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http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Abhinavagupta/message/5654 of April 11, 2010 Dear Shri Rajiv Malhotra, While going through your article of March 17 “Why Swami Nithyananda must resign now” the following lines under the heading “Is Tantra a Part of Hinduism” caught my attention and I quote, “I asked (the Sri Sri) whether the Shiva Sutras are valid, pointing out that among the 112 spiritual enlightenment techniques taught in them, about 6 deal with sexual contact between a male yogi and a female yogini. Kashmir Shaivism as well as the Tantra traditions have included exemplars that practiced these techniques”. I had gone through Shiva-Sutras of Vasu-gupta of ninth century CE quite a few years back and did not remember having come across any such sutras there that “deal with sexual contact between a mail yogi and female yogini” nor did I find any such “techniques” of “from super-consciousness to sex” ---without any apologies to anybody, including Osho!--- in that work. Still to make myself doubly sure, I checked the Shiva-Sutras with the translation by a very famous Shaiva scholar of the previous century viz. Shri Lakshman Joo. This work is of 77 Sutras, and does not enumerate as many as 112 techniques, not to speak of “these six (special) techniques”. For your ready reference, a soft-copy of the work is enclosed. Since I could not believe for a moment that an “investigative journalist” like you would have goofed, I, therefore, checked the much earlier Vimarshini commentary of Kshmeraja, a follower of Abhinavagupta’s Shaiva philosophy, on these Sutras. He also has commented on 77 sutras all told without any references to any such “techniques”. Same is the case with the gloss by Bhaskara, known as “vartikkas”. I am also sending a soft-copy of Shiva-sutras, with an English commentary by a non-Kashmiri, I. K. Taimni, published by Theosophical Research Centre, Adyar. That commentary also does not talk of “these techniques” Kashmir Shaivism vis-à-vis sexuality How replete (sic!) with “sexual contact between a male yogi and a female yogini…. Kashmir Shaivism” is will be evident from the following:
1. I was born and brought up in Kashmir in the last millennium (!) and my maternal grandfather, Nath Ji Pajnoo, of Srinagar, Kashmir, was a great Shaiva scholar. I do not recall his ever talking of such “techniques”! 2. Perhaps you would be aware that Abhinavagupta (tenth century) was one of the greatest proponents of Shaivism. I remember even today his Bhairavastotra beseeching Shiva with such prayers, which I keep on repeating myself very often “…..ati durnaya chatul--endriya ripu sanchaya dalite……. maranaagama samaye, Shivaayasaha mama chetasi shashi shekahra nivasan” a running translation of which would be, “ O Shiva, I am badly beaten/harassed by ruthless and powerful enemies in the form of my own senses --- chatula indryas. (As such, I do not know what my condition will be at the time of death and so please) dwell in my heart, with your consort Uma, at that particular moment”. Abhinavagupta does not appear to be relishing, much less advocating, any “special techniques”, even if he is supposed to have talked of some such “techniques” in his Tantraloka, which Jayaratha of about twelfth century preferred not to comment upon in his commentary! 3. The same anguish has been expressed by Lalleshwari, a Tantrika/yogini lady saint of fourteenth century, in her pathetic lament in Kashmiri Kyaah kara paantsan dahan ta kaahan, Vakhshun yath leyji yim karith gay; Saoriy samahan yeythi razi lamahan, Ada kyaazi raavhe kaahan gaav Ah me! the Five (Bhuta-s), the ten (Indriya-s), And the Eleventh, their lord the mind, scraped this pot* and went away. Had all together pulled on the rope, Why should the Eleventh have lost the cow ? (Why should the soul have gone astray?) maarukh maarabuuth kaam kruud luub Nata kaan barith maaranay paan; Manay kheyn dikh swaveytsaara shamm, Vishay tihunnd kyaah-kyuth doar zaan. Slay the murderous demons, Lust, Anger and Greed; Or, aiming their arrows at you, they will surely shoot you dead. Take care, feed them on self-restraint and discrimination of the Self; Thus starved these demons will become powerless and weak.
It is thus clear that none of the Kashmiri Tantriks ever practiced, leave alone advocated, any “special techniques”. I could quote hundreds of such examples, but suffice to quote just a few more: 4. Master Zinda Kaul, a poet of nineteenth century had wailed in Kashmiri “yava kini che parma tyaagi yugi chhukh na raaza dwaran, futimutis yath dilas manz bas myani joogi raayo” “O Shiva, since you have renounced all the luxuries (by residing in shmashanas and wearing nothing but lion cloth and so on), therefore, you are not fit to live in luxurious palaces. As such, pl. be embedded in this broken heart of mine, as that is the abode fit for a fakir like you” 5. Though I am not much enamoured of Muslim doctrines, there are, however, some exceptions where actions speak louder than preaching. There is an anecdote in Kashmir about a Muslim fakir of around fourteenth century CE known as Shahe-Hamdan (king of mendicants/tantriks). Whenever a marriage took place in the city of Srinagar, Kashmir, the newly married couple had to pay respects to that Muslim fakir. He would embrace the bride and kiss her forehead and give some almond or sugar etc. to the couple who took their leave then. One day the fakir had to go out of town and he advised his disciple, “If any newly married couple comes to visit me, just advise them to pay homage to the dhooni (fire altar) and leave”. After a few days, a couple visited the fakir. The disciple, instead of advising them what he had been instructed by his master/teacher, embraced the bride and kissed her forehead and gave them the nazraana (gifts) just like the fakir would have done himself. After his return, the fakir asked his disciple as to what had happened, and the latter narrated the truth. Without losing any time, the fakir put an iron pillar on burning logs and made it red hot. He then asked his disciple “Embrace and kiss that red-hot iron pillar” and the disciple started shivering with fear. The fakir is said to have scolded the disciple, “A woman who is not your own wife is like a red hot iron pillar. If you cannot embrace that, how the hell could you embrace somebody else’s wife”. And that in a nutshell is what the real Tantra means: Without descending from “Super consciousness to sex”, one must strengthen one’s inner powers to unite with Shiva. 6. Lalleshwari has warned in no uncertain terms about the sad consequences of exhibitionism:
Yus non drav su fot krere, khyon deeton bhootan i.e. “Anyone who puts his powers on display is a man drowned in a deep well. He will be a good fodder for ghosts and goblins”. 7. There are a few “daily prayers/prayer books” peculiar to Kashmir Shaivism and Shakti puja and these are: 1. Bhavani sahasranaama of Rudrayamala Tantra; (2) Abhinavagupta’s Bhairava Stotra; (3) Panchastavi (author unknown---of about ninth century) (4) Indrakshi stotra (5) Shiva Sahasranama (6) Leelaaarabdha….Gauri Dashakam (author unknown---probably of tenth century). These are besides the usual (1) Durga Saptashati and Shiva Mahimna Stotra etc. which are common to other areas outside Kashmir. 8. I have gone through all these works and had been chanting some of them daily for quite sometime. Quite a few mantras/shlokas of all these works I remember even today. Because I understand their meaning, they literally put me in an ecstatic mood very often, even if that is for a few fleeting moments! But there is nothing like an urge to “unite with some yogini” to prove to myself whether it is really an ecstatic state or something else! I am, as such, unable to find even a single sholka/mantra that talks of any “special techniques”. 9. If you peruse Panchastavi, there is a wonderful poetic description of the breasts and beauty and eyes of Goddess in some of the shlokas there. But all along. She has been addressed as Mother! That is the real Kashmir Tantra and not the one that is being propagated! 10. You must be aware about Kalidasas’s Kumara Sambhavam! There is a beautiful nakha-shikha varanana (description of the various parts from toe to top) of the divine Mother Parvati! I only hope it is not proclaimed after a few days that Kalidasa was a Tantrik from Kashmir! I am therefore, peeved as well as pained to see that Kashmir Shaivism is painted/presented as something like Vama Marga that advocates descending from “Super-consciousness to sex” in the guise of “advancing from sex to super consciousness”. To me it appears exactly like vested interests claiming that Rashi based predictive gimmicks are “Vedic astrology” because there is a work known as “Vedanga Jyotisham” by Acharya Lagadha, though none of those jyotishis, including their dharmacharyas galore, have been able to quote even a single mantra till date that talks of Mesha, Vrisha etc astrological rashis! Since Acharya Lagadha also was from Kashmir (14th century BCE) and maybe we will start hearing shortly that he also was a Tantrik jyotishi as quite a
few people have started that clamor already---to call jyotish as Tantrika jyotisha as they have failed miserably to prove it as Vedic jyotisham! Is Tantra a part of Hinduism? Regarding your main point, “Is Tantra a part of Hinduism” I hope every Tantrik/sadhaka must have heard about Tota Puri, the famous Tantrik, who was able to metamorphose Swami Ramakrishna, worshipper of Kali known as shmashana-vasini and the most favourite deity for tantrika sadhanas--- into a real Parma-hamsa! This is what Romain Rolland has said on page 51 of his biography of Ramakrishna, (published by Advaita Ashram, Calcutta) “…The messenger of the impersonal God……arrived at Dakshineswar. This was Tota Puri, the naked man, an extraordinary Vedantic, a wandering monk, who had reached the ultimate revelation after forty years of preparation”. On page 57, Rolland has said further “….the other (Tota Puri) rose like the Rock of Gibraltar. He was very tall and robust, with magnificent physique, resolute and indestructible---a rock with the profile of a lion. His constitution and mind were of iron. He had never known illness or suffering and regarded them with smiling contempt. He was the strong leader of men. Before adopting a wandering life he had been the sovereign head of a monastery of seven hundred monks in the Punjab. He was a master of disciplinary method, which petrified as argil the flesh and the spirit of men.”. It was the same Tota Puri who put the frail Ramakrishna in direct state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi through Tantrik sadhana! What type of “sexuality” was there between the “yogi” (Tota Puri) and “yogini” i.e. Ramakrishna? And about the “sexual relations” of the real Parahamsa, even after he had gained nirvikalpa Samadhi, this is what Rolland has said on page 82, “Ramakrishna has at times been blamed, and very coarsely blamed, for having sacrificed her (his wife). She herself never showed any trace of it; she irradiated peace and serenity throughout her life on all who came in contact with her” Then on the same page, Rolland continues, ”I (Ramakrishna) have learnt, he (Ramakrishna) said to her (his wife), “to look upon every woman as Mother. That is the only idea I can have about you. But if you wish to draw me into the world of illusion, as I have been married to you, I am at your service…touched by her (his wife’s) innocence and self-sacrifice, Ramakrishna took upon himself the part of an elder brother. He devoted himself patiently during the months they were together to her education as a diligent wife and good manager” It is, therefore, high time that today’s “Parmahamsas (sic!)” take out a leaf from Ramakrishna’s book and follow it rigorously, instead of defaming “Kashmir Shaivism”. Then again, Sai Baba of Shridhi of the not-too-distant-past has been one of the greatest tantriks and yogis, who could light the wicker-lamps of water instead of oil of a poor girl on a Dipavali day! But he remained himself a mendicant
throughout his life, asking for alms, “bikshyam dehi”. He would address all the ladies as mother or daughter and not crave for “yoginis” to try his “spiritual heights”. Obviously, Tantra is a part of Hinduism but not in the sense and way it is being used today i.e. either for “super consciousness to sex” in the guise of “from sex to super consciousness” or for making a fool of a common man in the name of “jyotisha remedies”! Tantra is the “technique” to make a sadhaka achieve nirvikalpa Samadhi! Sexuality of Krishna vis-à-vis gopis Just to digress a bit, there is also a common refrain, “Krishna made love to Gopis during Rasaleela. Why can’t we do so”. I suggest them to read 26th shloka of the XXXIII chapter of Bhagavata, which states, “….sisheva aatmani avarudhhah sauratah”, which has been translated as ,”….and containing His virility within Himself” by R. Raghunathan (Vigneshwara Publishing House, Bangalore). Further, to the query by King Pareekshit as to how the One who is supposed to establish dharma and banish adharma, committed such a transgression by embracing others’ wives, Shuka has said in no uncertain terms: “Violation of dharma and over-boldness is occasionally witnessed on the part of the mighty. It does not, however, bring any sin on those possessed of exceptional glory as in the case of fire, that consumes everything including even impure substances such as filth and corpses. He, however, who is not so powerful and is bound by his karma should never deliberately attempt this even mentally, for he who does so through folly, recognizing himself as powerful will surely meet his ruin even as anyone other than Rudra would if he were to swallow the poison churned out of the ocean”. (Shrimad Bhagavata, Tenth Skanda---Chapter XXXIII---30-37, Gita Press translation). Just see the irony: Whenever there is any “Bhagavata Saptahna” etc. these days, the “pravakta” (the preacher/narrator) invariably always asks for ornaments at the time of Rasa-leela, and he deliberately talks of marriage between Radha and Krishan, when actually Radha is just one of the gopis, whose name has been mentioned just once, in the Bhagavata Purana! There is no mention of any marriage or “live-in relationship” of Radha and Krishna! Thus the cheating and befooling in the name of Radha-Krishna is another form of Tantra! In a nutshell, therefore, anyone who cannot embrace a “red-hot iron pillar” must not embrace someone other than his wedded wife, under any pretext---least of all in the name of practicing “Kashmir Shaivism”. With regards,
A K Kaul PS If anybody wants to really resolve the conflicting doctrines of vishishtaadvaita, shudha-advaita, shaivism, pashupata, shakti upasana, vaishanavabhakti, tantra etc. etc., it is an earnest request to him/her to shun all the doctrines/siddhantas for sometime and just go through Yogavasishtha Maharamayana patiently and diligently! I can promise him/her a real metamorphosis! AKK [In response to Sunthar's post (17 March 2010) at "Why Swami Nithyananda Must Resign Now" (Rajiv Malhotra, 17 March 2010)]