Suksmagama Volume I Chapters 1 to 13

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Item Code: NAB841
Author: S. Sambandhasivacarya and T. Ganesan
Publisher: Institut Francais De Pondichery
Language: English
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 9788184701814
Pages: 203
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.6 inch X 6.8 inch
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Book Description

From the Flap

S. Sambandhasivacarya has been working in the French Institute of Pondicherry since 1969 in the project of critically editing the Saivagama-s. Coming from a family of temple priests, well versed in the domain of temple rituals and with a long experience in reading various ancient scripts he has rendered great help in the first critical editions of agama-s such as the Matangaparamesvara, Sardhatrisatikalottara, Rauravottara, Ajita and Diptagama.

T. Ganesan has been working as a Senior Researcher in the French Institute of Pondicherry since 1985. His current research project A Comprehensive History of Saivasiddhanta in Tamilnadu involves the work of surveying the contents of the entire gamut of Saivasiddhanta literature (Sanskrit and Tamil). The first critical edition of the ancient Saiva text, Varunapaddhati along with the unpublished commentary of Nigamajnana II is one of his main research publications concerning the Saiva ritual system.

S. Sambandhasivacarya travaille a l’Institut Francais de Pondichery depus 1969, dans le projet d’edition critique des agama sivaites. Issu d’une famille de pretres, verse dans le domaine des rites des temples et possedant une longue experience dans la lecture de manuscripts en ecritures anciennes differentes, sa contribution a ete inestimable pour la preparation des premieres editions critiques d’agama tells que le Matangaparamesvara, le Sardhatrisatikalottara, le Rauravottara, l’Ajita et le Diptagama.

T. Ganesan travaille en tant que Chercheur Senior a l’Institut Francais de Pondichery depuis 1985. Son projet de recherché actuel L’histoire comprehensive du Saivasiddhanta au pays tamoul, requiert l’examen de toute la literature sanskrite et tamoule de cette ecole. L’une de ses publications principales dans le domaine des rites sivaites est la premiere edition critique d’un texte Sanskrit ancient intitule la Varunapaddhati, accompagne du commentaire inedit de Nigamajnana II.

Back of the Book

The Suksmagama is a hitherto unpublished and important Saivagama dealing with many Saiva rituals as they are performed in temples. It is held to be one of the twenty-eight fundamental scriptures of the Saivasiddhanta.

The present volume furnishes a critical edition of the first thirteen chapters, out of a total of about a hundred. The edition is based on the collation of eight paper manuscripts and is prefaced by an introduction (both in English and in Sanskrit) that gives a detailed summary of the edited text. The reader will find here treatment of many rites, such as the punyahavacana (a rite rarely described at length in other scriptures), the preparation of the pancagavya, rites for the worship of Siva in temples, the fire worship, and finally a very detailed description of the grand temple festival.


The original idea of bringing out an edition of the Suksmagama is due to Pandit N. R. BHATT who passed away recently. When he was asked some ten years ago which agamic text was in need of immediate edition, especially in the field of rites and ceremonies, he had proposed this text from which he had often quoted in the footnotes of his editions. For him the Suksmagama was one of the very important texts left unpublished — there was no pre-critical edition printed in grantha script dealing with ritual in a fairly comprehensive and original way. He was particularly emphatic that this agama contains descriptions of rites often mentioned but only rarely described. The auspicious day (punyaha) ceremonial, which is dealt with in the first chapter, is an example, and there are still others even more rare, especially in an agamic context. Of these the ordeals will be dealt with in the second volume of this work. Besides, amongst other noteworthy characteristics. N. R. BHATT used to point out an interesting comment made in the Suksmagama concerning the complementary relationship between the temple and the sivalinga, the first serving as the body for the second as its self. Such comments which lead from ritual to theology had been made use of in some l6th-century works, notably in those of Nigamajnanadesika (= Nigamajnana II). Lastly, N. R. BHATF underlined that the Suksmagama belonged to the category of agamic works which give a rather prominent place to Vedic elements; on that point its edition would be, for him, an appropriate complement to that of the Diptagama, another agama that makes frequent use of Vedic material, mantras and texts.

All these considerations vindicate N. R. BHATT’S proposal, and his interest in the Suksmagama started early which explains why he has collected for the French Institute Library several manuscripts —— often of good quality - on which the present edition is based. As wished by N. R. BHATT, this edition is to be in the line of the works he had prepared himself during his long tenure at the French Institute or of those he has initiated and advised before and after his retirement, whose main purpose was to provide instruments for the systematic study of an important aspect of religious history of South India.

