Dr. Chaman Lal Raina

Dr. Chaman Lal Raina

Born in Srinagar, Dr. C. L. Raina has studied the Shaiva and Shakta scriptures from the traditional system of Kadi-Vidya of Kashmir. He had his schooling and college education in the premier colleges of Kashmir. He did Honors in Urdu from Aligarh, Masters in Hindi & English, and a Phd in comparative religious philosophy. Presently he is teaching religions of India at Florida International University (USA).

Dr. Chaman Lal Raina


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Walnuts and Shiva Ratri

by Dr. Chaman Lal Raina

 as it is called Doon in Kashmiri language is an integral part ofWalnutsthe Vedic injunction in the Kashmiri Pandit religious ethos. Walnut in any Homa is essential ingredient of the Samagri.

Why? Kashmiri Pandit Puja consists of three integrated streams of the Vedic, Puranic and Agamic systems. It has been so, as to make the Puja Yogic in spirit, mystic in theme andritualistic in pattern.

Who taught us this methodology ofAnushthhana system? It was the great LAUGAKSHSI Rishi of Kashmir, who gave the popular Paddati, with regard to Homa/Yagnya, Pakshayagya and Anushthhans.

In every Kashmiri Pandit Religious Anushthana, we need to invoke the Kalasha Purusha,with mystic diagrams to be drawn by the Rice flour. The Yantras differ from one deliberation to another. The Kalasha are of two types. The First is the Brahma Kalasha and the other is the Indra Kalasha. Brahma Kalasha is purely the Hiranya garbha, which needs to be invoked through the Atharva Vedic Ganapati Avahan, followed by the Panchayatan Deva Vedic Suktas of Ganesha, Surya Vishnu, Shivaand Devi. The Puranic Mantras are also recited during invocation, followe by the Tantric Bijaksharas. You know it well, that Kalash Doon is highly revered and is the First Naivedya after the Hasta Phalam/ Athi Phol’u is offered and Shanti Mantras are recited. This is known as the Achhidra of the Deliberationa/Anushthhanam. The walnuts are offered to the Kalasha Purusha, because Walnut is the Ritu Phalam of Kashmir, which are easily available in the whole cycle of the year. Offering of Ritu Phalam is purely Puranik in substance, as it is the fifth step in the Panch Upchara Puja.

Rituphalam is Kalash Doon

The emphasis is on Rituphalam. It means the fruit of the season, and theRitupati is the Narayana, whose abode is the Ksheer Sagar/ milk ocean. Narayana is Purusha, who is for the sustenance of the universe, and the water is the important element for survival, both physical and cosmic. Therefore, Laugakshya taught us to invoke water with the Vedic Sukta, which runs as:

“A -imam Ambitame Naditame Devitame Saraswati 
Aprashata Iva smasi Prashastim Amba namaskridhi ”

The translation of this famous mantra gives a clear picture of the Kalasha, which is the Hiranyagarbha/cosmic egg, where the water element, is the Mother, is the River, is the Divine Mother and is the fountainhead of all knowledge and bliss.

Lingobhava/ the origin of the Shiva Lingam opens with the saying: No universe as we see was there, only water and water everywhere, and there was no direction as well. There was starless night of the lifeless interval between merger/ dissolution and the creation. All the seeds were in that infinite ocean, with all potentialities, of the forthcoming evolution rested in the dormant stage of undifferentiation., which is static in its inherentSvaroopa. This is also the identical approach of the Laugakshi Rishi, with respect to the Kalasha and Akshota/ walnut/ doon.

The Laughaksha Paddati also says that the water source, which is in this Kalasha is from the Ganga,Prayag, Gaya, Naimish, Pushkar and other Tirthas, which virtually are taking the devotee from the physical consciousness to the higher consciousness of Vatuka Raja Bhairava. The Bhairava is the Supreme spirit of the SHIVA, which is filled with the triadic power of creation, preservation and absorbtion/merger, but not destruction.

The Watuka Raja Bhairava likes the AKSHOTA, which means Doon in Kashmiri. Doon is the dried edible fruit at the time of Shivaratri, and it needs to be soaked for further cultivation, just after the Tila Ashtami. It is being soaked in water and sanctified by the Watuka Raj Mantra for eleven days to commence from the Shivaratri to the Tilashtami.It receives the power to regenerate from the botanical point of considerations. It used to be the sacred act to give the soaked walnuts to the peasants of Kashmir, which in turn would cultivate in on the banks of streams, as it needs water nearby. The devotees would sow these walnuts around the Tirathas at Kashmir, preferabally at Tullamula.

Philosophically, a walnut is the composite unit seed of four equal quadrants, in the shell, which graphically can be represented as under in the circular and the elliptical shape. Generally the shape of the walnut is either, circular or elliptical. Walnut is of four cells, with a smooth, irregularly dehiscent husk that separates easily from the nut. It is the most common nut of Kashmir. All the four sections are of equal dimension. The shell is roughly wrinkled or furrowed but thin. In Kashmir, we have approximately the one inch diameter of the walnut. It contains of two kernels separated by a thin, plate extending from the inner layer of the shell. The first quadrant represents the Rigveda, the second quadrant is Yajurveda, the third quadrant is Samaveda and the fourth quadrant is the Atharvaveda. All the four Vedas are equally important within the spirit and meaning of the Sat -Chit- Ananda and Svaroopa.Satchitananda is the Upanishadic concept and the Svaroopa is the Shaivistic concept. The walnut is therefore, a symbol and the SEED theory of the Shiva in manifestation.

The elliptical Lingam is the eternal seed of the Absolute Shiva, and walnut is one manifestation of that seed.

The Vedas speak of the four fold Ashrams within the human birth, which are the four cells, in two lobed seed of the walnut. Each lobe consists of Purushaand Prakriti.

