How does the slokas and the lists like Pancha Kanya get created?

The ancient Indians and especially Rishis liked to debate and they would have great debates on the Vedas and Puranas. Most of the dharmashastras and Upanishads grew out of those discussions. The merits of the various scholars were tested in creating lists and defending them in company of other scholars.

Read: Part 1 

PanchKanya – How the List?

Let us look at a debate from one of anterior generations to Brahmavak Yajnavalkya whose shastratha added a new outlook to the concept of debates.

So let us look at an example from Shaunaka’s Yagna, so the great scholars attending that are Gopalayana Chakrayana, Rathagritsa Suchivriksha, Paulushi Satyayajna & Sandilya Kavyasri & Indradyumna Bhaliaveya, Jana Sarkarakshya, Budila Ashtavakra, Aruna Aupavesi Gautama, Prachinasala Aupamanyava, Aruni Uddalaka IV.

Imagine a debate featuring Rathagritsa Suchivriksha, Indradyumna Bhaliaveya, Lady Jana Sarkarakshya and Prachinasala Aupamanyava. Of course the article becomes dense and obfuscated very fast when such great names are used so I will names of the admins as stand-ins so PBS represents Rathagritsa Suchivriksha, PB shadows Indradyumna Bhaliaveya, CS takes the female sage role of Jana and AG advocates Prachinasala Aupamanyava.

(I am using actual lists.)

PBS: There is One ParaBrahma.

(So debate starts on God or Gods.) Now here there would be slokas and references to dharmashastras and Vedas to back this point. Even Puranic Akhayana is presented.

PB: There are two Asvinikumars, Dasra and Nasatya.

Now here again, sage will present the references to back the statement and thus defend his statement.

CS: Trimurti of Brahma, Siva, Vishnu start the creation.

Same references follow. The shrotagana, the listening scholars judge these statements.

AG: There are four varnas.

  • See here would be an error; the list is the increasing number of Gods. RN would be right but as the debate goes, this would be rejected by the scholars and AG goes out of debate. So let us keep him in.

AG: There are four lokpalas, they are then named. Vasudeva had Four moortis, Pradyumana, Charudeshna, Aniruddha, Vasudeva.

Sometimes, the answer takes half a sloka so the debater adds second list to finish 32 syllables for one complete sloka.

PBS: Five gods administering Pancha Mahabhutas are listed. He maybe sings a doha from Ramayana :- “sada bhawani dahina sanmukh rahe ganesh Panch dev mil raksha kera Brahma vishnu Mahesh”

PB: There are Six Adityas.

  • Everyone stops. Someone from back row, say Uddalaka shouts! Then PB defends, quotes Garuda Purana, talks about Initial set up of Adityas. The audience discusses. Looks up merits of Puranas, and would vote and VB squeaks in on the vote of Shandilya group. (of course, you understand these parts are my novelizations but the process worked like that in the debates of that age.)

CS: There are Sapta Rishi. Then she goes overboard:

  • Saptashishtha: Eternal gods involved in shraddha.
  • Saptamahanaga
  • Saptarava: seven sons of Garuda
  • Saptasarasvata
  • Saptopayas: The Seven expedients
  • Saptamatra: Brahmani, Vaisnavi, Mahesvari, Kaumari, Varahi, Indrani and Chamundi.

See the reason CS would add extra lists would be to now eliminate some other debater from using these lists or preparing grounds of compassion and support among voters because she is looking at numbers 11, 15, 19 and very difficult 23.

Akhyans and references would follow.

AG: There are Ashtha Vasu, the eight elemental gods.

RN prepares his ambushes:

