The Tantra of Svayambhu or Savyam-bhuvasutrasamgraha is the thirteenth in the Traditional list of the 28 Agamas of Saivasiddhanta. One of the oldest Acaryas of this school of Saivism, Sadyojyoti has composed a commentary on its vidyapasda section. The subjects dealt with are pasu, the bound soul; pasa, the bond; anugraha, God's grace and adhvan, the way to liberation. Sadyojyoti has taken definite and extreme positions on the philosophical problems raised by these concepts. He emphasizes their ritualistic foundation which is the true spirit of Tantric literature and the core of the Saiva religion. The text of his commentary is critically edited here and published with an English translation.
About the Author
Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat teaches Sanskrit in Paris University and conducts research in several fields of Indology, Sanskrit poetry and poetics (Alamkara Sastra), Tantra (particularly the Sanskrit literature of Saivasiddhanta). History of Indian architecture. He has published books and articles on Panini's Grammar, Patanjali's Mahabhasya, Saivagamas, temple architecture in Vijayanagar, etc.
The Svayambhuvasutrasamgraha is thirteenth in the Kalamulasastra series of IGNCA. Among the earlier publications, one group concentrated attention on the seminal texts of music such as Matralaksanam, Dattilam, Srihastamuktavali and Brhaddesi and other on the Vastu and Silpa texts. The Silparatnakosa is a seminal text on architecture and sculpture of the Orisisan traditions. It speaks about the sriyantra as fundamental grid for the Manjusri type of temple. The other fundamental texts relating to Vast and Silpa, particularly, the Manasollasa of Somesvara Deva and Aparajita-prccha are under preparation. Complementary and co-eval has been the tradition of the Agamas and some portions of the Puranas which deal now not so much with construction of temples and the making of the images but with the worshipping of deities and the methodologies of enlivening, giving prana or breath to inert matter.
As in the case of Vastu and Silpa, there are the major streams of the Saiva, the Vaisnava and the Sakta Traditions. A sizeable body of textual material is available both in respect of the Saiva Agamas as also the Vaisnava Agamas. Despite the valuable work of scholars such as Prof. Daniel Smith in the case of the Vaisnava Agamas, specially, the Pancaratra tradition and other such as Prof. Prabhakar Apte and Vidya Nivas Misra in respect of the Agama traditions relating to the worship of Devi, there is considerable unpublished material.
The French Institute of Indian Studies in Pondicherry, specially under the direction of the late Prof. Jean filliozat and the world renowned traditional scholar Prof. N. R. Bhatt, has published seminal texts on the Saiva Agama. These are so far the most seriously edited publications on the subject. Many are available in 'Sanskrit, Tamil and French but few are available in English translation. The IGNCA, in its programme of the Kalamulasastra series, plans to publish very selected Agama texts of all the three streams. These texts and their contents are indispensable for the art historians because it is today recognised that artistic creation in India was not a matter only of evolution of plan. The concrete structure in any media was in essence the manifestation of the abstract, the formless. The process was from the avyakta to vyakta. Once the artistic from as architecture, sculpture came into being its efficacy lay only if it could in turn become the instrument for evoking the subtlest states of consciousness. Thus three interconnected and complementary processes were necessary. The movement from the original meditative state of artistic experience (avyakta to the process of artistic expression (vyakta): this was a coordinate of arupa to rupa and multiple forms. It was also the process of moving from the state of refined subtlety (sattva/suksma) to its mutation to the gross (sthula) as concrete structure. The next phase was the reverse movement, here the manifested (vyakta), the form and design rupa and pratirupa and the gross (sthula) would and did become the vehicle of suggesting, evoking, and communicating the Unmanifested (avyakta), the beyond form (paraurpa) and the subtle and refined (suksma and sattva). While in the first phase the silpin created forms the embody, contain and symbolize the primal elements, the primary senses and sense perceptions in the second phase through a methodology of ritual worship, where the elements and the sense perceptions were returned and re-evoked. These were the rites of pratistha and puja.
While the Vastu and the Silpa texts lay bare, the methodologies of making structures and the formal elements of any art, Agamas enunciate the detailed methodologies of the consecration (pratistha) of images and the different types of rituals to be performed so that the image, itself, becomes the vehicle of evoking the experience of the subtle pure undifferentiatic state. It is not without purpose that elaborate systems and methodologies evolved through a very highly sophisticated and chiseled language and grammar of codes, symbols, correspondence.
