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ISSN NO: 2454-888X

April-June 2017

From the Editor in Chief’s desk:

By Swami Paranand Tirth


or the séance. The means to get established in

Sahasa and mahasahasa . the asana are lax efforts and absorption in
Ananta or the principle of infinity .
The penultimate effort to enter the realm of
effortlessness has been defined as Anupaya or (प्रयत्नशैथिल्यमनंतसमापत्त्तभ्याम ्)
the absence of all means . The negation of
upaya or means does not mean that there is no The only effort required here is relaxing all
means but means there can be no means . From strenuous effort that an aspirant in the beginning
a bit grosser perspective let us reflect on asana puts in . Effortlessness leads to the unison with
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your essential nature; the more you strive more Dhyana are rather introverted convergence of
strongly do you adhere to the projections of awareness which can be had not by exercising
your lower nature . Usually there is an aberrant ones power of will or action or knowledge but
conception that Shambhava Upaya must be by avoiding all efforts .Beyond this point only
preceded by an assiduous practice of Shakta faith and devotion or the munificence of the
Upaya; after receiving the anugraha in the guru is the only impetus.
form of shaktipata or some other type one can
intuitively experience the futility of all efforts or More you exert more you deviate and at times
upayas especially when the objective is to seek move in just the opposite direction !
unison with one’s essential nature.
During my sojourn in Kashmir at a secluded
cloister one fine morning I woke up with an
Astavakra the rickety hunchback master of king
intuitive insight into the relevance of effort and
Janak instructs his pupil
effortlessness as I recollected Utpala’s verse
that I had been mugging up previous night
“You want to attain samadhi by practice ,this
is your bondage ,samadhi or absorption in
उपायजालं नशशवं प्रकाशयेत ् one's essential nature is innate and
घटने ककं भातत सहस्र दीथितत:
Initiation into this cult of अनुपाय is a great
“No means can lead to Parma Shiva, how can accomplishment, a great break through . After a
a pitcher illuminate the bright sun” certain point in the mystic pursuit the
advancement becomes like a slow cycling race.
For an aspirant it is very difficult to shred the To win the race you go the slowest and if by
entanglement of upaya or effort . The any skill or manoeuvre you can stand still your
impression of cause and effect, actions and their journey within starts .
fruition grip the psyche so strongly that one
cannot imagine any phenomena as transcending Sitting still he dashes far and wide ,Lying quite
this trail . Very few yogi know that beyond the he pervades everything ,muses the Upanishadic
bahirang limbs of yoga all antarang limbs seer *
require effortlessness. Pratyahar ,Dharana and
साहस erroneously defined as inspiration is in superimposition the instant of disillusionment
which suggests "not a serpent but a rope"
fact courageous feat that occurs within an
doesn't actually exist . So the process of the
instant . Another meaning of the word is
transition of awareness from the relative to
instantaneously the virtue of being सहसा . The absolute realm is a very subtle and an arcanely
propitiatory canto of laghustavaa says mystic phenomena . This may happen within a
त ं द्यान्न:सहसा पदै त्रिशभरघं may the divine plank second and may not happen even in
mother shred all our transgressions within a millions of eons . *
 आसीनो व्रजते दरू ं शयानो यातत सववि:
Any one with some preliminaries of monistic
Vedanta can get it more exactly . Time space Swami Paranand Tirth
and substance continuity is within the domain of
the superimposed phenomena denoted by a Founder president CEO
serpent misapprehended instead of a rope
. Since all time is within the domain of YTA yoga Tantra and agama(inc)
YOGTANTRAGAMA ISSN NO: 2454-888X | Issue8 3


The importance of effort has always been slow cycling race. To win the race you go the
stressed upon and all of us have grown hearing slowest and if by any skill or manoeuvre you
about the significance of hard work but in can stand still your journey within starts .”
mystic parlance ‘Effortlessness’ (Sahaja) is
considered the most desirable state of being. Following this we have another thought
Often it has been observed the simplest things provoking write up by Swamiji explaining the
are most difficult to achieve. We generally tend importance of ‘eem’ or ‘Kamakala’ beej mantra
to complicate our lives so much that we lose with respect to 4th Shloka of Laghustava from
touch with the Sahaja bhava residing in us. Pancastavi, a repertoire of coded mystic
Result oriented work, which has become the knowledge. Sublimating of the desiring process
way of working these days gives rise to an in Tantric practices formulates the main idea of
anxious mindset responsible for all the chaos we the article.
see in the world today. Next we have a detailed introduction to his
‘Uselessness’ of art is stressed on precisely scholarly book on ‘Rituals of Kashmiri Pandits’
because the aspect of being useful connects a by Dr. Shashishekhar Toshkhani, a versatile
thing to the mundane world and its complicated expert on Kashmiri art, culture and linguistics.
‘realities’. Immanuel Kant’s ‘Purposiveness Lamenting the amnesia within the community
without Purpose’, a concept given with regard which has reduced its culture and rituals to acts
to judgement of art, probably comes closest to of token symbolism, he hopes that his work can
the idea of sahaja. As he points out if the motive start an active scholarly discussion on the
of the work of art can be seen clearly then it practices and their significance.
simply ceases to be art. It becomes one more In a similar vein Neeraj Santoshi observes the
‘thing’ around us. lack of knowledge of Kashmir Saiva philosophy
Explaining this idea in a nutshell is the in its birth place and vanishing of guru shishya
enlightening editorial on ‘Sahasa and parampara which was the bedrock of all Indian
Mahasahasa’ by our Guru Swami Paranand philosophical systems. In his encounter with
Tirthji. Discussing ‘Anupaya’ (Absence of no Mark Dyczkowski he sees a real scholar seeker
means) as a coveted path aspired by mystic who is trying his best to keep alive the tradition
aspirants Swamiji opines, “ Initiation into this of the great masters of Kashmir Saiva lineage.
cult of अनप ु ाय is a great accomplishment, a Following this we have a short write-up by
great break through . After a certain point in the Geetika Kaw Kher which talks about the
mystic pursuit the advancement becomes like a creative impulse in Pratyabhijna philosophy
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with reference to few verses from

Pratyabhijnahrdayam of Ksemaraja.
The final part of Sunder Shridhar’s Kailas
Mansarovar yatra travelogue in a simple yet
subtle manner talks about the bliss felt at the
feet of the lord of Kailas and the need to
surrender to Him completely to feel the ultimate
We end this issue with a short passage by artist
Suva who reflects on the nature of our life
expectations and limited consciousness which
does not allow us to delve deep in our own

(Dr.Geetika Kaw Kher is Asst. Professor at

Amity School of Fine Arts (ASFA) and
teaches History of Art, Aesthetics and Art
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Emancipation through a refinement of school of meemamsakas so far as theorising is

libido drive . concerned.
Kamakala : The primordial desire .
Out of the grandeur of Parmesvara who
Swami Paranand Tirth manifests as existence, consciousness and bliss
there emanates Shakti. From her springs forth
nada and nada turns into Bindu. The Shakti
mentioned here is a priori of nada and bindu or
यत्न्नत्ये तव कामराजमपरं मंिाक्षरं तनष्कलं word and meaning.
Grammarian mystics evolved their doctrine on
this principle .Shakti is defined by them as the
ु चिेद्भवु व power of consciousness which is the agency that
accounts for the word and meaning
आख्यानंप्रततपववसत्यतपस:यत्कीतवयंतोद्ववजा: relationship. Ancient metaphysics attributes the
cycle of birth and death to this all pervasive
प्रारं भेप्रणारपदं प्रणतयता नीत्वोच्िरं तत रफुटम ्
कामानय:कामयतेकामकामी स कामशभजावयते
In the arcane lineage of tantricism there is a तिति ।
tradition of encrypting otherwise lofty 'A desirous man who pursues his desires is
conceptualisations in aphoristic or discreet accordingly reborn because of his desires. On
syllables called beejakshara. the other hand a desireless man who has
These are meant to convey the subjective attained completion subsides all his desires in
awareness of the master rather than to convey this life only and thus isn't born again.'
the discursive bulk in a nut shell . Krishna
Razdan in his Sanskrit gloss on laghustava says It is strange that both bondage and emancipation
that this mantra is fruitful only when received originate in the desiring part of human psyche.
from a competent guru.The preceptor too should Tantriks however do not begin with gross
impart the entire mystic knowledge at the time actions but with what lies at the root of the
of initiation and not bit by bit. desiring process i.e. the libido drive. A Freudian
libido is an individual drive but a tantrik's
concept of the same is a cosmic one. The
क् signifies the absolute bliss .ल denotes
impetus of सो$कामयत ् (he desired) the creative
stability or eternity ,ईं the most important impulse of the primordial being-besides
syllable of Shri kula is called kamkala and is the decreeing the process of universal manifestation
encryption of the absolute Brahman . This also pervades the individual in the form of
Kamakala has been enunciated as the subtle libido drive.
personification of the universal mother.
Laghuacharya in the first canto mentions two One of the Upanishads propounds that Kama is
manifestations of the divine mother inseparable the essential nature of this purusa .His
though. Word and meaning are termed as Jyoti cogitation is determined by his innate desire or
and Vak or Bindu and nada.Word precedes to put in the verbiage of eastern
meaning in the context of revelations but in a metaphysics इच् ा जन्याकियाभवेत ् 'all
conventional parlance meaning precedes the
word. According to the school of Meemamsa motivations are determined by desiring process
Vedic ritualism, word and meaning relation is or libido drive' .अिो खलु काम मयोयंपुरुष:
innate. Tantric schools however fall in with the
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This was postulated thousand of years before comparable to aatmanand आत्मानंद

Freud or Jung . While both their theories have
.The enlightened seer Yajnavalkya
been refuted by later scholars who hinted at
instructs his consort Gargi :
various limitations this eternal axiom of the
‘ a husband is not loving because he
Upanishads is universally relevant for ever.
is a husband, he is loving because he
The drive for attaining the ultimate bliss is
is your atman.A wife is not loving
Paramananda, a refined and sublimate form of
because she is a wife but she is loving
libido drive. In the arcane Tantra more emphasis
because she is your atman. Wealth is
is laid on sublimating this drive rather than on
not dear because it is wealth but it is
subjugating or transcending it therefore as the
so because it is atman. Everything is
implementation of the aforesaid Vedic dictum
not loving because of it being so. A
Tantriks go about it as follows
son is not loving because he is a son
कामानय:कामयतेकामकामी सकामशभजावयते but because he is atman. Things are
तिति त्पयावप्तकामरयकृतात्मनरय इहै वसवे agreeable not because of being a part
of the objective phenomenon but
प्रववलीयंतेकामा: । because the self is their substratum'.

