Mahanirvana Tantra - Chapter 3
Description of the Worship of the Supreme Brahman
SHRI DEVI said:
O Deva of the Devas, great Deva, Guru of Brihaspati himself, Thou Who discourseth of all Scriptures, Mantra, Sadhana, and hast spoken of the Supreme Brahman by the adoration of Whom mortals attain happiness and liberation, do Thou, O Lord! deign to instruct us in the way of service of the Supreme Soul and of the observances, Mantra, and meditation in His worship. It is my desire, O Lord! to hear the essential substance of all these from Thee (1-4).
Shri Sadashiva said:
Listen, then, O Beloved of My life! to the most secret and supreme Truth, the mystery whereof has nowhere yet been revealed (5).
Because of My affection for Thee I shall speak to Thee of that Supreme Brahman, Who is ever Existent, Intelligent, and Who is dearer to Me than life itself. O Maheshvari! the eternal, intelligent, infinite Brahman may be known in Its real Self or by Its external signs (5-6). That Which is changeless, existent only, and beyond both mind and speech, Which shines as the Truth amidst the illusion of the three worlds, is the Brahman according to Its real nature (7). That Brahman is known in samadhi-yoga by those who look upon all things alike, who are above all contraries, devoid of doubt, free of all illusion regarding body and soul (8). That same Brahman is known from His external signs, from Whom the whole universe has sprung, in Whom when so sprung It exists, and into Whom all things return (9). That which is known by intuition may also be perceived from these external signs. For those who would know Him through these external signs, for them sadhana is enjoined (10).
Attend to me, Thou, O dearest One! while I speak to Thee of such sadhana. And firstly, O Adye! I tell Thee of the Mantroddhara of the Supreme Brahman (11). Utter first the Pranava, then the words "existence" and "intelligence," and after the word "One" say "Brahman."
Aum Sachchidekam Brahma (12).
This is the Mantra. These words, when combined according to the rules of Sandhi, form a Mantra of seven letters. If the Pranava be omitted, it becomes a Mantra of six letters only (13). This is the most excellent of all the Mantras, and the one which immediately bestows Dharmma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha. In the use of this Mantra there is no need to consider whether it be efficacious or not, or friendly or inimical, for no such considerations affect it (14). Nor at initiation into this Mantra is it necessary to make calculations as to the phases of the Moon, the propitious junction of the stars, or as to the Signs of the Zodiac. Nor are there any rules as to whether the Mantra is suitable or not. Nor is there need of the ten Sangskara. This Mantra is in every way efficacious in initiation. There is no necessity for considering anything else (15). Should one have obtained, through merit acquired in previous births, an excellent Guru, from whose lips this Mantra is received, then life indeed becomes fruitful (16), and the worshipper receiving in his hands Dharmma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha, rejoices both in this world and the next (17).
He whose ears this great jewel of Mantra reaches is indeed blest, for he has attained the desired end, being virtuous and pious, and is as one who has bathed in a the sacred places, been initiated in all Yajnas, versed in all Scriptures, and honoured in all the worlds (18-19). Happy is the father and happy the mother of such a one yea, and yet more than this, his family is hallowed and the gladdened spirits of the Pitris rejoice with th Devas, and in the excess of their joy sing (20): "In our family is born the most excellent of our race, one initiate in the Brahma-mantra. What need have we now of pinda offered at Gaya, or of shraddha, tarpana, pilgrimage at holy places (21); of what use are alms, japa, homa, or sadhana, since now we have obtained imperishable satisfaction?" (22)
Listen, O Devi! Adored of the world, whilst I tell You the very truth that for the worshippers of the Supreme Brahman there is no need for other religious observances (23). At the very moment of initiation into this Mantra the disciple is filled with Brahman, and for such an one, O Devi! what is there which is unattainable in all the three worlds? (24). Against him what can adverse planets or Vetala, Chetaka, Pishacha, Guhyaka, Bhuta, the Matrika, Dakini, and other spirits avail?
The very sight of him will drive them to flight with averted faces (25). Guarded by the Brahma-mantra, clad with the splendour of Brahman, he is as it were another Sun. What should he fear, then, from any planet? (26). They flee, frightened like elephants at the sight of a lion, and perish like moths in a flame (27). No sin can touch, and none but one as wicked as a suicide can harm, him, who is purified by truth, without blemish, a benefactor of all beings, a faithful believer in Brahman (28). The wicked and sinful who seek to harm him who is initiate in the knowledge of the Supreme Brahman do but harm themselves, for are they not indeed in essence inseparate from the ever-existent One? (29). For he is the holy sage and well-wisher, working for the happiness of all, and, O Devi! should it be possible to harm such an one who can go in peace? (31). For him, however, who has no knowledge of the meaning of nor of the awakening of the Mantra, it is fruitless, even though it were inwardly uttered ten million times (31).
Listen, then, O My Beloved! while I tell Thee of the meaning and awakening of Mantra. By the letter A is meant the Protector of the world; the letter U denotes its Destroyer; and M stands for its Creator (32). The meaning of Sat is Ever-existent; of Chit, Intelligence; and of Ekam, One without a second. Brahman is so called because He exists everywhere. Now, O Devi! I have given You the meaning of the Mantra, which grants the fulfilment of desires. The awakening of the Mantra is the knowledge of Him, Who is the pervading Devata of the Mantra, and such knowledge, O Supreme Devi! yields the fruit of worship to the worshipper (35). O Devi! the presiding Devata of the Mantra is the omnipresent, eternal, inscrutable, formless, passionless, and ineffable Brahman (36). When introduced by the Vija of Sarasvati, Maya, or Kamala, instead of the Mantra Om, it bestows various kinds of learning, siddhi, and prosperity in every quarter (37). The Mantra may be varied either by the prefixing or omitting of Om, or by the placing of it before each word or every two words of the Mantra (38). Sadashiva is the Rishi of this Mantra. The verse is called Anushtup, and its presiding Devata is the Supreme Brahman, Who is without attributeand Who abides in all things. It avails for the attainment of Dharmma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha.
Now listen, dear One, whilst I speak to You of Anga-nyasa and Kara-nyasa (39-40). O great and adorable Devi! the syllable Om, the words Sat, Chit, Ekam, Brahma, should be pronounced over the thumb, the threatening finger, the middle, nameless, and little fingers respectively, followed in each case by the words Namah, Svaha, Vashat, Hung, and Vaushat; and Ong Sachchidekam Brahma should be said over the palm and back of the hand, followed by the Mantra Phat (41, 42).
The worshipper disciple should in the like manner, with his mind well under control, perform Anga-nyasa in accordance with the rules thereof, commencing with the heart and ending with the hands (43).
After this, whilst reciting the Mantra Om or the Mula-mantra, Pranayama should be performed thus: He should close the left nostril with the middle of the fourth finger, and then inhale through the right nostril, meanwhile making japa of the Pranava or the Mula-mantra eight times. Then, closing the right nostril with the thumb and shutting also the mouth, make japa of the Mantra thirty-two times. After that gently exhale the breath through the right nostril, doing japa of the Mantra the while sixteen times.
In the same way perform these three acts with the left nostril, and then repeat the same process with the right nostril. O adored of the Devas! I have now told Thee of the method of Pranayama to be observed in the use of the Brahma-Mantra (44-48). The Sadhaka should then make meditation which accomplishes his desire (49).
In the lotus of my heart I contemplate the Divine Intelligence, the Brahman without distinctions and difference, Knowable by Hari, Hara, and Vidhi, whom Yogis approach in meditation, He Who destroys the fear of birth and death, Who is Existence, Intelligence, the Root of all the three worlds (50)
Having thus contemplated the Supreme Brahman, the worshipper should, in order to attain union with Brahman, worship with offerings of his mind (51). For perfume let him offer to the Supreme Soul the essence of the Earth, for flowers the ether, for incense the essence of the air, for light the Lustre of the universe, and for food the essence of the Waters of the world (52). After mentally repeating the great mantra and offering the fruit of it to the Supreme Brahman, the excellent disciple should commence external worship
Meditating with closed eyes on the Eternal Brahman, the worshipper should with reverence offer to the Supreme whatever be at hand, such as perfumes, flowers, clothes, jewels, food, and drink, after having purified them with the following (54-55):
The vessel in which these offerings are placed is Brahman, and so, too, is the gheeoffered therein. Brahman is both the sacrificial Fire and he who makes the sacrifice, and to Brahman he will attain whose mind is fixed on the Brahman by the performance of the rites which lead to Brahman (56). Then, opening the eyes, and inwardly and with all his power making japa with the Mula-mantra, the worshipper should offer the japa to Brahman and then recite the hymn that follows and the Kavacha-mantra (57). Hear, O Maheshvari! the hymn to Brahman, the Supreme Spirit, by the hearing whereof the disciple becomes one with the Brahman (58).
Ong! I bow to Thee, the eternal Refuge of all:
I bow to Thee, the pure Intelligence manifested in the universe.
I bow to Thee Who in His essence is One and Who grants liberation.
I bow to Thee, the great, all-pervading attributeless One (59).
Thou art the only Refuge and Object of adoration.
The whole universe is the appearance of Thee Who art its Cause.
Thou alone art Creator, Preserver, Destroyer of the world.
Thou art the sole immutable Supreme, Who art neither this nor that (6o);
Dread of the dreadful, Terror of the terrible.
Refuge of all beings, Purificator of all purificators.
Thou alone rulest the high-placed ones,
Supreme over the supreme, Protector of the Protectors (61).
O Supreme Lord in Whom all things are, yet Unmanifest in all,
Imperceptible by the senses, yet the very truth.
Incomprehensible, Imperishable, All-pervading hidden Essence.
Lord and Light of the Universe! save us from harm (62).
On that One alone we meditate, that One alone we in mind worship,
To that One alone the Witness of the Universe we bow.
Refuge we seek with the One Who is our sole Eternal Support,
The Self-existent Lord, the Vessel of safety in the ocean of being (63).
This is the five-jewelled hymn to the Supreme Soul.
He who pure in mind and body recites this hymn is united with the Brahman (64). It should be said daily in the evening, and particularly on the day of the Moon. The wise man should read and explain it to such of his kinsmen as believe in Brahman (65). I have spoken to You, O Devi! of the five-jewelled hymn, O Graceful One! listen now to the jagan-mangala Mantra of the amulet, by the wearing and reading whereof one becomes a knower of the Brahman (66).
May the Supreme Soul protect the head,
May the Supreme Lord protect the heart,
May the Protector of the world protect the throat,
May the All-pervading, All-seeing Lord protect the face (67),
May the Soul of the Universe protect my hands,
May He Who is Intelligence itself protect the feet,
May the Eternal and Supreme Brahman protect my body in all its parts always (68).
The Rishi of this world-beneficent amulet is Sada-shiva; the verse is anushtup, its presiding Devata is the Supreme Brahman, and the object of its use is the attainment of Dharmma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha (69). He who recites this protective Mantra after offering it to its Rishi attains knowledge of Brahman, and is one immediately with the Brahman (70). If written on birch-bark and encased in a golden ball, it be worn round the neck or on the right arm, its wearer attains all kinds of powers (71). I have now revealed to Thee the amulet Mantra of the Supreme Brahman. It should be given to the favourite disciple who is both devoted to the Guru and possessed of understanding (72). The excellent Sadhaka shall, after reciting the Mantra and the hymn with reverence, salute the Supreme (73).
I bow to the Supreme Brahman.
I bow to the Supreme Soul.
I bow to Him Who is above all qualities.
I bow to the Ever-existent again and again (74).
The worship of the Supreme Lord may be by body or mind or by word; but the one thing needful is purity of disposition (75). After worshipping in the manner of which I have spoken, the wise man should with his friends and kinsmen partake of the holy food consecrated to the Supreme Spirit. (76) In the worship of the Supreme there is no need to invoke Him to be present or to desire Him to depart.
It may be done always and in all places (77). It is of no account whether the worshipper has or has not bathed, or whether he be fasting or have taken food. But the Supreme Spirit should ever be worshipped with a pure heart (78). After purification by the Brahma-Mantra, whatever food or drink is offered to the Supreme Lord becomes itself purifying (79). The touch of inferior castes may pollute the water of Ganga and the Shaligrama, but nothing which has been consecrated to the Brahman (80) can be so polluted. If dedicated to Brahman with this Mantra, the worshipper with his people may eat of anything, whether cooked or uncooked (81). In the partaking of this food no rule as to caste or time need be observed. No one should hesitate to take the leavings from the plate of another, whether such another be pure or impure. (82).
Whenever and whatsoever the place may be, howsoever it may have been attained, eat without scruple or inquiry the food dedicated to the Brahman (83). Such food, O Devi! even the Devas do not easily get, and it purifies even if brought by a Chamdala, or if it be taken from the mouth of a dog (84). As to that which the partaking of such food affects in men, what, O Adored of the Devas! shall We say of it? It is deemed excellent even by the Devas. Without a doubt the partaking of this holy food, be it but once only, frees the greatest of sinners and all sinners of their sins (85-86). The mortal who eats of it acquires such merit as can only otherwise be earned by bathing and alms at thirty-five millions of holy places (87). By the eating of it ten million times greater merit is gained than by the Horse-sacrifice, or indeed by any other sacrifice whatever (88). Its excellence cannot be described by ten million tongues and a thousand million mouths (89). Wherever the Sadhaka may be, and though he be a Chandala, he attains to union with the Brahman the very moment he partakes of the nectar dedicated to Him (90). Even Brahmans versed in the Vedanta should take food prepared by low-caste men if it be dedicated to the Brahman (91). No distinction of caste should be observed in eating food dedicated to the Supreme Spirit. He who thinks it impure becomes a great sinner (92). It would be better, O Beloved! to commit a hundred sins or to kill a Brahmana than to despise food dedicated to the Supreme Brahman (93). Those fools who reject food and drink made holy by the great Mantra. cause the fall of their ancestors into the lower regions, and they themselves go headlong into the Hell of blind darkness, where they remain until the Dissolution of things. No liberation is there for such as despise food dedicated to Brahman (94-95). In the sadhana of this great Mantra, even acts without merit become meritorious; in slumber merit is acquired; and acts are accepted as rightful which are done according to the worshipper s desires (96). For such what need is there of Vedic practices, or for the matter of that what need is there even of those of the Tantra? Whatever he does according to his desire, that is recognized as lawful in the case of the wise believer in the Brahman (97). For them there is neither merit nor demerit in the performance or non-performance of the customary rites. In the sadhana of this Mantra his faults or omissions are no obstacle (98). By the sadhana of this Mantra, O Great Devi! man becomes truthful, conqueror of the passions devoted to the good of his fellow-men, one to whom all things are indifferent, pure of purpose, free of envy and arrogance, merciful and pure of mind, devoted to the service and seeking the of his parents, a listener ever to things devine, a meditator ever on the Brahman. His mind is ever turned to the search for Brahman. With strength of determination holding his mind in close control, he is ever conscious of the nearness of Brahman (99-101). He who is initiated in the Brahma-Mantra will not lie or think to harm, and will shun to go with the wives of others (102). At the commencement of all rites, let him say, "Tat Sat"; and before eating or drinking aught let him say, "I dedicate this to Brahman" (103). For the knower of Brahman, duty consists in action for the well-being of fellow-men. This is the eternal Dharmma.
I will now, O Shambhavi! speak to Thee of the duties relating to Sandhya in the practice of the Brahma Mantra, whereby men acquire that real wealth which comes to them in the form of Brahman (105). Wheresoever he may be, and in whatsoever posture, the excellent and well-intentioned sadhaka shall, at morning, noon and eventide, meditate upon the Brahman in the manner prescribed. Then, O Devi! let him make japa of th Gayatri one hundred and eight times. Offering the japa to the Devata, let him make obeisance in the way of which I have spoken (106-108). I have now told thee of the sandhya to be used by him in the sadhana of the Brahma-Mantra, and by which the worshipper shall become pure of heart (106-108). Listen to Me now, Thou Who art figured with grace, to the Gayatri, which destroys all sin.
Say "Parameshvara" in the dative singular, then "vidmahe," and, Dear One, after the word "Paratattvaya" say "dhimahi," adding, O Devi! the words, "tanno Brahma prachodayat."
"May we know the Supreme Lord; let us contemplate the Supreme Essence, and may that Brahman direct us."
This is the auspicious Brahma-Gayatri which confers Dharmma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha (109-111).
Let everything which is done, be it worship or sacrifice, bathing, drinking, or eating, be accompanied by the recitation of the Brahma-Mantra (112). When arising at the middle of the fourth quarter of the night, and after bowing to the Preceptor who gave initiation in the Brahma-Mantra, let it be recited with all recollection. Then obeisance should be made to the Brahman as aforesaid, after meditating upon Him. This is the enjoined morning rites (113). For Purashcharana, O Beautiful One! japa of the Mantra should be done thirty-two thousand times, for oblations three thousand two hundred times; for the presenting of or offering water to the Devata, three hundred and twenty times; for purification before worship thirty-two times; and Rrahmanas should be feasted four times(114-115). In Purashcharana no rule need be observed touching food or as regards what should be accepted or rejected. Nor need an auspicious time nor place for performance be selected (116). Whether he be fasting or have taken food, whether with or without bathing, let the Sadhaka, as he be so inclined, make sadhana with this supreme Mantra (117). Without trouble or pain, without hymn, amulet, nyasa, mudra, or setu, without the worship of Ganesha as the Thief, yet surely and shortly the most Supreme Brahman is met face to face (118-119).
In the sadhana of this great Mantra no other Sangkalpa is necessary than the inclination of the mind thereto and purity of disposition. The worshipper of Brahman sees Brahman in everything (120). The worshipper does not sin, nor does he suffer harm should he perchance in such sadhana omit anything. On the contrary, if there be any omission, the use of this great Mantra is the remedy therefor (121). In this terrible and sinful Age devoid of tapas which is so difficult to traverse, the very seed of liberation is the use of the Brahma-Mantra (122). Various Tantras and Agamas have prescribed various modes of sadhana, but these, O Great Devi! are beyond the powers of the feeble men of this Age (123). For these, O Beloved! are short-lived, without enterprise, their life dependent on food, covetous, eager to gain wealth, so unsettled in their intellect that it is without rest, even in its attempts at yoga. Incapable, too, are they of suffering and impatient of the austerities of yoga. For the happiness and liberation of such have been ordained the Way of Brahman (124-125). O Devi! verily and verily I say to You that in this Age there is no other way to happiness and liberation than that by initiation in Brahma-Mantra; I again say to You there is no other way (126). The rule in all the Tantras is that that which is prescribed for the morning should be done in the morning, Sandhya thrice daily and worship at midday, but, O Auspicious One! in the worship of Brahman there is no other rule but the desire of the worshipper (127). Since in Brahma-worship rules are but servants and the prohibitions of other worships do not prevail, who will seek shelter in any other? (128). Let the disciple obtain a Guru who is a knower of Brahman, peaceful and of placid mind, and then, clasping his lotus-like feet, let him supplicate him as follows:
Supplication to the Guru
O merciful one! Lord of the distressed! to thee I have come for protection: cast then the shadows of thy lotus-like feet over my head, oh thou whose wealth is fame (130).
Having thus with all his powers prayed to and worshipped his Guru, let the disciple remain before him in silence with folded hands (131). The Guru will the carefully examine the signs on and qualities of the disciple, kindly call the latter to him, and give to the good disciple the great Mantra (132). Let the wise one sitting on a seat, with his face to the East or to the North place his disciple on his left, and gaze with tenderness upon him (133). The Guru, after performing Rishi-nyasa, will then place his hand on his disciple s head, and for the siddhi of the latter make japa of the Mantra one hundred and eight times (134).
Let the excellent Guru, ocean of kindness, next whisper the Mantra seven times into the right ear of the disciple if he be a Brahmana, or into the left ear if he be of another caste (135). O Kalika! I have now described the manner in which instructions in Brahma-Mantra should be given. For this there is no need of puja, and his Sangkalpa should be mental only (136). The Guru should then raise the disciple, now become his son, who is lying prostrate at his lotus-feet, and say with affection the following (137).
