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Vashishtha and Buddha

Vashishtha, the self-controlled, the son of Brahma, practiced for ages severe austerities in a lonely spot. For six thousand years he did Sadhana, but still the Daughter of the Mountains [the Divine Mother] did not appear to him. Becoming angry he went to his father [Brahma] and told him his method of practice. He then said, "Give me another Mantra, Oh Lord! since this Vidya (Mantra) does not grant me Siddhi (success); otherwise in your presence I shall utter a terrible curse."

Dissuading him Brahma said, "Oh son, who art learned in the Yoga path, do not do so. Do thou worship Her again with wholehearted feeling, when She will appear and grant you boons. She is the Supreme Shakti [feminine energy]. She saves from all dangers. She is lustrous like ten million suns. She is dark blue (Nila). She is cool like ten million moons. She is like ten million lightning-flashes. She is the spouse of Kala (Kalakamini). She is the beginning of all. In Her there is neither Dharma nor Adharma. She is in the form of all. She is attached to pure Cinacara (Shuddhacinacararata) ["Chinese" or Northern Buddhist teachings]. She is the initiator (Pravarttika) of Shakticakra [wheel of energy]. Her greatness is infinitely boundless. She helps in the crossing of the ocean of the Samsara [delusion]. She is Buddheshvari (possibly Buddhishvari, Lord of Buddhi). She is Buddhi (intelligence) itself (Buddhirupa: body of intelligence). She is in the form of the Atharva branch of the Vedas (Atharvavedashakhini). Numerous Shastric references connect the Tantra Shastra with the Atharvaveda. She protects the beings of the worlds. Her action is spread throughout the moving and motionless. Worship Her, my son. Be of good cheer. Why so eager to curse? Thou art the jewel of kindness. Oh, son, worship Her constantly with thy mind (Cetas). Being entirely engrossed in Her, thou of a surety shalt gain sight of Her."

Having heard these words of his Guru and having bowed to him again and again the pure one (Vashishtha), versed in the meaning of Vedanta [philosophy], betook himself to the shore of the ocean [the ocean is a symbol of the Divine Mother in every religion]. For full a thousand years he did Japa [recitation] of Her Mantra [sacred word]. Still he received no message (Adesha). Thereupon the Muni [sage] Vashishtha grew angry, and being perturbed of mind prepared to curse the Mahavidya (Devi) [the Divine Mother]. Having sipped water (Acamana) he uttered a great and terrible curse. Thereupon kuleshvari (Lady of the Kaulas) Mahavidya appeared before the Muni.

SarasvatiShe who dispels the fear of the Yogins said, "How now Vipra (Are Vipra) [Brahman], why have you terribly cursed without cause? Thou dost not understand My Kulagama nor knowest how to worship. How by mere Yoga practice can either man or Deva get sight of My Lotus-Feet. My worship (Dhyana: meditation) is without austerity and pain. To him who desires My Kulagama, who is Siddha in My Mantra, and knows My pure Vedacara, My Sadhana is pure (Punya) and beyond even the Vedas (Vedanamapyagocara). (This does not mean unknown to the Vedas or opposed to them but something which surpasses the Vaidik ritual of the Pashu. This is made plain by the following injunction to follow the Atharvaveda.) Go to Mahacina (Tibet) and the country of the Bauddhas and always follow the Atharvaveda (Bauddha deshe' tharvaveda Mahacine sada braja) [a scripture]. Having gone there and seen My Lotus-Feet which are Mahabhava (the great blissful feeling which in Her true nature She is) thou shalt, Oh Maharisi, become versed in My Kula [family, community] and a great Siddha [initiate]."

Having so said, She became formless and disappeared in the ether and then passed through the ethereal region. The great Rishi having heard this from the Mahavidya Sarasvati went to the land of China where Buddha is established (Buddhapratishthita: Tibet). Having repeatedly bowed to the ground, Vashishtha said, "Protect me, Oh Mahadeva who art the Imperishable One in the form of Buddha (Buddharupa). I am the very humble Vashishtha, the son of Brahma. My mind is ever perturbed. I have come here (Cina) for the Sadhana of the Mahadevi. I know not the path leading to Siddhi. Thou knowest the path of the Devas [Gods]. Seeing however thy way of life (Acara) doubts assail my mind (Bhayani santi me hridi: because he saw the (to him) extraordinary ritual with wine and woman). Destroy them and my wicked mind which inclines to Vaidik ritual (Vedagamini; that is, the ordinary Pashu ritual). Oh Lord in Thy abode there are ever rites which are outside Veda (Vedavavahishkrita: that is, the Vaidik ritual and what is consistent with Veda as Vashishtha then supposed). How is it that wine, meat, woman (Angana) are drunk, eaten and enjoyed by naked (Digambara) Siddhas who are high (Vara), and awe-inspiring (Raktapanodyata). They drink constantly and enjoy (or make enjoy) beautiful women [sexually] (Muhurmuhuh prapivanti ramayanti varanganam). With red eyes they are ever exhilarated and replete with flesh and wine (Sadamangsasavaih purnah). They are powerful to favor and punish. They are beyond the Vedas (Vedasyagocarah). They enjoy wine and women (Madyastrisevane ratah)" (Vashishtha merely saw the ritual surface).

