comparative view of the two Philosophies
Jankinath Kaul "Kamal"
six systems of Hindu Philosophy are Nyaya,
Vaisheshika, Saankhya, Yoga, Mimaamsa and Vedanta.
There are also many other schools of thought in
India, but all are the variations of these six
systems termed the Hindu Philosophy. To understand
this clearly, we have to realize that the basis of
all the schools of Indian Thought is the same
which we call the Ultimate Reality, Supreme
Consciousness, Brahman, Siva, Allah or God. All
these schools of thought several conclude on
common concepts which are :-
accept the central cycle of Nature, which is
without beginning or end. This consists of vast
phases of Creation, Sustenance and Dissolution.
accept that life and death are but two phases of
a single cycle to which the soul is bound. This
is because of the ignorance of the true nature
accept Dharma as the moral law of the universe
that accounts for these central cycles of
Nature, as well as the destiny of the human
agree that knowledge of the self is the path to
freedom and that Yoga is the method to attain
schools of thought are, thus, but the fundamental
interpretations of the Ultimate Reality. They are
so inter-related that the hypothesis and the
method of each is dependent upon that of the
other. They are, in no way, contradictory to one
another, as they all lead to the same practical
end, the knowledge of reality and liberation of
'To get rid
of evil and to attain permanent and supreme
bliss', is the innate desire of every creature in
Here is an
attempt made to study a comparative view of the
two schools of Indian thought, namely the Advaita
Vedanta of Shankara and the Kashmir Shaivism, as
these have great affinities with one another. Both
advocate monism. Fundamentally, they have a single
conception, but each develops it individually to
suit particular minds. The physical reason for
their individual development, apart from that of
the mental, may be due to Historical background
and Geographical situation of each.
probably, founded Vedanta in the plains of India
while Durvasa expounded Trika Shaiva in the
Himalayan ranges, the two being sobre and
sentimental respectively. Vadanta is an enquiry
into the nature of the Ultimate Reality while
Shaivism discusses the nature of this ultimate
Reality and explains the cause of the initial
impulse in nature. The sources of Vedanta are
Vedas and those of Shaivism are the Tantras, which
give supplementary explanations to Vedic thought.
Both are said to be of divine authorship. No
doubt, they are the revelations favoured to great
sages and seers of this ancient land. But neither
objects the postulates of either of these.
these evolved philosophies seem to have had
prevailed in this beautiful land of Kashmir since
the very early times i.e. the first century A. D.
or earlier. This is evident from a keen
observation of the performances of daily and
occasional rites and rituals by the Kastimiri
Pandits even upto this day. Hymns from the Vedas
and recitations from the Tantras are included in
all kinds of such performances, simultaneously.
Even later hymns like Mukundamala- a hymn to Lord
Vishnu, and Sivamahimnastotram- a hymn to Lord
Siva - the supreme deities of the two
philosophies, are recited and worship offered
simultaneously by devotees in traditional way. By
this we understand that people in this land of
Kashyapa have from the very early times been
accommodating perhaps because of their gift of
intelligence from Nature. They always assimilated
what came their way. According to Dr. Aurel Stien,"
the Brahmins absorbed Buddhist Faith and lived in
harmony with their brethren who were converted to
this faith in the valley. Thus the old religion
here seems to have been polytheistic, of course,
with special inclination towards ritualistic
of Shaivism, advocating the highest form of Siva
had been introduced here in the fourth century A.
D. Krama system of Shaivism, connected with Raja-Yog,
and Kundalini Yoga, which stress that vital air
and mind are interdependent, also had been
introduced here early.
Sankaracharya (788-820 A. D.) visited this valley
in the first two decades of the ninth century. He
only re-established the true faith of Upanishads
called the Vedantas. To check further
deterioration caused by the split in Buddhisn, he
explained the Upanishads in a system on the basis
of Brahma Sutras in its commentary. He gave
Vedanta Philosophy the right footing when he wrote
his valuable commentaries on the ten principal
Upanishads and the Bhagwadgita. He composed a
number of hymns to different deities like
Saraswati. Krishna, Skanda and so on, to give the
unilateral direction to multi- farious faiths in
the whole country. He gave practical instructions
that worship of different deities leads to the
same goal, the Ultimate Truth on realization.
