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The Aghora Mantra and its importance in Kashmir Shaivism - part 2 - Svacchandanātha

aghora aghora mantra five heads para prakāśa vapuṣaṁ svacchanda bhairava tantra Feb 03, 2024

In the summer of 1989, John Hughes received a letter from Swami Lakshmanjoo writing to him about the Aghora Mantra and its importance, after having the darshan of Svacchanda Bhairava.

In part one of this two-part series you learned about this mantra and its significance for Kashmir Shaivism and your own practice, and the whole world.

In this part we go deeper into what is the reality of Svacchandanātha and why is he so important in Kashmir Shaivism.



For an explanation of Svacchandanātha see also Self Realization in Kashmir Shaivism, chapter 4, pages 71-72 and Kashmir Shaivism, the Secret Supreme, chapter 13, pages 87-88.


विश्वैकरुपविश्वात्म विश्वसर्गादिकारणम् 

परप्रकाशवपुषं स्तुमः स्वच्छन्दभैरवम्  ॥३५॥

viśvaikarūpaviśvātma vīśvasargādiviśvaika-rupa-viśvātma viśva-sargādi kāraṇam

paraprakāśa-vapuṣaṁ stumaḥ svacchanda-bhairavam // 35//


We bow at the feet of that Svacchandanātha with five heads (Īśāna, Tapuruṣa, Sadyojāta, Vāmadeva, and Aghora, these five mouths); we bow our heads before that Svacchandanātha, who is viśvaika rupa, who is one with this whole universe, who is universal, viśvātma, who is the embodiment of the universe, viśva sargādi kāraṇam, who creates the universe, who protects the universe, who destroys the universe, who reveals the universe, and who conceals the universe with His five acts (creation, protection, destruction, concealing, and revealing).

And that Svacchanda Bhairava is para prakāśa vapuṣaṁ, the embodiment of supreme light, the light beyond all the three lights. It is above all the three lights. These three lights which are seen and experienced in this universe: one light of agni (fire), one light of the moon, and another light of the sun – all these three – he supersedes their light. That light is beyond these three lights.


मध्यप्रणानिविष्टहंसपरमः यो रोमकूपाश्रयः 

प्राणः सूक्ष्मविमर्शशालिवपुषः सार्धत्रिकोटयात्मकः 

तान्मन्त्रात्मतया विलोमयति यः स्वच्छन्दनाथः परो 

देवोऽसौ विदधातु भैरववपुः तेजः परं शाश्वतम्  ॥३६॥

madhyaprāṇaniviṣṭahaṁsamadhya-prāṇāniviṣṭa-haṁsa paramaḥ yo roma-kūpāśrayaḥ /

prāṇaḥ sūkṣma-vimarśa-śāli-vapuṣaḥ-sārdha-trikoṭayātmakaḥ // 

tānmantrātmatayā vilomayati yaḥ svacchanda-nāthaḥ paro /

devo’sau vidadhātu bhairava-vapuḥ tejaḥ paraṁ śāśvatam // 36//


Madhya prāṇa, in the central vein of breath, niviṣṭa haṁsa paramaḥ yo romakūpa āśayaḥ (these romakūpa means, the well of each hair, these pores, all the pores), and in these pores, there are special pores, and those are three crores and a half crore in number (35 million).

And these are the openings of breath produced by madhya nādi, the central vein, which is residing in suṣumna nādi. The central vein, suṣumna, these pathways are produced from this central vein.

So, although there are only five prāṇas (breaths: prāṇa, apāna, samāna, udāna, and vyāna), but in fact, when you calculate it differentiatedly, these breaths are three crores and fifty lakhs of breaths, which is produced by madhya nādi, the central vein which is residing in suṣumna nādi in the body. And these three crores and fifty lakhs of breaths, these breaths are referred to in heaven also, in the upper field, in the purer creation.

For instance, one creation is the creative field which is created in the impure way. That is from earth to māya. From the earth element to the māya element is the impure creative scale, and that resides in one’s own body also; and that resides in the whole universe also, in one hundred and eighteen worlds also. And there is one pure creative section from māyā to Sadāśiva, not including māyā. Māyā will go in the impure field of creation.

So this God consciousness also is differently experienced by yogis. One kind of God consciousness is inferior God consciousness. It is experienced in Śuddhavidyā. And when you go ahead, another God consciousness is experienced in Īśvara. That is superior to this God consciousness of Śuddhāvidya. Another God consciousness is experienced in Sadāśiva. This is superior to that of Īśvara. Another God consciousness is experienced in Śiva and Śakti. That is the purest.

And between māyā and Śuddhavidhyā, there is vijñānākala. Vijñānākalas are three crores and fifty lakhs in number (35 million).


tānmantrātmatayā vilomayati yaḥ svacchanda-nāthaḥ paro /

devo’sau vidadhātu bhairava-vapuḥ tejaḥ paraṁ śāśvatam //36// repeated


Tān mantrātmatayā vilomayati yaḥ, and Svacchandanātha is conducting this. Because this pure state of God consciousness is for elevation, there is no fear of decreasing; it has the tendency to rise. Whereas that, the aśuddhādhava (aśuddādhava means, from earth to māyā), it has a tendency to rise and to fall also, it can fall also. But this pure state of God consciousness, it is not, it has a tendency of rising.

That Svacchandanātha, we bow to that Svacchandanātha, who does this job in the pure elementary state.

JOHN: So what is the connection of these three crores and fifty lakhs of vijñānākalins to these three crores and fifty lakhs prāṇas?

SWAMIJI: Whatever is residing in the universe, that you’ll find in your own body. This is the mystery, this is the secret of . . .


एकैकत्रापि तत्तवेऽपि षट्त्रंशत्तत्त्वरूपता

ekaikatrāpi tattve’pi ṣaṭtriṁśat-tattva-rūpatā

(verse quoted in various Shaiva text)


. . . even in one tiny insect, there are thirty-six elements; there is the power of thirty-six elements in that mosquito who is sucking blood at night.

DENISE: And one hundred and eighteen worlds also?

SWAMIJI: One hundred and eighteen worlds, yes, yes. He has the capacity of going to one hundred and eighteen worlds, he has the capacity of residing in thirty-six elements, he has the capacity of residing in the five kalās (circles), that small tiny insect who can be smashed very easily by us.

SHANNA: If you can catch them.

SWAMIJI: (laughs . . .)

And Svacchandanātha who does this job, we bow before His feet. And that Svacchandanātha, may that Svacchandanātha bestow us that prakāśa which is owned by Him always, that prakāśa (supreme light) of Lord Śiva.

JOHN: Swamiji, in that verse, what is the meaning of the word “Bhairava”? In that verse, devo’sau vida-. . .

SWAMIJI: Devo’sau vidadhātu bhairava vapuḥ, let that deva who is Bhairava and Svacchandanātha, let him bestow us tejaḥ param śāśvatam, that prakāśa, that which is established prakāśa (light), and śāśvatam (śāśvatam means, immortal prakāśa, that prakāśa which does not go away).

But it is very easy for Him to do if he so wills, wishes.





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