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Mṛgendrāgama. Section des rites et section du comportement

Summary*

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  • * This Summary is the translation of the best part of the French Introduction. A few passages only h (...)

1The Mṛgendrāgama, or Mṛgendratantra, or simply Mṛgendra is one of the most famous anonymous texts of Śaivism. It is not however included in the list of 28 fundamental Āgamas (Mūlāgamas) that the dualistic school, known as the “Southern” school, considers to be revealed Scriptures; but it appears, under the name of Nārasiṃha, in the list of secondary Āgamas (Upāgamas), which tradition links to the fundamental ones, whose teachings they are supposed to summarize or to complement. The Āgama to which the Mṛgendra is associated is the Kāmika, the first to be cited in all the lists that we have. A kind of confirmation of this link can be found in the Prologue of the Mṛgendra itself which, having recounted the mythical origin of the text, explains that the name “Kāmika” was given to the knowledge expressed therein because it grants all desires. Quoting this passage in an earlier part of his vṛtti (vp, 1, 25), the commentator interprets it by stating that the text called Mṛgendra is a “part” of the Kāmika (kāmikabheda: vṛtti ad vp, 1, 1). We shall come back later to this interpretation, and more generally to the relation between the Kāmika and the Mṛgendra. Something that must at once be underlined is that there is no connection between the success that the Mṛgendra enjoyed, as well as the influence it had, and the modest position it holds in the systematically arranged presentations of Āgamic literature.

2As early as the Xth century (or at the very latest the beginning of the XIth) the Kashmirian master Nārāyaṇakaṇṭha (N.K.) commented upon the Mṛgendra; and his own vṛtti was then partially commented upon in the XIIth century by Aghoraśiva. The Mṛgendra was very often quoted by the masters of the dualist school to which it belongs, but also by those of the non-dualist school, known as “Northern”, who seem to have always considered it with the greatest of respect. It provided Mādhava (XIVth cent.) with the essence of the seventh chapter of his Sarvadarśanasaṃgraha, which deals with the Śaiva doctrine; while Umāpati, a Tamil master of the same century, owes to it a great deal (about a third) of the Āgamic verses with which he composed his Śataratnasaṃgraha, as well as many others which he gives as references in his prose commentary. Finally, the part of the text which was known about the beginning of this century has been the object of two independent publications, one in 1928 in Tamilnāḍu, the other in 1930 in Kashmir, a notable event and an indication as to the fame of the work.

3One of the reasons of this success can be seen in the fact that the Mṛgendra is one of the very few Āgamas (we will use this term henceforth to refer to both the Mūlāgamas and the Upāgamas) to possess all four of the sections that works of this category are supposed to have, that is: a doctrinal section (vidyā- or jñānapāda), a section dealing with ritual (kriyāpāda), a section on yoga (yogapāda) and a section dealing with right behaviour (caryāpāda) – in this order for our text. Strictly speaking, no one can say for certain at the present stage of the research that those Āgamas of which we only have the kriyāpāda and which in fact form the vast majority were accidentally cut off from their other sections through the handing down process: for it is quite possible that they were never complete. If this were the case, we could exchange premises and conclusion of the inference just made about the Mṛgendra, and explain its well-preserved state by the intrinsic qualities on which its esteem was grounded. A similar situation – that of an Upāgama which is famous as well as complete – can be found in the case of the Mataṅgapārameśvara.

4As we have already stated, only one part of the Mṛgendra was known at the beginning of our century. This part consisted of the doctrinal and the yoga sections, i.e. the first and third parts of the Āgama, and was the subject of the aforementioned editions. These two sections were translated into French by M. Hulin in 1980 (Publ. IFI Nr 63). The rest was discovered, having been thought of as lost for a long time, by N. R. Bhatt, who published in 1962 a critical edition of the kriyā- and caryāpāda, accompanied by their commentary by N. K. This is what we are translating here.

5Our translation nearly always follows Bhatt’s text. We have had however to take account of the advances made in the field of Śaivite studies since 1962, for the last twenty years have been a particularly productive period. We owe to the diligence of pandit N. R. Bhatt that the number of manuscripts collected by the French Institute of Indology (IFI) in Pondicherry has risen in a considerable proportion and that the critical editions of Āgamas have multiplied during that period, which also saw the first pioneering works in this newly discovered branch of Indian literature. Were the Mṛgendra to be published today, it would obviously differ in several respects from Bhatt’s 1962 version. It was therefore our task to take into consideration, while translating, the more recent knowledge and the new sources that are now available to us, and as a result, to suggest new readings for the sanskrit text wherever we deemed it to be necessary or merely desirable. This task was all the more pressing as Bhatt had edited the text and the commentary under rather difficult circumstances, the two manuscripts containing the commentary being discovered only at the last moment, one at a time when the text was just about to be printed, the other when the printing was almost over. Since then, and again thanks to Bhatt’s efforts, two new manuscripts have been added to the IFI collection. The modifications that we are proposing (see App. IV) are the result of their collation, as well as of a revision of the manuscripts used for the 1962 edition.

6Even when modified in such a way, the text of the Mṛgendra still contains some gaps and dark areas. It will surely be improved at some future date, especially if new sources are found, which are not akin to the family to which belong, as we shall see later, all the manuscripts known up to now.

Mṛgendra and Kāmika

7The problem of the relationship between the Mṛgendra and the Kāmika is a complex one. We have already stated that a passage from the Prologue to vidyāpāda asserts the link between a mythical text bearing the name “Kāmika” and the Mṛgendra, and that the traditional lists give the Mṛgendra (under the name of Nārasiṃha) as an Upāgama of a Mūlāgama called Kāmika. In our opinion, these facts alone do not constitute enough evidence to prove the dependence of our Mṛgendra upon the Kāmika that we know. For:

  1. The lists of Āgamas (to be found in all the Āgamas and in some Purāṇas) are comparatively late; still more the lists of Upāgamas.
  2. The Prologue to the Mṛgendra is visibly younger than the rest of our Tantra.
  3. The fundamental Āgama named Kāmika which occupies the first place in the standard list of 28 Āgamas is obviously not the same divine text the Prologue refers to, but rather, according to a tradition which holds good for all Āgamas, an abbreviation of the original (mythical) work.
  4. As for the text which has come down to us under the name of Kāmika (it is made up of two parts, the Pūrva-Kāmika and the Uttara-Kāmika, the second being undoubtedly separated from the first by quite some period of time), it is certainly very distant, not only from the mythical text set forth by Śiva, but also from the text that the earliest authors refer to when they talk of “Kāmika”, and distant even from the Kāmika which was at some time in the past put up to position one on the list of Āgamas. It is a composite text, showing many traces of past modifications, and one which appears to have absorbed teachings from many different fields (among them, the theory of the five kalās and that of the sixfold adhvan, both absent from the majority of dualist Āgamas). It adopts towards the other Śaivite schools a strictly sectarian stance, characteristic of later works. A number of passages (they may have been interpolated at a later date) are doubtlessly more recent than the Mṛgendra, even perhaps than its commentary. Indeed, it is quite striking to see how little use N. K. makes of the Kāmika in explaining the Mṛgendra, even when it comes to questions that the Kāmika as we know it might have been useful in helping to answer, since it deals with them with accuracy and in the same spirit as our text. The only two ślokas of the Kāmika that N. K. quotes textually are not concerned with any specific Śaiva teachings; and besides, they are absent from the text that we have. Worse still is the fact that N. K. quotes as coming from other Āgamas fragments that can be found in the extant Kāmika. It would appear from these observations that the extant Kāmika deserves neither the reputation for authority and seniority that is stuck to its name, nor the status of a fundamental text (Mūlāgama). It seems therefore somewhat unlikely that it would be the model upon which the Mṛgendra was based, either by imitation or by complementarity.

