Thursday, August 15, 2013


[* With Bhaskararaya's commentary, translated into English, by, R. Ananta Krishna Sastri, Madras, Messers Thompson &co 1899]

    The book before us marks a unique departure in the matter of translation from the Sanskrit and it will come upon the public also as a pleasant surprise. The department of knowledge now opened to our view is that of Mantra Sastra, about which absolutely little was known and the student of oriental studies was apt more to look upon it askance than with any favor. The book before us ought to remove all doubts about the usefulness of such study, and its great importance. To the mystic Indian, all knowledge and science was locked up in mantras, and the reason will readily enough be perceived when in fact his whole scheme of cosmology rest upon the one primeval sound or mantra, namely Pranava. This first Mantra or Mantra Rajah is of course the cause of all other mantras and except the Panchakshara Mantra, no other Mantra can be efficacious unless pronounced with the Pranava. These Mantras are the sounds, the names and the forms, and the symbols by which we can possibly realize the nature of the supreme; and they are, as such, the means and not the end. The end also, is both material and spiritual and though it is possible to attain both wealth and happiness by means of these mantra practices, the book before us shows us that he who chants this hymn without hoping for any specific and selfish result alone, can obtain Brahma Jnana and not for others. There is also an antecedent condition to a person who aspires to mantra practices. The worshipper ought to be devout and pure; and he the secret cannot be imparted to a rogue, a wicked man, nor at any time to one who is devoid of faith. People are apt to forget this essential qualifications, and err grievously in thinking that their assumed piety and worship can cover a multitude of sins.

    Of the various sets of mantras, those of Devi or Parameshwari are considered the most efficacious in acquiring various Siddhis, and Powers and Knowledge, and this is so, because our highest ideal of Knowledge and Love and Power is centered in the person of Uma. The collection of thousand names of Lalita or Parameshwari forms a portion of the Brahmanda Purana, and the chief importance of the book before us is due to the invaluable commentary on the thousand names by Bhaskararaya, a Maharatta Brahmin who seemed to have lived in Benares about 160 or 170 years ago. The commentator must have been a very erudite Pandit, for he has exhibited in his commentary all the store of his knowledge derived from the Vedas, and Upanishads, and Itihasa and Puranas &c; and the book is as such much more valuable to us for tracing the growth and history of Religion from the earlier Vedic books to the later Puranas and Itihasas &c. And the quotations from the latter set of books are enormous, which will show that these books are not such trash as are ordinarily supposed. In many of these mantras, as explained by the commentator, we can trace easily also the history of the religion and the philosophy and the philosophy from the earliest times downwards, besides an uncommonly large store of mystic knowledge connected with these mantras. The book has also a special value to our readers as it unfolds the nature of the Supreme almost on Siddhanta lines and the references to the Saiva scriptures and philosophy are also very many. The Highest Ideal conceived of Lalita in this book is as that of the Highest Power and Knowledge and Love, and as the Supreme Consort of Supreme Siva and as one with Him and transcending by far above the Trinity and Maheswara and Sadasiva and that in as much as this supreme Sakti permeates and illumines matter, She is also identified as one with Kundalini and Maya and Prakriti; and as with Srikantacharya, who does not even recognize any such distinction even in essence this aspect of the Supreme Sakti is also much more prominent. As such also, Sakti is spoken of as the night, and Siva as the day; Sakti, as sound and Siva as meaning. The scheme of the 36 tatwas is noticed here and there and unless this is thoroughly grasped, the references to Nada and Bindu, Kundalini and Vidya and Sadasiva and Maheshwara &c. will not be intelligible. The book is absolutely indispensable to every student of Saiva Siddhanta and we give one or two extracts below, which will tend to illustrate the subject and its importance more than any words of ours. We heartily congratulate Pandit R. Anantakrishna Sastri who, though not boasting of the possession of great literary abilities is yet continuing to do quietly a lot of useful and important work. We should add that the book would gain greatly if an index is added

1.    1000    Mother Lalita.

    "Thus by the first three names the Goddess is indicated as the creator, preserver, and destroyer of the Universe; by the next two names She is indicated as possessing two other functions, viz., annihilation and re-manifestation which belong to no other deity, from the sixth name to the last the same deity who possesses these five functions was described in different ways and is indicated by the name Lalita which is her special name and belongs to no other deity.

    "Lalitambika: Lalita as well as Mother. The meaning is given in the Padma Pr.: "Transcending all worlds She sports (Lalate) hence she is called Lalita." 'Worlds' means her surrounding lights or deities. 'Transcending' being above their abodes in the Bindu-place. 'Sports' shines brilliantly. The wise say, "The word Lalita has eight meanings, viz., brilliancy, manifestation, sweetness, depth, fixity, energy, grace, and generosity, these are the eight human qualities. The Kama Sastra says, Lalita means erotic actions and also tenderness, as she has all the above mentioned qualities, she is called Lalita. It is said also, "Thou art rightly called Lalita for thou hast nine divine attendants (in the Srichakra) and your bow is made of sugarcane, your arrows are flowers, and everything connected with you is lovely (Lalita)." The word Lalita according to Sabdarnava, means beautiful."

999.    The Union, etc., (Sivasaktyaikyarupini).

    Her nature is the equal essence of Siva and Sakti. The Vayaviya Sam says, "By the will of Siva, the Supreme Sakti becomes one with the Siva Tatva. Again she manifests at the beginning of creation like oil from the oily grain." Here 'Union' means the supreme equality, the being absolutely without difference. The Saura Sam says, "The Sakti which is separate from Brahman is not different from Brahman itself. Such being the case it is only called Sakti (as separate) by the ignorant. It is impossible to distinguish the difference, O wise one, between the Sakti and the possessor of Sakti." The Va. Rama also. "As there is only one movement of air, only one Audhyana Pitha, (in the world) and only one manifested Chit Sakti, also there is only one Union (of Siva and Sakti)."

    Or, Siva, the Siva chakra, Sakti, the Sakti chakras, Aikya Union. The Brahma. Pr. Says, "In the triangle Bindu must be united, the eight-angled one is to be united, the eight-angled one is to be united with the eight-petaled lotus… He who knows the necessary relation between the parts belonging to Siva and the parts belonging to Sakti in the Srichakra is the real knower of the chakra."

    Or this name means the Hamsa mantra, for in this mantra is declared the Union of Siva and Sakti. The Su. Sam. (4-7-2)" "Sakti of Him, (Siva) is said to be the end of the syllable S'a (i.e., Sa) and end of that (i.e., Ha) is called Bija. The Bija is the Vidyasakti. That itself is Siva. Therefore this supreme mantra is said to signify Siva as well as Sakti."

    Or, Saiva Sakti the five Saktis of Siva viz., Dhumavati etc., and Aikya, their collective form which is Devi. The Virupaksha Panchasika says, "Dhumavati veils, Bhasvati reveals, the Spand stimulates, the Vibhvi pervades, the Hladasakti nourishes. The Dhumavati Sakti belongs to earth, Hlada to water, Bhasvati to fire, Spanda to air, the Vinavi to ether, thus the world is pervaded by these."

53.    The beneficial (Siva).

    "From the root Vasi, desire, Siva is derived." That is, she is the desire itself (Ichcha) of the supreme Siva. For this energy is worshiped by Siva. The meaning of Siva is given in the Saivagamas. "Who is as a witness to the modifications (of the mind), who is before the arising of such modifications, who is in the modifications about to rise, who is the cause of sensation, who is the support of all false and inert matter, who is consciousness itself who is beloved of all, who is bliss itself, who is the means of obtaining all, who is connected with all, the Omnipresent of the distinction of Jiva, Isa, etc., is Siva."

