Expiatory Rites in Keralite Tantra

by T. S. Syamkumar | 2017 | 59,416 words

This page relates ‘Expiatory Rites in Kulikkattupacca’ of the study on Expiatory Rites in Sanskrit literature and ancient Indian religion and society, with special reference to Keralite Tantra. Further references to texts include those found in Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism as well as Dharmashastra literature. This study also investigates temple records and inscriptions of Kerala in order to demonstrate the connection between social life and expiatory rites and its evolution.

3.4. Expiatory Rites in Kuḻikkāṭṭupacca

Kuḻikkāṭṭupacca, composed in the first half of the 19th century, is a popular Tantric work written in Malayalam, authored by Maheśvaran Bhaṭṭatiri of Kuḻikkāṭṭu family in Alappuzha district.[1] The work contains 15 Paṭalas, and the expiatory rites are described in the 10th Paṭala. As Kuḻikkāṭṭupacca is a lucid Malayalam commentary of Tantrasamuccaya, the causes leading to expiatory rites in this text are almost same to that of Tantrasamuccaya, but many additions are seen in Kuḻikkāṭṭupacca Comparatively, it gives a long list of untouchables other than those found in the early Tantric literature. According to Kuḻikkāṭṭupacca, Bauddhas, Paṟaya, Pulaya, Maṇṇān, Kāṭar, Velan, Pāṇan, Kaṇiyān, Vāḷan, Cekon, Arayan, Āśāri, Kallan, Kollan, Mūśāri and Veḷuttedaṃs are the untouchables. In the case of entering of these untouchables in to the temple or temple campus, Kuḻikkāṭṭupacca recommended various expiatory rites.[2] K.P.C. Anujan Bhattatiri, the translator of the Tantrasamuccaya in Malayalam,146 added many other expiatory rituals like Bṛhatcatuśśuddhi, Mahāpañcaka, Mahākuṃbha of Viṣṇu and Śiva, Mahākuṃbha of Skanda, Dahanaprāyaścitta, Lepādi-prāyaścitta, Bhūparigrahādiprāyaścitta and Jalādhivāsaprāyaścitta.

Kuḻikkāṭṭupacca, the commentary of Tantrasamuccaya also has included the above-mentioned additions. In Pre-Tantrasamuccaya period the number of expiatory rites is less in number than the Post-Tantrasamuccaya period. The expiatory rites in Īśānaśivagurudevapaddhati are different from other Tantric expiatory rituals in Pre-Tantrasamuccaya texts. Īśānaśivagurudevapaddhati discusses various types of Individual expiations (Ātmārthaprāyaścitta) related to Śaivas. The concept of Niramālya and related expiations and Ātmārtha-Prāyaścitta are only seen in Īśānaśivagurudevapaddhati The entering of Tantrasamuccaya is very important in the history of Tantra literature of Kerala. Tantrasamuccaya suggests various expiatory rites to the deities like Śiva, Viṣṇu, Skanda, Gaṇapati, Śaṅkaranārāyaṇa and Devi. After the period of Tantrasamuccaya also, the number of expiatory rites seems increased. The earlier Tantra texts do not seriously mention Prāyaścitta related to Utsava. But Tantraprāyaścitta discusses Utsavaprāyaścitta very seriously. Also Tantraprāyaścitta discuss Utsava related expiations in a meticulous way. The expiations like Astrayāga, Gaurīyāga and Anantayāga are not followed by Tantrasamuccaya and Post-Tantrasamuccaya ritual manuals of Kerala. It can only be seen in Pre-Tantrasamuccaya Tantric manuals like Prayogamañjarī, Īśānaśivagurudevapaddhati and Śaivāgamanibandhana The impact of the concepts of Pāpa, Puṇya and Karma are implicitly seen in all Kerala Tantric expiations.

Footnotes and references:


Vide Sangamesan, K.M., op.cit., p. 57. Also vide Unni, N.P., Tantra Literature of Kerala, p. 343.


Kuḻikkāṭṭupacca, Panchangam Pusthakashala, Kunnamkulam, 2004, p. 297-299.

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: