jīrṇoddhāraṇa kumbhābhiṣeka – an insight · 2015-06-28 · 2015 jeernodharana...
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Jīrṇoddhāraṇa Kumbhābhiṣeka – An InsightDr. T. S. Shanmukha Sivacharyar
Sri Kaalikaambal Temple, Chennai; Founder Director, Swami Sathasivom Sivagama Jnana Kendram
Importance of Śivapūjā
In the endless samsara (lifecycle) of birth and death, there are few boats as safe as śivapūjā, worshipping the Lord in the Śivaliṅga. Kāmikāgama proclaims the supreme importance of worshipping the Śivaliṅga, that grants both bhukti, material fulfillment and mukti, liberation from the cycle of birth and death. One who neglects śivapūjā is termed an ‘ātmadruha’ – a traitor to one’s own self and condemned forever to the endless cycle of saṁsāra. The āgama says, even if one were to dare cut off one’s own head or sacrifice one’s life, one shouldn’t dare to eat without offering worship to Lord Śiva resident in the liṅga1. Ajitāgama says the liṅga is that from which creation emanates and dissolves into. Therefore worshipping the liṅga is equal to worshipping all universe2.
Importance of Śaivāgama-s
The Śaivāgama-s are the canonical texts of Śaivism that instruct us on how to establish and worship the Lord in the liṅga. They are believed to be anādi, beginningless, having emanated from the five faces of Maheśa. Both the Veda-s and the Śaivāgama-s are said to be of Śiva – while the Veda-s are the Lord’s breath, the Śaivāgama-s are the words of the Lord3. Kullūkabhaṭṭa, a medieval commentator on Manu, says, vaidikī tāntrikī caiva dvividhā śṛti kīrtitā – śṛti or eternal truth is both Veda and Tantra. Ajitāgama declares that the āgama is the form of Śiva (śivarūpam idaṁ tantram).
The āgama-s specify a way of life, the everyday dharma for all people. Many of the āgama-s begin with an idyllic scene of Lord Śiva on Mount Kailash, with several ṛṣi-s 1 Pūrvakāmikāgame Arcanāvidhipaṭale – agnihotrāś ca vedāś ca yajñāś ca bahudakṣiṇāḥ | śivaliṅgārcanasyaite koṭyaṁśenāpi no samāḥ || jātenātmadruhā yena nārcito bhagavāñ chivaḥ | suciraṁ sañcaraty asmin saṁsāre duḥkhasāgare || varaṁ prāṇaparityāgaś chedanaṁ śiraso ’pi vā | na tv anabhyar-cya bhuñjīyād bhagavantaṁ trilocanam || 4.11-13
2 Ajitāgame – layaṁ gacchanti bhūtāni saṁhāre nikhilāni ca || nirgacchanti yataś cāpi liṅgoktistena hetunā | tasmin samarcite liṅge sarve devāḥ samarcitāḥ || 3.17b-18
3 śivanihśvasitam veda vāgrūpāśca śivāgamāḥ
(seers) surrounding him. Someone puts forth a question and the Lord begins to expound on the subject resulting in that particular tantra. There are twenty eight śaivāgama-s divided into ten Śivabheda āgama-s taught to three rṣi-s each and eighteen Rudrabheda āgama-s taught to two ṛṣi-s each making a total of sixty six ṛṣi-s who heard and then propagated the āgama-s. The list of āgama-s appears in the first chapter (usually tantrāvatārapaṭala) of several āgama-s as also in the paddhati-s.
The study of āgama-s is said to bestow merit both here and in the life after. Kāmikāgama advises that one should worship that which illumines the knowledge of Śiva as equivalent to Śiva himself. Further, if one writes or causes to write, chants or causes to chant, reflects upon, listens to or causes others to listen to one or even half a śloka of this Śivajñāna, he earns great merit in the form of food and clothes to protect him all his life. This is the fruit of vidyādāna. One can also earn similar merit in donating money to such a cause4. The kingdom where the Śivajñāna vyākhyāna is found, flourishes. So does its king who rises to become king of kings5.
The rituals prescribed in the āgama-s are for universal benefit, irrespective of caste, creed and belief. In fact, āgamic temple worship benefits the entire multiverse, countless universes of endless galaxies, and not just people on our planet!
