What is a Puja

Puja is the act of showing reverence to a god, a spirit, or another aspect of the divine through invocations, prayers, songs, and rituals. An essential part of puja for the Hindu devotee is making a spiritual connection with the divine. Most often that contact is facilitated through an object: an element of nature, a sculpture, a vessel, a painting, or a print.

During puja an image or other symbol of the god serves as a means of gaining access to the divine. This icon is not the deity itself; rather, it is believed to be filled with the deity's cosmic energy. It is a focal point for honoring and communicating with the god. For the devout Hindu, the icon's artistic merit is important, but is secondary to its spiritual content. The objects are created as receptacles for spiritual energy that allow the devotee to experience direct communication with his or her gods.

Performing a Puja

A worshipper is required to be pure of body and mind. The Puranas lay more stress on the quality of devotion and good behaviour than on rigid puja procedures. Puja originated as a substitute to homa and other Vedic sacrifices which women and Shudras could not perform and which required animal sacrifices. Due to Dravidian (see Dasas), Buddhist and Jain influences that preached non-violence, the killing or sacrifice of animals was discontinued and with the development of iconography, idol worship and puja took the place of sacrifice. It was also recognized that worship was essential for all, whatever the gender or caste (see Varna) and therefore puja was formalized as a universal option instead of the exclusive homam.

Pujas in Temples

A Hindu temple is believed to be the earthly seat of a deity and the place where the deity waits for its devotees. As such, temple structures are sacred spaces where gods partake of human offerings and in which the people can be with the gods. Many temples resemble palace architecture; this is not surprising, as deities are often considered kings.

Temples are normally dedicated to one primary god. Often they are elaborately decorated on the outside with stone or plaster carvings depicting religious stories, and their decoration is specific to the deity being worshiped. Mythological scenes are juxtaposed with scenes of everyday life and important political events, such as royal coronations, conquests, and celebrations, or with portraits of royal and secular patrons. These divine images and mythological scenes on the outer walls of the temple help worshipers recall the sacred stories they have heard or read.

One should remove one's shoes before entering a Hindu temple in order to pay appropriate respect to the deity within the temple.

The innermost sanctuary of the temple contains the principal image of the deity. The character of each shrine is determined by the deity being worshiped.

Short Pujas/ Daily Pujas

Each time when you say 'Samarpayami' (literally: I am offering), please offer two axataas to the LORD with love and devotion.

(Akshatha is uncooked rice, if possible colored with kumkum , saffron powder, termaric and a little bit of water. Can be prepared well advance for a week and kept near the ALTAR).

1. Dhyaanam Samarpayami (Think or meditate on the LORD) 2. Aawaahanam Samarpayami (Offering invitation the LORD) 3. Aasanam Samarpayami (Offer a seat to the LORD) 4. Paadyam Samarpayami (offer water to wash the feet) 5. Arghyam Samarpayami (offer water to wash the hands) 6. Aachamaneeyam Samarpayami (offer water to drink ) 7. Snaanam Samarpayami (Give bath to the LORD) 8. Maha Abhishekam Samarpayami (main head bath) 9. Pratishtaapayaami (make him seated ) 10. Vasthram Samarpayami (Offer clothes to the LORD) 11. Yajnopaveetham Samarpayami (Offer the Holy Thread to the LORD) 12. Gandham Samarpayami (offer sandalwood paste/powder) 13. Akshatham Samarpayami (Offer Akshatha to the LORD) 14. Pushpam Samarpayami (Offer flowers to the LORD) 15. Ashthothtra Poojam Samarpayami (Offer the Holy 108 names of the LORD) 16. Dhoopam Aaghraapayaami (offer agarbatti) 17. Deepam Darshayaami (offer light ) 18. Neivedyam Samarpayami (Offer food to the LORD) 19. Phalam Samarpayami (Offer Fruits the LORD) 20. Taamboolam Samarpayami (offer beetle nut and leaves) 21. Dakshinam Samarpayami (Offer money to the LORD) 22. Maha Nirajanam Samarpayami (the main aarati) 23. Pradakshinam Samarpayami (taking clockwise rounds in front of the lord) 24. Namaskaram Samarpayami (prostrations offer them) 25. Mantra Pushpam Samarpayami ( both incantations and flowers 26. Praarthanaam Samarpayami (offering prayers; List your requests) 27. Xamaapanam Samarpayami (offering apologies to lord for any mistakes)


This word is the common term for worship of which there are numerous synonyms in the Sanskrit language. Puja is done daily of the Ishta-devata or the particular Deity worshipped by the sadhaka – the Devi in the case of a Shakti, Vishnu in the case of a Vaishnava, and so forth. But though the Ishta-devata is the principal object of worship, yet in puju all worship the Pancha-devata, or the Five Deva – Aditya (the Sun), Ganesha, the Devi, Shiva, and Vishnu, or Narayana. After worship of the Pancha-devata, the family Deity (Kula-devata), who is generally the same as the Ishta-devata, is worshipped. Puja, which is kamya, or done to gain a particular end as also vrata, are preceded by the sangkalpa; that is, a statement of the resolution to do the worship, as also of the particular object, if any, with which it is done.

There are sixteen upachara, or things done or used in puja: (1) asana (seat of the image); (2) svagata (welcome); (3) padya (water for washing the feet); (4) arghya (offering of unboiled rice, flowers, sandal paste, durva grass, etc., to the Devata in the kushi) (vessel); (5 and 6) achamana (water for sipping, which is offered twice); (7) madhuparka (honey, ghee, milk, and curd offered in a silver or brass vessel); (8) snana (water for bathing); (9) vasana (cloth); (10) abharana (jewels); (11) gandha (scent and sandal paste is given); (12) pushpa (flowers); (13) dhupa (incense stick); (14) dipa (light); (15) naivedya (food); (16) vandana or namas-kara (prayer). Other articles are used which vary with the puja, such as Tulasi leaf in the Vishnu-puju and bael-(bilva) leaf in the Shiva-puja. The mantras said also vary according to the worship. The seat (asana) of the worshipper is purified. Salutation being made to the Shakti of support or the sustaining force (adhara-shakti); the water, flowers, etc., are purified. All obstructive spirits are driven away (Bhutapasarpana), and the ten quarters are fenced from their attack by striking the earth three times with the left foot, uttering the Astra vija "phat," and by snapping the fingers (twice) round the head. Pranayama (regulation of breath) is performed and (vide post) the elements of the body are purified (bhuta-shuddhi). There is nyasa (vide post); dhyana (meditation) offering of the upachara; japa (vide post), prayer and obeisance (pranama). In the ashta-murti-puja of Shiva the Deva is worshipped under the eight forms: Sharvva (Earth), Bhava (Water), Rudra (Fire), Ugra (Air), Bhima (Ether), Pashupati (yajamana – the Sacrificer man), Ishana (Sun), Mahadeva (Moon).


The Vaidika sandhya is the rite performed by the twice-born castes thrice a day, at morning, midday, and evening. The morning sandhya is preceded by the following acts. On awakening, a mantra is said in invocation of the Tri-murtti and the sun, moon, and planets, and salutation is made to the Guru. The Hindu dvi-ja then recites the miantra: "I am a Deva. I am indeed the sorrowless Brahman. By nature I am eternally free, and in the form of existence, intelligence, and Bliss." He then offers the actions of the day to the Deity, confesses his inherent frailty, and prays that he may do right. Then, leaving his bed and touching the earth with his right foot, the dvi-ja says, "Om, 0 Earth! salutation to Thee, the Guru of all that is good." After attending to natural calls, the twice-born does achamana (sipping of water) with mantra, cleanses his teeth, and takes his early morning bath to the accompaniment of mantra. He then puts on his caste-mark (tilaka) and makes tarpanam, or oblation of water, to the Deva, Rishi, and Pitri. The sandhya follows, which consists of achamana (sipping of water), marjjana-snanam (sprinkling of the whole body with water taken with the hand or kasha-grass), pranayama (regulation of prana through its manifestation in breath), agha-marshana (expulsion of the person of sin from the body; the prayer to the sun, and then (the canon of the sandhya) the silent recitation (japa) of the Gayatn mantra, which consists of invocation (avahana) of the Gayatri-Devi; rishi-nyasa and shadanga-nyasa (vide post), meditation on the Devi-Gayatri in the morning as Brahmani; at midday as Vaishnavi; and in the evening as Rudrani; japa of the Gayatri a specified number of times; dismissal (visarjana) of the Devi, followed by other mantra. Besides the Brahmanical Vaidiki-sandhya from which the Shudras are debarred, there is the Tantriki-sandhya, which may be performed by all. The general outline is similar; the rite is simpler; the mantra vary; and the Tantrika-vijas or "seed" mantras are employed.


The term mudrais derived from the root mud, "to please," and in its upasana form is so called because it gives pleasure to the Devas. Devanang moda-da mudra tasmat tang yatnatashcharet. It is said that there are 108, of which 55 are commonly used. The term means ritual gestures made with the hands in worship or positions of the body in yoga practice. Thus of the first class the matsya – (fish) mudra is formed in offering arghya by placing the right hand on the back of the left and extending, fin-like, on each side the two thumbs, with the object that the conch which contains water may be regarded as an ocean with aquatic animals; and the yoni-mudra which presents that organ as a triangle formed by the thumbs, the two first fingers, and the two little fingers is shown with the object of invoking the Devi to come and take Her place before the worshipper, the yoni being considered to be Her pitha or yantra. The upasana mudra is thus nothing but the outward expression of inner resolve which it at the same time intensifies. Mudra are employed in worship (archchana) japa, dhyana (q.v.), kamya-karma (rites done to effect particular objects), pratishtha (q.v.), snana (bathing), avahana (welcoming), naivedya (offering of food), and visarjana, or dismissal of the Devata. Some mudra of hatha yoga are described sub voc. "Yoga." The Gheranda Sanghita says that knowledge of the yoga mudras grants all siddhi, and that their performance produces physical benefits such as stability, firmness and cure of disease.


This word in its most general sense means an instrument, or that by which anything is accomplished. In worship it is that by which the mind is fixed on its object. The Yogini Tantra says that the Devi should be worshipped either in pratima (image), mandala, or yantra. At a certain stage of spiritual progress the sadhaka is qualified to worship yantra. The siddha-yogi in inward worship (antar-puja) commences with the worship of yantra, which is the sign (sangketa) of brahma-vijnana as the mantra is the sangketa of the Devata. It is also said that yantra is so called because it subdues (niyantrana) lust, anger, and the other sins of jiva and the sufferings caused thereby. This yantra is a diagram engraved or drawn on metal, paper, or other substances, which is worshipped in the same manner as an image (pratima). As different mantra are prescribed for different worships, so are different yantra. The yantras are therefore of various designs, according to the object of worship. The cover of this work shows a silver Gayatri yantra belonging to the author. In the centre triangle are engraved in the middle the words, Shri Shri Gayatri sva-prasada siddhing kuru ("Shri Shri Gayatri Devi: grant me success"), and at each inner corner there are the vija Hring and Hrah. In the spaces formed by the intersections of the outer ovoid circles is the vija "Hring." The outside circular band contains the vija "Tha" which indicates "Svaha," commonly employed to terminate the feminine mantra or vidya. The eight lotus petals which spring from the band are inscribed with the vija, "Hring, Ing, Hrah." The outermost band contains all the matrika, or letters of the alphabet, from ankara to laksha. The whole is enclosed in the way common to all yantra by a bhupura, by which, as it were, the yantra is enclosed from the outer world. The yantra when inscribed with mantra, serves (so far as these are concerned) the purpose of a mnemonic chart of the mantra appropriate to the particular Devata whose presence is to be invoked into the yantra. Certain preliminaries precede, as in the case of a pratima, the worship of a yantra. The worshipper first meditates upon the Devata, and then arouses Him or Her in himself. He then communicates the divine presence thus aroused to the yantra. When the Devata has by the appropriate mantra been invoked into the yantra, the vital airs (prana) of the Devata are infused therein by the prana-pratishtha ceremony, mantra, and mudra. The Devata is thereby installed in the yantra, which is no longer mere gross matter veiling the spirit which has been always there, but instinct with its aroused presence, which the sadhaka first welcomes and then worships. Mantra in itself is Devata, and yantra is mantra in that it is the body of the Devata who is mantra.

The Gayatri Mantra

The Gayatri is the most sacred of all Vaidik mantras. In it the Veda lies embodied as in its seed. It runs: Ong bhur bhuvah svah: tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi: dhiyo yo nah prachodayat. Om. "Ong. Let us contemplate the wondrous spirit of the Divine Creator (Savitri) of the earthly, atmospheric, and celestial spheres. May He direct our minds (that is, ‘towards’ the attainment of dharmma., artha, kama, and moksha), Om." The Gayatrt-Vyakarana of Yogi Yajnavalkya thus explains the following words: Tat, that. The word yat (which) is understood. Savituh is the possessive case of Savitri, derived from the root su, "to bring forth." Savitri is, therefore, the Bringer-forth of all that exists. The Sun (Suryya) is the cause of all that exists, and of the state in which they exist. Bringing forth and creating all things, it is called Savitri. The Bhavishya Purana says Suryya is the visible Devata. He is the Eye of the world and the Maker of the day. There is no other Devata eternal like unto Him. This universe has emanated from, and will be again absorbed into, Him. Time is of and in Him. The planets, sta.rs, the Vasus. Rudras, Vayu, Agni, and the rest are but parts of Him. By Bhargah is meant the Aditya-devata, dwelling in the region of the Sun (suryya-mandala) in all His might and glory. He is to the Sun what our spirit (atma) is to our body. Though He is in the region of the sun in the outer or material sphere He also dwells in our inner selves. He is the light of the light in the solar circle, and is the light of the lives of all beings. As He is in the outer ether, so also is He in the ethereal region of the heart. In the outer ether He is Suryya, and in the inner ether He is the wonderful Light which is the Smokeless Fire. In short, that Being whom the sadhaka realizes in the region of his heart is the Aditya in the heavenly firmament. The two are one. The word is derived in two ways: (1) from the root bhrij, "to ripen, mature, destroy, reveal, shine." In this derivation Suryya is He who matures and transforms all things. He Himself shines and reveals all things by His light. And it is He who at the final Dissolution (pralaya) will in His image of destructive Fire (kalagni) destroy all things. (2) From bha = dividing all things into different classes; ra = colour; for He produces the colour of all created objects; ga, constantly going and returning. The sun divides all things, produces the different colours of all things, and is constantly going and returning. As the Brahmana-sarvasva says: "The Bhargah is the Atma of all that exists, whether moving or motionless, in the three loka (Bhur bhuvah svah). There is nothing which exists apart from it." Devasya is the genitive of Deva, agreeing with Savituh. Deva is the radiant and playful (lilamaya) one. Suryya is in constant play with creation (srishti), existence (sthiti), and destruction (pralaya), and by His radiance pleases all. (Lila, as applied to the Brahman, is the equivalent of maya.) Varenyam = varaniya, or adorable. He should be meditated upon and adored that we may be relieved of the misery of birth and death. Those who fear rebirth, who desire freedom from death and liberation and who strive to escape the three kinds of pain (tapa-traya), which are adhyatmika, adhidaivika, and adhibhautika, meditate upon and adore the Bharga, who, dwelling in the region of the Sun, is Himself the three regions called Bhur-loka, Bhuvar-loka, and Svar-loka. Dhimahi = dhya-yema, from the root dhyai. We meditate upon, or let us meditate upon.

