Mahāmahopādhyāya Dr. R.Sathyanārāyaṇa

(Dīkṣānāma: Śrī Guru Satyānanda Nātha Mahārājajī)

Śrīvidyā Guru Antyeṣṭi Vidhi

(The final rites for a Śrīvidyā Guru or an upāsaka)

My guru, Śrī Sathyanārāyaṇa wrote this chapter in his magnum opus book trilogy series called ‘Śrīvidyā ṣoḍaśikā’ under the publication series ‘Citkalā’, when (along with the gurukula which he founded) his guru Śrī Puṇḍarīkākṣānanda Nātha appeared as a spiritual vision from the Yajña kuṇḍa (a place for sacrifice, the place where the yajña is performed) with a special behest: that Sathyanārāyaṇa had to perform the proper antyeṣṭi to enable the guru to attain the divyadeha (ultimate state of existence). In order to fulfill this, Sathyanārāyaṇa had to first ascertain its modalities and hence worked perennially amongst the Śrīvidyā texts. This article is the result of that effort. He took care to not to extensively include the mention of intimate and deeply guarded ritualistic details, secretes and verses, in order to avoid them from an exposure to vulgar curiosity. However, his original kannaḍa (local vernacular of Karnāṭaka, a state in India) article includes an extensive bibliography and references with which those things can also be known. It can be provided to learned readers on request.

I have translated this article with as much due diligence as possible to not to deviate from its original intent and content. Any translation, for that matter, is indeed a literary interpretation of the original to a measurable extant. Traduttore, traditore. The grammar, individual’s language usage styles, limitations of vocabulary, terminology akin to that discipline for which the original was written etc might not accommodate in the vocabulary of translated language. Thus, the original article’s specific words and terms that contain language specific terminologies are to be given ad verbatim in the translated text too. In order to make the reading more meaningful and truthful, the specific terminologies (paribhāṣa) are explained to their nearest context just next to them with in-brackets. The original article contains many such specific Tantra terminologies (paribhāṣā). In each of these paragraphs, many are very explicit in their meaning and content but some require basic geo-specific and subject-specific information regarding its tradition and rituals pertaining to tantric tenets. It is my intention to create a separate addendum for this article to explain them in some measurable detail. Such terms and phrases are marked with a ‘symbol with number’ for their correlation in the addendum. However, their inclusion in the article while in those phrases or terms would deviate the continuity in the attentive focus of the readers, is what I have felt and noticed from my many interactions with my readers. Hence, I request that the addendum be also carefully read and referred to by the learned readers of this article to make a holistic meaning and use (if any) of this article.

 R. S. Nandakumar

 

The word antyeṣṭi is used as a Vedic or Tantric terminology to describe a gamut of actions comprising of the final rites of a person after his death. These rites are done to the cadaver of such a person. Its foremost and key action is done in either of these two modes: to bury or burn in Bhārata amongst the Hindūs (In India, the other religious beliefs accommodate the offer of the body to be consumed by birds, animals or fish (as is done in places like Vāraṇāsi). The ways of the Hindūs are based on the tenet prescription that what came from the pañcabhūtās should be rendered back to it, and the other cultures offer it as food for other bodies (and thus the parts that sustained a life force is rendered back to other living bodies as food thus fulfilling the purpose and attainment of the body while living). Each and every culture of our world has devised its own type/s of such eschatology practice descriptions codified as a text and in Bhārata it is given a saṃskṛta term ‘pretaśāstra’. Amongst Hindūs, the burying of the body is called as khanana and burning is called as dahana. Before all these, an iṣṭi (a small homa offering) is performed. And using the fire that has kindled in this homa, the body is placed on a pyre and the wood is set to fire. This entails various mantras and actions that bespeaks the offering of the cadaver to release the jīva (life) that had made the body as its abode to reach the Devaloka or the Pitr̥loka (the realms of the pitr̥). This begins the ‘antyeṣṭi’ mode and thus the entire gamut of actions that follow it takes on this term too. The word antyeṣṭi is a composite of two words: antya (the final) and iṣṭi (offering). Great seers like Bodhāyana and the other two ācāryas who have set the sūtras (prescriptive doctrines) have said that antyeṣṭi is primarily done for Brāhmaṇa varga (the brāhmaṇa clan) and for other three vargas (kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra clans) it is done in their kulakrama (the basic antyeṣṭi vidhi adopted to their kin group’s vogue practices). For saṃnyāsin, there is a separate and different type that is prescribed in the sūtras. (I have covered all these in another work of mine in kannaḍa language published some time ago).

In Śrīvidyā Tantra too, extensive antyeṣṭi vidhi is prescribed for its dīkṣitās (persons initiated by their guru into its sādhanā) and also for those a special initiation ritual called pūrṇābhiṣekha is done. Amongst the Śrīvidyā texts that I have browsed, this vidhi is delineated in Trikūṭārahasya and Paraśurāma Kalpasūtra with some narrative and prescriptive differences amongst them.

Based on these two texts, I narrate henceforth the vidhi of antyeṣṭi for Śrīvidyā dīkṣitas and Śrividyā abhiṣikta sādhakas.

In Śaivāgama, the dīkṣita, siddha and Śrīvidyā sādhakas are further respectively classified within them as uttama (superior), madhyama (the average) and the adhama (lowly). Interestingly, this classification is done based also on the modality in which the prāṇa (life-force) leaves the body of the upāsaka. In uttama varga (superior sādhaka group), who would have already attained a very high level of ātmadarśana (self-emancipation), a ritualistic antyeṣṭi is not necessary. Thus, in contrast, for the adhamas who are filled with pāpa sañcaya (sinful, collected to its threshold etc.) an antyeṣṭi is not prescribed. Ūttama’s prāṇa leaves the body through the brahmarandhra (the tip of the scalp). For the madhyama, it leaves through the eyes, nose etc. and for the adhama it leaves through the genitals or the anus. The texts further goes on to say that for all those whose prāṇa leaves via the nose, genitals or the anus, the jīva attains the hell or the intermediary piśācā abode. When the jīva exits the body through mouth, he reaches, daitya loka (here daitya also means a voluptuous space), if it exits through ears, the jīva attains the Pitr̥loka (the abode of pitr̥s, the ancestor’s holy place), and if it exits through the brahmarandhra (brahma = the superior/ultimate, randhra= passage) the jīva attains mokṣa or the Śivasthāna (ultimate propitious state).

Śrī guru, the preceptor of the Śrīvidyā kula (kula = clan, family, group etc.), or his dīkṣita śiṣya (properly initiated disciple), when expires, his antyeṣṭi need to be done by first noticing how the prāṇa exits the body. First, the day of death (according to the pañcāṅga, the traditional almanac) is ascertained. The minor details of the antyeṣṭi are fine-tuned based on this factor. The cadaver of the guru or the sādhaka is placed in yogāsana posture on darbha (or kuśa grass) woven into a mat. The kartr̥ (one who takes on the responsibility of doing the antyeṣṭi) propitiates Bhairava and Yoginī devatās by prescribed arcana (specialized ritualistic) vidhi. Then, puśpāñjali (flowers and garlands) is offered to the Guru/sādhaka with this prārthanā (prayer): O superior spirit (Deva), Mahādeva, most compassionate, bestowed of benefice (śaṃkara), perennially blissful (nityānanda), nirādhāra nirākula (one who has exalted to a ‘no adherence to mundane’ state of existence), and nirañjana (blissful), all that is beneficial happens at your behest. Yet, o Śiva, sarvajñya (knower of all), Parameśvara (ultimate being), kindly condone me should I have done anything wrong in the past. Thou my guru and imperishable, I am your devotee and disciple and thus empower me to accomplish further vidhi. I shall use only my true virtues, monies and such worldly tools to do your antyeṣṭi using the divyāgama (meaning the most propitious of all Agamas, the śāktāgama texts and practices). Thus saying the kartr̥ then prostrates in multifold (again and again) before the Guru/sādhaka in the darbhāsana posture.

He then keeps the gurupāduka (specially made out sandals of the guru either in wood or metal and which is etched with special symbols and mantra verses) on the gurupīṭha (the seat used by the Guru or the sādhaka during their sādhanā) to do a special pūjā ritual, if such is not possible at that time, then he take a special vow to do it in the proceeding corresponding day. The kartr̥ then puts together all the worldly remains of the diseased and makes four parts. Out of this, two parts of these goes to the son (or the next in line incumbent), one part goes as dāna to a pious person of the same gotra (roughly translated as ‘tribesman’), and the remaining one part is fully utilized as expenditure incurred for the antyeṣṭi rituals. Such rituals would usually start from the third, fifth or the seventh day reckoned from the day of death (as per the traditional almanac).

The texts (Kalpasūtras) also provide very interesting insights of the event. If the Guru or the sādhaka is in his ultimate throes of death, but not expired yet, a special ritualistic Śricakra pūjā is to be done. The kartr̥ then goes to the about to expire sādhaka and utters the gurupādukā mantra, caraṇatraya mantra, vidyādvaya mantra, various sampradāya mantra that the upāsaka practiced in his life (according to his kula practices), general kaula practices and their mantras (rituals and verses that are common to the area), kulakramānugata mantra (traditionally handed over secretive mantras), kādi-hādi-sādi mārga mantras (the trifold layers or levels in a Śrīvidyā practice) are then essentially uttered (japa vidhāna). While all these are happening before the Guru or the sādhaka in their death bed/seat, their citta, the inner essential core being gets focused. And then the kartr̥ has to do a very essential ritual: he recites the purāṇa mantra (in the Śivapurāna yore, it is said that the great king Bhūtirāja obtained mantras from Śiva to attain his mokṣa), bramavidyā mantra (only the vākya verses) are recited by inserting the Oṃ praṇava in-between the vākya of the verses. He then ritualistically organizes the essential items used for the antyeṣṭi rituals using the mantras as prescribed in the Kalpasūtrā. The kartr̥ now recites the ultimate haṃsa mantra (Oṃ haṃsaḥ) in the ears of the dying (or the dead) Guru or the sādhaka. By this, the jīva, now rises above the mortal body and reaches the Parabrahman state, the ultimate mokṣa.

Now, the Brahmavidya is narrated thus. This is a bestowed of absolute and full benefit. Śiva himself has taught this to the Śrīvidyā dīkṣitas for their final emancipation. The lord has ordained that the very recitation of this will surely bestow the mokṣa (nirañjanatva) to all living beings. Even a casual hearing of these mantras would relieve the jīva of all moha (stupefaction) and māyā (illusionary world/knowledge/creatrix) and ushers the sādhaka into the real knowledge. This is further segmented into naromāya, vedamāya, vedakalā, one’s own mātr̥kāyoni (the secretive mātr̥kā vowel given by the Guru during the dīkṣā) are then used before and after each line of the verses of this mantra:

  • Oṃ hrīm hasakḥphreṃ aṃ hasakṣamalavarayūṃ: this is the niṣkalābrahmavidyā. This mantra is to be uttered before and after each of the following lines.

  • Paramapadātmamihāgataḥ sanātanaḥ jahi hi dehāntaram pādāñguṣṭhādi vibho nibandhanam jhihyugram hasakṣamalavarayūm aṃ hasakhphrem (leave O vibho (omnipotent one) sādhaka, the ultimate goal and being-fullness is just a step away from you now. This is the very primordial state, leave your stance from your tip of the toe to the crown of the head to relinquish this mortal (useless) body to attain the hamsaḥ state)

  • Gulphānte jānugatam jatrustham bandhanam tathā meḍhre jahihi paramagryam madhyam nibandhanāt smuttiśṭha sahayāgryāñca vibho sadāśiva sargeṣu purosi jīvākhyāḥ ravi moha vanhi sandhyadamañḍalā madhya tiśṭhaḥ śakti mahā setukāraṇam mahārtha kāmalobha viniviṣṭaḥ prabodha māyādhidevatādehe (O Lord Sadāśiva ! I have now bound the cadaver from its gulpha (chins) to jānu (the knees), from its meḍhr (bound the legs in a crisscross) and then I have made the cadaver to sit upright (samuttiśṭha). O vibho, you now do the kindness of elevating this soul by integrating the śakti which resides in the navel region to rise towards the head (Sadāśiva sarga), thus relieving this soul (prabodha) from the māyādeha (the illusory body) with is filled with (viniveṣaḥ) kāmalobha (the five sins that bid the pure soul to the mortal body). (this mantra and its concept further dwell on the āyurveda tenet that at the time of death, the tridośa merges completely to nullify the prāṇa. Here the prayer is to elevate the Śakti towards the Śiva which in turn makes the prāṇa leave the mortal remains without any deformity)

