Jayākhya Samhitā

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Jayakhya Samhita, JayAkhya SamhitA, Jayaakhya Samhitaa


The Jayākhya Samhitā is a large work of 4592 verses in the anuṣṭubh meter. It is spread over 33 paṭalas or chapters. It was composed between 300 to 600 CE. A significant aspect of this treatise is that it gives a detailed account of the philosophy of the Pāñcarātra system and hence, it has carved out a significant place for itself. Along with the Ahirhudhnya Samhitā, its authority is highly respected in the Vaiṣṇava circles even today.

Origin of Jayākhya Samhitā

The Vaisṇavāgamas have branched off into two streams:

  1. The Pāñcarātra
  2. The Vaikhānasa

Between these two, the Pāñcarātra has produced a voluminous literature. It has more than two hundred works. It is followed in most of the Vaiṣṇava temples, especially in South India. The three most important treatises of this school are:

  1. The Ahirbudhnya Samhitā
  2. The Jayākhya Samhitā
  3. The Sāttvata Samhitā

Content Overview

A very brief summary of its contents may now be given here:

Chapter 1

First chapter consists of 166 verses. This is an introductory chapter which deals with the paratattva or the highest Truth. It starts with the conversation between the sages Saiṅvartaka and Aurva. Sage Śāṇḍilya also joins the conversation later on. This chapter signifies the qualifications of a guru competent enough to give the spiritual wisdom and the attributes of a disciple fit to receive it.

Chapter 2

Second chapter consists of 75 verses. It deals with:

  • Brahmasarga or the creation of the four-faced Brahmā from the navel lotus of Lord Viṣṇu
  • Creation of the world by Brahmā
  • Story of the demons Madhu and Kaiṭabha being killed by the Lord Viṣṇu
  • Recovery of the Vedas

Chapter 3

Third chapter has 28 verses. It is a small section dealing with:

  • The creation from the pradhāna
  • Pradhāna comprising three well-known guṇas
  • Association of the jiva (the individual soul) with the products of pradhāna

Chapter 4

Fourth chapter has 138 verses. It deals with:

  • Another aspect of creation, Suddhasarga
  • Description on how god Puruṣottama Vāsudeva evolves out of himself
  • Three subsidiary forms of god
  • Details of the three subsidiary forms

Chapter 5

Fifth chapter has 46 verses. It is very difficult to know Brahman or God. He can be known through the practice of yoga and meditation along with mantrajapa.[1] Mantra should be learnt from a competent preceptor. This is the gist of this chapter.

Chapter 6

Sixth chapter has 250 verses. This chapter is primarily devoted to:

  • Expounding of the mulamantra, basic mantra of Nārāyaṇa
  • Other related mantras of Lakṣmī (spouse of Nārāyaṇa), Jayā, Māyā
  • Mantras for purifying one’s limbs
  • Mantras of Naṛsimha, man-lion incarnation of Viṣṇu
  • Mantras of Garuḍa, eagle-mount of Viṣṇu or Nārāyaṇa
  • Mantras of Kapila and Varāha, boar-incarnation of Viṣṇu

Chapter 7

Seventh chapter comprise of 124 verses. This section deals with:

  • Mantras of Ananta
  • Mantras of Kurma
  • Mantras of Kṣetrapāla
  • Mantras of Śri
  • Mantras of Gaṇeśa
  • Mantras of Matsya
  • Mantras of Vāgīśvari
  • Mantras of Viṣvaksena

These mantras should be formally received from a qualified guru and kept as a secret.

Chapter 8

Eighth chapter has 117 verses. This part of the work describes:

  • Jaya mudrā
  • Śakti mudrā
  • Hṛdaya mudrā
  • Astra mudrā
  • Kapila mudrā

Fifty mudrās have been delineated here. The results obtained by practicing these mudrās have also been detailed in it.

Chapter 9

Ninth Chapter has 71 verses. It exclusively deals with snāna or bath of various kinds. It also includes the ones through mantras and dhyāna or meditation.

