Svātantrya (from the Sanskrit "sva" meaning "self" and "tantram" meaning "dependence" [Siva Sutras - Jaideva Singh, p. 9] - 'self-dependency', or 'free will') is the Kashmiri Shaivite concept of divine sovereignty. "Svātantrya" is described as an energy that emanates from the Supreme ("Paramaśiva") [Siva Sutras - Jaideva Singh, p. 10] , a wave of motion inside consciousness ("spanda") that acts as the fundament of the world [Siva Sutras - Jaideva Singh, p. 262] , or in another view, the original word (logos, pārāvak) [Pratyabhijnahrdayam - J. Singh, p. 16] . It does not use any external instrument [The Pratyabhijna Philosophy - G.V. Tagare, p. 10] at it itself is the first stage of creation.

In antithesis with the Vedantic concept of Brahman, which is a mere conscious witness without effective power, being inflicted with the illusion (or "maya") of the world by an external force, in the Kashmiri Shaivite viewpoint creation is actively willed into existence by the supreme consciousness ("Śiva") by the means of his irresistible will-force ("Svātantrya") [Siva Sutras - Jaideva Singh, p. 9] .

"Svātantrya" is a concept that goes to the root of many spiritual matters in Kashmir Shaivism [The Mirror of Self-Supremacy or Svatantrya-Darpana - B.N. Pandit, p. 11] , like, the divine sovereignty of "Śiva" (God) [History of Kashmir Saivism - B.N. Pandit, p. 86] , consciousness ("caitanya"), creative power ("vimarśa"), mantric efficiency and "Kundalini".

Divine Sovereignty

In its acception of divine sovereignty, "svātantrya" is described as an absolute power of action, or, absolute power of freedom [The Trika Saivism of Kashmir - M.L. Pandit, p. 183] . This power arrises from the mirror-like ability of the supreme consciousness ("caitanya") to contain images ("vimarśa") [Triadic mysticism - P.E. Murphy, p. 199] [Siva Sutras - Jaideva Singh, p. 9] - the whole universe being a mere image shining inside this unique god-consciousness.

"Svātantrya" has a number of traditional attributes such as: perfect fullness (of the energy of will) [Vac - Andre Padoux, p. 247] , self sufficiency [Pratyabhijnahrdayam - J. Singh, p. 7] , autodetermination [Pratyabhijnahrdayam - J. Singh, p. 7] [Shiva Sutras - Swami Lakshmanjoo, p. 12] , the power of doing and undoing - essence of the subject [Shiva Sutras - Swami Lakshmanjoo, p. 219] , supreme creativity [Siva Sutras - Jaideva Singh, p. 9] , sovereignty [Siva Sutras - Jaideva Singh, p. 9] , source of knowledge ("jñāna") and action ("kriyā") [Siva Sutras - Jaideva Singh, p. 9] and being beyond contradictions [Pratyabhijnahrdayam - J. Singh, p. 122] : it exists beyond laws of any kind and is the source of all laws in the universe.

upreme Creative Energy

The Kashmir Shaivism theory of creation affirms that the world was willed into existence by the sovereign force of "Śiva". Thus, the world has no external causes outside "Śiva's Svātantrya". [Towards Transcendence - M.L. Pandit, p. 156] [Pratyabhijnahrdayam - J. Singh, p. 8] [The Pratyabhijna Philosophy - G.V. Tagare, p. 77] This power creates multiplicity ("māyā") from the original unity of the absolute [Pratyabhijnahrdayam - J. Singh, p. 17] [Abhinavaguptas Comentary on the Bhagavad Gita - B. Marjanovic, p. 16] , and as such, it exists inside and beyond "māyā" [Pratyabhijnahrdayam - J. Singh, p. 133] . It is the seed of the universe [Shiva Sutras - Swami Lakshmanjoo, p. 167] , the matrix ("mātrkā") of generative phonemes [Shiva Sutras - Swami Lakshmanjoo, p. 177] , the ultimate creative force [The Stanzas on Vibration - M.S.G. Dyczkowski, p. 345] .

In Relation to Consciousness

Disclaimer: on this topic there is a certain amount of melding and unification of the seemingly distinct concepts of will, freedom, consciousness, speech and bliss in the speciality texts. This is due to the insufficient ability of coommon language to describe the mystical states of consciousness.

The "prakāśa-vimarśa" theory affirms the world is based on two principles: the self shining conscious light ("prakāśa") and its ability to contain a reflection of itself and of the creation ("vimarśa") [Doctrine of Divine Recognition - K.C. Pandey, p. 95] [Shiva Sutras - Swami Lakshmanjoo, p. 110] . To reflect itself is to know absolute bliss ("ānanda") - thus, free will ("svātantrya"), conscious reflection ("vimarśa") and bliss ("ānanda") are three concepts describing the same reality [Vac - Andre Padoux, p. 247] [Pratyabhijnahrdayam - J. Singh, p. 7] . Bliss ("ānanda") is the internal state of consciousness, its natural state. The same is true of svātantrya: it too is a fundamental quality of the subject [Pratyabhijnahrdayam - J. Singh, p. 122] [Towards Transcendence - M.L. Pandit, p. 193] [Pratyabhijnahrdayam - J. Singh, p. 22] .

