Kaśmir Śaivism


Kaśmir Śaivism

Among the various Hindu philosophies, Kaśmir Śaivism is a school of Śaivism categorized by various scholars as monistic [Kashmir Shaivism: The Secret Supreme, Swami Lakshman Jee, pp. 103] idealism (absolute idealism, "theistic monism" [The Trika Śaivism of Kashmir, Moti Lal Pandit] , "realistic idealism" [The Doctrine of Vibration: An Analysis of Doctrines and Practices of Kashmir Shaivism, Mark S. G. Dyczkowski, pp. 51] , "transcendental physicalism" or "concrete monism" [The Doctrine of Vibration: An Analysis of Doctrines and Practices of Kashmir Shaivism, Mark S. G. Dyczkowski, pp. 51] ). These descriptors denote a standpoint that "Cit" - consciousness - is the one reality. Matter is not separated from consciousness, but rather identical to it. There is no gap between God and the world. The world is not an illusion (as in Advaita Vedanta), rather the perception of duality is the illusion.

"Kashmir Shaivism" arose during the eighth [Kashmir Shaivism: The Secret Supreme, By Lakshman Jee] or ninth century CE. [For Kashmir Shaivism arising in the ninth century see: Basham, p. 110.] [The Doctrine of Vibration: An Analysis of Doctrines and Practices of Kashmir Shaivism, By Mark S. G. Dyczkowski, pp. 4] in Kashmir and made significant strides, both philosophical and theological, until the end of the twelfth century CE [The Trika Śaivism of Kashmir, Moti Lal Pandit, pp. 1] . "Kashmir Shaivism" resembles Hindu tantra, and both have as their key symbol the Shri Yantra.Fact|date=August 2008

Mythical origin of Kaśmir Śaivism

As the philosophy of Kaśmir Śaivism is deeply rooted in the Tantras, the lineage of Kaśmir Śaivism begins with Śiva himself. According to tradition, as the knowledge of the Tantras were lost by the time of Kali Yuga, Śiva took the form of Śrikanthanath at Mt. Kailaśa, where he fully initiated Durvasa Ṛṣi, into all forms of the Tantrika knowledge, including "abheda" (without differentiation), "bhedabheda" (with and without differentiation), and "bheda" (differentiated), as described in the "Bhairava Tantras", "Rudra Tantras", and "Śiva Tantras", respectively. IAST|Durvasa Ṛṣi intensely meditated in the hope of finding an adequate pupil to initiate, but failed to do so. Instead, he created three "mind-born" sons, and initiated the first son, Tryambaka fully into the monistic "abheda" philosophy of the "Bhairava Tantras"; this is known as Kaśmir Śaivism. [ Lakshmanjoo, pp. 87-93.]

Concepts in Kashmir Shaivism

Anuttara, the Supreme

"Anuttara" is the ultimate principle in "Kashmir Shaivism", and as such, it is the fundamental reality underneath the whole universe. Among the multiple interpretations of "anuttara" are: "supreme", "above all" and "unsurpassed reality" [Para-trisika Vivarana, Jaideva Singh, pages 20-27] . In the Sanskrit alphabet "anuttara" is associated to the first letter - "A" (in devanagari "अ"). As the ultimate principle, "anuttara" is identified with Śiva, Śakti (as "Śakti" is identical to "Śiva"), the supreme consciousness ("cit"), uncreated light (prakāśa), supreme subject ("aham") and atemporal vibration ("spanda"). The practitioner who realized "anuttara" is considered to be above the need for gradual practice, in possession of an instantaneous realization and perfect freedom ("svātantrya"). "Anuttara" is different from the notion of transcendence in that, even though it is above all, it does not imply a state of separation from the universe [The Triadic Heart of Shiva, Paul Muller-Ortega, pag. 88] .

Aham, the Heart of Śiva

"Aham" is the concept of supreme reality as heart. It is considered to be a non-dual interior space of "Śiva", support for the entire manifestation [IAST|Parā-trīśikā Vivaraṇa, Jaideva Singh, page 194] , supreme mantra [IAST|Parā-trīśikā Vivaraṇa, Jaideva Singh, page 180] and identical to "Śakti" [IAST|Parā-trīśikā Vivaraṇa, Jaideva Singh, page 127] .

Kula, the spiritual group

"Kula" is a complex notion primarily translated as "family" or "group". On various levels there exist such structures formed of many parts, interconnected and complementary. They are called "families" on account of having a common unifying bond, which is ultimately the Supreme Lord, "Śiva". [The Triadic Heart of Shiva, Paul Muller-Ortega, page 102] The practices related to "Kaula" are very obscure and mystical and the focus is away from much philosophical tinkering and more into immediate experimentation. In essence, "Kaula" is a form of body alchemy where the lower aspects of one's being are dissolved into the higher ones, as they all are considered to form a unified group (a "kula") which relies on "Śiva" as ultimate support. [The Triadic Heart of Shiva, Paul Muller-Ortega, page 60] [Abhinavagupta: The Kula Ritual, as Elaborated in Chapter 29 of the Tantrāloka, Page 87]

The "Siva Sutras"

The first great initiate recorded in history of this spiritual path was Vasugupta (c. 875-925). [For dating of Vasugupta as 875-925 see: Flood, p. 167.] Vasugupta formulated for the first time in writing the principles and main doctrines of this system.

A fundamental work of Shaivism, traditionally attributed to Vasugupta, is the Shiva Sutras of Vasugupta. [For the Shiva Sutras as a foundational work and classification as agama, see: Tattwananda, p. 54.] Traditionally these sutras are considered to have been revealed to Vasugupta by Shiva. [For belief that these are revealed scriptures, see: Tattwananda, p. 54.] According to myth, Vasugupta had a dream in which Shiva told him to go to the IAST|Mahādeva mountain in Kashmir. On this mountain he is said to have found verses inscribed on a rock, the "Shiva Sutras", which outline the teachings of Shaiva monism. This text is one of the key sources for Kashmir Shaivism. [For summary of the dream leading to the discovery of the "Shiva Sutras", and their importance as a key source, see: Flood (1996), p. 167.] The work is a collection of aphorisms. The sutras expound a purely non-dual ("advaita") metaphysics. [For characterization of the content as purely "advaita" metaphysics, see: Tattwananda, p. 54.] These sutras, which are classifed as a type of Hindu scripture known as "agamas", are also known as the "Shiva Upanishad Samgraha" (Sanskrit: "IAST|śivopaniṣad saṅgraha") or "Shivarahasyagama Samgraha". [For alternate names "IAST|śivopaniṣad saṅgraha" and "IAST|śivarahasyagama" and classification as agama, see: Tattwananda, p. 54.]

Classification of the written tradition

The first Kashmiri Shaiva texts were written in the early ninth century CE. [Dyczkowski, p. 4.]

As a monistic tantric system, Trika Shaivism, as it is also known, draws teachings from shrutis, such as the monistic "Bhairava Tantras", Shiva Sutras of Vasugupta, and also a unique version of the "Bhagavad Gita" which has a commentary by Abhinavagupta, known as the "Gitartha Samgraha". Teachings are also drawn from the Tantraloka of Abhinavagupta, prominent among a vast body of "smritis" employed by Kashmir Shaivism.

In general, the whole written tradition of Shaivism can be divided in three fundamental parts: "Āgama Śāstra", "Spanda Śāstra" and "Pratyabhijñā Śāstra". [The Trika Saivism of Kashmir, Moti Lal Pandit, pag. IX]

1. "Āgama Śāstra" are those writings that are considered as being a direct revelation from Siva. These writings were first communicated orally, from the master to the worthy disciple. They include essential works such as "Mālinīvijaya Tantra", "Svacchanda Tantra", "Vijñānabhairava Tantra", "Netra Tantra", "IAST|Mṛgendra Tantra", "Rudrayāmala Tantra", "Śivasūtra" and others. There are also numerous commentaries to these works, "Śivasūtra" having most of them. [The Trika Saivism of Kashmir, Moti Lal Pandit, pag. X]

2. "Spanda Śāstra", the main work of which is "Spanda Kārikā" of Vasugupta, with its many commentaries. Out of them, two are of major importance: "Spanda Sandoha" (this commentary talks only about the first verses of "Spanda Kārikā"), and "IAST|Spanda Nirṇaya" (which is a commentary of the complete text). [The Trika Saivism of Kashmir, Moti Lal Pandit, pag. X]

