The Mahayana presentation of pratītyasamutpāda (and shunyata) has been compared to the scientific theory of quantum mechanics (also known as quantum physics)—the contemporary branch of physics that examines matter on atomic and subatomic levels. For example, contemporary Tibetan Buddhist teacher Mingyur Rinpoche states:
In my conversations with modern scientists, I’ve been struck by a number of similarities between the principles of quantum mechanics and the Buddhist understanding of the relationship between emptiness and appearance. Because the words we used were different, it took me quite a while to recognize that we were talking about the same thing—phenomena unfolding moment by moment, caused and conditioned by an almost infinite number and variety of events.
Contemporary Western philosopher Christian Thomas Kohl (in Biddhism and Quantum Physics) states:
There is a surprising parallelism between the philosophical concept of reality articulated by Nagarjuna and the physical concept of reality implied by quantum physics. For neither is there a fundamental core to reality, rather reality consists of systems of interacting objects. Such concepts of reality cannot be reconciled with the substantial, subjective, holistic or instrumentalistic concepts of reality which underlie modern modes of thought. Systems theory
The doctrine of pratītyasamutpāda has been compared to modern systems theory. For example, in her text Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory, contemporary scholar Joanna Macy states:
The systems view of reality as process, its perception of self-organizing patterns of physical and mental events, and the principals it discerned in the dynamics of these natural systems struck me as remarkably consonant with the Buddha’s teachings. Like the doctrine of paticca samuppāda, systems theory sees causality as reciprocal, arising from interweaving circuits of contingency. [...] Despite the obvious contrasts in their origins and purposes, each of them—early Buddhism and contemporary systems theory—can clarify what the other is saying. Western theories of the origin of the universe
The principle of pratītyasamutpāda is the basis for the Buddhist view that it is not possible to identify a beginning or origin of the world or universe. According to the Buddhist view, since all phenomena are dependent upon multiple causes and conditions, it can not be said that there was a first cause or event that sparked the creation of the universe. Thus Buddhist philosophy refutes the concepts of either a creator god or an initial event as posited in the “big bang theory”. Dhammananda Maha Thera explains:
Modern science says that some millions of years ago, the newly cooled earth was lifeless and that life originated in the ocean. Buddhism never claimed that the world, sun, moon, stars, wind, water, days and nights were created by a powerful god or by a Buddha. Buddhists believe that the world was not created once upon a time, but that the world has been created millions of times every second and will continue to do so by itself and will break away by itself. According to Buddhism, world systems always appear and disappear in the universe. Western philosophy
Jay Garfield points out the similarities between pratītyasamutpāda and the philosophies of Hume, Kant, and others. Garfield states:
The analysis of causation can often look like a highly technical aside in philosophy. It might not seem at first glance to be one of the really “big” questions, like those concerning what entities there are, what the nature of mind is, what the highest good is. By contrast, causation often appears to the outsider or to the beginner like one of those recherche corners of philosophy that one has to work one’s way into. But of course even in the history of Western metaphysics and epistemology it has always been central. One has only to think of the role of a theory of causation for Hume, Kant, Schopenhauer, or Wittgenstein to see this. This study of the Mulamadhyamikakarika shows why: a clear understanding of the nature of the causal relation is the key to understanding the nature of reality itself and of our relation to it. For causation is, as Hume, Kant, and Schopenhauer as well as Nagarjuna emphasize, at the heart of our individuation of objects, of our ordering of our experience of the world, and of our understanding of our own agency in the world. Without a clear view of causation, we can have no clear view of anything. Relation to metaphysics.
The concept of pratītyasamutpāda has also been compared to the Western philosophy of metaphysics (the study of the nature of being and the world). Bhikkhu Thanissaro explains that the Buddha did not intend to put forth a system of metaphysics:
The Buddha was very clear on the point that he did not mean for his teachings to become a metaphysical system or for them to be adhered to simply for the sake of their truth value. He discussed metaphysical topics only when they could play a role in skillful behavior. Many metaphysical questions—such as whether or not there is a soul or self, whether or not the world is eternal, whether or not it is infinite, etc.—he refused to answer, on the grounds that they were either counterproductive or irrelevant to the task at hand: that of gaining escape from the stress and suffering inherent in time and the present
However, scholars have noted the similarities between pratītyasamutpāda and metaphysics. One source (Hoffman, 1996) asserts that pratītyasamutpāda should not be considered a metaphysical doctrine in the strictest sense, since it does confirm or deny specific entities or realities. Noa Ronkin notes that while the Buddha suspends all views regarding certain metaphysical questions, he does not deny the significance of the questions. Radical phenomenology
Bhikkhu Thanissaro relates the Buddhist concept of karma to the modern philosophy of radical phenomenology; he sates:
To avoid the drawbacks of the narrative and cosmological mind-sets, the Buddha pursued an entirely different tack—what he called “entry into emptiness,” and what modern philosophy calls radical phenomenology: a focus on the events of present consciousness, in and of themselves, without reference to questions of whether there are any entities underlying those events. In the Buddha’s case, he focused simply on the process of kammic cause and result as it played itself out in the immediate present, in the process of developing the skillfulness of the mind, without reference to who or what lay behind those processes. On the most basic level of this mode of awareness, there was no sense even of “existence” or “nonexistence”…, but simply the events of stress, its origination, its cessation, and the path to its cessation, arising and passing away. References:
1. Mingyur Rinpoche (2007), The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness, Harmony Kindle Edition, p. 67.
2. Macy, Joanna (1991), Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory: The Dharma of Natural Systems, SUNY, p. xii.
3. Dhammananda Maha Thera (2010), “The Origin of the World”, What Buddhists Believe (Buddhatnet.net), retrieved July 24, 2010.
4. Garfield, Jay L. (1994), Dependent Arising and the Emptiness of Emptiness: Why did Nagarjuna start with Causation?, Philosophy East and West, Volume 44, Number 2 April 1994
5. Bhikkhu Thanissaro (2010), Wings to Awakening: Part I, Metta Forest Monastery, Valley Center, CA, p. 29.
6. Schilbrack, Kevin (2002), Thinking through Myths: Philosophical Perspectives, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-25461-2. 7. Hoffman, Frank J., et al (1996), Pāli Buddhism, Routledge, p. 177.
8. Ronkin, Noa (2009), “Theravada Metaphysics and Ontology”, Buddhist Philosophy: Essential Readings (Edelglass, et al, editors) (Oxford University Press), ISBN 978-0-19-532817-2.
9. Bhikkhu Thanissaro (2010), Wings to Awakening: Part I, Metta Forest Monastery, Valley Center, CA, p. 45.
Kundalini yoga, also known as laya yoga, is a school of yoga. Based on a 1935 treatise by Sivananda Saraswati, kundalini yoga was influenced by the tantra and shakta schools of Hinduism. It focuses on awakening kundalini energy through regular practice of meditation, pranayama, chanting mantra and yoga asana. Called by practitioners “the yoga of awareness”, it aims “to cultivate the creative spiritual potential of a human to uphold values, speak truth, and focus on the compassion and consciousness needed to serve and heal others.”
What has become known as “Kundalini yoga” in the 20th century has traditionally been known as laya yoga, from the Sanskrit term laya “dissolution, extinction”. The Sanskrit adjective kundalin means “circular, annular”. It does occur as a noun for “a snake” (in the sense “coiled”, as in “forming ringlets”) in the 12th-century Rajatarangini chronicle (I.2). Kunda, a noun with the meaning “bowl, water-pot” is found as the name of a Naga in Mahabharata 1.4828. The feminine kundali has the meaning of “ring, bracelet, coil (of a rope)” in Classical Sanskrit, and is used as the name of a “serpent-like” Shakti in Tantrism as early as c. the 11th century, in the Saradatilaka. This concept is adopted as kundalnii as a technical term into Hatha yoga in the 15th century and becomes widely used in the Yoga Upanishads by the 16th century.
The Yoga-Kundalini Upanishad is listed in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads. Since this canon was fixed in the year 1656, it is known that the Yoga-Kundalini Upanishad was compiled in the first half of the 17th century at the latest. The Upanishad more likely dates to the 16th century, as do other Sanskrit texts which treat kundalini as a technical term in tantric yoga, such as the ?a?-cakra-nirupana and the Paduka-pañcaka. These latter texts were translated in 1919 by John Woodroffe as The Serpent Power: The Secrets of Tantric and Shaktic Yoga In this book, he was the first to identify “Kundalini yoga” as a particular form of Tantrik Yoga, also known as Laya Yoga.
The Yoga-Kundalini and the Yogatattva are closely related texts from the school of Hatha yoga. They both draw heavily on the Yoga Yajnavalkya (c. 13th century), as does the foundational Hatha Yoga Pradipika. They are part of a tendency of syncretism combining the tradition of yoga with other schools of Hindu philosophy during the 15th and 16th centuries. The Yoga-Kundalini Upanishad itself consists of three short chapters; it begins by stating that Chitta (consciousness) is controlled by Vayu (Prana), and Prana is controlled by moderate food, postures and Shakti-Chala (I.1-2). Verses I.3-6 explain the concepts of moderate food and concept, and verse I.7 introduces Kundalini as the name of the Shakti under discussion:I.7. The Sakti (mentioned above) is only Kundalini. A wise man should take it up from its place (Viz., the navel, upwards) to the middle of the eyebrows. This is called Sakti-Chala.I.8. In practising it, two things are necessary, Sarasvati-Chalana and the restraint of Prana (breath). Then through practice, Kundalini (which is spiral) becomes straightened.”
Swami Nigamananda (d. 1935) taught a form of laya yoga which he insisted was not part of Hatha yoga, paving the way of the emergence of “Kundalini yoga” as a distinct school of yoga. “Kundalini Yoga” as it is taught today is based on the treatise ‘Kundalini Yoga’ by Sivananda Saraswati, published in 1935. Swami Sivananda (1935) introduced “Kundalini yoga” as a part of Laya yoga. Together with other currents of Hindu revivalism and Neo-Hinduism, Kundalini Yoga became popular in 1960s to 1980s western counterculture. It was popularized by Harbhajan Singh Yogi who founded the “Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization” (3HO) in 1969. Singh launched a pilot program with two longtime heroin addicts in Washington, D.C. in 1972, and opened a drug-treatment center under the name of “3HO SuperHealth” was launched in Tucson, Arizona in 1973.
Principles and methodology
Kundalini is the term for “a spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine”, conceptualized as a coiled-up serpent. The practice of Kundalini yoga is supposed to arouse the sleeping Kundalini Shakti from its coiled base through the 6 chakras, and penetrate the 7th chakra, or crown. This energy is said to travel along the ida (left), pingala (right) and central, or sushumna nadi – the main channels of pranic energy in the body. Kundalini energy is technically explained as being sparked during yogic breathing when prana and apana blends at the 3rd chakra (naval center) at which point it initially drops down to the 1st and 2nd chakras before traveling up to the spine to the higher centers of the brain to activate the golden cord – the connection between the pituitary and pineal glands – and penetrate the 7 chakras. Borrowing and integrating the highest forms from many different approaches, Kundalini Yoga can be understood as a tri-fold approach of Bhakti yoga for devotion, Shakti yoga for power, and Raja yoga for mental power and control. Its purpose through the daily practice of kriyas and meditation in sadhana are described a practical technology of human consciousness for humans to achieve their total creative potential.
The practice of kriyas and meditations in Kundalini Yoga are designed to raise complete body awareness to prepare the body, nervous system, and mind to handle the energy of Kundalini rising. The majority of the physical postures focus on navel activity, activity of the spine, and selective pressurization of body points and meridians. Breath work and the application of bandhas(3 yogic locks) aid to release, direct and control the flow of Kundalini energy from the lower centers to the higher energetic centers. Along with the many kriyas, meditations and practices of Kundalini Yoga, a simple breathing technique of alternate nostril breathing (left nostril, right nostril) is taught as a method to cleanse the nadis, or subtle channels and pathways, to help awaken Kundalini energy.
Sovatsky (1998) adapts a developmental and evolutionary perspective in his interpretation of Kundalini Yoga. He interprets Kundalini Yoga as a catalyst for psycho-spiritual growth and bodily maturation. According to this interpretation of yoga, the body bows itself into greater maturation [...], none of which should be considered mere stretching exercises.
Psychiatric literature notes that “Since the influx of eastern spiritual practices and the rising popularity of meditation starting in 1960s, many people have experienced a variety of psychological difficulties, either while engaged in intensive spiritual practice or spontaneously”. Some of the psychological difficulties associated with intensive spiritual practice are claimed to be “kundalini awakening”, “a complex physio-psychospiritual transformative process described in the yogic tradition”. Writers in the fields of near-death studies and of “transpersonal psychology” have described a “kundalini syndrome”. Venkatesh et al. (1997) studied twelve kundalini (chakra) meditators, using the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory. They found that the practice of meditation “appears to produce structural as well as intensity changes in phenomenological experiences of consciousness”. Lazar et al. (2000) observed the brains of subjects performing, “a simple form of Kundalini Yoga meditation in which they passively observed their breathing and silently repeated the phrase ‘sat nam’ during inhalations and ‘wahe guru’ during exhalations,” and found that multiple regions of brain were involved especially those involved in relaxation and maintaining attention.
1. “Spotlight on Kundalini Yoga”. Yoga Journal. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
2. Swami Sivananda Radha, 2004, pp. 13, 15
3. André Padoux, Vac: The Concept of the Word in Selected Hindu Tantras, SUNY Press, 1990, 124-136.
4. Larson, Gerald James (2008). The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies: Yoga: India’s philosophy of meditation. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-3349-4, p. 476.
5. trans. K. Narayanasvami Aiyar Astrojyoti.com, based on a translation first published in 1891 in The Theosophist, Volume 12.
