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Adyar Pamphlets

By Theosophical Publishing House

Issue No.183 - An Introduction to the Mantra Shastra

by S.E. Ghopalacharlu (Published in 1934)

MANTRA SASTRA is another department of Occult Science, which has for its objects all kinds of Siddhis or acquirements of powers for securing the objects aimed at by means of invoking the gods presiding them by repeating such Mantras or formulas as are intended for the purpose with the necessary ceremonies attending thereto. The whole of the four Vedas consist of nothing but Mantras, and as they proceed from the Pranava (the word Aum), the Pranava, consequently Adi or Mula Mantra or the Mantra of all Mantras; and it is acceptable to both the followers of Nigamas (the Vedas) and Agamas (the Tantras). For this reason no Mantra can become effective or powerful without uttering the Pranava in the commencement of it.

For the acquirement of the successful study and practice of this S'astra, the purity of body, speech, and mind is the first condition attending it; otherwise, they would lead to Black magic and to its disastrous results: that is to utter [Page iv] destruction of the soul or the higher Manas. Strong will - power and undaunted courage are also the conditions required for this purpose.

Though the Mantra and Yoga S'astras belong to the occult science, yet the difference between them is very great. The former is an objective science and the latter is a subjective one.

The Mantra S'astra develops the powers by appealing to the external objects, such as gods and goddesses (the forces in nature), while the Yogin develops them by self-culture or by unifying or identifying himself with the manifested universe as part and parcel of the Is'vara or the Creator.

The Yogin by the virtue of his culture, gets all the powers of the Siddhis without effort while the Mantrika has to evoke them by the Mantras and the ceremonies attending them.

In order to make this difference clear to the mind of our readers, we have in this form reprinted the paper read by Mr. Gopalacharlu and hope that our object will be accomplished.

We specially draw the attention of our readers to the fourth Section on “The Nature and Teachings of the Tantras”.

T. P.H.



IT is with great diffidence that I ascend the platform today, to give you my few thoughts on mantras, a subject which, however interesting it may be, cannot be exhausted in a few essays. My object then is to place before you the results of my own studies in that direction, subject, of course, to the correction of my more advanced fellow Theosophists; and thus to benefit myself in one way.

I can only give you, owing to the shortness of the time at my disposal, the barest outlines [Page 2] of the subject. It is impossible for a single individual to master the information treated of in 37,00,000 verses containing the original writings on mantras and Occultism, known as the Ãgamas, besides several other works now supposed to have been lost; for occultism is treated in these writings in all its phases, and a theoretical knowledge of them presupposes a good deal of practical knowledge in one of them at least.

I cannot too strongly impress upon your minds the necessity of my giving references, and in important points quoting the authorities in support of my arguments, more especially because a slur has been cast upon us that we do not correctly represent the views of the ancients, and that we give out as correct what emanates from our brains, without taking the trouble of seeing whether our statements are borne out by the master-minds of old. I, for one, beg leave to admit for a moment, without quoting any instances of such neglect of duty, the truth of such statements, and believe that you will all agree with me that the charge is partially true at least. I would therefore try my best to support my statements, with references to the best authoritative writings; for if we give the public, any more room to think [Page 3] of us as they now do, not only will the truth of our doctrines be less and less appreciated, but we shall be in their eyes no better than a set of self - styled masters who have nothing to show for our title.

The importance of sound has been most excellently sung by a poet of the Rg-veda, hoary with antiquity and wisdom, when he said:

Sanskrit WordsP3

Catvari vak parimita padani tani vidur brahmana ye manisinah, guha trini nihita nengayanti, turiyam vaco manusya vadanti.

This literally means: All vaks are of four kinds: so the Brahmanas learned in the Vedas (know); three of which are latent, and the last is spoken.

This statement gave rise to the fourfold classification. The Vedas have been divided into four; the Vaidikas — l use the term in the sense in which Yaska used it, viz., the ancient Vedic teachers — say that the Pranava (Om) and the three mantras known as Vyahrtis (Bhuh, Bhuva; and Suvah) are here referred to; the grammarians consider the same passage as referring to the grammatical forms and [Page 4] terminations, naman, akhyata, upasarga and nipata; those following the school of Nirukta interpret the same as the Rc, Yajus, Saman, and the words spoken of in the world. Those versed in Mantras'astra only enlarge the views of the last named by explaining them to mean the Para, Pas'yanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari forms of Vak. [This Mantra forms the 45th hymn of the 164th Sukta of the 22nd Anuvaka of the 1st Mandala of the Rg-veda. This Sukta contains 52 hymns the Rsi of which is Dirghatamas. The first 41 Mantras are addressed to Vis'vedevas; the 42nd and 45th to Vagdevi, who is explained by Sayanacarya to mean the same as the Logos. I would in this connection refer the reader for further details to Yogas 'ikhopanisad ]

This last interpretation is the basis on which the mantras were formed as I shall show you later on.

The potency of sound has been spoken of in very high terms by all writers of antiquity and by none more so than Patanjali himself, the well-known author of the Yoga Sutras, in his more splendid work, the Mahabhasya, a commentary on the grammatical rules of Panini. He says, the four horns [The reference is here to the Vedic passage: “Catnari s'rnga trayo asya pada dvé s'irse sapta hastaso asya, tridha baddho vrsabho roraviti maho devo martyan avives'a

Sanskrit P4

are the four classes in [Page 5] which the Brahman is compared to a Bull; and this passage Patañjali takes for his authority. Kayyata in his commentary on Mahabhasya says that this is a description of Sabdabrahman (Logos) under the character of a Bull. The meaning of the Mantra is:

Words, noun, verb, prefix, particle, and other kinds (of grammatical terminations). The three feet thereof are the three times, the past, the present and the future; the two heads are the two natures of sound, the eternal, and the factitious. The seven hands there are the seven case affixes. “Trebly bound”, i.e., connected with the three localities, the chest, the throat and the head. The bull (vrsabha) is so called from its showering down (varsana) - (i.e., showering down enjoyments). It bellows ( roraviti ), i.e., makes a sound. How is this ? The verb means 'making a sound'. The ‘great God did enter mortals' : the great God, i.e., sound; mortals in men whose lot it is to die: these he did enter in order that they might become assimilated with the God.

This statement has been explained by his commentators to mean that the ETERNAL SOUND has become manifested in man, in order that he may be again assimilated into Him (The Eternal Sound or Sabdabrahman or the Logos) verily the man that knows the fitness of speech, whose sins have been removed by the employment of speech preceded by a knowledge of language and who, having split the knots of egotism, doth enter. [Page 6]

Patañjali next turns his attention to the Vedic hymn I have already quoted, and proceeds to say:

Another text says: Four are the kinds of words, the divisions of speech. Hence do know the knowers of Brahman (Brahmanah) who have will over the mind; three placed in the cave, [ Vivarana explains ‘cave' to mean ‘where the occult development of sound takes place'. By ‘not getting a glimpse thereof’ is meant 'their not being the depositories of any kind of knowledge in regard to the three stages of sound anterior to its articulation.'] men take no notice of; the fourth (degree) of speech they utter'. The 'four words' that are the divisions of speech are the four sets of words, the nouns, verbs, prefixes and particles. 'Thou dost know the knowers of Brahman who have will over their minds,' – who have the will of their minds,(or have the mind in subjection to the will) — such is the meaning of the word manisin. 'Three placed within the cave', they take no notice of; — of the three placed within the cave 'they take no note', they busy themselves not with them, they get not a glimpse thereof. 'The fourth (part) of speech men do utter' : the fourth (turiya) is that fourth part (of entireness) of speech which is found among men.

I have almost literally translated the words of Patañjali as a writer on grammar — the grammar of factitious speech, the proper study of which, he says, preserves the Vedas and prevents their corruption saying. By saying ‘factitious speech’ he means the Vaikhari Vak, for we believe that the other three forms of Vak form the subject of occult sciences. [Page 7]

The Hindus believe that Hanuman was taught by Surya in nine grammars: and leaving off the ninth which treats of the factitious language, we have the eight grammars speaking the hidden forms of speech, the number eight including certain intermediate stages of the three latent Vaks or forms of speech alluded to above. This lowest form of speech is the object of knowledge, and one of the objects of which is obtaining the full knowledge of words, or, to adopt Patañjali's explanation, in order to obtain a command over his own mind.