Prachodayat = may He direct. The Gayatri does not so expressly state, but it is understood that such direction is along the chatur-varga, or four-fold path, which is dharmma, artha, kama, and moksha (piety, wealth, desire and its fulfilment, and liberation, vide post). The Bhargah is ever directing our inner faculties (buddhi-vritti) along these paths.

The above is the Vaidika Gayatri, which, according to the Vaidik system, none but the twice-born may utter. To the Shudra whether man or woman, and to women of all other castes it is forbidden. The Tantra, which has Gayatri-Mantra of its own, shows no such exclusiveness; Chapter III., verses 109-111, gives the Brahma-gayatri for worshippers of the Brahman: "Parameshva-raya vidmahe para-tattvaya dhimahi: tan no Brahma prachodayat "(May we know the supreme Lord. Let us contemplate the Supreme essence. And may that Brahman direct us).


Shabda, or sound, which is of the Brahman, and as such the cause of the Brahmanda, is the manifestation of the Chit-shakti Itself. The Vishva-sara Tantra says that tha Para-brahman, as Shabda-brahman, whose substance is all mantra, exists in the body of the jivatma. It is either unlettered (dhvani) or lettered (varna). The former, which produces the latter, is the subtle aspect of the jiva’s vital shakti. As the Prapancha-sara states, the brahmanda is pervaded by shakti, consisting of dhvani, also called nada, prana, and the like. The manifestation of the gross form (sthula) of shabda is not possible unless shabda exists in a subtle (sukshma) form. Mantras are all aspects of the Brahman and manifestations of Kula-kundalini. Philosophically shabda is the guna of akasha, or ethereal space. It is not, however, produced by akasha, but manifests in it. Shabda is itself the Brahman. In the same way, however, as in outer space, waves of sound are produced by movements of air (vayu); so in the space within the jiva’s body waves of sound are produced according to the movements of the vital air (prana-vayu) and the process of inhalation and exhalation. Shabda first appears at the muladhara, and that which is known to us as such is, in fact, the shakti which gives life to the jiva. She it is who, in the muladhara, is the cause of the sweet indistinct and murmuring dhvani, which sounds like the humming of a black bee.

The extremely subtle aspect of sound which first appears in the Muladhara is called para; less subtle when it has reached the heart, it is known as pashyanti. When connected with buddhi it becomes more gross, and is called madhyama. Lastly, in its fully gross form, it issues from the mouth as vaikhari. As Kula-Kundalini, whose substance is all varna and dhvani, is but the manifestation of, and Herself the Paramatma; so the substance of all mantra is chit, notwithstanding their external manifestation, as sound, letters, or words; in fact, the letters of the alphabet, which are known as akshara, are nothing but the yantra of the akshara, or imperishable Brahman. This, however, is only realized by the sadhaka when his shakti, generated by sadhana, is united with the mantra-shakti.

It is the sthula or gross form of Kulakundalini, appearing in different aspects as different Devata, which is the presiding Devata (adhishthatri) of all mantra, though it is the subtle or sukshma form at which all sadhakas aim. When the mantrashakti is awakened by sadhana the Presiding Devata appears, and when perfect mantra-siddhi is acquired, the Devata, who is sachchidananda, is revealed. The relations of varna, nada, vindu, vowel and consonant in a mantra, indicate the appearance of Devata in different forms. Certain vibhuti, or aspects, of the Devata are inherent in certain varna, but perfect Shakti does not appear in any but a whole mantra. Any word or letter of the mantra cannot be a mantra. Only that mantra in which the playful Devata has revealed any of Her particular aspects can reveal that aspect, and is therefore called the individual mantra of that one of Her particular aspects. The form of a particular Devata, therefore, appears out of the particular mantra of which that Devata is the adhishthatri Devata.

A mantra is composed of certain letters arranged in definite sequence of sounds of which the letters are the representative signs. To produce the designed effect mantra must be intoned in the proper way, according to svara (rhythm), and varna (sound). Their textual source is to be found in Veda, Purana, and Tantra. The latter is essentially the mantra-shastra, and so it is said of the embodied shastra, that Tantra, which consists of mantra, is the paramatma, the Vedas are the jivatma, Darshana (systems of philosophy) are the senses, Puranas are the body, and Smriti are the limbs. Tantra is thus the shakti of consciousness, consisting of mantra. A mantra is not the same thing as prayer or self-dedication (atma-nivedana). Prayer is conveyed in what words the worshipper chooses, and bears its meaning on its face. It is only ignorance of shastrik principle which supposes that mantra is merely the name for the words in which one expresses what one has to say to the Divinity. If it were, the sadhaka might choose his own language without recourse to the eternal and determined sounds of Shastra.

A mantra may, or may not, convey on its face its meaning. Vija (seed) mantra, such as Aing, Kling, Hring, have no meaning, according to the ordinary use of language. The initiate, however, knows that their meaning is the own form (sva-rupa) of the particular Devata, whose mantra they are, and that they are the dhvani which makes all letters sound and which exists in all which we say or hear. Every mantra is, then, a form (rupa) of the Brahman. Though, therefore, manifesting in the form and sound of the letters of the alphabet, Shastra says that they go to Hell who think that the Guru is but a stone, and the mantra but letters of the alphabet.

From manana, or thinking, arises the real understanding of the monistic truth, that the substance of the Brahman and the brahmanda are one and the same. Man- of mantra comes from the first syllable of manana, and -tra from trana, or liberation from the bondage of the sangsara or phenomenal world. By the combination of man- and -tra, that is called mantra which calls forth (amantrana), the chatur-varga (vide post), or four aims of sentient being. Whilst, therefore, mere prayer often ends in nothing but physical sound, mantra is a potent compelling force, a word of power (the fruit of which is mantra-siddhi), and is thus effective to produce the chatur-varga, advaitic perception, and mukti. Thus it is said that siddhi is the certain result of japa (q.v.). By Mantra the sought for (sadhya) Devata, is attained and compelled. By siddhi in mantra is opened the vision of the three worlds. Though the purpose of worship (puja), reading (patha), hymn (stava), sacrifice (homa), dhyana, dharana, and samadhi (vide post), and that of the diksha-mantra are the same, yet the latter is far more powerful, and this for the reason that, in the first, the sadhaka’s sadhana-shakti only operates, whilst in the case of mantra that sadhana-shakti works, in conjunction with mantra-shakti, which has the revelation and force of fire, and than which nothing is more powerful. The special mantra which is received at initiation (diksha) is the vija, or seed mantra, sown in the field of the sadhaka’s heart, and the Tantrik sandhya, nyasa, puja, and the like are the stem and branches upon which hymns of praise (stuti) and prayer and homage (vandana) are the leaves and flower, and the kavacha, consisting of mantra, the fruit.

Mantra are solar (saura) and lunar (saumya), and are masculine, feminine, or neuter. The solar are masculine and lunar feminine. The masculine and neuter forms are called mantra. The feminine mantra is known as vidya. The neuter mantra, such as the Pauranik-mantra, ending with namah, are said to lack the force and vitality of the others. The masculine and feminine mantra end differently. Thus, Hung, Phat, are masculine terminations, and "thang," or svaha, are feminine ones.

The Nitya Tantra gives various names to mantra. according to the number of their syllables, a one-syllabled mantra being called pinda, a three-syllabled one kartari, a mantra with four to nine syllables vija, with ten to twenty syllables mantra, and mantra with more than twenty syllables mala. Commonly, however, the term vija is applied to monosyllabic mantra. The Tantrik mantras called vija (seed) are so named because they are the seed of the fruit, which is siddhi, and because they are the very quintessence of mantra. They are short, unetymological vocables, such as Hring, Shring, Kring, Hung, Aing, Phat, etc., which will be found throughout the text. Each Devata has His or Her vija. The primary mantra of a Devata is known as the root mantra (mula-mantra). It is also said that the word mula denotes the subtle body of the Devata called Kama-kala. The utterance of a mantra without knowledge of its meaning or of the mantra method is a mere movement of the lips and nothing more. The mantra sleeps. There are various processes preliminary to, and involved in, its right utterance, which processes again consist of mantra, such as, purification of the mouth (mukha-shodhana), purification of the tongue (jihva-shodhana), and of the mantra (ashaucha-bhanga), kulluka, nirvvana, setu, nidra-bhanga, awakening of mantra, mantra-chaitanya, or giving of life or vitality to the mantra. Mantrarthabhavana, forming of mental image of the Divinity. There are also ten sangskara of the mantra. Dipani is seven japa of the vija, preceded and followed by one. Where hring is employed instead of Ong it is prana-yoga. Yoni-mudra is meditation on the Guru in the head and on the Ishta-devata in the heart, and then on the Yoni-rupa Bhagavati from the head to the muladhara, and from the muladhara to the head, making japa of the yoni vija (eng) ten times. The mantra itself is Devata. The worshipper awakens and vitalizes it by chit-shakti, putting away all thought of the letter, piercing the six Chakra, and contemplating the Spotless One. The shakti of the mantra is the vachaka-shakti, or the means by which the vachya-shakti or object of the mantra is attained. The mantra lives by the energy of the former. The saguna-shanti is awakened by sadhana and worshipped, and She it is who opens the portals whereby the vachya-shakti is reached. Thus the Mother in Her saguna form is the presiding deity (adhishthatri Devata) of the Gayatri-mantra. As the nirguna (formless) One, She is its vachya-shakti. Both are in reality one and the same; but the jiva, by the laws of his nature and its three guna, must first meditate on the gross (sthula) form before he can realize the subtle (sukshma) form, which is his liberator.

The mantra of a Devata is the Devata. The rhythmical vibrations of its sounds not merely regulate the unsteady vibrations of the sheaths of the worshipper, thus transforming him, but from it arises the form of the Devata, which it is. Mantra-siddhi is the ability to make a mantra efficacious and to gather its fruit in which case the mantra is called mantra-siddha. Mantra are classified as siddha, sadhya, susiddha, and ari, according as they are friends, servers, supporters, or destroyers – a matter which is determined for each sadhaka by means of chakra calculations.