6. Swami Sivananda (4th ed. 2007), page 32
7. William L. Claiborne, “Heroin Treatment: Garlic Juice, Yoga,” The Washington Post, March 22, 1972
8. Swami Sivananda (4th ed. 2007) page 12
9. Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher, KRI International Teacher Training in Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, Kundalini Research Institute, 4th Edition, 2007, pages 176-179
10. Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher, KRI International Teacher Training in Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, Kundalini Research Institute, 4th Edition, 2007, page 20
11. Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher, KRI International Teacher Training in Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, Kundalini Research Institute, 4th Edition, 2007, page 177
12. Swami Sivananda (4th ed. 2007) page 23
13. Sovatsky, Stuart (1998) Words from the Soul: Time, East/West Spirituality, and Psychotherapeutic Narrative, Suny Series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology, New York: State University of New York Press, p. 142
14. Turner et al.,pg. 440
15. Kason, Yvonne (2000) Farther Shores: Exploring How Near-Death, Kundalini and Mystical Experiences Can Transform Ordinary Lives. Toronto: Harper Collins Publishers, Revised edition, ISBN 0-00-638624-5. Greyson, Bruce (2000) Some Neuropsychological Correlates Of The Physio-Kundalini Syndrome. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Vol.32, No. 2. Scotton, Bruce (1996) The phenomenology and treatment of kundalini, in Chinen, Scotton and Battista (Editors) (1996) Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology. (pp. 261-270). New York: Basic Books, Inc. Sovatsky, Stuart (1998) Words from the Soul: Time, East/West Spirituality, and Psychotherapeutic Narrative, Suny Series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology, New York: State University of New York Press.
16. Venkatesh S, Raju TR, Shivani Y, Tompkins G, Meti BL. (1997) A Study of Structure of Phenomenology of Consciousness in Meditative and Non-Meditative States. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol, Apr 1997; 41(2): 149 – 53. PubMed Abstract PMID 9142560.
17. * Lazar, Sara W.; Bush, George; Gollub, Randy L.; Fricchione, Gregory L.; Khalsa, Gurucharan; Benson, Herbert (2000) Functional Brain Mapping of the Relaxation Response and Meditation, [Autonomic Nervous System] NeuroReport, Vol. 11(7) May 15, 2000, p 1581 – 1585, PubMed Abstract PMID 10841380  18.? The Aquarian Teacher 4th ed. 2007, pp. 176-179.
Laue, Thorsten: Tantra im Westen. Eine religionswissenschaftliche Studie über “Weißes Tantra Yoga”, “Kundalini Yoga” und “Sikh Dharma” in Yogi Bhajans “Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization” (3HO) unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der “3H Organisation Deutschland e. V.”, Münster: LIT, 2012, zugl.: Tübingen, Univ., Diss., 2011, ISBN 978-3-643-11447-1 [in German]
Laue, Thorsten: Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Tee und das Wassermannzeitalter. Bibliografische Einblicke in die Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization (3HO) des Yogi Bhajan. Tübingen: 2008. Online at “TOBIAS-lib – Zugang zum Dokument – Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Tee und das Wassermannzeitalter: Bibliografische Einblicke in die Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization (3HO) des Yogi Bhajan – Laue, Thorsten”. Tobias-lib.ub.uni-tuebingen.de. 2008-10-31. Retrieved 2011-01-02. [in German]
Laue, Thorsten: Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Tee und das Wassermannzeitalter. Religionswissenschaftliche Einblicke in die Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization (3HO) des Yogi Bhajan, Münster: LIT, 2007, ISBN 978-3-8258-0140-3 [in German] Medical and psychiatric literature
Arambula P, Peper E, Kawakami M, Gibney KH. (2001) The Physiological Correlates of Kundalini Yoga Meditation: A Study of a Yoga Master, Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback, Jun 2001; 26(2): 147 – 53, PubMed Abstract PMID 11480165.
Cromie, William J. (2002) Research: Meditation Changes Temperatures: Mind Controls Body in Extreme Experiments. Harvard University Gazette, April 18, 2002
Narayan R, Kamat A, Khanolkar M, Kamat S, Desai SR, Dhume RA. (1990) Quantitative Evaluation of Muscle Relaxation Induced by Kundalini Yoga with the Help of EMG Integrator. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. Oct 1990; 34(4): 279 – 81, PubMed Abstract PMID 2100290.
Peng CK, Mietus JE, Liu Y, Khalsa G, Douglas PS, Benson H, Goldberger AL. (1999) Exaggerated Heart Rate Oscillations During Two Meditation Techniques. Int J Cardiol, Jul 31, 1999; 70(2): 101 – 7, PubMed Abstract PMID 10454297.
Turner, Robert P.; Lukoff, David; Barnhouse, Ruth Tiffany & Lu, Francis G. (1995) Religious or Spiritual Problem. A Culturally Sensitive Diagnostic Category in the DSM-IV. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease,Vol.183, No. 7 435-444
Swami Sivananda, Kundalini Yoga (1935).
Sivananda Radha Saraswati, Kundalini Yoga for the West (1979; 2nd ed. 1996)
The Aquarian Teacher, KRI International Teacher Training in Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, Kundalini Research Institute, 4th Edition, 2007.
David T. Eastman, “Kundalini Demystified”, Yoga Journal, September 1985, pp. 37-43, California Yoga Teachers Association.
by Prof. M. L. Kokiloo
Shaivism of Kashmir has developed between the eight and the twelfth centuries of the Christian era. This comparatively younger philosophy has tried to explain all such ambiguities which the ancient philosophers have failed to resolve. Like Advaita vedanta it is monistic, like Vaishnavism it is theistic, like yoga it is practical, like Nayaya it is logical as also appeasing like Buddhism. Kashmir Shaivism is, therefore, idealistic and realistic in essence, strongly advocating a pragmatic approach to life.
Tantras have been revealed by Lord Shiva through his five mouths namely Ishana, Tatpurusha, Sadyojata, Vamadeva, and Aghora. These very five mouths represent his five energies namely Chitshakti (consciousness), Ananda shakti (Bliss), Ichhashakti (will) Jnanashakti (knowledge) and Kriyashakti (Action) respectively. When these aforesaid five energies of Lord Shiva unite with each other in such a way that each of these takes bold of the rest simultaneously, they reveal sixty four Bhairvatantras which are purely monistic. This very approach explained in these Tantras is called Kashmir Shaivism or Trika philosophy.
Veda, Shaiva, Vama, Dakshina, Kaula, Matta, and Trika are the seven Acharas (systems) recognised by Kashmir Shaivism. The most popular among the seven Acharas has been the Trika system. What does this Trika mean ? Trika means trinity of Nara, Shakti and Shiva as is given in Tantras. Nara means an individual, Shakti means the Universal Energy and Shiva means the Transcendental Being. Thus, a soul recognizes himself as Shiva by means of the realization of his Shakties – the powers of God-head. Therefore this Trika system advocates the practical path towards complete self-realization.
To make it more clear, this three fold science of spirit is based on the three energies of Lord Shiva namely Para, Parapara and Apara. Para energy is subjective energy of Lord Shiva and it is regarded as the supreme. Parapara energy is cognitive energy of Lord Shiva and is called as intermediate. Apara energy is objective energy of Lord Shiva and it is known as inferior energy.
Thus the Trika philosophy of Kashmir Shaivim advocates how a human being, engrossed in the inferior objective energy of Lord Shiva, can be taken upwards viz. towards the supreme energy of Lord Shiva through his cognitive energy. For this journey, undertaken to attain the real Transcendental state of self,
Trika philosophy has laid down three means within the ambit of cognitive energy. The first and the supreme expedient is called Shambbavopaya. The intermediate expedient is known as Shaktopaya and the third expedient is called Anvopaya.
Shambhavopaya: It is a unique way of yoga. All the mental activities cease to exist in it. In Shri Purva-Shastra the definition of Shambhavopaya is given. Shambavopaya is a path, shown by the supreme master, in which the knowledge of the ultimate reality comes through the practice of emptying one’s mind completely of all thoughts. Thus it is called as Nirvikalpayoga because no vikalpa i.e. a mental idea in name and form emerges in it. It is a way of keeping one’s mind completely motionless and calm, yet awake. It materialises by one’s strong will, therefore it is called as Ichhopaya or Ichha yoga by Shri Abhinavagupta in his ‘Tantrasara’ a book, in which the precise summary of 37 chapters of Tantraloka has been condensed in lucid style. By practising this yoga a ‘Sadhaka’ feels that sudden charge of supreme energy of Shaivahood which remains for a little while in the initial stage and automatically goes stronger and stronger day by day by constant Abhyasa-mental drill. In this way Shambavopaya is the direct means to absolute liberation. According to monistic theory of Kashmir Shaivism Shambavopaya is meant only for those great souls who have developed their awareness of Chit consciousness through the Anugraha of the master to get enthroned on this spiritual height, three ways have been advocated which are as under: 1. Vishwa chit pratibimbatvam
By the first way a ‘sadhaka’ feels that the entire gamut of reciting an incantation, consists of six successive stages namely: varanadhva (syllabic) , Padaadhva (consisting of words) , Mantradhva ( incantative ), Kaladhva (Instantative), Tattvadha (contential), Bhavanadhva (peripheric) are reflected in the mirror of one’s own consciousness and by this awareness he enters the universal consciousness. After perceiving it, a seeker gets Shambava Samadhi (mental equipoise).
By the second way i.e. Paramarshodayakrama, a realizer understands that the entire field or sounds, words and sentences is nothing but the supreme self. By developing this attitude in his own mind, his innate faculties are focussed towards the Shambav Samadhi. By the third way i.e. Mantradhabhinatvam an aspirant practises the state at the universal ‘I’-consciousness.* By the Continuous awareness of upper consciousness, individual’s “I” consciousness automatically vanishes and it is united with God-consciousnes- where ‘sadhaka’ is one with subjective energy of Lord Shiva. Thus Shamabavopaya is that path where ‘sadhaka’ gets rid of the recitation of Mantras, of different types of ‘sadhana’ and concentration on particular deity.
anupaya: According to Kashmir Shaivism there is another higher method than Shambavopaya, which is known as Anupaya. In Shri Malinivijay Shaivagam, it is explained. In this context the three stages of a word coming to life-Jyeshtha, Raudri and Amba deserve also attention – Shivasutra, II. 3. Higher than Shambavopa, the Anupaya is effortless effort and method less method. It is named as Anandopaya also. The literal meaning of Anupaya is the means without any meansThe negative suffix in this word signifies complete minuteness and not total nothingness, just as in the word Anudara. Shri Abhinavagupta says in “Tantraloka” “atr anudara kanya itivat nanolparthatvam.” This Anupaya yoga is the highest, the final and the direct means to liberation. A mere touch or a mere glance of the one who is in the state of Anupaya makes one’s entrance pure to the kingdom of Transcendental Bliss. Just as a Poisonous snake emits the venomous effect to a person from a great distance, similarly a great yogi residing in Anupaya state sends the seeker, who has intense devotion for the Lord into the same state owned by him, by his mere glance or touch without making any difference between the master and the disciple. In Tantrasar Shri Abhinavgupta explains this Anupaya.
The supreme Lord, is self-effulgent, soul personified of the Real self. what can be the means to attain this supreme Bliss ? Godly unity is no means as Godly-unity is a momentary feature not a permanent one. Knowledge is no means as He is ever luminous. Unsheathing of various covers are no means as it is unthinkable for Him to don any cover. What can be the means to find Him? As the means also are devoid of self – entity without His existence. Therefore the entire ‘unique chit’ (consciousness) cannot be judged by the time factor, cannot be covered by the space, cannot be limited by names etc., cannot be controlled by the words, cannot be made clear by arguments. Thus from time factor to the field of arguments that Independent Supreme Bliss from ‘I’ consciousness, by its free will for attainment of godly unity merges into universal consciousness. When a seeker is firmly entrenched in this state be is in continuous harmony with the Godhead without any external means. So there is no need of chanting Mantras, performing various kinds of worship, doing austere penance, or undergoing any other form of meditation for him.
These various forms of means are not sufficient enough to throw light on that unlimited samvit. Can we see the bright sun by the limited ghata (clay po t)? When a seeker having an all-pervading outlook of this kind, contemplates constantly in this way, gets immersed in the Supreme self of Lord Shiva in no time.
Shaktopaya : It is a yogic practice of thought only. In this the seeker has to develop concentration upon God-consciousness by means of a special initiating thought unfolded by the master. The definition of Shaktopaya is given in Shri Malinivijaya Tantra.
When the aspirant concentrates on the particular thought of God-consciousness without the support of Pranayama and chanting of mantras etc, be develops that consciousness uninterruptedly. That state is called Shaktopaya.
The particular thought like ‘I am all consciousness’, ‘I am all’, or ‘I am Transcendental Bliss’, must be firmly adjusted in mind with such an awareness that no other thought comes to displace it. aspirant established in this state of awareness enters the state of Transcendental consciousness and passes from duality to unity.
Shaktopaya does not involve any objective ‘Dhyana’ intellectual meditation, or anything of that sort. It is an expedient of very high order and is meant for those who possess unflinching devotion and sharp intellectual acumen. It is solely meant for those who are not capable of undergoing Nirvikalpa yoga of Shambavopaya, because of the deep-rooted mental impressions of the impure vikalpa (thought-aberrations).
This Shaktopaya is call Jnanopaya also, because the mental activities of meditation are the most important factors in it. Thus it is an indirect means to complete liberation.
Anvopaya: Anvopaya is that expedient which is concerned with ‘anu’ a limited being, signifying his mental effort to get rid of the ignorance of his true nature. In this means all the faculties of understanding are to be concentrated upon particular objects other than the self, and the self is to be experienced with the help of those particular objective entities. Anavopoya is explained in Shri Purvashastra.
To understand this definition squarely we have got to explain it point wise. ‘Uchhaar’ connotes an awareness during inhalation or exhalation, when the consciousness of the realizer flows in between these two breaths in harmonious collusion. ‘Karan’ connotes that mental practice; which is developed through the grooming of organs of the senses and actions. It is conducted in the actual perception of one’s field of activities in daily life. ‘Dhyaan’ means the experience of one’s endless nominal and phenomenal nature through abstract meditation on one’s understanding. ‘Varna’ is the incessant practice based on Dhvani (sound) which comes to the aspirant within hearing at the time of meditation.
When a seeker plants his consciousness on the heart, navel or the space between the two eye-brows, simultaneously reciting the mantra through mind only, is known as the practice of ‘sthaankalpanaa’. The lowest types of this form are the as the practice Lingam, the altar and the image etc. This expedient is known as Kriyayoga or Kriyopaya, because concentration on object in this yoga involves sufficient mental effort. Thus action plays phenomenal part in reaching upto this mental stage.
