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Snānaprakāśanam - Explaining the ablution
This is the twelfth chapter (called Snānaprakāśanam).
This work was written by the great Master Abhinavagupta and is a summary of Tantrāloka. Tantrāloka is the most important and voluminous work of the greatest Trika Master. Abhinavagupta was also the teacher of eminent Kṣemarāja and lived about 975-1025 AD in Kashmir.
This treatise whose name is Tantrasāra is a summarized encyclopedia of Tantra. Since it is a very advanced text in Trika Shaivism, there is no surprise if a neophyte finds it difficult to understand. To start to understand it, the level of the reader must be the one of a real disciple in Trika Shaivism. If this requirement is not met, then there will be a lot of confusion and constant disappointment. Because in spite of my great efforts to explain the things so easily as possible, to study this treatise requires some spiritual caliber. In this system, sometimes it is not possible even to write about certain topics due to the extreme limitation of the words. Because in the end, all this knowledge has to do with 'states', and it is extremely difficult to write about 'states' in a precise way. Abhinavagupta has done his best to accomplish this formidable task of writing about what is superior and intangible. Anyway, despite his incredible skills to carry out this, he is not revealing everything. It is not because he is all the time hiding things from the reader, but because he is sometimes hiding and on other occasions he just cannot write about some extremely subtle topics because of the limitation of the words.
Goal of life is Liberation. Man has searched for freedom always in human history, but according to Trika Shaivism that is not real Liberation. Real Liberation does not mean that your body should be free from some prison and things like that. Real Liberation amounts to attaining His Svātantrya or Absolute Freedom. When the Great Lord's Svātantrya is achieved, then you see unity in all the things, i.e. you stop seeing duality as before. All is forever identified with Svātantrya, with Him, and that is the end of the story called 'you in bondage'. From this point on nothing will get in your way, because if something apparently gets in your way, that is Svātantrya again. This constant awareness of unity in all is real Freedom. There is no other attainment greater than this!
Keeping the above in mind, now read Tantrasāra and experience Supreme Delight, dear Śiva.
Important: All that is in brackets and italicized within the translation has been added by me in order to complete the sense of a particular phrase or sentence. In turn, all that is between double hyphen (--...--) constitutes clarifying further information also added by me.
