On Shakta Agama

I am excluding the Durgotsava-s here,since they are purANAntargata from here,and are temporary. But amongst shAkta AgAmas,I really am not able to think of any one that is specifically meant for parArthArchanA. I know there are many shrines embodying shrIvidyA,old and new,but the AgAma as such presupposes worship at home. Even AgAmas devoted to parArthArchanA like pA~ncharAtra,vaikhAnasa and siddhAnta are evolutes of systems that presupposed home worship. Even early shaiva siddhAnta did not really have much of parArtha-archanA,but a few texts do know of temples for exclusively a sAdhaka’s purposes,so initiates would want to make sure that no one else knows the shrine/not allow non-initiates in the shrine.

(Note:I am not questioning the legitimacy of those devI temples).

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The Lord of Arasavalli,a painting

The deity

…A painting in the maṇṭapa (of Sri Sūryanārāyaṇa)

The image in question: The deities in here are(spelt in Harvard-Kyoto conventions)

  • Sūryanārāyaṇa
  • Piṅgala,Daṇḍin(Citragupta,Yamarāja)
  • Mahāśvetā(between Sūryanārāyaṇa’s feet)
  • Uṣā and Pratyuṣā(the two archer Goddesses at the side,also called the Māricī-s)
  • Surya’s charioteer Aruṇa
  • The seven horses
  • Brahmā and Śiva at the sides (the central Aditya being implicitly identified with Viṣṇu)

More can be noted here for those interested in an introduction https://manasataramgini.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/a-note-on-the-pantheon-of-the-indian-saura-tradition/

Some nāma-s that are particularly recommended for constant smarana/japa from the Padma Purāṇa

This is from before its Viṣṇu sahasranāma begins. I’ll post only the relevant ślokas

नामोच्चारणमात्रेण महापापात् प्रमुच्यते।
राम रामेति रामेति रामेति च पुनर्जपन्॥
स चाण्डालो’पि पूतात्मा जायते नात्र संशयः।
कुरुक्षेत्रं तथा काशी गया वै द्वारका तथा॥
सर्व्वं तीर्थं कृतं तेन नामोच्चारणमात्रतः।
कृष्ण कृष्णेति कृष्णेति इति वा यो जपन् पठन्॥
इह लोकं पैर्त्यज्य मोदते विष्णुसन्निधौ।
नृसिंहेति मुदा विप्र सततं प्रजपन् पठन्॥

In IAST

nāmoccāraṇamātreṇa mahāpāpāt pramucyate।
rāma rāmeti rāmeti rāmeti ca punarjapan॥
sa cāṇḍālo’pi pūtātmā jāyate nātra saṃśayaḥ।
kurukṣetraṃ tathā kāśī gayā vai dvārakā tathā॥
sarvvaṃ tīrthaṃ kṛtaṃ tena nāmoccāraṇamātrataḥ।
kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇeti kṛṣṇeti iti vā yo japan paṭhan॥
iha lokaṃ pairtyajya modate viṣṇusannidhau।
nṛsiṃheti mudā vipra satataṃ prajapan paṭhan॥

I got this(and the sahasranāma of the Padma Purāṇa) in a book titled শ্রীশ্রীবিষ্ণুর সহস্রনাম published by অক্ষয লাইব্রেরী. The author seems to be a certain দীন ভক্তদাস. Incidentally,this same version of the sahasranāma(with a different introduction) is also found in the North Indian Kṛṣṇa centred Nārada Pāñcarātra. The links to it are below

The Purascharan entry from the Guru Girarth Kosh-1

Naam Roop Adhar

[Note-This is a translation of what Pandit Tara Singh ji Narottam wrote in the ‘Guru Girarth Kosh’, probably the first detailed dictionary of Sikhi. Pandit ji was a Nirmala Sikh and a very objective scholar whose teekas of Gurbani are extremely valuable, worth their weight in gold]

The process by which mantra siddhi is attained- yatha “anek punahcharan karat nahi tarai”. Puras-in front, charan-acharan or conduct, which means taking the mantra given by the Gurus(here reference is to all Gurus, not just Sikh Gurus), sitting in front of the deity and completing the siddhi by japa, this is purascharan. The types of japa mentioned in the scriptures are many, first of all there is a need to have desire of mantra siddhi in a purified mind, then take permission of your Guru and begin purascharan. Purascharan, that is, the japa kriya, without a mantra is like a body without a…

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Sridevi and other stuff need not be pushed as normative queer icons

Trigger warning:Religion. You can frankly speaking,sod off if you are anti-religious and moan about whatever -ist or patriarch or whatever I am in your cubbyholes.

(It’s primarily a reaction to this glorified blog that is a newspaper column: https://www.hindustantimes.com/bollywood/thank-you-sridevi-our-queer-icon/story-Oy6SST3RhHpSfrWSh9MZZM.html)

we saw the promise of a future where we wouldn’t lie about who we were and what we liked

All of that passes away. Though I wish I had someone in my arms,and someone who I could talk with/at-on the same level.

My queer icons are more off the beat than what activists would put forward. My icons would be the poet Raskhan,and the author Mishima. Only one muddled by activist babblings can not appreciate Mishima’s vīryam(a pale reflection of Samkarṣaṇa’s bala*),or the devotion that Raskhan put to Mādhava,which makes even every single shackle insignificant before long. It is that devotion which grants the freedom from every single shackle as easily as one breaks a rotting thread. And it’s this devotion which is in the very form of jñāna which is very rare to obtain. The yati who carries Lakṣmī’s husband in him has more freedom than any of us will ever have! (Need not even be a yati strictly speaking,Aghoremani Devi is a living testimony to that).

I do recognize that this path(and my inclinations) are not for everyone,though.Few would care,anyway. Maybe I am crazy.

*A reference to Saṃkarṣaṇa’s two predominating qualities amongst the vyūhas.

A friend’s remarks on Sanskrit being taught at schools-its current state,with my remarks from personal experience at the end

School Sanskrit curriculum was not a shot of encouragement but an inoculation against ever being interested Sanskrit.

Vapid, uncool content. Completely unnatural language teaching methodology. Not even a viva voce requirement.

Leaves the student with zero skills, no feeling that this could have any juice in today’s world, and no interest and, if anything, disdain after getting away with an easy score.

Pseudo ‘Sanskrit’ subject was merely a way for the Nehruvian Ganga-Jamni tehzeeb walas to cheat the 3 language formula system – the same tehzeeb gang who opposed the proposal for Sanskrit as national link language and voted for Hindi. Most other Indians had to actually learn another Indian language (Hindi) as part of the 3 language formula, but these guys cheated and got away with a high scoring zero-skills cop out.

Those tehzeeb walas choose Urdu via Bollywood to give them cultural juice in today’s world.

From personal experience,having learned Sanskrit from classes VI to X(including both the classes),you basically get the level of a sloppy version of just only the vākya vyavahāra book of the first level(as taught by Sri Vempati Kutumba Shastri) and that itself will get you more than 90% in the Sanskrit CBSE exam of class X. And that too will get lost/eroded to nothing within a year of non practice. This is the state of Sanskrit teaching as I have seen and experienced it. If you want people to actually like and respect Sanskrit at schools,the methodology must change a lot.

On reading gay stuff into mileus where such concepts did not exist

https://crevicesinmysoul.wordpress.com/2018/02/11/the-gay-angle-in-padmaavat/

 

This is not to say men who were attracted to men did not exist. They have existed since at least the dawn of agriculture in humankind. The definition of gay=attracted to men(and a community that defined itself like that) arose in only the 1920s-1930s Anglo-European world. Before that,there were people attracted to men in the US who would fuck straight men(or as the slang went, ‘trade’). Then people who had feminine mannerisms,and dressed such. Men who fucked other men. None of them came under that modern ‘gay’ label(as defining oneself/having an identity based on the sex one is attracted to). I am basing this on my reading of Foucault and George Chancey’s Gay New York:Gender,Urban Culture and the making of the Gay male world 1890-1940.

Secondly,I would find it grossly wrong to elevate a engendered in a situation like that-Would you endorse buying someone as your property,cutting off his balls and using him as your toy for sexual satisfaction?That’s essentially how the relationship began. There are better gay icons/icons with ambiguous sexuality in the past to look forward to,like Walt Whitman,etc.

Some mentalities

Some mentalities like the one mentioned in this section(page 71 of the PDF document) of the Laghu Yoga Vasiṣṭha set in stably only when the vāsanās favourable to generating that state of mind set in. They can be generated in various ways,like:

  • This meditation on various parts of the body(pages 44 to 50 of the document)(after completing the preliminaries to do that sort of meditation) in the Nāstika Theravāda tradition
  • Bhagavad Nāmasmaraṇa(after leading a life with moderation and control in senses)(uninterrupted rememberance/repitition of the names of various deities like Viṣṇu,Kṛṣṇa,Śiva,etc). In this light,the advice of Rūpa Gosvāmīn in the Upadeśāmṛta is helpful(quoting from Prabhupada’s translation)

 

vāco vegaṁ manasaḥ krodha-vegaṁ
jihvā-vegam udaropastha-vegam
 etān vegān yo viṣaheta dhīraḥ
sarvām apīmāṁ pṛthivīṁ sa śiṣyāt
A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.
atyāhāraḥ prayāsaś ca
prajalpo niyamāgrahaḥ
jana-saṅgaś ca laulyaṁ ca
ṣaḍbhir bhaktir vinaśyati
One’s devotional service is spoiled when he becomes too entangled in the following six activities: (1) eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required; (2) overendeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to obtain; (3) talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters; (4) Practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically; (5) associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in devotionalism; and (6) being greedy for mundane achievements.
utsāhān niścayād dhairyāt
tat-tat-karma-pravartanāt
saṅga-tyāgāt sato vṛtteḥ
ṣaḍbhir bhaktiḥ prasidhyati
There are six principles favorable to the execution of pure devotional service: (1) being enthusiastic, (2) endeavoring with confidence, (3) being patient, (4) acting according to regulative principles [such as śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥsmaraṇam [SB 7.5.23]—hearing, chanting and remembering Kṛṣṇa], (5) abandoning the association of nondevotees, and (6) following in the footsteps of the previous ācāryas. These six principles undoubtedly assure the complete success of pure devotional service.
Of course in the course of practicing devotional service as mentioned above,that vāsanā automatically sets in as a consequence of the bhava towards the deity.
So,insights like these are of a ‘yogic’ class,and do not remain stable/hardly arise in one who is not inclined to any form of yoga(hence,the reason you don’t find many anatomy students/professors becoming renunciants),and have to be cultivated and strengthened as we practice yoga.

 

 

On swacchata and śauca

(Note:This is not against the Swacch Bharat program or against technologies for public sanitation,etc)

By reducing the component of cleanliness to only just toilets,clean public,etc,one is likely to miss out the other dimensions of śuci.

Just what does this term śauca mean?

śauca means purity at not just the individual level,but at a particular environment and communal and familial level.It is not just physical purity(avoidance of bacteria),but of the surroundings,the body,the sukṣma dēha and the general atmosphere around.

And this is not really separable from our deities(that śloka apavitraḥ pavitrō vā sarvāvasthāṃ gatō’pi vā । yaḥ smarētpuṇḍarīkākṣaṃ sa bāhyābhyantaraḥ śuciḥ ॥ comes to my mind). And it does make sense. Purity and the deva,who is the very embodiment of an āgāmika(deva specific or smārta) temple,are inseparable. It is only with keeping Nārāyaṇa at the centre,as noted in that verse,does one realize the fullest import of what śuci means,and not through secularized stuff,which runs contrary to Hindu frameworks and ideologies).

 

An Ayudha when used in Ayudha puja is a literal weapon,and not supposed to be anything else

Vayuna:…during Navarati the focus is on Sarasvati here and then each temple will have its own festival days

Devala: Why Sarasvatī?

Vayuna: The only part of Navaratri that is celebrated in KL is the last three days. Ayudha Puja basically and Sarasvati is the Devi that is worshipped.

Devala: Sarasvati is invoked in aydhas?Here,we celebrate Mahalaya+from shashthi onwards

Vayuna: Well the modern equivalents that the students keep. Books.

Devala: Books aren’t Ayudhas. What they call Vasant Panchami in North India is explicitly Sarasvati Puja here.

Vayuna: That is how the tradition came out to be here. Some keep pen also. Of course the farmers keep their instruments and factories their machinery

Devala: Vishvakarma Puja is the day for that(keeping instruments,machinery,etc). It’s the wrong day[for instrument pūjā].Also Skanda Purana I think explicitly spells out the procedure to worship Sarasvatī that day(on Vasant Panchami/Sarasvati Puja).

Vayuna: Here everything is conducted on the last three days[of Navaratri]. We keep the books on the evening of the eighth day and take them back on the morning of the 10th after puja.

Devala: But tools are worshipped in Vishvakarma Puja!As for Ayudhas…even a damn humble lathi will do!

Vayuna: Here its explained away as metaphorical. The knowledge in the books is the weapon.

Devala: Of course. I’ve also seen those explanations,but it is a wrong one.When days specially for sarasvatī(books/related stuff) and viśvakarmā(tools/related stuff) exist,the day for Ayudha Puja implies nothing but literal Ayudhas. What I am objecting to is the abuse of metaphor. By the way,Vishvakarma Puja falls on the last date of Bhadra in the Bengali calendar(basically,the last day of Bhadra on Sauramana calendars is supposed to be Vishvakarma Puja). And Sarasvatī Pūjā/Vasanta Pañcamī falls on the śuklapakṣa pañcamī of the Chandramana month of Māgha.

Vayuna: Well in a sense the metaphorical explanation works. Only the second varṇa has actual āyudhas. The others take it up as āpad-dharma.What āyudha does a brāhmaṇa have or a farmer or brahmacāri/student or artisan have except his tools?

Devala: Others too had it. Please note the cases listed here by a friend. And Medhatithi was not really having Muslims in mind. And in many cases,people from all varṇas ultimately did join armies. Call it āpaddharma or whatever.

Vayuna: Well yes,functionally most Nairs were of the second varṇa…as were a few Ezhavas. And yes yes ayudhas for self-defense should get more popular among Hindus. Ideally it would have made sense for only soldiers to worship Ayudhas. But since we are in Kali yuga and surrounded, everyone needs to do that.

Devala: Even Medhatithi recognized the need for weapons amongst the common folk. And I’m not even insisting on guns (though that’s a minimum). At least a humble lathi. We did have martial arts/traditions involving lathis alone.