Thus spoke the great Yogi having seen the rites which are outside the Veda (Veda-vahishkrita. v. ante). Then bowing low with folded hands he humbly said, "How can inclinations such as these be purifying to the mind? How can there be Siddhi without Vaidik rites?"

Manah-pravrittireteshu katham bhavati pavani
Kathang va jayate siddhir veda karyyang vina prabho.

Buddha said, "Oh Vashishtha, listen the while I speak to thee of the excellent Kula path, by the mere knowing of which one becomes in a short time like Rudra Himself. I speak to thee in brief the Agama which is the essence of all and which leads to Kulasiddhi. First of all, the Vira (hero) should be pure (Shuci). Buddha here states the conditions under which only the rites are permissible. His mind should be penetrated with discrimination (Viveka) and freed of all Pashubhava (state of an uninitiate Pashu or animal man). Let him avoid the company of the Pashu [animal men] and remain alone in a lonely place, free from lust, anger and other passions. He should constantly devote himself to Yoga practice. He should be firm in his resolve to learn Yoga; he should ever tread the Yoga path and fully know the meaning of the Veda (Vedarthanipuno mahan). In this way the pious one (Dharmatma) of good conduct and largeness of heart (Audarya) should, by gradual degrees, restrain his breath, and through the path of breathing [pranayama] compass the destruction of mind [ego]. Following this practice the self-controlled (Vashi) becomes Yogi. In slow degrees of practice the body firstly sweats. This is the lowest stage (Adhama). The next is middling (Madhyama). Here there is trembling (Kampa). In the third or highest (Para) stage one is able to levitate (Bhumityaga). By the attainment of Siddhi in Pranayama one becomes a master in Yoga. Having become a Yogi by practice of Kumbhaka [control of vital winds] he should be Mauni (given over to silence) and full of intent, devotion (Ekanta-bhakti) to Shiva, Krishna and Brahma [the Trinity or Solar Logos]. The pure one should realize by mind, action, and speech that Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva [the Trinity] are restless like the moving air (Vayavigaticancalah). The man of steady mind should fix it on Shakti [feminine energy], who is consciousness (Cidrupa). Thereafter the Mantrin [practitioner] should practice Mahavirabhava (the feeling of the great hero) and follow the Kula [direct] path, the Shakti-cakra [wheel of energy], the Vaishnava Sattvacakra and Navavigrah and should worship Kulakatyayani [the Divine Mother], the excellent one, the Pratyaksha Devata (that is, the Deity who responds to prayer) who grants prosperity and destroys all evil. She is consciousness (Cidrupa), She is the abode of knowledge (Jñana or Daath) and is Consciousness and Bliss, lustrous as ten million lightnings, of whom all Tattvas [energies] are the embodiment, who is Raudri with eighteen arms, fond of wine and mountains of flesh (the text is Shivamangsacalapriyam, but the first word should be Sura). Man should do Japa [repetition] of the Mantra, taking refuge with Her, and following the Kula path. Who in the three worlds knows a path higher than this? By the grace gained therein, the great Brahma Himself became the Creator, and Vishnu, whose substance is Sattva-guna, the object of adoration of all, highly deserving of worship, the great, and Lord of Yajurveda, became able to protect. By it Hara the Lord of Viras, the wrathful one, Lord of wrath and of mighty power, became the Destroyer of all. By the grace of Virabhava the Dikpalas (Protectors of the quarters) became like unto Rudra. By a month's practice [a symbolic time] power to attract (Akarshanasiddhi) is attained. In two months one becomes the Lord of Speech. In four months one becomes like unto the Dikpalas, in five months one becomes the five arrows (probably masters the five Tanmatras), and in six months he becomes Rudra Himself. The fruit of this method (Acara) is beyond all others. This is Kaulamarga. There is nothing which surpasses it. If there be Shakti [sexual consort], the Vipra becomes a complete Yogi by six months' practice. Without Shakti [spouse] even Shiva [the Holy Spirit] can do nought. What then shall we say of men of small intelligence."

