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Pancastavi: The Pentad of Hymns of Kundalini Yoga

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Item Code: IDF850
Author: Jankinath Kaul Kamal
Publisher: Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama
Language: English
Edition: 2023
ISBN: 8190084248
Pages: 327
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.8" X 5.6"
Weight 500 gm
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Book Description


From the Jacket:

It is a pentad of devotional hymns sung in praise of Parabhttarika Maharipurasundari. The throb of ecstasy of the Divine I-Consciousness is spiritual dynamism called Spanda, which is the absolute freedom of Siva or Siva's svatantrya Sakti. Siva has no flux but serves as the causa sine, quanon of all pulsationas his own Sakti. Parasakti is therefore yoni the source or the supreme mother whose five glories are consciousness, bliss, volition, knowledge and activity. These glories are praised in the Pancastavi in reverse order.

It is said that during his glorious visit to Kashmir Adi Sankara was impressed with these hymns recited by a kashmiri Pandit. Basically a monistic treatise Pancastavi deals with secrets of kundalini power according to sakta tradition, which corresponds, to krama system of Kashmir Saivism. This commentary is an attempt to bring out inner meanings of these deceptively simple poems on Kundalini Yoga.


About the Author:

He served as devoted teacher for over three decades. Retired as Senior Lecturer from the D.A. V. Institute Srinagar in 1979 was a temporary member of Public Service Commission, J&K Govt. as an expert. A good educational background with master's degree in Sanskrit with a flair for writing in several languagesm accomplished fine literary translations of Sanskrit verse into English. Hindi and Kashmiri.

Worked as a research Officer, Sri Paramananda Research Institute authored several books and monographs in four languages. Presented papers on indological topics in Sanskrit, Hindi and English in the fields of Vedanta philosophy, Kashmir Saivism and Sakta myticism.

His scholarly work on Pancastavi is like a gem added to a necklace of jewelsm Bhavaninama-sahasra-stutih, Indraksi stotram, Vedanta Dindimah and Siva-sutra-vimarsa etc. Sri Kaul is presently Honorary Editor the Cultural Desk Sri Ramakrishna Ashram, Srinagar.


Publisher's Note

In this publication of the crest-jewel series, Pancastavi, the pentad of devotional hymns constitutes the third one. The first and the second in the series are 'Mukundamala and Stotra-Ratna' (Sanskrit Text with Hindi translation) and 'Bhavani nama-sahasra-stuti' (commentary in English) respectively, which have been well received by the readers.

The text comprising one hundred and forty-six Sanskrit verses of different metres, adopts a graded approach to the domain of Para Sakti through Kundalini Yoga. The notable factor in the first three hymns is that activity and knowledge aspects of this phenomenal world are traced to the volition aspect of the Deity in devotional mood, befitting a loving child who approaches its ever vigilant mother in any and every circumstance on the earth. This mode of Mother-worship has a universal appeal. Divine Grace (anupaya) is invoked in the fourth hymn and in the fifth hymn is revealed Divine union-the unquestionable oneness (anuttara) of Supreme Beauty with perennial joy.

The sacred text of charming hymns to Tripurasundari has remained very popular, for centuries, among the Kashmiri Pandits and the Pandits of South India. It is, however, seriously studies by scholars, and recited by the devotees who do not have a thorough knowledge of Sanskrit. Even mere recital of the hymns induces ecstasy and gives the aspirant an awareness of both the Relative and the Absolute (Lila-Nitya). From gross duality one rises to the very subtle realm of Advaita.

Although various attempts have been made so far to translate the hymns into various languages in prose and verse, the present effort has the unique distinction, being made by Pandit Jankinth Kaul 'Kamal', who has to his credit similar great the competent English and Hindi translations and commentaries of important philosophical and devotional Sanskrit works. We are indebted to him for readily responding to our request and producing this useful and valuable work. We are confident that our readers will find the book extremely helpful in their spiritual practice.

We owe special gratitude to Sri M.P. Pandit of the Aurobindo Ashram. Pondicherry for his thoughtful and brilliant foreword to the book.