Forms of Achara

There are seven, or, as some say, nine, divisions of worshippers. The extra divisions are bracketed in the following quotation. The Kularnava Tantra mentions seven, which are given in their order of superiority, the first being the lowest: Vedachara, Vaishnavachara, Shaivachara, Dakshinachara, Vamachara, Siddhantachara (Aghorachara, Yogachara), and Kaulachara, the highest of all. The achara is the way, custom, and practice of a particular class of sadhaka. They are not, as sometimes supposed, different sects, but stages through which the worshipper in this or other births has to pass before he reaches the supreme stage of the Kaula. Vedachara, which consists in the daily practice of the Vaidik rites, is the gross body (sthula-deha), which comprises within it all other acharas, which are, as it were, its subtle bodies (sukshma-deha) of various degrees. The worship is largely of an external and ritual character, the object of which is to strengthen dharma. This is the path of action (kriya-marga). In the second stage the worshipper passes from blind faith to an understanding of the supreme protecting energy of the Brahman, towards which he has feelings of devotion. This is the path of devotion (bhakti-marga), and the aim at this stage is the union of it and faith previously acquired. With an increasing determination to protect dharma and destroy a-dharma, the sadhaka passes into Shaivachara, the warrior (kshatriya) stage, wherein to love and mercy are added strenuous striving and the cultivation of power. There is union of faith, devotion (bhakti), and inward determination (antar-laksha). Entrance is made upon the path of knowledge (jnana-marga). Following this is Dakshinachara, which in Tantra does not mean "right-hand worship," but "favourable" – that is, that achara which is favourable to the accomplishment of the higher sadhana, and whereof the Devi is the Dakshina Kalika. This stage commences when the worshipper can make dhyana and dharana of the threefold shakti of the Brahman (kriya, ichchha, jñana), and understands the mutual connection (samanvaya) of the three guna until he receives purnabhisheka (q.v.). At this stage the sadhaka is Shakta, and qualified for the worship of the threefold shakti of Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshvara. He is fully initiated in the Gayatri-mantra, and worships the Devi Gayatri, the Dakshina Kalika, or Adya Shakti – the union of the three Shakti. This is the stage of individualistic Brahmana-tattva, and its aim is the union of faith, devotion, and determination, with a knowledge of the threefold energies. After this a change of great importance occurs, marking, as it does, the entry upon the path of return (nivritti). This it is which has led some to divide the achara into the two broad divisions of Dakshinachara (including the first four) and Vamachara (including the last three), it being said that men are born into Dakshinachara, but are received by initiation into Vamachara. The latter term does not mean, as is vulgarly supposed, "left-hand worship," but the worship in which woman (vama) enters that is lata-sadhana. In this achara there is also worship of the Vama Devi. Vija is here "adverse," in that the stage is adverse to pravritti, which governed in varying degrees the preceding achara, and entry is here made upon the path of nivritti, or return to the source whence the world sprung. Up to the fourth stage the sadhaka followed pravrittimarga, the outgoing path which led from the source, the path of worldly enjoyment, albeit curved by dharma. At first unconsciously, and later consciously, sadhana sought to induce nivrittt, which, however, can only fully appear after the exhaustion of the forces of the outward current. In Vamachara, however, the sadhaka commences to directly destroy pravritti, and with the help of the Guru (whose help throughout is in this necessary) to cultivate nivritti. The method at this stage is to use the force of pravritti in such a way as to render them self-destructive. The passions which bind may be so employed as to act as forces whereby the particular life of which they are the strongest manifestation is raised to the universal life. Passion, which has hitherto run downwards and outwards to waste, is directed inwards and upwards, and transformed to power. But it is not only the lower physical desires of eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse which must be subjugated. The sadhaka must at this stage commence to cut off all the eight bonds (pasha) which mark the pashu which the Kularnava Tantra enumerates as pity (daya), ignorance (moha), shame (lajja), family (kula), custom (shila), and caste (varna). When Shri Krishna stole the clothes of the bathing Gopi, and made them approach him naked, he removed the artificial coverings which are imposed on man in the sangsara. The Gopi were eight, as are the bonds (pasha), and the errors by which the jiva is misled are the clothes which Shri Krishna stole. Freed of these, the jiva is liberated from all bonds arising from his desires, family, and society. He then reaches the stage of Shiva (shivatva). It is the aim of Vamachara to liberate from the bonds which bind men to the sangsara, and to qualify the sadhaka for the highest grades of sadhana in which the sattvika guna predominates. To the truly sattvik there is neither attachment, fear, or disgust. That which has been commenced in these stages is by degrees completed in those which follow – viz.: Siddhantachara, and according to some, Aghorachara and Yogachara. The sadhaka becomes more and more freed from the darkness of the sangsara, and is attached to nothing, hates nothing, and is ashamed of nothing, having freed himself of the artificial bonds of family, caste, and society. The sadhaka becomes, like Shiva himself, a dweller in the cremation ground (smashana). He learns to reach the upper heights of sadhana and the mysteries of yoga. He learns the movements of the different vayu in the microcosm the Kshudra-brahmanda, the regulation of which controls the inclinations and propensities (vritti). He learns also the truth which concern the macrocosm (brahmanda). Here also the Guru teaches him the inner core of Vedachara. Initiation by yoga-diksha fully qualifies him for yogachara. On attainment of perfection in ashtanga-yoga, he is fit to enter the highest stage of Kaulachara.

Kaula-dharma is in no wise sectarian, but, on the contrary, is the heart of all sects. This is the true meaning of the phrase which, like many another touching the Tantra, is misunderstood, and used to fix the kaula with hypocrisy – antah-shaktah, vahih-shaivah sabhayang vaishnavahmatah nana – rupadharah kaulah vicharanti mahitale (outwardly Shaivas; in gatherings, Vaishnavas; at heart, Shaktas; under various forms the Kaulas wander on earth). A Kaula is one who has passed through these and other stages, which have as their own inmost doctrine (whether these worshippers know it or not) that of Kaulachara. It is indifferent what the Kaula’s apparent sect may be. The form is nothing and everything. It is nothing in the sense that it has no power to narrow the Kaula’s own inner life; it is everything in the sense that knowledge may infuse its apparent limitations with an universal meaning. So understood, form is never a bond. The Vishva-sara Tantra, says of the Kaula that "for him there is neither rule of time; nor place. His actions are unaffected either by the phases of the moon or the position of the stars. The Kaula roams the earth in differing forms. At times adhering to social rules (shishta), he at others appears, according to their standard, to be fallen (bhrashta). At times, again, he seems to be as unearthly as a ghost (bhuta or pishacha) To him no difference is there between mud and sandal paste, his son and an enemy, home and the cremation ground."

At this stage the sadhaka attains to Brahma-jnana, which is the true gnosis in its perfect form. On receiving mahapurna-daksha he performs his own funeral rites and is dead to the sangsara. Seated alone in some quiet place, he remains in constant samadhi, and attains its nir-vikalpa form. The Great Mother, the Supreme Prakriti Maha-shakti, dwells in the heart of the sadhaka, which is now the cremation ground wherein all passions have been burnt away. He becomes a Parama-hangsa, who is liberated whilst yet living (javan-mukta).

It must not, however, be supposed that each of these stages must necessarily be passed through by each jiva in a single life. On the contrary, they are ordinarily traversed in the course of a multitude of births. The weaving of the spiritual garment is recommenced where in a previous birth, it was dropped on death. In the present life a sadhaka may commence at any stage. If he is born into Kaulachara, and so is a Kaula in its fullest sense, it is because in previous births he has by sadhana, in the preliminary stages, won his entrance into it. Knowledge of Shakti is, as the Niruttara Tantra says, acquired after many births; and, according to the Mahanirvana Tantra, it is by merit acquired in previous births that the mind is inclined to Kaulachara.

Worship Generally

There are four different forms of worship corresponding with four states (bhava). The realization that the jivatma and paramatma are one, that everything is Brahman, and that nothing but the Brahman exists, is the highest state, or brahma-bhava. Constant meditation by the yoga process upon the Devata in the heart is the lower and middlemost (dhyana-bhava) japa (q.v.) and stava (hymns and prayer) is still lower and the lowest of all is mere external worship (puja) (q.v.). Puja-bhava is that which arises out of the dualistic notions of worshipper and worshipped; the servant and the Lord. This dualism exists in greater or less degree in all the states except the highest. But for him who, having realized the advaita-tattva, knows that all is Brahman, there is neither worshipper nor worshipped, neither yoga nor puja, nor dharana, dhyana, stava, japa, vrata, or other ritual or process of sadhana.

In external worship there is worship either of an image (pratima), or of a yantra (q.v.), which takes its place. The sadhaka should first worship inwardly the mental image of the form assumed by the Devi, and then by the life-giving (prana-pratishtha) ceremony infuse the image with Her life by the communication to it of the light and energy (tejas) of the Brahman which is within him to the image without, from which there bursts the lustre of Her whose substance is consciousness itself (chaitanya-mayi). She exists as Shakti in stone or metal, or elsewhere, but is there veiled and seemingly inert. Chaitanya (consciousness) is aroused by the worshipper through the prana-pratishtha mantra.

Rites (karma) are of two kinds. Karma is either nitya nr naimittika. The first is both daily and obligatory, and is done because so ordained. Such as the sandhya (v. post), which in the case of Shudras is in the Tantrik form; and daily puja (v. post) of the Ishta- and Kula-Devata (v. post); and for Brahmamas the pancha-maha-yajna (v. post). The second or conditional karma is occasional and voluntary, and is kamya when done to gain some particular end, such as yajna for a particular object; tapas with the same end (for certain forms of tapas are also nitya); and vrata (v. post).