“Of trinal speech distinguished by its several locations as the pronounced ( Vaikhari ), the intermediate (madhyama) and the seeing ( pas'yanti ). This marvellous one is the ultimate degree. Among these the pronounced is that which is the object of hearing, the intermediate abiding in the region of the heart is the cause of discourse, since (else) there would never be words perceived; but the pas'yanti or 'the seeing' (so-named actively honoris causa; while it means, what is seen by the enlightened) is beyond vulgar concernment, but in it moreover do those with concentrated minds arrive at the distinction between the bases and the affixes. But in the ultimate (para vak), it is not so (no [Page 8] distinction of parts) being there discoverable. Speech is on that account said to be ' trinal '. [ Bartrhari's Vakyapadiya quoted by Nages'abhatta in his Bhasyapradipoddyota. I may here add that Bhartrhari was one of the first commentators on the Mahabhasya; and the subsequent commentary of Kayyata, and the commentary thereon by Nages'abhatta, are based on this great work which is said to have consisted of 100,000 granthas ]

It is plain from what has been said above that the laws which govern ordinary speech also govern mantras, the latter being only speech arranged according to certain modulations of sound. Such being the case we shall now enquire into the signification of the word 'mantra'.

‘Mantra' has been derived from the root man to think: and it has among several other ways, also been explained to be so called on account of its protecting the Upasaka, i.e., one who develops the occult power by practising it with its accompaniments, from all sorts of dangers and difficulties. The word is also cognate with Manana meaning ‘to think', and described as one of the paths leading to Brahman. Mantras are of the Vaikhari vak and correspond to the Sthula plane of matter.

The origin of mantras and devatas is this. Brahman which is known in the Mantras’astras as Bindu, possesses a force called Bija, but known in the Vedantic Writings as S'akti or [Page 9] Prakrti. Their united action is Nada, of S'abdabrahman or the Logos. There is, however, a little difference of opinion among this class of occultists as to the nature of the sounds uttered by the Mantras. One class thinks them to be manifestations of the Logos; others again consider them as the manifestations of the S'akti, and say that S'abdabrahman is the consciousness in all things. This consciousness resides in man in the Kundalini Nadi and is said to be the origin of all the letters of the Alphabet.

We have now three kinds of creations. From Bindu we have in order, Sadas'iva, Rudra, Visnu, Brahma, which are either so many different Logoi, or different aspects of one and the same principle. The other creation is from S'akti. Its first manifestation is Mahat, which is either Sattvika, Rajasa or Tamasa. These give rise to the three kinds of Ahamkara. On the plane of Ahamkara we have the ten deities known as Diks or directions, Vayu, As'vins, the Fire, the Sun, [ It must be here said that the sun, fire. etc., do not mean those on the physical plane with which we are acquainted, but their astral, or in some cases, even higher counterparts ]. Pracetas, Indra, Upendra, Mitra, and the ten senses and the Tanmatras. From these last we have the five elements [Page 10] known to Indian philosophy. Each one of them is thus symbolised.

Sanskrit P10

All the letters of the Samskrt Alphabet belonging to these tattvas follow the symbol used for the particular class to which they belong and these symbols play a not unimportant part in the practice of the Mantras.

From these elements the physical body of man takes its origin, and in it the Kundalini force is located. The three nadis known as Ida, Pi?gala and Susumna extend from the nose to a little below the navel, and the Kundalini is located a little above the anus. It is described as coiled like a serpent, and when awakened by the power of Yoga, it becomes straightened, and shuts the passages to the three nadis mentioned above. According to Indian writers, S'abda takes its origin in the Kundalini; and it is the sound which takes its rise from Kundalini that passes the three stages Para, Pas’yanti and Madhyama and at last comes out as the one which we all hear and speak comprising the fifty letters of the Samskrt [Page 11] Alphabet. It has been briefly said that the world of S'abda takes its origin from sounds. In other words, it means that a name or sound expressed to denote a particular object is identical with the object itself. |

This idea will no doubt appear very curious to those of us who have been used to the modern way of thinking, but is pre-eminently an Indian idea; and no Indian writer has explained this theory more clearly than Patañjali, whom I quote once more:

Among those (viz., sounds, or words, secular and spiritual) the secular in the first place are such as cow, house, man and Brahma. The scriptural are verily indeed as Agnimile purohitam (and such other passages found in the Vedas); now (let us take) ‘cow'. Here, which is the word ? That which is in the shape of a thing with dewlap, tail, hump, hoofs, horns — pray is that the word ? Nay, replies he (referring to Pãpini whose Sütras on Samskrt grammar and philology Patanjali comments upon). That is not a word, but verily a substance. Then — the hints, gestures and winking — is that the word? Nay, he replies — that verily is the action. Then the white, the black, the tawny, the spotted, is that the word? Nay, he replies, that verily is quality .Then that which in many is different (and yet) not different — and that which is not destroyed in things that are destroyed by disintegration — that which in the common nature (of all that exists) — is that the word? Nay, he replies — verily is the form (implying the genus or Platonic idea). What then is the word ? A word is that through which, when uttered, there is the [Page 12] cognition (i.e.,) things with dewlap, tail, hump, hoofs and horns, or in the world a noise; a noise with a recognized series is a word or sound.

This last statement has been explained by Kayyata to mean that an identity ( tadatmya) exists between a word and the object it signifies. It is generally said that the Kundalini has fifty letters. This means a great many things. It has been explained in the Mantras'astras that all the fifty letters take their rise in their para form of course, from the Kundalini; and that the force latent in it becomes manifested in the forms of sounds which to the ancient Indian grammarians comprised the fifty letters of the Samskrt Alphabet. When first any attempt is made to utter any sound, the sound of Pranava or Om is heard in the heart. It is in fact the very first sound that one is said to hear when he attempts to speak out any word: and in the case of any single sound (Ekaksara) as for instance, the very first sound you would make, or one hears, before you pronounce the letter or sound, is the Pranava: and you hear this sound so long as one has life or Prana. Of course we cannot ordinarily hear the sound of Pranava unless we are trained in Yoga. Proceeding from this analogy, they inferred, [Page 13] or knew that this sound can be heard everywhere, for, as I said before, any sound that is intended to be produced is always preceded by the sound of Pranava.

We thus see the reason why the ancients said that Pranava was the first of all sounds, and therefore of all mantras; how it was held to be universal, and how on this physical plane it came to mean Prana. It also means Brahman, being co-existent with it in being universal: and being thus the first of all sounds every sound or mantra was considered its manifestation.

We shall now proceed to consider the original of mantras. I have already said that sound comes from the Kundalini , through the nadis, and the mouth. Those nadis are hollow and terminate a little below the navel, and through them the ten kinds of air known as Prana; Apana, Vyana, Udana, Samana, Krkara, Devadatta, Dhanamjaya, Naga and Kurma, take their rise.

The sound proceeds from Kundalini to one of the nadis, the particular nadi being determined by the letter intended to be produced. Thus letters A (Sanskrit P13A) to Ah (Sanskrit P13B ) pass through Ida, Ka () Ma () through Pingala and Ya () to Ksa () through Susumna. The three nadis are [Page 14] presided over respectively by the Moon, the Sun and Agni; in other words there exists an intimate, and to us inexplicable, relation between these deities, and the nadis, the former influencing the latter. It is on this account that the sounds coming from Ida are known in Samskrt grammar as Saumya (literally related to Moon) and those from Susumna as Usman meaning hot or fiery. The saumyas are also so called, because they do not require much effort in pronouncing them as they pass straight through the Ida nadi. The letters Ka to Ma have sprung up from them. Thus, letters Ka to Ma are called Pranins (animated beings) while A to Ah are called Prana (life-principle). They are symbols of the twenty-five tattvas, the last letter Ma symbolising the twenty-fifth principle the Jivatman, or Paramatman according to the view we take. The third series extending from Ya to Ksa, and coming through the Susumna are called Vayapakas, from their being extended, or composed of the other two series already spoken of, and they play a very important part in the composition of mantras, for their insertion is entirely dependent on the result we may wish to obtain.

To summarize then, the sound in its passage from the Kundalini to the end of the nadis [Page 15] is the stage of para: that of its passage through the nadis is its pas'yanti stage: from the end of the nadis to the throat it is in its madhyama stage, while that which passes from the throat to the mouth is its vaikhari stage. The sounds or letters on the physical plane are divided into those of Prthvi, Ap, Tejas, Vayu and Akas'a.


Vayu,— ka, kha, ga, gha, na, a, a, r, ha, s'a, ya.
Agni, — ca, cha, ja, jha, ña, i, i, ri, ksa, ra.
Prthvi, — ta, tha, da, dha, na, u, u, l, sa, va, la.
Ap, — ta, tha, da, dha, na, è, ai, Ii, sa.
Akas'a, — pa, pha, ba, bha, ma, ô, au, am, ah.