In fact, a seeker with the help of inferior methods like Pranayama or chanting of Mantra etc. has to develop God-consciousness in this third path known as Anvopaya, because he is endowed with inferior capacity of mind and meditation. Thus this triple action, reaction and interaction of mind and perception with consequent follow-up mental drill in this system of Shaivism has given it the name of ‘Trika’.
Acharya Somananda (first half of the ninth century A. D.) has given a historical account about the origin of monistic Shaiva school of Kashmir in his monumental work “Shiva Drishti”. He says that in the age of ‘Kali’ when all the sages left this world and went to some place known as ‘kalaapigraam’, the teachings of the mysteries of Shaiva faith came to a stop. Then Lord Shri Kanthanatha advised His disciple sage Durvasa to start afresh the system of the practice of Shaivisim in the world. He in turn imparted essence of the monistic Shaiva faith to a disciple of his named ‘trambkaditya’. In this way fourteen generations passed and this knowledge was spelt out by the respective Gurus systematically. The fifteenth preceptor contrary to the faith in celibacy of previous teachers, married a Brahmin girl who gave birth to a male child namely ‘sangmaditya’ who was the sixteenth teacher in the line. While on pilgrimage, he came to Kashmir and settled here permanently. Various sages, seers, scholars and authors blossomed in this school after its advent to Kashmir valley. Sangamditya’s son and disciple was “Varshaditya” and his son and disciple was “Arunaditya” who carried on this system further. The nineteenth teacher was “Arunaditya’s son” ‘Ananda’ and his son and disciple was ‘Somananda’, who was the twentieth Acharya in this line. Shri Abhinavagupta also gives the historical account of monistic Kashmir Shaivism in his extra-ordinary work ‘Tantraloka’. He says that three Siddhas ( masters of perfection ) namely ‘tryambak’, ‘aamardak’ and ‘srinaath’ came to this mortal world under the control of ‘Srikanthnatha’. These three Siddhas, who were proficient in the monistic, the dualistic and the monistic cum dualistic Shaiva philosophy respectively established three separate schools of Shaivism; ‘tryambaknatha’ initiated another line through his will born daughter. This school of thought was known as Ardha-Tryambaka. Monistic system of Kashmir Shaivism is actually the school of Trayambakanatha. In fact Shaiva literature of Kashmir, available at present, belongs only to this very school of Trayambakanatha.
Many centuries after Trayambaknatha, the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism was taught by four great teachers namely Somananda, Erakanatha, Sumatinatha and Vasuguptanatha. These teachers have established four different schools which are as follows: 1. Pratyabhijna school,
2. Krama school,
3. Kula school,
4. Spanda school.
Pratyabhijna means recognizing one’s own self once again. This represents a mental act by which one realizes and reunites with the original state i.e. universal consciousness. In ‘Shivadrishti’ Acharya ‘Somananda’ explains this pratyabijna philosophy systematically. Shri Utpaladeva, the esteemed disciple of Acharya ‘Somananda’ presents vividly this very system in his famous book ‘Ishvarapratyabhijna’ and defines pratyabhijna.
just as a bride who has heard all about her bride-groom and even has seen him many a time, does not recognise him unless he is shown to her, similarly an individual who has read and heard much about his being, which is nothing but Shiva- the universal does not recognize himself unless he is guided by the Master. This sort of recognition is known as Pratyabbijna.
Krama school of Shaivism was expounded by Eraknatha. Its main purpose is to develop such strength of awareness that one transcends the circle of spaces time and form and finally raises himself to the state of universal consciousness. By realizing that state one enters the kingdom of Param-Shiva the Transcendental Being. The discipline of Anavopaya discussed earlier is concerned with this system of Kashmir Shaivism.
Kula school of Kashmir Shaivism was taught by Sumatinatha. The purpose of this doctrine is to rise above individual energy and assimilate the Blissful Energy of totality. Thus it is the highest thought which explains the state of universal Being; from which the whole universe emerges and then merges in it. All practices of “Shambhavopaya” discussed earlier are connected with this system of Kashmir Shaivism. Spanda school was heralded in Kashmir by Vasgupta natha. This system directs the seeker to concentrate on each and every moment in this world, even the Vibration of a blade of grass carries one to God consciousness. In Shri Vijnana Bhairava a traditional treatise of this school, one hundred and twelve ways are explained to attain the spanda state by meditating on the centre of mental or physical acts. All the practices of ‘Shaktopaya’ explained earlier, are connected with this system of Shaivism.
In fact these four schools are not different from each other, because all these systems take an aspirant to the universal God consciousness, the goal being the same, even when the ways are varied.
To sum up, the thought of Kashmir Shaivism is great, world affirming and universal. No Philosophic theory has so far presented complete view of the truth as is presented by the monistic Shaiva philosophy of Kashmir. The principle of Svatantrya (self-dependence) called as the principle of highest monism is the main doctrine of this philosophy. The arguments for accepting this mental discipline are so convincing, so satisfying and so appealing that once an aspirant tastes their nectar, naturally disdains other philosophic systems. This philosophy deals with the minutest and subtlest principles of life. It treats problems of man and the universe by the method of analysis and synthesis. The Shaivistc way of arguments is logical and psychological and is supported by all kinds of every day experiences. The greatest quality of Shaiva philosophers is that they invite criticism of opponents and after threadbare discussion they silence them with counter arguments. Like its theoretical side, the practical side of Shaivism is still more palatable, without inflicting any pain on his body, without suppressing the emotions and instincts, without controlling his breath and in that drill suppressing his mind in Dhyanayoga, a realizer has been enjoined to enjoy life within limits as per humanistic laws, and to replenish the taste of spiritual attainments by means of Shaivistic yoga which is simple and interesting. He has been exhorted to attend to worldly pursuits and simultaneously yoke himself to self-realization. Thus the Shaivistic path is a sure and a steady path with very little danger of degradation, because the conflict between matter and spirit his been avoided herein. The ultimate aim of Shaivism is self-dependence in each and every respect, which aim can be achieved in the realization of God-consciousness.
It is very unfortunate that such a complete and developed system of philosophy making a happy compromise between Immanence and Transcendence, Self and Super-self, Finite and Infinite, domain of man and kingdom of Heaven, has not so far become known to the whole of the world. Future shall have to make amends for this inexcusable lapse by propagating this school of thought with pronounced meaningfulness.
The philosophy of Sri Vaishnavism is known in Sanskrit as Visistadvaita. The term literally means “non-duality of Reality as characterized by attributes.” As a classical expression of Vedanta (the philosophical basis for much of Hinduism), the goal of Visistadvaita philosophy is to understand and experience Brahman, the One Blissful Reality who is the all-pervasive ground and sustenance of the universe — the string upon whom all pearls are threaded. The “pearls”, individual beings and matter, are inseparable attributes of the Supreme Person, modes of Its existence.
To the devout Sri Vaishnava, the religious concept of Brahman is best expressed by the term “God”. Brahman is Infinite, not just in physical terms, but in metaphysical and qualitative terms. Brahman is the absolutely real abode of all consciousness. He is infinitely auspicious, infinitely blissful, supremely gracious, infinitely merciful, infinitely beautiful — in fact, infinitely infinite. The relationship between God and the universe is one of love, as all this is but a conscious emanation from Him. We are to Him as a child is to a parent, as a friend is to a friend, and as a beloved is to a lover.
Brahman also stands in relation to the universe and the individual souls as the Self of each, providing the basis for their reality. As such, Brahman has matter and individual souls as His body, and is therefore the Supreme Being in whom all reality is comprehended. All that we see is but a spilling from the plenitude of His glorious, all-pervasive essence. This is why the favorite devotional name for God among Sri Vaishnavas is Narayana — He in whom all beings rest.
Sri Ramanuja wrote nine works 2 in Sanskrit on the philosophy of Visishtadvaita. Of these, the Vedartha-sangraha occupies a unique place inasmuch as this work takes the place of a commentary on the Upanishads, though not in a conventional sense or form. The work mirrors a total vision of the Upanishads, discussing all the controversial texts in a relevent, coherent manner. It is in fact an independent exposition of the philosophy of the Upanishads. Prof. M. Hiriyanna describes it as “an independent treatise explaining in a masterly way his philosophic position, and pointing out the basis for it in the Upanishads.”
Sudarsana Suri, the celebrated commentator on the Sri-bhashya and the Vedartha-sangraha, says that the work was expounded in the form of a lecture before Lord Srinivasa at Tirumalai
Thus it is his testament at the feet of the Lord whom he served throughout his life. Sri Ramanuja refers to this work more than once in his Sri-bhashya.
The Vedartha-sangraha is written in a lucid, vigorous prose without the usual divisions of chapters, but the structure of the thesis is developed in a scientific manner. Sri Ramanuja refers in this work to ancient teachers of theistic tradition, Bodhayana, Tanka, Dramida, Guhadeva, Kapardin and Bharuci, besides his own teacher, Sri Yamunacharya.
Tanka and Dramida are quoted profusely to support his interpretation. He takes abundant help from the Brahma-Sutras, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Vishnu Purana, the Manu Smrti and other genuine smrtis in the exposition of his philosophy.
At the outset Sri Ramanuja states that the Upanishads, which lay down the welfare of the whole world, move around three fundamental notions:
1.A seeker must acquire a true knowledge of the individual self and the Supreme;
2.he must devote himself to meditation, worship and the adoration of the Supreme; 3.this knowledge with discipline leads him to the realization of the Supreme.
To put it briefly, the first affirms the tattva or the nature of the Reality, the second declares the hita or the means, and the third states the purushartha or the ideal of human endeavour. A chief difficulty in understanding the meaning of the Upanishads arises in determining the relation of Brahman to the individual self on the one hand, and to the non-sentient world on the other. There are some texts which declare that the world is only an appearance in the ultimate analysis. There are other texts which affirm that the world is not an appearance, but real and distinct.
Bhartrprapanca, who was anterior to Sri Sankara, held that the self and the universe are identical with and different from Brahman, the triad constituting a unity in variety. That is to say that the reality is at once one as Brahman and many as the self and the world. For example, an ocean consists of water, foam, waves, etc. As the water is real, so also are the foam, waves, etc. The world, which is a part and parcel of Brahman, is necessarily real. The import of all this is that according to this view the Upanishads teach the eternal difference and identity between Brahman on the one hand, and the self and the world on the other
Sri Sankara rejects the view of Bhatrprapanca, because mutually contradictory attributes cannot be predicated of one and the same thing. According to Sri Sankara the passages which affirm manifoldness and reality of the world do not embody the essential teaching of the Upanishads. It is a concession made to the empirical view that demands a real world having causal connection with time-space. Since variety is but an appearance having no foundation in the ultimate Reality, the true essential doctrine of the Upanishads, according to him, is only pure unity. The individual self is nothing but Brahman itself appearing as finite due to limiting adjuncts which are superimposed on it.
Sri Ramanuja also attempts to systamatize the philosophy of the Upanishads, taking the cue from the ancient theistic philosophers. He recognises three lines of thought in the Upanishads concerning the relation between Brahman, the self and the world: 1.Passages which declare difference of nature between the world, the self and Brahman. Here the world is the non-sentient matter (acit) which is the object of experience, the self is the experiencing conscious subject (cit), and Brahman, the absolute ruling principle.These may be named analytical texts. 2.Passages which teach that Brahman is the inner self of all entities which constitute his body. For instance, “He who dwells in the earth and within the earth, whom the earth does not know, whose body the earth is, and who rules the earth within, he is thy Self, the ruler within, the immortal” etc. (Br. III, vii, 3–23). These are called ghataka-srutis or mediating texts. 3.Passages which proclaim the unity of Brahman with the world in its causal as well as effected aspect. The famous text, ‘That thou art, O Svetaketu’ (Cha. VI 2–8) comes under this category. These may be termed as synthetic passages. Sri Ramanuja lays down that the interpretation of the various passages must be such that they are not made to contradict each other, and not a single passage should be so interpreted as to be divested of its primary significance.
The first group of texts distinguishes Brahman from the world and the individual selves. In a way it emphasizes the transcendent character of Brahman.
The second group of texts declares Brahman to be the inner self of all entities. Neither the individual self nor the world can exist by itself. They are inseparably connected with Brahman as his body, and thus are controlled by him. These texts teach duality in so far as distinction is made between body and self, and unity in so far as the self, the substantive element, predominates over and controls the body, its attribute.
The last group of texts aim at proclaiming the non-dual character of Brahman who alone constitutes the ultimate Reality. The self and the world, though distinct from each other and real, have a different value. They only exist as a mode or attribute of Brahman. They are comprehended in the reality of Brahman. They exist because Brahman exists.
On this principle of interpretation, Sri Ramanuja recognizes that the passages declaring distinction between Brahman, the world and the self, and those affirming Brahman to be the same in the causal as well as effected aspects, do not in any way contradict the mediating passages which declare that the individual selves and the world form the body of Brahman, and they in their causal state do not admit the distinction of names and forms while in the effected state they possess distinct character. The notion of unity may be illustrated by the example, “A purple robe.” Here purpleness is quite different from robe. The latter is a substance while the former is an attribute. This integral and essential relation is not found in the case of a man wearing a wrist-watch. If the former relation is inseparable (apṛthaksiddhi), the latter is separable and external. A word signifying attribute does not stop after denoting the usual meaning, but extends till it reaches the substantive. This is the true significance of an attribute. The individual selves and the world constitute the body of Brahman who is their inner self. Brahman is the integral principle without whom neither the self nor the world can exist. Hence all names finally denote him.
The way in which Sri Ramanuja interprets the famous text, ‘That thou art’ (tat tvam asi) is unique. This is done by means of co-ordinate predication (sâmânâdhikâraṇya). In a co-ordinate predication the identity of the substantive should not be established through the rejection of the natural significance of co-ordinate terms. The identical import of terms taken in their natural signification should be brought out. The Mahabhashya of Patanjali defines co-ordinate predication thus: “The signification of an identical entity by several terms which are applied to that entity on different grounds is co-ordinate predication.”
