My current destination is to explore the abode of the netherworld, the 7 great Patalas. While its interesting to go into the depths of darkness to understand nature of life here in the celestial space, one particular abode took my attention by storm. Let me introduce the 7 patalas first so that we know where we are headed.
In the celestial map of the universe, the celestial world below the earth has 7 divisions. These are believed to be mapped into the very form of Vishnu himself and everything, hips downwards belongs to Patala. The regions are called Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talatala, Mahatala, Rasatala, Patala. My focus is on the Atala and the Vitala mainly with respect to the nature of their realms.
Atala is a place dominated by Bala, a son of Maya who possesses mystical powers. Bala, through his “yawn” or the sound embodiment of it, caused the creation of 3 women in the gross realm, with highly seductive natures described in 3 variants. The yawn, though strange as a concept, may indicate “tamasic” nature relating to man. 3 seductresses manifested from this yawn - Swairini the self willed, (Note: women’s freedom is described as those who have multiple male partners. Lets not go into the right and wrong of it in this article), Kamini the lustful one (marries men from any group) and Punshchali the one who wholly give herself up and keeps changing partners. When a man (mortal) enters this realm of Atala, these three women act like “predators” and attract him to tamasic realm of excitement with a cannabis drink to enhance his excitable state. They subsequently enjoy sexual pleasures with the man, giving him a false impression of excess masculinity, while in reality he is being drained off his vital creative fluids (semen), thus rendering him “dead” (impotent?).
Vitala is a realm of a different kind. This space is ruled by the terrific form of Shiva, the Bhairava state. Conceptually he is known to preside here with the mother goddess in the form of Bhawani or Gauri. The interesting part about this realm is that there is a river that flow, dominating the landscape and this is no ordinary river. The Hataki river here is the mixture of the vital creative fluids of Lord Bhirava and Bhawani in sexual union that flows through this region. What makes it special its that when this potent mixture comes in contact with fire, it turns to gold called Hataka.
What struck me most is the unavoidable similarity I was subjected to when I compared this realm to the 5M ritual of the Vamachara path. In the earthly realm the Vamachara path has various types of rituals, some bordering on the unthinkable. Two rituals shout out loud. The first is the very common ritual practice of 5Ms, the Panchamakara - Madya (wine), Mamsa (meat), Matsya (fish), Mudra (grain) and Maithuna (sexual union). The other ritual similar in nature goes a step forward in offering the combination of vital fluids to the sacred fires of the cremation ground. The left hand path in Tantrik earthly rituals strangely seems to mimic the realms of Atala and Vitala.
By scriptural evidence we understand that celestial regions come with their own equations of magical experiences. This in itself was quite a revelation for me, given most of recorded material around the Vamachara marga doesn’t really explicitly state the relation to the lifestyle of the celestial nether regions of Atala and Vitala. I can draw a parallel conclusion that the path of Alchemy in the deeper aspects of Hindu faith, as discovered by the Rishis, actually produced Gold, by combining Mercury (Shiva aspect) with Sulphur (goddess aspect) in a particular proportion and subjected it to “Fire”.
But what really caught my attention was the nature of the Human being to ape the celestial world in ritual acts. It struck me like a bolt out of the blue, as to why we try so hard to mimic these worlds. Another interesting view is that, the combination of creative fluids of Lord Bhiarava and Ma Bhawani produces Gold in the presence of fire - the Hataka. In the earthly space, the merger of man and woman produces a child. Is the “child” considered “gold” in our realm. No matter what the material purpose of our living, the offspring is vital to our very existence today.
Cutting out all the noise, the union of man and woman is considered sacred, the result in celestial workings is the gift of a child. Barren women and impotent men are not appreciated in our world, even today, no matter how rich. The gross purpose of our existence is procreation, which makes us no different from other Pashu. Then what is it that is the differentiating factor with the vital fluids we naturally have in abundance. How else do we describe the metaphorical meaning of “Gold” in the spiritual path if it is not manifesting itself as a child in physical form.
What is the Vamachara Marg attempting to do by mimicking the Atala and Vitala worlds. It is very clear that Baital Deol temple, in Bhubaneshwar attributed to Chamunda was a clear cut destination for Tantrik practices surrounding the Vamachara marg of the Atala realm. It was a place of human sacrifice, the sculptures on the wall were not decorative as much as they were utilitarian, with bowls carved into the walls to collect “fluid” or “blood”. The temple seemed female dominated, but those who died in the physical realm were men, so were the main participants of the ritual women? Why is the central figurine Chamunda.
The iconography of Chamunda pronounces her as the terrific form of Devi, consort of Rudra Shiva, which can be equated to Bhairava. She, in skeletal form, wears bones, skulls and serpents all of which are attributes of the netherworld. But she also has “male” aspects of the yajnopavita made of skulls and a jatamukuta. The most powerful aspect of her is her eyes, sunken into their sockets by extremely intense which look at the bare truth in the face. I can’t run away from the basic fact that Tantricism is about accumulation of power, intense deep spiritual power by ritual (NOT black arts). In what form does Maithuna, in the Vamachara path produce the metaphysical experience equal to Gold - Hataka, in the physical realm of sexual union (and no it is not intense orgasm as that is considered a failure in ritual terms)? OR are we simply barking up the wrong tree?