Reply of the Guru
Rise, my son, thou art liberated: Be ever devoted to the knowledge of Brahman: Conquer thy passions: May thou be truthful, and have strength and health (138).
Let the excellent disciple on rising make an offering of his own self, money or a fruit, as he may afford. Remaining obedient to his preceptor s commands, he may then roam the world like a Deva (139). Immediately upon his initiation into this Mantra his soul is suffused with the Divine Being. What need, then, O Deveshi! for such an one to practise various kinds of sadhana? O Dearest One! I have now briefly told You of the initiation into the Brahma-Mantra (140). For such initiation the merciful mood of the Guru is alone necessary (141). The worshipper of the Divine Power, of Shiva, of the Sun, of Vishnu, Ganesha, Brahmanas versed in the Vedas and all other castes may be initiated (142).
It is by the grace of this Mantra, O Devi! that I have become the Deva of Devas, have conquered Death, and have become the Guru of the whole world. By it I have done whatever I will, casting from Me ignorance and doubt (143). Brahma was the First to receive the Mantra from Me, and He taught it to the Brahmarshis, who taught it to the Devas. From these the Devarshis learnt it. The Sages learnt it of these last, and royal Rishis learnt it of Sages, and all have thus, through the grace of the Supreme Spirit and this Mantra, become one with Brahman (144-145).
In the use of this Brahma-Mantra, O Great Devi there are no restrictions. The Guru may without hesitation give his disciple his own Mantra, a father may initiate his sons, a brother his brothers, a husband his, wife, a maternal uncle his nephews, a maternal grand father his grandsons (146-147). Such fault as elsewhere there is in other worships, in the giving of one s own Mantra, in initiation by a father or other near relative does not exist in the case of this great and successfu Mantra (148). He who has heard it, however it may be from the lips of one initiate in the knowledge of Brahman, is purified, and attains the state of Brahman, and is affected neither by virtue nor sin (149). The householder of the Brahmanas and other castes who pray with the Brahma Mantra should be respected and worshipped as being the greatest of their respective classes (150).
Brahmanas at once become like those who have conquered their passions, and lower castes become equal to Brihmanas: therefore let all worship those initiate in the Brahma-Mantra, and thus possessed of Divine knowledge (151). They who slight them are as wicked as the slayers of Brahmanas, and go to a terrible Hell,where they remain as long as the Sun and Stars endure (152). To revile and calumniate a worshipper of the Supreme Brahman is a sin ten million times worse than that of killing a woman or bringing about an abortion (153). As men by initiation in the Brahma-Mantra become freed of all sins, so, O Devi! also may they be freed by the worship of Thee (154).
End of Third Joyful Message, entitled "Description of the Worship of the Supreme Brahman."
Suggestions for Further Reading
- Chapter 1 - Questions relating to the Liberation of Beings
- Chapter 2 - Introduction to the Worship of Brahman
- Chapter 3 - Description of the Worship of the Supreme Brahman
- Chapter 4 - Introduction of the Worship of the Supreme Prakriti
- Chapter 5 - The Formation of the Mantras, Placing of the Jar, and Purification of the Elements of Worship
- Chapter 6 - Placing of the Shri-patra, Homa, Formation of the Chakra, and other Rites
- Chapter 7 - Hymn of Praise (Stotra), Amulet (Kavacha), and the description of the Kula-tattva
- Chapter 8 - The Dharmma and Customs of the Castes and Ashramas
- Chapter 9 - The Ten Kinds of Purificatory Rites (Sangskara)
- Chapter 10 - Rites relating to Vriddhi Shraddha, Funeral Rites, and Purnabhisheka
- Chapter 11 - The Account of Expiatory Rites
- Chapter 12 - An Account of the Eternal and Immutable Dharmma
- Chapter 13 - Installation of the Devata
- Chapter 14 - The Consecration of Shiva-linga and Description of the Four Classes of Avadhutas
Source: Mahanirvana Tantra Tantra of the Great Liberation, Translated by Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe) . While we have made every effort to reproduce the text correctly, we do not guarantee or accept any responsibility for any errors or omissions or inaccuracies in the reproduction of this text.
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