The Tantra makes no caste distinctions as regards worship. All may read the Tantras, perform the Tantrik worship, such as the sandhya (v. post), and recite the Tantrik mantra, such as the Tantrik Gayatri. All castes, and even the lowest chandala, may be a member of a chakra, or Tantrik circle of worship. In the chakra all its members partake of food and drink together, and are deemed to be greater than Brahmanas; though upon the break-up of the chakras the ordinary caste and social relations are re-established. All are competent for the specially Tantrik worship, for, in the words of the Gautamiya Tantra, the Tantra Shastra is for all castes and for all women. The latter are also excluded under the present Vaidik system, though it is said by Shankha Dharma-shastra-kara that the wife may, with the consent of her husband, fast, take vows, perform homa and vrata, etc. According to the Tantra, a woman may not only receive mantra, but may, as a Guru, initiate and give it. She is worshipful as Guru, and as wife of Guru. The Devi is Herself Guru of all Shastras and woman, as, indeed, all females who are Her embodiments are, in a peculiar sense, Her earthly representatives.


Sadhana is that which produces siddhi (q.v.). It is the means, or practice, by which the desired end may be attained, and consists in the exercise and training of the body and psychic faculties, upon the gradual perfection of which siddhi follows; the nature and degree of which, again, depends upon the progress made towards the realization of the atma, whose veiling vesture the body is. The means employed are various, such as worship (puja), exterior or mental; shastric learning; austerities (tapas); the pancha-tattva, mantra, and so forth. Sadhana takes on a special character, according to the end sought. Thus, sadhana for brahma-jñana, which consists in the acquisition of internal control (shama) over buddhi, manas, and ahangkara; external control (dama) over the ten indriya, discrimination between the transitory and the external, and renunciation both of the world and heaven (svarga), is obviously different from that prescribed for, say, the purposes of the lower magic. The sadhaka and sadhika are respectively the man or woman who perform sadhana. They are, according to their physical, mental, and moral qualities, divided into four classes – mridu, madhya, adhimatraka, and the highest adhimatrama, who is qualified (adhikari) for all forms of yoga. In a similar way the Kaula division of worshippers are divided into the prakriti, or common Kaula following virachara, addicted to ritual practice, and sadhana, with pancha-tattva; the madhyama-kaulika, or middling Kaula, accomplishing the same sadhana, but with a mind more turned towards meditation, knowledge, and samadhi; and the highest type of Kaula (kaulikottama), who, having surpassed all ritualism, meditates upon the Universal Self.


Abhisheka is of eight kinds, and the forms of abhisheka which follow the first at later stages, mark greater and greater degrees of initiation. The first shaktabhisheka is given on entrance into the path of sadhana. It is so called because the guru then reveals to the shishya the preliminery mysteries of shakti-tattva. By it the shishya is cleansed of all sinful or evil shakti or proclivities, and acquires a wonderful new shakti. The next purnabhisheka is given in the stage beyond dakshinachara, when the disciple has qualified himself by purascharana and other practices to receive it. Here the real work of sadhana begins. Asana, yama, etc., strengthen the disciple’s determina,tion (pratijna) to persevere along the higher stages of sadhana. The third is the difficult stage commenced by krama-dikshabhisheka, in which it is said the great Vashishtha became involved, and in which the Rishi Vishvamitra acquired brahma-jnana, and so became a Brahmana. The sacred thread is now worn round the neck like a garland. The shishya, then undergoing various ordeals (pariksha), receives samrajyabhisheka and maha-samrajyabhisheka, and at length arrives at the most dificult of all stages introduced by yoga-dikshabhisheka. In previous stages the sadhaka has performed the panchanga-puraschharana, and, with the assistance of his guru (with whom he must constantly reside, and whose instructions he must receive direct), he does the panchanga-yoga – that is, the last five limbs of the ashtanga. He is thereafter qualified for purna-dikshabhisheka, and, following that, maha-purna-diksha-bhisheka, sometimes called viraja-grahanabhisheka. On the attainment of perfection in this last grade, the sadhaka performs his own funeral rite (shraddha), makes purnahuti with his sacred thread and crown lock. The relation of guru and shishya now ceases. From this point he ascends by himself until he realizes the great saying, So’ham ("I am He"). At this stage, which the Tantra calls jivan-mukta (liberated whilst yet living), he is called parama-hangsa.


Diksha Initiation is the giving of mantra by the guru. At the time of initiation the guru must first establish the life of the guru in his own body; that is the vital force (prana-shakti) of the Supreme Guru whose abode is in the thousand-petalled lotus. As an image is the instrument (yantra) in which divinity (devatva) inheres, so also is the body of guru. The day prior thereto the guru should, according to Tantra, seat the intending candidate on a mat of kusha grass. He then makes japa of a "sleep mantra" (supta-mantra) in his ear, and ties his crown lock. The disciple, who should have fasted and observed sexual continence, repeats the mantra thrice, prostrates himself at the feet of the guru, and then retires to rest. Initiation, which follows, gives spiritual knowledge and destroys sin. As one lamp is lit at the flame of another, so the divine shanti, consisting of mantra, is communicated from the guru’s body to that of the Shishya. Without daksha, japa of the mantra, puja, and other ritual acts, are said to be useless. Certain mantra are also said to be forbidden to shudra and women. A note, however, in the first Chalakshara Sutra, to the Lalita would, however, show that even the shudra are not debarred the use even of the Pranava, as is generally asserted. For, according to the Kalika Purana (when dealing with svara or tone), whilst the udatta, an-udatta, and prachita are appropriate to the first of these castes, the svara, called aukara, with anusvara and nada, is appropriate to shudra, who may use the Pranava, either at the beginning or end of mantra, but not, as the dvija may, at both places. The mantra chosen for initiation should be suitable (anukala). Whether a mantra is sva-kula or a-kula to the person about to be initiated is ascertained by the kula-chakra, the zodiacal circle called rashichakra and other chakra which may be found described in the Tantra-sara. Initiation by a woman is efficacious; that by a mother is eight-fold so. Certain special forms of initiation, called abhisheka, are described in the next note.

Guru and Shishya

The Guru is the religious teacher and spiritual guide to whose direction orthodox Hindus of all divisions of worshippers submit themselves. There is in reality but one Guru. The ordinary human Guru is but the manifestation on the phenomenal plane of the Adi-natha Maha-kala, the Supreme Guru abiding in Kailasa. He it is who enters into and speaks with the voice of the earthly Guru at the time of giving mantra. Guru is the root (mala) of diksha (imitation). Diksha is the root of mantra. Mantra is the root of Devata; and Devata is the root of siddhi. The Munda-mala Tantra says that mantra is born of Guru and Devata of mantra, so that the Guru occupies the position of a grandfather to the Ishta-devata.

