An Introduction to the Philosophy of Trika Saivism


An Introduction to the Philosophy of Trika Saivism 
by Moti Lal Pandit

Format: Hardcover (Edition: 2007)
Size: 9.0" X 5.8"
Pages: 248




Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.

Language: English
ISBN 81-215-1183-6


About the book


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Theaim of this book is basically to introduce the reader to thefundamental principles that Trika Philosophers have enunciated in theirphilosophical-cum-theological treatises. Such an approach has beenadopted deliberately on account of the fact that Trika system ofthought, which is very rich in philosophical vocabulary, is hardlyknown to general public in the manner of Advaita Vedanta of Samkara.Although non-dualistic in orientation, yet it differs radically fromthe monism of Samkara with regard to the nature of the Absolute and theworld. The Trika philosophy rejects the Vedantic view of the Absolutetheistically, and so speaks of Paramasiva as being both consciousnessand reflective awareness. As such the Absolute freedom, and so theschool also is referred to as being that of Freedom. Insofar as thestatus of the world is concerned, the Trika thinks of it as beingextension/emission/reflection of Paramasiva and so is considered to bereal. It means that the world, even though a reflection of Paramasiva,is actually Siva itself.

Fromthese main differences it can be discerned that the Trika absolutism isradically different from the one that Samkara has adumbrated. It ishoped that the reader upon reading the book will be able to have thegrasp of the main philosophical principles that the Trika hasenunciated and developed.
Asto when historically Saivism was introduced into the valley of Kashmiris quite uncertain. Tradition has it that it was sage Durvasa whorevived the Saivite lore through his three mind-born sons. Insofar asthe Trika branch of Saivism is concerned, its origin is ascribed to oneof the mind-born sons of Durvasa, namely, Trailyamba-kaditya. One ofthe descendents of Traiyambakaditya, namely, Sangamaditya, is said tohave introduced the Trika system in the valley of Kashmir during theeighth century AD. He is believed to have been the sixteenth teacher inthe line of Triyambakaditya. This account is mainly based upon theSivadrsti of Somananda, as Somannda himself claims to be the twentiethdescendent of the line of Traiyambakaiditya.

It isduring AD 700 and 800 that the basic texts of the Trika were composed.The trinity of texts that were composed during this period is theSiddhatantra, Malinitantra and the Vamakatantra. It is from thistrinity of texts from which the term trika, meaning "there," isderived. In addition to these three texts, the revelatory texts thatwere composed during this period are the Svacchandatantra, Netratantraas well as the Rudrayamalatantra. All these texts, being revelatory incharacter, contain certain theo-logical rather than philosophical linesof thought and exposition of the Trika. The first attempt at explainingsystematically the Trika is made by Vasugupta in his Sivsutra.

Vasugupta's disciple, namely, Kallatabhatta, further elaborated thecontents of the Sivasutra in his Spndakarik and Spandavrtti, whichtogether are known as the Spandasarvasva. In addition to these twocompositions, Kallatabhatta also is said to have written theSvasvabhava sambodhana and Tattvavicara, which however are no moreavailable. He also composed commentary, called the Madhuvahini, on theSivasutra, which too has been lost. He is the only Saivite thinker ofthis period who has been praised as an accomplished person by Kalhanain his Rajatarangini.

During the reign of Avantivarman (ninth century) many great Saivitethinkers appeared in the valley of Kashmir. One such thinker wasPradyumnabhatta, the cousin of Kallatabhatta, who composed a hymn,namely, the Tattvagarbha-stotra. In this hymn the basic principles ofthe Trika are explained from the standpoint of Saktism. Somananda alsoappeared during this period that, as the presiding teacher of the Trikalineage, composed the first philosophical treatise, namely, theSivadrsti. In this text the basic principles of the Philosophy ofRecognition have been adumbrated. He is also said to have written acommentary on the Paratrisika, which is only known to us throughreferences and quotations.

The philosophical principles of recognitive philosophy that Somanandaexpounded was further developed by his main disciple, namely,Utpaladev. Utpaladeva gave a firm logical grounding to the basicprinciples of recognitive philosophy in his Isvrapratyabhijna. Inaddition to it, he also composed three small texts as a supplement tothe Isvarapratyabhijn. These small texts are jointly known as theSiddhitrayi. He also wrote commentaries on his Isvarapratyabhijna aswell as on the Sivadrsti of Somananda, which however are available onlyin fragments. Utpaladeva was not only a great philosopher, but was apoet par excellence. His poetical composition, namely, theSivastotravali, expresses his religious and philosophical thinking insuch a direct manner as to penetrate every mood of the heart. One ofthe disciples of Utpaladeva as well as the younger brother of the poetMuktakana, namely, Ramakantha, wrote two seminal works: theSpandavrtti, which is a detailed commentary on the Spandakarika, andthe other is a commentary on the Bhagavadgita from a Saiviteperspective. Also during this period appeared a philosophical hymn-thestavacintamani- in praise of Siva from the pen of Narayanabhatta.