Mantras being a combination of sounds to suit a purpose, they may be either of one syllable or a thousand syllables. The latter being its maximum limit, mantras of one, two, and three syllables are, strictly speaking, arrangement of sounds scientifically blended together to produce a result, and are consequently very potent: these and the four syllabled mantras do not generally admit of any analysis whatever, as in the case of those of five syllables and more, for the reason that they are generally composed of the least number of Bijas, and have no room for the insertion [Page 16] of the name of the devata as in the case of the many-worded ones: and the only way we can find out the devata is by a careful examination of the Bijas employed. Those of five syllables or more, are divisible into (1) the Pranava, (2) the Bija showing the object of the mantra, and (3) the name of the deity. Not all the mantras begin with Pranava, but those that begin with it are considered more sacred to a deity than those which do not begin with it. The reason is plain enough, being that the mere presence of Pranava, which is considered as the mother of all mantras, will accelerate the force of that mantra.

The objects of the Mantras are various (1) Subjection (vas'ya), (2) attraction (akarsana), (3) fascination (mohana), (4) deadening the faculties (stambhana), (5) creating enmity (vidvesana), (6) death (marana), (7) ruining ( uccatana), (8) soothing ( apyayana) ; and the Bijaic terminations show the object of Mantras. In case of vas'ya, uccatana, and akarsana, the termination hum should be used; phat for marananamah for stambhana, vidvesana and mohanavausat for apyayana. This rule should be observed by a beginner, but when once he masters a mantra, this act being known as Mantra-siddhi, he masters will-power [Page 17] also, and can then use any termination for fulfilling any object. But immediate results will follow if he also pays attention to the above rule. This leads us to think that only the efficacy of the will-power is necessary, but there is a sort of efficacy in the sounds themselves uttered during the repetition of a mantra.

Mantras are either masculine, feminine, or neuter, according to the nature of the devata addressed to, and of actions. Those addressed to a female deity , are also called vidyas. The eight purposes above mentioned may be thus classified according to the nature of the devata addressed. Those that terminate with the endings hum and phat are male mantras; but there is a class of Indian Occultists who consider every mantra as masculine. Those ending with svaha and vausat are feminine in their action, while those with namah are neuter. Probably the reason for this classification lies in the fact that the pronunciation of hum and phat are more forcible, and produce a greater disturbance in the akas'a, than either svahavausat or namah. Under the head of feminine mantras again are included all such mantras of one syllable, but consisting of more than one letter as kmakhmakra, etc. [Page 18]

One of the advantages of this classification is that these mantras may be best practised by persons enjoying different periods of life; for it is laid down almost as a rule that the feminine mantras should be practised before sixteen years of age, and the rest above that age.

The excellence of the Samskrt alphabet will be apparent when we consider that one had all the occult laws above hinted at, can be observed only in connection with it, and none else; and also that the knowledge of occult dynamics which the ancients possessed, enabled them to find out that these laws can be best worked out in the case of this Alphabet called Samskrt, meaning 'well-done' or 'well-arranged'; in short a perfect Alphabet.

The number of mantras existing in the Samskrt language is generally stated in occult writings as seven crores. This gives us only a rough idea, but the exact number is 67,108,863. Every mantra of any number of syllables must fall under one of the 26 kinds of Chandas, and that the number given out in works on Samskrt prosody. These denote the 26 ways in which different sounds can be arranged, taken one at a time, two at a time, and so on, the total number of ways in which they can be so arranged being, as we [Page 19] know from algebra, 2 26; — 1 or 67,108,863. Mantras are also divided into those of Agni and Soma. If in a mantra there are more letters coming out from Pingala Nadi it is Agni mantra; if of Susumna, it belongs to Soma and is called a Saumya mantra; and so on. [Page 20]



ONE of the most secret correspondences existing between the mantras on the Vaikhari Vak or the Sthula plane of matter, and the higher planes is Bijas , which I have partly hinted at in the preceding Section. The central idea involved in the working of the mantras is that certain sounds when uttered produce a disturbance in the Akas'a which is, in its turn communicated, according to the severity of such a disturbance, to the higher planes. It stands to reason, therefore, that the greater the disturbance, the greater will be the communication to the higher planes. The nature of the disturbance cannot be judged from the known laws of physics, as that science has rarely meddled with the higher planes of matter. All that we can, therefore, say is that there exists some relation between sounds, and the disturbance in the Akas'a , and that certain kinds of sounds produce certain kinds of disturbance. These sounds are known in Samskrt [Page 21] by the name of Bijaksaras, and they have been classed under various heads, denoting those the effects of which are of a particular nature; the latent forces in the letters being known as Bijas. All the letters of the Samskrt Alphabet are also Bijaksaras, and as everything in nature can be judged from the three standpoints of Visnu, S'iva and S'akti, we have also three different sets of meanings according as they are either Vaisnava, S'aiva and S'akta. Thus there are three ways of interpreting a mantra, composed as it is of various Bijaksaras, and according as it belongs to either Visnu, S'iva or S'akti. It must at the same time be said that each one of these devatas, is an aggregate of several forces, each known in its turn by the name of devata; and one can easily see by inspection, what particular force is intended to be invoked in a given mantra. These ideas should be borne in mind for a correct understanding of what follows.

A chart is given at the end, as an appendix, containing the significations of the Bija forces latent in the 50 letters of the Samskrt Alphabet; as such a thing will be too tedious if it finds a place in the body of the essay. It has been prepared at the expense of, a good deal of labour, as it involved the study of [Page 22] more than seven or eight large Samhitas; in the three sets of Agamas, — Pañcaratra, S'aiva and S'akta. A very curious conventionality is found to have been used in the Agamas, viz., of designating Bijaksaras, by the names of certain trees; as for example, “Join Mandara with Visnu”. Here “Mandara” would be ordinarily understood to mean the Mandara tree but such an explanation will be found not to have been borne by the context. It means that the Bijaksaras called “ra” should be added to Visnu Bijaksaras ' a', and should be pronounced “ara”. This is given here as an illustration to show how the mere wording of the text of Mantras'astras is apt to be misunderstood, and why such a thing as initiation into them is necessary. Such sorts of examples have collected and explained as far as the materials could be obtained, and will also be found in the appendix. This sort of finding out the mantras is called Mantroddhara. Among the uses of Bijaksaras, may be mentioned the placing of certain Bijaksaras in the beginning of the verses composed. A poet, for instance, and in this case he must be a good adept, wishing to destroy a house or anything belonging to another person, sings a song beginning with one of the Agni or fire Bijaksaras and [Page 23] which means that the house should be burnt. Cases of this sort have occurred, but they all depend on the occult powers conquered by the composer. Kalidasa and several others are said to have done so. Similarly good may be done to anyone. But as the tendency in those who are not Brahmajñanins, is to do more harm than good, such things should be discountenanced as far as possible.

It must, therefore, be understood that all the mantras which may mean nothing else than the effect required, are not devoid of force whatever. A magician, for instance, wishing to purify the magnetic aura of a chair would merely say “Ram agnaye namah” fancying or willing himself during the repetition, that fire purifies the chair, and if he is sensitive, he would feel that the aura surrounding it has been purified.

As regards the question of relation of mantra, to the force it symbolises, no clear words can be found in the Mantras'astras. Such explanations as when literally translated mean “the devata is of two forms, viz., that of a mantra, and that of the Suksma S'arira”, occur, but they do not in any way enlighten us. There seems to be a good deal of mystery cast on this question by the Agamas, but judging from their [Page 24] context in the Mantras'astras and from S'amkaracarya 's words in his famous Commentaries on the Brahma Sutras (1. 3. 33) that a devata has the power of assuming any form. I think I am not far from right in supposing that the devatas (by whatever name they are called in the Theosophical literature) are denizens of a higher plane of being, but between whom and the sounds there exists some inexplicable relation, and which when once tuned is sure to invoke those denizens, just as in a piano the keys produce the particular tone required.

Similar cases of intentional secrecy in the case of mantras may be inferred from the fact that the mantras have been specially composed so as not to be of much use when practised as they stand. The mantras are “defective” as they stand, and should be remedied. They are said to be of fifty kinds. Most of these are trivial, but four of these are important. They are known by the names, Chinna, Ruddha, S’aktihina and Badhira.

Chinna means ' broken' and denotes that defect by which a mantra is known, containing a Vayu Bijaksara (ya) either in the beginning, middle or the end, or containing a double letter (as kma for instance): or containing three, four or five vowels. [Page 25]

Ruddha (retarding) is that defect in which a Prthvibija ( la ) occurs twice simultaneously.

S’aktihina (powerless) is that in which neither a Mayabija ( ) S'ribija ( S’rim ), or Pranava, is to be found in a given mantra.

Badhira (or deaf) is that in which there is anusvara both in the beginning as well as the end of a mantra.

