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The tantra is for all men, of whatever caste, and for all women – Gautamiyatantra, quoted by Avalon
This very brief tantra, ascribed like many another to the Rudrayāmala, is a practical work of yoga full of different methods of realising oneness with Śiva/Śakti. It exists, with a Sanskrit text and an English translation, by Jaideva Singh, by Dr. Mark Dyczkowski and many others. It prescribes over 112 dhāraṇās, or things to meditate on, spread throughout the text of 163 verses, which can bring a person to realise that she or he is one with Śiva and Śakti. Referring to the Śiva Sutras on this site, will help in an understanding of this material.
Some years ago I wrote this summary of Vijñānabhairava which may be of some interest to people. It looks at the different verses of the tantra and outlines the yoga techniques, known as the dhāraṇās. My notes are italicised.
1. Fix the mind at the centre of the body (prāṇa) and at the dvadaśānta (apāna = about nine inches outside the body)
The human body breathes 21,600 times during 24 hours, according to the tantras. The outward breath extends to around nine inches outside the body. This is a meditation on the cycle of this breath. Breath is one with time and therefore the Kālacakra or wheel of time. This is expanded in the Tantrarājatantra, which shows the essential unity of breath, time, the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet and the planets.
2. Fix the mind at the moment of pause at the heart and at the dvadaśānta.
3. Prāṇa and Apāna enter the Suṣumnā or central nāḍī.
The in-breath and the out-breath both have their seat in the Suṣumnā, which is the central axis of the human body, according to the tantriks.
4. Retention of Prāṇa Śakti at the heart and at the dvādaśānta.
The breath, as Śakti, is one with the supreme Śakti. It moves throughout the body through the different nāḍīs or conduits of bioenergy but can be concentrated at different points by meditation.
5. Meditate on Śakti rising from Mūlādhāra and getting subtler and subtler up to Brahmarandhra.
This and the next few verses relate to the so-called Kuṇḍalinī experience. In the Śrī Vidya tradition, you can meditate upon the different maṇḍalas of the Śrī Yantra relating to these centres and being identical with the 15-lettered mantra, piercing through the three knots (granthis) and becoming more and more void. See Varivasyārahasya. I will produce a page on this very interesting book.
6. Successive Kuṇḍalinī rising through the Śaktis.
7. Meditation of the 12 stages – Janmagra, Mula, Kanda, navel, heart, throat, root of palate, centre of eye brows, forehead, Brahmarandhra, Śakti, Vyapini: these are the first 12 vowels in the Sanskrit alphabet.
8. After filling the Brahmarandhra with Prāṇa, free the mind of all thought constructs.
9. Meditate in the heart on the five voids of the five senses.
10. Meditate successively on things outside the body.
11. Fix attention on the inside of the skull. Close eyes.
12. Meditate on the inner emptiness of central nāḍī.
13. Block the openings of the senses.
14. Meditate either in the heart or in the Brahmarandhra on the bindu.
15. Listen to the Anāhata sound.
The essential pulse or vibration exists as sound in the heart centre. By listening, one can achieve high states of consciousness. These sounds may start as bells or like other different sounds produced by musical instruments. See Kaulajñānaniṛnaya.
16. Meditate on Oṃ and the void at the end of it.
Each of the bīja or root mantras, of which Oṃ is the most famous, do not end but gradually fade away into a void.
17. Contemplate on the state of a letter before and after its utterance.
18. Listen to the sound of a musical instrument as it dies away.
19. Meditate on bīja mantras up to their subtle stages.
20. Meditate on the void in one’s body extending in all directions simultaneously.
21. Concentrate on the void above and the void below.
22. Meditate on the three voids: below, in the heart, and above.
23. Contemplate on the body which as the limited subject is void.
24. Contemplate on the dhātus or bodily elements as pervaded with voidness.
25. Meditate on the skin as being like an outer wall with nothing within it.
26. Merge the mind and the senses in the interior space in the heart.
27. Dissolve mind in the Brahmarandhra.
This is the so-called 1,000 petalled lotus.
28. Fix mind repeatedly at the dvādaśānta.
29. Burn body by fire of Kalagni Rudra issuing from the big toe of the right foot using the mantra Oṃ raksharayum tanum dahmami.
This technique is also described in Kaulajnananirnaya, ascribed to Matsyendranāth, but without this mantra.
30. Imagine the entire world as being burnt by Kalagni Rudra.
31. Meditate that the subtle constituents of the body or the world are being absorbed in their own respective causes.
32. Make Prāṇaśaktī subtle and meditate on it in the Brahmarandhra or in the heart.
33. Meditate on the whole cosmos dissolving from gross into subtle into supreme until the mind dissolves in consciousness.
34. Meditate on the Śaiva Tattva as pervading the whole universe.
35. Concentrate intensely on the idea that the universe is completely void.
36. Meditate on the empty space within a jar.
37. Concentrate on a deserted space.
38. Concentrate on the space which occurs between two ideas.
39. Contemplate on the gap between one thought while suppressing another thought.
40. Contemplate on one’s own body as the universe and as of the nature of consciousness.
41. Fusion of Prāṇa and Apāna gives rise to a void.
42. Contemplate on the universe or one’s own body as being filled with bliss.
43. Contemplate in the delight which arises from a magical act.
44. Contemplate on the tingling sensation caused by Prāṇa Śakti moving upwards.
45. Concentrate on the consciousness between upper and lower Kuṇḍalinī. This is like internal sexual union.
46. The delight of orgasm is the delight of Brahman.
47. Meditate on the delight of sexual union.
48. Meditate on the occasion of any great delight.
49. The delight of taste.
50. The delight of song.
51. Concentrate on the feeling of satisfaction.
52. Concentrate on the hypnagogic state.
That is the space between waking and sleeping. According to the tantriks, consciousness exists in the waking, dreaming, deep sleep states. There is a Fourth state (Turīya) which pervades all these and the Turiyātīta (beyond the fourth) which is the basis of all.
53. Concentrate on space variegated with the rays of the Sun and the Moon.
54. Concentrate on the following mūdras. a) The world viewed as a skeleton b) Gathering all 24 tattvas into the body of mantra. c) Keep eyes fixed externally while turning inwards. d) Tasting of whole cosmos in the nature of I-consciousness. e) Remaining in Śiva consciousness continually.
55. Sit relaxed.
56. Sit relaxed, place arms in the form of an arch overhead.
57. Fix your gaze on an object whilst directing attention inwards.
58. Keep mouth open, invert tongue to touch palate. Fix mind in the centre of your open mouth and voice a vowel-less H mentally.
59. Sit on soft seat and meditate the body sits without support of the seat.
61. Contemplate cloudless sky.
62. Contemplate entire sky as being in Bhairava and dissolved in the head.
63. Concentrate on wake, dream, deep sleep as being the Bhairava continuum.
64. Concentrate on external darkness of a dark night in the dark fortnight of the Moon.
65. Contemplate on terrible darkness first and then the terrible form of Bhairava.
66. Obstruction of an organ of sense causes spiritual introversion.
67. Recite the letter A without bindu or visarga.
That is, the first vowel without a sound.
68. Concentrate on the end of visarga in a letter.
69. Concentrate on one’s own self as a vast unlimited expanse.
70. Concentrate on pain.
71. Concentrate that within yourself the inner psychic complex does not exist.
72. Concentrate on Māyā and her Śaktis as limiting factors.
73. Cut a desire as soon as it has arisen.
74. Icchā, Jñānā and Kriyā of the limited individual are not the same as the essential self.
That is, Icchā, Jñānā and Kriyā śaktis. These are the powers of Will, Knowledge and Action.
75. When a desire, knowledge or activity arises, concentrate on it.
76. Concentrate that all knowledge is without cause, is base and deceives, it does not belong to any one person.
77. The same self is in every body.
78. Make mind one pointed when under the dominion of desire, anger, greed, infatuation, arrogance or envy.
79. Conceive the cosmos as a juggler’s act.
80. Dwell on the reality which exists between pain and pleasure.
81. Think: “I am not my own body. I exist everywhere”.
82. Knowledge, desire and activity appear in all objects.
83. Contemplate that the same consciousness exists in all bodies.
84. Free the mind from supports and refrain from all thoughts and their associations.
85. Think: “I am Śiva”.
86. As waves come from water, flames from fire, rays from the Sun, so the waves of the cosmos come from Bhairava.
88. Mental dizziness.
89. Concentrate on the reality within while looking outside, so merging the Absolute as Sound (the Shabda Brahman).
90. Concentrate on a bottomless well or as standing in a very high place.
91. Whether outside or inside, Śiva is omnipresent.
92. Every sensation is an expression of pure consciousness.
93. Ordinary consciousness shocked in sneezing, terror, sorrow, deep sighs, flying from battles, at the beginning or the end of anger, can reveal the Śiva state.
94. Ignore the memory of an object and fix attention on the original experience which was the basis of the memory.
95. Look at an object, withdraw it, slowly eliminate the knowledge of the object together with the thought and impressions.
96. Intuition emerging from intensity of devotion.
97. When one object is perceived, all other objects become empty. Concentrate on that emptiness.
98. Mental purity arises above variations in association of thought.
99. Bhairava appears in the I-consciousness.
100. Develop Sama towards all.
Sama means equipoise. See Ecstasy on this site.
101. Reject both repulsion and attachment, cleave to Sama.
102. Bhairava is that which is not an object, cannot be grasped, is void, even in non-existence.
103. Concentrate on space as omnipresent free of all limitations.
104. Withdraw attention from distracting objects and concentrate on the object of meditation.
105. Recite the name Bhairava incessantly.
106. Look for the I which exists in all limited forms of “I”.
107. Think of the sense of words which are eternal, omnipresent, have no support, pervade and is the Lord of all that is.
108. The whole universe has the reality of a magic show.
109. How can Knowledge (Jñānā) or Action (Kriyā) exist in the eternal? All external objects are based on knowledge, therefore the world is void.
110. There is no bondage or liberation, the universe is a reflection like the Sun in water.
111. All contact with pleasure and pain is through the senses. If you detach the senses from oneself, you can withdraw.
112. Concentrate on the Knower and the Known as one and the same.
Artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1975-2022. Translations are © Mike Magee 1975-2022.Questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org