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Devīrahasya Tantra

As water merges in water, as fire merges in fire, as (the void within) a broken pot dissolves in aether, and as air merges with air, so too the brahmana and brahmani dissolve in the supreme essence by drinking wine. Mountain Born One, there is no doubt about it! – Matrikabheda Tantra, III,34-35

The Devīrahasya was first published in the Kashmir Series of Texts and Studies in 1941 – a straight reprint was published by Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan in 1993. It ascribes itself to the Rudrayāmala, but the original editor, M.S. Kaul, says in a brief English introduction, that because of references inside the text, it’s clear that the compilation was created by a Kashmiri writer, a long time after Muslims and Europeans made their way into India.

The work is divided into two halves, and the edition also includes the Uddhārakośa, a dictionary of tāntrik mantras and code, which draws on 47 other tāntrik sources. The first half has 25 chapters, while the second half has 35 chapters containing the pañcāṅgas or manuals of a whole series of different devatā. An appendix also contains more pañcāṅgas of different devatās.

A pañcāṅga, as its name implies, has five parts, or limbs, covering the ritual details a sādhaka needs to know. Those five parts, typically, consist of a chapter outlining the mantra, yantra, dhyāna and prayoga (application) of a devatā; the pūjā or worship of the devatā; the kavaca or armour of the devatā; the 1,000 names of the devatā; and the stotra or hymn of praise of the devatā. There is little philosophy here.

Practically the entire contents of the Devīrahasya deals with mantra, yantra, pūjā and sādhanā of the different gods and goddesses discussed, and it contains a large number of the ritual manuals, or pañcāṅgas. Rahasya means ‘secret’, and the work does cover most of the topics a sādhaka would need to know.

These include puraścaraṇa, which is the preparatory work before recitation of mantra (japa) can start. This is very arduous, involving the recitation of mantra and a ritual which spans many hours. The Devīrahasya, however, introduces some short-cuts for the Kaula initiate. Chapter one opens with two salutations, oṃ namaḥ śrīgaṇeśāya namaḥ and namastripurasundaryai.

Bhairava starts by saying he will reveal the very marvellous secret (rahasya) spoken of in all tantras and yāmalas. Devī, hailing him as the lord of Kaulikas, asks him to reveal the secret to her. The rest of the chapter, which has 88 verses, deals with the characteristics of guru and pupil, with the planetary positions and times of initiation, and with the attendant disqualifications on both pupils and gurus. It also deals with the sequence of initiation, the purification of the disciple, and the initiation of śaktis.

The different mantras of a number of forms of devatā are revealed in chapter two. The forms of Devī mentioned in verses 2-6 are Tripurā, Tryakṣarī, Bālā (an aspect of Tripurasundarī as a young girl), Tripurabhairavī, Kālikā, Bhadrakālī, Mātaṅgī, Bhuvaneśvarī, Ugratārā. Chinnaśīrṣā, Sumukhī, Sarasvatī, Annapūrṇā, Mahālakṣmī, Śārikā, Śāradā, Indrakṣī, Bagalā, Turyā, Rājñī, Jvālāmukhī, Bhīḍā, Kālarātri, Bhavānī, Vajrayoginī, Vārāhī, Siddhalakṣmī, Kulavāgīśvarī, Padmāvatī, Kubjikā, Gaurī, Śrīkhecarī, Nīlasarasvatī, and Parāśakti.

Bhairava says he will also reveal Śaiva mantras of Mṛtyuñjaya, Amṛteśa, Vaṭuka, Maheśvara, Śiva, Sadāśiva, Rudra, Mahādeva, Karālaka, Vikarāla, Nīlakaṇṭha, Paśupati, Mṛḍa, Pinākī, Giriśa, Bhīma, Gaṇeśa, Kumāra, Krodhana, Iśa, Kapālī, Krūrabhairava, Saṃhāra, Īśvara, Bharga, Ruru, Kālāgni, Aghora, Mahākāla, and Kāmeśvara.

In verses 11 of Devīrahasya he says he will reveal the Vaiṣṇava mantras of Lakṣmīnārāyaṇa, Rādhākṛṣṇa, Viṣṇu-Nṛsiṃha, Varāha, Jāmadagni, Sītārāma, Janārdana, Viśvaksena, and Vāsudeva. Bhairava says in verse 14 that these high mantras of Śakti, Śiva and Viṣṇu should be recited by the best of sādhakas. They should be concealed from others.

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The Devī mantras are then given in code form, but a commentary to these verses gives the meaning of the codes. The eight syllable mantra of Bālā is aiṃ klīṃ sauh bālāyai namaḥ. The 15 syllable mantra of Bālā is ka e ī la hrīṃ ha sa ka ha la hrīṃ sa ka la hrīṃ. The 16 syllable mantra of Bālā is śrīṃ hrīṃ klīṃ aiṃ sauh oṃ hrīṃ śrīṃ ka e ī la hrīṃ ha sa ka ha la hrīṃ sa ka la hrīṃ sauh aiṃ klīṃ hrīṃ śrīṃ.

The 22 syllable queen of vidyas of Kālī is krīṃ krīṃ krīṃ hūṃ hūṃ hrīṃ hrīṃ dakṣine kālike krīṃ krīṃ krīṃ hūṃ hūṃ hrīṃ hrīṃ svāhā. Bhadrākālī’s great mantra is krīṃ krīṃ krīṃ hūṃ hūṃ hrīṃ hrīṃ bhaiṃ bhādrakālī bhaim hrīṃ hrīṃ hūṃ hūṃ hūṃ hūṃ krīṃ krīṃ krīṃ svāhā. The mantra of Rājamātaṅginī is oṃ hrīṃ rājamātaṅginī mama sarvārthasiddhiṃ dehi dehi phaṭ svāhā.

The vidya of Bhuvaneśvavari is hrīṃ bhuvaneśvaryai namaḥ. The mantra of Ugratārā is oṃ hrīṃ strīṃ hūṃ phaṭ. Chinnmastā’s 12 lettered mantra is revealed as śrīṃ hrīṃ hrīṃ aiṃ vajravairocanīye hrīṃ hrīṃ phaṭ svāhā. The mantra of Sumukhī is revealed as oṃ klīṃ ucchiṣṭtacaṇḍālini sumukhīdevi mahāpiśācini hrīṃ ṭhah ṭhah ṭhah svāhā.

Sarasvatī’s mantra is revealed to be oṃ hrīṃ aiṃ hrīṃ oṃ sarasvatyai namaḥ. The mantra of Annapūrṇā uncoded, is oṃ hrīṃ śrīṃ klīṃ namo bhagavati māheśvarī annapūrṇe svāhā. The great mantra of Mahālakṣmī is described as oṃ hrīṃ śrīṃ klīṃ aiṃ sauh mahālakṣmī prasida prasida śrīṃ ṭhah ṭhah ṭhah svāhā.

Śārikā’s mantra is oṃ hrīṃ śrīṃ hūṃ phrāṃ āṃ śāṃ śārikāyai namaḥ. The mantra of Śāradā is, decoded, oṃ hrīṃ klīṃ sah namo bhagavatyai śāradāyai hrīṃ svāhā. The mantra of Indrākṣī is oṃ śrīṃ hrīṃ aiṃ sauh klīṃ indrākṣī vajrahaste phaṭ svāhā. Bagalāmukhī’s mantra is given as oṃ hlīṃ bagalāmukhi sarvaduṣṭānāṃ vācaṃ mukhaṃ padaṃ stambhaya jihvāṃ kīlaya kīlaya hrīṃ uṃ svāhā.

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The mantra of Mahāturī is oṃ truṃ trauṃ troṃ mahāturyai namaḥ. The mantra of Mahārājñi is revealed to be oṃ hrīṃ śrīṃ rāṃ klīṃ sauh bhagavatyai rājñyai hrīṃ svāhā. The mantra of Jvālāmukhī is oṃ hrīṃ śrīṃ jvālāmukhi mama sarvaśatrūn bhakṣaya bhakṣaya phaṭ svāhā. Next is Bhīḍā, whose mantra is revealed to be oṃ hrīṃ śrīṃ hsraiṃ aiṃ klīṃ sauh Bhīḍābhagavati haṃsarūpi svāhā.