3. "Pratyabhijñā Śāstra" are those writings which have mainly a metaphysical content. Due to their extremely high spiritual and intellectual level, this part of the written tradition of Shaivism is the least accessible for the uninitiated. Nevertheless, this corpus of writings refer to the simplest and most direct modality of spiritual realization. "Pratyabhijñā" means "recognition" and refers to the spontaneous recognition of the divine nature hidden in each human being (atman). The most important works in this category are: "Īśvara Pratyabhijñā", the fundamental work of Utpaladeva, and "Pratyabhijñā Vimarśinī", a commentary to Īśvara Pratyabhijñā". "Īśvara Pratyabhijñā" means in fact the direct recognition of the Lord ("Īśvara") as identical to one's Heart. Before "Utpaladeva", his master "Somānanda" wrote "IAST|Śiva Dṛṣṭi" ("The Vision of Siva"), a devotional poem written on multiple levels of meaning. [The Trika Saivism of Kashmir, Moti Lal Pandit, pag. XI]

Prominent sages of Kashmir Shaivism

Abhinavagupta

All the four branches of the Kashmiri Shaivism tradition were put together by the great philosopher Abhinavagupta (approx. 950-1020 AD [Triadic Mysticism, Paul E. Murphy, page 12] ). Among his important works, the most important is the Tantraloka ("The Divine Light of Tantra"), a work in verses which is a majestic synthesis of the whole tradition of monistic Shaivism. Abhinavagupta succeeded in smoothing out all the apparent differences and disparities that existed among the different branches and schools of Kashmir Shaivism of before him. Thus he offers a unitary, coherent and complete vision of this system. Due to the exceptional length (5859 verses [Tantric Studies in Memory of Hélène Burnner, Alexis Sanderson, page 371] ) of Tantraloka, Abhinavagupta himself provided a shorter version in prose, called Tantrasara ("The Essence of Tantra").

Jayaratha

Another important Kashmiri Shaivite, "Jayaratha" (1150-1200 AD, [Introduction to the Tantrāloka, Navijan Rastogi, page 92] ), added his commentary to Tantraloka, a task of great difficulty which was his life long pursuit [Introduction to the Tantrāloka, Navijan Rastogi, page 102] . He provided more context, numerous quotes and clarifications without which some passages from "Tantraloka" would be impossible to elucidate today.

The four schools of Kashmir Shaivism

Krama

The term 'krama' means 'progression','gradation' or 'succession' respectively meaning 'spiritual progression' [The Krama Tantricism of Kashmir, Navijan Rastogi, page 6] or 'gradual refinement of the mental processes'("vikalpa") [The Krama Tantricism of Kashmir, Navijan Rastogi, page 7] , or 'successive unfoldment taking place at the ultimate level', in the Supreme Consciousness ("cit") [The Krama Tantricism of Kashmir, Navijan Rastogi, page 12] .

Even if the "Krama" school is an integral part of Kashmir Shaivism, it is also an independent system both philosophically and historically. [The Krama Tantricism of Kashmir, Navijan Rastogi, page 2,3] "Krama" is significant as a synthesis of Tantra and Śākta traditions based on the monistic "Śaivism" [The Krama Tantricism of Kashmir, Navijan Rastogi, page x] . As a "Tantric" and "Śakti-oriented" system [The Krama Tantricism of Kashmir, Navijan Rastogi, page 3] of a mystical flavor [The Krama Tantricism of Kashmir, Navijan Rastogi, page 5] , "Krama" is similar in some regards to "Spanda" as both center on the activity of Śakti, and also similar with Kula in their "Tantric" approach. Inside the family of "Kashmir Shaivism", the "Pratyabhijñā" school is most different form "Krama". [The Krama Tantricism of Kashmir, Navijan Rastogi, page 4,5]

The most distinctive feature of "Krama" is its monistic-dualistic ("bhedābhedopāya") discipline in the stages precursory to spiritual realization [The Krama Tantricism of Kashmir, Navijan Rastogi, page 5] . Even if "Kashmir Shaivism" is an idealistic monism, there is still a place for dualistic aspects as precursory stages on the spiritual path. So it is said that in practice "Krama" employs the dualistic-cum-nondualistic methods, yet in the underlying philosophy it remains nondualistic [The Krama Tantricism of Kashmir, Navijan Rastogi, page 5] . "Krama" has a positive epistemic bias [The Krama Tantricism of Kashmir, Navijan Rastogi, page 7] , aimed at forming a synthesis of enjoyment("bhoga") and illumination("mokṣa").

