Mahanirvana Tantra - Chapter 8
The Dharmma and Customs of the Castes and Ashramas
AFTER hearing of the various forms of Dharmma, Bhavani, Mother of the worlds, Destructress of all worldly bonds, spoke again to Shankara (1).
Shri Devi said:
I have heard of the different Dharmma, which bring happiness in this world and the next, and bestow piety, wealth, fulfilment of desire, ward off danger, and are the cause of union with the Supreme (2). I wish now to hear of the castes and of the stages of life. Speak in Thy kindness, O Omnipresent One! of these, and of the mode of life which should be observed therein (3).
Shri Sadashiva said:
O Thou of auspicious Vows! in the Satya and other Ages there were four castes; in each of these were four stages of life, and the rules of conduct varied according to the caste and stages of life. In the Kali Age, however, there are five castes namely, Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra, and Samanya. Each of these five castes, O Great Queen! have two stages of life. Listen, then, Adye! whilst I narrate to Thee their mode of life, rites, and duties (4-6). I have already spoken to Thee of the incapacity of men born in the Kali Age. Unused as they are to penance, and devoid of learning in the Vedas, short-lived, and incapable of strenuous effort, how can they endure bodily labour? (7).
O Beloved! there is in the Kali Age no Brahmacharya nor Vanaprastha. There are two stages only, Grihastha and Bhikshuka (8). O Auspicious One! In the Kali Age the householder should in all his acts be guided by the rules of the Agamas. He will never attain success by other ways (9). And, O Devi! at the stage of the mendicant the carrying of the staff is not permitted, since, O Thou of Divine Knowledge! both that and other practices are Vedic (10). In the Kali Age, O Gentle One! the adoption of the life of an Avadhuta, according to the Shaiva rites, is in the Kali Age equivalent to the entry into the life of a Sannyasin (11). When the Kali Age is in full sway, the Vipras and the other castes have equal right to enter into both these stages of life (12) The purificatory rites of all are to be according to the rules ordained by Shiva, though the particular practices of the Vipras and other castes vary (13).
A man becomes a householder the moment he is born. It is by Sangskara that he enters upon any of the other stages of life. For this reason, O Great Queen! One should first be a householder, following the rules of that mode of life (14). When, however, one is freed of worldly desires by the knowledge of the Real, it is then that one should abandon all and seek refuge in the life of an ascetic (15). In childhood one should acquire knowledge; in youth, wealth and wife. The wise man in middle age will devote himself to acts of religion, and in his old age he should retire from the world (16).
No one should retire from the world who has an old father or mother, a devoted and chaste wife, or young and helpless children (17). He who becomes an ascetic, leaving mothers, fathers, infant children, wives, agnates and cognates, is guilty of a great sin (18). He who becomes a mendicant without first satisfying the need of his own parents and relatives is guilty of the sins of killing his father and mother, a woman, and a Brahmana (19). The Brahmanas and men of other castes should perform their respective purificatory rites according to the ordinances laid down by Shiva. This is the rule in the Kali Age (20).
Shri Devi said:
O Omnipresent One! tell Me what is the rule of life for the householder and mendicant, and what are the purificatory rites for the Vipras and other castes (21).
Shri Sadashiva said:
The state of an householder is for all the descendants of Manu the first duty. I shall, therefore, first speak of it, and do Thou listen to Me, O Lady of the Kaulas (22). A householder should be devoted to the contemplation of Brahman and possessed of the knowledge of Brahman, and should consign whatever he does to Brahman (23). He should not tell an untruth, or practise deceit, and should ever be engaged in the worship of the Devatas and guests (24). Regarding his father and mother as two visible incarnate deities, he should ever and by every means in his power serve them (25). O Shiva! O Parvati! if the mother and father are pleased, Thou too art pleased. and the Supreme Being is propitious to him (26). O Primeval One! Thou art the Mother of the Worlds, and the Supreme Brahman is the Father; what better religious act can there be than that which pleases You both? (27). According to their requirements, one should offer seats, beds, clothes, drink, and food to mother and father. They should always be spoken to in a gentle voice, and their children s demeanour should ever be agreeable to them.
The good son who ever obeys the behests of his mother and father hallows the family (28-29). If one desires one s own welfare, all arrogance, mockery, threats, and angry words should be avoided in the parents presence (30). The son who is obedient to his parents should, out of reverence to them, bow to them and stand up when he sees them, and should not take his seat without their permission (31). He who, intoxicated with the pride of learning or wealth, slights his parents, is beyond the pale of all Dharmma, and goes to a terrible Hell (32). Even if the vital breath were to reach his throat, the householder should not eat without first feeding his mother, father, son, wife, guest, and brother (33). The man who, to the deprivation of his elders and equals, fills his own belly is despised in this world, and goes to Hell in the next (34). The householder should cherish his wife, educate his children, and support his kinsmen and friends. This is the supreme eternal duty (35). The body is nourished by the mother. It originates from the father. The kinsmen, out of love, teach. The man, therefore, who forsakes them is indeed vile (36). For their sake should an hundred pains be undergone. With all one s ability they should be pleased. This is the eternal duty (37). That man who in this world turns his mind to Brahman and adheres faithfully to the truth is above all a man of good deeds, and knows the Supreme, and is blest in all the worlds (38). The householder should never punish his wife, but should cherish her like a mother. If she is virtuous and devoted to her husband, he should never forsake her even in times of greatest misfortune (39). The wise man, whilst his own wife is living, should never with wicked intent touch another woman, otherwise he will go to hell (40). The wise man should not, when in a private place, live and sleep or lie down close to other men s wives. He should avoid all improper speech and braggart boldness in their presence (41). By riches, clothes, love, respect, and pleasing words should one s wife be satisfied. The husband should never do anything displeasing to her (42). The wise man should not send his wife to any festival, concourse of people, pilgrimage, or to another s house, except she be attended by his son or an inmate of his own house (43).
