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Dear One, Tripurā is the ultimate, primordial Shakti, the light of manifestation. She, the pile of letters of the alphabet, gave birth to the three worlds. At dissolution, She is the abode of all tattvas, still remaining Herself – Vāmakeśvaratantra
The Dakṣiṇāmūrti Saṃhitais a comprehensive digest on the subject of Śrī Vidyā, from the Kaula point of view. It largely skips the philosophical implications of the cult and concentrates on the ritualistic aspects. Yet the work is of interest because it seems to represent a different branch of the tradition. For example, the mantras (properly, vidyās) of the Devī’s 15 Nityās or eternities differ from those encountered in other texts including Tantrarājatantra, Vāmakeśvara, the Kalpa Sutras, &c.
The different paṭalas (chapters) are of widely varying lengths, some consisting of only a few ślokas, while others are much longer. Chapter one begins with praise of Tripurā in her five lion seat form. Śrī Devī questions Īśvara about the different āmnāyas, identified with the four directions and the upper face. Śiva describes the different forms of Śrī Vidyā and gives the vidyā and dhyāna (meditation images) of Lakṣmī in her one syllable form.
Chapter two describes Mahālakṣmī pūjā, together with the vidyā, dhyāna, and puraścaraṇa (preparatory acts) of the goddess. In the third chapter, Śiva describes the worship of the three Śakti forms of Mahālakṣmī. Sāmrājyā (having imperial sway) Lakṣmī is the subject of the fourth chapter.
After describing her form, Śiva gives her vidyā and the different āvaraṇa or attendants in her yantra. Her yantra consists of a triangle, eight petals, a circle and four doors. Gāyatrī, Sāvitrī, and Sarasvatī are in the corners of the triangle. Brahmā and the others are in the eight petals. In chapter five, Īśvara speaks of Śrī Kośā Vidyā. A sādhaka who masters this vidyā is never reborn. She is the supreme light, without any attributes whatsoever, the very self of creation, maintenance and dissolution, the Dakṣiṇāmūrti Saṃhita continues.
Chapter six extends the subject of the Paraniṣkalā Devatā (supreme goddess with no parts). She is the supreme form of Parabrahma, wears white clothes, white gems and is smeared with white paste. She shows the mudrā of knowledge and is served by hosts of yogis. Her yantra consists of a triangle, an eight petalled lotus, and an enclosure with four doors. The seventh chapter deals with the ajapā or unpronounced mantra.
According to the Kaulas, a human being breathes 21,600 times during the day. Half are sun breaths and half are moon breaths. This is called the Ajapā because it is pronounced spontaneously, as a person breathes, and is called the Haṃsa mantra. The letter Ha is Śiva, while the letter Sa is Śakti. A sādhaka can meditate on different cakras in the human body, assigning sections of these breaths there. Together they make Sohaṃ (that I am), which is the equivalent to Oṃ.
Chapter eight speaks of Mātṛkā, the goddess as the letters of the alphabet, starting with A first and Kṣa last. Īśvara gives the maṇḍala to create for her worship and gives a dhyāna of the goddess. The six letter groups are to be meditated on in the bodily cakras.
The next paṭala in Dakṣiṇāmūrti Saṃhita, chapter nine, begins to describe the goddess in her form as a young pubescent woman, the Bālā . Everything about her is red, including jewels, clothes and accessories. She sits on a beautiful jewelled lion seat in the midst of a forest of kadamba trees, which have orange coloured blossoms. She holds noose and goad, and shows the gestures giving boons and dispelling fear. The text gives details of her yantra, and other ritualistic accessories. This is a much longer chapter than the previous eight.
Chapters 10 and 11 deal with the lion seat in the four quarters. In chapter 12, Śiva describes the Kāma Bīja, personified by Kāmeśvarī. She is as effulgent as a china rose, holds a bow and arrows, and is adorned with various beautiful jewels which delude the whole three worlds. Chapter 13 describes Raktanetrā worship. She has the form of Lalitā, with rounded high buttocks (nitambinī), a slender waist, a peaceful face and beautiful eyes. She is young and beautiful with swelling, high firm breasts. In chapter 15 the devatās associated with the southern āmnāya are briefly described.
Then Śiva, in the next chapter, describes those of the western āmnāya. Chapter 16 describes the Mṛtasañjivinī Devī, a female form of Śiva as Mṛtyuñjaya, or Conqueror of Death3 . The next, paṭala 17, describes Vajreśī. In chapter 18, Śiva speaks of the Tripurā Bhairavī or Tripureśī vidyā. This is Lalitā as a woman in whom menstruation has ceased . She sits on five corpses and is adorned with a necklace of skulls, and is as bright as a copper coloured sun, wearing red jewels.
