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Beguiled by false knowledge, certain persons, deprived of the guru-shishya tradition, imagine the nature of Kuladharma according to their own lights. If merely by drinking wine, men were to attain fulfilment, all drunks would attain siddhi. If mere partaking of flesh were to lead to the high state, all carnivores in the world would become eligible for immense merit. If liberation were to be ensured by mere cohabitation with women, all creatures would become liberated by female companionship. Mahadevi, it is not the Kula path that is to be denounced. On the other hand, those deprived of the (Kula) paths should be condemned – Kularnavatantra II, 126-120
The Rudrayāmala is used as a source by many other agamas and tāntrik texts but the original or originals appear to be lost. Strictly speaking, a yāmala is a different class of text, and pre-dates the tantras.
However, most manuscripts of the yāmalas seem to be lost, except as quotations in later works. This analysis of the contents is of a tantra given the same name. Although its provenance is unknown, it nevertheless contains a great deal of interesting information and focuses in great detail on the identity of the goddess with Kuṇḍalinī.
You could say it is a Kuṇḍalinītantra as it contains dhyānas and other elements such as the 1,000 names of Kuṇḍalinī, or the worship of the Devī as the “serpent power”. It is divided into 66 chapters (paṭalas) of different lengths and written in a simple manner, according to scholars. It may be simply written, but it is lengthy.
The Rudrayāmala takes the form of Śiva asking questions and Śakti answering, making this nigama rather than agama form. Another example of this style is found in the Kulacūdāmaṇītantra. In his form as Bhairava, Śiva opens by saying he has heard many tantras including the Śrīyāmala, the Viṣṇuyāmala, the Śaktiyāmala and the Brahmayāmala.
Now he wants to hear of the Uttara Khaṇḍa (last section) of the Śrī Rudrayāmala. In 245 verses, Bhairavī starts to tell Bhairava the topics she will cover in the tantra. These include Kūmārī-Lalitā sādhanā; Yoginī, Khecharī, Yakṣiṇī and Kanyā sādhanās; the vidyās of Unmattabhairavī and Kāli as well as their sādhanās.
She says she will speak of the sādhana of the five arrows, Pratyaṅgirā, Dhūmrā, and a host of other topics of interest to a śākta such as the garland of skulls sādhanā, Guhyakālī, Kubjikā sādhanā, Bhadrakāli, Haṃsī, Vaiṣṇavī, and many others. After listing all these topics, Bhairavī starts to describe in verse 111, the well-known three bhāvas, or types of sādhaka called divya (divine), vīra (heroic) and paśu (beastlike).
She says in verses 133-135 of the Rudrayāmala that the paśu bhāva is concerned with knowledge (jñāna), the vīra with action (kriyā), while the divya bhāva has the sight of devatā – the gods and goddesses.
Chapter two, which has 161 verses, opens with a description of the characteristics of Kulācara. Bhairavī describes the pūjā to be done when rising, including internal pūjā related to the cakras.
A sādhaka must meditate on the guru with his śakti at the centre above the head. Other meditations follow, related to the other familiar six cakras in the body. The guru should be regarded in the same light as one’s father, and one’s mother (verse 65).
He, or she – because a guru may be either in the tāntrik tradition – is the devatā and is the refuge. After this lengthy section, in verse 125, Bhairava asks about the rules relating to initiation (dīkṣā). He wants to know about various cakras employed at initiation time including Kulākula, A-Ka-Da-Ma, the rāśi (12 sidereal constellations) cakras, the kūrma (tortoise) cakra and others including the ṛṇidhani (loss and gain), Tārā cakra and others.
These are specific letter diagrams used to choose the correct mantra. Initiation is so important that this and the following three chapters are devoted to the subject. Bhairavī starts to answer these many questions in chapter three in 140 verses, and gives a host of rules about initiation into the cult of Śakti, including their shapes and the mantras associated with them.
She dilates particularly on the Śiva and Viṣṇu yantras. In verse 83, she starts to discuss the Śiva cakra, and in 112 the Viṣṇu cakra. The subject is continued in chapter four. Bhairavī now speaks of the Brahma cakra at length. In verses 21-24 she outlines the rāśi cakra, giving the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet which correspond to the 12 sideral constellations. In the remainder of this chapter she speaks of the ṛṇidhani (loss-gain) cakra and then begins to talk about defects some mantras may have in verse 108.
