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The Reality Of Shiva from Kashmir Shaivism to Lalla Ded Vakhs

By Prof. M.L. Koul

The Shaiva thinkers of Kashmir structured their thought model on the fulcrum of Shiva as the highest metaphysical reality. Shiva is synonymous with consciousness supreme. 'Chaitanyam atma' as formulated by acarya vasugupta invests the Shaiva thought with such a distinguishing feature as marks its divergence from other variants of absolutism. Chaitanyam as drawn from chetna as per Khemraj marks the absolute freedom of consciousness supreme or Shiva to know and act. It is the state of one ness (aham) and in no way impairs the absolute reality of Shiva. Though an active agent in the processes of creation (manifestation), Shiva is perfect, and transcendental. He is self-proved (svata sidda) and needs no logical pramanas to prove and establish His existence.

Besides being svata-sidda, Shiva is prakash, light of luminosity and Jnan, all-knowing, everything known to Him. Prakash also underlines Shiva's transcendence and equipoise in the state of transcendence. Shiva as against Vedanic Sat, Cit, Anand is only Cit and Anand. It is His Kutasth Swarup. His luminosity is His Prakashrupta and Anand is His gushing out (Uchhalan) to act out the vilas (sport) of creation. Shiva has no taints  of limitation and succession. He is beyond Vikaras (deformities). He is the first and the last cause of the manifestation. Prior to His emergence of will to manifest what is inside Him to Himself, the universe with all its diversities lies in Him in a state of submergence. In his monumental work Tantralok, Abhinavgupta conveys the same position of Shiva which is commented upon as—

'sa cha svata-sidda prakashatma parmarthrupa parmeshvar Shiva aiva'

Shiva is not only Prakash but Vimarsa also. Vimarsa as per Dr. Jaidev Singh is the sciring of Shiva's own consciousness. Vimarsa is Shakti, the nature of Shiva. It denotes Shiva's power to act. As per Shaiva texts diamond is prakash, but it is absolutely deficient in knowing itself as prakash. But Shiva knows Himself as prakash. Various names have been given to Vimarsa. It is Kartritva, Swatantrya, and Parashakti. Had Shiva been prakash only the universe would not have appeared. It is because of Vimarsa that Shiva manifests the universe on the screen of His own consciousness. All that we find in the universe is an abhasa and each abhasa is self-expression of Shiva. What we find outside in the universe is inside Shiva only—yadantastad sahir.

The Shaivite monists of Kashmir have taken a different position on the Vedanic stand-point of Vivartvad which means imposition of world on Brahman through ignorance (avidya). To justify their non-dual position they assert that Shiva through his Swatantrya Shakti imposes world on Himself through His own maya-Shakti. The Vedantists are afraid that if Maya is taken as the Shakti of Brahman, it means dragging Brahman into the world of impurity. Had they taken such a position of maya as the Shakti of Brahman, their Brahman would have metamorphosed into Shiva of Kashmiri thinkers. Unlike the Vedantists the Shaivites do not negate the world to reinforce the metaphysical reality of Shiva. When Shiva is pure luminosity (prakash), which is the sheet anchor of all abhasas, He is transcendental. When He is immanent in the world, He is Vimarsa. Shiva is an active agent in manifesting the world. He is the first and final cause of the manifested world.

Shiva and Shakti, to Kashmiri thinkers of monism, are not two separate entities or polarities. They are one and only one. When Shiva through His divine will wants to see what is inside Him, He is Shakti. Had he no will power to manifest Himself to Himself, He would have been inanimate and life-less (Jada). Shiva's Swatantrya lies in willing, knowing and acting. Shakti is the potency of Shiva to create the universe. His divine activities are known in Shaiva parlance as His Kriya. Activities of willing, knowing and acting are not His Vikaras (deformities) as is the case in Vedanta. Kashmiri Shaivites take Jnan and Kriya in combination. Their position is not that of Vedanta which holds Jnan and Kriya as two separate categories, one cancelling the other. Shiv is Kriya, the universe that He creates (manifests) is His doing. His Kriya does not taint the purity of His being. Shiva is Maheshwar (Lord), not because of His prakash or Jnan, but because He acts to manifest the universe. His lordship is in His manifestation of the world. Shiva is both transcendental and immanent.

Shiva performs five acts (panchkretya). He creates, preserves, withdraws, obfuscates and showers grace (anugrah). His five-fold acts define Shiva's Swatantrya (absolute freedom). In Svacchand Tantra we have--

srishti samhar kartaram vilai sithiti karkam

anugrah karam devam pranatarti vinshanam

It needs be emphasised that Shiva as the sovereign lord has no compulsions to commit five acts. He has no lag for the filling of which he performs five-acts. He is all perfect and purna. His inherent nature of being purna and perfect gets in no way impaired by His act of manifestation of the phenomenal world. He creates but has no purpose to create. His creation and creative impulse underline his swatantrya to do anything. He creates out of anand which establishes His Vilasa of Lordship (maheshvariya). In his celebrated work Shiva-strotravali utpaldev sings that Shiva steeped in His ananda imagines diverse objects of the world out of His free-will just for leela (sport). In Paratrimshikha Abhinavgupta writes that the vibration of Shiva's anand is the universe.

'Akul' & 'Kul are two agamic terms that have oft been used to denote Shiv and Shakti. 'Akul' is Shiva who is synonymous with consciousness supreme. 'Kul' is the Shakti that creates the universe. These two terms have come to non-dual Shaivism from Kaulachar that was practised at many places in India .Their meanings have been retained by the Kashmiri thinkers. In Paratrimshika Abhinavgupta has extensively dealt with the terms of 'Akul' and 'Kul', one denoting the transcendental Shiva as consciousness supreme and the other as the Shakti of that consciousness tending to create.

Shiva in Lalla-Ded Vakhs

Lalla Ded Vakhs are deeply soaked in Shiva-consciousness. The attainment of Shivahood is her ultimate destiny. Initiated in the Shaiva praxis by her preceptor, Sidda Srikanth, Lalla Ded devotedly and single-mindedly worked out the upayas (methodologiesthat her celebrated preceptor had introduced to her. Her Vakhs lucidly reveal that she is fully aware of the real swaroop of Shiva. She sings out that Shiva is Chidanand, Cit and Anand, Jnan and Prakash. Cit is the consciousness supreme which is the source of life and universe and anand is the gushing out (Ucchalan) of that consciousness supreme. She also sings that Shiva with whom she has to gain identity is Prakash as He illumines in His own light, celestial light and is Jnan as He is all-knowing.

As Lalla Ded was a Shaiva Yogini she has experienced the luminosity of Shiva's consciousness through the relentless pursuit of Shaiva trajectory. She has not just shone in His Prakash as Muslim mystics would in the light of God, but she is an inalienable part of that luminosity and is totally soaked in it. As her Vakhs convey she has intensely felt the condition of getting merged in the luminous state of Shiva's consciousness. She is not merely speculating, but expressing her felt-experience in a language that objectifies that experience, though subtle and nebulous. Being one with Shiva's Prakash and Jnan, His entire mass of divine consciousness, Lalla has risen to the status of one who is liberated while living. She has no confusions and dilemmas of an anu (Jiva) who is tossed about in the dualities of the world.

Lalla Ded sings-

Chidanandas Jnan prakashas

Yimav Chyun tim zeevantai mokhta

vishaymis samsarnis pashyas

abodi gandah shyat-shyat ditya.

Shiva is a creative agent. He can be likened to a painter who delineates the universe on the canvas of His own consciousness. When He creates, He is the Shakti. He and His divine consciousness pervade the universe, whether animate or inanimate. From man to everything living to dead objects have immanence of Shiva. He is not like a monotheistic God who creates the world and leaves it alone. The creator and the created never meet. Shiva is present in everything living or non-living. As an ultimate destiny everything finds its resting place in Shiva's consciousness supreme. Lalla Ded says:-

Gagan Chaya Bhutal Chay

Chay Dyan Pawan Ta Rath

Lalla Ded knows the inherent nature of Shiva, who is anahat, pranav, unhindered sound of oum, kha-swarup, shunyalia, aham, I consciousness, bindu and nada and as pure consciousness has no name and form, caste, colour and gotra. Lalla Ded is aware of the trajectory that she has to warily follow to attain emergence into the pure consciousness of Shiva, wherein the stir of creativity lies undifferentiated from the vast ocean of that consciousness. As an initiate she has to practise pran-apan to pacify her chitta (mind) from kshob (disturbance) brought about by currents and cross-currents of diverse thoughts. She has to pass through states where there will be a void or support-lessness and also flashes of illuminating consciousness uplifting her from the crippling limitations that have bound her as a jiva. Shiv, to her, is the only deity that qualifies to ride the 'trigunatmac' horse as put in the allegory.

Lalla Ded’s Shiva is-

anahat kha-swarup shunyalia

yas nav na varan na guthur na raef

aham vimarasa nada bindai von

sui deeva ashwa war chyadyas

Lalla Ded is in full know of her human condition. She is a Jiva beset with enormous web of limitations. Her Shiva has six attributes which He can harness at His mere will with nothing to restrain Him. He has the attributes of sovereign power (maheshwariya), omnipotence (sarva-kartritva), Omniscience (sarvajnatritva), all-inclusiveness (purnatva) eternality (nityatva), and all-pervasiveness (vyapaktva). What essentially distinguishes her from Shiva is that  He masters His in-built attributes while she is in a state of servitude to the limitations that have enmeshed her.

Lalla Ded pours out-

yimai sheya chya timai sheya meya

shamgala chaya byan tatis

yohai byan abeeda chya ta meya

chya shyan sami ba sheyi mushis

Shiva is transcendetal, beyond the confines of time and space, but He is equally immanent, present in everything He incessantly creates on the screen of His own consciousness. His is not the case of a semitic God who creates the world and withdraws from it for fear of losing His unity. Shiva creates all the world of animates and equally creates the world of inanimates. A dead stone also has the spark of His creative consciousness, but the spark is slightly weak. Whatever appears in the world is within the ambit of His all-pervasive consciousness.

Lalla Ded Conveys the immanence of Shiva-

Shiva chuya zavul zal vahravith

kranzan manz chuy tarith kyath

Shiva as prakash or in transcendence is rest, equipoise and perfect equilibrium. He brims with anand (bliss). The canvas of universe that He incessantly opens out and draws in as a matter of sport (Leela) is His garden where He deilghts in the flowers of smell, taste, sight, sound and touch. The multifarious diversity that Shiva creates is His act of lordliness and it in no way disturbs His poise and tranquility. Lalla Ded as a yogini living in the flowery world of smell, sight et al is so well-poised in her awareness that she sees Shiva in the world, yet beyond the confines of the world as a perceptible garden. She is at a station  where she is absolutely content and joyous having dips in the ever-gushing nectar of Shiva's consciousness supreme. She calls such dips as 'dying' because it is a state of mergence. Lalla Ded sings:-

Lala ba chayan suman baga baras

vuchum Shivas Shakhat meelith tavah

laya karmas amryat saras

tati maras ta karyam kyha

It is a matter of common observation that water as an element under freezing conditions gets frozen into the form of snow and ice. When the sun shines upon snow or ice, it gets melted, back into the state of water. The element of water, the process of getting frozen and snow or ice, though sequentially three in number are essentially one. Water as the basic substance under a freezing process turns into snow or ice. Similarly the fundamental fluid of Shiva's consciousness having a stir of creativity in a submerged condition assumes varied forms under the willing impulse of Shiva Himself. Diversity as we find in the multi-faceted universe is eternally one with the creative consciousness of Shiva. It is an eternal process of opening out (unmesh) and withdrawing in (nimilan)

Lalla Ded sings out-

Turi salil khot ture

himi trai gayi byan abyan vimarsa

chyatani rava bhati sab samai

shiva mai charachar jagpashya

The frightful and ominous clouds of bigotry and intolerance had enveloped the skies of Kashmir when Lalla Ded was treading the native land of Kashmir. The forcible conversions with the aid of Muslim state power had already kick-started. In her trenchant exhortation to the hordes of Sayyid-Sufis acting as sappers and miners of Islam she clamours out the immanence of Shiva and need to follow the path of self-recognition as part of Trika Darshan to see essence of Shiva in men of all faiths:-

Shiva chuya thali-tahl rozan

mozan hynd ta musalman

trukhai chyukh pan praznav

soya chai shivas saet zani-zan

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

  

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