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The Yogini Hridaya
She (Shakti) by whose transformation this creation in the form of objects, words, plexuses, and bodies exists, should of necessity be known by us – Varivasyarahasya, I, 5 (Adyar Edition)
The Yogini Hridaya (Heart of the Yogini), also known as Nitya Hridaya and Sundari Hridaya, is said to be one part of the entire work known as the Nityashodashikarnava (Ocean of the 16 Nityas), the other part being often separately treated as the Vamakeshvara Tantra.
The work, which abounds in elliptical terms and code words peculiar to the Shri Vidya tradition, is divided into three chapters corresponding to three parts (sanketa) described as chakra (or yantra), mantra and puja, or worship.
The Yogini Hridaya belongs to what is known as the Kadi line of Shri Vidya. Kadi means “the letter Ka etc”, and refers to the fifteen lettered mantra which starts ka e I la hrim, which is referred to elsewhere on this Web site.
The well known Shri Yantra is considered to be one with the mantra and with the devata (goddess in this case) known as Shri Shri Mahatripurasundari.
The edition followed here was published as volume seven in the Sarasvati Bhavana Granthamala, with an English introduction by Gopinath Kaviraj, and which also includes two important commentaries known as the Dipika by Amritananda and the Setubhanda of Bhaskararaya. The Yogini Hridaya, in a Sanskrit version, using the iTrans format, may be found here. You can find a Devanagari version of this work here, but will need to install the Sanskrit 98 font first to view it.
It will be helpful to look at this page on Tripurasundari to understand the following abstract, as well as consulting the other documents on Shrikula, referred to from the home page of this site.
The chapter opens with Devi addressing Bhairava. In the first verse she says that in this Vamakeshvara Tantra are many concealed things and she wishes to know the rest which has not yet been revealed. There are 86 verses (shlokas) in this chapter.
Bhairava answers by saying he will reveal the Supreme Heart of the Yogini, which is to be obtained orally, and should not be discriminately revealed.
Shakti is fivefold and refers to creation, while Shiva is fourfold and related to dissolution. The union of the five shaktis and the four fires creates the chakra, that is the Shri Yantra. Shiva and Shakti are Fire and Moon bindus and the contact of both causes the Hardhakala to flow, which becomes the third bindu, Sun, and which gives rise to the Baindava or first chakra. It is this first chakra, the bindu at the centre of the yantra, which gives rise to the nine triangles or navayoni, and these, in turn, cause the nine mandalas of the yantra to blossom. This Baindava or central bindu, is Shiva and Shakti, also referred to in the texts as the light and its mirror.
The ultimate Shakti, by her own will (svecchaya) assumed the form of the universe, first as a pulsating essence, consisting of the vowels of the alphabet. The bindu of the yantra corresponds to dharma, adharma and atma, which also corresponds to matri, meya and prama. The bindu is situated on a dense, flowering mass of lotus, and is self-aware consciousness, the Chitkala. The quivering union of Shiva and Shakti gradually creates the different mandalas of the Shri Yantra, which correspond to different letters of the Sanskrit alphabet.
Kamakala subsists in the Mahabindu (great bindu) and is without parts. The text refers to nine different and successively subtle forms of sound which are beyond the vowels and consonants of the 50 (51) letters of the alphabet.
She is every kind of Shakti, including Iccha (will), Jnana (knowledge) and Kriya (action), and exists as four pithas or sacred centres, represented by the letters Ka(marupa), Pu(rnagiri), Ja(landhara) and Od(ddiya). These seats exist in the microcosm between anus and genitals, at the heart, in the head, and in the bindu above the head, and have the forms of square, hexagon in a circle with a bindu, a crescent moon and a triangle, and are of the colours yellow, purple, white and red.
These also correspond to three lingams, which are known as Svayambhu, Bana, Itara and Para, which are situated in the pithas and are coloured gold, bhanduka red, and like the autumn moon.
The vowels, which are divided into three, are situated in the svayambhu lingam, the letters Ka to Ta are associated with the bana lingam, the letters Tha to Sa are in the kadamba region, while the entire circle of the letters, the matrika, are associated with the para or supreme lingam, which is one with the essence of the bindu of the yantra, and is the root of the tree of supreme bliss.
These different elements of speech, which are the kulakaula, are also the sections of the mantra. Further, these sections correspond to the waking state, to dream, to deep sleep and to the turiya or fourth. Beyond this is the absolute supreme which by its own will emanates the cosmos and is also one with the cosmos, the union of measure, measurer and the measured, the triple peaks, and the very self of Iccha, Jnana and Kriya shaktis. The universe has the appearance of emanating from the unmanifest Kameshvara and Kameshvari.
