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   Kashmiri Writers

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



The need for a Lalla Ded Lexicon

By Prof. M.L. Koul

'To do philosophy is to explore one's own temperament, yet at the same time to attempt to discover the truth'--Iris Murdok

The very core of Lalla Ded is philosophical and that is why she captures our imagination and tugs at our heart-strings. Her vaakhs are so compact and perfect that it is absolutely futile to better them in any manner. The entire repository of vaakhs  as preserved through generations by our ancestors is a civilisational  legacy. Now a time has come that her word reflective of her lofty legacy is under a vicious onslaught. Lalla Ded's word was not just a fluke, but, it, in fact, climaxed the entire tradition of thought-process and aesthetics that was formed, and perpetuated through generations. As an heir to the entire corpus of philosophy and aesthetics she had full awareness of objectifying her experiences, lived and felt, through a word, apt and suitably contextualised.

Poetry (kavya) as defined by the Kashmiri aesthetes was word and meaning (shabadarthav kavyum) which eventually evolved as the combination of word and meaning (shabadarthav sahitav kavyam) at the hands of a host of aesthetes. The very word, sahit, during an evolutionary process in aesthetics, came to be the source of the word, sahitya (literature) in the domain of Indian aesthetics.

Lalla Ded as revealed by her vaakhs  was an immaculate scholar of language, both Sanskrit and Kashmiri (desh bhasha) . As a word-smith she has deftly used apt words to depict her spiritual experiences and yearnings. It is the word that explains her indigenous roots and unbreakable linkages with the civilisational impulse of the land she was born in. Her word is enriching not only 'intellectually and spiritually, but also geographically'. Force and verve of her exceptionally rare word’ caused a fright in the mind of Sufi colonisers who resorted to 'medieval forgery' to distort and impale her word. It is Lalla Ded's word that speaks for her splashes of creativity. It is, again, the word that neatly reveals her philosophical culture and spiritual zest andcredo.

To preserve and perpetuate the invaluable legacy of Lalla Ded I am attempting to prepare a sort of Lalla Ded-lexicon (kosha) with a view to making her vaakhs  more intelligible to Lalla Ded lovers and keeping the rootless and deracinated intellectuals and their proteges away from rabidly interfering with the word of Lalla Ded.

Word: Shiva

a) One who cuts away sins

Shyati papam iti shiva

b) One who illumines/reveals the universe vasati, to shine

c) One who removes the sleep of ignorance

'sin, to sleep or to dream

Shanker: One who does good to devotees and mankind at large sham karoti iti shankerah

Shakti: The whole univese lies indistinguishably submerged in the consciousness of Shiva. When  He wills to see what is in Him, He is Shakti. Absolute freedom (svatantrya) of Shiva to create is Shakti. In transcendence Shiva is 'bodh', Janan, knowledge. In immanence He is Shakti. There is hardly any object in the world/universe that does not emanate from the consciousness of Shiva. In Kashmir Shaivism Shiva is an absolute non-dual reality. When we speak of Shiva, Shakti is automatically presumed. If Shakti is referred to, Shiva is pre-supposed. Shiva devoid of freedom to create is a dead body. "Shiva shakti bina shavah'.

Parmarth Sar of Bhagvan Abhinavgupta puts---

Iccha-Jnan-Kriyashakti Svabhavam eva, n.... shakti

Virhitam Jadakalpam, anyat cha anant shakti paripurnam.

Prakash: Shiva in essence is beyond the world/universe. In this state He is prakash, pure jnan, knowledge or bodh. Prakash is His svarup, intrinsic reality. In Vedanta it is called 'kutastha rupa', the fundamental nature of Brahman. Every object that we see around us shines in the prakash, luminosity of Shiva's consciousness.

Vimarsh: Shiva is prakash, no doubt; but He knows that He is prakash. His knowledge about His luminosity (prakash) is vimarsha. Khemraja in his work Parapreveshika puts. ‘If Shiva were merely prakash, not also vimarsha, He would be totally inert and powerless. It can simply be put that if prakash is transcendental Shiva, Vimarsha is His Shakti or immanence in all that exists. Vimarsha can also be called I-consciousness of Shiva. It is because of this I-consciousness that Shiva manifests the world/universe which otherwise lies diluted in His consciousness.

Etymologically vimarsh is formed by the prefix vi +  mrsh (root).

Chita : It is the limited form of Chiti, which is consciousness supreme. Chita is mind that is constituted by buddhi, aham and manas. As per an eminent Shaiva exponent named Bhasker, Chita and manas are synonymous. Chita is equated with an individual self called anu, pashu or atma. It is atma, an individual self, as it ‘moves on incessantly to different varieties of existence by sticking to rajas, tamas and sattvas'. Chita serves as a source to feel, think and cognise the Highest Reality, Shiva or Maheshvar.

Chetyate Vimrishyate anena parmam tatvam iti chitam.

Manas: Manas is the same as chita. It is the mind that is replete with various forms of desires and thought-const-ructs. If it is set to look within, it becomes a mantra. If it is directed to outward objects in the world, it becomes messy with sankalpas and vikalpas (thought-currents). Lexically samkalpa and vikalpala of manas is termed as 'manas vyapar', mind's activity.

manyate budhyate anena iti manah/mansah

Vijnanbhairava conveys--

manasam chetna shakti atma chetya chatushtayam,

yada priye parikshanam tada tad bhairavam vapu !