Pancastavi is an ancient work of more than a thousand years of vintage, addressed to the Supreme Mother of the Universe, Mahatripurasundari. The Hymn consists of five laudations, each with its distinct theme: Laghustava (21 verses) highlighting the dynamic power of the Goddess; Carcastava (31 verses) reflective in substance; Ghatastava (24 verses) speaking of the creative Sakti on the threshold of manifestation: Ambastava (32 verses) invoking the Goddess as the benign Mother: Sakalajananistava (38 verses) celebrating the glory of the Source of All. The verses are cast in various metres and like most of the ancient hymns are prayers of devotion, simple in appearance but carrying a power that communicates only to the receptive in soul. It is easy to miss the real import of these hymns while admiring the poetic excellence of the compositions. Fortunately, however, by the grace of the Devi some adepts have been moved to experience and bring out the inner meaning of these deceptively simple poems. We are fortunate that a genuine sadhaka-scholar of the eminence of Sri Jankinath Kaul has chosen to comment on these verses. With his unusual background of the combined knowledge of the traditions of the Veda, Vedanta, Tantra, elements of all these approaches, he has laid bare the esoteric content of each verse with amazing insight and authentic expression. One often comes across the question why the physical details of female anatomy come to be described repeatedly in our spiritual classics. Kaulji has a simple answer: each limb of the Divine Mother represents a particular power of manifestation. Right from the Vedic age, mystic truths are expressed to the common mind in the form of symbols of physical images. Our commentator has tapped for the benefit of our spiritual enlightenment an immense reservoir of yogic experience with meticulous accuracy and unfailing depth. Without his explanations and hints one would surely miss the precious content of knowledge and experience that is embedded in the Pancastavi. To cite a few of these expositions of moment to the spiritual seeker:

Forehead (I.I) : According to Cakrasanketa, the forehead refers to Ajna Cakra, the place of concentration for yogis and of knowledge for the common people. The first evident appearance of Para Sakti is in the knowledge aspect. The forehead being between the head and the heart in a body, is the junction of all nerves. All the inherent powers are present here with predominance of Jnana Sakti. This holds all the thoughts in subtlety just as the rainbow, though one, holds the display of all colours and their combination.

Saktipata (I.7): The focal point of Divine Grace is when complete prostration of human strength takes place or when the little and subtle ego totally gets merged in the Supreme Self or Para Samvit. No human effort can bring it about. It comes in a flash when the Supreme only wills. It comes out of His free will and therefore is unconditional. There are, however, nine kinds of Saktipata explained by Abhinavaguptapada in his Tantraloka.

Bhagavati in Her special significant names (I. 17): Maya, the essential power of Cidrupa Brahma: Kundalini, the hidden energy in the body or the very life of the mind as the creative power of Siva; Kriya, power of general dynamism of consciousness called Spanda or spontaneity; Madhumati, essence of all Juices of joy; Kali, the power that wields Time; Kala, the subtlest aspect of objectivity or creativity: Malini, the power of letters which holds the entire universe within itself; Matangi, the graceful whom grants a desired boon to Her devotees; Vijaya, the purity of consciousness that grants victory over the attitude of sense-organs; Jaya, who grants a desired boon to Her devotees; Vijaya, the purity of consciousness that grants victory over the attitude of sense-organs; Jaya, who grants release from action, inaction and the fruit thereof; Bhagavati, who is full with six eternal glories; Devi, the self-luminous Divinity, manifesting from Siva; Sambhavi, who is permeated with Supreme or Siva-consciousness, who is in the state of Siva; Sakti, power of Siva to manifest, to maintain and to withdraw it in the source called Kamesvari; Sankaravallabha, the beloved of Sankara; Kamesvara, indistinguishably one with Kamesvari; Trinayana, the three-eyed Mother; Vakvadini, who persuades speech (Vak) internally; Bhairavi, the power of eternal prosperity of Bhairava Siva; Hrimkari, in whom love of Siva shines supreme ; Tripura, the Primal Energy (Para Sakti) transcending the three divine deities representing three Gunas; Paraparamayi, who is both self-revelation (Prakasa) and self-consciousness (Vimarsa) Herself; Mata, who is Kulasundari, the source of all energies, whatsoever; Kumari, the ever new divine effulgence that destroys the sense of duality.

Kundalini (I.17): Prana Kundalini works at physical level, Nada Kundalini at mental level and Bodha Kundalini (or Kundalini) at spiritual level.

