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The Netra Tantra
The consonant Ka (क), of all the letters of the alphabet, is the form of Mūlaprakṛti. Therefore, by every effort, one should worship the letter Ka, dearest – Kāmadhenutantra XVII
The Netra Tantra is attributed to the school of Kashmir Shaivism and is usually printed with a commentary by Kṣemarāja. Here is chapter one, translated for the first time into English. Chapter 10 of this tantra, also translated, can be viewed here.
The work, divided into 22 adhikāras of uneven length, centres around Mṛtyuñjaya , here described as Amṛteśa, and his cluster of śaktis. Chapter one is below. In chapter two, there is discussion of the three śaktis Icchā, Jñānā and Kriyā. Chapter three is concerned with the pūjā (yaga) of Mṛtyuñjaya , while chapter five discusses initiation (dīkṣā).
In chapter six, the rules of abhiṣeka (bathing) are given, while chapter seven deals with Amṛteśa, or Śiva as god of amṛta or nectar. This has gross, subtle and supreme meanings, the text says.
Chapter seven is interesting because it must well have inspired the Siddhasiddhantapadhati, enumerating the six cakras, the sixteen adharas, the three lakṣyās and the five vyomas (aethers), as well as the granthis and the nāḍīs within the body.
Chapter eight deals with yoga of the tantras, while chapter nine begins to discuss the different tantrik divisions known as Vāma, Dakṣiṇā, Siddhanta, Saura and Vaiṣṇava, and how they relate to the Vedas. Amṛteśa, says Bhairava in the text, is pure, like crystal and extends everywhere, giving the fruit of all agamas (sacred texts). The chapter gives different meditation images of Śiva. Chapter ten is translated elsewhere on this site.
Chapter eleven, devoted to the Uttaramnaya, starts with a dhyāna of Tumburu, who is of the colour of dazzling white snow, or the kuṇḍa flower. Śaktis mentioned in this chapter include Jambhani, Mohani, Subhaga and Durbhaga. Chapter twelve concerns the Kulamnaya, and outlines the maṇḍala of Bhairava and different śaktis and worship conducted there. More meditation images are contained in chapter thirteen, which also contains a rare dhyāna of Brahma. This teaching is open to all, be they female, male and of whatever caste and hue. Brahma is described as having four arms, handsome, red in colour, effulgent, seated on Haṃsa (a swan, but here meaning the mantra). He holds a staff, a rosary of akṣas, a jewelled water pot and the four Vedas.
In chapter fourteen, the role of this mantra and Icchā, Jñānā and Kriya Śaktis are discussed, and the supremacy of the mantra. Chapter fifteen describes how Amṛteśa’s mantra is all protective, while the next chapter describes different siddhis obtained from the worship. That topic is continued in chapter seventeen, which also covers the kavaca.
Chapter eighteen is devoted to Amṛteśvarī, or the śaktī of Amṛita, as well as describing the purifications that mantras must receive to become successful. Chapter nineteen is long, with 226 ślokas (verses). It starts with the Devī asking Śiva to describe afflictions caused by bhūtas, pretas, yakṣas, piśācas , rakṣas and the like, and how they can be prevented. Chapter twenty deals with the yoginīs, such as Sākinī and others of the bodily dhātus. Chapter twenty one discusses the nature of mantra, while the last chapter concludes with the great merit of Amṛteśa (Mrtyunjaya’s) mantra.
Hail to the ordainer of destiny, the being who manifests three ways in the three worlds, the possessor of Śakti who creates, maintains and destroys in the cosmos, the being whose nature is amṛta, Śiva, the supreme essence of Brahma, Viṣṇu and Iśa.
Seated on Kailāśa Peak is the god of gods, Māheśvara, Hara, the altar of dalliance, with his hosts and his spouse Parvatī.
Having seen the happy god, and with the desire of benefiting living beings, suddenly Parvatī left his side, and grasping his feet, questioned the contented Parameśvara in a very devoted way.
Śrī Devī said: Lord god of gods, Lokānātha, lord of the cosmos, you have accomplished a great miracle, a cause of astonishment. You are god of all that exists, but my supreme master.
This secret, hard to distinguish and difficult to accomplish, is unknown to Kārtikeya, to me, to the gods or to the ganas. It is certainly unknown to lords of yoga, to the Mātṛkās, to the ṛṣis and to the yogis.
Lord of creation, speak now of this, if you are kindly disposed towards me! O Lord, I entreat you by your obligation to speak fully.
