In this excerpt from the Manual for Self Realization: 112 Meditations of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra Swami Lakshmanjoo reveals the answer to Parvati’s question to the Lord, “The question You have put before Me is the essence of all Tantras (tantra sāram idaṁ priye).”
प्रसादं कुरु मे नाथ
निःशेषं छिन्धि संशयम् ।
prasādaṁ kuru me nātha
niḥśeṣaṁ chindhi saṁśayam / 7a
O Lord, do this favor to Me (prasādaṁ, do this favor). Prasādaṁ kuru, do this favor to Me, O Lord: niḥśeṣam chindhi saṁśayam, niḥśeṣam (entirely), please remove saṁśayam (my doubts). Please remove all of my doubts entirely. Do this favor to me, O Lord.
Now, you must put “bhairava uvāca” [because] it is omitted.47
साधु साधु त्वया पृष्टं
तन्त्रसारमिदं प्रिये ॥७॥
तथापि कथयामि ते ।
sādhu sādhu tvayā pṛṣṭaṁ
tantrasāramidaṁ priye // 7b //
tathāpi kathayāmi te / 8a
O dear, O dear Pārvatī (priye, O dear Pārvatī), You have asked Me that [which] was worth to be asked for (sādhu sādhu tvayā pṛṣṭaṁ), because this is the essence of all Tantras (tantra sāram idaṁ priye). The question You have put before Me is the essence of all Tantras (tantra sāram idaṁ priye).
Gūhanīyatamaṁ bhadre, O Devī, although it is to be concealed–You must conceal this, it is worth concealing, hiding; it must not be exposed because it is a secret–even then, I will explain it, I will expose this secret to You.
भैरवस्य प्रकीर्तितम् ॥८॥
विज्ञेयं शक्रजालवत् ।
bhairavasya prakīrtitam // 8b //
vijñeyaṁ śakrajālavat48/ 9a
Whatever forms, any form of the Lord, [be they] in the divided formation of mantras and forms or in the undivided formations of mantras and forms, whatever formation [of the Lord] You find explained in all Tantras, tad asāratayā devi vijñeyaṁ śakra jālavat, that is all bogus. That is written only for writing only, not to be understood; it is not worth understanding. It is only deception or delusion. It is deception, tat asāratayā, because it has no sense, it has no meaning in the background.
For instance, śabda rāśi (the fifty-fold journey), or the nine-fold journey49, or the three-fold journey50, or the eleven-fold journey51, all these are bogus. It has no essence in it.
Tad asāratayā devi, that has no essence there. You must know that this is only deception or delusion and nothing else. Not only this much.
māyā svapnopamaṁ caiva
gandharvanagarabhramam // 9b //
[not recited in full]
This is only māyā. This is the expansion of māyā. All these states and all these processes are just like a dream. Or, gandharva nagara bhramam, just like a wrong conception, just like an imaginary city in the sky.
There is a wrong conception when you feel that there is an imaginary nagara (city) in the sky. That is gandharva nagara.
Then the question arises there: Why are these ways put in the Tantras then? What is the fun in putting them in these Bhairava āgamas?
केवलं वर्णितं पुंसां
kevalaṁ varṇitaṁ puṁsāṁ
vikalpanihitātmanām52// 10 //
Bhrānta buddhīnām, whose intellect is always astray, scattered, and those people who are established in the commencement of actions only (kriyāḍambara vartinām; āḍambara means “commencement”), . . .
[For example], Śrīkaṇṭha53 has now commenced havan of Caṇḍi and all these. All these are bogus, it has no value. He has collected so much money, thousands, and he will spend there–finished. It is kriyāḍambara.
. . . for those, these ways are written in the Tantras–for those people. Kevalaṁ varṇitāṁ puṁsāṁ, this is told for those people, whose mind is always established in thoughts, in differentiated thoughts (vikalpa nihitātmanām).
तत्तवतो न नवात्मासौ
शब्दराशिर्न भैरवः ।
न चासौ त्रिशिरो देवो
न च शक्तित्रयात्मकः ॥११॥
tattvato na navātmāsau
śabdarāśirna bhairavaḥ /
na cāsau triśiro devo
na ca śaktitrayātmakaḥ // 11 //
Tattvato na navātmāsau, in fact, [Bhairava] is not the nine-fold way. It is not the fifty-fold way. This Bhairava is not śabda rāśi, this is not the collection of the fifty-fold way (treading the journey from ‘a’ to ‘kṣa’ and return again). Na cāsau triśiro devaḥ, this Deva is not the holder of the three-fold energies (parā, parāparā, and aparā).
न चन्द्रार्धनिरोधिकाः ।
न च शक्तिस्वरूपकः ॥१२॥
na candrārdhanirodhikāḥ /
na ca śaktisvarūpakaḥ // 12 //
[not recited in full]
It is neither nāda, bindu, candra, ardhacandra, nirodhikā, śakti, vyāpinī, samanā, all these. [Bhairava] is not existing [in these]. Na cakra krama saṁbhinna, this is not the establishment of that moving wheel which is without movement–not even that. Na ca śakti svarūpakaḥ, it is not the svarūpa of universal energy. It is something else.
Then what is that?
एता बालबिभीषिकाः ।
etā bālavibhīṣikāḥ /
pravṛttyarthamudāhṛtam // 13 //
Etā, these ways established in the Tantras are bāla vibhīṣikā, just for diverting ignorant boys from bad actions.
You terrify those boys by saying that, “If you do such and such action, this ghost will eat you. Don’t do this! This ghost, he will eat you just now. Don’t do this action. Keep quiet.”
SWAMIJI: This is bāla vibhīṣikā. And this terrifying process is functioned for whom? Not for great souls, highly elevated souls, [but] for those who have aprabuddhamatīḥ, whose intellect is not developed, [not] well-developed.
Or, mātṛ modaka vat sarvaṁ pravṛttyartham udāhṛtam, [if] you have to take a dose of medicine, a medicine dose which is not sweet, it is sour, it is not tasteful, you do not like to take it, then what does your mother do? She puts something sweet in your mouth first and [then] says, “Take [the medicine] now.” Just as a mother directs her son for doing something good by giving him some sweets first (mātṛ modakavat sarvaṁ, that is the modaka, the sweet offering of a mother), pravṛttyartham udāhṛtam, just to begin with, these processes are just to begin with, but not to dive in those processes. These processes are nothing! You have not to tread on those processes. It is just to begin with (pravṛttyartham udāhṛtaṁ; the meaning of pravṛttyartham udāhṛtam is, it is just to begin with). You begin and, leave them aside, and then go on the right path.
JOHN: Well then why, if it is not unspeakable, do we say that this is all bogus, this, all this talk, these theories, this law, this way, this way, so many fifteen-fold ways, thirty . . . ? Why do we always say, “This is bogus, there is no path, there is no . . .”?
SWAMIJI: We don’t say this is bogus. Why should we say it is bogus?
JOHN: Doesn’t Lord Śiva just say here in the beginning that it is bogus, all these theories?
JAGDISH: Etaḥ bāla vibhīṣikāḥ.
SWAMIJI: Yes, in THAT state, because there are means. Actually, [Bhairava] is not achieved by the support of means, in the actual way of understanding.
JAGDISH: It is only pravṛttyartham.
SWAMIJI: Pravṛttyartham. Mātṛ modakavat sarvaṁ pra-vṛttyartham udāhṛtam, you just have to take this dose of the mixture, and mother wants you to take that dose of the mixture, which is very . . .
DENISE: Terrible taste.
SWAMIJI: . . . terrible taste, and she first gives you one piece of candy to taste, and then this [medicine]. So this is that candy, these means.
JOHN: But what’s the terrible medicine?
SWAMIJI: The exact medicine is that medicine where you have to do nothing. It is terrible, you can’t do that. You have to digest it with these upāyas, these means, with some support in the beginning, and that support is these one hundred and twelve ways. There is no way to achieve that, actually. One hundred and twelve ways are just in place of sugar candy.
48 Although some readings have “indra jālavat” (the net of Indra), Swamiji preferred “śakra jālavat”, which he said conveys the same meaning since Śakra is another name for the god, Indra.
49 Navātma bheda.
50 Triśiro bheda.
51 A-u-m-bindu, ardhacandra, nirodikā, nāda, nādānta, śakti, vyāpinī, and samanā are the 11 phases of sound. The 12th sound unmanā is not included since it is supreme (parā) and the actual state of God consciousness.
52 Swamiji corrected “nihatātmanām” to read “nihitātmanā”.
53 In reference to a Kashmiri brahmin who was performing a havan at that time.
Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, by Swami Lakshmanjoo)