About the Book
Mahartha-manjari is an important text of Kashmir Saivism. It belongs to the 14th Century A.D. and is written in Maharastrian Prakrta 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 super-consciousness. 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. Mahesvarananda, a fully accomplished yogin of the class of Kashmir Saivism seems to have been initially initiated by yogini Keyurvati who herself was the disciple of Sivananda.
Professor Satya Prakash Singh is a renowned Vedic scholar-alumni of the Banaras Hindu University; D.Jitt. of the Aligarh Muslim University; former Chairman of the Department of Sanskrit and Dean, Faculty of Arts, Aligarh Muslim University. Recipient off a number of prestigious awards-Ganganath Jha Award of the Uttar Pradesh Sanskrit Academy, Rajaji Literary Award of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Swami Pranavananda Best Book of the Year Award in Psychology, Bhanabhatta Puraskara of Sanskrit Academy, Uttar Pradesh, President of India's Award of Scholar of Eminence; authored more than 29 books.
Swami Maheshvarananda is an accomplished yogin besides being deeply grounded in the study of yogic literature of a variety of shades including Vedic, Tantric, Saiva, Vaisnava and Buddhist. He was initiated in yoga practically by a reputed yogin while living in his company for quite some time in a sacred cave in Northern India.
Mahartha-maiijari is an important text of Kashmir Saivism.
It belongs to the 14th Century A.D. and is written in Maharastrian Prakrta, but at the same time; FtS' Sanskrit version was also presented by the author alongside the commentary known as Parimalii.. 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 Bhairavi, 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. (70)
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 Saivism with Sivananda as his grand teacher. Sivananda is said to have taught directly to a set of three female students, namely, Keyurvati, Madanikii and Kalyanika. 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 Mahartha-mafijari, 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 sadhana 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 Saci, 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 mahaprkasa, great illumination.
The illumination lies in the elimination of the intervening nasal sound between the in-breathing 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 Rgveda as early as at the time of seer Vamadeva. This is evident from the pre-eminence which has been accorded to the hamsa-padi mantra occurring at Rgveda, IV.40.5 in the hymn seen by seer Vamadeva Gautama and addressed to Sarya as its Devata. The mantra reads as follows:
Hamsak sucisad vasur antariksa sad
Hota vedisad atithir durona sat.
Nrsad varasad rtasad vyomasad,
abja goja rtaja adrija rtam.
(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 Dadhikrii, 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 Rgvedic 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 Rgvedic mantra placed at RV.I.164.38-39 and seen by seer Dirghatamas. There is a reference to breathings-in and breathing-out interlinked by an inner controller described as svadha, meaning self-farce. They remain 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 as pran and apan, meaning respectively as breathing-in and breathing-out. 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 his tapas 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.
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