Svātantrya is the first stage of creation, an undifferentiated energy, or, looking from bottom up, we could also say that it is the force that unifies all the energies of creation [Shiva Sutras - Swami Lakshmanjoo, p. 30] The first creation of "svātantrya" is the energy of will ("icchā śakti"). Then come the energies of knowledge ("jñāna śakti") and action ("kriyā śakti") and together with the energy of consciousness ("cit śakti") and the energy of bliss ("ānanda śakti") they form the supreme pentad of creation, the so called "pure creation" [Siva Sutras - Jaideva Singh, p. 20] [Shiva Sutras - Swami Lakshmanjoo, p. 176] .

Everything related to consciousness is also related to "svātantrya". Speech is seen in Kashmir Shaivism as differentiated in four classes : external ("vaikharī"), mental ("madhyamā"), subtle ("paśyanti") and supreme ("parā"). "Svātantrya" is equated to "pārāvak", the creative logos / "logos spermatikos" [Pratyabhijnahrdayam - J. Singh, p. 16] .

In Reation to Mystical Practices

In the mystical practices of Kashmir Shaivism, "svātantrya" is both the sovereign will of "Śiva", solely deciding the descent of divine grace ("śaktipāt") and the will of the adept as he becomes more and more submerged into the divine.

According to Kashmir Shaivism, spiritual realization is more than a state of illumination (defined as "pure witness ", "non-dual consciousnes " or "atma-vyapti") [Siva Sutras - Jaideva Singh, p. 148] . Full spiritual realization means to know bliss ("ānanda") and to control the energies ("śakti") and the mantras [Shiva Sutras - Swami Lakshmanjoo, p. 69] (or, the so called "śiva-vyāpti"). The root of spiritual efficiency is "svātantrya", the operative, dynamic aspect of the absolute.

An adept who reaches spiritual illumination needs to learn how to stabilize his experience. The Kashmir Shaivism scriptures declare that stability is based on the assimilation of the energy of "svātantrya" [Siva Sutras - Jaideva Singh, p. 149] . Thus, while the incipient practitioner aims for the experience of the nondual consciousness, the advanced ones focus on the assimilation of all the energies into non-duality. "Svātantrya" being the root of all energies, it becomes automatically the final step of the spiritual practice. [Siva Sutras - Jaideva Singh, p. 149] .

The will of such an advanced practitioner becomes more and more efficient as it identifies with the will of "Śiva". Yet, his actions are necessarily without base in egoism (without the attributes of good or bad) [Shiva Sutras - Swami Lakshmanjoo, p. 25] - and this is an attitude that defines the discipline of karma yoga.

All the spiritual paths ("upāyas"): that of Śiva ("śāmbhavopāya"), that of Śakti ("śāktopāya") and that of the man ("āṇavopāya") are subsumed under the umbrella of "svātantrya" as it is the sole mediator of divine grace [Shiva Sutras - Swami Lakshmanjoo, p. 33] . The adept who has attained "svātantrya" is beyond the need for formal meditation - that is - for him to meditate or to act in everyday life is identical - he does all his actions from a state of perfect unity with "Śiva" from now on. This is the culmination of the Kashmiri Shaivite spiritual practice [Shiva Sutras - Swami Lakshmanjoo, p. 32] . Such an adept does not exert himself in maintaining this state of consciousness because it is his own nature. From his point of view, everything is made of just forms of consciousness, his own consciousness, also identified with the consciousness of "Śiva" at this stage. The energy he possesses is the risen form of Kundalini [The Aphorisms of Siva - M.S.G. Dyczkowski, p. 72] . His mantras have spiritual efficiency [The Aphorisms of Siva - M.S.G. Dyczkowski, p. 85] . His heart ("hṛdaya") is the receptacle of all objects [Abhinavaguptas Comentary on the Bhagavad Gita - B. Marjanovic, p. 305] .

Kashmir Shaivism doctrine affirms that nothing can determine "Śiva" to bestow the final spiritual realization - it is solely based on the unconditioned "svātantrya", or, from the opposite perspective, there is no obstacle that can separate the disciple from becoming one with "Śiva" because he has "svātantrya" which is the ultimate power that cannot be impeded by anything [Shiva Sutras - Swami Lakshmanjoo, p. 26] . Thus, in Kashmir Shaivism there is this paradoxical concept that nothing needs to be done, as the supreme realization can appear without effort, but also, no matter what effort one undergoes, he cannot determine "Śiva" to liberate his self ("ātman") [The Himalayan mysticism - R. Nataraj, p. 17] . Yet, this is not an invitation to abandon hard work but a justification for humility.

In a meditation prescribed in Vijñana Bhairava Tantra, one is supposed to unite his vital energy ("prāṇa") with "svātantrya" in the mystical force center that exists 12 finger widths above the head, "dvadaśānta" [Vijnana Bhairava - Swami Lakshman Joo, p. 59] .

Alternate Names

"Svātantrya" has a number of synonyms such as: "maheśvaraya" (from maheśvara which means supeme lord) [Pratyabhijnahrdayam - J. Singh, p. 17] , or "aiśvarya" (similarly, from the word Iśvara which also means Lord) [Pratyabhijnahrdayam - J. Singh, p. 144] . It has been personalized as the Goddess ("devi") [Shiva Sutras - Swami Lakshmanjoo, p. 47] , the virginal feminine deity "Uma" (virginity being a symbol of existence outside the reach of profane world) [Siva Sutras - Jaideva Singh, p. 53] and the playful goddess "Kumārī" [Shiva Sutras - Swami Lakshmanjoo, p. 46] . Other scriptures also refer to "svātantrya" as the "Glory of Siva" [Shiva Sutras - Swami Lakshmanjoo, p. 110] on account of it being identical to the 'ocean' of uncreated light ("prakāśa") and cosmic bliss ("ānanda") - "cidānanda-ghana".


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