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Mahartha-manjari is an important text of Kashmir Shaivism. It belongs to the 14th Century A.D. and is written in Maharastrian Prakrita, but at the same time, its Sanskrit version was also presented by the author alongside the commentary known as Parimala. It is a work of just seventy verses. What is particularly significant is that it is claimed to have been the result of the state of superconsciousness. This has been revealed by the author at the end of the work by way of acknowledgement of his indebtedness to an accomplished yogini appearing suddenly before him following his performance of worship of his deity, namely, parama Siva or Bhairava with patched cloth on her body, trident and skull in her hands. The relevant verse reads, of course, in translation, as follows: Composed summarily in seventy verses knit throughout by the thread of inspiration imparted by a Bharavi, clad in patched garments, holding a trident and skull in each of her hands. She appeared to me in a state I had just awakened, after completing my daily worship; She took certain promises from me. It would be symbolic to take this verse as of the nature of a dream poem as of the sort of Kubla Khan of the English poet Coleridge. It would be much better to regard it as a creation of the state of superconsciousness attained by the author in the course of his meditative worship of the deity and as a suitable background for his initiation by the yogini. As regards the author of this verse, that is Mahesvarananda, a fully accomplished yogin of the class of Kashmir Shaivism with Sivananda as his grand teacher. Çivananda is said to have taught directly a set of three female students, namely, Keyurvati, Madanika and Kalyaëika. From amongst them, it is Keyurvati who seems to have been the teacher of Mahesvarananda initially as both were followers of Krama system of Saivism. The real inspiration, however, particularly for writing Maharthamanjari, as is obvious from the account of his concluding verse of the text, appears to have come to him from this yogini who appeared all of a sudden and having accomplished her mission, disappeared in the same way.
In course of his commentary on verse No.55, Mahesvarananda has given an autobiographical note which also provides us some inkling into the manner of his sadhanä and self-restraint in his way of life, through the quotation of a verse equating the pleasure of an Indra sleeping under the shade of the bosom of Shaci, his wife, in the heaven, with that of an insect taking turns in the hell. On the problem concerned, he states that many a Sivanandas, Mahanandas and Mahesvaranandas have collectively discussed among themselves the problem and have concluded in favour of self-restraint and perusal of the illumination of the pure consciousness instead of lurking after enjoyment howsoever attractive. It is as a result of the self-restraints and decisions that the traces could develop this path of mahaprkasha, great illumination. The illumination lies in the elimination of the intervening nasal sound between the inbreathing sound, ham, and out-breathing, sa. This renders the combined sounds into hamsa which becomes a powerful mantra, a most primary and fundamental reference to the Self. With this bridge of sound, pure and empowered with discretion, the Self is revealed as much as if displayed in its function to separate milk from its mixture with water, its clean whiteness indicative of the ultimate purity. These qualities of hamsa were recognised at the time of the Rigveda as early as at the time of seer Vamadeva. This is evident from the preeminence which has been accorded to the hamsa-padi mantra occurring at Rigveda, IV.40.5 in the hymn seen by seer Vamadeva Gautama and addressed to Surya as its Devata. The mantra reads as follows: (The Sun) as a Swan takes its seat on what is pure, particularly in the intermediate space and yet pervades all. At the same time, it acts as the real agent of Sacrifice sitting in the sacrificial pit as well as in the house. It also dwells within humans, in places whichever are choicest in the law of universal dynamics, in the pure space and is apt to emerge out of water, out of the earth, out of the law of universal dynamics, out of even the mountain since it is directly the Rta itself. All these attributes accorded to this Devata, under the denomination of Dadhikra, meaning what moves as soon as captured, apply apparently to the sun just symbolically but really do mean to the Self as it stands beyond the grasp of the human mind. This symbolism has been decoded in a Rigvedic statement at one place where it is said that the sun is the Self of the mobile and immobile both. He is the Self, Atman, immobile in
the sense of their existence, while mobile in the sense of existence as well as consciousness. In yet another Rigvedic mantra placed at RV.I.164.38-9 and seen by seer Dirghatamas, there is a reference to breathing-in and breathing-out interlinked by an inner controller described as svadha, meaning selfforce. They remain constantly interconnected by it in their movements both ways in coming together as well as departing from each other. They have also been characterised as the meeting ground of mortality and immortality where obviously mortality stands for the breaths and immortality for the Self. They have also been termed there aspran and apan, meaning respectively as breathing-in and breathingout. It is out of these primeval terms that the subsequent finished denominations prana and apana have been formed. Statements about these functions of breathing-in and breathing-out in such a minuteness is obviously indicative of the Vedic seer‟s considerable devotion to his practice on this kind of pranayama as an important part of histapas or yogic sadhana. Obviously, it was a devotion undertaken by way of transforming a natural and automatic physical function of the body into the yogic. Vijnana Bhairava describes the technique of meditation of hamsa as follows: There is the great joy (of conjunction of „sa‟ and „ha‟ i.e. so‟ham) which is like a sacrifice of I-consciousness). Pursuing it and resting in it, one becomes identified with the great goddess and thus attains Bhairava. The breath is exhaled with the sound „sa‟ and inhaled with the sound „ha‟. Thus one always recites this mantrahaàsa. Throughout day and night, he recites this mantra 21,600 times. Such is the recitation of the name of the goddess which is quite easy to accomplish; it, however, is difficult for the ignorant. (155-156) The mantra hamsa is repeated in every living being automatically in each round of breathing-in and breathing-out. It is, normally, repeated 21,600 times day and night. Since it is repeated automatically without any effort during breathing-in and breathing-out, it is also known as ajapa-japa, i.e., repetition that is going on naturally without any body
repeating it. The sounds of breathing-in and breathing-out resemble ham and saù. It is also called hamsa mantra as well ajapagayatri. When a yogin practises with intensive awareness, the prana andapana get equilibrated. Equilibrium of prana and apana raises the dormant kundalini that lies three and a half folds at the base of spine. Then such a yogin hears a number of pleasant sounds but he does not dwell on these sounds but dwells on the para-nada which is anahata nada. By dwelling on this nada, the citta of a yogin gets dissolved paving way to visuddha caitanya – the highest state of Consciousness. Nada is audible at vaikhari stage but it becomes subtle at the madhyama stage and finally, when it reaches thepasyanti stage, it is no longer audible. The yogin now experiences jyoti (light) where all vikalpas no longer exist and he experiences the state of superconsciousness.
