Among the tantras practised in Nepal and India, Chandamahâroshana remained a secret until 2015, when it was translated into French. Previously passed down only from master to disciple, this tantra was given by Dharma Guruji, an old tantric sage and Newar adept, to Evelyne Delamotte (the translator), Pascal Chazot (current director of the "Mahatma Gandhi" international school) and Eric Chazot (a writer specialising in the art of the Himalayas), in gratitude for saving his life. Read on.

A moving encounter

Dharma Guruji had voluntarily stripped himself of all his possessions and lived solely on the offerings of the villagers.

The cult of Chandamahâroshana seems to have appeared in India as early as the 7th century and in Nepal around the 13th century. The Newars, the indigenous population of the Kathmandu valley, are the only people to have preserved the sacred texts in their original liturgical language, Sanskrit. In Nepal, a country of castes, religion is elitist: not everyone has access to knowledge. Certain rituals and certain knowledge that carry power would offend common sense and could be used to carry out evil deeds, which is one of the reasons why knowledge is compartmentalised. Only the Vajarcharya, the Newar priests of the highest Buddhist caste, were initiated into Tantra, and they were the only ones capable of reading Sanskrit. In 1957, a scholar (pandit) of Patan, translated the Chandamahâroshana Tantra into Newari and made 6 copies. In 1960, he gave one to Dharma Guruji (1898-1990), a wise man, monk and yogi living in the suburbs of Kathmandu, whose reputation for integrity was already high in his community. He devoted the last thirty years of his life to the practice of this tantra "with a faith and determination that have never wavered".According to Eric Chazot, who has made it his duty to relay his message. Heir to the Buddhist tradition of the Kathmandu valley, Dharma Guruji appears to be the last master to have practised and taught this great tantra.

Eric Chazot lived in Nepal from 1975 to 1988 with his partner Evelyne Delamotte, who translated this sacred text, and his brother Pascal. "My neighbour, in a small thatched-roof house, was an old Newar monk dressed all in blue, who lived with two women, both dressed in red; a friendly trio that I met every day and who enjoyed great respect in the Nepalese community. This is how we met the "Blue Lama", so called because of the colour of his robe, which was different from that of the other Buddhist lamas. One morning at dawn, the nun Soukamaya, the elder of the two women with whom he lived, came to wake me up: the old monk had fallen lifeless in his garden and it looked as if he was going to succumb to a heart attack. Our friend Vincent Caillard, a doctor at the French embassy, whom I went to see straight away, fortunately diagnosed angina pectoris and gave him nitroxide. As if by a miracle, a few weeks later Dharma Guruji was cured. One day, he came knocking at our door, thanking us for having saved his life: according to him, his illness was a message from the deities:the goddess gave me a good slap in the face! I nearly died! You saved my life and I understood the meaning of the event" . He came to offer them the only precious thing he possessed, a secret book: the Tantra of Chandamahâroshana, of which he was a follower. " He then solemnly entrusted us with the mission of spreading it in the West, and more specifically in France. Despite our initial reluctance, none of us feeling like missionaries, this was the start of a long, friendly, warm and humanist relationship that lasted until his death, rich in long talks in which he explained the tantric rites and the philosophy that accompanies them to the messengers he had chosen.. Evelyne Delamotte undertook the translation, while Pascal Chazot became an adept and disciple of the tantric master and Eric Chazot a privileged interlocutor who asked him all the questions necessary to understand this extremely esoteric and totally baffling text, which was bound to raise many questions. It's a cryptic text that requires commentary and explanation if it is not to lead to unfortunate misunderstandings and hence to totally erroneous practice.

Dharma Guruji dancing during a ceremony at the Kimdol Bahal monastery.

Why break the law of secrecy?

