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Śrī Mahākāla Deva
The highest sādhaka who recites a mantra whilst holding the rosary of human skullbone holds in his hand the eight siddhis, and is like the imperishable Shambhu. As the Ganges is situated at the top of one’s head, what need is there to bathe in the (external) Ganges? Whosoever is devoted to the great rosary of human skullbone gains the merit of bathing in all sacred waters such as Varanasi, Kamarupa, Haridvara, Prayaga, River Gandaki, Vadarika and the Ganges Delta – Matrikabhedatantra IV, 27-29
The male spouse of Mahākālī is the outwardly frightening Mahākāla (Great Time), whose meditation image (dhyāna), mantra and yantra is given in the Shaktisamgama Tantra.
According to this work, the mantra of Mahākāla is Hūṃ Hūṃ Mahakala praside praside Hrīṃ Hrīṃ Svāhā. The seer of the mantra is Kālīkā, it is pronounced in the Viraṭ meter, the bīja of the mantra is Hūṃ, the shakti is Hrīṃ and the linchpin is Svāhā.
Mahākāla has four arms and three eyes, and is of the brilliance of 10,000,000 black fires of dissolution, dwells in the midst of eight cremation grounds, is adorned with eight skulls, seated on five corpses, holding a trident, a ḍamaru, a sword and a kharpa in his hands.
With a beautiful body adorned with ashes from the cremation ground, on various corpses he dallies with Kālīkā, fondling her and making love with her and fiercely kissing her, surrounded by numbers of loudly shrieking vultures and jackals, adorned with a heap of braided hair, in a deserted place.
Kālīkā is of the form of the void, ornamented with skulls, with a sweet and charming face, in the midst of that five-fold love-yantra. Her yoni is the wheel of time (kalacakra), the tantra states.
Then follow various meditations that his devotees can perform.
“Meditate on Ganapati in the Muladhara, in the linga on Ganapati’s beloved one, in the navel Vatuka Natha, in the heart on Vatuka Natha’s beloved one, in the throat Oddiyana Pitha, in the brow the auspicious blazing one, in the forehead Karavira, and in the lock of hair Kshetrapala.”
[Kshetrapala is lord or protector of the place. According to the Tantrarāja Tantra, Śiva bestowed a boon on him which made him unconquerable in the three worlds. The only way the gods could subdue him was by 64 of them sitting on him at once.]
“Meditate on Devī Kālīkā in the trikona, in the six petals the six limbs, in the navel the Śaktis of the directions, in the heart the twelve suns, in the throat the sixteen kalas of the moon, in the two-petalled lotus Kāla and Kālī together.
“On the head Kalika, the mother holding dominion over the void; in the forehead the Khecari; on the brow the Dikcari; in the heart the Gocari; in the navel the Bhucari; in the linga the Khaga; and in the Muladhara Vicitra ”
[These are various classes of Śakti, some of which help the sādhaka towards his goal and some of which throw up obstacles.]
“In the forehead the sun, in the right eye the lord of time, in the left eye the lord of fire, in the throat Kālikā, in the heart the demon-born, in the navel the demon Siddhas.
“Meditate in the head on Brahmī with Manthana-Bhairava; in the forehead Maheshvari with Satcakra-Bhairava; in the throat Kaumari with Phatkara Bhairava; in the heart Vaishnavi with Vibhaksha Bhairava; in the navel Varahi with Viresha Bhairava; in the genitals Indrani with Shrimanteshvara Bhairava; in the Muladhara Camunda with Hamsa Garbha Bhairava; in all the limbs Mahalakshmi with Candikeshvara Bhairava.”
[These are the eight Siddha Devis, together with the eight Bhairavas, or Terrible Ones.]
Hymn to Mahākāla Shani Mrityunjaya
There is a remarkable hymn attributed to the Martandabhairava Tantra which identifies Mahakala with Shani, or the planet Saturn, as well as with Mrityunjaya, or Shiva as conqueror of death. According to various sources, in the past there were five schools of tantra: the Shakta, which worshipped Devi; the Shaiva, which worshipped Shiva; the Ganapatya, which worshipped the elephant-god Ganesh; the Vaishnava, which worshipped Vishnu in his various forms; and the Saura. While the Saura were nominally worshippers of the Sun, in practice, they worshipped the son of the Sun, Shani. Here we translate the hymn to Mahakala Shani Mrityunjaya into English:
Shambhu Mahakala Shani, his body of sapphire hue, beautiful, celestial, resembling the cremation fire, holding axe, trident, arrow and a bow, enemy of the Puras and the conqueror of all other demons, sitting on the Meru mountain peak, in a state of samarasa, was bowed to by Gauri, and questioned.
