Matsyendranath (Macchendranath) and the origins of Tantra

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“The folklore that crystallized around Gorakhnath bears witness not only to the tremendous impression that his magical powers made on the popular imagination but also to certain shamanic elements that confirm the archaism of the myths and symbols launched by the appearance of the Siddhas. The well-known story of the drought in Nepal has come down to us in several versions. Gorakhnath, not having been received with fitting honors in the course of a visit, shut up the clouds (or the Nagas who governed them) in a bale, sat down on it, and remained there for twelve years, lost in meditation. The King begged Avalokiteshvara (= Matsyendranath), who was living on a mountain named Kapotal (near Kamarupa), to save the country, and the saint came to Nepal; upon seeing his guru approach, Gorakhnath got up from the bale, the clouds escaped, and rain began to fall. After this service, Matsyendranath-Avalokiteshvara became the tutelary divinity of Nepal. We may note in passing that this legend clearly points to a historical fact: it was from Kamarupa (= Assam) that “Matsyendranath” brought tantrism, or more precisely, the new “revelation” of the Siddhas and Nathas, to Nepal.”

p. 311, Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009/1954).

Kamarupa is none other than Kamakhya, home of the Sri Sri Kamakhya Temple, our Mother. According to legend, Matsyendranath (also called Macchendranath) was initiated into a system related to what is now called Tantra by yoginis (female yogis) at Kamarupa (where Kamakhya is located), and that he then codified, Sanskritized, and disseminated its secrets throughout India and Nepal.

Artwork credit: SessionSpace

What’s in a name? The ancient origins of Maa Kamakhya

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Kamakhya is one of the most important goddesses in the history and development of Tantra and Shaktism, but she remains obscure today, somewhat fitting for a goddess presiding over esoteric rites and rituals. Many people have never heard her name, nor do they understand what her name means. But even those who do understand the Sanskrit meaning of her name, and its explanations in various Tantras and Puranas, often do not know the pre-Vedic, hidden history of this truly ancient Mother Goddess.

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Sri Sri Kamakhya Temple: A Socio-Religious Perspective

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Worship of the Mother Goddess and related Tantra-based rituals have their endless fount atop the Nilachal Hills: the sacred shrine of Sri Sri Kamakhya. Situated on the southern banks of the Louhitya, known as the mighty river Brahmaputra, these hills are part of the metropolis of Guwahati, the capital city of Assam. Situated within these hills are the temples of the Dasamahavidya, Anga Devata, and other temples dedicated to various deities. Mention of this Shakti temple of Kamakhya is found in Bhagavatas, Puranas, several of the Tantras, and many other ancient Scriptures.

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A Historical Note on Sri Sri Kamakhya Temple

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This is sacred land of spiritual upliftment, a land yearning after what life is beyond. The rest of the world is agog with material pleasure, the life that is present seems to be the summumbonum of mankind, so there is a race for drinking the pleasure of life to the dregs.

The holy Nilachal Hills, where the famous temple of Mother Goddess Sri Sri Kamakhya has been shining with pride and glory, is now a part of the metropolis Guwahati, the gateway to Northeast India. The mighty Brahmaputra, mentioned as Louhitya in Sanskrit epics and Puranas, is flowing on the northern side of these sacred hills. Near the holy shrine of the Mother Goddess there are temples of the Dasamahavidya, Lord Shiva, other Deities and numerous Gupta Peethas scattered all around.

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