दीक्षादिकं वक्तव्यमित्युक्तमतो दीक्षास्वरूपनिरूपणार्थं प्राक् कर्तव्यं स्नानमुपदिश्यते। स्नानं च शुद्धतोच्यते शुद्धता च परमेश्वरस्वरूपसमावेशः। कालुष्यापगमो हि शुद्धिः कालुष्यं च तदेकरूपेऽप्यतत्स्वभावरूपान्तरसंवलनाभिमानः। तदिह स्वतन्त्रानन्दचिन्मात्रसारे स्वात्मनि विश्वत्रापि वा तदन्यरूपसंवलनाभिमानोऽशुद्धिः सा च महाभैरवसमावेशेन व्यपोह्यते सोऽपि कस्यचिज्झटिति भवेत्कस्याप्युपायान्तरमुखप्रेक्षी। तत्रापि चैकद्वित्र्यादिभेदेन समस्तव्यस्ततया क्वचित्कस्यचित्कदाचिच्च तथाश्वासोपलब्धेर्विचित्रो भेदः। स चाष्टधा - क्षितिजलपवनहुताशनाकाशसोमसूर्यात्मरूपास्वष्टासु मूर्तिषु मन्त्रन्यासमहिम्ना परमेश्वररूपतया भावितासु तादात्म्येन च देहे परमेश्वरसमाविष्टे शरीरादिविभागवृत्तेश्चैतन्यस्यापि परमेश्वरसमावेशप्राप्तिः कस्यापि तु स्नानवस्त्रादितुष्टिजनकत्वात्परमेशोपायतामेतीत्युक्तं च श्रीमदानन्दादौ - धृतिराप्यायो वीर्यं मलदाहो व्याप्तिः सृष्टिसामर्थ्यं स्थितिसामर्थ्यमभेदश्चेत्येतानि तेषु मुख्यफलानि - तेषु तेषूपाहितस्य मन्त्रस्य तत्तद्रूपधारित्वात्। वीरोद्देशेन तु विशेषस्तद्यथा - रणरेणुर्वीराम्भो महामरुद् वीरभस्म श्मशाननभस्तदुपहितौ चन्द्रार्कावात्मा निर्विकल्पकः। पुनरपि बाह्याभ्यन्तरतया द्वित्वं बहिरुपास्यमन्त्रतादात्म्येन तन्मयीकृते तत्र तत्र निमज्जनमित्युक्तम्। विशेषस्त्वानन्दद्रव्यं वीराधारगतं निरीक्षणेन शिवमयीकृत्य तत्रैव मन्त्रचक्रपूजनं ततस्तेनैव देहप्राणोभयाश्रितदेवताचक्रतर्पणमिति मुख्यं स्नानम्। आभ्यन्तरं यथा - तत्तद्धरादिरूपधारणया तत्र तत्र पार्थिवादौ चक्रे तन्मयीभावः।
परभैरवसम्मज्जनमाहुः स्नानं यथा तु तद्भवति।
तदपि बाह्यं स्नानं न मुख्यमुपचारतः किं तु॥
Dīkṣādikaṁ vaktavyamityuktamato dīkṣāsvarūpanirūpaṇārthaṁ prāk kartavyaṁ snānamupadiśyate| Snānaṁ ca śuddhatocyate śuddhatā ca parameśvarasvarūpasamāveśaḥ| Kāluṣyāpagamo hi śuddhiḥ kāluṣyaṁ ca tadekarūpe'pyatatsvabhāvarūpāntarasaṁvalanābhimānaḥ| Tadiha svatantrānandacinmātrasāre svātmani viśvatrāpi vā tadanyarūpasaṁvalanābhimāno'śuddhiḥ sā ca mahābhairavasamāveśena vyapohyate so'pi kasyacijjhaṭiti bhavetkasyāpyupāyāntaramukhaprekṣī| Tatrāpi caikadvitryādibhedena samastavyastatayā kvacitkasyacitkadācicca tathāśvāsopalabdhervicitro bhedaḥ| Sa cāṣṭadhā - kṣitijalapavanahutāśanākāśasomasūryātmarūpāsvaṣṭāsu mūrtiṣu mantranyāsamahimnā parameśvararūpatayā bhāvitāsu tādātmyena ca dehe parameśvarasamāviṣṭe śarīrādivibhāgavṛtteścaitanyasyāpi parameśvarasamāveśaprāptiḥ kasyāpi tu snānavastrādituṣṭijanakatvātparameśopāyatāmetītyuktaṁ ca śrīmadānandādau - Dhṛtirāpyāyo vīryaṁ maladāho vyāptiḥ sṛṣṭisāmarthyaṁ sthitisāmarthyamabhedaścetyetāni teṣu mukhyaphalāni - Teṣu teṣūpāhitasya mantrasya tattadrūpadhāritvāt| Vīroddeśena tu viśeṣastadyathā - Raṇareṇurvīrāmbho mahāmarud vīrabhasma śmaśānanabhastadupahitau candrārkāvātmā nirvikalpakaḥ| Punarapi bāhyābhyantaratayā dvitvaṁ bahirupāsyamantratādātmyena tanmayīkṛte tatra tatra nimajjanamityuktam| Viśeṣastvānandadravyaṁ vīrādhāragataṁ nirīkṣaṇena śivamayīkṛtya tatraiva mantracakrapūjanaṁ tatastenaiva dehaprāṇobhayāśritadevatācakratarpaṇamiti mukhyaṁ snānam| Ābhyantaraṁ yathā - Tattaddharādirūpadhāraṇayā tatra tatra pārthivādau cakre tanmayībhāvaḥ|
Parabhairavasammajjanamāhuḥ snānaṁ yathā tu tadbhavati|
Tadapi bāhyaṁ snānaṁ na mukhyamupacārataḥ kiṁ tu||
Essence of Tantra (tantra-sāraḥ)
Twelfth (dvādaśam) chapter (āhnikam)
It has been mentioned (uktam) that (iti) initiation, etc. (dīkṣā-ādikam) must be described (vaktavyam). On this account (atas), the ablution (snānam) which is to be performed (kartavyam) previously (prāk) is explained (here, in this chapter) (upadiśyate). (What for?) For defining the real nature of initiation (dīkṣā-sva-rūpa-nirūpaṇa-artham)|
Ablution (snānam ca) is said to be (ucyate) purity (śuddhatā), and (ca) purity (śuddhatā) (is) the absorption into the essential nature of the Supreme Lord (parama-īśvara-sva-rūpa-samāveśaḥ)|
Removal of impurity (kāluṣya-apagamaḥ) (is) truly (hi) purification (śuddhiḥ). And (ca) impurity (kāluṣyam), though (api) it is one with That --i.e. with the Supreme Lord or essential nature in everyone-- (tad-ekarūpe), is supposed to be the mixture or union with another form which is not that essential nature (a-tad-sva-bhāva-rūpa-antara-saṁvalana-abhimānaḥ)|
That (tad), in this context (iha), (is) in one's own Self (sva-ātmani) whose essence is only Free Bliss and Consciousness (svatantra-ānanda-cit-mātra-sāre) or (vā) even (api) everywhere --or "in the universe"-- (viśvatra) (and becomes) impurity (aśuddhiḥ) (when there is) the conception about (the existence of) a mixture or union whose nature is different from It --from Free Bliss and Consciousness, i.e. the nature of this mixture or union is not Free and is not the Supreme Light of Śiva-- (tad-anya-rūpa-saṁvalana-abhimānaḥ). And (ca) it --viz. impurity-- (sā) is removed (vyapohyate) by the absorption into the Great Bhairava (mahā-bhairava-samāveśena). It --viz. that absorption-- (saḥ api) occurs (bhavet) instantly (jhaṭiti) in the case of someone (kasyacid), (while) in the case of someone (else) (kasya api) it requires --lit. it looks toward-- another means (upāya-antara-mukha-prekṣī)|
Even (api ca) in that case --i.e. in the case where another means is required-- (tatra), the number of means can be one, two, three, etc. (eka-dvi-tri-ādi-bhedena), collectively and individually (samasta-vyastatayā), (and it can happens) anywhere (kvacid), to anyone (kasyacid) and (ca) at any moment (kadācid). So (tathā), (this) division (of the means) (bhedaḥ) (is) a variety (vicitraḥ) of attainment(s) of (different degrees of) confidence/conviction (about the Self) (āśvāsa-upalabdheḥ)|
And (ca) it --i.e. the absorption into the Great Bhairava-- (saḥ) (is) eightfold (aṣṭadhā). Through the greatness of the nyāsa --lit. placement-- of the Mantra-s (mantra-nyāsa-mahimnā) on the eight forms (aṣṭāsu mūrtiṣu) —viz. earth, water, air, fire, ether, apāna --lit. moon--, prāṇa --lit. sun-- and the self (kṣiti-jala-pavana-hutāśana-ākāśa-soma-sūrya-ātma-rūpāsu)— when they are contemplated (bhāvitāsu) as having the nature of the Supreme Lord (parama-īśvara-rūpatayā), and also (ca) on the body (dehe) by means of identification (with Śiva) (tādātmyena) so that it --i.e. the body-- becomes aborbed into the Supreme Lord (parama-īśvara-samāviṣṭe), (there is) the attainment of an absorption into the Supreme Lord (parama-īśvara-samāveśa-prāptiḥ) even (api) in the case of someone whose consciousness (caitanyasya) functions through different portions such as body, etc. (śarīra-ādi-vibhāga-vṛtteḥ). But (tu) to someone (else) (kasya api), since ablution, putting on (clean) clothes, etc. generate satisfaction (snāna-vastra-ādi-tuṣṭi-janakatvāt), (this group of actions --i.e. ablution, putting on clean clothes, etc.--) becomes a means (to attain) the Supreme Lord (parama-īśa-upāyatām eti iti). It has been said (uktam ca) in venerable Ānandatantra, etc. (śrīmat-ānanda-ādau): "Firmness (dhṛtiḥ), nourishment (āpyāyaḥ), strength/heroism (vīryam), burning of impurities (mala-dāhaḥ), pervasion (vyāptiḥ), capacity to manifest (sṛṣṭi-sāmarthyam), capacity to maintain (sthiti-sāmarthyam) and (ca) non-dualism (abhedaḥ... iti)", these (etāni) (are) the main fruits (mukhya-phalāni) (when one practices nyāsa of the Mantra-s) on those (eight forms) --the eight forms have been mentioned above, viz. earth, water, air, etc.-- (teṣu) — (Why?) Because, in each of those (eight forms, viz. earth, water, etc.,) the Mantra which is placed --it refers to nyāsa or placement of Mantra-s-- holds/assumes those various forms (teṣu teṣu upāhitasya mantrasya tad-tad-rūpa-dhāritvāt)|
However (tu), with regard to the Vīra-s --very advanced practitioners-- (vīra-uddeśena), (there is) a difference (viśeṣaḥ), namely (tad-yathā): (The eight forms are) raṇareṇu --lit. dust of the joy or of the battlefield-- (raṇa-reṇuḥ), water of the Vīra --it really is wine--(vīra-ambhas), great wind (mahā-marut), ashes of the Vīra (vīra-bhasma), sky over the crematoria (śmaśāna-nabhas), moon and sun (candra-arkau) connected with that --i.e. with the sky over the crematoria-- (tad-upahitau), (and) the Self (ātmā) devoid of vikalpa-s --i.e. of mental fluctuations-- (nis-vikalpakaḥ)|
(And) even (api) again (punar), (ablution) is double (dvitvam) as it can be external or internal (bāhya-ābhyantaratayā). (The first kind is performed) by means of the identification with the Mantra to be externally worshiped (bahis-upāsya-mantra-tādātmyena); once that identification is accomplished (tad-mayī-kṛte) (there is) an immersion (nimajjanam) into each of them --i.e. into the five faces of Lord Śiva-- (tatra tatra). It is so said (in the scriptures) (iti uktam)|
Nonetheless (tu), (there is) a particularity (viśeṣaḥ): By looking at (nirīkṣaṇena) the substance of joy --i.e. the wine-- (ānanda-dravyam) located in the vessel of the Vīra (vīra-ādhāra-gatam), after identifying it with Śiva (śiva-mayī-kṛtya), (there should be) worship of the group of Mantra-s (mantra-cakra-pūjanam) right there --i.e. in that vessel-- (tatra eva). Afterward (tatas), the group of deities dwelling in both body and vital energy should be satiated by presenting to them libations (deha-prāṇa-ubhaya-āśrita-devatā-cakra-tarpaṇam) by that very (substance of joy) (tena eva). This is the main ablution (iti mukhyam snānam)|
The internal (ablution) (ābhyantaram) (is like this) for example (yathā): With reference to each of those group(s) such as that of the earth, etc. (tatra tatra pārthiva-ādau cakre), (the internal ablution is) an identification with that --i.e. with earth, etc.-- (tad-mayī-bhāvaḥ) by means of various concentration(s) on the nature of earth, etc. (tad-tad-dharā-ādi-rūpa-dhāraṇayā)|
"They --i.e. the sages-- said (āhuḥ) that the immersion in Parabhairava (para-bhairava-sammajjanam... tad) is (bhavati) like (yathā tu) an ablution (snānam). Nevertheless (kim tu), the external ablution (tad api bāhyam snānam) is not (na) the main one (mukhyam) but only a ceremony (upacārataḥ)"||
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