Parvati said: Holy god of all gods, cause of devotion and grace, tell me what lengthens life, you have not talked of this before. Tell me about your mighty form which promotes friendship in the worlds. Tell me about your special Mahakala form. Relate the hymn of praise to Shani Mrityunjaya, who gives freedom from time, bestows immortality, destroys untimely disease and give the Shani mantra particular to this hymn!
Ishvara said: Gauri, I always love you because you love the universe! This is the highest secret of all secrets, heavenly, the cause of creation in the universe. I am going to tell you the hymn of Shani Mrityunjaya. It gives good luck, kills all enemies, cures all disease, saves from accidental death, and promotes good health and longevity.
Gauri, if you love me, hide this carefully! Maheshvari, listen to that which is hidden in all tantras!
Pippalada is the seer (rishi) of this mantra-song of Shri Mahakala Shani Mrityunjaya. Anustubh is the metre. Mahakala Shani is the god. Sham is the seed, ayasi is the Shakti, kalapurusa is the kilaka. When reciting it, its result is freedom from untimely death.
Do rishi nyasa, hand nyasa and body nyasa. Place Maha Ugra on the head, Yaivasvata on the mouth, Shani on the mouth, and Mahagraha on the arms. Place Mahakala in the heart, Krisnatanu in the genitals, Tuducara on the knees, and Shanaiscara on the feet.
After doing nyasa according to rule, the body becomes like Shani, the lord of time. Now I will tell you of the meditation nyasa for the body, which a person should do after meditating.
Put the kalpa and its divisions in the hands and limbs. [These are the major divisions of time according to the Hindu viewpoint]
Say: “Hail to you Mrityunjaya! You are Mahakala’s real form and the form of all manvantaras!” Place Kalatma on the body.
Say: “Hail Mahakala!” and meditate on all the limbs.
Meditate on the source of years, saying “Hail to you, conqueror of time.”
Say: “Hail to you, served by eternity!” on the eyes and brow.
Say: “Hail to you Saura,” on the cheeks.
Say: “Hail to you, black looking one!” on the hair.
Say: “Hail to you, lucky Maha Ugra,” on the arms.
[Now follow the 27 naksatras or lunar constellations]
Say: “Hail to you, one hard to see,” putting Asvina on the mouth.
Say: “Hail to you, blue rayed one,” putting Kartika on the throat.
Say: “Hail to you, Maharudra,” putting Margasiras on the arms.
Say: “Hail to you, celestial, strong and unconquerable one,” putting Pausya on the heart.
Say: “Hail to you, revealer of time,” putting Magha on the belly.
Say: “Hail to you, slow mover,” putting Phalguna on the penis.
Say: “Hail to you, source of all,” putting Caitra on the thighs.
Say: “Hail to you, dissolver of the world,” putting Vaisakha on the knees.
Say: “Hail to you, Bhairava,” putting Jyesta on the legs.
Say: “Hail to you, night,” putting Asadh on the feet.
Say: “Hail to you, dark fortnight,” from the feet to the head.
Say: “Hail to you, bright fortnight,” from the top of the head to the feet.
Say: “Hail to you, Saturn, Mula, soles of feet.
Say: “Hail to you, Conquerer of all, Toya all the toes.
Say: “Hail to you, Scorching star, Visva, ankles.
Say: “Hail to you, Star of learning, Visnabha, legs.
Say: “Hail to you, Black rayed one, Dhanista, knees.
Say: “Hail to you, Support of time, Varuna, thighs.
Say: “Hail to you, Having dishevelled and matted locks, Purvabhadra, penis.
Say: “Hail to you, Formidable one, Uttarabhadra, back.
Say: “Hail to you, Slow mover, Revati, navel.
Say: “Hail to you, Dark planet, Hasta, belly.
Say: “Hail to you, Yama, Bhogisraja, breasts.
Say: “Hail to you, Liking sesame, Krittika, heart.
Say: “Hail to you, Axe bearer, Rohini, right hand.
[Now follow the 12 Suns]
Say: “Hail to you, Carrying trident happily, Mrga, left hand.
Say: “Hail to you, Supporting life, Raudra, upper right hand.
Say: “Hail to you, Holding bow, Punarvasu, upper left hand.
Say: “Hail to you, Destroyer, Tisya, right arm.
Say: “Hail to you, Terrifying archer, Sarpa, left arm.
Say: “Hail to you, Smeared in ash, Magha, throat.
Say: “Hail to you, Cruel planet, Bhaga, mouth.
Say: “Hail to you, Yogi, Yama, right nostril.
Say: “Hail to you, Support, Hasta, left nostril.
Say: “Hail to you, Eating little, Tvastra, right ear.
Say: “Hail to you, Made of the absolute, Svati, left ear.
Say: “Hail to you, Knower of things, Visakha, right eye.
[Now different yogas of Hindu astrology follow.]
Say: “Hail to you, Kala, Viskambha, joints of timple.
Say: “Hail to you, Great slow one, Pritiyoga, brow joints.