It is the Guru who initiates and helps, and the relationship between him and the disciple (shishya) continues until the attainment of monistic siddhi. Manu says: "Of him who gives natural birth and of him who gives knowledge of the Veda the giver of sacred knowledge is the more venerable father. Since second or divine birth insures life to the twice-born in this world and the next." The Shastra is, indeed, full of the greatness of Guru. The Guru is not to be thought of as a mere man. There is no difference between Guru, mantra, and Deva. Guru is father, mother, and Brahman. Guru, it is said, can save from the wrath of Shiva, but none can save from the wrath of the Guru. Attached to this greatness there is, however, responsibility; for the sins of the disciple recoil upon him.

Three lines of Guru are worshipped: heavenly (divyangga) siddha (siddhangga), and human (manavangga). The kala-guru are four in number, viz.: the Guru, Parama-guru, Parapara-guru, Parameshti-guru; each of these being the guru of the preceding one. According to the Tantra, woman with the necessary qualifications may be a guru, and give initiation. Good qualities are required in the disciple, and according to the Sara-sangraha a guru should examine and test the intending disciple for a year. The qualifications of a good disciple are stated to be good birth, purity of soul (shuddhatma), and capacity for enjoyment, combined with desire for liberation (purushartha-parayanah). Those who are lewd (kamuka), adulterous (para-daratura), constantly addicted to sin (sada papa-kriya), ignorant, slothful, and devoid of religion, should be rejected.

The perfect sadhaka who is entitled to the knowledge of all Shastra is he who is pure-minded, whose senses are controlled (jitendriyah), who is ever engaged in doing good to all beings, free from false notions of dualism, attached to the speaking of, taking shelter with, and living in the supreme unity of the Brahman. So long as Shakti is not fully communicated (see next note) to the shishya’s body from that of the guru, so long the conventional relation of guru and shishya exists. A man is shishya only so long as he is sadhaka. When, however, siddhi is attained, both Guru and Shishya are above this dualism. With the attainment of pure monism, naturally this relation, as all others, disappears.

The Three Temperaments

The Tantras speak of three temperaments, dispositions, characters (bhava), or classes of men – namely, the pashu-bhava (animal), vira-bhava (heroic), and divya-bhava (deva-like or divine). These divisions are based on various modifications of the guna (v. ante) as they manifest in man (jiva). It has been pointed out that the analogous Gnostic classification of men as material, psychical, and spiritual, correspond to the three guna of the Sankhya-darshana. In the pashu the rajo-guna operates chiefy on tamas, producing such dark characteristics as error (bhranti), drowsiness (tandra), and sloth (alasya). It is however, an error to suppose that the pashu is as such a bad man; on the contrary, a jiva of this class may prove superior to a jiva of the next. If the former, who is greatly bound by matter, lacks enlightenment, the latter may abuse the greater freedom he has won. There are also numerous kinds of pashu, some more some less tamasik than others. Some there are at the lowest end of the scale, which marks the first advance upon the higher forms of animal life. Others approach and gradually merge into the vira class. The term pashu comes from the root pash, "to bind." The pashu is, in fact, the man who is bound by the bonds (pasha), of which the Kularnava Tantra enurnerates eight – namely, pity (daya), ignorance and delusion (moha), fear (bhaya), shame (lajja), disgust (ghrina), family (kula), custom (shila), and caste (varna). Other enumerations are given of the afflictions which, according to some, are sixty-two, but all such larger divisions are merely elaborations of the simpler enumerations. The pashu is also the worldly man, in ignorance and bondage, as opposed to the yogi and the tattva-jnani. Three divisions of pashsu are also spoken of – namely, sakala, who are bound by the three pasha, called anu (want of knowledge or erroneous knowledge of the self), bheda (the division also induced by maya of the one self into many), and karmma (action and its product. These are the three impurities (mala) called anava-mala, maya-mala, and Karmma-mala. Pratayakala are those bound by the first and last, and Vijnana-kevala are those bound by anava-mala only. He who frees himself of the remaining impurity of anu becomes Shiva Himself. The Devi bears the pasha, and is the cause of them, but She, too, is pashupasha-vimochini, Liberatrix of the pashu from his bondage.

What has been stated gives the root notion of the term pashu. Men of this class are also described in Tantra by exterior traits, which are manifestations of the interior disposition. So the Kubjika Tantra says: "Those who belong to pashu-bhava .re simply pashu. A pashu does not touch a yantra, nor make japa of mantra at night. He entertains doubt about sacrifices and Tantra; regards a mantra as being merely letters only. He lacks faith in the guru, and thinks that the image is but a block of stone. He distinguishes one Deva from another, and worships without flesh and fish. He is always bathing, owing to his ignorance, and talks ill of others. Such an one is called pashu, and he is the worst kind of man." Similarly the Nitya Tantra describes the pashu as – "He who does not worship at night, nor in the evening, nor in the latter part of the day; who avoids sexual intercourse, except on the fifth day after the appearance of the courses (ritu-kalang vina devi ramanang parivarjayet); who do not eat meat, etc., even on the five auspicious days (parvvana)"; in short, those who, following Vedachara, Vaishnavachara, and Shaivachara, are bound by the Vaidik rules which govern all pashus. In the case of vira-bhava, rajas more largely works on sattva, yet also largely (though in lessening degrees, until the highest stage of divya-bhava is reached) works independently towards the production of acts in which sorrow inheres. There are several classes of vira.

The third, or highest, class of man is he of the divya-bhava (of which, again, there are several degrees – some but a stage in advance of the highest form of vira-bhava, others completely realizing the deva-nature), in which rajas operate on sattva-guna to the confirmed preponderance of the latter.

The Nitya Tantra says that of the bhava the divya is the best, the vira the next best, and the pashu the lowest; and that devata-bhava must be awakened through vira-bhava. The Pichchhila Tantra says that the only difference between the vira and divya men is that the former are very uddhata, by which is probably meant excitable, through the greater prevalence of the independent working of the rajo-guna in them than in the calmer sattvik temperament. It is obvious that such statements must not be read with legal accuracy. There may be, in fact, a considerable difference between a low type of vira and the highest type of divya, though it seems to be true that this quality of uddhata which is referred to is the cause of such differences, whether great or small.

The Kubjika Tantra describes the marks of the divya as he "who daily does ablutions, sandhya; and wearing clean cloth, the tripundara mark in ashes, or red sandal, and ornaments of rudraksha beads, performs japa and archchana. He gives charity daily also. His faith is strong in Veda, Shastra, guru, and Deva. He worships the Pitri and Deva, and performs all the daily rites. He has a great knowledge of mantra. He avoids all food, except that which his guru offers him, and all cruelty and other bad actions, regarding both friend and foe as one and the same. He himself ever speaks the truth, and avoids the company of those who decry the Devata. He worships thrice daily, and meditates upon his guru daily, and, as a Bhairava, worships Parameshvari with divya-bhava. All Devas he regards as beneficial. He bows down at the feet of women, regarding them as his guru (strinang pada-talang drishtva guru-vad bhavayet sada). He worships the Devi at night, and makes japa at night with his mouth full of pan, and makes obeisance to the kula vriksha. He offers everything to the Supreme Devi. He regards this universe as pervaded by stri (shakti), and as Devata. Shiva is in all men, and the whole brahmanda is pervaded by Shiva-Shakti. He ever strives for the attainment and maintenance of devata-bhava, and is himself of the nature of a Devata.