According to the Devīrahasya, the mantra of Kālarātri is oṃ aiṃ hrīṃ klīṃ śrīṃ kālarātri sarvaṃ vaśyaṃ kuru kuru vīryaṃ dehi gaṇeśvaryai namaḥ. The mantra of Bhavānī is revealed as oṃ śrīṃ śrīṃ oṃ oṃ hrīṃ śrīṃ śrīṃ hūṃ phaṭ. The mantra of Vajrayoginī is oṃ hrīṃ vajrayoginiyai svāhā. The mantra of Dhūmravārāhī is aiṃ glauā laṃ aiṃ namo bhagavati vārtāli vārtāli vārāhī devate varāhamukhi aiṃ glauṃ ṭhah ṭhah phaṭ svāhā.

The mantra of Siddhalakṣmī is oṃ śrīṃ śrīṃ hrīṃ hsauh aiṃ klīṃ sauh siddhalakṣmyai namaḥ. The mantra of Kulavāgīśvarī is oṃ klīṃ hraṃ śrīṃ hūṃ jhaṃ jhaṣahaste kulavāgīśvarī aiṃ ṭhah jhaṃ ṭhah strīṃ ṭhah svāhā. The mantra of Padmāvatī is oṃ hrīṃ śrīṃ klīṃ bluṃ padmāvati mama varaṃ dehi dehi phaṭ svāhā.

The mantra of Kubjikā is revealed as oṃ śrīṃ prīṃ kubjike devi hrīṃ ṭhah svāhā. The mantra of Gaurī is oṃ śrīṃ hrīṃ glauṃ gaṃ gauri gīṃ svāhā. Nīlasarasvatī’s mantra is oṃ hrāṃ aiṃ hūṃ nīlasarasvatī phaṭ svāhā. The mantra of Parāśakti is oṃ śrīṃ hrīṃ klīṃ sauh hsauh parāśaktyai aiṃ svāhā. There is a total of 71 verses in this chapter.

Chapter three gives the different Śaiva mantras such as: Mṛtyuñjaya (Śiva as conqueror of death), Amṛteśa (lord of nectar), Vaṭukabhairava (Śiva in His aspect as a terrifying boy), Maheśvara, Śiva, Sadāśiva, Rudra, Mahādeva, Karāla (formidable one), Vikarāla, Nīlakaṇṭha, Sarva, Paśupati (lord of beasts), Mṛḍa, Pinākī, Giriśa, Bhīma, Mahāgaṇapati, Kumāra, Krodhana, Iśa, Kapālī, Krūrabhairava (cruel Bhairava), Saṃhārabhairava (dissolution Bhairava), ṛśvara, Bharga, Rurubhairava, Kālāgnibhairava, Sadyojata (instantly arising), Aghora, Mahākāla and Kāmeśvara.

There are 32 verses in this chapter.

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Chapter four of the Devīrahasya gives the different mantras of Viṣṇu as outlined in the first chapter. There are only 13 verses in this chapter. Chapters five to seven describe various processes that must be applied to the different mantras given in chapters two to four, which prepare them for use by a sādhaka. Not only can you not use a mantra from a book, but you have to perform a series of measures before it is ready to be recited

The different utkīlana (laying open) of the mantras for Śakti, for Śiva and Viṣṇu are given in chapter five. These are mantras which themselves open the mantras up to use.

Chapter six gives the formulae to vitalise these mantras, called sañjīvana. As if that wasn’t enough, some mantras have curses attached to them, so in chapter seven there are strings of formulae, used with each of the different mantras, to remove these effects.

In chapter eight, Bhairava describes the sādhanā to recite mantras (japa). If, by the grace of guru, a man is given a mantra, he becomes eloquent, wealthy, victorious, someone who enjoys life, and a king. After, he comes to resemble Bhairava himself. He should choose a propitious astrological time, and having bowed to the two feet of his guru, he should prepare a triangle using sindura powder, and there should worship the guru, offering scent, pleasant clothes, incense and the like.

He should satisfy the guru by offering gifts and kula nectar. On a Sunday, having bowed to the guru, he should recite the mantra 108 times, after doing nyāsa, and offering homa and oblation. In verse 15, Devī asks Bhairava to speak more fully about japa.

Bhairava says the way to recite the mantra is of two kinds – with qualities and without qualities. With qualities, the mantra should be recited with the 50 mātṛkās. There are 30 verses in this chapter.

