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The Philosphical and Practical Aspects of Kasmira Saivism (A Study of Trika Thought and Practice)

Item Code: NAD323
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Author: Moti Lal Pandit
Edition: 2012
ISBN: 9788121512329
Pages: 288
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.0 inch X 6.0 inch
Weight 470 gm
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Book Description
Back of the Book

The philosophical thought of Trika Saivism of Kashmir Adumbra6tes a new dawn in the religious as well as Philosophical history of India. It is so rich in its metaphysical thought as to be universal on account of it being open-minded and synthetic, It recognizes the validity of philosophical thought of every school to the extent that the truth is apprehended and recognized. It is because of this synthetic approach that Trika Saivism has successfully wedded realism with idealism. It is idealistic to the extent that it maintains that the world is nothing but the emanation of consciousness. It is realistic to the measure that it concludes that the emanation of the objective world is real. It rejects that Vedantic view of the Absolute as being mere light of consciousness. Instead, it speaks of the Absolute as being both the light of consciousness as well as cognitive self-awareness. It is on the basis of this philosophical thought that the Trika thinkers have equated the Absolute with absolute Freedom. Thus, the Absolute of the Trika is not an inactive or impersonal principle, but it is as active as the God of theism. It is an absolutism that has theistic orientation characterized by freedom. Above all, it gave birth to a new school of philosophy, namely, the Pratyabhijna School.


About the Author

Moti Lal Pandit, trained as a theologian and linguist, has been engaged in Indological research fo the last thirty years. He has published articles as well as books on a vast range of subjects. Initially, he began his research in Vedic religion and philosophy. Gradually, he shifted his attention towards Buddhism, and as a result of this shift, he has been successful in publishing a number o books on Buddhist philosophy and history. For the last several years, however, he is fully engaged in the study of Trika Saivism of Kashmir. Some of his publications: Vedic Hinduism; The Essentials of Buddhist Thought; Sankara’s Concept of Reality; Buddhism in Perspective; Being as Becoming; Towards Transcendence; Sunyata: The Essence of Mahayana Spiritualist; Buddhism: A Religion of Salvation; Encounter with Buddhism; The Buddhist Theory of Knowledge and Reality.; Transcendence and Negation; The Trika Saivism of Kashmir; The Disclosure of Being; An Introduction to the Philosophy of Trika Saivism; and From Dualism to Non-Dualism.



Saivism, in its long evolutionary history, has gone through many phases of development in terms of its praxis and philosophical reflection. In its initial phase, it might have been simple or crude in its approach to such existential questions of life as, for example, the meaning of life in the world or its ultimate destination, but, with the passage of time, it began to focus on such issues that impinge directly every individual being. It is the force or intensity of the problem that ultimately found its metaphysical expression in such Upaniadic texts as the Svetãivatara. Prior to the composition of this Upaniadic text the metaphysical reflection of Saivism is scattered through almost all the Vedic texts. But the tenor and tone of this reflection is diffusive and incoherent. It is, however, from the time of the composition of the Svetävatara (400 By) that. The metaphysical reflection of Saivism takes a coherent shape and form.

The earliest expression of this metaphysical reflection is to be found in the emergence of the Paupata sect, which is the earliest historical school of Saivism. The theological creed as well as the metaphysical thought of the Paupatas soon spread throughout the Indian subcontinent due to the efforts of its proselytizing monks. At the heart of Paupatism is a kind of theism that propounds such philosophical pluralism that maintains sharp ontological difference between God,, soul arid matter. The Pãupatas, at the theological level of belief, think that life-in-the world is full of pain, and so the aim of religious practices should be to bring to cessation every form of existential pain by adhering to such religious discipline and norms that are austere and rigorous. The Paupatas, due to its own inner dynamism, gave rise to a new school in the form of Kpalikas. This sect is given this nomenclature on account of the fact that its adherents wore a garland of skulls. As skullbearers, the Kapãlikas warned to assert the metaphysical truth through the symbol of the skull, which is that human existence ultimately is so transient as to be reduced to a mere lifeless skull. While believing that the transience of temporality could be overcome only by resorting to such religious discipline that is tortuous, so it should not surprise us of the description that Abhinavagupta has given concerning the practices of Kapãlikas in the following terms: dakcinam raudrakarrnãThyarn (Tanirdloka, 37.27).

The Paupata realistic pluralism as well as theological dualism was given further push by the Saivasiddhãnta denomination of Saivism. The adherents of the Saivasiddhanta think that this specific denomination owes its origin to some ancient Againa texts called Nanrnurai. There is, however, another tradition that maintains that a saint from the Kãlevar temple near Godvari was invited by a Cola king called Rajendra to preach the doctrines of Saivism in his realm. Whatever be the origin of this school of Saivism, the fact is that this school, while taking deep roots in the soil of Tamil region, has enriched Tamil language through the poetical compositions of its saints. While following the pluralism of Paupatas, it has broadened the philosophical interpretation of theism by maintaining it to be the most appropriate form of religion. Although accepting yoga and knowledge as a means of salvation, yet it has confined its religious activities to temple ritualism and to forms of such devotionals that is surcharged with emotional sentiment, it is because of this overwhelming burden of ritualism that Abhinavagupta termed Saiva siddhãnta as being a religion of rituals: siddhdnte karma- bahulãm (ibid.).

In addition to the above two schools, there emerged another school of aivism, namely, Viraaivisin, in the region of Karnataka, which owes its present form to Basava of twelfth century. Insofar its philosophical thinking and some thrums of religious practices are concerned, they seem to have a long prehistory. It has a philosophical orientation that is more pronounced towards non- dualism than towards dualism, and accordingly propounds the theory of sãmarasyavãda, or the theory that delineates the idea of unity of being. The philosophical vision of this school, if seen from the perspective of Trika, conies very close to that of mono- dualism (bhedãbheda). Another school of Saivism, which is deeply influenced by the Vedãntic thought, is that of Srikai ha. It accepts the causal doctrine of transformation (parinarnavada) of the Sankhya. This school ofaivism, in the light of this causal theory of transformation, adurnbrates the view that the phenomenal world is but the result of God’s own transformation.

This evolutionary trend in the development of Saivite thought ultimately blossoms and fructifies in what is called the Trika Saivism, or what popularly is known as Kãmira Saivism. It is, in contrast to other schools of Saivism, as rich in metaphysical thought as to be universal in its approach to the existential problems of life. The Trika is as synthetic in its approach as to have with ease amalgamated idealism with realism, which means that it discards such standpoints that are either rigid or extreme. It does not totally subscribe, as does Advaita Vedanta or some schools of Buddhism, to such forms of idealism that would reduce the world we perceive to the category of illusion. It also has not given in, as do Nyaya-Vaileika or Immerse, to such forms of realism that consider the world of knitter as real as to be eternal. Avoiding the extreme standpoints of both realism and idealism, it accepts the both systems to be valid when shorn off rigidity. As a realist, the Trika accepts the world as a real manifestation of the Absolute, which means that its ontological status is not like the objects of a dream or of illusion. However, the world is not a self-caused entity. It is a manifestation of the Absolute—and the nature of the Absolute is said to be consciousness and bliss, and which in theological language is referred to either as Paramaiva or Mahegvara. This Absolute as consciousness is endowed with what technically is called vibration (spanda), which means that the absolute consciousness is characterized by a kind of stir. Insofar as the phenomenal world is concerned, it always exists in an unman fest state within the Absolute. The appearance of the universe occurs in stages in the manner of reflection in a mirror.

The mirror, however, hears the reflection of objects that are outside it, whereas in the case of the Absolute it is not sc, because Paramaiva bears the reflection of its own powers. While reflecting the universe, Pararnaiva thereby conceals his essential nature. It is as Godhead that the Absolute displays his powers of emanation, preservation, reassertion, concealment, and revelation.

All these activities of the Absolute as Godhead eventuate because of his unlimited freedom (svdtantiya). Had Paramaiva been destitute of absolute autonomy, then he would be no more Absolute God. Being completely independent, God thereby is the sole cause of the universe in the sense of it being the objective manifestation of his divine powers. Since Absolute is the sole reality, so his powers, which constitute his essence, are also real, which means that the universe as a manifestation of his powers, too, is real. While consisting of blissful consciousness and powers, the Absolute in the process of self-manifestation as the universe does not undergo any kind of change or modification. It is the static aspect of reality, which theologically is spoken of as being Siva. It is the creative aspect of the Absolute that is referred to as Sakti. It is through this aspect that the Absolute as Godhead engages in the cosmic activities of emanation, preservation, reabsorption, concealment and revelation. It is these two aspects, namely, of Siva and Sakti, of prakaa and viinaria, which are consfitutive of the Absolute. It is this revolutionary interpretation of Trika Saivism concerning the non-dual Absolute that has enriched Indian philosophy enormously.

The Trika Saivism has not only been revolutionary in the field of philosophy but has equally been revolutionary insofar as social aspect of religion is concerned. It rejects the religious differences based on caste, sex or creed. Every seeker, no matter what his religion or caste may be, is allowed to have access to the theoretical knowledge and practical discipline that it propounds. Being pragmatic, the Trika lays much more emphasis on the practical discipline of religion than on mere logic-chopping knowledge. It rejects such forms of austere or rigorous religious discipline that are tortuous and pain-giving. On account of such an orientation it has not accorded much importance to the order of monks. It believes that one can reach the goal of self-realization simple by being a good householder. Rejecting the ramailic mode of renunciation, it is but natural that the Trika would feel no need for the use of such religious symbols as, for example, ochrerobe, matted hair, ashes, etc. The Trika recognizes the validity of worldly life, and that is why it maintains that through sensual enjoyment (bhoga) one can reach the goal of transcendent bliss (induct).

The Trika also prescribes for its adherents such a mode of life that is centered on the practice of meditation. It differs from such practices of meditation that attempt at suppressing the functioning of the mind. Instead of suppressing, it believes that the mind be trained as gently as would make it spontaneous and easeful. While enjoying the sensual pleasures, the aspirant is asked to keep his mind focused and in the state of concentration. A mind that is concentrated can avoid the pitfalls of distraction and diffusion. It is in the light of this concern that such seekers alone are favored with initiation who are focused and one pointed. An aspirant who, while enjoying the pleasures of the senses, remains uninterruptedly immersed in an inward absorption that has the possibility of actualizing such a psychological state in which he can experience the bliss of the divine delight of identity with Paramecia. Accordingly, aspirant gains access to the unlimited bliss of the Self through the joy that the senses offer.

The Trika is not such a religious system of thought and praxis that either prescribes or prohibits the use of such ingredients or practices that are considered as being subversive like, for example, the five makãras, which are wine, meat, fish, fried beans, and sexual intercourse. In certain tantric systems the use of such prohibited items is considered essential for overcoming the base tendencies within an individual. It is a viewpoint that is based Of the axiom: poison kills the poison or diamond cuts the diamond. The Trika does not prohibit the use of such items for the simple reason that it considers everything to be the manifestation of the Lord. If everything is the form of the Lord, then there remains nothing that has to be forbidden. The concept of what is good or evil is simply the outcome of the state of our mind. The one who has transcended the dualistic thought-pattern through self- immersion in the Lord sees everything as being nothing but the manifest state of the Divine. Also equally the non-use of such items is not judged as being contrary to the standpoint that sees everything as being the form of the Lord. It all depends as to what is the state of one’s mind. Since the Trika has formulated such a religious approach to life that is open and catholic, so it would not be presumptuous to say that the Trika spirituality is such as to be universal and in terms of which everyone can be accommodated with ease and felicity.




  Preface Vii
1 The General Feautres of Trika Thought 1
2 The Doctrinal Scaffolding of Trika 56
3 The Philosphical Orientation of Trika Spirituality 85
4 The Trika Concept of Spanda 96
5 The Trika Devotional Mysrticism 109
6 The Mystical Night of Siva 128
7 The Trinitarian Principles of Trika 136
8 The Trika Concept of Kali 151
9 The Esoteric Significance of Mãtrkã in Trika 162
10 The Nature and Function of Grace 172
11 The Tnka Forms of Initiation 188
12 The Yoga of Trika Praxis 198
13 The Five Subjective States of the Embodied Existent 214
14 The Text of the Sivasütra 222
15 The Text of the Spandakãrikã 232
16 The Philosophical Content of Sivadrsti and Ivarapratyabhjña 240
17 Pañcastavi: An Analysis 252
  Bibliography 259
  Index 265
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