Chapter 10

Tenth chapter has 103 verses. This chapter discusses the topic of samādhi, perfect and total absorption of the mind on Paramātman or God. It gives all the necessary details for samādhi and includes:

  • Selecting a good spot for samādhi
  • Preparing a suitable seat for samādhi
  • Purification of one’s limbs before samādhi
  • Imagining that the physical body is burnt by the fire-powers of the mantra during samādhi
  • Entering into a body of light during samādhi

Chapter 11

Eleventh chapter has 43 verses. It is a small section which deals with mantranyāsa, purification of the body, with appropriate mantras.

Chapter 12

Twelfth chapter comprises of 136 verses. It deals with mānasayāga or mental worship of Lord Viṣṇu in details with all the steps involved in it.

Chapter 13

Thirteenth chapter has 236 verses. This chapter deals with bāhyayāga or external worship. The various steps detailed here are:

  • Drawing the maṇdala, esoteric drawing
  • Establishing the kumbha, pitcher of water
  • Arghya - water for washing hands
  • Worship of the deity Gaṇeśa
  • Meditations on various deities
  • Offering of dhupa, incense
  • Ringing of bell
  • Inviting the deity
  • Worshiping the deity
  • Chanting the hymns

Chapter 14

Fourteenth chapter has 94 verses. This part of the work is devoted entirely to japa, repetition of the divine name, and the akṣasutra or japamālā (rosary). It also includes the methods of preparing it.

Chapter 15

Fifteenth chapter has 264 verses. This section is devoted to agnikārya or homa, offering of oblations into a duly consecrated fire. The various rituals of the homa described here are:

  • Preparation of the sacrificial pit and alter
  • Method of generating the fire
  • Purification processes with regard to the fire including the implements to be used
  • Worship of the fire
  • Various things needed for the homa
  • Offerings into the fire
  • Purṇāhuti, final offering
  • Withdrawing the deity worshiped through the fire into oneself
  • Putting out the fire
  • Disposing off the various articles

Chapter 16

Sixteenth chapter has 369 verses. Various details connected with dīkṣā or initiation are described here. Some of the important rituals given in this section include:

  • Examining the competence of the disciple
  • Days auspicious for giving dīkṣā
  • Purifying the articles to be used in the ritual of dīkṣā
  • Establishing the kalaśa, pot filled with water and other materials as prescribed
  • Homa
  • Praying to the deity for his presence
  • Naming a disciple
  • Some rites connected with the imparting of the mantra
  • Worship of the deity in and through the consecrated fire
  • Worshiping the guru by the disciple
  • Feeding the brāhmaṇas at the end

Chapter 17

Seventeenth chapter has 62 verses. This short chapter describes the characteristics of the disciple and the guru.

Chapter 18

Eighteenth chapter has 92 verses. This section describes the various modes of abhiṣeka, consecration by pouring or sprinkling holy water, for a disciple and teacher.

Chapter 19

Nineteenth chapter comprise of 36 verses. How a person duly initiated should practice the disciplines to attain mantrasiddhi, perfection through the repetition of the mantra, is the main topic described here.

Chapter 20

Twentieth chapter has 386 verses. This is the biggest chapter of the book. Construction and consecration of temples is the main topic discussed in detail. The subjects covered include:

  • Methods of preparing oil paintings of deities for worship
  • Icons for worship at home
  • Measurements of a pīṭha, pedestal, for icons
  • Doors for temples
  • Time for establishing the idols in a temple
  • Adhivāsa rite - ‘to live in’
  • Netronmīlana rite - ‘opening of the eyes’
  • Pujā - worship
  • Rathayātra - procession by temple-car with idols
  • Rites for rectifying faults
  • Honoring those who have conducted the rituals and others who have helped
  • Avabhṛtha or final ritual bath
  • Measures to be taken when the image or the pedestal is damaged
  • Measures to protect the temple and image in times of political and social turmoil

Chapter 21

This chapter has 232 verses. It includes:

  • Pavitrāropaṇa, the act of investiture with the sacred thread of the idols of gods
  • Holy pots
  • Yāgaśālā - sacrificial shed

This is said to offset all the defects that may accrue the religious rites during the performances.

