (Mahisa-asura-mardini)
A long war had ben waged between the gods, led by Indra, and the antigods. The king of the antigods, the genie Mahisa (the Powerful), won the war and established himself in heaven. The gods wandered homeless on the earth. Then, guided by Siva and Visnu, they concentrated their powers which came forth from the mouth of each one in the form of a jet of fire. These flames united into a blazing sphere which took the shape of a goddess. The power of Siva formed the head, that of Yama the hair, that of Visnu the arms, that of the Moon the breasts, that of India the waist, that of Brahma the feet. From the power of the Sun came the toenails, from the Vasus the fingernails, from Kubera the nose, from Prajapati the teeth, and from Agni the eyes, from the Twilight (Sandhya) the brows, from Vayu the ears. Each god handed over his weapons to the goddess.
Riding a lion, the goddess whose name is Durga (Beyond Reach) defeated the armies of the antigods and fought the genie Mahisa. Mahisa took many shapes to fight her and, finally, that of a buffalo, symbol of death. She pierced the throat of the buffalo, and when the genie tried to escape from the animal’s body, she cut off his head with a sword and could thereafter restore heaven to the gods.
Minor Forms of the Goddess: Yoginis, Dakinis, Grahis, Bhairavis, and Sakinis
Yoginis are the attendants of Durga. Originally they were eight, but later they became thirteen, then sixty-four. They are represented as ogresses or sorceresses.
FIVE: Secondary Gods
24. the Sons of Siva
Ganapati or Ganesa, the Lord of Categories
Everything which our senses can perceive or our mind can grasp can be expressed in terms of kind, of category. Hence it is logical for us to consider category as a fundamental element of existence. “All that can be counted or comprehended is a category (gana),” “the word ‘category’ meaning any collection of things.” The principle of all the classifications through which the relations between different orders of things, between the macrocosm and the microcosm, can be understood is called the lord-of-categories (Ganapati).
SIX: Representation and the Worship of Deities
27. the Representation of Deities
Mantras and yantras are therefore the abstract symbols, mudra (gesture) and svara (musical notes) are the subtle representations, and image and myth are the gross representations of the principles known as deities.
28. the Thought-Forms, or Mantras
“Verily, the body of the deity arises from its basic thought-form [or seed-mantra].”
the Basic-Thought-Forms (bija-mantra)
Each element of the utterance of a mantra corresponds to a given notion which originates in the place of its articulation, the nature of the muscular action by which it is prodcued, its relative pitch, duration, etc. These elements lead to the attribution of common characters to each category of letter or articulate unit of speech. Hence the vowels and the simple consonants are female, sibilants and simple aspirates are neuter. Guttarls are priestly and suited for the invocation of deities. Cerebrals, palatals, and dentals are warriors, suited for the magic words of action and duty. Labials and liquids are traders, suited for persuading and propitiating. The sibilants and aspirates are workmen, used in the lower forms of magic.
Other Kinds of Mantras
There are also mantras which have no outward meaning in any language or system of sounds existing at present but whose celestial resonance and efficacy is great; such are the sabara (wild) mantras used in some forms of magic ritual all over India.
Mantras are classificed in different categories according to the effect.
“Wise men should know mantras to be of four kinds, called Sure (Siddha), Helpful (Sadhya), Accomplished (Susiddha), and Enemy (Ari).” “The Sure mantras bring results unfailingly within a specified time, the Helpful-mantras bring results when used with rosaries and offerings, the Accomplished-mantras bring results immediately, the Enemy-mantras destroy those who utter them.”
the Chief Basic Thought-Forms, or Seed Mantras
1. the Seed-of-the-Immensity (brahma-bija) or Thought-Form-of-the-Knowledge-of-the-Immensity (brahma-vidya mantra)
MEANING: “I bow,” or “I agree,” or “I accept,” in the primeval language. “Verily , this syllable is assent: for whenever a man assents to anything he says simply, ‘AUM.’ This indeed is a realization; that is, assent is.”
DEFINITION: This mantra is also called “that which leads to the other shore” (tara or tarini). It is considered the source of all mantras.
“A, U, M are the three letters, and these letters are the three tendencies, the revolving, the cohesive, and the disintegrating. Next comes the half letter, representing the Unqualified, which is perceived only by the yogi.”
“A represents Brahma, the revolving-tendency (rajas), the red color, the form of the universe (the Destructible Person, ksara purusa) or Cosmic Body (the Glorious, virat), the state of wakefulness, the power of action.
“U represents Visnu, the tendency toward concentration (sattva), the white color, the Law of the universe (the Indestructible Person, aksara purusa), the Cosmic Intellect (the Embryo of Splendor, Hiranyagarbha), the state of dream, the power of thought, the unmanifest world.
“A and U together mean ‘truth,’ ‘immortality.’
“M represents Siva, the tendency toward disintegration, the black color, the causal substratum (the Changeless Person, avyaya purusa), the Cosmic Consciousness, the All-knowing (sarva-jna), the state of deep sleep, the power of consciousness.
“This half letter (M) is the basis of all things, but this basis is not-straight (kutastha), that is, is not within the reach of mind and words.
AUM is said to represent also the One Being pervading space, time, and forms.
NUMBER OF REPETITIONS: Either 300,000 or thrice ten times a day by householders, and on all occasions by ascetics (Tantra-sara)
PURPOSE: Leads to realization, to liberation from bondage, to the attainment of Supreme Reality.
RITUAL USE: At the beginning of all rituals.
Going further in the analysis fo this one syllable, the Upanisads distinguish eight components in it.
“This one syllable is formed of eight subtle sound-elements. It has an eightfold character, is divisible into eight parts.
“A is the first, U the second, M the third. The nasalization (bindu) is the fourth; the sound (nada) is the fifth; the duration (kala) is the sixth; the resonance within time (kalatita) is the seventh. In addition to these, its timeless resonance is the eighth.”
Take as a the symbol of Divinity, AUM appears as the form from which the universe develops. The three letters therefore have equivalents in all the forms of manifestation.
From the basic syllable AUM spring forth all the elemental sounds, the “seed utterances” (bija-mantra) which are the root of all aspects of manifestation, the keys to all language, the powerful sound-elements from which the magical power of the mantras is derived.
“AUM. This syllable is the whole world. It is the past, the present, the future. Everything is just the word AUM. And whatever else there is that transcends threefold time, that, too, is just the word AUM.”
2. the Seed-of-Consciousness or Seed-of-Speech (vag-bija)
DEFINITION: This mantra is also called Sarasvata (pertaining to knowledge), or Saravasti (pertaining to the goddess of knowledge). It reprsents the form of consciousness embodied in the goddess Sarasvati, the consort of Brahma.
“AI represents Sarasvati. The nasalization means the removing of pain. This is the seed-utterance of Sarasvati. With it the ‘Word’ is worshiped.”
PURPOSE: Acquiring knowledge and wisdom, mastery over words, and power of speech.
6. the Primordial-Seed (adya-bija) or Seed-of-the-Power-of-Time (kali-bija)
DEFINITION: This mantra represents the power of time, the power of death, the destructive aspect of Siva, and thus the goddess Kali, the power of time.
“K is Kali. R is the Brahman. I is the transcendent power of illusion. The sound is the ‘Mother of the universe.’ The nasalization is the dispelling of sorrow. The goddess Kali should be worshiped with this mantra for the pacifying of all pain.”
PURPOSE: Graining detachment, power over death, transcendent knowledge.
REFERENCES: Tripura-tapini Upanisad, Mahanirvana and Varada Tantras, etc.
Other Seed Mantras
DUM is Durga, the goddess Beyond Reach.
HAUM is Siva, the lord of peace, and also the seed of speech.
HUM protects from anger and demons.
GAM is Ganapati, the unity of the macrocosm and the microcosm.
GLAUM is Ganapati as giver of mental powers.
KSRAUM is the Man-Lion, the aspect of Visnu that destroys evil.
STRIM delivers from difficulties.
PHAT is the weapon which can destroy anything.
STRAUM is the giver of lust.
PREM is used for enchantments and magic.
AM is the noose with which to catch anything.
the Seed Mantras of the Elements
YAM, Air. its color is black, its symbol the hexagon, its vehicle the black antelope.
LAM, Earth. Its color is yellow, its symbol the square, its vehicle the elephant. it si also the mantra of Indra, the king of heaven.
RAM, Fire. Its color is red, its symbol the triangle, its vehicle the ram.
VAM, Wter. Its color is white, its symbol is the crescent or the arc of a circle (or the triangle apex downward), its vehicle is the crocodile.
HAM, Ether. its color also is white, its symbol is the point or the circle, its vehicle is the white elephant.
the Mantra of the Supreme-Energy (para Sakti)
SOUND: AUM KRIM KRIM KRIM HUM HUM HRIM HRIM SVAHA.
DEFINITION: This is the mantra of the Supreme Goddess, containing allt he forms of Energy. It is used for her worship.
PURPOSE: To acquire all attainments.
REFERENCENCES: Karpuradi Stotra 5; Karpura-stava 5.
Gayatri (the Protector of the Vital Energies)
TEXT: AUM! Bhur Bhuvah Sva! Tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi; dhiyo yo nah pracodayat. AUM.
MEANING: “AUM. O terrestrial sphere! O sphere of space! O celestial sphere! Let us contemplate the splendor of the solar spirit, the Divine Creator. May he guide our minds [toward attainment of the four aims of life]. AUM.”
NUMBER OF REPETITIONS: Twelve.
RITUAL USE: During the three rituals of the day for Brahmanas.
[NOTE: the four aims of life: Righteousness, Prosperity, Pleasure, and Liberation.]
the King-of-Mantras (matra-raja)
TEXT: Srim, Hrim, Klim, Krsnaya Svaha.
MEANING: “Srim, Hrim, Klim, Oblation to the Dark One.”
DEFINITION: This mantra invokes the three aspects of the Supreme Goddess and Krsna, the embodiment of divine love.
PURPOSE: to inspire divine love and lead to liberation.
the Thought-Form of Fifteen-Syllables (pancadasi) of the First Goddess
TEXT: Ka-e-i-la-hrim, Ha-sa-ka-ha-la-hrim, Sa-ka-la-hrim
Ka = lust
e = womb (or speech)
i = the substance of lust
la = the thunderbolt-bearer (or the earth, or Siva)
hrim = a cave (the seed-mantra of the Goddess)
ha = Siva
sa = energy
ka = wind (or lust)
la = lord-of-heaven (Indra) or Siva
[the above Sakala = everything]
ha = cloud (or Siva)
DEFINITION: this mantra represents the power of the Self, the power of enchantment of the world.
NUMBER OF REPETITIONS: to be repeated twenty-one or 108 times.
PURPOSE: to attain all the desires and liberation.
29. the Yantras, or Magic Diagrams
“The Goddess is to be worshiped in the sex emblem, a book, a symbolic drawing on the ground, an image, water, or a stone.”
the Accessories of Worship
Water is used at every stage of worship not only as an instrument of purification but also as the element pervading all life and thus a symbol of pervasiveness.
“The water offerd to wash the feet of the deity represents the perception fo Existence-Consciousness-Experience pervading all forms and names.
“The water offered as a gift symbolizes the perception of the Ultimate Principle pervading the subtle world.
“Perception of the Principle-pervading-perception-itself is the water offered to rinse the mouth.
“The bathing of the image symbolizxes the perception of Consciousness and Experience (joy) pervading the three fundamental qualities.
“A form of meditation in which the lady of lust, Kamesvari, who embodies the Conscious, is seen as the object of all thought is called the ‘consecration of water.'”
“The different ornaments placed on the image symbolize the attributes of divinity, such as to be without disguise, never to wither, to be free from anxiety, to be immortal, etc.”
“The offering of perfume stands for hte perception of Consciousness pervading the element aerth of which the worshiper’s own body is made.”
The sense of smell is the sense connected with the element earth.
“the flower offernig stands for the perception of Consciousness pervading the element ether.”
“The offering of incense stands for the perception of Consciousness pervading the element air.”
“The offering of light stands for the perception of consciousness pervading the element fire.”
“The offering of food stands for the perception of the principle of immortality.” Food is that which sustains life.
“The rice offering stands for the dissolution of words into the Word principle.”
“The offering of praise stands for the dissolution of words into the Word principle.”
the Waving of Lights
“The waving of lights stands for the discarding of the object of thought which is the inanimate world.”
“The obeisance stands for the dissolution of all thoughts into the Principle-of-All.”
“The lord-of-tears (Rudra) has shown in the left-hand doctrine that spiritual advancement is best achieved by means of those very things which are the causes of man’s downfalls.”