Bhaskaracrya (ninth century), while belonging to the lineage ofVasugupta, wrote the most important commentary on the Sivsutra, namely,the Varttika. This commentary does not suffer from the prolixity thatone finds in the Vimarsini of Ksemaraja. Most probably he is the sameBhaskara who has been mentioned by Abhinavagupta as one of histeachers. It is to this period to which another great thinker belonged,namely, Utpala Vaisnava. Although belonging to the VaisnavitePancaratra tradition, he composed a scholarly commentary on theSpandakarika, which is known by the name of Spandapradipika. It was inthe middle of the tenth century that Abhinavagupta appeared on thephilosophical horizon of Kashmir. He so synthesized the diffusedreligious practices and the philosophical thought of Kashmir Saivism asto bring them into the symbiotic union of the Trika. He wroteextensively and composed commentaries on the seminal philosophicaltexts of both Somananda and Utpaladeva. One such philosophicalcommentary is his Vimarsini on the Isvarapratyabhijna of Utpaladeva.The other philosophical commentary is theIsvarapratyabhijna-vivrtivimarsini on the now lost tika of Utpaladevaon his own composition: the Isvarapratyabhijna. Insofar asAbhinavagupta's commentaries on the Sivadrsti of Somananda and theSiddhitrayi of Utpaladeva are concerned, they are no more available andseem to have been lost for ever.

One of the greatest works that Abhinavagupta wrote is his voluminous and encyclopaedic work: the Tantraloka.

In this voluminous work Abhinavagupta has interpreted comprehensivelythe Trika philosophical thought, rituals and contemplative practices ofSaiva yoga. Since this work is so voluminous that it is practicallyimpossible for any one to master it, so he wrote a gist of it in hisanother valuable work, namely, the Tantrasara. He also wrote acommentary, called Vivarana, on the Paratrisika, which is a scripturalwork containing highly esoteric material about the Trika yoga. He alsowrote a commentary, called the Varttika, on the Malini-tantra. Inaddition to these important works, he composed a commentary-Kramakeli-on the Kramastotra of Siddhanatha. He also wrote a text forthe beginners, namely, the Paramarthasara. Another similar work of hisis the Bodhapancadasika. He was not only a prolific writer, but alsowas a poet of great merit. His hymns are still being sung by KashmiriPandits. K.C. Pandey has published most of his hymns as appendices tohis book: Abhinavagupta- An Historical and Philosophical Study. Thephilosophical and religious treatises as well as lyrical compositionsof Abhinavagupta represent the culmination of the doctrinal developmentof the Trika. He is, thus, the ultimate authority insofar as thedoctrinal and practical aspects of the non-dualist Trika is concerned.

Chapter 1 The Conceptual and Textual Sources of Tirka
Chapter 2 The Trika Theory of Knowledge
Chapter 3 The Trika Conception of the Absolute
Chapter 4 The Trika Doctrine of Cosmic Manifestation
Chapter 5 The Trika Theory of Appearance
Chapter 6 The Trika Theory of Recognition
Chapter 7 Bondage versus Liberation
Chapter 8 The Trika Methods of Liberation

About the Author
Moti Lal Pandit, hadthe opportunity of studying the philosophical and Tantric traditions ofTrika from various teachers both in and outside the Valley. Trained asa theologian and in modern humanities and classical languages, he hasaccordingly been the communicator of today's Hinduism and Buddhism whenthey encounter the modern world. Moti Lal Pandit is at Present Servingas Secretary of Dialog Center International (Arhus Denmark) forResearch and Dialog.

Trainedas a theologian and linguist, he has been engaged for last threedecades in such dialogic research as would disseminate knowledgeconcerning the essence of such forms of spirituality as has beenenunciated by such major religions as Hinduism, Buddhism andChristianity. The result of this untiring effort has been thepublication of such books as, for example, Vedioc Hinduism; Philosophyof the Upanisads; Samkara's Concept of Reality; Being as Becoming;Beyond the Word; Transcendence and Negation; Buddhism: A Religion ofSalvation; The Trika Saivism of Kashmir; Encounter with Buddhism; andThe Disclosure of Being.

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