  • Ājñānātvam manu ca pracodito kr̥ṣṇa deva deva dehaja tālu sāhvayāttam hoyaudumbara ghaṭita mahādvāram prāpya prayāhi deham hoham hoham vāgvāma deva pade (having thus imbibed the knowledge from tradition (O, lord Kr̥ṣṇa, elevate this spirit to the level of divinity, through this great passage opened up through this audumbara wood construct, let this spirit grasp and reach the higher reaches, Ho hum Ho hum, reach the Brahman, the vastness)

  • Granthāñścara paramātman śāntamahītālu randhramāsādyā utkramadeha maheśvara niranjana śivapaprayāhdayamśu (by the grace of Śiva the all compassionate, may this spirit rise above and move on from this mortal remains to attain everlasting state of Paramātman. Note: this and other mantras given here attain the siddhi (power) because of insertion of specific sounds and terms born out of such sound conglomerations)

  • Akramya dharmamārgam prāṇāpānau samāhr̥tya dharmau tyaktvā nārāyaṇa yāhi śāntā tam (get put on in this righteous path, let the five life winds (pañcaprāṇa vāyu) merge together, let the body and spirit ordination come to an end, attain the state of Nārāyaṇa with peace and success)

  • He brahman he viṣṇo he rudra śiva śrīvāsudevastvamagniṣṭhoma sanātana mr̥tpiṇḍam jahihi mahākāśa (O Brahmā, o Viśṇu, o Rudraśiva, the divine light that emanates because of the Śrī Vāsudeva is now attainable for you, O departing jīva. Because of this divine line verse that is equivalent to the most powerful agniṣṭhoma which is primordial, you shall thus happily leave this mr̥tpiṇḍa (the cadaver) to attain the mahākāśa, the vastness.

  • Aṅguṣṭhamātram amalam sādhāraṇam jahihi he mahāsūkṣma (O, you are now in the penultimate pin-pointed state of existence which is the very general causality of this world, may this verse urge you further on to leave this (blissful) state too)

  • Puruṣatvam prakr̥timayo baddhohaṅkāratantunā baddho nityodita paramātmastyaja sarāgam adhvānām (O, now leave even the male (puruṣa) and female (prakr̥ti) attributes which is binding to the state of ahaṃkāra (I am stature), which in turn returns to its lower existential states, rise and rise towards the omnipotent and omnipresent Paramātma stature which is all ensconcing and all encompassing)

  • Tadidam guṇamutsr̥ja tvam ṣāṭakāśikam deham (O, (because of the saṃskāra), the deha still retains the six-fold pollutant (six-fold pāpa= sin), now and now and now, you shall relieve all these guṇās.

  • R̥ddhimantra śarīratvamehi dehāntram (because of these purifying verses, you shall hear them and relinquish all your bodily states after you first leave this mortal cadaver)

  • Tyaja deham bhūtamayam pragr̥hyatām śāśvatam mahādeha (O, you shall now realize that this body is only the constituent of the five elements (bhūtamayam-pañcabhūtamayam). Rise now above this to attain the omnipresent omnipotent divine body)

  • Iti (thus are these elevating and emancipating lines)

  • Brahmavidyā jñānī svayamevāsūnniyasya prajapettadā anyatha śr̥uṇuyādvāpi tadaikāgramanāḥ bhavet (those who meditate continuously upon these Brahmavidyā verses help to attain the oneness with the ultimate, barring which, if one even hears this attains the essential focused mind to pave the way towards the divinity. Thus, one who practices this nirvāṇavidyā attains the nirvāṇāpada)

The kartr̥ who takes on the responsibility of doing the antyeṣṭi should ritualistically obtain the Śivāmśa (and in Śiva bhāva = unbridled but devoted mind) should do the snāna (take the holy bath), should wear the ritualistic cloth and such ornamentation, finish his daily rituals like nityāhnīka. He then sits before the cadaver with settled mind and peace. He performs the ritualistic aṅganyāsa (anointment of the various parts of his body with mantras). He installs the śrī kalaśa which is filled with holy water. He cleanses the pinḍa (the cadaver) of the guru or sādhaka with the mantra given by his (Śrīvidyā) Guru and the ratnapañcaka (pañcabhūta mantra) or dīpani mantra. And then, he recites the jvālāmālinī mantra, vyoma mantra in its sixth tenor, the (Śrīvidyā) astra mantra (armament mantra) and māyābīja (a secretive vowel given by the Guru during dīkṣākrama).

This is the dīpani mantra: Oṃ hrīṃ hasakhphreṃ aṃ hasakṣamalavarayūṃ aiṃ dīpani jvālāmālini hūṃ haṃsaḥ phaṭ hrīṃ hasakphreṃmalavaraūṃ aṃ hasakhphreṃ hrīṃ Oṃ.

Thus reciting this mantra, holding once to show the śakticālana (mudrā), the cadaver is washed again (with ghee or water) and then as per the vedic and colloquial practice, the departed prāṇa is again ritualistically consecrated into the cadaver through eyes, and other navarandhra (the nine outlet-inlets of the body). The kartr̥ then seeks the blessings of the Guru by suitable verses and prayer to recite and use mantras that empower the attraction of ākāśa, agnibīja, bestower of mokṣa (all these have bindu at the end, for without the bindu, the mantras are powerless). These are again recited with vedic mantras that start from cakṣu at its end along with the pretanāma, the various ascribed nomenclature of the preta (the departed spirit).

Using this mantra, again, proṃ mokṣe devasurādi pade deva devānāmāvāhayāmi, and joining this with the five Śrīvidyā praṇava (there are five equivalents to the vedic Oṃ in Tantra), the preta is invited into the cadaver again for further rituals. preta sarvādibhyo nirākulam, amuṣyotpādi etc. mantras are now used to re-invite the prāṇa vāyu (life breath), to do aṅgasaṃkalpa (to do bhāvana of the various limbs of the mortal remains) and this mantra is used in conjunction with six bījas starting from hrāṃ. Now a raw cotton thread is wound around the remains and the prānapratiṣṭha (reinstallation of the prāṇa) is performed. From then on, the vedic rituals take over to do the deha saṃskāra (the ritualistic embalming of the remains). Thus the entire remains now become astirūpa vardhinī body (the skeleton of the mortal remains now acquires the name vardhinī). This is propitiated with abhiṣeka with the holy water from the kalaśa.

The next process involves the anointment of the mortal remains with bhasma, the holy ash while praying for the parameṣṭhiguru or brahman. The kuśa grass is spread on the ground and the corpse is places with its head towards the South. It is decorated with various flowers and jewels too. A new cloth is wound around its neck (tad galepyaiḥ). Entire body is now covered with nyāsa ritual wherein the Guru/sādhaka’s primary mūlamantra upāsana nyāsa mantras and bījamantras are used. The gurupāduka is now placed on the right side of the body on the darbha (kuśa) bed. Its pūjā and udvāsana are done. A vimāna for the mortal remains (śavavāhana = a raw palanquin) is now created according to the limb configurations of the body. The body is now kept on this vimāna to be taken for a procession in the area en-route to the burial ground wherein instruments like śaṅkha (conch) and bherī (big diameter-skin) drums are played.

In the burning grounds a plain area is now selected and such a place is cleaned and kept dry. On this, akṣata (holy rice), aral̥u (puffed rice), til seeds are strewn. On this ground, a nityāgni (everyday ritualistic fire) is lit up. A paristaraṇa (bundles of kuśa long grass is kept around the making a square) is done in an anti-clock wise and on this the vessels for the rituals are placed. Towards the south, a praṇītā vessel is kept invoking Viṣṇu and this is decorated with flowers and akṣata rice. This vessel is then covered with darbha grass and taken to the south-east corner of the paristaraṇa. In the southern part of the paristaraṇa, a Bhairava maṇḍala is drawn and its pūjā is performed. In one of its ends, an agnimukha, featuring the tongue of agni fire, is drawn. A caru consisting of til seeds and rice is now mixed in an adequate quantity. Agni is now fired up again in the nityāgni portion and this caru, along with cow’s ghee is used while chanting mr̥tyunjaya mantra along with five mantras taken from ‘sadyojātādi rudra nyāsa’, a homa is performed before the corpse. In-between these, the Śrīvidyā mūlamantra (the mantra of upāsana/upāsaka) is chanted seven times in a viloma krama (reverse order). This is the viloma krama homa which is indeed specific for this most important ritual. These mantras in viloma is again used to do nyāsa on the remains of the guru/sādhaka/upāsaka to redirect the jīva to become one with puryaṣṭaka (Sūrya the sun, Candra the moon, pañcabhūta, the five elements and cetana/puruṣa the spirit).

Aiṃ is the vāgbhava bīja. This is used as an end adjunct to the mūlamantra practiced by the departed and a homa is done. If this order is clockwise then it is for the gṛhastha and if in anticlockwise, then it is for the saṃnyāsin. But then, the jīva is still in its sūkṣmatatva (subtle body). For this, special ritualistic mantras that involve this tatva are used in viloma rounds to garner all that now remains of the jīva to reunite it with ātman. But then, even now, the subtle body is believed to be in an anxious state of existence. For this, another homa using the puṇya pāpa bhaya bhakṣiṇī variety is employed to ward off all impediments to attain the final emancipation.

This variety includes the following mantras and rituals: khaṭakasakharayūṃ phuṃ phaṭ | śiśokhañga puṇyapāpamāsā nāsayāmi svāhā | using this sthala krama homa is performed which enables the subtle body to attain ātman. The various rituals in this method progressively involve the merging of the delicate jīva with its higher but powerful pinpointed existential states. In its penultimate practice, the jīva now acquires the state of bindu point which empowers it to get rid of all worldly pollutants and weaknesses. The finale called the pūrṇāhuti is done to empower the spirit to attain the paramapada mokṣa. Thus, the guru, upāsaka/sādhaka now attains the purest form of bliss called Śivaśaktyātmaka śuddha tattva. Thus the vicious cycle of birth-death-rebirth becomes null and void.

Now then, the mortal remains are prepared for ritualistic burning.

In Śrīvidyā tantra, this last part of the funeral ceremony involves a lot of bhāvana upāsana. A homa offering is done with five mantras of aghora etc. with a bhāvana that the dead one shall reach Śivasthāna, (the state that has ensconced the thirty-three tattvas) the ultimate mokṣa. Another corpse bed is constructed using darbha grass, bilva tree sticks and the branches spreading towards the southern direction by kulavr̥kśās (they are: śleṣmātaka (Cordia Dichotoma), karnjākṣa (Pongamia Glavri), akṣa (Terminalia Bellirica), nimba (Azadiracta Indica), aśvattha (Ficus Religiosa), kadamba (Neolamarckia Cadamba), bilva (Aegle Marmelos), vaṭa (Banyan tree i.e. Ficus Benghalensis), udumbara (Ficus Racemosa), tintiṇī (Tamarindus Indica)). This bed for the corpse is tied down with a cotton (three or nine) threaded string, the bed is then anointed with traditional herbal perfumes and the body is covered with new cloth. On this śayana (bed), a maṇḍala designed with padma, trikoṇa, ṣaṭkoṇa, karṇikā, eight petal kamala and upward lines are drawn and on that fresh flowers are strewn. On this, the body now is placed with its head facing the South direction, taking care that the head appears clearly. Now, this body is again sprinkled while chanting rakṣaṇā mantra. After this, with the chanting of jvālāmālinī mantra, the pyre is ceremoniously lit with the mantra starting with daha word. While the pyre is stably lit, the chanting continues with aghora and pāśupata mantras. This is the ultimate homa that any human can perform and hence this homa shall continue until the entire body is completely burnt to ashes. While the kartr̥ is performing all these, the dead person’s relatives and belonging to same gotra (clan) would also join in doing stotras and mantras of their choice. The Kalpasūtras describe this momentous event that while the body is burning, the yogigaṇa assemble therein and with vibhāvana they ‘eat away’ the mortal remains. The kartr̥, while performing this ultimate homa (citāgni) does the bhāvana while chanting these verses from the Kalpasūtrās. While the last bit of the pyre is burning, the kartr̥ sits beside the maṇḍala to do the japa of two mūlamantra of Śrīvidyā as given by the divine Guru. At the very end, the kartr̥ does a pūjā that is specific to his kula or area. It is his ardent duty to guard the complete burning process and also the collection of the ashes from the pyre.

On the third, fifth or the seventh day, the kartr̥ revisits the citāgni place and ascertains that the pyre has completely subsided. He then starts collecting the ashes from the leg side of the pyre and collects everything to store it in a new earthen pot. This pot head it tied with new cloth and is kept under a platform (pīṭha) in any one of these places convenient to him on the occasion: banks of a river, a clean water pond, nearby a temple, one’s own home surrounding etc. Around this pīṭha, three mekhalās (steps/stratum) are constructed. On this, the departed guru’s/sādhaka’s disciple or devotee shall perform gurumaṇḍala pūjā three times a day until the 11th day. On the 11th day a procession (utsava) is taken out to commemorate the life and achievements of the dear departed. Towards the end of this procession, a pot full of water (kalaśa) and adequate dakṣiṇā is given (dāna) to a very pious and pure hearted person (preferably a samayī or Śrīvidyā upāsaka). From then on the kartr̥ shall compute the ūṇa and māsika ritual days based on accepted almanac and the gurumaṇḍala pūjā is performed. This shall happen for one full year. At the end of this year (vārśika) another ceremonious occasion is conducted and the buried earthen pot is extricated out of the three mekhala. This pot is then taken to a river tertiary (where its flow reaches the sea or ocean) and there on the banks the pot is finally laid to rest. Around this place, kulavr̥kṣas are planted, gurupratimā or gurupādukā are then carved out of stones or wood and is installed near this resting place on a very auspicious day. Should the kartr̥ be fortunate to meet adepts in kulāgama pāśupatamārga persons or sādhakas in vāmamārga (eschatology), then he shall collect fifty darbha grass, spread them on the ground, the departed preta is then invited back onto the darbha grass bed and an important kaula ritual is conducted. After this, the preta shall acquire the Śambhu bhāva.

The all pious Guru, in his immeasurable compassion may teach all these to his devoted disciples. He may even help conduct such worthy event with the help of such disciples for the final emancipation of any true sādhaka or his own śiṣya on the last throes of his life. The Kalpasūtras prescribe a very interesting ritual for this event. A beautiful and well-proportioned doll is prepared with rice floor. Into this doll, the ātman of the near departing is drawn in (ākarṣaṇa). This is considered as the pinḍa of that person. For this pinḍa, all the above rituals are performed in their order. After all these actions, this pinḍa is kept on a parākrama (gurupāduka is also called as parākrama). After this the disciples and devotees shall offer separate pinḍas made out of rice floor to the pinḍa kept on the gurupāduka while chanting the five praṇava of Śrividyā tantra. After this, they shall offer pūrṇāhuti.

For the siddhās, their antyayoga is in actuality the very Śambhu bhāva. For such persons, no antyeṣṭi ritual is necessary. The devoted believer has to meditate this truth in his privacy. The sūtrās definitely mention that mānasika kriyā (focused and rightful rigorous mindful activity) is indeed the finest form of penance for the yogi. This is then accepted as the lokarūḍhi (worldly wisdom). Thus, while all these external ritual activity is conducted, the kartr̥ has to put in every effort to do the mānasika kriyā simultaneously and respectively to its corresponding physical activity.

(The original tantric textual treatises are filled with many holographic errors. The study of these vidhi would have been better if such errors were circumvented with more manuscript sources of the same or co relational texts)

The Paraśurāma Kalpasūtra

Towards the end of this text, the author says ‘pareca śāstrānuśiṣṭāḥ’ meaning, ‘I have said thus out of my intellect and cogitation, but it shall be correlated with other textual sources too’. Rāmeśvarasūri (1831 AD), who was a praśiṣya of the great Bhāskaramakhīndra (who authored the all-time useful text on Sahasrarnāma bhāṣya) has composed a Vr̥ttī (a textual compilation that describes a tenet of a discipline). Towards its end, in order to substantiate his arguments, he has given an udāhṛti (supportive corollary). This comprises of the antyeṣṭi vidhi from Trikūṭārahasya text, Kaulaśrāddha vidhi from the 56th chapter in Devīrahasya work’s Rudrayāmala, the famed Devī-Bhairava conversation extract that delineates the Prāyaścitta Vidhi from the 13th chapter in the work Svatantratantra, the Mahāsāntapana Vrata Vidhi from the Br̥hatvāmakeśvara Tantra, the Maṇḍalalakṣaṇa from Yoginītantra and from his own works he cites two textual sources to quote prakīrṇakaviśaya (cross-referenced discussions). Compiling all these he then has composed his Vr̥tti.

Out of this, the Antyeṣṭividhi (and the proceeding śrāddha) and Kaulaśrāddhavidhi will now be briefly delineated.

The Antyeṣṭividhi

Performance of antyeṣṭi for ones Guru, Śrīvidyā sādhaka is of prime importance to any upāsaka. If this duty is shirked, then there is no maṇḍalaprāpti for such a person, even though he may be a superior sādhaka. Here, the term maṇḍala has two meanings: a maṇḍala means a kumārī (maiden), baṭuka (=vaṭu, means a brahmacārin), two suvāsinī (two women who have built up their family effectively as good wives, daughter and mothers. This is their vr̥ata, the word suvāsinī is a composite of two segments: su=most propitious, + vāsini = dwellers, meaning she who dwells on auspiciousness), five sāmayika (an sāmayika is a Śrīvidyā upāsaka). A maṇḍala also means a congregation of all these. To pūjā offered to these is known as maṇḍalapūjā. The other meaning of maṇḍala is the attainment of mokṣa padavi. For any upāsaka/sādhaka, should he gain a place in this maṇḍala samūha (congregation), one of his prime duty is to perform the antyeṣṭi if and when needed. The author also gives an extended implication on this argument; if a śiṣya does not perform the antyeṣṭi of the Guru in proper time, then he does not belong to the dīkṣākula, thus making his sādhana null and void. For such a duty less person, the maṇḍalasamūha does not even help perform his kaulaśrāddha. (Details about kaulaśrāddha is discussed later on in this article).

The departed Guru/sādhaka enters the maṇḍala (emancipation) if the eschatological rites called antyeṣṭi is promptly performed for them within first māsa (lunar month) or first vārṣika (year = 12 lunar months) after the mr̥tasūtaka (proscriptive days after the death of a person) days end. Tantraśāstra segments three types of deceased dīkṣita: the vīradūta whose bāhyasaṃskāra (worldly eschatological rituals) is not performed at all, (Śrīvidyā upāsaka is also called as a vīra for, he controls his senses. In Śivatattva, the senses are termed as vīra, hence the upāsaka who controls them is also termed as vīradūta). The second variety is the vīra whose bāhyasaṃskāra is performed in correct order. The third variety is the vīra whose bāhyasaṃskāra is done along with special tantric antyeṣṭi rituals. However, antyeṣṭi is indeed a variety of bāhyasaṃskāra. Tantraśāstra provides many resolutions for whom antyeṣṭi was not performed for a reason. For such departed, the kartr̥ should do the japa of the mūlamantra for ten thousand times and afterwards the śrāddha should be done. If such a person’s name (dīkṣānāma) is unknown, his worldly name can be used all through the rituals. Tīrtha śrāddha should be done during all days of important cosmic incidence, on death anniversaries (according to traditional almanac). Śāstra then declares that such a departed upāsaka henceforth belongs to the genealogy of the kartr̥ and he attains the vīratva. The bāhyasaṃskāra is performed to get elevated from the pretāvastha (release from the spectral body) and the antyeṣṭi is performed to dwell in the maṇḍala. Both these mean that the departed can attain vīratva after the sūtaka days are over and the sapiṇḍīkāraṇa (unification of all parts of the lamented spectral body) is done for the departed.

Now, the kartr̥ takes a holy bath (śucirbhūtam), finds a peaceful place and sits there in his āsana (a square piece made out of cloth or wood or grass etc and reserved only for such purposes) facing the North direction. He then does the saṃkalpa (ritualistically takes into his account the various karmas (activities) he has to perform). He gives varaṇa (formal invite) for the ācārya (the one who also guides him during the process) and brahman (the one who oversees everything). If in a situation, both are not present, then the kartr̥ gives the varaṇa to ācārya. He then conducts the navāvaraṇa pūjā (Śrīcakra yantra has nine enclosures, each is connoted as an āvaraṇa, specific pūjā is prescribed for each of these).

The kartr̥ now is empowered to conduct the next bit of ritual which is indeed centric to the whole process. He takes two measure of his spread palms (from tip of one of his spread out palm’s thumb to the other palm’s little finger tip, both palms held side by side) which would come to nearly 18 inches, and creates a vedi (platform) and on that, he draws a Śrīcakra out of kumkuma (the red powder make out of traditional substances) and does a measure of pūjā to it. Then, a doll of half of that size is modeled out of kuśa (darbha) grass, with its head hanging down (kept on the Śrīcakra). The vīra is then ascribed into this doll (āvāhana) with suitable mantras. This doll, until its final offering is thus named after the departed person (vīra). If the vīra’s name is unknown then the generic name of ‘Gaganānanda Nātha’ is ascribed to it.

The kartr̥ now calls aloud the name of the vīra facing the doll (kept on the Śrīcakra) and whispers these verses in its ears; ‘O (the name or Gaganānanda Nātha) vīra! I prostrate before you with reverence! Do come and dwell here on the doll on this Śrīcakra. I have arranged this momentous holy occasion entirely for your beneficence. You are about to ascend to an ultimate bliss. Now, you enter this maṇḍala, cruise around various words within this maṇḍala, and head towards the paramapada sadgati (final emancipation).

And then the kartr̥ performs the six types of aṅganyāsa and karanyāsa (ritualistic inglobation of the parts of the body and soul) for the darbha doll and the six types of tanmātrā nyāsā (they are śabdākarṣiṇī, rūpākarṣiṇī, gandhākarṣiṇī, rasākarṣiṇī and sparśākarṣiṇī). With this, the body is consecrated. In the heart region, he does the cittākarṣiṇī tanmātra nyāsa. On the tip of the scalp, the nyāsa with the mantra krīṃ kālyāi namaḥ’ is performed. On the throat region, the aṅkuśa weapon is symbolized by a nyāsa with the mantra krom marmakr̥ntinyai namaḥ’. On the brahmarandhra (the inner sanctum on the tip of the scalp) the nyāsa with the mantra āṃ hrīṃ prāṇākarṣiṇyai namaḥ’ is done. Now the doll acquires the name kuśapuruṣa. In the mouth of this kuśapuruṣa, with the mantra nyāsa of ‘āṃ hrīṃ’ is repeated. After all these, mantras like kāladharma etc. are recited with raised voice. At the end, there is an interesting episodic prescription where in the kartr̥ cries aloud for the death of this kuśapuruṣa with profuse tears !

Now the dead vīra’s spirit is in the kuśapuruṣa. The kartr̥ addresses him with these words; o kuśapuruṣa, the kāladharma is this death and it has to happen because the kāla ordains this. There is no escape from this nor should one futilely try to escape from this. Now that you have been elevated from your mortal remains, you have acquired immeasurable strength (śakti) and hence you are now the very embodiment of Śiva. Because you have attained the final identity with your real power, you have now conjoined with the Mahāśakti (Śīve Pārvati, the consort) and attained the paśutva state of being. Shed all your previous connections with the help of ‘guruvākya’ (gurupādukā mantra etc.) and become the very embodiment of Śiva (Śiva rūpa)’. Thus saying, the kartr̥ then does the saṃkalpa to perform the dehasaṃskāra (offering of kuśapuruṣa to the ritual fire) in Śivāgni. He now performs the nyāsa on himself: he uses the Śrīcakreśī Lalitā Tripurasundarī mantra for this nyāsa (there is very elaborate system for this kind of nyāsa which is also done during the most important navāvaraṇa pūjā tarpaṇa vidhi during Śrīcakrārcana ritual). The kartr̥ now does the cakra pūjā with a special arghya (offer of holy water with suitable verse), for this he uses the vīra’s name (amukānandanātha vīrāya namaḥ) and offers the tarpaṇa three times. He continues this ritual with sixteen (elaborate pūjā) or five (compact and small) kinds of pūjā offering and gives the tarpaṇa using the mantra Lalitā Mahātripurasundarīṃ tarpayāmi namaḥ’.

Gārhapatyāgni is the fire that was first ritualistically kindled during the marriage ceremony of an upāsaka. Now, this agni is indeed an integral part of many incidences of his life too. This agni is now installed on the side of the vedi where the kuśapuruṣa is consecrated. An agnimaṇḍala is then reconstructed therein. Into this, the divine mother Devī is invited to dwell and accept the offerings. Her pūjā and three times tarpaṇa are done. In this agnimaṇḍala, a homa is done using 108 muttuga (audumbara tree) sticks. The ghee is offerd while doing a homa with two large ‘spoons’. They are known as ‘sr̥k’ and ‘śr̥va’. Out of these, the sr̥k is filled with cow’s ghee, the kuśapuruṣa is kept on this. In that doll, the right leg of the kuśapuruṣa is kept on the other ‘spoon’ sr̥va. Both the spoons are now joined one above the other. While saying ‘vaṣat’, and chanting the mantra pūrṇāhutiṃ pradāsyāmi amukānandanātha vīrāya svāhā’ the kuśapuruśa on the sr̥k and śrva is offered reverentially to the mr̥tāgni which is the very embodiment of parāśaktirūpa. After this awesome offering, a special prayer is to be done for the attainment of Brahman for the vīra with these verses ‘tvaṃ vīrāgnau hutōsmin vai malaṃ bhautarūpakaṃ kārmaṃ mānsampyeva māyikaṃ cātaraṃ taṭhā | āṇavaṃ ca visr̥jyāgnau dhūmmārgeṇa cāṭhavā tejomārgeṇordhvalōkaṃ prāptaṃ te paramaṃ padaṃ | punrāvr̥tti rahitaṃ vraja mantraprabhāvataḥ | After reciting this mantra, the kartr̥ has to do the japa of his mūlamantra, gurupādukā mantra etc and finally offer the kuśapuruṣa into the homakuṇḍa (kuṇḍa = pit). After this pūrṇāhuti, 108 audumbara samittu āhuti is to be offered. This completes the later part of the antyeṣṭi vidhi homa.