Thus having heard the words of Devī, the one with the smiling face spoke: Ask anything you wish, O one with beautiful hips. The secret is in your heart. I will certainly speak fully. You please me, O pure one!
Devī said: Bhagavan, lord god of gods, cause of various miracles, beautiful one of miraculous appearance, I wish to hear of that not already revealed. Handsome lord, I want to hear about the cause of the utmost bliss, to be related to me by you.
The all-seeing eye is made of water, Deva. How, then, may it become fiery and wrathful, flaming and burning up time? Saturn was reduced to ashes by the power of this eye. Deva, how is such wrath produced, that fire which desires to burn time? It consumes all creation, destroying Brahma and all that is permanent.
In a similar way, Parameśvara, Kāma was burned up by its play. What is this cruel, fiery eye, O Nātha, which is always invisible yet is the cause of great miracles? How does fire come to be within this eye? Who does it see? How may an eye be made of fire? Why is it invisible? O cosmic lord, how comes it that this eye, the essence of immortality, augmenting the whole cosmos, has given birth to the cosmos?
Deva, these graceful nectar-like eyes are the cause of my bliss and behind the process of creation. How may this fire known as the fire of time come to create? Bhagavan, I want you to answer all this.
Śrī Bhagavan said: I am moved by the great eagerness of your questions. Listen, dearest, I will speak of all relating to the fire and ultimate nectar which is within my eye and of its yoga.
Its real nature is without origin, pure, pervading all and omnipresent. It is within all living creatures and present in the hearts of all things, attained by yoga, difficult to accomplish, hard to attain for all beings.
It is like my own semen, self-knowledge, my supreme part. It is the essence of all semen, the strongest of the strong. Certainly, and without any doubt, it is the quintessence of all ojas, eternity itself.
From me came she known as supreme Icchā Śakti, one with Śakti, born from my own nature. Just as fire and heat and the sun and its rays are inseparable, so also Śakti herself, the cause of creation, is inseparable from the cosmos.
Within her is that which is both manifest and unmanifest. She is all-knowing, with all qualities, manifested as Icchā, Jñānā and Kriyā and so forth, and in her, knowledge, the six qualities and everything else are situated. All light dwells in her.
She is the essence of Mahākriyā, the unified mother of action. She both creates and destroys and is the very self of Anima and the rest of the eight siddhis. Thus, these three Śaktis of mine are called Icchā, Jñānā and Kriyā, it is said. In me dwell the three playful abodes of Sun, Moon and Fire. In the play of my magnificent three eyes is the substance of these three. I create, sustain and destroy the universe.
I am the dwelling place of the three bodies and of creation, maintenance and dissolution. My effulgent and life-giving semen pervades all. With my forms of Icchā, Jñānā and Kriyā I am the ultimate eye nectar.
This semen is the supreme realm, the highest form of nectar, supreme bliss, the quintessence, complete knowledge, pure, the core of the three eyes. This is called the Mṛtyuñjaya (conqueror of death) and gives success to all. He (Mṛtyuñjaya Śiva) is the giver of success, the supreme divinity, liberating from all sorrows, the god destroying all ailments, removing all delusions, Śiva, the alleviator of poverty, eternal, conqueror of death, permeating all, infallible, without stain, peaceful, all-giving, all-liberating.
His brightness is equal to 1,000 million suns and 1,000 million fires, liberating from the sixteen kalas, effulgence itself, unassailable by gods or demons. With my fiery eye I burn everything in an instant and I may also create and maintain. There is nothing greater than this certain semen- like the thing seen everywhere, the essence of vajra, taking one to the state of Rudra, like a renowned sword which is death to all enemies and stops all elementals, weapons and arms.
This one semen becomes multifold, diffusing itself limitlessly with many variations. The magnificence of this great Pāśupata is that it is like Viṣṇu’s discus or Brahma’s staff and is the very essence of all weapons. Appearing in various forms, this weapon spreads in many ways. My semen creates the different gods themselves.
I, the lord of yoga, through my own Śakti, manifested the entire cosmos. She is the supreme protectress from fears and anxieties, allaying fear, destroying enemies and the supreme giver of liberation, most certainly. O Beautiful One, even great poetry could not describe the greatness of this!
This great thing, the giver of grace, the most excellent boon giver, causes manifestation, maintenance and the great intensity of Rudra. It should be regarded as immeasurable, knowledge itself, the great power of mantra, the protector of all the elements. Very hidden, you should always conceal it. Devī, it has now been revealed to you. What else do you wish to ask?
Artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1975-2022. Translations are © Mike Magee 1975-2022.Questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org