Guru: He is the spiritual director. He teaches the highest truth to his disciples. He initiates them through a mantra. He also ferries them across the ocean of nagging doubts and misunderstandings He bestows them with his grace (shaktipat). A guru is a perfect soul, a Shiva, with a heightened sense of aesthetics. He initiates a pupil, but does not impose himself on his psycho-physical personalty. He develops him as a free being after the model of Shiva.

Mantra: It is the divine power clothed in sound. A guru initiates his pupil through a mantra, which is replete with energy and force. A mantra is to be meditated upon to achieve a spiritual destiny. An aspirant identifies himself with the deity that is invoked in the mantra. After meditating upon it, he becomes the mantra. To realise the potency of a mantra, a seeker has to have initiative and self-will. The Vedic rishis were 'mantra drshtara'.

Etymologically, mantra is formed with  man + suffix tran and is explained as 'man-nat trayte iti mantra'.

Akula: It is a lexical word drawn from the Agamas. The kashmiri Shaivites have accepted the word with its meaning to buttress their concept of Shiva as a non-dual absolute. Akula is Shiva in transcendence. He is akula because He has no kula and has not manifested the world/universe from him own essence.

Kula: Kula is Shakti, Shiva's immanence in all that exists in the world. Akula is subtle, kula is gross. it is gross as akula manifests itself in gross objects of the world/universe.

Bhasker Roy, an authority on the Tantras puts-

kulam shakti iti prokhtam, akulam shiva uchyate,

kulakula sambandah kaulam iti abhideeyate !

Kularnava Tantra reiterates the same thesis about akula and kula akulam Shivah iti ukhtam, kulam shakti prakitite

kulakul anusandhane nipunah kaulika priye

Shunya: Shunya is a word drawn from the Buddhist texts. In fact, Nagarjun built a whole philosophical thesis on shuniya, which in translation means void or emptiness. In Kashmir Shaivism the word was accepted, but, was invested with a new meaning. The word shunya in meaning is 'abhava' which becomes 'bhava' if prefix 'a' is deleted. 'a' stands for Shiva and many other names typifying Shiva. 'pabhava' stands for objects in the world/universe. So, Shuniya, to Lalla Ded, is the state of consciousness of Shiva in which the world of objects lies merged in an unmanifest form. Such a concept of shunya is positive as against its negative shade of meaning that the Buddhists conveyed through it. A quote from a Shaiva text conveys -

ashyuyam shunyam iti ukhtam shunyatcha abhava ishyate

abhava satu vijneyo yatra bhava layam gata !

Nad & Bindu: The two lexical terms having their origins in the Agamas are vital to the understanding of Lalla Ded as a poetess wedded to the Shaiva thought. Bindu is perfect, luminous, eternal and metaphysical locus  in consciousness supreme. Nada is the expansion (visfar) of Bindu to mainfest that what lies submerged in Bindu. Bindu is prakash (I-uminosity) and Nada is vimarsha  (I-consciousness). Bindu has layers of expansion, prasar or visfar from a kala, also called Chita-kala, to anand shakti (aa), Iccha shakti (e,e,), Jnan shakti (u,u) and kriya-shakti (re-ow). As the locus of central luminous and perfect consciousness Bindu has eight layers of outward expansion. It has to be understood that the expansion happens inside the consciousness supreme, not outside it.

In the words of Prof. Nila Kanth Gurtuprakash at the level of chiti is Bindu and prakash at the level of chita is Nada.

Oum : Lalla Ded as an initiated Shaivite has alluded to oum as a bija-mantra. To her, oum & aham as two bija-mantras have the same import. In a particular vaakh she has used the word 'anahat' in place of oum or pranav, a vedic mantra. Anahat, to her, is not the fourth station in the process of awakening the kundalini that as per yogic texts lies coiled up in a state of sleep at muladhaar'. Anhat, to her, is the same as Bnidu and Nada. It is 'pranav', an enternal, unhindered sound, oum. This very 'pranav' when in a state of unity with consciousness supreme or Shiva is Bindu and when in expansion, visfar, for outward emanation is Nada.  The entire word-hoard from a to h when lying in total submergence in consciousness supreme (chiti) is Bindu, but its evolution through various stages of para vaak, pashyanti, madhyama and vaikhuri is Nada. Bindu, therefore, is the locus of both expansion and assimilation (samaahaar).

Mudra: Literally, the word mudra means disposition of various limbs of human body in particular shapes. Lalla Ded has used the word in a spiritual sense. Well-versed in the Shaiva-texts she was aware of khecari mudra that denotes a psycho-physical posture enabling a seeker to move about in absolute freedom in the skies of consciousness. In the Agamic texts mudra has been explained in various ways. Mudra is that which gives joy (mudam dadati). Mudra, again, is that which removes bondage (bandhan) (mum dravyati), Khechari mudra is a name for Shiva. It explains his condition. Lalla Ded has referred to 'chopimudri', which is the condition of Buddha. The disposition of silence is a type of yoga mainly practised by the Buddhists and some Hindu Hath-Yogis. As Lalla Ded did not subscribe to Hathyoga, she pours out that one cannot enter Shiva's consciousness through the disposition of silence (chopi mudri).