    Or as she does good (Siva), she is called Siva; or that in which everything rests (Sete); or, who possesses excellent (Siva) qualities; or that which makes calm (Samyati); as the Bharata says, "Because he fulfils all the actions (of men) intending their good (Siva) he is known as Siva. O gods, the Danavas, and the Devas are the same to me; I do good (Siva) to all beings. Hence I am known as Sva." The Sruti (Sve. Up. 4-11) says "The one who is the origin (of all) dwells in every womb, in whom all this is involved." The Kaivalya Up. says "three eyed, blue throated, and peaceful." All this has been brought together, by us in the commentary on the Sivashtottarasta (a work enumerating one hundred and eight names of Siva). "By natural purity, by possessing stainless qualities, by superiority, by supporting the Universe, by conferring immortality (on worshippers), by the strength of Ichchasakti, O Paramasiva, thou art known by the special name as Siva in the scriptures;" or, she is identical with Siva. The Linga Pr. says "As is Siva, so is Devi, as is Devi, so is Siva, hence, as the notions are the same Devi is called Siva. In another place in the same book, "In reality there is no difference between Uma and Sankara; the one has assumed the two forms. There is no doubt in this. The Paramatman is called Siva as well as Siva." The Sutasamhita (IV. 13-2 to 41) also says "O best of twice born ones, she who has assumed the energising aspect of that Maya which is connected with one consciousness (chinmatra), who is intellect, without attributes, self-shining, unchangeable, supreme bliss, and the cause of the destruction of Samsara. She is Siva, she is the supreme Devi, one with Siva, and doer of good…he who worships this Sankari, the ocean of mercy, what does he not obtain by her grace?" Or Siva may mean the wife of Vayu. The Linga Pr. says "The great God Isana, who pervades the whole universe, the supporter of all beings is called vayu, in his aspect of wind God. His wife is called Siva and his son Manojava." Again, "He who has the crescent moon as a crest is Vayu and his wife is Siva." In the Vayu Pr. also we read "Vayu is the fourth body of Isana and his wife is Siva and his son is Manojava."

    Or, she who bestows Salvation is Siva. It is said in the Devi Pr. "Siva is salvation and she bestows salvation to Yogins'; she works for good (Siva); hence she is known by men as Siva;" or men worship Devi to reach Siva, hence she is Siva. In the Agamas we read "As heat is to fire, as light to the Sun, and moonlight to the Moon, as is Siva to Siva."

883.    Sacrificer (Yajamanasvarupini).

    One form of Siva is Dikshita (Sacrificer) and his spouse is called Dikshi and the mother of Santana. The Linga and Vayu Prs. Say, "The seventh terrible form is the form of Brahmanas, the sacrificer and his wife is called Diksha, and his son Santana." Of Siva's eight forms the last is sometimes called the sacrificer and sometimes Atman. This name in that case may be explained to mean the both thus: - Yajamana, the sacrificer Sva, the self, rupa, both are her forms. The Linga Pr. says, "The five elements, moon, Sun, and Self, (atman) the best of Munis say, are the eight forms of the Lord of Devas. The eighth form of him is self (atman) and also the sacrificer."

    William Marsden, however, in his Malay dictionary seems to hint that Kapur = 'camphor' is derived from Sanskrit, for he shows the Hindi word to be the older form, and indicates a difference in pronunciation between this word and that for chalk, besides treating them separately.

    In Malay, Kapur Barus when used for camphor is merely to distinguish it from Kapur Totohori or camphor of Japan.

    If the Tamil Karpuram is proved to be borrowed, I should be much obliged if anybody would let me know the pure Tamil word for it.

Trincomali, Ceylon,                                 Faithfully yours,

May 17, 1899                             S. W. Coomaraswamy.


[We are sorry we were not able to publish Mr. Commaraswamy's interesting communication earlier for want of space. We shall send copies of this to some of the prominent Sanskrit scholars in India and publish here any replies we may receive. – Ed.]

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