"Dharma Guruji was fully aware that by abolishing the very ancient law of secrecy, he was taking all the risks of the terrible curses decreed and assuming them without fear, as an eminent master of the doctrine, while at the same time ensuring its continuity and dissemination", Eric Chazot, who has made it his duty to reveal the content of this tantra and the message of this master.
In these troubled times that Hindus and Buddhists call kâli yuga, before leaving the cycle of rebirths for good, this Tantra master decided to lift the law of secrecy for the good of humanity. " I know that samsara, the world, is not going well, that technology is running it and depleting its resources, that there are wars and famines. I pray every day, and sometimes I fast. I feel great sadness at the sight of this world in perdition, and that is why I am opening up the path of tantra to you, " confided Dharma Gurudji to his interlocutor. "Convinced of the richness of the spiritual message, having spent his life in meditation and religious practice, Dharma Guruji felt that the present era no longer justified secrecy and that tantric knowledge should now be accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world. According to him, only one accomplished being in 10 million is capable of understanding and practising this text, but he still needed to be able to have access to it, and that was the reason for the mission he entrusted to us", explains Eric Chazot.

Nepal. Kathmandu. In the courtyard of the Kimdol Bahal monastery that he directed, Dharma Gurudji mimes one of the episodes in the life of the Buddha: the encounter with an old man in which the Buddha discovers the reality of old age and death.

The sacred union of opposites

Far from the extravagant sexual relations that have so aroused the curiosity of Westerners, tantric practice aims at spiritual elevation and liberation from the chains of reincarnation. The initiation transmitted by the master to his disciple seals the bond that unites them and lays the foundation for the basis of tantra: wisdom can only be obtained through the union of man and woman. It is important to understand that when we speak of " maithuna" sexual union within a tantric framework. It is a form of yoga, the highest according to its practitioners. Yoga, which has the same etymology as "yoke", means "union", and in this case it is a metaphor for the union of body and spirit. It is not a hedonism, a search for pleasure, but a ritual (in conjunction with many other practices and rituals) sadhanas as meditation, visualisations, mantra recitations, controlled eating and breathing, yantra drawings, etc.), the aim of which is awakening and liberation from the chains of samsara (earthly incarnation). However, man will try to abstain from spilling his seed, because the purpose of sexuality is not reproduction, but liberation from karma. " The union of man and woman and the retention of sperm can lead to ecstasy ", confided Dharma Guruji. And he insisted on the possibility for the human spirit to expand and reach the ultimate and universal Consciousness with the help of this yoga, which is its highest form and which enables us to escape the infernal cycle of reincarnations in which ordinary man is trapped. In the chain of causes and consequences that is human life, the origin of consciousness is found in sexuality, and tantric sexuality therefore proceeds by returning to the origin.

Nepal : Tantric Newar art from the Kathmandu valley - Harishankar temple in Patan. Carved wooden cornice support representing Acala the motionless, Chandamaharoshan, a terrible form of the sword-bearing bodhisattva Manjousri (Photo F. Guenet)

A complex, sometimes abstruse text

This text, described as "king of the tantras and today unveiled, is a support, a framework (etymology of the word tantra) which should enable the adept to free himself from his conditioning and bring him to the state of Buddha (awakening, bliss, liberation, nirvana) in a single lifetime. "It is a doctrine that aims to avoid reincarnation and to escape the human condition of suffering, illness, ageing and inevitable death", explains Eric Chazot. To get there, Tantra sets out a series of yogic practices, instructions, behaviour and magical 'recipes' that are activated by the recitation of mantras and visualisation techniques. It is an arduous path, difficult to attain. Dharma Guruji mentions the need for a chosen diet, with prohibitions such as alcohol, meat, onions, garlic and tomatoes (relatively similar to the Jain diet), and very strict moral and ethical rules. Not everything in this text should be taken literally. For example, it stipulates that the adept must kill his father and make love to his mother. Apart from its symbolic meaning, which psychoanalysis would not disapprove of, it is quite clear that this recommendation must be understood in a completely different sense, which is explained in one of the following chapters, which describes precisely the process of reincarnation at the moment of fertilisation.
Written more than a thousand years ago in a highly coded and hermetic language, the text is riddled with recommendations and transgressions that may seem contradictory to the uninitiated who do not have the essential keys to reading it. "Another example: the follower is a vegetarian, but the ritual expressly recommends eating meat. How can you eat meat without killing an animal, or eating the corpse of a dead animal. Simple answer: "the placenta is meat, but it is not a corpse", reveals Eric Chazot. This mystical and initiatory narrative is deliberately obscure and seems full of contradictions that can only be deciphered with the help of a master. It should also be pointed out that Dharma Gurudju considered that another fundamental text from the Kathmandu valley, the Nâmasangîti (the sung name of Manjusri), functioned in symbiosis with the Chandamahâroshana Tantra. It is the complementary nature of these two texts that can also provide the keys to certain passages that seem obscure or contradictory.