Anamya: The Lord Shiva in His inherent nature (svabhava) is beyond the objective world/univese. But, He has a natural tendency to manifest the objective world/univese that lies submerged in Him. The equipoise between His transcendence and tendency to manifest (shakti) is what is called anamya or niramaya. In this condition of Shiva all objects (bhavas) are beyond the limitations of time and space (desh and kaal) and lie in absolute identity with Shiva's consciousness only in the form of impressions or images.

In the words of Prof Nila Kanth Gurtu anamaya is the luminosity of all-pervading, transcendental and ever-shining consciousness of Shiva wherein I-consciousness (vimarsh) is embedded.

Pratyabhijjna - It is a lexical word in Kashmir Shaivism. Drawn from the Buddhist scriptures and philosophies Kashmiri Shaivites invested it with a new layer of philosophical meaning. Pratyabhijjna is the metaphor of the theoretical frame of Kashmir Shaivism and spanda as expounded by Bhatta Kallat, is the practical aspect of the theory of Shaivism. In absolute concordance with the six systems of Indian philosophy, Kashmir Shaivism too has delineated its position on moksa, liberation from bondage. The word moksa though often used by the Shaivites connotes and denotes Pratyabhijjna which means to recognise one's essence as Shiv. As an absolute free being Shiva assumes a limitation through his own potency called as Maya Shakti and is reduced to the position of a Jiva. He forgets His essentiality as a transcendental being and assumes the form and role of a Jiva. Pratyabhijjan is to recognise the essential nature of Shiva. As stipulated by Bhagvan Abhinavgupta moksa is neither on earth, nor is it ascension into heavens. It is just to burst the meshes of ignorance caused by three dirts (malas) of anavamal, karma mal and mayiya mal and cognise one's unlimited potencies. Phrased as 'svarup prathnam' Pratyabhijjna is revelation of the intrinsic nature of a Jiva. Moksa in terms of Pratybhijjna is 'sva-shakti abhivyakhta' which means expression of one's intrinsic potencies or powers.

In Kashmiri language Pratyabhijjna is 'paan praznavun', to cognise one's essential essence as Shiva. As a lexical term it finds  mention by all the poets who are in the line of Lalla Ded tradition or have swerved away from it as a result of 'dislocated sensibility'.

Jivan-mukhta-It is an expression that Lalla Ded has often used in her inspiring and mesmerising vaakhs. Come to her from Shaivism she always explains and expresses it in the same tenor. Jivan-mukti is an ideal with the Shaivites, who are keen to attain moksa, liberation in the sense of self-recognition (atma Pratyabhijjna) while living in the world. A man normally attains moksa, liberation at the moment of death as he ceases to get enmeshed in the worldly acts which burden him with morality or immorality of performed acts. But, attainment of moksa while in life is a state of perfection in which a man is absolutely free to will, and act. He is enlightened and has absolute oneness with Shiva. To attain moksa while in life is the climaxing of the trajectories that shaivites act out as devotees or seekers either independently or under the aegis of a Shiva-guru. Jivanmukhti is a state of perfection in which a  Jiva is a Shiva. He does not carry any burden of limitations that would inhibit or restrict his freedom. He is in the world and the world is in him. He lives his life as a free being and commits himself to the cause of awakening others to attain Jivan-mukhti. He could have died, but does not die because of his avowed commitment to awaken his fellow-beings to auhtenticate their lives through realisation of their essential svarup as Shiva.

As a Jivan-mukta, Lalla Ded had destroyed all her karmas and ceased to accumulate karmas the fruit of which otherwise she had to bear. She had freed herself from the rotating wheel of life and death and had attained the status of an immortal. From the status of Shaivayogini Lalla Ded came to be known and recognised as Lalla-the Immortal.

Krai-It is the Kashmiri version of kriya, a word in Sanskrit. It means an act that is both elevating and ennobling. It is not karam that a Jiva performs in routine life the fruit of which is to be borne at all costs and under all circumstances. The distinction between kriya and karam has to be understood for fuller comprehension of Lalla Ded vaakhs. As per Kashmir Shaivism, Shiv is an active agent, a doer who performs five acts (panch kritya) of Srshti, sithiti, samhar, pidhan and anugrah. He is not inert like Brahman of the Shankar vedant. He acts and His actions are termed as 'kriya'. A Jiva who in essence is Shiva only also acts to exist and live in the world. As his actions are limited in scope and extent, so they are termed as 'karam'. Krai, therefore, is not a limited action but a free act that is elevating and ennobling. The essence of krai is Shiva and His elevating consciousness.

Nund Rishi who is in the line of Lala Ded tradition carries the word krai bearing the same imprint of Shiva as an active agent. Unaware of its core meaning the Islamists of foreign origins and their local  proxies have not succeeded in cleansing his shrukhs (slokas) of the word 'krai' rich with indigenous semantics.

