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Posts tagged ‘text’

  1. Reading the Saundarya Lahari – XI

    “Likely, o beloved, [by meditating on Devi] in the form of Kāmakalā emerged in the sprout of madana, with the light-circle of the rising sun, a luminous body with an expanding flame top. She exists while gulping all the beings manifested to enjoy the world.
    Existing in I-ness, keeping herself within her own supreme glory, and manifesting successively down to the ground of kāma, which is within the body, manifesting in two forms whilst being alone.”
    Nityāṣoḍaśikārṇava, 4.34 – 4.37 (transl. Lidke, 2000)

    Now to verse 20 of Saundaryalahari:

    Whoever contemplates You in his heart,
    O essence of ambrosia,
    abundant and radiant like an image carved in moonstone,
    will quell the pride of serpents
    as if he were the king of birds,
    he will cure those afflicted by fever,
    with the streaming nectar that showers from his glance.
    (transl. Clooney, 2005, p.52)

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  2. 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

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  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 »

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  4. 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 »

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  5. Reading the Saundarya Lahari – VI

    Devi & YantraThere are many “origin stories” for Saundaryalahari. As I noted in a previous post, the text is traditionally ascribed to Sankaracarya. One of the origin stories has Sankara visiting Siva’s home on Mount Kailasa, where he notices a divine book lying on Siva’s throne – a treasured possession of Parvati. Sankara picks up the book and hastens towards the exit, but is prevented from leaving by Siva’s doorkeeper – Nandikesvara. He and Sankara fight over the book, and Sankara manages to get away with the first portion of the book – the Anandalahari – to which he later adds another 59 stanzas of his own. In another version, Sankara finds the entirety of Saundaryalahari inscribed in stone on Mount Kailasa (having been carved by Nandikesvara who overheard Siva eulogising the goddess with them) but the goddess erases the words, so that Sankara (again) – only memorises the Anandalahari section. These origin stories make a clear distinction between the Anandalahari and the remainder of the poem. Continue reading »

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  6. Tantra, sex, and the transgressive imagination – I

    “Like the concept of the primitive or the shaman, Tantra is a profoundly Janus-faced category: attacked in some historical periods as uncivilised or subhuman, and celebrated in other periods (particularly our own) as a precivilised unsullied original state, a sort of Eden before the Fall when harmony prevailed, when sex was free and unrepressed, when the body had not been subjected to modern western prudishness and hypocrisy.”
    Hugh Urban, Tantra: Sex, Secrecy Politics and Power in the Study of Religion

    Sometimes You Gotta Break the Rules
    Burger King

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  7. 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

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  8. 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 »

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  9. Jottings: On the sacredness of text

    Back in December, I ran into a friend who asked me what I was occupying myself with, and I told him that – amongst other things – I was struggling with my series on the Saundaryalahari and that my original estimation of how long it would to take me to write a commentary on its verses had become mired in difficulties – because, as one might appreciate, it was opening up questions – and avenues – that I hadn’t expected to have to deal with or traverse. He was sympathetic, but asserted “Well, Pagans don’t have sacred texts”. Looking around us – we were having this conversation in one of London’s largest esoteric bookshops – I pointed past him to the shelves and replied – “no, Pagans have an abundance of texts”. Continue reading »

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  10. Reading the Saundarya Lahari – III-2

    Continuing right on from the previous post in this series, I will now examine verse 8 of Anandalahari. Continue reading »

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