Here, again, the Tantra only seeks to give a general picture, the details of which are not applicable to all men of the divya-bhava class. The passage shows that it, or portions of it, refer to the ritual divya, for some of the practices there referred to would not be performed by the avadkuta, who is above all ritual acts, though he would also share (possibly in intenser degree) the beliefs of divya men of all classes – that he and all else are but manifestations of the universe-pervading Supreme Shakti.

According to the temperament of the sadhaka, so is the form of worship and sadhana. In fact, the specific worship and sadhana of the other classes is strictly prohibited by the Tantra to the pashu.

It is said in this Tantra and elsewhere that, in the Kali-yuga, divya and pashu dispositions can scarcely be found. It may be thought difficult at first sight to reconcile this (so far as the pasha is concerned) with other statements as to the nature of these respective classes. The term pashu, in these and similar passages, would appear to be used in a good sense as referring to a man who, though tamasic, yet performs his functions with that obedience to nature which is shown by the still more tamasic animal creation free from the disturbing influences of rajas, which, if it may be the source of good, may also be, when operating independently, the source of evil.

The Commentator explains the passage cited from the Tantra as meaning that the conditions and character of the Kali-yuga are not such as to be productive of pasha-bhava (apparently in the sense stated), or to allow of its achara (that is, Vaidikachara). No one, he says, can fully perform the vedachara, vaishnavachara, and shavachara rites, without which the Vaidik, Pauranik mantra, and yajna are fruitless. No one now goes through the brahma-charya ashrama, or adopts after the fiftieth year that called vana-prastha. Those whom the Veda does not control cannot expect the fruit of Vaidik observances. On the contrary, men have taken to drink, associate with the low, and are fallen; as are also those men who associate with them. There can therefore be no pure pashu. Under these circumstances the duties prescribed by the Vedas which are appropriate for the pasha being incapable of performance, Shiva for the liberation of men of the Kali Age has proclaimed the Agama. "Now, there is no other way." The explanation thus given, therefore, appears to amount to this. The pure type of pashu for whom vedachara was designed does not exist. For others who though pasha are not purely so, the Tantra is the governing Shastra. This, however, does not mean that all are now competent for virachara.

It is to be noted, however, that the Prana-toshini cites a passage purporting to come from the Mahanirvana Tantra, which is apparently in direct opposition to the foregoing:

Divya-vira-mayo bhavah kalau nasti kada-chana Kevalang pasha-bhavena mantra-siddhirbhavennrinam.

"In the Kali Age there is no divya or vira-bhava. It is only by the pashu-bhava that men may obtain mantra-siddhi."

This matter of the bhava prevalent in the Kali-yuga has been the subject of considerable discussion and difference of opinion, and is only touched upon here.

Sahasrara Padma

Above the ajna-chakra there is another secret chakra, called manas-chakra. It is a lotus of six petals, on which are shabda-jñana, sparsha-jñana, rupa-jñana, aghrano-palabdhi, rasopabhoga, and svapna, or the faculties of hearing, touch, sight, smell, taste, and sleep, or the absence of these. Above this, again, there is another secret chakra, called Soma-chakra. It is a lotus of sixteen petals, which are also called sixteen Kala. These Kala are called kripa (mercy), mriduta (gentleness), dhairyya (patience, composure), vairagya (dispassion), dhriti (constancy), sampat (prosperity), hasya (cheerfulness), romancha (rapture, thrill), vinaya (sense of propriety, humility), dhyana (meditation), susthirata (quietude, restfulness), gambhiryya (gravity), udyama (enterprise, effort), akshobha (emotionlessness), audarya (magnanimity), and ekagrata (concentration). Above this last chakra is "the house without support" (niralamba-puri), where yogis see the radiant Ishvara. Above this is the pranava shining like a flame, and above pranava the white crescent Nada, and above this last the point Vindu. There is then a white lotus of twelve petals with its head upwards, and over this lotus there is the ocean of nectar (sudha-sagara), the island of gems (mani-dvipa), the altar of gems (mani-pitha), the forked lightning-like lines a, ka, tha, and therein Nada and Vindu. On Nada and Vindu, as an altar, there is the Paramahangsa, and the latter serves as an altar for the feet of the Guru; there the Guru of all should be meditated. The body of the Hangsa on which the feet of the Guru rest is jñana-maya, the wings Agama and Nigama, the two feet Shiva and Shakti, the beak Pranava, the eyes and throat Kama-Kala. Close to the thousand-petalled lotus is the sixteenth digit of the moon, which is called ama-kala, which is pure red and lustrous like lightning, as fine as a fibre of the lotus, hanging downwards, receptacle of the lunar nectar. In it is the crescent nirvana-kala, luminous as the Sun, and finer than the thousandth part of a hair. This is the Ishta-devata of all. Near nirvana-kala is parama-nirvana-Shakti, infinitely subtle, lustrous as the Sun, creatrix of tattva-jnana. Above it are Vindu and Visarga-Shakti, root and abode of all bliss. Sahasrara-padma – or thousand petalled lotus of all colours – hangs with its head downwards from the brahma-randhra above all the chakra. This is the region of the first cause (Brahma-loka), the cause of the six proceeding causes. It is the great Sun both cosmically and individually, in whose effulgence Parama-Shiva and Adya-Shakti reside. The power is the vachaka-Shakti or saguna-brahman, holding potentially within itself, the gunas, powers, and planes. Parama-Shiva is in the form of the Great Ether (paramakasha-rupi), the Supreme Spirit (paramatma), the Sun of the darkness of ignorance. In each of the petals of the lotus are placed all the letters of the alphabet; and whatever there is in the lower chakra or in the universe (brahmanda) exist here in potential state (avyakta-bhava). Shaivas call this place Shiva-sthana, Vaishnavas, Parama-purusha, Shaktas, Devi-sthana, the Sankhya sages Prakriti-purusha-sthana. Others call it by other names, such as Hari-hara-sthana. Shakti-sthana, Parama-Brahma, Parama-hangsa, Parama-jyotih, Kula-sthana, and Parama-Shiva-Akula. But whatever the name, all speak of the same.


Ajna chakra is also called parama-hula and mukta-tri-veni, since it is from here that the three nadis – Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna – go their separate ways. It is a two-petalled lotus, situate between the two eyebrows. In this Chakra there is no gross Tattva, but the subtle Tattva mind is here. Hakararddha, or half the letter La, is also there. On its two petals are the red varnas "hang "and "kshang." In the pericarp is concealed the vija "ong." In the two petals and the pericarp there are the three guna – sattva, rajas, and tamas. Within the triangular mandala in the pericarp there is the lustrous (tejo-maya) linga in the form of the pranava (pranavakriti), which is called Itara. Para-Shiva, in the form of hangsa (hangsa-rupa) is also there with his Shakti – Siddha-Kali. In the three corners of t

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