by Justice Shiva Nath Katju
TANTRA SHASTRA is one of the most misunderstood subjects not only in India but throughout the world. In popular thought and imagination a Tantrik is a person who dabbles in strange, awful and mysterious rites involving visits to cremation grounds and use of wine and women. He is feared also because he is credited with powers of inflicting harm as also of bringing relief and good fortune. The so-called Tantriks run a flourishing business catering to the needs of politicians, men in trade and industries and in other walks of life. Very often most of such Tantriks, after acquiring some powers by elementary Tantrik practices, use them for petty monetary gains. For a time they show good results but they are side - tracked from the path of spiritual advancement and have to content themselves by giving magic shows and demonstrations of cheap miracles. As a matter of fact, an earnest Tantrik practitioner avoids being caught in the mesh of sidhis and keeps his eyes fixed on his spiritual objective very often preferring anonymity.
Tantra Shastra is part of the Dharma Shastra of the Hindus and has its roots in the Vedas. Western scholars in their anxiety to put the age of Hindu Civilization later to the Greek Civilization have attempted to put the age of Rig Veda to 2000 B.C. and this too seemingly has been done reluctantly and out of generosity. The tragedy is that Indian scholars who take their inspirations from their western teachers and masters have toed the Western line of thought. If Rig Veda goes back only to 2000 B. C. then the period of Shri Ramachandra and of Mahabharta have all to be squeezed in between 2000 B. C. and the birth of Gautam Buddha. A more glaring instance of the western myth is the Aryan invasion of India. Every text book of history starts with that myth which has no basis. It is assumed as a geometrical maxim that Aryans were not Indians and they entered into India from some country other than India. The question then arises as to where did they come from. Then the hunt begins and we are confronted with different theories about the original home of the Aryans and here the wise and pompous scholars are not agreed at all. We have the Central Asian, Caucasian & Lithunian theories, regarding the original home of the Aryans. Even such a profound scholar like the late Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak was so overwhelmed by the weight of western opinion that he too propounded his Arctic theory on the basis of the long drawn twilights indicated by some Rig Vedic Richas on 'Ushas' and said that the Arctic Region was the original homeland of the Aryans. It has to be categorically stated that the Indian tradition as also the Vedic literature clearly supports the view that the homeland of the Aryans was Sapta Sindhava viz. the land covered by the River Sindhu Indus and its tributaries.
It is now admitted that in some remote past the land south of the present Punjab and Haryana and the north of the Vindhyas was covered by sea. The Rajputana desert has the Sambhar lake which has salty water indicative of its marine past. It is now well recognised that the Himalayan mountain ranges are, from a geological angle, of comparatively recent origin and marine fossils have been found in its rock stratas. History is silent as to when did that happen. Sahara and Gobi deserts were in times past cradles of human civilisation and as a result of intensive grazing the soil became barren and ultimately turned into deserts wiping off the old civilisation of which no traces are left. Again, due to geological changes land between Europe and Africa which connected the two continents got submerged under water when the Atlantic ocean broke through the strait of Gibraltar. We know nothing of these dead and past ancient civilisations.
The Red Indians of North America use Swastika as a symbol. The surprising fact is that they also pronounce it as Swastika as we do. It is said that the American Red Indians are descendants of Asian Tribes who entered America through the Behring strait in some remote past. History is silent as to when that happened. Our known recorded history hardly covers three to four thousand years.
We go further three thousand years back for our sketchy information about Ancient Egypt. The Egyptian pyramids still remain a mystery. Results of archaeological excavations in Sumer Akkad and Mohenjodaro have thrown some light, though dim, on the history of those regions. Beyond 4000 and 5000 B. C. is the era of darkness which is sought to be penetrated by the valiant efforts of anthropologists, archaeologists gists, and we hear of such phases in human history as stone age and copper age. It is now said that human beings first appeared on our planet five million years back. How they, evolved is still a controversial subject. Some say that we evolved from a type of sea fish which had a verbetra like ours. Another widely believed theory is that apes were our ancestors. McGlashan, one of the renowned psychologists of the world, in his recently publish book, "The savage and beautiful country", which deals with the working of human mind, has suggested that just as we are now sending human beings in outer space similarly by a reverse process the human species, on our planet came from some planet of our galaxy. Madame Blavatsky, the founder of theosophical movement has propounded the same view.
In short we are so dazzled by the scientific and technological advancement made during the last three or four centuries that we faithfully believe that ours is the most progressive era of our world history and the human beings who inhabited our planet six or seven thousand years back were savages and primitive men. Our self-conceit makes us unable to realise that we are totally ignorant about the past beyond the aforesaid limits. McGlashan says:
"A time will come once more when the whirling machinery will grind to a halt, the harsh music cease and the roundabout riders step down stiffly from their apocalyptic beasts. Looking round for his friends of the inner world, everyman will, see them, too, in troops of gray shadows, slipping silently away. One by one the lights of the fair ground will go out, and every man will be left at last, as at the shadowed close of so many earlier civilisations, to find his own way home, by himself, in the dark".
So civilisations have grown and blossomed and then faded away on our planet. We hear now of continental drifts; shifting of land masses breaking old continents and forming new ones. No one knows the history of the people who lived on land that has now been submerged under seas. Time has devoured them all. In this respect the Hindus are unique. Their memories, thoughts and traditions go back to the dawn of creation itself and the time when man first appeared on this planet. The Rishis heard the Vedas with the appearance of human beings on our Earth. Today the Hindus are not those people whose history may be sought to be built up on inferences drawn from ancient ruins and relics of the past. With all the ups and downs that the Hindus have faced in the then history they have gone on marching in tune with KALA, the devourer of all, still chanting the primeval songs that were passed on by the Rishis from generation to generation. The Hindu does not begin from any popularly known starting point of era such as B. C., A.D., Vikram or Shaka. He calculates his day from the beginning of creation itself viz. the start of Brahma's day. The universe which we call Srishti begins and lasts till the close of a Brahma's day and there is Pralaya at night. The creation restarts from the dawn of the next Brahma's day. After hundred such days of Brahma there is the Great Dissolution - Mahapralaya. After its end srishti starts again and so the cycle goes on and on.
yogis know the essence of time who are aware of the fact that Brahma's day
extends to a thousand Mahayugas and similar is the extent of one night of
The four Yugas viz. Satyayuga,Treta, Dwapar and Kaliyuga make one Mahayuga. This concept is not any hidden or secret doctrine. On the other hand, every Hindu who performs the daily Sandhya recites the following Sankalpa at the start of his worship:
"Today, the first half of the second Prahar of Brahma's Day in Vaivaswat Manvantar and Shvetvarah Kalpa in the land of Aryas in the holy Bharat-Khand of Jambudweep and the first charan of Kaliyuga, in so and so Samvatsar, Month, Paksha, Tithe, Day, I of such and such Gotra and name............"
