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Saiva Rites of Expiation: A First Edition and Translation of Trilocanasiva’s Twelfth-Century Prayascittasamuccaya (with a Transcription of Hardayasiva’s Prayascittasamuccaya)

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Item Code: NAK611
Author: R. Sathyanarayanan
Publisher: Institut Francais De Pondichery
Language: Sanskrit Text with English Translation
Edition: 2015
Pages: 652
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 10.0 inch x 7.0 inch
Weight 1.30 kg
Book Description

About the Book


Rites of expiation and reparation (prayascitta) may not seem central to the history of the Mantramarga, but they provide a fascinating angle from which to view the evolution of this broad religious tradition. Instead of focussing on the evolution and philosophical defence of Saiva doctrines, or on the examination of ritual practices and of theories developed to justify and shore up such practices, this study puts the spot- light instead on social dimensions of the religion.


This book contains a first edition and translation of a South Indian compendium of Saiva expiation rituals compiled by Trilocanasiva, a twelfth-century theologian celebrated for his Siddhantasaravali, a metrical treatise on the Saivasiddhanta that is still traditionally studied in the Tamil-speaking South today. Trilocana does not reveal the sources from which he quotes, many of which are lost to us, but an earlier Northern treatise on the same theme from Malwa by a certain Hrdayasiva consists only in large labeled quotations, typically whole chapters, from those sources. A Nepalese palm-leaf manuscript kept in Cambridge that is dated to 1157 AD may be the earliest surviving codex to transmit Hrdayasivas text and we have included a complete transcription of that manuscript as an appendix. A combined quarter-verse-index helps readers to navigate both Trilocana's and Hrdayasivas works.


Our introduction attempts to trace the social developments within the Saivasiddhanta that give context to the evolution of Saiva reparatory rites.




What is prayascitta? A short sketch!

No attempt will be made here to address as a whole the very broad topic of praya.scitta across the classical Indian religious traditions, for which the reader should turn first rather to other sources, such as P. V. KANE'S magisterial treatment of the subject in the first half of the fourth volume of his History of Dharmasastra, or, for a nuanced consideration of the relationship between purification and punishment, to LUBIN'S article of 2007; but a very brief characterisation of prayascitta in the Mantramarga (tantric Saivism) may be useful at the beginning of this book.


The term prayascitta covers a number of rites and actions that are held to expiate or repair faults of omission and commission. As Trilocanasiva tells us:


The duties of the sadhaka and other [classes of initiates] have been taught by Siva. Since there are negative consequences when these drop out [or] when His commands are transgressed, Siva has taught expiation to avoid those [negative consequences] for these [various initiates].


In fact many of the expiable "offences" that are discussed in Saiddhantika sources are not exclusively Saiva, but belong also to the realm of samanyasastra, 'universally applicable learning', for they include such non- criminal and non-transgressive things as states of ritual impurity caused, for example, by life-events such as birth and death (sutaka). The typical range of rites and actions involved in expiation appear listed in a quotation from a recension of a Siddhantatantra called the Kalottara that appears in a twelfth-century manual by a certain Jnanasambhu (Jnanaratnavali, GOML MS, p. 209):


snanam japopavasam ca nityahomas ca gaddukah

pancagavyasanam danam margaduskrtanasanam


Bathing, mantra-repetition, fasting, regular obligatory oblations, reciting mantras over pots, consuming a blend of the five products of the cow (pancagavya), donations - these destroy the [re- tributory consequences] of wrong-doings [of those] on the [Saiva] path.


These expiatory rites and acts appear in various combinations, but the most used, and perhaps the only one that is frequently used by itself, is repetition (Japa) of Saiva mantras, particularly of the five BRAHMA-mantras (for these mantras, see TAK3, s.v. panca brahmani). Among these five mantras, there is one that is particularly favoured for its expiatory efficacity, namely AGHORA, the 'non-terrible'. This is explicitly stated, for example in verses 811-15 of the Prayascittasemuccaya, but it would also be evident simply from casually flipping through this book. If there is another mantra among the five that has a clearly defined function in this context, it is VAMADEVA, the mantra that is said to be Sadasiva's genitals (guhya): here, it is put to use more than the other four for the expiation of sexual transgressions (see verse 469 and section 19 of the text passim).


Expiations typically vary according to whether the crime was deliberate (kamat) or not deliberate (akamatah.), and the latter category is often held to include transgressions that are in some way induced by circumstances, as we may read in Prayascittasamuccaya 8:


[When a fault occurs] because of problematic factors such as fate, disease, delusion, [or] because of danger of thieves and kings and such, then it is 'involuntary'; in other cases, it should be judged to be 'deliberate'.


In prescribing "penalties", other factors must of course also be taken into account: the gravity of the fault, what kind of initiate has committed it. Is the perpetrator a power-seeking sadhaka, for instance, or a naisthika (for this term, see TAK3 s.v. naisthika). What is his or her age and state of health? What is the degree of his devotion? Are there extenuating factors (see, e.g., Prayascittasamuccaya 9-10)? And is the religious and social status of other persons involved? This last consideration is important particularly in the case of food- and sex-related transgressions and in cases of physical contact. Other persons may be given the expiation to perform if the transgressor is unfit or unable (Prayascittasamuccaya 11-12). Ideally one's own guru should prescribe the expiation (Prayascittasamuccaya 18), but in his absence a council of three, seven or fifteen acaryas who know the scriptures and are observant themselves may determine penalties ordained by scripture (Prayascittasamuccaya 19).


Penance-rites as a reflection of social change in the Saiva- siddhanta

The subject of rites of expiation or reparation (prayascitta) is not central for the history of the Mantramarga (Tantric Saivism), but it provides a fascinating angle from which to view the evolution of this broad religious tradition. Instead of focussing on the evolution and philosophical defence of Saiva doctrines, or on the examination of ritual practices and of theories developed to justify and shore up such practices, it puts the spotlight instead on social dimensions of the religion. For a large number of prescriptions regarding prayascitta concern what were perceived to be problematic social interactions. Trilocanasiva's Prayascittasamuccaya thus gives us some sort of picture of the social realities of life as an initiate to the Saivasiddhanta in the Tamil-speaking South in this time, the late twelfth-century.


Who was Trilocanasiva?

For the twelfth-century date and South Indian provenance of Trilocanasiva, the reader is referred to GOODALL 2000:208ff, in which it is demonstrated that he was the author of the Prayascittasamuccaya and of the Somasambhu- paddhatitika, a commentary on the celebrated eleventh-century ritual manual of Somasambhu, whose fame has been renewed by BRUNNER'S four- volume study (1963, 1968, 1977, 1998), and probably also of the Siddhantasamuccaya, a prose digest of the doctrines of the classical Saivasiddhanta, and of the Siddhantasaravali, a well-known and still popular verse summary of the tenets and rituals of the religion. The above list includes only the surviving works mentioned in GOODALL 2000 and only the last on the list has been published. To these surviving works of Trilocanasiva we should now add the Dhyanaratnavali, recently published (2013) by R. SATHYA- NARAYANAN and S. A. S. SARMA, along with an introduction that gives a somewhat fuller account of what is known of Trilocanasiva's works (pp. xx- xxviii). In the same pages of GOODALL 2000, it is argued that Trilocanasiva was the disciple both of the best known of the Southern Saiddhantika exegetes, Aghorasiva (ft. 1157 AD: see GOODALL 1998:xiii-xvii, fn. 24), and also of Jnanasambhu, a learned South Indian author living in Benares.


If we take the Siddhantasamuccaya to be part of our Trilocanasiva's oeuvre, then we can draw from its conclusion (quoted by GOODALL 2000:213) that he was the abbot (mathadhipa) of a matha in Tiruvenkatu (Svetaranya).


The gurus that Trilocanasiva venerates at the beginning of our text (Prayascittasamuccaya 1-2) appear not to be intended as figures in a sin- gle linear sequence of contiguous spiritual antecedents. In this, they are just like the gurus in Aghorasiva's Gotrasantati, several of whom appear also in Trilocanasiva's sequence, as DAVIS (1992:373), quoting HULTZSCH, has remarked. Trilocanasiva's list too begins with the mythical Durvasas, the founder of Amardaka, which is both Ur-lineage and Saiva monastery, and includes Somasiva - in other words Somasambhu, who is presumably included as a guru because Trilocanasiva had carefully studied the Soma- sambhupaddhati - before ending with Aghorasiva's guru Sarvatmasiva (a synonym of Hrdayasiva, though not the same as the author of the Prayas- cittasamuccaya, to whom we shall turn shortly), and Aghorasiva himself."


Trilocanasiva's Prayascittasamuccaya

Although Trilocanasiva may be placed there, the Prayascittasamuccaya is not a text whose lines were all composed in the South in the twelfth century, but rather a compendium of relevant statements gathered together from Saiva scriptures and ritual manuals that have been ordered and, in some cases, edited. The Prayascittasamuccaya is, in other words, a sort of digest or nibandha, a genre newly popular in Saiva circles in its time, perhaps because of a growth of Saiva monastic libraries, and perhaps under the influence of Dharmasastra, where this genre seems to have emerged around the same period or earlier." Unfortunately, it belongs to that particular sub-genre of nibandha in which the citations that have been strung together are typically not preceded or followed by labels that identify their sources.


The result is a screed of more than eight hundred anustubh]: verses from a range of texts that appear to be of various dates and provenance, but where guesswork is required for identifying the probable beginnings and ends of quotations. This often makes it difficult to interpret the text: many passages could contain different statements, depending on how the units of sense are divided, and, even when it is certain that a dividing line between two quotations has been correctly identified, one cannot be entirely sure that Trilocanasiva did not intend by uniting them to create a fresh unit of sense. And this structure is furthermore also, obviously, a stumbling block for someone interested in teasing out relative chronology and thereby evidence for social history.











Sanskrit Text of the Prayascittasamuccaya









Purpose of the text



Some general rules



Dawn duties



General rules for Puja



Defilement of the linga



Worshipping materials



Behaviour near ones’s Guru



Behaviour towards religious objects






Consuming Food



Contacts between initiates and others



More rules on eating and impurity



Intercourse with followers of other religious traditions



The great sins (mahapataka)



Minor crimes (upapataka)



Other cases of killing and violence



Acts of thought, speech and body



Rules about sexual activity






Matters relating to menstruating women



Birth-or death-related impurity



Physical Contact



Cleaning of utensils, substances and various possessions



People from whom food and other gifts should not be accepted



Definitions of types of fast



The five products of the cow



Significant mantras for expiations






Appendix: Prayascittasamuccaya of Hrdayasiva



Combined Pada-index



General Index



Sample Pages

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