8If we now seek to solve the problem of the relationship between the Kāmika and the Mṛgendra by direct comparison of the texts we have, we cannot come to any firm conclusion. Firstly, a great part of the Kāmika (around four fifths of it), that which deals with temples and the rituals carried out in temples, lies outside any comparison with the Mṛgendra, which deals solely with private ritual. If we look at the comparable chapters alone, there is indeed a fair degree of agreement between the two treatises. But the parallelism is far from being perfect and other Āgamas would probably come just as close if not closer, to the Mṛgendra than the Kāmika does. To our knowledge, the work to which the Mṛgendra owes the most is not one of the 28 dualist Āgamas but the Svacchanda-Tantra, which is associated with the Northern school and was perhaps included, under the name of Bhairavottara, among the Upāgamas of the Kāmika. Whereas this dual subordination of the Mṛgendra and the Svacchanda to the Kāmika is not justified by the present state of the texts, it can probably be explained by history Śaivite schools; but too little indeed is known about this to enable us to put forward more than fragile hypotheses.

9Whatever the case, we can easily see how naive it would be, on the basis of a rather suspect Prologue and late canonic lists, to admit without argument that our text is a reflection, a condensation or a prolongation of the Āgama known nowadays as the Kāmika.

The text and its commentary

10We will now turn to look at the text itself of the Mṛgendra and say a few words about its commentary.

11Let us consider first the title of the work. In order to conform to the common South-Indian practice, N. R. Bhatt published the kriyā- and caryāpāda under the title of Mṛgendrāgama; and we have retained this title. A look at the Index will show however that the text describes itself as a Tantra – the term Āgama only being used three times, of which twice it refers to the whole of the school’s texts and could certainly be translated simply by “tradition”. We do not possess any index of the vidyā- and yogapāda. Nevertheless, in the second verse of chapter two — which is strictly speaking the first chapter of the work – the Mṛgendra presents itself as this “Mahātantra” that has been compressed by Śiva in the preceding śloka (vp, 2, 2, quoted by N. K. in his comm. to cp, 1, 50-51a). The colophons of the vṛtti do not use the term Āgama either, but make do with the expression mṛgendravṛttau. Thus it would be better if we, like the editor of the vidyā and yogapāda in the Kashmir Series, talk of the Mṛgendra-Tantra rather than the Mṛgendrāgama. This may seem a somewhat trivial point, but it is nonetheless useful to recall once again what Jean Filliozat wrote when presenting the first ever publication of an Āgama by the IFI (see Raurava, vol. I, p. vii) and to use a precise example to show that there are no grounds for setting one group of texts named Āgamas against another group named Tantras. As far as the Scriptures of the Śaivite dualist school are concerned, the two terms are totally interchangeable. In ancient times, the term “Tantra” was even by far the most frequent, as may be seen for instance from the title “tantrāvatāra” given to the chapter where our Āgamas describe their “descent” from Śiva. A study here to try and determine at what point in time the second term came to prevail would therefore be welcome.

12The exterior form of the Mṛgendra is that of a vague dialogue between a master and a disciple. Nearly all Tantras have that same form, in order to keep alive the memory of the conditions under which they appeared: Śiva taught His Science to a divine Being who passed it on to another, and so on until the original Science, which had become progressively simpler, came down to the level of man, where it took on a fixed form. The dialogue is more or less apparent according to the case. Most of the time it is fictitious, with the scarce questions from the disciple interrupting the master’s monologue, where occasional vocatives are however introduced in order to recall the silent presence of an attentive listener. In many Tantras, the speaker is Śiva and the listener a god (or the Goddess), which shows how much trust people placed in the handing down process: the contents of the teachings may well have had to be simplified, but what has come to us is made out of the actual words of the Supreme Master. The situation is less clear for the Mṛgendra. According to the last verse of the Prologue (vp, 1, 27), Indra is teaching a group of Munis, the leader of whom is Bharadvāja, but his disciple Hārīta goes and repeats the teaching to his own disciples. The result is that our commentator can sometimes say that the speaker is Indra and the listener, Bharadvāja (kp, 3, 40; 6, 1; 6, 33-34; 6, 43; 8, 180; 8, 220), and at other times – perhaps because the verse features some expressions which seem to be characteristic of human transmission – say that it is Hārīta who is the speaker, addressing his disciples (kp, 3, 59; 7, 71). The text alone does not enable us to decide. One of the rare occurrences of an actual vocative case (hare, in kp, 3, 40) may even take us back to Śiva, the original author, in the form of Śrīkaṇṭha (= Umāpati), in spite of N. K.’s own interpretation. Since it has often been necessary, for the sake of clarity, to specify the subject of impersonal forms (ityāha, tadāha, etc.) through which the commentator introduces the new passages to be explained, we have decided once for all to take Indra to be the author of the discourse where neither the teacher nor the taught are explicitly named. But we must not forget that Indra himself is in fact repeating the teaching he received from Śrīkaṇṭha.

13Whatever the case may be with these fictions, we can see that the author has a strong command of Sanskrit. The style of the Āgama forms a pleasant contrast alongside the style which characterizes most texts of this class. Sometimes elegant, more often recherché, rich though concise, varied in its choice of expressions, it even seems to be at times deliberately cryptic. Not only does the author plays with the repetition of a single root (see kp, 8, 87; 90b-91a; 138b-139a; 173b-174a, etc.), but he also seems to enjoy making the reader lose his sense of orientation by bringing him into the word play (see kp, 8, 78-79 or 92-93). In several cases, we are not certain to have grasped the exact meaning, and we sometimes wonder whether N. K. himself has understood it, for he more than once stops short of giving a full explanation of some verses which are far from being crystal-clear (see for example the comm, at cp, 1, 11, which evades all the difficulties).

14There is a change of meter to be seen in the last verse of each paṭala (apart from the first). The śloka gives way to the puṣpitāgrā (ch. 2 and 6), mālinī (3), śālinī (4 and 5), vasantatilaka (7) and vātormī (8), which makes the transition between two chapters rather more solemn. We have no means of asserting how the chapters of the caryāpāda did end, since the only one preserved is incomplete. But the procedure had already been applied, though less systematically, in the vidyāpāda (ch. 2 to 5 and 10, 11, 13), as well as in the sole chapter of the yogapāda. We wonder why the first chapter of the kriyāpāda stands apart in this respect. Perhaps it was added later by a different hand? Perhaps it is simply incomplete?

15Imprisoned in their rigid meter and moreover compelled by the composing rules to recall the current theme whilst announcing the next one, these final verses are remarkable for their artificial allure which betrays the acrobatics that the writer had to perform. As a result, many of them are verily hermetic.

16The teachings contained in the Mṛgendra are aimed at all the categories of initiated Śaivas, and seem to have been designed for a small community of adepts more or less closely gathered around a master: the ācārya, deśika or guru (all three terms being strictly synonymous). There is never any mention of a public temple, at least not in the parts we have. Nor is any reference made to the various kind of persons that more recent texts show at work in these temples.

17We have already explained how the text was structured. The first section is a doctrinal one (vidyāpāda) which gives the theoretical knowledge necessary for the correct performance of rites. The second (kriyāpāda) describes these rites: firstly those which concern the four categories of initiated Śaivas (samayin, putraka, sādhaka and ācārya: see Brunner 1977, p. xxxi and pp. 416-422, n. 457) and which make up chapters 1 to 6, apart from ch. 4; then those which concern the sādhaka alone, to wit ch. 4; finally those which are practised only by the ācārya (ch. 7 and 8) though they are performed for the sake of others. Then come the instructions for yoga. We have already mentioned that this section, the yogapāda, was joined with the vidyāpāda in both 1928 and 1930 editions and translated together with it by M. Hulin in 1980. The text closes with the section on correct behaviour (caryāpāda) which, like the vidyāpāda, is presented as an essential complement to the kriyāpāda·, for, as N. K. explains when introducing it, “without correct behaviour (...) the deśika and the others (...) would not have an obstacle free path to realising their desires”. The author begins by giving the rules of discipline which apply to all initiated Śaivas. He then considers each group separately, paying special attention to the sādhakas and the ācāryas.