Chapter nine, in 57 verses, deals with saṃpuṭa, ‘putting together’ of the mantras described in chapters two to four.

Chapter 10, in 36 verses, deals with puraścaraṇa, the performance of acts by which a given mantra may be made efficacious. A mantra only brings success by using this process. It is performed by reciting a mantra 400,000, 200,000 or 100,000 times. It should be performed under a fig tree, in the wilderness, in the cremation ground, in a desert, or at a crossroads.

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The Devīrahasya says the process should be started at midnight or midday. Puraścaraṇa should be done under auspicious astrological configurations after having first worshipped one’s own guru. A yantra is described which should be used in its application. Bījā mantras are placed in the cardinal and middle directions. The yantra consists of a bindu, a hexagon, a circle, eight petals, another circle, and an earth square.

Various deities are worshipped in the different parts of this yantra, and in the centre Śiva, along with the desired Devī, receives worship. The sādhaka has to fill four pots at the cardinal points. Gaṇeśa, Bhāratī, Durgā and Kṣetrapāla are worshipped in the pots. After, the recitation begins. A sādhaka is to make offerings at every 10th recitation.

But at the end of this chapter, alternative methods of doing this preparatory act are described for the Kaula. These are through sexual intercourse with an initiated śakti, by reciting the mantra during the birth of a child of the in-group, performing the puraścaraṇa on a dead body in a cremation ground, reciting it during the time the sun takes to rise and set, or performing it in the course of a solar or lunar eclipse. The mantra is to be recited a lakh times, giving oblation at every 10th recitation.

Chapter 11 continues the topic of the previous chapter, and describes the homa which should be done. There are 42 verses in this chapter. Chapter 12 describes in code form the unfolding of the different yantras of the devatās described in chapters 2,3 and 4. While there are 33 million forms of Devī, Bhairava says he will describe the chief yantras.

Bālā’s yantra consists of a bindu, a triangle, eight angles, eight petals, three circles and a bhūpura, or earth city. Tripurabhairavī’s yantra consists of bindu, triangle, eight angles, 10 spokes, a circle, eight petals, 16 petals, three circles and a bhūpura. Mātaṅgī has a yantra with a bindu, a triangle, eight angles, a circle, eight petals, three circles and a bhūpura, Tara’s yantra has a bindu, a triangle, eight angles, a circle, eight petals, 16 perals, three circles and a bhūpura.

It is said in the Devīrahasya that Chinnā’s yantra consists of a bindu, a triangle, enclosed by an upward pointing triangle, a circle, eight petals, and a bhūpura. Kubjikā’s yantra consists of a bindu, a triangle, eight angles, a circle, eight petals, a circle and a bhūpura, while Khecarī’s yantra consists of a bindu, triangle, circle, eight petals, a circle and a square.

In verse 72, Bhairava describes a yantra for the worship of Śiva, while verse 74 describes a yantra for Viṣṇu. In verse 78, the best yantra for worshipping Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa. This consists of a bindu, a triangle, eight lines, a circle, eight petals, 16 petals, a circle and a bhūpura.

Chapter 13, in 36 verses, describes how an amulet (kavaca) may be made of the yantra of one’s own favourite deity, which is bound into a ball, and carried upon the person. This amulet is said to give miraculous results. The yantra should be drawn upon birch (bhūrja) bark using eight different kinds of scent. These are described as svayaṃbhū, kuṇḍagola, rocana, aguru (aloe), camphor, musk, honey, and sandal.

The first two are well-known in the tantras as arising from various Kula women at menstruation time. Various methods of purification are given in the text and it is said that the 1,000 names of the particular devatā should be written around the yantra. The ball containing the kavaca can be worn on the shoulder or on the head, and is said to give boons.

Chapter 14 of Devīrahasya, which has only 19 verses, deals with the saints or munis who first ‘perceived’ the mantras, and of the metres and other elements which need to be known about a mantra. Each mantra has a ṛṣi (seer, a muni, a saint), a metre, a devatā, a bīja (seed), a śakti (energy), a kīlaka, and the binding of the directions (digbandhana).

This last tells a sādhaka how to protect the 10 directions of the cardinal and intermediate points, and above as well as below, to protect the fruit of the japa. Bhairava tells Devī that unless these elements are known to a sādhaka, chanting a mantra (japa) is useless and the fruit of the japa is eaten up by the rākṣasas, the bhūtas, and the pretas.