The continuity very much wished by N. R. BHATT is ensured by the presence of S. SAMBANDHASIVACARYA in the team in charge of the project, who is the last active member of the group of traditional scholars that he had brought together at the French Institute for the study of Saivagama-s. The personal involvement of Sri. SAMBANDHAN as a temple priest makes him exceptionally qualified to guide a project of which a secondary purpose is to give him the opportunity of passing his knowledge and the tradition he represents on to young Indian and foreign scholars; that was a reason to launch the program as soon as possible.

At the start Dr. G. S. V. Dattatreyamurti, a young Sanskrit scholar just engaged as a research assistant at the French Institute, was asked to work with Sri. Sambandan on the project. However, Dr. G. S. V. Dattatreyamurti left the French Institute in August, 2008 in order to join Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswa Mahavidyalaya. Enathur, Kanchipuram. In the meantime he has prepared a first draft of the critical edition of chapters planned for the first volume and of their summaries. After his departure at the time of relaunching of the project a double problem appeared. On the technical side it was necessary to change the software used which would lead to the retyping of the work. On the editorial side, it appeared that the whole work required a complete revision, due to the novelty of the subject for a young scholar well trained in vyakarana and other branches of Sanskrit literature. Thus it was decided to start the work again on a fully new technical and editorial basis. It is that of this first volume which, prepared in Pondicherry, is to be followed in the near future by a second one of which the elaboration is going on at present simultaneously in Pondicherry and in Paris. On the French Institute side, the responsibility of the whole work is entrusted to T. GANESAN and S. SAMBANDHA SIVACARYA. In India an other institution is also involved: it is the "Veda Agama Samskrita Maha Patashala" Bengaluru. In Paris the project has been taken up by Dr. M.-L. BARAZER-BILLORET as a programme of UMR "Mondes iranien et indien" (Paris) for which it is a follow up of that dealing with the edition of the Diptagama brought to completion in 2009.

That the first volume of the Suksmagama provides a typical example with the richness of its contents is shown by the general introduction presented by T. GANESAN in the following. Its full preparation has been the work of T. GANESAN and S. SAMBANDHASIVACARYA. They have got the help of young trainees who came to work with SAMBANDHASIVACARYA. Mr. ANAND and Mr. ARUNKUMAR students from the Veda Agama Samskrita Maha Patashala, Bengaluru who have typed the draft of first four chapters. Since then the Veda Agama Samskrita Maha Patashala is funding Mr. S. Balasubramanian to assist the team especially in typing the text and in collating the manuscripts. On the other side, J—M. CREISMEAS. Ph.D. student from Université Paris III came already twice to Pondicherry on ARCUS— région lle—de-France grants: he has typed as well as helped in the collation of manuscripts for some chapters of this volume. At the same time, through regular exchanges between Pondicherry and Paris Dr. M.—L. BARAZER-BILLORET and myself were able to help from time to time the making of this first volume.

Lastly, it remains to thank the authorities who have allowed the implementation of this project: Jean-Pierre MULLER and. then. Velayoudom MARIMOUTOU, the successive directors of French Institute of Pondicherry. Sri. Sri. RAVI SHANKAR, the founder of The All of Living Foundation, Sri. A. S. SUNDARA MURTHY SIVAM, the Principal, Veda Agama Samskrita Maha Patashala situated inside The Art of Living Foundation campus, Bengaluru, Mr. Allain Bailur for going through the entire sections of the introduction and the summary of the book and for improving their general diction as well as Philippe HUYSE the head of UMR 7528 "Mondes iranien et indien".



The first volume of the Suksmagama, hitherto unpublished, comprises 13 chapters (patala-s). The total number of verses of the Suksmagama may be approximately 3000 spread over nearly 100 chapters of different sizes. This text belongs to the group of sivabheda of the agama-s of the Saivasiddhanta tradition that comprises 10 agama-s, the other group being rudrabheda comprising 18 agama-s.

According to the tradition described in the chapter called Tantravatarapatala that lists the 28 mulagama-s, the upagama-s, the divine recipients of each one of them, and the number of verses of which the original text was composed, etc. found as the opening chapter in some of the agama-s, it is Prabhanjana, the wind god who is one of the three recipients of the text of the Suksmagama from Srikanthasiva. Curiously, it does not have an upagama attached to it.

In many respects the Suksmagama seems to be unique and it seems to preserve certain classical features in the domain of rituals. Unlike some of the other agama-s such as the Kamika, Karana, Kirana, etc., the Suksmagama does not begin with the usual Tantravatarapatala but with the punyahavacanavidhi which it describes in a detailed way. Another notable feature of the Suksmagama is that like the Diptagama it makes use of the Vedic mantra-s to a great extent in many of the rites. To cite a few as examples, we may mention the rites of punyahavacana, pancagavyavidhi, pancamrtavidhi and the various rites that form part of the grand festival (mahotsava) celebrated in the Siva temple.

