Hinduism

by Pathmarajah Nagalingam

 

Chapter 5

 

 

 

Ajita Agama

The Ajita Agama happens to be one of the first of any agama that has been fully translated into English and French. This agama calls itself the Ajita Mahatantra or 'The Great Tantra of the Unconquered'. Ajita is a name of Siva.

The agamas deals with temples, pujas, home shrines, temple festivals, life to death sacraments, dikshas, etc - in short our religion in full. We only use the vedas for the mantras and the bakti literature for hymns to be sung in temples and homes. The Hindu religion would be better described as the Agama Religion, Agamism or Tantrism rather than 'Hinduism', Vedic religion, or the self-patronising 'sanatana dharma'. Hopefully this word usage catches on, as it makes an impact and captures the fleeting Hindu mind, because what we want is manuals on belief and worship and not speculations. A reading of this agama tells us what all other agamas would be like and hopefully the agamas would be widely studied and quoted after this.

There are 28 saiva agamas and more than 207 upagamas. The agamic worldview is reproduced in the temple; God is king, the temple is his home, and we are its subjects. In the temple, the king is replaced by the Supreme God. This agama is dated 10-12th century (although the oral tradition goes back much further) and it refers to Bharata's teachings on music and dance. The language of the agama is classical sanskrit and in verse form. Agama and tantra both means the same thing and is used intercheangeably. Tantra is explained as 'that which gives liberation to souls' (1.115)

The first chapter talks of how the tantras (agamas) came to be. The Ajita is a dialogue between Rudra the teacher to Vishnu the questioner and disciple. It is a saasana, command, order, or instructions on worship.

The second chapter talks of creation, the relationship of Siva to the other gods, and how exactly the gods are one and the same, yet different murthis (forms). The origin of the Linga is traced in the Ajita to the primordial times when The Unknown appeared as a column of Fire to Brahma and Vishnu. That is related here in chapter two. The Unknown is now identified as Sadasiva.

The relationship of the gods is as follows:
Siva emanated Sadasiva as a hypostasis substate. Sadasiva then emanated Mahesvara as a hypostasis substate. Mahesvara then emanated Rudra who emanated Vishnu, who emanated Brahma. All these forms are an hypostasis substate of the one and the same Being. Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra are the three major hypostasis of Sadasiva, and all three share the Linga as residence. Rudra is the upper part of the linga, Vishnu is the middle part and Brahma is the lower part. Shakti is the pedestal, sockle or peetha. Therefore three hypostasis is worshipped in the Linga. It is therefore not correct to say that Brahma worship has disappeared entirely.

Because they are hypostasis substates, to say that Vishnu is Siva is correct, to say that Shakti is Siva is correct, to say that Vishnu created the world is correct, likewise the other dieties. In the same way our soul pervades and animates our physical body, in that same way our soul is animated by Brahma, who is animated by Vishnu, who is animated by Rudra, who is animated by Mahesvara, who emanated from sadasiva, which emanated from siva.

It is those who are not familiar with this understandings that create unnecessary rivalries, besides the different usage of terminology and names compounds the misunderstandings. That said, there are the different saiva, vaishnava and shakta agamic traditions, each of which must be fully observed as that tradition dictates, without any dilution or mishmashing. The agamas commands it. The Ajita is a full and complete singular stand alone document, and any temple can be based on just this one agama only, without referring to other agamas. By this one agama alone, Hinduism in its fullness can be perpetuated for eternity.

Sivalinga

The Ajita clearly mentions the linga is a 'sign' (cihna) of Sadasiva. There is no sexual connotations to the Linga, no sexual symbolism, as the translator himself vouches, that it is a 'serious error'. The Linga is clearly distinguished from all other figurative forms called murthis. Murthis are emanation of Mahesvara, just like Vishnu and Rudra.

The amorphic linga represents the sat-asat whereas the anthropomorphic other dieties represent the Personal gods. Wherever the linga is present, that place becomes a temple, and the central garbha, and all other dieties becomes the entourage dieties. Those are the rules. One cannot have a temple and have the linga as a surrounding entourage diety, even if it is, say, Nataraja or Dakshinamurthi as the main murthi, as it makes no sense. This agama makes a clear distinction between murthis and the linga. The linga is not a murthi; its a sign, mark, emblem, of the the supreme. So we have the linga, and murthis - both of which are worshipped in Hinduism. To take note that Siva is not sat-asat (manifest-nonmanifest) whereas Sadasiva is sat-asat. Therefore Siva cannot be represented by anything, not even a sign. However nobody takes the trouble to make these kinds of distinctions in casual discussions.

In philosophy the Ajita is thoroughly monistic and theistic. Siva is the efficient and material cause. Creation is real. It is His emanation. Only the Real emanates from the Real. There is arising from, and merging back into.