In his hymn
to Dakshinamurti, Sankara's conception ultimate
reality is the same as that of Pratyabhijna,
reintroduced by Somananda and Utpalacharya, in
Kashmir. To examine a comparison, let us study the
whom this universe, prior to its projection was
potentially present like a tree in a seed, and by
whom it was wrought to its multiform by the magic,
as it were, of His own will or in the manner of a
great Yogi out of His own power, to that Supreme
Being, embodied in the auspicious and benign Guru,
I offer my profound salutation."
own will the Supreme Lord, the essence of
Knowledge (Supreme Consciousness) projects
causelessly like the Yogi into this multiformal
the first stanza of the Dakshinamurti Stotra,
"Who, by Maya as by dream, sees Himself the
universe which is inside Him, like unto a city
that appears in a mirror, (but) which is
manifested as if without." In the commentary
to this stanza in his book entitled 'The Hymns Of
Sankara', Dr. T.M.P. Mahadevan points out:
"It is to be noted that in this hymn Sankara
employs certain key-terms and concepts of the
Pratyabhijna system known popularly as Kashmir
Shaivism. The illustration of the mirrored city is
found in the pratyabhijna works". Thus the
people of Kashmir seem to have been influenced by
the Vedanta Philosophy of Sankara as well as by
the ancient Shaivism which later developed into
great Shaiva families of Sangamaditya and
Atrigupta had migrated into Kashmir, when King
Lalitaditya (699-736 A. D.) ruled here. They
practised Tantric Shaiva rituals. These had
already influenced the thought of people here when
Shankara's Tantric Philisophy spread and
influenced the Trika also. This leads us to think
that Shankara must have had personal touch with
some founder-writers here. To illucidate this we
quote the following passage from the book entitled
'Abhinavagupta - An Historical & Philosophical
Study' by Prof. Dr. K. C. Pandey :
authority of the Rajatarangini (Ch. V, 66) we know
that Bhatta Kallata, the pupil of Vasugupta, was a
contemporary of Avantivarman, King of Kashmir
(855-883 A.D). There he is referred to as 'Siddha.'
It is, therefore, evident that at that time he was
an old man of established reputation. Vasugupta,
the teacher of Kallata, therefore, it is natural
to suppose, belonged to the preceding scholastic
generation extending from about 825 to 850 A. D.
We shall, therefore, not be wrong if we say that
Vasugupta gave a systematic form to the
philosophical ideas of the monistic Tantras in his
Siva Sutras in the next decade after
Shankaracharya's visit to Kashmir towards the end
of the second decade of the 9th century A.
D." - (Page 154)
mixed faith that the people of Kashmir had
professed so for developed into a philosophical
system when Vasugupta and Somananda gave Spanda
and Pratyabhijna thoughts during the middle and
latter part of the 9th century respectively. The
Trika system of philosophy which had appeared on
this earth through Durvasa, was in this way
re-introduced by Siva's will, for the welfare and
spiritual development of the people of Kaliyuga.
Srimat Swami Lakshman Joo, in one of his lectures
on Kashmir Shaivism says, "Like Vedanta, this
system endeavours to remove the innate ignorance
that separates the individual from the
are the points of difference between these two
There is no
difference so far as the aim of both is concerned.
Both the monistic philosophies aim at the
realization of the Ultimate Reality, which one
calls Parabrahman and the other calls Parama Siva.
So Paramasiva or Parameshwara is that ultimate
Reality, which the Vedas declare as "This
world came out from the Eternal Existence which is
one, the only and without the second."
are points of difference in so far as their
composition is concerned. On the basis of Sankhya,
the two philosophies hold that the universe
comprises of tattwas (or categories).
are common in both:
Jnanendriyas (Organs of cognition)
Karmendriyas (Organs of action)
Tanmatras (subtle elements)
Antahkaranas (internal organs)-Mind, Intellect
of difference are:
Vedanta the twenty-fourth category is Prakriti and
the twenty-fifth is the Purusha, which is known as
the Supreme Being (Parameshwara). He is ever pure
and is not tainted with the stain of worldly
corruption, just as no amount of dirt can ever
alter the chemical purity of gold in a gold ring.
Therefore, soul or self in Vedanta means the
universal Soul, Paramatman or Supreme Spirit. This
is identified with Purusha, the efficient cause of
the manifest world. It brings all change by its
mere presence as the sun brings forth the spring
the other hand, adds thirteen more tattwas to the
twenty-three of Sankhya. These are:
the world of difference which has the quality of
the limited individual,
Kanchukas or sheaths - They are the limiting
adjuncts on the individual in respect of space,
Knowledge, interest, time and authorship.
So far this
is all impure knowledge.
tattwas are considered to be in the field of Pure-
knowledge. These are the five energies Parama Siva
called consciousness, bliss, desire, knowledge and
Action. Kashmir Shaivism postulates the single
reality of Siva with two aspects - one
Transcendental and the other Immanent like two
sides of one and the same coin. The first is
beyond manifestation. But both are real as the
effect cannot be different from the cause. It is
discusses the relationship of God, Matter and
World. The central theme of the Vedanta Sutras is
the philosophical teachings of the Upanishads,
which concern the nature of these three relative
principles. This includes the relation between the
universal soul and the individual soul.
Shankaracharya explained, for the practical
purposes, this union in his monumental
commentaries in the 8th century A. D.
of Kashmir Shaivism deals with the three-fold
principle of God, Soul and Matter, which gives it
the name Trika. Vasugupata ( 9th century A. D. )
received the Siva- Sutras by inspiration and
explained these to preserve for man the principle
of monism which existed in the Tantras, also known
as Agamas. This revived an understanding of truth
in its ultimate form.
Vedanta, Maya, is a means of operation. It is not
a substance. It is the force which creates
illusion of non-perception in nature. It is the
dividing force or we may call it the finitising
energy which creates form in the formless. The
world is known as Maya because it has no reality.
It is only an appearance of fleeting forms. The
real is never affected by the unreal as the ground
is never made wet by a mirage. Maya is ignorance (avidya)
when it operates the individual mind. It vanishes
when the knowledge of reality dawns just as the
morning mist dissipates on rising of the sun.
Shaivism Maya is the power of contraction of the
five universal modes of consciousness, called the
Kanchukas or sheaths. The power of contraction
Existance contracts into time
All-pervasiveness contracts into Space
All-completeness contracts into desire
All-knowledge contracts into limited knowledge
and, All-powerfulness contracts into limited
as it is called here, produces Purusha and
Prakriti which together establish the dual world
of mind and matter. Here it is termed Maya-Granthi,
as it becomes the cause of bondage. As un- divided
power of Siva, Maya is not separate from the
reality either. As the gross power of
consciousness it is called Maya-Shakti, which
grants liberation to the contracted soul. The
influence of Maya is evident in the law of Nature.
Every period of action is followed by a period of
rest just as sleep follows action.
Vedanta we are required to pass through the
four-fold discipline which consisis of: viveka -
Discrimination vairagya - Dispassion shat-sampat -
Right conduct (six-fold ) :- a) Mental quietness;
b) Taming the mind; c) Abstinence; d) Endurance;
e) Confidence; and f) Steadiness.
- Desite for liberation. (Tattwabodha of
also three kinds of students who advance towards
self-realization. They are those :
who act with zeal and faith,
ii) who act for the good of humanity,
iii) who are immersed in meditation.
Shaivism it is said: <verses>
'There is no
consideration of first being worthy of it. There
is no restriction of caste, creed of colour for
getting admission to this shaiva order. This
naturally must mean that it is the intelligent who
can grasp this advanced philosophy, being the
lastest development on all the others. For the
fine intellects no restriction is imposed. But
there are grades in Diksha-initiation. They are :
- when the disciple is given the training of
2. Putrak - when spiritual knowledge is imparted
to the disciple.
3. Acharya - when the disciple becomes Acharya
(preceptor) and imparts knowledge to other
4. Siddha- - The perfect being. (vide Tantraloka)
Grace is anugraha in Vedanta and shaktipaata in
Kashmir Shaivism. Both the philosophies understand
it to be unconditional. They are in complete
agreement on this point. Vedanta says that
intellectual power, study of the Vedas and even
spiritual instruction are persuaded by divine
grace alone :-
'It is by
Lord's grace that one is led to monistic
practices.' Again, the Upanishads declare :-
'Atma can be
realized by him whom He favours and to whom He
also it is Shaktipaata that makes self-
directed towards the preceptor as if tethered with
a rope' .
'There is no
human effort to earn shaktipaata'.
It is the
independent will of Lord Siva to grant shaktipaata
or divine grace to any one at any place and at any
Badarayan's viewpoint is the outcome of the
various schools of thought of his day, as there
existed Ashmarthya, Audulomi, Kaashakritsna and
others who had held different views previously.
His is the accepted classic of the Vedanta system
to-day. It was endorsed and expanded by Gaudapada
and Shankaracharya through Maandukya karikas and
Prasthanatrayi respectively. Vidyaranya held the
same view in his Panchadashi.
find that the polytheistic faith with greater
inclination towards Shaivism developed into
Kashmir Shaivism or Trika philosophy with the
advent of Vasugupta and Somanandanatha. This
peculiar philosophy developed in Kashmir and
includes almost all the previous thoughts. It was
further adored by Kallata, Utpalacharya and later
by Abhinavaguptapada. Siva-Sutra, Sivadrishti,
Spanda, Ishwara- pratyabhijnavimarshini need
special mention in this context. Besides this,
Abhinavagupta's Tantraloka and Paratrimshika
Vritti form the encyclopaedia of Kashmir Shaivism.
To sum up,
if we study both these philosophies with interest
and zeal, we shall find that both lay stress on
the practical aspect, which is realization of the
Self. Both enable all to realise the teachings
during one's own lifetime. Their individual
developments lead to the common goal - Realization
of the Supreme Reality - where there is no
experience of duality and hence no sorrow. It is
the state of absolute bliss. It is the stateless
state. The vedas declare :-
Truth is one
but the wise give it in many ways'.
Kashmir Shaivism can hardly be grasped until all
the six systems of philosophy are comprehended,
yet no such system of India will be complete
without this. No doubt, Tantras suffered a great
criticism from the western and eastern scholars,
due to their esoteric or symbolic character. But
thanks are due to Sir John woodroffe (Arther
Avalon), who was the first to defend the outraged
Tantras. In the foreword to his book entitled 'The
Garland of Letters', Dr. T. M. P. Mahadevan
(professor Emeritus, Centre of Advanced study in
philosophy, University of Madras) writes :-
decent Indian mind that had developed a
deep-rooted prejudice against the Tantras became
awake to their excellence after the pioneering
work of this great foreigner.''
their meaning clear and helpful for understanding
the culture of India. Therefore, it is imperative
that this line of traditional literature should
properly be understood. Then it will be convincing
to the common man that Kashmir Shaivism gives the
detailed analysis of the ultimate Reality, which
Vedanta already explained on the basis of Saankhya
Dr. Aurel, Rajatarangini (Tr.)
2. Adi Shankara, (a) Dahshinamurti Stotra (b)
3, Abhinavaguptapada, (a) Ishwarapratyabhijnya
Vimarshini (b) Paramartha-sara, and (c)
Tantraloka. Pub. The Kashmir Series of Texts
& Studies, Srinagar.
4. Mahadevan, Dr. T. M. P. The Hymn to Sanhara,
Madras, Pub. Ganesh & Co.
5. Kaul, Jankinath, "Trika Shasana Ka
Aavirbhava,' in MALINI, Pub. Kashmir Shaiva
Institute, Gupta Ganga, Kashmir 1870.
6. Pandey, Dr. K, C., Abhinavagupta - an
Historical & Philosophical Study, Pub.
Chowhhamba Sanskrit Series office, Varanasi.
7. Lakshman Joo, Swami; Lectures on Kashmir
8. Chandogya Upanishad
9 Dattaatreya, Avadhoota Gita.
10. Mundaha Upanishad.
11. Woodroffe, Sir John. The Garland of Letters.
Madras, Pub. Ganesh & Co.