The noose which Tripurasundari holds is Iccha, the goad is Jnana, and the bow and arrows are Kriya shakti, says Bhairava. By the blending of the refuge (Shiva-Kameshvara) and Shri (Shakti-Kameshvari), the eight other mandalas of the Shri Yantra come into creation. The remaining shlokas (verses) of this chapter deal with the creation of the other mandalas of the yantra.
Bhairava tells the Devi he will describe the mantra. Knowing this, a vira (hero) becomes like Tripura herself. There are 85 verses in this chapter.
According to the text, each of the nine mandalas of the Shri Yantra have a particular form of Tripurasundari presiding over them, and a particular vidya appropriate to each. According to the text, these forms are Tripuradevi, Tripureshvari, Tripurasundari, Tripuravasini, Tripurashri, Tripuramalini, Tripurasiddhi, Tripurambika, and the ninth is Mahatripurasundari. Verse 12 says that they should be worshipped in this order in the nine chakras (that is mandalas).
The mantra may be understood in six different ways: bhavartha, sampradaya, nigama, kaulika, sarvarahasya, and mahatattva.
The text then proceeds to outline the significance of these different ways to understand the meanings (artha). The eighteenth century sadhaka, Bhaskararaya, delineates the meaning of these in his work Varivasyarahasya, which is available with the Sanskrit text and an English translation in the Adyar Library series (see Bibliography). This work also includes a detailed chart which shows the threefold divisions of Tripurasundari as well as the nine subtle forms of speech beyond the letters of the alphabet.
Bhavartha is related to the fifteen lettered Kadi vidya mantra. Removing the three Hrims from the mantra shows the essential nature of Shiva and Shakti. The goddess embodies the 36 tattvas and is identical with this mantra. This meaning shows the essential sameness of devi, mantra and the cosmos.
The sampradaya meaning shows the identity of the mantra with the five elements of aether, air, fire, water and earth; the fifteen letters of the mantra and the senses of sound, touch, image, taste and smell. Says Bhaskaraya: “As there is no difference between the cause and its effect, between the thing signified (vachya) and the word which signifies the thing (vachaka), and between Brahman and the universe, so also the universe and this Vidya are identical [in relation to each other].”
The Nigarbha meaning shows the identity of the supreme devata with the guru, and because of the grace of the guru, one’s own self.
The Kaulika meaning is that she, the supreme goddess, rays out her attendant shaktis one with her. So, she is Iccha, Jnana and Kriya; the fire, the sun and the moon; and the nine planets and other celestial phenomena, as well as the objects of the senses, the senses, and other constituent parts which are also present in the microcosm. In this form she is Ganeshi, and a nyasa representing her in this way can be found elsewhere on this site. Again, her shaktis and her are inseparable and this is represented by her inseparability from the Shri Yantra.
The secret (Rahasya) meaning of the mantra is the union of the Devi with the 50 letters which represent 16 Moon kalas, 12 Sun kalas, and 10 Fire kalas, corresponding to the Kulakundalini, which extends from the base chakra, shoots through the brow chakra and then beyond, causing a flow of amrita or nectar to drench the body. She sleeps, she wakes, and she sleeps again, and once more, is identical with mantra, yantra, guru and the shining own self. The supreme absolute is one with Shiva and Shakti. The tattva meaning is that she is one with the 36 tattvas, also with the letters of the alphabet and the forms they take. Breath, as well as time, is the form of the Devi Tripurasundari. The practical application of these concepts is to be learned at the feet of the guru, himself or herself one with the goddess.
This is called the Puja Sanketa, or section relating to worship in three senses described as para, parapara and apara. This, much longer chapter, has 206 verses.
The first consists of identity with the supreme absolute, the second of meditation (bhavana), while the third is related to ritual worship. (See Subhagodaya, elsewhere on this site).
This chapter mostly deals with nyasa, and starts with the sixfold nyasa related to ganeshas, grahas (planets), the 27 nakshatras, the six yoginis of the bodily dhatus, the rashis or 12 sidereal constellations and the pithas, a translation of which may be found elsewhere on this site. There is also a description of this six fold nyasa in the Gandharva Tantra.
It follows with the Shri Chakra nyasa, from the Nityotsava, which, once more, is translated.
Other nyasas, including hand nyasa are outlined, along with the daily puja of Tripurasundari and descriptions of the attendants (avarana devatas) to be found in the nine mandalas of the yantra.
The chapter closes with an admonition that the details of this tantra should be concealed and not revealed to anyone who is not initiated into the practice.
Artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1975-2021. Translations are © Mike Magee 1975-2021.Questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org