Very little is mentioned of devotees but only mentioned as yajamana or kartar. Puja is explained as 'to honor'. In the vedic religion, the specialists are the brahmins, the authors of the kalpa sutras. In the agamas, the specialists refers to gurukal, acharya or desika, not brahmins. However it mentions that the desikar lets the brahmins chant some mantras during certain times. The desikars does not bother to chant it but conduct the puja while the chanting goes on.

Women are mentioned in the service of the temple; as rudrayatanayosit, meaning 'slaves of Siva' who are responsible for the preparation of the wicks, oiling, lighting the lamps and transport of the lamps on their heads for the nocturnal waving of lights (aaraatrika). Thus women have a part to play in the temple duties, apart from dancers and musicians, which the Ajita mentions too.

There is no mention of any mantra in the Ajita. It refers to and uses vedic mantras for all its rituals. It simply says, use this or use that mantra without reproducing it at all, indicating that the desika is fully familiar with vedic mantras. Yet it transforms all vedic mantras into tantric mantras by the inclusion of aum, bija mantras (ham, aim, haum, klim, etc), namah and svaha.

There is mention of the four varnas in the Ajita but as the translator says, it is suspected to be a later interpolation. Other thirteen whole chapters have been excluded from this edition of the Ajita, as they have been confirmed to be interpolations. Such is an indication of the alterations that have been made to hindu shastras.

In 89 chapters comprising 10,000 slokas, making it equal to the four vedas in volume, the Ajita deals with the following;

creation, relationship between Siva and the Gods, how the tantras came about, the natue of Siva, how the linga came about, meaning of linga, types and characteristics of the linga, materials used in making, selection of temple sites, earthworks, worshipping the site-spirit, installing the sundial-gnomon, placing the first bricks, temple sizes and characteristics, wall base, pillars, pedestal, depositing materials in the garbha, installing the linga, ablutions, homas, waving of lights, daily pujas, mudras, abhisegam, milk ablution, substances to be used in pujas, temple pavilions, entourage shrines, installing icons of various gods, circumnambulation, diksha, temple chariot, renovation, purification rites, atonement of faults, pacification of portends, removal of decaying lingas and murthis, swing, krritika and gauri festival, installation of ganesha, skanda, sastha, trident, tower dieties, kestrapala, visnu, sarasvati, surya, durga, jyestha, candesa, brahma, bull, rudra-narayana, installation of murthis of deceased devotees, festivals and sacraments.

It contains charts (snapana), diagrams, illustrations, of mudras and kumdams, measurements and utensils. Thus we see that the Ajita is a manual for priests, temple architects (stapatis) and sculptors (silpis). Chapters 3-89 does not concern the rest of us.

Let us hear what the Ajita Mahatantra says. Quotes from the Ajita Agama:

1.26
The supreme is taught as being the siva and designated by the word brahman. That which is made of the sabda-brahman is traditionally known as sadasiva.

Note: Sadasiva is akin to what we know as satchitadanda or saguna brahman, which is sat-asat. Siva is neither sat-asat, He is nirguna or parabrahman. From this sat-asat arose Mahesvara (Paramesvara), then Rudra, Vishnu and Brahma who are Personal Dieties whereas Sadasiva is impersonal.

1.27-30
The pranava (is) will be directly the body of Sadasiva, O Janardana. The god of gods, sadasiva is the cause of everything. The supreme Siva is established as his cause, and is told to be supreme, as his nature is beyond mind and speech. Therefore that which is the (material) cause is traditionally known here as only Siva. Sadasiva is the agent, sustainer and supreme Lord. From him is born Mahesvara from whom I, Rudra (am born). From me you (are born) and from you Brahman, the grandfather of the world.

1.31-33
Having thus arisen (samutpanna) from (supreme Siva), this eternal root-diety (muladeva) Lord Sadasiva, extending his grace to Mahesa and other Lords of the world, thus ready to realise the properity of the whole world, through us, bearing five faces, with five mouths uttered the whole mass of books, vedas, etc.

Note: the reference to 'arisen', one emanating/arising from the other. Also note the reference to root-diety indicating all dieties arise/emanate from him. The reason for creation is suggested here.

1.115
It spreads (tan) the vast subject matter based on essences and formula; it gives salvation (traa) to souls; therefore it is called tantra.

2.1-2
Only that one who is Siva, superior to all, stable, supreme soul, great lord, whose form is existence, consciousness and felicity, who is free from existence and non existent manifestations (sat-asat), who is all pervading, only him is named by the sages with the word brahman.

2.13-17
This Lord (Siva) is all that. There is nothing different from him. He is the material cause, the mahat and the ahamkara, the tanmatras of sound, touch,....the five (elements) earth, ....etc with the soul, raga, maya, vidya, kala, niyati, etc, know him as sadasiva in the form of Siva.

2.17-21
Only him can be the Lord. He is I (Rudra) and you (Vishnu). He is the god, i.e. Brahman etc., the Creators, Kasyapa etc. He is the seven sages, Moon and Sun, Lords of planets. He is the king of gods (Indra), Kuberam, Varuna, Yama, Agni, Nagesa (Adisesa) Nirrti, Vayu, Isanam all the chiefs of Ganas, the eight Vasus, eleven Rudras, other excellent gods and demons, the eight fold celestial species, the five fold animal one and the human one. Siva is told to be the universe.

Note the reference that He is also the material cause.

2.22-25
The four vedas with their secret (sections, i.e. upanishads) speak of him.

2.28-30
Without his worship, with any other (rite) there is no benefit for embodied souls.

Note the reference to 'embodied souls'. Souls are actually embodied - sariraka, not an illusion of bondage.)

2.30-32
Someone sometimes is entitled to perform inner worship (meditation); those who have little knowledge are entitled to perform external worship (temple worship). Being aware of this, lord of gods, Siva, who stands inside everything, who (desires) to extend his grace to all and gives creatures experience and liberation, this Siva became Sadasiva. whose body is manifested as the five brahma (mantras).

Those who are not familiar with meditation should pursue temple worship. These are alternative methods to liberation but not mutually exclusive. Siva gives us experience and through that, liberation.

2.33-38
From him (sadasiva) was born Isvara, the origin of all the (manifested) gods, free from decline. From (Isvara) I was born and from me you (Vishnu), the teacher of the universe. From you, in the lotus of your navel, sprung forth Aja, the grandfather of the world. The consciousness who inhabits Siva should be celebrated as Maya. Others (call her) Root principle (of matter)". She also stands in a relation of material cause and effect in five bodies. Hear her establishments. From her (is born) the diety Manonmani related to Sadasiva. From (Manonmani) is born Gauri related to Mahesvara. From (Gauri) is born Uma who is mine, she should be Bhavapriya. From (Uma) is born Padma who is related to you, Vishnu. And from (Padma) is born Vani related to Brahman.

2. 38-41
The whole universe entirely is created by Brahman, protected by you (Vishnu) and destroyed by me (Rudra). Thus a relation of material cause and effect is established in us. The nature of body of Siva is told to be in Sadasiva, etc., The nature of material cause is unique and established only in him. This undecaying Sadasiva is worshipped in the Linga, by us, led by Mahesvara and by all the creatures in the world.

3. 1-2
That which is the sign of the soul, i.e., a cause of manifestation of the soul, such a sign for Sadasiva is traditionally known as Sivalinga.

3.14-17
Because all the elements go (ga) to reabsorbtion (li) [in him] at the time of destruction and spring forth (ga) [from him], for this reason he is called Linga. When linga is worshipped, all the gods are worshipped.

A clear reference to all elements merging into, and then issueing forth from Him. He absorbs and reissues.

4.22 (Sites unfit for installing a Linga)
Where stones and gravels are seen in huge quantity, where candalas, pilindas etc stayed for long periods.

4. 24
The linga installed in the brahma-sthana ( ie. in the centre of the village) will bring good to brahmins and kshatriyas.

11.2-3 (On fire ritual oblations)
Siva standing in the linga receives the worship, standing in the fire (agni homa fire ritual and offering of oblations in fire) takes the offering. Siva is absolutely unique. Therefore, in both Siva is the same. Considering this, one should worship Siva in the Linga and in fire, with effort.

The reference to linga worship and Agni worship in the homa fire ritual as one and the same thing.

50.2-5
Skanda is born from my body. He has my energy, my valor. He was created by me formerly as son of Uma, good for the world. He is also born of fire. Therefore the fire origin is told of him. So that, among the best of the gods, he does not have birth from a womb. In the course of time he became a god with a manifest body, shining like the blazing fire at the end of the world.

50.6-8
Therefore he is called Born of fire, Born of reed, Skanda, Kumara, Senani, Subrahmanya, Guru. He is called by all these and other numerous names. Because he will cause jumping (skand) out of all sins, he is Skanda. Because he will destroy (maar) evils (ku) he is well known as Kumara. Because he protects the army of gods he has the quality of army-leader (Senani).

Su-brahman-ya means 'of the great brahman'.

89.1-3
I will tell the purification of the places. Listen O Lord of Kamala. If a women in her courses, one recently delivered, a man born of adultery, an outcaste, a despised one, a barber, a washerman, a dog, (a donkey), a cock, a bird of prey, a vulture enter in the temple by mistake (the desika) should perform a purification of the place in the beginning, then perform a sprinkling ceremony... (text missing).

 

 

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