Introduction to Kashmir Shaivism

An Introduction to Kashmir Shaivism
or the Trika Darshana


*-*Alexander David Conroy
अलक्षेन्द्र प्रिय वृकराज

The formal name of Kashmir Shaivism is Trika Śāstra or Trika Śāsana.

अस्थास्यदेकरुपेण वपुषा चेन्महेश्वरः।
महेश्वरस्वं संवित्त्वं तदत्यक्षव् धटदिवत्॥

“asthāsyadekarupea vapuā cenmaheśvara |
maheśvarasva savittva tadatyakav dhaādivat ||”
-Abhinavagupta, Tantrāloka, III, 100 [1]

Manifestation of multiplicity is necessary within the highest reality to prevent the preservation of a limited paradigm of existence, Śiva is Maheśvara and Samvit.
                                                                     
   -Author’s Translation

Kashmir Shaivism was developed through the intuitive faculty of the devotees who meditated upon the Samvit Śakti [2] while following the paths of Prakāśa [3] and Vimarśa [4] . Trika Śasana was expanded through three main spiritual disciplines: āgama [5] , spanda [6] and pratyabhijñā [7] . Literature on Trika Śasana was amassed for years until many Varttikā [8] and Vivti [9] began to be written by devotees in order to simplify the numerous accounts on the mystery of Śiva [10] , who is transcendent in nature but can be realized through the intuitive revelations of the these three spiritual disciplines.
Within Kashmir Shaivism we find three major concepts throughout the Trika discipline:

  1. Prakāśa
  2. Vimarśa
  3. Samvit [11]
     

The following introduction will describe āgama, spanda and pratyabhijñā, the three forms of intuitive revelation, in further detail with mindfulness on prakāśa, vimarśa and samvit.

Āgama Śāstra [12]
Āgama literally means what has descended and been revealed to the devout Shaiva. It is the sacred śabda [13] which is in the form of dialogue between mahadeva, who is Śiva and mahadevī, who is Śakti. This is the processing of revelation and the process of spiritual discipline. The main āgamas are svacchanda bhairava atra, rudrayāmala tatra, malini vijayo ittara tatra, vijyaña tātra, netra tatra, svayabhuva tatra, and Śiva sūtra [14] . Revelations have been given to mankind by Śiva himself. The first recipient of these revelations was Durvāsā Ṛṣi who then passed it down to Tryambakāditya. It is said that Tryambakāditya was the mind born son of Durvāsā.

एवमेषं त्र्यम्बकारव्या तेरम्बा देशभाषया।
सिठता शिष्यप्रशिश्याद्यैर्विस्तीर्णा मठिकोदिता।
evamea tryambakāravyā terambā deśabhāayā |
sihatā śiyapraśiśyādyairvistīrā mahikoditā |
-शिवदृष्टि आ० :१२१-१२२।
-śivadṛṣṭi ā0 7:121-122 |

The Tradition says that Tryambakāditya continued these āgamic revelations through his progeny and disciples known as Sangamaditya, who then propounded this system in Kashmir. Tryambakāditya was 16th in the line of disciples and was considered the Siddhayogi, his name meaning the effulgence of the three-eyed sun.

Acharya Somānanda considers himself to be in his 20th descendant in the lineage. In the lineage the great Acharya, excelled through his work śrīśivastotrāvalī [15] , which is the essence of the āgamas.

शिव-शिव-शिवेति नामनि

तव निरवधि नाथ जप्यमानेऽस्मिन्।
आस्वादयन् भवेयं

कमपि महारसमपुनद्रक्तम्॥

---श्रीशिवस्तोत्रावली -२३॥ [16]

śiva-śiva-śiveti nāmani

tava niravadhi nātha japyamāne'smin |
āsvādayan bhaveya
kamapi mahārasamapunadraktam ||
                        -śrīśivastotrāvalī 5-23 ||

“I will devote myself to the recitation of your name so that I may maintain constant awareness of my lasting communion which is like tasting the the great nectar of life [17] -Author's Translation

The emphasis is on the word niravadhi and mahārasa. Niravadhi means where there is no concept of time, where time is sealed away, or eternal. That which is to be integrated with this indivisible time, means you are time itself. Śiva is there known as mahākāla, the great principle of time and trikāgni, the threefold fire. Mahārasa means total absorbtion with the name Śiva. [18] [19]