Indian Art History, so far, had concentrated or focused attention only on the language and grammar of the creation of structure or at best the underlying aesthetics of it. A welcome shift has taken place. Now we are beginning to recomprehend the underlying fundamental principle namely that these structures performed specific or multiple functions. They were in a cultural context and a milieu of a living tradition. Thus Vastu and Silpa and Agama are complementary and have to be viewed together. The contemporary and critical discourse of text and context, language and grammar, form and meanings, meanings and feelings, feelings and consciousness, makes the traditional discourse acquire renewed validity.
Like other branches of knowledge, the Agama tradition, itself, is vast complex, divided into several schools and sub schools in all the three streams of the Saiva, Vaisnava and Sakta Agamas not to speak of the Jaina Agama tradition. The Saiva literature is extensively known by its familiar division of Kashmir Saivism and Saiva Siddhanta. The Svayambhuvasutrasamgraha belongs to the Saiva Siddhanta Stream and is the 13th major text among the 28 mula agamas of Saiva Siddhanta.
The present work is a portion of the 13th mula agama of the Saiva Siddhanta dealing with vidya-pada. The chapter deal with four principal concerns of the Saiva Siddhanta namely the nature of the bound soul (pasu); the bondage (pasa); god's power of grace (anugraha sakti); and the path of liberation (adhvan). From these goals the text moves on to describe the methodologies of attaining the final goal through the elaborate rite of diksa. Sadyojyoti, the most ancient among the Acaryas of this tradition has commented upon this rite in detail. The text assumes importance for the concurrent levels of philosophic discourse and process of worship.
We thank Prof. Pierre-Sylvain filliozat for completing this difficult collation and editing work alongwith translation and his erudite introduction. Prof. Filliozat's introduction does not restrict itself to the problem of textual criticism, but opens up the debate on the Indian tradition and its capacity for critically describing itself. Pertinently he reminds us that just as the Pandit uses Sanskrit and also analyses the grammar so also the worshipper not only worships but also investigates the minutest detail of the 'rites' and rituals he performs. Also Prof. Filliozat's introduction draws attention to the two levels structure. Thus although all the upacaras are prescribed there is provision for modification and change in cultural context. We had noticed the same in the context of the music and dance and Silpa texts. A third valuable pointer is at the continuous interpenetration of the local specific and the pan-India in sociological terms, the folk, tribal and sophisticated. Once we have put these and other observations together it will be clear that our editors from different traditional textural disciplines and points of view are drawing attention to some fundamental principles of the Indian tradition in theory and practice. The integrated vision with the potential of multiplicity of articulation has become clear.
Prof. Filliozat is son of illustrious Sanskrit scholar Prof. Jean Filliozat, the sounder of the French Institute of Indology, Pondicherry and Director, Institute of Indology, Paris. Our gratitude is also due to the French Institute of Indology, Pondicherry, for granting permission to consult the manuscripts on Svayambhutantra in valuable collection, for the accomplishment of this project. It is also an occasion to record thanks to Dr. (Mrs.) Advaitavadini Kaul, Assistant Editor, IGNCA for supervising this publication with efficiency and exemplary conscientiousness.
The Svayambhuvasutrasamgraha announces an exposition of jnana and diksa in its introductory stanza. Thus it goes straight to the heart of the subject-matter. Jnana is God’s Power of Grace which has two forms, consciousness and speech. The form of speech is Tantric literature. Diksa is a rite of liberation and the central topic in this literature. These two notions display the true spirit of Tantric literature and the core of the religion it describes.
The Concept of Tantra
A remarkable feature of Indian civilization is its capacity to study and describe itself. The pandit uses Sanskrit and does something more when he analyses and describes its structure in a well-ordered grammar. The dancer dances, creates movement and music and makes a science of his art; he analyses the components, movements and poses of feet, of hands, of eyes, etc.; he gives technical names to everything; and he explains the whole matter in well-arranged and lengthy treatises. In the same way the worshipper practices his religion, and also investigates the structure of his rites. He seeks God through love or meditation, and examines his own feelings and thoughts. What he is aware of in the sphere of his religious activities and ideas is recorded in the literature of Tantras. A Tantra is to religious practice what a grammar is to language. Indian grammar or vyakarapa is the conscious knowledge that a speaker has about the language he uses. Tantras are the conscious knowledge that the devotee has about what he does, thinks and feels when he acts or prays in a sacred place.
Some time before the beginning of the Christian era, Patanjali has already clearly illustrated the idea that a grammarian does nothing else than keeping a record of what he knows about the structure and the working of language. He emphatically asserts that the grammarian does not create words. Words are already there, when the grammarian describes them. There is a famous statement by Katyayama grammar plays its role when the word its meaning their relation are already established Patanjali’s comment is
“How is it known that the word, its meaning and their relation are already established? From an example of the world. In the common world one uses words after learning their meaning, one does not make effort to create them. An effort of creation is done towards those things which are produced. For instance, someone has something to do with a pot. He goes to a potter’s house and says : “make a pot [for mel; I have something to do with it”. But one who wants to use words does not go to a grammarian’s house to say:
“make words [for me); I have to use them”. Simply after learning their meaning, one uses words”. (Mahabhaya, vol. 1 p. 7, 1. 26 sqq.).
Thus language is a heritage. Its meaning is the world. Like the world it is given to man. Man does not create it. It is already realized, when man uses it. And as far as one goes back in the memory of men, language has always been felt as given by ancestors. From the idea of an already established entity one is led to the idea of an eternal one. Language is an eternal, non-created entity.
Religion enjoys a similar status. None of its components, rites, prayers, spiritual exercises, is accepted as created by man. The devotee proclaims it is given to him. One learns the rites, as one learns a language. One does not create rites for himself. Like the word, the rite is already established when it is performed. It is not an action never done before. It already has its structure and shape. The action of the devotee is only a new actualization. And from the idea of an already established rite one is led to the idea of an eternal one.
The rite is eternal. What about the text describing the rite? The author of the text is not told to be the creator of the rite. He only claims to describe it objectively. The ritualistic text represents the conscious knowledge the devotee has about the rites when he performs them, as grammar is the conscious knowledge a speaker has about the words used by him. The specialists of ritualistic literature claim something more. They say their knowledge of rites is also a heritage. One learns rites from a teacher, and as far as one goes back in the memory of men, the knowledge of rites is conceived as received from earlier teachers. Thus this knowledge is given as eternal. Its value, its authority is derived from its eternity. The sacred text which imparts this knowledge draws its authority from its ad equation to it. It is thus conceived as a speech form of the knowledge. And the speech form also is told to be eternal. The definition of a Tantra is the knowledge present in the mind of the performer of the rites, and the text which imparts this knowledge to him. Knowledge and text are the same eternal entity.
The text describing the performance of rites, their materials, their purpose, etc., going under the name of Tantra or ägama, is the sole source from which
man can acquire knowledge of his religious duties. A human author is accepted for such an important teaching, only if he appears as a receiver, as a messenger of an earlier and higher authority. An author who would be the creator of the teaching is unconceivable, since the teaching would be no more a message, a heritage, would lose its eternity. Looking back upon the past transmissions of the message would lead nowhere, since an origin cannot be
found for what is eternal. In fact it is told that it can lead up to God. The Tantra is conceived as sharing eternity with God. Sadyojyoti, as it will be seen later, asserts that the knowledge of Tantra is the essence of God himself. The essence of God or Siva is cit/Consciousness’ which is defined as universal, eternal knowledge and action. This knowledge spreads itself to other superhuman souls, diverse forms of Siva at the top of the hierarchy, such as Nidhanea, who pass it under the form of speech to lower deities, Brahman, etc. A line of teachers and disciples, going from the divine sphere to the world of sages, transmit it to ordinary men. Thus the first shape and stage of the tantra is the cit which defines God. Siva’s cit is also told to be his Sakti, ‘Power’. That Power is accessible by the same process of transmission. To possess a tantra is to possess a means of approach of Siva, because in essence it is Siva’s Power. And the tantra is the only means of access to God available to man. Therefore it is called simultaneously Siva’s knowledge and means to acquire this knowledge. It is the highest knowledge which manifests itself as a means to acquire itself. The word tantra is explained through an etymology which does not pretend to show its grammatical structure or history, but to describe the contents of the concept. It is the coordination of the root tanu vist Are, ‘to spread, to be diffused’ and the root train palane, ‘to protect.
It spreads the vast subject matter based on essences and formulas it give salvation therefore it is called tantra.
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