Focus – Rajesh Yagnik
Why is a Guru necessary to understand the teachings of Sanatan Dharma? We don’t get the right to study the scriptures without someone being ‘worthy’. This is because our scriptures not only have depth of knowledge, but they also contain subtlety. A symbolic description is found to simplify a profound subject, which requires a wise guide, i.e. a guru, to understand. One such subject is Ashtapash. Life has limitations. If the soul wants to be liberated, where are the bonds? And why should he get rid of it? Its detailed discussions can be seen in different ways in our many texts
According to Tantra philosophy there are eight bands/chains that bind the soul to Maya. These bonds are aversion, shame, bhaya (or apprehension), jugupsa, kula, caste and sheela. Any consciousness that is bound by these 8 bonds is called Jiva and the consciousness that is free from all these chains is called Sadasiva.
In Chapter 8 of Durga Saptashati, when the demons Chanda and Mund died, Shumbha, king of the Asuras, became enraged and ordered his army to prepare for battle. From that anger
“O demons, I command all the armies of the Asuras, the 86 Daitya commanders named Udayudha, the 84 generals named Kambu, to march with their armies.
“Let Kalak, Dauhrid, Maurya and Kalakeya Asura also prepare for battle and depart with my orders.
Here Durga reveals the Saptashati Tantra and one of its great secrets, as well as the mystery of the universe and Maya. Rakshasa Shumbha, the symbol of our ego, invokes 8 types of demons for the victory of evil over good. These 8 types of Rakshasas are, in fact, symbols of Ashtapasa which binds the Jiva to Maya.
These 8 Bandhas are symbolically reflected in 8 demons in Saptashati. When the Jiva invokes the Mother Shakti, it fights these demons within us and breaks the bonds created by these demons and frees us. Life becomes Sadashiv! Ashtapash is also mentioned in the scripture of tantra ‘Kularnava Tantra’.
Mirambai also writes in one of her verses,
Rule (1) Dham poo pe ruval darlini khasrulajna, rlailal lajnaun runamalf
Ashr Impre Int Tabru Buway, South Infaljha Dhalaf
Ruljna rlailaf laru ruljna ghalta ve, bi khalefalli fi dhalfa
फ़़़ૐ अंग्य पदू रुणमफदफ नलमफ, अलमामुण रुनमलफ
Some scholars say that here Mirambai is talking about Ashtapash described in Kularnava Tantra by ‘Ashta Karam’ without getting rid of which the ‘burden of sorrow’ is not lightened and the ‘lakh chorasi’ is not overcome.
In the Kularnava Tantra it is written,
Hatred, doubt, fear, shame, jugupsa, kula, sheel and maan – these are aspects of binding for the eight living beings.
One interpretation of the Ramayana also mentions Ashtapasha, the commentator writes that Meghnad is a symbol of mammatva and Meghnadarupi mammatva torments the Jiva through Ashtapash. The main weapon of Meghnad is this octagonal serpent. Ordinary human beings have Ashtapasa and are bound by it from all sides.