Hamsa is thus that manifestation of nada which is symbolic of life due to
its being repeated automatically during breathing-in and breathing-out while anahata nada is symbolic of pranava. By intensive awareness, there arise subtle stages of nada.
Though sadhana of hamsa is dhvani yoga; it involves intensive awareness of a yogin on his breathing-in and breathing-out, where the prana rises upward appearing as a sound. Therefore, hamsa sadhana is a subtle practice of prana yoga, which is quite different kind the pranayama. According to Abhinavagupta, Tantraloka V.131: From the uccara of this general prana, there vibrates an inarticulate and imperceptible sound which is known asvarna. This goes on continuously and naturally in every living creature. In it lie all the varnas latently in an undivided form and is ceaseless, therefore, it is called anahata, i.e. unstruck, natural, uncaused. (Tantraloka 6.216) Jayaratha comments on this state as follows:
In this inarticulate, imperceptible anahata nada, all the varnas lie latently in an undivided way. Since all the varnasoriginate from this nada, therefore, it is called varna. Clarifying further, Abhinavagupta states as follows: V.132) The srisöi bija and samhara bija are its main forms. (Tantraloka
Jayaratha explains it in the following words: The srisöi bija and samhara bija are the main points of its revelation.
Srisöi bija is „sa‟ which denotes breathing-out while breathing-in is samhara bija and is denoted by the letter „ha‟.
Ksemaraja in his commentary on Siva-Sutra, III.21 explains the practice as follows: Mrityujit (Netra Tantra) states in the beginning as under: “One should give up gross pranayama and even the inner subtle one and thus the highest pulsation of consciousness which is beyond even the subtle pranayama is obtained” and ends with „enter the highest state with one‟s mind as a knower‟. (VIII.12) Commenting on verse III.43, he quotes as follows: … Bhattakallata, in order to confirm the causality of prana has said in Tattvartha-cintamani – „Consciousness is first transformed into prana.‟ Here prana is the universal Life-force which makes manifest both subject and object and is the connecting link between consciousness and various organs of man. The same technique has been carried on here by Sri Mahesvarananda in the transformation of the functions of breathing-in and breathing-out into the sambhava as well anava techniques of yoga, thus making yoga easy of practice.
What the Bhagavadgita has accomplished from the viewpoint of spirituality and morality in bringing the sublime philosophy of the Upanisads down to the earth and its applicability to such a tough situation as at the front of war, which is elucidative of the most arduous situation of life, the same has been done by Sri Mahesvarananda. Mahesvarananda goes a step still further in showing the possibility of self-realisation through keen attention on the breath in its movement both ways which is operative naturally and necessarily and get it transformed into the easiest and most sacred mantra showing how the individual self is essentially the same as the universal and the transcendent. This is evident from his acknowledgement of this fact towards the end of the work in the following verse: It is this very great burden of meaning which was delivered to the son of Pandu by Madhava, the possessor of sixteen thousand forces at the start of the war of (Mahabharata). 69 The result of this ssdhana, though so simple, is by no means small. It is redemptive from the drudgery of birth and death. This has been made clear by the author through the verse as follows: I am glad to disclose the secret to you so that you may not have to take rounds in the circle of birth and death foolishly. The secret lies in observing closely the activities of the heart which is so close to you. (EXCERPT FROM THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF MAHARTHAMANJARI OF MAHESVARANADA - English translation By Professor Satya Prakash Singh and Swami Mahesvarananda (Yogi Mukesh), under printing by Standard Publishers (India), New Delhi.
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