Dr. Sunanda Y. Shastri is Associate Professor in the Department of Sanskrit, Gujarat University, Ahmedabad, India. She holds Master's degrees in Sanskrit Grammar and Vedanta both. She has Doctorate in Dharmashastra (Ancient Indian Law) from Gujarat University. She is first class first with distinction in M.A. (Vyakarana) and recipient of three gold medals. She has more than nine books to her credit such as 'Sanskrit for Beginners', Naradasmriti- Historical, Sociological, Political and Legal Study', 'Teachings of Upanishads', 'kalividambanam', 'Mahatripurasundaristotrani' etc. She is Co-Editor of critical Edition of Ishavasyopanishad with 51 Sanskrit commentaries. She has translated entire Shankarabhashya on Lalitatrishati. She is also Co-Editor of critical Edition of Lalitatrishati Shankarabhashya. She has more than forty research articles published in national and international journals and periodicals. She has presented more than 86 research papers in different seminars and conferences. She has chaired several National Conferences and Seminars.
Dr. Sunanda Y. Shastri has been invited as Visiting Professor by Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, USA to teach Sanskrit and Upanishads for four times.
Acharya Prof. Dr. Yajneshwar Sadashiv Shastri is internationally known scholar of Indian Philosophy, Religion and Sanskrit. Dr. Shastri is former Director, University School of Psychology, Education and Philosophy, Gujarat University, Ahmedabad, India. He is nominated member as one of the eminent Philosophers of India to Indian Council of Philosophical Research (MHRD, Govt. of India). He is also Hon. Director of Som-Lalit International Centre of Thought & Nalanda International, India.
He is honoured with "Darshana Visharada" by Shankaracharya of Svamavalli Mahasamsthanam, Karnataka. He is also honoured with "Shrimant Nanasaheb Peshwa Puraskar" Pune. Felicitation volume viz. 'World of Philosophy- A harmony' has been brought in his honour in 2011. In addition to these, he is honoured with 'Eminent Citizen ofIndia', 'Ambassador of Peace' etc.
He has more than 14 books to his credit. He is visiting Professor to several foreign universities since 1993. He has guided 17 Ph.D. students and more than 85 M.Phil. , Students successfully.
Our ancient seers and sages have shown the path of four Purusarthas, i.e. pursuits of human life to lead a life with foresight, farsight and insight. Moksa or liberation or self realization is the highest goal of life. This view is accepted by almost all systems of Indian thought, barring the Materialist (Carvaka). Different systems in the field of philosophical heritage have prescribed various paths to achieve the same goal in accordance with difference in temperament, idiosyncrasy, as well as intellectual and spiritual advancement of the people. Tantra-Sastra is one of the important branches of Indian thought which truly represents quintessence of Upanisadic Philosophy. It is mainly a practical Scripture of Vedanta. It prescribes the means by which the highest aim of life is fulfilled in an easy way by all, without any discrimination of caste, creed and gender.
(Matrkabhedatantra-Introduction, ed. Bhattacharya Chintamani, Metropolitan Printing and Publishing House, Calcutta, 1933, pp-4-S.) More than twenty-five meanings have been ascribed to the word Tantra (Ibid, Introduction. p.1). This word is originally de- rived from the root 'tan' - to extend or spread out and usually ap- plied to Tantra systems which pertain to the development of human power, both material and spiritual.
This Tantrasastra is also known as 'Agama' and 'Nigama'. It is said that an Agama is so called because it proceeds from the mouth of Siva and goes to Girija (Parvati), being approved by Vasudeva. And it is called Nigama because it emanates from the mouth of Girija to enter the ears of Siva, being approved by Vasudeva (Agatam Sambhuvaktrebhyo gatam ca Girijamukham. Matam ca Vasudevena tasmad Agama ucyate. Nirgato Girijavaktrat gatasca Girisahsrutam. Matasca Vasudevasya Nigamah parikathyate. -Agamadvaitanimaya- quoted in Matrkabhedatantra, p.2-3.].
The word Agama, which stands for bothe the Veda and Tantra, shows its authoritative tradition. Tantrasastra is considered the fifth Veda and is called Sruti. Bhaskararaya, the authority on Saktatantra, clearly says in his Setubandha that 'even Bhagavan Parasurama considered Tantrasastra the Fifth Veda' (Bhagavan Parasuramopyaha, pancamnayan paramarthasarabhutan praninaya iti.- Setubandha, ed: Agashe, Kasinath Shastri, pub: Anandashrama Printing Press, Pune, 1908. p24.). Kulukabhatta clearly states in his commentary on Manusmrti that Sruti is of two kinds - Vaidiki and Tantriki (Srutisca dvividha vaidiki tantriki ca (Manusmrti. 11.1.).