She starts to discuss the Rāma cakra in verse 121 of the Rudrayāmala. She starts to talk about the sūkśma (subtle) cakra in verse 165. Chapter four has 186 verses. Bhairavī discusses in chapter five, in 44 verses, how defects in mantras can be removed and how mantras can be purified. In verse 25, Bhairavī says that if a great mantra is gained in sleep, it can bestow siddhi. After a candidate is initiated, she says the types of dreams will determine whether initiation is successful.
Bhairava asks about more information concerning the bhāvas in chapter six, which has 102 verses. Devī describes the paśu bhāva, opening by hailing Śiva as Paśunātha, Vīranātha and Divyanātha. In verse 12, Bhairavī starts to describe the suṣumnā sādhana, performed in the morning. After meditating on the guru, the sādhaka is to meditate on Mahākuṇḍalinī, who is the self of both inhalation and exhalation, that is to say, breath.
This Kulamohinī is as bright as millions of suns and moons and gives supreme knowledge when brought to the 1,000 petalled lotus. She is the form of time and everything else, existing as the yoginī Khecharī in the form of the vital breath. The sādhaka should worship her as showering the body with nectar. Then, in verse 26, Bhairavī starts chanting a hymn to Kuṇḍalinī, said to bestow siddhi.
This is called the Kuṇḍalīkomala stava, which is intended to please her in aspect as Kuṇḍalinī Devī. Whoever recites it in the morning becomes a yogi, and a lord of poesy. At the close of this chapter, Bhairavī talks of the bhāvas again and begins to describe the characteristics of the Kūmārīs (maidens) and how worship varies depending on which class the sādhaka holds.
Chapter seven of the Rudrayāmala, which has 93 verses, starts with a description of Kūmārī pūja. If performed, it is said to remove poverty and illness. The place of pūjā is either a mahāpiṭha or a Devī temple. The text lists the different maidens as Naṭī (actress), Kāpālikī, Rajakī, Nāpitakanyā, Gopālakanyā, Brāhmāṇī, Vaiśyakanyā, Śudrakanyā and Caṇḍalakanyā.
The girls should be given sweets and other pleasant things and treated as forms of the goddess incarnate. The mantras of the Kūmārīs are given by Ānandabhairavī. The topic is continued in the 65 verses of chapter eight, which deals with recitation of mantra (japa) and sacrifice (homa) to the Kūmārīs.
The hymn to the Kūmārīs starts in verse 14, followed by details of the oblations in verse 40. Chapter nine, in 43 verses, gives the Kūmārī kavaca (armour) which follows the usual form of these charms, for example: Mahāraudrī and Āparājitā, protect my throat!
The recitation of the armour is said to bring siddhi quickly. It may be written on bhūrja (birch) bark, and borne on the body, when it will give the practitioner the desired results. The text gives times for doing this including on a Saturday or a Tuesday on the ninth, eighth, fourteenth days of a waning moon or on a full moon day. Saturday is the spooky day of Saturn, while Tuesday is the annoying day of Mars – the most horrid planets of the week.
The subject of the Kūmārīs is concluded in chapter 10. Some might think it has gone on enough, but Ānandabhairava asks the goddess to tell him about the 1,008 names of the Kūmārīs, which Ānandabhairavī proceeds to do. The seer of the names is the son of Bhairava, Baṭuka, anuṣṭubh is the metre, Kumāra is the devatā and the application is success in all mantras.
The names follow the order of the 36 consonants of the Sanskrit alphabet. Various results are described depending on the number of days the names are recited. There are 180 verses in this chapter. Bhairavī opens chapter 11 by talking, once more, about the three bhāvas. There are 76 verses in this chapter. She describes the different characteristics of divyas, vīras and paśus. The best type of sādhaka is a divya, who obtains the highest siddhi.
