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Tararahasya of Brahmanandagiri
She is the Great Void, the Star from which all was gradually evolved and which leads all towards liberation from the endless [cycle of life] – Mahasundari Tantra, translated by Danielou
Tararahasya – the Secret of Tara – by Brahmanandagiri, is a compilation of various texts related to Tara, the second Mahavidya. For this abstract, we have used the CSS version of the text (see Bibliography). To view some of the characters on this page, you will need to have installed the Sanskrit 98 font – see this page for instructions. Mantras, where quoted in Roman characters, use the iTrans format.
The Tararahasya is mostly a guide to puja and sadhana of Tara and includes information on her different aspects such as Nilasarasvati, Ugra, Ekajata and the other cluster of Shaktis concerned with this Devi, who often is figured in the list of Mahavidyas, or great goddesses, as second only to Kali. There is some interesting material on inner worship of the different devis.
In connection with Tara, it will be helpful to look at the digest of the Rudrayamala on this site, which details the story, also related in the Brihadnilatantra, about Mahachinachara. A comparatively brief work, the tantra consists of four patalas or chapters.
The author, little of whom is known, first compiles a little hymn to Tara and then refers to the following works as his sources: Tarasara (Essence of Tara), Taranigama, Mahanila, Mahachina, Nilatantra, Tarakalpa, Shaktikalpa, Shaktisara, Rudrayamala, Nilasarasvata, Lingatantra, Yonitantra, Shodatantra, Mahamata, Kulasarva, and the Urdhvamnaya (which may here be a general term for tantras emanating from the upper of the five faces of Shiva). Brahmanandagiri also says he has referred to various other shastras to produce this Tararahasya. Few of the works he refers to seem to be in existence, in printed form at least.
The work describes the morning acts, which begin with the worship of the guru (verse 28).
The Taranigama is quoted to the effect that at morning time one should visualise one’s peaceful guru, on the head, as seated on a white lotus, having two eyes, and two arms, the hands making the gestures (mudra) of bestowing boons and dispelling fears. This guru, says the quoted work, is the form of the supreme Brahman, adorned with various jewels, and seated in the svastika asana, giving all knowledge, and the very essence of the bliss of knowledge himself.
According to the Tarasara in the Rudradhyaya, quoted in the text (verse 43) one should meditate on the yoni covered with svayambhu flowers and the linga, doing one 100 koti recitation of the mantra.
There can be no siddhi in this vidya, that is Tara, unless there is recitation of the mantra in the morning.
The author then begins to speak of the tantrik gayatri(s) of Tara, and of the daily and other rites and meditations which should be performed. These follow the general tantrik pattern. See, for example, the Mahanirvanatantra.
Tara’s gayatri is revealed as the following:
There then follows a section on the sandhya worship of Nilasarasvatim who is situated on a blue lotus, in the middle of the cremation ground, as dark as a thundercloud, and adorned with masses of jewels. The text gives her gayatri as:
A section, the fifth in this chapter and called the Bijakosha then follows, which gives the code words used in various tantras quoted by Brahmanandagiri which allow sadhakas to unravel the bija and other mantras quoted.
The sixth section describes mantras of Tara and attendant devis, including the pancharashmi or five-rayed mantra om hrii.m strii.m huu.m phaT. The Ekajata Shakti Siddhi mantra is revealed, as well as the Kamakhya gayatri. Kamakhya, the text says, is worshipped in all the shastras and bestows both pleasure and liberation. The gayatri is:
There then follows a descripion of Ugratara’s gayatri, as well as a gayatri of Mahakalapriya Devi (beloved of Mahakala). Nilasarasvati gayatri is also revealed.
A section follows on Kulluka (Padmavati) mantra which reads OM padma mahaapadme padmaavati hrii.m hrii.m svaahaa. Then follow a series of instructions on the purashcharana, or preparatory rites, which need to be followed after initiation (diksha) in order to make the mantra perfect. For all Tara goddesses, blue lotuses and bilva leaves must be used. The mantras have to be recited lakhs of times for success.
The first section in this chapter is devoted to details of initiation into the Tara mantras. If, by great good fortune, a sadhaka obtains the Tara vidya, it bestows Iccha siddhi, liberation and the eight renowned siddhis. The mantra should not be revealed. It is to be obtained from a true guru with all the good qualities. Those addicted to gain or lust should not be given the mantra.
Places of initiation include the root of a Bilva tree, a cremation ground, a forest, a riverbank, a guru’s house, a great Pitha, a Siddhipitha, and a place where there is a single lingam. Obtaining diksha on the edge of the Ganges gives a koti koti qualities. Initiation proceeds over a period of days.
Then follows a section describing ritual worship of the Shiva lingam, which is succeeded by a section on inner worship. There is no fruit from puja unless inner worship is also performed.
The first of these relates to Ekajata, and describes the inner bath. The text says the sadhaka should meditate in the heart on a jewelled island in the centre of a nectar ocean, which is covered in Parijata trees, and in the centre of which is a begemmed temple. One should meditate there on a cremation ground and think of the wish-fulfilling kalpadruma tree, in the centre of which is a ruby pitha, studded with other jewels, and in the four directions are corpses and skulls. Then one should meditate in the brahmarandhra on Mahadeva Shiva, the world guru, who has, on his left, Devi Tara, the form of the syllable Om. From this bindu shower waters which descend on the heart via the sushumna nadi. This is the inner act of bathing.
Then in one’s own heart one should meditate on Shiva, adorned with jewels, naked, with a great body, in a desirous mood, with erect penis, with Shakti, the true form of amrita-bliss. She resembles molten gold, is adorned with various jewels, and bedecked with parijata flowers. One should perform this meditation at the three sandhyas (twilights). The mother, Kameshvari is the Devi, the father, Kameshvara, is Shiva, the text says. Meditating on both one becomes lord of the eight siddhis. This is the inner sandhya.
Then follows a meditation of Shiva-Shakti together, who are as bright as millions of fires, suns and moons. A sadhaka should meditate on this image to achieve success. This is the inner act of dhyana.
One should worship Tarini with 10 masses of flowers called daya, kshama, indriyanigraha, jnana, punya, ahimsha, achara, svayambhu, uttama and ananda. These represent kindness, patience or calmness, sense-restraint, knowledge, goodness, non-harmfulness, keeping to the path, independence, adhering to the best (uttama) and bliss (ananda). One should give the five makaras to Tara. Then one obtains siddhi, and not from recitation of the mantra but from Kula worship. This is the inner puja.
The next section says that one should recite the rosary of letters (varnamala) in the different chakras within the human body, ending with visualising letters in the sahasrara chakra. Then one should internally pronounce the matrikas starting from the letter A and going to the letter Ha, each with the nada and bindu, reciting them both in a straight and in a reverse direction 108 times. One should then repeat the letters of the eight letter groups a, ka, cha, Ta, ta, pa, ya, sha together with the nada and bindu.
The next, brief, section in this chapter deals with the inner worship of Ugratara. One is to meditate on her in one’s own heart on a lotus of sixteen petals, and recite her mantra for each of these, mentally offering her liquid. The text appears to say that one should first worship her in the yoni chakra, then leading her by the path of sushumna through the navel chakra to the heart chakra again. Once more one should recite the rosary of letters 108 times.
Then follows the inner worship of Nilasarasvati. The text gives her dhyana, upon which one should meditate in one’s own heart as being as lustrous as the autumnal moon, seated in the pratyalidha asana, wearing tiger skins, with a laughing mouth, very terrifying, and in the viparita sexual posture with Shiva. She is the bestower of the power of giving one poesy. In one’s heart lotus one should meditate that she and Shiva are intoxicated with liquor, kissing one another again and again. They are eating flesh and consume the amrita produced from the bhaga and the lingam. Then one should worship Nilasarasvati with the leftovers (uchChiShTa) and recite the garland of letters internally over and over.
Then follows the unfolding of Ekajata’s yantra. The mantra, is described as hrii.m strii.m phaH Ta.m and is in a yantra which is a triangle, a hexagon, two circles, eight petals, and an enclosure or bhupura. The mantra Hu.m, the so-called kurcha bija, is in the centre of the yantra. In the east is hrii.m, in the south strii.m, in the west Ta.m and in the north phaH. This yantra is for worship. A description of Ugratara’s yantra follows, and then of Nilasarasvati.
The yantras may be inscribed on copper, bone, wood from the cremation ground, gold, silver or iron. Yantras need certain purification before they may be used, and also need to be installed with life. Details of a rite similar to that elsewhere on this site are given. In these rites there are no distinctions between brahmins, kshatriyas, vaishyas, shudras, or women — all are competent to perform these pujas.
Details are then given of the different rosaries which may be used in the worship of Tara and the other devis, as well as the purifications that need to be performed. A section devoted to homa closes this chapter.
This chapter opens with a description of the left-hand rules of Tara which, as mentioned elsewhere on this site, seem to abandon many of the elaborate rules required for other deities.
According to the work, which quotes from the Taranigama, considerations about days of the week, or the chakras used to establish gain or loss are not required in the worship of Tara.
Further, Tara, Mahanila and the other deities in this cluster require the Mahachina or Vamachara way of worship to be satisfied. A person who worships Tara without these rites goes to hell. If a brahmin does the worship without the five tattvas, he becomes a shudra, while if a shudra does worship of Tara with the five tattvas, he becomes a brahmin. This is Kaula worship, requiring Kaula initiation.
The next section in this chapter describes purification of the five tattvas. This includes mantras to remove the curses placed on wine by Shukra, Brahma and Krishna, and obviously flies in the face of Hindu orthodoxy. Then follows a meditation on Amritananda Devi, followed by a meditation on Bhairava as the lord of bliss and of wine.
She resembles a koti (10,000,000) of brilliant suns and a koti of cooling moons, wears red clothes, is adorned with all ornaments and red jewels.
He, the Sudhadeva, a form of Bhairava, is situated in the centre of the ocean of amrita (nectar), is beloved by Bhairavi, and has five faces, with three eyes in each. He is seated on a bull, and has a blue throat (Nilkantha), and adorned with every type of jewel. He has eighteen arms which hold weapons and attributes including a club, a plough, a mace, a sword, a trident, a noose, and a staff, as well as having hands displaying various mudras. Then follows a tantrik gayatri which goes:
This gayatri refers to the union of Shiva and Shakti in the form Ardhanareshvara, where one half of the body is male, and the other is female, and is followed by a rite where the wine vessel is purified, and the goddess of wine invoked.
The third section of this chapter deals with Shakti sadhana, which is preceded by the purification of the meat used in the rite, then the fish (mina). See also Vira Sadhana for a translation of chapter 13 of the Brihadnilatantra, which specifically refers to this rite.
Then follows a mantra devoted to the Shakti in her guise as Kamakhya, which also equates the shakti with Kalika, Tara and Tripurasundari.
Following a lengthy description of rites, the author comes on to the subject of Nyasa, which involves placing bija mantras and other visualisations on different parts of the body. These include here matrika nyasa, yoni nyasa, rishi nyasa, pithashakti nyasa, tattva nyasa, bija nyasa, karanga nyasa, and shadanga nyasa. These are precursors to the Mahachinachara puja, which is itself lengthy, ending with Tara puja, and the necessary rites to clear the place of working.
This last, rather brief section, deals with the performance of rites included in the term trishoda. The first of these, called the secret one, involves placing the vowels of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet before and after the letters of the Tara mantra. These rites also include details about the relationship of the Shakti as Kulakundalini with Tara.
Artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1975-2021. Translations are © Mike Magee 1975-2021.Questions or comments to email@example.com