Lotus-foot (II.1): In the spiritual lore propounded in the Tantras, the two feet stand for the two powers of Siva-Sakti viz. Jnana Sakti and Kriya Sakti, the important means of manifestation. The foot of Jnana Sakti is stable while the foot representing Kriya Sakti is in divine activity….the one lotus-foot represents the source-energy for accomplishment of divine wisdom. In Yogic parlance this refers to enter the Susumna. That becomes possible through the infusing power of the preceptor (Guru Sakti) as that alone opens the gateway to Sivahood, the mysterious realisation of the Universal Oneness. This state of secret transformation comes to happen in the case of every intense Saktipata, when Para Sakti, through the Preceptor, makes the ego to sink to its very depths not to sprout any more.

Ananda (II. 1): Seven types. Nijananda, when the mind rests only on the subject of experience (Pramata); Nirananda, when the mind contemplates over the absence of all objects of experience; Parananda, when there is contemplation on Prana and Apana jointly; Brahmananda, when the mind rests on Samana which unifies the various objects of experience; Mahananda, when the mind rests in Udana after dissolving all knowledge and objects of knowledge in the self; Cidananda, when the mind rests in Vyana; Jagadananda, all-awareness surpassing other states of spiritual delight.

Sri Vidya (II. 2): The Mantra being the body of the Mother-goddess, describes the body by its power of inward intuition (vimarsa sakti). When the divine body is brought into the effective consciousness of the devotee it is called Sri Vidya. Its verbal expression is the Mantra (Pancadasaksari) and the visual expression is the Yantra or Sri Chakra. The two are essentially identical.

Poetry (II. 19) is the fifth quality of the favour (Anugraha) of Samvit Devi, the deity of Supreme-Consciousness, charming in Her profuse decoration. (Abhinavagupta).

Worship (II. 27) does not mean offering of flowers etc., ablution, oblation, burning of incense and other gross forms of worship. It rather consists in settling one's heart on that ether of consciousness which is above all thought-contacts. It really means dissolution of self with perfect ardour (in the supreme spiritual consciousness). (Rudrayamala Tantra).

Sambhavopaya (III): In the Tantric Trika system Sambhavopaya is known as Ichha Yoga. It is intuitional in nature and only those of graceful intellect may be favoured with this superior kind of yoga. The preceding means of mental doings (Kriyopaya) and knowledge (jnanopaya) are pushed to the background when the Sambhavopaya is revealed to an earnest aspirant even though he does not apparently seem working for it. The element of will shines in (one's) pure being to attain prominence in being perfect. Entering thoroughly the all-pervading Supreme-Consciousness with deep and steady knowledge of self by Divine Grace, is Sambhava Yoga, which boosts for ecstasy in a higher degree of Saktipata.

Three-dimensional immanence (III. 1): Causal, subtle and gross; knower, known and knowledge; Pasyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari; sleeping, dreaming and waking states; Agni, Surya and Soma; Prana, Apana and Samana; Susumna, Pingala and Ida; Future, present and past; Tamas, Rajas and Sattva; Svah, Bhuvah, Bhur.

Bhairava Mudra (III. 1): In the advanced yoga of the regulation of breath, Vijnanabhairava suggests a method of concentration where Bhairavi manifests. "When the breath completes its outgoing power at the bahirdvadasanta and is yet to start for antardvadasanta there, at the point of the (smallest) pause mind becomes steady and the yogi finds Bhairavi, the essential from of Bhairava, manifest". That universal state of awareness of the Supreme Self is revealed in "a sudden flash of transcendental consciousness".

Spanda (III. 8): Spanda means creative pulsation. It is eternal throb in the all-motion Siva which brings about the manifestation, maintenance and withdrawal of the universe. According to Tantra it is the Svatantrya Sakti (the supreme transcendent consciousness) which is always in pulsation like the belly of a fish known in yoga parlance as matsyodari.

Japa (III. 20) : By Japa is meant repetition of a mastered mantra imparted in a traditional manner by the preceptor, to keep spiritual awareness ever fresh. This is "possible in Saktopaya, the middle means.

Neither Anavopaya, the inferior means nor Sambhavopaya, the superior means is practicable because in the former case it is beyond understanding which in the latter it is only revealed by intuition". In Anavopaya, Japa may be ceremonial. But the aim of Japa is "effecting of absorption wholly in the very being of the deity".