The sādhanā of the cremation ground is described in chapters 15 and 16 These chapters contains only 13 verses and 36 verses respectively but there is an extensive commentary provided to chapter 16. In chapter 15 it’s said that eight forms of Bhairava related to the days of the week, and so the planets, are associated with these forms of Śiva, and wander in the eight directions.

These Bhairavas are called Mahā Ugra, Citrāṅgada, Caṇḍa, Bhāsva, Lolākṣa, Bhūteśa, Karāla, and Bhīma. These forms are called the Bhairavas ruling over the directions, and each is associated with a gang of ghosts and with one of the particular cremation grounds.

Chapter 16 continues the topic. In verses 7-9, the different Bhairavas are identified with the directions and the days/planets. Mahogra is in the east, and is associated with the sun; Citrāṅgada moves in the north, with the moon; Caṇḍa is in the north east, with Mars; Bhāsva is in the north west, with Mercury; Lolākṣa is in the south east, with Jupiter; Bhūteśa is in the south with Venus; Karāla in the south west, with Saturn; and Bhīma, again associated with the sun, is in the west. Verse 12 moves on to discuss the Śmaśānakālikā pūjā.

The Devīrahasya says that Mahākālabhairava is the seer of the mantra, uśṇik is the metre, Śmaśānakālikā is the devatā, hrīṃ is the bīja, hūṃ is the śakti and Krīṃ is the kīlaka. The application of the mantra is in the attainment of the four aims of mankind.

The commentary describes the ritual in some detail. Purification of the rosary formed from human skulls is discussed in the very brief 13th chapter of 16 verses. The sādhaka has to recite a mantra 108 times, and smear the rosary with ashes from the cremation ground. He has to sit inside a yantra ringed with skulls, and use as a vessel the skull of a man.

Chapter 18 is also brief, consisting of only 14 verses. In this chapter rosary and yantra purification is dealt with. The few verses are supplemented by a commentary which gives the mantras and rituals to be used in the purification of the rosary.

The origin of wine is the subject of chapter 19, of 35 verses. A dhyāna is given of the goddess of wine. She is in the midst of the milk ocean. She, Surādevī, is naked, resembling the great fire at the night of time, her face full of bliss, with 18 arms, nine of which bear pots, while the other nine hold drinking vessels. Her three eyes are red, she is garlanded with various flowers, and she has dishevelled hair. She is adorned with various gems and rings made of pearls and other gems.

She has prominent breasts, and is seated on a lion throne, and is the giver of supreme bliss (paramānandadāyinī). Nine vessels which form the receptacles in which wine is kept are discussed. The presiding devatās of these are Sadāśiva, Īśvara, Rudra, Viṣṇu, Parameṣṭi, Indra, Guru (Jupiter), Śukra (Venus) and the sun and the moon taken together. Each drinking vessel contains a wine of a different type.

Chapter 20 continues the subject of wine and contains a hymn to the wine vessels. Verse 23 contains the verse pītvā pītvā punah pītvā yāvat patati bhūtale punarutthāya vai pītvā punarjanma na vidyate. This verse suggests that a sādhaka has to keep drinking until he falls down and then having got up and drunk again, will get liberated from being born again.

However, the following verses say that the wine to be drunk is that on the path of suṣumna, in the centre of the spine. The last verse says that it is only a paśu who understands any of this to mean drinking alcohol and getting several sheets to the wind.

The Śāntistotra starts the 45 verses of chapter 21. This hymn removes the various curses attached to wine. Verse 20 begins a hymn in praise of the vīra, the heroic sādhaka. Chapter 22, in 156 verses, continues the topic of wine, and discusses how the same may be purified. Verse 51 starts to describe the kalās of the moon. The 16 kalās are to be honoured in the moon maṇḍala,. These are given in the text as amṛtā, mānadā, tuṣṭi, puṣṭi, prītī, rati, śrī, hrī, svadhā, rātri, jyotsnā, haimavatī, chāyā, and pūrṇimā and in the cast of the last āmāvasyā for the new moon, not adding up to 16.

Verse 61 begins the gāyātrī mantra of Ānandabhairava and his śakti Surādevi. This is given as ānandeśvarāya vidmahe śrīsurādevyai dhīmahi tanno ardhanārīśvara pracodayāt (Let us think of the lord of bliss, let us contemplate the auspicious Surādevī, may that half-Śiva and half-Śakti direct us).

This is the Ardhanāriśvara form of Śiva and Śakti, where half of the body is male, and the other half is female. After reciting this mantra 10 times, the wise man should worship haṃsah. The dhyāna of Śrī Tiraskaraṇī Devī starts to be described in verse 45 together with her prayogas (applications) etc. She has the useful ability to confer invisibility on a sādhaka.

She is as bright as a blue lotus, has dark blue coloured hair, wears indigo clothes, has indigo coloured eyes, is adorned with blue flowers, and with indigo gems, with blue limbs, adorned with garlands of sapphires, seated on a blue feathered seat, and holding a blue coloured khaḍga. Reciting her mantra causes a sādhaka to be invisible to others’ five senses.

Details of Kuṇḍalinī as haṃsaḥ starts in verse 88. She is as bright as tens of millions of suns, moons, and fires. Chapter 23 deals with the purification of nine śaktis in 64 verses. In verse nine, Bhairava says a Kuleśvara should look at a young woman and bow to her as being born from the Kula. He should meditate mentally on her, and recite a mantra when he sees her.

One should never strike, deride, or show deceitfulness or coldness to women, because, as it says in verse 12, women are devīs, women are life, and women are jewels. When one has inverted sex with a woman, she becomes the kāmadhenu – the cow of plenty.

The nine śaktis are named in verses 14-15 as Naṭinī (actress), Kāpālikī (bearing skulls), Veśāyā (whore), Rajakī (washer-woman), Nāpitāṅganā (barber’s wife), Brāhmaṇī, Śūdrakanyā (śūdra’s daughter), Gopālakanyakā (cowherd’s daughter) and Mālākārakanyā (daughter of a garland maker). The devatā of this rite to follow is called Parāmbikā, the metre is triṣṭup, aiṃ is the bīja, hsauh is the śakti and klīṃ is the peg (kīlaka).

The Devīrahasya says the best time for the rite is at midnight, specifically on a great night, and the circle should include the nine maidens and eight, nine or 11 Kaulikas. The pūjā sequence is given, and it is stated that the girl should be placed on the left of the sādhaka in a Śrī Cakra. She has to have dishevelled hair, be free from shame, and adorned with jewels. The mantra to purify a śakti is declared – after this the sādhaka is to perform mātṛkā nyāsa and kāmabāṇā (five arrows) nyāsa.

These five arrows are to be placed on the forehead, the face, on the shoulders, on the heart and on the yoni. The five sugarcane arrows of Kāmeśvara, are called the all agitating, the arrow causing all to flow, the all-attracting arrow, the all deluding arrow and the all subjugating arrow. The arrow mudrā is to be shown five times.

The various mantras of each of these nine Kūmārīs are given, from verse 39 onwards. For example, Naṭinī’s mantra is decoded as oṃ sah aiṃ klīṃ sauh naṭinī mahāsiddhiṃ mama dehi dehi svāhā. After reciting the nine different mantras, the Kaula should whisper the root mantra into the śakti’s right ear. Then follows sexual intercourse in the cakra, during which a number of mantras are recited, with the devī receiving oblation with semen.

The devīs and the Kaulas should bow to each other. Chapter 24, in 69 verses, outlines the various materials of which a rosary (mālā) may be made, as also the way knots and so on are to be tied and how a rosary is to be purified. A rosary, begins Bhairava in verse three, is the body of time represented by 108 beads, made up of the 12 forms of the sun, and divided into nine parts.

A 109th knot represents Rudra, and is called the meru. Various substances including a rosary made of human skulls is described, as well as rosaries made from various trees, tulsi (basil), crystal, rudrākṣa, jewels, gold, and rosaries made from lotus seeds, coral and human teeth. The last, and the first, are to receive specific kinds of purification. Mantras for specific rosaries begin to be described in verse 34.

Different materials belong to different āmnāya. Before purifying the specific mālā, a sādhaka is to perform a ritual after purifying his own body. In verse 42, it’s said the ṛṣi (seer) of the mantra to purify a rosary is Kālāgnirudra, the metre is anuṣṭubh, and the devī is Śmaśānabhairavī, who dwells in the garland of human skulls and is well known as being Kālarātrī.

