Schools and Philosophy
The philosophy of Kashmiri Shaivism is also called Trika Shastra. Shiva is the “Universal Consciousness”, from which we all have descended, and the Pratyabhijna school, Krama school, Kula school and Spanda school are all approaches that have been propounded by the sages to help in the realization and recognition of one’s oneness with ‘Parama Shiva’.
Krama school of Shaivism, expounded by Eraknatha focuses on overcoming barriers of time and space. An aspirant is taught to develop such strength of awareness that one transcends the circle of spaces time and form and finally raises himself to the state of universal consciousness, that of Param-Shiva the Transcendental Being. A key feature of this system is the predominance given to to the female aspect or ‘shakti’ and the description of the prana kundalini where an aspirant rises from one chakra to another
The Kula system, propounded by Sumatinatha, teaches one to always live in chaitanya (universal Consciousness), which is one’s real nature. The word kula itself means ‘totality’ and through the practice of the Kula system, one realizes the totality that exists in all particles and, by extension, in the universe. Spanda school explained by Vasugupta, directs the seeker to concentrate on each and every movement in this world. Again, the word “Spanda” itself means movement. The core teaching here is that nothing can exist without movement. Where there is movement there is life, and where there is no movement there is no life. Therefore, just concentrating on the movement of even a blade of grass can lead to God consciousness. Pratyabhijna meaning “Recognition” was elucidated by Somananda. It is the realization of what one has always been in one`s essential timeless nature.
Descent or Veiling
Shiva, in this case, an analogy for the Supreme Consciousness hides from itself through its own veiling power, and then liberates itself through seeing itself as it really is
This process of veiling takes place through 36 steps or tattvas, that are -
1. Shiva Tattva - The absolute reality
2. Shakti Tattva - kinetic energy or the natural tendency of Shiva towards the outward manifestation of divine activities
3. Sadashiva Tattva or Iccha tattva - The desire (Iccha) for creation
4. Isvara Tattva or Jnana Tattva - The awareness (jnana) of I. Consciousness is not lost but an awareness of “This is I”, begins.
5. Sadvidya (also known as Shuddvidya or kriya) Tattva - This tattva is the one that leads to action or kriya.Till this stage, the tattvas are pure and not filled with limitations as they have still not forgotten that the ‘I’ is part of absolute reality.
6. Maya Tattva
Here, begins the perceived limitations. Maya hides the pure and divine nature of created beings and, consequently they forget their purity and infinite potency. It is at this stage that man becomes a finite being, Nara. Under Maya’s influence, Nara begins to fill his life with desire and a passion for objects of enjoyment.
Five layers of limitations (Kuncukas)
Maya expands into the next five tattvas – collectively called kuncukas or cloaks which covers the real nature of the knowing objects. With this, Maya subtly develops our sense of ego.
7. Kala Tattva(limitation of activity, authorship)
To fulfill our desires, maya allows a little power of action to achieve a little amount of success.
8. Avidya (ashudh) Tattva (limitation of knowledge)
Since doing is not possible without knowing, maya gives a little knowledge to know a certain amount.
9. Raga Tattva (limitation of interest)
To further the limit the scope of our doing and knowing, maya appears in us as raga or ‘limited interest’.
10. Niyati Tattva (restriction)
Niyati is the law of nature that establishes the order of succession in all phenomenons e.g. the way in which seed develops into a tree. This law of nature appears as the law of restriction and causation.
11. Akala (or Kaala) Tattva (Time sequence limitation)
This tattva limits our very being. Our real self is in fact infinite and is in no way conditioned by concept of time imposed on us by maya. In this tattva, we begin to feel “we were”, “we are”, and “we shall be” and are severely conditioned by time sequence.
12. Parusha Tattva
The I-Consciousness is here reduced to utter finitude is known as Parusha. It is also known as jiva, pashu , anu nara.