It is also considered a defect in a mantra, if it is composed of a large number of syllables. It quite frequently happens that a mantra cannot be formed without any of the defects: and accordingly there are two opposite schools, one holding that these defects exist with a purpose, and the other that they are only accidental. It follows therefrom that in order to compose, a mantra, a good deal of care has to be exercised against positive evil consequences, as such defects are sure to produce little or none of the intended results. It will also be seen that those mantras which are either the least defective or not defective at all, are those composed by the highest adepts spoken of in Samskrt writings, and I may add that they are, as a rule, written in Agamas in a cypher, thus necessitating a real initiation into it.

These defects should be remedied, and such remedies are ten in number known by the name [Page 26] of “Das'a Samskaras”. They are Janana, Jivana; Tadana, Bodhana, Abhiseka, Vimalikarana, Apyayana, Tarpana, Dipana and Gopana.

Janana, literally “birth”, is the process of separating the letters of a mantra from a diagram previously drawn, and of concentrating the will thereon; this process is said to intensify the action of a mantra. Jivana or “protection” is the process of regenerating, and this is done by performing the Japa of a mantra, preceded and followed by the Pranava.

Tadana (beating) is that process of writing the mantra on the  bhurjapatra (birch leaf), and after concentrating one's mind on it for a certain length of time, invoking in short the force indicated by the mantra: and then awakening it by making some magnetic passes on the writing, with a drug favourable for awakening the force, such as sandal paste.

Bodhana is that process in which the devata is after being roused induced to a proper understanding; and this peculiar result is brought about by the throwing of the flowers of Karavira (Neriumadorata). In Abhiseka, the devata is made to yield to the wishes of the operator, and this is done by either pouring water mesmerised by the repetition of the four [Page 27] bijas Om, Hrim, Klim, Aim, or by throwing the tender leaves of the peepul.

While the processes above described are for the purpose of restoring the devata to its proper senses so far as the individual operator is concerned, the defects in the mantra, and the devata are, strictly speaking, remedied in the last three ones, beginning from Vimalikarana, which literally means “getting rid of strain”, It is done by making a Japa of the mantra, preceded, and followed, by the words Hamsa and Soham, respectively, and then mesmerising water by plunging a blade of sacred grass into it, while the mantra is being repeated; this letter process being known by the name of Apyayana, that is equalizing the good and evil actions of the devata. To attain this result another ceremony is gone through, viz., Tarpana, which is pouring over the bhurjapatra on which the mantra is written, mesmerised milk, and clarified butter, mixed with ghee and the mesmerised water just described. The next step, therefore, is that of stimulating the devata, so that the required result, viz., a command over it, may be sooner accomplished. This is done by Dipana, and Gopana. In the former the Bijas (Om, Im, Sam ) are added to the mantra and repeated [Page 28] a certain number of times; the Bijas added thereto, being very powerful ones; and the letter is nothing but a careful preservation to oneself of the secret ceremonies performed all the while.

There is however one important thing. I would call it the most important factor in the practice of mantras and that is, the law of correspondences of several principles to each other. I need not for obvious reasons set myself to explain them in any way but would leave the subject to be dealt with by my readers according to the lights they have had. But as I expended a great labour in finding them out from the Mantras'astras and other writings, I shall simply enumerate them in an appendix hereafter. [Page 29]



PURAS'CARANA as applied to the practice of mantras means that act or a series of acts which should be performed as soon as one is initiated. They are japa, homa, tarpana, marjana, and charity. These are called the five angas to the practice of mantra.

Before one begins to practise it, it is absolutely necessary that he should find out whether he will In any way be benefited, in other words, whether his Karma is such as to prevent his being benefited at all by the practice of a mantra in that birth in which he wishes to obtain the result in view. This shows that nothing in the world can work against the natural law known to Hindus under the general name of “Karma”. Even Vidyaranya when he wanted wealth and prosperity had recourse to the practice of Gayattri, but it was all of no use. He at last, performed those ceremonies which go to destroy the action of the devata of a mantra after it is found useless. This action of Vidyaranya’s certainly evoked at last the [Page 30] devata of the Gayattri, who is said to have told him that he could not obtain the required result in that birth, as his Karma in his previous birth was such as not to entitle him to any such reward. He, therefore, renounced the life of a householder and turned out a Samnyasin, as the life of an ascetic is considered by the S'astras as a kind of second birth, in which one should try his best to forget everything he previously enjoyed, and even his own name: for this purpose, Hindus take a new name after they renounce a house-holder's duties. It was only after Vidyaranya became a Samnyasin that he was appointed Prime Minister to the King, and was virtually rolling in wealth. We need not question the basis on which the above account stands. It is quite sufficient for our present purpose to see, that granting it to be true, it conveys a good deal of meaning; it illustrates in short the law enunciated above.

For purposes of finding out whether Karma allows one to be benefited by the practice of a mantra, recourse should be had to Astrology , from which it should be found out whether at the particular period in which work is commenced or during his life-time he may have control over the mantra in [Page 31] question. If it is found out from his horoscope that he would control it, he may set himself to work, but not; if otherwise. Granting that it is in his favour, he should then solve the same problem by having recourse to the mantra itself. The object of this problem is to find out whether one should perform the Japa, etc., of a mantra a greater number of times or a less number of times than is usually accorded to it, in short, to see whether he had, in his past birth practised it, and with what result. For, if he had practised it, and he had a command over it, he would now be required to do it a less number of times, but still at the same time he will derive the fullest benefit; therefrom. This is technically called Rnarnibhava, and, is of three kinds. In all of these three, the general process is counting in a sort of way from the first letter of a mantra to the first or the last letter of his own name. One of these ways is to find out, in the order of the Samskrt Alphabet, how many letters come between the first letter of the mantra, and the first letter of the name of the intending practiser; then multiply this number by 3, and divide by 7, and the remainder will be what the mantra “owes” him. [Page 32]

Then count from the first letter of the name of the practiser, to the first letter of the mantra, multiply this number by 7, and divide the product by three, the remainder is what he owes the mantra. To explain this let me take an illustration. Suppose the first letter of a mantra is Sanskrit P32 and suppose at the same time that the first letter of the name of the intending practiser when transliterated into Samskrt is Sanskrit P32BA. Counting from Sanskrit P32to Sanskrit P32BA we have three letters, multiplying this number by three and dividing by seven, we have remainder 2. This shows that the mantra owes him two parts. Then continuing the same illustration, count from Sanskrit P32BA to Sanskrit P32, we have 49 letters; multiplying this by seven, and dividing the product by three, we have the remainder 1. Adding 1 and 2 we have a total three, and this means that the person whose name begins with Sanskrit P32BAshould, in case of practising a mantra beginning with Sanskrit P32, perform Japa and other ceremonies over again half the number of times the number generally laid down for them.

The other method is drawing a figure of 63 squares. In the top-most row the first 9 numerals should be written in the ascending order, and in the lower-most, the same in the [Page 33] descending order. In the five intermediate rows, all the letters of the Samskrt Alphabet from  should be written in their natural order, omitting Sanskrit P33A as in the diagram given below.

Sanskrit P33B

Here again let us suppose that the mantra intended to be practised begins with  and the first letter of the intending practiser's name is  ; and counting from to  we have three letters. The top-most row of figures denote those relating to the mantra, while the lower-most are those relating to the person. Such being the case, we should, in order to find out by how [Page 34] much the mantra “is due”, multiply the number three by four, that being the figure which is right above the first letter of the mantra, and we obtain the product twelve. Dividing this product by six, that being the figure straight below it in the lower most row, we have no remainder, and this means that the mantra is in no way “due to” the person. If the same process is reversed and the necessary arithmetical trial operations undergone; we have a remainder 2. This shows that the performer should perform the Japa of a mantra twice the number of times usually allotted to it.

There is a third method which consists in certain arithmetical operations with regard to the total numbers of letters of the mantra, and the person. But as this is very tedious, and I run the risk of making this already technical subject all the more tedious, I shall for the present omit it. Those who are anxious to know something about it will find it described in greater detail in Mantraratnamahodadhi.

I have been using all the while, the expressions “due to mantra”, and “due by mantra”. These were intended to mean the relations which exist in nature between the person, and the devata of the mantra. While his horoscope reveals the relation of the individual to the [Page 35] practice of mantras in general, the above methods refer entirely to the devatas presiding over individual mantras, and the person who intends to practise them.

There are again other methods such as Sidharicakras or squares in which the letters of the Samskrt Alphabet are arranged in particulars, and thus the relation of the devata of the mantra to the individual is traced, but I now omit them for want of space. By the aid of these methods, one is enabled, to find out what sort of mantras will benefit him. He then, finds out what sort of relation exists between himself and the devata as judged by the constellation under which he was born, and the elements surrounding him, and thereby the powers presiding over those elements.

The next thing to be done is the selection of a good day for the purpose, but before this comes the initiation into the mantra itself by a competent Guru, who should have a complete control over the devata of the mantra, which is known in Mantras'astras as Mantrasiddhi. The Guru should on the day of initiation worship the devata of the mantra, by concentrating the force denoted by the mantra in a pot, already filled with water and in which the five best gems, viz., diamond, ruby, sapphire, [Page 36] emerald and cat's-eye are placed. The Guru should then make in the presence of the disciple, 100 offerings to fire by ghee generally, although special oils are considered favourable in the case of special mantras. He should then fill another small vessel with water and after covering it with the palm of his right hand, the Guru should repeat the mantra 800 times, and bathe the candidate with the water; the vessel should then be placed aside and the mantra pronounced in his ear. This completes initiation, and a portion of the force generated in the Guru by his control over the devata of the mantra he is to initiate into, is thus transformed by the same method as we find in the case of modern mesmerists: and you thus see that as has been frequently and truly remarked by our President-Founder mesmeric methods of mahipulation form the A. B. C. of all occult practices.

It is now the turn of the disciple to practise the mantra. Special months are selected for the purpose. The month of Vais'akha (May-June) is very favourable, to the production of early results, so also are As'vina, and Karttika months (October-November, and November-December); of a more doubtful nature are those of Phalguna (March - April), Margas'ira [Page 37] (December - January), Jyestha (June); less beneficial still are Asadha (July), S'ravana (August - September), and Magha (February); while the remaining months should always be avoided. The full-moon day, the second, fifth to seventh, the tenth, the twelfth, and the thirteenth days are good ones. The Moon being more connected with these matters, any mantra practised during these days in that half of waxing Moon will be productive of worldly comforts; but if on the corresponding days of the waning Moon, it will be more productive of spiritual bliss. The other days, unless in special cases, should be entirely avoided. Special periods again, such as the sixth day of either of the halves in the month of Bhadrapada (September - October), the thirteenth day of the waning half in the month of As'vina (October - November), the ninth day of the bright half of Karttika (November - December), the first day of the dark-half of S'ravana (August - September) are held to be very sacred. They are in fact called Devaparvans, days sacred to the devas. Of the days of the week, Tuesday is attended with loss, Saturday with death, and Monday in the dark-half of a month with no use; the rest are good ones. Of the constellations As'vini, Rohini, Hasta, Svati, Vis'akha, Jyesthã, Uttarasadha. Uttarabhadra, [Page 38] and Uttaraphalguni are the best. If the day is an eclipse day, none of these need be observed. A mantra should be remedied of the various defects mentioned in the foregoing section, and the “ten arts” also therein referred to should be performed.

One should fast the day previous to the day of practice, probably to enable him to concentrate his attention better on the mantra. On the day fixed, he should resolve within himself not to leave the place or village in which he is put up, until the practice is over, as, also to avoid sexual intercourse, oil bath, studying other subjects, vain talk, midday meal, etc., abstinence from all of which tend to improve the psychical part of the person, and to enable him to concentrate his attention better. Until this practice is over, he should rise early in the mornings and perform all the duties involved upon him. The next thing to be done is the ordinary puja or worship, but done as a special accompaniment to his practice. He should then draw the figure of a tortoise, in which should be written the various letters of the Samskrt Alphabet in a certain way; and on that part of the figure where the head is drawn he should take his seat. The following is the figure: [Page 39]

Sanskrit P39

[Page 40] The number of times a mantra should be repeated is regulated as regards each. The best way is by counting the fingers, although beads are also recommended, but not quite necessary. Out of the number of times one repeats his mantra in Japa, he should make one-tenth the number to each of the following: homa (offerings), tarpana, marjana, bathing and food to Brahmanas. This last, and in fact all the essentials, are necessary only in the case of the more powerful mantras, but not for the lesser ones, such as the inferior devatas. As for the substances required for homa, palas'a flower (Butea frondosa) is necessary, if the object is to obtain knowledge; if for Brahma - tejas, or increasing his aura, As'vattha branches; if for increase of age, darbha (the common grass); if anxious of sovereignty, cooked rice and ghee exclusively; cracked rice will bring success in love; bilva leaves bring on fame; Putran?jivi seeds will induce fertility; if sesamum seeds are used, the cure of sickness results; and if flowers of any kind, prosperity.

For Tarpana, a little quantity of milk and ghee may be mixed with water, and the mixture let down through the fingers, each time the mantra is repeated the particular  [Page 41] mantra being followed by the word “Svaha”, while being so repeated.

Marjana is the sprinkling oneself by water while a mantra is being repeated. A pot or vessel is filled with water mixed with a little milk while the practiser takes a blade of darbha grass and by it sprinkles on his head the water in the vessel, invoking mentally the devata of the mantra. In feeding Brahmanas he should similarly invoke the devata in each individual Brahmana thus fed.

He should take his meals in the evening, eating just sufficient to keep his body and soul together; and all sorts of rich food should be altogether avoided.

After all this is performed for the number of days fixed for each mantra, he is said to have obtained that power of controlling the devata of the mantra, this state being known as mantra-siddhi, presentiments of which will be found in dreams. It is only after one becomes a complete master of a mantra, that he can have recourse to any of the eight actions spoken of in the first section.

I cannot but conclude this section with a warning to one and all of our brothers and sisters not to be led away by what I have here given out and set themselves to practise. [Page 42] These are general rules no doubt applicable to most of the mantras, but care must be taken to see if the particular mantra you wish to practise has any special mode of performance laid down in Mantras'astras. I need not touch the question of knowing it through a proper Guru, for certain evil effects resulting from any unintentional omission in any of the ceremonies above described can only be best averted by one, who has had a practical experience, and such a person is the Guru. [Page 43]



THE Tantras or Agamas [The terms Tantra and Agama are here loosely used. The expression. ‘Tantra' has been said in the Kamikagama, to apply to, that work which speaks of the twenty-four subjects, viz., (1) the nature of Brahman, (2) Brahma- Vidya the science of knowing Brahman, (3) The names of the Agamas and Tantras. (4) Creation and destruction of the world, (5) Astronomy, (6) The sixteen mystical diagrams called Cakras which are auxiliary to the practice of mantras. (7) Mantras, (8) on the uses of Mantras, (9) Yantras. (10) Worship of the special deity about whom the work treats, (11)The ways of people in the four yugas, (12) Origin of devas, (13) Creation and destruction of universe, (14) Holy rivers; (15) Duties of different castes, (16) Old traditions, (17) Sacred days in a year, (18) Pure and impure objects, (19) Elements in nature, (20) Secret virtues of herbs, (21) Elements in nature, etc..

Agama is defined to be that which contains only the following, viz., (1) creation; (2) destruction of the universe; (3) nature and use of mantras; (4) nature and worship of devas.

The words Tantra and Agama are, however, generally used as synonyms. It is noteworthy that Amarasimha used the words ‘Agama’ and ‘Tantra ’in different significations. But this is no reason why the writings should call themselves by either of these names may not be more ancient than Amarasimha.

The term Yamala is also used as a synonym. It should treat of subjects (1) creation of the universe; (2) astronomy; (3) daily duties; (4) difference of caste; (5) Yugas and their nature (S’abdakalpadruma)] which I have explained in the beginning of this paper as the great storehouse of mantras are of three classes: (1) Pañcaratragamas, or those which speak of the worship of Visnu; (2) S’aivagamas or those which deal with the worship of S'iva; and (3) S'aktagamas, those of S'akti. The first [Page 44] are in 108 samhitas or texts promulgated by seven Rsis [ The term Rsi is used in its literal sense “See–er” or promulgator. Hence Brahma and some others who are not Rsis in the general sense of the term are here so called — Brahma, S'iva, Skanda, Gautama, Vasistha, Nãrada and Kapila. Thus seven schools were formed; but 101 others subsequently taught the doctrine, and this accounts for there being 108 samhitas. They are as given below with the number of their S’lokas opposite to them:

[ The following marked  can be found. For those marked a the authors are unknown. The numbers in case where the sign ? is affixed are not quite correct. In the case of Padmasamhita, one in 1,00,000, is said to exist in the house of a devaloka in Conjeeveram, but I have not seen it. The one I now use is of 10,000 Slokas. It is now being printed in Madras]