Verses 40 to 65 describe the mantras of 10 kinds of rosaries – conch, pearl, rodhra (Symplocos Racemosa), crystal, rudrākśa, tulasi, ruby, gold, lotus seeds, skull, and teeth. Two verses give mantras applicable to all of the rosaries. The purification of yantras and the various materials from which they are made are discussed in detail in chapter 25, which has 42 verses.

Yantras are spoken of as eightfold as being made from gold, silver, copper, crystal, birch (bhūrja), bone, hide and Viṣṇu-stone. As in the previous chapter, a ritual is performed before the specific substances used receive their own specific mantras. I

n verse 15 it’s said the substances can be purified with different scents including kuṇḍa, gola or udbhava, with eight scents, or with the rasa (essence) of a man. The specific mantras for purifying these eight materials are given, starting in verse 17, for gold, silver, copper, crystal, tree bark, bone, hide and Viṣṇu-stone. Rites performed at night are discussed at the end of the chapter.

Various different night watches are suitable to specific forms of the Devī. Menses, semen, wine, meat, fish and intercourse are all to be purified using the root mantra. A man is to drink wine, worship woman (Vāmā) and remember Bhairavī-Bhairava. After bowing to the guru, the vidyā is to be recited – this is Kaula doctrine.

The results of so doing, according to verses 39 onwards, are that whether in catastrophe, in times of great woe, in times of great bewilderment, in times of famine, in great battles or wars, in great wastelands, in times of great ignorance, when on a difficult path, in despair, and in bad occasions, one should remember the great mother, Parāmbikā.

Then one’s speech is like Sarasvati’s, Lakṣmī always dwells in one’s home, and the Mother bestows wealth. Chapters 26-30 comprise the Gaṇapati Pañcāṅga, the five limbs of Gaṇeśa, the elephant headed god. Bhairava says he will describe the different forms of Kaula practice relating to a different set of devatās.

He starts by saying he will first describe the worship of Gaṇeśa. These limbs are (i) mantra, yantra, dhyāna and the six karmas or magical acts (ii) the worship of Mahāgaṇapati (iii) the kavaca or armour of Mahāgaṇapati (iv) The 1,000 names of Mahāgaṇapati and (v) the Mahāgaṇapati stotra or hymn. In verse 28, Bhairava says he will describe the details relating to the Lord of Obstacles, commencing with his mantra, yantra and the rest. The mantra of Gaṇeśa is given in code form in verse 30 of chapter 26.

A commentary to Devīrahasya decodes it as oṃ śrīṃ hrīṃ klīṃ glauṃ gaṃ gaṇapataye varavarada sarvajñanaṃ me vaśamānaya svāhā. The preparatory acts before using this mantra are to be performed under a fig tree, at a crossroads, in a deserted house, or in a cremation ground (pretālaya).

The yantra is described in verse 34 of chapter 26 as made up of a bindu, a triangle, 10 lines, a circle, eight petals, 16 lines, a circle, and having four doors. The dhyāna of Gaṇeśa is given in verse 36. He resembles the light of the rising sun, has three eyes, wears a flaming crown, and with his four hands holds a plate full of sweetmeats, a vessel, and a rosary made of lotuses. He is ornamented with serpents. Verses 38 of chapter 26 begins a description of the attendants in the yantra.

Chapter 27 contains a description of the pūjā of Gaṇeśa, while chapter 28 details the armour of Gaṇeśa in 22 verses. Chapter 29 contains the 1,000 names of Gaṇeśa, while chapter 30 contains the hymn in 21 verses. Chapters 31-35 describe the Sūrya pañcāṅga or the five limbs of the sun, while chapters 36-40 describe the five limbs of Laksmi-Nārāyaṇa.

Chapters 41-45 give the Mṛtyuñjaya pañcāṅga, while chapters 46-50 comprise Pañcāṅga of Durgā. Chapter 51, in 51 verses, deals with the rahasya or secret of Durgā. Chapter 52, which only has eight verses, describes the mantra sādhanā of the Durgārahasya, deals with enlivening of the mantra, and with its putting together.

Chapter 53 discusses Nīlakaṇṭha, or the blue-throated manifestation of Śiva, when he drunk the poison produced by the churning of the milk ocean. It gives his mantra, dhyāna, and the seer in only 18 verses. Chapter 54 deals of initiation (dikṣa), and its time, and also discusses with guru initiation. Bhairava says that it should be performed on an auspicious day, in a good nakṣatra, at the time of a saṅkrānta, on a day in navarātri, on Śivarātri, or in one’s own birth constellation.

The Devīrahasya says the best places to perform initiation are on the bank of a river, or perhaps in a temple. The chapter only has 27 verses. In chapter 55, there’s more about the preparatory acts (puraścaraṇa) and deals with the same done for the disciple by the Guru. A mantra can never become successful without performance of these acts. It describes, in addition, the best times and places for doing the same.

The next chapter, 56, discusses Pañcaratneśvarī, or the devī of the five jewels, together with the mantra unfolding of Durgā, Śāradā, Śārī(kā), Sumukhī and Bagalāmukhī. There are 18 verses in this chapter. Homa done at night in the cremation ground forms the substance of chapter 57, while chapter 58 deals with the characteristics of cakra pūjā, the nature of those sādhakas entitled to it, the placing of the pot (kumbha) and the giving of bali or animal sacrifice.

In verses 2-3 of the Devīrahasya it’s said that the best number of sādhakas for the cakra is 11, but otherwise nine, five or three sādhakas may participate. Cakras should not contain less than three sādhakas. The days to hold the cakra are at the full moon or new moon saṃkrānti, or on the 14th or the eighth tithis. A ninth tithi on a Saturday or a Tuesday, sacred to Saturn and Mars, are also fortunate.

The cakra may be held at a good bathing sort (tīrtha), in a Śiva temple, in another temple, in a deserted place, and on a peak or at a river bank. The sādhaka should worship the Bhairavas in the directions, and then perform nyāsa and cleansing of the bhūtas. Vipras (brahmins), kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras can all participate in the cakra.

The five substances should all be purified, the Yoginīs, Kṣetrapāla, and the Nāyikā should be worshipped, while in the cakra the root mantra is to be recited and the kavaca read, along with the 1,000 names and the hymn. At the end, the nine maidens are to be worshipped.

Chapter 59 discusses the different paths, such as Dakṣiṇācāra, Vāmācāra, and Kulācara. In Kulācara, the āsana is made of wool, and the rosary to be used is rudrākṣa. In Vāmācāra, the rosary is made of a man’s teeth, the vessel is made of a man’s skull, and the āsana is a lion’s skin. The substances to be used are the five mākaras, such as maithuna, wine and meat. This chapter has 20 verses.

The characteristics of the guru are dealt with in chapter 60 of the Devīrahasya. Bhairava describes a yantra which consists of a bindu, eight petals, a circle, eight petals, and an enclosure, he gives the forms which inhabit the different parts.

Asitāṅga, Ruru, Caṇḍa, Krodheśa, Unmattabhairava, Kapālī, Bhīṣaṇa, and Saṃhara are in the eight petals. Paramānandanātha, Prakāśānandanātha, Bhogānandanātha, Samayānandanātha, Bhuvanānandanātha, Sumanānandanātha, Gaganānandanātha and Viśvānandanātha, the eight Kula gurus are in the eight petals.

Madanānandanātha, Lilānandanātha, Maheśvarānandanātha are to be worshipped in the triangle. In the centre is the guru, who should be worshipped with devotion. The remainder of the verses up to 26 praise the guru.

Bhairava closes the Devīrahasya by describing is as the king of tantras, which should be not be lightly revealed as it holds the essence of all.

The appendices following these 60 chapters make up around one third of the printed text of the Devīrahasya. The main appendix gives (i) The pañcāṅga of Jvālāmukhī (ii) The pañcāṅga of Śārikā (iii) The pañcāṅga of Mahārājñi (iv) The pañcāṅga of Bālā (v) Uddhārakośa, a compilation which deals with the mantras and dhyānas of a host of tāntrik deities, and also contains a compendium of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet and their tāntrika meaning. The Uddhārakośa has seven chapters. (c) 2008

Artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1975-2021. Translations are © Mike Magee 1975-2021.Questions or comments to

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