by Prof. M. L. Kokiloo
Shaivism of Kashmir has developed between the eight and the twelfth centuries of the
Christian era. This comparatively younger philosophy has tried to explain all
such ambiguities which the ancient philosophers have failed to resolve. Like
Advaitavedanta it is monistic, like Vaishnavism it is theistic, like yoga it is
practical, like Nayaya it is logical as also appeasing like Buddhism. Kashmir
Shaivism is, therefore, idealistic and realistic in essence, strongly advocating
a pragmatic approach to life.
Tantras have been revealed by
Lord Shiva through his five mouths namely Ishana, Tatpurusha, Sadyojata,
Vamadeva, and Aghora. These very five mouths represent his five energies namely
Chitshakti (consciousness), Ananda shakti (Bliss), Ichhashakti (will)
Jnanashakti (knowledge) and Kriyashakti (Action) respectively. When these
aforesaid five energies of Lord Shiva unite with each other in such a way that
each of these takes bold of the rest simultaneously, they reveal sixty four
Bhairvatantras which are purely monistic. This very approach explained in these
Tantras is called Kashmir Shaivism or Trika philosophy.
Veda, Shaiva, Vama, Dakshina, Kaula, Matta, and Trika are the seven Acharas (systems) recognised by Kashmir
Shaivism. The most popular among the seven Acharas has been the Trika system.
What does this Trika mean ? Trika means trinity of Nara Shakti and Shiva as is
given in Tantras. Nara means an individual, Shakti means the Universal Energy
and Shiva means the Transcendental Being. Thus a soul recognizes himself as
Shiva by means of the realization of his Shakties - the powers of God-head.
Therefore this Trika system advocates the practical path towards complete
self-realization. To make it more clear, this three fold science of spirit is
based on the three energies of Lord Shiva namely Para, Parapara and Apara. Para
energy is subjective energy of Lord Shiva and it is regarded as the supreme.
Parapara energy is cognitive energy of Lord Shiva and is called as intermediate.
Apara energy is objective energy of Lord Shiva and it is known as inferior
energy. Thus the Trika philosophy of Kashmir Shaivim advocates how a human
being, engrossed in the inferior objective energy of Lord Shiva, can be taken
upwards viz. towards the supreme energy of Lord Shiva through his cognitive
energy. For this journey, undertaken to attain the real Transcendental state of
self, Trika philosophy has laid down three means within the ambit of cognitive
energy. The first and the supreme expedient is called Shambbavopaya. The
intermediate expedient is known as Shaktopaya and the third expedient is called
It is a unique way of yoga. All the mental
activities cease to exist in it. In Shri Purva-Shastra the definition of
Shambhavopaya is given as under
Shambavopaya is a path, shown by
the supreme master, in which the knowledge of the ultimate reality comes through
the practice of emptying one's mind completely of all thoughts. Thus it is
called as Nirvikalpayoga because no vikalpa i.e. a mental idea in name and form
emerges in it. It is a way of keeping one's mind completely motionless and calm,
yet awake. It materialises by one's strong will, therefore it is called as
Ichhopaya or Ichha yoga by Shri Abhinavagupta in his 'Tantrasara' a book, in
which the precise summary of 37 chapters of Tantraloka has been condensed in
lucid style. By practising this yoga a 'Sadhaka' feels that sudden charge of
supreme energy of Shaivahood which remains for a little while in the initial
stage and automatically goes stronger and stronger day by day by constant
Abhyasa-mental drill. In this way Shambavopaya is the direct means to absolute
liberation. According to monistic theory of Kashmir Shaivism Shambavopaya is
meant only for those great souls who have developed their awareness of Chit
consciousness through the Anugraha of the master to get enthroned on this
spiritual height, three ways have been advocated which are as under:
Vishwa chit pratibimbatvam
By the first way a 'sadhaka'
feels that the entire gamut of reciting an incantation, consists of six
successive stages namely: varanadhva (syllabic) , Padaadhva (consisting of
words) , Mantradhva ( incantative ), Kaladhva (Instantative), Tattvadha (contential),
Bhavanadhva (peripheric) are reflected in the mirror of one's own consciousness
and by this awareness he enters the universal consciousness. After perceiving
it, a seeker gets Shambava Samadhi (mental equipoise). By the second way i.e.
Paramarshodayakrama, a realizer understands that the entire field or sounds,
words and sentences is nothing but the supreme self. By developing this attitude
in his own mind, his innate faculties are focussed towards the Shambav Samadhi.
By the third way i.e. Mantradhabhinatvam an aspirant practises the state at the
universal 'I'-consciousness.* By the Continuous awareness of upper
consciousness, individual's "I" consciousness automatically vanishes
and it is united with God-consciousnes- where 'sadhaka' is one with subjective
energy of Lord Shiva. Thus Shamabavopaya is that path where 'sadhaka' gets rid
of the recitation of Mantras, of different types of 'sadhana' and concentration
on particular deity. According to Kashmir Shaivism there is another higher
method than Shambavopaya, which is known as Anupaya.
In Shri Malinivijay Shaivagam, it is explained as under:
*In this context the three stages of a word coming
to life-Jyeshtha, Raudri and Amba deserve also attention - Shivasutra, II. 3.
Higher than Shambavopa is
another means known as Anupaya. It is effortless effort and method less method.
It is named as Anandopaya also. The literal meaning of Anupaya is the means
without any meansThe negative suffix in this word signifies complete minuteness
and not total nothingness, just as in the word Anudara. Shri Abhinavagupta says
in "Tantraloka" "atr anudara kanya itivat nanolparthatvam."
This Anupaya yoga is the highest, the final and the direct means to liberation.
A mere touch or a mere glance of the one who is in the state of Anupaya makes
one's entrance pure to the kingdom of Transcendental Bliss. Just as a Poisonous
snake emits the venomous effect to a person from a great distance, similarly a
great yogi residing in Anupaya state sends the seeker, who has intense devotion
for the Lord into the same state owned by him, by his mere glance or touch
without making any difference between the master and the disciple. In Tantrasar
Shri Abhinavgupta explains this Anupaya in the following words
The supreme Lord, is
self-effulgent, soul personified of the Real self. what can be the means to
attain this supreme Bliss ? Godly unity is no means as Godly-unity is a
momentary feature not a permanent one. Knowledge is no means as He is ever
luminous. Unsheathing of various covers are no means as it is unthinkable for
Him to don any cover. What can be the means to find Him? As the means also are
devoid of self - entity without His existence. Therefore the entire 'unique
chit' (consciousness) cannot be judged by the time factor, cannot be covered by
the space, cannot be limited by names etc., cannot be controlled by the words,
cannot be made clear by arguments. Thus from time factor to the field of
arguments that Independent Supreme Bliss from 'I' consciousness, by its free
will for attainment of godly unity merges into universal consciousness. When a
seeker is firmly entrenched in this state be is in continuous harmony with the
Godhead without any external means. So there is no need of chanting Mantras,
performing various kinds of worship, doing austere penance, or undergoing any
other form of meditation for him.
These various forms of means are
not sufficient enough to throw light on that unlimited samvit. Can we see the
bright sun by the limited ghata (clay po t)? When a seeker having an
all-pervading outlook of this kind, contemplates constantly in this way, gets
immersed in the Supreme self of Lord Shiva in no time.
It is a yogic practice of thought only. In this the
seeker has to develop concentration upon God-consciousness by means of a special
initiating thought unfolded by the master. The definition of Shaktopaya is given
in Shri Malinivijaya Tantra as under:-
When the aspirant concentrates
on the particular thought of God-consciousness without the support of Pranayama
and chanting of mantras etc, be develops that consciousness uninterruptedly.
That state is called Shaktopaya.
The particular thought like 'I
am all consciousness', 'I am all', or 'I am Transcendental Bliss', must be
firmly adjusted in mind with such an awareness that no other thought comes to
displace it. aspirant established in this state of awareness enters the state of
Transcendental consciousness and passes from duality to unity.
Shaktopaya does not involve any
objective 'Dhyana' intellectual meditation, or anything of that sort. It is an
expedient of very high order and is meant for those who possess unflinching
devotion and sharp intellectual acumen. It is solely meant for those who are not
capable of undergoing Nirvikalpa yoga of Shambavopaya, because of the
deep-rooted mental impressions of the impure vikalpa (thought-aberrations).