Say: “Hail to you, Awesome one, Ayusmanyoga, eye joints.
Say: “Hail to you, Giving slow results, Saubhagya, nose joints.
Say: “Hail to you, Lucky being, Éobhana, ear joints.
Say: “Hail to you, Black one, Hanu (?), jaw joints.
Say: “Hail to you, Skeleton, Sukarmana, neck.
Say: “Hail to you, Shadowy son, Dhriti, right shoulder joint.
Say: “Hail to you, Ugra, Shula, shoulder joints.
Say: “Hail to you, Eternally gladdening, Karpura, chest.
Say: “Hail to you, Knowing time, Vrddhi, middle of chest.
Say: “Hail to you, Krishna, Dhruva, wrist joints.
Say: “Hail to you, Skinny one, Vyaghata, back of shoulder.
Say: “Hail to you, Destroying things, Harsana, shoulder joints.
Say: “Hail to you, Blissful, Vajra, elbows.
Say: “Hail to you, Fire of time, Siddhi, centre of chest (?).
Say: “Hail to you, Self of time, Variyasa, right side joints.
Say: “Hail to you, Hail and hail to you, Parigha, left side joints.
Say: “Hail to you, Self evident time, Shiva, right thigh joints.
Say: “Hail to you, One of great mass, Siddhi, right knee joint.
Say: “Hail to you, Terrifying, Sadhya, right ankle joint.
Say: “Hail to you, Raudra, Shubha, right toe joints.
Say: “Hail to you, Knower of time, Shukla, left thigh joint.
Say: “Hail to you, True yogi, Brahmayoga, left knee joint.
Say: “Hail to you, Knower of yoga, Aindra, left ankle joint.
Say: “Hail to you, Gracious one, Vaidhrita, left toe joints.
[Now the seven dhatus or components of the human body according to Ayurveda, follow.]
Say: “Hail to you, Sacrificer, Vavakarana, skin.
Say: “Hail to you, Destroyer, Balava, blood.
Say: “Hail to you, All consumer, Kaulava, bone.
Say: “Hail to you, Lover of flesh, Taitila, flesh.
Say: “Hail to you, All-chewer, Gara, fat.
Say: “Hail to you, Killer of all, Vanija, marrow.
Say: “Hail to you, Wrathful terrible fire, Visti, semen.
Hail to the lord of space, the essence of space, invoked by many, the 100-fold one, the piercer of the Moon!
Hail to the faithful one, the true one, the eternally true one, hail to you lord of siddhas! Hail to you lord of yoga, naked flame, mover, origin of Varuna and time!
Hail to you rising in the ascendant, tall one, guide, moving in direct motion!
Hail to you, crooked one, very cruel one, moving in retrograde motion!
Hail to you in the constellations, to you who moves in the constellations, you who causes the constellations to tremble, you the Natha of constellations, you the giver of results in constellations. Hail to you!
Hail to you, time, supporter of Yama, Agni, Moon and Sun!
Hail to you, planet of Capricorn and Aquarius, exalted in Libra!
[Now the days of the week follow.]
Say: “Hail to you, Black looks, Sunday, forehead.
Say: “Hail to you, Lover of death, Monday, mouth.
Say: “Hail to you, Absolute one, Tuesday, belly.
Say: “Hail to you, Embodied self, Wednesday, penis.
Say: “Hail to you, True form of mantra, Thursday, testicles.
Say: “Hail to you, Cause of results, Friday, anus.
Say: “Hail to you, Skeleton, Saturday, feet.
[Now various divisions of time according to Hindu astrology, follow.]
Say: “Hail to you, Subtle one, ghatikas, in hairs.
Say: “Hail to you, Form of time, killer of all evil, destroyer of the demon Tripura, origin of Shambhu!
Say: “Hail to you, Body of time, origin of time
Say: “Hail to you, varied parts of time, bliss of time.
Say: “Hail to you, Immeasurable measurer
Say: “Hail to you, god of time, time itself, essence of time.
Form of time, Bhairava, both nimesa and mahakalpa. I bow to you Mrtyunjaya Mahakala Shani!
Cause of all, alleviator of all fear, peril and the wicked, I bow to you…
Slayer of all, origin of all planets, cause of all results, I bow to you…
Giver of peace and prosperity to all living beings, I bow to you…
Cause of all happiness and misery, true form of all that exists, I bow to you…
Dispeller of untimely and accidental death, I bow to you…
Form of time, great planet, destroyer of samsara, I bow to you…
One of baleful glance, coarse haired one, terrifying one, long eyed one, I bow to you…
Dispeller of all planets, essence of the planets themselves, I bow to you…
Because you are the essence of time, I bow before you Shani! The whole world and time itself dissolves in you, the god of time! You are the body of time, the self, Shambhu, the Kalatma, the planetary devata!
Artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1975-2022. Translations are © Mike Magee 1975-2022.Questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org