(1) Padmasamhita † 10,000; (2) Padmodbhava †1,00,000; (3) Mayavaibhava or Trailokyamohana; (4) Nalakubara 5,000; (5) Parama 1,500; †(6) Narada 4,000; (7) Kanva 7,000; (8) Visnu-tilaka 750 (?); (9) Sanaka 1,500; (10) Arjuna; (11) Vasistha 4,500; (12) Pauskara 4,000 (?); (13) Sanatkumara 1,000; (14) Satya 1,000; (15) S'ridhara and (16) Sananda 750; (17) Mahi-pras'na; (18) Is'vara 500, (19) Laksmi -Tantra or S'ri Pras'na, dialogue between Indra and Laksmi 4,000; (20) Mahendra 2,000; (21) Purusottama 1,000 (?); (22) Pañcapras'na; [Page 45] (23) Kanva; (24) Mula; (25) Tatvasagara; (26) Vagis'a; (27) Samvarta 1,000; (28) Sattvata †250; (29) Tejodravina a; (30) Visu Sadbhava; (31) Visnu tattva a; (32) Visnu:Siddhanta a; (33) Visnu-vaibhava a; (34) Visnu-rahasya; (35 ) Kaumara † 250; (36) Jaya 500; (37) Saura a 150; (38) Bhagavata 150; (39) S'aunaka †200; (40) Pusti Tantra a; (41) Madhura; (42) Upendra; (43) Yogahrdaya; (44) Marici 100; (45) Harita † 700; (46) Atreya † 250; (47) Parames'vara † 200; (48) Daksa 150; (49) Aus'anasa 250 ; (50) Vaikhanasa 1,000; (51) Vihagendra 500; (52) Visvaksena † 250; (53) Yajñavalkya 250; (54) Bhargava 200; (55) Jamadagnya 150; (56) Paramapurusa 150; (57) Gautama 750; (58) Pulastya 150; (59) S'akala 200; (60) Jñanarnava 150; (61) Yamya 100; (62) Narayana 150; (63) Jiyottara 100; (64) Jabali 100; (65) Paras'ara 100; (66) Kapila 250; (67) Vamana 250; (68) Barhaspatya 700 (?) ; (69) Pracetasa; (70) Valmika; (71) Katyayaniya 250; (72) Agastya 500; (73) Jaimini 200; (74) Aupagayana; (75) Hiranyagarbha; (76) Bodhayana 1,000; (77) Bharadvaja † 500; (78) Narasimha; (79) Kas'yapa † l,500; (80) Saumya; (81) Uttaragargya; (82) S'atatapa; (83) Angirasa; (84) Yoga 200; (85) Trailokyavijaya, or, Bharata, 200; (86) Pingala; (87) Vitta 150; [Page 46] (88) Varuna 150; (89) Krsnacamara; (90) Vayavya; (91) Markandeya †; (92) Agneya 500; (93) Samhitasamgraha; (94) Mahasanat-kumara; (95) Vyasa; (96) Visnu 300; (97) Umamahes'vara † 1,500 (?); (98) Mihira; (99) Ahirbudhnya 750; (100) Raghava 350 (?); (101) Kalki 250; (102) Dattatreya 500; (103) S'arva; (104) Samskarsana 1,500; (105) Pradyumna; (106) Varaha; (107) S'uka; (108) Kapiñjala 2,500.—

These writings amount to 400,000, [ The above number is not quite correct; for works that are generally said to be of, say, 250 s'lokas are sometimes found to be an abridgment of a larger work of the same name, and this difficulty is experienced on account of many of the Samhitas being lost. But these remarks do not apply to S’ivagamas for most of the complete sets of the 28 works, I have seen or heard contain the exact number of s'lokas mentioned opposite them in the list given below. Special care should, therefore, be always taken to distinguish abridgments from real Samhitas] — S'lokas. Only those that are marked with † are to be found now-a-days, in the various public and private libraries in India, and elsewhere, as catalogued by the several scholars. From the Pancaratraraksa of Vedantacarya written six centuries ago, we learn that several of these could not be obtained in his days. Most of these, are, however, referred to and even [Page 47] quoted in the writings of Vis'istadvaitins who lived from about the 10th Century down to the present day. Of the 108 text books, the first two are the most important and are generally considered to contain all the more important matters in these writings. Of the remainder, Laksmi Tantra, Bharata, Ahirbudhnya, and Sattvata Samhitas, are very often spoken of as teaching a system of spirit-communion (S’aranagati ) which bears a very close resemblance to that practised by the initiates of the Grecian mysteries of old. With very few exceptions like Narada Samhita which is divided into chapters; these writings are generally of four parts or padasviz., Jñanapada; Yogapada, Kriyapada, and Caryapada.

This order is sometimes reversed in some of them and there are others again in which Caryapada alone is dealt with. Their origin according to Mahabharta is given below in an abridged form (S'antiparvan Moksadharma Parvan):

Narada in his wanderings met Narayana Rsi at Badarikas'rama [ Badrinath in the Himalayas. He is an incarnation of Visnu, and taught several mantras. There is, however, another Rsi of the same name who is the author of a code of laws, and referred to by Madhavacarya in his commentary on Paras'ara Smrti ] — and put to him several [Page 48] questions on philosophy and on the origin of the cosmos. The Rsi replied that Brahma was first created and He created the devas, and the Rsis, Atri, Bhrgu, Kutsa, Vasistha, Gautama, Kas'yapa, Angirasa and Marici. The doctrines promulgated by them were followed in the Krta Yuga. One of them, Uparicaravas by name, performed a sacrifice in the presence of the above-mentioned and several others, with Brhaspati, officiating as priest. The other Rsis assembled soon found that the oblations given by Uparicaravas disappeared, without being received by the Devas as was usually the case. Brhaspati accused him of dishonest motives and offered, to perform the Yajña himself. He then found to his astonishment the disappearance of the oblations, and therefore enquired of the performer as to the reason of such a disappearance.

Uparicarav replied that Narayana received them. The Devas were very much enraged and asked the Rsis to explain how it was that Narayana could be seen by none of them. The Rsi explained by saying that as they were the mind-born sons of Brahma, they alone could see Narayana face to face. They further said that once upon a time they went to S'vetadvipa to see him. They could see him [Page 49] only after performing a tapas there for a long time.

Narada hearing this went to S'vetadvipa near the Mount Meru, and performed a long tapas there and saw Narayana. The latter taught him the great secret that the easiest way of worshipping Him was by means of idols.

Such is the origin of the Pañcaratra Agamas subsequently presented to the world by Narada, then by six other Rsis and afterwards by several others.

Pañcaratra Agamas are so called, because the five kinds of knowledge (Ratra) are taught; viz., (1) general knowledge of realities; (2) knowledge of that by which one will be able to reach the highest goal; (3) knowledge of that by which one will be able to serve Narayana in Vaikuntha; (4) knowledge of that by which one will get, the eight Siddhis; (5) knowledge of the means by which wealth, children, etc., can be obtained. There are also several ways of explaining the expression, but in none of the works, so far as I have seen, is the meaning given out to be “nights” as explained by M. Barth in his “Religions of India”.[ It is further explained in the Padma-Samhita of Pañcaratra Agamas that Siddhantas are so called, because they treat of positive knowledge leading to Narayana and best practised by those who are well-versed in the Vedas, and the S'astras such as Purvamimamsa, etc..] [Page 50]

But this expression is not to be found in any of the works themselves. They call themselves either as Siddbantas (definite conclusions) or Tantras (easy way of doing things) in contradistinction to Mantras, and are so called on account of their containing more of the easier ways of accomplishing things, than by Mantras.

These writings, S'aiva and S'aktagamas included, are further divided into (1) Mantra Siddhantas, those that speak of the Murti, or form of worship in a temple; (2) Agama Siddhantas, of four murtis or forms; (3) Tantra Siddhanta of nine; (4) Tantrantara Siddhanta of three or four-faced forms or idols, whether of Visnu or S'iva. These differences arose on account of the particular symbols adopted; and of the Mantra uttered when they are made. The Padmasamhita, for instance, is a Mantra Siddhanta, and it is supposed to have been composed in fifteen millions of s'lokas by Narayana himself, and taught to Brahma, the composer saying that although the true mode of worshipping Him was as described in the Vedas, but that if any easier method was necessary it was by Mantras. Brahma is then said to have condensed it into 500,000 s'lokas and taught it to [Page 51] Kapila Rsi, who in his turn abridged it into 100,000 s'lokas, and initiated Padma, an elephant in Patalaloka, into its mysteries. The Samhita is therefore named after the elephant. The elephant again abridged [The dialogue in Padmasamhita is, however, between Visnu and Brahma] — it into 10,000 s'lokas. Samvarta learnt it from Padma and taught it to the world. Kanva was one in the long line of teachers; and the work is strictly speaking that of Kanva and other Rsis. These, as well as S'aivagamas, are divided into Jñana [Jñanayoga —The contemplation described in the Yoga-s'astras with its eight parts, yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dhyana, dharana, and samadhi ] — Yoga, Kriya, and Carya padas, or rather sections treating respectively of the nature of Brahmajñana from the Vis'istadvaitic and Advaitic standpoints, adopting the teachings and even the technicalities of the Upanisads of Yoga or the practice of Brahmajñana and its four kinds Jñanayoga, Karmayoga, [Karmayoga is the performance of one's duties, moral and religious, and without any self-interest in the result after obtaining a knowledge of the realities (Cit, Acit and Is'vara.) through the Scriptures, and always contemplating it with various kinds of Karma (Vide the S’ri Bhasya of Ramanujacarya, Adhyaya 3, pada 3 ]— and Bhaktiyoga. [ Bhaktiyoga. — This is also called upasana. It is the contemplation of the Brahman with its various qualities, and attributes, without any interruption whatever, throughout one's whole life; at the same time discharging his duties to the best of his ability — The last forms the principal [Page 52] subject of this work and is considered easier than either the Jñana or Karmayogas, and is therefore recommended to those who are desirous of obtaining Moksa, but unable to practise the various ways leading to it. It treats in the Kriyapada, of the construction of temples and their different modes, and also of the modelling of idols; and lastly of the various ways of worshipping the idols thus prepared, treating of course of the various Mantras, Vaisnava or S'aiva as the case may be, and other topics such as the principles of Vaisnava mantras, their nature and uses, the secret virtues of herbs, etc.. The philosophy of these Agamas leans more towards Advaita than anything else, and although this four-fold division is not to be found in some of them, still all of them, after a short introduction, take up the question of Carya or the mode of worship of idols.

The above remarks apply as well to S'aivagammas, of which there are twenty-eight, with the only difference that in the case of S'aivagamas the word S'iva must be substituted for Narayana. The names of the twenty-eight are given below.

(1) Kamika — 125,000; (2) Samtana 50,000; (3) S'arva; (4) Kirana; (5) Suksma; (6)Yogaja; (7) Dipta; (8) Cinta; (9) Karana; [Page 53] (10) Añcita (agita); (11) Vijaya (jaya); (12) Vira; (13) Vis'va; (14) Ams'umat; (15) Svayambhuva; (16) Nila (anala); (17) Siddha (Sarvottama); (18) Suprabheda (Bheda); (19) Raurava; (20) Makuta; (21) Bimba; (22) Vimala; (23) Lohita; (24) Sahasra (Nis'vasa); (25) Parames'vara; (26) Prodga; (27) Candrajñana; (28) Vatula (Nis'vasa) 100,000.

These are generally of the form of a dialogue between S’iva and his consort Parvati. She always begins “What are the most interesting secrets in the world ? ” and the luxurious husband relates all that she wants. The first twenty are given out from his four faces, Aghora, Tatpurusa, Vamana and Sadyojata, at the rate of five Samhitas from each face. The remaining eight were taught when he assumed that terrible aspect called Is’ana. [ Five more Samhitas viz.. S'uka, Vasistha, S'ais'aka, Sanandana, Sanatkumara, works subsequently written and attributed to S'iva, each of which is said to contain about. 30,000 s’lokas. but not having seen any of them nothing definite can be said about them. They are however said to treat of the different kinds of Yoga ] — The arrangement is the same as in the Pañcaratra in being divided into Jñana, Yoga, Kriya and Carya-padas, treating of the worship of S'iva. in the form of idols and analogous to that of Visnu; there being,however, some exceptions. [Page 54]

The S'aktagamas begin in the same strain as S'aivagamas, Parvati questioning S'iva as to the best way of worshipping and knowing her real nature. It is then told that she has sixty-four aspects. Each of them is dealt with in one of the 64 Samhitas of the S'aktagamas . In these Tantras as in the Pañcaratra and S'aivagamas, the Vedas are highly spoken of as a rule, and the Vedic methods approved. But in Kalivuga when people have a predominant tendency towards worldly pleasures, the worship of S'akti is recommended as the easiest way of obtaining happiness.

If however, one should worship her with no other desire ( Niskama Karma) than of obtaining moksa, he will either obtain moksa at the end of this life-time or in his next, but that depends on the nature of the Karma he has done which may lead him from birth to birth. All these ideas are decidedly Vedantic, but even in such writings as Jñanarnava, and Kaularnava Tantra, the goal is not lost sight of, and the importance of the Vedas not forgotten; and the S'akta worshipper is enjoined to attend, to the regular duties of caste. Unfortunately, however, this matter is mis-represented by European writers, and even to a certain extent by the Indian writers [Page 55] themselves, who with a prejudiced mind, and after going through a portion of these Tantras and seeing the depravity of morals as shown by that portion of the work, jump at once to the conclusion that the Tantras, in general, and the S'akta Tantras in particular are opposed to the Vedas; but forget that in the very Samhitas they have gone through, the Vedic duties are spoken of highly and the importance of obtaining moksa described. In an such cases, therefore, a careful study should be made of two or more Samhitas and then a calm judgement should be given. The practices of S'aktas are no doubt indecent, but that is not the end or aim of the S'aktagamas. For instance, this point has been argued, and the same conclusions, arrived at in the 1st Ullasa of Kaularnava Tantra and the Mahanirvana Tantra. This view is also taken in the Rudrayamala, Phetkarini, and several other Tantras inculcating S'akti worship.

The writer is no sectarian follower of S’aktas, but while he abhors the moral depravity exhibited in them his individual conclusions are based on a study of more than five Tantras selected specially for the study of the different aspects of S'akti worship. The sixty-four S'aktagamas are as follow: [Page 56]

1. Mahamaya S'ambara explains the formation of the universe and of illusions.

2. Yogini Jala S'ambara speaks of the illusion caused by Yoginis, a certain class of Devatas which one will conquer over only by certain practices in the burial ground.

3 & 4. Tattva S'ambara, of command over the elements; and Mahendrajala Tantra, of showing water in air, in earth, etc..

5 to 12. Asta Bhairava: Siddha, Vatuka, Badabanala, Kaa, Kalagni, Yogini, Maha and S'akti Tantras. They treat of the eight Siddhis (Animan, etc..).

13 to 20. Bahurupastaka: these treat of the worship of Brahmi, Mahes'vari, Kaumari, Vaisnavi, Varahi, Mahendri, Camundi, S'ivaduti The most important subject therein touched S'rividya which is one of the highest of occult methods.

21 to 28. Yamalastaka treat of the worship of Devi; they are Vedantic and highly esoteric in their nature.

29.Candrajñana (Nityasodasi Tantra) speaks of Kapali worship.

30. Malini treats of diseases and their cure.

31. MahasaIpmohana. Making a waking man sleep, e.g., by means of black art, such as the cutting of children's tongues. [Page 57]

32. Vamajusta.
33. Vamadeva.

34. Vatula. etc..
35. Vatulottara
36. Kamika.

[Items 34 to 36 deals with Erection of temples, etc.. These should not be confounded with the S'aivãgamas of the same name]

37. Hrdbheda Kapalika, speaks of taking and placing of Hrtkamala in Brahmarandhra.
38. Tantrabheda — killing of men by mantras, fascination, etc.
39. Guhya.
40. Kalavada — speaks of Kalas of every kind.
41. Kalasara — Vamacara or left-hand worship
42. Kundikamata of gulika or certain secret herbal preparations.
43. Matottara. On mercurial preparations, alchemy, etc.
44. Vina. — This is the name of a Yogini; and the Samhita treats of the different ways of conquering her, she being also (called Sambhoga Yaksini).
45. Trottala speaks of Gulika, Añjana, and Paduka.
46. Trottalottara winning over the 64,000 Yaksinis. [Page 58]
47. Pañcamrta; of the ways of preventing death.

48 to 51. Rupabhedaka, or Bhutoddamara, Kulasara, Kulodis'a, Kulacudamani — teach of the different ways of killing a man or Vamacara methods.

[ 52 to 56 deals Of Kãpãlika worship]

52 Sarvajñanottara,
53 Mahakali - Mata,
54 Arunes'a,
55 Modinis'a,
56 Vikunthes'vara,

[ 57 to 64 deals with The doctrines of the Digambara]

57 Purva Tantra,
58 Pas'cima Tantra,
59 Daksina Tantra,
60 Uttara Tantra,
61 Niruttara Tantra,
62 Vimala,
63 Vimalottara,
64 Devimata.

The existing works on Mantras are mostly compilations and abstract of one or more of these 200 Samhitas. Their number may be estimated at not less than a thousand in Southern India, and it is not possible to say how many that were formerly written, are now lost. To this class belong works, such as Mantramahodadhi, Tantrasara, Saradatilaka[Page 59] Prapañcasara, Mantrarnava, and others ordinarily met with.

The difference between the Pañcaratra and S'aivagamas lies in the Pañcaratras treating more of those things that would lead to Brahmajñana; and are therefore more transcendental than the S'aivagamas. A similar remark applies when we speak of the relative merits of S'aivagamas and S'aktagamas. The latter treat of indecent subjects devoting some of the Samhitas to Daksinacara, and some to Vamacara. Several matters, are, however, common to all the three Agamas, viz., a devotion to the subject of mantras in general, including the general principles which regulate a mantra, and the Siddhi or acquirement of certain occult powers through a contemplation of mantras and their symbols.

