Skip to navigation | Skip to content



Posts tagged ‘reflections’

  1. Reading the Saundarya Lahari – X

    In this non-dualist tradition, adepts affirm the distinction between subject and object (in this case between human and divine) through darśan in order to dismantle distinctions between human and divine natures. The ritual’s aim is not to affirm a sacred space occupied by the śrīcakra in order to distinguish its “sacrality” from the “profane” ordinary world but to affect a transformation in understanding concerning the everyday world by identifying it as structured through the cakra’s form.
    Douglas R. Brooks, The Srividya School of Sakta Tantrism: A Study of the Texts and Contexts of the Living Traditions in South India

    “In this way the united Kāma and Kalā are the (three) letters whose own form (Svarūpa) is the three Bindus. It is She who is the Mother manifest as the three Gunas (Triguṇa-svarūpiṇī) and who assumed the form of the triangle.”
    Kāmakalāvilāsa, v25

    Continue reading »

    Share
  2. Heart practice: On the Adoration of the Senses – II

    The worship of oneself must be done with elements that are pleasing to the senses.
    Yoginīhṛdaya, 3.8a

    Let my idle chatter be the muttering of prayer, my every manual movement the execution of ritual gesture, my walking a ceremonial circumambulation, my eating and other acts the rite of sacrifice, my lying down, prostration in worship, my every pleasure enjoyed with dedication of myself, let whatever activity of mine be some form of worship of you.
    Saundaryalahari, 27

    In the previous post in this series I gave a brief discussion on what could be thought of as a ‘tantric’ perspective on the senses. Now I will move onto describing the “short form” of this practice, which takes the form of a short puja sequence. Continue reading »

    Share
  3. Reading the Saundarya Lahari – IX

    “The understanding of Śaivism can only aspire to objectivity if it includes a sincere effort to see how things are in the subjective perception of its practitioners. One has to be able to enter into the spirit of their world, to be with them intimately, to see what they are saying and why they are saying it, to go beneath the surface of their texts. There has to be empathy.”
    Alexis Sanderson

    In the opening post to this series examining Saundaryalahari I noted that, as a text, Saundaryalahari “works” in a variety of ways: it can be read simultaneously as a literary work (Kavya); as a ritual manual (prayoga), as a work of devotion (bhakti) and as a text which hides/encodes tantric “secrets”.

    When Saundaryalahari is sung, recited, listened to, contemplated upon, these multiple registers coalesce, offering a vision/encounter with the goddess (Tripurasundari Devi). As hymn or prayer, Saundaryalahari opens, points the way to – a direct encounter with Devi – an encounter which requires and produces transformation in all whom it touches. To speak, to hear, to contemplate Saundaryalahari is to enter into a direct relation with Devi – to attend Her and be attended to by Her. Continue reading »

    Share
  4. Heart practice: On the Adoration of the Senses – I

    “Just as one who sees something out of the ordinary experiences a feeling of amazement, so the feeling of amazement in enjoying contact with the various manifestations of knowable reality is continually produced in this great yogin with the whole wheel of the senses increasingly revealed, motionless, disclosed, by virtue of penetrating into its most intimate nature, the compact union of ever-renewed consciousness and wonder, extreme, extraordinary.”
    Ksemaraja, commentary on Śivasutra, 1.12, quoted from Torella, 2012

    “All wisdoms have celebrated the instant, the wise man leaves aside memory; he has few projects, makes himself at home in the present, inhabits its differential.”
    Michel Serres, The Five Senses

    I’ve been taking this foray into “heart practice” slowly, beginning with a central theme in tantra practice – that of the goddess dwelling in the heart. I’m now going to progress things slightly, with a look at a practice I tend to refer to as the “adoration of the senses”. But first, some thoughts on the senses themselves. Continue reading »

    Share
  5. Reading the Saundarya Lahari – VII

    When She, the Supreme Power, [becoming] out of her own desire, embodying all that exists perceives herself as flashing forth, the chakra then appears.
    Yoginihrdaya, 9

    For this post, I’m going to briefly discuss verses 14-16 of Anandalahari. Continue reading »

    Share
  6. Some reflections on Heart Practice

    “Salutations to Sri Mata
    Salutations to Sri Maharajni
    Salulations to the Queen seated upon the lion-throne
    Salutations to She who resides in the fire of consciousness
    Salutations to She who shines with the red brilliance of a thousand rising suns
    Salutations to She who bears the noose, the goad, the sugarcane bow; the five sense-arrows
    Salutations to She whose red brilliance engulfs the universe.
    Lalitasahasramana

    One of the ways in which I have, for some years now, approached tantra sadhana is to start with something (relatively) simple, and then extend it with other practices as time, circumstances, and insights allow. There’s a tendency in western occulture to make a distinction between “basic” and “advanced” practices – where “basic” practices constitute something that you do for a set period and then never bother with again, and the “advanced” practices which are really, where the action is. In terms of my approach to tantra practice, I tend to think instead of “core” practices – which can be deepened and enriched over time. Continue reading »

    Share
  7. On Queering deity: Ardhanarishvara and other conundrums of gender

    “Her body is dance preparing for the creation of differentiation,
    his is the dance of destruction that destroys everything.
    I bow to Śivā, mother of the universe.
    I bow to Śiva, father of the universe.
    Her ear ornaments are radiant precious stones giving light,
    his adornments are hissing snakes.
    He is embracing her, and she is embracing him.
    I bow to Śivā and I bow to Śiva.
    Ardhanarinatesvara stotra (Ellen Campbell, 2002, p105)

    If they see
    breasts and long hair coming
    they call it woman,
    if beard and whiskers
    they call it man:
    But, look, the self that hovers
    in between
    is neither man nor woman
    O Ramanatha.
    Dasimayya(10th century Virasiva poet)

    Continue reading »

    Share
  8. Heart Practice: Tantra as ethical practice – I

    “Using the plow of truth,
    sowing the seeds of love,
    plucking the weeds of falsehood,
    pouring the waters of patience;
    they look directly into themselves
    and build fences of virtue.
    If they remain rooted in their good ways,
    The Bliss of Siva will grow.”
    Appar (seventh-century Tamil poet-saint, from Pandian, 2009, p21)

    “Ethical encounters are jubilant, joyous encounters of both affectivity and liberty.”
    Patricia MacCormack, Posthuman Ethics

    A great deal has been written about tantra as a transgressive practice and the perceived necessity of moving beyond normative values in order to discover “freedom”. However, the idea of tantra as an ethical practice seems to me to be relatively unthought. For this post then, I want to make some preliminary reflections on the possible ethical dimensions of contemporary tantra practice. Continue reading »

    Share
  9. Reading the Saundarya Lahari – V

    “When she, the supreme power, [becoming] by her own free will embodied as all that exists, perceives her own throbbing radiance, the chakra is then being produced.
    The Heart of the Yogini Tantra

    “I worship that goddess who is supreme Siva, whose form is the indestructable a-letter, manifesting the tides of the waves of the kulas.”
    Nityasodasikarnava 1:10

    Continue reading »

    Share
  10. Reading the Saundarya Lahari – IV

    Following from the previous two verses (examined in the last two posts – (see Reading the Saundarya Lahari – III-2 for summary) which together, produce an image of the goddess for dhyana) verses 9-10 shift focus suddenly towards what seem to be, at first glance, expositions of the goddess in relation to the chakras. Verses 9 and 10 are often interpreted in relation to various yogic accounts of Kundalini. Some contemporary commentaries on Saundaryalahri take this as a cue to go into long, detailed expositions of Kundalini schemas. I’m not going to do that, however. Continue reading »

    Share