In such a proposition the attributes not only should be distinct from each other but also different from the substance, though inseparable from it. In the illustration of a “purple robe”, the basic substance is one and the same, though “purpleness” and “robeness” are different from it as well as from each other. That is how the unity of a “purple robe” is established. In the co-ordinate predication asserting identity between “that” and “thou”, Brahman himself with the self as his mode, having the self as his body, is pointed out.
The term “thou” which usually stands for the self here stands for Brahman (“that”) who is the indweller of the self and of whom the self is the mode as a constituent of his body. The term “thou” does not mean the physical body or the individual self. Since Brahman has interpenetrated all matter and self, “thou” signifies Brahman in the ultimate analysis. The term “that” signifies Brahman himself as the ground of the universe and the soul of all individual selves. Hence in the identity of “that” and “thou” there is no rejection of the specific connotation of the co-ordinate terms. The upshot of the dictum is that the individual selves and the world, which are distinct and real attributes, are comprehended in Brahman. Brahman as the inner self of the jiva and Brahman as the ground of the universe are one. The central principle is that whatever exists as an attribute of a substance, that being inseparable from the substance is one with that substance.
Thus Sri Ramanuja upholds all the three streams of thoughts in the Upanishads, namely, unity, plurality and both. He himself clinches the argument:
We uphold unity because Brahman alone exists with all other entities as his modes. We uphold both unity and plurality, as the one Brahman himself has all the physical and spiritual entities as his modes and thus exists qualified by a plurality. We uphold plurality as the three entities — the individual selves, the world and the supreme Lord — are mutually distinct in their substantive nature and attributes and there is no mutual transposition of their characteristics.
The summum bonum is the vision of the supreme Person, known as Brahman or Sriman-Narayana. The chief obstacle in the path towards perfection is the accumulation of evil tendencies. These can be destroyed only by the cultivation of good tendencies. This is followed by self-surrender which generates an inclination towards life divine. Then one has to acquire the knowledge of the Reality from the scriptures aided by the holy teachers. Then the practice of virtues like the control of mind and sense, austerity, purity, non-violence, compassion, etc., becomes easy. Nitya and naimittika duties are to be performed, and prohibited actions are to be avoided, the whole conduct being conceived as the worship of God. God, the embodiment of love and compassion, showers his grace on the aspirant, which puts an end to all his obstacles. Finally bhakti rises which is an enjoyment of bliss in itself. Bhakti is but meditation which has assumed the character of the most vivid and direct perception of the Supreme.
Yamunacharya, declares that bhakti succeeds the twofold training of the mind by karma and jnana. Karma-yoga is performance of duties of one’s station in life with no thought of reaping any personal benefit in the spirit of the Gita’s teachings. Karma that is performed in this manner cleanses the heart. Jnana-yoga, which immediately follows the previous discipline, is meditation upon the individual self as distinct from matter like body, mind, etc., with which it is associated. It helps the aspirant to determine the true nature of one’s self in relation to the Supreme. He realizes that he is absolutely subservient to God.
The discipline does not stop with the knowledge of one’s self alone. It is incomplete without the knowledge of God.
Here the word bhakti does not connote the popular sense in which it is understood. Bhakti-yoga is loving meditation upon God. When the meditation attains the form of “firm remembrance” (dhruva-anusmriti) characterised by intense love, the vision of the Supreme is attained. It must be mentioned here that the final release is attained after the dissolution of the body. One endowed with such bhakti and self-surrender attains the fitness to earn the grace of the Lord. This bhakti itself is upasana or vidya mentioned in the Upanishads. It is same as knowledge spoken of in the srutis: “One who knows Brahman attains the Supreme,” (Tai. II.1), “He who knows him becomes immortal here,” (Pu. 20), and “He who knows Brahman becomes Brahman,” (Mu. 3.2.9). As the vision of the Supreme is not possible through ordinary means of perception, he can be seen only through bhakti, which is a unique form of knowledge. This is in consonance with the Gita declaration, “I am attainable only through undivided bhakti” (9.54).
It was already mentioned that the ideal to be realized is the vision of the Supreme. It is an experience of absolute peace, perfection, bliss and freedom, untouched by the cosmic limitations of space and time. Sri Ramanuja is accused of having given a “picturesque description” of the ideal realm. But a little insight into the spirit of his writings reveals that the ideal is not such a fairyland as it is made out to be. The domain, he points out, is of the nature of pure immutable sattva. It is transcendent without the taints of the material gunas of sattva, rajas and tamas. Similarly the individual self also, in the state of moksa, gives up its material body and assumes a transcendent form. The substance of suddha sattva is common to God, the self and the realm of the ideal known as nitya-vibhūti. The first chapter of the Kausitaki Upanishad gives a figurative account of the pilgrim’s progress till he reaches the feet of God.
The individual self is the essence of knowledge. This knowledge in its attributive aspect (dharma-bhuta-jnana) gets more or less contracted in samsara, but it expands infinitely in the state of moksa. It becomes all-knowing and enjoys perfect bliss and love in divine communion. In short it is an ineffable enjoyment. In this natural state it yields its spirit to the will, glory and adoration of God. Ramanuja characterises this state as ‘ananya-prayojana’, having no other end except itself. In this ideal place there is no break in the enjoyment of divine communion.
Sri Ramanuja is not unaware of the criticism that there is subservience to and dependence upon God in his conception of moksa, The critics say that subordination in any form cannot conduce to the joy of self. The divine fetters are not less strong to bind. Further Manu says that servitude is a dog’s life. Sri Ramanuja effectively meets this criticism in his characteristic way. He enunciates a principle “that what an individual pursues as a desirable end depends upon what he conceives himself to be.”
Different people pursue different and mutually conflicting values. Hence the notion that independence is happiness proceeds from the misconception that one is identical with the body, mind, etc. This attachment to the body is a sort of dependence itself. Instead of dependence on God, it is dependence on matter. The metaphysical fact is that he is not the body, and consequently there must be something else with which his self is related. There cannot be relation of the principal entity and the subsidiary (sesin and sesa) between any finite objects. The only object with which such a relation can exist is God. Hence dependence on anything other than God is painful andsubservience to God is joy and freedom. Similarly bondage is indeed a dog’s life when one serves those who are unworthy of service. The only entity which is worthy of love, adoration and service is God. Sri Ramanuja clinches the issue by quoting a text, “He is to be served by all.”13 The emancipation consists in service of God, and true bondage is independence of God and service of body.
(From Vedartha-sangraha of Sri Ramanujacarya, English translation by S.S. Raghavachar, Foreword by Swami Adidevananda, Mysore: Ramakrishna Ashrama, 1978.)
According to Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy, consciousness is not a product of matter, but is instead a symptom of the soul. All living beings (jivas), are distinct from their current body – the nature of the soul being eternal, immutable, and indestructible without any particular beginning or end. Souls which are captivated by the illusory nature of the world (Maya) are repeatedly reborn among the various (8 400 000 in number) species of life on this planet and on other worlds in accordance to the laws of karma and individual desire. This is consistent with the concept of samsara found throughout Hindu belief. Release from the process of samsara (known as moksha) is believed to be achievable through a variety of yoga processes. However, within Gaudiya Vaishnavism it is bhakti in its purest state (or “pure love of God”) which is given as the ultimate aim, rather than liberation from the cycle of rebirth.Supreme Person (God) Svayam Bhagavan
Gaudiya Vaishnavas believe that God has many forms and names, but that the name “Krishna” is the ‘fullest’ description because it means “He who is all-attractive”, covering all of God’s aspects, such as being all-powerful, supremely merciful and all-loving. God is worshiped as the eternal, all-knowing, omnipresent, all-powerful and all-attractive Supreme Person. Names of God from other religious traditions, such as Allah and Jehovah, are also accepted as bonafide titles of the same Supreme Person.
One of the defining aspects of Gaudiya Vaishnavism is that Krishna is worshiped specifically as the source of all Avataric incarnations of God. This is based on quotations from the Bhagavata Purana, such as “krsnas tu bhagavan svayam”, translated as “Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead” and from the Bhagavad Gita where Arjuna, when speaking to Krishna, states: “You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth. You are the eternal, transcendental, original person, the unborn, the greatest. All the great sages such as Narada, Asita, Devala and Vyasa confirm this truth about You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me.”
Krishna is described elsewhere as the “seed-giving father of all living beings” and is worshiped within the Gaudiya tradition literally, as such – Krishna being the “sustaining energy of the universe”.
Inconceivable oneness and difference Achintya Bheda Abheda
Achintya-Bheda-Abheda (अचिन्त्यभेदाभेद, acintyabhedābheda in IAST) is a school of Vedanta representing the philosophy of inconceivable one-ness and difference, in relation to the power creation and creator, (Krishna), svayam bhagavan and also between God and his energies within the Gaudiya Vaishnava religious tradition. In Sanskrit achintya means ‘inconceivable’, bheda translates as ‘difference’, and abheda translates as ‘one-ness’. It is believed that this philosophy was taught by the movement’s theological founder Chaitanya Mahaprabhu(1486 – 1534) and differentiates the Gaudiya tradition from the other Vaishnava Sampradayas. It can be best understood as integration of strict dualist (Dvaita) view of Madhvacharya and qualified monism Vishishtadvaita of Ramanujacharya while rejecting absolute monism Advaita of Adi Sankara. This philosophy is particularly distinct part of the Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy espoused by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the context of the soul’s relationship with Krishna, and also Krishna’s relationship with his other energies (i.e. the material world). In quality, the soul (jiva) is described as being identical to God, but in terms of quantity individual jivas are said to be infinitesimal in comparison to the unlimited Supreme Being. The exact nature of this relationship (being simultaneously one and different with Krishna) is inconceivable to the human mind, but can be experienced through the process of Bhakti yoga.
This philosophy serves as a meeting of two opposing schools of Hindu philosophy, pure monism (God and the soul as one entity) and pure dualism (God and the soul as absolutely separate). In practice Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy has much more in common with the dualistic schools, as Krishna is worshiped as a Supreme person.
Caitanya’s philosophy of acintya-bhedābheda-tattva completed the progression to devotional theism. Rāmānuja had agreed with Śankara that the Absolute is one only, but he had disagreed by affirming individual variety within that oneness. Madhva had underscored the eternal duality of the Supreme and the Jīva: he had maintained that this duality endures even after liberation. Caitanya, in turn, specified that the Supreme and the jīvas are “inconceivably, simultaneously one and different” (acintya-bheda-abheda). He strongly opposed Śankara’s philosophy for its defiance of Vyāsadeva’s siddhānta.— (Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, Readings in Vedic Literature: The Tradition Speaks for Itself, Chapter 5)
Theological tenet of achintya-bheda-abheda tattva reconciles the mystery that God is simultaneously “one with and different from His creation”. In this sense Vaishnava theology is not pantheistic as in no way does it deny the separate existence of God (Vishnu) in His own personal form. However, at the same time, creation (or what is termed in Vaishnava theology as the ‘cosmic manifestation’) is never separated from God. He always exercises supreme control over his creation. Sometimes directly, but most of the time indirectly through his different potencies or energies (Prakrti). Examples are given of a spider and its web; earth and plants that come forth and hair on the body of human being.
“One who knows God knows that the impersonal conception and personal conception are simultaneously present in everything and that there is no contradiction. Therefore Lord Caitanya established His sublime doctrine: acintya bheda-and-abheda-tattva — simultaneous oneness and difference.” (A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)
The analogy often used as an explanation in this context in the relationship between the Sun and the Sunshine. For example both the sun and sunshine are part of the same reality, but there is a great difference between having a beam of sunshine in your room, and being in close proximity to the sun itself. Qualitatively the Sun and the Sunshine are not different, but as quantities they are very different. This analogy is applied to the living beings and God – the Jiva being of a similar quality to the Supreme being, but not sharing the qualities to an infinite extent, as would the Personality of Godhead himself. Thus there is a difference between the souls and the Supreme Lord.
Difference in concept to Advaita Vedanta
It is clearly distinguished from the concept of anirvacaniya (inexpressible) of Advaita Vedanta. There is a clear difference between the two concepts as the two ideas arise for different reasons. Advaita concept is related to the ontological status of the world, whereas both Svayam bhagavan and his shaktis (in Lord himself and his powers) are fully real, and they are different from each other, but at the same time they are the same. But that does not negate the reality of both. Mayavadi concept is a direct opposite and a contradicting concept to an early Krishna-theism.
Exceptions: While it applied to relations between Purusha (the Lord) and Prakriti (be it material, marginal, or spiritual powers), in the theology of the concept there are areas of exceptions. Jiva Goswami also accepts that any object and its energy are non-different, such as fire and power of burning. While some maintain that its only a secondary extension of the principle that it is primarily applied to Svayam bhagavan and His energies. It does not, however, apply to differences between Avatars of Svayam bhagavan and Lord Himself, so the difference between Vishnu and His origin, is not covered by the concept of acintya bhedabheda, i.e. it cannot be applied in cases where different levels of Purusha are compared.
Vaishnavism (Sanskrit: वैष्णव धर्म, [Vəishnavə d̪hərma]) is one of the major branches of Hinduism along with Shaivism, Smartism, and Shaktism. It is focused on the veneration of Supreme Lord Vishnu. Vaishnavites, or the followers of the Supreme Lord Vishnu, lead a way of life promoting differentiated monotheism (henotheism), which gives importance to Lord Vishnu and his ten incarnations. The oldest religious Vedic text the Rigveda, describes Lord Vishnu as the Supreme Deity in Vishnu Sooktham (1.22.20):
“om tad visnoh paramam padam sada pasyanti surayah— diviva caksur atatam” (“Just as the sun’s rays in the sky are extended to the mundane vision, so in the same way the wise and learned devotees always see the supreme abode of Lord Vishnu.”) “tad vipraso vipanyavo jagrvam sah samindhate
— visnor yat paramam padam” (“Because those highly praiseworthy and spiritually awake devotees are able to see the spiritual world, they are also able to reveal that supreme abode of Lord Vishnu.”)
In general, the Vaishnava Agamas describe Lord Vishnu as the “supreme being and the foundation of all existence.” This is explained in Katha Upanishad 2.2.13: nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam/ eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman, “the Supreme Being, the Personality of Godhead, is the chief living being amongst all living beings and grants the desires of all other eternal sentient beings”
Its beliefs and practices, especially the concepts of Bhakti and Bhakti Yoga, are based largely on the Upanishads, and associated with the Vedas and Puranic texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, and the Padma, Vishnu and Bhagavata Puranas.
Bhagavatism, early Ramaism and Krishnaism, merged in historical Vishnuism, a tradition of Historical Vedic religion, distinguished from other traditions by its primary worship of Vishnu.
The worship of Vishnu was already well developed in the period of the Itihasas. Vaishnavism is expounded in a part of the Mahabharata known as the Bhagavad Gita. Many of the ancient kings, beginning with Chandragupta II (Vikramaditya) (375-413 CE) were known as Parama Bhagavatas, or Bhagavata Vaishnavas. Vaishnavism flourished in predominantly Shaivite South India during the seventh to tenth centuries CE, and is still commonplace, especially in Tamil Nadu, as a result of the twelve Alvars, saints who spread the sect to the common people with their devotional hymns. The temples which the Alvars visited or founded are now known as Divya Desams. Their poems in praise of Vishnu and Krishna in Tamil language are collectively known as Naalayira (Divya Prabandha). In later years Vaishnava practices increased in popularity due to the influence of sages like Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, Nimbarkacharya, Vallabhacharya, Vedanta Desika, Manavala Mamunigal, Surdas, Tulsidas, eknath, Tyagaraja, and many others. In his The Religions of India, Edward Washburn Hopkins presents an accepted distinction as to the assumption that Vishnuism is associated with Vedic brahmanism, and was part of brahmanism. Krishnaism was adopted much later.Vaishnavism, is historically the first structured Vaishnava religion as “Vishnuism, in a word, is the only cultivated native sectarian native religion of India.”
Although it is usual to speak of Vishnu as the source of the Avatar, this is only one of the names by which the god of Vaishnavism is known. The other names include Narayana, Vasudeva and Krishna; each the name of a divine figure with attributed supremacy, which each associated tradition of Vaishnavism believes to be distinct. For example, in the Krishnaism branch of Vaishnavism, such as the Gaudiya Vaishnava, Nimbarka and Vallabhacharya traditions, devotees worship Krishna as the One Supreme form of God, and source of all avatars, Svayam Bhagavan, in contrast to the belief of the devotees of the Sri Sampradaya.
The principal belief of Vishnu-centered sects is the identification of Vishnu or Narayana as the one supreme God. This belief contrasts with the Krishna-centered traditions, such as Vallabha, Nimbaraka and Vallbha, in which Krishna is considered as the Supreme Lord Vishnu. The belief in the supremacy of Vishnu is based upon the many Avatars (incarnations) of Vishnu listed in the Puranic texts, which differs from other Hindu deities such as Ganesha, Surya or Durga. According to many Vaishnavites, the latter are instead classified as demi-gods or devas.
According to Ramayana, Rama, the seventh incarnation of God Vishnu, is believed to have prayed to Shiva in Rameshwaram. The primary deity of the temple is Ramanathaswamy (Shiva) in the form of lingam. However, Vaishnavites reject such claims quoting reasons from Valmiki Ramayan itself and also from other Vedic texts.
Lord Swaminarayan, founder of the Swaminarayan faith, differs with this view and holds that Vishnu and Shiva are different aspects of the same God.
Vaishnavas although follow a process of initiation (diksha), given by a guru, under whom they are trained to understand Vaishnava practices gives more importance to the acceptance of the Supremacy of Lord Vishnu by men and women. At the time of initiation, the disciple is traditionally given a specific mantra, which the disciple will repeat, either out loud or within the mind, as an act of worship to Vishnu or one of his avatars. The practice of repetitive prayer is known as japa. The system of receiving initiation and training from a guru is based on injunctions throughout the scriptures held as sacred within the Vaishnava traditions but is not mandatory:
“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.”(Bhagavad Gita)
“One who is initiated into the Vaishnava mantra and who is devoted to worshiping Lord Vishnu is a Vaishnava. One who is devoid of these practices is not a Vaishnava.”(Padma Purana)
The scriptures specific to the Gaudiya Vaishnava group also state that one who performs an act of worship as simple as chanting the name of Vishnu or Krishna can be considered a Vaishnava by practice: “Who chants the holy name of Krishna just once may be considered a Vaishnava. Such a person is worship-able and is the topmost human being.”(Chaitanya Charitamrita)
Attitude toward scriptures
Vaishnava traditions refer to the writings of previous acharyas in their respective lineage or sampradya (see below) as authoritative interpretations of scripture.
While many schools like Smartism and Advaitism encourage interpretation of scriptures philosophically and metaphorically and not too literally, Vaishnavism stresses the literal meaning (mukhya vritti) as primary and indirect meaning (gauda vritti) as secondary: sākshād upadesas tu shrutih – “The instructions of the shruti-shāstra should be accepted literally, without fanciful or allegorical interpretations.”
Vaishnava sampradayas (sects)
(Vaishnavite Brahmin students at a theological seminary in Tanjore. Source:The National Geographic Magazine, Nov 1909)
Within Vaishnavism there are four main disciplic lineages (sampradayas), each exemplified by a specific Vedic personality. The four sampradayas follow subtly different philosophical systems regarding the relationship between the soul (jiva) and God (Vishnu or Krishna), although the majority of other core beliefs are identical. 1. Lakshmi-sampradaya
Philosophy: Vishishtadvaita (“Qualified Monoism”), espoused by Chidachida Visishtam Ramanujacharya (See Sri Vaishnavism, Vaikhanasa, Ramanandi Sect, Swaminarayan. 2. Brahma sampradaya
Philosophies: Dvaita (“dualism”), espoused by Madhvacharya, and Achintya Bheda Abheda (literally “inconceivable difference and non-difference”). 3. Rudra sampradaya
Philosophy: Shuddhadvaita (“pure nondualism”), espoused by Vishnuswami and Vallabhacharya. 4. Kumara-sampradaya
Philosophy: Dvaitadvaita (“duality in unity”), espoused by Nimbarka.
Vaishnavism in South India
Broadly, Vaishnavas in South India can be classified as Brahmins and non-Brahmins.
Among the Brahmins the main groups are: 1.The Iyengars, who follow the Sri Vaishnava Vishistadvaita philosophy of Asuri Ramanujacharya. The Iyengars are further divided into the Vadakalai-i.e. the northern school, and Thenkalai or southern school. Both these sects adhere to the Pañcaratra agama, in temples. These two sects evolved about 200 years after Ramanuja and differ on 18 points of doctrine. The founder of the Vadagalai sect is Swami Vedanta Desika, and the Tengalai sect is Manavala Mamuni. But both schools have a common Guru Parampara prior to the division.
The Sri Vaishnavas use both the Sanskrit veda as well as the Tamil divyaprabandham in temple worship. 1.The Madhvas, who follow the Sadvaishnava Dvaita philosophy of Madhvacharya. 2.The Vaikhanasas, who are primarily an ancient community of temple priests, who use the Vaikhanasa Agama in temple worship. They use Sanskrit exclusively in temple worship.
Among the non-Brahmins, sections of various communities like the Chettiars and Mudaliars (Thuluva Vellalars)in Tamil Nadu and sections of the Kammas, Padmashalis, Reddys, Rajus and Haridasus in Andhra Pradesh and so on in other states are known as Vaishnavites. Some groups tend to be vegetarians like the Brahmins. In temple worship, a Vaikhanasa temple (like Tirumala), a Madhva temple (like Udupi), a Tengalai temple (like Melukote) and a Vadagalai temple (like Kanchipuram ) all have distinctly different rituals and customs with priests of that particular denomination who perform the worship. However all temples are popularly visited by all Vaishnavas as lay worshippers, as also members of various other denominations.
In Kerala, some communities call themselves Vaishnavas, especially the pisharodies and Gauda Saraswatha Brahmins and Embranthiries who settled in Kerala at a later phase of Brahmin Settlement. The Sagara Brahmins in and around Thiruvalla Sree Vallabha Vishnu Temple are also referred to as Vaisnavas accepting the Supremacy of Lord Vishnu.
Other branches and sects
Vaishnava Saint Kabir: On my tongue Vishnu, in my eyes Narayana, in my heart dwells Govinda.—Adi Granth, IV.XXV. Charan Dasi, founded by Charan Das a Dhusar of Dehra
Lalpanthi Sampradaya or Lal Dasi sect, founded by Laldas a Meo of Dhaoli Dub Madhwachari sect Mahapuruxiya Dharma, espoused by Sankardeva Mohan Panth
The Ramanandi movement, begun by Ramananda
Vaisnava-Sahajiya, a tantric school
Vaishnavas mark their foreheads with tilaka, either as a daily ritual, or on special occasions. The different Vaishnava sampradayas each have their own distinctive style of tilaka, which depicts the siddhanta of their particular lineage. The general tilaka pattern is of a parabolic shape resembling the letter U or two or more connected vertical lines on and another optional line on the nose resembling the letter Y, which usually represents the foot of Vishnu and the lotus flower.
by Piyaray L. Raina
This presentation was made by the author at the WAVES (World Association of Vedic Studies) symposium in the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, RI, USA – July 12-14, 2002
Vedas, which are considered revealed knowledge through the medium of Indian seers (rishis), are revered as mother of all religions in India. They form the matrix of all the theistic philosophies of Indian religions including Kashmir Shaivism. Therefore, the objective here is not to compare Vedas with Kashmir Shaivism but to present their complementary roles in the development of post- vedic India.
It is said at the end of the Mahabharata war, which symbolizes the end of the Dvapura Era and the beginning of the Kalyuga Era, through which we are passing now, the influence of Vedas dwindled as the Vedic seers disappeared. New class of seers emerged from time to time who interpreted Vedic knowledge for the benefit of suffering humanity. Thus six systems of Vedic schools called darshanas came into being. These are: 1. Samklya
5. Purva mimamasa
6. Advaita Vedanta
The last one Advaita Vedanta was propounded by Shankaracharya in the 9th century AD and culminated in the final interpretation of Vedas (Ved –anta – end of Vedas). Although these Vedic darshanas differ in their approach to the interpretation of Vedas but all of them consider Vedas as their base.
The focus of all these systems (darshanas) was to explain or resolve the dichotomy between subject and object; the knower and the known; the Cosmic Self and this self; I (aham) and this self (idam). We may group all these systems as Vedanta for the sake of this discussion.
II. Kashmir Shaivism
Along with this group of seers, another group of seers tried to resolve this dichotomy by investigating their inner nature. They carried experiments on their bodies by employing yogic practices confined to mental processes and came out with their findings in poetic terms using metaphors, symbols, and allegories. This yogic practice came to be known as Tantra. As against the Vedic knowledge, which came mainly through the process of revelation, the tantric knowledge came mainly through various forms of practices (kriyas). Tantric practices were “inward” by nature i.e. they centered around psychophysical makeup of the practitioner as compared to the “outward” nature of Vedic practices, which focus on sacrificial ceremonies along with yoga.
Over a period of time thousands of tantric traditions developed in India and abroad, which came to be classified under three major categories a) Shaiva-Shakti Tantrism,
b) Buddhist Tantrism, and
c) Vaishnava Tantrism.
Shaiva-Shakti Tantrism which recognizes Lord Shiva as the Supreme and Absolute Consciousness with Shakti as His dynamic energy came to be known as Shaivism and developed in three widely apart regions in India: a) Kashmir in the north,
b) Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the south, and
c) Gauda (Bengal) in the east.
The tantric practices prevalent in these regions came to be grouped under six traditions: a) Shaiva Sidanta,
b) Pashupati Shaivism,
c) Kashmir Shaivism,
d) Vira Shaivism,
e) Shiva Advanta, and
f) Siddha Sidhanta.
It is Kashmir Shaivism that provided the philosophy of Trika, which provided relationship between God, nature, and man. It also provided the philosophy of Shiv-Shakti and Nara (man), which forms the main philosophy (Vidya Pada) of all Shaivic philosophies.
Kashmir Shaivism is a theistic philosophy that identifies Lord Shiva as the Absolute, Infinite, and pure Consciousness lying beyond the reach of speech, mind, and intellect. It is transcendental and immanent and can be realized through yoga. It advocates how a human being engrossed in the inferior objective world of Lord Shiva can be taken upwards i.e. towards the Supreme energy of Lord Shiva through his cognac energy (Shakti). It was in Kashmir Shaivism that the concept of dynamic energy (Shakti) playing an important role in the evolution of cosmos was introduced.
The development of Kashmir Shaivic philosophy can be traced back to Aagamas (18) which were written from 3rd century BC to 3rd – 4th century AD. Malinivijayattara is the most important Aagama of this period. Vasugupta who lived in Kashmir during the end of the 8th century AD wrote Shiv Sutra and it was his disciple Bhatta Kalatta (mid 9th century AD) who wrote Spanda Karika. Somananda wrote Shiv dreshti in late 9th century AD. He is the father of Pritibijna (recognition) school that forms the basis of Kashmir Shaivism philosophy. However, it was his worthy disciple Utpaldeva who presented the Pritibijna philosophy in a comprehensive way in his book Ishvara-pratiyabijna-karika in late 9th century or beginning of the 10th century AD. Later on, it was Abhinavgupta (between 10th – 11th century AD) who summarized the view points of all previous thinkers and presented the philosophy in a logical way along with his own thoughts in his treatise Tantraloka. Thus one could say just as Shankaracharya was the last exponent of Vedic knowlegde, Abhinavgupta was the last exponent of Kashmir Shaivism.
The main philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism rests on the non-dualistic foundation. Abhinavgupta used the word paradvaita– the supreme and absolute non-dualism to describe Kashmir Shaivism.
A casual reader may not be able to make out the differences in the final presentation of philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism and Vedanta. However, careful analysis and reading will reveal the differences. But before getting into the differences let us first go over to the commonalties.
III. Common Concepts
The common concepts of Vedanta and Kashmir Shaivism may be summarized as follows:
1. Cyclic nature of eternity
Both believe in the cyclic nature of eternity that consists of vast phases of creation, preservation, and their dissolution.
2. Bound Soul
Both accept the belief that life and death are but two phases of a single cycle to which soul is bound.
Both accept dharma as the moral law of universe that accounts for these eternal cycles of nature as well as the destiny of human soul in its evolution.
Both accept that knowledge is the path of freedom and yoga as the method of attaining liberation.