Some important features of the Suksmagama (vol. I)

As a detailed summary of chapters and the petalarthasamgraha (in Sanskrit) follow, some of the salient and striking features of the present text are briefly outlined in the following.

The punyahavacana rite as treated here is very similar to the one performed according to the smrti texts. The basic rites such as the preparation of the sthandila, filling the vessel with water, etc. are much the same in both the smarta and the agamic traditions. While in the former, only the Vedic mantra-s are recited, in the latter both the Vedic and the agamic mantra-s are recited. According to the smrti-s god Varuna is invoked in the water vessel while the Suksmagama and other texts prescribe invocation of the eight holy livers, Ganga, Yamuna, etc. This ceremony is generally performed before the commencement of any auspicious rite. The basic purpose of this rite is to purify the place (the house. the part of the temple, etc.), which is done by sprinkling the sanctified water and the recitation of specific Vedic mantra-s by a single priest or a group of priests. The treatment is also similar to the punyahavacana rite briefly explained in the Kriyakramadyotika of Aghorasivacarya, as found in IFP T. 1076, pp. 59-60 as well as in the Cintyagama. The Karanagama, the Cintyagama and the Svayambhuvagama seem to be the other agama texts that have a separate chapter on the punyahavidhi. The Cintyagama enjoins that one should perform the punyahavacana rite as directed in the [grhya] sutra to which one belongs. Vedic mantra-s such as the one that begins with “Apo va” or the astramantra should be recited while filling the vardhani with perfumed water, while other Vedic mantra-s such as the one that begins with “Apo hi stha”, the pavamanamantra, are recited at the end. The details such as the suitable place (any auspicious place around the temple), the metal of which the vardhani is made (gold is the best, silver the medium. etc.), the shape and measurements of the vardhani which should be free from holes, etc., are specifically mentioned. Ganesa is to be worshipped with coconuts, etc. and goddess Laksmi on the special sacrificial area (sthandila) before commencing the punyahavacana rite. The rite is concluded by uttering ‘May that deity (in whose honour this rite is done) be satisfied’. The water from the vardhani is sipped by the sacrificer (yajamana) and other members and the water is sprinkled on the premises. Interestingly along with the seven holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Narmada, Sarasvati, Sindhu, Godavari and Kaveri an eighth one, Tamraparni, another southern river, is also invoked in the water kept in the vardhani.

As opposed to the punyahavidhi, the pancagavyavidhi seems to have been treated in many agama texts with some variations. Most of them agree about drawing the nine squares (navakostha), adding tile sixth ingredient, namely, the water mixed with the kusa grass (kusodaka) along with the rive well known items got from the cow (gavya) - milk, curd, ghee. urine and cow-dung. But the Karanagama would add the rice flour (salipista) and the powders of dried gooseberry (amalaki) and turmeric (rajanicurna). The agama texts also vary on the quantities of each one of these five substances. The Makutagama and the Karanagama vary, for example, in the list of deities who preside over (adhidevata) each of these six substances. While other texts such as the Makutagama and the Svayambhuvagama enjoin the recitation of the sires, sikha, kavacamantra-s etc. for each of these ingredients, the Suksmagama along with the Ajita and the Karanagama enjoins the Vedic mantra-s such as that which begins with ‘Apyayasva’, ‘Dadhi-kravno’, etc. for each one of them.

In the procedure prescribed for the preparation of the pancamrta - a mixture of honey, milk, curd. ghee, jaggery and coconut water - also we find in the Suksmagama many Vedic mantra-s to be recited. It is interesting to note that the six vessels (patra) in which each of these ingredients is kept are given names that are only found in the Suksmagama and in the Cintyagama. They are: amrta, somapatra, vidyapatra, ratnodapatra, sudhamrta and surapriti. After mixing all of them accompanied by the recitation of the five brahmamantra-s, ripe plantain fruits are added while reciting the tryambakamantra. Then the linga is given a bath with the pancamrta.

The arcanangavidhi contains the basic details about the time of worship, different types of worship, the rites to be done at different periods of the day which are called sandhi and such other matters as the measures of various ingredients to be used and offered to Siva in the course of worship, etc. The flowers offered to Siva are classified as usual into sattvika, rajasa and tamasa. The length of the flame in the dipa is considered to be the best if it is of four angula and the text advises that one should maintain this length as Sadasiva is very fond of dipa?

The fifth patala consisting of 110 verses deals elaborately with the worship of Siva at the temple. As the worship in the temple is performed for the sake of the public, it is called the pararthapuja. The Suksmagama states that this pararthapuja is of 28 kinds – beginning from the saiva and ending with the paitrka – of which the text explains only the bhautika type.


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