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Festival of Devotion & Praise: Hymns to Shiva (Shivastotravali by Utpaladeva)

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Item Code: NAZ487
Author: Swami Lakshmanjoo
Publisher: Ishwar Ashram Trust
Language: English and Sanskrit
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 978098162280
Pages: 508 With CD
Other Details 10.00 X 7.00 inch
Weight 930 gm
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Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
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Book Description
About the Book

The enchanting verses of the Sivastotravali were born on Kashmir Valley's Dal Lake as an inspirational outpouring of devotion from the - heart of the medieval Kashmiri master and mystic Utpaladeva. faronrs hymns are so profound they have the power to free the devoted reader from the restrictions of his or her intellect and elevate them to a state of yogic sahaj (Spontaneous) experience of oneness with their very nature of pure consciousness. When commenting on this text, Kashmir Shaivite master and saint, Swami Lakshmanjoo would tell his disciples that, as Utpaladeva taught us through these beautiful hymns, devotion or "passion for God consciousness," is everything.

"This is also a great wonder to me, that, in reality,

by nature this mind is the seed

of pain, sorrow, sadness and torture.

But the seed, when watered

with the nectar, of Thy devotion,

bears the fruit of final liberation."

Although these hymns were composed more than a thousand years ago, the Sivastotravali is recited to this day by yoga devotees worldwide. It is probably the greatest example of Kashmiri Shaiva devotional poetry that there is.

About the Author

Swami Lakshmanjoo was born in Srinagar, Kashmir on May 9, 1907. He was the most recent and the greatest of the saints and masters of the tradition of Kashmir Shaivism. Having a deep understanding of the philosophy and practices of Kashmir Shai- vism, he was like a splendid and shining rare jewel. From early childhood he spent his life studying and practicing the teachings of this unique sacred tradition. Because of his intellectual power and strength of awareness, he realized both spiritually and intel- lectually the reality of its thought.

Being born with a photographic memory, learning was always easy for him. In addition to complete knowledge of Kashmir Shaivism, he had a vast knowledge of the traditional religious and philosophical schools and texts of India. When translating or teaching he would freely draw on other texts to clarify, expand, and substantiate his teaching. He could recall an entire text by simply remembering the first few words of a verse.

In time, his reputation as a learned philosopher and spiritual adept spread. Spiritual leaders and scholars journeyed from all over the world to receive his blessings and to ask him questions about various aspects of Kashmir Shaiva philosophy. He gained renown as a devotee of Lord Shiva and as a master of the non- dual tradition of Kashmir Shaivism.

Throughout his life, Swamiji taught his disciples and devotees the ways of devotion and awareness. He shunned fame and recognition and did not seek his own glory. He knew Kashmir Shaivism was the most precious jewel and that, by God’s grace, those who desired to understand would be attracted to its teachings. His earnest wish was for Kashmir Shaivism to be preserved and made available to all humankind.

In 1990, in Nepal, during his explanation of the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Swamiji gave a rare glimpse into the fullness and glory of his own experience

"I was smoothly going on with my practice and abruptly Saktipdta [grace] came and threw all its force in me. It was tivra tivra (super-supreme) Saktipdta. And then it happened and I was newborn. I became so great. I don’t mean to boast but this is what happened. I was newly reborn. And, because I had to become Bhairava, I had to experience all of the states of yoga. And it happened, everything happened. I had all experiences; and ciddnanda also, jagadananda also. Everything happened. You can’t imagine the ways of Sakti- pata."

On the 27 of September 1991, Swami Lakshmanjoo left his physical body and attained the great liberation.


All glory be to Thee, O Lord Siva,

who art the only festival in my life!"

"I am mad with the love of Lord Shiva!" With these words, the Kashmiri saint, philosopher and scholar, Swami Lakshmanjoo, greeted two seekers visiting his ashram in the spring of 1988. The seeds of Swami Lakshmanjoo’s divine madness can be found many years earlier in the enchanting verses of the Sivastotravalit (Hymns of Devotion and Praise to Lord Siva) of Utpaladeva, the medieval Shaiva master and exponent of the Pratyabhijna school of Kashmir Shaivism.

One can just imagine the scene. It is the peaceful moments be- fore dawn, before the sun had shown its face above the mount- ains to the east of Dal Lake,? that most beautiful of lakes, with its peaceful waters and seemingly endless beds of lotus flowers opening for the day. There the young Lakshmana? heard his father singing sacred verses during his early morning devotion. The young teen aged boy was enchanted by what he heard and implored his father to explain to him the meaning of those wonderful verses. Where did those beautiful verses come from and what was their meaning?

His father told him the hymns came from a text known as the Sivastotravali but pleaded ignorance as to their meaning. He said that he only knew how to chant them and had never learned their meaning. Hearing this the young Lakshmana implored his father to find someone to teach him so he could read these verses and understand their meaning.

At that very moment the search to find the young Laksh- mana’s spiritual master began and it began at Swami Ram’s ashram.

Swami Ram was known to have been a highly accomplished and powerful master of the tradition of Kashmir Shaivism. He had been the family priest of Lakshmana’s family but by the time the seeds of the Sivastotravali had been planted in Lakshmana’s heart and the search for his teacher began he had left this world. Fortunately Swami Ram had left many advanced and worthy disciples from which to choose to school the young seeker in the Shaiva texts. So, when a relative of the family was asked to help in finding a proper teacher he recommended various highly regarded scholarly disciples of Swami Ram. Others, however, did not agree with these recommendations and suggested instead Swami Ram’s chief disciple, Swami Mahatabkak, who, although not known as a scholar, was nevertheless very highly regarded for his inner spiritual attainment.‘ Lakshmana indicated his approval of this recommendation, and so enquiries were made as to whether Swami Mahatabkak would accept the boy as his student. When he indicated his agreement arrangements were made for Lakshmana to begin his studies.

With auspicious offerings carefully prepared by his mother, Srimati Arnamali, the young Lakshmana made his way early one morning to Ram Ashram, where, at the feet of Swami Maha- tabkak, he began his formal spiritual education in the unbroken oral tradition of Kashmir Shaivism.

And so, in this way, with hearing those magical early morning sounds of Swami Lakshmanjoo’s father singing those enchanting verses of Utpaladeva’s Sivastotravali on the shore of Dal Lake, began the years of spiritual study and discipline of the young boy who was to become one of the preeminent masters of the same Kashmir Shaiva tradition to which Utpaladeva himself had belonged.

Utpaladeva and the Sivastotravali

It was on those same waters of Dal Lake that the Siva- stotravali itself was born. It is said that Utpaladeva would ask his disciples to row him out to the center of the lake in a shikhara and once there, inspired no doubt by the wondrous surroundings, would extemporaneously compose those sublime hymns of devotion and praise to Lord Siva. His disciples would write as their master sang ecstatically .. . and a scripture was born that today we know as the Sivastotravali!’. Swami Laksh- manjoo tells us, "I have heard it from my masters that he was situated in a boat on Dal Lake, roaming here and there singing. He was resting; he could not sit because he was mad, and this madness was perfect madness!"

Still today, although its hymns were composed more than a thousand years ago, the Sivastotravali is recited daily in Kashmiri Pandit households and by Shaiva devotees worldwide. It has even become the subject of formal study in universities around the world and is considered the greatest example of Kashmiri Shaiva devotional poetry.

Throughout his life, Swami Lakshmanjoo held Utpaladeva, and especially his Sivastotravali, in the very highest regard. It is now exactly 50 years since Swami Lakshmanjoo first published in 1964 a word-by-word Hindi translation of the Sivastotravall, along with Ksemaraja’s brief Sanskrit commentary." In subse- quent years, Swami Lakshmanjoo recorded a translation of the Sivastotrdvali in the Kashmiri language. Though incomplete, these recordings were made available to the public and have since become very dear to the hearts of his Kashmiri devotees."

Although he was a master of even the most abstruse elements of Kashmir Shaivite philosophy, with an almost photographic memory of the ancient texts and a razor-sharp intellect to inter- pret their hidden meanings, Swami Lakshmanjoo had a very special place in his heart for the Sivastotravali. From the early days, whenever devotees would recite verses from the Siva- stotravali, or whenever he himself sang those verses or commen- ted upon them, his eyes would well up with tears and his voice would become choked with devotion, unable for the moment to even speak. One can clearly hear examples of this in the re- cording that accompanies this book.

When commenting on the text, those listening would often ask questions about Shaiva philosophy. Swami Lakshmanjoo would swiftly reply, "Don’t always talk of Shaivism. This is a devotional text! In devotion you find two things: the master high, and the devotee in the lower level. The devotee has to weep, the devotee has to cry. When the crying stops, that is Shaivism. We have nothing to do with that here! We want to perceive the master at the stage of his being a master, and we have to imagine ourselves as his slaves."??

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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