Three malas and their effects (III. 22): It is Anava Mala the pertains to innate ignorance of Jiva and brings about the sense of imperfectness – Apurnatvam. This is removed by Darsana or direct revelation. The fear of death comes because of Mayiya Mala which accumulates for the soul a body (gross and subtle) to bring about the sense of difference-binnavedyapratha. This is warded off by Japa, spontaneous rememberance.

Misfortune and pain is due to Karma Mala which is formed with impressions, vasanas, good or bad, left behind on the mind with actions done in previous birth. This is erased by Puja or absorption in the Divine Self.

Vyoma (IV. 3): By Vyoma is not meant this elemental ether (or sky) but the formless and subtle beatitude of what is known as the Supreme Self as is enjoined by the Tantras: "The Supreme Self is to be meditated upon as the formless sky, unbound by quarters, where Citsakti-awareness of supreme-consciousness, reveals itself spontaneously. Also declares that by 'sky' is meant Parabrahman, Cidakasa and not elemental ether, Bhutakasa. "What is Parabrahman is understood by giving the name Siva-vyoma".

Time for Worship (IV.12): There is a secret point of yoga for realisation of that Reality. According to Saktopaya it is the middle point as equinox point of the year or dusk time where there is balance of thought and no distraction towards duality. The Tantra says: "Worship of the self-effulgent Lord is done neither during day nor during night. Worship the Lord of Lords at the junction of night and day". While dawn and dusk are suggested as the sacred times for worship, yogi develops this attitude for every moment. That is his Sadhana for realisation of the Absolute. Star-lit dusk suggests this sadhana of Prakasa and Vimarsa or seeing unity of self through diversity. That is called Jagadananda in the Tantras according to Trika philosophy of Kashmir.

Woman (IV. 12): Sundarinam literally means of beautiful women. But in Tantra it means "the powers of cognitive organs" or "the controlled senses". When these are tamed to turn to the source they are called deities or Karnesvaris. These lead to sovereign beatitude.

Bindu (IV. 19): Bindu is the consolidated Divine Energy of volition comprising the powers of knowledge and action, inclined to sprout forth. It is the potency and readiness to create. It is the atomic point without dimensions, conceived as Sakti Tattva. It is concentrated consciousness.

Nada (IV.19): Nada is the sprouting Divine Energy, when Sakti Tattva becomes active for the first time. It is Kriya Sakti rupa-activity predominated consciousness or wavering consciousness. In deliberation (vimarsa or arsakrama) it means the awareness of Supreme Effulgence. This also connotes that yogis realize the Supreme Power of Beatitude through the alphabetic power (matrika-chakra-sakti)-the initial vibration through 'intermediate subtle region' of speech.

Manifestation (IV. 26): Manifestation of the universe as evolved from infinite to concrete came into being in four ellipses (anda) viz. saktyanda, mayanda, prakrtyanda and prthvyanda. These involve four phases of activity (kala) viz. santa kala, vidya kala, pratistha kala and nivrtti kala which are described in the context of this verse: Nivrtti Kala is the point of solidification where the manifesting Energy calls in a threefold turn upwards for unidentifying unification.

It is prthvyanda contained in prakrtyanda. Trika name is dharika kala. Presiding deity is Brahma and tattva involved is only Prthvi. Its state of complete difference is influenced by anava, mayiya and karma malas in asuddha adhva.

Pratistha Kala is the vibrational force in the tattvas from water to Prakrti…
Vidya Kala is the limitation in knowledge
Santa Kala evolves in air beyond Maya as consciousness in-peace.. Santatita Kala is Siva-Sakti tattva and beyond in ether…It is the greatest Bhairava experience.

Adhara Chakras (V. 14): Nadi Chakra at Muladhara: Maya-Chakra at the navel; Yogi Chakra at the heart; Bhedana Chakra at the palate or Lumbika; Dipti Cakra between the eyebrows; Santa Cakra at Nada or Brahmarandhra.

Breasts (IV. 32): stand for knowledge and action aspects of the Immanent Self evident in the manifestation.

These extracts are only illustrative of the rich, plentiful fare of esoteric flavour provided by Jankinathji in the course of his detailed annotation. It is an education and growth in consciousness to follow him in his large steps across the multidimensional expanse of Sadhana opening on luminous horizons. He has brought all his encyclopaedic knowledge to the door of the striving aspirant. May we salute him in fervent gratitude.