There are mainly three kinds of Agamas namely, Vaisnava, Saiva and Sakta, Visnu and his consort Laksmi are the main deities of Vaisnava Agamas. The Vaisnava Agamas deal with image worship, rules of temple architecture, method of worship, worship of Visnu and Tulasi (sacred basil). They lay emphasis on devotion, and are suited even to the lowest intellectual capacity. More than 108 works with various commentaries belong to this Agamic tradition and show its popularity in olden days. There are 28 Saiva Agamas with various commentaries. These Saiva Agamas prescribe image worship, rituals and also deal with temple architecture. Philosophically, they preach the unity of individual soul (jiva) and Siva, i.e. the Supreme Soul (Paramatman). They also deal with the process of Yoga and the development of Kundalini power (Sakti). Devotion towards Siva is emphasized.
The Sakta- Tantra:
There are three sub-schools within the Sakta Tantra:. Kaula, Misra and Samaya. They have their own independent treatises. The Kaula group has 64 treatises with various commentaries and the Misra group has eight treatises (Agamas). These two schools mostly emphasize external worship. Some of the followers of Kaula path (marga) have brought bad name to Saktatantra due to their extreme practices.
These two groups Kaula and Misra, are considered non-Vaidika by followers of Samaya tradition, such as Sankaracarya, Laksmidhara and others. Srividya worshippers are warned not to follow these paths (Misrakam kaularnargam ca parityajyam hi sankari. Saundaryalahari, verse 31, Laksmidhara, p.141).The Samaya group is the most important among the Saktatantras on account of its exalted philosophy and purified method of worship. This group of lit- erature points the way to liberation along with material prosperity. This Samaya method of Sakti worship is accepted as the supreme path of realization of Advaita by Adi Sankara. Its path is purely internal, though, as a first step in the spiritual advancement, it prescribes the external worship of image and diagram (yantra). The main source of this Samaya method is five treatises known as Subhagamapancaka, whose authors are the great sages, Vasistha, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatkumara and Suka. In addition to these five treatises, there are innumerable texts, such as Vamakesvara Tantra, Tantraraja, Saundaryalahari and many commentaries on these which propagate the philosophy and practice of Srividya.
The word Samaya is interpreted as either , 'He is' (Supreme Brahman), or 'She is ' (Goddess), with me as my very self. It means that one has to think constantly that he/she is always one with the ultimate Reality. He/She has to identify himself or herself with the Supreme Brahman. Samaya is also commonly explained as offering worship to a plexus (cakra) in the cavity of the heart (Daharakasavakase cakram vibhavya tatra pujadikam samaya iti.- Lalitasahasranama with Saubhagyabhaskara, verse 88).
This internal worship is considered supreme by all the great Yogins. It is a higher kind of worship consisting of inward prayer, deep meditation and solemn contemplation. The followers of Samayacara claim that they are highly refined and evolved. Samaya means Siva or Sakti when in the feminine ending, or more proper, the identification or equality (sarna) of Siva and Sakti, According to the text Kama-Kala-Vilasa, Samaya is synonymous with Siva-vidya (i.e. Kadividya) of which Daksinamurti is the Seer (Rsi) and Kamesvari and Kamesvara are the conjoined Deities. Samayamarga has its own literature which represents the finest philosophy inherited by the Upanisadic literature. The Sakta Tantric study mostly is confined to the conventional details of external worship. The hidden side of this esoteric culture is not truly presented to the learned world. This Sakta literature actually represents the quintessence of mysticism which is based on the doctrine of the unity of the individual soul and Supreme Reality (Brahman), proclaimed in the oldest Upanisads (Ayamatrna Brahma- Brhadaranyaka Upanisad, II.V. 19, Mandiikya Upanisad; Aham Brahmasrni- Brh. Up.I.IV.10; Tattvamasi- Chand.Up. VI. XVI. 3; Isadyastottarasat-opanisad, ed. Panashikar Vasudevasharma, Nirnayasagar Press, Mumbai, 1925.). This sect of Saktatantra has touched the keynote of the Advaita Philosophy by accepting the unity of the individual Soul (jiva) and Supreme Reality (Parabrahman). This Tantra repeatedly states in clear terms that the highest form of Yoga (union) is the attainment of unity of the individual soul (jiva) with the Supreme Soul (Aikyam jivatrnanorahuh yogam yogavisarada!)..- Kularnavatantra. ix.31.ed. Sharma Bhadrashila, Pub. Kalyanamandir, Prayag, V.S.2016. p.57).
The entire Saktatantra literature is in the form of a dialogue between Lord Siva and his consort Parvati (Uma). It is believed that the revealer of Saktatantra is Siva Himself or Devi Herself. It is the first who teaches and second who listens. Again, the latter assumes the role of Guru and answers the questions of Siva, for they are one (Gurusisyapade sthitva svayam devah sadasivah, Prasnottara- Parairvakyaih Tantram samavatarayat- Mahasvacchandatantra, quoted in setubandha by Bhaskararaya, ed. Apte. HN anadsharama Printing Press, pune, 1908, p2)
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