Kula

Another very important school of Kashmir Shaivism, "Kula" in Sanskrit, means 'family' or 'totality'. This is a tantric (left hand) school par excellence, and here "Śakti" plays a paramount role. The "Kula" teachings make the skeleton of Tantrāloka and Tantrasāra.

panda

The "Spanda" system, introduced by Vasugupta (c. 800 AD), is usually described as "vibration/movement of consciousness". Abhinavagupta uses the expression "some sort of movement" to imply the distinction from physical movement; it is rather a vibration or sound inside the Divine, a throb [Spanda-Kārikās, The Divine Creative Pulsation, Jaideva Singh, page XVI] . The essence of this vibration is the ecstatic self-recurrent consciousness [Spanda-Kārikās, The Divine Creative Pulsation, Jaideva Singh, page XVIII] .

The central tenet of this system is "everything is "Spanda", both the objective exterior reality and the subjective world [Spanda-Kārikās, The Divine Creative Pulsation, Jaideva Singh, page XVII] [The Triadic Heart of Shiva, Paul Muller-Ortega, page 118] . Nothing exists without movement [Kashmir Shaivism, The Secret Supreme, Swami Lakshman Joo, page 136] , yet the ultimate movement takes place not in space or time, but inside the Supreme Consciousness("cit"). So, it is a cycle of internalization and externalization of consciousness itself [The Triadic Heart of Shiva, Paul Muller-Ortega, page 120] , relating to the most elevated plane in creation (Śiva-Śakti Tattva) [Spanda-Kārikās, The Divine Creative Pulsation, Jaideva Singh, page XVII] .

In order to describe the connotations of the "Spanda" concept, a series of equivalent concepts are enumerated, such as: self recurrent consciousness - "vimarśa" [The Triadic Heart of Shiva, Paul Muller-Ortega, page 119] , unimpeded will of the Supreme Consciousness (cit) - "svātantrya", supreme creative energy - "visarga", heart of the divine [Spanda-Kārikās, The Divine Creative Pulsation, Jaideva Singh, page XVIII] - "hṛdaya" and ocean of light-consciousness [The Triadic Heart of Shiva, Paul Muller-Ortega, page 146] - "cidānanda".

The most important texts of the system are Śiva Sutras, "Spanda Karika" and "Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra" [Kashmir Shaivism, The Secret Supreme, Swami Lakshman Joo, page 137] .

Pratyabhijña

The Pratyabhijña school, which in Sanskrit, literally means "spontaneous recognition" is a unique school, as it does not have any "upāyas" (means), that is, there is nothing to practice; the only thing to do is recognize who you are. This "means" can actually be called "anupāya", Sanskrit for "without means".

Though this school thrived until the beginning of the Kali Yuga, it was eventually lost due to a lack of understanding of the school, until, in the 8th Century CE, the Kashmir Shaivite master, Somananda revived the system. [Lakshmanjoo, pp. 130-131.]

Notes

References

*cite book |last=Basham |first=A. L. |authorlink= |coauthors=Zysk, Kenneth (Editor) |title=The Origins and Development of Classical Hinduism |year=1989 |publisher=Oxford University Press|location=New York |isbn=0-19-507349-5
*cite book |series= |last=Dyczkowski |first=Mark S. G. |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=The Doctrine of Vibration: An Analysis of the Doctrines and Practices of Kashmir Shaivism |year=1987 |publisher=State University of New York Press|location=Albany, New York |isbn=0-88706-432-9
*cite book |last=Flood |first=Gavin |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=An Introduction to Hinduism |year=1996 |publisher=Cambridge University Press |location=Cambridge |isbn= 0-521-43878-0
*cite book |series= |last=Lakshmanjoo |first=Swami|authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Kashmir Shaivism: The Secret Supreme |year=2003 |publisher=1st Books Library|location= |isbn=1-58721-505-5

ee also

*IAST|Aṇḍa, the four spheres of reality
*Balajinnatha Pandita
*The 36 tattvas
*Trika
*Turya
*Pashupata Shaivism


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