Now, sāmayika (Śrīvidyā upāsakas) are to be invited along with ācāryas and their satkāra (cordial reception), an udvāsanā (relocation of their roles) is performed. From that day, the forth day is reckoned from the traditional almanac. On this day, a kaula śrāddha is done for the vīra along with maṇḍalamelana śrāddha. A (copper) vessel is kept separately and into it divinities called ‘viśvedevā’ are invoked. This represents vīra. From now onwards, vīra means a broader sense of the term. Vīra would now mean pitāmahā (guru’s guru of the vīra), pitā (ones guru) and vīra himself, all together constitute viśvedeva. If in the event, the three vīras were ritually consecrated on the lines of the deliberations described above, then each of them a separate maṇḍalamelana is performed so that they attain the status of guruvarga like Mitreśānanda Nātha etc. For this the kartr̥ has to do the japa of the mūlamantra for 10 thousand times for each of these gurus and after this the maṇḍalamelana śrāddha is peformed. Now an important factor is to be noted. The vīra for whom these deliberations are done need not be of the same guruparampara or lineage of the kartr̥. The śāstra provides a very important provision that, in order to do continue to do such essential sādhanā in tantra, the vīra and his Guru lineage now are deemed as belonging to the dīkṣita vaṃśa of the kartr̥. Even if the vīra and his gurus belong to a known dīkṣita clan, then the kartr̥ is now empowered to perform the maṇḍalamelana śrāddha for them.

Before coming to the delineation of the kaula śrāddha vidhi (system description), a little bit of its speciality may be mentioned herein. In this śrāddha, the vīra is kept to face the west direction and the pūjā is done. The maṇḍala used to offer pādyā (holy water poured in a ritualistic way) is in a triangle shape. This is also the pātrāsādana (negotiation of the vessel) maṇḍala. The vessel for the pitr̥ is first negotiated and then only the vessel of the vīra is taken up. Here, five brāhmaṇas are to be invited (one representing each: vīra, pitā, pitāmahā, two viśvedevas). In an unavoidable situation, when all these five cannot be found, then, one brāhmaṇa representing two viśvedevas, one representing pitāmahā and one for the vīra can be invited. The pātrahavana (consecration of the śrāddha vessels) are just like in the kaulaśrāddha. In order to do the kaulaśrāddha for the vīra, the jalotsarga (a special ritual done during any śrāddha) is performed for the mantra starting from ‘saṃvinmaye’ and ends with ‘tadbhaveccivaṃ’ (the entire mantra is given further down in this article). After this, the mantra starting with the word ‘adyaprabhr̥ti’ is chanted while the vīrapātra kuladravya (contents of vessel of vīra) is being transferred to the pitr̥pātra. In all the upacāra for the vīra during the conduct of kaulaśrāddha (starting from the very first upacāra, dīpaupacāra and beyond) and also for the offering of the vessel (pātrasamarpaṇa), the mantra amukāya (the name of the vīra) vīrāya svāhaḥ’ is to be used. After vīra comes his pitā, for this only ‘mitreśarūpāya svāhaḥ’ is to be used. And for the pitāmahā, ṣaṣṭhīśarūpāya svāhaḥ is used. After this the regular model ritual is to be followed. There are two homa for this śrāddha and all other ritualistic activity resembles the vedic pattern in this kaulaśrāddha.

The Kaulaśrāddha viḍhi

Tantra śāstra exalts the virtues of the kaulaśrāddha. It says that just by hearing about this ushers in the divine blessings. It goes further and says that even if thousends of other śrāddhās are done, if kaulaśrāddha is not done, then all that would be rendered waste, for, the pitr̥s and viśvedevas are not satisfied with just other vedic śrāddha! The Śāktatantra texts extoll this ritual and indeed describe it in unequivocal manner.

The first kaula śrāddha day is to be reakoned on or after a day from the day and time of death of the vīr̥a with the aid of traditional alamanac (pañcāṅga). On that day, the kartr̥ should cleanse himself with bath and daily toiletries. He then gives nimantraṇa (formal invitation) to four or two brāhmaṇas. After performing śuddha saṅkalpa, the kartr̥, before the viśeṣārghya pātra (there will be two special vessels rekoned as pitr̥ pātra in between the general viśeṣār̥ghya pātra and Devī viśeṣārghya pātra. All the mantras and rituals done to consecrate the special arghyapātra (viśeṣārghya pātra) vessel should be repeated to consecrate viśvedeva pātra and pitr̥ pātra (pātra=vessel). In any tantric pūjā, suvāsinī pūjā (a pūjā for a housewife who has lead a pious life doing all the religious rigours called vrata) is an essential and integral part. In this kaula śrāddha, at this juncture, the last part of that pūjā ritual is to be performed now. After this, a brāhmaṇa is invited in lieu of a Caryā Nātha (an ancient siddha) embodiment and on him the viśvedeva is ascribed (āvāhana). If all the five other brāhmaṇas are also invited for the occasion, then each of them will take Ṣaṣṭhūśa Nātha (for pitāmahā), Uḍḍīśa Nātha (for prapitāmahā) and Mitreśa Nātha (other three ancient siddhas) for pitr̥ positions. However, if only one brāhmaṇa is there, then all the three can be ascribed on him and the śrāddha can be continued.