The Brahma has spoken the Vedas through his four mouths, and the four mouths represent the synthesis of the Vedas.

Shri Krishna says in the Gita : “Me as the Supreme person is the creator of the Chaturvarnas/ four categories according to the Guna –Karma/ inherent quality and attitude to life”. The four Avasthas/ stages of life arebrahmacharya-grihastha-vanaparastha and sannyasa. In the Tantras, theBhupura is fourfold and is the outer extended layer of the Bindu.

In the figure no 2 the origin O/ origin is the Mula Bindu, which is the source energy of the universe. Each quadrant is the equal to the 1/4th of the circle, which is the Parama -tattva in the Shaiva Darshana., symbolic to the walnut.

It is the Bijakshara of the four syllabled Mother Shri Raj Rajeshvari. The Mantra is Shri Chakra Priya Bindu Tarpana Para Shri Raja Rajeshvari ofShri Sharika Bhagavati. This Mantra, which is the quintessence of theNishkala manifested into Sakala in the form of walnut. Keeping such virtues in the set of Four fold seed within the Unit of shell is inspiring, strength giving and making us realize that the Seed needs to be soaked with the water substance of Love for giving to the Mother Earth back for future tree to grow in her lap of soil, for the generations to come.

1 Kashmiri Sandhya
2 Mantratma Karma Kandaah Tritiya Compiled and edited by Pandit Keshav Bhat Jyotishi, Printed and Published by Nirnaya Sagar Press, Mumbai 1936
3 Nitya Karma Puja Prakash
4 Shakti Ank Published by the Gita press Gorakh pur.
5 Shrimad Bhagvadgita

Saivism in Prospect and Retrospect

by Dr. C. L. Raina

The circuitous upper valley of Vitasta, is the famous Kashmir in theDr. C. L. RainaHimalayan region. There are Harimukh ( Haramukta ) and Amarnath mounts, branches off from the great Himalayas a little further east, proceeds due south and encircling the sources of Vitasta, turns north west, where it is called Pir Pantsal or Panchaldhara now Banihal range ). These lesser mountains of the Himalayas surround the valley of Kashmir on all sides; leaving only a narrow outlet for the Vitasta at Baramulla. Kashmir valley is thus surrounded by the Himalayas and Vitasta has been the life and source for the socio-economic welfare of Kashmir. The climate of Kashmir is fine to suit the spring, summer and autumn season while the winter season makes the inhabitants of Kashmir to be in their homes. At the fag end of winter Kashmiri Hindus observe the Maha Shivaratri with great pomp and show associated with the belief and tradition of the union of Siva and Shakti. Many mythological stories are connected with the celebration of the Maha Shivaratri popularly known in Kashmir as Herat. Should we believe that Harmukta, Amarnath cave or Ma Shivaratri are the impact of Saivism for which Kashmir enjoys a special position in the globe for giving a dynamic philosophy of day to day living ? Is it closely related to Vedanta System or the Sankhya System or its obligation is due to Shakti worship that we see in every corner of Kashmir or because of the impact of Tantra fold prevalent in Kashmir. Kashmir is one of the Shakti pithas among fifty pithas mentioned in Lalita Sahasranama. Such questions need a rationalistic approach of study rather to believe in tradition and myth.

Dr. Radhakrishnan has very truly said that spiritual life was the true genius of India. Those who made the greatest appeal to the Indian mind were not the military conquerors, not the rich merchants or the great diplomats but the holy sages, the rishis who embodied spirituality at its finest and purest. The great sages and seers or the holy men had the vision to realise the truth according to the need and requirement of the time. Ekam Sat, Vipra Bahuda Vadanti stands true in the highly rationalistic age. It is, therefore, no wonder why Kashmir could give its own philosophy of Saivism.

Philosophy in its widest etymological sense means " love of knowledge. " It tries to know things that immediately and remotely concern man. What is the real nature of man ? What is the end of this life ? What is the nature of this world in which he lives? Is there any creator of this world ? How should man livein the light of his knowledge of himself, the world and God ? These are some of many problems that have been discussed threadbare in the Siva philosophy. It is easily intelligible because it does believe in the existence of matter and spirit. Life is worth knowing and hence worth enjoying. There seems to be vision of truth ( darshana ). According to Rabindranath Tagore in " The Spirit of India, " " Brahman is Truth, Wisdom and Infinite-Satyam, Jnanam Anantam Brahma. Peace is in Brahma, goodness is in Brahma and the unity of all things. He who is one, who is above all colour distinctions, who dispenses the inherent needs of men of all colours, who comprehends all things from their beginning to the end. Let Him unite us to one another with wisdom which is the wisdom of goodness.

The Saiva philosophy is typical of the entire range of Hindu thought. It subscribes to the belief in three padarths or categories viz., God, Soul and the bonds and thirty six tatvas ( principles ). It varies from idealistic monism and the pluralistic realism. It recognises thirty six principles as against the twenty four of the Sankhya and Yoga system. Panchratra also recognises twenty four principles. According to Pauskara Agma- "The Advaita Vedanta reckons thirty six principles, but the new principles in this scheme are not independent principles, being for the most part, modification of one principal, Vayu the cosmic force. "

We have the five gross elements known as "Mahabutas"- ether, air, fire, water and earth; the last possesses the five qualities of sound, touch, colour, taste and odour; ether has sound alone. These qualities are called " Tanmatras ". According to "Paushkara-Agma " and Sivajnanamahapadyam, it is very much of an idealistic view of susbstance. The tanmatras are themselves evolutes of that variety of individuation ( ahankara ) wherein the quality of darkness and inertia ( tamas ) is predominant. This variety of " Ahankara " is also called bhutadi, since it is indirectly the cause of the elements. According to Sankhya " manas " is recognised to be an organ of both sense and action. Ahankara is itself derived from " Buddhi " or intellect. It is the determining faculty and self-derivative. Buddhi, Ahankar, manas and chitta constitute the internal organs. Thus the twenty four impure principles are known as " Bhogya-kanda."

Further, in Saiva system, there are seven mixed principles where Mula Prakriti is termed as " Prakriti-Maya ". It is the product of " Ashudda Maya and it evolves primarily into three principles- Kala (Time), Niyati (Destiny) and Kala. Time is an independent Principle. In experience, we observe that even when all necessary causes are present, the effect is not produced except with the passage of time. We find that time matures and time heals. Destiny sees that every soul has its due in the matter of the enjoyment of its appropriate fruit. Kala is the instrument whereby the darkness that envelopes soulsis removed in part. It has two functions to evolve into "Mula Prakriti " and on the other into Vidya ( knowledge) and Raga (attachments) Kala, Niyati, Kala, Vidya and Raga are termed as five sheaths or pancha kanchukas. According to Tattva Traya Nirnaya the five Kleshas are called Pumsatva Mala or human impurities and the soul is admitted to be known as Purusha Tattva.

The pure principles are five. Siva Tattva is the first of these and the cause of the rest - Shakti, Sadasiva, Ishwara and Shuddhvidya. Shivatattva is one, pervasive and eternal, it is the resultant of both knowledge and action and happens to be the cause of other pure principles. It is not however to be identified with Siva. Neither Siva himself nol his inherent Shakti can be directly the cause of any principles as they would then be the cause liable to tranformation and affected by interness. Thus Shivatattva is an evolution through " Maha Maya " or cosmic force quite different from "Ashuddh maya" as mentioned earlier. Dr. Burnett has translated the Aghora Siva's commentary on the Tattva Prakasha in the following manner " Even the realistic school has to admit maya to be a parigraha shakti. While, however, the idealistic school draws what seems to be the natural inference and compares the product to the reflection in a mirror.... Aghora Siva condemns it as an interpolation According to him Lhere is an order of evolution and involution even among the pure principles.

Souls are naturally infinite, pervasive and omniscient, yet they experience themselves as limited, finite and little knowing. This is due to the bonds of " anava " Karma and Maya. Souls which have all the three kinds of bonds are called Sakalas. Those for whom Maya alone has been resolved by the involution of the worlds in the periodical deluges are called Pralaya Kalas.

God is pure, omnipotent, omniscient, gracious, enternally free from bonds. He is both the material and the efficient cause of the world; through his Shaktis. He is the material cause and in His own nature the efficient cause. Souls in their essential nature are the same as God but their potencies are concealed by beginningless " Anava. " The ignorance of souls can be removed partially through the bodies, instruments provided by " Ashuddha Maya "- the physical world around us. God functions through His own energy called the energy of concealment ( Tirodham Shakti ). Through mere mementum or through the residue of Prarabdha Karma, the physical body may persist for a while after spiritual illumination; but it does not fetter the enlightened soul since it is not cognised as such. The attainment of Sivatva may be understood as complete merger in Siva or the realisation of an identity of essence in spite of differencein existence.

The origins of Saivism or the roots of Saivism are found in pre-Aryan society. The hold of Saivism extends not only over the whole of India, from the Indus valley to Bengal but beyond the northern mountains to central Asia. The characteristics of Saivism are the exaltations of Siva above all other gods, the highly concrete conception of the deity and a close relationship between Sivaand his devotees. On the one hand, Siva is identified with the eternal Absolute, formless. On the other hand, he is the God of all gods, potent for good and evil. He is " Girish ", " Ishan " and " Maheshwara " the supreme Lord. In Rig Veda, he is known as Rudra,


" Prostrations to the Lord, the Master of the Universe, the great God, the three eyed one, the destroyer of Tripura, the extinguisher of the Trika fire and the fire of death, the blue-necked one, the Victor over Death, the Lord of all, the ever peaceful one, the glorious God of gods. He is attained by Tapas or austerity and comes to our refuge and frees us from all bondage."

In the Yajur Veda ~Taittiriya Samhitta, " VI 2 3, however we meet with stories concerning Rudra's exploits such as killing the "Asuras" and destroying their "Tripura."

Due to the advancement of Hindu mathematics, it has been felt to simplify the highest Truths in the symbolic fashion. Lingam has been the emblem of Siva. Is the Sivalinga a phallus? The worship of the Linga as a symbol once started, there was little to prevent a confusion in the popular mind between this and the cult of phallus and legends came to be invented of the origin of the worship of Linga as the phallus of Siva. Barth is of the opinion that these lingas are perhaps theleast offensive to look at. Anyhow, they are the least materialistic and if the common people make fetishes ofthem, it is nevertheless true that the choice of these symbols by themselves to the exclusion of every other image was, on the part of certain founders of sects such as Basava, a sort of protest against idolatry. In other words, the Puranic exaltation of Linga worship over image worship, the former leading to release and the latter only to some variety of prosperity. The Linga purana version is due to Siva becoming a pillar of fire, whose top and bottom could not be seen by Brahma and Vishnu.

Siva is known as Pashupati ( the lord of creatures ). Abhinav Shankara in his Rudrabhashya lays the foundation for the tenets of Saivism concerning pati, pashu and pasha ( bondage ). Kaivalya Upanishad describes Sivayoga as a means of realease. Saivism closely agrees with the Sankhya in its dogmatics and with the Yoga sehool in its practical discipline.

Role of Shakti in Saivism is clear from Lalita, Bhawani and Rajina Sahasranam. Sri Chakra worship stands a witness to the unification of Shakti and Siva. Sri Chakra is the symbol of the infinite.