Both the divya and the vīra practise using the five tattvas. At the close of this chapter, in verse 72, the Devī lists a series of cakras she will discuss. In chapter 12, 13 and 14, Bhairavī describes the kāma cakra, the rāśi cakra, the Ājñā cakra and the nakṣatra cakra. These include the placing of the letters according to positions of the 12 constellations and the 27 nakṣatras or lunar mansions.
Different letters of the alphabet are placed in the different compartments and the chapters describe the different results obtained by worshipping in these yantras. In chapter 15 of the Rudrayāmala, Ānandabhairava asks the goddess to tell him about the nature of the Brahmastotra, the Brahmavidyā and the macrocosm. (Brahmaśarīra).
This chapter is related to the description of the Ājñā cakra. She says that this is like the vital air in the body of Śakti. Meditate on the Brahmananda in the heart to become a true knower. Śakti is Kuṇḍalinī Devī, the true form of the mother of the world. The vital breaths of Śakti pervade the macrocosm, including constellations, nakṣatras, and lunar days.
Practising according to the rules she describes gives the state of khecara in one month, a diamond body in two, &c. Eventually a sādhaka becomes one with supreme Śiva by a knowledge of the vital airs. Śiva asks who is a Vaiṣṇava (follower of Viṣṇu), who is a dharmika (a doer of that which is right) and who is a yogi. The goddess says a Vaiṣṇava is stationed in the Ājñā cakra.
A person doing this sacrifice is a yājñika, that is to say a sacrificer, and is stationed in Brahma consciousness. A dharmika has realised his oneness with Brahman and is a rejector (tyāgi) of both good (dharma) and bad (adharma). She or he who knows the Brahman is an avadhūta and a yogi, can do as she or he wills and is not restricted by times or any other conditions.
He or she is unaffected by results or lack of results. The avadhūta knows the parampada (supreme). Because the avadhūta has realised the supreme nectar of Kuṇḍalinī in the Ājñā cakra, she or he is praised by Rudra and all the gods. These tāntrik precepts show an aversion to the orthodox expression of the Hindu terms as usually applied.
Chapter 16 continues the discussion of Ājñā cakra. This is a brief section of only 44 verses (ślokas), continuing the praise of a person who has reached this stage. Chapter 17 describes the characteristics of the Atharvaveda, to which some tāntrik schools ascribe their vedik credentials, and, later on, apparently recommends the adoption of Buddhistic practises (Mahācīnācāra) to achieve enlightenment.
The goddess first says the Atharvaveda is the essence of all and focuses on the path of Śakti. She describes the Sama Veda as being of the nature of the tamas guṇa, while the others partake of sattvas and rajas guṇa. Brahma, Viṣṇu and Hara are of the nature of rajas, sattvas and tamas while Kuṇḍalī, associated with the Atharvaveda, is the supreme devatā.
The text proceeds with a eulogy of the goddess, describing her as the form of knowledge, the supreme aether, and she who gives grace and success on earth. She is Kāmarūpa in the Mūlādhāra cakra and is always united with Śiva-Kāmeśvarī in the 1,000 petal lotus. Bhairava then wants to know about the different vital breaths in the body.
Ānandabhairavī speaks about this topic at great length. In verses 51-53, she describes the pīṭha Kāmarūpa as being in the Mūlādhāra, Jālandhara in the heart cakra, Pūrṇagiri is in the throat, Vārāṇasi is in the forehead and Jvalantī is in the (three) eyes. Other locations of the great pīṭhas are given. The goddess says, starting verse 55, that the cakras have four, six, 10, 12, 16 and two petals respectively.
The Brahmarandhra, at the top of the head, is known as (mount) Kailāsa and is the 1,000 petalled lotus and the great lotus (mahāpadma). Millions of nāḍīs, or conduits of the vital breath, pervade the body. When they are merged together (laya) it brings steadiness of mind, using techniques of breath called kumbhaka and other methods, again described in quite a lot of indicative detail.
A very remarkable tale starts in verse 108 of the Rudrayāmala, which speaks volumes about Hinduism and Buddhism, and about class and lack of classes in both lines. It speaks of the ṛṣi (seer) Vaśiṣṭha, describing him as being engaged for a very long period of time in pursuing sādhanā, restraining himself and practising austerities (tapasa). Despite 1,000 years of this, he had not achieved his goal.
He had a vision of Sarasvatī in which he was told to go to the land of Buddha, to Mahācīna, a non-vedik place, where he would achieve what he wanted. Going to the region of the river Brahmaputra, he discovered hosts of men and women apparently engaged in non-Vedik practises, swilling wine, eating flesh and engaging in sexual intercourse.
All were naked, their eyes reddened with liquor. Yet all were enlightened.
Going to Buddha, Vaśiṣṭha asked how could this be? Buddha is made to reply: “Vaśiṣṭha, listen! I will speak of the highest path of Kula by knowing which a man takes the form of Rudra immediately!”
He then starts to speak of the practice of Mahācīnācāra in verse 135. By this method, all the Hindu gods became enlightened. In chapter 18, Ānandabhairavī starts to speak of the Kāma cakra, which she says is in the centre of the Ājñā cakra, surrounded by millions of nāḍis.
Chapter 19 is concerned with the “piercing” of the six cakras in the body. Devī speaks of the Praśna Cakra which, she says in verse 2, is the Kāmarūpa, bestows everything, and is consciousness itself. In verse 18 it’s said this cakra is eternal, above the Ājñā cakra – whoever meditates on it becomes a knower of time (kāla), and of the characteristics of the tattvas.
Time dissolves everything in the three worlds, both that which is static and that which moves. The universe rests on time, therefore it is prudent to conquer time. The rest of the chapter relates different letter groups to the different constellations. Meditating on these give different results. There are 49 verses in chapter 19.
Chapter 20 labels itself as describing other cakras within the Ājñā cakra. In verse 12 it says the vahni bījā, hrīṃ, is within a triangle, surrounded by a hexagon. The chapter describes other mātṛkās and mantras within this space. Chapter 21 describes the magnificence of the vīrabhāva. By cutting through the different cakras and attaining the 1,000 petal lotus, a yogi takes the supreme path and realises the knowledge of the absolute. This chapter of 113 verses goes on to describe the characteristics of the other cakras.
Chapter 22 continues the topic of the six cakras including their colours, the devatās to be found there, and the number of petals each has. In verse 41, Ānandabhairavī discusses obstacles to sādhana, including lust, cruelty, greed, etc. In verse 91 she discusses the haṃsa mantra.
This, it’s said, is the great knowledge yogis possess – the letter haṃ is male and solar, while saḥ is prakṛiti and the moon, correlated with the breath. This mantra is situated in the Svādhiṣṭhāna cakra and is pronounced 21,600 times during the course of 24 hours (verse 101). It has the characteristics of the syllable oṃ. Reciting the great haṃsa mantra can liberate a man from the six cakras.
In chapter 23, beginning in verse five, there’s a description of how to control the vital breaths. Practising this for a period of time bestows siddhi. Verse 26 begins a discussion of a number of postures (āsana) which help facilitate yoga. This discussion continues at length until the chapter ends at verse 113.
Chapter 24, of 143 verses, continues a discussion on āsanas and in verse 47 a description begins of the narāsana. Verse 58 begins describing the corpse sādhana. This is to be performed on a Saturday or a Tuesday, and the corpse may be procured from a battle ground. Practising it, in a deserted place or in a temple, this sādhana liberates a man from being plunged in the ocean of saṃsāra.
Devī says in verse 104 it should only be practised at night, never during the day.Verse 118 begins to describe the siddhi that comes from this practice, while verse 124 starts to relate the way to recite the mantra. Verse 35 in chapter 25 starts to describe Brahma sādhana. Prāṇāyāma is of two kinds, says Ānandabhairavī, nirgarbha and sagarbha.
The latter consists of recitation and dhyāna, while the former is without attributes. The former includes breath techniques such as pūraka and kumbhaka and recaka. In verse 45, she speaks of the subtle tīrthas (bathing places) which correspond to the nāḍīs within the human frame. Verse 82 begins to describe the rules of reciting mantras.
In chapter 26, the Devī returns to the subject of piercing the six cakras. A yogi has to reject lust and cruelty, and perform recitation of the mantras and meditation (dhyāna). She describes how the vital breath pervades 12 fingerbreadths outside the body.
Mahākuṇḍalinī is to be meditated on as of the nature of Brahma, Viṣṇu and Śiva. Verse 62 describes a dhyāna of the Kāminī, to be meditated on in the root lotus, while verse 74 describes subtle bathing. Bathing is of three kinds – immersion in water, bathing the body and knowing mantra. The last is the best kind of bathing in the pure water of the heart lotus.
Verse 71 of the Rudrayāmala begins a discussion on twilight worship of the Kaulas. Śiva and Śakti are to be meditated on as sun and moon, united in intercourse in the heart lotus. Verse 79 talks of oblation of the Kaulas, while verse 109 starts to discuss mental pūjā, and starting in verse 118 mental homa. In verse 129, a discussion starts about internal pūjā of the five makāras.
Wine is Śakti, flesh is Śiva and their unity is within. A sādhaka is to meditate on the oneness of Śiva and Śakti in the same way as day and night are one. The bliss arising from the union of Śiva and Śakti is knowledge of the absolute. There are three liṅgas at the junction points of the six cakras.
The sacred bathing places are strung along the six lotuses. Chapter 27 opens with a discussion on prāṇāyāma. There are 30 lunar days (tithis) divided into the waning and the waxing fortnights. In the bright fortnight, the iḍā predominates, and in the dark fortnight the other main nāḍī. The central channel pervades in both fortnights.
The text describes the predominance of the two nāḍīs on different lunar days. Verse 31 describes the dhāraṇas (meditation places) in the body. These are the big toe, the ankle, the knee, the thigh, the liṅga, the navel, the heart, the throat, the lambikā (uvula), the nose, the centre of the brow, the top of the skull, and the dvādaśānta. Verses 37-39 describe dhyāna and verse 40 starts a discussion about samādhi.
In chapter 28, there’s a discussion of the characteristics of being siddhi (successful) in mantra, followed in verses 22 onwards about the characteristics of Bhairavī and starts in verse 32 to describe the nature of the Bhairavī cakra. In verse 69, the Kandavāsinī (“she who dwells in the root”) stotra is described. Chapter 29 continues to discuss the six cakras, and at verse nine yoga relating to the cakras comprises 50 verses.
Chapter 30 begins to describe the Mūlapadma, or root lotus. In verse 14 the text says Ḍākinī is there, and a person should recite the Brahma mantra. A description of Ḍākinī is outlined in the first verses of chapter 31. Verse eight starts the Bhedinī stotra, while there’s a Yoginī stotra that starts at verse 37.
Chapter 32 has a dhyāna of Kandavāsinī and there’s a stotra to the same devī starting at verse 21. A kavaca of Kandavāsinī is given in chapter 33, verse six. This lengthy armour and the results it bestows continue until the end of the chapter at verse 65. A sādhaka who recites it becomes the son of Kuṇḍalī.
Chapter 34 describes the yoga of the five vowels, while in verse 26 a description of the Vijayāsevana mantra starts. In chapter 35, there’s a description of the type of breathing to attain realisation. Chapter 36 is dedicated to the 1,000 names of Kuṇḍalinī. All her names start with the letter ‘ka’. There are 206 verses in the chapter.
In chapter 37, Ānandabhairava says he wants to hear about the Svādhiṣṭhāna cakra and its characteristics. Ānandabhairavī replies giving details about this second cakra, which, she says, is coloured like the autumn moon.
Kṛṣṇa is located there, she says, a matter that’s elaborated in chapter 38, in which his mantra is outlined, along with the mantra of the Viṣṇu incarnation known as Narasiṃha. That’s followed by an inner mantra of Kṛṣṇa, and in verse 26 the meditation image of Kṛṣṇa is described, in which he is described as dwelling in the Svādhiṣṭhāna cakra, being of a dusky colour, with four arms which hold conch, cakra, sceptre, and lotus, surrounded by millions of maidens.
He wears garlands of muñja (Saccharam Sara) berries, wears yellow clothes, and sits in a six petal lotus. The pūjā of Kṛṣṇa follows in verse 33. Chapter 39 contains a hymn to Kṛṣṇa.
Chapter 40 continues the description of the Svādhiṣṭhāna cakra, wherein dwells Rākiṇī, and which has the symbol of a crocodile (makāra). The subject continues in chapter 41, and the Rākiṇī stotra is given in verses 18 onwards, followed in chapter 42 by Rākiṇī sādhana.
In verse 16 onwards to verse 124 of this chapter, the 1,000 names of Kṛṣṇa-Rākiṇī are given. In chapter 43, the Devī dilates on the secret of yoga. She tells Mahākāla that a man should meditate on her in the brow centre as being of the nature of Brahma, Viṣṇu and Śiva corresponding to the three guṇas sattvas, rajas and tamas.
Chapter 43 has 40 verses. In chapter 44, verse 20, she describes the secret of the six cakras. Chapter 45 begins the description of the third cakra, the Maṇipūra. As in the previous chapters, the presiding devī of this cakra is given, in this case Lākinī, and her hymn or stotra is given in verses 25 onwards.
Chapter 46 continues the topic and in verse 29 Devī says that a yogi is a Kaula and a Kaula is a yogi. Verse 35 starts to describe the sādhana of the Maṇipūra cakra. This is continued in chapter 47, which in verse seven begins the stotra to Rudrāṇī. This chapter of this recension of the Rudrayāmala has 59 verses.
Chapter 48 describes the pūjā of Rudra and Rudrāṇī with verse 39 beginning the 51 names of Rudra, followed in verses 55 et seq with the names of Rudrāṇī. There’s a ṛṣi nyāsa in verse 108 et seq, followed in verse 126 with Śrī Kaṇṭha nyāsa and other nyāsas including the five forms of Śiva nyāsa, and Kalā nyāsa in verses 141 et seq.
In verse 277 begins a nyāsa of the five mantras, while the characteristics of Mṛtyuñjaya, Śiva as the conqueror of death, start in verse 236. The pīṭha nyāsa begins at verse 239. There’s a meditation image of Mṛtyuñjaya in verse 263, followed immediately by his pūjā.
This topic continues in chapter 49, with a stotra to the god. In chapter 50 there’s a stotra dedicated to Lākinī. Chapter 51, in verse 27, contains a description of five kinds of wine, followed immediately by mantras to purify the wine. This is followed, in verse 47, by a description of how to purify vijaya (hemp) which has its own set of mantras.
In chapter 52, there’s a stotra to Lākinī-Mṛtyuñjaya, followed by a sotra dedicated to wine. Chapter 53 continues the discussion on the Maṇipūra cakra in 23 verses, while in chapter 54, verse 52 there’s a discussion on how to “cleanse” the nāḍīs. This involves reciting a number of mantras.
The remainder of this 73 verse chapter discusses rules for bathing and praise of the twilights. Chapter 55 continues the subject of the purification of wine. In chapter 56, Ānandabhairavī says she will talk about haṭha yoga. This chapter contains a dhyāna of Lākinī. Chapter 57 opens by moving to the heart lotus, with a meditation starting in verse 19.
Chapter 58, verse six, discusses Kākinī worship, with the eight siddhis being the subject of chapter 59. This chapter also gives the mantra of Kākinī, and her meditation image or dhyāna is given in verse 27. Chapter 60 opens with a stotra to Kākinī and in verse 30 the characteristics of the throat cakra begin to be discussed. There’s a dhyāna of the throat lotus in verse 43.
Chapter 61 has a description of the yoginī of this cakra, Śākinī, in verse three, with her mantra described in verses seven et seq. Pūjā of Śākinī is the subject of chapter 62, and another dhyāna is given in verses 32-37. The next verses discuss bhūtaśuddhi and prāṇapratiṣṭhā, while in verse 109 the subject of circumambulation and bowing to the devī is discussed.
Chapter 63 of the Rudrayāmala contains a stava to Īśvara, while chapter 64 lists the 1,000 names of Kākinī. There’s another hymn to this yoginī in chapter 65, while the last chapter, 66, contains her kavaca.
Artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1975-2021. Translations are © Mike Magee 1975-2021.Questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org