Prachya Prakashan, Varanasi 1986. NOte: Dampstaining to the covers seems to be endemic to this title for some odd reason.
This English translation uses the text Kaulajnananirnaya, published in a Sanskrit edition by P.C. Bagchi (Calcutta Sanskrit Series III, 1934). It is ascribed to Sri Matsyendranath, a Siddha of the Natha Sampradaya, who goes under various colloquial names such as Macchendrapada, Macchindrapada, Matsyodara and Macchaghna.
There were many difficulties associated with the translation. There are several lacunae. Of the first chapter we only have the last two Sloka. The Sanskrit itself is of archaic and primitive form, and written in a style very different from later tantras. For example, mantras are not given in code form, as is usual, but in full.
While many of the different subsects of the Nath. Community were, or are Gorakhnathis, regarding the Siddha Gorakhnath as their founder and Adiguru, a few of the panths regarded Matsyendranath as the more important figure. My own sampradaya, the Adinath subsect, seems to hold this view. A Gorakhnathi's ear cartilage is pierced at initiation, and heavy mudras-clay or wooden rings-inserted. The Adinaths never followed this custom.
Matsyendranath was the Guru of Gorkhnath. As often happens in India, guru figures become transformed over a period of time into gods. In Nepal, even today, Matsyendranath and Gorakhnath are worshipped for favour and so forth. A recent Nepalese postage stamp illustrates the Macchendra Ratha, or ritual chariot of the Siddha. The current Nepalese one rupee coin is adorned with a yantra, and inscribed with the name of Gorakhnath.
As well as having great importance in delineating major elements of the Nath tradition, the present work shows, most clearly, that the Nathas were closely connected with the foundation of the Kaula schools. The identity in this work seems complete. As examples may be cited the importance given to Hamsa, the colour red, the concept of svecchacara, the triple Saktis-Iccha, Jnana and Kriya, and numerous other close similarities.
An important point oft emphasised in the Kaulajnananirnaya is the esteem in which the Guru is held. As a realised Being, he embodies Siva, and can therefore assist others on this path.
The date of this MS is thought by Bagchi to be no later than the 11th century. However Abhinavagupta, the famous sage of Kashmir Saivism, paid homage to Matsyendranath in his massive work Tantraloka. There are many points of agreement between the schools of Kashmir Saivism and the current text.
Matsyendranath is also associated with the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition. Here we have a very important text, seemingly harking back to a time before various viewpoints gained distinct status.
Over the centuries Matsyenranath and his disciples have become well-known throughout India, and many legends are associated with each. This is possibly due to the extensive wanderings of sadhus connected with the various panths.
Of singular interest in the present text is the scant attention paid to Kundalini. Various Cakras are often described in the different patalas, and whilst some of these seem to be identical with the well-known six Cakras, there are also many differences. Matsyendranath seems to be propounding the views of a section of the Kaulas known as the Yoginikaula school. A preference for the 64 Yoginis is abvious, and the Cakra system seems to be based on this classification.
In the Akulavira Tantra, also ascribed to Matsyendranath, the following verse appears : In Kaula there are two paths, the artifical and the spontaneous (Sahaja). The artificial is Kundali, whilst Sahaja is situated in Samarasa. (Akulavira Tantra, v. 56).
Samarasa is a difficult word to translate into English. In the Natha schools the Sun was the type of Siva, and the Moon of Sakti. Samarasa is the perfect assimilation of Sun and Moon, Siva and Sakti.
This work stresses the importance of Harhsa. This Harhsa is the Ajapa Mantra, uttered spontaneously 24 hours a day by all living creatures.