Spanda
Spanda literally means vibration. It is the Sadhana [20] aspect of Kashmir Shaivism. The Spandakārikā is the basic text of this system; it consists of 55 kārikās [21] divided into three chapters. In the first chapter, the first 25 kārikās are related to svarūpa, the innate nature of Śiva. The second chapter consists of 7 kārikās related to sahaja vidyā udaya spanda which is the spontaneous flow of divine knowledge that is also the primal throb of the universe which causes creation, preservation and merging. The third chapter is related to the 19 kārikās which describe the Vibhūti-spanda. Vibhūti means all-glory, auspiciousness, spiritual bliss and  command over the material aspects of existence. It was Kśemarāja, the Shaiva sholar who named it the spanda śastra. Like the āgamas, it holds authority on cosmic principles, but is more philosophic in nature and establishes its identity through reason. Though there is difference of opinion about the authorship of the spandas, the great researcher on Kashmir Shaivism, Dr. K. C. Pandey, [22] D. Lit., [23] has written three books: Abhinavgupta, the Eastern Aesthetics, and the Western Aesthetics. [24] The spanda śastra explains Śiva as absolute reality with his svātantrya-Śakti which is kiciccalattātmaka. [25]

Other scholars who have contributed to the formulation of Kashmir Shaivism include: Bhatta Kallata who wrote about Vasugupta, who lived around 825 AD. Bhatta Kallata has written commentaries known as vti [26]   called spanda-sarvasva-vti. Rama Kantha has written the spanda-vīvti. Utapalavaishnava has written the spanda-vtipaka. Lastly, Kshemarāja wrote the spanda sandoha and spanda niraya. It is worth noting that Kshemaraja has addressed himself as the pādapādamajīvan [27] of Acharya Utpaladeva.

कृतिस्तत्रभवतोः महामाहेश्रराचार्यशिरोमणिराजानकश्रीमदत्पलदेवपादपद्मानुजीविनो राजानकरामकण्ठस्य।
ktistatrabhavato mahāmāheśrarācāryaśiromairājānakaśrīmadatpaladevapādapadmānujīvino rājānakarāmakaṇṭhasya |
-स्पन्दविवृति उपसंजारवाक्य।
-spandavivti upasajāravākya|

All the works authored by Mahāmāheśrarācārya, the excellent teacher, adored as Rajanaka, Śrimat, Utapaladeva, are considered by him to blessed as they have all sprung from the realm of the lotus feet of his guru pādapādamajīvan.
-Author’s Translation

Pratyabhijñā

Pratya [28] bhijñā [29] literally means the reflections of one’s intent. Pratyabhijñā primarily means the doctrine of Self-recognition. This tradition is philosophic in concept and content. It is also monistic in character and follows philosophic terminology to establish oneness with Śiva. It was Acharya Somānanda who wrote Śivadṛsi to establish the system. This system deals with the concept of the self [30] , which is the source of all creation and manifestation, as that which is to be recognized through the doctrine:“I am Śiva”. Acharya Utpaladeva has written the īśvarapratyabhijñā, which is a philosophy that is triadic in nature with reference to the 3 Upāyās, established as shāmbhava upāyā and to be approached through śākta upāyā. On the existence of, or through the perception of, āava upāyā. It is subdivided into these upāyās for the cleansing of the self which can be attained through initiation granted by the great masters of the Trika Tradition. The pratyabhijñā system is a path to attain Śivahood.  Somānanda has contributed to this system which has been referred to in the spanda-vivti.

 Śivadsti is the sacred text on the Śiva-Advaita. To study the pratyabhijñā system, we have to study the Śivadsti in order to import the true consciousness of Śiva. The literal meaning of Śivadsti is the Vision of Śiva or the Knowledge about Śiva and it is in the anuṣṭup chanda [31] of 8 syllables. This sacred text consists of 700 ślokas [32] , divided into seven āhnikas [33] .