Nagai Nachun - It is an expression of sheer ecstasy which has been an issue of debate among genuine Lalla Ded scholars. The guys who have pawned their souls to the foreign Sayyid-sufis have misused it as a source to the myth that Lalla Ded roamed about naked through the main -fares of her native place.

One can glean from her vaakhs that Lalla Ded was not a hatha-yogini and moderation, a golden-mean in Aristotelian terminology, was a prized value with her. The life of a recluse had not charmed her. Denial of essentials to maintain her body was not an igredient of her world-view. She was more than aware of the efficacy of human body as the source-material to the attainment of atma-pratyabhijjna, self-recognition as Shiva. The Shaivite perspective of human body as a miniature form of the entire cosmos was what moulded her whole course of Shaiva-Yoga praxes.

Lall Ded's philosophy of moderation gains prominence when she unequivocally exhorts all the un-initiates to clothe themselves soasto  keep cold away from harming their bodies and also to have such food as satiates their appetite. In the light of this philosophy it is in no way pertinent to explain and construe 'nangai nachun' as dancing or roaming about naked.

In Indian aesthetics there are three layers of meaning a word can have. The indicative meaning, abhidha-arth, of ' nangai nachun' is absolutely crude and does not concur with the philosophy that Lalla Ded was wedded to . It fails to convey her emotion, determining her psycho-physical behaviour. The second layer of meaning called lakhshanic arth too does not convey her real emotion. The third layer of meaning 'dhvanyatmac arth', translated as suggestive meaning alone establishes it as an expression of extreme joy or ecstasy as a response to the key that her guru introduces to her for attainment of identity with Shiva.

Pran and apan - We as humans exhale and inhale. It is happening involuntarily. Life depends on this process of breathing out and breathing in. In Shaiva-Yoga we have been given an astral body (yogic body) which  is not the same body that is defined in physiology. As per the Shaiva-Yoga texts air that we breathe out is called pran and air that we breathe in is known as apan. Pran, actually called pran-vayu, emerges from hridai, heart (not the actual human heart) and stops at bahya-dvadashant. Apan, lexically called apan-vayu, emerges at bahya-dvadashant and stops at hridai, heart. The entire process of breathing out and breathing in is connected with two nerves called Ida and pingla, one on the left side and the other on the right side of Sushumna-nadi, lexically known as madhya-dam in Shaiva-yoga. It is called madya-dam for it is soaked in Shiva's luminosity. Pran and apan though to be cultivated assiduously through pranayam are of little value in matters of attaining moksa, liberation. In Shaiva-yoga both the vayus are supposed to bind a man to the meshes of ignorance because of their tendency to flow outwards. But, the other two airs (vayus) called udan and vyan to be cultivated through diligent practice liberate a man from primal ignorance. Air that is breathed out (pran) is usually hot and air that is breathed in (apan) is generally cool. In Lalla Ded vaakhs  pran has been described as hot and apan as cool and their nexus with madhya-dam has been vitally important or gaining moksa, liberation from birth and death.

Abhyas - It is a Sanskrit word that denotes regular practice. Breathing out and breathing in is a practice that a seeker has to repeat at a regular pace. Such a practice known as pran-abhyas removes the dis-balance or conflict called ksobha between the two airs (vayus) of pran and apan. Through pran-abhyas the two airs (vayus), pran and apan, enter sushmana-nadi (madhya dam) via muladhar and move upwards in the direction of udan resulting in pacification of all manner of conflicts. In such a yogic condition pristine powers of mind (chita) get awakened. Pavan, a Sanskrit word, meaning air denotes pran-vayu and apan-vayu in the Shaiva-Yoga lexicon.

Sagun - It means anything that has a form or an attribute. 'Nirgun' is its antonym. In the domain of Hindi poetry Lord Ram and Lord Krishna are the themes of Tulsidas and Surdas, who belonged to the sagun branch of Bhakti (devotional) poetry. But, in Shaiva-Yoga, the word sagun carries a different shade of meaning. It refers to the world that Shiva manifests from the screen of His own consciousness without using any materials external to Him. Sagun is Shiva's shakti and His Shakti is manifestation of all that we perceive in the world. Sagun, in other words, is immanence of Shiva in the world of objects (neel, peet etc).

Shya van - Most of the commentators of Lalla Ded Vaakhs have explained 'shya van' as 'six forests' meaning as six chakras or Shakti chakras as mentioned in Patanjali's Yoga-sutra. But the word 'van'  in terms of philology is derived from Sanskrit word 'advan', which means a path.

As available in the Shaivite texts six paths are mantra, vama, pada, kala, tattava and bhuvan. An aspirant seeking ascension is required to traverse through them for attainment of identity with Shiva. Bhagvan Abhinavgupta has delineated incisive details about each path including the methodology for traversing it. As a Jiva, seeking the original abode of Shiva an aspirant has to ascend through each path, one after the other.  Lexically called 'aaroha', this rise in step by step manner enables an aspirant to grasp the intrinsic nature of all the thirty-six tattvas (elements) that constitute the world that is perceptible and felt. Realisation also dawns on him that Shiva is immanent in all the tattvas (elements) that form the architecture of the world.

