Varahi Tantra (English Study)

by Roberta Pamio | 2014 | 29,726 words

This English essay studies the Varahi Tantra and introduces the reader to the literature and philosophy of the Shakta Tradition to which this text belongs. These Shakta Tantras are doctrines where the Mother Goddess is conceived as the Supreme deity who is immanent and transcendental at the same time. The Varahitantra (lit. the "Doctrine of th...

Chapter 16 - Paścimāmnaya (Western Tradition)

This chapter deals with the Paścimāmnāya and contains the first three chapters of the Ciñcinīmatasārasamuccaya (Ciñcinīmatasārasamuccaya).[1]

It opens with a hymn chanted by Bhairava to Kubjikā, the Mistress of the Paścimāmnāya: here it is said that the Goddess was made to descend to the earth by Siddhanātha, who, extremely pure and of the essence of the Universe, dwells on a lotus which rises like a divine sun: Kubjikā was then manifested as the light of consciousness in the form of a tamarind tree, on the Island of the Moon (Candradvīpa), which is situated in the middle of the Great Ocean of Kula. This Śakti is known as bhaga ("vulva") who is threefold, made of three letters and following three paths: thus she is represented as a triangle, wherein the three Mahāpīṭhas of Pūrṇagiri, Jālandhara and Kāmarūpa are located in the corners and the Mahāpīṭha of Uḍḍiyāna is found in the centre. The Goddess, who is the cause of the creation, preservation and destruction of the universe, resides in the middle of the triangle in union with the divine liṅga, whose nature is bliss itself, and at the same time she pervades each part of the triangle as Rudra's Śakti. Thus the primordial and free God of the gods, who dwells in the centre and who gives sublime bliss, is both Akula and Kula. From this perpetually blissful nature, which is the churning of both, the tradition comes forth divided sixfold (vv.1-12).[2] Verses 13-20 describe the bhaga pūja and verses 21-25 enumerate the merits acquired by the recitation of the hymn.

Then the Goddess, who has already heard all the Tantras such as the Tantrasāra, Kriyasāra, Yoginīhṛdaya, and so on, asks Bhairava to reveal the Ciñcinīmatasārasamuccaya, which is the essence of all the texts and by which one attains emancipation (vv.26-37).

Bhairava replies that the Ciñcinīmatasārasamuccaya belongs to the Divine Lineage (divyaugha), which is the highest among all lineages. It is said that Bhairava, who dwells beyond the void and the not-void (vyomavyomāntabhairava), lies on the thought of Kula and Akula. From the void free of the mundane waves, which is the circle where the divine power is in the state of rest (śāktaviśrāntamaṇḍalam), the Supreme Goddess arises in the form of a young maiden (kumārī): she, the passionate one, whose nature is desire, pours out the Divine Lineage (vv.38-42).

Verses 43-58 describe the Divine Tradition: it is said that the supreme bliss of the Divine Lineage is called Picuvaktra, "the face of the Picu"[3] face, which is Kaulika. The Kaula tradition originated from the union of Śiva and Śakti and is divided into six parts, one of them being the Western Tradition (Paścimāmnāya).

In verses 59-86 the Goddess asks Bhairava various questions on the main topics of the Paścimāmnāya. Bhairava then describes the characteristics of the Western Tradition (vv.87-98), of a Guru of the Paścimāmnāya (vv.99-111), of the fourfold division of the Kaulācāra (vv.112-127'), of the Kaula practice (vv.127"-138), of the Kaula dīkṣa (vv.139-146) and of the Samayācāra (vv.147-150).

Footnotes and references:


Verses 11-25 are not present in the Ciñcinīmatasārasamuccaya


For the translation of verses 7-10 see the work of Mark S. G. Dyczkowski (“A Journey in the World of the Tantras”, Indica books, Varanasi: 2004, p.259).


Picu is a name of Bhairava and in particular of one of his eight faces. In this sense it can also indicate his consort; generally "picuvaktra" is translated as "the mouth of the yoginī Picu". In the Monier-Williams' dictionary, it is said that the word "picu" has various meanings, such as "cotton", "the neem tree", "a sort of grain", "a weight" and "a kind of leprosy".—Mark S. G. Dyczkowski (Delhi: 1989, p.115) gives the meaning of the word "picu" from the Jayadrathayāmala as follows: "The word 'Picu' is said to consist of two units, namely, 'Pi' which means 'body' (piṇḍa) and 'cu' which means 'seed' (bīja): a true yogin is one who unites these two elements, that is, his body with the seed of consciousness. Again, 'Pi' denotes menstrual flow (kāminīpuṣpa) and ''cu' the male seed (retas). The repeated union of these two in conjunction with the performance of the appropriate ritual (kriyā) and recitation of Mantra is considered to be Picu. 'Pi' is also said to denote the female organ (yoni) while 'cu' is the male seed. This seed-called 'vindu'-is the omniscient knower-'vid'. It is the supreme seed of consciousness".

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