18We shall analyse in greater depth later on the different chapters translated here. Suffice to say for the moment that thanks to the terseness of its style, the Mṛgendra provides us with vastly more information than we could at first expect from its modest volume. This information however is given in such a way that only the adept enlightened by the oral teachings of his master could understand it correctly. For us people who are not in this privileged position, the commentary accompanying the text – without doubt it retains traces of what was once an authentic oral explanation, if it is not simply a transcription of it – is a most precious instrument.

19The author of this commentary (vṛtti) is Nārāyaṇakaṇṭha, a Kashmirian master whom M. Hulin, following Pandey and Bhatt, has already presented in the “Avant-Propos” of his translation of the vidyā- and yogapāda. We refer to these sources for details. But we will give here a piece of information which should help to place N. K. more accurately in time. In his commentary on the Svacchanda-Tantra (4, 206b-209a), Kṣemarāja quotes Nārāyaṇakaṇṭha by name, criticizing the interpretation the latter gives of a passage from the Mṛgendra (kp, 8, 136b-137). We know therefore that he came later, which confirms the generally accepted date for N. K. of the Xth or early XIth century.

20The commentary in question shows the merits and shortcomings of all commentaries of this type. It is most useful, even indispensable sometimes in throwing light on obscure allusions, making explicit a list of which only the beginning is given, drawing attention to a traditional identification, explaining a gesture, etc. But it is often insufficient when it comes to truly obscure passages, where we can well imagine N. K.’s embarrassment in front of a text which may already have been corrupt and whose meaning he did not feel able to explain (see for instance kp, 1, 3 and 8, 78-79). At other times, our commentator offers such a bizarre explanation either of a śloka or of a technical term that he is virtually impossible to agree with (see kp, 8, 45; 8, 244a; the interpretation of cp, I, 75-77 or cp, 1, 114; the explanation of prāggṛhastha at cp, 1, 11; of dvirāśramin at kp, 2, 9). Elsewhere he contradicts himself, seemingly without realising it (see comm, ad cp, 1, 25 and cp, 1, 26). We cannot help but have the impression that an abyss already separates the tradition expressed in the Mṛgendra and the tradition which N. K. had access to. There is a notable difference even in the vocabulary, and it is the reason why we have taken great care to distinguish clearly in the Index between what comes from the text and what comes from the commentary, so that the less attentive reader is prevented from attributing N. K. s opinions to the Mṛgendra, or taking the commentator’s terms to be those of the Āgama.

21As far as we know, no sub-commentary ever existed for the sections other than the vidyāpāda. Yet Aghoraśiva, who wrote the sub-commentary (dīpikā) of this doctrinal section cannot pass for a pure theoretician, being the author of a famous (and still in use) book on ritual called Kriyākramadyotikā (see Bibliography). In fact, he wrote also another handbook called Mṛgendrapaddhati which, as its name suggests, is in principle based on the teachings of the Mṛgendra; and we may assume that he considered this latter work as playing the role of a commentary on the kriyāpāda. It would therefore be highly desirable to make a close study of this Mṛgendrapaddhati. Unfortunately, there is so far only one known manuscript (too recently acquired by the IFI for us to have been able to take it into account while translating the Mṛgendra) of this work, accompanied by its own commentary; it is incomplete, and much too corrupt not to discourage research.

Analysis of the text

22Let us now look at what is contained in the two sections that we have translated. To begin with, the kriyāpāda.

23The first chapter, short but essential, talks of the mantras. These are both the syllables and formulas (mantras) that the ritual makes use of, and the Powers (Mantras) of whom these sounds are the acoustic expressions. The second aspect – the Mantra as vācya – is primordial, and it is to this that the traditional analysis of the term man-tra (see dīpikā ad vp, 1, 22) applies, so N. K. tells us in his commentary of the first śloka. It is the other aspect however – the mantra as vācaka – which requires explanations, since the worshipper needs to know which sounds, or series of sounds, represents which divinity and therefore must be used to invoke the presence of this divinity in whatever image he wishes to adore it. But the text does not give these instructions in clear, for each disciple must learn the mantras from his own guru. Having recalled the divine origin of sounds and phonemes, it merely goes on to give the main principles which govern the formation of the most common mantras from the basis of phonetic units, vowels and syllables: firstly Śiva's mantras (mūlamantra, brahmamantras, aṅgamantras), then the mantras of the other Powers to be invoked. N. K.’s commentary does not remove all the ambiguities of the text (see for example śl. 3).

24We come up at this stage against an annoying contradiction which will reappear later: some passages speak of five, others of six aṅgamantras. This incertitude as to the number of “Members” that should be allotted to Śiva is not to be found in our text alone, but in most works on Śaiva ritual, and we had already the opportunity to point it out several times. But we would here expect N. K. to call attention to it and explain it, which however does not happen (see comm. ad 4a and 9).

25Descriptions of ritual acts start in chapter 2 (32 ślokas) which talks of various baths.

26There is no point dwelling upon this matter here, since the chapter presents no difficulty and is not especially original.

27Of more central importance is chapter 3 (59 śl.) which deals with Śiva's regular cult. The description is divided up into three parts. Firstly we find (śl 1-10) some instructions as to the “subtle” preparation of the worshipper, that is the series of gestures which bring about his identification with Śiva before the actual beginning of the cult. One interesting stage is the construction, by the worshipper, of the divine body which is to replace his own impure and perishable body throughout the duration of the cult. It is here that we find the only precise allusion that the text ever makes to the 38 “parts” (kalās) of Energy which make up this body, and to their distribution among the five Powers (Vaktras or Brahmans, but none of these words is mentioned here), the sum of which constitutes the aspect of Śiva known as Sadāśiva. It is here also that we come across the first information about the “Members” of Śiva; we have five here, conceived as protective elements for the worshipper.

28The next part is the description of the inner cult (śl. 11-31), which is a kind of mental repetition of the outer cult that will follow. In both cases, the same gestures are made, first in the mind, then in reality; so that it is unnecessary for the text to fully describe both processes. Normally, details are given on the occasion of the external cult. Here, as in the Svacchanda, it is on the occasion of the other. Hence it is in the description of the mental process that we must look for the most concrete instructions, such as the list of objects to be presented as signs of homage. The worship is carried out in the usual way: Invitation of the God (āvāhana), followed by the rites which fix Śiva in the image used for the cult; offering of consecrated waters; various acts of veneration (bath, massage, clothing...). Once the God is satisfied, he is then surrounded by five circles (āvaraṇas) of divinities, from the innermost, constituted of those Powers, Brahmans and Aṅgas, which are but aspects of Śiva temporarily detached from Him, up to the most external, where we find the Lokapālas and their Arms. This list of āvaraṇas is the commonest and the first of those (for there are several) which are mentioned in the Pūrva-Kāmika (4, 448-494). The text gives succinct instructions concerning the colours and the characteristics of each divinity, as well as the mudrās that must be shown to them. To end, it enjoins a japa of Śiva’s fundamental and secondary mantras and explains the correct way to offer this japa to Śiva. The japa is indeed an essential moment of the cult, and entrusting it to the God, a necessary rite. The originality of the Mṛgendra (even though here again it accords with the Svacchanda) lies in the fact that it places this rite at the end of the mental cult rather than of the external one.