Sri Aurobindo in his book-philosophic work Savitri-has sung the praises of the symbol of the infinite as under:

The unseen grew visible
to student eyes,
Explained was the immense
Inconscients Scheme
Audacious lines were traced
upon the Void;
The infinite was reduced to
Square and Cube
Arranging symbol
and significance
They framed the Cabbla of Cosmic Law,
The balancing line discovered of
Life's technique
And structured her magic and
her mystery.
- Savitri ( 11:11 )

Consciousness in the spirit and it is responsible for the Truth and Bliss. Arunopanishad says : " Realise in us the microcosm, Thy form of Macrocosm. Make me know again ". In Saiva system we can't ignore the Shakti, the energy force of Siva.

Shankara in Soundarya Lahari explains the unification of Siva and Shakti in the following fashion:


Sri Chakra is verily the macrocosm as well as the microcosm, is the body of the two in one, Siva Shakti. Sri Aurobindo emphasised it as under:

"This is the knot that ties together the
The two who are one and the Secret of
all power,
The two who are one are the might and
right in things "
- Savitri ( 1.4 )

In Kashmir Saivism is known as " Trika Philosophy " or Trika Shasua. Trika Shastra symbolises the same Trayambhaka Sampradaya or Rahasya Sampradaya. Trika accepts the most important triad Siva, Shakti and Anu or atom ( matter ) or again Siva, Shakti and Nara or lastly of the godesses Para, Apara and Paratpara. It also explains nondual ( abheda ), non-dual cum dual ( bhedaabedha ) and dual ( bheda ).

This system has two main branches Spanda and Pratibijna. The Trika is also known as " Svantryavad ", " Svantantriya " and Spanda expressing the same concepts. Abhyasvada is another name of the system. It is called Kashmir Saivism, because it enriched its culture, literature and spiritual integrity.

The Trika is a spiritual philosophy. Its concepts are experience concepts. Its greatest exponents are yoginies of high stature who showed wonderful insight into abstruse points of philosophy.

( Pratybigna-Karika I-38 )

This system is a statement based on experience about the nature of Reality and a way of Life. Among the Agamas, Malinivijaya, Sivachanda, Vignan Bhairva, Ananda Bhairva, Mrigendra, Matang, Netra Svayambhu and Rudrayamala happen to be the chief ones, they were written to stop the propagation expounding a purely advaitic metaphysics of Siva Sutra revealed to a sage called Vasugupta ( 9th century ).

The Pritigna Shastra is really the philosophic branch of Trika. Siddha Somananda, the disciple of Vasugupta is credited with adopting the method of giving an elaborate treatment of his own views. Parmartha Sara and Tantra Sara both by Abhinava Gupta and Pritibigna Hridya are three but important works of the school: Tantraloka.

According to the Trika, the Shastras have eternal existence. It means wisdom, self-existent and impersonal. It is also known as ' Shabda ' and ' Vak. ' Shastra is authority according to Tantrasara, told or revealed by the Supreme Lord. Therefore, Shabda creates or manifests every thing. Reality is ineffable and beyond any descriptions. Trika tries to formulate a philosophy about its nature. Siva and Shakti are not two separate realities. Kalidasa in Raghu Vamsa refers to Siva and Shakti as " Jagtah Pitarau Vande Parvati Parameshwarau ". Like fire and its burning power, Siva and Shakti are the same identical facts though they are spoken of as distinet ( Siv Drishti III. 7 ). Shakti is known as Swantriya and the principles of universal manifestation of five fold aspects as Chit Shakti- the power of self consciousness entails Ananda enjoyment and wonderment on the part of Siva, bliss gives rise to Ichha, desire to create, then Jnana or knowledge leading to Kriya Shakti will to act. According to Tantrasara, some times, Chit and Anada Shaktis are kept in background; Icha, Jnana and Kriya are taken to be the principal powers.

Universe is Siva's Krida or play. Siva's self imposition of limitation upon Himself and also His breaking the fetters and returning to His own native glory are both Krida and play. Siva as Shakti manifests Himself as a correlated order of knowers, knowables and means of knowledge. The limited individual is subject to ignorance, which according to Trika is two fold viz. paurasha and bandha. The descent of the force of grace achieves two purposes: first pasa-kshya, the destruction of fetters and secondly Sivatva yoga - the restoration of Shiva-hood. The most important of this is Diksha orinitiation. The Trika says that is a result of Shaktipat, one is brought to a real Guru. It awakens the " kriya-shakti " in the limited soul. There are four " upayas " or means of attaining the supreme goal. They are "anupaya; Sambhava, Sakta and Anav upaya ". Due to Shaktipat or descent of grace in a very intense degree, everything needed for the realisation, beginning from the liquidation of the atomic impurity down to the recognition of the state of Paramashiva may be achieved by the aspirant immediately and without going through any Sadhna or discipline. Samvid is the only reality, knowledge of duality is nothing in itself and can be removed through the rise of Shuddha Vikapa of Nirvikalpa. "

Dhyana means meditation in the hear space or " Hriday-Akash " on the Supreme Reality. By the process of meditation the whole field of knowables is swallowed up and absorbed into the knower. Uccara means the directing the pranta or vital force upwards in the process of meditation. Through these already experienced means, the limited individual attains the rich treasures of his own true Self.

The Trika does not stop with the deliverance of the Soul from Maya from the delusion of duality. It goes to the concept of the divinisation of the Soul which means the recognition of its own identity with Parmashiva.

The Trika philosophy promises to satisfy both matter and spirit. It does not give independent reality to Prakriti. It is a stage in the evolution of the universe out of parmashiva. The Trika is a virgin field of research and wilt repay the most conscious labour of philosopher for many years to come. 

The Significance of Navreh - A Shakta Interpretation

by Dr C. L. Raina

Kashmiri Pandits celebrate their New Year's Day, Navreh, on Chaitra Shukla Pratipada or the first day of the bright fortnight of the month of Chaitra. The word 'Navreh' is derived from Sanskrit 'Nava Varsha' meaning the New Year. On the eve of Navreh, which falls on Amavasya or the last night of the dark fortnight, they keep a thali filled with rice, a cup of curds, a bread, cooked rice, some walnuts, an inkpot and a pen, a silver coin and the Panchanga of the New Year, as the first thing to be seen at the Brahma Muhurta or the wee hours. The Panchanga popularly known as Nechi Patri (Nakshatra Patri) is an almanac giving important astrological configurations and auspicious tithis or dates and other useful religious information for the coming year. Keeping the Nechi Patri handy for consultation is a tradition followed in every Kashmiri Pandit household where religious and even social obligations are performed according to the tithis, mathematically calculated in it.

This Navreh, the Saptarishi era followed by the Kashmiri Pandits is entering its 5075th year (falling on 18th March of the Christian calendar). Imagine for a while the perfection with which such a span of time had been calculated by their ancestors to the minutest of minute unit of time pala, vipala etc. with the help of their knowledge of jyotishya and phalit shastra. The Navreh Mavas, or the concluding day of the year is to be succeeded by the Pratipada or the first Navaratra. In mathematics 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 are natural numbers. Then there is zero or shunya. Shunya is nothingness, but it is also the param bindu of the Nava Durga, meditated upon at the sandhi or conduction of Amavasya and Pratipada. Symbolically, the Nava Durgas are the nine fold projections of the supreme-self, which can be observed in the Shrichakra or Shri Yantram at the Sharika Parvat in Kashmir.

On the sacred Pratipada day the ishta devi is invoked with the dhyana mantra and the bija mantra while having the first look at the Nakshatra Patri or Panchanga. That is why the Kashmiri Pandits used to go the Sharika Parvat (Hari Parvat) and pay their obeisance at the Chakreshwara, reciting the Bhavani

Sahasranama, Indrakshi and other Devi Strotras and praying for prosperity for the new year in an auspiciousness sufused with karma, jnana and bhakti. That is what the primary triangle of the Chakreshwara stands for. The Primary triangle according to the Saptashati Hridayam denotes the interaction between the nada and the hindu. It is the eternal seed filled with the primal vibration of Aum or Aim. It sports, gets multiplied, assumes names and forms and sustains for kalpas or aeons together, then reverts back to the moola bindu or the original bindu, which is nirakara or formless.

This is what the yogis mystically experience on the sacred first day of the Navaratras, and is summed up in:


It is a nine-fold Mantra, just as the Shri Chandi Mantra is, and is read as


The Shakti worshipers of Kashmir see all the facets of Shri Chandi in Shri Sharika whose divine presence fills every syllable of the sixteen-syllabled bija mantra at Chakreshwara.

They find in it eternal vibrations of Shiva and Shakti presented by geometrical configuration. The dots, angle, triangle, straight line, intersection of curves forming petals and outer squares are but concepts denoting manifestation of Shakti in the external Universe. To realise Shakti within oneself, the Kashmir Shaktas pray to the matrikas - the phonenes of the mantras -- to vibrate and re-vibrate from Pratipada to mahanavmi. The Navdurgas or the nine facets of Durga are visualised as Shailaputri Brahmakumari, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidhatri put in an ascending order. This order symbolises the journey through consciousness or chaitanya.

So when the first ray of the sun descends on the earth on Chaitra Shukla Pratipada, the Kashmiri Pandits celebrate the presence of Durga, the Supreme Mother among them as Navreh, the New Year's Day.

About Soham

by Dr. Chaman Lal Raina

Soham is the combination of two words viz. SAH +AHAM. According to theLord Krishna rules of the Sanskrit grammar Sah + Aham becomes Soham It is the principle of joining of consonant with vowel to form a VARNA/ alphabet.Sandhi means the joining of two words, under the grammatical rules of the ‘ Sandhi’ in the Sanskrit language. The joining of Sah + Aham is governed by the principle of Visarga Sandhi . What is Visarga in Sanskrit language? It is Nirvana or final liberation/ beatitude…, it is represented by two dots, written in the manner as: to represent Jivatman/ individual soul and Paramatman/ Absolute. The word Sah means that some person different from first person and second person. The word First person is Aham, which in Sanskrit means I. am, I exist. When this I merges with That, the ego of ‘ I’ identity merges with THAT, who is Ishwara of the Vedas, Brahman of the Upanishads, Bhagawana of the Puranas. 

Etymology of the word SAH:

SA in Sanskrit is the combination of lifeless consonant S with vowel A, with the meaning of Prana/vital force. Also SA is VISHNU and SHIVA according to the Vedic Nirukta. The Sandhi or + sign means Yoga or self realization.

Explanation: I am obviously not this body because the physical constituents of the body are changing every moment. Ultimately, the body dies.Atman/soul/self never dies. It is That. That is Absolute Reality. It is the witness of all, what the mind does through body organism. This self is always on the path of progression, which according to the Shaivistic thought isChaitanya or consciousness. The Shiva Sutra speaks of ‘Chaitanyam – Atma’. We need to realize that Aham/ myself, which is Sah/ That self. This is called the spiritual awareness. 
How to realize? The Hindu scriptures recommend the following paths to reach THAT.

VEDA : Ritual/SandhyaHoma and Prarthana based on the inductive system.

UPANISHAD: Jnana / through the knowledge of discrimination between Maya and Brahman, through the process of deductive logic. That is the process ofNETI-not this, not this, but THAT

Performance of Puja and Bhaki on any of the Ishta Devata.

YOGADharana- Dhyana and Samadhi

RAMAYANA: Moral ethical code

BHAGWADGITANishkama Karma / selfless action done for righteousness, without deserving any fruit. 

TANTRA: Identifying one’s own self with the Mother Divine., Para Prakriti/ Primordial nature, meditating on Bija / Primal seed.

AGAMA: Meditating on Shabda/ sound.

In the modern times, the sages like Sri Ramakrishna Parmahamsasuggested devotion to the Divine MotherSri Aurobindo showed the path ofIntegral YogaMaharshi Raman to the Inner silence, for realizing SOHAM.

A Mathematical interpretation of SOHAM :

Sah + Aham


SAH is Ananta or infinite, Aham is made of Pancha tattvas 5 elements viz.Prithvi/ earth, Jalam/ water, Agni/ fire,Vayu/ air and Akasha/ space or sky. The first four tattvas are tangible, sky is limitless. When the Pancha tattvas get united with SAH /Ananta, then its value becomes Infinite, just like:

Infinity + Variable = Infinity ( Sah + Pancha Tattvas = Sah + Aham = Soham ) 
Infinity + Constant = Infinity ( Sah +Atman with Nama rupa / Aham =Soham)

It has been said in the Rig veda : Ekam Sad Vipra Bahudha Vadanti. The ONE can be interpreted as many, more than one, greater than one i.e. 1,2,3,4,5,6 ,6 ,7,8,9,…infinity. 
The mathematical symbol = stands for is equal to, which in Sanskrit grammar is termed as TATSAM, therefore the Tatsam of Sah + Aham isSOHAM. or TADBHAVA. Becoming must be in tune with Being. Becoming is a process to realize Super-consciousness.

The movement Tatsam/ becomig becomes Tadbhava/ being, the mystic becomes a spiritual Master and is followed by the Ashta-Siddhis. Ashta refers to the eight fold and Siddhis are the Yogic perfections. Mastanas /Param-Hamsas accept them, as a part of their Swatantra Shakti / Free- will, but Farzanas / ascetics, Sadhus ,Sants/ saints and Mahatmas do not allow those eight-fold perfections to divert their energy with miracles. Rather they put their energy for the upliftment of society. The great example is of SwamiVivekananda, who applied Soham for “ATMANO MOKSHARTHAM JAGAT HITAYA CHA”, which reflects to his in born spirituality, as is evident from his lectures in the Parliament of the World Religion at Chicago U S A.

Mystical Approach

The mystics of Bharat / India recognize Soham in the process of reversal or going back to the ORIGIN, which is to identify ones own self with the Divine. With the force of Pranayama, taking Apana back into Prana and balancing with Samana, SOHAM goes back to HAMSAH. The literal meaning of HAMSA is swan, goose or flamingo. Its color is spotless white, which is verily, Sattva/Purity of thought, mind and deed. This is known as the Arohana /Ascent andAvarohana / Descent in mysticism, but within the limit of PRANAYAMA. In Sufism it is known as Hafs-e – Nafas, but based on the Ishq-e-illahi .Patanjali speaks of it as Kundalini- a serpentine coil, which needs to be awakened by those, who are intent upon realizing the relationship between SAH +AHAM

Guru Nanak Dev would meditate upon the Akal Purukh. Kabir would identify with Nirguna Nishkala RamaSant Tulasidas with Avadha Puri RamaMira Bai would play the Iktara/ guitar to keep her breath always attuned with Shri Krishna. She was the Shruti of the Krishna-consciousness.

Alone is the Sadhaka watched by the infinity? Around him is the world and the Unknowable TAT/ That. All can be seen through his intuitive eye and the mind can grasp the Immutable relationship between SAH+ AHAM to acknowledge SOHAM. Thus the beauty of human birth lies in synthesis of body, mind and soul. Verily, the Soham is the understanding of the eternal light within every nerve and cell, which is realized as under:

"It enters the mystic’s Eternal Light- 
Its steps are of an ascending force

Shiva Ratri

Dr. Chaman Lal Raina


Shiva Ratri is the integrating force of the Sanatana Dharma, popularly known as Hinduism. Shiva Ratri is the essence of the Yajur Veda, where Shiva is adored as Rudra, ShambhavaBhava and Hara. Shiva Ratri is a spiritual journey from Hara state of mind to the Bhava state of existence. It is a spiritual journey from Samsara to Moksha. Shiva Sankalpa Mantra helps a devotee to see the Vatuka Bhirava from the subjective existence to the objective realization in identifying one’s own self with the Universal consciousness of Bhagavan Shiva. The first Sutra/aphorism of the Shiva Sutra teaches the Eternal Truth that Consciousness is the Atman/self. Vatuka Raja- Vatak Raz is the consciousness of Shiva.

Source material

1 Yajur Veda, Shiva Purana, Nilamata Purana, Shaiva Agamas.

2 Recitation of the Rudra Mantra, Mahimna Stotram, Panchakshari Mantra during the Eternal Night of the Tandava Nritya/cosmic dance of the Universal Spirit.


1 To realise Shiva- consciousness with subjectivity, objectivity and universality.

2 Shiva Ratri is not a celebration of mind alone , but uniting mind with Supreme Shiva. 3 To seek blessings from the Vatuka Bhairava in visual form and to have His


4 To see the Pradosha/ inauspicious muhuruta turned into the Bhagavata Muhurta, which is an auspicious hour.

Expression/ Invocation

I pay my obeisance to the Watuk Raj Bhairava, who is no else but the Divine Flame of auspiciousness. The Watak Raz`u as the Supreme effulgence is popularly adored absorbent in the Bijamantra, as visualized by the Vamadeva Rishi. Hence the Shiva Ratri of Kashmir is purely Agamic in essence, Yogic in practice and ritualistic in pattern. The Herath as it is adored with devotion, is the essence of the SHIVA-SHAKTI in unison. The celebration is to greet the Divine within the sanctum sanctorum of the residential house, known as the Thokur Kuth., or in theCho`ku , the abode of Annapurna Devi , who is the consort of Shiva. These two designated places are said to be the sacred places in the household. As a matter of sanctity, Cho`ku is considered d as next to Thokur Kuth. The Watak Raz`u is being installed in these two designated places, even in the Diaspora, with little modification subject to the availability of space.

Pre -requisites for the observance of Herath

1 The house is being cleaned, known as Hur Dalun and the days for the cleansing of the house commences from the Hur`i Okdoh and concluded on the Hur`i Sheyam. After Hur`i celebration , generally no Hokh`u Siyun/ dried vegetable is to be cooked as a dish. There is a logic behind it. Since theWatak Raz is to be invoked with serenity, thus there should be some thing new vegetable to be offered , which could be easily available. In Kashmir, Spinach is just grown in the fields, along with the fresh radish and turnip , and lotus roots are easily available, so the Reeth/ tradition of fresh vegetables developed as the Siyun to be cooked. Wonderful were the ideas of our ancestors, which we are still preserving even in the Diaspora, after migration. These are the cultural bonds, which shape the religious fervor with respect to place and situation.

Watak Raz Parivar is to be bought from the potter in the Deity form ofWatuk BhairavaRam Go`dReshi Dulij , Sani-PotulKhetra PalDupu Zoor. It was necessarily bought after Hur`i Satam upto Wage`r Bah. Watuk Parivar needed for the occasion should be of baked clay. But the new standards in the religious ethos, allowed the baked clay Watak Raz to be replaced by brass Watak Raz Later on the steel took place of the brass. (I need not to comment on the steel Watak Raz. It is question of personal choice) . Watuk Bhairava is not worshipped alone . HE manifests along with the host of Shaktis. Ram G`aud is the Purusha principle of the Hiranya Garbha, and Reshi Dulij is the Prakriti principle of the Hiranya Garbha. Sani Potul represents the cosmic creation of the Shiva Shakti in One Emblem.SINI is a Sanskrit word, which refers to the woman having a white complexion and Putula in Sanskrit language means the icon of Shiva. So SANIPO`TUL is the SHIVA SHAKTI EKA RUPINI/ Shiva and Shakti are One in essence, which is the base of the Kashmiri Herath. Khetrapals are the Iha Rashtradhi Pati Bhairava---zonal deity of observance and the other is the specific Bhairava, invoked as the Heruka to act as the Kavacham of the Tantric deliberations in looking after the PADDHATI of FIVE day Puja manual.

3 WUSUR and A’IR is Prithvi Tattva or the Earthly existence. Wusur is theApbhramsha of the word Wasura, which denotes existence of the Mother earth. That is the reason the Wusur is made of Petchi Diyol., a special weed of the Dal lake. As Mother earth is both soil and the water. The dried Petcha grass known as diyol is put in three whirls with a knot, to represent the TRIGUNATMAK PRAKRITI of Sattva-Rajas-Tamas.It is placed at the bottom of the Watak Raz`u. Ram Go`d, Reshi Dulij and two Khetrapals, the guardian deities of the great event. Wusur is an offering of garland and A ‘IR is anASANA/ seat. It is to invoke the Kundalini Shakti within the aura of Watak Raz. The Deities are wrapped properly with the garland. This is the very start of the Thirty six Tattvas of the Trika Shasana/ Darshanas or popularly recognized as the Kashmir Shiva Darshan to start with the Prithvi Tattva. The SHASTA/ Principal deity of the Five day Puja is the WATAK RAZ`U. The thirty six Tattvas is the universal Existence of Shiva, where Shakti helps Shiva to manifest as a universal Spirit. The Watuka Paddhati establishes that fact.

Deliberation of Puja

The Watuk Bvhairava Puja is a long ranged systemized Puja of Five days, which starts from Gad`u KahWag`er BhahHeratcha Truvah,Chaturdasi/ Salam(later influence) and Parmuzun. This is the Shaivistic Puja Paddhati, it is Sattvic, Rajasic and Pradushik in character. It is the essence of the cosmic whirl, in which Watak Raz helps the devotees to get enlightened and be in the Sadhana of Shiva -Shakti and the cosmic matter i.e. Anu/ nara. It is based on the KADI system of Mantra and the HadiSystem of Mantra, generally Kadi Mantra is in practice. The experts of the Hadi Mantra are no more now.

On the eleventh Tithi of the Phalguna Krishna Paksha, the Fish is offered to the Ishtadeva to seek his blessings for the Anushtthanam / invoking deliberations of the Wagura on the following day. Wagura is the Tantric net, which needs to be woven with the Shri Raja Rajeshvari Mantra, which is theReshi Dulij of the great event. It is purely Sattvic, as the name Reshi Dulij suggests. Only vegetarian food , milk and candies are offered to this cosmic shape of the Divine. The main event is on the Shiva Ratri day deliberations, according to the Kula Riti/ family tradition.

What is Shiva Ratri?

Shivaratri is the auspicious night of the Divine

Though every moment is of the Divine, but the Un-manifest Absolute made That self manifest at a particular movement through free-will known as theIchha Shakti, but that Divine created the certain movements, with is Tamas,and that hour is known as the Prodosha Kala/ polluted hour. There happens to be the action and reaction of some cosmic vibrations, which create disturbances in the cosmos. Shiva through Vatuka Energy subsides that Pradosha, and that is Shiva Ratri. Shiva’s manifestation as the Jyotir Lingam, is said to be the sacred Shiva Chaturdashi on the Magha Krishna Chaturdashi,or the 14th lunar Tithii of Magha, but the forces got interacted at the midnight the Pradosha Kala of the Phalguna Krishna trayodashi, just after one month of the Shiva’s emergence as the Jyotirlingam. Watak Raza manifested to make the world free from natural upheavals in the form of a Brhmachari. The Brahmachari because of his Brahmavarchas/ total celibacy, has the force and design to set the cosmic vibrations in Vatuk Patra/ Vatak N`ot with his Shakti in tune with the harmony of the world. This is verily, the Reshi Dulij. Ram G`aud is the Bhairava Force in the Watuka ParivarSani Potul is the balancing power of the cosmos I as Purusha and Prakriti does. The Mantra dedicated to the Watak Raz is partly invocation and partly attributes with prayers to keep the world free from natural upheavals at the time of Pradosha. A flaming thunder gets diverted to keep the Asuric/evil forces away from the scene. A swift life-impulse gets vibrated to lead a Bhakta to realize the relationship between Hara and Shiva, which are the conflicting forces within the Jivatman/ human being. The Watuk Parivar is the manifestation of the Shiva in Existence. To the Hindu psyche Image is the thought in action.This is Kriya Shakti of Vatuka Bhairava.

Why Herat?

Herat is the Apbhramsha of the word Hara Ratri, which is the night of the Tandava for Shiva, but the grace of the Vatuka Bhairava makes that Tandava into the auspiciousness of higher bliss, where there is no trace of ego., only harmonious rhythm is seen and felt

Bija Mantra of the Vatuka Bhairava

Om Aim Hrim Shrim Devi Putra Vatuka Nathaya Namah

The Bija Mantra is the seed syllable of the Watuka Nath, who is the Devi Parvati’s Putra. OM is the Vedic Pranava, with the pure Sattva of Brahma, Rajas of Vishnu and the Power of reabsorption of Mahesha. Aim is the Tantric Pranava, and has been described in the first Shloka of the Panchastavi and in the Markandeya Purana. Hrim is adored as the seed of reverence known as the Lajja Bija of the Shakta Agamas, Devi Putra is the absolute energy of thePurna Prakriti or Moola Prakriti. Namah is the obeisance to the sound body of the Absolute. This Bija Mantra consists of Nine phonemes, with distinct characteristics of Absolute energy in the Watuka. The Watuka Puja has nothing to do with the observance of the marriage sacrament of Shiva and Parvati. Had this been so, the Bija Mantra like Devi Putra Vatuka Natha could not have evolved and taken the very basis of the Shiva Ratri ethos of Kashmir. But people have taken it as the meeting of Shiva and Shakti, according to the Shiva Parinaya, thus the present ethos has developed.

Marriage of Shiva and Parvati connected with the Shiva Ratri?

The Yajur Veda address Shiva as the Bhava Sharva and the meaning of Hara is seizing, captivating. Shiva exercised the Yogic flame of the third eye for burning of the Kamadeva, hence was adored as Hara. The same flame when got diverted into cool breeze of the 13th digital dark moon became Shiva Ratri. The episode is related in the Rudra Samhita Parvati Khand of the Shiva Purana. And that too took place on the 14th Tithi of the Phalguna Lunar fortnight, one day after the actual Shivaratri of the Kashmir traditioin. That day is known as Salam., which is purely a social interaction of the Kashmiri ethos, between Muslims and Pandits.

Guru`t tradition of the Herat

The Nilamata Purana says, ‘The Shiva Ratri is observed on the dark 14th of Phalguna. Shiva lingam is to be worshipped with perfumes, garlands, clothes and Naivedya made of flour”. It has the significance as the staple food of Kashmir is rice.

This is still prevalent as the Tcho`chi wor of rice flour is being offered to the Watak Raz . The offerings to the Vaishva deva in AGNI KUNDA is offered with Kai`nkini Wor. As well as with the cooked rice. A circular bread of the like shape of the sun with rays as shown in the Mandala graphics .

The main source of the Shiva Ratri Puja has been documented and edited by the great Kashmir Karmakanda scholar Pandit Keshav Bhat Jyotishi of Rainawari in the early twentieth century . That is the authentic source of Puja. There has been some slight changes after 1947, and shortened techniques emerged in the Puja system but the Reeth remained intact with reference to the offerings etc. . Now people have been opting for the Vegetarian Naivedya instead of non –vegetarian offerings to the Watak Raz Otherwise , the non-vegetables would consist of lamb., fish. bird(Pachhin) and Van Kokur . The Gurut tradition of vegetarianism during Heart is gaining ground, but traditionally continue to be non-vegetarian on the Salam festival- the great day of festivity.

Why Walnut?

The walnut has still got prominence even in the Diaspora, due to the availability of the walnuts. Walnut is the dried fruit , which is easily available in all the seasons of Kashmir. This is the Rituphal/ all season dried fruit of the Kashmiri Pandit religious ethos. Whatever religious function may be, where Agni is to be invoked, Kalasha is to be installed, there walnuts are put in the Kalasha and being sanctified with the Shanti Mantras, Bahuroopa garbhaRudra Mantra, as is being practiced in case of the Shiva Ratri. . After the Puja is over, the KALASH LAV is sprinkled with Shanti and Swasti Mantras of the Vedas, Athifo`l/ Purna Ahuti Samagri is a must, even in the Diaspora. Walnut symbolizes the four Vedas in one nut. It is the symbol of the Haranyagarbha as well. This Heratch Doon is still distributed to dear and near ones, friends, neighbors. Even the Heratch Doon was distributed to the Muslims as well up to 1990. A good number of walnuts is given asNaveed to the married daughters of any age , even if she must have become the great grand mother as well. She gets noon - tchoch`u - ata gat, from her parental home. The walnut distribution system plays a very important role in the social fabric of the Kashmiri Pandits religious life. Watak Naveed is the symbol of mutual love, peace and prosperity.

Mystical Diagram of the Vatuka Bhairava:

The three Moola Mantras have appeared in the Hindi section of the Koshur Samachar previously, in the form of a letter to the editor by the author.

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