Pancastavi- the priceless gem

Pencastevi is a peerless treatise of five hymns sung in yogic lanugage in praise of the Divine Mother Parvati. It is devotional in nature and yogic in content. It must have been a composition revealed to a great seer. Esoteric explanations of allegoric descriptions regarding kundalini in a variety of ways could be made out from the very melody of these verses of different rhymes by an earnest student of utmost piety, only with spontaneous help from an advanced yogi of the Sakta-Saiva tradition. Reading the verses, or hearing them sung is like coming upon priceless gem hidden in the cavernous interior of the Himalayas, as the Upanisadic utterance corroborates.

"The daring intellect gives up all joy and sorrow for developing concentration of the mind on the self-luminous Deity by meditating on the Eternal Being, who, hidden with the knowledge of the world, located in the intellect and lodged inaccessibly, is hard to see."


Sakta school holds advaita as the ultimate Reality in an equal perspective with Kashmir Saiva Mysticism and of the same ideal as that of the monistic Vedanta. This is evident from the sacred and mysterious monosyllable (Pranava) attributed to each Thought and consisting of the corresponding seed-letters (bijaksara). The Pranava of Vedic thought is AUM. Correspondingly, the Tantric Pranava of Saiva and Saktaschools are 'Aham' and 'Hrim' respectively. Since all the pranavas or bijaksaras end in the Bindu, it is natural that the Bindu or Anusvar is the material cause for all the factors. It is the unconditional Brahman or the all- pervading Supreme Truth from which emanate all the conditional entities. Para-Bindu is the immeasurable entity into which all this manifestational phenomenon finds repose. This power of creation and absorption, quite inseparable from its holder Siva, is called Sakti. The magnificence, grace and beauty of this primordial Power make up eternal bliss. In consequence, there is a latent agreement among all mankind and this truth must be the one we seek. Accordingly, religions in general are at one with each other. Each has a philosophy antagonistic to the special dogma of the• other. The Vedic Rsis have already declared: "That Brahman is surely different from the known, and again, It is above the unknown- such was the utterance we heard of the ancient ' teachers who explained it to us". The Pancastavi manures growth in consciousness to that sublime Truth.

Significance of Mother Worship

Had Mother-worship not found a significant place in religions of ancient civilizations traced to Harappa and Mohanjodaro, the purest, most sublime, natural and attractive relationship of Jiva and Isvara could hardly have come in the grasp of man. This universal fact of mother- child relationship clearly owes its origin to the early Vedic and Tantric times.

In the post- Vedic period came up three territorial sects of the Sakta School in India. The Gaudiye sect in Bengal worshipped Tara : the Kauliya sect in Kashmir worshipped Tripura or Tripurasundari and the Keraliya in Kerala worshipped Kalika. The trichotomic aspect of Para- Sakti as Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasarasvati is common to all. The three deities take forms of Kali, Laksmi and Sarasvati as the emanations of Mahesvari or Tripurasundari, the goddess who excels all the three functional aspects of manifestation and has its being in truth, wisdom and beauty as symbolized by the trident held in the hand of Siva or Sakti in form. Sakti, the delimiting power of limitless Siva undergoes apparent transformation. Siva is described as devoid of qualities and changes. Saktas call It the Bindu, Saivas call It Siva and Vedantins call It Brahman. Bindu has no dimensions and therefore no measurement. It is, however, the locus of a point where the point is bindu (anusvar) and the locus itself is visarga. In short, Brahman alone connotes the Bindu as it is pronounced at the end of every Bija-mantra (seed formula) comprising seed letters. Every bija-mantra, of the .primordial deity, becomes clearly efficacious when received through the proper tradition.

Glory of Siva-Sakti and purpose of the five Hymns

Siva is the transcendent Self, the divine power of conservation and Sakti is immanent, the divine Energy of pulsation (spanda). The appearance of both is like the two sides of the same coin. The Tantra declares:

"His energies are evident in the multiform manifestation and the holder of the energies is Mahesvara - the Lord of Lords, Para-Siva- Himself”. The Upanisad says:

"His (para-Siva's) Para-Sakti is manifold, as described in the Veda, the natural energies of knowledge, power and action. Jnana, Bala and Kriya correspond to jnana sekti, iccha sakti and kriya sakti respectively as explained in the Tantras. These with the conjoint powers of conceal- ing (Pidhana) and favouring (Anugraha) of Siva constitute thefive-fold glory of Para-sakti.

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