5. Chit (Consciousness)
Both recognize consciousness as Supreme Reality. Vedanta calls it Parmatma whereas Shaivites call it Parmshiva.
IV. Points of Disagreement
Some of the points of disagreement are:
1. Ultimate Reality
The one creative force out of which everything emerges is known as Ultimate Reality. According to Vedanta, Brahman (chit) is the Ultimate Reality, while Kashmir Shaivism calls this Ultimate Reality as Parmshiva. Brahman is believed to have no activity (kriya.) It is the knowledge (prakash or jnana). As per Kashmir Shaivism, Parmshiva is knowledge (prakash/jnana) plus activity (kriya or vimarsha). Vedanta consider activity (kriya) residing only in the empirical subject (Jiva) and not in Brahman. Shivites on the other hand think that Vedanta takes kriya in a very narrow sense whereas it should be taken in a wider sense.
They argue that even knowledge (jnana) is an activity (kriya) of the Divine, without activity chit or the Divine Being would be inert and incapable of bringing about anything, least of all the whole cosmos. Parmshiva is svatantra (has free will) and therefore is a Karta (doer). Knowledge (jnana) is not a passive state of consciousness but an activity of consciousness, though an effortless one. Knowledge is not really like the reflection of moon in a pond; in knowledge there is an active “grasping” on the part of the knower which is an activity of mind (kriya).
While monotheism is one of the central principles of most of the Vedantic philosophies, it is interpreted differently by its various schools. Advaita Vedanta explains the problem of phenomenal existence on the basis of two mutually exclusive and independent entities. The first is known as Brahman (pure consciousness) and the second Avidya (inexplicable ignorance) as an attachment (upadi). Both are said to be beginning less in existence. Kashmir Shaivism does not agree with the concept of Avidya to explain the phenomenal existence. Abhinavgupta in his treatise on Kashmir Shaivism, Tantraloka, refutes this concept. “The principle of absolute existence of ‘Brahman’ along with ‘Avidya’ as an upadi cannot be accepted as a definite principle of pure monotheism” (ibid. 111:404) because it implies the eternal existence of two entities – Brahaman and Avidya, which amounts to clear dualism. He further states “there is self- contradiction in saying that Avidya is indescribable as very statement that Avidya is a divine power of God implies that such a power is describable.
3. Manifestation (Abhasvada)
Vendanta states that phenomenal universe we live in is not real. It only appears as an existent reality. It is other than what it seems e.g. like a rope mistaken for a snake. It is like a dream or a mirage – Vivarta. Brahman exists but appears falsely as God, finite soul (Purusha) and insentient matter (prakriti).
Abinavgupta contradicts these assumptions by stating “how can it be unreal when it is manifested. This has to be given due consideration. An entity that appears clearly and creates the whole universe must be something real and substantial and should be described as such”. (Ishvarpritabijna 111-80)
4. Manifestation Process
Manifestation of cosmos as per Kashmir Shaivism is called “Descent” – which means descent of cosmic self (Parmashiva) to a limited self (Jiva). Vedanta explains this process of manifestation through 25 elements. Kashmir Shaivism explains the cosmic evolution through 36 elements (tattvas) which include 23 elements of Vedanta without modification, 2 with modification, and prescribes 11 more elements (tattvas).
Parmshiva of Kashmir Shaivism is not the same Shiva of Vedanta who is meditating at Mount Kailash with Parvati by His side. Parmshiva is a Being, not necessarily in physical sense, who is Absolute, pure, eternal, infinite, and totally free I-consciousness whose essential nature is vibrant creative energy which Kashmir Shaivism describes as wonderful spiritual stir of blissfulness known as spanda. This spanda causes Absolute Reality to be continuously inclined towards the outward and joyful manifestation of its creative energy – Shakti. This manifestation is brought about by the freewill play (leela) of Parmshiva Himself like a childs’ play that is without motivation. The outward divine manifestation of this creative energy appears in five activities: 1. The activity of creation.
2. The activity of preservation.
3. The activity of dissolution of all the elements including the beings living in them. 4. The activity of self-oblivion.
5. The activity of self-recognition of these created beings.
Stages 1-3 are common to both Kashmir Shaivism as well as Vedanta. However, Stages 4 and 5 listed above are present in Kashmir Shaivism only.
Kashmir Shaivism includes 36 elements (tattvas) of manifestation process as mentioned earlier. These are categorized into following four major and their sub-categories:
A. Five pure (shudh) elements – These are called ‘Pure’ because they have been created by Parmshiva Himself as against others which have been created by intermediary and lower beings as per the wishes of Lord Himself.
1. Shiva Tattva
2. Shakti Tattva
These two tattvas are only a linguistic convention and are not actually part of creation. They are in reality one with Parmshiva. They are considered to be two tattvas only for the convenience of philosophical thinking and as a way of clarifying the two aspects of the one Absolute Reality-Parmshiva. Shivatattva is transcendental unity and shakti tattva is universal diversity. The changeless Absolute and pure Consciousness is Shiva while as natural tendency of Shiva towards the outward manifestation of divine activities is Shakti.
3. Sadashiva Tattva (also known as Iccha tattva)
The desire (Iccha) for creation takes place very faintly. While the Absolute is limitless I-Consciousness (aham), small desire for objectivity “this” (idam) takes place. The beings at this stage are known as mantra maheswaras with the presiding deity Sadashiva Bhattaraka who is actually Parmshiva Himself and has descended to this level as the master of creation.
4. Isvara Tattva (also known as jnana Tattva)
The awareness (jnana) of I-Consciousness is not lost but the awareness of “this-ness” begins to dominate. Awareness shines as “This is myself”. Created beings at this stage of manifestation are known as ‘mantreshwaras’ and the presiding deity is Iswara Bhattaraka.
5. Sadvidya (also known as Shuddvidya or kriya) Tattva
The vision of the beings in the 3rd and 4th elements above has been defined as “unity in diversity and diversity in unity” as “I-ness” and “this-ness” is still not balanced. When the vision becomes balanced so that there is equal emphasis on “I-ness” and “this-ness”, it is called Sadvidya. At a further stage of diversity, where the awareness of “I-ness” becomes “I am I” and of “this-ness” becomes “this is this”, this is called Mahamaya. Beings living in this stage are known as “mantras” and the presiding deity is Anantnatha. He is actually Ishwara Bhattaraka who has descended to this level as the divine administrator of further creation.
6. Maya Tattva
This is the final tattva created by the Lord Himself that is considered to be “impure” i.e. filled with limitations. It has two main effects:
a) it hides the pure and divine nature of created beings residing in its plane and consequently they forget their purity and infiniteness of their I-consciousness as well as their infinite potency. Hence they are given the name anu (atoms) i.e. finite beings or pashu (animal-like) or simply man Nara. b) they see every other activity as different from what they are.
Maya is thus the plane of Absolute self-oblivion and diversity. This is the abode of the finite beings. Under its influence, being loose its state of oneness with the Absolute and also their divine potency. Maya causes feeling of imperfection and emptiness within the beings which they try to fill up with outer objects which leads to development of desire and passions for objects of enjoyment.
B. Five layers of limitations (Kuncukas)
The deity Anantnatha who presides over maya and is the master of mahamaya shakes up maya, so to say, causing it to expand into the next five tattvas – collectively called kuncukas or cloaks which covers the real nature of the knowing objects. Sometimes maya tattva is itself included as the sixth kuncuka.
7. Kala Tattva(limitation of activity, authorship)
To fulfill our desires, maya allows a little power of action to achieve a little amount of success.
8. Avidya (ashudh) Tattva (limitation of knowledge)
Since doing is not possible without knowing, maya gives a little knowledge to know a certain amount.
9. Raga Tattva (limitation of interest)
To further the limit the scope of our doing and knowing, maya appears in us as raga or ‘limited interest’.
10. Niyati Tattva (restriction)
Niyati is the law of nature that establishes the order of succession in all phenomenons e.g. the way in which seed develops into a tree. This law of nature appears as the law of restriction and causation.
11. Akala (or Kaala) Tattva (Time sequence limitation)
The above four limitations, limit our capacity of knowing and doing but this tattva limits our very being as well. Our real self is in fact infinite and is in no way conditioned by concept of time imposed on us by maya in the way that we feel “we were”, “we are”, and “we shall be”. Thus imposing on us conditions of time sequence.
12. Parusha Tattva
The I-Consciousness reduced to utter finitude is known as Parusha. It is also known as jiva, pashu , anu nara.
13. Prakriti (or mul prakriti) Tattva
Prakriti is the un-diversified source of all the remaining 23 elements as established by Vedanta system. This represents the complete “this-ness” of the objective manifestation.
C. Thirteen (13) instrumental tattvas
C1. The three (3) interior instrumental elements (antah-karnas):
14. Buddhi (intellect)– Faculty of judgement
15. Manas – Faculty of Imagination
16. Ahamkara – Personal ego
C2. Five (5) exterior elements of perception (jnanendrayas):
17. Sravanendreya (Hearing)
18. Supershanendreya (Feeling by touch)
19. Darshanendreya (Seeing)
20. Resanendreya (Taste)
21. Ghranendreya (Smell)
C3. Five (5) elements of action (karmendreya):
22. Vagendreya (Voice or expression)
23. Hastendreya (Handling)
24. Padendreya (Locomotion)
25. Payvendreya (Rejecting, Discharging)
26. Upasthendreya (Resting or recreating)
D. Ten (10) objective elements:
D1. Five (5) subtle objective elements (tanmatras):
27. Shabdatanmra (sound)
28. Sparshatanmra (Feel)
29. Rupatanmra (Color)
30. Rasatanmra (Flavor)
31. Ghandhatanmra (Odour)
D2. Five (5) gross objective elements (bhutas):
32. Akasha (ether)
33. Vayu (Air)
34. Agni (Fire)
35. Apas (Water)
36. Pritvi (Earth)
Kashmir Shaivism does not consider the above analysis of manifestation as final. It is only a tool for contemplative meditation. Through a further analysis the number of elements (tattvas) can be increased to any level and similarly through synthesis they can be decreased to only one tattva. For example, the practitioners of Trika system use only three tattvas in the process of their Yoga meditation viz. – Shiva (Absolute Unity), Shakti (link between unity and duality), and Nara (extreme duality).
Three important observations to highlight the differences in the manifestation philosophies of Vendana and Kashmir Shaivism are:
While the Purusha of Vedanta is a Universal soul (God-like), He is atmen (pure spirit). In contrast, in Kashmir Shaivism it is bound soul – a jiva, nara, pashu or anu – a limited soul.
Prakriti in Vedanta is involved in manifestation as an independent element. It is a cosmic substance that is termed as perennial impulse in nature (like Shakti tattva). But the Prakriti of the Kashmir Shaivism deals with limited jiva only.
Maya in the Vedanta is the means of operation. It is not an element. It is force that creates the illusion of non-perception in nature. It has no reality. It is only the appearance of fleeting forms which are all unreal and like mirage vanishes when the knowledge of reality draws. In contrast, in Kashmir Shaivism maya is a tattva. It is real. It is the power of contraction or limiting the nature of five universal modes of consciousness. It cannot be separated from Absolute Reality – Parmshiva.
5. Three Gunas (attributes)
Vedanta describes Prakriti as a combination of three Gunas – Satvic, Rajas, and Tamas. Further it describes the nature of these gunas. Thus Satva is enlightenment and pleasure; Rajas is turbulence and pain; and Tamas is ignorance and lethargy. It does not explain the source of the nature of these gunas.
Kashmir Shaivism has examined this issue. In their view, Paramshiva possesses limitless power to know, to do, and to diversify. These powers are known as jnana, kriya, and maya. By the limitations brought about by maya, the Infinite Consciousness is reduced to finite consciousness – purusha (the limited being, anu or pashu).Here they view these experiences as pleasure, pain, and ignorance.
6. Moksha (liberation from bondage)
In Vedanta we have four fold description for achieving liberation from bondage: i) Discrimination
iii) Right Conduct
iv) Desire for liberation
To get liberated one must:
i) act with zeal and faith
ii) act for the good of humanity
iii) get immersed in meditation
Kashmir Shaivism has a simple prescription for liberation from bondage. The logic behind this is that just ignorance is inspired by God so is revelation inspired by Him. This inspiration of divine knowledge is known as His Grace (anugraha) or the Descent of His powers (shaktipata). Only those individuals who receive Lords Shaktipata become interested in path of correct knowledge for achieving moksha. Three types of shaktipata have been described: i) Tivra (swift) shaktipata
ii) Madya (moderate) shaktipata
iii) Manda (slow) shaktipata
Each of the above has further three sub divisions, thus making a total of nine shaktipatas. There is no restriction of caste, color, or creed for achieving moksha. Yoga is the means of liberation.
Both Vedanta as well as Kashmir Shaivism recommends Yoga for achieving moksha. However, there are differences in practice.
In Vedanta Yoga practices, emphasis is laid on controlling mind by strict discipline in day-to-day life that for its success can be practiced by highly motivated ones or ascetics. A Shiva Yogi is free to live without restrictions – be a householder – and participate in the pleasures of the senses of the mind (bhoga) within the limits of the socially accepted norms. He is advised to pursue some yogic practices known as trika yoga that leads its practitioner to self-bliss and at that stage the lust for worldly enjoyments automatically loose its charm. At that stage, senses develop a spontaneous indifference known as anadaravikrati to former pleasures. The three yogic practices of trika system are:
i) Shambhavayoga – In this highest form of practice, the minds’ tendency is to think of himself as one with Ultimate Reality and nothing else. The practitioner stands still and loses itself in the vibrant glow of I-consciousness. It is the practice of non-ideation (nirvikalpa).
ii) Shaktiyoga – In this practice, one uses the mind and imagination to constantly contemplate the real nature of Self as taught by Shiva monotheistic philosophy. One is supposed to think that one is everything and yet beyond everything. It is a practice of “pure-ideation” (shuddhvikalpa). It is also known as jnanayoga.
iii) Anavayoga – Its practice is recommended for those who are not capable of adopting the higher yogic practices mentioned above. Anu stands for finite ordinary beings bounded by their limitations and objective meditation is recommended for them where the focus of attention shifts to kriya (action).
