This is an English translation of the famous Sanskrit work of Kashmir Saivism written by the Yogin saint Mahevarãnanda of 14th Century, who seems to have migrated from the border of Maharashtra and Karnataka to Kashmir the text of Mahartha-mañjari written originally in Maharashtrian Prakrta and only translated and commented by the author himself into Sanskrit. The text comprises just seventy verses within which small space, however, the author has compressed almost the entire Trik system of Kashmir so thoroughly and beautifully that it has become one of the best expositions of the system but had remained unavailable in English until now owing have remained untranslated. The ordeal in the translation was the involvement of the elements of Navya Nyaya in the commentary to a certain extent owing to have been written in the post-Gañgesavara era as well as its ideas having been rooted deeply in the Vedic Yoga and the Bhagavadgita’s meta-physics. By virtue of our long dealing with these systems in depth, we suppose we have been able to do full justice to the precious ideas of the great Yogin and made it easy to understand him and the mode of his yogic sãdhanã of So’ham as basically hamsa which is the way of elevation of Vedic seers to seerhood.
The book is valuable asset to scholars, students, researchers of Philosophy, Yoga, Kashmir Saivism, Saivism as well as practitioners.
Professor Satya Prakash Singh is renowned Vedic scholar. He is a Ph.D. of the Banaras Hindu University and D.Litt. of the Aligarh Muslim University; former Chairman of the Department of Sanskrit and Dean, Faculty of Arts, Aligarh Muslim University. He has been an Editorial Fellow in the Centre for Studies in Civilisations, New Delhi also Director of Dharam Hindu International Centre of Indic Research in Delhi and Director of Vedic Research Centre in New Delhi. He is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards including 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, Bãnbhatta Puraskãra of Sanskrit Academy, Uttar Pradesh, besides President of India’s Award Scholar Eminence. His publications include:
Sri Aurobindo and Whitehead on the Nature of God, 2. Sri Aurobindo, Jung and Vedic Yoga, 3.Upanisadic Symbolism, 4.Vedic Symbolism, 5.Life and Vision of Vedic Seers: Visvamitra, Life and Vision of Vedic Seers: Dirghatamas, 7. Vedic Vision of Consciousness and Reality. 8. Yoga From Confusion to Clarity (5 Volumes); 9. History of Yoga; 10. Life And Vision of Vedic Seers: Kavasa Ailusa; 11. Life And Vision of Vedic Seer: Dadhyañ;.
Swami Mahesvarananda 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 has been initiated in yoga practically by a reputed yogin while living in his company for quite some time in a sacred cave in western Uttar Pradesh. He has co-authored 5 volume book entitled Yoga From Confusion To Clarity - Foundation of Yoga; Psychology of Yoga; Asana, Sat Karma, Mudra, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.
Mahartha-mañjari is an important text of Kashmir Saivism. It belongs to the 14th Century A.D. and is written in Maharastrian Prãkrta, but at the same time, its Sanskrit version was also presented by the author alongside the commentary known as Parimalã. 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 atched 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 Bharavi, 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.
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 super consciousness 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 Mahevarananda, fully accomplished yogin of the class of Kashmir Saivism with Sivananda as his grand teacher. Sivãnanda is said to have taught directly a set of three female students, namely, Keyurvati, Madanikã and Kalyãnika. From amongst them, it is Keyurvati who seems to have been the teacher of Mahevarananda initially as both were followers of Krama system of Saivism. The real inspiration, however, particularly for writing Mahartha-manjari, 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 sädhanã 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 Sivãnandas, Mahanandas and Mahesvarãnandas 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 mahãprkãsa, great illumination.
The illumination lies in the elimination of the intervening nasal sound between the inbreathing sound, hath, 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 hamsapadi mantra occurring at Rgveda, IV.40.5 in the hymn seen by seer Vãmadeva Gautama and addressed to Surya as its Devata.
(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 Devatã, under the denomination of Dadhikrã, 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.164.38-9 and seen by seer Dirghatamas, there is a reference to breathing-in and breathing-out interlinked by an inner controller described as svadhã, meaning self-force. They remain constantly interconnected by it in their movements both 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 prañ and apan, meaning respectively as breathing-in and breathing-out. It is out of these primeval terms that the subsequent finished denominations prana and apãna 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 prãnäyama as an important part of his tapas or yogic sãdhana. Obviously, it was a devotion undertaken by way of transforming a natural and automatic physical function of the body into the yogic.
The mantra hamsa is repeated in every living being automatically each round of breathing-in and breathing-out. It is, normally, repeated 21,600 times day and night. Since it is repeated automatically without any effort during breathing-in and breathing-out, it is also known as ajapa-japa, i.e., repetition that going on naturally without any body repeating it. The sounds of breathing-in and breathing-out resemble ham and sah. It is also called hamsa mantra as well ajapa-gayatri. When a yogin practises with intensive awareness, the präna and apana get equilibrated. Equilibrium of prana and apana raises the dormant Kundalini that lies three and a half folds at the base of spine. such a yogin hears a number of pleasant sounds but he does dwell on these sounds but dwells on the para-nada which is anahata nada. By dwelling on this nãda, the citta of a yogin gets dissolved paving way to visuddha caitanya — the highest state of Consciousness.
Nãda is audible at vaikhari stage but it becomes subtle at the madhyarnä stage and finally, when it reaches the pasyanti stage, it is no longer audible. The yogin now experiences jyoti (light) where all vikalpas no longer exist and he experiences the state of super-consciousness.
Hamsa is thus that manifestation of nãda which is symbolic of life due to its being repeated automatically during breathing-in and breathing-out while anahata nãda is symbolic of pranava. By intensive awareness, there arise subtle stages of näda.
Though sãdhanã of hamsa is dhvani yoga; it involves intensive awareness of a yogin on his breathing-in and breathing-out, where the prana rises upward appearing as a sound. Therefore. hamsa sadhanã is a subtle practice of prana yoga, which is quite different kind of prãnayama.
Here prãna is the universal Life-force which makes manifest both subject and object and is the connecting link between consciousness and various organs of man.
The same technique has been carried on here by Sri Mahesvarãnanda in the transformation of the functions of breathing-in and breathing-out into the sambhava as well ãnava techniques of yoga, thus making yoga easy of practice.
What the Bhagavadgita has accomplished from the viewpoint of spirituality and morality in bringing the sublime philosophy of the Upanisads down to the earth and its applicability to such a tough situation as at the front of war, which is elucidative of the most arduous situation of life, the same has been done by Sri Mahesvarananda.
Mahesvarãnanda goes a step still further in showing the possibility of self-realisation through keen attention on the breath in its movement both ways which is operative naturally and necessarily I and get it transformed into the easiest and most sacred r showing how the individual self is essentially the same as the universal and the transcendent.
The result of this sadhana, though so simple, is by no means small. It is redemptive from the drudgery of birth and death.
I am glad to disclose the secret to you so that you may not have to take rounds in the circle of birth and death foolishly. The secret lies in observing closely the activities of the heart which is so close to you.
Breathing-in and breathing-out is the most fundamental activity of the heart. Control of the heart by such a close observation of this activity is the way out of the drudgery of life as suggested by author which is simplest possible and has aptly been characterized as mahan, great.
We are grateful to Shri Mohindra Vashistha, the publisher and all those friends who have served as the source of inspiration in course of translating this work. We are also thankful to Dr. Arun Mishra, Director (Academic), Indian Council of Philosophical Research New Delhi, who deserves special mention for going through the rendering as it was due to the involvement of the technique of Navya Nyaya, new school of logic, in its commentary. We hope this translation will be liked people at large and grateful to Miss Nancy Dean Mercury, Yoga Teacher and Artist, California, U.S.A for her help in proof reading and copy-editing of the work.
The graphics used in the book are not our own creation but they have been drawn from diverse sources to create the conceptual theme of the book. We acknowledge our indebtedness to all those agencies responsible for creation, production or reproduction as the case may be, of those graphics.
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