Nepal : Tantric Newar art from the Kathmandu valley - Lingam (erect phallus in the form of a cosmic egg) of the god Shiva at the centre of the Yoni (vulva of the goddess). Temples of the medieval Panauti complex - Kavre district in the Bagmati area. (Photo F. Guenet)

The cult of femininity

At the heart of this Tantra is a focus on women. Without feminine energy, everything is in vain. Women embody Wisdom (Prajna) and man is the means to get there (Upaya). The union of the two is Knowledge (jnana in Sanskrit, same etymology as gnosis). "The man is god for the woman, the woman is goddess for the man. Visualising their divine nature and uniting the Vajra (male sex) and the Lotus (female sex), they will honour each other. Do not worship other gods", is written in this Tantra. In Hinduism, the symbol of Shiva, the lingam (phallus) in the yoni (vulva) of his wife Parvati, and in Buddhism, sexual union (Yab-Yum) of the Tantric divinities remind us that sexuality renews life and enlivens the eternal process of creation, and that it is at the origin of all living existence, whether animal or human. As stated in the chapter entitled "The Praise of Woman": " More than anything else, the love and enjoyment that women give brings fulfilment. "And also: " The woman to whom all pleasures are given will give access to Buddhahood. "
In the Tantric context, sexuality is a means to an end, not an end in itself, because what is essential lies beyond pleasure; it is about achieving fusion with the absolute, the primordial stream of consciousness. Thanks to the importance of these rituals, the Tantric universe is a path of experience rather than knowledge, for it is practice rather than theory that constitutes its essence.

Dharma Gurudji wears his dance crown to practise the sacred dance.

What does Chandamahâroshana represent?

She is a fierce, wrathful deity, also known as Açala, the Immutable. The word literally means: the great terrible anger (mahâ large, rosana : anger and sweater : terrible). He is also a popular exoteric protective deity, whose representations can be found in the monasteries and pagodas of the Kathmandu valley. With his right foot he tramples on the four Mâra (Hindu gods in their non-tantric form: Brahmâ, Vishnu, Shiva, Indra) symbolising the four obstacles to Enlightenment: the physical and mental disturbances of a person, desires and passions, death, inescapable and universal, which can interrupt spiritual evolution and make the adept doubt, the fourth and most powerful being the immoderate taste for power and the manipulation of others for personal ends.
In his left hand Chandamahârosana holds a lasso to catch ignorance, in his right he brandishes a sword to cut the bonds of ignorance and the heads of the enemies of Buddhism. His left knee is on the ground. For the initiated, and only for them, Chandamahârosana is also the symbol of ecstasy, of Co-Emergent Joy (one of the four Joys experienced by the practitioner in his quest for nirvana). He appears united with his female partner, his Prajñâin a representation that can only be seen in the secret chamber of the sanctuary. Prajñâ (the woman) and Upâya (man) being united and immutable in pleasure. This is the meaning of Acala, the Immutable.

Brigitte Postel

This article appeared in Unexplored n° 50.

Eric Chazot is a writer specialising in the art of the Himalayas and Nepal, where he has lived and continues to visit several times a year. He had the good fortune to meet and befriend an old Newar sage, Dharma Guruji, who taught him the Chandamahârosana Tantra (a Buddhist tantra) and enlightened him about tantric knowledge and practice..

Read Chandamahâroshana Tantra (translation by Evelyne Delamotte, edited by Dharma Guruji). Editions du Rocher, 2015.
Beautiful book Eric Chazot, François Guenet, Tantra, Théologie de l?amour et de la liberté, Ed. du Rocher, 2016.