One day of
Brahma is equal to a Kalpa and 14 Manwantars make one Kalpa.
One day of Brahma or 1 Kalpa, is 100 x 43.2 = 432 crores of human years.
One Manwantar is equal to 432000000/14 human years = 30.858 crores.
We are at present in the seventh Manwantar Vaivaswat after the elapse of 27 Mahayugas and in the beginning of 28th Kaliyuga of the presently running Brahma's Day. The current Kali year is 5081.
Manus change in every Manwantar and they have particular names. The manu of the presently running manwantar is Vaivaswat and the manwantar is named after him. Since one Kalpa is one day of Brahma's life there are thirty Kalpas in every month of his life which have separate names.
The late Shrimad Upendra Mohan, the great scholar, sage and savant of Bengal has said in his remarkable book "Reason, science and shastras":
"The same Yugas, the same Manus, the same Kalpas, the same Brahma constantly return through time eternal, therefore the calculation of the creation, of its age, its life and its destruction is constant in correct to the minutest fracton of the time, unlike stupid modern science which does not know what it talks and flounders on from statement to statement through a quagmire of ridiculous falsehoods. Now which is right? The changeless shastras or the ever changing science............"
The Hindus know according to the calculation of the shastras that the present age of the earth is 198 crores of years. This calculation is changeless and unchangeable - it is God's spoken word and therefore the truth which is
[ That which remains the same at all times - the past, the present and the future, that which is permanent and unchangeable under all conditions, that which is eternal is a called truth. It admits no ebb nor flow ]
In the sombre and awe - inspiring dance of time the origin and flow of Tantra Shastra and Shiva Shakti upasana has to be seen. It must be, stated at the outset that "Tantricism in Kashmir" is not any separate system which is distinct from the general frame-work of Shakta Agams. On the contrary, it is a part of it. Kashmiri savants and sages however made important and lasting contributions in interpreting the Agam Shastra and more so in expounding the world famous Shaiva Darshan (Shaiva Philosophy). According to our Shastras the Vedas are revealed to the Rishis in every Satya Yugas and they are gradually withdrawn in the succeeding yugas and very little of them is left in Kaliyuga. There are 21 branches of Rigveda, 109 of Yajurveda, 50 of Atharva veda and 1000 of Sam veda. Only 2 of the 1000 branches of Sam Veda are now extant in this world and the rest have been withdrawn. Rig Veda, Atharva Veda and Yajur Veda have similarly been depleted. It is not possible for men of Kaliyuga either to perform the long-drawn vedic yagnas or derive benefit from it. So Mahadeva in His infinite mercy revealed the Tantras for the men and women of our age. But the principles of Tantrik worship, particularly Shakti worship, were known to a section of spiritual practitioners even in the Yugas preceding Kaliyuga and they ran parallel to the vedic sadhana system. Tantric rites are 'kriyAtmak' and have to be practised. Having their roots in the Vedic system they are comparatively short and easier to perform than the Vedic Yugnas and they are highly potent and give quick results and raise man to godhood. Even in Satayuga, Treta and Dwapar the Tantric practitioners were frowned upon by those who followed the orthodox form of Vedic rituals. These differences gave rise to the cool relations between Dakhsa Prajapati and Mahadeva. At that time the daughter of Daksha was the Divine consort of Mahadeva. Shrimad Bhagwat (3rd Skandh, 4th. Adhyaya) refers to the strained relations between Mahadeva and Daksha Prajapati. Their relations had been so embittered that when Daksha Prajapati decided to perform a big Yagna he did not invite either Mahadeva or the latter's consort. The episode is described in enchanting language in Puranas and by poets.
Mahadeva and Sati, as she was called in view of what happened later, were sitting on Mount Kailasa, when Sati observed the Devas going with their retinues in Akash (sky). She enquired from Shiva as to what was happening. Mahadeva said the Devas were going to her father's house to join the yagna there. She was pained to hear of the yagna of which she had not been informed. She asked as to why Mahadeva was not participating in the yagna. Mahadeva said that her father was annoyed with him and they had not been invited. She insisted on going to her father's house inspite of the fact that she had not been asked to come by her own father. Mahadeva tried to persuade her not to go saying that even a daughter should not go to her father's house when she had not been so asked. Sati persisted and when Lord Mahadeva was not inclined to accede to her wish to go uninvited to her father's house She projected Her dazzling form as Mahamaya in all directions, 4 in four directions on surface, 4 upwards in four directions, one above and ane below, ten in all Her aspects of Kali, Bagla, Chinnamasta, Bhuvaneshwari, Matangi, Kamala Dhumavati, Tripursundari, Tara and Bhairavi. They are the Ten Mahavidyas and the Tantrik worship of Shiva-Shakti in its upper reaches revolves on them or any of their other aspects. In fact they are the different entrance gates around the base of the mountain on which a Tantrik practioner starts on his climb to the summit where the Mahavidyas all merge into one and he worships at the alter of the Creatrix of all who keeps on creating, preserving and dissolving the Universe. She has three forms viz. Para Rupa which no one knows, Mantra Rupa which is Her subtle form, and lastly, Her physical which are described in Her strotras in Tantra Shastras and Puranas.
very graphically described in "Durga Saptashati" by Rishi Medhas. Commonly
called the "Chandi Path" its recitation is believed to be very effective and the
Hindus all over India and also, in other countries recite it individually as
also collectively. All its Mantras are Siddha Mantras. It is the story of
Emperor Surath and Samadhi Vaishya which cuts the barriers of Time and Space.
Both of them were in distress and seek the refuge of Medhas Rishi. It describes
manvantar (the second Manvantar in the cycle) born in Chaitra vansh was Emperor
Surath who ruled on Earth. Having been defeated by his enemies he entered a
dense forest and came to the ashram of Medhasa Rishi. While the Emperor was in
the Rishi's ashram Samadhi Vaishya, who was a prosperous merchant but was in
adverse circumstances, also came in the Ashram. They related to each other their
tales of woe and misfortune and eventually met the Rishi and put questions to
the Rishi and asked the cause of their acute mental distress. The Rishi spoke of
Devi Bhagwati who is the cause of all;
She, the Mahamaya, forcibly puts the minds of even the wise into hazen. She creates the Jagat and when she is pleased. She grants liberation to men.