13. Prakriti (or mul prakriti) Tattva
Prakriti represents the complete “this-ness” of the objective manifestation and is further expanded into lower tattvas. Further down are three (3) interior instrumental elements (antah-karnas):
14. Buddhi (intellect)– Faculty of judgement
15. Manas – Faculty of Imagination
16. Ahamkara – Personal ego
Five (5) exterior elements of perception (jnanendrayas):
17. Sravanendreya (Hearing)
18. Supershanendreya (Feeling by touch)
19. Darshanendreya (Seeing)
20. Resanendreya (Taste)
21. Ghranendreya (Smell)
Five (5) elements of action (karmendreya):
22. Vagendreya (Voice or expression)
23. Hastendreya (Handling)
24. Padendreya (Locomotion)
25. Payvendreya (Rejecting, Discharging)
26. Upasthendreya (Resting or recreating)
Five (5) subtle objective elements (tanmatras):
27. Shabdatanmra (sound)
28. Sparshatanmra (Feel)
29. Rupatanmra (Color)
30. Rasatanmra (Flavor)
31. Ghandhatanmra (Odour)
And finally, five (5) gross objective elements (bhutas):
32. Akasha (ether)
33. Vayu (Air)
34. Agni (Fire)
35. Apas (Water)
36. Pritvi (Earth)
By understanding these tattvas, we realize that, though the individual self (atman) is identical with the Supreme Lord, due to the influence of maya (ignorance/ illusion) the individual self forgets its divine nature, becomes liable to limitation and bondage, and thinks itself to be different from the Supreme Lord.
As long as one resides in the lower tattvas , one is the victim of sadness and sorrow and is entangled in the wheel of repeated births and deaths.
Ascent or Realization
This system does not just stop at showing the nature of life but also specifies the path of ‘Ascent’ or Trika Yoga through which an aspirant may go to the higher tattvas from the lower. Recognizing that there are different levels of spiritual maturity in aspirants, this system has three methods The first and Supreme approach is Sambhavopaya, the second one is Saktopaya and the third, inferior one is Anavopaya.
Shambhopaya is recommended for advanced aspirants, who by mere orientation of will, meditate on Shiv Tattva (pure consciousness). In the beginning it involves practice of maintaining the constant awareness that the universe is nothing but Chiti (consciousness). Even this must ultimately be overcome as all mental activities stop. The mind then shines without any flutter of ideas, absorbed in the pure lusture of consciousness.
In Shaktopaya, the primary concern is to realise the self through knowledge, meditation and contemplation of ideas such as Shivoham (I am Lord Shiva). Mental activity plays an important role.
Anayopaya -This is also called Kriya (action) Yoga and is the one to be adboted by the majority of people, who still live in the field of Maya. Anava yoga is of several types, Dhyana Yoga, Uccara Yoga, Karana Yoga and Sthana Kalpana. Dhyana Yoga is the form of anava yoga which is practiced with contemplative meditation on budhi. The word `dhyana` means contemplation. There are different forms of dhyana. For example, you are practicing dhyana when you contemplate on the lotus in your heart, or on the meaning of some mantra such as "So-HAM".
Uccara Yoga – means concentration on the breath (uccara), the power of life force - Prana, whose functions vary depending on whether we are awake, asleep, in a transcendental state, and so on. One meditates upon this with the understanding that they are nothing other than one`s own inner self. With practice one withdraws one`s attention from the body and the mind, and focuses on the subtle elements of pure power of prana working in its functions.
Karana Yoga – Here, physical postures are accompanied by a special form of contemplation that helps aspirants realize the absolute divinity of their own nature.
Sthana Kalpana - is meditation on entities outside the person like on some particular place or object. With this, aspirants develop an impression of eternity which becomes one with their essential nature. The practitioners realize that they are eternal. Finally, and perhaps ironically, it is said that anupaya is the ultimate. The Sanskrit word anupaya literally means `no upaya.` In addition to the three upayas, sambavopaya, saktopaya, and anavopaya, there is, anupaya. A paradox, for in anupaya, there are no means. The one who has attained anupaya has only to observe that nothing is to be done. Just to be is enough. It isthe unexplainable reality of the liberated soul who knows that nothing was lost and nothing is gained and that everything is filled with his own God Consciousness.
The origins of Kashmir Shaivism is believed to be as old as the Vedas. However, the revival of interest took place between the 7th and 12th century AD through many great More....