Panch, dah ta kah - Strange meanings have been attributed to the lexical terms of panch, dah ta kah by ignoramuses who are on a mission to distort and misconstrue the indigenous content of Lalla Ded. Some have interpreted it as the prevalence of many faiths and sects in conflict with one another, while many others have distorted their meanings only to suit their fanciful imaginings.

Panch (five) refers to five mahabhutas that are the principal and basic constituents of the whole universe. These five mahabhutas are earth, water, fire, wind and space. All tomes of the Indian philosophy from Rigeveda to the modern writings make a mention of five mahabhutas.

Dah (ten) refers to five karam-indriyani (motor senses) and five Jnan-indriyani (cognitive senses). Five karam-indriyani are upastha, payu, pada, hasta, and vak. Five jnan-indriyani are gran, rasana, darshan, sparsa, and shrvan.

Kah (eleven) signifies five motor senses and five cognitive senses and antahkaran generally translated as mental perception. Antahkaran is taken as only one sense though it constitutes man, buddhi and ahankar.

Ada kyazi ravihe kahan gava - Lalla Ded has used cow as a metaphor of 'atma pratyabhijjna', self-recognition, which she pursued as her spiritual destiny. Kah (eleven) as a collection of all human senses are required to be harnessed and focused to realise the destination. Kashmir Shaivism has lent absolute credence to human body as a vehicle to the attainment of self-recognition. It is defined as a miniature form of the entire cosmos. An aspirant, therefore, has to cultivate his senses, not by suppression, but by sublimation so that he concentrates them to achieve the higher ends of spirituality. Eyes have to be withdrawn from outside world of objects to deepen the gaze within. Mind (man) as a constituent of mental perception has to be pacified with a view to ridding it of conflicts and raging mental activities. The united action of all senses that a human body is invested with is vitally critical to the unfoldment or expansion of inner self. At a particular stage of her quest Lalla Ded woefully lamented that her wayward senses had ravaged her body. Had they all focused and acted unitedly she would have realised her spiritual destination. Her success in stringing the human senses into a bond of unity made her spiritual destiny realisable. The Indian scriptures describe human body as 'brahma mandir' (God's temple). A verse from Kalidasa highlights the vital importance of human body in matters of spirituality. The verse reads  -

api sva-shakhtya tapsi pravartate,

shareeram adhyam khalu dharam sadanam.

Sodur - It is a Kashmiri word drawn from samudra which is Sanskritic in its origins. Throughout the Indian lore and learning world (bhava or samsar) has been compared to an ocean. Among many words samsar is the main word for world which is defined as 'samsarti iti samsarah'  - world is that which moves  on. Sodur also is in constant, ripple and motion. Hence the compound word 'samsar sagar' or 'samsar-samudra'  or 'bhava-sagar'.

Sodur (ocean) either independently or in combination with 'samsar' (world) typifies ocean of ever-changing world and existence. Lalla Ded, an Indian in thought and deed, is profoundly conscious of the ever-changing nature of world and existence at large. As a seeker she knows that she is immersed in the transience of world and existence and is keen on crossing the ocean of world and get back to the original abode of Shiva. That is why Lalla Ded says zuva chum braman gara gacha ha'. 'Sadur' as a huge expanse of water has a civilisational connotation. It establishes that Lalla Ded was a product of water-civilisation which she perpetually breathed and assiduously perpetuated and celebrated.

Sahaz - Sahaz is the Kashmiri version for sahaj which is a word in Sanskritic word-hoard. Its translation in English is 'natural'. A version of Buddhism called sahaj-yani Buddhism' has imbued the word 'sahaj' with philosophical meanings. 'Sahaj' represents the highest element that forms with the conflation of ''prjna' and 'upaya'. The concept of 'sahaj'  has travelled to Kashmir Shaivism and has been used as a qualifying word with 'vidya', 'Ishvar, 'yoga' and 'anand'. Hence in Shaivism we have expressions like 'sahaj vidya', 'sahaj Ishavar', sahaj yoga' and 'sahaj anand' .

In the cluster of methodologies (upayas) anupaya known as methodless-method has been taken for pratyabhijjna. The Shaivite texts describe it sahaj-upaya, a simple or natural method. Sahaj has also been used as a metaphor of Reality the detailed discussion of which forms the warp and woof of Kashmir Shaivism and all expressions of Indian thought.

Laya—The yoga-tattva-upanishad has delineated four types of yoga-mantra-yoga, laya-yoga, hatha-yoga and raj-yoga. Laya-Yoga as a recognised form of yoga has found a mention in almost all works on yoga. Lya-yoga definitionally is concentration on a deity while one is actively involved in the daily routine of life. The Kashmri Shaivites equally accept laya-yoga as a means to attain identity with Shiva. In shaktopaya a seeker deems it an achievement if he succeeds in dissolving his mind (man) in chita. Layi-bhava as a lexical term conveys the same dissolution of mind in chita. But, to a highly accomplished seeker laya means immersion of a jiva in shiva as consciousness supreme.