Chapter 19 of the Dakṣiṇāmūrti Saṃhita gives more details about the western āmnāya, while chapter 20 continues the topic by dealing with the northern (uttara) āmnāya. Bhairavī is situated here. Caitanya Bhairavī is the subject of chapter 21, which only has four verses, while Ṣaṭkūṭā Bhairavī forms the subject matter in the five verses of chapter 22. The form of the goddess known as Nityā Bhairavī is the topic of the two verses of chapter 23, while another fierce aspect of Tripurasundarī, Aghora Bhairavī (Cāmareśī) forms the subject matter of the six verses of chapter 24. The goddess Sampatbhairavī is the subject of six verses which is all that’s in chapter 25.
In chapter 26 Śiva tells the goddess about Pañcasundarī. This is Lalitā in her form as the five elements of space, fire, air, earth and water. Chapter 27 deals with Pārijāteśvarī, while chapter 28 covers Pañca Bāneśī, or the goddess in her form as the five arrows. These are the five love arrows of the god Kāma. Pañcakāmeśvarī is the topic of chapter 29. She is described as red, wreathed in red flowers, smeared wreathed in red flowers, smeared with red unguent, and wearing red jewels.
She holds noose, goad, bow, arrow, book, rosary, and shows the sign giving boons. Kalpalatā Vidyā is described in chapter 30. Chapter 31, which is a 29 verse chapter, deals of Annapūrṇā, or the goddess full of food. She is described as a Siddha Vidyā, giving endless food to her devotees. In chapter 32 we learn of Mātañgīratnā Devī. Details of her pūjā, her dhyāna, her enveloping (āvaraṇa) devatās and her vidyā are described.
Chapter 33 covers Bhuvaneśvarī, and the same subject is continued in 34 and in chapter 35 at some length. Chapter 36 speaks of the Ghatargala Yantra. Vārāhī (also known as Pañcamī) is the subject of chapter 37. Her yantra can be inscribed on silver, gold or copper. Alternatively, it may be drawn on birch bark (bhūrja), using substances including kuṅkuma (red saffron powder), aguru (aloe), sandal, rocana, or turmeric and water.
The yantra, says the Dakṣiṇāmūrti Saṃhita, consists of trikoṇā, pentagon, hexagon, an eight petal lotus, a 100 petal lotus and a thousand petal lotus, surrounded by an earthsquare. She is as bright as a blue lotus, wears a garland of skulls, and is adorned with nine jewels. In the 38th chapter, tarpaṇa (oblation) is described at some length, together with some prayogas (magical applications), the nature of the pot to be used in the worship and other details. This chapter deals with the six magical acts (ṣaṭkarma). The 39th, brief chapter, speaks of the Pañcarātra Agama, known as the Viṣṇu Agama. It gives a dhyāna of Lakṣmī.
In chapter 40, Īśvara starts to speak of Kāmeśvarī Nityā. The next chapters, up to and including chapter 53, speak of the other Nityās. These each relate to the days of the waxing moon. In some cases, they have different mantras and vidyās to those described in the Tantrarājatantra. Chapter 41 is devoted to Bhagamālinī – her yantra is said to be a triangle, a hexagon, a 16 petalled lotus, an eight petal lotus, and an enclosure.
Chapter 42 deals of Nityaklinnā, whose mantra is said to be of 18 letters. Her yantra here is given as a triangle, surrounded by an eight petal lotus, and then a square enclosure. Bheruṇḍā, described in chapter 43, is as bright as 10,000,000 moons, has three eyes, is adorned with sapphires. Her yantra consists of a triangle, an eight petalled lotus, and a foursquare enclosure.
Chapter 44 describes Vahnivāsinī, and her yantras and mantras as well as her dhyāna or meditation image, while chapter 45 in 11 verses describes the Mahāvidyeśvarī. In chapter 46 there’s a description and other ritual details relating to Dūtī and in chapter 47 there are 18 verses describing Tvaritā. Kulasundarī has only four verses devoted to her in chapter 48 while the next chapter describes Nīlapatākinī.
The following chapter, in 12 verses describes the Nityā Vijayā. Her yantra is a triangle, enclosed in a hexagon, enclosed in an eight petalled lotus and surrounded by a rectangle. Chapter 51 deals of Sarvamaṅgalā , while the next describes the meditation image and other ritualistic details of Jvālāmālā. The final Nityā is Vicitrā or Citrā, described in chapter 53. Chapter 54 of the Dakṣiṇāmūrti Saṃhita gives the characteristics of the 15 Nityās (16, if Lalitā is included).
This includes an interesting correlation between the states of waking (jāgrad), dream, and deep sleep with the three guṇas. The fourth state (Turiyā), is described as the ultimate kalā, free from existence and non-existence, beyond the three guṇas.
These are the 16 kalās but beyond this is a 17th kalā which is the Absolute itself. The text correlates the letters of the Śrī Vidyā mantra with the Nityās and with that which is beyond them. It relates the three sections of the Śrī Vidyā with the three worlds and with the Mahāpīṭha or great seat formed from the Sanskrit letters A-Ka-Tha. In the centre of the universe (prapañca) is Tripurā, who is of the nature of the absolute.
In chapter 55, Devī asks how one should perform the daily pūjā of the goddess. Śiva gives details here which are similar to those in other Śrī Vidyā tantras. In chapter 56, which has 77 verses, Śiva says that the supreme goddess is in the form of compassion (Kṣamā), bears the universe (Jagaddhātrī), and is in the form of sound as Nāda and Bindu. She is also beyond these.
Various mantras of Śrī Vidyā exist, including those first pronounced by Kubera and Lopāmudrā. The other vidyās of Śrī Vidyā pronounced by other seers are related. Towards the end of this chapter, Īśvara Śiva sings of the greatness of Lalitā and describes the Turyā or fourth, by remembering which, an individual becomes one with the Brahman or Mahāpada. He says: “One’s self (svayam) is Brahma, one’s self is Viṣṇu, one’s self is Rudra, there is no doubt about it.”
One who pronounces the vidyā even once surpasses thousands of millions of aśvamedhas (horse sacrifices), acts of homa, sacrifices, pilgrimages to holy places like Kaśi, bathing in sacred rivers and the rest. He adds that even if he had millions of tongues, it would be impossible to speak of the greatness of Śrī Vidyā. After obtaining it from the guru, it washes away the most heinous sins.
In chapter 57, he continues the subject of the worship of Śrī Vidyā and describes the great nyāsa in which she is identified with the letters of the alphabet, the Gaṇeśas, the planets, the lunar constellations (nakṣatras), the solar constellations (rāśi), the yoginīs and the sacred sites. Chapter 58, which has 74 verses, discusses the important subject of Kāmakāla. The three bindus are to be meditated on in Tripurā’s forehead and two breasts, while the Hakāra kalā is the lower part of the Kāmakāla, and the upper half of Kāmakāla, the syllable Īṃ is in her yoni, below. One should meditate on being one with the Devī.
When the letters “ka” and “la” are dropped from the bīja mantra “klīṃ”, this is Kāmakāla in the Turyā state. Then follows a lengthy meditation on Lalitā, similar to the one in Vāmakeśvaratantra. In chapter 59, Śiva speaks of the famous Śrī Yantra and describes the Śaktis or attendants worshipped in the different nine maṇḍalas, together with how they should be visualised.
The chapter concludes with the nine different forms of Lalitā, with their names and dhyānas, each of which preside over these maṇḍalas. The 60th chapter speaks of how the sādhaka should end pūjā, with worship of Śoṣikā and the rest. In chapter 61, Śiva speaks of the different fruits of reciting mantra and of fire worship in a number of differently shaped kuṇḍas or fire pits. These produce different results according to the wish of he who does pūjā, and demand different types of fruit, flowers, and scents, depending on the object of the exercise. In chapter 62, Īśvara speaks of the śakti, of her characteristics, and of the sādhanā to attract her.
The Dakṣiṇāmūrti Saṃhita says that a circle is to be drawn and everything therein should be red. She should be given flower, fruit, scented water, food, clothes and jewels. The appropriate mudrās should be displayed to her. Other rites are given which result in the acquisition of marvellous siddhis or powers. At the end of the chapter, the five Kāmas are described. By worshipping the Kāmas, an individual may “delude the world” and attract 64 koṭis of yoginīs to the cakra.
In chapter 63 the important subject of the sexual worship of Śaktis is discussed. Śiva describes the heroic sādhanā and says that once semen is emitted using this rite, it should be offered to the Śakti. Sacred substances include semen, menstrual blood and urine, the text says. If a person worships in this manner without being properly initiated, the text warns, it is the equivalent of slaying a Brahmin, and he or she ends up in the different hells available in the Hindu tradition and they are legion. You cannot adopt this method by reading it from a book, it continues.
In chapter 64, the subject of creating a pavitrā is alluded to, together with the ritual method for consecrating it. The last,The last, 65th chapter, speaks, in some detail, of a rite of subjugation.