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An Introduction to the Philosophy of Trika Saivism

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Trika Saivism
Item Code: IDK118
Author: Moti Lal Pandit
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2017
ISBN: 9788121511834
Pages: 248
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.0" X 5.8"

About the Book

The aim of this book is basically to introduce the reader to the fundamental principles that Trika Philosophers have enunciated in their philosophical-cum-theological treatises. Such an approach has been adopted deliberately on account of the fact that Trika system of thought, which is very rich in philosophical vocabulary, is hardly known to general public in the manner of Advaita Vedanta of Samkara. Although non-dualistic in orientation, yet it differs radically from the monism of Samkara with regard to the nature of the Absolute and the world. The Trika philosophy rejects the Vedantic view of the Absolute theistically, and so speaks of Paramasiva as being both consciousness and reflective awareness. As such the Absolute freedom, and so the school also is referred to as being that of Freedom. Insofar as the status of the world is concerned, the Trika thinks of it as being extension/emission/reflection of Paramasiva and so is considered to be real. It means that the world, even though a reflection of Paramasiva, is actually Siva itself.

From these main differences it can be discerned that the Trika absolutism is radically different from the one that Samkara has adumbrated. It is hoped that the reader upon reading the book will be able to have the grasp of the main philosophical principles that the Trika has enunciated and developed.

Moti Lal Pandit, trained as a theologian and linguist, has been engaged for last three decades in such dialogic research as would disseminate knowledge concerning the essence of such forms of spirituality as has been enunciated by such major religions as Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. The result of this untiring effort has been the publication of such books as, for example, Vedic Hinduism; Philosophy of the Upanisads; Samkara's Concept of Reality; Being as Becoming; Beyond the Word; Transcendence and Negation; Buddhism: A Religion of Salvation; The Trika Saivism of Kashmir; Encounter with Buddhism; and The Disclosure of Being.


As to when historically Saivism was introduced into the valley of Kashmir is quite uncertain. Tradition has it that it was sage Durvasa who revived the Saivite lore through his three mind-born sons. Insofar as the Trika branch of Saivism is concerned, its origin is ascribed to one of the mind-born sons of Durvasa, namely, Trailyamba-kaditya. One of the descendents of Traiyambakaditya, namely, Sangamaditya, is said to have introduced the Trika system in the valley of Kashmir during the eighth century AD. He is believed to have been the sixteenth teacher in the line of Triyambakaditya. This account is mainly based upon the Sivadrsti of Somananda, as Somannda himself claims to be the twentieth descendent of the line of Traiyambakaiditya.

It is during AD 700 and 800 that the basic texts of the Trika were composed. The trinity of texts that were composed during this period is the Siddhatantra, Malinitantra and the Vamakatantra. It is from this trinity of texts from which the term trika, meaning "there," is derived. In addition to these three texts, the revelatory texts that were composed during this period are the Svacchandatantra, Netratantra as well as the Rudrayamalatantra. All these texts, being revelatory in character, contain certain theo-logical rather than philosophical lines of thought and exposition of the Trika. The first attempt at explaining systematically the Trika is made by Vasugupta in his Sivsutra.

Vasugupta's disciple, namely, Kallatabhatta, further elaborated the contents of the Sivasutra in his Spndakarik and Spandavrtti, which together are known as the Spandasarvasva. In addition to these two compositions, Kallatabhatta also is said to have written the Svasvabhava sambodhana and Tattvavicara, which however are no more available. He also composed commentary, called the Madhuvahini, on the Sivasutra, which too has been lost. He is the only Saivite thinker of this period who has been praised as an accomplished person by Kalhana in his Rajatarangini.

During the reign of Avantivarman (ninth century) many great Saivite thinkers appeared in the valley of Kashmir. One such thinker was Pradyumnabhatta, the cousin of Kallatabhatta, who composed a hymn, namely, the Tattvagarbha-stotra. In this hymn the basic principles of the Trika are explained from the standpoint of Saktism. Somananda also appeared during this period that, as the presiding teacher of the Trika lineage, composed the first philosophical treatise, namely, the Sivadrsti. In this text the basic principles of the Philosophy of Recognition have been adumbrated. He is also said to have written a commentary on the Paratrisika, which is only known to us through references and quotations.

The philosophical principles of recognitive philosophy that Somananda expounded was further developed by his main disciple, namely, Utpaladev. Utpaladeva gave a firm logical grounding to the basic principles of recognitive philosophy in his Isvrapratyabhijna. In addition to it, he also composed three small texts as a supplement to the Isvarapratyabhijn. These small texts are jointly known as the Siddhitrayi. He also wrote commentaries on his Isvarapratyabhijna as well as on the Sivadrsti of Somananda, which however are available only in fragments. Utpaladeva was not only a great philosopher, but was a poet par excellence. His poetical composition, namely, the Sivastotravali, expresses his religious and philosophical thinking in such a direct manner as to penetrate every mood of the heart. One of the disciples of Utpaladeva as well as the younger brother of the poet Muktakana, namely, Ramakantha, wrote two seminal works: the Spandavrtti, which is a detailed commentary on the Spandakarika, and the other is a commentary on the Bhagavadgita from a Saivite perspective. Also during this period appeared a philosophical hymn-the stavacintamani- in praise of Siva from the pen of Narayanabhatta.

Bhaskaracrya (ninth century), while belonging to the lineage of Vasugupta, wrote the most important commentary on the Sivsutra, namely, the Varttika. This commentary does not suffer from the prolixity that one finds in the Vimarsini of Ksemaraja. Most probably he is the same Bhaskara who has been mentioned by Abhinavagupta as one of his teachers. It is to this period to which another great thinker belonged, namely, Utpala Vaisnava. Although belonging to the Vaisnavite Pancaratra tradition, he composed a scholarly commentary on the Spandakarika, which is known by the name of Spandapradipika. It was in the middle of the tenth century that Abhinavagupta appeared on the philosophical horizon of Kashmir. He so synthesized the diffused religious practices and the philosophical thought of Kashmir Saivism as to bring them into the symbiotic union of the Trika. He wrote extensively and composed commentaries on the seminal philosophical texts of both Somananda and Utpaladeva. One such philosophical commentary is his Vimarsini on the Isvarapratyabhijna of Utpaladeva. The other philosophical commentary is the Isvarapratyabhijna-vivrtivimarsini on the now lost tika of Utpaladeva on his own composition: the Isvarapratyabhijna. Insofar as Abhinavagupta's commentaries on the Sivadrsti of Somananda and the Siddhitrayi of Utpaladeva are concerned, they are no more available and seem to have been lost for ever.

One of the greatest works that Abhinavagupta wrote is his voluminous and encyclopaedic work: the Tantraloka.

In this voluminous work Abhinavagupta has interpreted comprehensively the Trika philosophical thought, rituals and contemplative practices of Saiva yoga. Since this work is so voluminous that it is practically impossible for any one to master it, so he wrote a gist of it in his another valuable work, namely, the Tantrasara. He also wrote a commentary, called Vivarana, on the Paratrisika, which is a scriptural work containing highly esoteric material about the Trika yoga. He also wrote a commentary, called the Varttika, on the Malini-tantra. In addition to these important works, he composed a commentary- Kramakeli-on the Kramastotra of Siddhanatha. He also wrote a text for the beginners, namely, the Paramarthasara. Another similar work of his is the Bodhapancadasika. He was not only a prolific writer, but also was a poet of great merit. His hymns are still being sung by Kashmiri Pandits. K.C. Pandey has published most of his hymns as appendices to his book: Abhinavagupta- An Historical and Philosophical Study. The philosophical and religious treatises as well as lyrical compositions of Abhinavagupta represent the culmination of the doctrinal development of the Trika. He is, thus, the ultimate authority insofar as the doctrinal and practical aspects of the non-dualist Trika is concerned.


  Preface vii
Chapter 1 The Conceptual and Textual Sources of Tirka 1
Chapter 2 The Trika Theory of Knowledge 33
Chapter 3 The Trika Conception of the Absolute 65
Chapter 4 The Trika Doctrine of Cosmic Manifestation 87
Chapter 5 The Trika Theory of Appearance 123
Chapter 6 The Trika Theory of Recognition 141
Chapter 7 Bondage versus Liberation 155
Chapter 8 The Trika Methods of Liberation 181
  Bibliography 225
  Index 239


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