Wednesday, 17 August 2022

The Science of Purification of Atma ( Atma Shuddhi ) As Per Shaiva Agama Tantra

  In Shaiva rituals, immense emphasis is given to self-purification prior to the commencement of any puja or homa. As dictated by the Vedas and Upanishads, you are absolute consciousness, which is Shiva in Shaivism. You are Shiva. The utmost important criterion in Shaiva tantra is to perform procedures to transform your being into Shiva.

 This is done by purificatory steps which disidentify our being from all false cognitions and bring ourselves beyond the identification of body, mind and the tattvas into the state of Shivam.

 One component to this is Atma shuddhi ( purification of Atma ). This may be a misnomer because the Atma needs no purification. It is rather us who elevate and energise our being in a way where we function from the pure Atmic consciousness which is Shiva.

 It is like removing mud from water so that we can perceive the sight of the moon as a reflection clearer. The moon, equated to Atma here, is ever pure, undisturbed.

Absolute Purity Is Verily Shivam 

Shivam is that which is beyond purity and impurity. The paramount of absolute purity is the state of Shiva, as evidenced by the shloka 'शुद्धत्वात् शिवम् इत्युक्तम् ( śuddhatvāt śivam ityuktam )'.

Atma Shuddhi

 Atma Shuddhi is classified into two

(1) Jiva ( individualized soul )Shuddhi

(2) Deha ( body ) Shuddhi

 Deha Shuddhi is further classified into two: the sthoola ( physical ) body and the sukshma ( subtle ) body.

The Process in Brief

As per Somashambhu Paddhati which quotes the shloka:

तत्र पूर्वम् करन्यासम् विधाय

tatra pūrvam karanyāsam vidhāya

We first perform the kara nyasam ( energising the hands to embody Paramashiva ). We do not perform anga nyasam here ( energizing the body into that of Paramashiva ). Nyasam as per Shaivism is done by energizing our hands or body with the vibrations ( mantras ) that make Shiva's body - the Panchabramha mantras.


प्राणायानत् त्रयम् कृत्व 

prāṇāyānat trayam kṛtva 

सम्हितयाम् प्राणायामत् त्रयम् कृत्व

samhitayām prāṇāyāmat trayam kṛtva

We perform pranayama as per Shaiva tantra thrice, using the samhita mantras.

Jiva Shuddhi

पादाङ्गुष्ठ द्वयादारभ्य यावद्वस्ति तावद्विरुपां ऊर्ध्वं ब्रह्मबिलान्तं एकरुपाम् ह्रित्कण्ठादिषु इडापिङ्गलाभ्याम् सम्युक्ताम् अधोमुख पद्ममुकुलरुपाम् सुषुम्नाम् सन्चित्य

pādāṅguṣṭha dvayādārabhya yāvadvasti tāvadvirupāṃ ūrdhvaṃ brahmabilāntaṃ ekarupām hritkaṇṭhādiṣu iḍāpiṅgalābhyām samyuktām adhomukha padmamukularupām suṣumnām sancitya

 We purify the Jiva ( individualized Atma ) by the means of Pranayama ( breath-control ) involving the nadis.

 During the Puraka ( inhalation ) of Pranayama, we cognize the individualized Atma in the form of the bija mantra ' ham', covered by the hridaya bija mantra 'haam', further covered by the shikha bija mantra 'hoom'. We then use the samhara mudra and place the individualized Atma in unison with Shiva who resides in the Dvadashanta ( the void of pure consciousness, located 2 inches above the crown centre ). As per Yajur Veda, the Atma is by default localised to the heart centre in our body. When we use specific mantras, visualizations, mudras and Pranayama method involving Nadis as per Agamas, we place ( temporarily ) the Atma at the Dvadashanta and it is purified under complete oneness with Shiva.

Sukshma Deha Shuddhi

 The body comprises 36 tattvas ( principles ). The definition for 'tattva' is given in the shloka ' तस्य भावः तत्त्वम् ( tasya bhāvaḥ tattvam )'

Image: 36 Tattvas in a diagram as per Kashmir Shaivism.

 A tattva is something which holds a particular aspect/state of an entity. For example, something which has the nature of Shiva is said to possess 'shiva tattva'.

 The Sukshma ( subtle ) body is closely linked with the 8 tattvas. The Sukshma Deha comprises the tanmatras ( 5 tattvas ) + manas, buddhi and ahankara tattvas.

 The purification of Sukshma deha is done by merging the tattvas, one into another.
 We do the dissolution of the tattvas. In the Vedas, the origin of the tattvas has been explained in detail. I have articled it here.

 In short, during creation, Atma ( Consciousness ) condensed and formed akasha ( ether ). Akasha later condensed to wind. Wind condensed to fire, fire to water and finally, water to earth. If we notice, this is a coalescence from the subtle to gross.

 In Sukshma deha Shuddhi, we perform dissolution by reverting the gross tattvas to the subtle form. We merge earth tattva into water, which is merged into fire, which is merged into wind which then goes back to akasha and finally to pure Shiva tattva.

 Sthoola Deha Shuddhi

 The sthoola ( gross ) body comprises the 5 elements ( panchabhutas ).

 Purification of the gross body which is linked to the 5 elements ( bhutas ) is what we refer to as 'bhoota shuddhi'

 The Sthoola Deha is actually very closely linked with the Sukshma Deha. For example, the tanmatras ( smell, taste, form, touch and sound ) are linked to the 5 elements which make the body.

 Ether ( akasha ) is perceived with sound ( this is why the Vedas which was downloaded from the akashic records are in the form of sounds - mantras ). Air can be perceived with sound and touch. Fire can be perceived with sound, touch and form. Water can be perceived with sound, touch, form and taste. Finally, Earth can be perceived with sound, touch, form, taste and smell.

 Here, we see the elements in the form of Mandalas which have specific shapes, marks, beeja mantras, colour, presiding deity, Mantreshwara and Kala.

 For instance, the Agni ( Fire ) Mandala's characteristics are as such:

Beeja- Hrum/ह्रूं

Distinctive mark:- swastika



Presiding deity- Rudra

Mantreshwara- Aghora

Associated with - Shikha mantra

Kalaa: Vidya Kala

Area: Pervasive from feet to head

 We meditate on the Mandala as such, and recite:

ओम् ह्रूं ह्रूं ह्रूं विद्याकलायै हः हुं फट्

om hrūṃ hrūṃ hrūṃ vidyākalāyai haḥ huṃ phaṭ

while picking a flower using samhara mudra, moving it gradually from the feet to the Dvadashanta and throwing it behind.

And then, the paddhati instructs:

इति पुरक पुर्वं सुषुम्नायां यावद् द्वादशान्तं प्राणवायुं प्रेरयित्वा प्रतिनिवृत्य दक्षिणनाड्या विरेचयेत् 
इति उद्घात त्रयेन रुप स्पर्श शब्द गुणानुत्सार्य वह्निं स्वविरुद्ध जलेनाभिभुतं तदाकारं भावयेत्

iti puraka purvaṃ suṣumnāyāṃ yāvad dvādaśāntaṃ prāṇavāyuṃ prerayitvā pratinivṛtya dakṣiṇanāḍyā virecayet 
iti udghāta trayena rupa sparśa śabda guṇānutsārya vahniṃ svaviruddha jalenābhibhutaṃ tadākāraṃ bhāvayet

Meaning, we perform puraka ( inhalation ) of Pranayama. With the retention of inhaled air, we visualise moving the air upwards, carrying the Agni Mandala from the body up to the Dvadashanta. We then visualise the 3 gunas of Agni ( sound, touch and form ) being removed from the Mandala. Next, we visualise and cognise the Agni Mandala becoming one with the Aapya ( Water ) Mandala.

 The illustrated example is a simplified, brief method for the Fire element alone. Like this, we perform the tantra for every element which is a tedious process.

After Atma Shuddhi

 Having completed the three components of Atma Shuddhi, one performs the Anga Nyasam ( remember that we only did the Kara Nyasam before Atma Shuddhi ). With completion of Anga Nyasa, one attains the complete state of Shiva. As Shiva, He sits and performs a puja or homa which works miraculously.


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