Having said this, He whose form is Buddha (Buddharupi) made him practice Sadhana. He said, "Oh Vipra, do thou serve Mahashakti [the Great Woman]. Do thou practice Sadhana with wine (Madyasadhana) and thus shalt thou get sight of the Lotus Feet of the Mahavidya [great knowledge]." Vashishtha having heard these words of the Guru and meditating on Devi Sarasvati went to the Kulamandapa to practice the wine ritual (Madirasadhana) and having repeatedly done Sadhana [Pancatattva] with wine, meat, fish, parched grain and Shakti [consort] he became a complete Yogi (Purnayogi).


A similar account is given in the Brahmayamala. There are some variants however. Thus while in the Rudrayamala, Vashishtha is said to have resorted to the shore of the ocean, in the Brahmayamala he goes to Kamakhya, the great Tantrik Pitha and shrine of the Devi. (The prevalence of Her worship amongst the Mongolian Assamese is noteworthy.) It may be here added that this Yamala states that, except at time of worship, wine should not be taken nor should the Shakti be unclothed. By violation of these provisions life, it says, is shortened, and man goes to Hell.

According to the account of the Brahmayamala, Vashishtha complaining of his ill-success was told to go to the Blue Mountains (Nilacala) and worship parameshvari near Kamakhya (Karma in Assam). He was told that Vishnu in the form of Buddha (Buddharupi) alone knew this worship according to Cinacara [Northern Buddhism]. Devi said, "without Cinacara you cannot please Me. Go to Vishnu who is Udbodharupi (illumined) and worship Me according to the Acara taught by Him." Vashishtha then went to Vishnu in the country Mahacina [Tibet], which is by the side of the Himalaya (Himavatparshve), a country inhabited by great Sadhakas and thousands of beautiful and youthful women whose hearts were gladdened with wine, and whose minds were blissful with enjoyment (Vilasa). They were adorned with clothes which inspired love (Shringaravesha) and the movement of their hips made tinkle their girdles of little bells. Free of both fear and prudish shame they enchanted the world. They surround Ishvara and are devoted to the worship of Devi. Vashishtha wondered greatly when he saw Him in the form of Buddha (Buddharupi) with eyes drooping from wine. "What" he said, "is Vishnu doing in His Buddha form? This map (Acara) is opposed to Veda (Vedavadaviruddha). I do not approve of it (Asammato mama)." Whilst so thinking, he heard a voice coming from the ether saying, "Oh thou who art devoted to good acts, think not like this. This Acara is of excellent result in the Sadhana of Tarini. She is not pleased with anything which is the contrary of this. If thou dost wish to gain Her grace speedily, then worship Her according to Cinacara." Hearing this voice, Vashishtha's hairs stood on end and he fell to the ground. Being filled with exceeding joy he prayed to Vishnu in the form of Buddha (Buddharupa). Buddha, who had taken wine, seeing him was greatly pleased and said, "Why have you come here?" Vashishtha bowing to Buddha told him of his worship of Tarini. Buddha who is Hari and full of knowledge (Tattvajñana) spoke to him of the five Makaras (M: that is, the five commencing with the letter M are Madya, or wine and so forth) which are in Cinacara (Majnanam Cinacaradikaranam) saying that this should not be disclosed (a common injunction as regards this ritual and renders it from the opponents' standpoint suspect). "By practicing it thou shalt not again sink into the ocean of being. It is full of knowledge of the Essence (Tattvajñana) and gives immediate liberation (Mukti)." He then goes on to explain a principal feature of this cult, namely, its freedom from the ritual rules of the ordinary worship above which the Sadhaka has risen. It is mental worship. In it bathing, purification, Japa, and ceremonial worship is by the mind only. (No outward acts are necessary; the bathing and so forth is in the mind and not in actual water, as is the case in lower and less advanced worship.) There are no rules as to auspicious and inauspicious times, or as to what should be done by day and by night. Nothing is pure or impure (there is no ritual defect of impurity) nor prohibition against the taking of food. Devi should be worshipped even though the worshipper has had his food, and even though the place be unclean. Woman who is Her image should be worshipped (Pujanam striya) and never should any injury be done to her [especially sexually; i.e. through impure sexual acts, like the orgasm; see the author's other writings] (Stridvesho naiva kartavyah).

Excerpted from the Tantric scripture Rudrayamala as recorded in Shakti and Shâkta by Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe) [1918].