Kashmir Shaiv Darsana - Part 1

Kashmir the land of great Divine learning

By Shail Gulati

Shail GulatiThe author is a practising Shaivite mystic and has authored two books 'A Yogi and The Snake' and 'Naamroop-A Tribute to the Divine.'

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

“Kashmira parvati paroksha, tat swami ch Maheshwara Kashmir is as beautiful as Parvati manifest, and who’s Lord is Shiva himself.

This ancient proclamation from the scriptures of Kashmir, and duly recorded by Kalhana in the Rajtarangani, tells in the most intimate terms of the presence of Shiva and Shaivism in Kashmir.

Indeed, from time immemorial, this land has been the seat of great divine learning in general, and Shaiv darsana in particular, Starting in this life cycle, with the revelations of Lord Shiva to Rsi Durvasa, who  passed it on to the mountain dwellers of Kashmir by the lineage of Trayambakaditya, matured and transmitted through a galaxy of perfected beings like Somananda, Utpala, Vasugupta, Abhinavagupta, Lalleshwari, and in our own time, by Swami Lakshmanjoo. The vale has also had innumerable other perfected beings like Bhagwan Gopinath and  Nand bab,  and great scholars like Baljinathji pandit and  jankinathji kaul kamal.It, has even had, great saints like Adi shankaracharya and Swami Vivekananda as visitors, who, by the time they left, were visibly enriched.While shankara actually established the shivlinga on the hill named after him, Swami Vivekananda declared and recorded to his gurubhais about the presence of Mahadeva, in Amarnath, and everywhere else in the land, and also of the Devi, at kshir bhawani.

Kashmir Shaiv Darsana, Revelations of Lord Shiva, Form an extremely profound school of Non -dual philosophy and experiential spirituality.

The revelations teach that man is indeed God who has forgotten his own divine nature, and all of life’s play, is to ultimately Re-cognize that Godhead, which has never left him, it is only veiled.

Those, to whom the philosophy is revealed, are the darsatas, ‘the seers’, also called rsis.

The word Darsana, means essentially, ‘revelation’, or ‘seeing’. Impliedly, it also comes to mean philosophy, or spiritual school of thought, especially when it is then expounded by the rsi to successive disciples.  Vouchsafed in the ancient past to his rsis in His abode of Kailash, it is said to be as old, as, perhaps the first teachings of Shiva, beginning from the primal Satyuga.... for practical purpose, many lifecycles ago..

And Lord Shiva came as Svacchandanath to teach. He taught the shiva tantras, the rudra tantras, and the bhairava tantras, successively, the dual, the intermediate, and the non-dual.

By the time of Kaliyug, however, the important bhairava tantras, which are 64, were lost..

So Shiva came again as Srikanthnath to reveal the philosophy to Rsi Durvasa.

Ancient texts record that Rsi Durvasa, reoriented it in this lifecycle, and taught it to Tryambaka, who is also said to have lived in Kailash, around the end of 3rd century A.D. and whose successive generations, in turn, revealed and thus developed the darsana by word of mouth, in the preceptor disciple tradition..About fifteen generations later, a disciple of the line came and settled in Kashmir.

The teachings, and the revelations continued...The Darsana, ripe in itself, began to ripen in the manifest world also.

Transmitted through the aforementioned  galaxy of perfected beings, it began to flourish in the heavenly kashmir, encapsulated in the Trika philosohpy, which deals with the series of triads, the Para (supreme, shiva), apara(the lowest, jiva) and parapara (the intermediate link, shakti).. comprising of four systems, the pratyabhijna system, the kula system, the krama system, and the spanda system.

The important Bhairava tantras, which were lost and then reintroduced by Shiva Himself, teach absolute non duality.

Baljinath pandit, honored scholar of the Kashmir shaiv darsana, says the ancient system was called Advait shaiva darsana.

Till today the non dual tantras are the core of the darsana. 

In our own time, another perfected being, Swami Lakshman joo appeared, and once again gave out the priceless, and paramount divine heritage, for all to re -reach...His his teachings, and writings were learnt and recorded, in turn by his disciples, notably Jaideva singh, John hughes, Baljinathji pandit, Jankinathji kaul ‘kamal”, Mark dyczkowski and George Balesaar..

In one of his talks, Swamiji informed that it was after King Lalitaditya requested Atrigupta, the great scholar from Antarvedi(Madhya pradesh), to live in Kashmir, and there was no authority left in the rest of India on the important bhairav tantras, from that time it started being called Kashmir Shaiv darsana (and nowadays, in english, kashmir shaivism.) So, what had begun in Kashmir, once again settled there. Atrigupta was the forefather of Abhinavgupta.