The mystics evolved a sophisticated system of In a compendium of monistic vedantic-

refining the desiring process Panchadashi, the author of vidyaaranya has
कामेन कामयेत कामी कामं कामेषु योजयेत. cited these mantras and concluded that it is
 Instead of focusing on controlling or
futile to place the fulcrum of agree ability or
subjugating this most cardinal priyatah in anything ephemeral except atman
impetus of humankind the Tantra the substratum. A canon on eastern metaphysics
aimed at its sublimation. This trend says .
also developed in less conservative Priyam tvam rotasyati वप्रयंत्वां रोत्रयतीतत .
Semitic cultures. Refining carnal ‘If your notion of agreeability is any where
tendencies which are also produces of else besides atman that object mistaken as dear
lower nature into subtler and refined will make you cry presumably due to inevitable
forms of platonic, divine and spiritual dissociation’ .
love has been common to most of the
mystic paths occidental or oriental. It is a Herculean task indeed to channelize and
Erose denotes physical and carnal streamline the dissipating "power of will".
manifestations of the collective as Since individual efforts do not suffice so the
well as the individual libido drive. hoary seers of the past invoked compassion
Erose can be sublimated by stopping of the mother of the universe and sought her
the dissipation of Ichha Shakti or the munificence through faith devotion and the
power of will. This requires a knowledge of spiritual practices imparted by
reservoir of such power. Ascetics herself .
accustomed to a great deal of
moderation can help an aspirant by Usually the path of action is related with
inducing his well refined and thus आणवउपाय and that of desire or excercising
divine will into the novice.
 This refined "erose" or what the eastern individual will to शाक्त उपाय .The path of
thinkers called ववषयांद Converts into wisdom and spiritual insight comprises शाम्भव
vidhyaanand ie philos. Refined Erose उपाय . This present cogitation on kamkala is
becomes Philos or ववद्यानंद a the path of effort or Shakti . Kundalini is
comparatively subtler form of ananda. awakened to enhance the pace of spiritual
Still more refined aspect is Agape evolution .Awakened kundalini or completely
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unfolded awareness alone can give an दीघवप्लत

ु ोदात्त with triple long connotation .
unalloyed vision of the absolute truth .When she
Atharva Vedic Omkar is merely the fourteenth
is asleep one is badly caught in the quagmire of
reciprocating objectivity, at times upto the vowel with nasal accent I.e.ओं or ओम ् ,
extent of complete oblivion of one's essential
nature .Hence there is so much stress in the The viva voce tradition of Vedic recital is left
agama on the subservience to the preceptor and with only a few unalloyed branches or shakhas .
observance of the kulacharas or the esoteric This canto has some clues about a branch of
precepts . rikveda in which instead of Omkara the
reciter pronounced eenkar before the
An aspirant who learns the knack of commencement of Vedic recital. This arcane
accumulating and orientating the individual syllable is a coveted knack of streamlining the
willpower syncing it with the cosmic one is awareness among the votaries of tantrikism .
liberated from the fetters of incessant birth and Some mystics claim it's origin in the Asyavam
death ,otherwise it is impossible even to believe suktam of the rikveda .
in the possibility of any such occurrence let This canto of laghustava says that the twice
alone seeking deliverance from. borns recite it like Omkara but owing to its
There is maxim among Vedic scholars that all subtlety and mystic import this is rather the
Vedas emanate from the eternal word or fourth matra of Omkara which cannot be
Omkara and subside into it .The primordial pronounced phonetically ,instead it pervades all
word of god also pervades all human the three components of Omkara if pronounced
expressions specially if it follows the order of with due precision .
manifestation into the audible speech as per the
mystic canons . The primordial word becomes This has also been called as the fourth matra or
three fold as the three modes of vak and then arch matra of Omkara which
eight fold comprising eight groups of Sanskrit as durgasaptashati puts it is यानच् ु िायाव वव
alphabet . The vak as the mystic canons say
mixes up with the fire of consciousness शेषत: which is 'remains un pronounced but
and vital spirit and assumes grosser forms of resonates spontaneously.'
conceivable ideas and expressible utterances. Another mystic phonetic coincidence is
"Just as a leaf is pervaded by veins so is the regarding the elimination of its preceding and
entire vak pervaded by Omkara*. following portions namely क and ल both
guttural and labial palatial syllables which
This has been the most meticulously require some effort and stress in their
conceived arduously practised pronunciation where as the fourth vowel with
and ritualistically propagated holy syllable of nasal resonates spontaneously . There is a
the Hindus . belief among the orthodox votaries of the
*If one recites Vedas not preceded by Omkara eternal and living word that it stands in no need
and not followed by it ,it goes waste . Each
of any effort of pronunciation .तनरपेक्ष रव: is one
Veda has its own version of Omkara .Rikveda
for instance has िैरवयव उदात ्(
of the attributes of the Vedas, the eternal word
with three
that resonates without any effort of
connotations) that is why they put a mark of pronunciation .
three between O and M (ओ३म ्) . Yajurvedic
omkara is called उदात्तानुदात्रवररत: (contains For this time continuum to be consistent the
word must be beginning less and thus end less
all three letters which are required to be .To be beginning less is a must for an entity to
pronounced with उदात्तअनद ु ात्त and रवररत be endless but vice versa may not be consistent .
connotations). Omkar of the Samveda is called Beginningless entity may have an end . The
word as the noted grammarian mystic
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Bhartrihari propounds in his vakyapadiyam (a (In the process of manifesting as letters from a
compendium of word and sentence ) is to ksha the fourth Vowel is eem may it
beginning less as well as endless be victorious as it contains all three realms in
अनाहदतनिनं ब्रह्म शब्दतत्वं यदक्षरम ् its lap. The fourth vowel I.e. Eem is the
manifestation of vak containing all learnings
This obviously signifies the
like the Veda etc. O mother cultivate that
primordial consciousness as conditioned in
eloquence and poesy in me which culminates
Shabd or Shabda brahm.
into the empire of epical composition with all
One famous hymn to the goddess Durga goes as
rhetorics ,similes metaphors and alliteration )
सुिा त्वमक्षरे तनत्ये त्रििामािात्त्मकात्रिता The power of consciousness manifests in the
अिवमािात्त्मकातनत्या या तनच्िायाव ववशेषत: ।( form of fifty odd syllables. Among them the
Durga saptashati) fourth vowel is ever victorious she manifests in
'O imperishable one thou manifest in the form the form of all eighteen faculties of scholarship
of the three portions of Omkara and and all three realms are situated in her lap .
also manifest as the half matra which cannot Kamakala or turban as it is called in the mystic
be pronounced through any effort of the vocal canons ,has the entire syllabus of ancient
chamber ‘. traditional studies nascent in her womb, but this
lineage is highly arcane and the author says if
There are two forms of Omkara says one arcane any wise man is present upon the earth only he
interpretation of the fourth quarter of the can know that this is a key to great erudition .
famous Gayatri mantra (this turya Gayatri has There have been prodigies of extraordinary
been mentioned in the first or second Agni of erudition who received this mantra from
Kathaka Brahman most of which is now competent preceptors . This syllable as
Prithvadharacharya puts it in his hymn to
obsolete . ) the first form is सवद or Bhuvaneshwari has all areas of human learning
pronounceable where as the second one is अवद: encrypted in it , so an adept can induce all his
not pronounceable . The former has a beginning learning into a novice through this syllable .
and therefore an end since it didn't exist before There have been instances in the history of
pronunciation and lasts when the pronunciation Sanskrit scholarship rare though ,when a novice
ends . The latter non pronounceable and latent shared all the learning of his preceptor within no
mystic syllable is the a synthesis of nada and time . There have been instances when a small
Bindu and is usually referred to as kamakala baby began to suckle the toe of a great Saint as
.The version of kamakala in this canto has no ka a child's prank and began to compose
and la . This fourth vowel,of Sanskrit alphabet flawless complicated Sanskrit verses. A student
has been highly spoken off in many prominent was blessed that he will memorise all holy
tantras and agamas . books he saw at a library and he actually did
Prithvidharacharya one of the prominent .The famous pundit is still remembered in Kashi
disciples of Adishankara in his hymn to as a genius who had memorised thousand
bhuvaneshwari says scriptures. ,Another yogi put both his hands on a
dunce child's head and he became an eloquent
आहदक्षांतववलासलालसतया तासातरु ीया तु या
scholar . The famous grammarian Nagesh Bhatt
िोडीकृत्य जगत्िंववजयते। वेदाहदववद्यामयी was a retarded lad who was blessed by a yogi
तां वािं मतयसंप्रसादय सि
ु ाकल्लोलकोलाहल
through shaktipat and he became one of the
most authentic figures in the area of Panini's
िीडाकणवनवणवनीयकववतासाम्राज्यशसविप्रदा descriptive linguistics . Adi Shankaracharya's
(Bhuvaneshwari redemption of Totaka a ten year old retarded
satva) child through shaktipat is famous among the
votaries of his monism. All this happens
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through an induction of this formula of

streamlining human awareness . Laghu acharya
the author of this hymns says that arcane
phenomena is evident only to rare yogins who
belong to this cult .

In the tantrik canons Kamakala has been

semiotically described as a lady draped in green
and carrying an ear of corn crouched on bare
earth . This may be a symbolic depiction of the
all pervading consciousness who besides being
an agency of all cognitive and volitional
faculties also accounts for the process of
germination and vegetative reproduction .
Ancient hoary seers may have foreseen the
future eco imbalance and attributed the
essential measures to this aspect of nature . She
can be revived as an archaic goddess of fertility
and eco awareness . This Indian version of
ancient Mesopotamian and Sumerian goddess of
fertility is still adored by many aspirants who
are initiated into this cult
इत्िं कामकलात्त्मकां भगवतीमंत:समाराियन ्
आनंदांबथु िमज्जनंप्रलभतांमनंिंु सज्जन: (Tripura
Sundari Manaspuja )

‘In this manner by adoring the goddess Kama

kala within themselves
A decent aspirant should submerge into the
ocean of ascetic rapture and attain the
supreme bliss’
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uprooted and were in a state of dispersal. How

