Kashmir Shaiva Philosophy
T.N. Dhar 'Kundan'
Shaiva Philosophy is basically a non-dualistic philosophy wherein such a
Supreme Truth has been conceived which is at once non-changeable,
in-divisible, infinite, endless and transcending time, space and form, which
is all pervading, yet above everything. This
truth has been variedly referred to as Chaitanya, Parasamvit, Parameshvara, or
Param-Shiva. This school of
thought explains the creation as the manifestation of Param-Shiva through His
energy (Shakti) aspect, which again is not different from Him.
It says that Param-Shiva is ‘I’ and the creation is ‘It’, and
the process of creation is a journey from ‘I’ to ‘It’.
Conversely, the process of emancipation and self realisation is the
journey from ‘It’ to ‘I’.
has five faculties, those of Consciousness, Bliss, Desire, Knowledge and
Action. The entire Universe is an
extension of these faculties of the Param-Shiva.
The opening and closing of his eyes cause creation
and destruction constantly and makes Shiva omniscient and all
creation according to this philosophy is a summation of thirty six elements
which are briefly dealt with hereunder :
first group comprises five physical elements which are solid but distanced
from the ultimate reality. These
are Earth, representing firmness or foundation, Water, representing fluidity,
Fire, representing form, Air, representing flexibility and Ether, representing
second category is the five sense organs :
Organ of creation/generation, organ of ejection/evacuation, feet, the
organs of movement/locomotion, arms, the organs for handling and mouth, the
organ for speech.
third group is that of sense objects i.e. Smell, Taste, Sight, Touch, and
Sound. These are technically
fourth group is that of organs of perception or motor-organs, which in effect
are the tools of enjoying ‘Tanmatras’.
These are the nose, the tongue, the eyes, the skin and the ears.
fifth group consists of the mind, the ego and the wisdom.
These are related to the intellect and therefore are referred to as
internal organs of perception.
sixth group is represented by the duo of ‘Prakriti’ and ‘Purusha’. Prakriti or nature is at the root of feeling and compassion,
and therefore causes action. Purusha
or the self is the one who experiences and is touched and moved.
Purusha is that state of Paramshiva which is circumscribed by art,
knowledge, attachment, time and destiny.
Whereas time denotes a period, destiny refers to place, attachment
shows affection and knowledge indicates limited vision and art the limited
creativity. These five elements
cover this Purusha and renders him restricted and limited.
Along with these five elements, there is yet another element of Maya (a
distinction has to be made between Maya in Kashmir Shaiva Darshan and that
conceived by Adi-Shankaracharya). This
element causes forgetfulness, in-discrimination, and differentiation.
At this stage the Param Shiva shuns his Shiva-ness and adopts, of his
own free will, the form of a worldly being and then gets engaged in the search
far we have detailed thirty one elements.
The next two elements are peculiar to Kashmir Shaiva philosophy and
unique in conception. These are
‘Shuddha Vidya’ or pure knowledge and ‘Aishwarya’ the lordship. The state of differentiating in non-different is also the
state of pure knowledge. In this
state one perceives both “This is I” and “I am This” explained
differently, the pure knowledge is a means to relate one with universal
experience, and the Lordship is the state of perception of this universal
experience. These add up to
thirty three elements.
thirty fourth element has been identified in this philosophy as Sada-Shiva
Tatva. By this element and in
this state one is conscious of ones existence.
In other words, one feels “I am”.
Thus the pure non-dualism still remains distant at this stage because
the knower, the knowledge and the object of knowledge, all the three have
their existence. This brings us
to the thirty fifth called Shakti, or the energy, the power and the capacity. This element helps in perceiving the universe. According to
Kashmir Shaiva philosophy, the ultimate element (thirty sixth), that of Param-Shiva,
is in effect the Supreme light and the universe is that which comes to light.
The power that converts the light into the object of light is the
Shakti aspect of the Divine.
Param-Shiva is the perceiver and at this state, the object, the knower and the
knowledge, all vanish and what remains is pure ‘I’.
This is the ultimate non-dualistic state in its purest form, conceived
by the protagonists of this school of thought.
Vedanta terms as ‘Vivrita’ is considered unreal because it is in the
nature of name-form (nama-roopa). Kashmir
Shaiva philosophy on the other hand, maintains that the entire creation is the
manifestation and the perception of Param-Shiva and therefore, real. Perception and manifestation of the real has necessarily to
be real. Param-Shiva is the
embodiment of Bliss, Perfection and Freedom.
The creation exists in Him, in the form of thought and experience.
These elements are experienced by all of us knowingly or unknowingly as
they are constantly in action. We
are in these elements and are formed by these elements.
This can be experienced through Yoga - the sum total of mental,
ethical, spiritual and physical practices.
In His divided form the Param-Shiva is an Atom.
Human beings with their limitations are also atoms.
The actions and reactions of atoms make this universe.
The collectivity of these atoms forms a unit, and maybe called the
master of elements. To constantly
experience this phenomena Yoga is helpful and essential because it is through
Yoga that we can perceive integration and also dis-integration.
sum up, this school of thought believes that the Divine, which is pure light,
of His own free will and by his own powers, appears in the form of the
creation because the universe is nothing but a play of His own freedom.
The creation gives an indication of the mundane, the spiritual and the
ethereal existence, whereas , the Divine indicates the light in the form of
knowledge and manifestation in the form of action.
is believed that this knowledge, also referred to as ‘Trika Philosophy’
has emanated from Param-Shiva itself. It
was revealed originally by Durvasa Rishi and subsequently by Shaiva scholar
Vasugupta, who observed the tenets of this philosophy, inscribed on a rock in
Kashmir. Later these were
explained in a condensed form by another Acharya, Utpal Deva in his famous
work called Spandakarika. This
established a thought process which was eventually named as Spanda school of
Kashmir Shaiva Darshan. Many a
great scholar and Acharya followed who wrote commentaries and treatises like
Shivadrishti, expounding this philosophy.
Then came the great Abhinavaguptapada on the scene.
He wrote several monumental works including ‘Tantralok’, ‘Paramarthasara’,
Pratibhijna darshan’ etc.. A
new direction was given to this philosophy and this stream was called
Pratibhijna school of thought. Kashmir
Shaiva Darshan is a unique blend of Bhakti and Jnana, which would be clear
from a study of another great work called Shivastotravali.
us bow in reverence to that Param-Shiva of whom Spandakarika says
Yasyonmeshanimeshabhyam, Jagatah pralayodayav,
Tam, shakti - chakravibhava prabhavam Shankaram stumah.