It goes without saying that "Mantravidya" constitutes an integral part of our multi-dimensional cultural heritage. We are already aware of the tradition of the uninterrupted oral transmission of Vedic mantras beginning 5000 B.C. or 2000 B. C. or even earlier, down to the present times, as recorded by Yaska (900 B. C.), there was a school of thought (Kautsa's name is specifically mentioned by Yaska) which regarded the mantras just as a collection of utterances of divine sounds with their irreversible sequence, devoid of any sematic relevance (mantra anathakah). Even the Saundaryalahari ascribed to Sankara (? 800 A D.) concludes with dedication of utterances of prayers consisting of words generated by Mother goddess Herself to Herself (tvadiyabhir vagbhis tava janani vacam stutir iyam ).
It seems to be the generally accepted principle, both in Vedic and Pauranic/tantric schools, that each and every sound has an esoteric/mystic significance. The sounds being the inherent audible attributes of the invisible Space (Akasa), perhaps represent the most significant connecting links between the visible mortals and the invisible immortal divine powers. So the Sabdabrahman (sphota) is also considered to be the primary causative factor of the Universe.
The mimamsakas have raised and solved a very pertinent question in relation to the "worshipper-worshipped" communication. The question raised is that the worshipped invisible divine power being one single individual entity and the worshippers being many, worshipping the same divine power simultaneously, how could there be any direct communication between single divine power on the on hand and numerous worshippers on the other at the same time ? The answer given is that it is the utterances of the mantras that answer given is that it is the utterances of the mantras that transform themselves into the relevant divine powers with unlimited generous benevolent or malignant potentialities. Thus a sort of Advaita is accepted between the mantras and the gods; the gods are mantras and the mantras, the gods.
It also pointed out that the mantras represent a double-edged razor. If recited properly, the mantras or the latent potentialities of the utterances of sequential sounds can manifest themselves in the form of peace, prosperity, victory, health, etc. to the worshipper and the world On the other hand, even a single mistake even in respect of accentuation in the mantras recited, can lead to disastrous results (mantrohinah svarato varnato va mithyaprayukto na tam artham aha/sa vagvajro gajamanam hinasti yathe'ndrasatruly svarato' paradhat).
It is also pointed out that "there are no letters or sounds that do not have a mantric sinificance; there are no plants that do not have any therapeutic efficacy. There are no human beings who are devoid of talents whatsoever. A knowledgeable person who is well-versed in the art of utilising these entities properly can enable all of them to manifest their latent potentialities in the interest of peace and prosperity in the world" (amantram aksaram nasti nasti mulam anausadham/ayogyah puruso nasti yojakas tatra durlabhah//).
Thus there is quite a lot to know about the Indian mantric tradition that has maintained its distinctive character and continuity despite some peripheral evolutionary transformations from time to time Apart from its utilitarian value among devout worshippers there are quite a few items available here which are of immense historical, anthropological, sociological and even botanical interest.
It is in this context that the Mantramahodadhi (a vast ocean of mantras) enjoys special significance This Sixteenth Century work. According to Pt Shukadeva chaturvedi, is ascribed to Mahidhara who himself also contributed a commentary (Nauka) thereon The very titles "Mantra-mahodadhi" and "Nauka" of the text and commentary respectively are suggestive of the unfathomability of the intricacies of mantra-vidya outlined in the text.
The text with the above commentary was perhaps originally edited by Pt. Jibananda Vidyasagar. Even it second edition (Siddheshwari Press, Calcutta) is dated 1892. Thanks to Pt. Shukadeva Chaturvedi of Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapitha (Head of the department of Jyautish) that the entire text, with Hindi translation and a critical and exhaustive Hindi commentary 'Mohini', was brought out (Prachya Prakashan, Varanasi, 1981). The "Mahodadhi", that was too vast even for the author's own "Nauka", could now be crossed a little more easily through Dr. Chaturvedi's "Mohini".
But the fact remains that the work is still not accessible to the vast majority of non-Hindi speaking readers, specially to scholars and students all the world over deeply interested in our cultural heritage. It is with this end in view that I undertook the arduous task of English translation of the text with an exhaustive commentary. But the to my decaying health and vision it would have been rather impossible for me to complete this voluminous work single-handed without the whole-hearted cooperation and assistance of my two younger brothers Krishna Kumar Rai and Vinaya Kumar Rai, who devoted lot of time and took great pains in giving the work its final shape.
With the blessings of Mother Goddess this work has now been completed. It is divided into XXV Chapters which speak for themselves It will be seen that the minutest details about the relevant mantras vis-à-vis the relevant divine powers are given in the text. The daily regime of the worshipper, the initiation of the worshipper (Diksa), the process of inner and outer cleanliness, the various mudras, oblations, including the specific material for oblations, for specific purposes, offering of different types of Bali, suitability of relevant mantras for different individuals, the yantras (talismans), etc. are all enumerated here, with instructions for maintaining secrecy in relation to certain mantric rituals.
Without going into further details, I would leave it to my esteemed readers to enjoy reading the original through this humble translation and commentary and favour me with their invaluable suggestions, if any, about the organisational and/or other improvements to be brought about in future editions.
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