By Dr. Geetha Ananda and Professor T.N.Ganapathy
(Editor’s note: We have just published the 2nd edition of "The Yoga of Tirumular: Essays on the Tirumandiram." At my request, Dr. Ganapathy and Dr. Geeta Anand have written for it a new final chapter, 33 pages in length, which discusses the debate over whether the Tirumandiram advocates pluralistic realism or monistic theism. In this second in a series of three articles, excerpts from this chapter are presented. This second article gives a brief account of Kashmir Saivism representing it as a Saivite model of monism. The third article in the next issue will show the parallelism between the Tirumandiram and Kashmir Saivism to emphasize the viewpoint that the Tirumandiram advocates monism and monism only)
Monistic Saivism became popular in Kashmir predominantly after the immigration of several
important families around the 8th century A.D. King Lalithaditya of Kashmir went to Kanyakubja, the capital of King Harsha
(6th century) where he met Atrigupta whom he induced to migrate to Kashmir. The famous Abhinavagupta was a descendant of
Atrigupta. About the same time, Sangamaditya the great great grandfather of Somananda, who systematized the pratyabhijña
school of Saivism settled down in Kashmir. Sometime after, the ancestors of Vasugupta, the author of the Siva Sutras also
arrived in Kashmir
When Buddhism started its slow decline to be replaced by brahmanic thought and philosophy around 8th century, those who were following the Saiva philosophy thought that an absolute idealism of the advaita school would be a good counter to the preaching of the Sunya vada of Buddhism. Buddhism was replaced by Triadism that substituted monism for the dualism of early Saiva Agama teachings.
The Saivism of Kashmir is called the Trika sasana or Trika sastra or simply the Trika School of philosophy. The Trika is also known as svatantrya vada, svatantrya and Spanda- expressing the same concepts. Abhasa vada is another name for the system. The Trika School also known as Rahasya Sampradaya or Tryambaka Sampradaya developed between the 8th and 10th century A.D. This system derives its name from its emphasis on various triads.
The Four main schools of Kashmir Śaivism
The four main schools of Kashmir Saivism are the (1) krama, (2) kula, (3) pratyabhijña and the (4) Spanda
Kashmir Saiva Literature:
The Tantras of the Kashmir Śaivism were said to have come out of the five faces of Śiva namely Iṣāna, Tatpurusha, Sadyojata, Vāmadeva and Aghora. These five mouths represent the five energies namely cit śakti (consciousness), ānanda śakti (bliss), icchā śakti (will), jñāna śakti (knowledge) and kriya śakti (omnipotence). The monistic Tantras of Kashmir Śaivism are the Bhairava Tantras, the mono-dualistic Tantras are the Rudra Tantras and the dualistic Tantras are the Śiva Tantras. There are sixty-four Bhairava Tantras, eighteen Rudra Tantras and ten Śiva Tantras.
The literary works can also be classified as (1) Āgama śāstras, (2) Śpanda śāstras and (3) Pratyabhijña śāstras. The former consists of the Śaiva Āgamas chief among them being Malini vijaya, Ānanda bhairava, Vijñāna bhairava, Mrugendra, Matanga and Rudra yāmala. The commentaries on these Āgamas attempt to show that they taught a monistic doctrine. The Spanda śāstras and the Pratyabhijña śāstra developed later as offshoots of the Āgama śāstra. Kallata founded the Spanda śāstra and Somānanda founded the Pratyabhijña śāstras. Among these śāstras, the Pratyabhijña is the only philosophy proper of the Trika.
Some of the famous works of Kashmir Śaivism are
Philosophy of Kashmir Saivism:
Kashmir Śaivism is essentially not a single philosophical system but a compendium of the philosophies of all the four schools of Śaivism. Abhinavagupta integrated the philosophies of these schools in his Tantraloka thus giving a common philosophy that is now called Kashmir Śaivism.
Kashmir Śaivism is also called prakāṣa vimarśa svātantriya vāda or the philosophy where the Absolute is self-luminous, self-conscious and free. This omnipotent, omnipresent Absolute Reality is everything and yet beyond everything; it is both immanent (viśvāmaya) and transcendent (viśvottirna). Time, form and space do not limit it; it is beyond any change. Its nature is bliss or ānanda and sovereignty, svatantra or absolute freedom. This self-luminous, self-aware consciousness is called Parama Śiva while its self-awareness is the Śakti, Parāśakti, or Parāvāk. Thus, this pure consciousness is not static; it is also aware of its own nature. Parama Śiva and Parāśakti are not two independent entities. They are, in reality,one entity that performs different functions and exists in two different states. Śakti is an attribute of Śiva. The relation between the two is one of tādātmya (identity) sometimes referred to as samarasya (perfect equilibrium). Due to the svātantriya śakti of the Absolute, it brings into being the cosmic drama. It brings into play its mahamāya śakti by means of which it veils or obscures its essential nature and assumes limited knowledge and limited forms. This power of obscuration or self-limitation is called tirodhāna and the limitation takes the form of aṇutva or atomicity. It is also called sankoca (or cit sankoca) or self- contraction. Because of this contraction, there is creation. Creation, thus, is self-imposition of limitation by the Absolute upon itself. Creation is contraction. In this state, the Absolute is called Puruṣa or aṇu. It is because of this sankocita jñāna or limited knowledge that the sentient and the insentient worlds come into existence.
The svātantryia śakti expresses itself as the icchā śakti (free will), jñāna śakti (power of knowledge) and kriya śakti (power to act). Self-awareness is an action, which produces a pulsation or spanda. The spanda produces polarity of ‘I’ and ‘this’. This dynamic aspect shifts the pure consciousness to the objective consciousness, one that is the result of obstruction by thought-constructs. Through the vimarśa aspect, the Absolute turns either inwards or outwards. In the inwards or dispassion (virāga) mode, it identifies itself to be pure consciousness or supreme void. In the outwards mode or passion (rāga), it identifies itself as the manifested universe. This oscillation occurs due to divine play or līla. Both these states are real and absolute. Thus, the Absolute exists, as Abhinavagupta says, ‘where duality, unity and both unity and duality are equally manifest and said to be unity’. Thus, the absolute monism of Kashmir Śaivism is that which neither refutes nor establishes diversity. Here kriya does not mean karma; it means Spanda or spontaneity. It is called Pratyabhijña jñāna, which means learning or becoming aware of the real identity of a thing. Liberation is the moment of recognition (pratyabhijña).
Kashmir Śaivism is non-dualistic or monistic as it unites all differences in a single entity, Śiva. It differs significantly from Sānkhya philosophy, according to which the Absolute and the Universe are two independent entities. Kashmir Śaivism explains that there is complete unity in pure consciousness, its subjective consciousness and objective perception are like a mirror and the objects that are reflected on it.
The monistic Kashmir Śaivism is also different from the monistic philosophy of Śankara. According to Śankara’s Advaita, only the Absolute is real; everything else is mitya or illusion. The world as seen is perceived only in the vyavahārika or secondary state and not in the absolute paramārthika state. On the other hand, according to Kashmir Śaivism, both the Absolute and the manifested are real. The Absolute, the pure consciousness in its dynamic state, generates the universe and ‘reabsorbs’ it into itself at the end of each cycle of creation. The manifested universe that is generated thus from a real entity, the Absolute, should also be real according to the logic that the qualities in the cause should be in the effect also. However, as all the manifested exist in the Absolute like the objects reflected in a mirror, they do not have an independent existence. Abhinavagupta in his Bodhapanchadaśi refers to this by saying that all the light and darkness reside in the supreme light of God-Consciousness.
Advaita Vedanta says that Reality is nirguna, one without any qualities. However, in the secondary or vyavahārika state, it can be conceived as Satchidananda (being-consciousness-bliss). Kashmir Śaivism differs in this, in that it considers caitanya or consciousness as both the Absolute Being and Its nature. However, both the schools agree that consciousness is autonomous and does not need the mind or the body for its existence. In this connection we may state the Siddha viewpoint (as also reflected in the Tirumandiram). According to this viewpoint, the world is not lost or treated as illusory but given a new significance in its totality. The ‘oneness’ or advaitam that is expressed is not the negation of all manifestations but the fullness of manifestations. To the Siddha the world is real and not māya. The impermanence of each individual entity does not mean the negation of unity or oneness of the Reality. Siddha philosophy may be called spiritual monism or ‘Siddha Advaita’ to coin a new phrase, where the world is also one of the aspects of the fullness of the reality. The Absolute reveals itself as the world, the atman and what not. The Absolute, in terms of the Siddhas, is the ‘supreme station’ of the Sūfis. (to be continued...)
From the Kriya Yoga Journal, Volume 19 Number 1, Spring 2012
Copyright © by Dr. Geetha Ananda and Professor T.N.Ganapathy 2012
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