This Shaktopaya is call
Jnanopaya also, because the mental activities of meditation are the most
important factors in it. Thus it is an indirect means to complete liberation.
Anvopaya is that expedient which is concerned with 'anu' a limited being, signifying his mental effort to get rid of the ignorance
of his true nature. In this means all the faculties of understanding are to be
concentrated upon particular objects other than the self, and the self is to be
experienced with the help of those particular objective entities. In Shri
Purvashastra Anavopoya is explained as under:
To understand this definition
squarely we have got to explain it point wise. 'Uchhaar' connotes an awareness
during inhalation or exhalation, when the consciousness of the realizer flows in
between these two breaths in harmonious collusion. 'Karan' connotes that mental
practice; which is developed through the grooming of organs of the senses and
actions. It is conducted in the actual perception of one's field of activities
in daily life. 'Dhyaan' means the experience of one's endless nominal and
phenomenal nature through abstract meditation on one's understanding. 'Varna' is
the incessant practice based on Dhvani (sound) which comes to the aspirant
within hearing at the time of meditation. When a seeker plants his consciousness
on the heart, navel or the space between the two eye-brows, simultaneously
reciting the mantra through mind only, is known as the practice of 'sthaankalpanaa'.
The lowest types of this form are the as the practice Lingam, the altar and the
This expedient is known as
Kriyayoga or Kriyopaya, because concentration on object in this yoga involves
sufficient mental effort. Thus action plays phenomenal part in reaching upto
this mental stage.
In fact, a seeker with the help
of inferior methods like Pranayama or chanting of Mantra etc. has to develop
God-consciousness in this third path known as Anvopaya, because he is endowed
with inferior capacity of mind and meditation.
Thus this triple action,
reaction and interaction of mind and perception with consequent follow-up mental
drill in this system of Shaivism has given it the name of 'Trika'.
Acharya Somananda (first half of
the ninth century A. D.) has given a historical account about the origin of
monistic Shaiva school of Kashmir in his monumental work "Shiva Drishti".
He says that in the age of 'Kali' when all the sages left this world and went to
some place known as 'kalaapigraam', the teachings of the mysteries of Shaiva
faith came to a stop. Then Lord Shri Kanthanatha advised His disciple sage
Durvasa to start afresh the system of the practice of Shaivisim in the world. He
in turn imparted essence of the monistic Shaiva faith to a disciple of his named
'trambkaditya'. In this way fourteen generations passed and this knowledge was
spelt out by the respective Gurus systematically. The fifteenth preceptor
contrary to the faith in celibacy of previous teachers, married a Brahmin girl
who gave birth to a male child namely 'sangmaditya' who was the sixteenth
teacher in the line. While on pilgrimage, he came to Kashmir and settled here
permanently. Various sages, seers, scholars and authors blossomed in this school
after its advent to Kashmir valley. Sangamditya's son and disciple was "Varshaditya"
and his son and disciple was "Arunaditya" who carried on this system
further. The nineteenth teacher was "Arunaditya's son" 'Ananda' and
his son and disciple was 'Somananda', who was the twentieth Acharya in this
Shri Abhinavagupta also gives
the historical account of monistic Kashmir Shaivism in his extra-ordinary work 'Tantraloka'.
He says that three Siddhas ( masters of perfection ) namely 'tryambak', 'aamardak'
and 'srinaath' came to this mortal world under the control of 'Srikanthnatha'.
These three Siddhas, who were proficient in the monistic, the dualistic and the
monistic cum dualistic Shaiva philosophy respectively established three separate
schools of Shaivism; 'tryambaknatha' initiated another line through his will
born daughter. This school of thought was known as Ardha-Tryambaka. Monistic
system of Kashmir Shaivism is actually the school of Trayambakanatha. In fact
Shaiva literature of Kashmir, available at present, belongs only to this very
school of Trayambakanatha.
Many centuries after Trayambaknatha, the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism was taught by four great
teachers namely Somananda, Erakanatha, Sumatinatha and Vasuguptanatha. These
teachers have established four different schools which are as follows:
1. Pratyabhijna school,
2. Krama school,
3. Kula school,
4. Spanda school.
Pratyabhijna means recognizing
one's own self once again. This represents a mental act by which one realizes
and reunites with the original state i.e. universal consciousness. In 'Shivadrishti'
Acharya 'Somananda' explains this pratyabijna philosophy systematically. Shri
Utpaladeva, the esteemed disciple of Acharya 'Somananda' presents vividly this
very system in his famous book 'Ishvarapratyabhijna.' He defines pratyabhijna as
just as a bride who has heard
all about her bride-groom and even has seen him many a time, does not recognise
him unless he is shown to her, similarly an individual who has read and heard
much about his being, which is nothing but Shiva- the universal does not
recognize himself unless he is guided by the Master. This sort of recognition is
known as Pratyabbijna.
Krama school of Shaivism was
expounded by Eraknatha. Its main purpose is to develop such strength of
awareness that one transcends the circle of spaces time and form and finally
raises himself to the state of universal consciousness. By realizing that state
one enters the kingdom of Param-Shiva the Transcendental Being. The discipline
of Anavopaya discussed earlier is concerned with this system of Kashmir Shaivism.
Kula school of Kashmir Shaivism
was taught by Sumatinatha. The purpose of this doctrine is to rise above
individual energy and assimilate the Blissful Energy of totality. Thus it is the
highest thought which explains the state of universal Being; from which the
whole universe emerges and then merges in it. All practices of "Shambhavopaya"
discussed earlier are connected with this system of Kashmir Shaivism. Spanda
school was heralded in Kashmir by Vasgupta natha. This system directs the seeker
to concentrate on each and every moment in this world, even the Vibration of a
blade of grass carries one to God consciousness. In Shri Vijnana Bhairava a
traditional treatise of this school, one hundred and twelve ways are explained
to attain the spanda state by meditating on the centre of mental or physical
acts. All the practices of 'Shaktopaya' explained earlier, are connected with
this system of Shaivism.
In fact these four schools are
not different from each other, because all these systems take an aspirant to the
universal God consciousness, the goal being the same, even when the ways are
To sum up, the thought of
Kashmir Shaivism is great, world affirming and universal. No Philosophic theory
has so far presented complete view of the truth as is presented by the monistic
Shaiva philosophy of Kashmir. The principle of Svatantrya (self-dependence)
called as the principle of highest monism is the main doctrine of this
philosophy. The arguments for accepting this mental discipline are so
convincing, so satisfying and so appealing that once an aspirant tastes their
nectar, naturally disdains other philosophic systems. This philosophy deals with
the minutest and subtlest principles of life. It treats problems of man and the
universe by the method of analysis and synthesis. The Shaivistc way of arguments
is logical and psychological and is supported by all kinds of every day
experiences. The greatest quality of Shaiva philosophers is that they invite
criticism of opponents and after threadbare discussion they silence them with
counter arguments. Like its theoretical side, the practical side of Shaivism is
still more palatable, without inflicting any pain on his body, without
suppressing the emotions and instincts, without controlling his breath and in
that drill suppressing his mind in Dhyanayoga, a realizer has been enjoined to
enjoy life within limits as per humanistic laws, and to replenish the taste of
spiritual attainments by means of Shaivistic yoga which is simple and
interesting. He has been exhorted to attend to worldly pursuits and
simultaneously yoke himself to self-realization. Thus the Shaivistic path is a
sure and a steady path with very little danger of degradation, because the
conflict between matter and spirit his been avoided herein. The ultimate aim of
Shaivism is self-dependence in each and every respect, which aim can be achieved
in the realization of God-consciousness.
It is very unfortunate that such
a complete and developed system of philosophy making a happy compromise between
Immanence and Transcendence, Self and Super-self, Finite and Infinite, domain of
man and kingdom of Heaven, has not so far become known to the whole of the
world. Future shall have to make amends for this inexcusable lapse by
propagating this school of thought with pronounced meaningfulness.
Article reproduced from:
of Kashmiri Culture
Shri Parmanand Research Institute