Hinduism

by Pathmarajah Nagalingam

 

Chapter 7

 

 

 

The Art of the Invocation

Based on the Ajita MahaTantra as translated by N.R. Bhatt, Jean Filliozat and Pierre S. Filliozat

The purpose of revisiting the agamas is to 'bring it to the fore' in the Hindu's consciousness of his shastras, evoke his interest to the centrality of his religion, the temple and mystic worship practices, and away from puranic myths and fantastic stories which are peripheral to the religion, and away from the superceded vedas and upanishads which is 'redundant' and is a cause of confusion. For the entirety of Hinduism (Saivism) may be recreated today just on the basis of the Ajita only and nothing more, with the philosophy built into the rites and rituals and not as a speculative introspection. The objective is a mental reordering and refocussing on vitals - the 'baktiful' worship, the core of the religion, where there is only the worshipper and the worshipped, in supernatural communion, and no shastra nor jaati.

Each of the major branches of Hinduism; Saivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism, each with its own set of agamas, are not a separate component of a tripartite religion. Each is a full and complete system, one of three forms of a total religion. It compares very much to a family of languages, the family having a seemingly endless variations of languages and dialects, and each language has its own structure. Yet all fulfill its most basic objective of communication.

Saivism is a religion of a one God, the supreme Siva. Numerous entities are around Him. They are his creations and consequently his subjects with definate functions. They are *not* other deities, as the nature of the eternal Isvara or 'Supreme Lord' cannot be shared. They participate of his own essence at different degrees. The major ones are told to be engendered by him, or to be an outward manifestation of himself. The other entities or deities are an existence separated from the essence but without altering the unity of the essence. This then would be the understanding of the relationship between the gods; Siva is the essence and the other gods are distinct existences that shares the essence.

Whatever cause there may be for the coming of an entity to a separate existence, and whatever form it may take, the reason given for these hypostases of the supreme god is the necessity of communication through worship, for the supreme unmanifest god is inaccessible to the senses and the mind. That would render worship impossible. Therefore the supreme god makes himself accessible through these substate entities. The presence of a deity is a prerequisite for worship. This is established at the time of installation by elaborate rites, and reestablished at other times through various rites.

The performance of a dance, play or drama is known for its effect of communion with an audience and the resultant aesthetic experience of pleasure. The performance of temple pujas and rituals involves similar human efforts and ends in creating a sublimated form of communion with God, an unburdening of concerns, and an experience of mystic contentment and happiness.

"Worship' derived from the words puja pujayam and archa pujayam means 'to honour'. In temples there is always a main unique Deity in the mulastanam, the target of a long elaborate sequence of rites and rituals, culminating in the presenting of the final showing of flames or aarathi. Part of the rituals includes the worship of an entourage of divine and semi-divine deities, placed concentrically surrounding the main deity.

Icon, Water & Fire Worship
The mantra-body of Siva is first created by the worshipper in his heart by concentrating on the diety and chanting the bija mantras; it is then transferred from the top of the head of the worshipper to the Linga with offering of flowers and mudra. The linga becomes the body of Siva. The invitation to take residence (avahana) brings the presence of god to the fore. It becomes a full manifestation, accessible to the senses. This brings the presence of Siva in a general manner, for all devotees. Invitation has its counterpart at the conclusion of worship, the rite of giving leave or visarjana.

"The desired coming and going of Siva (in the linga) occur through a body of mantras, like the coming and going of a soul through bodies." (Kamika Agama 1.4.356).

In the installed linga the deity is invited and installed permanently in a ceremony called pratistha, done to create, 'placing' (nyaasa) and let stay, and the latent presence to be reawakened or re-enlivened each day. 'Looking at a spot', niriksana, ritually transfers the consciousness of the deity in the worshipper's mind to the spot or icon looked upon. The mental creation of the mantra body of the god is 'placed' on the spot or icon. This is the essence of Hindu worship. By concentrating on the deity within our minds, as the soul of our soul, then looking at an icon ritually makes the inert icon 'alive'. Worship can then begin.

In the case of movable icons and water pots (kumbha), the rite is for creating and suspending the presence, the contents of the pots being the object of elaborate worship, which is later transferred to the main installed deity by ablution of the 'charged waters' on it, executed with great pomp as the highlight of the ceremony, thereby transferring the divine presence to the linga. In the case of the fire-homa, the effects of the ritual is first transferred to the water pots by touching the pots with a darbha grass, from there later transferred again to the linga by ablutions.

Worship for Oneself and Worship for Others


20.2-4a
Worship is traditionally known to be of two kinds, for oneself, and for others. The worship (performed by) one who has been initiated by a guru, and has received a linga, a movable one, given by him, on that (linga), or on another temporary object, or on a sthandila (a ritually marked spot), or on (a pot of) water, or on an icon, or on a diagram, or on a painting or on canvas, or in one's own heart, will be the (worship) for oneself.

20.4b-7
When on a self born Sivalinga, or on a linga installed by Bana, by a lord of celestial hots, by a god, a sage or man, on all mukhalingas, and manifested ones (murthis), O Janardana, on all numerous lingas installed everywhere, in temples, etc., the worship is done, having one's means of subsistence procured by a king or persons similar to a king, or common people, that is called (worship) for others, because the fruit is given to others.

Notes:
1. The recognition that all can worship, and with or without icons, or with any icon, emphasises the acceptance of the universality of worship practices by all, and in any way.
2. It is on this basis that most Hindus maintain a home shrine where they conduct their daily worship for themselves in a way that they know best. When one conducts a puja in the home shrine he/she is the archaka, no matter what the jaati or sex is.
3. It is clearly mentioned that only archakas can perform congregational worship (parartha pujas), whereas all other four classes and those who do not belong to the four classes, the anuloma classes, savarna, etc. may only perform worship for oneself (atmartha puja).
4. To be sure, as mentioned previously, there is mention of the varna names in the agamas but there is no varna system of the smirthis as shown below!

Three Types of Worship
20.19-21
Here the worship is told to be of three kinds; pure, mixed and mingled. The pure worship ends with the meal. The mixed one ends with the daily festival (nityotsava puja). The mingled one ends with the pure dance. Among these worships, one should perform specifically the mixed one, or the mingled one, as the worship done everyday, in the morning, noon and in the evening.

Notes:
1. Pure worship is that performed in the garbha and ends there with meal offerings.
2. Mixed worship is pure worship followed by the utsava procession around the garbha, and ends there.
3. Mingled is pure and mixed worship followed by singing of hymns, dance and other artistic performances.
4. Mingled worship is mandated three times a day. It is not mandated for other time juncture (yamas) worships.

Worship of the Entourage Deities
The Linga with its representatives, twenty of which are mentioned, is clearly distinguished from figurative forms called murthis. The linga represents sadasiva, while the murthis (gods) are emanations of sadasiva who are actors of feats in saiva mythology, and represented as entourage deities in ancilliary shrines surrounding the main. Therefore saiva worship is precisely sadasiva worship, and not Siva worship as that is impossible!

20.215-225
After the worship of the Linga, there should be worship of the lord of bulls (Nandi), Nandin (Rishi Nandikesvara), Mahakala at the door, and then the entourage deities who are placed in circles around in the main garbha in concentric courtyards:

1. First Circle of Entourage Dieties: Anantesa, Suksma, Sivottama, Ekanetra, Ekarudra, Trimurti, Srikantha, and Sikhandin.
2. Second Circle of Entourage Dieties:Uma, Chandesa, Nandin, Mahakala, Bull, Vighnesa, Mahasena and Bhrngisa.
3. Third Circle of Entourage Dieties: Indra, Agni, Yama, Nirrti, Varuna, Vayu, Soma, Isana, Ananta and Kamalasana.
4. Fourth Circle of Entourage Dieties: thunderbolt, spear, staff, sword, noose, goad, club, trident, lotus and disc.

Rite of Entering the Siva temple
20.33-34
The worshipper (archaka) should get up early in the morning, complete his daily rites, bath, etc., perform a circumnambulation before entering the temple of Siva. He should clean his feet, sip water and, standing inside the temple or near the door, throw a flower for Brahman.

Notes:
1.This rite applies to the archaka (priest) but all worshippers may execute it, as the primary meaning of archaka is 'worshipper', therefore this rite is applicable to worshippers. The entire Ajita Agama are instructions to the archaka, or worshipper. The secondary meaning is the professional priest of the temple, the sivacharya gurukkal who has received the various dikshas which empower him to perform parartha pujas meant for the benefit of all devotees. No room for societal varna here. Today archaka means gurukkal or desika of a temple, and the primary meaning seems to have been missed.
2. Brahman here means vaastvadhipati, lord of the temple, here meaning the main diety installed, or the linga.
3. This rite of offering a flower is accompanied by the uttering of the mantra, 'aum haam vaastvadhipataye brahmane namah'.
4. Most Hindu devotees today do abide at least some of these injuctions like (1) a bath before a temple visit, (2)circumnambulating once outside the temple walls, (3) washing the feet before entering the temple, (4) the worship act (mudra) of palms together above the head upon entering the temple at the gate, and (5) the simultaneous uttering of a simple mantra like 'siva, siva' when the mudra is performed.
5. These five individual rites, when sequenced and stringed together constitutes a worshipful ritual, a complete worship by itself, even without attending the puja-aarathi, and this is a ritual of the archaka. Thus they (all devotees) can be considered 'archaka' too in the broader meaning.
6. But the details and training required of an archaka of a temple necessitates that only a trained professional can do the job. This has to necessarily remain.