A Perspectival Look at the 'Rites and could I witness a Hindu ritual performance in its
Rituals of Kashmiri Brahmins' traditional form outside their eco-cultural
habitat? I knew that scholars from different
Dr. S .S. Toshkhani
parts of the world had been showing a growing
interest in the study of Hindu, and particularly
Passionately drawn towards exploring aspects
Vedic, ritual. But nobody had taken up
of Kashmir’s cultural andintellectual traditions
Kashmiri Hindu religious activity as a separate
though I was from the beginning, I was not
field of scholastic inquiry. This was perhaps
particularly inclined towards venturing into an
because they could not see any perceptible
area like rituals and rites. Rituals, I must
difference between the ritual system they had
confess, were anathema to me as I considered
adopted and that which Hindus in general
them to be nothing more than superfluous outer
followed. The pan-Indian elements were all
ceremony which had nothing or little to do with
there, but there were also some remarkable
religious life in the deeper sense. So when
variations and modifications because
UNESCO scholar, Prof. B. N. Saraswati chose
of deshāchāra which could not be
the subject of rituals and ritual arts of Kashmiri
ignored. Characteristically Kashmiri ritual
Hindus for me to work on as a research project
system had elements which had to be identified
for the Janapada Sampada department of
and analysed while dwelling on the
IGNCA during a brief meeting I had with him
commonalities. Hardly anything systematic had
in early 2002, I did not know what to say. He
been done in this direction by the religious
was heading that department at that time and
historian and social anthropologist, Indian or
was a social anthropologist of
eminence. Rituals, he explained noticing my
discomfiture, were one of the bonds that existed
between the Hindu community of Kashmir and
the cultural life of Hindus of the country at
As I decided to start my study in right earnest, I
large, and should not be understood in a narrow
understood if had to work on regional
sense. They give you a sense of identity. I saw
peculiarities of the ritual traditions and practices
his point, but how to proceed on a subject you
of the Kashmiri Brahmins, I had to comprehend
have been holding in contempt all your
the “formative consciousness” and
life. Kashmir was sort of out of bonds for any
epistemological matrixes from which they had
scholarly work of the nature I had been assigned
sprung. I had to forge my own methodological
to take up. And mass exodus of Kashmiri
and conceptual tools, I thought, and that meant
Pandits from there in wake of terrorist violence
adopting an approach involving study of related
had complicated things. They had been
textual material as well as field work. This
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called for having discussions with available consciousness of a people, even as they seek to
ritual experts and resource persons and there link mundane or natural reality with the divine
were hardly any around either in Delhi or in or trans-natural. They combine in their structure
Jammu for any worthwhile discussions about mental, physical and verbal actions which
regional peculiarities regional peculiarities of achieve a symbolical character giving the whole
the ritual traditions and practices of the a meaning and significance through “invocation
Kashmiri Brahmins. The last of the greatest of the sacred and the transcendent” beyond what
amongst them Pandit Raghunath Kulkiloo had any natural process can give it. As Prof. Daya
passed away some years ago, but Pandit Krishna has pointed out, rituals transform the
Kashinath Handoo was there. The related texts biological cycle into a cultural cycle. That is
too had to be obtained. I sought the help of why, he explains, “... In all cultures birth and
Prof. Bansi Lal Fotedar and it was he who came death are not just biological phenomena but
to my rescue. Interviews with Pandit Handoo profound cultural events associated with a lot of
and some other scholars who were still in the ritual and ceremonies which transform the
field were arranged. That proved of some help, biological into the cultural”. The ritual
at least I was able to clear doubts on some processes that set into motion this
points about which I was yet vague in my mind. transformation of the natural or causal are
Not a real breakthrough though as many who closely related to the attitude of a civilization to
were thought to be knowledgeable about things time and space and their sacralisation and
did not exactly prove to be so. Just at that time symbolization.
I read Fritz Staal, a German expert on Vedic fire
ritual and found him saying that ”Asian rituals Viewing things in the Indian context it can be
are rituals without a religion”, creating doubts said about rites or rituals that they are
about meaning of ritual itself. “Rites become intertwined throughout with human life and
religious” he has written, “when they are human activity, beginning with the birth of an
provided with religious interpretation”. At the individual or even earlier with conception, and
same time he has emphasised that ritual continuing through crucial stages of his or her
traditions have social significance in that they life up to his or her death. Collectively, they are
identify groups and distinguish them from each called samskāras. Apart from these passage of
other. It now became necessary to arrive at a time or life- cycle rituals, there are ceremonies
basic line of approach to the question of what related to different forms of worship in which
actually constituted Hindu religious ritual and the blessings of gods / goddesses are invoked
what could be defined as variation and deviation for fulfillment of worldly desires or for spiritual
at the regional level. Did rituals really have any enlightenment. These worship rituals,
meaning and how did they help in defining commonly known as pūjā may externally vary
identity? in some respects from place to place or in
different social milieus, but they have the same
I noted in this context that Richard H. Davis, basic internal structure.
another eminent Western scholar, but of
medieval Shaiva ritual, is highly critical of such Whether seen as encoded processes of change
scholars who tend to “characteristically present or expressions of reverence for the sacred, the
Indian rituals as instances of highly elaborate fundamental ritual activities prevalent among
routinized behaviour, ignoring the philosophical Kashmiri Hindus, as among other Hindu
foundations on which they are based”. A focus communities of the country, can be broadly
now emerged for my study and I found it found classified under the following
it possible to move ahead. In the new light in heads: (1) Samskāras or life-cycle (passage of
which I began see my subject now I came to time) rituals and other domestic ceremonies,
understand rituals as established patterns of (2) Pūjā or worship services, (3) Tantric
religious activity embedded in the cultural practices and (4) Ritual arts. Eminent ritual
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expert Jayant Burde has divided religious to remove contamination. Bathing, especially in
rituals into these four categories: worship sacred rivers, sipping water (āchamana), and
rituals, rites of passage, festive rituals and lustration or sprinkling of water are believed to
sacraments. According to Nusahi Tachikawa be means of removing physical as well as
and Shaon Hino, religious activity can be spiritual impurities.
divided into two kinds: (1) That which takes as
its goal the spiritual well-being of the Prayers, appeals and blessings are another class
individual, and (2) that which has the purpose of of constituents that can be placed next on the
enabling the group or the society to operate list. Prayer, says the eminent philosopher Prof.
smoothly (festivals, initiation rites Daya Krishna, “seeks the intervention of the
etc.). Following these two noted Japanese transcendent in the normal processes that are
scholars of Indian rituals, it was the study supposed to be governed by causality”. Prayers
of samskāras or life-cycle rituals of Kashmiri for success, health, long life, happiness,
Hindus that I took up first, as these for the obtaining children, material prosperity, spiritual
common people form the core of religious salvation etc. are a common feature of Kashmiri
activity, and then the pūjā rituals. In both cases, Hindu rituals, as also seeking of blessings of
as I noted, rituals serve as means of gods, elders, preceptors and teachers, spiritual
communicating with divine beings or trans- personalities etc.
natural powers that are believed to guide and
influence the course of human actions. While Offering sacrificial food and presents to
benevolent and favourable influences are sought propitiate and please gods and supernatural
to be attracted and appeased, as Dr. Rajbali beings is another major constituent of rituals
Pandey has pointed out, ritual devices are used including those performed by Kashmiri
to ward off or banish harmful and hostile Hindus. Special occasions and festivals have
influences (evil and uncanny spirits, goblins, been set apart in sacred texts to invite, placate
demons etc.), often by invoking the help of and feast them in the hope of obtaining their
deities and gods. In fact, ritual practices all over favours. As we know, apart from oblations of
the world follow a similar pattern – purification, barley, rice, sesame seeds, dried fruits,
banishment, propitiation and consecration. molasses, sugar candy, clarified butter or ghee,
milk etc. at yajñas and havans, the most
After these general characteristics that rituals common food offering to gods made by
display, I went on to describe the constituent Kashmiri Hindus is tāhrī or rice flavoured with
elements of the rites and rituals of Kashmiri turmeric powder and ghee or oil. Sacrificial
Hindus in accordance with the analysis provided food like khicharī and fish and rice is offered to
by the pioneering expert of Hindu samskāras, appease Kubera, the Lord of Yakshas and
Dr. Rajbali Pandey. Agni or fire is the first and the Grihadevatā (Kashmiri gardivtā) or the
most sacred of these components, an dis being Deity of the House, while meat offerings are
worshipped as the presiding deity of sacrifices made to deities like Bhairava, Kālī, Jwālā, and
and domestic rites and ceremonies since the Tripurā. Lambs are also slaughtered to please
Vedic times -- agnim īde purohitam. Fire certain deities with animal sacrifice, though
purifies, consecrates and acts as a protector and such practices have now become rare.
witness to human intent. Offerings are made
into fire and through it to the gods in almost Like their co-religionists elsewhere in the
every ritual performance. Kashmiris burn country, Kashmiri Hindus attach great
bdellium and sesame seeds in a kāngrī during significance to orientation or direction the
weddings and other ceremonies for performer should take while performing a ritual
auspiciousness and to banish evil spirits. Water, act. Direction of movement in domestic and
a symbol of life itself, is the next important other rituals is clearly specified in the religious
constituent for its purifying effects and powers texts they follow. Citing Gobhila’s Grihyasūtra,
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Veena Dass observes: “...The right side has Divinatory methods, based on the belief that
precedence over the left in rituals to mark the gods indicate what is to come in the future
passage of time, as in the morning and evening through the medium of natural phenomena and
oblations to be made to the fire on the advent of other agencies, too have an important place in
the new moon and full moon”. She further the pattern of ritualistic behaviour of the
writes: “Similarly, in all rites of transition Kashmiri Pandits. Besides liturgical utterances
except death the use of the right side is and acts, gods are sought to be pleased in their
prescribed.” The opposition between right and rituals through song and dance which are
left, she explains, “is clearly associated with believed to evoke generosity and benevolence
‘rites to gods’ and ‘rites to ancestors’, the from them in the form of material prosperity,
former being associated with propitiation of success and protection from misfortunes as well
divine beings who are friendly and benevolent, as for bringing in auspiciousness.
the latter being associated with those
supernatural beings who have to be appeased, After these general observations, arose the
who inspire terror and have the potential of question of accessing the particular ritual texts
causing great harm if they are not regularly which provide the parameters for the Kashmiri
propitiated.” This applies fully to the domestic Hindus to follow in their ritualistic behaviour.
rites of Kashmiri Hindus as well, though they Foremost among these is the Grihyasūtra of
follow the directions given in different texts. Laugakshi. I had heard about Laugakshi but his
Following Indian mythology, they too consider name was only a faint echo in my ears. He had
south to be the direction of Yama, the god of written his Grihyasūtra for adherents of the
Death, and hence inauspicious. In all rites Kāthaka school of Krishna Yajurveda to which
performed by them the subject faces the east, Kashmiri Brahmins belong. But to obtain an
which is associated with light and warmth, and insight into its ordainments also to know to
therefore “happiness and glory”. what extent they were practically followed by
the Pandits required that the text be studied
Observance of taboos on is yet another feature seriously. Though listed among the
that marks the ritual behaviour of Hindus of important grihyasūtras, the Laugakshi
Kashmir. These are associated with Grihyasūtra is not a much commented upon
circumstances like pregnancy, childbirth, text. I learnt, the rules and regulations laid
adolescence, marriage and death and are related down by Laugakshi Muni alone are regarded by
to purity and impurity (shauch-ashauch, the Kashmir Pandits as the true norm and source
auspicious-inauspicious (shubha-ashubha) or of their āchāra, no other grihyasūtra being used
