About the Book:
The Vijnana Bhairava is one of the most important Tantras of Kashmir Saivism as far as the practical aspect of yoga of this school is concerned. It teaches 112 dharanas or ways of centring awareness and entering divine consciousness, which include ordinary and extraordinary experiences, as well as tantric methods of spiritual practice such as Kundalini, Mantra and mudra. This ancient text is of great relevance for a spirituality of our times which has to integrate all aspects of life.
The present edition, translation and commentary is unique since it contains the oral teaching of the last great master of the Kashmir Saiva tradition, Swami Lakshman Joo. In his explanation of the dharanas he gives the deep significance and practical application of various methods of yoga which give direct access to states of higher consciousness.
About the Author:
Swmai Lakshman Joo (1907 - 1991), also called Swami Lakshmanji Raina or Ishvara Svarupa, was a great yogi from an early age. He embodied a rare unity of a mystic and a pandit, being well-versed in Sanskrit and in the texts of the non-dualistic tradition of Kashmir Saivism. He was also called the Abhinavagupta of the 20th century, being the last authority of Kashmir Saivism, who was teaching scholars and guiding seekers on the spiritual path. He edited several Sanskrit texts and published Hindi translations and commentaries, such as Abhinavagupta's Gitarthasangraha Sambapancasika, Utpaladeva's Sivastotravali, Abhinavagupta's Paratrisika Vivarana and others. Some of his teachings and lectures have been published in English: "Kashmir Saivism: The Secret supreme", "The Awakening of Supreme Consciousness", "Self Realization in Kashmir Saivism", and in Hindi: Trikasastra-Rahasya Prakriya. His commentary on the Siva Sutras is coming out shortly.
The guru's grace is spontaneous and unconditional. This axiom has been tested on the anvil of time and experience. The first evidence of saktipata is the guru's grace. The Malinivijaya Tantra states: tatraitat prathamam cihnam rudrabhaktih suniscala. "The initial confirmation of saktipata lies in the unswerving devotion to the Supreme". This devotion carries the individual to the guru as if by divine force. The Master then gives supreme knowledge to the disciple and removes his craving for worldly activities. This is the true significance of initiation given by the guru.
Our guru, Swami Lakshmanjoo was the embodiment of Lord Siva. Even at birth certain spiritual manifestations were observed. Throughout childhood, adolescence, youth and old age (the four stages of life) he was continually immersed in the ocean of spirituality. Those who were fortunate enough to have the opportunity of being his disciples verily experienced some extraordinary divine grace.
Fortunately, I too had the great fortune of becoming symbolically the 'dust of his feet'. Even from childhood I was in close contact with our Master. Through his compassionate gaze the seed of spirituality sprouted and emerged. Maharajji taught me and Sharika Devi, his principal disciple, who was established in the Supreme, almost all the texts of Trika Sastra. As we reflected upon these truths, he revealed to us through meditation the subtleties and secrets of Reality. He taught us the Vijnana Bhairava several times in Kashmiri. At the time my intellect was still budding and I was content with the verbal explanations. Later the French scholar Lilian Silburn, the Zen master Paul Reps and Thakur Jaideva Singh studied this text with Swamiji. He gave Sharika Devi and me the permission to be present at these sessions. At that time our revered Master revealed some intricate secrets of this divine text in great depth and in a state of Bhairava consciousness.
Gurudeva handed over a copy of his commentary to me in the Ashram. I kept this manuscript like a priceless treasure. In 1991 both Gurudeva and Sharika Devi took mahasamadhi and passed away to enter the realm of Lord Siva. After some years through the inspiration of our Master I revealed this sacred manuscript to Swamiji's disciples Dr. Sarla Kumar and Dr. Bettina Baumer, Since the former is an English scholar and the latter not only a Sanskrit scholar but is also well versed in Trika philosophy, I thought that they could be instrumental in bringing forth this secret text to the public at large. They studied the manuscript thoroughly and after many revisions prepared the present text. This formidable task was achieved only because they had Gurudeva's inspiration and silent inner guidance. I am deeply grateful to them for performing this arduous task.
May the seekers of liberation study this unique and awe-inspiring text with devotion and zeal. Let them delve deep in these one hundred and twelve dharanas and practise them assiduously in their daily lives. Thus they will taste the nectar of Gurudeva's words. These are verily the steps which carry the seeker to Eternity.
It is our ardent desire that devoted readers have the unparallel experience of the guru's divine grace. Thus will our undertaking in publishing this work find its final fulfilment. This is the prayer of Prabha who is forever immersed in the Master's grace.
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