Pancaratra and the Ahirbudhnya Samhita, Pt. 8


Sahasrara Chakra with Susumna Nadi, Lotus of a Thousand Petals

Mar 08, 2012 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation the Pancaratra and the Ahirbudhnya Samhita.

Contents of the Ahirbudhnya Samhita (Continued)

Chapter 20 describing the diksa or initiation, opens with a beautiful definition of the ideal teacher who should, among other things, be capable of sharing in both the sorrow and happiness of others (Mitleid and Mitfrende), of being lenient towards the poor of intellect, etc., and must be well versed in Veda and Vedanta (Upanisads), Pancaratra, and other systems (tantra).

The disciple, unmarried or married, but belonging of necessity to the "twice-born", must with perfect sincerity confess to the teacher everything he has "done or not done", after which he may be accepted on probation and, after some years, definitively, if he has succeeded in convincing the teacher that he is free from greed and infatuation, capable of guarding the secret tradition (rahasyamnaya-gopin), etc. In that case, with the usual Nyasas, etc., the Sudarshana Mantra is imparted to him, of which the three Rsis are: the Paramatman (in the "highest sense"), Samkarsana ("subtle"), and Ahirbudhnya ("gross"); the body being also, on this occasion, regarded as threefold, namely, as consisting of the gross body, the subtle body called puryastaka, and the anava or atomic body.

The duties of the disciple are described at some length (sl. 48-48), the importance of "confessing himself and whatever belongs to him" being once more emphasized. The Mantra should on no account be used for a mundane purpose or trifling object, but only for the protection of the three worlds, government, or king; only for welfare, not for destruction.

Chapters 21 to 27 are descriptive of magical diagrams called raksa or yantra, their respective merits, and the way of meditating upon the Yantra Devatas. The latter, among whom are the Sudarshana Purusa (2G. 6 fll.) and the twelve Sub-Vyuhas (26. 36 fll.), are described at some length on this occasion. Incidentally there is a description of the Kali Yuga (25. 5-9). In these chapters the mystical alphabets play an important part.

Chapters 28 and 29 deal with worship (ava-dhana): the former with the obligatory, the latter with the optional worship which a Ksatriya is recommended to perform for ensuring victory. In the latter case the rites vary with the region (east, south, etc.) in which the warrior wishes to attack.

Chapters 31 and 32 consist of an outline of the Yoga theory and practice. The Yoga, as the counterpart of the "external sacrifice" (bahya-yaga), is "worship of the heart" (hrdaya-avadhana) or the self-sacrifice (atma-haris) offered to God by giving Him one's own soul separated from matter, that is, in its original purity (31. 4-5). In this condition the soul is in touch with everything (sarraga) and all-supporting (sarrabhrt) ; without eyes, ears, hands, and feet, yet all-seeing, all-hearing, with hands and feet everywhere'; "far and yet near"; "the imperishable part in all beings" (aksavam sarrabhutastham); the " Highest Place of Visnu" (31. 7-11).

Yoga, in fact, means "union of the life-self (soul) and the "Highest Self" (jiratmaparamatmanoh samyogah, 31.15). According to this passage, then, Yoga would be the temporal attainment, during life, of a feeling of perfect oneness with the Lord. Of a feeling only of such oneness; for that a soul ever actually becomes one with the Lord, is excluded by the premises of the system, as we have seen in the last section of part II of this Introduction. Such feeling of identity is also attributed to the liberated.

From 31.18 to the end of 32 the eight Yogangas are described at some length and not without some originality: (1) the ten constituents of Yama (brahmacarya=not regarding one's wives as objects of enjoyment; arjara=concordance of speech, thought, and action); (2) the ten Niyamas (shraddha= confidence in the work enjoined; astikya=conviction that there exists, asti, a something, vastu, accessible through the Vedas only); (3) eleven chief postures; (4) the Pranayama, with a long physiological introduction on the tubular vessels called Nadis (forming the "wheel" in which the soul moves about like a spider in its web; 32. 22) and the ten winds of the body, and directions as to the purification, within three months, of the whole system of Nadis; (5) Pratyahara, which is not merely a negative act (withdrawal of the senses) but also a positive one (niveshanam Bhagavati "entering into God"); (6) Dharana, the "keeping of the mind in the Highest Self"; (7) Dhyana, meditation on the "wheel-formed" Visnu (Saudarshnna Purusa) who is here described as eight-armed, clad in jewels, with lightning-flashes as the hairs of his head, etc.; and (8) Samadhi, which is reached by gradually intensifying Dhyana until the Siddhis or magical powers (of making one's body infinitely small, etc.) become manifest and spirits and gods begin to serve the Yogin.

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust

Chapter 30 traces back the origin of the Astras to the creation of the world. Before creation the Lord, having nothing to play with (lilopakaranya), could find no satisfaction (na ratim lebhe). He, consequently, made Himself manifold (atmanam bahu akalpayat) by creating Pradhana and Purusa (primordial matter and the soul) and then from the former, with the help of his Shakti in the form of Time, the Mahat, the Ahamkara, etc., down to the gross elements. Out of these He then formed the Cosmic Egg, and in the latter He created Prajapati (the four-faced Brahman) who, "looking at the Vedas, framed, as before, the manifold names and forms of the gods, etc.".

So "the Highest Lord, though all of His wishes are ever fulfilled, could experience, by means of the beings created by Himself, the flavour of playing (lila-rasa) ". He discovered, however, that there was in His creation a tendency towards the bad which could be counterpoised only if He with a portion of Himself would become the protector of His creatures. So He created, as an instrument against the wicked (Daiteyas and Danavas), His Sudarshana form, and, the gods and kings being unable to use the latter, He produced from it the Astras or magical weapons.

These, a little over a hundred, are enumerated by name and in five groups according as they have sprung from the mouth, breast, thighs, feet, or "other limbs" of the Saudarshana Purusa. The first four classes constitute the Pravartaka (offensive, destructive), the fifth class the Nivartaka or Upasamhara (defensive, obstructive) Astras. A definition of these two kinds is found in 36. 13- 15 where the second are described as having the hands joined in supplication (sanjalini), while the first are said to look as though they were to devour all the worlds (attum irasesabhuranani).

Chapter 34 gives the spells enabling one to use the sixty-two Pravartaka Astras, Chapter 35 those for the fourty -three Nivartaka Astras. Here again, as may be expected, the occult alphabets are extensively used.

Chapter 35, towards the end (sl. 92), raises the question as to whether the Astras have a material form (murti) or not. The answer is to the effect that they have, indeed, visible bodies of a dreadful appearance, more or less human-like, with a mouth studded with terrible teeth, rolling eyes, lightning-flashes instead of hairs, etc., and that they differ in colour, some being grey like ashes, others radiant as the sun, others again white, etc. ; further that they carry their mighty weapons with arms resembling huge iron bars.

In continuation of this general description Chapter 40 describes individually each of the one hundred and two Astras by which here, however, the visible weapons carried by the various Astra Purusas seem to be meant; for, the Sammohana Astra, for instance, is said to look like "a lotus with stalk", the Madana Astra like a chowrie, the Saumanasa Astra like a cluster of roses, etc.


Introduction to the Pancaratra and the Ahirbudhnya Samhita by F. Otto Schrader, Madras, 1916


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