else to warding off evil influences and the evil in Kashmir for guidance in performance of
eye and other possible dangers. Then there are rituals and rites. Can anyone beat it --the
taboos associated with certain months or days Pandits follow Laugakshi’s ordainments but
which are believed to be inauspicious and when know nothing about him or about the Kāthaka
certain things should not be done. There are school to which they belong. To excavate the
also minor taboos connected with food which facts I buried myself in Laugakshi’s text,
are followed mainly from protecting a person photocopies of which were very kindly provided
from evil influence or impurity which may be to me by well known scholar and author Dr.
physical, moral or spiritual. Fasting, abstaining Rames Taimiri. For this I shall ever remain
from taking non-vegetarian food on particular thankful to him. I managed to make some
days or occasions and notions of purity and headway, but there was a whole host
impurity in cooking, prohibition or prescription of grihyasūtras followed in India -- those
of particular type of food – these are also written by Āshvalāyana, Gobhila, Āpastamba,
included in the kind of taboos that the so-called Pāraskara, Hiranyakeshī, Mānava for instance. I
orthodox among Kashmiri Pandits observe. had to acquaint myself about them too and their
peculiarities for a proper understanding of
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Laugakshi’s text and context. It was a reflected in other sources of inquiry like the
stupendous task but all the same important to Nilamata Purana and Bhringisha Samhita. And
undertake as no Western or Indian scholar had if Laugakshi’s Grihyasutra form the Vedic
cred to render it into English nor an Indian substratum of the ritual system of the Kashmiri
language with the exception of W. Caland who Hindus, the latter texts represent a stage when
has written some notes and comments on it in this substratum was overlaid by elements of
English. Puranic and Tantric modes of worship. By the
time of the Nilamata Purana, a 6th century text
When exactly did Laugakshi live and when did which gives Kashmir’s own creation myth, the
the vast grihyasūtra literature came to be Vedic fire sacrifice (yajña) was replaced by
composed? Scholars as usual do not agree, but practices like vrata (observance of religious
if Veena Das is to be believed, vows), dāna (charity), japa (repetition of the
the grihyasūtra litertature was composed deity’s
sometime between c. 500 – 200 BCE, and that name), utsava (festivals),tīrthayātrā (pilgrimage
is the date we can ascribe to our Laugakshi ), pūjā (individual or collective worship of
also. The Vedic elements with which iconic deities), upavāsa (fasts) etc. A
his Grihyasūtras are replete seem to confirm significant feature of religion in the Nilamata
this. The text of the Grihyasūtra was brought era was the emergence of a whole new pantheon
out in two volumes under the Kashmir Sanskrit of gods and goddesses, mostly of local origin,
Texts Series by Jammu and Kashmir Research who could be invoked through their
and Publications Department in 1928 and 1934 anthropomorphic images. Thus, besides the
respectively. It was critically edited by Pandit worship of the five major Puranic deities, viz.
Madhusudan Kaul Shastri who wrote a very Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Durga, Ganesha in their
valauble Introduction to the first volume giving various manifestations and Surya the Sun god,
preliminary information about the work, the the Nāga deities, the deities of the Pañcharātra
author and the commentator Devpala. Pandit and the Bhāgvata cults, Kubera, even Buddha,
madhusudan Kaul had promised to write a Vitasta and many other river goddesses
detailed introduction to the second volume as and deities of local origin found their place in
well but did not do so. According to him Aditya the religious belief system.
Darshana wrote a vivarna on it while
the Paddhati was written by Brahmanbala The ever joyful and sportive people of the era
and bhāshyam by Devapala. Devapala’s who tried to live in perfect harmony with the
commentary, Pandit Madhusudan Kaul tells us, beautiful natural environs of the Valley,
has been incorporated in the text but in a way celebrating festivals galore. In spite of a
that it is difficult to distinguish between the two. religious veneer, many of their festivals
The Italian scholar Dr. Caland had also ike Krishyārambha,Yāvagrāyana, Navānna-
critically edited Laugakshi’s Grihyasūtras with vidhāna, Shyāmādevī Pūjana, Irāmañjarī Pūjā,
extracts from the three commentaries and Navasamavatsara
addition of appendixes and indexes. I found the Mahotsava, Navahimāpātotsava and
commentary useful at places but I also took the the vratas of
help of Shatpatha Brāhmana and several other Uttarāyanaand Dakshināyana were actually
primary and secondary sources to have a better related to agriculture and the cycle of
understanding of things. seasons.Some of these festivals such as
the Navasamvatsara
But while the rites and rituals of Kashmiri Mahotsava (Navareh) and Navahimapātaostsav
Brahmins are primarily anchored in a (Navashīn) continue to be celebrated to this
theLaugakshi Grihyasūtra, there are also day. Festivals
various phases through which they have passed like Irāmañjarī Pūjana and Shrāvanī Utsava sh
in terms of their historical development as ow the kind of catholic and liberal values the
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society of the times cherished and the freedom with their legends, mantras, hymns, and modes
that women enjoyed. On the Irāmañjarī Pūjana, of worship. What assumes great importance in
men and women were urged to visit gardens and this context is that some scholars are trying to
parks and adorn each other with garlands of deny any antiquity to two of the most popular
the Irāmañjarī flowers, while on local goddesses Rāgñyā and Sharika, in
the Shrāvanī festival young maidens are asked particular the former who they argue came into
to enjoy water sports. Sukhasaptikā, which was existence only recently. How did the worship
perhaps the same as Diwali, was a festival of a “Vaishnavite” goddess who is offered only
dedicated to Kāmadeva, the god of Love. vegetarian offerings like milk, sugar
candy, khīr etc. come to gain such tremendous
Nilamata also describes in detail a number of popularity among by Kashmiri Pandits after the
places of ancient pilgrimage, mentioning their advent of Dogra rule only, they ask. Claiming
legends and significance. These include that she is a creation of the Dogra rulers who
Amareshwara or Amarnath, Kapalamochana were followers of Vishnu by faith, and therefore
and other tirthas which continue to be places of vegetarian, they argue that a vegetarian goddess
pilgrimage even now. Nilamta is not ritual text is incompatible with the traditions of Tantric
as such, but a lot of information about rituals Kashmir and cannot otherwise be explained
performed in that age can be gleaned from it. except an anachronism. They also refer to the
There is also a clear thrust towards folk legend given in the Samhitā in the section
religious practices in this personal purāna of titled Shrī Rājñī Prādurbhāva about the goddess
Kashmiri Hindus. having been brought from Lanka by Hanumana
to prove their point. An example of such logic
More valuable from the ritualistic point of view can be seen in the recently published book ‘A
is the Bhringīsha Samhitā which incorporates Goddess is Born: The Emergence of Khir
various tīrtha mahātmyas or glorification of Bhawani in Kashmir’ written by Madhu Bazaz
sacred sites and sheds valuable light on the Wangu. What such scholars forget, and they
sacred geography of Kashmir. Though the exact include T. N. Madan, a sociologist of
date of the Samhitā is difficult to detrermine, international repute, is that there are several
Dr. Yashpal Khajuria, who has edited its Shri historical references to Tulmul as a place of
Ranbir Singh Research Institute edition, is of pilgrimage, besides the fact that it was the well-
the view that it must have been composed known mystic saint Krishna Joo Kar, a great
sometime between the 5th century and devotee of the Mother Goddess, who
12th century of the Vikrami Era, though it is also rediscovered and demarcated the area of the
possible that some portions of it may have been sacred spring in which the image of the goddess
incorporated much later. The name of the sage is installed and lived in the 17th century in the
Bhringisha, to whom it is ascribed, is associated time of Aurangzeb. The present temple was
with ancient sages like Kashyapa and constructed there no doubt by Maharaja Pratap
Shandilya. The text marks for the first time the Singh in the year1920, but before that a
dominance of Shaivāgamic and Shākta cults in 10th century idol stood there under a mulberry
the religious life of the Kashmiris as reflected in tree which was in place there when Swami
the its glorification of the sacred sites dedicated Vivekannada made a pilgrimage to the shrine
to various deities worshipped in Kashmir. in1898. (It may be noted that the word tul in
Beginning with Tulmul, where the famous Kashmiri means mulberry.) These scholars
shrine dedicated to Mahārājñī, popularly also fail to note that Bhavani means the consort
pronounced as Mahārāgñyā, or Khīr Bhavānī is of Bhava, a name of Shiva and that she is
located, the Bhringīsha Samhitā (BS) goes on to represented with all the iconography of
describe the significance of the shrines of Durga. Furthermore, devotion to Vishnu was an
Sharikā, Jwālā, Jyeshthā, Shāradā and other equally dominant feature of Kashmiri religious
manifestations of the Mother Goddess together life along with Shaivism and Shaktism. The
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Nilamata Purana shows a clear tilt towards centres of India like Ganga, Godavari, Prayag,
Vaishnavism and scholars say that cults like the Kurukshetra, Pushkar etc. This is so not just
Pañcharātra had taken their birth there. Apart because the tīrthas in mainland India were
from that, amalgamation of two goddesses into inaccessible in the winters to the common man
one can be seen in Sharada, the goddess of because of excessive snowfall, but because of
speech and learning, also who is shown seated the deep reverence for these centres in the
on a lion indicating Saraswati and Durgā Kashmiri Hindu psyche. That is perhaps the
merging into one. reason that almost every sacred river is given
the appellation of Ganga by them – Dūdh
The glorification of the shrine of Shārikā Gangā, Nila Gangā, Kishengangā, etc. Another
Parrvata (modern Hari Parbat) is described in important aspect that I have highlighted is that
much greater detail in BS, covering six pātalas in the local sacred texts like Nilamata Purana
or sections. Linking it with the creation myth of and BS we find chanting of Vedic mantras
Kashmir, the sacred text narrates how the Great juxtaposed with Puranic hymns and Tantric
Goddess Durgā herself took the form of mantras and ritual practices. This makes it
a shārikā or starling to deliver the land from the obvious that while the Vedic elements
terror of the demon Baka and crushed him under continued to play an anchoring role, Puranic and
a peak of Mount Sumeru which she was Tantric liturgy had come to be regarded as the
carrying as a pebble in her beak, BS also tells us established norm in the ritualistic behaviour of
about the various deities that occupy various Kashniri Hindus. In fact the juxtaposition of all
places along the entire periphery of the sacred the three elements continues to constitute the
hill. It is through the Samhitā we come to know core of their religious life down to the present
that the Goddess Sharikā is to be worshipped in times. This shows Kashmiri hindu rituals having
the form of a natural Shrīchakra inscribed on a three tiered structure – Vedic, Puranic and
the main rock that represents her and that this Tantri.c
rock is to be smeared with vermilion and ghee.
It also describes the offerings that are to be Apart from the glorification of places of
made to her on different days of the week and pilgrimage, significance of important festivals
ways for circumambulation of the sacred and celebrations of Kashmiri Hindus,
hill. The dhyāna shloka of the goddess given in like Shivarātri, Navavarshotsava or Navreh and
BS shows Sharikā carrying among other things a number of other religious celebrations with
a ploughshare in one of her eighteen hands their exclusively Kashmiri features l also forms
which Durgā. Does this indicate that she was a substantial part of the BS. About these I will
originally an agricultural goddess who was later discuss a little later, but suffice it to say here
identified with Durgā herself. that this raises the question of the essential
nature of these festivals underlining as it does
Among the numerous other sacred sites of that festivals and yātrās are related to
Kashmir whose spiritual significance BS civilizational memory. The celebration of
celebrates are Amarnath and the sacred stops “foundational festivals” can be seen as
that fall en route, Harmukh and Gangabal, enactment and re-enactment of cultural events
Kapalmochan, Martanda, Pushkara, Sangam supposed to have occurred in the remote
etc. The rituals and ceremonies associated with past. They are related to civilizational memory
them represent a period in the religious history and, as Prof. Daya Krishna has pointed out, are
of Kashmir when the temple and places of internalized to “such a degree that a person
pilgrimage had become centres of group finds his identity in participating in them” and
religious activities for Hindus. An interesting even feels “that a very important part of himself
feature of the work is that quite a number of the would be missing if he does not do so”. While
pilgrimage places of Kashmir it describes are the cycle of festivals points to their relationship
named after well-known Hindu pilgrimage with civilizational memory in time, the notion
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of pilgrimages to places deemed to be sacred is deceased with a jñāna khadga or Sword of