The Worship of Siva in the Linga and in the Fire
The vedas deal with fire worship (yagam or homa), whereas the agamas deals with worship of god through murthis, water as well as fire.

21.2-3
Siva standing in the Linga receives the worship; standing in fire he takes the offering. Siva is absolutely unique. Therefore in both Siva is the same.

Notes:
1. Worship of the linga or worship by homa fire offering is the same as the recipient in either is the same.
2.We recall the first hymn in the Rigveda: 1.1.1
agnim iiLe purohitaM yajnasya devam Rtvijam hotaaraM ratnadhaatamam
I glorify Agni, the high priest of the sacrifice, the divine, the ministrant, who presents the oblation (to the gods), and possesses great wealth (which he presents to the worshipper).
This hymn by Vishvamitra address Agni both as a God (deva), and as a fire - a medium through which oblations are presented to Him and the gods, and a medium, a gateway, through which He and the other gods presents benedictions to the worshipper. Agni is the recipient and ministrant of the oblations - He summons the gods to the sacrificial ceremony to receive the oblations and bestow benedictions on the worshipper. Here, Agni is the archakar.

Dikshas for All


77.11
The diksha of samayin and putra will be 'without seed'; the diksha of sadhaka and acharya will be 'with seed'.


77.12
Now the diksha 'without seed' is taught as being of two kinds; one gives liberation immediately, the other after death.


77.13
The diksha without seed, devoid of the practice of rules, should be for young (people), simple minded, old people, women, those addicted to pleasures, sick persons.

Notes:

1. The 'seed' is the dependence on execution of rules, etc, which are the means to realise the fruits produced by diksha. Diksha with seed requires much observances, and is meant for priests.

2. The diksha without seed, without much rules or observances is for the masses, and for all. No one is excluded, not even the addict, the prostitute nor the autistic, and liberation is assured while still living (jivanmukta), or on death (mukti on death), depending on the type of diksha and the empowerment of the gurukkal.

The various diksha mentioned in other agamas are the samaya and vishesha for householders, the nirvana, abisheka and archaryabisheka for the priests and assistants as well as monks. In the archaryabisheka diksha, the archaka receives an ablution with the water from five kumbhas (pots) in which have been 'placed' the five mantras of the five faces of Siva, so that the archaka is identifiable with Siva. This is followed by the gifting of the main instruments of the priestly function and regal insignia, referring to the authority bestowed upon him to be an invoker of the gods, on behalf of, and for the benefit of the people.

Agamic Mantras
Mantras are the primary tools of worship, and for an inner religious experience of god, uttered along with a rite and often a mudra. It is a name of an entity, a soul in the top of a hierarchy in spiritual entities and conveys a meaning. The uttering of a name is the contemplation of the named entity, the mental creation of the named entity, keeping it stable in the mind without break or interference, then transfers this mental creation in the mind through the top of the head to the icon.

A bija mantra is used in all agamic rituals. Each deity has a bija and it is only used for that deity. The bija consonant for Siva is H, and each of his different hypostases are distinguished by the vowels that follows next; a e i o u, for the five faces of Siva, indicating that each of the forms of the deity emanates from the root Siva without being different from him. There is no mantra H itself as it makes no sense, as the unmanifest Siva cannot be represented by any icon or mantra. Namasivaya refers to the sat-asat formless form sadasiva.

All the mantras used in the Ajita are agamic mantras. There are no vedic mantras used at all. The Ajita is completely free of vedic mantras. Here are some mantras chanted for atonement of faults, purification, concentration, etc. These mantras are footnoted as it is assumed that the desika is already familiar with it, an indication that there was a parallel running oral tradition of the agamas too.

20.56-68, 87.98-101
Aum hah sivaastraaya phat,
Aum slim pam sum hum paasupatraastraaya phat namah,
Aum brahmaastraaya phat,
Aum sim chim ksurikaastraaya phat,
Aum hum aghoraastraaya hum phat svaha,
Aum aam iim uum vyomavyaapine aum namah,
Aum hum haam ham haam hrdayaaya atmane namah,
Aum hlaam hlaam hlaam hlaam hlaam hrdayaaya hum phat,
Aum saam somaaya namah.

Cooking the Naivedyam (or havis) and bali
There are several offerings to the deity in the course of worship including water, flowers, sandal paste, betel leaf, etc. but the most important of all is cooked food, called naivedyam or havis, or bali which are small rice balls or a small portion of naivedyam.

22.124.128
He (the desika) should do the cleaning (of the pot) with recitation of astra mantra. He should pour the water (into the pot) with recitation of sadyojata mantra in a quantity equal to the rice. Afterwards he should lift up (the vessel) with recitation of vamadeva mantra. After placing it over the fire-place with the recitation of aghora mantra, he should place the fuel with recitation of the astra mantra. After kindling the fire with recitation of aghora mantra, after cooking, after removing (the vessel) with recitation of the tatpurusha mantra, he should wipe all (the cooked items) with a wet hand (a gesture of wiping without touching the food) with recitation of astra mantra.

Notes:
We may be seeing here a source of the garbha and kitchen divides, for only a person who has received the required dikshas are able to perform this simple rite of cooking.

Priests & Patrons
The entire Ajita addresses only the priest (archaka) and the sculptor (silpin). It addresses the devotee as the yajamana or kartar, the patron who orders the ritual and provides for it and presides over it but himself has very little part to play in the rituals. A client-professional relationship exists here, and again no indication of a discriminatory varna society, as the priest exists and depends on the worshipper. It indicates an interdependent society.

General Info
The pedestal that holds the linga in place is called the pitha, pindika or even vedika, and not 'yoni' with its connotations as erroneously thought. The clothing and attire used to drape the linga and murthis are prepared by a class of weavers, devangas, who have received the samaya diksha. Today, the devanga is a class of weavers in Karnataka.

The Ajita agama does use varna terms like brahmin, kshatriya, vaishya and sudra. But the translators N.R. Bhatt, Jean Filliozat and Pierre S. Filliozat suspect most of those are later additions as most of these varna terms are found in the last few verses of the chapters concerned and not in sync with the main thrust of the Ajita. Nevertheless the translators did not exclude those verses but left it as it is and noted their concerns in the introduction and in footnotes.

A case for a varna society must show:
1. four broad endogamous groups enjoying vocational monopoly,
2. placed in a top down hierarchy,
3. where there is no access to some groups to study sanskrit and shastras,
4. where moksha giving dikshas are denied to some groups, who have to be born again,
5. and where there is no access to temples by certain groups,

I see the first. I do not see the next four. I have to conclude, as we all must, that there was no varna society, only a jaati society, which itself is quite degrading.

 

Nakshatras in the Agamas

There is only some mention of kalas and yamas for temple pujas, muhurthas, nakstratras, solstices, equinoxes and months in the Ajita, Paramesvara, Makuta, and Candrajnana Agamas. There is no mention of rasis, thereby excluding astrology.

From the Ajita Agama: The Process of the Great Festival (utsava) - the stars and lunar days fit for the immersion in sacred waters

27.1-2
Now, I will tell the process of the festival which brings welfare to all the world. Sava is that which is called 'auspicious' and brings happiness to all creatures. That from which sava is born (ud) is called 'utsava'.

Daily puja festivals or utsava is performed for the benefit and welfare of the world.

27.8-11
In Caitra the star of Tvastr (Citra) is taught, in Vaisakha Surpa (Visakha) is told, in Jyestha (the star) Mula, in Asadha the star of Visvadevas (Uttara Asadha) is taught, in Sravana it should be Sravistha, in Proshapada (Bhadrapada) Ajaikapad (Purvabhadrapada), in the month of Asvayuj (Asvina) Asvini, in the month of Karttika Krittika, in the month of Margasirsa the star of Rudra (Ardra) is told, in Pushya it should be the star of Brihaspati (Pusya), in Magha the star of Pitr-s (Magha), in the month of Phalguna the star of Aryaman (Uttaraphalguni) should be the star of the immersion (festival).

27.12
(The aforementioned) are stars in conjunct with the full moon (are fit time for the festival of immersion in water).

27.14-15
(Or) in all the months, Caitra, etc., the star fit for the immersion would be the star of Rudra (Ardra). In Magha or Jyestha months the sixth and eight lunar days of the black fortnight (respectively) are taught as being for the immersion; they give all desired fruits.

27.15-16
(Or) the excellent knower of the rituals (desika) should fix the parvan (full moon and new moon) and the fourteenth lunar day of both forthnights, in all the months, for the immersion.

The Process of the Sraddha festival

69.5-7
One should perform the ablution (abishegam) ceremony on a day under the following stars, starting from the month of Ardra, Ardra (Margasiras), Pushya, Maagha, Uttara (Phalguni), Citra, Visakha, Mula, (Uttar)asadha, Sravana, Purvabhadra, Asvini, and the star of Agni (Krittika), in coincidence with the full moon or new moon day of the forthnight or not.

69.9
The wise should perform the festival up to the end of Ardra, every month, on equinoxes, after an eclipse, or after other auspicious days (such as Ganesha Chaturthi, Sarasvati puja, etc.)

 

 

 

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