Introduction to Kashmir Shaivism
An Introduction to Kashmir Shaivism
or the Trika Darshana
The formal name of Kashmir Shaivism is Trika Śāstra or Trika Śāsana.
अस्थास्यदेकरुपेण वपुषा चेन्महेश्वरः।
“asthāsyadekarupeṇa vapuṣā cenmaheśvaraḥ |
Manifestation of multiplicity is necessary within the highest reality to prevent the preservation of a limited paradigm of existence, Śiva is Maheśvara and Samvit.
Kashmir Shaivism was developed through the intuitive faculty of the devotees who meditated upon the Samvit Śakti  while following the paths of Prakāśa  and Vimarśa  . Trika Śasana was expanded through three main spiritual disciplines: āgama  , spanda  and pratyabhijñā  . Literature on Trika Śasana was amassed for years until many Varttikā  and Vivṛti  began to be written by devotees in order to simplify the numerous accounts on the mystery of Śiva  , who is transcendent in nature but can be realized through the intuitive revelations of the these three spiritual disciplines.
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 
एवमेषं त्र्यम्बकारव्या तेरम्बा देशभाषया।
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  , which is the essence of the āgamas.
तव निरवधि नाथ जप्यमानेऽस्मिन्।
---श्रीशिवस्तोत्रावली ५-२३॥ 
tava niravadhi nātha japyamāne'smin |
“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  -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.  
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 vṛti  called spanda-sarvasva-vṛti. Rama Kantha has written the spanda-vīvṛti. Utapalavaishnava has written the spanda-vṛtipaka. Lastly, Kshemarāja wrote the spanda sandoha and spanda nirṇaya. It is worth noting that Kshemaraja has addressed himself as the pādapādamajīvan  of Acharya Utpaladeva.
कृतिस्तत्रभवतोः महामाहेश्रराचार्यशिरोमणिराजानकश्रीमदत्पलदेवपादपद्मानुजीविनो राजानकरामकण्ठस्य।
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.
Pratya  bhijñā  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 Śivadṛsṭi to establish the system. This system deals with the concept of the self  , 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, āṇava 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-vivṛti.
Śivadṛsti is the sacred text on the Śiva-Advaita. To study the pratyabhijñā system, we have to study the Śivadṛsti in order to import the true consciousness of Śiva. The literal meaning of Śivadṛsti is the Vision of Śiva or the Knowledge about Śiva and it is in the anuṣṭup chanda  of 8 syllables. This sacred text consists of 700 ślokas  , divided into seven āhnikas  .
The first āhnika deals with obesience to Śiva as self from microcosm to macrocosm. The second āhnika deals with Śabda  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, Vaiśeṣika, and Buddhist principles. The Śivadṛsti deals with all these subjects as a comparitive study while establishing its own Advaita  philosophy on Śiva. The seventh āhnika deals with ānanda  -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 Vimarshinivṛti 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:
 “अस्थास्यदेकरुपेण वपुषा चेन्महेश्वरः।
 Saṁvit Śakti(संवित् शक्ति): Luminous Energy
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.
 Mahārasa(महारस): The Great Taste. That taste from which you do not want to part with.
 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.
 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.
 Sadhana(सधन): Focusing the mind on an Object to achieve perfection through its benefits.
 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.
 Pratya: To go towards, to behold, to perceive, to Consider, to Acknowledge.
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