linked with “the spread of memory to knowledge made of thirty-six blades of grass
space”. This notion of a journey to these places corresponding to the thirty-six tattvas of Shaiva
that an individual would like to undertake cosmology. I have given full details
sometime, as Prof. Daya Krishna points out, of Shivakarma antyeshti rites in the
consists of the feeling that by doing so “he book. However, many rituals mentioned in the
becomes a part of something larger than himself Kashmiri Tantric texts are lost and there is no
and through which he achieves a personal track of them.
identity at a deeper level of his being”.
The Vaishnavite Tantric cult of Pañcharātra
I also consider it necessary to mention here that with its own elaborate system of rituals must
Tantric modes of worship and ritual have also left an impact on the ritual behaviour
practices of esoteric cults came to occupy the of of Kashmiri Hindus. The cult is believed to
centre-stage in the religion practiced in Kashmir have flourished in Kashmir in early times and
from the 7th century onwards and with an according to some had its birth there. These
extensive body of sacred texts, known as the have been described in full detail in Pañcharātra
Bhairava Tantras, exerted a pervading influence texts like the Jayākhyā and Ahīrabudhnya
on the Kashmiri Hindu mind. These included Samhitās. Today we have only a vague
the Rudra Yāmala Tantra, MaIini Vijaya Tantra, reminder of Kashmir having been a an
Svachchanda Tantra, Netrta Tantra, important seat of the cult in the
Mrigendra Tantra, Vamakeshvara Tantra and appellation Pradyumna Pītha given in BS to
Yogini Tantra among various others. The Hari Parbat. Pradyumna, it may be pointed out,
schools of Agamic Shaivism like Krama, Kula is one of the four vyūhas or deities of the cult
and Trika gained fast popularity and a dominant representing cosmic reality.
position when in the 10th – 11th century the great
Abhinavagupta synthesized them under one These then can be regarded as the main sources
exegetical scheme as monistic Shaivism in his of inquiry about the ritual system of Kashmiri
monumental work, the Tantraloka, interiorizing Hindus. Coming back to samskāras or life-cycle
their rites and rituals. According to Navjivan rituals, I have drawn attention to the fact that
Rastogi it is the most comprehensive and exigencies of circumstances brought about by
important single source of information about the the near total displacement of Kashmiri Pandits
various aspects of Shaiva ritual have greatly affected their ritualistic behaviour,
with mantra, mudrā, nyāsa, mandala, dīkshā, ch contributing further to the cultural loss suffered
aryā, upāsanā and yāga as its constituents. It by them due to the processes of modernization.
also deals with the nitya karma or daily rites Prolonged contact with Islam and Islamic way
and naimittika karma or occasional rites as also of life has done incalculable harm to their
with antyeshti or funerary rites and shrāddha or consciousness of their own traditions and
post- funerary rites which are performed by the religious practices, blunting their perceptive
little known sect of Shivakarmī. The latter are faculties. Of the sixteen standard samskāras
actually practitioners of rituals of non-dual they are today practically performing only the
Shaivism of Kashmir. These rituals are very bare essential ones like mekhal or sacred thread
lengthy, elaborate and complicated, consisting investiture, nethar or marriage ceremony
of a series and antyeshtior funerary rites, and even that to
of pūjās, nyāsas, mudrās, mandalas, yāgas, hom the minimal extent.
as and mantric devices. For the Shiavakarmīs,
Shiva alone issupreme and is to be worshipped A few words about the role of samaskāras in
along with deities of Shiva Brahmānda or the the Hindu tradition become essential here. It is
Cosmos of Shiva. In their funerary rites the essential to note that samskāras consist of
performer of the rites strikes at the head of the processes “by which the natural is transformed
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into the cultural”. The process of some interpret these words as a distortion of
transformation starts with conception itself in “punahsantu”meaing “May you have more
the biological cycle of an individual which gets children”, “panasund”may actually be remnant
intimately related to that of another human of a forgotten mantra or
being of the opposite sex, leading to a new hymn. Though kāhnethar or the eleventh day
human being coming into existence. The life purification rites corresponding to a blend
cycle of the newly born person in turn gets of jātakarma and nāmakarana and zarakāsay o
closely intermixed with the life cycles of the r mundana, the first tonsure of the male child,
parents for the rather long period of growing up and perhaps annaprāshana or ceremonial
and attaining maturity. It also gets enmeshed feeding of a new born child with solid food, are
with the cycles of his siblings and other still performed by some, the precise dates
members of the family, as also their peers and prescribed in the sacred texts are no longer
marks the beginning of socialization with adhered to. Modifications have been introduced
cultural values like love and sensitivity for each in the performance of other domestic rituals too
other’s concerns and respect for the elders due to circumstances. However, mekhalor the
coming into play. The “ritualistic consecration” sacred thread investiture ceremony continues to
of marriage of two individuals starts it all. It is be regarded as the most important initiation
the symbolic character of the ceremonies ritual prior to marriage for a boy. It is rather
performed at different stages of life right from strange that the wearing the mekhalā or girdle to
the “biological moment” of conception to death put the loin cloth in place, which is only a part
that imbues these natural processes with the of the ceremonies
significance of a cultural dimension. The of upanayana or yajñopavīta has become the
ritualistic procedures of karmakānda for nomenclature of the whole samskāra. This is
transformation of the biological reality into something that needs investigation. But one
cultural consciousness, is what lends thing must be noted. Today it has become an
Hindu samskāras with a meaningfulness and outward sign of being a Hindu Brahmin, just
purposive character that raises human beings to astshog or the tuft of hair was sometime back.
a level beyond the purely biological existence of
non-human beings. The subtle impressions The upanayana samskāra or sacred thread
that samskāras leave on mind set into motion nvestiture ceremony as performed by Kashmiri
processes that lead to acculturation and Pandits seems to have been reduced to farce
socialization. with a compact of as many as twenty four
ceremonies right
Although the Laugakshi Grihyasutra gives from garbhādāna, kāhanethar, zarakāsay and
details of the sixteen standardsamskāras, vidyārambha to samāvartana being rolled into
Kashmiri Pandits have been done away with one. But many of the indigenous ceremonies
most of the prenatal ceremonies, including dŏd like divagōn, närivan khārun, tĕkytāl, vāridān a
dyun or curds ceremony which was performed nd ādidarshun have a great charm of their own
till a few decades back. Among the post-natal which they have retained.. The närivan
ceremonies khaārun ceremony appears to resemble
too jātakarma or shrānasŏndar,which consists the simāntonnayana ceremony in some ways
of ritual bath given to the mother and child on with husbands adorning the hair of their wives
or after the sixth day of birth, is hardly with the help of small mulberry
performed as a religious ritual. On the shrāna twigs. Performed prior to upanayana of a boy
sŏndar day, it may be pointed out, ladies would or the marriage ceremony of a boy or a
assemble in the confinement room of the mother girl, divagōn is indeed a uniquely Kashmiri
and pass lighted pieces of birch-bark around the ceremony, colourful and exciting. On this
head of the new born and all those who are occasion the to-be bride is decorated with bridal
present, shouting “shokh ta panasund”. Though jewellery for the first time. This includes
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the dejihor, the symbol of her married status, River Saraswati on the banks of which the
which is said to be designed as a stylized form Brahmins of Kashmir are believed to have
of shrīchakra. The ornament is a late comer and originally lived. The river, says the hymn,
shows the xtent of the influence of the Shākta distributes its sweet waters as a mother
cult on Kashmiri Hindus. The word divagōn is distributes her wealth to the daughter:
probably derived from
Sanskrit devāgamana and entails invoking the Āsyandamānā subhage nirgiribhyah Saraswati /
presence of gods – Ganesha and the sapta Māteva duhitribhyah kulyābhyo vibhajā vasu //
māttrikās – to bless the intiate or the boy or girl
to be wedded. It begins with a ritual bath given [LGS Vol. I, 25 / 19]
to the initiate or would -be bride or bridegroom
by four maiden holding a cloth over their heads Praising the goddess Saraswati, to whom
and pouring oblations into the sacred fire. On Kashmiri Brahmins are so deeply devoted, the
the eastern wall drawing of akalpavriksha or the husband describes her as a gracious and
wish-fulfilling tree supposed to be the abode of beautiful lady of resplendent complexion,
the divinities in Nandanavana or the Garden of beautiful eyes and eyebrows, and prays to her to
Paradise is made on a shatchakra base protect the lifelong companionship between him
symbolizing Shakti is made for the and his bride.
invocation. The drawing is called divtamūn in
Kashmiri meaning ‘column of the gods’. Another unique ceremony is about ceremonial
entry of the ganga vyas or River Ganga
The yajñopavīta ceremonies do not conclude personified as the bride’s personal friend soon
with samāvartana or the ceremonial return of after the madhuparkaceremony. This is
the brhamachārī after the supposed end of his mentioned in the karmakānda manual brought
student career. On the day following the sacred out by Pandit Keshav Bhatt Jyotshi. The role is
thread investiture, a small homa is performed to played by a young girl from the bride’s side
thank the gods for everything having passed off who acts as a confidant of hers. Nothing is
well. known about the origin or purpose of this
ceremony, but it appears that in ancient times
Marriage, or nethar as it is called in Kashmiri, the bride was actually led to the banks of a river
is regarded by the Kashmiri Hindus as the most by her female friends for a ritual bath. Later,
important of all samskāras as it forms the during the Muslim rule, most probably during
cultural pivot around which the life of a person the Afghan period, this ritual must have been
as a householder revolves and ensures discontinued for fear of harassment. Supposed
continuation of the family and the race through to be the embodiment of the holy river itself, the
the progeny. A Kashmiri Pandit marriage has young girl is understood to function as a witness
all the core elements that constitute a Hindu to the purity and sanctity of the marriage
wedding, but it also has several peculiarities that ceremonies.
are distinctly Kashmiri, being a charming and
yet a serene affair. Like mekhal, it too There are some other uniquely interesting
has divagōn as an essential constituent with features of a Kashmiri Pandit wedding that need
Ganesha and the sapta mātrikās showering mentioning. These include ceremonies
benedictions on the bride and the bridegroom. I like dvāra pūzā and posha pūzā’, the latter
would like to point to two ceremonies in probably showing an influence of
particular as they are suggestive of historical the Shivakarmī cult. After the bride’s father
and civiliztional facts.. One is remembrance of and the bridegroom’s father have greeted each
Saraswati, the river and the goddess both. As other and the wedding guests have settled down
the wedding is going on, a hymn is recited by to enjoy the wedding feast, the bride and the
the bride and the bridegroom in praise of the bridegroom are called to perform the dvāra
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pūzā at the entrance gate of the bride’s house. “sacrifice” or an act of expiation through the
The bridegroom cannot enter the house without medium of fire. This is because of a deep
performing this ceremony at which the guardian influence of Shaiva ritual and it has made the
deities of the gate are invoked and worshipped death rites among them very elaborate. It is the
according to set procedure. They include “final” sacrifice”, according to the Shaivas,
Ganesha, Dharma, Adharma, Dehalī, Khinkhinī before the departed soul attains liberation or
and gods of the ramparts of the Sumeru identification with the “supreme state of
Mountain. The doors are taken to be the Shivahood”. The funerary rituals of the sect
thresholds between the outside world and the known as Shivakarmīs are even longer and more
consecrated space inside, offering passage into a complicated as they involve performance of a
new phase of life. It is considered essential to whole set of purification rituals even on the
pay homage to these guardian deities of the door cremation ground to consume and destroy the
to ward of perils and dangers and bring in karmic bonds of the deceased. The extreme
protection and auspiciousness. Before entrance shortage of performing priests after the exodus
the bridegroom and later the bride are made to of Kashmir Pandits from Kashmir has made the
stand on the consecrated cosmic circle called situation indeed very difficult for those who
the vyūg and are identified with Shiva and want to perform the last rites of their deceased
Parvati or Lakshmi and Narayana. These very kin according to Kashmir rites as other priests
gods guarding the entrance, it may be pointed are not acquainted at all with the procedures of
out, are also worshipped the Kashmiri ritualistic system.
during Grihapravesha or the ceremony of
entering a new house. I have devoted a whole long chapter to
Kashmiri pūjā rituals and festivals, analysing
Posha Pūzā is the concluding and one of the their structural aspects, history and also
most important ceremonies of Kashmiri Hindu distinguishing characteristics. Rites are
marriage without which the nuptials are prescribed in religious texts for the nitya or
regarded as incomplete. The bride and the daily worship and naimittikaor acts of worship