The first āhnika deals with obesience to Śiva as self from microcosm to macrocosm. The second āhnika deals with Śabda [34] Advaita which is the immutable monistic primal word which means Śiva is truth, and one. The third āhnika deals with the comparitive study of Śaktism, the dualistic Shaiva’s and Patanjali Yoga. The fourth establishing Śiva as the monistic approach to reality. The fifth deals with the “subject/object” and its synthesis. The sixth deals with the Vedānta, Pañcharatra, Sāmkya, Nyāya, Vaiśeika, and Buddhist principles. The Śivadsti deals with all these subjects as a comparitive study while establishing its own Advaita [35] philosophy on Śiva. The seventh āhnika deals with ānanda [36] -avasthā which is the blissful realm of the divine, who is Śiva.

Abhinavgupta ,The great Acharya of Kashmir Shaivism is the acclaimed author of the Tantrāloka which is considered to be the Encyclopedia of Kashmir Shaivism. He was a grammarian who wrote on, and studied Dvaita and Advaita Tantra, Dualistic Shaivism, Brahmavidya, Trikadarshana, Dhvanishastra, Natyashastra,and Aesthetics from different teachers. His acclaimed treatise is Vimarshinivti on Iśvara Pratyabhijñā He was the disciple of Achrya Utpaladeva and he has written kramastotra, bhairava stotra, anubhavanivedana stotra, dehasthadevata stotra and mīmansa on dhvani and rasa which is the quintessence of Sanskrit literature associated with Trika philosophy.

It is said that Abhinavgupta’s spiritual power was very great, and his contemporaries often saw this greatness. There was clarity in his mind about Śiva consciousness. He had a powerful memory and marvelous intellectual approach toward realization. He had a very strong command over language.

Dr. K.C. Pandey writes about Abhinavgupta:
“Noble was his birth, living and gentle his temper, honest and rigorous his life, strong and admirable his character, brilliant and highly useful his career, memorable and lasting his contribution to both poetics and philosophy, and glorious was the last scene of his earthly excistence, when like Tennyson’s legendary King Arthur, he parted from his followers never to be seen again. [37]

Bibliography

  • Baumer, Bettina, ed. Para-trisika-Vivarana: The Secret of Tantric Mysticism. Translated by Jaideva Singh. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2005.
  • Chatterji, Jagadish Chandra. Kashmir Shaivism. New York: SUNY Press, 1986.
  • Maharaja, Svami Laksmana Joo, ed. The Sivastotravali of Utpaladevacarya. Translated by Ksemaraja. Delhi: Ishwar Ashram Trust, 2000.
  • Pandey, Dr. Kanti Chandra. Abhinavgupta: An Historical and Philosophical Study. 2nd. Varanasi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, 1963.
  • Pandit, M. P. Gems from the Tantras (Kularnava). Madras: Ganesh & Co., 1969.
  • Singh, Jaideva, trans. Siva Sutras. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1988.
  • Zimmer, Henrich. Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization. Edited by Joseph Cambell. New York: Pantheon Books, Inc, 1946.

[1] अस्थास्यदेकरुपेण वपुषा चेन्महेश्वरः।
महेश्वरस्वं संवित्त्वं तदत्यक्षव् धटादिवत्॥               
-तन्त्रालोक १००

[2] Savit Śakti(संवित् शक्ति): Luminous Energy
[3] Prakāśa(प्रकाश): Eternal Light
[4] Vimarśa(विमर्श): Discernment, or awareness of Paramaśiva
[5] Āgamas(आगम): Divine Revelations
[6] Spanda(स्पन्द): Vibrations
[7] Pratyabhijñā(प्रत्यभिज्ञा): Principles of Self Recognition
[8] Varttikā(वर्त्तिका): Commentary
[9] Vivti(विवृति ): Annotations
[10] Śiva(शिव): Transcendental Reality
[11] Samvit(सम्वित् ): Synthesis or Non-relational Consciousness
[12] Śāstra(शास्त्र): Literature
[13] Śabda(शब्द): Primal Word/Brahman
[14] स्वच्छन्द भैरव टंत्र रुद्रयामल तंत्र मलिनि विजयो इत्तर तंत्र विज्यञ तांत्र नेत्र तंत्र स्वयंभुव तंत्र शिव सूत्र
[15] श्रीशिवस्तोत्रावली
[16] The Agamic shloka directly translates as follows:
 

O Lord! O Śiva! O Śiva! O Śiva! May I meditate upon you through constant recitation (Japam)
I will devote myself to constantly reciting your name.
I enjoy the flavor of your name(bhava).
Your name is said to be the great spiritual nectar.

