by B. N. Kalla
In this paper,
I propose to discuss at some length the salient features
of what is known today as Kashmir Savism. Towards the
end, I shall talk about the influence of this school of
religious thought on Kashmiri poetry. In that context, I
shall refer to some vaakhs of Lal Ded and shruks of
Nunda Rishi for illustrative support.
like Mahayana Buddhism, has played a key role in the
assimilation of different cultures in Central Asia,
while adopting the logic of the Buddhist Acharyas; it
refuted the fundamental concept of Shunyavad and looked
upon the creation of the absolute as real and as the
manifestation of the light of intelligence or universal
consciousness. It took the cardinal principles of social
equality, individual liberty, absence of dogma and
rituals from Buddhism. Like Mahatma Buddha being
considered the saviour of mankind, the Saivas regarded
the absolute Parma Siva as the creator, preserver and
absorber. In his different aspects, he mainfests his
shakti and withdraws it when His free will (Swatantrya)
demands it. The individual is a mini shiva, who, when he
recognizes his true self, becomes one with the universal
consiousness. Somananda, the father of Pratyabhijna'
philosophy, hailed from Tibet and naturally influenced
the thought and ideology of those who lived in Central
The growth of
Islam in Central Asia found a fertile soil there. It was
influenced not only by the ideology of the Buddhists but
also by that of the Saivas in and outside Kashmir. Their
Mathikas (Centres of theological discourse) seem to have
been easily accessible to the sufis who were deeply
interested in the Buddhist thought. As a result of the
synthesis of Buddhism and Islam, Sufism adopted a
liberal outlook quite in agreement with the tenets of
Saivism. It laid great emphasis on Self-recognition, the
pratyabhijna doctrine of the saivas. Like the latter it
denounced idolatory and caste and advocated individual
freedom in attaining realisation. Though the sufis, like
the vedantis, regarded the world as illusory and
transitory, this view came closer to the saiva
philosophy, with respect to its fundamental principle of
an individual's free will and his potential to recognize
his true self.
Saivaism is the
most ancient faith of the Indian people. We find its
roots in one form or another in the prehistoric period
of the Indus valley civilization, Though basically
pre-Aryan and pre-vedic in its origin, it developed by
stages in the vedic religion and became one of the most
vital elements of Hinduism in the age of the Epics and
From very remote
times, Brahmins of Kashmir had been performing vedic
rituals which are predominantly vaisnavite in character.
The worship of Shiva and Shakti also had become very
popular in this land right from the prehistoric ages.
There are many prehistorical shrines of Siva in Kashmir.
has achieved distinction as the monistic Saiva
philosophy of the Tryambaka school, being the most
valuable contribution of Kashmir to the Indian culture.
This philosophy had basically originated in the
trans-Himalayan areas near the Kailasa around the 4th
century A.D. Traymbakaditya, a disciple of the sage
Durvasa, was the first teacher of this school.
Sangmaditya, the sixteenth desendant in the line of
Tryambaks, settled in Kashmir in the eighth century A.D.
scriptures as Malinivijaya tantra, Swacchanda, Netra,
Mrigendra etc. were later revealed to different teachers
of this school in about a century. Somananda, the fourth
descendant of Sangmaditya, 'churned' the ocean of
scriptures and extracted from it the 'nectar' consisting
precisely of the principles of the monistic saiva
philosophy of Kashmir in the 9th century. He expounded
those principles in a logical style in his work
Sivadrsti, which is the first philosophical treatise on
the subject. Utpaladeva, the chief disciple of Somananda,
developed this philosophy further in his
Isvarapratibhijna and in some works like Sambandhasiddhi,
Isvar Siddhi etc. The principles of this philosophy were
later explained clearly and interpreted by Abhinavagupta,
the grand disciple of Utpaladeva, in the later part of
the tenth and the beginning of the 11th century.
were revealed to Vasugupta, a teacher in the school of
Tryambaka, in the 8th century. Kallata, a disciple of
Vasugupta, composed the Spanda-Karika in which he
explained the principles contained in the Siva-sutras.