  • Astakaranas:- Manas (mind), Buddhi (intelligence), Citta (thought), Ahamkara(egotism), Samkalpa in the mind (imagination), determination, pride from egotism and Avadharana in Chitta.
  • Astakastas:- Kama (lust), Krodha (anger), Lobha (greed), Moha (delusion), Mada (arrogance), Matsarya (rivalry), Dambha (pride) and Asuya (jealousy).
  • Astaipvyasana (S):- (1) Paisunya (2) Sahasa (3) Droha (5) Irsya (5) Asuya (6) Artbadusana (7) Vagdanja and (8) Parusya.
  • Astakumbha(S):- Suryabheda, Ujjayi, Silkkari, Sitali, Bhastika, Bhramari, Murccha and Plavini. Ail these have to be practised by students of Yoga. (Moksapradipam).
  • Astamangalya:- (1) Kurava ( 2 ) Darpana ( 3) Dipa (4) Kalasa (5) Vastra (6) Aksatam (7) Axigana (8) Svarna
  • Astamanogunas:- (1) Paratva (2) Aparatva (3) Sarixkhya (4) Parimana (5) Prthakta (6) Sankhyoga ( 7) Vibhaga ( 8) Vega.
  • Ashthanaga:- That is shouted down as CS has already created the Saptanagas.
  • Astapramans:- Eight means of getting correct knowledge. Pratyaksa, Anumana, Upamana, Sabda (Agama), Arthapatti, Anupalabdhi (Abhava) Sambhava, Aitihya.
  • AshtaTarini:- Eight names of Taranidevi. They are Tara, Ugra, Mahogra, Vajra, Kali, Sarasvati, Kamegvari and Chamunda.
  • Astavidapratimas:- Silamayi, Dhatumayi, Loharnayi, Lepya, Lekhya, Mrnmayi, Manimayi and Manomayi.
  • AshtaVidhaKushthas:- Vimarccika, Bhadru, Mandala, Sukti, Siddhmaka, Krsna, Sukla and Taruna.
  • He will not use Asthayogini:- The eight hermit-maidens who are the attendants of the goddess, Durga. (1) Marjjati (2 ) Karpuratilaka (3) Malayagandhini (4) Kaumudika (5) Bherunda (6) Matali (7) Nayaki (8) Jaya (Subhacakshaa).
  • Ashtopaya(S):- Eight ways of attaining salvation. Yajna, Dana, Vedadhyayana, Tapas, Dama, Satya, Rjusila, and Mardava. These are the qualities required for attaining salvation.

Same way akhyans and references will follow. So now debate gets serious. See in those debates you have to not only hold your position but win the voters. You talk about Ashthupaya or Asthakumbha, something dear to hearts of some of the voters or even use the work of voters as references. So you get them on your side for when a weak number comes up.

PBS: There are Nava durgas or Navamatravrata. Worship of Nine goddesses, Worship could be conducted on the days mentioned, by consecrating the goddess Durga in nine temples or in one temple only. When the goddess is consecrated in nine temples they are meditated upon as nine separate beings. In such cases Goddess Durga should be consecrated with eighteen hands and the rest of the goddesses with sixteen hands. Of the eighteen two should be holding Antimony and damaru (a small drum shaped like an hourglass), and the remaining sixteen hands should hold weapons that the other goddesses hold. The nine goddesses to be worshipped are Rudra, Chandor, Prachanda, Chandogra, Chandanayika, Chandavati and Chandarupa and in the middle of these eight beings the great goddess Durga .

This is correct but you see CS has taken Saptamatras already and thus removed their reuse.

PBS extended the Saptamatra to Navamatra. Even though Vyas would back him as Vyas states that navaratri worship should be conducted as follows. The things necessary for the worship and oblations should be collected on the new moon day. Only clarified butter could be eaten on that day. An open temple should be erected with pillars and flag-posts in an open flat place which is pure. It will be good if the shed has a circumference of sixteen cubits. There should be sixteen pillars. The shed should be floored with the mixture of crowding and white clay. In the middle of the shed there must be a dais having a height of one cubit and a circumference of four cubits. This is the place for the seat. The shed and the dais should be decorated. The throne placed on the dais must be covered with a white silk and Devi (goddess) should be consecrated on it. A calm Brahmin should read the Vedas and at that time the worship of the goddess should begin. This worship will continue for nine days. Another ritual of this `navaratripuja‘ is the worship of virgins.

So, PBS will be given a choice in debate to change his Nine.

So PBS: Navavyatharacana. The Nine Gods to be propitiated for preventing epidemics.

This is a worship conducted to prevent epidemics. In olden days Vishnu advised Narada on the form of this worship. The form of this worship is given below:

In the centre of the circular lotus, consecrate Vasudeva with the first syllable of mantra (spell) `A’. To the south of him consecrate and worship Sankarsana and Pradyumna with the syllable `A’; in the S.E. corner, Aniruddha with the syllable `Ah’; in the west, Narayana with the syllable `Om’; Brahma in the N.W. corner with the syllables `Tatsat’; Visnu in the North with the syllable `Hum’; Narsimha with the syllable `Ksau’ and Varaha in the N.E. corner with the syllable `bhum’. Thus Nine gods are consecrated for center and the eight directions for preventing Epidemics. For single syllable

Then PBS will go overboard,

Consecrate Garuda with spells having as first syllables `Kam’,`tam’, “sam” and ‘sam’ at the western entrance of the lotus figure; Purvavaktra, with syllables `Kham’ `cham’, ‘Vam’ and ‘hurri’ at the southern entrance of the lotus figure; Gada, with the syllables `Kham’, ‘tham’ and `Sam’ at the Northern entrance; consecrate Isa with the syllables `bam’, `nam’,`mam’ and `Ksam’, in the North East corner. Then consecrate Sri with the syllables `Dham’, `Dam’, `Bham’ and `Ham’ on the southern side; Vaman with the syllables `Gam’, `Dam’ `Vam’ and `Sam’, on the northern side; Srivatsa with the syllables `sam’, `ham’ and `lam’, to the west of Vanamali; and Kaustubha, with the syllables, `cham’, `Tam’ and `yam’, to the west of Srivatsa. These Nine are consecrated on four syllables.

(PBS takes 18 out of equation, using both one syllable and 4 syllable Nine-god lists)

After having consecrated and worshiped persons as mentioned above, in the order of the ten member-parts of Mahavisnu, Ananta should be consecrated below the seat of the deity and in the order of the ten member parts of Ananta, the four component parts called Mahendra and so on should be consecrated on the four directions such as east and so on, and consecrate in the same way all the decorations, flags, canopy etc. Then the three spheres of Vayu (Air), Agni (fire) and Indu (moon) should be consecrated with the first syllables of the spells suited to each and meditating on them and worshiping them, dip the body in the meditation. Then imagine that the subtle form of the individual soul is staying in the sky. Then meditate that the individual soul is reborn by harmony with the universal soul after having been dipped and washed in the snow white ambrosia emanating from the moon. After that saying to yourself `I am Visnu himself reborn”, utter the twelve-syllabled mantra or spell. Place heart, head, turban and weapon respectively on chest, head, hind-part of the lock of hair and Netra (eye) Place weapons in both hands. After this your body will become divine. This placing of the individual soul should be repeated in the same way with Deva (god) and diva. When this worship of Visnu is conducted in heart in imagination (without the aid of materials) it is called `Anirmalyapuja’, and when it is done with the aid of lotus figure etc., it is called ‘Sanirmalya’ puja.

(Now with this PBS take out 23 from equation taking revenge on Seven Matras!! on CS)

At this puja (worship) the disciple should stand with eyes tied. Then on whichever deity he places flower it should be given that name. Place it on the left side and burn gingili, paddy and ghee in the sacrificial fire. After performing hundred and eight burnings perform another burning for the purification of the body. To each of the member-parts of the Navavyuha deities also burnt offering should be made, no less than hundred times to each. Then put the entire thing in fire as burnt offering. Then the disciples should take fast, and the disciples should offer wealth etc. to the teacher.

(I take 32 out of equation as well! 33 is very easy, everyone knows that right!)

Thirty Three Years or Gods?

There are Navagraha.

PB: There are 10 Dikpalas. There are 10 Varunas.

PB is trying to lower the passions of now very excited crowd.

CS: There are 11 Rudras. Ajaikapat, Ahirbudhnya, Virupaksa, Suresvara, Jayanta, Bahurupa, Aparajita, Savitra, Traymabaka, Vaivasvata and Hara. She may even name other lists of Rudras from other sources to eliminate their use in higher numbers.

The Rudras

Then she adds

  • Eleven adhipatis:- For Devas the adhipati (ruling power) is Indra; for the stars, Candra; for Prajapatis, Daksa; for wealth and Yaksaraksas, Kubera; for men Maim; for Rishis, Vasistha; for Grahajyotis, the Sun; for exudations, Varuna; for rivers, the Ocean; for Bhutaganas, Siva; and for the birds, Garuda.
  • Ekadasa manusha dharmas:- The eleven dharmas of men are: Svadhyaya, Brahmacarya, Dana, Yajna, free from Krpanatva, Daya, Ahiriisa, Ksama, Jitendriyatva, Sauca and Daiva Bhakti.
  • Ekadasa Pujasthanas:- The eleven pujasthanas are Surya, Agni, Vipra, Gau, Vaisnava, Akasa, Vayu, Jala, Bhima, Atma and Sarvabhutas
  • Ekadasa Tattva:- Five Jnanendriyas, five Karmendriyas and mind constitute the Ekadasatattvas (eleven tattvas)
  • Ekadagate Jogita:- Sparha, Samkhya, Parinama, Prthaktva, Sariiyoga, Vibhaga, Paratva, Aparatva, Vega, Rupa and Dravatva
  • Ekadasendriya:- Srotra, Tvak, Caksus, Jihva, Ghrana, Vak, Pani, Pada, Payu Upastha and mind are the eleven sense-organs

So again, CS is countering the ambushes and votes AG is collecting.

AG: There are twelve Adityas. There is commotion. See AG is right but PBeliminated Adityas from the list by using the Garuda Purana 6 Aditya concept. So AG will be given a second chance.

  • There are 12 Suryas. Boom. Point taken. Accepted.
  • There are twelve prime Visvedevas and Sixty one more for the Shardha rites
  • There are 12 Yamas.
  • By eliminating Adityas early on, 12 Adityas are out of play so are 13 Adityas, Adityas plus Parjanya.
  • 12 sons of Yagneya as Yama and Yama make 13 but see already that list is eliminated.

PBS: I surrender. 13 is really an unlucky number.

With Aditya and ashwinikumara eliminated and 12 suryas eliminated, 14 deva group and 14 surya group cannot be used. The debate becomes a chess match at same time.

PB: There are seven swarga and Seven patala and fourteen Lokadhipatis. 14 Manus and 14 Indras.

CS: Three sons of Agni are Pavaka, Pavamana and Suci. These three are special yagna Agnis dealing with three aspects and they have 15 sons each aka 15 Agnis for Flame, Heat and Destruction. Three groups of 15 Agnis each. This recounting also eliminates 45 for Agnis and 49 for Agnis (49 Maruts are left!!).

AG: There are 16 priests and presiding Yagna deities for the 16 positions of priests in a Yagna.

Here AG is collecting on the goodwill by using a weak case.

Yagna deities and Mati make Seventeen but cannot be used. Same for Sixteen plus Mati and Yajanama make 18 equal Dharma. Both cannot be used.

PB: Sakta Sankhya theory: Vishnu manifests Parashakti. It is Bhavabhavarupa or in nature of existence and non-existence. It takes forms of Vidya, Avidya, Lakshmi, Bharati, Girija, Ambika, Durga, Bhadrakali, Chandi, Mahesvari, Kaumari, Varahi, Aindri, Shambhavi, Brahmi, Maya. These plus Parashakti make seventeen!

Lives to fight another day. A sectarian audience could have voted him out.

CS: 18 is Dharma, 18 is Jaya, 18 is Mahabharata of 18 Parvas. None of these will apply as Lists are of Gods. So CS will need to surrender.

Why Always 18 Akshauhini?

AG: 19 is Visesha group of Gods, the 11 Rudras and 8 Vasus. 19 are partial incarnations of Vayu.

PB: 20 is Visha group of Gods. 12 Adityas and 8 Vasus.

These are both weak groupings but quick eliminations are not allowed.

Now if AG gets 21 (List of Narakas used in most debates),

PB has clear shot at 22 (1st list of Vishnu avatars),

Avatars of Vishnu – Ramayana & Mahabharata Characters

  • 23 (List of Brahma Avatars),
  • 24 is list of Vayu Partial and full incarnations or a list of Angakushi Goddesses,
  • 25 is 5 groups of 5 special Agnis descended from Sandilya,
  • 26 is a famous Indras list,
  • 27 are Tushitas and Nakshatras and Gandharvas,
  • 28 are the Vyasas and 28 Siva Yogacharyas,
  • 29 is tricky,
  • 30 is Vamana Avatars,
  • 31 is Tridashguru aka 30 gods and their common preceptor.
  • 32 has many answers because of Sloka having 32 syllables and 33 is the famous Trayodasha.

So, most debates start losing their way around 21 or then 29. Thirty four is another major break point.

But you can understand how popular such debates would become. I will post Ashtavakra –Vandi as an example later.

Thus, the lists come into normal and popular language usage. They are then quoted and used in further rupyams and quotes and debates. The original debate and all the underlying references may be saved and created as a shastra.

Many times these shastras get lost. Many times they are saved. The lists and metaphors survive.

These lists were then harnessed to power slokas and mantras. The power of entities in list is thus harnessed by Rishis and Munis to bless you. That’s why they would like larger and larger numbers to be reached.

Example Savitra was the original god of the Original Gayatri mantra. Then 24 avatar cycle of Vishnu was used to represent the 24 syllables of new Gayatri Mantra and thus Gayatri Mantra has power and blessing of 24 Avatars of Vishnu. Same is the genesis of Panch Kanya mantra.

There had been a debate where

  1. Eka Parashakti (One Goddess)
  2. Traya Shakti (Three Powers)
  3. Panch Kanya or Pancha Mahasati (The five presiding principles)
  4. SaptaMata (Seven mothers of Kartikeya)
  5. Nava Durga (Nine Durgas)
  6. Ekadasha Rudrani (11 Rudranis)

The lists could have been carried further.

Thirteen goddesses are there in western, Zen, old Greek pantheons and thirteen goddesses are common in some Middle eastern Chaldean et all pantheons also. In Indian context, the 13 Aditya goddesses would be present but their references are lost.

I could point out Thirteen Mahanayikas of Vana Parva Upakhyanas. Then we will still be stuck at fifteen.

This is how these lists evolve. And then Mantras are crafted to harness the Sattva power of the entities.

by Pranshu B. Saxena

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