[Advaita-l] dakSiNAmUrti stOtra from sUta saMhita

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Tue Jun 26 14:49:32 CDT 2012

On Sat, 16 Jun 2012, Shrisha Rao wrote:

> The word tantra is used in multiple settings other than black magic,
> e.g., also with the Pancharatra and Vaikhanasa canon which is concerned 
> with Vaishnava theology and worship rituals;

Definitely.  However in the popular imagination, if you ask the man in the 
street anywhere in India, tantra means spells for making money, seduction 
or harming an enemy.  As we have seen even Shankaracharya who was 
certainly well acquainted with higher tantric philosophy assigns some 
sorts to the tamasika worship of bhutas and pretas.

> in my personal opinion, 
> equating tantra with black magic is unfortunate, sort of the way the 
> swastika has come to be associated with the Nazi hakenkreuz ("hooked 
> cross").

I agree.  It must be acknowledged though that for many tantrics the 
acquistion of power--spiritual yes, but also material--is an explicit 
goal.  The reputation though sensationalized is not entirely without 

>  However, I am not aware that there is any connection between 
> the AV and tantra (in any manifestation), and it is questionable how the 
> AV can be reasonably associated with black arts.  Certainly such a view 
> would not be "widely spread" and would be strenuously objected to by 
> Vaidikas and Vedantins.

Most of the contents of the Atharvaveda are the same rks found in other 
shakhas but there is also a lot of material concerned with "magic."  that 
is quite different from the grhya/shrauta vidhis.  So it has developed a 
reputation in some corners as being the origin of the tantras particularly 
by those eager to show their harmony with the Vedas.

It is not just there though.  We recently discussed how in the concluding 
parts of brhadaranyakopanishad khilakhanda there are procedures for 
compelling a women to have intercourse and to ensure the birth of a son or 
a daughter.  There is a whole class of Vedangas called vidhanas which have 
vidhis for "magic" using the mantras of their respective shakhas.  This is 
probably one branch of ancestry of the tantras.  In fact when M.S, Bhat 
wrote his edition with translation of rgvidhana he called it "Vedic 

>> If you remember over a decade ago there were a number of ritual child 
>> murders in UP which led to widespread panic about "tantrikas"  If I 
>> recall correctly the chief culprit arrested was a Muslim.
> Let us refrain from Muslim-bashing or associating their entire community 
> with the despicable, ghoulish acts of a few.  This has no scholarly 
> relationship with the claim "Mahomedans are skilled in the Atharvaveda." 
> The AV is not about child murders!

I did not mean to bash Muslims but what struck me about that story was 
there should be such a thing as a Muslim tantrik at all.  It seems rather 
infertile ground don't you think.  But this shows how Tantra is not more 
of a conceptual framework that expresses itself in different religions 
rather than being a particular religion itself.  So there are "Hindu" 
tantras both Vedic and non-Vedic, Jain tantras, Buddhist tantras, and 
apparently Islamic tantras.  And sometimes the votaries of these different 
traditions recognized the kinship but other times they were just as 
inclined to sectarian squabbling as non-tantrik traditions.  But to get 
back to the main point, if one can make the equation Muslim = tantrik and 
Atharvavedi = tantrik than the conclusion Muslim = Atharvavedi is simple 
(though wrong) to make.

>>> It is quite a ridiculous theory for various obvious reasons, and is 
>>> not supported by any evidence save this very assertion of Schrader.

This is why I think it is just based on gossip from his informants rather 
than any solid research.  If he actually was in India its even more 

>>> The other footnoted claim that the Atharvaveda is "nearly unknown in 
>>> Southern India" is perhaps more true though gratuitous and unnecessary 
>>> to state as a cause of the lack of acceptance of the अल्लोपनिषद् in the 
>>> South -- why not grant that people there (like the unnamed former 
>>> librarian of the Adyar Library) do not accept the text because they 
>>> consider it spurious, a view held by Schrader himself?
>> Having "established" that it was accepted in North India there had to 
>> be some explanation right?
> Not sure.  Perhaps some of the reform movements like the Arya Samaj may 
> have recited this text?  It is difficult for me to understand how a 
> classical traditionalist in Kashi, Prayag, or wherever, would include 
> it.

The Arya Samajists no but the Theosophists maybe.

On Thu, 21 Jun 2012, Satish Arigela wrote:

> Going by your words above, the generic statement
> in the sUta saMhita, about tAntrika-s must be inaccurate. Is it not?  

No because you can have a general rule with particular exceptions.

> Anyway, the objection was not to the statement about smArta-s
> accepting only those tantra-s which are in harmony with shruti. It is
> about the later statement, which is loose and says generalizes about
> tAntrika-s. The part which says this is why tAntrika-s do not get moxa
> etc etc..  

Tantrikas (or bhaktas or yogis) get moksha if and only if they happen to 
be Advaita Vedantins.  This is what it means as far as we are concerned to 
be in harmony with Shruti.

> That aside, historically, smArta-s did adopt tantra-s which
> are not in harmony with shruti/smriti but making some changes to
> rituals.

Right.  Not as is.

> And these are copied wholesale into the purANa-s, many times
> without even changing the basic text from the root tantra-s.

Could be.  And in other cases the flow was the other way around.  The same 
with the Buddhist tantras and non-tantric Buddhism etc.

> I am not
> implying such copying is bad... or that it should not be done. I was
> only saying, copying from tantra-s wholesale like this and then making
> statements against them is not a honest thing to do. This is the reason
> for using the words intellectual dishonesty.  

Not at all.  This is simply the editorial process.  As I mentioned before 
the dividing line between "inside" and "outside" is not always sharply 
defined but it does exist.  This is what the shloka in question says.

>> The shloka in question comes from the puranas which are expressly said
>> to be for bringing the vaidika marga to all people. 

>   The shaiva-s, vaiShNava-s and other Agamic/tAntrika groups have
> similar material meant for the laity.

Maybe so but you cannot deny that historically they have been more 
secretive and exclusive.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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