When Buddha gave
up his mortal body, he was covered with a special robe dyed in saffron.
Ever since then, Buddhist monks have adopted saffron as the colour that
can help them achieve their goal of 'moksha' or deliverance.
Saffron is omnipresent
in all the religions that have branched out from Hinduism. You see saffron
in the garb of
monks living on alms. It is the colour of the religious
standard that flutters over Sikh gurudwaras and Hindu temples. For the
Sikhs it represents fight against injustice, and for Hindus a religious
blessed is saffron!
Truly beloved is saffron of the Hindu gods. Saffron paste is used to annoint virtually all deities
of the Hindu pantheon. The worshipper, in a mark of piety, also dots his/her
own forehead with a small portion of saffron paste. This 'tilak' mark or
'bindu' is ubiquitous in India. Of course much of the use of this 'bindu'
is purely ceremony or cosmetic, but in concept, the red mark has its genesis
in very profound tantric thought.
The power of saffron
This precious spice brings piety and power to religious practice.
Certain practices for the awakening of the kundalini, require saffron as one of the essentials in
performing the rituals.
The colour of saffron also plays a major role in the ' yantra', a graphic that symbolically represents
aspects of tantric philosophy. The yantra is a 'centring device' for meditation
practice, in which form and colour work like a visual tool.
|Importance of saffron in the Gandharva Tantra
The Gandharva Tantra begins
with the two stanzas, one of salutation to the Elephant-god and the other
of benediction invoking the protection of the Goddess Kundalini. The tradition
regarding the appearance of the Tantra is that the rival sage Vishvamitra,
being envious of the prophetic powers of Vasishtha, performs a difficult
penance. Failing even thereby to obtain equality with Vasishtha he goes
to the North and implores the help of Dattatreya who consoles him and reveals
the Gandharva Tantra which he has heard from Nandikeshvara. The tantra
is in the form of a dialogue between Shiva and Parvati.
The practitioner should take
care that when worshipping he should have everything red, such as saffron
ointment, red dress, red seat etc. and while following instructions regarding
the use of the articles of worship and their places, he should have the
Shrichakra drawn in red lead, placed on the Simhasana.
Yantra painting by Mr Gyankar
The colours used
in each Yantra serve a different purpose:
Red: relaxing, hot, vitalising
and stimulating to the adrenals
Orange: Warm and cheering
Yellow: Hot, stimulating
to the brain and nerves, also arouses optimism
Green: relaxing, cool,
Blue: Cold, creates serenity
and has a calming effect on the nervous system