Temples are the abodes of liṅga-s established and worshipped by ṛṣī-s, deva-s and men and those that are believed to be svayambhu or self-manifested liṅga-s. Temples are the sacred spaces that are verily the body of Śiva. Suprabhedāgama exhorts one to not live in a place that
4 Uttarakāmikāgame Vidyāpīṭhapratiṣṭhāvidhipaṭale – …api ślokaṁ tad ardhaṁ vā śivajñānasya yaḥ paṭhet || 67.28bvācayec cintayed vāpi likhed vā lekhayet tu vā | śṛṇuyād ekacittas tu tadarthaṁ ca vicārayet || 67.29anyebhyaḥ śrāvayed yas tu tasya puṇyaphalaṁ mahat | śivajñānābhiyuktasya bhojanācchādanādibhiḥ || 67.30āsamāptestu saṁrakṣed vidyādānaphalaṁ labhet | mūlyena kārayed vātha tad eva phalam aśṛte || 67.31
5 Uttarakāmikāgame Vidyāpīṭhapratiṣṭhāvidhipaṭale – yasya rāṣṭre śivajñānavyākhyānaṁ vartate dvijāḥ | sa rājā vard-hate sa rājādhipa ūrjitaḥ || 67.32
Sri Siva Vishnu Temple
2015 Jeernodharana KumbhabhisheKam
Jīrṇoddhāraṇa Kumbhābhiṣeka – An Insight
does not have a temple6. The sage-poet Avvayar echoes the same when she said “koyil illāda ūril kuḍiyirukka vēṇḍām.”
Every few years, a temple established according to the āgama śāstra, undergoes a jīrṇoddhāraṇa mahākumbhābhiṣeka. Now, it is commonly known that the word jīrṇa comes from the root jri meaning both decrepitude and digestion. This is also the root for the English word geriatrics. The word uddhāraṇa means to lift up and elevate. Therefore jīrṇoddhāraṇa is the process through which an old temple is revitalized and re-energized.
There are two questions that could arise here. First, what is revitalized and re-energized? Is it only the physical temple structure that deteriorates over time, or is it also the divine energy in the temple? The answer is both. During jīrṇoddhāraṇa, the temple is first restored and repaired as required, after which the divine energy is reinstated. This begs the second question. If the temple indeed houses the divine energy, how can divinity diminish in stature? Once we have invoked divine presence, does it need mortal intervention to energize it?
To understand this, we must first understand the process of pratiṣṭḥā, the installation of the deity. Pratiṣthā is the process by which a temple becomes a place of worship. Kāmikāgama defines pratiṣṭhā as the action of uniting the liṅga (Sadāśiva) with the piṇḍikā (Umādevī)7. During Liṅgapratiṣṭhā, the energy of Śiva is invoked in the kumbha and transferred to the liṅga in the garbhagṛha. The Lord is then requested to stay and reside in the liṅga “till the sun and the moon and the earth exist.8” During Pīṭhapratiṣṭhā, the
6 Suprabhedāgame – śivasya ārādhanam nityam bhuktimuktipradāyakam || anyeṣām pūjanam nityam grāmavṛddhikaram bhavet | daivasthānam vinā yatra ca eka kālam na vāsayet || 23.72b-73
7 Uttarakāmikāgame Pīṭhapratiṣṭhāvidhipaṭale – beraliṅgavaśāt kḷptām iṣṭamānasamanvitam | evam lakṣaṇam ākhyātaṁ sthāpanañ cādhunocyate || piṇḍikāyām umādevī liṅge syāc ca sadāśivaḥ | tayor yaḥ kriyate yogas sā pratiṣṭheti gadyate || yogaś ca dvividho jñeyaḥ tv ādyaḥ paścād bhavas tv iti | ādyaḥ prāg eva kathito liṅgasthāpanakarmaṇi || 35.94-968 Pūrvakāmikāgame Liṅgasthāpanavidhipaṭale – yāvac candraś ca sūryaś ca yāvat tiṣṭhati medinī | tāvad atra tvayā deva sthātavyam iha sannidhau || 64.181
Devī is requested to reside in the pīṭha till the sun and the moon and the earth exist9.
Ajitāgama describes the ācārya praying to the Lord along with the mūrtipa-s: “He Mahādeva, you are the form of all the mantra-s. Please stay and reside in this liṅga always, for the sake of bestowing your grace on this world. Please remain here of your own volition, as long as the sun, the moon and this world exist. He Maheśvara, whether through knowledge or ignorance, whatever we offer according to the śāstra-s, may they all fructify, as your prasāda.10”
Kumbhābhiṣeka is not just abhiṣeka with the water in the kumbha. During prānāyāma, there are three stages – pūraka, kumbhaka, recaka. During kumbhaka, the breath is contained and sealed within the body. In the very first kumbhābhiṣeka, the divine energy is thus invoked and contained in one place for universal benefit. This “presence” of the god and goddess is termed “sānnidhya.” Hence the garbhagṛha is referred to as “sannidhi.”
Due to countless errors of omission or commission, this devatā sānnidhya gets sullied. Just as the operating theatre has to be kept spotless and sanitized, for the sake of the patient’s life, the temple has to be maintained in a certain state in order to contain the divine energy. The āgama-s prescribe several important prāyāścitta rituals to enable daily and periodic cleansing. The most important prāyaścitta is the jīrnoddhāraṇa kumbhābhiṣeka.
There are several types of jīrnoddhāraṇa kumbhābhiṣeka, depending on the state of the temple, the deities and so on. The process is highly scientific and guhya – secret. Just as a nuclear power plant is operated by a team of nuclear scientists and engineers, for the benefit of the public, this is the stupendous, unimaginable energy of the entire universe being harnessed for the benefit of the world. In fact, the āgama-s proclaim that if there is shortage in nityapūjā for
9 Uttarakāmikāgame Pīṭhasthāpanavidhipaṭale – …yāvac candraś ca sūryaś ca yāvat tiṣṭhati medinī || 65.164btāvad atra tvayā devī sānnidhyaṁ kuru sarvadā | 65.165a10 Ajitāgame Liṅgasthāpanavidhipaṭale – …prārthayen mūrtipair evam stutvā natvā svadiksthitaiḥ || sarvamantrādirūpaṁ tvaṁ lokānugrahakāmyayā | atra liṅge mahādeva sannidhiṁ kuru sarvadā || yāvac candraś ca sūryaś ca yāvat tiṣṭhati medinī | tāvat tvayātra deveśa sthātavyaṁ svecchayā vibhoḥ || jñānato ’jñānato vāpi śāstroktam ca kṛtaṁ hi yat | tat sarvam pūrṇam evāstu tvat prasādān maheśvara || iti vijñāpya deveśām sannidhīkṛtya mudrayā |… 18.263-267a
Sri Siva Vishnu Temple
2015 Jeernodharana KumbhabhisheKam
Jīrṇoddhāraṇa Kumbhābhiṣeka – An Insight
upto three years, the Lord leaves the sanctum and resides in the vimāna, the cupola of the sanctum. If there is shortage in nityapūjā for upto twelve years, the Lord leaves the vimāna and resides in the sthalavṛkṣa, the sacred tree of the temple. Beyond that, the Lord leaves the sthalavṛkṣa and merges with the sūryamaṇḍala. The ācārya-s who perform the original pratiṣṭhā are inextricably bound to the energy that they have activated and are able to subtly access the energy during subsequent reconsecrations.
When a doctor gives us medicine, we need not know the chemical composition in order to get cured. When we drive a car, we need not know mechanical engineering. We don’t need to understand electrical engineering to switch on the light. We derive the results of someone else’s research. If we wait to fully understand before following, we’ll miss out on the fruits. Similarly, our ṛṣi-s of yore have brought to us the precious, life-giving result of their empirical and lifelong research. Though it would be wonderful for people to study our śāstra-s and delve deep into the treasure troves of our scriptures, we do not need to know the science to enjoy the fruits of the rituals. All we need is faith and unconditional love – as a child for its mother – for the grace of the Lord to permeate our lives.
As the Mother is worshipped as sarvaprapañca nirmātre namaḥ, let us all join and participate in this wonderful process for the benefit of all beings in the entire multiverse.
May all beings be happy and in peace!
BibliographyAJITĀGAMA. Vol I. (1964). Ed. N. R. Bhatt. Pondicherry: French Institute of Indology.KĀMIKĀGAMA. 2 Vols. (1909). Madras: Civañāṇapotayantrasālai.KĀMIKĀGAMA, PŪRVABHĀGA. (1975). Ed. Svāminātha Śivācārya. Madras: South Indian Arcaka Association.KĀMIKĀGAMA. UTTARABHĀGA. (1988). Ed. Svāminātha Śivācārya. Madras: South Indian Arcaka Association.SUPRABHEDĀGAMA. (1907). Madras: Civañāṇapotayantrasālai.
SrI Shanmugam ShivAchAriar, Asthana Sivacharya of SSVT and one of the PradAna AchAryas officiating for this Mahotsavam, hails from a distinguished family who for generations have served SrI KaalikaambAl temple in Chennai, India. He holds a PhD in aagama studies and samskritam. It was under the guidance of his father late SrI Sambamurthy Sivaachaariar, that SSVT was established and inaugurated. In addition to his services to KaalikAmbaal Temple, Sri Shivaachaariar travels all around the world to guide devotees in conducting Vedic rituals and rejuvenation of temples. Sri Shanmukha was associated with several earlier major celebrations such as Skanda shasti mahotsavam, Devi Mahotsavam and Mahaganapathi celebrations.