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Even Shiva bereft of Kundalini Shakti becomes a corpse (Shava) – Devi Bhagavata
This tiny Sanskrit work, the rosary or garland of the nine gems of the Nathas, is found in the 1953 Ganesh & Co version of Sir John Woodroffe’s translation and text of the work on Shri Vidya Kamakalavilasa. Ascribed to Maheshanatha, the text includes a commentary by the renowned Shri Vidya upasaka Bhaskararaya (Bhasuranandanath).
The briefness of the text, reproduced in iTrans format below but without Bhaskaraya’s commentary, belies its importance, as it deals with the number symbolism of nine and how this relates to the 21,600 breaths a human is supposed to take in a day, as well as the identity of these with the matrikas, or letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, the Shri Yantra, and time itself.
As the first shloka says, Hamsah is the gayatri mantra produced by the breathing, and this is one with the unconscious recitation of the mantra so.aha.m, pervading all human beings.
Sir John Woodroffe says in a commentary to his translation of the Anandalahari (Wave of Bliss), published in 1916: “Shiva can do nothing without Shakti which is of threefold aspect of Iccha (will), Jnana (knowledge) and Kriya (action). The author here speaks of the Mantra Hamsah. Ham is the Bija of Shiva and Sah that of Shakti. Ham+Sah = Hamsah = Sah+Ham = So Ham = So’Ham = Sa+Aham, So Ham being Sah+Ham = Shakti+Shiva; if S and H be eliminated therefrom there remains Ong or Om the Pranava…”
The Navanaths of the title of this work are, in the Tantrarajatantra, linked to the nine orifices of the human body, and to the nine mandalas of the Shri Yantra.
As a human being, in these schools, is considered as a microcosm, the in-breathing and the out-breathing symbolise the creation and the dissolution of the universe. The realisation of Ha+Sa, Sun and Moon, Shiva and Shakti, in-breathing and out-breathing is to become one with the universe itself.
But this, according to these schools, cannot be achieved without a yogic understanding of the other effects of the wheel of time, one, as the Yoginihridaya states, with the mandalas of the Shri Chakra, the letters of the alphabet (sound/mantra), and the Shaktis or attendants of the goddess.
Some of these Shaktis, as the introduction to the Malinivijayottaratantra have the function of preventing such a realisation, while others foster this. Further, according to various texts and commentaries of Kashmir Shaivism, ignorance and other defects also prevent the realisation of one’s essential unity with Shiva-Shakti. The normal course of creation is pravritti, an expansion or flowing outward. The sadhaka is to cultivate nivritti, ulta sadhana – a reverse movement, or kaya sadhana – cultivation of the body.
This may have little or much to do with ritual worship (puja), which if performed without an inner realisation of the principles it embodies is considered to be mummery.
The different nyasas of the Shri Vidya tradition are intended to bring to a sadhaka the realisation of his or her essential unity with the matrikas, with the constellations (rashi) planets (graha) which includes the Sun and the Moon) and the 27 asterisms (nakshatra), and breath itself.
Practical ways to achieve this realisation are reputed to be the inner tradition of sadhana taught in some schools, and which may include a number of different methods. Some of these may require an intense struggle because an individual, not realising that she or he is Shiva-Shakti, instead identifies with partial aspects or Shaktis.
The Tantrarajatantra hints at some of these methods, such as the way the grahas or planets influence the breath and therefore prevent this realisation as they affect the musculature and other parts of the human bionergetic web. Freeing oneself from these misidentifications also frees up the natural flow of Pranashakti (herself one with the supreme Devi), in the body.
A teacher who understands the movement of these currents (nadis) and the relationship between the wheel of time (Kalachakra), divinity, and the body itself is said to be a requisite in these different tantrik schools.
(Kindly send any corrections to the Sanskrit text to Mike Magee)
Artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1975-2021. Translations are © Mike Magee 1975-2021.Questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org