Chapter 22

Twenty second chapter has 80 verses. This section is dedicated entirely to the description of the characteristics and codes of conduct of the Vaiṣṇavas or devotees of Viṣṇu. Several sections of them are delineated here. They are:

  • Yatis - sanyāsins
  • Ekāntins - those who are deeply devoted to Lord Viṣṇu and live a lonely life
  • Vaikhānasas - householders wearing the signs of a recluse and living upon what others give
  • Karmasāttvatas - brāhmaṇas who are devoted to God but live by what a King gives for the maintenance of their families
  • Śikhins - brāhmaṇas performing all the duties but keeping their minds always on Lord Viṣṇu

Chapter 23

This chapter has 155 verses. It deals with the topic of śrāddha, obsequial ceremonies, in detail.

Chapter 24

Twenty fourth chapter comprise of 104 verses. It deals with the after-death ceremonies and include:

  • Purificatory and other rites for a dead person’s body
  • Preparation of the funeral pyre
  • Cremation
  • Purificatory bath
  • Collection of bones later on
  • Rules concerning the disposal of the body of a yati, monk
  • Rites for a person who dies elsewhere and body is not recovered

Chapter 25

This chapter has 159 verses. The various prāyaścittas or expiatory rites for faults and sins of omission and commission are described here. Some of the misdeeds mentioned here include:

  • Avoiding the daily rituals like the sandhyāvandana
  • Killing of a brāhmaṇa or a cow
  • Drinking liquor
  • Stealing
  • Eating the food offered by grave sinners
  • Accepting prohibited gifts
  • Abusing respectable persons
  • Defiling places of worship

Chapter 26

This section has 133 verses. It resembles the Śākta tantras in its contents. It entirely deals with the repetition of mantras for fulfilling various worldly desires such as:

  • Exorcising the evil spirits
  • Offsetting the evil effects of poisons
  • Attracting or repelling others
  • Causing harm or even death to the enemies
  • Attaining great strength
  • Bringing peace to oneself or others
  • Defeating the army of an enemy
  • Some magical rites

Chapter 27

This chapter has 218 verses. It deals primarily with the sādhanās[2] with the mantras of Lakṣmī and her aspects and associates.

Chapter 28

It has 157 verses. This section describes the processes by which certain mantras termed as hṛnmantra,[3] Śiromantra[4] and so on can be realized. It also delineates the methods of using them to fulfill one’s desires.

Chapter 29

This chapter has 187 verses. This chapter also explains about the mantras and their practice. The deities dealt with are:

  • Naṛsimha
  • Kapila
  • Varāha

Chapter 30

It has 117 verses. This section deals with the mantras connected with the various implements and jewels of Lord Viṣṇu like:

  • Kaustubha - jewel
  • Vanamāla - garland
  • Śaṅkha - conch
  • Cakra - discus
  • Gadā - mace
  • Garuda - eagle-mount

Chapter 31

This chapter comprise of 49 verses. It primarily deals with the mantras of the four Vyuhas:

  1. Vāsudeva
  2. Saṅkarṣaṇa
  3. Pradyumna
  4. Aniruddha

Chapter 32

This chapter has 84 mantras. As an addenda to the mantras of the deities of the Vaiṣṇava pantheon, this chapter deals with the mantras of:

  • Vighneśa - Gaṇapati
  • Vāgīśvarī - Sarasvatī
  • Yantra - mystical diagram of the letter

Chapter 33

This is the last chapter having 87 verses. This section describes certain yogic practices and the signs of approaching death for the yogi. The work ends with a eulogy of this samhitā.


References

  1. Mantrajapa means repetition of the divine name.
  2. Sādhanās means the spiritual disciplines and associated rites.
  3. Hṛnmantra means mantra pertaining to the heart.
  4. Śiromantra means mantra pertaining to the head.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore