(കേവലം നൂറ്റമ്പത് വർഷങ്ങൾക്കു മുൻപ് നടന്ന ഒരു സംഭവമാണ്)
‘ ശ്രീകൃഷ്ണ ഭക്തനായ ഒരു മഹാത്മാവിനു വളരെ ചെറുപ്പത്തിൽ തന്നെ ബദരീനാഥനെ കാണണം എന്ന അതിയായ ആഗ്രഹം ഉണ്ടായി . എന്നാൽ ജീവിത പ്രാരാബ്ദങ്ങൾ കൊണ്ട് അദ്ദേഹത്തിന് പോകാൻ കഴിഞ്ഞില്ല. കാലം കുറെ കഴിഞ്ഞു . അദ്ദേഹത്തിന് വയസ്സായി. ഒരു ദിവസം അദ്ദേഹത്തിന് ബദരിയിൽ പോകാൻ അവസരം ലഭിച്ചു. വളരെ കഷ്ടപ്പെട്ട് ദിവസങ്ങളോളം നടന്ന് ആഹാരവും ഉറക്കവും ഇല്ലാതെയായിരുന്നു യാത്ര. എന്നാൽ ഈ കഷ്ടത ഒന്നും തന്നെ അദ്ദേഹത്തെ ബാധിച്ചില്ല. മനസ്സ് മുഴുവൻ അദ്ദേഹം കേട്ട ബദരീശന്റെ കഥകളിൽ മുഴുകി വഴിയിൽ മുഴുവൻ അതെല്ലാം കണ്ണനോട് പറഞ്ഞു കൊണ്ടായിരുന്നു യാത്ര. അവസാനം അദ്ദേഹം ബദരിയിൽ എത്തിയപ്പോൾ രാത്രിയായി . അവിടെ അദ്ദേഹം കണ്ടത് മന്ദിരം പൂട്ടി ഇറങ്ങുന്ന പൂജാരിയെയാണ് .
ബദരിയിൽ ആറു മാസം മാത്രമേ പൂജക്കായി തുറക്കുകയുള്ളു. പൂജ കഴിഞ്ഞു നട പൂട്ടിയാൽ ആറു മാസം കഴിയാതെ തുറക്കില്ല . അങ്ങിനെ നടപൂട്ടി ഇറങ്ങുന്ന സമയമാണ് അദ്ദേഹം അവിടെ എത്തിയത്. ആ ഭക്തൻ ഉറക്കെ കരഞ്ഞുകൊണ്ട് പൂജാരിയുടെ കാൽക്കൽ വീണു , ഒന്ന് തുറന്നു തരൂ. ഒരു നിമിഷം മാത്രം ഭഗവാനെ ഒന്ന് കാണാൻ അനുവദിക്കണം എന്നപേക്ഷിച്ചു . പക്ഷെ നടയടച്ചാൽ ആറുമാസം കഴിയാതെ തുറക്കാൻ പാടില്ല എന്നത് അലംഘനീയമായ നിയമമാണ്. പൂജാരി ആ ഭക്തനെ പറഞ്ഞു മനസ്സിലാക്കാൻ കുറേ ശ്രമിച്ചു. എന്നാൽ ഭകതൻ തന്റെ എല്ലാ കാര്യങ്ങളും പൂജാരിയോട് പറഞ്ഞു. ഇനി പോയി ആറുമാസം കഴിഞ്ഞു വരൂ അല്ലാതെ ഒന്നിനും കഴിയില്ല എന്ന് പറഞ്ഞ് സഹതാപത്തോടെ ആ പൂജാരി പോയി.
പത്തു മിനിറ്റു മുൻപ് വന്നിരുന്നെങ്കിൽ അദ്ദേഹത്തിന് ദർശനം ലഭിക്കുമായിരുന്നു. ഇനി ഇത്രയും പ്രായമായ ആ സാധുവിന് എങ്ങനെ ആറുമാസം കഴിയുമ്പോൾ വരാൻ കഴിയും ? മഞ്ഞു മൂടിക്കിടക്കുന്ന ഈ ആറുമാസം എവിടെയും തങ്ങാനും സാധ്യമല്ല. അദ്ദേഹത്തെ ഈ രാത്രിയിൽ കൂടെ കൂട്ടിക്കൊണ്ടു വന്ന് നാളെ രാവിലെ നല്ല വാക്ക് പറഞ്ഞ് തിരിച്ച് അയയ്ക്കമായിരുന്നു. എന്നിങ്ങനെ ചിന്തിച്ചു പൂജാരി അസ്വസ്ഥനായി . എന്നാൽ ആ ഭക്തൻ “കൃഷ്ണാ ” എന്ന് ഉറക്കെ കരഞ്ഞു കൊണ്ട് നിസ്സഹായനായി ബദരീനാഥന്റെ മുന്നിൽ കുഴഞ്ഞു വീണു. അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ നിലവിളി കേട്ട് ഒരാട്ടിടയൻ അവിടെ ഓടിയെത്തി . അദ്ദേഹത്തെ താങ്ങി എഴുന്നേല്പിച്ചു അടുത്തുള്ള തന്റെ ഗുഹയിലേയ്ക്ക് കൂട്ടിക്കൊണ്ടു പോയി .അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ കാലും മുഖവും കഴുകിച്ചു വെള്ളം കുടിക്കുവാൻ കൊടുത്തു. എന്നിട്ട് ആ ഭക്തന്റെ കാൽ തടവിക്കൊടുത്തുകൊണ്ട് കാൽക്കൽ ഇരുന്ന് വിശേഷങ്ങൾ ചോദിച്ചു. എല്ലാം കേട്ട് കഴിഞ്ഞ് ആ ബാലൻ പറഞ്ഞു .
“അങ്ങ് വിഷമിക്കേണ്ട. ഇവിടുത്തെ പൂജാരി മഹാ ദയാലുവാണ്. അങ്ങയുടെ മനസ്സ് മനസ്സിലാക്കി തീർച്ചയായും നാളെ രാവിലെ അങ്ങക്ക് വേണ്ടി നട തുറക്കും തീർച്ച. സമാധാനമായി ഉറങ്ങു “
ഇത് കേട്ട ആ ഭക്തൻ പറഞ്ഞു.
“എന്റെ കൃഷ്ണൻ വന്നു പറഞ്ഞത് പോലെ ആശ്വാസം തരുന്നു നിന്റെ വാക്കുകൾ. പക്ഷെ കുഞ്ഞേ എനിക്ക് നാളെ ഭഗവാനെ കാണുന്നതുവരെ ഉറങ്ങാൻ കഴിയും എന്ന് തോന്നുന്നില്ല.
ആ ബാലന്റെ കണ്ണുകൾ വികസിച്ചു .
“കൃഷ്ണനോ അതാരാണ് അങ്ങയുടെ മകനാണോ ?” “കുഞ്ഞേ എല്ലാവർക്കും നാഥനായ കൃഷ്ണനെ കുറിച്ച് നീ കേട്ടിട്ടില്ലേ? മയാമനുഷ ബാലനായി ഭൂമിയിൽ അവതരിച്ച് ആടിയ സുന്ദരലീലകളെകുറിച്ച് കേട്ടിട്ടില്ലേ?”
സ്വാമി ഈ കാട്ടിൽ കഴിയുന്ന എനിക്ക് ഇതെല്ലാം ആരാണ് പറഞ്ഞു തരുന്നത്? അങ്ങേക്ക് വിഷമമില്ലെങ്കിൽ ഉറക്കം വരുന്നത് വരെ എനിക്ക് ആ കൃഷ്ണകഥകൾ പറഞ്ഞു തരൂ “
അത് കേട്ട് അദ്ദേഹം സന്തോഷത്തോടെ കണ്ണന്റെ കഥകൾ പറഞ്ഞു തുടങ്ങി. കഥകൾ ആസ്വദിച്ചു കേട്ട ആ ബാലൻ കൃഷ്ണകഥകളിൽ മുഴുകി കൃഷ്ണനായി മുന്നിൽ നില്ക്കുന്നത് പോലെ ആ ഭക്തന് അനുഭവപ്പെട്ടു. രണ്ടു പേരും പരമാനന്ദത്തിൽ മുങ്ങി. നേരം നന്നായി പുലർന്നു. രണ്ടുപേരും ആ രാത്രി ഉറങ്ങിയില്ല. കുളിയും സന്ധ്യാവന്ദനവും കഴിഞ്ഞ് അദ്ദേഹം ഇടയബാലൻ പറഞ്ഞത് പോലെ ക്ഷേത്രത്തിൽ പോയി നോക്കാം എന്ന് കരുതി പുറപ്പെട്ടു. ബാലൻ അദ്ദേഹത്തെ നമസ്കരിച്ചു ആടുമേക്കാൻ പോയി. ക്ഷേത്രത്തിൽ എത്തിയ ആ മഹാത്മാവ് അത്ഭുതപ്പെട്ടു . ആറുമാസം കഴിഞ്ഞേ തുറക്കു എന്ന് പറഞ്ഞ ക്ഷേത്രനട തുറന്നിരിക്കുന്നു. വീണു നമസ്കരിച്ചു. എത്ര കാലമായി ആഗ്രഹിച്ച ആ പുണ്യ ദർശനം. ആത്മാനന്ദത്തൽ എല്ലാം വിസ്മരിച്ചു കുറെ സമയം ഇരുന്നു. ആനന്ദത്തിൽ നിന്നും ഉണർന്ന അദ്ദേഹം പൂജാരിയുടെ മുന്നിൽ വീണു നമസ്കരിച്ചു കൊണ്ട് പറഞ്ഞു
അങ്ങയുടെ പരമ കാരുണ്യത്താൽ എന്റെ ചിരകാലാഭിലാഷം സാധിച്ചു. ഇനിയും ആറുമാസം വന്നു ദർശനം എന്നത് സാധിക്കാത്ത കാര്യമാണ്.” പൂജാരി അത്ഭുതത്തോടെ ചോദിച്ചു
“അങ്ങ് പറയുന്നത് ഒന്നും തന്നെ എനിക്ക് മനസ്സിലാവുന്നില്ല. ഈ ആറുമാസം അങ്ങ് എവിടെ ആയിരുന്നു? ഞാൻ ഇക്കാലമൊക്കെയും അങ്ങയെക്കുറിച്ച് ചിന്തിച്ചു വിഷമിക്കുകയായിരുന്നു. ആറുമാസം കഴിഞ്ഞു ഇന്ന് നട തുറന്ന ഈ ദിവസം തന്നെ കൃത്യമായി അങ്ങെങ്ങിനെ ഇവിടെ എത്തി?”
“എന്ത്! ആറുമാസമോ? ഞാൻ ഇന്നലെ വൈകീട്ടല്ലേ ഇവിടെ വന്നത്?” വിഷമിച്ചു തളർന്നു വീണപ്പോൾ ഇടയബാലൻ വന്നതും ഭക്ഷണം തന്നു സൽക്കരിച്ചതും പുലരും വരെ കൃഷ്ണ കഥകൾ പറഞ്ഞിരുന്ന് രാവിലെ ആ ബാലൻ പറഞ്ഞതനുസരിച്ച് ഇന്ന് ഇവിടെ വന്ന് നോക്കീട്ടു തിരിച്ചു പോകാം എന്ന് കരുതിയതാണ് എന്നുമള്ള ആ ഭാഗവതോത്തമന്റെ വാക്കുകൾ കേട്ട പൂജാരി അദ്ദേഹത്തെ സാഷ്ടാംഗം നമസ്കരിച്ചു . ആ പ്രദേശത്ത് അങ്ങിനെ ഒരു ഗുഹയോ ഇടയ ബാലനോ ഇല്ലായിരുന്നു. മാത്രമല്ല ഈ ആറുമാസക്കാലം ആ പ്രദേശം മുഴുവനും മഞ്ഞു മൂടിക്കിടക്കുകയായിരുന്നു.
സർവ്വാത്മ സമർപ്പണത്തോടെയുള്ള നിഷ്ക്കാമ ഭക്തിക്കു മുൻപിൽ കാലദേശങ്ങൾക്കു എന്ത് സ്ഥാനം ?
കണ്ണന് ഏറ്റവും ഇഷ്ടമുള്ള കാര്യം എന്താന്നറിയോ? കണ്ണന്റെ കഥകൾ പറയുന്നതാണ്.
ശ്രവണ പ്രിയനാണ് കണ്ണൻ. കണ്ണന്റെ കഥകൾ പറയുകയും കേൾക്കുകയും ചെയ്യുന്നവരുടെ കൂടെ കണ്ണൻ സദാ സച്ചിതാനന്ദ സ്വരൂപനായി ഉണ്ടാകും. ഇനിയിപ്പോൾ കേൾക്കാൻ ആളില്ലെങ്കിലും പറയാം. ഉളളിൽ ഇരിക്കുന്ന കണ്ണനോട് . അങ്ങിനെ കഥ പറയാൻ തുടങ്ങുമ്പോൾ കണ്ണൻ വിട്ടുമാറാതെ കൂടെത്തന്നെ ഉണ്ടാകും
ഹരേ രാമ ഹരേ രാമ രാമ രാമ ഹരേ ഹരേ ഹരേ കൃഷ്ണ ഹരേ കൃഷ്ണ കൃഷ്ണ കൃഷ്ണ ഹരേ ഹരേ
അർത്ഥം : അഗ്നിക്കായി പുൽക്കൊടി വച്ചുകൊടുത്തു . യക്ഷൻ പറഞ്ഞു ഇത് ദഹിപ്പിക്കുക. അഗ്നി പൂർണ്ണ വേഗത്തിൽ പാഞ്ഞടുത്തു. പക്ഷേ അതിനെ ദഹിപ്പിക്കാൻ കഴിഞ്ഞില്ല . അവൻ അതിൽ നിന്നും നിശ്ശേഷം പിന്തിരിഞ്ഞു. എന്നിട്ട് ദേവന്മാരോട് പറഞ്ഞു “ഈ യക്ഷൻ ഏതാണെന്നറിയാൻ ഞാൻ അശക്തനാണ് ” .
വേദവ്യാസമഹര്ഷി വിരചിച്ച മഹാഭാരതം ഒരു ലക്ഷത്തോളം ശ്ലോകങ്ങളുള്ള അതിബൃഹത്തായ കൃതിയാണ്..!! ധര്മ്മമാണ് മഹാഭാരതകഥയുടെ കേന്ദ്രബിന്ദു. എന്നാലും മറ്റു പുരുഷാര്ത്ഥങ്ങളായ അര്ഥം, കാമം, മോക്ഷം എന്നിവയെയും വ്യാസമഹര്ഷി യഥായോഗ്യം പ്രതിപാദിച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട്. അതുകൊണ്ട് തന്നെയാണ് അദ്ദേഹം സധൈര്യം ഇപ്രകാരം പ്രസ്താവിച്ചിട്ടുള്ളത് :-
Shastras of Sanathana Dharma/Indology confirms the existence oftraditional practices of various Shakthi Poojas.
There are several myths and legends associated with celebration of this Navratri Festival.
As per one legend Mahishasura the mighty demon worshipped Lord Shiva and obtained the power of eternity. So he started to kill and harass innocent people and set out to win seven lokas. Intimated by his power all the gods from swargaloka appealed to Lord Shiva to tame the demon. Then Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar (Shiva) united their supreme powers and created a divine being called Shakti or Durga the Warrior Goddess. Mahishasura who happened to see this divine beauty Durga got mesmerized by her beauty and approached her with the intention of marriage. Goddess Durga agreed to marry him but in one condition that Mahishasura should win over her in duel. Mahishasura who was proudy of his power agreed for the duel. The duel went on for 9 nights and the end of 9th night Goddess Durga beheaded Mahishasura. So the nine nights for which the war was fought is called Navrathri. The tenth day is celebrated as Vijayadashmi.
According to other legend King Daksha of Himalayas had a beautiful and Virtuos daughter Uma who had a wish to marry Lord Shiva. As a result she worshipped Lord Shiva and pleased him. Lord Shiva married Uma. Once Uma visited her parents to participate in a Yagna conducted over there, during that time King Daksha insulted Lord Shiva unable to bear the insults meted on her husband Uma decided to end her life by jumping into the agnikund where she was united with the eternity. Henceforth she was also known as Sati. Sati was reborn again and peace was restored between her and parents. In that birth also she married Lord Shiva and lived happily thereafter. It is believed that Sati comes to stay with her parents for 9 days in every year and that time is celebrated as Navarathri.
One hypothesis states that in ancient times Kshatriyas debarred themselves from participating any warlike activities during monsoon season. Once monsoons got over they found the time to start afresh with their war activities. So before the start of their war journey these Kshatriyas worshipped different aspects of Devi for 9 days which is today celebrated as the Navratri.
According to one legend Lord Rama who wanted to release Sita from the clutches of mighty demon king Ravana prayed Goddess Durga in nine aspects for nine days in order to gather the strength and power to kill Ravana. Those nine nights became to be known as Navrathri and on the tenth day Rama killed Ravana that day is called Vijayadashmi or Dashera.
Nine different manifestations of Durga are worshipped during Navratri
Navarathri Puja is done differently on the all nine days. Here is the way by which Navratri Pooja is performed traditionally (Some customs may vary from region to region)
1.Durga :goddess beyond reach
2.Bhadrakali the auspicious power of time
3.Amba or Jagdamba: mother of the world
4.Annapurna: giver of food and plenty
5.Sarvamangala: auspicious goddess
6.Bhairavi: terrible, fearful, power of death
7.Chandika or Handi: violent, wrathful, furious
9.Bhavani: giver of existence.
– Kalash Sthapana
– Devata Pooja
– Sapta Sati Pooja
– Akhanda Deepa
– Mala Bandhana
– Upavasa (During day time)
– Suvasini Pooja
– Kumari Pooja
THE compound word ‘Panchastavi’ in ordinary parlance connotes a collection of devotional hymns divided into five cantos. The very first verse of the first canto remakes it abundantly clear that these panegyrics are essentially meant for the ‘Rainbow-hued’ Divine Energy comprising the ‘speech’ and ‘resplendence of symbols’. Moreover the whole gamut of Alphabet from AA to Ksa is presided over by this Transcendental Energy; and to speak squarely, it is the progenitor of the sound and sense. At times it has been equated with super-knowledge, bliss and even this whole cosmic world. Moreover, this ‘super-marvel’ Maha-maya creates and annihilates this world of sound and sense by the triple formula of desire, perception and action. However it is also to be conceded that this poetic work is essentially an allegory in which the mental experience of supreme consciousness has been clothed in the flesh and blood of words to make it appear as physical or concrete. The poet has very candidly referred to this approach in the fifth canto (6th verse). So the ‘Benign Motherhood’ of that ‘Primeval Energy’ has become the focal point throughout the pages of this devotional composition.
II. Title of the Composition:
But this word five pancha or, the original panchan has many other shades of meaning, moreso with the Saiva philosophers, which naturally must have weighed with the poet while giving a name to his composition. So, it will not be out of place here to , allude to those shades contained in the number five, so as to comprehend exactly as to what the poet wants to express by its use. Perhaps this contention presupposes that the devotee-poet has deliberately confined his imagination to five cantos (stavas) only, so as to make it synchronize with other shades of meaning contained in this number.
In ‘TantraSadbhava’ – a Shaivistic treatise, the Divine Energy has been described as five-fold, panch-mantra gata and also Panch-vidha having five forms. Herein clear reference has been made to the five modes of reciting a Mantra or an incantation with syllabic instants (Kala). These are Ishana with five instants, Tatpurusha with four. Aghora with eight; vamadeva with thirteen and Sadyojata also with eight respectively, making a total of thirty eight, which works out to be the exact number of consonants in the Alphabet.
The school of cognition in the Shaiva-lore takes five as the synonym of five duties which are Abhasan appearance, rakti attachment, Vimarshan scrutiny, Bija source, and avasthapanam establishing. These five duties or the stages of perception are also extricable part of the muttering of an incantation Japa-vidhi; hence the reference to mantroddharah delivering an incantation is not without purpose in Panchastavi.
Moreover, this pentad of devotional poems is essentially a treatise on Para-vidya super knowledge, as conceived by the Shaivas. Naturally to spell out its contrast with the negation of knowledge avidya – Ignorance, the poet must have made its five-fold division in his mind. This ignorance comprises tamah – error- Moha – illusion-, Maha-mohah – obduration-, tamisrah -fallacy, and andha mental blindness; copious references throughout the text of Panchastavi for dispelling tamah – error moha – illusion etc. have been made in this context. ” Consequently these concomitants of ignorance are to be crossed, so that Super knowledge may dawn which is also called Shuddha Vidya or sad- vidya) by the Shaivas, which can be attained by adopting the course prescribed in Shuddhadhvan – the pure path. The Shaivas also believe that the purusha – the limited individual self has five envelopments of niyati – confinement, Kalah – experience of changes in time, Ragah – attachment, Vidva -limited knowledge and Kala -limited authorship. The cumulative effect of these aberrations produces Maya (obduration) and this can be removed completely by Shuddha vidya, the pure knowledge as alluded to above. Actually Maya obduration, is the name given to non-identity between Shiva and Shakti. So the poet invokes the ‘Immanent Mother’ Sakala Janani – to emancipate all the living beings from this ‘knot of Maya’.
As a corollary to this, having overcome Maya (obduration) the experiencer has to traverse five stages of sad-vidya, assimilative consciousness (Aishvarya). All pervasive conscious-self, Sadakhya, objective conscious self, Shakti tattva predicative manifestation, and Shiva-tattva subjective conscious-self, so as to identify himself with the Parama Shiva (Supreme conscious-self), the acme of Shaiva realization. The Panchastavi-kara (the composer of Panchastavi) has referred to these in very unambiguous terms also.”
In addition to these shades of meaning projecting from five, it cannot be gainsaid that it does not connote the body made up of five elements namely Prithvi, solidity. Apas liquidity, Agni (formativity). Vayu (aeriality) and akasha (etheriality). The recitation of an incantation is definitely a mental drill with physiological basis; so the body – the very first expedient for accomplishing Dharma- is an inevitable part of this mental discipline. Hence the poet is at pains to refer to this Vehicle in his eulogies to the Supreme Energy.
Not only this, in several Tantric works, human body is looked upon as Shri Chakra (disc of bountiful Superhuman power) in which the microcosmic angles of the Energy (Shakti) have been detailed as tvak (Skin), asrah (blood), mamsam (flesh), Meda (lymph) and asthi (bones). The macrocosmic angles have also been defined as the five elements, five tanmatras (subtle elements ) belonging to Shabda (sound), sparsha (touch), rupa (colour), rasa (flavour), and gandha (smell), five senses, of perception, five senses of actionand five pranas. This aspect of SHakti (Energy) has been fully brought out not only by Panchdstavi but also by another compilation of panegyrics named Saundarya Lahri (the wave of Beautitude) even. Again the five karnas @ur (generative causes) in Shaiva philosophy are Brahma (the progenitor), Vishnu (the nourisher), Rudra (the annihilator),. Sada-Shiva, (perennial & immanent conscious spirit) and Ishvara (the supreme Lord). To this belief the poet has succinctly referred in these eulogisms.”
Last but not the least, the Shiva from which the Shaivism derives its name, is supposed to have five faces, Panch-mukha, but it is just a corpse (Shavah), without the union, with Energy (Shakti). This very thought has been expressed by the author in dexterously fine poetry. The Saundarya Lahri begins the devotional praise of the Super-Energy with this belief.
So it has been made abundantly clear that the poet, who composed Panchastavi was an ardent Shaiva and had all these shades of five in his mind, when he deliberately selected this very number, so pregnant with esoteric content, for choosing an apt and befitting title for his imagination concentrated in Panchastavi. It could not have been a mere accident or even a happy coincidence; it was wilfully done by him as a conscious artist and a versatile Shaiva.
In tune with the arguments advanced above, it also seems plausible to assert that Shaivism in essence advocates a happy compromise between materiality (bhoga) and spirituality (Yoga), a rewarding attitude to life, and if that balance is tilted in favour of any of the two, that attitude will get disturbed and may not contribute to the well-being of the humanity at large; so when vamacharah (the left hand ritual of the Tantras) pleaded for the introduction of pancha makara (five Ms); naturally as a healthy reaction to this degenerate Tantric ritual which ran counter to the Shaiva teachings, the poet thought it fit to substitute the five eulogiums for five Ms. This conjecture is substantiated by the dig in undertones he has dealt at such believers in his own composition. The use of the words aparey and budhah are significant here. Budhah (the wise, enlightened) call this super-Energy as transcendental (akulam); in contrast with this aparey (others), not enlightened or wise call Her Kaulam personifying Kaulacharah.
III. Nomenclature of Cantos:
Furthermore, the poet has captioned each canto with a sub-title. Herein also these subtitles have been used not haphazardly but with a purpose.
First Canto: The first canto bears the sub-title Laghu (insignificant or light). In the penultimate verse of this chapter, the poet has justified the use of this word and hinted at his insignificance laghustvatmani for undertaking such a lofty yet burdensome task for analysing the Super-Energy. However, also, it seems that he has tried to play on the word ‘Laghu’ and in keeping with the Shaivistic tradition tried to keep it occult rahasya sampradayah. As the word discussion has many other meanings also we have to glean any such out of these, which is in consonance with what has been described in this canto.
Without mincing words, it may be said that this canto tries to define, explain and emphasize the purport contained in the aphorism ‘ Vidya shariratta mantra rahsyam. “The occult power of an incantation is its efficacy to strike identity between the sound and its symbol. ” Vidya has been described as nothing other than the symbols (matrika) of the alphabet. Hence the ‘origin of letters’ and their method of grouping into an incantation and the consequent mode of recitation has been fully dealt with in this canto. This very knowledge of letters has been treated as a fond Mother granting each and every boon to her children. These sounds and symbols (nada, Bindu) emanate from the Muladhara where these are coiled together like a Kundalini – the coiled serpent and traversing twelve stations (dwadash-dalam) approaches the Brahma-randra and then its return or descent into the Kanda or Muladhara begins and it again lies dormant there. The poet, while describing this terse and yet intricate discipline of the breath is alive to the fact that it may not be taken kindly to by the prospective realizers; they might feel diffident to practise this course which seemingly appears guru (weighty, difficult); hence to make it popular and banish all the scare from the minds of the devotees, he has captioned this chapter as Laghu (very light, easy to comprehend). Some say that it is the composition of a devotee named Laghu Bhattaraka, hence the sub-title Laghustava will mean a panegyric composed by Laghu, a diminutive from Laghu Bhattaraka.
Second Canto: The second canto, is known as charchastava (the panegyric containing careful study or reflection). Herein the attributies of the Divine Mother ( Energy ) in cosmic form have been fully described. She is also invoked to cut the shackles of birth and rebirth, and to release the devotee from the prison (bondage) of his body. This canto gives in detail the immanent form of the Super-Energy, whereas the first brought into bold relief Her Vishvotteerna transcendental form.
Third Canto: The third canto bears the title gatastavah. Gatah is patently derived from Ghat verb meaning to unite, to join or, bring together. Herein the ghatnam or sanghatnam (union) of Shiva and Shakti is complete. The impersonal as described in the first and the personal in the second cantos respectively get fully immersed in each other in this canto just like the water and its container (Ghatah). This coincides with the paraparadasha or bhedabheda vimarshanatmakta (complete identity) for which sadyidya (the perennial and pure knowledge) is also a synonym. Hence the third canto deals with this aspect of knowledge. The Ghatah (pitcher) is looked upon as the body metaphysically by the Yogis and the water inside it is taken to be the soul (Atman). The body of the alphabet (Vidyasharira) has been profusely mentioned in the first Canto, the second locates its soul and the third marks their auspicious blending, hence the use of the word ghatah or the verb ghat. So the poet jeers at those fools who torment their body with various kinds of pennance or make themselves paupers by spending lavishly on Yajnas (sacrificial fires) and liberal remunerations. The realizer attaining this stage has not to bother himself with these fruitless rituals. This very union between the sound and the symbol, para (higher) and apara (lower), the immanent and the transcendal. Shiva and the Shakti, Bheda (duality) and abheda (identity) has been very beautifully alluded to by the poet while addressing the Supreme Energy as ‘Shabda Brahmamayi’.
Fourth Canto: The fourth canto is called Amba Stavah, a panegyric eulogizing the Mother. The word Amba is to be read in the context of Jyeshtha and Raudri. While discussing the origin of letters, the ‘Tantra Sadbhava’ has to say that Raudri the terrible, on account of the agitation it produces, is the first stage of a letter being conceived. Jyeshtha-‘the elderly or prominent’ indicates its form being taken, and Amba is the final sound which comes at the tip of the tongue. Hence it is established beyond doubt that embryonic and formative stages of a letter having been described at length in the previous chapters, the fullfledged word having taken shape and being pronounced singly or is a part of an incantation is actually the Amba. This word also means a mother like matrika, hence may also mean vidya Super-knowledge as corroborated by the poet himself in the very first verse of this chapter. Herein, consequently the praises of Vidya have been sung which has been naturally equated with Shakti (energy) without which Shiva is a non-entity ( asamartha ). So, this Amba (Mother) is the real generative power in nature or man ; bereft of Her, this world would look desolate. Moreover, only when Her two lotus – feet are enshrined in the of hearts people, the puzzling din and strife of obstinacy, argument and counter-argument will cease. In the last verse the poet prepares the ground for captioning the penultimate chapter as ‘sakala janani stava’ by invoking Her as as sakala bhuvana mata (Mother of all the worlds – inanimate or animate) with Her protruding breasts ebbing with the milk of human kindness.
Fifth Canto: Sakala (entire or whole) can be expounded in more than one way. It may mean, along with other parts, digits or full, such as sakalaindu (the full moon). It might also connote in thelanguage of Shaivas as savyenjan (with consonants) as against nishkala (avyenjan without consonants one of the methods of japa muttering an iticantation. It might also indicate the medial sounds or letters of the incantation with sakala japa vidhih the method of muttering with consonants. The latter part of the compoud Janani (Compassionate Mother) makes it more clear and all the same unambiguous. Actually this chapter is devoted to the propitiationon of the ‘Universal Mother’ Jagatmata; and this Universal Mother is maha vidya Super knowledge being beyond speech and argument. This all-pervading Mother represents in Her ownself attributes of creation, sustenance and annihilation, as also the over-lordship and the super-knowledge, thereby exhibiting diversity, out of unity. She showers supreme bliss on those, who take pains to know Her in essence.
IV. Precise import of Tripurasundari
Before proceeding further it seems pertinent to explain the content of Tripura or Tripura Sundari personifying the ‘Divine Energy’ and repeatedly used by the poet in all the cantos.
tri denotes number three and pura means among other things, the body also. The word thus literally will indicate any such woman who has three bodies (tripura) or who represents in herself the beauty of three worlds (whole cosmos). Perhaps to facilitate the exact comprehension of this word, the poet, on his own, has advanced reasons for calling this ‘Divine Energy’ as Tripura. After enumerating the triple form of gods (Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra), fire (household, sacrificial and of pyre), energies (desire, perception and action), basic vowels, worlds (Bhur, Bhuvah and Svah), Vedas (Rig, Yajus and sama) and other cosmic manifestions, he very convincingly tries to establish that this threefold division is actually an extension of the essence of the Divine Energy, consequently called Tripura. Shaivistic lore confirms this view of the poet, ‘Prapanchasara’ asserts that ‘Ambika’ is named as Tripura because of its accent on the three basic vowels. ‘Tripurarnava’ lays down that the Energy residing in ‘Sushumna, pingala and Ida’-Blood Vessels-as also in the mind, intellect and soul is called Tripura. ‘Kalika Purana’ says since everything is threefold, so she (Divine, Energy) is called Tripura. ‘Vamakeshvara -Tantra’ believes that Tripura is threefold in the form of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and also personifies in Herself the three powers of desire, perception and action. ‘Varaha Purana’ also explains the name on those very lines. Hence the word Tripura is actually the manifestation of triple power of the super-Energy-Raudri, Jyeshtha and Amba-the birth of a letter from the embryo to the actual pronounciation. Letter is an indissoluble part of an incantation, hence the poet feels that Tripura Sundari on being discerned by physical eyes or through mastering a Mantra (mentally) dispells sins and mitigates the fear of death.
Hindu genius has all along provided form (Vyakt BERTE) to the formless (Avyakta), not because it believes that ‘Divine Energy’ can have any form, but with the sole motive of making that abstract Entity look like a concrete object, especially in human form, so as to make it more acceptable and intelligible to the general masses. To make this apprcach more impressive and effective the image of the Mother came in handy for them. “An unworthy son may be born, but there can never be a bad- Mother.” This attitude is at the root of the Mother- worship so popular with the Hindus. In this way also the so called polytheism grew out of the monotheist. Even in the hoary times of Vedas the seer was constrained to remark “Ekam hi sadvipra bahuda vadanti “The Reality being one is interpreted in many ways.” On the same analogy the poet-devotee of panchastavi has provided all the human attributes to Her, and yet made her look superhuman. Hence Tripura in essence being an abstract feeling of mind, has been painted in words pulsating with undivided devotion as a ‘Loving Mother’; such discipline of mind is a mental experience beyond the domain of physical words. This discipline will remain incomplete, if the mention of the common belief is not made that Tripura is the consort of Tripurari (shiva). Propitiation of Tripura is still performed in Kashmir especially by a sect of Kashmiri Pandits, known as Tikus, presumably a Kashmiri rendering of trik.
V. The name of the Composer
Unfortunately for us, the poet has maintained sphinx-like silence about his name, time or lineage throughout the length and breadth of his versified composition. However strange it might seem, but it is all the same true about many Sanskrit authors of repute. Even Kalidasa, the prince among poets has been also reticent about himself. Barring a few authors like Bilhana and Ksemendra, the date and name of whole galaxy of Sanskrit luminaries of Kashmir is still a matter of research. In the Shaivistic literature only Abhinavagupta has given his brief biographical sketch and some dates in one of his stotaras devotional panegyrics. Herein his versatality has to be thanked, otherwise the Hindu attitude of mind by and large feels shy of publicity more so, of self-advertisement.
In 1917 A. D. T. Ganapati Shastri brought out an edition of the first chapter of Panchastavi naming it as Laghustuti with the Sanskrit commentary of one Raghvananda. On the authority of the commentator he put down the name of the poet as Laghu Bhattaraka:
However, he has also referred to another commentary on the same treatise which to quote him is very voluminous and consists of nearly two thousand verses by some Parameshwaracharya. This commentary is not still out, hence nothing can be said about it. Had this commentary been made available after getting it printed, who knows many knotty problems would have been solved. In his introduction the learned Shastri has not referred to Panchastavi at all, and has, for all practical purposes, thought these 21 verses to be an independent work, and not the first canto of Panchastavi. Curiously enough the commentator Raghavananda also has not made the mention of Panchastavi or its other cantos even once directly or indirectly. This intriguing silence poses many questions which deserve plausible answers. Firstly, it seems that Panchastavi as a whole is unknown in the south and only its first chapter has gained currency there. Therein also the original Stava has been substituted by Stuti even though both mean the same thing. Moreover, it is thought to be a Composition of some Laghu Bhattaraka.
It is very well known that Shaivism of the south is predominantly dualistic in content. Madhvacharya (A.D. 1199-1276) has described: ‘ Shaiva Darshan ‘ as, a, dualistic system, which is fundamentally at variance with the Monistic system which thrived only in Kashmir. Nimbarka (A. D. 1162) emphasizes that it is from duality bheda that non-duality abheda can be realized. In the Tantric literature a clear division has been made on the basis of duality and non- duality; hence the Tantras like Kamaja, Yogaja, etc. numbering ten have been ascribed to the dualistic school of Shaivism. Therefore it seems surprising that a composition like this advocating non-duality should come from the south. As will be made clear lateral Panchastavi as a whole, beyond any doubt, breathes an air of being composed in Kashmir, and to crown all, by a Kashmiri author. Hence it seems plausible to surmise that the text of only one canto was commented upon by Raghvananda for propounding a faith which would have raised many eyebrows there. If we contend that the other four cantos were lost, it will not be tenable in the face of his not referring to any one of these in his commentary. For fear of being misinterpreted and also misunderstood, he stopped at the conclusion of the first chapter. Perhaps this will also solve the puzzle of substituting Stutih for Stava by him. Even though both these words mean the same thing, yet in usual practice Stava is a collection of stutih; Had he used the original Stavah he would have then betrayed the knowledge of other Stavas also. Hence he changed the word to Stutih without imparing its connotation as in the original, and also thereby implied that he knew nothing about other cantos. Our poet has used the Stutih ( praise ) in the same context, which confirms our belief in the rightness of this conjecture. Raghvananda wanted it to look like an independent and single Stutih (praise) of the ‘Supreme Energy’ like ‘Saundarya Lahri’ or Bhairavastuti of Abhinava Gupta.
Bhattaraka or Bhattara is an appellation of respect or esteem joined with the names of either very learned Brahmins or Kings, its diminitive Bhattah still survives as a generic name for Kashmiri Pandits. In south no such practice is in vogue perhaps with the exception of Kumarilla Bhatta; so Laghu Bhattaraka seems also to be a Kashmiri Brahmin; ‘Laghu’ taken as an adjective would mean ‘quick witted’ or one who was so proficient as to give the minutest details Laghava (noun) about the Supreme Energy. Hence it can not be the actual name of the author but a commendatory epithet used by the commentator for his erudition and devotion. On the analogy of ralayauhabhedah (Panini’s diction in his sutras) it strikes as the name of the commentator itself laghava becoming Raghava. Hence we come to the conclusion that the commentator did not know the real name of the poet and to be on the safe side ascribed it to a quick-witted Kashmiri Brahmin Laghu – Bhattarka and thereby inserted his name also with it.
Lakshmi Dhara in his commentary on – Saundarya Lahri while quoting from Panchastavi has referred to its author as an ‘Acharya’ generally, but in one case has referred to Kalidasa particularly also in this context. However, we can authoritatively say that he is not the famous Kalidasa of Raghuvarnsha or Shakuntala repute. It might mean “A votary of Kali,” some Acharya who was a devotee of Kali is perhaps meant by him.
In some manuscripts in the possession of the Kashmir Government Research Library the name of the author has been given as Laghavacharya, and in some as Acharya Prithvi Dhara, disciple of Shambhunatha. In one Ms the name of the poet has been written as Shri Ramchandracharya. Kasbmiri tradition ascribes it to Abhinava Gupta. In the quoted verses from Panchastavi used by commentators of ‘Vidyarnava’ and ‘Saubhagya Ratnakara’ the author has been mentioned as Dharmacharyah. Nityananda, the commentator of Tripura Mahimastotra also corroborates the same view. Harabhatta Shastri, the reputed local scholar also has taken Dharmacharyah to be its author.
The verv fact that there is no unanimity of views about the authorship of Panchastavi leads us easily to think that actually the author has wanted to remain annonymous to which view the last verse of the first canto also subscribes. The use of Laghustvatmani (insignificance of his own self) debars him to proclaim his name. This is the zenith of humility and knowledge has been acclaimed as the giver of the same. As to the names Acharya, Kalidasa and Dharmacharyah, we may say that actually these are not the proper names but assumed ones. Acharya may mean a precepter and Dharmacharyah accordingly indicates a preceptor of Dharma, here Shaiva Dharmah ostensibly. At times even scribes when not finding the name of the author therein, may have put in their name in his stead. In the absence of any indisputable and authentic evidence, we are forced to conclude that the authorship of Pinchastavi is an un resolved mystery.
VI. Date of Composition
Panchastavi is the quintessence of Tantric scriptures of non-dualistic school. The earliest extant reference to its versess used as quotations are found in the Saraswati Kanthabharana of King Bhoja. The probable date of the composition of Saraswati Kanthabharan is between 1030-1040 A. D. Hence Panchastavi must have been composed much earlier to it; by the time of Bhoja its poetic merit (leaving devotional apart) must have been established on firm footing, only then it could deserve a place in this work on poetics. Moreover Saundarya Lahri whose authorship is ascribed to Shankaracharya, does in a way, treat the same thought as couched in the Panchastavi.
For this very reason Lakshmi Dhara has quoted profusely from it. It is very difficult to say as to which composition of these two is earlier; in other words, what debt they owe to each other is a subject of profound research. However it can be said without any fear of contradiction that the subject matter of these two compositions being similar, as also the phrase and idiom at many places, both these might have been composed at the same time when the devotional climate in Kashmir was vibrating with ‘Shaivisttc Monism’. It is also believed that Shankaracharya was converted to this line of thinking during his sojourn in Kashmir. Local tradition of Kashmir also confirms it. Shankara’s date has been fixed between 788-820 A.D. So it seems probable that Panchastavi was also composed during this period, Even if it may be argued that Panchastavi is posterior to Saundar Lahari, still it could not have been composed by after 1030-1050 A.D. in any case. The upper limit may be fixed at 788-820 A.D. Shankara’s visit to Kashmir and consequently composing Saundarya Lahari by him, and the lowest limit is furnished by the date of Bhoja’s treatise on poetics (Saraswati Kanthabharna) i.e. 1030-1050 A.D. During this Span of period out poet’s composition must have seen the light of the day. So in all fairness to the author, it may be concluded that Panchastavi must have been composed in the latter half of ninth century and by the time of Bhoja its verses had attained sufficient fame and credence for being included in his work.
VII. Common authorship of five Contos
One more point deserves consideration before we conclude this brief study, whether this is the work of one and the same author, who-so-ever, he might have been. On the strength of the internal evidence as well as the external, we have to answer this query in affirmative. The data available to us from the internal evidence conclusively points towards this hypothesis. Besides the astounding similarities of phrase and idiom and even repetition of words, the reference made to Vatsa Raja Udyana who was blessed with plenty and opulence by the Divine Mother, in more than one cantos, corroborates this view. Not only this, in the second factual reference there is mention of a famous Kashmiri king Pravarsena also, who, has been equated with king Udyana. The use of api (also) in the verse itself makes this inference obvious. The king Udyana as also the “Pravara” (Pravarsena) is the correct translation and not ‘Udyana pravara’ or very esteemed Udyana. Pravara herein is not a qualifying adjective of Udyana, but a noun, name of another king Praversena, the use of api (also) can be justified only then, otherwise it seems redundant. The translation thus would be ‘king Udyana’ (as referred to already in I-12 but also Praversena (api) which agrees with the singular sah in the third line, otherwise should have been tau (these two). In this verse, therefore explicit reference to Udyana has been made. Praversena has been obviously mentioned explicitly. If the poet had meant to refer to Udyana again, he could not have escaped the blemish of repetition and as such his verses could not have been cited as examples by rhetoricians like Bhoja and Mammata.
Taking this suggestive import into account, we can easily identify as to which Praversena is meant by the poet, as Kalhana has given two kings of this name in his Rajatarangini. It seems Praversena II (590 A.D. roughly), who was a great warrior and an ardent believer like vatsa Raja Udyana. In Kalhana’s own words: “He founded the city of Pravarpura on the outskirts of Sharika Parbat, which formed the centre of the new city”. This Sharika Parbat, now known as Hari Parbat is regarded as the abode of the Goddess. So the cause of establishing the capital around Sharika Parbat is not far to seek. Being the recipient of favours from the Goddess he wanted to remain permanently under the canopy of Her feet literally. Moreover, verses not only from the I and V cantos, but from II, III and IV have also been quoted by later writers, this fact beyond any doubt establishes that these were the product of a single poet’s imagination.
VIII. His Kashmiri Origin
He was a Kashmiri by birth needs no further elucidation. The monistic Shaivism was founded and propagated only here. It could not catch up with other schools of this philosophy, more especially in the south. This poetic composition is found as a whole in Kashmir alone, and from very remote times its verses are on the tongue of the Kashmiri Brahmins. In this connection reference to purely Kashmiri herbs like trupsi also points eloquently towards this conclusion. Moreso, reference to Praversena discussed earlier, also substantiates this view. Reference to Udyana in this respect is not so important, as he has been an ideal with most of the Sanskrit poets and Dramatists for his amors, exploits and bravery. Praversena is known only to Kashmiris; Kashmiri scholars have often referred to him, but no mention of him has been made anywhere in Sanskrit literature outside Kashmir. Tripura Pooja is exclusively carried on here without any break from times immemorial. Tripura worship outside Kashmir does not seem to be popular, even Tantriks over there have chosen kali as their Tutelar Deity (Isht Devi). Only the Brahmins of this place persist with this name of the Goddess.
In the end, it looks quite appropriate to invoke the ‘Supreme Energy’ in the words of the poet himself who is bold enough like other true Shaivas of Kashmir to announce that caste restriction is no bar to Her propitiation; but only the steadfast intellect and unflinching faith overcomes any impediments whatsoever, ushering in a span of material opulence and spiritual ascendancy for the devotee.
In this context it will be of interest to note here that the charisma of ‘Shakti’ worship here in Kashmir, prompted ‘Adi- Shankaracharya’ to pay this tribute to Her imminence and transcendance:
“Oh Youthful Spouse of Shiva, Thou art Mind, Ether, Air, Fire, Water, Earth and dost thereby transform Thyself into the universe. Nevertheless there is nothing beyond Thee. By Thy play Thou dost manifest Thy consciousness and Bliss in the body of the universe.”