"Astonished, Emperor Surath asked who is that Devi whom you call Mahamaya How did she come into Being, what is Her sphere of working, what is Her form and character. I want to hear all about Her.
"Even though She is ever present, personifies in Herself the entire Jagat, is the cause of all, She manifests Herself in different forms and now that you have come to me - so listen".
spoke of the appearance at the time of 'Deluge' when Brahma sitting on a lotus,
which had its roots in the navel of Vishnu who was asleep, saw himself being
furiously attacked by Asura Madhu and Kaitabha. He prayed to the Devi to save
him. The famous ode of Brahma begins thus:
He prayed the Devi to free Vishu from Her mesh of sleep. The Devi thereupon released Vishnu from sleep and the latter fought against the two Asuras and killed them. Here the Devi did not fight Herself but acted through Vishnu.
The second chapter of the Saptashati refers to the powerful Asuras led by Mahishasura who had subdued the Devas and had himself became Indra. The Devas led by Brahama approached Shiva and Vishnu for protection. Plight of the Devas greatly infuriated Shiva and Vishnu and their anger caused effulgence to burst out from their faces and similarly the Teja of the Devas also appeared and the entire effulgence uniting produced the form of a Dazzling Lady whose radiance spread to the three lokas (triloki). The Devi fought several Asuras of the legions of Mahishasura and killed them. Finally Mahishasura came in person to fight the Devi and after initial encounters assumed the form of Mahisha and attacked the Devi. The Devi became furious and refreshed Herself by superfine drink-wine: and said -
"Shout, shout, boastfully you fool ! till I take madhu (wine).
Superfine drink and wine has, relevance to the use of wine by Tantrik practitioners on special occasions. After a grim fight with Mahishasura the latter was slain by the Devi;
"The Devi by Her great sword cut off the head of Mahishasura. Delighted to see Her victorious, the Devas prayed to Her as Sura Devi
The hymn in praise of the Devi by the Devas is soul stirring. It pleased the Devi who was in the form of Bhadra Kali, and She granted the Devas prayer to came to their help whenever they were in trouble.
The last Act in the Drama starts with another deadly combat between the Devas and the Asuras when two miohty Asuras - Shumbha and Nishumbha overpowered Indra as also Surya, Chandra, Yama and Varuna. They again prayed to the Devi to save them. This is another famous hymn in Durga Saptashate. While the Devas were praying to Her she passed by in the form of maiden-Parvati-and asked the Devas as to whom they were praying. As soon as she put that question there emerged Shiva from Her own body and said that the Devas are praying to Us;
Having come out of the body of the Devi She is known and venerated in the universe as Kaushiki;
As a result of Kaushiki's separation from Her body the complexion of Parvati underwent a change and became dark and stayed in the Himalyas and became known as Kali;
Apart from the fact that Durga Saptashati occupies a very important place in Tantrik worship I have referred to it at some length because the aforesaid change in the complexion of Parvati and Her being called Kali appears to have a direct bearing on Kashmir Tantricism and the form of our Ragnya Bhawani. A notice board in the courtyard of Kheer Bhawani Kund in Tulmula says, so far as I recollect, that the Devi was Worshipped by Ravana in Lanka and was brought from there and installed in Tulmula after the defeat ef Ravana by Shri Ram Chandraji. In the shrine in the Kheer Bhawani Kund Devi Ragnya Bhagwati is sitting on the left of Her Bhairava, Bhuteshwara, and Her complexion is dark. Kali is Krishna-Varna and has dark complexion. But as mentioned in the dhyan of Ragnya Bhawani Her complexion is very fair, like fresh snow;
Has the change, as seen in Her image in the Tulmula Shrine and the description in Her dhyan, any bearing on the aforesaid narrative in the Saptashati which transformed the Parvati into dark complexioned Kali ? I met the famous sage and scholar, Swami Lakshman joo Maharaj in the summer of 1979 when I was in Kashmir. I pointedly referred to the aforesaid description of Ragnya's complexion in Her Dhyan and Her complexion in Her image in the Kheer Bhawani Shrine and asked him whether Ragnya Bhawani is Kali and if I remember rightly he said it is so. The point is interesting and requires clarification. It is generally believed that Ragnya Bhawani is Tripura Sundari. But if She is Kali also then She combines in Herself the aspects of two Mahav dyas.
I resume the narrative of the Devi's encounter with Shumbha and Nishumbha which again has an important bearing on the form of our Sharika Devi.
Parvati of dazzling beauty was seen by Chand and Mund and they reported to their Master Shumbha that a maiden of unrivalled beauty was residing in the Himalyas and she was fit, to be his queen and he should have her;
Shumbha thereupon sent a messenger to Parvati who spoke to her about the prowess of his master and asked her on his behalf either to marry Shumbha or his brother Nishumbha. Parvati said that she was aware that Shumbho and Nishumbha were masters of the three regions - Trilok but while in a fitful mood. She had taken a view that she will marry only that person who breaks her pride in combat and proves that he is more powerful than herself;
The messanger was astounded to hear the Devi's reply. How could a maiden like her think of defeating the powerful Shumbha and his legions in fight. He conveyed the Devi's reply to his master. Shumbha was enraged on hearing the Devi's reply and asked his general Dhumralochan to go to the Devi with his legion and bring her to him by force. When he attacked the Devi the latter burnt him by her powerful hissing;
Her lion destroyed the asuras who had come with Dhumralochan. Then Shumbha sent the two demons Chanda and Munda to fight with her and bring her back to him by force. The two demons were well armed and had a big force with them. Seeing the force arrayed against her the Devi was enraged and Kali emerged from her forehead
Kali fought furiously and killed Chanda and Munda and what remained of their troops ran away. The Shumbha decided to go himself with Nishumbha with his legions and fight the Devi who had Kali by her side. Seeing the huge force of Shumbha the Devas could not remain aloof but this time the Shaktis of Brahma, Shiva, Kartikeya, Vishnu, and Indra emerging out of them joined Parvati and Kali in the fight against Shumbha. The fight raged furiously and the Devis decimated the forces of Shumbha. The fight against Shumbha's general Raktabeeja was deadly. Whenever blood flowed from his body, thousands of other Demons appeared. Parvati asked Kali to open her mouth wide and drink the blood flowing from Raktabeeja's body. Kali was addressed by Parvati as Chamunda and acting accordingly she drank the blood flowing out of Raktabeeja's body until he was slain dead by Parvati. Nishumbha resumed fighting and he was also killed. After the death of his brother and his generals, Shumbha himself confronted the Devi and said:
"O Durga ! do not boast of your strength because fighting with the support of Devi Shaktis has swollen your pride."
The Devi replied:
Thou wicked person ! who else besides me is there in this Universe (Jagat) ? I am one; see all these aspects of Mine re-enter in Me. On saying this all the Deva - Shaktis including Brahmani merged into Her and Ambika stood alone;
The fight between the Devi and Shumbha was bitter and lasted for long and ultimately Shumbha was slain by the Devi. The Devas prayer to her is another stirring hymn in her praise. As mentioned earlier every Shloka in Durga Saptashati is clothed in highly esoteric language and describes the constant struggle which goes on in the astral plane between the forces of virtue and evil which the Shastras refer to as the fight between the Devas and Asuras - Devasurasangrama. It is reflected in our world as also in mankind inhabiting it.
The tnteresting question arises, particularly with reference to Shakti worship in Kashmir, whether the Devi referred to above who annihilated Shumbha and Nishumbha and their legions is represented in any of her aspects still existing in Kashmir and worshipped by the Kashmiris. Can it be our Sharika Bhawani !
The Deva - Shaktis, which came by her side when Shumbha himself came with his forces to fight her, were:
Brahmani, Maheshwari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Narsingh, and Indrani emerging out of the Devas came by her side. The remarkable coincidence is that in the Yantra Puja of Sharika Bhagwati all the aforesaid Devis are worshipped as Matrikas;
The names of some of the aforesaid matrikas appear in the Avaran Puja of the Yantras of Ragnya, Jwala and Bala also but not in such remarkable sequence as mentioned above.
Another remarkable coincidence appears from the following lines the Sharika Stotra in
As mentioned above Dhumralochan, the general of Shumbba was reduced to ashes by the hissing of the Devi:
In Sharika Bhagwati's dhyan she is shown as sitting on lion and in blood red garments with her Bhairava Vamadeva by her said
In another dhyan of Sharika Bhawani she is shown as having eighteen arms. Do they symbolise the aspects of Kali with 10 arms and Lakshmi and Saraswati having 4 arms each, of uniting in Her. Is She the Durga of Durga Saptashati who fought against Shumbha and Nishumbha? The question has to be answered by the Savants of Kashmir.
The principal Kula Devis of the Kashmiri Brahmins are Ragnya, Sharika, Jwala, and Bala Tripur Sundari. The Shrines of both Sharika and Jwala do not contain any Murtis but are rocks (Shilas) and are not man made. They go back to hoary past. Thus it can be inferred that the Devi was worshipped in her aspects of Ragnya, Sharika and Jwala and others since time immemorial and before the epic war of Mahabharata and the dawn of Kaliyuga.
The worship of the Devi existed in the Vedic Times and prior to Kaliyuga as would appear from, the vedic Devi Sukta and any number of references in Puranas and Itihas apart from what is said in the Durga Saptashati and it so existed in Kashmir as in other parts of the country. Thus the Devi was generally worshipped as the creatrix of the universe from the very dawn of human civilisation side by side with the vedic rites which were performed by the people. The hidden Sadhana of the Devi was also known to some elite practitiones before the advent of the Kali era.
The Mababharata was fought towards the close of Dwapar Yuga. In the conversation between Yudhistera and Sanjaya before the start of the war the time mentioned was the prevailing Dwapar Yuga. (Bhisma Parva, Chap. X)
Calculating from the present Kaliyuga year 5081, Kaliyuga began in 3101 B.C. which is a crucial and turning point in human history on our planet.
"It is said that Kaliyuga could not begin as long as Lord Shri Krishna was touching this Earth with His holy feet and it was only after He left this mundane world that Kaliyuga commenced. [ Kaliyuga Raja. Vrittantam, Bhagwat III Chap. III ]
According to the tradition, It has and Puranic literature of the Hindus the Mahabharata War took place in about 3136 B. C. viz about 36 years before the commencement of Kaliyuga.
Mahabharat is full of references to Shiva and Devi. When the rival forces were
arrayed on the battlefield and before the Start of fighting Lord Krishna asked
Arjuna to pray to Durga for victory
Arjuna prayed to Dnrga in a soul-stirring hymns the opening of which is
In this hymn the Devi is addressed in all names which occur in the Durga Saptashate and in the Puranas.
Similarly there are any number of references to Shiva and Several Odes and hymns in which He is addressed in hundreds of names along with His Divine consort- the Devi in Her various aspects. Veda Vyas himself describes tho glory and attributes of Shiva. He is also described as Pashupate and His worship in the form of Shivalinga is mentioned by Ved Vyas. Similarly in the Sauptik Parva of Mahabharata there is the Stuti of Shankara by Ashwatthama (Chap.7) and the description of the Mahima of Shiva-Parvati and Shankara (Chap. 17). There is also the Sahsranama of Shiva in Chap. 284. The Anushasana Parva of Mahabharata again describes the Mahima of Shiva. The Meghavahan Parva is again full of the description of Shiva and His Stotra (Chapters 14 to 18.)
clear that during the time of Shri Krishna the worship of Shiva and Devi was,
well known and was performed by the Hindus all over the country including
Kashmir. Vitasta is mentioned as one of the Rivers of Bharat Khanda and Kashmir
as one of its regions in the Bhishma Parva of Mahabharata (Chap. 9). Bhishma
Pitamaha while lying on his bed of arrows after the close of the Mahabharata War
told Yudhishthira about the then existing forms of Dharma in Bharat Khanda. He
described them thus:
[ e.g. Sankhya, Yoga Panchratra, Veda and Pashupat ]
The destruction and loss of life in the Mahabharata War was collosal. The weapons used were more lethal than what may appear from the use of bows and arrows. There is specific mention of several weapons such as Brahmastra and others which were highly destructive and very likely some kind of arrows with unclear heads were used. A large number of tribes from behind the frontiers of United India took part in the fighting. Drona Parva of Mahabharata specifically mentions the "Shaved headed" Kamboj soldiers, the Yavanas, Shak, Shabar, Kirat and Barbar tribes who took abroad part in the fighting (Ch. 19.) The influx of people from abroad caused a great social confusion in the country. And then also began the Kali era. The vedic rites became difficult and beyond the capacity of men. There is another incident on the record. Janmejaya orgauised a great yagna for avenging the killing of his father Parikshit, the grandson of Arjuna, by Takshak Nag. The yagna started and snakes from all regions were drawn and started falling in the burning sacrificial pits. Then a Rishi, the protector of the Nagas appeared and stopped the rites. The interruption infuriated Agni Deva and he gave a curse to the Brahmins saying that hence onwards the Vedic Mantras would be ineffective to them like a poisonless snake. Then began the age of the Tantras.
The Mahanirvana Tantra is one of the Agamas which are ranked with the shrutis. Agamas are in the form of a dialogue between Shiva and Parvati. The latter questions and Shiva replies. In Nigamas Shiva questions and Parvati answers. In other Tantras such as Damaras and Yamalas only Shiva speaks, there being no conversaton between Him and Parvati. There are several Upa-Tantras and commentary on the Mul Tantras by Rishis and savants.
The Mahanirvana Tantra has a dramatic opening, Parviti says
The Devi said : "At present Kaliyuga holds sway and causes the destruction of Dharma and prompts people to commit wicked deeds, immoral and false acts. Now influence of Vedas has gone, Smrites have also been drowned in forgetfulness and the names of various Puranas which are full of history and point to various paths will not remain known and consequently the people will turn against virtuous acts. The people of Kali will become rudderless, vain, full of Sin, voluptuous, greedy, cruel without feelings of pity and will become haughty and accustomed to using unkind words. The people of Kaliyuga will keep company of low persons, will try to acquire the wealth of others, speak ill of others, act viscously and will become wicked. In trying to forcefully get another's wife these people will have no fear of sin. These persons will always remain poor, dirty and diseased. The Brahmins will not perform the daily Sandhya and will act like Shudras. Prompted by greed they will try to earn their living by performing forbidden acts and commit sins. They will be liars wicked persons vain, have evil tendancies and sell their daughters and will be opposed to tapas and vrat. They will flout the rubes with regard to eating and drinking and will always denounce the Shastras and virtuous men. 0 ! Lord of jagat, who among these people will read stotras and understand yantras and under the Kaliyuga perform Purashacharans. Men of Kaliyuga will be of very evil tendencies and will be sinful persons. How will they be reduced?" Sadashiva replied:- "Devi, you are blessed, merciful and kind and you are the well wisher of people of Kaliyuga. Whatever you have said about me is true". Then Sadashiva revealed the forms of worship which leads to liberation from bondage.
Tantra shastra has a wide connotation and it covers the Panchadeva upasana which came into vogue after the Mahabharata war with the start of Kaliyuga. The Pancha-devas are Ganesh, Vishnu, Surya. Shiva and Devi and there are separate sets of Agamas for each of them. Thus there are Ganpatya, Vaishnava, Saura, Shaiva and Shakta Agamas. In popular parlance Tantriks are supposed to be those who are worshippers of Shakti (Devi). Shakti is never worshipped alone. Every aspect of Shakti has Her Bhairava and both are worshipped together. Every Mahavidya has Her corresponding Bhairava. The same is the case With the Kul-devis of Kashmiri Brahmins. Ragnya's Bhairava is Bhuteshwar, Sharika's Bhairava is Vemdeva, Jwala's Bhairava is Mahadeva and Bala Tripura Sundari's Bhairava is Karneshwar. Similarly Shaiva's cannot ignore the consort of Shiva- the Devi and Shaiva and Shakta Upasana cannot be separated.
There are two broad forms of Shakta worship viz the Sbri Kul and Kali Kul. Kularnava Tantra is the authoritative Agam for Shri Kul and the Mahanirvana Tantra for Kali Kul. The Sammohan Tantra (Chap. VI) mentions 64 Tantras, 327 Upatantras, and several yamalas, Damaras, Samhitas and other scriptures of the Shaktas and 32 Tantras, 125 Upatantras and Yamalas, Damaras and other scriptures of Shaivas. The number of known Tantras is much less than the number mentioned and they have been either withdrawan or lost.
The question is raised as to the value and worth of the teachings of Agamas. It is answered by Sir John Woodroffe in the following words:
"In the first place there must be a healthy physical and moral life. To know a thing in its ultimate sense is to be that thing. To know Brahman, is according to Advaita, to be Brahman........... But to attain and keep this state as well as progress therein certain specific means, practices, rituals or disciplines are necessary. The result annot be got by mere philosophical talk about Brahman. Religion is practical activity. Just as the body requires exercise, training and gymnastic, so does the mind. The means employed are called sadhana. Sadhana is that which leads to Siddhi. Sadhana is development of Shakti. Man is a vast magazine of both latent and expressed power. The object of Sadhana is to develop man's Shakti, whether for temporal or spiritual purposes. But where is Sadhana to be found. Seeing that the Vaidika Achara has fallen into practical desuetude we can find nowhere but in the Agamas and in the Puranas which are replete with Tantrik rituals."
of Tantra Shastra after the Mahabharata war extended beyond the frontiers of
India and included Iran, Afghanistan, Tibet, Burma and nearly south eastern
Asian countries and Tantrik literature divided them into three zones viz
Vishnukranta, Ratha Kanta and Ashwa Kranta. The North eastern zone camo under
Vishnu Krant, North western zone under Ratha Kranta and Southern zone under
Ashwa Kranta. The dividing point of the aforesaid division was the eastern end
of the Vindhvas. The three Krarnas (schools) of Tantrik Sadhana prevailed in
each of the aforesaid zones viz Kashmir Krama in Rath Krant; Bang or Gaur Krama
in Vishnu Krant and Kerala Krama in Ashwa Krant. The Shakti-Sangam Tantra speaks
of the aforesaid three schools:
Eighteen regions of North East beginning from Nepal and going upto Orissa come under the sway of Gaur school; Nineteen regions from Aryavarta upto the seas come under Kerala Krama and the Kashmir Krama. Kashmir occupied remaining eighteen come under a prominent place in the field of Tantrik worship during the past Mahabharata period. Its scholars and savants were treated as authorities for the Kashmir Krama in the regions North-West of the Vindhyas. As in the parts of India there were votaries of Vishnu, Ganesh an Surya, so were they in Kashmir also but Shiva Shakti worship had a place of its own in Kashmir.
