Dhanur Tantra’ is an illustrated manuscript and a copper plate manuscript.
‘Dhanur Tantra’ comes from the word ‘Dhanur’. ‘Dhanu’ (Sanskrit: धनु) means bow and ‘Dhanur Tantra’ describes the science of archery and is one of the ancient war techniques. Mahasiddha Vimal Surya Nath ji passed on the knowledge of ‘Dhanur Tantra’ to his disciples through the ‘Maukhikh Parampara’ (oral tradition). He is known as the greatest archer in the lineage of Himalayan Siddhas. According to Siddha Dharma of the Himalayan Siddhas, ‘the great knowledge of ‘Dhanur Tantra’ Granth is still passed on through ‘Maukhikh Parampara’ till today in the lineage of Siddha Dharm.” ‘Dhanur Tantra’ comes under the category of ‘Tamra Patra Kosh Granth’ in the library of Kaulantak Peeth.
‘Tamra Patra Kosh Granth’ is a short copper manuscript consisting of copper plates. Each copper plate contains the symbols, illustrations and inscription that represent one chapter. The ‘Dhanur Tantra’ copper manuscript has thirty copper plates which tells us that the ‘Dhanur Tantra’ has thirty chapters in the main Granth (sacred text). The Acharyas in the lineage of Kaulantak Peeth then pass on the knowledge of each chapter represented by each copper plate in this manuscript through ‘Maukhikh Parampara’ (oral tradition). The ‘Tamra Granth’ (copper plate manuscript) is a way to preserve the name, main content of the respective chapter in their original order.
This Tantra Granth comes under the category of ‘Dhanur Veda’. ‘Dhanur Tantra’ describes the mantras, Yantras, mandalas and more of the sacred science of archery.
‘Dhanur Tantra’ contains thirty copper plates. This is the manuscript of the Siddha Dharm where different figures, illustrations, symbols, mantras and more have been manually embossed on the copper plates. The mantras, inscriptions are found in the Tankari script. The ‘Dhanur Tantra’ manuscript is made with copper plates totalling 30 pages, with the content of the Granth inscribed on one side of each copper plate.
Each copper plate differs in its size. The cover and the back of this copper plate manuscript is thicker and slightly bigger than the inner copper plates. All the copper plates have two small holes on the top to hold the copper plate manuscript in place through a copper binder. The main cover plate is 133 mm by 128 mm. Each copper plate has a sacred illustration with their ‘Beeja’ mantras and the name of the respective Deity and chapter. For a long time, this ‘Tamra Patra Kosh Granth’ was kept in a room with a wooden fireplace. The copper plates turned dark with the carbon particles that accumulated on this ‘Tamra Granth’ for a long time.
Contents & Illustrations
This copper plate manuscript contains eleven Deities and ‘Dhanurdhar’ (archers). There are five copper plates with five illustrations of different kinds of ‘Dhanush’ (Bows). There are four copper plates with inscriptions in Tankari script with no image or illustration. One of the copper plates in this ‘Dhanur Tantra’ contains sixty-three secret symbols. There are two ‘Yantra Mandalas’ each on two copper plates of this manuscript. One of the copper plates illustrates Mahasiddha Vimal Surya Nath Ji as a great warrior archer and describes him as one of the Kaulantak Naths, that is the head of ‘Kulant Peeth’ (Kaulantak Peeth). Each copper plate has a border with flower petals inscribed in it.
There is an image on the cover plate of the copper manuscript of ‘Dhanush Tantra’, sitting in the posture of ‘Padmasana’. He has a human-like body, but has a beak instead of a mouth on his face. He is holding a bow and arrow in each of his two hands. The title inscribed on the cover plate is ‘Atha Shri Dhanur Veda Ji’.