In view of the
above facts, the saiva philosophical movement reached
its zenith from 8th century A.D. to the 12th century
A.D. Really, it was a golden age in the field of Indian
philosophy, involving the emergence of a new thought in
this field. The Saiva monism of Kashmir has a pragmatic
approach towards the problems of philosophy. It is not
idealistic like the Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism. The
universe, according to it, is neither like a mirage nor
like the child of a barren woman. It is real for all
practical purposes. It exists in the absolute reality in
the form of pure limit-less and all comprehending
consciousness. That consciousness is called Parama Siva.
The universe is nothing but an objective manifestation
of His divine powers. He is a reality and his powers are
his essence. So his powers are also a reality and the
manifestations of those powers too are a reality. He has
an ever pure and limit-less consciousness which is full
of godly powers and does not undergo any change even
when the activities of creation etc. are going on. This
is His static aspect in which he is called Siva. The
mainfestations of His God-head are comprehended in His
sakti. Both are merely two aspects of one and the same
absolute, all powerful and independent reality. As the
rays of the moon are not different from the moon,
similarly shakti or power of Siva is not different from
the power-holder (shaktiman). Thus Siva, the male
principle in its quiescent state, is whole and absolute,
but in its manifested state, it becomes shakti, which is
a part and parcel of its nature. The whole, though a
part of it as shakti is separated from it, still remains
full. Its fulness never ceases. The one becomes many in
its active state but at the same time it holds its
oneness and perfection. The same idea is explained in
According to the
Vedanta philosophy, the manifestation of the universe is
explained to be false and has been denied in the long
run, but in Kashmir Saiva philosophy, the manifestation
is regarded as based on shakti. Nobody can deny this
fact. The apparent world to the saiva philosophy is a
thing of enjoyment while in the vedanta system it is
false and illusory. Saiva advaita explains that the
universe already exists in Siva. Thus the world is the
expansion of shakti which is not different from Siva.
accepts no restrictions based on caste, creed, colour
and sex etc. Every person can have access to it, both to
its theory and to its practice. In practice, it does not
prescribe the profession of monks but advises one to
live the life of a householder and to practise, side by
side, the Saiva yoga for the sake of self-realitization.
It does not advocate sannyasahood. It prohibits all
suppression of one's emotions and instincts and
advocates the path of their sublimation, It does not
ignore the worldly and heavenly aims of life consisting
in objective enjoyments. It rather advocates a path
aimed at both Bhukti (Enjoyment) and Mukti (Liberation),
which can be pursued side by side. Too much of
discipline regarding food etc. has not been considered
to be absolutely essential.
above, Kashmir, Saivism was in vogue here for about five
centuries from the 8th to the 12th. Kashmiri poetry did
not, remain untouched by its influence. The first
specimen of Kashmiri poetry is Shitikantha's Mahanaya
Prakasha of the '13th century AD., which is in fact the
first work of Saivism in the Kashmiri language. This
influence has remained prevalent even upto the present
The 14th century
witnessed a political upheaval in Kashmir, Kuta Rani,
the last ruler of Kashmir was murdered by Shahmir.
Consequently, he proclaimed himself the Sultan of
Kashmir in 1339 A.D. Thus the Hindu rule was uprooted
from the soil of Kashmir for about 500 years. It was
during this period that Islam spread in Kashmir.
Suppression, destruction, demolition of temples and
massacre of the Hindus were the policy of the fanatic
Sultans of Kashmir. Successive Sultans of Kashmir
adopted the policy of Sikandar But-Shikan (iconoclast)
except for Zain-Ul-Ab-Din /Budshah (1423-1474 A.D.). The
only ray of hope for the suppressed masses was the
message of the Sufis.
introduced here by the Sayids and their followers who
came from Persia and Central Asia to settle down here in
the 14th century. The spread of Sufism side by side with
that of Saivism (Pratyabhijna philosophy) brought about
the growth of a composite humanitarian thought in the
valley. This composite Saiva-cum Sufi philosophy
consciously or unconsciously has influenced the people
We cannot ignore
the remarkable contribution of Lalleshwari or Lal Ded
(B. 1335 A.D.) in the field of the Kashmiri Language.
She was the first Kashmiri poetess who expersed the
Saiva philosphy in a charming poetic style in the modem
Kashmiri language. She was followed in the tradition by
many mystic poets, both Hindus and Muslims. She preached
this philosphy in the language of the masses (the then
Kashmiri) and not in Sanskrit. She denounced rituals,
narrow-mindedness, fanaticism and the debasing
distinction of caste. Moreover she gave the message of
universal brotherhood, peace and love based on the,
Upanishads. What follows now are a couple of vaakhs of
Lal Ded along with their translation
all-pervading (present in each particle), never
differentiates between a Hindu and a Muslim. If you are
intelligent, know thy own self, that is God-realization.
entered through the gardengate, there, joy ! I found
Siva united with Sakti; ' there and then I got absorbed,
drinking at the lake of Nectar. Immune to harm am I,
dead as I am to the world, though still alive.
Lalla entered the
Samadhi. In that state, what did she see? Siva, the
Transcendental Being, united with his power of
manifestation, Sakti. She was now totally free from all
kinds of doubts based on the sense of duality. The
nectar of bliss was within her easy reach, not in drops
but in the form of a lake. She attained (parmananda) the
state of the highest bliss.
You are the sky
and you are the earth. You are the day, the atmosphere
and the night, You are the grains, the sandal (wood),
flowers and water; You being everything yourself, What
can be offered to you in worship.
Everything in the
universe is Divine manifestation, and parma siva inheres
in all that exists. His nature has primarily two-fold
aspects, an immanent aspect in which He pervades the
universe, and a transcendental aspect in which He is
beyond all universal manifestations.
Nunda Rishi was
one of the Sufi poets of Kashmir who was a younger
contemporary of Lalla. He is considered the founder of
the Rishi cult in the valley. He introduced a new poetic
form in Kashmir- the shruk comparable to Lalla Vaakh.
His shruks (slokas) are very popular among the Kashmiris.
Nunda Rishi's philosophy is very akin to pratyabhijna
philosophy according to which parma siva can be realized
in one's own self. This is precisely what Nunda Rishi
also says in the following shruks:
He is in me, I am
in Him. I experienced bliss in his company. It was
futile of me to seek Him in an alien land. I found- Him
in my own country-my own self.
completely indentifies himself with the Absolute
Reality. It is through his merger with Him that he
attained bliss. This is clarified by him further in
another shruka :
He is here, He is
there, He pervades all. He is all-in-all, concealed and
transcendent. (in the form of pure consciousness).
In the following
verses, Nunda Rishi refers to his search, for the divine
- an inward quest (the mystics talk of) :
everything and took shelter in you. When I got hold of
you in my own self, I merged with you. (in that state
there is no duality at all. Nunda Rishi thus realized
absolute reality in himself)
Oh God ! bless me
with the boon that I may scale the Kailas. (This
indicates the strong urge of Nunda Rishi to merge with
the absolute reality, so that he attains the very seat
of the Supreme.)
1. M.A. Stein
: Edited Kalhana's Rajatarangini vol. II (English
2. Prof. Shri Kanth Kaul : Edited Jona Raja's
3. Prof J. L. Kaul : Lal Ded.
4. Dr. R.K. Kaw: Doctrine of Recognition.
5. Dr. B.N. Pandit : Aspects of Kashmir Saivism.
6. Prof. B.N. Parimoo : Ascent of Self.
7. Dr. B.N. Kalla : Koshur Shaivmat, published by
Kashmir University, Srinagar.
Dr. B. N. Kalla, is well-known for his writings. He is a
reputed scholar of Sanskrit, conversant with Kashmir