"Swami Brahmananda was one of the rare Siddhas who had the knowledge of Sri Vidya." (Mason 2016:40)
Although he loved solitude in thickly forested areas, on at least one occasion he rode on the back of a tiger! (Mason 2016:41)
Swami Rama recalls Sri Brahmananda as a superb authority on the Upanishads and Shankara's commentaries, and a very good speaker. When Sri Brahmananda travelled from city to city, thousands flocked to hear him. After he had been entreated for twenty years he agreed to become the Shankaracharya in North India. (In Mason 2016:40)
Douglas R. Brooks (1992) explains that Srividya is translated as "Auspicious Wisdom", from Sri, holy, and vidya, wisdom, knowledge, learning, lore, science. The tradition flourishes today in both north and south India among women and men. Jacob Neusner writes: "Tradition serves as the mode of orientation toward present and future, as the way of interpreting existence, . . . because it explains who we are, what we are, where we are and should be." (p. xiii)
We still know far too little about the beliefs and practices described in Tantric texts and almost nothing about the legacy of these traditions, either among past or contemporary Hindus. . . . Srividya was created, elaborated, and perpetuated by Sanskrit-literate Hindus . . . by male smarta brahmans . . . we will [focus] on living interpretation and practice (p. xiv).
Srividya has flourished most visibly [in] Kashmir and south India . . . The two most important historical writers in south Indian Srividya were both north Indians by birth (p. xv)
[In] the study of esoteric Tantric texts [there] is the necessity of oral interpretation by living initiates; too much in texts is obscured by difficult language or is designed to exclude the uninitiated. (p. xvi)
Srividya's Tantric rituals are not fundamentally different from certain Vedic rituals in crucial respects. (p. xix)
Further, in the Sri Vidya tradition one accepts and aims for both Self-realisation and welfare otherwise, on the material plane included. The general principles are similar to those found in Kashmir Shaivism. One needs to be initiated by a gurudev to get a head start, it is taught.
Mantras are taught as likable means to realisation, welfare and boons in life.
Dr. Sands' book serves as an introduction to the over-all picture after Maharishi's basic Transcendental Meditation with Questions and Answers. Below is a selection.
Brooks, Douglas Renfrew. Auspicious Wisdom: The Texts and Traditions of Srividya Sakta Tantrism in South India. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1992.
Flood, Gavin. An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996:187-89.
Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia, s.v. "Sri Vidya"
Mason, Paul. Roots of TM: The Transcendental Meditation of Guru Dev and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Penzance, UK: Premanand, 2016.
Sands, William F. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and His Gift to the World. Fairfield, IA: Maharishi University of Management Press, 2012.
The Transcendental Meditation Program. Official website. [◦Link]
WP: Wikipedia article: "Sri Vidya".
Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh. Transcendental Meditation with Questions and Answers. 3rd ed (a reprint of the 1st ed. of 1967, with new appendices). India: Spiritual Regeneration Movement, Maharishi Foundation International, Maharishi Vedic University, 2011.
Harvesting the hay
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