It was in Kashmir that the Adi - Shankaracharya realized the full impact of Shakti. There is controversy with regard to the age of Adi Shankaracharya. According to one view he was born in 740 A.D. while according to the Kanchi Math history the year of his birth is said to be 509 B.C. The present Shankaracharya of Kanchi Math, Jagatguru Shrimad Chandra Shekhar Sarswati Maharaj, the greatest savant of present day India, is sixty eighth in line of spiritual descent from the Adi Shankaracharya. The Kanchi records give the chronological table in the of all the Shankaracharyas of Kanchi Math together with names and dates of assumption of office by them. In spiritual descent, on an average there are usually three holders of the office in a century. Very often a holder of office takes a boy disciple in the later period of his life and the successor if he does not meet a premature death may continue in the seat of his office for a long span of years. Among the Shankaracharyas of Kanchi Math as many as 11 Shankaracharyas including the present one have held their office for more than 60 years. Out of them the second Shankaracharya presided over the Math for 70 years, the fourth for 96 years, the sixth for 81 years, the eighth for 83 years and the fifty - third for 81 years. The present Shankaracharya has been holding his office for 68 years.
The Adi Shankaracharya dividing the country into four zones founded four Maths; Jyotir Math at Joshimath near Almora district of U. P. ; Govardhan at Puri (Orissa), Sharda at Dwarka (Saurashtra) and Shringeri in south. After installing his disciples in each of these Maths, who were also called Shankaracharyas, the Adi Shankaracharya retired to Kanchi where also be had a Math, the fifth, and another disciple of the Adi Shankaracharya became the Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Math. The Kanchi parampara also finds support from the history of the Gaudapadacharya Math or Kaivalya Math now called the Kavale Math of Saraswat Brahmins. It was founded by Swami Vivarnananda at the same time when the Adi Shankaracharya founded his Maths. Sri Gaudapadacharya's disciple was Shri Govindacharya. The latter had two disciples the Adi Shankaracharya and Swami Vivarnananda. The headquarter of the Kavale Math is near the city of Goa and the present head of the Math Shrimad Sacchidananda Sarasawati Maharaj is seventy-sixth in line of descent from Swami Vivarnananda. There is no reason to doubt the authenticity of Kanchi records which give the date of Shri Shankar's (Adi Shankaracharyas) birth as 2593th year of Kaliyuga era which corresponds to 509 B. C. The aforesaid date of Shri Shankar's birth is also supported by some Jain compositions and the "Brihat Shankara Vijaya" by Shri Chitsukhacharya who was also a disciple of the Adi Shankaracharya. It would appeal that the Maths founded by the Adi Shankaracharya and the Kavale Math are the oldest monastic institutions in India. All the aforesaid Shri Shankara Maths have Shri Yantras installed therein and the worship of Shri Yantras is performed according to Tantrik rites as prescribed by the Parashuram Kalpa Sutra.
Kashmir was the centre of Tantrik as also of Sanskrit learning when the Adi Shankaracharya visited Kashmir. Perhaps the Sanskrit University in Kashmir in those days was located near the shrine of Shardaji near the banks of Krishna Ganga-now in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The Saraswat Brahmins who left their homeland more than two thousand years back and settled in Saurashtra, Maharashtra, Gujrat, Karnataka and Kerala, have a tradition that their homeland was Kashmir. They hold Sharda Devi in great veneration. I visited the Sharda Devi shrine alongwith my late grand father-in-law, Dr. Balkrishna Kaul in the summer of 1935. My late wife Girija and members of Dr. Kaul's family were in the party. The shrine is located on a hill top like the shrine of Jwalaji. The steps leading to the top of the hill appeared to be twisted as if they had been battered by an earthquake. The question as to when did the University township cease to exist requires investigation. It was in the Shrine itself that I first met the late Pandit Shridhar joo Dhar who had become my guide and philosopher in the closing years of his life. He was the greatest living Shakta Sadhak of his days and his death last year was a great loss to the Tantrik World.
Swami Vivarnananda, founder of the Kavale Math was a Saraswat and very likely a Kashmiri Brahmin. Even in Adi Shankaracharya's times the sway of Kashmir School had extended to far south. The famous temple of Kanya Kumari is a gift of Kashmir Krama to the country. The rites performed in the temple are in accordance with the Kashmir Krama.
Hindusim, as it emerged after the carnage of the Mahabharata war, has the fullest impress of Tantras on it. In the words of Shri Aurobindo modern Hinduism is ninety percent Tantrik. It influenced Jainism and Buddhism also and there are Jain and Buddhist Tantras. Gautam Buddha denounced the Vedas and also the Tantriks. There are any number of Buddhist Jataks in which the Tantrik Brahmins are badly criticised. It appears that by that time some degenerate Tantrik Cults had come up and so-called Tantrik widely practised black magic and indulged in drinking, womanising and senseless animal killing. That led to a reaction in society and genuine Tantrik Sadheks retired in their shells. What happened then is happening even now. We hear of miracle performing Tantriks whose services are openly offered to those who pay handsomely. One also heals of weird rites performed by Tantriks or persons belonging to so-called Tantrik cults where sex plays a part and all sorts of immoral acts are performed. Such cults are not peculiar to India. They are also to be found to a larger extent, in Europe, America and other countries of the world. There are groups and societies in Europe and America which worship Satan calling him by his old name Lucifer and in their rites every accepted norm of decent behaviour is flouted. The truth of Shastrik way has to be judged by what it lays down and not by what is twisted or degenerate aspects show. Sir John Woodroffe says:
"I refer to the well known division of worshippers into Dakshinachara and Vamachara. The secret sadhana of some of the latter (which I may say here is not usually understood) has acquired such notoriety that to most the term "the Tantra" connotes this particular worship and its abuses and nothing more. I may here also observe that it is a mistake to suppose that aberrations in doctrine and practice are peculiar to India. The west has produced many a doctrine, and practice of an antinomian character. Some of the most extreme are to be found there. Moreover, though this does not seem to be recognised, it is never-the-less the fact that these Kauli rites are philosophically based on monistic doctrine. Now, it is this Kaula doctrine and practice, limited probably, as being a secret doctrine, at all time to comparatively few, which has come to be known as " the Tantra Nothing is more incorrect.............