bridegroom are made to sit under a red canopy performed on sacred dates and special
and worshipped with flowers as embodiments of occasions. The latter include religious festivals,
Shiva and Parvati by their parents and close birthday celebrations, propitiation of planetary
relatives. The benedictory verses recited on this deities etc. in which elements from folk
occasion refer to the names of gods and religion, mystic rites, cultic practices all
goddesses, sages and seers, ancient warriors and combine and co-exist as constituents.
famous kings and queens, pious mothers etc., Conceptualization of cosmic forces and
perhaps to remind the couple of having ideal symbolization of ceremonial acts and
children like them, and wishing them a firm and movements are significant aspects of
loving relationship like ideal couples of Vedic Kashmiri pūjā rites, their basic ritual structure
and Puranic lore. The gods are invoked seeking being related to the shodasha upchāra pūjā or
their blessings so that they may obtain long life, the sixteen-step worship service which is the
learning, wealth, happiness and, of course, norm followed by Hindus everywhere, with of
“many sons” . The ceremony seems to have to course some modifications and variations
do with Shivakarma ritual tradition. prompted by local factors. In its simplest form it
starts with āvāhana or invocation to the deity to
As in the case of rituals of life, in performing be present at the ritual setting, after which life is
rituals of death too Kashmiri Hindus are guided infused into the image by means of the
by notions of purity and impurity (shaucha- prescribed mantras (prāna pratishthā)
ashaucha) and auspicious-inauspicious signifying that it is not the external image but
(shubha-ashubha). But even more than that, the living deity present inside it who is being
they regard the ritual of cremation as a worshipped. After being invoked, the deity is
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welcomed as a guest and offered seat (āsana), by swastika and shrīchakramarks made on it by
water for washing feet (pādya), libation of vermilion, it is placed on an ashtadala
sacred water with rice grains, Dūrvā grass and kamala or eight-petal lotus drawn with rice
flowers (arghya), water for rinsing the mouth flour or lime powder on the ground at the ritual
(āchamanīya), bath for purification (snāna), site towards the east and on the left side of
lower and upper garment the agnikunda. Vishnu is supposed to occupy its
(vastra and upavastra), fragrant materials mouth, Rudra its neck and Brahma its bottom.
(gandha), flowers (pushpa), incense (dhūpa), The group of mātrikās is known to reside in the
lamp (dīpa), and last of all food (naivedya) middle part. Indra, Agni, Varuna, Vāyu and
which is partaken by the performer and the Yama all reside inside it. The kalasha also
participants as the deity’s gift of grace. The represents the ten directions along with their
worshipper concludes presiding deities. All the oceans and the earth
the pūjā with namaskāra or salutation to the with its even continents rest in the interior part
deityand then offering flowers and waving of it. The Vedas – Rig, Yajus, Sāma, and
lamps (ārātrikā). With mantras he bids farewell Atharva, with all their auxiliary texts assemble
to the deity (visarjana). In case of in the water pot:
congregational or public pūjāperformed in
temples and sacred shrines, the concluding act is Kalashasya mukhe Vishnuh kanthe Rudrah
that of pradakshināor circumambulation. The samasthitah / mūle tatra sthito Brahmā madhye
Kashmiri Hindus have, however, reduced it now matriganah smritāh / kukshau tu sāgrāh
to pañchopchāra and even further to what has sarvesaptdvīpā vasundharā / Rigvedo tha
been given the name of “dhūpa-dīpa”. Yajurvedah Sāmavedo hy’ Atharvanah /
angaishcha sahitāh sarve kalashantu
There are several other important ritual acts samāshritāh //
associated with pūjā, like purification of self,
the ritual setting, and ritual objects, prānāyāma, Kalasha pūjā begins with the hymn portraying
recitation of the Gāyatrī mantra called vyāhriti, the Vedas as the wish-fulfilling tree and praying
waving a five-wick oil or camphor lamp to it for protection.
(ratnadīpa), holding a parasol (chhatra) over
the image of the deity, blowing a conch There are special procedures for special pūjās
(shankha) and singing hymns to the as, for instance, those associated with
accompaniment of a ringing hand-bell (ghantā). festivals. Linked with civilizational memory,
This is what Richard Davis has termed as “the which they help to enact, festivals and
least common denominator of Pūjā as a form of celebrations can be described as cultural events
Hindu worship”. It is within this broad internalized by people to such an extent that
structural and conceptual framework that they feel compelled to participate in them as
regional variations, modifications and additions they find their identity in doing so.
have emerged and given shape to peculiarities
that can be distinctly identified as “Kashmiri”. An interesting fact about some Kashmiri Hindu
festivals that I have tried to investigate is that
Kalsha pūjāna or worshipping or the water pot their dates fall one or two days earlier than the
is an essential preliminary of day on which they are celebrated in the rest of
Kashmiri pūjā cermonials as it is believed to be the country. Shivaratri and Janmashtami are
the abode of all gods. According to Heather two examples of such festivals. As for
Elgood it conveys the idea of fullness and is Shivaratri, the most important of Kashmiri
“such a central element in and symbol of Hindu Pandit festivals, it is celebrated on tryodashī or
art that no ceremony can be performed without thirteenth day of the dark half of the month of
the installation of an auspicious Phalguna and not on chaturdashī as in the rest
vessel”. Consecrated of India. The celebrations actually extend from
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the pratipadā or the first day to amāvasyā or the these images have been floated, but
last day of the dark fortnight or even beyond to the sanipŏtul actually represents five-faced
the tenth day of the bright half. Digging into the Shiva (Svachhandanāth Bhairava?) on which
pages of some forgotten Tantric texts, I have water is sprinkled for abhisheka. The
excavated the story of the Jwālālinga about the etymology of Vāgur is more confusing. Could it
origin of the festival. Describing the whole be derived from Vyāghreshvar – probably the
festival in all its details and symbolism, I have name of a Bhairava? Whatever the case may
explained that these texts term Shivaratri be these aniconic vessels are a very interesting
as Bhairavotsava as on this occasion Bhairava and fascinating aspect of Shivaratri pūjā in
and Bhairavi are to be propitiated through Kashmir and decoding its mystery is very
Tantric worship. According to the story, challenging job.
Svachhandanatha Bhairava, a five- faced form
of Shiva, appeared as a Jwālālinga or a column It may sound to be a tall claim but the manner in
of fire at pradoshakāla or the dusk of early which I have described most of the major
night on trayodashī. Failing to find the festivals of Kashmiri Hindus together with their
beginning or end of the linga, Vatuka Bhairava, peculiarities and symbolism, seems to have
the principal deity of the pūjā, and Ram some lesser known facts concerning them to
Bhairava sing its praises while Shakti, whose light. Besides Herath or Shivaratri these
mind -born sons they were, merges into it. The festivals include Navreh, Jyeshtha
two emerged, one after the other, with all their Ashtami, Khetsi Mavas, Pan, Tiky Tsoram and
weaponry from two pitchers filled with water several others. The fact is that they reveal
when the Great Goddess cast her glances into Kashmiri Hindus as people who celebrated life
them. She assured Vatuka that he will and tried to live in perfect harmony with their
essentially receive worship first on beautiful natural environs, finding glimpses of
the trayodashī. This is perhaps the reason that divinity in its phenomena. Their all-inclusive
Vatuka is worshipped in the form of a pitcher philosophy of Shaiva monism rejects the
filled with water into which walnuts are kept to otherness of God and emphasizes the oneness of
soak and later distributed asnaivedya. Rāma Man, God and World. It is sad, however, that
Bhairava or Raman Bhairva also has a role to some pūjās that were quite popular in Kashmir
play on the conclusion of Shivaratri only a few decades back are now completely
celebrations. He is the “Rām Bror” who knocks forgotten. And though in my study, I have tried
at the door and promises to bring happiness and to record for the religious historian facts of their
prosperity to women of the celebrating family. history and their ritualistic aspects as far as I
It is sad that this beautiful piece of drama could, I feel sad that they are no longer being
hasbeen forgotten and Ram Bror is regarded to performed. One of these was the Pañchāyatana
be a benign cat and not Rāma Bhairava, the Pūjā, which involved worshiping the five major
Devi’s mind-born son. deities of the Hindu pantheon – Vishnu, Shiva,
Devi (Durga), Ganesha and Surya – with the
Consecrated an iconic pottery is an important image of the favourite deity (ishta devatā) of
part of Shivaratri pūjā – a unique feature of the worshipper placed in the centre and of the
it. Apart from the earthen pitcher representing others at four corners in the temple or
Vatuka Bhairava, special hand-moulded vessels the thokur kuth. Forgotten also is
of various shapes and sizes believed to be the Parthiveshvara pūjā, which isat once a folk
charged with spiritual power and representing art and a ritual. It consists of making an instant
the main deities are worshipped during the pūjā. Shivalinga of clay, together with images of
These include a cone-shaped Kumara, Ganapati, Uma and the eleven
clay linga called Sanipŏtul and an open- Rudras. The linga and other images were made
mouthed vessel having three parts artistically of clay obtained from
called Vāgur. Ridiculous etymology of both a devasthāna or place of worship, the
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Shankracharya Hill being a popular place for extremely sad and painful story. Gora Tray has
Pandits of Srinagar to dig for it. As the clay – the scroll paintings with the image of
images could be easily immersed into the river Saraswati and a hymn to her at the centre which
after the worship, Parthiveshvara pūjā probably used to delight the hearts of Kashmiri Pandit
became quite popular in Kashmir during the children only few decades back -- has vanished
Muslim rule when fear of persecution made without a trace. It has beenallowed to die and
visiting temples for congregational worship a disappear due to sheer indifference and
risk. deadening of aesthetical sensibilities. Years
back I went from town to town, village to
Ritual art compliments religious practices as a village, person to find one single surviving
means to express the invisible in terms of the specimen, b ut without any success. The Krūl
visible. Though not exactly driven by aesthetic Pachh and almanac paintings have met the same
impulse, this art has been an integral part of the fate. The Vyūg, a descendant of
religious life of Kashmiri Hindus. To put it in the bhūmishobhā of the Nilamata Purana, is still
the words of Heather Elgood, the role of Hindu there because it is still thought essential to make
religious art is to “act as a threshold between the the bridegroom and the bride stand on it at
worlds of gods and men”. For the Kashmiri weddings, but in what a grotesque and crude
Hindus too ritual art forms serve many form. The same is the case with Krūl, the floral
purposes. Some of them serve as an aid to designs painted on the entrance door at the time
meditation, while some are believed to have the of a marriage or Yajñopavīt
potential of driving away evil forces and ceremony. TheHāramandul – a representation
protecting from calamity and misfortune. Many of the Sun god drawn on the floor-- is since
of them are associated with auspiciousness and gone. The Tĕky Tāl or patterns
well- being which they are supposed to attract of shrīchakra and bindu is in equally bad
through their magical power. Yet many such art shape. I undertook to note some peculiarities of
forms have disappeared or are on the verge of this wonder art as I was deeply fascinated by the
disappearing – a sad commentary on a inherent symbolism of the shapes and
community which claims to be concerned about configurations of these ritual drawings with the
preserving its traditions. In fact my attempt to square standing for consecrated space and the
explore the function, meaning and symbolism of circle easily identifiable with “the cyclical flow
these dying folk art forms was a venture no art of time”.
historian had undertaken so far. I had dared to
open a systematic line of inquiry into a totally I hope it will be appreciated that in my study I
uncharted area. The field I surveyed was indeed have desperately tried to capture the feel of a
vast in range, covering Gora culture lived – a way of life once vibrant but
Tray, Vyūg, Krūl, Hāramandul, Krūla Pachh, D now in the last throes of its existence. What can
ivtamūn, Tĕky Tāl, Chittāvāsa, Shrīchakra, be more tragic than that the deeply painful long
aniconic pottery used in Shivaratri worship, suffering Hindus of Kashmir should have lost
drawings related to several life-cycle rituals the even the feeling of a cultural loss that should
and much more. The total indifference and have stunned them. They have lost their land,
disinterestedness displayed towards these by they are about to lose their language and if they
Kashmiri Pandits, a people whose ancestors lose their rituals also, they could well lose their
gave shape to the building blocks of Indian selfhood even for rituals are symbols of identity.
aesthetics, shocked me. The way beautiful art The danger of deracination looming large over
forms like Gora Tray executed freehand by them is real and terrible. I think Prof. Fotedar
priest artists and women were allowed to die – will bear me out that as we surveyed the
people would paste them on their window panes situation on the ground to enable me to make a
to block blasts of cold air from entering the headway regarding my project on rituals, we
room during winter months -- tells an found it to be appalling. Amnesia seemed to
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threaten to take over everything. I hope my

work on the rites and rituals of Kashmiri
Brahmins will rekindle the flame of desire in
them to know their real image and protect it
from being wiped out.
(Dr. S.S Toshkhani is a poet, linguist, writer and a thinker.
He has contributed substantially to Kashmiri heritage and
carried out modern research in various fields of Kashmiri
literature, history, religion, art and social sciences)
YOGTANTRAGAMA ISSN NO: 2454-888X | Issue8 25

few paper boats (books, cyberworld) and limited

knowledge. Nietzsche says somewhere ``One repays a
teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a
pupil’’. Given the stature of Shaiva Masters like
Abhinavgupta’s, Vasugupta or Swami Ram, we have
really been very bad repayers.

Our generation watches the rituals and traditions of

our community in exile with great amusement,
unaware of their underlying spiritual significance. The
fact is that elaborate rituals are now skipped on most
Spiritual orphans: Is it the end of Kashmiri occasions and short cuts are being taken- be it in
Shaiva lineage ? rituals related to birth, death, birthdays or marriages.
Neeraj Santoshi Khar Gloss has overtaken most of our functions, while the
spiritual side has taken a backseat. It seems that we are
Has the lineage of Shaiva Masters,especially in the slowly moving towards a collective spiritual amnesia.
context of oral tradition and guru shishya parampara,
that existed in the Himalayan valley of Kashmir for
over a millennia, ended? Was Swami Lakshaman joo The realization of this spiritual blackhole dawned on
last in the lineage? Is Shaiva tradition on decline or me, when few years back I met world famous
dying in the land of its birth? Is observing some authority on Tantra and Kashmiri Shaivism, Mark
festivals and rituals giving us a false feeling of being Dyczkowski, who originally hails from Russia, in
Shaivites? Are we being hypocrites who keep on Jammu. It was a dream come true, an encounter that
harping about Shaiva roots and ignore the fact that exposed my ignorance about the real significance of
Shaiva traditions are fading from the Kashmiri ethos? Shaivism and my superficial academic understanding
of it.

If renowned physicists are discovering the parallels

between Spanda and quantum physics, why our
leaders and scholars have failed to teach us even the
simple Shaiva traditions and their significance in the
modern idiom. Do they really know or understand it
themselves. How many of them would have read all
the volumes of Abhinavgupta’s masterpiece
Tantraloka, forget about understanding it and teaching

I had always deeply desired to see a real Shaiva master

It pains me that our elders have failed in passing on and talk with him or her or at least be face to face with
the teachings and the essence. Our generation is like a real scholar who knows the secrets of Shaiva
potted plants lying on dusty staircases of high rise tradition of Kashmir. I hardly know of any living
buildings, content with our stunted and claustrophobic Kashmiri who can be said to be a living Shaiva Master
potted roots. Phony words and claims of great Shaivist or a real scholar who knows the mysteries of
heritage are no substitute for the real transmission, for Shaivism. May be there are secret Masters, but almost
real earthy touch. no one is in the public domain who can be given the
credit for taking the Shaivist lineage forward.
In this sense, I feel like a spiritual orphan, who is
trying to fathom the sea of Shaivism on his own with Dyczkowski was in Jammu to attend a conference.
YOGTANTRAGAMA ISSN NO: 2454-888X | Issue8 26

When I came to know about it, I was very excited. mysteries of Shaivism, looking far into the distance, as
After few enquires that day, I came to know he was in if looking at the fast collage of the past events, he
the famous Raghunath Sanskrit Library, looking for recalled that it was great Shaiva master Swami
some ancient texts. I was not aware where the famous Lakshaman joo who had initiated him in 1976. Even
Library, whose catalogue of nearly 6000 rare Sanskrit after studying different aspects of Shaivism for the last
texts was prepared by Sir Aurel Stein himself in 1894, four decades, I could see the reverence in his eyes for
was. his Master.

I knew it was somewhere near the Raghunath temple. Then suddenly, as if hinting that my earlier question
After half an hour of search and directions from the was not that important or foolish, he said, ``To
local shopkeepers, I reached the Library. I made a understand the mysteries of Shaivism, one needs grace
mental map of questions in English, which I had to of Lord Shiva and then dedicated efforts in the right
ask. For me, Dyczkowski was a Russian scholar, who direction’’.
had studied Shaivism. A foreign scholar. I had
imagined him as a high brow scholar, with an air of
aloofness and absentmindedness, who would dish out As if questioning my stress on books and institutions,
replies in Hinglish accent. But when I saw him, I was Mark said with a childlike innocence, ``If the grace of
taken aback. He was antithesis of everything that I had Shiva is there , then only the spark will aflame your
imagined about him. He was sitting comfortably in a soul, then only access to the teachings of Shaivism
chair in front of the Library. Basking in winter sun and through different mediums like books, CDs, audio
conversing with scholar employee of the Library, he cassettes, book exhibitions, workshops, seminars and
was eating groundnuts with a laidback approach, his lectures of scholars will help and mature your
demeanour never suggesting that he was the man who recognition’’ .
wrote the famous Doctrine of Vibration. Wearing a
casual kameez payijama, with silky white beard and a
shining face, he seemed a rishi from some ancient era. On his relations with the Ishwar ashram, the ashram of
His eyes had the freshness of wonder and a soft glint Swami Lakshaman joo, he said that he is not much in
of a child. He spoke in fluent Hindi, surprising me touch,….hinting subtly that how he got disillusioned
further. And I switched over to Hindi as well, loving with the ashram affairs after the departure of the
his gentle sprinkling of Sanskrit shalokas Master.

After introducing myself, I started asking him general

questions, trying to cover-up my ignorance of the That day I felt I had met a person, who has
higher topics of which he was a master. When I told transcended the scholarship of Shaivism and was now
him, that even now there are no institutions or research moving on the higher paths as a seeker. His life is
centres dedicated to the study of Shaivism in the land evident of his dedication towards understanding the
of its birth, he was surprised, but didn’t show much mysteries of Shaivist tantra. He has devoted his whole
emotion. He told me that it was indeed surprising that life to the study, collation, edition, translation and
while in many parts of the world, hundreds of interpretation of manuscripts of the Shaiva and Kaula
institutions and scholars are dedicatedly researching Tantra. Dyczkowski, who lives and works in Benares
various facets of Kashmiri Shaivism and the works of is a Masters in Philosophy and Indian Religion from
various Shaiva masters like Abhinavgupta, Vasugupta, Benares Hindu University and has studied Sanskrit
Anandvardhan, Bhatta Kalatta are being researched grammar and literature with Pandit Ambikadatta
upon, it is a surprise that there is no serious institution Upadhyaya. After graduating from BHU, he went to
in the birthland. England, finished his doctorate in 1980 at Oxford
University where he studied under the eminent Prof
. Alexis Sanderson, on the Spanda School of Kashmiri
When I asked him how he was initiated into the Shaivism. In 1980 he came back to Benares and
YOGTANTRAGAMA ISSN NO: 2454-888X | Issue8 27

started his research work.

This man who is author of The Aphorisms of Siva,

The Stanzas on Vibration, 14 volume work on the
Kubajika tantra, had no scholarly air about his being.
He seemed a simple Shaiva bhakt to me, a modern day
rishi . His simple demeanour, seemed to defy the fact
that he is arguably the most original and wide-ranging
scholar of Hindu Tantra alive today. As a community,
I feel ashamed that we don’t invite him in our
functions, for lectures, discourses, workshops for
young or for felicitating him. Most of our leaders are
busy in petty organizational politics, factionism and
mini power struggles.

If this generation fails to carry forward the Shaiva

traditions and the lineage, a day will come when all
that will be left will be a swelled fan list on Shaivism
groups on social sites like facebook and hollow claims
of our great Shaiva heritage. The real touch of a
master, a real seeker is missing somewhere….words
and clicks help to a certain level…but primarily one
needs grace, guidance and guru….

That day when I accompanied Mark Dyczkowski back

to his university guestroom , where he was staying, in
an auto-rickshaw, I felt his silent grace and love……it
was wordless….when we departed….he just smiled
with his eyes beaming with childlike wonder….that
day I felt as if all Shaiva masters of last one millennia
were smiling through him…. I recognized in his eyes a
somewhat similar expression that I had once seen as a
kid in the compassionate eyes of Swami Lakshaman
joo, while he blessed me and gave me handfuls of
prasad at his Ishwar Ashram in Kashmir…

(Neeraj Santoshi Khar is a journalist with Hindustan Times

and is an avid reader and seeker of the philosophical
YOGTANTRAGAMA ISSN NO: 2454-888X | Issue8 28

Creative Impulse in Pratyabhijna "grow into" its form, and the form defines what the
Philosophy with a reference to thing can potentially become.
Pratyabhijnahrdyam of Ksemaraja When Siva desires to create he has to summon Sakti
Geetika Kaw Kher
or become Jnana-Kriya rupa to descend. The Sakti of
Parama Shiva is seen as Citi
Aestheticization of philosophy frees it from the burden
of extensive intellectualization and also ensures the The concept is expressed in a poetic manner in the
dawning of true knowledge and feeling of pleasure second verse from PratyabhijnaHrdayam, a digest
evoked by such a dawning. True knowledge only on the system prepared by Ksemaraja, a student of
dawns when knowledge takes root not in our minds Abhinavagupta
but in our hearts. The universal appeal of Pratyabhijna
philosophy is due to the fact that it blends both
rational and emotional side of a person hence
venturing into an array of subjects comprising ‘By the power of her own will, ‘Citi’ unfolds the
metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics and philosophy. universe upon her own screen. That is she unfolds the
tattvas from Sadasiva to Prithvi ‘like a city in a mirror
which though non different from it appears as
The word ‘Pratyabhijna’ means recognition of one’s different’ because it is a mirror image. This creative
essential nature and the entire gamut of literature play termed as ‘lila’ is often celebrated in artistic
dealing with the theme is meant to bring home the fact creations, visual and verbal both. The space that
that it is possible to realize one’s own Sivahood. manifested universe occupies in the scheme of
Pratyabhijna is the mirror space, mysterious and real at
Two aspects of Parama Siva, Visvotirna and the same time.
Visvamaya are accepted in Pratyabhijna.
Mirror space though it reflects our space is not
Visvotirna form of Siva has infinite powers and continuous with it. A concept which has fascinated
contains everything inside him in the form of a seed visual artists as well as writers all the time. Use of
but to manifest into many Param Siva has to assume a mirror can be seen widely as a literary and artistic
dynamic form which is known as Visvamaya Shiva. device and also as a spiritual medium. Eg. ‘to see
yourself in the mirror of your friend’ is a phrase
often used by Maulana Rumi in his Masnawi…
Mirror space is construed as a space which can make
(Tantraloka III.100) us escape our limited reality..We find the metaphor
extensively used in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in
“If the highest reality did not manifest in infinite wonderland’ and in recent works by the Japanese
variety but remained cooped up within its solid author Haruki Murakami where you often find the
singleness it would neither be the highest power not character looking in the mirror and leaving behind
Consciousness, but something like a jar” his/her reflection.and this reflection being much more
Visvamaya aspect is the creative aspect of Param pervasive and free than the protagonist..Murakami
Siva. It is aesthetically expressed as a desire of a borrows these ideas from Shinto mysticism which
creator to procreate and multiply. The entire universe again focuses on possibility of entering the other
lies as a potency in the heart of supreme like a banyan realms hence transcending the boundaries of kala and
tree lies as a potency in its seed. This analogy from niyati.
Tantraloka reminds of the similar example given by The continuous search for oneness is hampered by the
Aristotle of the acorn and the oak tree and how the veil of Maya Shakti which binds us to various malas
blue print of an oak tree lies hidden in the form of an through the coverings (kanchukas)
acorn. The essential form of anything defines what it
is, and provides the driving force for that thing's
existence and development. Everything strives to
YOGTANTRAGAMA ISSN NO: 2454-888X | Issue8 29