And though some element in some thoughts, for example in the krama school, or even in the lower upaya of siva sutras accomodate the seekers duality, the darsana is Largely Non dual, It spans both monism ( all beings are one principle) and monotheism (God is supreme), or simply, God is all, and in all.

The understanding of God, here, however is a little more advanced than the Brahman of Advait Vedanta, inasmuch as the Shiva of Advait Shaiv Darsana is replete with his own Shakti, it is not something extraneous to him, like maya. And so, while, like the Upanishadic Mahavakya, even Kashmir shaiv leads you to the truth, that you are THAT supreme consciousness, yet the understanding of Maya being a part of Shiva’s own swatantrya shakti (absolute free will), marks the advance of Advait Shaiv over Advait Vedanta.

It is also distinct from the monistic theism of Shaiva siddhanta, inasmuch as its tilt on non duality, is much more, we could say it is absolute monism, with a gentle respect for theism, in that light, it has sometimes been called monistic theism, or theistic monism.

The sacred texts are principally three types, the Agama sastras, the Spanda sastras, and the Prtyabhijna sastras.For our purpose, these would be,  the Siva sutras and the Vijnanbhairava, The Spanda karikas, and the Prtyabhijnahrdyam.

Swamiji takes care to point out in his book, Kashmir shaivism, the secret supreme, that there are different types of contacts between masters and disciples, beginning with Shiva himself, as teacher, and sadashiva as student, and coming down to the fifth contact, where, the teacher is still some form of divine shiva, but the discipe is a mortal. But that the ultimate initiation (parasambandh) can take place in any state of these five contacts. He, therefore gives us hope, that this is the great potential of the darsana, that it may be transmitted not just as a given philosophy, but as direct revelation, possibly also explaining the revelations that comprise the Siva sutras, to sage vasugupta, who came much later than rsi Durvasa, and in recorded historical times, in a mortal human frame.

Salutations to Shiva, Lord of all!, to His consort Devi, at whose behest, he first poemed the divine verses, for us to re -cognize our divine self,  to Durvasa, and the rsis, to Swami Lakshman jee, and so many other benefactors, some, who may not now be known, but who are represented simply, by the Shiva they taught us we all are.

This, is actually, the brief of the Darsana, that you are the shiva you look for, because all is shiva!

And it brings us to an important understanding of the dynamics of the Darsana:

It is not only the fruit of the collective past, that has been placed in our present by our preceptors, but also, that the fruit contains the seed for the collective future.

Salutations, therefore, to all who are yet to arrive, for they are Shiva too! It is all our play, for ourselves, so let us play it well! Indeed there is an adage in shaivism that says, to worship Shiva, be Shiva!

Saiva Yoga

Saiva Yoga is revealed by Lord Shiva, who, perenially mindful of spirituality, is ever eager to share his penchant with devi, his beloved consort, and transfer illumination.His poetic agamas (replies) to the Devi in response to her nigamas(querries), are recorded in the tantras, puranas, samhitas and siva sutras for the benefit of sincere seekers.They are called the Shaivagamas.And these are the revelational learnings of the rsis.

Concisely, The Shaiv philosophy is :

That in the beginning all is Shivashakti.

A primal urge, pratham spanda, arises in Shiva to roll out a whole universe.

His Shakti enables him to do exactly that.We honour her as jag janani, mother nature.

All creation forget their pristine beginning, by a spiritual concussion, called anava mala, the primal forgetting. Once the divine beginning is forgotten, other limitations are quick tocreep in, omniscience becomes worldly conditioned knowledge, omnipotence becomes limited, specific ability, and omnipresence is reduced to a body/collective bodies.

All creatures accumulate experiences in their worldly sojourn. This is almost always in pairs, joy sadness, hot cold, dark light and so on.We understand that all is transient.

We begin to look for permanence.The journey back to pristinity begins.We turn to Masters and the Darsanas, and We do arrive at our own self realisation..

Shiva yoga is beautifully expounded by the sage vasugupta, in the “Shiva sutras”,

Alternatively deemed the Shiva Upanishad, this teaches of three out of four possible systems of Shiva’s mystic way, graded to suit the seeker’s present level of attainment. The four upayas (plans) are:

Anupaya or Ananda upaya.

Sambhava upaya or iccha upaya.

Saktopaya or jnana yoga.

Anav upaya.Also called kriya upaya.

These will be taken up in due writings.

Aum Namah Shivaya!  

Source: Kashmir Sentinel