By Swami Harshananda
Ritualistic worship and many rites associated with it are guided by the rules and regulations given in the āgamas and the tantras. One of the important acts in such rituals is the nyāsa. Literally ‘nyāsa’ means ‘keeping or placing’.
In mātṛkānyāsa, the various letters of the Sanskrit alphabet which are considered as ‘mātṛkās’ or ‘little mothers’ or as the aspects of the Divine Mother, are ceremonially placed on the different parts of the body thus destroying the sins and purifying the same. The ṛṣi, chandas, devatā and bīja for this mātṛkānyāsa are respectively Brahmā, Gāyatrī, Mātṛkādevī and all the letters of the alphabets.
Aṅganyāsa is also called as ṣaḍaṅganyāsa, antarmātṛkānyāsa and bahir-mātṛkānyāsa. They are the three aspects of this nyāsa. In all these, the letters of the alphabet adding anusvāra, m are used. For instance:
- In aṅganyāsa, the process concentrates on am karh khaiṅ garh ghaṅi ṅam hṛdayāya namah and so on.
- In antarmātṛkānyāsa, the process concentrates on the six cakras like svādhiṣṭhāna, maṇipura up to ājñā with appropriate letters barii bharh and so on.
- In the bahirmātṛkānyāsa, the process of placing the letters is performed on the various limbs like the forehead, mouth, the eyes and so on.
There is also another nyāsa called pīṭhānyāsa wherein the various Śakti-pīṭhas are symbolically established on the different parts of the body thus purifying it.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore