From the Jacket
Shamboo Nath Kaul was the eldest son of the great educationist, Late Pt. Shivajee Kaul Gassi, resident of Sathu Barbarshah, Srinagar, Kashmir. He was a class-I officer in Indian Customs and Central Excise in the Revenue Department of the Government of India. During his lifetime, he came in contact with a number of great saints and sages who blessed him to attain spiritual enlightenment. A true karmayogi and Bhairava upasaka with consciousness assuming a self-effacing personality, well-read and surprised educated people by the shear breath of his knowledge; his immense fortitude, inner strength and nobility of spirit, love, passion is worth of emulation. He received inspiration to write this book from the late Ishwarswaroop Swami Lakshmanjoo in order to express his devotion and dedication towards him.
The goal and purpose in writing this book is to highlight, in the midst of diversity, the essential unity that seems to be constitutive of such religions that have an orientation that is deeply mystical. Basing himself on the absolutistic metaphysical thought of Kashmir Saivism, the author thereby has attempted to interpret spirituality in such universal terms as would enable one to discover the principle of unity of Being among the spiritualities of all major religions. Thus the aim of the book is so noble as to allow the reader to have the vision of unity in the midst of diversity.
Saiva Philosophy of Kashmir
The Author of this monograph has made an effort at exploring in depth such experiential aspects of spirituality that would unify the differing dogmatic assertions of various religions within the crucible of mystical awareness of non-difference. As to whether such an effort has borne out the required fruit depends on the acceptance or rejection of the arguments the author has offered in support of his thesis that maintains that the essential nature of every kind of mystical experience is characterised by the awareness of unity of Being.
Although the effort of the author may be commendable, yet the fact remains that religions differ among themselves on essential points of doctrine and spirituality, which would mean that whatever kind of spirituality a particular religion may propound, it is basically driven by its ideological framework. If a religious ideology, for example, were theistic, it would be impossible for such an ideology to accept the assertion that reality is non-dualistic. It is so because theism looks at reality as being totally "the other," which would mean that there exists such a transcendent gap between Reality and Appearance as would be impossible to bridge. It is, thus, necessary to be aware of the essential differences that exist between religions as well as between the various mystical schools of thought.
Even mystical spirituality vries from religion to religion. There are such mystical schools that are purely naturalistic, and such schools can never be brought into the framework of experience that is religious in orientation. There are also mystical schools that have no need of God. Therefore, it would be improper to assert that religious ideology is basically driven by a spirituality that is either mystical or is characterised by the experience of non-duality.
The present book would have served its purpose in a better way if the author had also taken into consideration the differences that exist between the various religions of the world. Even in its present format the author could have explored suchbasic theoretical principles of Kashmir Saivism that would have, both in terms of metaphysical thought and mystical experience, proved to be so enlightening as to terminate in the elimination of conceptual as well as perceptual experience of difference. The author could have achieved the intended goal had he explored the vast range of metaphysical thought that Kashmir Saivism has given birth to. The Trika Saivism of Kashmir is not only absolutistic, but is also theistic in orientation. Combining both theism and absolutism within is womb, Kashmir Saivism is in a position of providing the necessary hermeneutical wherewithal whereby both theism and absolutism could be so synthesized as would result in the maintenance of the worldview that both theism and absolutism have given birth. This could have been achieved had the author followed strictly the theoretical framework that Abhinavagupta has worked out.
It is hoped that the reader will obtain the necessary stimulus for exploring further the nature and content of spirituality that is in intent and content mystical. Also it is hoped that the reader may be so inspired as would allow him to plunge into the ocean of metaphysical thought that Kashmir Saivism has propounded through such luminaries as Vasugupta, Kallata, Somanandan, Utpaladeva, Abhinavagupta, and so on.
Basic Features of Kashmir Saiva Philosophy, known as Trika Philosophy, leading to enlivening of man's consciousness, are condensed in a simple language understandable by a layman of any faith or religion, or even by any non-believer. Philosophy is not, strictly speaking, a religious code of what is to be done and what not, and is neither dogmatic nor fundamentalist. It is a philosophy of man's possibilities to vitalize and strengthen his powers within, particularly his mind and intellect, so that an orderliness of consciousness, by removing the veils of ignorance, delusion, ego, and self, which limit its functioning, is secured. Only then can he unfold his personality in which the intellect becomes the source of inspiration, leading to intuition which works as the Third Eye of Siva.
Human nature is the same everywhere. Slight differences are due to differences of education, environment, and breeding. In so far urges, strains, compulsions, and pressures on the one hand, and aims, ambitions, and aspirations on the other are concerned, they are almost identical. Saiva Philosophy is the result of observation, self-examination, contemplation, and self-revelation by seers and thinkers, in which nature within man and outside in cosmos came up for study, to understand the action, interaction and reaction of both on one another, as both are subtly and intricately linked. It was found that when man's intellect and mind can cope with all the actions, reactions and interactions, then only can one find harmony within himself and in the environment outside in which human relationship is significantly important. In the ultimate analysis, he reaches the conclusion that man is himself Reality and then the assertions of "Thou art That" or "I am He" become meaningful and under-standable.
Consciousness of man, whether he is a recluse or a man of the world, a saint or an average man, pious or sinful, young or old, is involved in meeting the challenges posed by three compulsions of human nature: (1) Desire, (2) Perception, and (3) Action. Monistic Saiva Philosophy gives a proper direction to enable man to face these challenges of human nature, and then steer the course of his life in a smooth and orderly way; and, in the end, understand and realize the one Reality behind this empirical phenomenon. Different religions are different paths to reach the same common ground of one Reality, but dogmas, prejudice, and partisanship have hampered the journey, and thus, man's consciousness and intellect have got stuck in narrow grooves of religions. Saiva Philosophy is at bold attempt to liberate man's consciousness and intellect and to direct both these on to the spiritual plane where the one Reality of all men and all religions is, and which is the common goal of religions to reach. Man's consciousness of awareness of Reality transcends religion, and alertness to maintain this awareness is ipso facto born.
This treatise has been written with three objectives. The first and primary is to diffuse knowledge among the bulk of Kashmiri Pandits, who migrated to India and other foreign places from 1947 onwards. In 1947 about three hundred thousand Kashmiri Pandits lived in Kashmir, and now after forty years only fifty or sixty thousand remain there. About two hundred and fifty thousand have migrated and are dispersed in small pockets and batches in various towns, cities of India, and in foreign countries such as England, America, and other places. This ethnic group of Hindus is perhaps one of the smallest groups, if not the smallest, in India now. It has a distinctive identity of its own on account of distinctive culture and separate language which has been born as a result of Saiva Philosophy from the fourth century AD, and which has come as a rich ancestral heritage to the present generation and will pass on to the future generations. This heritage is responsible for making Kashmiri Pandits what they are today with this distinctive identity, in which their intellectual, educational, and mental qualities of accommodation and adjustment skill are apparent, and which alone have enabled them to survive inspite of multifarious vicissitudes and trials through which they had to pass. The exodus in bulk of about seventy-five per cent of its total numbers to far and distant places is no doubt a matter of great concern, as the feeling of losing homeland and therewith their moorings, haunts them, and it is apprehended that the distinctive identity and characteristics which they have, may be lost, or dissolved in the cultures and ways of living of the distant places far and wide, where destiny and circumstances have taken them. They should, however, remember that as long as distinctive identity and characteristics are safe-guarded and maintained, there is no danger to their survival, and in flowering and acquiring name and fame, as have those who migrated in small numbers, but in worse condition from fourteenth century to eighteenth century, and who have shone on the Indian horizon by producing great leaders, politicians, adminis-trators, lawyers, judges, and men of letters, art and sciences. Their examples are before them, and they should feel both encouraged and assured. This small treatise in simple language on Saiva Philosophy is, therefore, a ready reminder for them and for their future generations. It will be a useful guide to them to know what the basis of their culture has been. By knowing about it, the importance of safe-guarding their identity for survival, as also for securing honour and name for themselves and for the community in general can be understood. If identity is lost, then everything is lost, and this small ethnic group who will no more be there. Parsis are an equally small ethnic group, who got scattered from their homeland likewise, but exist and flourish, because they have maintained and safeguarded their identity.
My second objective is to explain that Siva Philosophy for man as a human being, and can be availed of by any man, anywhere, of any faith or caste, and even by a man who is an atheist or agnostic. It is a philosophy showing how man can unfold himself, and be and behave like a human being, in whom the spirit of humanitarianism and rationalism get so linked as to enable him to raise the level of his consciousness and acquire not only universal, but even super consciousness, free from the limitations of time, space, and casuality. All this becomes possible when mind and intellect are cleared of the cobwebs that restrict their functioning. Every man can draw from this philosophy and benefit from it.
India is probably the only country whose inhabitants are significantly multi-religious and multi-caste. In-fights, clashes and riots cannot be ruled out, inspite of our government's best efforts. Economic, political and social rivalries and interests cut across, and are masqueraded under religion and caste. The picture is dismal, as these violent clashes and riots get frequently repeated, resulting in the disintegration and dismemberment of society. An ideological change is immediately the greatest need of the hour, and that also on mass scale. It is then only that there can be some hope of a smooth and harmonious relationship.
Monistic Saiva Philosophy aims at enlivening man's consciousness, disciplining his mind, and unfolding his potentialities so as to seek unity in diversity. Harmony within man and outside in the environment, in which relationship is of utmost importance, are the first requisites to achieve the aim. For this purpose qualities of toleration, fellow feeling forbearance, understanding, sympathy and love, are to be cultivated and developed in one's nature, and then only can humanitarianism and rationalism be the guiding principles of thinking, behaving, and acting. Saiva Philosophy's principles and teachings have the potentiality and vitality to bring about ideological change, provided realized mystics, saints and Sufis, and their organizations if they have one, could undertake the job. In haydays of yore philosophy was taught by the master (guru) to his disciples (sisyas) generally in homes, and this system constituted the basic substratum of Indian culture. This system stopped because of drastic historical convulsions, as also drastic changes in man's aims and ambitions due to technological advance, which attracted and lured man to seek and run after material gains at the cost of spiritual advancement. Now neither many realized mystics, saints, and Sufis are there, nor disciples to learn are there. Besides this, there is neither time nor leisure nor inclination. However, the quickest, easiest, and the most effective way to achieve some sort of ideological change is the one that is demonstrated by Sat Sai Baba and his organization. Millions of people of different religions, beliefs, and races in and outside India have been changed ideologically, have become the saint's followers, and worship him. His main teaching constitutes adoption of basic eternal truths, viz., truth, non-violence, righteousness, love, purity, sympathy and forgiveness, which when adopted and made part of one's nature can ensure the needed environmental harmony. His organization is spread far and wide in and outside India and the followers of almost all faiths and religions have become his votaries. Saints of Ramakrishna Mission, Maheshyogi's transcendental meditation centres, Hari Kishna Hari Rama organization, and other Sufis and mystics are contributing to the saint's work in their own way. The teachings of Sat Sai Baba and other organizations are a sure antidote to the prevailing malady, which is the result of both crises in faith and crisis in character in man. These saints, mystics, and Sufis have to be approached, entreated, encouraged, and persuaded to come out into the open to save man and society. Their teachings are effective, because they are not personally involved, and there is not a partisan, dogmatic, or fanatical approach. They draw man's attention to eternal truths and basic everlasting values on the spiritual plane, and create an awareness and alertness within man's consciousness and mind en masse, which ideologically transforms him, and opens and widens his vision and outlook. Man is free to follow his religious traditions and rites as he chooses, but his consciousness, his imagination and his intellect get a direction that goes beyond and above religion, which is a plane where there is no difference between man and man, where all are one and equal, and where all can find and understand the purpose and meaning of life. Political, social, and religious leaders of society could also help in securing the harmonious environment provided they are truly sincere, and actually do what they profess. They say one thing, do the opposite, have personal involvements, have not risen above selfish and egoist urges and demands. On the other hand, realized mystics, saints, and Sufis have forsaken the self, subdued ego, and bestowed their grace and kindness in equal measure without discrimination of religion, caste, and race. This is my third objective in writing this treatise to move public opinion in this behalf.
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