Kashmir Shaivism encourages practitioners to start from higher yogic practices (shambhavayoga) down to the last by stages if he is not comfortable there. Vedantic yoga recommends a completely different set of yoga practices and one has to go up the ladder from lower practices to upper practices.
These are some of the main points of differences of philosophies. But we have to remember that purusha in Kashmir Shaivism is a finite being a man Pashu (animal like) because of his ignorance brought about by maya. He is free from sin and his highest goal is to get out of ignorance and merge his limited self with the Real Self. This is called Ascent. The way to reach there is through trika yoga.
To quote Swami Laxmanjoo, a great Kashmir Shivism scholar of the 20th century, “although Kashmir Shaivism can hardly be grasped unless the Vedanta philosophy is comprehended, yet no system of Vedanta will be complete without it”. Kashmir Shaivism gives most detail account of Ultimate Reality, Vedanta has done it in its way.
 B. N. Pandit, Specific Principles of Kashmir Shaivism, Published: Munshiram Motilal Publishers, New Delhi, 1997.
 Jaideva Singh, Pratyabijnahrdyam (The secret of Recognition), Published: Munshiram Motilal Publishers, New Delhi, 1998.
 Jaideva Singh, Vignana Bhairva: Divine Consciousness, Published: Motilal Banarasidass Publishers, New Delhi, 1998.
 Abhinavgupta, Tantraloka, Vol 12, Published by KSTS Srinagar, Kashmir, 1918-1938.
 Kamlakar Mishra, Kashmir Shaivism (The central philosophy of Tantra), Published: Satguru Publications, New Delhi, 1999.
(From the Paper of Gopinath Kaviraj published in the Princess of Wales Sarasvati Bhavan Series, Vol VI, 1927)
Patanjali’s system is mainly based on Raja Yoga principles; so are the Buddhist and Jain systems, though in all these the utility of simple Hatha practices has also been recognised.
The Hatha Yogins are of opinion that for ordinary people who have very little control over their mind the practice of Raja Yogi is simply impossible. Mantra Yoga and the practices of meditations are indeed capable, if properly resorted to, of leading to the perfection of Raja Yoga; but these too require the exercise of mental concentration to be of any efficacy at all – an exercise which is beyond the power of the average man. Hatha Yoga, however, which consists in certain mechanical devices of the physical character is the only form of scientific yoga which can be useful in such circumstances. For it does not presuppose the possession of mental strength which every other class of yoga more or less implies.
We have already said that the essence of Hatha lies in the conquest of Vayu. It is an article of universal acceptance in this country that Bindu (essence of the physical body in the form of Virya, Sukra, or seminal fluid), Vayu (the intra-organic vital currents) and Manas (mind or the principle of thinking) are closely related to one another, so that by restraining any one of them the remaining two may be easily held in check. The restraint of Bindu, as accomplished by the practice of successful Brahmacharya, being already assumed, the Hatha yogins direct the control of Vayu as a preliminary, or rather a means, to the realisation of mental quiescence which is the ultimate aim of all strivings. But to facilitate this restraint of Vayu or Pranayama they recommend the employment of a few other practices, viz. (1) Asana, (2) Mudra and (3) Nadanusandhana. 13
The continued practice of Asana is of great help in securing the lightness, health and steadiness of the body. These qualities, once attained naturally react upon the mind. The practice of Mudra is intended to rouse the dormant Kundalini Sakti without whose active guidance no spiritual realisation is possible. And the practice of Nada audition acts directly upon the mind and tends to destroy its inherent restlessness. As soon as the mind is rendered inactive and the Vayu is absorbed in the Brahmarandhra there arises the resplendent glory of Beatific State, technically known as Laya or Manonmani or Sahajavastha. It is a state of intense Joy. It is to be observed in this connection that all these practices are inter-connected.
The practice of Nada can be properly started only when the Inner Sound, which is in a sense a perpetual current running through the heart of sensible Nature, comes to be an object of hearing. And this sound can be heard as a matter of course after the Vayu has entered into the Susumna Nadi and its various branches rendered free from the impurities accumulated there for ages. When the Nadis are purified the Anahata Sound becomes audible at once But this purification requires the exercise of Asana and Mudra. On the contrary, the perfection of Asana is impossible until and unless the subtle causes which operate as deterrents upon the stability of the body are thoroughly removed. The awakening of Kundalini which is the immediate aim of the practice of Mudras and indeed of many other practices – is really bound up with the success, more or less complete, of Asana. In fact, all these mechanical devices have one end to fulfill, viz. to release and set in operation the Divine Power lying asleep under the burden of Matter within Man and to render clear its path of movement. This path is now blocked up.
The peculiarity of the Yoga which the Nathas taught consisted in the emphasis which it placed on the physical side of the discipline. It presupposes a thorough knowledge of the body, with its nervous and vital apparatus. The general principle on which they proceeded appears to be the recognition of the graded character of Matter, ranging from the densest form revealed in our waking sense-experience up to the most rarefied and tenuous form to which the end of Samprajnata Samadhi – the so-called Sasmita Samadhi – eventually leads. I am speaking here in terms of Sankhya nomenclature. The consciousness of the individual self as enmeshed in grosser matter is really identical with the Universal Consciousness of the World-soul – nay,- with Absolute Consciousness itself. Only that limitations have to be carefully removed. The Hatha Yogis are of opinion that the only surest and quickest way of transcending the limitations is to rise up, rather to raise up the Vayu, from one plane to another until the Universal Stuff is reached in the Spirit-Matter of the Highest Plane manifesting itself in the so called Thousand-petalled Lotus (sahastradalakamala). These limitations are the products of stress and strain caused by the Creative Impulse of the Supreme Lord in Matter.
To speak more clearly. The pure soul, which is a mode of the Absolute and, ultimately consubstantial with it, becomes enveloped in its mundane stage with a double coating of Manas and Bhutas, representing two aspects of subtle matter. The word Manas is used here in a very wide sense, including buddhi, anhankara, etc. The senses which develop later and are only the functional variations of Manas are also implied in it. The word Bhuta stands here for the objective stuff in a state of relative equilibrium. It holds within it the so-called tanmatras, viz. sabda, sparsa, rupa, rasa and gandha, which are not yet distinguishable as such. Each of the five matras has its own centre, wherein it is capable of expanding and contracting. The soul in its descending or outgoing course takes upon itself as a matter of necessity these layers of subtle matter. Though its innate purity is marred thereby it still retains enough of self-consciousness and the consequent powers. Total self-forgetfulness takes place only when it emerges into the outer world, of gross matter which is the outcome of a combination, by means of a process known as Panchikarana, of the finer radiating particles shooting out of the tanmatric centres. The descent into subtle Matter was, as it were, in a straight line, but birth into the external world is the product of an oblique motion (tiryag.hgati) in Vayu. As soon as Consciousness finds itself encased in sensible or gross matter, the Manas develops into senses which begin to operate each in its own line with reference to a corresponding aspect of this Matter. It is for this reason that senses cannot apprehend anything beyond dense Matter. The Manas, as abstracted from the senses, is indeed capable of giving rise to supersensible knowledge. The greater the abstraction the purer the quality of this knowledge. The abstraction of Manas is really synonymous with its concentration and consequent purification. The so-called Divyachaksu, the Celestial Eye or the Third Eye of Siva is nothing but this purified, and concentrated Mind:
mano hyevAtra daiva.m chaxuH. 14
The Manas as coated with dense Matter may be described as dense or sense-bound. And in this state the Vayu too is no longer rectilinear in its motion. Every form of Vayu with which we are familiar in our sensible experience is of this type.
This oblique motion of Vayu in our physical body necessitates the existence of tracks of an oblique character. This is what is technically known as Nadichakra consisting of numerous Nadis ramifying in different directions. Leaving out the Susumna which is the central track of the straight motion of refined Vayu, the other Nadis may be loosely classed under two heads, Right and Left, from their position in relation to the Susumna. The Manas and Vayu of an ordinary man in his senses move along these winding tracks. This movement is his Samsara – his Vyutthana. The Nathas insist that if the Absolute is to be reached, the central Track, which leads directly into it as a river loses itself in the ocean, must be found out and resorted to. All other ways will mislead, as leading to the different planes of material existence, because they contain sediment of gross matter. As soon as the divergent currents of physical Manas, the vrttis of the senses, and of the physical Vayu i.e. the functions of the vital Principle, are brought to a point with a certain degree of intensity, there flashes forth a bright light representing the expression of the concentrated Saktis of the soul. This expression of Sakti is the revelation of Kundalini and its partial release from the obscuration of Matter. The Sakti as thus released, however partially it may be, rises up spontaneously and disappears in the Infinity of the Absolute. This disappearances does, not mean annihilation it simply means absorption and unification. The Absolute, as conceived in terms of Sakti, is the Infinity of Sakti actualised. Sakti is a Unity, whether manifest or otherwise. Brahman is nothing but the eternally manifest Sakti, which as such is only a synonym of Siva. It is free from action and from. every tinge of Matter. But it is a fact that a portion of this Sakti is swallowed up by Matter and appears to lose its identity under the pressure of the latter. The Nathas claim that the Sad-guru, the true Spiritual Teacher, alone is able by virtue of his active Sakti, which is indeed nothing but Siva at work, to call forth the slumbering Sakti of the disciple. The difference between Siva and Sakti is really a difference without any distinction. It is said -
‘shivasyAbhyantare shaktiH shakterabhyantare shivaH.
antara.m naiva pashyAmi chandrachandrikayoriva .’. (Siddhasiddhanta sangraha, IV. 37)
It is an inscrutable mystery how Sakti can at all be veiled by Matter. It is, nevertheless, true that once it is released it is drawn into the Infinite and universal Source which, is actually free.
It is Matter that seems to divide Siva and Sakti, so that as soon as Matter is transcended this apparent division also vanishes. And what is Matter itself? It is a phantasm appearing from the self-alienation of the Absolute as Siva and Sakti. Naturally, therefore, when Siva and Sakti are united this phantasm vanishes into nothing.
We shall see that the aim of Yoga is the establishment of this Union. This will also explain the existence of so much erotic imagery in connection with an account of this mater in the Tantric and Nathic literature, both Hindu and Buddhistic, in the mediaeval ages.
In the Siddhanta Vakya of Jalandhara we read
”-vande tannAthateho bhuvanatimiraha.m bhAnutejasphara.m vA sat.hkartR^ivyApaka.m tvA pavanagatikara.m vyomavannirbhara.m vA . mudrAnAdatrishUlairvimalaruchidhara.m kharpara.m bhasmamishra.m dvaita.m vA.advaitarUpa.m dvayata uta para.m yoginA.m sha~Nkara.m vA .. ‘l
This shows that the metaphysical position of the Nathas was not monistic, nor was it dualistic either. It was transcendental in the truest sense of the term. They speak of the Natha, the Absolute, as beyond the opposition involved in the concepts of Saguna and Nirguna or of Sakara and Nirakara. And so to them the Supreme End of Life is to realise oneself as Natha and to remain eternally fixed above the world of relations. The way to this realisation is stated to be Yoga, on which they lay great emphasis. It is held that Perfection can not be attained by any means unless it is supplemented by the disciplinary practices of Yoga.
”There is nothing greater than guru, nothing greater than guru, nothing greater than guru, nothing greater than guru.
Shiva is the instructor. Shiva is the instructor. Shiva is the instructor. Shiva is the instructor.” – Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati, V, 63.
This Sanskrit text, attributed to Siddha Gorakhnath, is divided into six chapters called Upadeshas. The Sanskrit edition used for this abstract is the Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati & Other Works of the Nath Yogis, Mallik, 1953. It is also very much worth consulting the English introduction, by Gopinath Kaviraj, to the Siddha Siddhanta Sangraha of Balabhadra, Government Sanskrit College, Benares 1925. This introduction is out of copyright and we have also placed it on this site, here. This work primarily belongs to the Kanphat or Gorakhnathi tradition, and having many contacts with the Adinath tradition, should be compared with Kaula Jnana Nirnayam (Prachya Prakashan, 1986).
The sections in this work are
1) origin of Pinda,
2) discussion of Pinda,
3) knowledge relating to Pinda,
4) foundation of Pinda.
5) unity of Pinda with the Supreme Reality (Parampada), and
6) the nature of the Avadhoot.
The Parampada is also known as Anama, or the nameless. The Pinda itself is Shakti. Pinda means, literally, a ball or an egg. This egg is the cosmic egg or Macrocosm. and also the microcosmic egg, or the human being. It has six forms, called in this text Para (Supreme). Anadi (Without Origin), Adi (Origin), Mahasakara (Great Body), Prakrita (Natural Body) and Garbha (Womb-born Body). Each of these six aspects of Pinda has itself five factors, these being subdivided into five other divisions. So each of the six aspects of Pinda has 25 qualities. The five divisions partake of the nature of Space, Air, Water, Fire and Earth — the five elements or Bhutas.
Descriptions of the chakras should not be taken at face value. Many different chakra systems exist. It is only in recent history that the one described in Avalon’s Serpent Power has come into general vague. Lokanath Maharaj.
The first of the six Pindas is Para, or the Supreme. This is identified with Shakti, whose 25 divisions are shown as follows:
1) Nija or indwelling Shakti, with the five qualities Eternity, Stainlessness, No Sound, No Light, No Emanation.
2) Para Shakti with the five qualities of Non-dependency, Immeasurability, No Divisions, Endlessness, Unmanifastness.
3) Apara or Manifestation Shakti, with the five qualities of Quivering, Emanation, Abundance, Distinction, Vibration.
4) Sukshma or Subtle Shakti, with the five qualities of Wholeness, All Extensiveness, Immovability, Firmness, and Changelessness.
5) Kundalini Shakti with Her five qualities of Fullness, Reflectiveness, Mightiness, Power and Openness.
1) Parampara or Uninterrupted Line, with five qualities of Spotlessness, Without comparison, Beyond all, Without form, Never appearing.
2) Param Padam or Supreme Part with five qualities of No Parts, Very Highest, Without Movement, Numberless, Supreme.
3) Shunya or Void with the five qualities of Playfulness, Fullness, Agitatedness, Unsteadiness. Fickleness
4) Niranjana or the Stainless, with the five qualities of Truthfulness, Spontaneity (Sahaja), Perfect Assimilation (Samarasa), Attentiveness and Omnipresence
5) Paramatma or Supreme Being with five qualities of Imperishability, inability to be Divided, Inability to be Cut, inability to be Burnt, inability to be Destroyed.
1) Paramananda or Supreme Bliss with five qualities of Vibration, Happiness, Power, Quietude, Eternal Bliss.
2) Prabodha or Manifestation with five qualities of Arising, Growth, Shining Forth, Expansion, Light.
3) Chidudaya or Arising of Consciousness with five qualities of Good Meditation, Discrimination, Doing, Knowing, independence.
4) Prakasha or Illumination with the five qualities of being Undisturbed by Things, Completeness, being Unaffected by Thought, Sama or Equipoise, and Relaxedness.
5) So-Aham or That I Am with five qualities of lmmortality, Entireness, resting in one’s own Atma, Cosmic Meditation and Equality with All.
1) Maha Akasha or Great Space, with the five qualities Space, Intactness, Untouchability, Consisting of the colour blue, relating to Sound.
2) Maha Vayu or Great Air, the five qualities being Moving About Trembling, Touch, Drying, consisting of the colour purple.
3) Maha Tejas or Great Fire relating to Burning, Cooking, Heat, Sight, and the colour red.
4) Maha Salila or Great Water with the five qualities of Flowing, Moistness, Liquidity, Taste, and the colour white.
5) Maha Prithivi or Great Earth, with five qualities of Grossness, Different Bodies, Firmness, Smell, yellow.
1) Earth with the five qualities of Bone, Flesh, Skin, Veins and Hair. 2) Water with the five qualities of Saliva, Sweat, Semen, Blood, Urine. 3) Fire with the five qualities Hunger, Thirst, Dream, Languor, Idleness.
4) Air with the five qualities Running, Swimming, Stretching, Bending, Disappointment. 5) Earth with the five qualities of Disease, Hatred, Fear, Shame; Delusion.
The work then proceeds to give five-fold qualities of many other things which seem to pertain to the Garbha Pinda. They are enumerated below.
Qualities of the Antakarana
The Antakarana is the inner complex carried from birth to rebirth.
1) The five qualities of Manas (mind) are Resolution, Wavering, Folly, Stupidity, Mentality.
2) The five qualities of Buddhi (reason) are Discrimination, Dispassion, Peace, Contentment and Patience.
3) The five qualities of Ahankara or Ego are Wishing to have contact, the feeling “this is mine”, My Happiness, My Sorrow, This is Mine.
4) The five qualities of Chitta or Observation are Pondering, Constancy, Memory, Reflection, and Making one’s own.
5) The five qualities of Chaitanya or full awareness are Reflectiveness, Skill, Steadiness, Thoughtfulness, and Indifference.
The Five Kulas
1) Sattvas — the five being Compassion, Duty, Mercy, Devotion and Faith.
2) Rajas the five qualities Giving, Enjoyment, Eroticism, Possession, and Having Wealth.
3) Tamas with the five qualities Argumentativeness, Grief, Quarrelsomeness, Bondage and Fraud.
4) Kala or Time with the five qualities Divisions, Periods, Movement, Measure, and Lack of Substance.
5) Jiva or Embodied Being with the five qualities Wake, Dream, Deep Sleep, the Fourth, and that beyond the Fourth.
The Five Shaktis of Manifestation
1) Iccha, with her five qualities Divine Madness, Desire, Longing, Reflection, and Achieving what is Desired.
2) Kriya, with the five Making Love, Effort, Action, Steadiness, and adherence to one’s own Kula-cluster.
3) Maya with her five qualities of Arrogance, Envy, Deceit, Acting, and Playfulness. 4) Prakriti with her five qualities Hope, Thirst, Eagerness, Wishing, Duplicity.
5) Vak or Devi as Speech with the five qualities Supremacy, Pashyanti, Madhyama, Vaikhari and Matrika.
The Five Gunas of Personal Experience
1) Karma, the five being Good, Evil, Fame, Dishonour, Looking to the results of action.
2) Kama or sexuality with the five qualities of intercourse, Liking, Playfulness, Desire or Lust. 3) Moon with 16 Kalas, and a 17th called Nirvana.
4) Sun, with 12 Kalas and a 13th called Shining by its own Light.
5) Fire with 10 Kalas, the 11th being Light. (In these last three gunas the 17th, 13th and 11th Kalas are each taken as a synthesis of 16, 12 and 10. Channels of Bioenergy (Nadis)
These are enumerated in the text as Ida, Pingala — both of which are related to the nostrils; Sushumna, which is the central channel, Sarasvati, which is on the tongue; Pusha and Alambusha related to the eyes; Gandhari relating to the hands and the ears; Kuhu, which goes to the anus; Shankhini, said to be the lingam aperture. The Brahmarandhra is related through the central path to all of the 10 Nadis. The 10 Vital Breaths or Vayus
These are related to different functions in the body.
The most important vital breath is Prana, said to reside in the heart and consisting of expiration and inspiration, relating to the letters Ha and Sa (Hamsa.
The rest of the first Upadesha describes how, by the combination of red blood and white semen, birth occurs, and enumerates the different stages in the development of an embryo. It is stated that an excess of semen gives males, blood females, and an equal amount gives rise to neuter, hermaphrodite, or homosexual.
The chapter closes with the proportions of the different Ayurvedic bases in the body, and states that Vata, Pitta and Sleshma — the three base Dhatus, give rise to the 10.
This section deals with the position of the chakras in the body.
A) The fundamental chakra is the place of Kamarupa, it is of a wine-colour, giving the fruit of all sexuality. Shakti is said to reside here.
B) The second chakra is called the Svadishtana, in its centre is a lingam the colour of pink coral, like a young shoot. In there is Oddiyana Pitha, giving the power of all attraction.
C) Thirdly is the navel chakra, with five petals, and in its centre is Kundalini Shakti coiled up. She is said to resemble 10 million dawn suns, and gives all siddhi.
D) The fourth chakra is the heart-centre, with eight petals. In it is a lingam. It is the seat of Hamsa, the place where all the senses come to reside.
E) The fifth is the throat chakra, the junction point of Ida and Pingala. Ida is the Moon nadi on the right, and Pingala the Sun nadi on the left. In the centre is Sushumna. One should meditate there on spontaneous sound, which is Nada.
F) Above this is the Talu chakra. Amrita is said to flow from here. It is near the uvula. It is called Rajadanta, and is said to be the place Shankhini Nadi comes to the 10th door or aperture. One is to meditate there on the Void.
G) Above this is the brow chakra, said to be the Eye of Knowledge. One obtains Siddhi of the circle of the Matrikas by meditating here. It is like the source of Light.
H) The eighth chakra is said to be the Brahmarandhra or Nirvana Chakra. It is the colour of a column of smoke (purple). The three Kutas or peaks are above this. Jalandhara is situated there. If one meditates on this centre it gives liberation.
I) Above this is another chakra called the Akasha or Space Chakra. It has 16 petals, and in its centre is an Upper Yoni. Over this one should meditate on the Supreme Void, which is said to be the place of Purnagiri Pitha. It gives all desired siddhi.
The 16 Adharas
The text now mentions 16 places where meditation may be accomplished.
On the tip of the big toe of the right foot one should meditate on a steady light.
The second base is situated in the root chakra, and a flaming fire should he visualised there. Thirdly is the anus, where the Apana vital breath resides.
The Fourth is in the penis, where the Brahmagranthis are said to come together. Fifth is the Oddiyana base (see above).
Sixthly is the navel centre, in which is Om, where all sound dissolves. The seventh is the heart chakra, where Prana resides.
The eighth is the throat adhara, the place where Ida and Pingala come together.
The ninth base is the Ghantika, at the root of the tongue, whence arises the nectar. The 10th is behind this, identified with the Talu chakra.
The 11th base is at the tip of the tongue. Meditating here one conquers all disease. The 12th centre is the third eye, where one should meditate on the lunar circle.
Next and 13th is the spot at the root of the nose. Meditating here, one becomes very concentrated of mind. The 14th base is behind the root of the nose.
The 15th is on the forehead, and is said to be the centre of Light.
At the 16th, above the Brahmarandhra, is the Space Chakra, and here reside the two lotus feet of Shri Guru.
Three Lakshyas or Places of Meditation
These are identified with Moon, Sun and Fire at head, heart and genitals.
These pervade the body, and each has the characteristic of Voidness.
It is stated here that only by meditating on the nine chakras, the 16 bases, the three Lakshyas and the five Spaces does one become a yogi.
In passing, it should be noted that the Kashmir Shaivite Netra Tantra follows the above scheme most closely. The chapter closes with a description of the well known eight limbs of yoga.
This section deals with the identity of macrocosm and microcosm. The tortoise supporting the cosmos is below the feet, On the soles is the Patala underworld. Talatala is in the region of the front of the feet, Mahatala is on the heels. Rasatala is at the ankles. Sutala is associated with the legs. Vitala is in the region of the knees, and Atala is at the root of the body. Above this resides the Great Fire at the End of Time (Shiva Kalagnirudra).
The three worlds are then described. Bhur is in the genitals. The presiding deity is Indra. At the tip of the penis and at the penis aperture is Mahar Loka. Svar Loka is associated with the womb. In the heart is Rudra Loka. Rudra is said to be one with Ugra. The chest region is Ishvara Loka. The throat region is Sadashiva Loka. In the centre of the throat, in the neck, is Shri Kantha Loka. At the tongue root is Bhairava Loka — the Heaven of Bhairava. In the 10th aperture is Shiva Loka Above this 10th aperture is Siddha Loka, where dwell eternally the Siddha Nathas.
In the forehead is the Heaven without Origin. The Lord there is Anadi, or the Originless One. At the peak of the head is Kula Loka, the Lord there being Kuleshvara. In the Brahmarandhra is the Lord of the Supreme Absolute. In the Trikuta is Shakti Loka, and Supreme Shakti rules here.
The seven underworlds. and the heavens all reside in the human body. In the nine apertures are the nine divisions (Khandhas) of India. The seven oceans are Identified with the seven bodily Dhatus. The spine is Mount Meru, and Mount Kailasha is the aperture at the top of the head. Other mountain ranges exist where there are bumps on the body. The Vindhya range is on the right ear, and on the left Mount Mainaka.
Shri Parvati is on the forehead. The 64 Yoginis dwell in the joints of the hands and fingers along with the smaller mountain ranges. The great rivers Ganges, Jumna, Chandrabhaga, Sarasvati, Narmada &c. are identified with the veins. Other lesser rivers and streams are associated with the veins and subtle channels of energy throughout the body. Also in the body are the 27 sidereal constellations, the 12 sidereal constellations, all pithas, and the lunar days.
Dwelling in the pores and hairs of the body are the 33 millions of gods and goddesses. Numberless saints are associated with the armpit hair. The Pithas and lesser Pithas (Upapitha) reside in the facial hair. Associated with all the Joints of the body and the other places mentioned are the Elements, the Ghosts (Pretas), the Pishachas, the Rakshasas, the Daityas and the Danavas. The Gandharvas, Kinnaras, Ganas, Apsaras and Yakshas also dwell in the body. Speech is equivalent to the rays of light outspreading in the cosmos. The Khechari Shaktis, and Dakini &c. dwell in the body. Wind is equivalent to breath, and if tears fall it is equivalent to the rain. . All the sacred bathing places are in the (108) marmas of the body. The lights of consciousness are the Siddha Naths. The Sun and the Moon are the two eyes. The sentiments reside in the hairs of the legs. Insects and other creeping things are in the urine and waste products.
When a person is happy, she or he is in heaven. When sad, it is hell. Free from these distinctions, one is liberated whether asleep or awake. Maheshvar (Shiva) dwells completely without distinctions in this Cosms, emanating it and shining forth by His own light.
This section deals with Shakti, who is the support or basis for the Pinda previously mentioned. Kula is manifested Shakti, whilst Akula is non-dual, without any distinctions whatsoever. The union of Kula and Akula is called Samarasa or perfect assimilation.
Parampada may be likened to Supreme Shiva, whilst Kula is Shiva in His immanent form. Both Kula and Akula are inseparate.
Various extracts are given from tantras. These are ‘Lalita Svacchanda’, ‘Pratyabhijna’ and ‘Vamakeshvara’.. The last extract is to the effect that Shiva and Shakti are one.
Other extracts from other tantras are quoted to further explain the theory behind the practice and to explain what has previously been mentioned.
Mainly deals with the supremacy of the Guru, and the attainment of the equilibrium of the Pinda, which results in the achievement of Samarasa or perfect assimilation. Only through the grace of the Guru may this be achieved and not through thought or endless discussions. One should obtain it orally and not from a multitude of texts. Only then is one liberated. Parampada is obtained only through the favour of the true Guru.
One who has achieved this Samarasa alone is a Sveccha Yogi, able to do whatever is willed, free from sickness and death. The results of practice for a period of years are described. in the ninth year one achieves a body which is like Vajra. In the 12th year one becomes equal to Shiva, is worshipped in the three worlds, and a Siddha like Shri Bhairava. Success is not achieved by recitation of mantra, penances, meditations. sacrifices, pilgrimages, or worship of Devas, but only through the Guru’s grace.
A couplet is given, said to have been spoken by Shiva: “There is nothing greater than Guru. There is nothing greater than Guru. There is nothing greater than Guru. The Guru is Shiva. The Guru is Shiva. The Guru is Shiva. The Guru is Shiva.”
If one is not instructed by the Guru but attempts the great work alone then one is a liar as all is achieved through his grace. Such a person is empty of all knowledge.
Deals with the characteristics of an Avadhoot — one who has achieved the highest state of all. Such a person is a Siddha Yogi, free from everything, with a complete understanding of the Pinda. Only an Avadhoot may initiate a disciple into the path of Nath Yoga. The Natha school is the best of all other systems, and therefore the Avadhoot is the best of all Gurus. Systems and paths mentioned include Sankhya, Vaishnava, Vedik, Saura, Buddhist, Jaina, and many others.
This path is so superior that it should be carefully hidden. The lotus feet of the Guru should be sought if one wishes to achieve success, and to be free from fear and sorrow.
Artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1996-2006. Translations are © Mike Magee 1996-2006. Questions or comments to email@example.com