The subject of mantras, however, is introduced to help their practice, and in order that the worship of the idols specified therein may be performed more efficiently. In the S'aivagamas, again, several of the more obscure and little known subjects, are treated of; such as the occult sciences of breath, omens, astrology, and other topics. Another subject common to all these Tantras is the incapacity of people to practise the methods of Brahma-vidya as [Page 60] described in the Upanisads; and an attempt to substitute easier methods of worship. Regarding the worship proper, each of them specifies its own objects, although there is not much difference in either their rationale, or the object with which the idols are worshipped.

Having therefore explained the nature of these writings, we shall now speak of their teachings.

To take up the Pañcaratra agamas first, Jñana is essential to attain moksa. For that purpose, Narayana is described as indescribable in the same strain as Advaitic works.

The first manifestation of Narayana is Vasudeva with an the emblems of Visnu: he is said to be located in the heart in the microcosm. He is the object of worship and the goal to be reached. Vasudeva divides himself into two, Narayana and Vasudeva, the former being of a blue colour, the latter being white. From Vasudeva there sprang up another manifestation called Samkarsana. From him comes Aniruddha and from Aniruddha we have Pradyumna. These three represent one of the three attributes, viz, Jñana, Bala, Ais'varya of Vasudeva, predominating in them. Twenty four devas come into existence, six belonging to each of these manifestations and having one of [Page 61] the six attributes of Narayana, viz., Jñana, Bala, Ais'varya, Virya, Tejas and S’akti. These Devas are as follow:

Vasudeva, Kes'ava, Narayana, Madhava, Purusottama and Janardana; Samkarsana, Govinda, Visnu, Madhusudana, Adhoksaja, and Upendra; Aniruddha, Trivikrama, Vamana, S'ridhara, Narasimha, and Hari; Pradyumna, Hrsikes'a, Padmanabha, Damodara, Acyuta and Krsna. From these four original manifestations eight murtis, viz., Brahmi, Prajapatya; Vaisnavi, Divija; Arsi, Manusi, Asuri, Pais'aci and also the ten incarnations of Visnu spring up. When all these manifestations took place, the various emblems of Visnu, such as Ananta, the discus, the conch, etc., corresponding to the eight Murtis, and the eight Prakrtis have also sprung up; and also Garuda. These four manifestations seem to correspond to the Vedantic ideas of Hiranyagarbha, Sutratman, Prajña, and Viraj. Brahma is then created by Aniruddha, and he in his turn created the world in the same way as is described in the Puranas, with no difference except that from Aniruddha, Maya sprang up and enveloped everybody in the universe. The laws of Karma are explained as the reason for people suffering for the wrongs they do. The escape from this lies in Jñana which is [Page 62) either Sattrunstta (?) Jñana of knowledge that “I am Brahman”; or Kriya Jñana (knowledge by work) or Yoga as explained in the writings on the subject; an alternative is allowed, namely, of concentrating one's mind on an image or idol ( Praticchaya) of Brahman. In this and a similar manner the Jñana-pada finishes and a third method, viz.; the practice of Abhyasa Yoga is described in the Yoga-pada. He who is unable to perform any of these methods, but is at the same time anxious to obtain moksa, is enjoined in the Kriya-pada to have plenty of wealth and to dedicate a temple to worship Narayana in the manner therein described.

A similar worship is also enjoined for S'iva in the S'aivagamas. The subject is introduced in the same way as in the Pañcaratra agamas. Here S'iva is considered as a manifestation of the Brahman who is also some-times called Sadas'iva. He is said to have five aspects ( mukha ) viz, Is'ana, Sadyojata; Vamana; Aghora and Tatpurusa. As every one of these contains three eyes; it follows that he has fifteen, eyes when he appears at one and the same time in all his aspects. Then the Is'ana is his head, the Tatpurusa his mouth, Aghora his heart, Vamana his secret part, and [Page 63] Sadyojata his feet. This body he is said to have assumed simply to enable the devotee to worship him. He is also called Pas’upati, lord of jivas ( pas'u) ; who are entirely dependent on him. Pas'upati informs his consort Parvati that as it is impossible to practise, Brahma-vidya, he will teach Yoga for the good of mankind. Different kinds of Yoga are taught and S'aivagamas contain more information about Yoga than the Pañcaratra-agamas. He again says, that in the Kali Yuga, it is not possible to practise Yoga, and therefore recommends his worship in some form or other. These subjects are taught in the Jñana and Yoga-padas of these agamas. Then comes Kriya-pada, in which he says that his worship in the form of linga (phallus) is preferable; if for such a worship a temple is built. If he cannot do even that, he is enjoined to worship a linga, which may be carried along by a devotee. This is Caryapada in which any other subjects such as Rudraksa which is recommended to be worn by the devotee, the secret of mantras, and the occult properties of herbs, etc., are also taught.

The S'aktagamas have a similar tale to tell. Prakrti or S'akti is said to be the primal force in the cosmos. She is defined to be of eternal [Page 64] existence and independent of Brahman and the plastic origin of all things. A detailed description follows in which the origin of all kinds of sentient beings including the devas is traced to her, and she is said to be eight-fold, (Varahi, Camundi, etc.). S'iva explains that by the power of Yoga, he divided himself, in the net of creation, into two. The right half was male (Is'vara) and the left was female (Nari), and the whole was hence called Ardhanaris'vara. The three female divinities Laksmi, Sarasvati and Parvati are considered her manifestations. The rest of the Jñana, Yoga, and Kriyapadas are treated in the same manner as those of Pañcaratra and S'aiva agamas, worship of S'akti being only instituted; it is said, as a substitute in this Yuga, for the higher mode of worship.

With regard to construction of temples, there is very little difference between them. Temples according to these Agamas are of four forms, circular, quadrilateral, oblongular, and elliptical. The last is very rarely to be met with now-a-days. The outer walls may be either one, three, five or seven with entrance gates. There may be one, two or four towers for the outermost wall. The towers may have any number of stories up to twelve. The temple should be in [Page 65] the centre of the village, and directions are given to find out which is the centre of the village.

That point is taken as the centre point of the temple intended to be constructed, and further directions are given as to the size of the temple according to the space available. A large number of temples constructed now-a-days do not at all conform to these instructions, and we thus see them sometimes at the end of the village. [ S'iva being a non-quiescent deity (Kruradevata) temples dedicated to him should be built outside or at the end of a village, if possible and so also for S'akti. The reason is said to be that if these are not properly worshipped, the force latent in them, will at once cast its influence around, and not only will the temple become useless as a centre of that force, but even harm will be done to the villagers ]

Such has been a brief out-line of the teachings of the Tantras. They have been most severely criticized by Badarayana in his Brahma-Sutras (2nd Adhyaya, second pada) and condemned by S'amkaracarya. But the Pañcaratra agamas have been upheld by Ramanujacarya, on the ground that although there are some theories in those Agamas antagonistic to the teachings of the Upanisads, those parts of the former that are not antagonistic to the latter might be considered authoritative. Nilakantha in his S'aivabhasya is reprehensible; he takes up the [Page 66] Sutra condemning the S'aivagamas, fills in certain words which he thinks are understood and twists the whole Sutra to mean “The worship of Pasupati is upheld”. Such has been the relation of Vedanta to the teachings of the Agamas, and as Hinduism is degenerating, their teachings and more especially the baser part of them, are gaining over the minds of the fallen Hindus. Yet we should be only too glad to find that Idol-worship, the least harmless of those teachings is still dragging on its existence; and in these days a correct understanding of the mode of worship will no doubt help us in our onward progress, for there lies the key to our development in occultism: and the exotericism of idol-worship, will I hope one day form the subject of my paper on the next occasion we may meet in this Hall to celebrate another epoch in the history of the Theosophical Society, had it not been for the work of which we would not all join our hands so gladly.

The practice of mantras is a form of Yoga, the other kinds of Yoga being Raja, Laya, and Hatha; these practices are taken up by persons who have no command over their own will. With a dangerous weapon as Mantra Siddhi in their hands they can do any amount of harm to mankind, and if a man becomes so depraved [Page 67] in morals, he is in no way better than the Atlantean of old. It is the duty of every true Hindu not to meddle himself with these writings, if he finds he will soon become allured by their teachings; but if anyone does take them up, let me, for one, be allowed to recommend the best of them — idol-worship — as a means to the Higher Science, and let me warn, one and all who have seriously made up their minds to study these writings in the light of the words of Krsna: “He who worships them (the minor deities) goes to them, he who worships me attains me”.



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