Secret Code in Tantra


Secret Code in Tantra

Article on katapayadi – chhalarnasutra

– Shri Ramesh Namboodri

Spirituality is a wonder by itself; there are many paths to realize this reality. All these paths have been revealed at some place and some time to the sages / prophets by the Divine. Indian spirituality is very ancient and complete in itself. The most public spirituality in India is the Vedic one. The Vedas intent is mostly to the ritual practices by the individual in a group / community, which are of daily in nature aiming mostly at cleansing the clouded intellect of the common man (It is called chitta śuddi). These are to be learned from a Preceptor, who is venerated as the Divine clothed in human apparel.  A clear man now focuses on the more subtle aspects of creation. Herein the Vedas declare that these are specific to the individual and these have to be obtained from a Master, who has a deep understanding and experience.  Some passages of the Vedas also hint in a coded manner of these higher spiritual practices. Tantra is often a misconceived territory in a mysterious world. People attribute drinking liquor and having sex as tantric in nature.

Mantra, Tantra and Yantra is a triad. Here Tantra will denote the doctrine or system which will have practice mystic words (mantra) with usage of the mystic diagrams (yantra). These practices are the basis of the sadhaka in his sadhana. Simple basic yoga sadhana like prānāyama, placing of the seed sound (bijākṣara) on the body  called  nyāsā, placing vessels for outer worship called ‘pātrāsādhana’ , worship of main deity and attendant deities called pradhāna puja and āvarana puja respectively, are some of aspects seen in most of tantras. Some tantras also deal with metaphysical and philosophical basis of these rituals.

The Meaning of Tantra has a lot of aspects. Some are:

(1) The Sanskrit word tantra means the warp of a loom or the strands of a braid. The root of the word tantra comes from tanoti and trāyati. ‘tanoti’ will mean stretch, expand or to continue without a break and trāyati will mean protection. Highest protection is recognition that verily all this the self and no different from it. This is liberation. Thus this will mean a set of principles or system (likened to a web), which will lead to liberation.

(2) Tantra is often translated as “continuum” or “unbroken stream” and indicates a flow of consciousness from ignorance to enlightenment. Thus we can see that Tantra represents the interconnecting energies between all things in this and other planes of existence, leading to the liberation.

(3) Tantra – the word will also mean ‘tanu vistāryate iti tantra’. That which expands the body is Tantra. Now how will it look if we have a long nose after tantric sadhana, does it mean that? Or big ears? Or short becoming taller or vice versa. Since none of these are happening, then it must be something that is connected to this body that is said in the above statement. It is body consciousness or the aware ness that ‘I’ exist. This is clear, when at midnight is darkness and no other sound is heard, we are aware of our own existence; nobody is there or is needed to identify that ‘I’ exist. Expansion of this is hinted by the above meaning to encompass the entire creation and re establish the identity with the Divine.

Other words used to describe tantra are: leading principle, essential part, model, system, framework, doctrine, rule, theory, scientific work, order, chief part, rule, authority, science, mystic works, magical arts etc.

We all have a strong faith that the Vedas are ever existent from the initial time of creation and were revealed to the sages, they ‘saw’ the mantras – the sound structures- and hence are called ṛṣi –ṛṣyao mantra darsārah. Likewise Tantras are also said to exist eternally. They are said as revealed by Lord to Devi called ‘Agama’ or vice versa called ‘Nigama’. Many secrets in this line are revealed in them. These being secret in nature have not been revealed directly. Various codes have been deployed to protect them from reaching the common man who still has a clouded intellect. How ever Masters had access to the ‘key’ of such codes and passed them down the lineage to deserving disciples. A small effort is done here to understand the rationale behind such a code called ‘katapayādi’.


In this code the letters are assigned certain numbers. The vowels are assigned the number ‘zero’. From ‘ka’ to ‘jha’ they are numbered from one to nine and ‘jna’ is zero. Similarly from ‘Ta’ nine numbers and ‘na’ is zero. Again from ‘pa’ is five up to ‘ma’. Once again from ‘ya’ to ‘La’ nine and ‘kṣa’ is zero. If we find a samyuktākṣara / samyutakshara (combination of two or more consonants with a vowel), the last consonant is to be taken. After assigning the numbers in the order of the word decoded, we have to read it in reverse.

A detailed list as per the above guidance is shown below:-

अ आ इ ई उ ऊ ऋ लृ ए ऐ ओ औ अं अः - zero

क ख ग घ ङ् च छ ज झ ञ
1  2  3  4  5  6 7  8  9  0

ट  ठ ड  ढ ण त थ द  ध न
1  2  3  4  5  6 7  8  9  0

प फ ब भ म
1 2  3  4  5

य र  ल व  श ष  स  ह
1  2  3  4  5  6 7  8

These codes are used to specify the numbers of syllables in mantra which are revealed in a hidden – coded manner referring to certain words which will mean a certain syllable, or the number to times the mantra is to be repeated, or the number of deities in an enclosure (āvarana).

Let us now enjoy on decoding some of them using the above guidelines:

The most famous example is from Mahābhārata, say vyāsa says ‘tato jayamudīrayet’- Now I will tell you about jaya. Decoding this word ‘jaya’ with the above key ja is eight and ya is one, reversing, we get the number 18, which are the number of chapters or parvas in the said epic.

The word ‘vidyā’ ( vidya ) means knowledge. The ṛṣis have classified the knowledge into fourteen aspects: Four Vedas-ṛg, yajur, sāma & atharva, Six aṅgas- Sikṣā, Vyākaraṇa, Chandas, Niruktam, Jyotisham, & Kalpam and Four upāṅgas-Purāṇa, Nyāya, Mimāmsa & Dharma śāstras. Using the above code deciphering the word vidyā, ‘v’ is four and ‘y’( since dya is a samyuktākṣara the last consonant ‘y’ is taken)  is one, reading per the instructions of the code will result in the number fourteen, which are the numbers of the aspects.

The word ‘khaḍga’ means sword. The sword is identified with knowledge of the unity of the self the world and the creator, removing the notion of duality. As per the code this will point to number thirty two, – ‘kh’ is two and ‘g’ (ḍhga is a samyuktākṣara hence consider the last consonant ‘g’) is three, reversing will result in thirty two, which is suddhavidyā tattva, which clearly is the unifying of the self, universe and the Isvara.

In trailokya Mohana kavaca we find a vidyā which has ‘nakha नख varNa’- There are two ways to decode, both resulting in the same number. First will mean the ‘nail’- there are twenty nails in the body, ten on the hand and ten on the feet. The said vidyā had twenty syllables. Now using the above code ‘na’न is zero and ‘kha’ख is two, reading them on the reverse will result in the number twenty. Thus the number of syllables in the vidyā is revealed.

There is a secret vidyā in the puja paddhati of the yore called ‘nābhi’ / nabhi नाभि vidyā

Decoding the word nābhi / Nabhi by the above process, ‘na’ न is zero and ‘bha’भ is four, reading them in the reverse will be forty; the said vidyā had forty combinations to be chanted. The combinations were again said as a code in the dhāyna sloka as’ pika ruru bala’, पिक रुरु बल using the code we find a combination as ’11 22 and 33.  The ‘1’ here will refer to the vāgbhavakūṭa, 2 to the kāmarājakūṭa and 3 to the śakti kūṭa. Another combination said was ‘kambukhātrimbakā’ कम्बुखा त्रिम्बकाhere ‘tri’त्रि is a combination word (samyuktākṣara), applying the rule we have to take only ‘r’ which will mean two. Rest all is decodable. Thus we find a combination ‘132231’, which shall point to the kūṭas as said above.

In Paramānanda Tantra there is a pārāyaṇa called cakra pārāyaṇa. It relates to the āvaraṇa deities and repetition with different bījas. In the dhyāna sloka we find a reference to the number of repetitions as ‘gyānāgyāna nayānga bheda rucirām’, decoding with the above ideas in mind – ‘gy’ and ‘n’ will denote zero, ‘y’ to one. Substituting we find five zeros and one, reversing this will give – one lakh – the number of counts this pārāyana will end up which after practice.

Using this code, looking at the word ajapā, will result in number one hundred and eighty, which when multiplied by the inhalation and exhalation – once cycle breath-will result in three hundred and sixty, pointing to the total aggregate of rasmi’s in the six cakra.

In the Śrīvidyā ratna sutras of gaudapāda, the cakra of  Śrīvidyā is described as ‘kagaja’, these syllables when decoded will give the numbers as 1, 3 and 8 respectively, which will mean the bindu, trikoṇa and aṣtakoṇa.

Śrī Bhāskararāya / Bhaskararaya has used these codes in his commentary on Lalitā sahasranāma / Lalita sahasranam , while explaining the name ‘anādhinidhanā’. He splits the name into ‘an+ādi+ nidhanā’. Nidhana means death. He decodes prefixed word ‘ādhi’ with this code. ‘ā’ is zero since it is a lone vowel, ‘da’ is eight, reading them will result in eighty. He then explains that there are eighty types of deaths elaborating with the help of Śiva/Liṅga purāṇa and ‘an’ is the negation of these, since Śrī Devi is eternal there is death and hence no birth. The same is referred in another name’s commentary- mṛtyu dāru kuṭhārikā’. Here he takes the word dāru and decodes it to get ‘da’ is eight and ‘ra’ is two, on reading them as per practice will give twenty eight. These twenty eight types of mṛtyu are explained and also he refers to the other above said name which includes these twenty eight also. The rest fifty two are in śiva/Liṅga purāṇa.

Another name in Lalitā sahasranāma – śuddha vidyānkurākāra dvija pankti dvayojvalā’ can be seen through this code. The thirty two teeth of Śrī Devi are described here. Suddha vidyā is the thirty second in the line of tattvas. Hence that number is inferred. This number is split into two liked to the two cotyledons of a sprout. So, we can infer two sets of sixteen each. They are likened to the dvijā. Here the word dvija can be decoded as dvi +ja, twice ‘ja’; ‘j’ is eight and twice of eight as said by ‘dvi’ are sixteen, the next ‘pankthi dvaya’ can mean twice of this sixteen, that is thirty two.

A variation of this code is used by Śrī Bhāskararāya while explaining about the ‘chalākṣara sutras’. He says the vowel will point to the number of syllables in the particular name and the consonant to the number of names with this number of syllable. For example if we find ‘khi chaḥ  ghu’ in the sutra, using the said method, this will mean kh’ two names with ‘i’  three syllables, next will be ‘cha’–two names with ‘aḥ’-sixteen syllables (half of an anuṣtup meter) ,next will be ‘gh’ four names with ‘u’ six syllables.

Śrī Mahesanatha in his natha navaratna malika has identified the breath with Śrī Guru. Śrī Bhāskararāya in his commentary decodes the number of breath from the last line of the stotra ‘sanmārgam matta mayūramīḍe’. This when read with the katapayādi code will reveal the number thus: – ‘mattamayūra’ will translate into numbers as 5, 6, 5, 1 and 2. This when reversed will point to the number 21565. ‘sanmārga’ will mean “with ‘mārga’”, this when decoded will point to numbers 5 and 3, reverse of this is 35. Adding both these numbers will give the total breath in a day 21, 600.

Another Code:

Here there are certain groups which have universal number of members in them. Pakṣa /stana/śṛnga will mean two- there are two fortnights one waxing and one waning, stana means breasts, which are two in number. śṛnga means horn and there are two horns in animals. Netra will point to either two or three, since we have two physical eyes and one eye of wisdom. agni will point to the number three. Agni is tretrāgni.   Veda will point to number four, since there are four Vedas. Śara–arrows–will point to number five–Śrī Lalithāmba/manmatha-cupid has five flowery arrows.  Ṛtu/Rasa will point to number six – since there are six ṛtu in a year, tastes (rasa) are six in number. Ṛṣi will point to the number seven; traditionally there are sapta ṛṣis–seven sages. Gaja, Nāga and Vasu will point to the number eight- we find elephants or snakes in such numbers and there are aṣtavasu in the purāṇa. Rudra will point to the number eleven since they are so, āditya will refer to twelve since their number is such. Manu will point to fourteen, since they are such in number. Raja /nṛpati will point to sixteen since traditionally there were sixteen kings in this bhārata varṣa.

Using the above data lets us enjoy from some more codes said in stotras and tantras.

In the Parasurāma kalpa sūtra / Parashurama Kalpa Sutra the numbers of the guru mandala devatas are numbered as ‘muni veda nāga saṅkhyā’. Thus decoding with the above guide we find divaugha will have seven, siddhaugha will have four and manavaugha will have eight gurus.

The third and fourth āvaraṇas of Śrīcakra are numbered as ‘nāgaḍala’ and ‘manvaśra’- as per the above it will mean eight petals and fourteen triangles. Further the seventh and eighth are numbered as ‘vasvanala koṇa’ is also said which is translated to eight triangle and triangle.

Śrī Bhāskararāya uses this type of decoding in his commentary of “sṛṅgāra rasa sampūrṇā”- Here sṛṅga is two and rasa is six, hence twice six, which is twelve. āra means petals. Thus twelve petals are seen in the anāhata cakra, Hence the anāhata dhvani is the real meaning said in this name.

In the trailokhya Mohana kavaca we find a vidyā which has ‘netra vedātmakair varnaih yutā’. Using the code we find numbers two and four, reversing them will derive the number forty two, the number of syllables in that mantra.

In the dhyāna sloka of nābhi vidyā said above further we find a reference to ‘rāja vidyā sthanā’ when decoded with the above guide will point to the highest mantra Śrī ṣodaśākṣarī vidyā and two will point to the two variations viz., Mahā ṣodaśākṣarī and Parā ṣodaśākṣarī.

This is a small beginning from which lager perspectives can be unfolded. I happily affirm My Love and Pranams to the entire Gurumandala, for having graced this little child in sharing this information. The journey starts now for our experience.

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