When the highest reality whose very essence is

consciousness conceals by his His free will pervasion
of non duality and assumes duality then his will and
other powers though essentially unlimited assume
limitation. Soul is covered with Mala so the all-
pervading knowledge reduces to the knowledge of few
The ultimate creative play gets translated into
individual or group creativity in human beings.Art
provides a powerful medium to transcend this physical
world. By submitting to ‘Willful Suspension of
Disbelief’, a concept attributed to Coleridge there is a
chance to escape into the imaginary world created by
the artist.Carl Jung proposes that “ True art is
something supra-personal’ a force which has escaped
from the limitations of the personal and has soared
beyond the personal concerns of its creator”
Thus creativity is a tool to understand oneself. An urge
to create is seeking our ultimate creative self through
art and to de-individualize the emotions felt, so that
they are in their purest form able to create a universal
experience. The idea of ‘Sadharanikaran’ or
universalization of emotions is one of the key concepts
of Abhinavagupta’s aesthetic thought . To create is to
transcend the boundaries of limited existence by
introverting the senses. Hence art is considered as a
sadhana which has power to de-individualize not only
the creator but the spectator/reader/ too.
No wonder stalwarts like Bharata, Bhatta Kallata, Sri
Sankuka and Abhinavagupta have given so much
importance to aesthetic theories The concept of
Camatkara which was later developed and elaborated
extensively by Abhinavagupta grew out of this branch
of knowledge raising the status of art to that of
creation of the universe and hence considering entire
creative process as a universal play. Abhinavagupta
accepted Bhatta Nayaka’s view that the aesthetic and
the mystic experiences spring from the same source
and the bliss we derive from them is a state of
independence from all extraneous factors.
YOGTANTRAGAMA ISSN NO: 2454-888X | Issue8 30

Mansarovar, I noticed snow all along the route. A tiny

voice whispered within- God, let the weather be ok for
all of us to trek the whole way to His Darshan.At
Darchen, those who needed them, were given ponies
and porters and walking sticks based on the decision
of the Swamis travelling with us.
The Swamis advised us to walk with reverence… as if
we were walking on the body of Shiva Himself and to
chant ShivaShamBho with each consecutive step and
then began the 15 Km long trek to Dhirapuk. We were
grouped in teams of 4. I was with another male yatri
and two other ladies. Soon, I was walking only with
the ladies as they were having difficulty walking and
would take frequent breaks. I decided that no matter
what, I would be with them and help them make it,
even if it took me longer than I would have normally
taken. My own physical preparation of 5 months of
Yoga before the trip came in handy as I did not really
feel the strain of walking along.

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra- The ultimate The views along the trek were surreal- high cliffs on
pilgrimage both sides with waterfalls from impossible heights.
The Lha Chu river , also believed to be the Ganga by
Sunder Shridhar some, gushed and roared along the trek route. There
were brightly colored Tibetan Prayer flags all around
SunThe Second part of this travelogue is available at and a few monasteries and temples in the cliffs far away. The Tibetan pilgrims who followed the Bon Po
final.pdf religion, were able to do the trek with much more ease
than us who were not used to the rarefied air at this
height. Many of them made the entire
Part 3- The Saga of ‘Saga’ and onwards to Mansarovar circumambulation of the Mount by prostrating fully!
We saw all the seasons in the course of the trek. The
weather Gods blessed us, though ! Although, it had
snowed the previous night, the weather cleared up
shortly after we started trekking and the trek was done
amidst light drizzles and perfect sunshine. Several of
the Yatris had difficulty in breathing, and Oxygen
cylinders were provided to them. So, while some made
the trek in 4 hours, I and my group took almost double
The early morning of 21st August turned out to be the time, with the frequent breaks that we took to rest.
overcast and grey. Our spirits however were bright and It is not a very steep trek, but the low oxygen levels
soaring. This was, of course, THE most awaited part makes one tired easily and one needs to take frequent
of the trip. We were going to be in the Presence of breaks . From Darchen to Dhirapuk, is a slow ascent
Mount Kailash! of 1500 feet with no steep climbs. But from Dhirapuk
to Darchen , if one goes the Parikrama route, then one
We were to begin our trek to Kailash from Darchen. crosses the Dolma La pass,which is at 19200 feet and
Presumably it was called Darshan earlier, as Darshan is most often covered deeply in snow. Isha Sacred
means vision or View and one can get a good view of Walks does only half a parikrama. Sadhguru, very
the holy Mount on a sunny day from here. As we were aptly gives the following reasons for this:
travelling in a caravan of vans to Darchen from
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dormitory, did the North face of Mount Kailash

become visible..

• Physically, very few of us are capable of

crossing this pass. The fog lifted and there He was in all His massive
• Once out of Dhirapuk, one loses sight of Glory! The moment is etched in my mind because
Kailash and sees Him only when one is back at tears streamed and my eyes were blurring. Soon it
Darchen fogged up again and only the lower part of the
mountain was visible.
• It is more important to spend time in His
presence and meditate rather than walk around, Then the tiredness started showing up in me and the
panting. beds and the quilts were invitingly warm. After a rest ,
as we came out for food, again the amazing moonlit
• A very specific Yogic process is performed in view of the mountain enthralled me. The 1 night and 2
front of the Holy Mount, which is intense and gives days spent at Dhirapuk were memorable as we got to
the same benefits as a full Parikrama. see Him in various hues and forms- sunny and clear,
foggy, rainy and so on. The special Yogic process
The previous day, when asked by someone at done by the Swamis, with the group facing Mount
Mansarovar, if Sadhguru would accompany the group Kailash, was a different experience in itself, taking the
to Kailash, He had said with a laugh , "Of course, I energies to a wonderful high. Another experience
will be there with you." which brought a smile on when I felt truly blessed was being asked by one of the
everyone’s lips. True to His words, even though Swamis to chant the hymn -‘ Ya Devi Sarva
physically absent, Sadhguru's Grace was Evident bhuteshu’- for the Divine mother, amidst the entire
throughout the trek. gathering in the presence of the blessed mountain.
Whenever I could, I took the opportunity to sit in a
meditative posture and experience His Grace while
Our porters would scamper ahead of us with the chanting various Mantras.
luggage at great speed and then wait for us to catch up.
Although they knew only Tibetan, they would keep That night, medical screening went on till around
making gestures for us to give them more money ! 12:30, and decisions were taken to send some people
back by ambulance. Quite a few people had
After about 7 hours, the signboard of Shishapangma succumbed to the low pressure and unavailability of
Hotel ( more like a dormitory- but quite comfortable), oxygen. The doctor's room was occupied with people
was visible and about a km away, was the dormitory gasping in Gamow bags or through oxygen masks.
itself. One of the ladies just then gave up and sat down Altitude sickness can manifest in many different ways
saying she could not make it. I tried to tell her.. hey we and people who were not careful with their chronic
are almost there… we can see our accommodation… conditions, suddenly had a spike. One elderly pilgrim's
but to no avail. There was no other alternative.. I blood sugar shot up to 480 and had to be given insulin.
physically supported her and made her walk all the
way to the dormitory. Only as I was very close to the The sherpas and Tibetan guides had told us that
around 40000 pilgrims visit Kailash every year and
that around 4000 don't go back. This was scary. But as
YOGTANTRAGAMA ISSN NO: 2454-888X | Issue8 32

Sadhguru had promised , he did not intend to leave creative devotees. The skit had all of us holding our
any one of us behind. The arrangements were stomachs in laughter. Then came the grand dinner and
wonderful and all of us survived, though some did good byes.
have to return earlier and by faster means.
We all parted ways but thanks to Sadhguru and
The return trek was faster as many of us had gotten Swamijis, we had become a family of people who had
used to the climate and the air pressure by then. We vowed to take a bit of Kailash home and transform
collected water flowing down in streams from the ourselves.
Kailash in bottles to take back home.
Om Namah Shivaya!
We crossed Chokhu Gompa, made famous by Swami
(Sunder Shridhar is an engineer and currently is working as a
Rama's disciple Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, in his book, Project Manager at Unisys Corp, Bangalore)
"At the eleventh hour". According to Swami Rama,
this monastery is built around an ancient cave which
was the meditation centre for Sanat Kumara and his
brothers. Swami Rama's favourite mantra was the
Gayatri. In his memory and a mark of respect to all the
masters of the Himalayan tradition, we stood facing
the monastery and recited the Gayatri for some time.
The last point was YamaDwar. At this point, we
turned back towards the trekking path and prayed to
Him, asking His pardon for all sins committed
knowingly or unknowingly.
The one feeling that filled our hearts was gratitude- to
our gurus whose blessings gave us the desire to reach
Him. We were filled with thankfulness to the Lord for
His grace and His darshan.

We went on to the bus, and then to Manasarovar for a

quick lunch. It was a long haul to Saga and again from
there to Zhangmu. The journey was punctuated with a
lot of activity in the buses, which were inspired by
Swamijis. So antakshari, 20 questions, Queen of
Sheba needs, etc. kept us busy during this interminable
journey back.
At the Hotel back in Kathmandu, we ended the entire
trip with a lovely skit put together by some of the
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A passage from my recent scribble in the

manuscript - "Thoughts perform Actions" –

We are accustomed to assume our previous birth state and

presume the aftermath of death, involving the circumstantial
situation of our physical plane. Our physical plane is a labour
force run by the mental faculty. This functioning body is a
managing booth of inevitable space, time and mannerisms of
happening activities. A lot happens or remains static in the
circumnavigation of existential paradigm. Our journey relies
quite much on this constitution in rotundity. Besides such
speculations, we are interwoven in the phenomena of mental
and physical properties that which links us to the anatomy of
life, that reconsiders a shared space amidst this governing
body. When we look into what we know as health, in most
cases the effect and cause revolves around these circuits of
connection. As humans we do not have access to the ground
level in recalling the past or previous life cycle or to reveal the
impact-oriented post of future dynamics. So that brings us to
the mid ways which we know as present. Therefore we,
generally keep aside our sub-conscious, unconscious and
supra-conscious catalog, to dust out only our present
consciousness. Our being in this consciousness relates to the
"gift" of life, often in a transitory phase of pleasant and
unpleasant catharsis. This depends on the umbrella-form of (Suva is a freelance performance artist and a musician based
our circumstance that triggers our modes, methods, means and in Finland. Academically trained in sculpture he now teaches
mannerisms. We therefore get enlisted as passengers in the Yoga and acoustic drumming and is involved in creating
vehicle of reaction. experimental music)
YOGTANTRAGAMA ISSN NO: 2454-888X | Issue8 34

ISSN NO: 2454-888X

Published by : Rashneek Kher, 901-902, Iris Tower,

Faridabad, Haryana, 121010 for YTA Inc.
Logo: Manik Chawla
Paintings by Tarini Kher
YOGTANTRAGAMA ISSN NO: 2454-888X | Issue8 35