[17] Mahārasa(महारस): The Great Taste. That taste from which you do not want to part with.

[18] Total absorption is due to the taste being compared to the nectar of life. When one tastes the nectar of life, nothing afterwards can be comparable, so one will strive to taste that nectar again. There really is no going back as nothing else can be considered to taste as good.  This is known as svātmasvarūpa with Śiva. Mans Physical and Mental Nature totally absorbed with Shiva.

[19] In Kashmir Āgamas, the ānanda is of Seven types: The first, Nijananda is where the mind rests only on the Subject of experience. The second is Nirananda, when the mind contemplates over the absence of all objects of experience. The third, Parananda, is where there is contemplation on inhaling and exhaling. The fourth, Brahmananda, is where the mind rests on balancing the breath. Mahananda, the fifth, is where the mind rests dissolving all knowledge and objects of knowledge. The sixth, Chiddananda, is where the mind rests with all consciousness. Jagatananda, the seventh and final type is where the mind rests on all awareness surpassing all other states of spiritual delight.

[20] Sadhana(सधन): Focusing the mind on an Object to achieve perfection through its benefits.
[21] Kārikā(कारिका):
[22] Dr. Kanti Chandra Pandey
[23] Doctor of Literature
[24] He studied Kashmir Shaivism with Pandit Harabat Shashtri and Professor Jagaddhar Zadu
[25] kiciccalattātmaka (किंचिच्चलत्तात्मक): Whatever is Animate and Inanimate is verily Shiva. The word Achala means permanent and non-transitory, ever flowing with its infinitesimal nature.
[26] vti(वृति): Commentary, Literally innate nature of the self, also in the Shaivistic texts it suggests its meaning, style and composition and explanations. It serves as a glossary to the texts.

[27] Paada means the feet, Padma is Lotus Jiva means the embodied soul. Logina means the eye, or perception. It means perception viewing power. The lotus is always clean, it never gets stained with Water though it is always in water. It is not attached to the worldly sins, what is not good. Hence, being born from the Dust of the Feet of the Lotus implies that he is born  without this sin and that these attachments to not stick to him.

[28] Pratya: To go towards, to behold, to perceive, to Consider, to Acknowledge.
[29] Bhijñā:To recognize.            
[30] Atman
[31] Anuṣṭup chanda (अनुष्टुप् छन्द): Meter. Chandas come during the cosmic dance of Siva
[32] Śloka (श्लोक): The word śloka has four lines or two lines, four lines with eight syllabes or two lines with sixteen syllables. It means verse. It is a form of poetry in meter, not a mantra.
[33] Āhnika(आह्निक): Flaming Chapter. The word derives from ahnā nivtam(अह्ना निवृतम्) which means the scheduled sacred works to be performed daily as well as explanations and annotations on special Shaivistic works.
[34] Śabda(शब्द): ÖŚabd(शब्द्) means word, articulate sound,verbal testimony and expressive.  Śabda hence means Śiva because he provided the articulation of the varna(letters) for the words during the cosmic dance which became the source of the maheśvarasutra and Śivasutra.
[35] Advaita(अद्वैत): Non-duality, Non-Dualism
[36] Ānanda(आनन्द): Bliss
[37] Pandey, Dr. Kanti Chandra. Abhinavgupta: An Historical an dPhilosophical Study. Second Edition, Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, Varanasi India 1963.Source Material:  Acnowledgement Dr.  Bhanaar lal Joshi for writing exhaustive notes on Kashmir Shaivism


*Alexander David Conroy, has studied Sanskrit and Kashmir Shaiva Philosophy at Florida International University. He was born a Catholic, yet has more active interest in Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish philosophy and mysticism. He has a background in psychology and computer science. He also has and continues to receive western esoteric training in Kabbalistic Shamanism and is an avid martial artist. He has written many articles comparing seemingly separate mystical and esoteric traditions.

Presently teaching introductory religion in-class and online courses at Florida International University, he is working on his Thesis comparing the mysticism of Adi Sankara and Moses Maimonides.

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Comments
Super article ....Great work Keep it up.
Added By Vijay kumar
One of the best article on Kashmir shaivism by an American Trika Shaivism Scholar.
Added By Chaman Lal Raina
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