Here I shortly deal with the significance of the Tantra Shastra which is of course also misunderstood, being generally spoken of as a jumble of "black magic," and "erotic mysticism," cemented together by a ritual which is "meaningless mummery". A large number of persons who talk in this strain have never had a Tantra in their hands, and such orientalists, as have read some portions of these scriptures, have not generally understood them, otherwise they would not have found them meaningless. They may be bad or they may be good, but they have a meaning. Men are not such fools as to believe for ages what is meaningless. The use of this term implies that their contents had no meaning to them. Very likely; for to define as they do, Mantra as "mystical words", Mudra as "mystical gesture" and yantra as "mystical diagrams", does not imply knowledge. These erroneous notions as to the nature of Agama are of course due to the mistaken identification of the whole body of the scripture with one section of it. (Viz. Vamachara doctrine and practice). Further this last is only known through the abuses to which its dangerous practices, as carried out by inferior persons have given rise. It is stated in the Shastra itself in which they are prescribed that the path is full of difficulty and peril and he who fails upon it goes to hell. That there are those who have so failed, and others who have been guilty of evil magic, is well known."
Sadhana of Shiva - Shakti in Tantra Shastra is graded. Initially it has two
forms viz general and special. The general form is open to all. People read from
scriptures, recite stotras, go to shrines and ship the deity according to
Panchopachar rites or shodashopachar rites. In Kashmir the people recite the
stotras of Ragnya, Sharika, Jwala, Bala, Shiva, Ganesh, Vishnu, etc. and offer
worship at their shrines. They perform the rites peculiar to the Kashmiri
Brahmans, such as Herat during Shivaratri, Pan for Lakshmi and worship Vatuk
Bhairava on Khecher Mavas day besides performing the rites and rituals which are
common among the Hindus. All these come within the category of general worship.
Only after initiation in the mantra of any Devata or Devi the form of worship
becomes different and acquires a special character. The aforesaid grades are
described as follows in Kul Pradeep:
They are Vedachar, Vaishnavachar, Shaivachar Dakshinachar, Vamachar, Siddhantachar, and Kaulachar in order of their graded superiority, Kaulachar being superior to all. There is nothing above Kaulachar. It is most secret and subtle and this only is the Sakshat Param tatwa which travelling from ear to ear remains always".
The aforesaid first four are paths of Pravrithi and the rest from Vamachar onwards lead to Nivritti. In the first four the practitioner is in Pashubhava and from Vamachar and onwards he assumes the Veerabhava. In Vamachar worship the five makars are used viz meat, wine, fish, fried cereal and communion between man and woman. It is the use of the five makars by the shakta sadhaks which has been subjected to criticism since long as has been mentioned by Sir John Woodraffe. The shakta practioners have never shown any anxiety to meet ignorant criticism because they were always anxious to keep their highly powerful mode of worship a close secret. The veerabhava is not meant for all. It is Raj Vidya, princely knowledge Guhya Vidya, secret knowledge which is meant only for the elite, the select few. It is full of dangers and pitfalls and even Yogins cannot easily be admitted into its secrets.
Only that person is admitted in Veerachar who has sufficient self-discipline and control over his body and senses and who would not be tempted to misuse his powers. Such misuse leads to the cultivation of Siddhis and black magic and hinders spiritual progress. The person who is qualified to handle this highly potent sadhana should be free from avarice and blind to the wealth of others, impotent for women other than his wife, dumb in talking ill of others, and should have mastery over his senses. Only such a person can safely handle the stages of Sadhna from Vamachar to Kaulachar.
nothing obnoxious in meat, fish and fried cereal. The Kashmiri Brahmins freely
use meat and fish in 'Herat Puja', on the occasion of 'Khechir Mawas' and these
are used during the Navaratras by those whose Kul Devis are Sharika and Jwala
and in Shradhapuja for a departed person. Most of Kashmiri Brahmins are
non-vegetarians and meat and fish form part of their diet. Wine taken in
measured dose is tonic and medicine but its misuse is disastrous. There are
strict injunctions of the shastra that wine should be taken only in the course
of sadhana and in a restricted manner. The practice of shakta sadhana in its
upper reaches awakens the dormant centres of energy in the body and raises
ferment in it. During such phases the use of wine, meat, and fish becomes
necessary to suitain the body lest it should break. Further, the Tantrik
practioner uses the very things which rouse sense and passion in order to subdue
them. Poison is used to eliminate the poison itself. The Kularnava Tantra says:
As for the
last M, it symbolises the cosmic process of creation. It is the adaptation of
the sansl~ar of the Hindus - the Garbhadana Sanskar. The Mahanirvana Tantra
makes the emphatic assertion that in the "fifth tatwa" the participant should
only be a Swakiya, the lawfully wedded wife and no one else;
0 Consort of Shiva ! in this strong Kaliyuga which has an enervating effect, for the remaining fifth tatwa viz 'maithun', only the lawfully wedded wife should be made the participant as she alone is free from all blemishes. [ Mahanirvana Tantra Chap. VI- 14 ]
The Veerachar Sadhana and the subsequent stages leading to Kaulachar can only be safely performed by a householder. In such worship it is necessary for the practitioner to have a female partner as his shakti and the wife is the safest shakti. Solo efforts in shakti worship are always fraught with risks and dangers. Wife as shakti acts as a shock absorber and safety valve and provides a shield against adverse currents which often come in his way besides helping him in his sadhana. But Shakti worship with another woman who is not the wife - a parkiya -is Fraucht with great dangers which may unhinge the practioner's mind or may even prove fatal. It may be frankly stated that the worship involving sex union with wife is always in privacy of the two and any suggestion that such acts are indulged in groups is patently absurd and needs no comment.
Lastly, the sadhak arrives in the Divya Bhava where he no longer needs the use of meat, wine etc. and the crutches of makars are discarded. Non-vegetarian diet is no longer necessary. Sex union with his shakti assumes the shape of cosmic union that takes place when the Kundalini rising from her seat in the base of the spine, the four petalled Muladhar Chakra, goes up piercing the upper Chakras viz Swadhishthan Manipur, Anahat, Visshudba, and Agya and meets her Lord in the uppermost thousand-petalled chakra, the Sahsrar. The union of the two symbolises the setting into motion the creative process in the universe. The practitioner, and such exalted sadhaks are few, reaches the top of the Everest in his spiritual climb and becomes a Kaul, an Aghoreshwara. He has burnt all his Karmic bonds, there is no death or rebirth for him, neither Mangal or Amangal, nor pain or pleasure. While he is in his mortal body he is a Shiva and when he leaves his body he remains on the astral plane as long as he likes having become a sun of a solar system of his own. He carries on his wishes from the astral plane through the medium of other persons. The shastra is full of praise for Kaulas. The line of such Kaulas has continued unbroken in Kashmir since times immemorial and they along with the few advanced Sadhaks have been directing the Kashmir Krama while the people in general carried on their general Kulapuja.
