Shaivism is rooted in hoary antiquity. It has both vedic and agamic roots. Kashmir was a centre of Shaiva worship and Pashupata cult. A philosophical renaissance was brought forth by concrete monism of Kashmir Shaivism or Praiyabhijna Shaivism. This in turn was the result of the churning of the Agamic traditions prevalent in Kashmir. Gradually many cults cropped up including the Karma Tantrism. The greatest of the Shaiva philosophers Abhinavgupta attempted to reconcile the metaphysical diversity by relating it to the diversity of spiritual experience.Shaivism in Kashmir had deep impact on art, architecture, and society while Pratyabhijna Shaivism developed a unique theory of aesthetics which is still held in the highest esteem by national and international scholars.
Dr. John Mohammad Paul obtained his Masters and B.Ed degrees from University of Kashmir and his M.Phil and Ph.D degrees from Vikram University of Ujjain. He is currently teaching History in Government Degree College Bemina, Srinagar (J&K). He has published many research papers in reputed national and international journals. They include a variety of subjects like ancient Indian religion, art and architecture of ancient Kashmir and women saints of Medieval India. His future project is related to the study of 'Vaisnavism in ancient Kashmir'.
Since ancient times Kashmir has been the hub of Indian Culture. It has nurtured scholars in religion, philosophy, aesthetics, literature and history who have been pioneers in shaping Indian culture at its best. In the context of the above, the present work traces the development of Agamic Shaivism in its various forms - early Shaivism, Pashupata system and finally Kashmir Shaivism and then Krama Tantricism. Its ideological development is seen in the context of historical background which gives it a concrete reality. Secular as well as religious literary sources, iconography, art and architecture have been utilized to the full. While the ultimate consciousness in Vedanta as interpreted by Shankara is the quiescence of the absolute and inactive, agamic Shaivism sees the supreme reality as a creative consciousness which proceeds from the subtle to the gross. Its source can be traced back to Shvetashvatara Upanishad which has in a capsule form the theory of Pashu, Pati and pasha along with the doctrine of bhakti. Among the important Shaiva cults in Kashmir Pashupatas were the most popular before the ninth Cen CE. The writer has given the latest theories regarding the date of Lakulisha and has seen the impact of this sect in temples like Payar where the first pupils of Lakulisha - Kusika, Mitra, Garga and Kaurushya are sculpted. Dr. Paul has brought out the early phase of Kashmir Shaivism called Pratyabhijna, Spanda or Trika where it was in the form of Agamas. There were sixty four monistic agamas and a number of acharyas gave its present shape between ninth to eleventh Cen. CE. The author has analysed Kashmir Shaivism from Vasugupta who discovered the Shiva sutras inscribed on the rock to Kallata's Spandakarika, Somanada's, Shivadrishti, Utpalacharya's Ishvarapratyabhijnakarika and Abhinavagupta's Shri Tantralok. The concrete idealism of Kashmir Shaivism is explained lucidly through the pure and impure creation, the three types of malas and the ultimate pratyabhijna or recognition of the identity of Shiva and Jiva.
We know from ancient texts like Mahabharata and Nilamata Purana that Shaivism was always an integral part of Kashmiri Culture especially the Pashupata cult and Pratibijna Shaivism with its different shades of Spanda, Trika and Krama Schools of thought. Since Pratibhijna Shaivism is concrete Monism it believes in the reality of the world which is the thought of Shaiva. Since Shaiva is real his thought is also real. Hence Pratibhijna of Kashmir Shaivism is a philosophy which is quite different in many respects from many schools of the Shaivism. Hence, it also adopts a pragmatic approach towards all the problems of philosophy on its both sides-theorys practics. Kashmir Shaivism accepts no restrictions based on caste, creed, sex, etc. Every curious and devout aspirant can have access to it both theoretically and practically. It gives importance to practice as well as philosophy. It is my pleasure to express my heartfelt gratitude to a person who God gave me as a reward in the form of Guru. She is none other than Prof. Susmita Pande, former Head of Department in the school of studies in Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, Vikram University, Ujjain (M.P.) and currently Chairperson, National Monuments Authority. It was she who suggested me the present subject for research and also agreed to guide me. It is because of her deep understanding of Ancient Indian Religion, Philosophy and Art, and her constant guidance that the work could be completed. Ujjain being my karmakshetra, I would like to thank the department of AIHCA, Vikram University, Ujjain and its head Dr. Ram Kumar Ahirwar, Associate Professor in the Department. I would also like to express my deep gratitude towards Prof. H.N. Dubey (University of Allahabad), Prof. I.S. Vishwakarma (Member, ICHR) and Prof. Shailendra Kumar Sharma (Ujjain) for their constant encouragements. I am indeed grateful to Shri Pravin Mittal of BR publishing Corporation Delhi for the printing of this book.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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