According to the head of Kaulantak Peeth (Kulant Peeth), the Kaulantak Nath, Mahasiddha Ishaputra, “If one see the cover page of this ‘Tamra Granth’ they will think it as the ‘Dhanur Veda’. But it is not so. Because the cover and the first chapter of this Dhanur Tantra is related to ‘Dhanur Veda’. Therefore one should not harbour doubts and think that this copper manuscript on ‘Dhanur Tantra’ is ‘Dhanur Veda’. The cover page of this copper manuscript has the manifested figure of ‘Dhanur Veda’ as a Deity and the title is ‘Dhanur Veda’ for this Deity.” The illustration of Mahasiddha Vimal Surya Nath Ji as depicted in this copper plate manuscript tells us one important thing about the Himalayan Mahasiddhas and the Kaulantak Naths (head of Kaulantak Peeth) that the Siddhas were warrior Yogis also. It means that the Himalayan Yogis know not just the techniques and practices to go into deep state of meditation and ultimately into the state of Samadhi but they were equipped with myriad other ‘Kalas’ (art-forms and talents) like the art of warfare, the science of archery, Alchemy, literature, music and so on. The list of their capacities and talents are endless.
The second copper plate depicts a warrior illustration holding the protective shield and spear in the other hand. On the shield the warrior is holding, the illustration of a bow while the symbol of ‘Chakra’ and ‘Gada’ (a kind of weapon) are seen between the stretched legs of the warrior. The title ‘Atha Dhanur Tantram Likhyate Ji’ is inscribed on the second copper plate. The illustration of ‘Dhanush’, ‘Chakra’ and ‘Gada’ informs us that ‘Dhanur Tantra’ Granth is not just about archery but tells us about other ‘Astra Shastra Vidya’ (the science of weapons).
The list of chapters in this copper plate manuscript are as follows:
|SL No.||Name of Chapter||Subject of Chapter|
|1||Dhanur Veda||Image of God Dhanurveda|
|2||Dhanur Tantra||Dhanur Tantra Purush|
|3||Pranayam Siddhi||Dhanur Siddha|
|4||Asan Siddhi||Asan Siddha|
|5||Dhanur Dharana||Dhanur Siddha|
|6||Dhanur Vidya Mantra||Mantra Siddhi|
|7||Dhanur Vidya Yantra||Dhanur Vidya Yantra Siddhi|
|8||Sama Dhanu||Sama Dhanu Siddhi|
|9||Urdhv Dhanu||Urdhv Dhanu Siddhi|
|10||Adho Dhanu||Adho Dhanu Siddhi|
|11||Shastra Bhed||Shastra Prakar (types of weapons)|
|12||Tri Dhanu||Tri Dhanu Siddhi|
|13||Panch Kulantak Dhanu||Dhanura Siddhi Mantra|
|14||Guna Mushti||Arrow Holding Mudras|
|15||Dhanur Mushti||Bow Holding Mudras|
|16||Venav Dhanu||Venav Dhanu Siddhi|
|17||Shaarang Dhanu||Shaarang Dhanu Siddhi|
|18||Chaap Dhanu||Chaap Dhanu Siddhi|
|19||Dhanur Deeksha||Dhanur Deeksha Vidhi|
|20||Dhanur Pratyancha||Dhanur Pratyancha Vidhi|
|21||Dhanur Danda||Danda Mantra Vidhi|
|22||Tuneer Traya||Tuneer Vidhi|
|23||Tuneer Mantra||Tuneer Mantra Vidhi|
|24||Bana Mantra||Bana Mantra Vidhi|
|25||Durha Dhanur Vidhi||Ranachandi Dhanur Siddhi|
|26||Mahasiddha Vimal Surya Nath||Mantra Vidhi|
|27||Divya Dhanur Siddhi||Guhyye Chinh(Sacred Symbol)|
|28||Bana Shara Vidhi||Bana Prakar (Type of arrows)|
|29||Mantra Dhanu Vidhan||Mantra Dhanush Siddhi|
|30||Yuddha Purush||Vividh Shastra Vidhi(Diffrent Weaponries)|
The ‘Dhanur Tantra’ copper manuscript is written in Tankari script but all Mantras are written in Sanskrit Language. The copper wire that holds the copper plates together is a simple copper wire which is not in perfect shape.
This is a manuscript of copper, so it needs regular cleaning. But the cleaning process can be done only after seeking permission from Goddess Kurukulla. Goddess Kurukulla is the presiding Deity of this sacred manuscript. The glorious Goddess also holds the great Bow and arrow of destiny in Her Divine hands.
Text & Script
The manuscript on the ‘Dhanur Tantra’ has thirty copper plates. In the earlier times, there was scarcity of paper in the Himalayas. So the Siddha Gurus used the simple method of depicting the comprehensive chapters of ‘Dhanur Tantra’ (the sacred Vidya) in symbols, illustrations and mantras on copper plates. The 30 copper plates of ‘Dhanur Tantra’ copper manuscript look simple and one can see them in a few minutes of time. But each copper plate encodes the esoteric knowledge of the great ‘Dhanur Vidya’ which was passed on by the Acharyas and the Siddha Gurus to the students. The Acharyas used to show each copper plate to the students of ‘Dhanur Tantra’ and then pass on the comprehensive knowledge on each chapter to the students through ‘Maukhik’ tradition (oral tradition) . If one has to learn the ‘Dhanur Tantra’ in its original depth, then it would take six months or more, but if one has to go through and remember the highlights of the ‘Dhanur Tantra’ through its copper manuscript, it would take a few minutes.
The manuscript of the ‘Dhanur Tantra’ is written in ‘Sanskrit Language in Tankari script. All the ‘Mantras’ in this manuscript are written in Sanskrit Language.
The purpose of ‘Dhanur Tantra’ copper manuscript is to teach warfare, weaponry, especially the science of archery. This manuscript represents not just the practical aspects of ‘Dhanur Vidya’ but also the ‘Adhyatmik’ (spiritual) and Tantra aspects of the ancient ‘Vidya’. To the knowledgeable, this copper manuscript also reveals the hints as to how the Karmakand ritual for perfection in archery must be done. How the ‘Deeksha’ (spiritual initiation into different aspects of the ‘Dhanur Vidya’) must be received. It reveals the worship techniques of bow, arrow and quiver. It tells about how the wood to create the bow and arrows must be purified along with the Mantra Rituals of the string of the bow.
Tradition of Preservation
There is a unique tradition to preserve the sacred ‘Tamra Patra Kosh Granth’ in the Siddha Dharma’s library of Kaulantak Peeth (Kulant Peeth). ‘Tamra Patra Kosh Granth’ is respected like the ‘Malimukha’ (representation mask of a Deity) is respected and worshipped. These are safeguarded and are kept at a designated place. The copper manuscript is kept in a special dedicated box made of copper. ‘Atha Dhanur Tantram Likhyate Ji’ is engraved on the front of this box depicting nine archery warriors holding hands under this title. The first and the last warrior is holding a bow each in their hands. The symbol of the Sun and Moon on the top of this title at the front of the box. Above it the symbol of ‘Swastika’ is engraved within flower petals.
‘Kulantak Peeth Dhanur Tantram Likhyate’ is inscribed on the back side of the box. On the top of this title there is a symbol of bow under which the name of the bow is inscribed as the ‘Vainav’ bow. Under the title, the symbol of ‘Swastik’ can again be seen, inscribed in the symbol of flower petals.
Similarly, there are two bows with their titles and name of the bow inscribed on the left and right side of the box to keep the ‘Dhanur Tantra’. On the top lid of the box, an archer aiming at the eye of the fish above while looking at the reflection of the fish in the water kept on ground is depicted. While at the bottom of this box, the flower petals and other designs are inscribed.
They are regularly worshipped through a ritual of the ‘Tamra Patra Kosh Granth’. There is a fixed worship Mantra for their worship ritual. The manuscripts in Kaulantak Peeth are worshipped at least once in a month. Not everyone can conduct these worship rituals. Only the appointed Bhairava and Bhairavi conduct these worship rituals of ‘Tamra Patra Granth Kosh’.