Jnan and ajnan—These two terms have been used variously by all manner of Indian philosophers. Jnan, simply speaking, has two meanings, one is intellectual and the other is spiritual. Intellectual knowledge as per the shaivites of Kashmir does expand the understanding horizons of a seeker. It is incumbent on him to learn the use of logic and analysis to have a thorough grasp of the non-dual thesis of Kashmir Shaivism. The said-philosophy has intricacies which need be understood for sharpening of human intellect. But, intellectual knowledge is not the end in itself. It has to be tooled to achieve spiritual knowledge which like all Indian thinkers the Shaivite thinkers designate as real knowledge. So, Jnan, to them, is spiritual in nature and essence. They call it Shiva-Jnan and atma-jnan.

As Shiva and Jiva are of the same fibre and weave, a jiva entrapped by three dirts (malas) of anava-mal, karma-mal and mayiya-mal has to realise his essential nature (svarup) through Shiva-Jnan and atma-jnan.

The essential thesis of Kashmir Shaivism is that Shiva through his absolute freedom (svatantrya) forgets his essential nature to assume the form of a jiva. Under the wraps of forgetfulness a Jiva takes his not-self as his real self. It is lexically called ajnan . It can be said that false identity with human body and human ego is a ajnan. But, the Shaivites never comprehend ajnan as total absence of jnan. To them, ajnan is mita-jnan, little knowledge or limited knowledge. The concept of bondage they trace to ajnan, limited knowledge. Bondage (bandhan) is essentially for a jiva. Shiva is beyond any taints of bondage (bandhan). As per the shaivites ajnan is non-knowledge of one’s own intrinsic nature (svarup).

Sham & dam—In Patanjali yoga and other works on yoga sham and dam have been accepted as vital parts of yoga-praxes. Sham means to wean one self away from the worldly actions (karmas). Dam means to control the breathing process (pran and apan) which otherwise is involuntary. Patanjali defines yoga as ‘‘yogash cha chit vriti nirodah’. The yoga-practices like sham & dam are in concordance with the definition that Patanjali has formulated about yoga. yoga, to him, is to suppress (nirodaha) the innate and inborn urges, tendencies and proclivities of a man. But, the Kashmir Shaivites have moved away from the Patanjalian explication of yoga and phrased yoga as per their own conceptual frame. To them, yoga definitionally is yogam ektavam icchanti vastuno anyena vastuna (unity of a thing (Jiva) with another thing (Shiva). The word suppression, nirodha, is replaced by unity, ektavam. The six-limbed yoga-praxes of the Shaivites called Shadanga yoga retains sham & dam, but stand oriented to a new nuance of meaning. Sham, therefore, is defined as to stay put in a felt spiritual experience after pacifying the worldly disturbances that ravage a human mind, Dam is to sublimate the breathing processes (pran and pan) with a view to submerge them in madhya-dham where the heart (hridai) lies.

In a vakh Lalla-Ded says that Shiva if He is to be attained does not need sham & dam (self-continence and self-control). It is a clear-cut reference to the suppressive techniques as envisaged in the Patanjali yoga. She for one was groomed in the Shaiva-techniques that are repugnant to suppression and regression of what lies in the nature of man as a living and existing being.

Chidanand—In Kashmir Shaivism Chidanand (chit and anand) is the essential nature of Shiva. Sat (being) is presumed when Shiva is formulated as Chidanand. As we have in Sankar vedant, sat-chit-anand is the fundamental nature (kutasthasvarup) of Brahman as an absolute. But in the Shaivite structure of thought Shiva’s fundamental nature (kutastha svarup) is chidanand only. Chit (consciousness) and anand (instinctive playfulness) are deemed as two in number, but in actuality are mixed up as milk and water. Lexically, chit and anand are prakash (luminosity) and vimarsh (I-consciousness). Shiva as Chita (chitti) is beyond the physical world, to put it properly He is transcendental. But Shiva as anand is brimming with a deep sense of I-consciousness. Anand is the creativity of Shiva. The nuts and bolts of entire cosmos are the expression of Shiva as anand. It is anand that features Shiva as an absolute free being to will, create, know and act. The five acts (pancha kretya) that Shiva does is out of anand, His playfulness or sportiveness. In Shaiva texts it is expressed as ‘kreeda-vilas’.

Maha-vreties-oum bhur-bhuva-svaha—

The Gayatrimantra begins with oum-bhur-bhuva-svaha. Its origins lie in the vedas. As vedas have been characterised as ‘plexus of ceremonies’, the mantras like oum bhursvaha, oum bhuva svaha and oum sva svaha are resonantly pronounced during the offerings that are made to the fire-god (agni). These three mantras are known as maha-vreties. But, the fourth maha-vrety is the mantra of oum bhur-bhuva-sva svaha which is uttered as one mantra in the wake of the first three mantras that are uttered during the course of a yajna. Having their origins in the vedas, the Kashmiri Shaivites have incorporated the four maha-vreties in their thought structure, but have oriented them to a new shade of semantics. Khemraj as an erudite commentator on seminal Shaiva texts writes that bhu refers to the world of objects, bhuva to the means of knowledge and svah to the humans, each as a subject. These three maha-vreties refer to the manifested world that Shiva creates out of His playfulness (anand). In Shaiva terminology it is also called vimarsa. The fourth maha-vrety of oum bhur-bhuva-sva as one single mantra alludes to transcendetal Shiva in whom the first three maha-vreties remain diluted indistinguishably. The first three maha-vreties explain the world and can be lexically called descent (avaroh) and the fourth one  is Shiva in which the world gets absorbed and can be lexically called aroh (ascent).

Vakh—Vakh if translated into English means a word that is said. It belongs to the Sanskrit word-hoard. Bhartrihari as a reputed scholar of linguistics has given us the concept of ‘shabad-brahma’ to which he traces the genesis of words formed with the combination of letters in Sanskrit. But, the Shaviites of Kashmir have given us a theory about the genesis of word in concordance with their thought imperatives. Shiva, to them, is the absolute. The word prior to its concretisation remains absolutely diluted in the ocean of Shiva’s consciousness. But, His consciousness has its own dynamics which is lexically called vimarsa. The word at this level is known as para-vakh. As the world emanates from Shiva’s consciousness, word also emanates from it only. The journey of the word starts from para-vakh, comes to the level of pashyanti, then to the level of madhyama and finally to the level of vaikhuri. It is the descent of a word, coming to the level of world where communication and contact are established through it. A word is a combination of letters from a to ksa. The word-hoard from a to ksa as numerous energies of para-vakh remain submerged in Shiva’s consciousness. Their concretisation through the process of descent is the same as manifestation of the world from the dynamics of Shiva’s consciousness. Says Abhinavgupta-Vakhti Vishvam abhilapti pretyavmarsena iticha vakh

Mala—It is a Sanskrit word meanging dirt or impuity. In Kashmir Shaivism it is a lexical word having a special meaning. Shiva as the highest subject has absolute freedom to act. It is through the instrumentality of mala, His own creation, Shiva assumes the form of a jiva, worldling with the limited powers to will, know act and cogitate. As per the Shaivites of Kashmir, mala is the cause of ajnan (malam ajnanam icchanti). A jiva is a bound animal (pasu) because of the malas he is trapped in.

Mala is of three types, anav-mala, karma-mala and mayiya-mala. Anav-mala is the limitation caused by Shiva through His wilful act of losing His absolute freedom and assuming forgetfulness of His innate freedom. Shiva in His inherent svarup (nature) can perform any act without any let or hindrance and without any external aid-materials. But, through His own divine will, He loses His absolute freedom  and gets embroiled in the worldy acts of mean order. It is called karma-mala. Through His own absolute freedom Shiva emanates the unverse from His own creative consciousness and is in absolute harmony with what He creates or emanates. But, because of mayiya-mala, He finds a dis-connect with what he has manifested. This is called mayiya-mala.

Malas are a limitation, in fact a plethora of limitations, which Shiva assumes to take the form of a jiva. For this, He has no motiviation, He may do it or may not do it. But, he goes on assuming the limitations to become a Jiva out of His own playfulness (anand).

Kashmir Shaivism has made a mention of seven pramatas (subjects) who are classified on the basis of mala they are embroiled in. Sakala, pralayakal and vijnanakal have all the three impurities in them. Mantra has two malas only, mayiya-mala and anav-mala. Mantreshvar and mantra-maheshvar have only one mala and that is anav-mala. Shiva as the only subject, despite His act of assuming impurities, has no tanits or impurities that can inhibit His absolute freedom. The value that Jivas trapped in malas pursue is to remove the malas through shaiva-yoga praxes and recognise their essence as Shiva onlyand that is, jnan or atma-jnan.

Tantra—Kashmir Shaivism in essentia has tantric foundations, but is not in any manner repugnant to the vedic stream of though, lore and learning. In the vedas tantra as a word has been used as a loom (Rig veda and Atharva_ved). The Mimansakas use the word in the sense of a method for making or doing something. A word like tantra-ukhti denotes ‘principles’ or ‘expositions. The word tantra is also used for all types of works on subjects relating sciences. The philosophical meaning that the word tantra assumed refers to a ‘scripture that spreads knowledge’ tanyate vistaryate jnanam iti tantram. At a later stage tantra got hyphenated with mantra and came to be recognised as knowledge realisable through practices.

Kashmir has a protracted history of writing tantras, which could be classified as non-dual tantras, dual-non-dual tantras and dual tantras. With the strands of theoretical knowledge scttered over the whole repository of tantras the Kashmiri Shaivites wove their fabric of non-dual philosophy and finessed it as a thought-process through dexterous use of logic, exposition and subtle analysis. Sixty-four in number the non-dual tantras form the fundamental blueprint of the thought-structure that emerged from Kashmir the seeds of which were planted in the soil of Kashmir from the same thought, though of a different variety, flourishing in South of India.

The principal trantras that the Kashmiri Shaivites have commented upon and used them as source-materials are

Shiva-sutra, Netra-tantra, vigjnan Bhairav, Malini vijayotra tantra, paratrimshikha, Rudra-yamaltantra, mregendra tantra, svacchand tantra et al.

It is pertinent to put that tantras do not present a thought process than can be construed as a finished-product of thought. They contain what we call as seed-ideas, which the Shaivite thinkers used to fabricate a full-fledged philosophical structure, which is well-knit, fully cemented, delicate in details and aesthetic in value.

In the words of Osho, ‘where yoga ends, tantra begins. The highest peak of yoga is the beginning of tantra and tantra leads you to the ultimate goal’.

Sahasrar—It is the highest cerebral region above the end of susumuna-nadi and its filaments are red. On its pericarp is hamsa and above it is Shiva himself. Above all these are surya and candra mandalas. In the candra-mandala is a dazzling triangle where sixteenth kala of the moon resides. The subtle-aspect of it is nirvan-kala within which lives Shiva and Shakti as para-vindu. The Shakti of para-bindu is called as nirvana-shakti which is light and exists in the form of hamsa (Radra-yamal tantra).

Shyashi-kala, Shyashi-rasa—After a yogi explores his nadis (nerves), he awakens his kundalini shakti at muladhar, which is supposed to be seat of Shakti. He traverses through the six-cakras or six-forests or six paths and raises his inherent powers, which otherwise lie in dormancy. Then he comes upon the Shyashi-kala, candra-kata (digit of the mon) residing in Sahasrar. A rasa, translated as manna in English, oozes out from shyashi kala. A yogi licks is up avidly which transports him into a state of rapturous bliss. Licking up of shyashi-rasa establishes the union of a yogi with Shiva and unino is ultimate immersion in Shiva’s ocean of consciousness.

Many Kashmiri poets very much in the line of Lalla Ded tradition have frequently mentioned the spiritual union which they might have in the wake of the manna that they enjoyed as an oozing from Shyashi-kala or Chandra-kala. Such poetry of these poets has been wrongly designated as ‘sufi poetry’. Popularly nomenclatured as shastra, the Muslim poets followed the much-reverenced tradition of Lalla Ded who had linkages with the indigenous inheritance of bhakti (devotion) and philosophy of Shaiva thought.

Brahma-randa—Its synonym is brahma-bill. It is situated at the upper part of Ajna-Cakra within the centre of two eye-brows. A seeker seeking self-recognition concentrates on it for direct entry into sahasrar. The Kashmiri Shaivas hold that brahma-randra is closed by the ‘egg of shakti’ which among other eggs of maya, prakriti and prithvi lies in a state of dilution in the womb of Shiva’s consciousness. A seeker, who has awakened his dormant powers through Shaiva yoga praxes, can surmount the obstruction posed by the ‘egg of shakti’ and enter sahasrar which as per Shaiva stipulations is nothing but the auspicious consiciousness of Shiva.

Jin—It is a Pali word with its origins in ‘Jit’, as a word in Sanskrit language. The root of the word ‘Jit’ is ‘Ji’. It is often used for Mahavir, the founder of Jain dharam. It is also used for Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. As Kashmir Shaivism has accepted many seed-ideas and concepts from Buddhism, the word ‘Jin’ as a lexical word for Buddha stands splashed through many a Shaiva-text. The word ‘Jin’. denotes Buddha who has conquered his senses which are eleven in number. The conquest of senses for any seeker is a must as it is a prelude to the quest within. Shiva, keshav, and kamalajnath (Brahma) form the trinity and Lalla Ded has placed Jin, the Buddha alongwith three gods of Hindu pantheon, thereby raising the number to four. As all these gods are the symbols of Param-Shiva’s infinite powers, Lalla Ded in all politeness prays to them to remove the sickness of the world that has overwhelmed her whole being. Semitic gods are jealous of one another, but the Hindu gods have no such taint.

Anahat nad—A sound is produced when two objects strike against each other. A river or a brook that flows on produces a sound. But, in a human body a sound is produced involuntarily without striking against anything. This is why it is named as anahat-nad. It can be heard by a seeker who has diligently trained his ears through shaiva-yoga practices. In Tantraloka, Bhagwan Abhinavgupta has made a mention of ten types of anahatnad. Bartrihari sought its origins in the ‘shabad-brahma’. But in Kashmir Shaivism its origins lie in para-vakh, which during its descent comes to the level of pashyanti,then to madhyama and finally to vaikhuri. A seeker has to withdraw his ears from sounds that are heard in ojective world. He has to move up to the level of madhyama and then to pashyanti. During this inward journey he comes to realise the softer aspect of sounds that are gross. Finally he comes to the level of para-vakh which he has to concentrate on. It leads him to Shiva’s consciousness where all sounds lie submerged without having any distinctiveness.

ajapa hamsa mantra—It is directly related to pran and apan as breathing out and breathing in.It is in the madhya-nadi when pran vaya goes up from the hriday (heart) a sound like ‘ham’ is produced and when it returns from dvadashant as apan-vayu, a sound like ‘sah’ is produced. A man lives because of the breathing out and breathing in processes. As this process goes on non-stop, he is said to meditate on the mantra of ‘hamsa-hamsa’, meaning ‘I am that’. A Jiva is called a hamsa because he is ever busy in breathing-out and breathing-in processes.

This ‘hamsa mantra’ is featured as ‘ajapa’, which means that it is not meditated upon. At the level of a Jiva the sounds of ‘ham’ & ‘sah’ are grossly uttered. But, in the processes of inward journey the said-sounds lose their grossness and get merged in the luminosity of Shiva. So, in that case hamsa as mantra is neither to be uttered nor is it meditated upon. It becomes an indissoluble part of consciousness supreme.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel



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