The Kashmiri Brahmans who are the only remnant left of the Hindus of Kashmir, the rest having been converted to Islam, have shown an amazing tenacity in sticking to their Vedic and Tantrik heritage. Their shakha is Kath and their veda is Krishna Yajurveda. Their grihya sutra which controls their rituals is Laughakshi, which certainly goes back prior to the Mahabharata era. I doubt if there is any other section of the Hindu community in India which has kept up its Vedic and Tantrik heritage in all its purity unaffected by the tidal waves of Jainism, Buddhism and the later equally strong Vaishnava movements led by Rarnanujacharya, Ramanand, Madhavacharya, Vallabhacharya and Nimbarkacharya. Some individuals might have been influenced by the teaching of the aforesaid Acharyas but the community as a whole firmly stuck to its old moorings.
Buddhism made a great impact in Kashmir during and after the period of Emperor Ashok but he last ditchers among the community stuck to their guns and remained steadfast.
For nearly 300 years beginning from the IX century A. D. till the commencement of XI century A.D. Kashmir remained under the spell of the brilliant sages and savants who propounded the Kashmir Shaivism and Trika Shastra. Their unbroken chain beginning from Shri Kantha and followed by Vasugupta, Kallata, Somananda, Utpalacharya, Lakshmana, Abhinavagupta, Khsemraja and Yogaraja raised Kashmir Shaivism to sublime heights. After the Adi Shankaracharya, no other sage or savant occupies such a dazzling place of honour among the Hindus than Mahamaheshwara Abhinavagupta.
Sir John Woodroffe says:
"Unsurpassed for its profound analysis is the account of the thirty - six Tattwas or stages of cosmic Evolution (accepted by both Shaivas and Shaktas) given by the Northern Shaiva School of the Agama.........."
"In fact Shakta literature is in parts unintelligible to one unacquainted with some features of what is called the Shaiva Darshan."
The Trika Shastra also lays down the practical forms of Sadhana. While the culminating points in Shakta Sadhana and the Trika Sadhana are the same but the starting points are different. For a Shakta Kashmiri Brahmin his form of Sadhana is well chalked out in the Prescribed forms of worship of Ragnya, Sharika, Jwala etc. but the Sadhana mentioned in the Malinivijayottara Tantra (which lays down the Trika Sadhana) is different though there are common points. I have considered the aspects of Shaiva Darshana and Trika Shastra as also the forms of Shiva-Shakti worship at some length in my Review of the Biography of Bhagwan Gopi Nath ji of Kashmir and in a letter which I wrote to Swami Lakshman ji Maharaj, the famous Shaiva philosopher of Kashmir, which have been published in the form of a booklet.
I have tried to avoid repetition of what I have said in my "Review" and in my letter to Swamiji. But the teachings of Shaiva Darshan and Trika have raised a conflict among the Kashmiris whether, particularly in their special Sadhana, they should follow their old traditional path or giving up their Ragnya, Sharika and jwala, should follow the path as prescribed by Trika Shastra. Swami Lakshman ji Maharaj has yet to answer this question.
The advent of Islam in Kashmir wiped off the Hindus leaving only 11 families, some say 9. It is a tribute to their amazing tenacity that the few who remained blossomed again. They had occasional periods of respite particularly in the reign of Zainul-Ab-din and in phases after the Moghul conquest of Kashmir. Their plight worsened again during the Pathan rule and then improved again during the Sikh and Dogra regimes. Now again they are in low waters. Their economic condition is bad and they are facing unemployment. The younger generation, though highly educated has lost its religious moorings and has become rudderless. Kashmir is no longer the famous seat of Sanskrit learning as it was in former days. There is no Sanskrit Department in the Kashmir University. Members of our priestly class who are our traditional teachers and custodian of our religious and cultural heritage are leaving their vocations and their children are taking to other professions. The perennial source of ancient Kashmir-Krama seem to have dried up. This has caused grave concern to shaktas all over India. The weakening of the Kashmir Krama is creating a great imbalance in Shakta worship. Sometimes back the matter was considered by the executive committee of the All-India Shakta sammelan and it expressed its serious anxiety over the prevailing conditions in Kashmir, and I as the president of the Sammelan was asked to go to Kashmir and assess the situation. I have been to Kashmir several times during the last five years and even though what I have seen has pained me but I have not lost hope. Things could not be worse than what they were when we were only 9 or 11 families left. Then we rose as if from ashes. I have not met initiates in our Kaul Sadhana besides a very few. But there are quite a number of eminent Sanskrit scholars. It is indeed a matter of regret that nearly 4000 Sanskrit manuscripts pertaining or Shakta worship and Shaiva Darshan were lying uncatalogued in some almirahs of the Research Department and Archives in Srinagar. I wrote about them to the Government of Jammu & Kashmir as also to the Union Government. Now they have been removed and handed over to the Kashmir University, which does not have a Sanskrit department. I do not know how the Kashmir University proposes to deal with them.
Tantricism and Kaulachar in Kashmir, having a hoary past, has gone on, facing ups and downs and will continue to go on. A letter which I received from late Pandit Shridhar Joo Dhar is instructive and interesting. It runs thus.
What is Mantra
Guru is a guide who can understand all one's problems and suggest Mantras with the help of which one could get rid of all problems.
Mantra is a divine combination of divine syllables or sounds which when chanted with devotion,faith and emotion gravitate the concerned God or Goddess or deity and secure their divine blessings. For divine help one must link with divine forces but majority of humans are unaware of these forces and have no link whatsoever. But when an individual starts chanting Mantra related to a particular deity regularly the gap between him and the concerned divine force steadily decreases. By regular use of Mantra a subtle link is formed and through this one could then obtain any desired boon within the power of the deity. One could obtain wealth, prosperity, fame, fearlessness, success and spiritual upliftment, but for each a different Mantra is chanted and a different deity propitiated.
A Mantra is a special set of words through only that particular deity could be summoned. If I write or speak in Chinese you won't be able to understand and my words will not produce any effect. But if I speak the language you know its effect shall be with doubt. Praying to these deities in one's language won't help much but if one uses the words that they can understand the result shall be instant.
These words are the Mantras evolved by Rishis and Yogis who actually prepared them and used them to prove their worth. Over the ages these have helped thousands of Sadhaks achieve even that which appeared impossible to them. Within doubt that whose chanting fulfils one's wish is a Mantra.