29This external cult (śl. 32-39) gives grounds for some new explanations necessitated by the material context. Not, as one might imagine, concerning the concrete stand on which to perform the pūjā, because nothing is said about this to begin with, and it is only a later remark which lets it be known that this is a maṇḍata; but rather concerning the preparation of the consecrated waters (arghya, etc.) and the homage that the worshipper must pay to personages unknown to the mental cult, but who must be present for the external one: Gaṇeśa, Lakṣmī and the Guru (or Gurus). The chapter ends (śl 40-59) with some reflections on the contemplation (dhyāna) of Śiva. The beginning of the passage could well have had a place in the vidyāpāda, in so far as it poses the philosophical question of the possibility of conceiving a form of the Formless. But we are brought back to very practical problems by the statement of the rules which tell us how to choose the form to be adored in accordance with the act that we expect Śiva to accomplish for us. This in fact touches upon the question of optional rites (kāmyakarman), the best known of which are introduced here by our text, strangely associated to the five cosmic functions of Siva and like them distributed between the five Faces (or Brahmans). The common form, the one which can be invoked for any rite and the only one used in the daily pūjā, is then described: it is the well known Sadāśiva. A few extra verses envisage the modifications to the rite in the case when the image used for the cult is an indestructible one, where Śiva resides permanently, and they list a whole series of possible images.

30One will note the absence, in the preceding description, of any reference to rites which are sometimes considered as very important, such as the offering of lights (ārātrika). Similarly nothing is said of the preparation and offering of the divine meal (naivedya). Probably these details have never occupied such an important place in private ritual as they have in temple worship.

31The short chapter 4 (7 śl.), as we said, is aimed solely at the sādhaka. It in fact deals with the worship of the special divinity (called Sādhya) which the sādhaka chooses to worship exclusively and intensively, with a particular aim in mind. This pūjā is not described in detail. Our text merely gives the conditions under which it must be carried out and the few modifications that the standard pattern (given in chapter 3) should undergo to suit the new situation. Since here the japa is especially important, the commentator takes it upon himself to add to the succinct instructions given in the text.

32Chapter 5 (18 śl.) describes the mudrās that are asked for in the ritual. It enumerates 14 of them, one of which concerns only the dīkṣā and two of which are never enjoined in the part of the work available to us (see Index). As always, the descriptions would be far easier for us to interpret if we knew what the gestures they concern are like. This is not the case, for with the exception of a few very simple mudrās, no general agreement exists between the treatises, the result being that we cannot make use of one to read another, nor can we look to the practical tradition to understand the written instructions. As for the photos given by N. R. Bhatt, whilst helping in many cases, they do not always seem to correspond to the text. We are therefore not sure to have always rendered faithfully text and commentary.

33With its 76 ślokas, chapter 6 is longer than any of the preceding ones, and it is only shorter than the final two. It deals with the Fire Ritual, ordering its material in a classic way. We find firstly (śl. 1-32) the description of the actual ritual: saṃskāra of the fire-pit; generation of the fire; saṃskāra of Agni, or rather of Śivāgni, before and after his birth, installing of various divinities around the kuṇḍa; saṃskāra of the big and small spoons, then of the clarified butter; removing of a part of the fire to cook the rice elsewhere, invitation and adoration of Śiva in the Fire; his satiating with different ingredients (no list); rite of reparation; giving leave to Śiva and finally adoration of Caṇḍa in the same Fire. The second part of the chapter (33-75) is devoted to general instructions: description of the instruments used in the ritual (sruva, sruc, kuṇḍa, paridhi, samidh, viṣṭara, pavitra, arghyapātra and other pātras, araṇi); precisions as to the nature of the ingredients and the colour of the fire according to the aim of the homa; measurement of the oblations; and choice of the particular endings of the mantras used for the oblations, depending again on the desired result. The whole of this final part is dealt with in greater detail than the rest of the work. Could this be because it concerns mainly the sādhaka, for whom we believe our Āgama was especially written?

34The subject of daily ritual (nityakarman) is completely covered in the 203 ślokas of the first six chapters. The following two chapters need respectively 104 and 244 ślokas to deal with the dīkṣā (initiations), which gives a good indication as to the vast importance that our text grants to this rite which, though termed “occasional’, is central to the whole ritual perspective. Two kinds of dīkṣā are recognized in the Mṛgendra. The first, which we shall call “little dīkṣā”, introduces the devotee into Śiva’s family, granting him a certain number of rights, including the right to perform the daily ritual. Thus he prepares himself, if he so desires, for the second or “big dīkṣā”, which eventually brings about his liberation by carrying out a radical transformation in him.

35The description of the Mṛgendra is not divided up according to these two stages. True, the “little dīkṣā” is described in chapter 7; however, this chapter announces, right from the outset, the other dīkṣā, and it is to the preparation and to the vigil of this solemn ceremony that the major part of its teaching is devoted. As for chapter 8, it deals with the “big dīkṣā” itself, from a theoretical and then a practical point of view. But it also contains the descriptions of two abhiṣekas, which in other Āgamas go to make up a separate chapter, or even two. The division between the two chapters is therefore rather artificial and they must be considered as a whole in order to give a clear idea of the ritual. This ritual is not a simple one, and N. K.’s commentary needs being supplemented by quite a number of additional explanations. But since we have studied the dīkṣā in some detail while translating the Somaśambhupaddhati (vol. III), and since we have often turned to the 7th and 8th chapters of the Mṛgendra in order to explain the text of Somaśambhu, it is now possible for us to refer the reader to this former study and reduce accordingly the volume of the foot-notes.

36The 7th chapter begins (śl. 1-9) by describing the setting in which the dīkṣā is to take place: a temporary pavilion (maṇḍapa) erected in an appropriate spot, the ground of which has been purified according to rules. It then goes on to explain (10-52) the rites that the ācārya must perform in this maṇḍapa (they would be the same for any other occasional ritual) before the actual beginning of the dīkṣā, in śloka 53. At that stage the disciple appears and he undergoes (53-70) what we have called the “little dīkṣā”, though its accepted name is “regular dīkṣā” (samayadīkṣā; sāmayikam karma in the text). It starts off with a series of purifying touches, after which the disciple makes his first gesture of adoration towards Śiva by throwing flowers onto the mandata that represents the God. He receives the God’s blessings when the master places his hand on his own head, the hand having first been transformed into the “Hand of Śiva”. The effect of the rite is reinforced by a homa, in preparation for which guru and disciple are united by a material link which symbolizes the interpenetration of their two subtle bodies. The purification of the disciple is then completed by the guru pouring clarified butter onto his head. Śloka 70 informs us of the rights that the disciple has just acquired: the right to hear the Scriptures; to worship Śiva; and to “remember” Śiva through meditation and japa.

37From śl. 71 onwards, the description only concerns the disciple who is led further on, and will undergo the total purification that we have called “big dīkṣā”, but whose technical name is nirvāṇadīksā – for this dīkṣā is indeed supposed to give the nirvāṇa, that is to say, to liberate the disciple from all his bonds, taking his soul to the state of identity with Śiva (śivatva).

38The Mṛgendra devotes the end of this 7th chapter to the vigil which precedes this ceremony. First of all comes the preparation of the disciple for this vigil. The guru hangs a cord from his lock of hair, which will serve as the visible target for the dīkṣā. He must then “load" this cord, with the help of mantras and of offerings into the Fire, with every reality, spiritual or not, that the next day’s rite will bring into play (72-90). He places first there the Suṣumnā and the ātman of the disciple, and considers the cord as the image of his body. Then he deposits upon it what the text calls “common bonds” (as opposed to the disciple’s own particular ones which are already in place), that is to say, a piling up of cosmic levels whose nature and number depend upon which Road the guru chooses to take the soon-to-be-initiated disciple along. In this case, it is the Road of the kalās (Nivṛtti, Pratiṣṭhā, Vidyā, Śānti, Śāntyatītā). The guru imagines now in each of these five sections the fruits of the disciple’s past actions which are waiting to be consumed; the Powers that govern the kalās and that will play a part in the dīkṣā; as well as the Śakti of Siva, “without whom the bonds would not bind”. These instructions from the Mṛgendra are too succinct to be understood alone without the help of more explicit parallel texts; but once we have decoded the language, it becomes apparent that the Āgama has not left out any essential detail. The passage finishes up by general instructions concerning the treatment that the bonds, thus placed upon the cord, must undergo the next day; and also concerning the form of the mantras to be recited in order to excite, tie, separate and cut off these bonds – these being four key-terms pertaining to the process called dīkṣā. The end of the chapter (92-103) centres on the disciple himself, who is to spend the night fasting in the sacrificial pavilion. This is the actual adhivāsa, in view of which all the previous preparations have been made. Three rites are compulsory at this stage: the swallowing of a mouthful of pañcagavya; the consumption of a morsel of sacrificial rice; and lastly a divinatory rite in which the central role is taken by the stick used by the disciple to brush his teeth before going to bed: the fall of this stick to the ground gives the first indication as to how Śiva is disposed towards him. The guru must now carefully settle his disciple onto a couch, the material of which depends upon the particular aim of the latter, and surround him with symbolic protective barriers. A special mantra is now recited to induce dreams.

39The 8th chapter, devoted to the actual dīkṣā, will tell us later what is to be done on the morning of the second day. Beforehand, it explains in a few ślokas (1-8) its classification of dīkṣā or to be precise of those dīkṣā intended for the inhabitants of the sub-mayic worlds (no allusion is made to those dīkṣā that Śiva directly grants to the most pure beings of higher worlds) and amongst these, of the sole ceremonial dīkṣā. The text as we read it (not as N. K. reads it) distinguishes: (1) a dīkṣā “giver of enjoyment” (bhaunkī), which can only be “conditional” or “with requirement” (sāpekṣā) and takes two forms.

  1. a dīkṣā “according to the law of the world” (lokadharmiṇī),
  2. a dīkṣā “according to the law of Śiva (śivadharmiṇī),

40(2) a dīkṣā called “giver of liberation” (naiṣṭhikī or nirvāṇadā), which can be “with requirement” (sāpekṣā) or “without requirement” (nirapekṣā), the second only dividing up into:

  1. a dīkṣā “giving not immediate liberation” (asadyonirvāṇadā),
  2. a dīkṣā “giving immediate liberation” (sadyonirvāṇadā).

41The dīkṣā which will be described is actually a dīkṣā naisthiki of the sāpekṣā kind, that is to say, a dīkṣā “giver of liberation” and “conditional”, which will only bear bruit if the disciple subjects himself, after the dīkṣā, to the strict discipline imposed upon him. Only a few hints will be given concerning the other kinds of initiations.

42The description of the ritual is resumed at śl. 9. It is now the early hours of the day of the dīkṣā, and the first task for the guru is to examine the disciple’s dreams as a way of divining the potential success of the rite. Ślokas 11-24a give a list of visions, some auspicious, some inauspicious; they indicate also how to judge the strength of a dream and how to amend the inauspicious ones by way of a prāyaścitta.

43Here (śl. 24b – 53), the text pauses to teach the method for tracing (or rather building), with powders of five different colours, the maṇḍala which is to be used as the divine image for the day’s worship. Although this maṇḍala may seem simple compared with the often highly complex structures described in other Āgamas, the instructions given in the text are not precise enough to lead to a drawing, even with the precious additions of the commentary. The only clear description is that of the central lotus (our Plate I); the rest admits of a plurality of possible solutions among which it is impossible to choose. Moreover, some of the technical terms used to describe parts of these elaborated constructions seem to have become totally alien to the contemporary experts, who now, for the greater part, do not any longer trace the maṇḍalas with the help of powders, but use instead ready-made drawings on cardboard or pieces of fabric. We have therefore been unable to translate those terms which N. K. does not explain and for which we failed to find elsewhere a clear definition.

44Śloka 57 takes us back to the disciple, who undergoes first of all a series of rites more or less identical to those of the samayadīkṣā. He then throws a flower onto the maṇḍala, the point at which it falls deciding of his new name as an initiated Śaiva. The guru now, linked to the disciple as we have already described, makes a homa similar to the one of the day before, but this time aimed at a different kind of purification. According to the text, it is done in order to eliminate from the disciple all the impurities due: to his father’s seed, to the food he has eaten, and to the mental dispositions accumulated in his subtle body — so as to make him obtain the status of “a part of Rudra”. The guru absorbs the disciple’s soul into himself, taking it up to the level of Śiva, then gives it back to him, considering he is now a twice-born, ready to undergo the drastic purification named nirvāṇadīkṣā. This prelude to the real dīkṣā is never mentioned in the doctrinal sections, even when they discuss the nature of the dīkṣā. It is difficult to justify on theoretical grounds and appears to be dictated by the desire to wipe out the familial and social conditioning of the person to be initiated, disregarding the fact that these blatant impurities (rather embarrassing for one who wishes to become a twice-born) are bound to be eliminated anyway during the great cleansing process which constitutes the dīkṣā. Another kind of explanation is therefore offered: only an ātman thus purified may enter, as demanded by the dīkṣā, into the matrix of the Goddess. This ritual will even be inflated by the later tradition into an independent initiation called “special initiation” (viśeṣadīkṣā).

45With the ślokas 70-81 we enter into the heart of the subject. We first see the guru once again attaching to the disciple’s lock of hair the cord that he had put aside for the night, and meditating about what it contains. He contemplates in particular the Road he has chosen for the dīkṣā; and, in this Road, all the elements of the others. The chosen Road being that of the kalās, it would be necessary to see within these kalās all the tattvas, all the bhuvanas, all the varṇas, all the words (padas) and all the mantras, in order to get the classic sixfold Road (or sixfold Way, ṣaḍadhvan). In fact, the text only speaks of the tattvas and of the bhuvanas; that is to say, it considers as being present on the cord only those Roads which are known as the “Roads of Space”. Once the guru has assured himself, by means of suitable oblations, of the actual presence on the sūtra of the divinities which govern the kalās, he invites the Goddess Vāgīśvarī, Mother of the world, to come and take her place on this same cord. The role of this Goddess will become clear later. He then mentally divides up between the five cosmic sections the five kinds of karman (the worldly, the vedic, the atimārga, the abhisandhi and the Śaivite), together with the instruments which will allow the disciple to consume them, and starts to recite the mantra which ripens at once all the fruits that are as yet still green. This specially marvellous act, accomplished by the Śakti activated by the mantra is of the utmost importance, since it allows the dīkṣā to take place by violating the normal law of the progressive ripening of karman.

46We may observe that the ślokas 78-79, which specify the distribution of the five kinds of karman between the kalās are amongst the most hermetic of the whole work.

47The following (82-104a) presents itself as a collection of general reflections on the nature and value of the act called dīkṣā and on the structure of the ritual which accomplishes it. We read that the dīkṣā is the remedy which can bring health back to an ailing soul and that, if the ritual is carried out perfectly, then the remedy is infallible. Warding off any criticism of the efficiency of this ritual, our text asserts that any defect in the carrying out of a dīkṣā can only be caused by a defect of the disciple himself. It is therefore up to the guru (as the text later says) to judge the disciple’s abilities. The following definition of the dīkṣā is then put forward: it is “the purification of the impure”, that is, the elimination of paras. Next, its main phases are distinguished: (1) the saṃyoga, or union of the subject to be initiated with his past karman; (2) the bhoga, or consumption of the fruits of this karman by the agency of multiple bodies to be simultaneously born from “all the matrixes” represented by the Goddess; (3) the viśleṣa or removal of the bonds which imprisoned the ātman; (4) the utkṣepa or uplifting of the soul to a higher level. These phases are repeated for each kalā, with each one of the Governors supervising the disciple’s crossing over his own domain, until the final “uplifting brings the disciple’s soul up to the union with Śiva. The text then takes on the task of giving the subdivisions of these four main phases, stressing the second in particular; but it becomes increasingly difficult to find one’s way back through these phases (due perhaps to the fact that some lines have been lost) and we have to abandon the idea of setting up the complete list of all stages recognized by our text. It is clear however that this series cannot be identified with any of the other, similar lists which the Śaiva masters from Aghoraśiva onwards use to draw. Certain phases are described in a particularly obscure manner (see śl. 92-93) and the abundance of readings bear witness to the hesitation of the ācāryas who have successively recopied the manuscript (a good example is to be found in 99b).

48What follows (104b-145) is a condensed description of the rite itself, in which can be found all the different moments pointed out in the preceding section, but this time as seen through the eyes of the expert. The process consists of a succession of offerings in the Fire. These are grouped into series, each of which accomplishes one particular act. For each level, the ritual ends with the offering into the Fire of the corresponding segment of the cord. Since the same process is carried out for all five sections, it is only described once. The text does however explain how the transition from one stage to the other should be done and also how to raise the disciple, at the end, from the cosmos, uniting him first with Śakti (represented by the lock of hair), then with Śiva. This is the ultimate “uplifting”, brought about through a full oblation (pūrṇāhuti) accompanied by the recitation of the appropriate mantra. The ātman of the disciple has acquired at this stage the nature of Śiva. It possesses all the Perfections of the God and will keep them even when it is taken back to the body whence it has been taken. However (a truth not actually stated in the text but which goes without saying) they will manifest themselves only at the disciple’s death.

49A special development (136b-144) concerns those disciples who fear they might be unable, after the dīkṣā, to keep up the discipline that guarantees the success of the rite. The guru offers to different divinities, on behalf of these people, the components (here reduced down to eight: five tanmātras and three internal organs) of the subtle body, sources of all the possible faults.

50In either case, the ātman of the disciple is brought back into the body. There it will stay until the end of the experiences for which this body was created. For this part of the past karman, the effects of which manifest themselves in this life (the prārabdha-karman) cannot be destroyed by any dīkṣā, apart from the one “giving immediate liberation”, which of course causes the death of the person, since it requires this particular karman to be burnt together with the other bonds.

51All that precedes is concerned with the dīkṣā “giver of liberation” (nairvānikī) by the Road of the kalās. Some twenty ślokas are devoted to the modifications which have to be introduced in the following cases: (1) when the aim of the disciple is different (146-152); (2) when the chosen Road is not that of the kalās (153-166a). The first of these cases refers to these dīkṣā we have called “givers of enjoyment” (bhautikī) as well as those where the disciple is aiming at the union with one of the purānic divinities other than Śiva. The most delicate problem is raised by the dīkṣās “according to the law of the world” (loka-dharmiṇī); for it is not quite clear whether these dīkṣās grant in the end liberation as do the more noble forms (śivadharmiṇī) of the bhautikī category. The second case refers to the dīkṣās which use the Roads of varṇas, padas, mantras, tattvas or bhuvanas, of which the last form only (the bhuvanadīkṣā) is developed. The corresponding passage is particularly corrupt and presents, especially at the beginning, numerous problems of reading and of interpretation. An original aspect of this dīkṣā is to wipe out the vedic saṃskāras that the disciple may have received — hence a list of forty-eight of these saṃskāras with certain interesting peculiarities.

52After the dīkṣā (and this applies in all cases except that of the dīkṣā “without requirements”), the disciple listens to the rules of the discipline he has to maintain, at the risk of losing the fruit of his initiation. The guru declares these rules solemnly to him (166b-175a) in the presence of the god Caṇḍa, who is considered as the potential punisher of all initiated disciples who swerve from the right path.

53A final bath (seemingly unknown from most of the texts apart from the Svacchanda) brings to a close the ritual of dīkṣā, the most important of the adept’s life. The name of this bath, avabhṛtha, evokes the vedic dīkṣā. Indeed it is quite probable that it was introduced in order to claim for the Śaiva dīkṣā an affiliation with the vedic dīkṣā which the objective study of the ritual hardly could suggest. The initiated disciple who has come thus far (the text forgets to specify that it considers here only those who have received a dīkṣā “giver of liberation”) is now a putraka, he has no special obligations and the ritual has ended (śl. 178) as far as he is concerned.

54Those who will go on to become ācāryas or sādhakas on the other hand and who therefore will have special tasks to carry out, either for the benefit of others (as in the case of the ācārya) or for their own benefit (as in the case of the sādhaka) have yet to undergo the special consecration called abhiṣeka. Our text will present these consecrations as the natural continuation of the dīkṣā, which may well have been the case, at least for the sādhaka.

55On the ācāryābhiṣeka (179b-219) that is, the solemn aspersion (we prefer to call it “consecration”) which transforms a putraka into a master, the Mṛgendra has nothing very original to say, but gives one or two useful details. To begin with, it lists those qualities that the grantee must possess. Then it instructs how to choose the right moment for the rite and how to make ready the nine or five Vases that are to be used, explaining what each one must contain and which mantra must be recited on which Vase. Then it goes on to meticulously describe the actual aspersion rite by which these waters, laden with Power, are poured over the head of the disciple; and what follows, to wit the offering to the new ācārya of objects which symbolize on the one hand, his specific activity and on the other hand, his royal status. An essential gesture occurs here, which must soon have been misinterpreted by the successive copists of the manuscripts, if we are to judge by the sheer number of scribes who turn it into the exact opposite (see śl. 207 and notes ad loc.): the former ācārya respectfully greets the new one, thus emphasizing the hierarchical superiority of he to whom he now hands over all his authority and privileges, using for that a formula given in the next verses. The new ācārya implores Śiva to come to his aid, whilst the former introduces him to the cosmic Provinces and their Regents, so that they will welcome him when he acts within their domains during the dīkṣā he will have to give. At the end, the former ācārya bums symbolically the fingers of his successor’s right hand, so that the mantras in them be “sharpened”, and therefore efficient during these dīkṣā. Finally, he tells him what his duties will be: commentating on the Scriptures; carrying out dīkṣā; and installing divine images (pratiṣṭhā). He reminds him also of his personal daily programme, which is not to be neglected. The caryāpāda will specify some of these points.

56The sādhakābhiṣeka (220-238a), which turns an initiated disciple into a sādhaka has a structure entirely parallel to that of the ācāryābhiṣeka, according to our text. These two rites do however have different aims, which put their marks on the rituals. The main thing to understand is that whereas the ācārya must have had, before his consecration, a giver of liberation” type dīkṣā, the sādhaka must have had a “giver of enjoyment type. Our text does not actually say this, but the instructions at the end of the chapter (śl. 243) make it clear, as does the portrait of the sādhaka which we can make out from the present passage and from the caryāpāda. Besides, N. K. did announce the fact when introducing line 6a. The second point to note is that the sàdhaka will be exclusively attached to a particular god, the Sādhyamantra or Sādhya, whom he will serve until he obtains his powers. The rite is designed so as to give him the centra! place. The text first expounds a few simple rules governing the choice of this divinity. It is a question of matching the physical and moral qualities of the disciple with those attributed to the gods of a particular family. No reference is made to the numerous selection methods proposed in other Tantras. The “families” here considered are five, each of them under the domination of a particular Vaktra and hence residing in one of the five cosmic provinces governed by the kalās. Nothing however is stated about the nature of the divinities of each branch, which the text is content to label simply “Mantras”, and it does not seem as if the instructions given in the 13th chapter of the vidyāpāda could make up for this omission.

57Once the Sādhya is chosen, the aspersion rite is carried out in the same way as the ācārya’s, except that the Sādhya now takes the place of Śiva and that the order in which the Vases are poured over the head of the disciple depends on the section this particular god belongs to. A crucial point, and one which has no correspondent in the other abhiṣeka, is the handing over of the mantra of this god – the sādhyamantra – to the disciple, by the guru. The newly consecrated sādhaka is now given all that the ācārya receives in the same circumstances, apart from the turban, one of the regalia. The officiating master does not greet him ritually, since the sādhaka has not been invested with any special prerogative which would give him authority over others. His activity is entirely centred upon a task which concerns him alone, as can be seen in the programme dictated to him as well as the instructions he receives in the caryāpāda. The ācārya on the other hand devotes all his time and energy to serving the community which acknowledges him as a guru. Here (238b-240a), the text specifies a point it had already touched on twice before (once in ch.4, and once in the present chapter in śl. 219), namely that an ācārya may also receive, if he desires so, a sādhakābhiṣeka in order to accomplish special rites (pacification, prosperity, etc.), which may be imperative under certain circumstances. He may not though spend more than a month practising in this way.

58The end (240b-244) brings us back to the putraka. After having specified what his normal attitude must be, it considers the case of a putraka who, instead of being entirely bent on liberation, suddenly feels the urge to enjoy the pleasures of a particular world. He has been taken for a mumukṣu, but turns out to be a bubhukṣu... This poses an interesting problem, because if we consider that the dīkṣā operation is real and final, how then could the putraka in question recover the minimum of impurity which is necessary for the practice of a sādhaka? There is not much discussion about this, we are simply told that there is nothing Śiva cannot achieve and that, on the request of the guru, he will cancel the part of the purificatory process which would not have been carried out, had one known the final outcome (i.e. had one known that a dīkṣā bhautikī had to be carried out and not a dīkṣā nairvāṇikī). As for the guru, who failed in his judgment, he must of course pay for his fault. The text therefore ends with a piece of advice for ācāryas: give your dīkṣā wisely!

59There finishes the kriyāpāda.

60We should at this point insert the yogapāda, whose teachings are principally aimed at the sādhaka and to a lesser extent at other disciples.

61The caryāpāda then was the last section, and it is possible that having this back position in a pile of leaves has been detrimental to its conservation. Whatever the case, it is truncated in every manuscript we have, and always at the same verse, which testifies to the fact that they are all dependent on the same model. This is a most regrettable loss. The few verses that N. R. Bhatt found in one of his manuscripts (see his App. I, of which our App. III is the translation) bear witness to the existence of a chapter on pratiṣṭhā which began in an original manner. Besides, some ślokas that various sources attribute to the Mṛgendra and that the same scholar has collected in his App.II, show that the caryāpāda dealt with at least two more subjects: the last rites (antyeṣṭi) and the śrāddha.

62As incomplete as it may be, the chapter which has come down to us is one of the most interesting and original of the whole work. It is also however the chapter for which the lack of an adequate commentary is felt as the most frustrating.

63Almost the entire work that we have (śl. 1-105) is devoted to just one subject: the correct behaviour of the different groups of adepts. It sets out firstly to identify these groups, this is the object of śl. 1-11. A fundamental division is established between those who are engaged in an observance (vrata), as opposed to those who are not (that is, vratins versus avratins). The first ones alone wear distinguishing marks, of which the most visible is a coil of hair, the arrangement of which is carefully described. This group of vratins is further subdivided into two groups; life vratins and temporary vratins. In the form in which we have it, the description is rather confused and it is not clear how the present subdivisions interconnect with the classification of initiated Śaivas into four groups: samayins, putrakas, sādhakas and ācāryas. If we read the text and accept N. K.’s commentary, we are led to believe for example, in line 9a that gurus (i.e. ācāryas) and putrakas are life vratins, and in verse 11 that the putrakas can never be vratins. This contradiction can only be solved by distinguishing two categories of putrakas, a possibility that N. K. does not seem to admit and which the description of the nirvāṇadīkṣā in fact never suggests.

64Ślokas 12-17 give instructions which apply in general to all initiated Śaivas, whether vratins or not: the correct way to eat, the list of the dates which carry certain restrictions, the necessity of helping one another, and so on. Ślokas 18-22 on the other hand are specially aimed at vratins, who are subject to more prohibitions and to more injunctions than the others. The Āgama then goes on to consider in turn the different types of initiated Śaivas, which it does in the following order: ācārya; putraka and samayin, sādhaka.

65The most extensive but possibly also the most trite treatment is devoted to the ācārya (23-65). Only the two essential activities of the master are considered: the dīkṣā and the teaching. The first is dealt with rapidly (23-28). The text merely reiterates its advice to the guru to be careful in conferring initiations. It then goes on to consider two exceptional cases, one in which an unwittingly conferred dīkṣā has to be completely demolished; and another, where the dīkṣā is given to a convert from another sect and must therefore be preceded by a special purification ceremony which cleanses away every trace of past initiations.

66Teaching consists of commenting on the Scriptures. The master must take on this work in a state of perfect purity, in a clean place, having paid homage to Śiva, Gaṇeśa and his Guru as well as to all his material instruments. Since the commentary of a text has to start with a precise statement of the origin of this text, the Mṛgendra gives here the great divisions of the Scriptures by distinguishing within the Śaiva tradition five major currents (srotas) and eight secondary “currents” (anusrotas). The five major currents come from the five Faces of Śiva, each one of which is supposed to have proffered (initially for divine listeners) the texts out of which the corresponding current is constituted. According to our Āgama, the 28 treatises beginning with the Kāmika come from the superior Face. From the four remaining Faces stem corpuses (the text, unfortunately, only names the first of their treatises) attached to schools which have ceased to exist. We do not clearly see how the eight secondary currents are linked to the main ones, even though N. K. assures us that each srotas possesses eight anusrotas. One thing is sure, namely that these anusrotas are issued from divine or semi-divine personages, apparently arranged in an order of decreasing dignity, from Śiva, whose teaching is spontaneous and immaculate, down to the Siddhas. N. K.’s commentary is most unsatisfying here. Now follows the list of the 28 treatises of the superior current, i.e. those that we call the Śaivāgamas (here the word “Āgama” is not used). As is the case with most parallel texts, they are presented in two groups, ten treatises said to be “of Śiva” and eighteen said to be “of Rudra”.

67After this digression, the texts proceeds to return to the concrete aspects of teaching: the way to begin, by going very slowly and by insisting on those verses known as “root-sūtras” as they contain the seed of the entire treatise; the fruit that the teaching will bear; the occasions (either regular or accidental) on which the teaching has to be interrupted; and finally – a rather strange thing to our eyes – the way a guru must behave when presented with a new piece of knowledge (it is not clear what kind) by one of his disciples or by another ācārya. He is given very precise instructions, apparently through fear of his losing his preeminence and authority. Along the same line, he is taught (63-65) how to behave in everyday-life: the way how to walk, to talk, etc. His entire comportment must constantly match the dignity of his role.

68Only a few verses (66b-74) are dedicated to the putrakas and the samayins, who live in the shadow of their guru and must show him respect and obedience at all times. The Laws of Manu shine through all this passage.

69The question of the sādhaka deserves a longer development. The Āgama devotes 31 ślokas to it (75-105), and we should add to them the instructions for the rites of reparation (prāyaścitta), since they are also given primarily for the use of the sādhaka. Two kinds of sādhakas are distinguished from the outset: those who are itinerant, travelling from one “place of success” (siddhikṣetra) to another “place of success”, and those who stay in the same place for the whole of their sādhana. Having made this distinction and given those rules which apply to both types, the Mṛgendra goes on to take each one in turn. The text however is not very clear and it is probably incomplete. We cannot be sure at which point it stops discussing sādhakas in general and starts discussing the itinerant ones. If we follow N. K.’s commentary, we have: (1) instructions for both kinds of sādhakas, concerning their general behaviour and how to organize their day (with begging, eating and worshipping at definite times), the japa of the sādhyamantra being their main activity all this structured around the three sandhyās; (2) a single verse to describe the specific activity of the itinerant sādhaka; (3) a more detailed account of what the non-itinerant sādhaka has to do as soon as he settles: choose (or build) the liṅga which will receive his mantra and his cults, organize and protect the space around it, install the other divinities which he will adore daily, etc. It seems throughout this passage that the liṅga in question is a fixed one and that an at least rudimentary shelter must be built for it, different from the cell the sādhaka builds for himself and in which he will live for years together – until he succeeds.

