The Saktapramoda of Devanandan Singh is a liturgical paddhati-style compendium o sixteen independent ritual manuals. The ten works, comprising the major part of t text are dedicated to the group of ten Tan goddesses, referred to as the Ten Great Mahavidyas "Ten Supreme Powers" the goddesses Kali, Tara, Sodasi, Bhuvanesva ISO Chinnamasta, Matangi, Tripurabhairavi, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi and Kamala. The next important text closely allied to the worship of the goddesses is Kumari Tantra devoted to the worship of the Kumari, or a young maiden. The next group of works comprises of Tantras devoted to five gods: Ganesa, Visnu, Siva, Durga and Surya. These II five deities are invoked in almost all forms of ritual worship prescribed by the Vedas, Puranas and to a degree by Tantras.
Each Tantra describes the dhyana of the deit the yantra, mantras and the method of tantri form of worship of the deity, along with praise hymns, protective formulas (kavacha) : and litanies of divine names, be they a group of Hundred Names (satanama) or a Thousan Names (sahasranama).
The first edition of Saktapromoda was published under the patronage of Raja Devanandan Singh, an aristocratic Zamindar of Muzzafarpur, in Bihar in the nineteenth century. This edition brings together a fully edited and revised new edition along with lithographic images of Tantric deities.
In India's long and ancient religious history, reinvention and renewal of texts have served to consolidate and establish the fluid identity of a sect, a religious community, or even an exclusive guru-lineage religious order. This complex process of formation of a canon involved several inputs, namely a range of authoritative sources or exegetical writings, to draw upon with its textual, iconic and ritual context, a charismatic guru, a learned scholar to compile/interpret the text, in order to legitimize and readjust the content in accordance to the needs of the given religious community. Finally, not so evident, is the role of the initiator or the patron. In India, as elsewhere, there were several streams of patronage, which could be collective or individual. Many powerful zamindar families in India took over the task of dissemination of religious knowledge to show that their learning and piety made them worthy of their high status. In the case of SP all the three aspects are brought together. The writing of the text was initiated, compiled and edited by Raja Deva Nandan Singh Bahadur, an aristocratic zamindar from Sheohar, Muzzafarpur district in North Bihar. He was both an author and patron of this work. He had put together a vast collection of authoritative Sakta sources during his lifetime. These sources were revised, gathered, edited and made fit for publication in association with the learned kulapurohit of the family, Pandit Raghuraja Dube.
The Singh family traces its ancestry to the special class of Bhumihara Brahmins who are known for defending and protecting their land against the enemies. The Bhumihar Brahmins are believed to be descendants of the rulers whom Parasurama consecrated as kings, after slaying the Ksatriyas. They are a very prosperous community and like a traditional Brahmin, they do not touch the plough. They are not entitled to accept pratigraha/ daksina, and to act as priests like Maithili and Kanyakubja Brahmins. They usually use surnames of royal origins such as Sinha, Singh, Thakur and Roy. It has been recorded in the family history that the Raja Ugrasen, the epical ancestor (l534AD) was made a hereditary Raja by the king Sher Shah Suri. Ugrasen, the then General of Sher Shah Suri, fought a battle against Humayun at the Kiul River, near Sasaram, Bihar. At his victory over Humayun, Sher Shah Suri awarded Ugrasen with the tide of hereditary Raja.
The family lineage of Raja Deva Nandan Singh, the author-patron is documented in the image of the family lineage tree (vamsa-vrksa). The Bhumihara Brahmins of Mithila have a long traditions of recording genealogies. Raja Hari Singh Deva of Mithila, in 1310 AD, ordered the creation of written genealogies for the higher castes of the kingdom, designated as panji-prabandha, the founding of the genealogical system. This tradition gave a new lease of life for geneaologists, who under the orders of the king, were to transcribe each family's ancestors for the last six generations. The names of each of the family members had to be recorded to ensure the continuity of bloodline (rakta) and lineage (gotra), to avoid incest. The descendants of the lineage were to observe ritual restrictions and taboos. The patrilineage, technically called mula (root), was founded by an epical ancestor (=the ancestors at the apex). The founding ancestor of the patrilineage is called vija-purusa, the "seed-man", and the first in the line.
The family tree of Raja Deva Nandan Singh follows the tradition set by the paiiji-prabandha tradition. Raja Deva Nandan is separated by his epical- ancestor, Ugrasen Singh (1534 AD) by seven generations (=Gaja Singh, Dilip Singh, Dhruv Singh, Krishna Singh, Dustadaman Singh and Yadu Nandan Singh). The date of the founding ancestors according to this record is pushed to the sixteenth century. Raja Deva Nandan Singh (1850 AD) is separated from the sponsors of this work, Ashok Nandan Singh by five generations. The family settled in Sheohar.
Sheohara (=Shivahara)which was once a part of Sitamarhi district in Tiruhut Division, is today an independent administrative unit. The place derives its name from a legend. It is said that when Lord Rama, was passing by the present-day Sheohara and heading to Ayodhya, Lord Siva came to see him at a particular spot. That place was named Shivahari (pronounced in the vernacular as 'Sheohari'). The region forms the heartland of Mithila culture. The tantric form of Sakta worship was in vogue in eastern India from time immemorial. Mithila has produced an extraordinary number of Tantric practitioners and scholars. A popular saying goes that "Tantra Vidya was revealed in Bengal, was strengthened in Mithila, it flourished here and there in Maharashtra, (and) it developed in Gujarat". Apart from the fact that Mithila region is the birthplace of Buddha and Mahavira, the great founders of the two great religions, Buddhism and Jainism, it has flourished as the cradle of Hindu civilization. Mithila region is well known for its dedication and devotion to various manifestations of the goddess. The people of Mithila were devoted to goddess Kali and Tara. Mithila has long been a prominent centre of Hindu Sanskrit learning. It was renowned as the birthplace of avya-nyaya, Neo-logic and the house of famous poet Vidyapati. In Mithila one of the ten Mahavidya goddesses is worshipped daily as a family deity (kula-devatii). Pandits of Mithila were well acquainted with the sophisticated and popular Tantric form of worship. Popular legends retell the boons bestowed by goddess Daksina Kali on her devotees. In a cultural milieu rife with religious vigour and vitality it was natural that the goddess Bagulamukhi, the one of the Mahavidyas, became the kuladeoi of the Singh family in the year 1890 AD. Raja Shivaraja Nandan Singh established a special temple of Bagulamukhi in a shrine in the courtyard of the haveli at Sheohar. In 1942 AD the image was re-installed and consecrated (pratistha) by Ramanikanta Deva Sharma, the head priest of Kamakhya temple, Guwahati in Assam. Raja Deva Nandan Singh's reverential attitude towards the Mahavidya worship gained momentum after what the family described as a blessing from the goddess Bagulamukhi. The year 1942 was of trial and turbulence for the family. It is recorded that Rajkumar Umesh Nandan Singh was involved in a court case with his relatives. The family decided to invoke the blessing of the goddess and invited Ramanikanta Deva Sharma of the Kamakhya temple to re-consecrate the statue of Bagulamukhi. After a lapse of a year the case was decided in favour of the family. The boon-bestowing goddess had averted the calamities that had befallen them. At the great consecration ceremony in 1942 AD, all the men as well as the women of the family were initiated into the Tantric form of worship of the goddess Bagulamukhi. This incident marked an important landmark in the family devotions to the Mahavidya goddesses. 'The presence of the goddess", observes Ashok Nandan Singh, "inspired us, gave us confidence and made us feel humble in the face of adversity".
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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