O Maheshvari! that man whose wife is both faithful and happy is surely looked upon as if he had performed all Dharmma, and is truly Thy favourite also (44). A father should fondle and nurture his sons until their fourth year, and then until their sixteenth they should be taught learning and their duties (45). Up to their twentieth year they should be kept engaged in household duties, and thenceforward, considering them as equals, he should ever show affection towards them (46). In the same manner a daughter should be cherished and educated with great care, and then given away with money and jewels to a wise husband (47).
The householder should thus also cherish and protect his brothers and sisters and their children, his kinsmen, friends, and servants (48). He should also maintain his fellow-worshippers, fellow-villagers, and guests, whether ascetics or others (49). If the wealthy householder does not so act, then let him be known as a beast, a sinner, and one despised in the worlds (50). The householder should not be inordinately addicted to sleep, idling, care for the body, dressing his hair, eating or drinking, or attention to his clothes (51). He should be moderate as to food, sleep, speech, and sexual intercourse, and be sincere, humble, pure, free from sloth, and persevering (52). Chivalrous to his foes, modest before his friends, relatives, and elders, he should neither respect those who deserve censure nor slight those who are worthy of respect (53). Men should only be admitted to his trust and confidence after association with them and observation of their nature, inclination, conduct, and friendly character (54). Even an insignificant enemy should be feared, and one s own power should be disclosed only at the proper time. But on no account should one deviate from the path of duty (55). A religious man should not speak of his own fame and prowess, of what has been told him in secret, nor of the good that he has done for others (56). A man of good name should not engage in any quarrel with an unworthy motive, nor when defeat is certain, nor with those who are superior or inferior to himself He should diligently earn knowledge, wealth, fame, and religious merit, and avoid all vicious habits, the company of the wicked, falsehood, and treachery (58). Ventures should be undertaken according to the circumstances and one s condition in life, and actions should be done according to their season. Therefore, in everything that a man does he should first consider whether the circumstances and time are suitable (59). The householder should employ himself in the acquisition of what is necessary and in the protection of the same. He should be judicious, pious, good to his friends. He should be moderate in speech and laughter, in particular in the presence of those entitled to his reverence (60). He should hold his senses under control, be of cheerful disposition, think of what is good, be of firm resolve, attentive, far-sighted, and discriminating in the use of his senses (61).
The wise householder s speech should be truthful, mild, agreeable, and salutary, yet pleasing, avoiding both self-praise and the disparagement of others (62). The man who has dedicated tanks, planted trees, built rest-houses on the roadside, or bridges, has conquered the three worlds (63). That man who is the happiness of his mother and father, to whom his friends are devoted, and whose fame is sung by men, he is the conqueror of the three worlds (64). He whose aim is truth, whose charity is ever for the poor, who has mastered lust and anger, by him are the three worlds conquered (65). He who covets not others wives or goods, who is free of deceit and envy, by him the three worlds are conquered (66). He who is not afraid in battle nor to go to war when there is need, and who dies in battle undertaken for a sacred cause, by him the three worlds are conquered (67). He whose soul is free from doubts, who is devoted to and a faithful follower of the ordinances of Shiva, and remains under My control, by him the three worlds are conquered (68). The wise man who in his conduct with his fellow-men looks with an equal eye upon friend and foe, by him are the three worlds conquered (69). O Devi! purity is of two kinds, external and internal. The dedication of oneself to Brahman is known as internal purity (70), and the cleansing of the impurities of the body by water or ashes, or any other matter which cleanses the body, is called external purity (71).
O Dearest One! the waters of Ganga, or of any other river, tank, pond, well, or pool, or of the celestial Ganga, are equally purifying (72). O Thou of auspicious Vows! the ashes from a place of sacrifice and cleansed earth are excellent, and the skin of an antelope and grass are as purifying as earth (73). O Auspicious One! what need is there to say more about purity and impurity? Whatever purifies the mind that the householder may do (74). Let there be external purification upon awakening from sleep, after sexual intercourse, making water, voiding the bowels, and at the close of a meal, and whenever dirt of any kind has been touched (75).
Sandhya, whether Vaidika or Tantrika should be performed thrice daily, and according as the worship changes so does its service (76). The worshippers of the Brahma-Mantra have performed their Sandhya when they have made japa of the Gayatri, realizing within themselves the identity of the Gayatri and Brahman (77). In the case of those who are not Brahma-worshippers, Vaidika Sandhya consists of the worship of and offering of oblations to the Sun and the recitation of the Gayatri (78).
O Gentle One! In all daily prayers recitation shouldbe done one thousand and eight or a hundred and eight or ten times (79). O Devi! the Shudras and Samanyas may observe any of the rites proclaimed by the Agamas, and by these they attain that which they desire (80). The three times of performance (of Sandhya) are at sunrise, at noon, and at sunset (81).
Shri Devi said:
Thou hast Thyself said, O Lord! that when the Kali Age is in full sway for all castes, commencing with the Brahmamas, Tantrika rites are alone appropriate. Why, then, dost Thou restrict the Vipras to Vedic rites? It behoveth Thee to explain this fully to Me (82-83).
Shri Sadashiva said:
O Thou Who knowest the essence of all things, truly hast Thou spoken. In the Kali Age all observances bear the fruit of enjoyment and liberation when done according to the rites of the Tantras (84). The Brahma-Savitri, though known as Vaidika, should be called Tantrika also, and is appropriate in both observances (85). It is, therefore, O Devi! that I have said that when the Kali Age is in full sway, the twice-born shall alone be entitled to the Gayatri, but not the other Mantras (86). In the Kali Age the Savitri should be said by the Brahmanas, preceded by the Tara, and by the Kshatriyas and Vaishyas, preceded by the Kamala and Vagbhava Vijas respectively (87). In order, O Supreme Devi! That a distinction may be drawn between the twice-born and the Shudras, the daily duties are directed to be preceded by Vaidika Sandhya (88). Success, however, may also be attained by the mere following of the ordinances of Shambhu. This is verily true, and I repeat it is true and very true, and there is no doubt about it (89). O Adored of the Devas! even if the stated time for the saying of the daily prayer is past, all who desire emancipation and are not prevented by sickness or weakness should say, "Ong the Ever-existent Brahman" (90). The seat, clothes, vessels, bed, carriages, residence, and household furniture of the worshipper should be as clean as possible (91). At the close of the daily prayers the householder should keep himself occupied with household duties or the study of the Vedas; he should never remain idle (92). In holy places, on holy days, or when the Sun or Moon is in eclipse, he should do inward recitation, and give alms, and thus become the abode of all that is good (93).
In the Kali Age life is dependent on the food that is eaten, fasting is therefore not recommended, in lieu of it, the giving of alms is ordained (94). O Great Queen! in the Kali Age alms are efficacious in the accomplishment of all things. The proper objects of such alms are the poor devoted to meritorious acts (95). O Mother! the first days of the month, of the year, of the lunar half-months, the fourteenth day of the lunar half-month, the eighth day of the light half of the lunar month, the eleventh day of the lunar half-month, the new moon, one s birthday, the anniversary of one s father s death, and days fixed as those of festivals, are holy days (96-97).
The River Ganges and all the great Rivers, the house of the religious Teacher, and the places of the Devas are holy places. But for those who, neglecting the study of the Veda, the service of mother and father, and the protection of their wife, go to places of pilgrimage, such holy places are changed to hell (98-99). For women there is no necessity to go on pilgrimage, to fast, or to do other like acts, nor is there any need to perform any devotion except that which consists in the service of their husband (100). For a woman her husband is a place of pilgrimage, the performance of penance, the giving of alms, the carrying out of vows, and her spiritual teacher. Therefore should a woman devote herself to the service of her husband with her whole self (101). She should ever by words and deeds of devotion act for the pleasure of her husband, and, remaining faithful to his behests, should please his relations and friends (102).
A woman whose husband is her vow should not look at him with hard eyes, or utter hard words before him. Not even in her thought should she do anything which is displeasing to her husband (103). She who by body, mind, and word, and by pleasant acts, ever pleases her husband, attains to the abode of Brahman (104). Remaining ever faithful to the wishes of her husband, she should not look upon the face of other men, or have converse with them, or uncover her body before them (105).
In childhood she should remain under the control of her parents, in her youth of her husband, and in her old age of the friends and relatives of her husband. She should never be independent (106).
A father should not marry his daughter if she does not know her duty to a husband and how to serve him, also the other rules of woman s conduct (107).
Neither the flesh of human beings, nor the animals resembling them, nor the flesh of the cow, which is serviceable in various ways, nor the flesh of carnivorous animals, nor such meat as is tasteless, should be eaten (108). Auspicious One! fruits and roots of various kinds whether grown in villages or jungles, and all that is grown in the ground, may be eaten at pleasure (109).
Teaching and the performance of sacrifices are the proper duties of a Brahmana. But if he be incapable of these, he may earn his livelihood by following the profession of a Kshatriya or Vaishya (110). The proper occupation of a Rajanya is that of fighting and ruling. But if he be incapable of these, he may earn his livelihood by following the profession of a Vaishya or Shudra (111). If a Vaishya cannot trade, then for him the following of the profession of a Shudra involves no blame. For a Shudra, O Sovereign Queen! service is the prescribed means of livelihood (112). O Devi! members of the Samanya class may for their maintenance follow all occupations except such as are specially reserved for the Brahmana (113). The latter, void of hate and attachment, self-controlled, truthful, the conqueror of his senses, free of envy and all guile, should pursue his own avocations (114). He should ever be the same to, and the well-wisher of, all men, and teach his well-behaved pupils as if they were his own sons (115). He should ever avoid falsehood, detraction, and vicious habits, arrogance, friendship for low persons, the pursuit of low objects, and the use of language which gives offence (116). Where peace is possible, avoid war. Peace with honour is excellent. O Adorable Face! for the Rajanya it should be either death or victory in battle (117). A man of the kingly caste should not covet the wealth of his subjects, or levy excessive taxes, but, being faithful to his promises, he should ever in the observance of his duty protect his subjects as though they were his own children (118). In government, war, treaties, and other affairs of State the King should take the advice of his Ministers (119). War should be carried on in accordance with Dharmma. Rewards and punishments should be awarded justly and in accordance with the Shastras. The best treaty should be concluded which his power allows (120). By stratagem should the end desired be attained. By the same means should wars be conducted and treaties concluded. Victory, peace, and prosperity follow stratagem (121). He should ever avoid the company of the low, and be good to the learned. He should be of a calm disposition judicious of action in time of trouble, of good conduct and reasonable in his expenditure (122).
He should be an expert in the maintenance of his forts, well trained in the use of arms. He should ever ascertain the disposition of his army, and teach his soldiers military tactics (123). O Devi1 he should not in battle kill one who is stunned, who has surrendered his arms, or is a fugitive, nor those of his enemies whom he has capturedn nor their wives or children (124). Whatever is acquired either by victory or treaty should be distributed amongst the soldiers in shares according to merit (125).
The King should make known to himself the character and courage of each of his warriors, and if he would care for his interests he should not place a large army under the command of a single officer (126). He should not put his trust in any single person, nor place one man in charge of the administration, nor treat his inferiors as equals, nor be familiar with them (127). He should be very learned, yet not garrulous; full of knowledge, yet anxious to learn; full of honours, yet without arrogance. In awarding both reward and punishment he should be discriminating (128). The King should either himself or through his spies watch his subjects, kinsmen, and servants (129). A wise master should not either honour or degrade anyone in a fit of passion or arrogance and without due cause (130). Soldiers, commanders, ministers, wife, children, and servitors he should protect. If guilty, they should be punished according to their deserts (131). The King should protect, like a father, the insane, incapable, children and orphans, and those who are old and infirm (132). Know that agriculture and trade are the appropriate callings of the Vaishya. It is by agriculture and trade that man s body is maintained (133). Therefore, O Devi! in agriculture and trade all negligence, vicious habits, laziness, untruth, and deceit should be avoided with the whole soul (134). Shiva! when both buyer and seller are agreed as to the object of sale and the price thereof, and mutual promises have been made, then the purchase becomes complete (135). O Dearest One! the sale or gift of property by one who is a lunatic, out of his senses, under age, a captive, or enfeebled by disease, is invalid (136). The purchase of things not seen is concluded by hearing the description thereof. If the article be found to differ from its description, then the purchase is set aside (137). The sale of an elephant, a camel, and a horse is effected by the description of the animal. The sale is, however, set aside if the animal does not answer its description (138). If in the purchase of elephants, camels, and horses a latent vice becomes patent within the course of a year from the date of sale, then the purchase is set aside, but not after the lapse of one year (139). O Devi of the Kulas! the human body is the receptacle of piety, wealth, desires, and final liberation. It should therefore never be the subject of purchase; and such a purchase is by reason of My commands invalid (140).
O Dear One! in the borrowing of barley, wheat, or paddy, the profit of the lender at the end of the year is laid down to be a fourth of the quantity lent, and in the case of the loan of metals one-eighth (141). In monetary transactions, agriculture, trade, and in all other transactions, men should ever carry out their undertakings. This is approved by the laws (142). A servant should be skilful, clean, wakeful, careful and alert, and possess his senses under control (143). He should, as he desires happiness in this and the next world, regard his master as if he were Vishnu Himself, his master s wife; his own mother, and respect his master s kinsmen and friends (144). He should know his master s friends to be his friends, and his master s enemies to be his enemies and should ever remain in respectful attendance upon his master, awaiting his orders (145). He should carefully conceal his master s dishonour, the family dissensions, anything said in private or which would disgrace his master (146). He should not covet the wealth of his master, but remain ever devoted to his good. He should not make use of bad words or laugh or play in his masters presence (147). He should not, with lustful mind, even look at the maidservants in his master s house, or lie down with them, or play with them in secret (148). He should not use his master s bed, seat, carriages, clothes, vessels, shoes, jewels, or weapons (149). If guilty, he should beg the forgiveness of his master. He should not be forward, impertinent, or attempt to place himself on an equal footing with his master (150).
Except when in the Bhairavi-chakra or Tattva-chakra persons of all castes should marry in their caste according to the Brahma form, and should eat with their own caste people (151). O Great Queen! in these two circles, however, marriage in the Shaiva form is ordained, and as regards eating and drinking, no caste distinctions exist (152).
Shri Devi said:
What is the Bhairavi-chakra, and what is the Tattva-chakra? I desire to hear, and it kindly behoves Thee to speak of them (153).
Shri Sadashiva said:
O Devi! in the ordinances relating to Kula worship I have spoken of the formation of circles by the excellent worshippers at times of special worship (154). O Dear One! there is no rule relating to the Bhairavi-chakra. This auspicious circle may at any time be formed (155). I will now speak of the rites relating to this circle, which benefits the worshippers, and in which, if the Devi be worshipped, She speedily grants the prayers of Her votaries (156).
The Kulacharyya should spread an excellent mat in a beautiful place, and, after purifying it with the Kama and Astra Vijas, should seat himself upon it (157). Then the wise one should draw a square with a triangle in it with either vermilion or red sandal wood paste, or simply water (158). Then, taking a painted jar, and smearing it with curd and sun-dried rice, and placing a vermilion mark on it, let him put a branch or leaves and fruit upon it (159). Filling it with perfumed water whilst uttering the Pranava, the worshipper should place it on the Mandala, and exhibit before it lights and incense-sticks (160). The jar should then be worshipped with two fragrant flowers. Ishta-devata should be meditated upon as being in the jar. The ritual should be according to the shortened form (161). Listen, O Adored of the Immortals! whilst I speak to Thee of the peculiar features of this worship. There is no necessity of placing the wine-cups for the Guru and others 162). The worshipper should then take such of the elements of worship as he wishes, and place them in front of himself. Then, purifying them with the Weapon Mantra, let him gaze upon them with steadfast eyes (163).
Then, placing scent and flowers in the wine-jar, let him meditate upon the Ananda-Bhairava and Ananda-Bhairavi in it (164).
He should meditate upon the Blissful Devi as in first bloom of youth, with a body rosy as the first gleam of the rising Sun. The sweet nectar of Her smiles illumines Her face as beautiful as a full-blown lotus. Decked with jewels, clad in beauteous coloured raiment delighting in dance and song, She with the lotus of her hands makes the signs which confer blessings and dispel fears (165-166).
After thus meditating on Blissful Devi, let the worshipper thus meditate upon the Blissful Bhairava (167).
I meditate upon the Deva Who is white as camphor, Whose eyes are large and beautiful like lotuses, the lustre of Whose body is adorned with celestial raiments and jewels, Who holds in His left hand the cup of nectar, and in the right a ball of Shuddhi (168).
Having thus meditated upon Them both, and thinking of them in a state of union in the wine-jar, the worshipper should then worship Them therein. With Mantra, beginning with the Pranava and ending with Namah, the names of the Devata being placed between, and with perfume and flower, let him then sanctify the wine (169)
The Kula worshipper should sanctify the wine by repeating over it the Pashadi-trika-vija a hundred and eight times (170). When the Kali Age is in full sway, in the case of the householder whose mind is entirely engrossed with domestic desires, the three sweets should be substituted in the place of the first element of worship (wine) (171). Milk, sugar, and honey are the three sweets. They should be deemed to be the image of wine, and as such offered to the Deity (172). Those born in the Kali Age are by their nature weak in intellect, and their minds are distracted by lust. By reason of this they do not recognize the Shakti to be the image of the Deity (173). Therefore, O Parvati! for such as these let there be, in place of the last element of worship (sexual union), meditation upon the lotus-feet of the Devi and the inward recitation of their Ishta-mantra (174).
Therefore such of the elements of worship as have been obtained should be consecrated by the recitation over each of them of the same Mantra one hundred times (175). Let the worshipper, with closed eyes, meditate upon them as suffused by Brahman, then offer them to Kali, and, lastly, eat and drink the consecrated elements (176). O Gentle One! this is the Bhairavi-chakra, which is not revealed in the other Tantras. I have, however spoken before Thee of it. It is the essence of essences, and more excellent than the best (177). Parvati! In Bhairavi-chakra and Tattva-chakra the excellent worshipper should be wedded to his Shakti, according to the laws prescribed by Shiva (178). The Vira who without marriage worships by enjoyment of Shakti is, without doubt, guilty of the sin of going with another man s wife (179). When the Bhairavi-chakra has been formed, the members thereof are like the best of the twice-born; but when the circle is broken, they revert again to their own respective castes (180). In this circle there is no distinction of caste nor impurity of food. The heroic worshippers in the circle are My image; there is no doubt of that (181). In the formation of the circle there is no rule as to time or place or question as to fitness. The necessary articles may be used by whomsoever they may have been brought (182). Food brought from a long distance, whether it be cooked or uncooked, whether brought by a Vira or a Pashu, becomes pure immediately it is brought within the circle (183).
While the circle is being formed, all dangers flee in confusion, awed by the Brahmanic lustre of its heroes (184). Upon the mere hearing that a Bhairavi circle has been formed at any place, fierce Pishachas, Guhyakas, Yakshas, and Vetalas depart afar off in fear (185). Into the circle come all the holy places, the great and holy places, and with reverence Indra and all the Immortals (186). Shiva! the place where a circle is formed is a great and holy place, more sacred than each and all the other holy places. Even the Thirty desire the excellent offerings made to Thee in this circle (187). Whatever the food be, whether cooked or uncooked, and whether brought by a Mlechchha, Chandala, Kirata, or Huna, it becomes pure as soon as it is placed in the hand of a Vira (188). By the seeing of the circle and of the worshippers therein, who are but images of Myself, men infected with the taint of the Kali Age are liberated from the bonds of the life of a Pashu (189). When, however the Kali Age is in full sway, the circle should not be concealed. The Vira should at all places and at all times practise Kula rites and make Kula worship (190).
In the circle all distinction of caste, frivolous talk, levity, garrulity, spitting, and breaking wind should be avoided (191). Such as are cruel, mischievous, Pashu, sinful, atheists, blasphemers of Kula doctrine, and calumniators of the Kula Scriptures, should not be allowed into the circle (192). Even the Vira who, induced by affection, fear, or attachment, admits a Pashu into the circle falls from his Kula duty, and goes to hell (193). All who have sought refuge in the Kula Dharmma, whether Brahmamas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Shudras, or Samanyas, should ever be worshipped like Devas (194). He who, whilst in the circle, makes, from pride, distinctions of caste, descends to a terrible hell, even though he should have gone to the very end of the Vedanta (195). How within the circle can there be any fear of sin for Kaulas, who are good and pure of heart and who are manifestly the very image of Shiva? (196). Vipras and others who are followers of Shiva should, so long as they are within the circle, follow the ordinance of Shiva and the observances prescribed by Him (197).
Without the circle each should follow his own calling according to his caste and stage of life, and should discharge his duty as a man of the world (198). One Japa made by a devout man, when seated within the circle, bears the fruit attainable by the performance of a hundred Purashcharana and by Shavasana, Mundasana, and Chitasana (199). Who can describe the glory of the Bhairavi-chakra? Its formation, though but once only, frees of all sins (200). The man who for six months worships in such a circle will become a King: he who so worships for a year becomes the conqueror of death, and by the daily performance of such worship he attains to Nirvvana (201).
What is the need, O Kalika! of saying more? Know this for certain: that for the attainment of happiness in this or the next world there is only the Kula-dharmma, and no other (202). When the Kali Age is dominant and all religion is abandoned, even a Kaula merits hell by concealment of the Kula-dharmma (203).
I have spoken of the Bhairavi circle, which is the sole means of attaining enjoyment and final liberation. I will now speak to Thee, O Queen of the Kaulas! of the Tattva circle. Do Thou listen (204).
The Tattva circle is the king of all circles. It is also called the celestial circle. Only worshippers who have attained to a knowledge of Brahman may take part in it (205). Only those servants of the Brahman may take part in this circle who have attained to knowledge of Brahman, who are devoted to Brahman, pure of heart, tranquil, devoted to the good of all things, who are unaffected by the external world, who see no differences, but to whom all things are the same, who are merciful, faithful to their vows, and who have realized the Brahman (206-207).
O Knower of the Supreme Soul! only those who, possessing the knowledge of the Real, look upon this moving and motionless Existence as one with Brahman, such men are privileged to take part in this circle (208). They who regard everything in the Tattva circle as Brahman, they alone, O Devi, are qualified to take part therein (209). In the formation of this circle there is no necessity for placing the wine-jar, no lengthy ritual. It can be formed everywhere in a spirit of devotion to Brahman (210). O Dearest One! the worshipper of the Brahma-Mantra and a devout believer in Brahman should be the Lord of the circle, which he should form of other worshippers who know the Brahman (211). In a beautiful and clean place, pleasant to the worshippers, pure seats should be spread with beautiful carpets (212). There, O Shiva! the Lord of the circle should seat himself with the worshippers of Brahman, and have the elements of worship brought and placed in front of him (213). The Lord of the Circle should inwardly recite the Mantra, beginning with the Tara and ending with the Prana-vija, a hundred times, and then pronounce the following Mantra over the elements (214):
The act of offering is Brahman. The offering itself is Brahman. The Fire is Brahman. He by whom the offering is made is Brahman. By him who is absorbed in the worship of Brahman is unity with Brahman attained (215).
All the elements should be purified by the inward recitation of this Mantra seven or three times (216). Then, with the Brahma-Mantra, making an offering of the food and drink to the Supreme Soul, he should partake thereof with the other worshippers, knowers of the Brahman (217). O Great Queen! there is no distinction of caste in the Brahma circle, nor rule as to place or time or cup. The ignorant who, through want of care, make distinctions of birth or caste go upon the downward path (218-219). And therefore should those excellent worshippers, possessed of the knowledge that the Supreme Brahman pervades all things, perform the rites of the Tattva circle with every care for the attainment of religious merit, fulfilment of desire, wealth, and liberation (220).
Shri Devi said:
Lord! Thou hast spoken in full of the duties of the householder; it now behoves Thee kindly to speak of the duties appropriate to the ascetic life (221).
Shri Sadashiva said:
Devi! the stage of life of an Avadhuta is in the Kali Age called Sannyasa. Now listen while I tell thee what should be done (222).
When an adept in spiritual wisdom has acquired the knowledge of Brahman, and has ceased to care for the things of the world, he should seek refuge in the life of an ascetic (223). If, however, in order to adopt the life of a wandering mendicant, one abandons an old mother or father, infant children and a devoted wife, or helpless dependents, one goes to hell (224). All, whether Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra, or Samanya are equally entitled to take part in the purificatory ceremony of the Kula ascetic (225).
After the performance of all the duties of a householder, and after satisfying all dependents, one should go forth from his house indifferent, free from desires, with all his senses conquered (226). He who wishes thus to leave his house should call together his kinsmen and friends, his neighbours and men of his village, and lovingly ask of them their permission (227). Having obtained it, and made obeisance to his Ishta-devata, he should go round his village, and then without attachment set forth from his house (228). Liberated from the bonds of household life, and immersed in exceeding joy, he should approach a Kula ascetic of divine knowledge and pray to him as follows: (229)
"0 Supreme Brahman! all this life of mine has been spent in the discharge of household duties. Do Thou O Lord! be gracious to me in this my adoption of the life of an ascetic" (230).
The religious Preceptor should thereupon satisfy himself that the disciple s duties as a householder have all been accomplished, and, on finding him to be meek and full of discernment, initiate him into the second stage (231). The disciple should then, with a well-controlled mind, make his ablutions and say his daily prayer, and then, with the object of being absolved from the threefold debt due to them, worship the Devas, the Rishis, and the Pitris (232).
By the Devas are meant Brahma, Vishnu, and Rudra, with their followers; by the Rishis are meant Sanaka and others, as also the Devarshis and the Brahmarshis (233). Listen, whilst I now enumerate the ancestors which should be worshipped (234). The father, paternal grandfather, paternal great-grandfather, mother, the maternal grandfather, and others in the ascending line, and the maternal grandmother and others in the ascending line (235). Upon the dedication of oneself to the life of an ascetic, the Devas and Rishis should be worshipped in the East, the paternal ancestors in the South, the maternal ancestors in the West (236). Spreading two seats on each of these sides, beginning from the East, and invoking the Devas and others thereto, they should there be worshipped (237). Having worshipped them in proper form, pindas should be offered to each of them separately according to the rules relating thereto; And then, with folded palms, let the disciple thus supplicate the Devas and Ancestors (238):
O Fathers! O Mothers! O Devas! O Rishis! be you satisfied. Do you absolve me, about to enter upon the path of renunciation from all debts (239).
Having thus prayed to be free from all debts, bowing again and again, and being thus freed of all debts, he should perform his own funeral rites (240). The father and paternal grandfather and great-grandfather are one soul. In offering, therefore, the individual soul to the Supreme Soul, he who is wise should perform his own funeral rites (241). O Devi! sitting with his face to the North, and invoking the spirits of his ancestors upon the seats which he has prepared for them, he should, after doing them homage, offer the funeral cakes (242). In so offering he should spread kusha grass with its end towards the East, South, West, and towards the North for himself (243). After completion, according to the directions of the Guru, of the funeral rites, the seeker after emancipation should, in order to purify his heart inwardly, recite the following Mantra a hundred times (244):
Hring, let us worship the Three-eyed One whose fame is fragrant, the Augmenter of increase. May I, as the urvaruka is freed of its stalk, be liberated from death unto immortality (245).
Then the religious Preceptor should draw a figure on the altar of a shape in accordance with the divinity about to be worshipped and then place the jar on the altar and commence worship (246). Then the Guru, possessed of divine knowledge, should meditate upon the Supreme Spirit in the manner prescribed by Shambhu, and after worship place fire on the altar (247). The Guru should then offer unto the fire so sanctified the oblation according to the Sangkalpa, and then make his disciple perform the complete homa (248). He should first offer oblation with the Vyahritis, and then with the vital airs, prana, apana, samana, udana, vyana (249).
For the destruction of the false belief that the body, whether gross or subtle, is the Atma, the Tattva-Homa should be performed, uttering the following words:
Earth, water, fire, air, ether, (then) scent, taste, vision, touch, sound, (then) speech, hands, feet, anus and organ of generation, (then) ears, skin, eyes, tongue, and smell, (then) manas, buddhi, ahangkara, and chitta, (and lastly) all the functions of the senses and of life (250-253).
He should then say:
"May they be purified;" (adding) "May I be like unto the universal Chaitanya united with Hring. May I be like the Light beyond and above Rajo-guna, and may I be free of the taint of ignorance" (254).
Having consigned as oblations into the fire the twenty-four tattvas and the functions of the body, he who is now devoid of all action should consider his body as dead (255). Considering his body as dead and devoid of all function, and calling to mind the Supreme Brahman, let him take off his sacred thread (256). He, the possessor of divine knowledge, should take it from his shoulder, uttering the
Aing Kling Hangsa.
Holding it in his hand while he recites the three Vyahritis, ending with Svaha, let him throw it steeped in ghee into the fire (257). Having thus offered the sacred thread as an oblation to the fire, he should, whilst uttering the Kama Vija, cut off his crown-lock and take and place it in the ghee (258).
O Crown Lock! Daughter of Brahman! thou art an ascetic in the form of hair. I am now placing thee in the Purifying One. Depart, O Devi! I make obeisance to thee (259).
He should then, whilst uttering the Kama, Maya, Kurcha, and Astra Vijas, ending with the word Svaha, make the Homa sacrifice of that lock of hair in the well-sanctified fire (260). The Pitris, Devas, and Devarshis, as also all acts performed in the stages of life, reside in that lock and have it as their support (261).
Therefore the man who renounces the crown-lock and sacred thread after the performance of the oblation becomes one with Brahman (262). The twice-born enter the stage of an ascetic by renunciation of the crown-lock and sacred thread, and the Shudras and Samanyas by the renunciation of the crown-lock only (263). Then he whose crown-lock and sacred thread have been thus removed should make obeisance to the Guru, laying himself full length upon the ground. The Guru should then raise his disciple and say into his right ear: "0 wise one! thou art That." "Think within thyself that I am He and He is I. Free from all attachments and sense of self, do thou go as thou pleasest as moved thereto by thy nature" (264-265). The Guru, full of the knowledge of the Divine essence, should then, after removal of the jar and the fire, bow to the disciple, recognizing in him his own very self (266), and say: "O Thou whose form is this Universe! I bow to Thee and to myself. Thou art That and That is Thou. Again I bow to thee." (267).
The worshippers of the Brahma-Mantra, possessed of divine knowledge, who have conquered themselves, attain the stage of an ascetic by cutting off the crown-lock with their own Mantra (268). What need is there for those purified by divine knowledge of sacrificial or funeral rites or ritual worship? For they, acting as they please, are never guilty of any fault (269). The disciple, image of the absence of all contraries, desireless, and of tranquil mind, may, as he pleases, roam the earth, the visible image of Brahman (270). He will think of everything, from Brahma to a blade of grass, as the image of the existent one, and, oblivious of his own name and form, he will meditate upon the Supreme Soul in himself (271). Homeless, merciful, fearless, devoid of attachment claiming nothing as his own, devoid of egoism, the ascetic will move about the earth (272). He is free of all prohibitions. He shall not strive to attain what he has not, nor to protect what he has. He knows himself. He is equally unaffected by either joy or sorrow. He is calm, the conqueror of himself, and free from all desires (273).
His soul is untroubled even in sorrow, desireless even in prosperity. He is ever joyful, pure, calm, indifferent and unperturbed. He will hurt no living thing, but will be ever devoted to the good of all being. He is free from anger and fear, with his senses under contro1 and without desire. He strives not for the preservation of his body. He is not obsessed by any longing (274-275). He will be free from grief and resentment, equal to friend and foe, patient in the endurance of cold and heat, and to him both honour and disgrace are one and the same (276). He is the same in good or evil fortune, pleased with whatsoever, without effort, he may obtain. He is beyond the three attributes, of unconditioned mind free of covetousness, and (wealth) he will hoard not (277). He will be happy in the knowledge that, as the unreal universe exists dependent upon the Truth, so does the body depend upon the soul (278). He attains liberation by the realization that the soul is completely detached from the organs of sense, and is the witness of that which is done (279).
The ascetic should not accept any metal, and should avoid calumny, untruth, jealousy, all play with woman, and all discharge of seed (280). He should regard with an equal eye worms, men, and Devas. The religious mendicant should know that in everything he does, in that is Brahman (281). He should eat without making any distinction of place, time, person, or vessel, and whether from the hand of a Vipra or Chandala, or from any other person whatsoever (282). The ascetic, thouugh passing his time as he pleases, should study the Scriptures relating to the Soul and in meditation upon the nature of That (283). The corpse of an ascetic should on no account be cremated. It should be worshipped with scents and flowers, and then either buried or sunk into water (284). O Devi! the inclination of those men who have not attained union with the Supreme Soul and who ever seek after enjoyment, is by nature turned towards the path of action (285).
They remain attached to the practice of meditation, ritual worship, and recitation. Let them who are strong in their faith therein know that to be the best for them (286). It is on account of them that I have spoken of various rites for the purification of the heart, and have with the same object devised many names and forms (287). O Devi! without knowledge of the Brahman and the abandonment of all ritual worship, man cannot attain emancipation even though he performed countless such acts of worship (288). The householder should consider the Kula ascetic, possessed of divine knowledge, to be the visible Narayana in the form of man, and should worship Him as such (289). By the mere sight of one who has subdued his passions a man is freed of all his sins, and earns that merit which he obtains by journeying to places of pilgrimage, the giving of alms, and the performance of all vows, penances, and sacrifices (290)
End of the Eighth Joyful Message, entitled "The Dharmma and Customs of the Castes and Ashramas."
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
- Essays On Dharma
- Esoteric Mystic Hinduism
- Introduction to Hinduism
- Hindu Way of Life
- Essays On Karma
- Hindu Rites and Rituals
- The Origin of The Sanskrit Language
- Symbolism in Hinduism
- Essays on The Upanishads
- Concepts of Hinduism
- Essays on Atman
- Hindu Festivals
- Spiritual Practice
- Right Living
- Yoga of Sorrow
- Mental Health
- Concepts of Buddhism
- General Essays
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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