70Immediately after this account, and sticking with the subject of sādhaka’s behaviour, the Āgama introduces the section on prāyaścitta (106-127). The faults envisaged, we note, are always faults which affect the private cult: interruption of worship, defiling or breakage of the liṅga, pollution of the expert, etc. These faults, which would be disastrous for any devotee, are especially so for the sādhaka, whom they could deprive of the fruit accumulated through an already long practice. Consequently, if he has been guilty of committing any of them, he must make a prāyaścitta without delay. The end of the passage gives the rules which enable the other initiated Śaivas to calculate their prāyaścitta from the one given for the sādhaka. The putrakas and samayins are taxed less heavily than the sādhaka (and yet the putraka has his liberation at stake); the ācārya is taxed more heavily, probably because of his position as master at the summit of the hierarchy, which demands exemplary behaviour from him at all times. It is noticeable that the Āgama pays no attention to those faults which are peculiar to the ācārya, as they would occur in the course of the activities (dīkṣā, vyākhyāna, etc.) that only he can fulfil. This shows that even when the text deals with the ācārya, it remains focused upon the sādhaka. The text adds here a few words on the fasting techniques most commonly used as prāyaścittas, their actual description being given by the commentator. Then in the same chapter, at śl. 128, it enters upon an account of the pavitrārohaṇa, which is broken off in the second śloka in all our manuscripts. This annual rite by which one can wipe out at once all the faults that one has unknowingly committed throughout the past year is akin to the prāyaścittas. We cannot know how the Āgama viewed it, as the two or three supplementary ślokas that may be taken from Bhatt’s App.II are not representative.

71The chapter on pratiṣṭhā, of which one of the manuscripts has a few verses is more promising. Let it suffice to refer here to our App.III, which is a translation of Bhatt’s App.I. All we need say is that the person to whom the text refers when discussing the installation of a liṅga is again a sādhaka.

72A few reflections are imperative after this analysis.

73Let us firstly reiterate the remark that we have just made, and have been making already several times before: the text turns out to have a particularly lively interest in this devotee technically called sādhaka or mantrin. True, the work was primarily written for the ācāryas, who alone are concerned by, for example, the long chapters on dīkṣā (kp, ch.7 and 8). The part of chapter one of caryāpāda concerned with their behaviour is longer than the one devoted to all the other categories of Śaivas – even though one could right y object that the lists of “currents” and “secondary currents” which are found in this part without truly belonging here, make it deceptively long and alter the perspective. In short, the text is aimed first and foremost at the ācārya. Having said that, we should note that the sādhaka is omnipresent throughout the Āgama. Not only do all the general teachings concern him (often more than the other disciples), but many of the instructions concern him alone. The main ones are (in addition to chapter 4) the passages in chapters 3 and 6 devoted to the kāmya rites, which are his lot, and that part of the caryāpāda which describes the behaviour particular to him. In this last section above all, the sādhaka appears as the main character and the one who causes the most concern, since the rules which govern his behaviour are amongst the strictest and most compelling. But this person is not left out of the rest of the text. We have seen that the special kind of initiation he receives, the dīkṣā “giver of enjoyment”, is analysed rather than simply mentioned as in many other works. We have also seen that his abhiṣeka is the object of a careful description. We could therefore go so far as to claim that, whilst overtly making the ācārya its main listerner, as tradition dictates, our Āgama gives a choice place to the sādhaka – that, in a sense, it was written for him. This is a testimony to the importance, both qualitative and quantitative, that this seeker of enjoyment (or rather of power) must have had in the Śaivite circle wherefrom our text originated.

74The prominent position given to the sādhaka in the Mṛgendra should of course be weighed against the fact that this text is only about private ritual. Even if this ritual is carried out by every initiated Śaiva, including the ācārya, it is incumbent upon the sādhaka however to show at this task the greater care and the strongest ardour, if he is not willing to lose its benefits. It is therefore quite to be expected that the texts dealing with private ritual would have primarily him in mind. On the other hand, the Āgamas like the Kāmika which deal with temple life, that is public ritual, neglect as a result the sādhaka, whose activity is of a personal nature. In these works, he is considered only, if at all, in the capacity of someone who could, under the direction of the ācārya, take part in the big ceremonies which require a number of experts.

75It would be tempting to pursue the preceding reflections by bringing in the related (though much vaster) question of the chronological relationship between public ritual and private ritual. However this is a question to which we can offer no firm answer in the present state of knowledge, and we fare better by circumventing it for the time being.

76A more modest task awaits us instead – and which will retain us within the spell of the Mṛgendra – namely the one of evaluating the coherence of the text when taken in its entirety. Or, to be more precise, it is the task of trying to find out in how far the doctrinal section agrees with the section on ritual. At first sight, one can say that they agree with one another, since no passage in the kriyāpāda overtly contradicts any passage in the vidyāpāda and vice versa. It would though be naive of us to imagine that the two chapters are in complete accordance, with every theoretical teaching being illustrated by a rite and every rite being justified by a certain doctrinal vision. Such a coherence, to our knowledge, does not exist in any Āgama, which proves, if need there be, that the ritual construction presented in a text was not built artificially around a set of theoretical concepts. One of the most obvious examples of a rite overlapping a doctrine is provided here by the description of the dīkṣā. This ritual makes a systematical use of the five kalās, which it views as cosmic provinces crossed one by one by the disciple’s soul. Each one is reigned over by a particular god (or a particular Śakti as we are told in kp, 8, 83) and between them they cover the entire world. The teaching concerning the five kalās is accepted, at least from a certain time onwards, by both the Northern and the Sourthern schools, which in fact simply offer two different interpretations of it. Both define the kalās as “parts” of a reality called Bindu; but, whereas the monist, i.e. the Northern school sees Bindu as a spiritual Power derived from Śiva, the dualist, i.e. Southern school mostly tends to see it as a very subtle matter, as a supreme māyā (they call it also Mahāmāyā), belonging to the world of the inert (acit) and only taking on the appearance of a Power because the Lord takes possession of it. It is then a Power “borrowed” or “espoused” by Siva (Parigrahaśakti). The use that the dīkṣā makes of the kalās (see in particular kp, 7, 81b-83 and 8, 91b) implies the second conception. Now, the vidyāpāda seems to ignore both this theory of the kalās and that of an all-encompassing Bindu. It speaks though of the tattva of the name (vp, 13, 161b-162a) and of its four kalās (166b-171a), but there is no mention of these kalās being apt to extend over the whole world, encompassing all the other realities, and becoming therefore a Road to Śiva for the disciple who is being initiated. Moreover, the fifth kalā is not mentioned at all, whereas lines 7, 82b or 8, 121b of the kriyāpāda show clearly that Śāntyatītā is seen there as a kalā (the fifth) along with the others and is not merely something vague to be found “beyond Śānti”. It can thus be seen that the description of the dīkṣā is based on a model (perhaps the Svacchanda?) which is partly alien to the teachings of the vidyāpāda. More generally, everything connected with the doctrine of the sixfold Road (ṣaḍadhvan), of which the five kalās are a part, is alien to the vidyāpāda, whereas the kriyāpāda takes it for granted, without however stressing it (see the discrete but certain reference in 8, 153-154a).

77Is it the case that the kriyāpāda was written a long time after the vidyāpāda? Or has it been modified to comply with a praised or with a merely fashionable model? Or has it been written by a different hand? Whatever the answer, it cannot be denied that there is a gap between these two sections; and the reader will find in our notes several remarks pointing to this same conclusion, even if they are not handling issues as important as the problem of the kalās. No doubt that these remarks need to be complemented by a systematic comparison of the technical vocabulary of the two sections, but this would only be possible if an index of the terms used in the vidyāpāda (and in the yogapāda as well) was published. We are convinced however that such a close comparison would not bring to light serious discrepancies between the doctrinal and the ritual teachings. The work, as a whole, seems to have been composed in a fairly consistent way.

Notes de fin

* This Summary is the translation of the best part of the French Introduction. A few passages only have been omitted or abridged, while the footnotes have been either integrated into the texte or left out. It has not been felt necessary to reproduce the technical informations concerning the manuscripts used for the translation in addition to Bhatt’s critical edition.

© Institut Français de Pondichéry, 1985

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