By Swami Harshananda
The Āgamas are subsidiary scriptures deemed as apauruṣeya (not man-made but revealed by God Himself) by their votaries. They are classified into three main groups:
- Śāktāgamas or Tantras
Origin of Vātulaśuddhāgama
There are 28 Śaivāgamas considered to be pradhāna and 225 as upāgamas. The Vātulaśuddhāgama is classified among the 18 Śaivāgamas known as Rudrabheda.
Content of Vātulaśuddhāgama
The work has 778 verses distributed among ten patalas or chapters. It is in the form of a dialogue between Skanda and his father Śiva. Sometimes eleven additional chapters are added as an anubandha or appendix. The ten patalas or chapters are:
- Tattvabhedapatala - It has 150 verses.
- Varnabheda Patala - It has 81 verses.
- Cakrabheda Patala - It has 42 verses.
- Vargabheda Patala - It has 46 verses.
- Mantrabheda Patala - It has 107 verses.
- Pranavabheda Patala - It has 27 verses.
- Brahmabheda Patala - It has 76 verses.
- Añgabheda Patala - It has 104 verses.
- Mantrajāta Patala - It has 82 verses.
- Mantrakala Patala - It has 63 verses.
Tattva or the highest truth is classified into three types:
- Śiva - Śivatattva is niṣkala.
- Sadāśiva - Sadāśivatattva is niṣkala and sakala, hence has both the parts and is even part-less.
- Maheśa - Maheśatattva is sakala.
After describing their characteristics, the five śaktis or powers that evolve out of Śiva are recounted. They are:
This is followed by a detailed account of sṛṣṭi or creation. There is also a description of the various līlāmurtis or forms of Śiva such as Somadhārī, Bhikṣāṭanamurti, Kāmāri and those of the Śaktis such as Umā, Ambikā, Iśvari, Manonmani and others.
Hara is Śabdabrahma who is the personification of all sounds and varṇas which form his body. Details of these varṇas are given in the rest of the chapter along with the deities that preside over them.
Cakras are geometrical figures representing certain deities. If properly drawn, they will exude the power of the respective deity. This chapter deals with all the details connected with the cakras such as a suitable place to draw them, their proportion and methods of drawing, details of petals and circles, colors to be used, placement of deities and so on. Worship of properly drawn cakras can fulfill all the desires.
It begins with a classification of the varṇas or letters of the alphabet into several vargas or groups. This is followed by some details regarding mantras and bījas
The origin and nature of mantras, their meaning and utility are described here. Some ritualistic details like the making of a maṇḍapa and drawing of the cakras and the placement of bījākṣaras are also given. Then there is a detailed description of certain mantras of Śiva, called prāsāda mantras, their varieties and uses.
This short section deals mainly with Praṇava or Oṅkāra, its nature, method of meditation and the associated deities. This is followed by a delineation of its pañcabhedas or five varieties.
This deals with 25 aspects of Śakala-Brahman with attributes and five more of Niṣkala-Brahman without attributes. The latter are:
Their relation with Praṇava and modes of meditation are also discussed.
The aṅgas or limbs of the body are divided into six groups:
The mantras associated with them are described in detail.
After declaring that Śivaliṅga is mantramaya, 19 varieties of mantranāmas or mantras of Śiva, with different names such as atibāla, sabāla and kaumāra are described.
This chapter deals with the mantras to be adopted as also the ones to be rejected, the right way of pronouncing them, the nature of mantras and other topics connected with rituals. Most of the printed texts add a long appendix comprising eleven topics that include the following:
- Ceremonial preparation of pañcagavya
- Celebration Śiva festivals in a temple
- Method of establishing the Śivaliṅga
- Rites associated with it or with other deities like Gaṇapati or Viṣṇu or Devī to be performed for one to nine nights
These are taken from various other works.
Commentaries on Vātulaśuddhāgama
There is an old commentary in Sanskrit but it is incomplete. One other commentator known as Mallaṇṇa of Gubbi in the Karnataka State wrote a detailed commentary in Kannada in A. D. 1475.
- ↑ Pradhāna means main.
- ↑ Upāgamas means secondary.
- ↑ Skanda means Subrahmaṇya.
- ↑ Niṣkala means without parts.
- ↑ Sakala means with parts.
- ↑ Śaktis means goddesses.
- ↑ Here Hara means Śiva or God.
- ↑ Varṇas means the letters of the alphabet.
- ↑ Bījas means seed-letters.
- ↑ Cakras means geometrical figures.
- ↑ Praṇava means Oṅkāra.
- ↑ Mantramaya means consisting of mantras.
- ↑ It means expiations.
- ↑ Pañcagavya means five products derived from a cow.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore