About the Book
Specific Principle of Kashmir Saivism throws a clear light on the aspects of Trika Saiva philosophy that remain either untouched or not well-clarified in other schools. Starting with discussion of the theistic absolutism of the Trika system, B.N. Pandit guides us through abhinavagupta's critique of the primary cosmogonic theories of his time - the materialist realism of Samkhya, the momentary-idealism of Vijnanavadas, and the vivarta theory of Advaita Vedanta -en route to establishing the Kashmir Saiva theory of theistic reflectional manifestation as a unique and supremely logical cosmogonic system. Like the topic of cosmogony, several other important principles are unique developments of the Trika system. These topic include: Spanda, Saktipata, the classification of beings, aesthetics, the notion of Sabdabrahman, the relation of the five purana to the four states of consciousness, and Trika yoga. This book illuminates these topics on the basis of the writing of the primary masters of the school, including Vasugupta, Kallata Bhatta, Somananda, Utpaladeva, and Abhinavagupta.
In addition, the author has include a chapter on the vilasa principle as expounded in the Neo-Saiva philosophy (Abhinava-Saivadarsana) of Acarya Amrtavagbhava. This work also includes an index, extensive glossary, and appendix of Sanskrit quotations, making it an invaluable source-book for beginners and scholars alike.
About the Author
B.N. Pandit is an eminent Sanskrit scholar, holding a Certificate of Honour, awarded by the President of India. A retired professor of Sanskrit form Himachal University. Dr. Pandit is an internationally respected authority on the Trika Saivism of Kashmir with numerous publications in Sanskrit (8), Hindi (4), and English (4). His Svatantrya Darpana (Mirror of Self-Supremacy) and translation of Abhinavagupta's Paramarthasara (The Essence of the Exact Reality) are also published by us.
The present work is a collection of articles on the non-dualistic Svaivism of Kashmir that is intended to clarify certain philosophical and theological principles central to this philosophy. Most of these principles are specific to Saiva non-dualism and its Trika system of yoga and are not commonly included in other schools of thought. In a few cases, these concepts have been discussed in various other philosophies, but Kashmir Saivism has its own distinctive approach to these issues.
It is the author's intention that this work on Saivism serve as a guidebook for the general reader interested in learning more about the philosophy of Kashmir Saivism as taught and explained by its ancient authors. While this book was not intended to be a scholarly treatise, nevertheless there are details included which should be of interest to scholars and readers already familiar with the philosophy.
Because these chapters were designed as individual articles, the basic points of the philosophy are introduced in each one as needed. Therefore, it is possible to read them independently of each other and in any order. However, there is also a logic to their order, and a general building of understanding should occur when they are read as presented.
Like all Indian philosophical systems, Kashmir Saivism grew and developed in the presence of other schools of thought. Down through the centuries there were ongoing debates, interchanges, assimilations, and competitions among various belief systems which influenced each other powerfully along the way. Because of this, it is basically impossible to study one of these philosophies without presenting comparative material from the other major schools of the same period. Therefore, the reader will find references to Vedanta, Samkhya-Yoga, Buddhism, and so on, in each of the following essays.
The first chapter of this work deals with the Paradvaita principle of Kashmir Saivism. Paradvaita is the term used in this philosophy to establish the concept of absolute non-dualism. This approach to philosophical truth sees everything in the universe as Consciousness. There is only one conscious Reality, and because of its divine, blissful, and independent nature, it creates the universe, evolving into the trinity of all forms of diversity, unity in diversity, and absolute unity.
The second chapter presents the two closely related principles of theistic absolutism and spiritual realism, both of which are central to this philosophy. The ancient sages of Kashmir Saivism did not look for the truth only in logic and intellectual speculation. They relied much more on their experiences during deep yogic states to guide them in understanding and clarifying age-old philosophical dilemmas. They discovered the Absolute within themselves and found that they were one with it. They studied the Self that lay beyond the mind and the ego, and found that It was divine, creative energy. God was not some distant ruler or some inert entity. These sages realized and recognized that He was within everything, was the vitality of life itself, and was always the one transcendent Reality as well. In this way Kashmir Saivites taught the principle of theistic absolutism.
For centuries Indian philosophers have been debating whether this world is real or an illusion. In the process of watching the unfolding of their own creative energy during meditation, the sages of Kashmir found the source of all creation, and witnessed how everything in this universe evolves from this one absolute Reality into manifestation which is also real. Because all creation exists within the Absolute, they established the principle of spiritual realism.
The third chapter examines the various aspects of the states of waking, sleeping, dreamless sleep, and intuitive Self-revelation. These are known as the four states of prana, and although they have been discussed by many schools of Indian thought, the Saivism of Kashmir brings to light many things about them, which are unknown to other systems of philosophy.
The fourth chapter introduces the question, "What is life?" and discusses the various levels and states of living beings: from ordinary mortal people to various forms of heavenly beings and finally to Siva. Kashmir Saivism classifies seven main levels of living beings, and has developed a categorization of the mental and physical states of each. This section also includes a discussion of the various limitations (malas) that affect both the mortal and heavenly beings living in these levels and states.
Grammarian philosophers belonging to the school of Bhartrhari have recognized four types of speech. However, philosophers of Sanskrit grammar have been unable to clarify the nature and character of the subtler forms of thought-free awareness (pasyanti) and supreme speech (paravac). The authors of Kashmir Saivism discovered that awareness is the basic essence of all speech as well as the foundation for creative expression. Their views on these concepts are reviewed in chapter 5.
The sixth chapter deals with the spanda principle of Kashmir Saivism. This concept is not found in any other school of Indian thought. Spanda is the spiritual stirring of the divine essence of the Absolute. The masters of this philosophy discovered that all of creation was nothing but this extraordinarily subtle vibration or oscillation. It is spanda that keeps the Absolute continuously engaged in the five divine activities of cosmic creation, sustenance, dissolution, Self-oblivion, and Self-recognition.
The seventh chapter summarizes the classical twenty-five tattvas of the Samkhya system and then discusses the eleven levels added by Saivism, which go beyond Purusa and Prakrti.
The eighth chapter describes the principle of divine grace that causes ordinary people to move beyond their limitation and seek right understanding and liberation. This philosophy has developed a thorough delineation of grace and its various forms. The basic nine types of saktipata are discussed in this section.
The ninth chapter explains the yoga system of the Trika-sastra as discussed in the Tantraloka by Abhinavagupta. This form of yoga is unique to the Saivism of Kashmir. Aside from a detailed study of sambhava, sakta and anava yoga, this chapter presents the different varieties and subvarieties of these three main forms of Trika yoga as well.
This is followed by a chapter on aesthetics. This philosophy contains no puritanical or restrictive doctrines. Rather, it is distinctive for embracing life in its totality. The tenth chapter examines the various spiritual practices associated with the arts, particularly music, as well as the practice of using objects and actions pleasing to the senses as aids to liberation.
Finally, the eleventh chapter brings the reader into the present century with a discussion of the vilasa principle of Neo-Saivism. This concept was developed by Acarya Amrtavagbhava in one of his works entitled Atmavilasa the chapter gives a short biographical account of the Acarya, and then goes on to describe various aspects of the divine exuberance (vilasa) of the Absolute as it is presented in Atmavilasa.
At the end of the book there is an appendix which should be of further help to the reader interested in the Sanskrit quotes and terminology it is followed by a glossary of terms and index. Wherever possible we have tried to use the English equivalent to the Sanskrit term, or have included a translation within the text. The glossary also offers cross-referencing of concepts, and summaries of various categories such as the tattvas.
I would like to give my thanks to my daughter, Dr. Girija Sharma, who assisted me in collecting material etc. for the book Mrs. Joan Ames does also deserve my thanks for giving the expression of the book an American look. Finally, my thanks are due to my present day students-Marcy Brverman, Jeffrey Lidke, and John Nemec-for editing the final press copy of the book.
The word "philosophy" is commonly used to translate the Sanskrit word darsana, but in fact darsana has far broader implications than its English enquivalent implies. By "philosophy" we usually mean that love and pursuit of superior wisdom that develops through intellectual and logical reasoning. Darsana, on the other hand, is a revelation or an intuitive experience of the truth brought about by the practice of yoga. The logical expression of this experience of the truth through language is considered to be a secondary meaning of darsana.
It is important for Westerners to bear in mind that many of the fundamental principles of Indian philosophy have arisen experientially during the practice of deep meditation, and are not just the result of logical reasoning. Indian philosophers were often great yogins as well as fine scholars, and their practice of a given philosophy through various forms of yoga was considered essential for gaining understanding of the highest truths.
Throughout the centuries, India's greatest philosopher-sages have described their experiences of the truth as they were revealed to them during the practice of yoga. These truths were then translated into various philosophical systems depending on the level of clarity that a given sage had reached, and their ability to transfer their experiences into logical form. Also, different systems of yoga brought about different states of consciousness and therefore different levels of truth were experienced.
Classical Indian philosophy generally recognizes four different states of consciousness; jagrat, the waking state; svapna, the dreaming state; susupti, the deep, dreamless state; and turiya, the state of intuitive revelation. Indian philosophers discovered, practiced, and propagated various systems of yoga which lead to different levels of revelation (darsana) within these states of consciousness. The following examples of different schools of yoga and the various levels of consciousness attained by their practitioners will serve as a background for discussing the particular darsana of Kashmir Saivism.
There was a yoga prevalent in the tradition of certain ancient orders of monks is known to lead to a state of subtle animation within a form of deep, dreamless sleep (susupti) in which the practitioners came face to face with his true Self. This Self is not to be confused with the ego, that limited sense of "I" that we refer to as my "self," with a small "s". The true individual self is experienced through its own luminous and vibrant knowing of the waking (jagrat), and dreaming (svapna) states. This experience, called yoga-samadhi, has within it various levels of purity but basically it yields a direct realization of the nature of the pure and finite I-consciousness.
A higher form of darsana is available to students of the Samkhya-Yoga system, which followed and adopted the samadhi yoga of Patanjali. Adept practitioners of Samkhya-Yoga experience a state called nirvikalpa-samadhi in which they transcend and sense of ego (ahamkara) alongwith the ability to think (manas) and understand (buddhi). All three psychic senses are absorbed into that yogic form of deep sleep leaving the individual Self in a thought-free (nirvikalpa) state. This is known as the state of aloneness (kaivalya) in the Yogasutra of Patanjali.
The darsanas of both these schools differ from the revelation available through the practice of Kashmir Saivism because the practitioners does not experience the infinite and all pervading nature of the self, nor its character of divine omnipotence. What is more, Samkhya-Yoga does not involve itself with the subject of God, either through darsana or logical exposition. Even as great a yogin as Patanjali did not consider Isvara to be the Absolute God, but understood him to be just an ever-pure and ever-liberated Purusa of a unique kind who was responsible for transmitting yoga to Kapila, one of the system's earliest teachers. Isvarakrsna, the builder of the current Samkhya philosophy, does not even mention the name of God.
The Nayaya-Vaisesika philosophy is another example of a form of darsana that contrasts with Kashmir Saivism. Practitioners of this system experience the Self as consisting of pure and calm finite consciousness, freed from all physical, mental and sensual disturbances. In their yoga-samadhi they have the darsana of a Self-evident tranquil consciousness, free from any movement of the ego. They see themselves as attaining perfect freedom from any propensity towards either objective or subjective activity. However, they consider the phenomena of this world and its creator as entities different from the Self. As with the above schools of yoga, the path of Nyaya-Vaisesika does not reveal to its practitioners the divine nature of the Self, and so their assertions on the principle of theism are deduced from logical reasoning rather than from darsana.
Buddhist philosophers deny the existence of both, God and the individual soul. In their practice of yoga they attain such a deep state of susupti that they lose all sense of witnessing the constant flow of vijnana, that stream of consciousness that is always present in the mind. Buddhist believe that ordinarily there is a constant fluctuation in the mind between the sense of I-ness called alaya-vijnana and the sense of this-ness called pravrtti-vijnana. They explain that this fluctuation arises due to a basic form of universal ignorance that causes each successive momentary mental movement to be affected by accumulated past impressions. According to Buddhists, this process deceives people into assuming that there is something continuous about them, like a soul, or a Self. In their state of deep susupti, Buddhist practitioners experience the cessation of even the subtle current of vijnana and have called this state nirvana. Literally translated, nirvana means an extinction of the current of the light of individual consciousness. In this state of susupti they experience a void in which there is no apparent Self, vitality, or creative energy.
The above systems of yoga all lead the student into spiritual experiences that this author views as various states of deep sleep, or susupti. Let us now turn our attention to those schools whose practices offer a more refined form of darsana, or revelation. The yoga known as nirodha-samadhi, and practiced by the ancient teachers of Advaita Vedanta, leads students to the revelation of an uninterrupted state of Self-awareness. This consciousness of the Self serves as a witness to all the different levels of the deep, dreamless state (susupti) as well as to the stream of momentary flickers of consciousness (vijnana). The Vedantins call this continuously existing consciousness Atman. They use the term Brahman to stand for that aspect of all-pervading consciousness that also serves as the original foundation for all of creation. Seeing Brahman, the creator, as absolutely pure but inactive, Vedantins have classically been unable to locate the source of phenomenal existence in Him. They feel that there must be some impure element, in addition to Brahman, which is responsible for phenomenal manifestation. They call this element beginningless ignorance (avidya). The Vedantins conceive of this ignorance as having both an individual and a universal aspect which results in people mistakenly understanding the single Brahman as being God, the soul, and insentient matter. According to Vedantins, these three entities do not really exist. Just like a mirage in the desert, they appear falsely to people caught in the grip of this ignorance (avidya). They proclaim that the Self (atman), also known as Brahman, is the only true reality, and is the eternal, infinite, and absolute Consciousness. They describe Brahman as sat ("existence"), cit ("consciousness"), and ananda ("blissfulness"), because they experience these states as they reside in that deep Self-awareness known as nirodha-samadhi.
However, according to the philosophers of Kashmir Saivism, the revelation of the truth attained through this level of yogic absorption (samadhi) is still affected by the limitations of individual consciousness and inactiveness. These limitations do not allow practitioners to experience their infinite and divine potency. They do not understand that the same power that created the whole universe is what empowers them. This shortcoming causes Advaita Vedantins to look for a creative source outside of Brahman, and to consider people who experience Him as God, soul, and all creation as being caught in ignorance.
There are several systems of yoga that lead aspirants to a still higher level of truth as it is revealed at various stages of intuitive revelation (turya), the fourth state of prana, which leads to a spontaneous understanding of the real nature of the Self. These systems include Pancaratra, Saktism, and Saivism. The practitioners of these schools of yoga understand that all phenomena are a creation manifested by God, the absolute Consciousness endowed with infinite divine potency to create, to preserve, and to dissolve all phenomena. Within this group of yoga traditions that lead to experiences of Self-revelation (turya), there are various levels of understanding of Self. Practitioners who have attained the lower levels of turya understand that everything in the world is controlled by the divine powers of God, but they conceive of all things as being separate or different from him. These aspirants remain in the experience of diversity known as "dualism" (dvaita). Pasupatas and the followers of the Vaisnava philosopher Madhvacarya are examples of yogic groups that experience this form of pluralism or diversity.
Those yogins who discover the truth at an intermediate level of turya experience a kind of unity within the diversity of God, soul, and world. They discover that they are one with God, but do not entirely lose their individual limitations, and so remain partly distinct from His universal aspect. This is known as the state of unity in diversity (bhedabheda), and at this intermediate level, the practitioners can attain the bhedabheda state only after death. Such aspirants are popularly known as "qualified non-dualists" (Visista-dvaitins). This group includes the followers of Ramanuja, aspirants on the paths of Saivasiddhanta and Srikanthamata, and the followers of Vaisnava teachers like Bhaskara, Nimbarka and Caitanya.
Yogins discovering the truth as it is revealed at still higher levels of the intuitive state (turya), experience God in everyone and everything. According to Saivism, they shed their individuality and expand themselves into the infinite existence of God as soon as they exhaust their remaining stock of merits and demerits for this life (prarabdha-karman) and leave their mortal forms. Successful practitioners of Virasaivism are examples of yogins who attain this form of revelation. Also, Vedantic aspirants who do not allow themselves to get lost in logic, and who practice some Tantric method of yoga, can attain unity with the Absolute. The great Vedantic teachers Gaudapada and Sankara are example of this group.
The Saivism of Kashmir teaches a system of yoga that leads to the highest level of Self-realization and yields a revelation of the innermost secrets of the nature of the Self. In the practice of this yoga, the student is able to pass beyond the various levels of susupti and turya that we have been describing and finally to become immersed in the blissful experience of the Self as one with Absolute Consciousness. The student of Kashmir Saivism discovers that what others experience as the void is actually pulsating with divine creative energy and that this creative energy is their very essence. Further, these practitioners experience everyone (pramatr) and everything (prameya) as the Absolute lord, endowed with infinite divine potency and joyfully manifesting the whole universe. They see everything as His divine play, and recognize that everything is actually He. This totally monistic view of the world was termed "immediate non-dualism" (pratyaksadvaita) by Narasimhagupta, father of the famous eleventh century philosopher, Abhinavagupta. Immediate non-dualism sees total unity even in mundane perceptions. Those who live in this state of unity do actually see monism with their eyes and feel it through all their senses.
Vaisnava schools do not accept absolutism at all. The so called "pure non-dualism" (suddhadvaita) theory of Vallabha, even though it is quite similar to Kashmir Saivism in its pantheistic views, gives little attention to absolutism. The great Hindi poet Surdasa, an ardent follower of Vallabha, has cleverly criticized and ridiculed absolutism in his poetic songs related to the Bhramaragita episode in the life-history of Lord Krsna. But Kashmir Saivism, even though it is every bit as devotional towards the divine entity as the school of Vallabha, insists on transcendental Absolutism when dealing with the highest and the basic eternal Reality. According to this view, the absolute is so inexplicably eternal, infinite, and pure, it cannot be perceived, imagined, known objectively, or expressed through any words, because it lies beyond the reach of all such faculties of intelligence. Abhinavagupta says the following about it:
Creation or manifestation is another philosophical issue that has been heavily debated among the various schools of Indian philosophy. What is the relationship between the creator and the created? The very question suggests a dualism, and many schools have developed theories of creation and creator that reflect the duality that pervades the standard intellectual process. In fact there is quite a range of approaches to this subject Different schools of Indian thought have established either monism, pluralism, dualism, or monodualism as the fundamental principle of their philosophy. Kashmir Saivism alone establishes a totally non-dualistic form of theistic absolutism that ultimately includes and expands on all other theories of manifestation. This approach establishes that there is only one beginningless entity that is variously described as the Absolute, Absolute Consciousness, Paramasiva, the Ultimate, the Lord, Absolute Reality, God, and so on. Therefore Kashmir Saivism does not agree with the Vedantic principle of ignorance (avidya), even as an explanation for creation. Instead, it solves this key problem of monistic philosophies with the principle of spanda, the vibration of creative power.
Spanda will be explored in detail in chapter 6, but we will discuss it briefly here in relation to the issue of manifestation. Historically, this concept first enters the ancient tradition of Kashmir Saivism in the teachings of Vasugupta. It is further explained and clarified in turn by Bhatta Kallata, Somananda, Utpaladeva, and Abhinavagupta. (Spanda is mentioned in the Anuttaraprakasapancasika by Adinatha, and also appear in a more ancient work by the sage Durvasas entitled Parasambhuma-himnastava, but is developed as a key theory of Kashmir Saivism by the above mentioned philosophers).
According to Kashmir Saivism, the Absolute is calm and tranquil because it is free from the turbulence caused by the five klesas of the Yogasutra. But it is not like the void or pure space on which the Buddhists base their theories, because that calm amounts to insentience. The Absolute is Consciousness. It is always Self-conscious, meaning it is always aware of itself and its divine nature. The Self-awareness of the Absolute is a subtle form of activity which has two essential qualities. First, Consciousness is Self-luminous; the light of Consciousness (prakasa) requires no other source of illumination. This is Its aspect of jnana or knowing. Second, the process of becoming aware of Itself (vimarsa) is the Absolute's aspect of action (kriya). The action is a kind of subtle stir that gives rise to joy and the creative impulse. This subtle movement is not a physical motion or any form of mental restlessness. Rather, it can be described as a spiritual stirring that corresponds to the sensation everyone has at moments of direct self-awareness during experiences.
This stirring of Self-awareness is spanda. It makes Absolute Consciousness vibrant and expansive, and it is this activity that is the basic source of all creative manifestation. Everything that exists, sentient and insentient, is a result of this stirring of spanda. Even the Vedantic theory of beginningless ignorance is thus a creation caused by the spanda of Absolute Consciousness. The five divine activities of cosmic creation, preservation, absorption, obscuration, and revelation are basically the outward manifestations of the divine powers of God brought about through spanda, God's essential nature. This theory of creation is one of the most important spiritual discoveries of Kashmir Saivism.
There are a number of important philosophical theories that are woven into this view of creation. God, while appearing as all phenomena, does not undergo any change at all in His basic character. There is no change in the Absolute because all manifestation brought about by spanda occurs as a reflection. In other words, the divine powers of God, becoming reflected outwardly through the vibrative nature of spanda, appear as all phenomena. This principle of reflective manifestation is the cosmogonical principle of Kashmir Saivism and is a corollary to the principle of spanda.
Kashmir Saivism asserts that all phenomena that ever appear in the universe enjoy an eternal existence within Absolute Consciousness. Because time and space do not exist for the Absolute, these phenomena do not exist within Consciousness in the same way that things exist in a room. Rather, they exist and shine within the Absolute as pure Consciousness. For example, a plant exists in a seed in the form of the potential of the seed to appear as a plant. The whole universe exists within Absolute Consciousness in the form of its divine potency. Consciousness is by its own free will. Therefore, the philosophy asserts that all things have an eternal and absolutely real existence within pure and absolute Consciousness. This approach is known as spiritual realism and is another example of a theory that is particular to Kashmir Saivism.
Spiritual realism is considerably different from the realism of other philosophical systems, for instance the material realism of the Nyaya-Vaisesika and Samkhya schools. Also, this realism should be differentiated from certain forms of idealism in both India and Europe. These idealists generally consider phenomenal existence to be the outward manifestation of past mental impressions appearing like things in a dream. According to Kashmir Saivism, the things of this world are not a dream because they enjoy a concrete existence in time, present a common target for the activities of many people, and serve a particular function. The things of this world are real for all practical purposes. In other words, the authors of Kashmir Saivism have worked out a pragmatic realism.
Bondage and liberation is another important issue that Kashmir Saivism has clarified in a unique manner. Most of the other schools of Indian philosophy assert that all beings are responsible for their own misery and can only attain liberation through their own efforts. But Kashmir Saivism, while advocating personal effort for the attainment of freedom from limitation, finds the basic source of both bondage and liberation in the divine creative expression of God. In this philosophy, the world and our lives are often described as a divine drama or play in which Paramasiva is the sole producer, director, and cast of characters. He is everything wrapped up in one. It is He who, in the initial part of His divine play, obscures His divinity and purity, appears as an ordinary person with limitations, and becomes progressively denser and more ignorant as a result. But in the final part of this play, He bestows His divine grace on the person He appears to be. This person then turns away from misery, becomes interested in spiritual philosophy, comes into contact with a teacher, receives initiation into spiritual practices (sadhana), attains correct knowledge of the theoretical principles of absolute non-dualism, practices yoga, and develops an intense devotion for the Lord. Finally this person recognizes that he is none other than the Lord Himself.
This play reveals the principles of obscuration and divine grace known as nigraha and anugraha. These terms have been mentioned in certain other schools of Indian philosophy, but have been developed philosophically in Kashmir Saivism alone. The topic of divine grace, known as saktipata, has been intricately analysed into twenty-seven main forms in Abhinavagupta's Tantraloka. No other philosophical system has produced such a detailed study and understanding of saktipata.
Kashmir Saivism also developed an integrated and effective method of spiritual practice that includes intense devotion, the study of correct knowledge, and a special type of yoga unknown to other systems of practical philosophy. These three approaches are meant to be carefully integrated to produce a strong and vibrant practice. Yoga is the main path that leads to Self-realization, theoretical knowledge saves yogins from getting caught at some blissful but intermediary level of spiritual progress, and devotion provides them the strength and focus with which to digest correctly the powerful results of yoga and so avoid their misuse. This is a practice for both the mind and the heart. The teachings offer a fresh and powerful understanding of life that develops the faculties of the mind, while the devotional aspects of Kashmir Saivism expand the faculties of a students' heart. Combined together, both faculties help students reach the highest goal to which Saiva yoga can lead them.
The yoga system of Kashmir Saivism is known as the Trika system. It includes many methods of yoga, which have been classified into three groups known as sambhava, sakta, and anava. Sambhava yoga consists of practices in direct realization of the truth, without making any effort at meditation, contemplation, or the learning of texts. The emphasis is on correct being, free from all aspects of becoming. This yoga transcends the use of mental activity. Sakta yoga consists of many types of practices in contemplation on the true nature of one's real Self. Anava yoga includes various forms of contemplative meditation on objects other than one's real Self such as the mind, the life-force along with its five functions (the five pranas), the physical form along with its nerve-centers, the sound of breathing, and different aspects of time and space.
Trika yoga teaches a form of spiritual practice that is specific to Kashmir Saivism. This system, along with its rituals, has been discussed in detail in Abhinavagupta's voluminous Tantraloka, which is one of the world's great treatises on philosophy and theology. Unlike many other forms of yoga, the Trika system is free from all types of repression of the mind, suppression of the emotions and instincts, and starvation of the senses. It eliminates all self-torturing practices, austere vows or penance, and forcible renunciation. Saiva practitioners need not leave their homes, or roam as begging monks. Indifference (vairagya) to worldly life is not a precondition for practicing Trika yoga. Sensual pleasures automatically become dull in comparison with indescribable experience of Self-bliss. This is a transforming experience that naturally gives rise to a powerful form of spontaneous indifference to worldly pleasures. Finally, regardless of caste, creed, and sex, Trika yoga is open to all people, who through the Lord's grace, have developed a yearing to realize the truth, and who become devoted to the Divine.
This collection of essays has been written in accordance with the teachings and writings of five great philosopher-sages from the Kashmir Saivite tradition. The first is Vasugupta, a truly advanced yogin who attained the highest levels of Trika yoga. Like all these ancient masters, through his practice of yoga he attained a direct realization of the principles and doctrines of Saiva monism. As there are no books authored by Vasugupta, we must assume he remained mostly absorbed in the practices themselves and in teaching the Trika doctrines to disciples like Bhatta Kallata, who learned the essence of the theory and practice of the spanda principle from him and went on to develop it in his Spandakarika. Bhatta Kallata wrote several other works on Kashmir Saivism most of which have been lost. Spandakarika and Spandavrtti are his only two works that are still available. He was followed by Somananda and Utpaladeva, both of whom were his younger contemporaries. All three of these teachers were great yogins who had direct realizations of the philosophical truths, contained in the Saiva monism of Kashmir. They were also considered masters of the Trika system of Kashmir Saivism and of the Kaula system started by Matsyendranatha. None of their works on Kaulism is available at present, but references to these this system as well. It is clear that they were also well-read scholars, and extremely knowledgeable about the various philosophies of that period.
These sages were followed by Abhinavagupta who was also a great yogin and thoroughly versed in all the learned traditions of his time. He studied and practiced a number of philosophies outside his own chosen area of devotion in order to expand and perfect his knowledge. He was not only a master of both the Trika and Kaula systems of Tantric sadhana but was in complete command of their ritual aspects as well. His Tantraloka, dealing with the philosophy, theology, and ritual of the Trika and Kula systems of Tantric yoga-sadhana, is a unique work on these subjects.
These are the five great authors of Kashmir Saivism whose authority on the subject is unquestionable. They were followed by many scholars, writers, and practitioners who continued to expand the depth and breadth of this philosophy. They wrote commentaries and books useful for beginning students, a teaching tradition which is still being used in Kashmir. The works and commentaries of these later scholars are very helpful in studying the works of the above-mentioned masters of Kashmir Saivism. However if one compares these later works with the teachings of the original five, it becomes clear that the views and interpretations of the later commentators are not always entirely correct. For this reason, I have chosen to take the always entirely correct. For this reason, I have chosen to take the material for this book from the original five great authors of Kashmir Saivism and have not relied on the views of their followers.
Contemporary students and scholars of this philosophy generally begin their research with the works of Ksemaraja. This author feels that Ksemaraja did little to clarify the subject matter. He apparently wanted to supersede his predecessors in popularity as a scholar and a writer and so developed a complicated and obscure style in order to impress readers with his greatness as a learned man and writer of complex issues. Further, his writing betrays a strong prejudice against the truly great and effective teacher, Bhatta Kallata, whom Abhinavagupta mentions with great respect. It appears that Abhinavagupta mentions with great respect. It appears that Abhinavagupta recognized this tendency in Ksemaraja and was critical of it. Even though Ksemaraja was the most efficient scholars and writer among all the known disciples of Abhinavagupta, the great teacher never includes his name among his disciples in any of his works. It is possible that the above-mentioned shortcomings were the cause of Abhinavagupta's indifference towards as prolific a disciple as Ksemaraja.
This collection of essays covers a variety of important principles specific to Kashmir Saivism that have been discussed and clarified by its ancient masters. Generally most of their original texts are available only in Sanskrit, and if translated, are all too often written in an abstruse style of Indian logic. Those people who are seeking the truth, who do not know Sanskrit, or who are not familiar with Indian logic, require a text in English that will clarify the wisdom of Kashmir Saivism. The work in hand is an attempt to fulfil this purpose.
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