The brāhmaṇas are first offerd a seat (āsana) and after prostrating before him (or them), these words of welcome is spoken (actually these are verses and I have given their translations herein) ‘O revered viśvedevas, I welcome you, I wholeheartedly offer to you this ‘kṣaṇa’ (ceremonious invite). Please do dwell peacefully until the rituals are concluded. With affection and peace, kindly accept my humble ‘kṣaṇa’. After having said that, they are given the following maṇḍala to be seated: square mandala for viśvedevas, circular maṇḍala for the pitr̥s (pitr̥, pitāmahāḥ and prapitāmahāḥ). Their feet are washed, sāmānya arghya (from the general arghya vessel) is offered, ācamana rituals are offered along with madhuparka (special variety of banana dipped in raw honey), snāna (a facility for cleansing), vastra (new cloths) etc. As the last thing, the dīpapūjā is offered. All pujas done for the pitr̥s are repeated for the viśvedevas. And later, the viśvedeva vessel is offerd with the verse ‘O viśvedeva ! This is offered to you (svāhaḥ)’. The pitr̥ vessels are offered likewise to the brāhmaṇas who are now acknowledge in the positions of the three pitr̥s. The great Rāmeśvarasūri who belonged to the disciple lineage of Bhāskarācārya gives a special note here that, while in the vedic traditions, there are ritualistic mantras even for offering the things, for sāktas only svāhaḥ is enough and adequate.

These are the mantra veses that are recited while the viśvedevas (on square maṇḍala) and pitr̥s (in circular maṇḍala) are offered pūjās, bhojana vessels (food plates and such), water, hastodaka (water to wash their hands and feet);

          Samvinmaye mahāpātre ānandamayabhojyakaṃ |

          Bhoktā tvam puruṣaḥ sākśī mahāśktirmaheśvaraḥ ||

          Sarvamannam śaktimayam bhoktām sākṣāt paraḥ svayaṃ |

          Tasmāt sarvam śivaḥ sākṣāt bhoktā dātā ca bhojyakaṃ ||

          Viśvedevā devatā no bhunjan tvatra makhe mama |

          Yāvacchakyam tāvadiha bhoktavym svasthamānasaiḥ ||

          Peyam khādyam bhakṣyabhojyam sarvam vastu samarpitaṃ |

          Pitr̥ṇām paramānandahetave tad bhavecchivaṃ ||

(The eater, eating, the process of eating are all one and same; that is ‘annam’ the holy offered food. The person who has offered and the person who has taken part are all one and the same and thus is the very embodiment of Śiva (Śivamayaṃ). In this holy anna yajña, it is viśvedevas who are partaking the offered food. O brāhmaṇas, I humbly request you to eat, drink, and take all the bhakṣyabhojyas (an explanation is given for this term after this). The very essence of this action will please the pitr̥s, and thus becomes Śiva full (Śivamaya)).

(Information on the bhakṣyabhojya: the food that is served on these occasions are of six types: Peya, that liquid which is sipped (eg. Sugarcane juice) (coṣya): Pānaka, those liquids that are drunk (for eg. Water, rasam,a spicy hot liquid preparation which are also mixed with rice to eat); Lehya, all those which are licked and enjoyed; Bhojya, the staple diet eating things like rice etc.; Bhakṣya: special adjucts that resemble snacks like those which are fried, baked balls etc.; Carvya, a special kinds of food suppliments which are also called as khādya).

Thus said, the śrāddha kartr̥ pours one spoon of water (uddharaṇa) for both the viśvedevasthāna and pitr̥sthāna. This is called as an āpośana. The act is called jalotsarga. The brāhmaṇās who are occupying both these postures now would eat to their fulfillment (of the bhakṣya, bhojya, khādya, peya, pānaka, and some more items of food called kuladravya (food specialities that are specific to that kaula tradition for at least two generations). All the while, the śrāddha kartr̥ does the prayer and encouragement to the brāhmaṇas that this very act would now satisfy the viśvedevā and the pitr̥s. This anna yajña is nearing its fulfillment. At the end of the feast, an uttarāpośana is given (concluding event with another uddharaṇa spoon of water offered with suitable mantras). A tambūla (beetle leaves and areca catechu seeds), with adequate dakṣiṇā (money, usually the local currency, but in rare cases gold coins) are given reverentially (places on the sides of the brāhmaṇa seats). A prayer is now done: “O divinity, with this activity that I have now undertaken, may you grant the wish that the pitr̥, pitāmahā, prapitāmahā attain the paramapada, the final blissful pitr̥loka. A pradakśiṇā namaskāra (holding the arghya vessel and an uddharana spoon inside, the kartr̥ goes around (three times) the brāhmaṇas) is also performed.

With the following verse, the release (udvāsana) of the brāhmaṇas are done:

          Yathāāgatam ca pitaro gacchantvasmān mahāmakhāt |

          Viśvairdevaiśca sahitāḥ prsannāḥ santu me ciraṃ ||

Now, the sāmayikas (Śrīvidyā practioners) are offered special pūjā and the entire activity is surrenderd to Goddess Lalitādevī.

Rāmeśvarasūri, after describing and prescribing the kaulaśrāddha and antyeṣṭi, stresses their importance thus; both these (antyeṣṭī and kaulaśrāddha) are formed based on the sūtrās in the Paraśurāma Kalpasūtra and thus it is most authoritative and essential duty (for a upāsaka to follow and practice). In that śāstra, the act of not doing it is described as a defect and the śāstra decries it. In the other treatise Tripurārahasya too it is quite so and that treatise goes on to say that there are other things also that ought to be done. Thus, it may be inferred here that for those upāsakas who follow Paraśurāma Kalpasūtra this śrāddha and iṣṭi is essential. The Tripurārahasya text also makes a provision that (since there are other alternatives), the performance of these śrāddha and iṣṭi is not entirely an absolute necessity but a preferred activity. There is a corroboration in the vedic śrāddha practice too. The Āpasthamba Kalpasūtra and other ācāryas, in their sūtrās, do not generally agree with each other in their prescriptions and activity essentials, but for one ecception, that is, they all quote and follow the sūtra of Bhāradhvāja. A similar inference can also be drawn in the present tantric context. The spirit, mood and desire for these entire activity springs from the anxity that not performing would make the practice that much poorer and worthless.

This is a moral and philosophical tenet in tantric practice; the very birth is to aquire upāsanā that would enable the sādhaka to attain maṇḍala. Maṇḍala in tantra means a state that is superior to Brahmaloka, attainment of three ogha (multitudes), and total annulment of rebirth. Antyeṣṭi and śrāddha are the most essential activity to attain this mahāpuruśārtha (maṇḍala praveśa). If this is not performed, then, it is little wonder that the śāstras proclaim this mawkishness as ‘atidūśita’ (meaning totally decriable). Thus the conduct of antyeṣṭi and (kaula śrāddha) are absolutely essential for a sādhaka.

What more is to be said, then?