Kashmir Shaiv Darsana - Part 3

Kashmir the land of great Divine learning

By Shail Gulati

Shail GulatiThe author is a practising Shaivite mystic and has authored two books 'A Yogi and The Snake' and 'Naamroop-A Tribute to the Divine.'

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3


The Sastras of Trika Literature which make the foundation of Kashmir’s Non-Dual Shaivism are divided into three Parts:

1. Agamas   

2. Spanda                    

3. Pratyabhijna

The Pratyabhijnahrdyam prepared by Ksemaraja, the disciple of Abhinavagupta, serves as a digest to the prtyabhijna philosophy of
Self Re-cognition in the kashmir shaiv darsana.It makes an excellent primer to understand the darsana.The following texts have been taken from Shri Jaideva singh’s translation.

Citi svatantrâ viúvasiddhihetu?

Citi, (pronounced Chitih)  which is power of absolute consciousness, by its own free will (svatantrya/independence), is the cause of manifestation, preservation, and again re absorption or withdrawal of the Universe into itself , also called dissolution.

This is a description of Godhead, and before time and space are created, it alone is, in itself. It is Cit, or Para Samvit , perfect Prakasa Vimarsa , it is all knowing, omniscient, and all powerful, omnipotent. Its power, non different from itself, is Citi.

Svecchayâ svabhittau viúvamunmîlayati

By Her own power, she unfolds the Universe on her own screen.

This is a direct statement on the understanding of Kashmir Shaivism, that God is both the efficient, as well as material cause of the Universe, that is to say, He creates out of his own will, on his own self, there is no extraneous material, and even the analogy of the potter and the pot of clay, fails here, since the potter emanates or projects out of himself, not out of clay.


That Universe, so unfolded, is manifold , consisting of many subjects, who are objects for the others in reciprocal differentiation.

The potter was one, the projector was one, but the pots are many, the projection features many. The various projections, though coming from the same source, and thus essentially the same, are different from the other, like one is a conical pot, the other rounded the third triangular and so on. When they view the other as an object, they see others as different from themselves, and therefore begin to be more difference than identity. Spiritually, this means that the manifold creation gets adapted to each other as subject and object in a reciprocal manner, in my perception you are my object, but in yours, I am an object, you are the subject that views me. Or, simply, that even though we are all essentially the same, but still no two people are alike. Thus, the identity of the oneness of Cit  has been veiled (vilaya), by Citi itself!

Citisa?kocâtmâ cetano’pi sa?kucitaviúvamaya?

(But) even while he has been reduced to such individual experients,  each individual has the Citi contracted within him, as Citta.

So even while each Experient finds himself limited from birth, and/or limits himself in life, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have the primal consciousness in him, he always does , albeit in a contracted manner. The fact is, one cannot survive without the Citi, that gone, the body would be lifeless. Citi  , always present in each being in a small measure, is called Citta.

Citireva cetanapadâdavarű?hâ cetyasa?kocinî cittam|

Thus does Citi contract itself in conformity to the object of consciousness, Cetaya.

Such that in the high Experient of Sadashiva, there is predominance of Prakasa Vimarasa, that is, light (pure knowledge) and power (the power of knowledge knowing itself), but in the Pasu (a soul bound by ignorance of its divine nature, using its ability as a human, and thus akin to a lower species of animal) there is predominance of the contraction, and therefore great dullness. Therefore emanating from the same one Cit, the power of citi reduces itself into myriad forms of differing life,

In individuations, who think they are separate from the One cit. By Dhyana(contemplation, meditation) one may loosen the contraction and advance to a higher stage.

Tanmayo mâyâpramâtâ

Even the Mayapramata, highly deluded being, consists of Citta.

Even if we think we are not divine spirit , but only the physical body, this does not alter the real fact of our divinity.

Though We are in a state of delusion, our divinity is always the force behind our sustenance.

Sa caiko dvirűpastrimayaúcaturâtmâ saptapańcakasvabhâva?

And thus, though He is one, he becomes two, three, and many.

As is said in the Taittiriya Upanishad, for Brahman as source of all, he desired, may I be many, may I be born!

Tadbhűmikâ? sarvadarúanasthitaya?

Thus too, it becomes easier to understand the positions of various systems of philosophy. They are only various reaches of that consciousness of Self.

Like the Hill and the climbers, each successively exalted Darsana is like the climber who has already traversed the path and is now on top, he can see Panoramically (wholly) at what stage the other is, but not vice versa.
Thus a Carvaka, or gross materialist, will tell the believer of soul, ’show me your soul’, let me test it, and so on , and the spiritualist will insist, that everything that is transient, is more like a dream, less of a reality. Swami Vivekananda, said they both think that the other is a dreamer!
And, in all honesty, at all times, no one Darsana deliberated misleading; they actually spoke of the vision, as they saw, much like only one who has seen the moon in its entire phases, will know the truth that it is always full, it only appears to wax and wane. The man who has only seen a crescent, will find it difficult to talk of a full moon, and vice versa. So too, the non dualism of Kashmir Shaiv is Paradvait, Dvait and Advait both. Thus Siva spoke of the dual as well as non dual Tantras.

Cidvattacchaktisa?kocânmalâv?ta? sa?sârî|

Consequently, highest Siva who’s reality, is all consciousness , because of such limitation of his own Sakti, becomes a mala (dross) covered Samsarin.

The travelling soul is covered with Mala because of constriction of His power(Sakti).

Tathâpi tadvatpańcak?tyâni karoti|

For even in the limited state of Jiva, Siva does retain the five acts, in a limited way, and it is all his perception of what happens as :

  • Sristi (projection),
  • Sthiti (maintenance or preservation),
  • Samhara (dissolution or re -absorption back to the pristine),
  • Vilaya ( veiling of the divine nature by Malas) , and
  • Anugraha ( revelation of the divine by grace).

There may be a cat, but for you it comes into existence when you see it, so you give it its Sristi (creation) in your world. If you were to close your eyes, the cat would still be in the world, but not in your world for then. if you remember the cat you are preserving it , maintaining it by memory. and so on. therefore, in a limited way you are still playing Siva

And so on you go, manifesting, relishing, experiencing, dissolving etc

Tadaparijńâne svaúaktibhirvyâmohitatâ sa?sâritvam

To be a samsari means to be deluded by one’s own power , because of ignorance of such authorship of the fivefold act. Samsari aka traveling soul is bewildered and infatuated by his own powers as ignorance leads him into delusions.
Since this power of delusion or concealment is Vilaya, obscuration or  forgetfulness of one’s divine nature, one should understand that the very recognition that one is deluded, marks Anugraha, grace, and the process of re-cognition of one’s (lost) nature begins.

Tatparijńâne cittamevântarmukhîbhâvena


And as the process ripens, through Sadhanas and methods , acquiring the full knowledge of the five fold act accrues, and Citta expands from its contracted form to become Citi itself.

Citivahniravarohapade channo’pi mâtrayâ

meyendhana? plu?yati

It can be seen that the fire of citti, keeps burning the fuel of the known objects.

Citi is ever at work! taking you back to your pristine consciousness. but you may accelerate this, by roasting, as they say, the chestnut over and over again..! The fuel is partially consumed by the fire of Citi though its still delusional and is in inferior stage.

Balalâbhe viúvamâtmasâtkaroti

In the re -assertion of that power, it, through the aspirant, accomplishing the prasara, or outgoing (expansion) of the divine senses, comes to fulfillment , such that it makes the entire universe its own by assimilation.
Ballabbhe vishvaatmasatkaroti, the world is the same as your pristine SELF. That is, he assimilates universe to himself.

cidânandalâbhe dehâdi?u cetyamâne?vapi cidaikâtmyapratipattidâr?hya? jîvanmukti?

Liberation while one retains his physical body.
When this bliss of cit is attained, there accrues a lasting acquisition (a stability) of identity with cit, even while having the body, and this is jivanmukti.

This means that one does not have do die, or lose the physical body, to attain to the subtler realms and consciousness itself, the great promise is to attain to the essence here, in this body, and be free from the delusion of life as one earlier thought it to be. Indeed , the reverse seems to be true, if you die without knowing God while alive, there’s little chance, you’ll come back to birth , knowing him.


By the sustained development of this centre(of consciousness) , by the sustenance of this stability on Samvit itself, there is lasting of the bliss.

This sutra seems like a repetition, but Shaiv Darsana has the understanding of Vipula, the thickening of that stability on centeredness. Like an actor who goes over his lines over and over, who gets used to playing the role of king, becomes natural about it. While Advait Vedanta goals “Sat Chit Ananda”, consciousness, blissed at knowing itself as the ultimate,

Kashmir Shaiv exhorts to reach Cid Ananda Ghana, which denotes the reaching of the true consciousness thickly, like a forest of dense bliss consciousness. Even in traditional yogi literature, once one reaches Sahasrara, the crown , by definition itself, the lotus of thousand petals opens, here thousand denotes Anant, infinite...The Vedantic realization, is called Atma Vyapti, and the thickened Ghana, Vipula, Shaivic goal , is Shiva Vyapti.
One who has Atma Vyapti, has full knowledge of the self, but lacks the powers, while one who has Shiva Vyapti, gets the dynamics also.
The lesser realization is about pure being, the higher realization is about being and becoming, both.
To repeat, again, Prakasa, and prakasavimarsa both, Advait, or Paradvait.


inibhâlanâdaya ihopâyâ?

For the development : Upayas are given for dissolving all thoughts, constriction and unveiling of power.

At this point the Pratyabhijna gives a few means beginning with sukhopaya, or anupaya, which cannot be taught, and then gives a few other methods, as sadhanas to reach at one ment with Shiva. Since the methods may be found in the successive upayas, it is better to get versed with the Upayas for detail.

Samâdhisa?skâravati vyutthâne bhűyo bhűyaúcidaikyâmarúânnityoditasamâdhilâbha?

By reflecting upon the Oneness with Cit experienced in samadhi, there is the lasting bliss even in vyutthana.

Samadhi is to go into the deepest meditation, and merge with pristine consciousness. Vyuthana is when you arise from that Samadhi. The former passes on its effects to the latter.Kashmir shaivism says, therefore, by constant reflection on that Oneness with cit, as experienced in samadhi, we are lead to a permanent state of samadhi, even while not in meditation.

You may call samadhi ‘being in meditation’, and vyutthana ‘meditation in being’.

Such alternation of swinging between the actual inner state of smadhi, and the externalised reflection over it, is called Krama mudra. Regular practice of this inner-outer swing, of krama leads to the permanent state of Bhairava avastha,  which is to simply know, that inner or outer..all is siva.

Tadâ prakâúânandasâramahâmantravîryâtmakapűr?



viddevatâcakreúvaratâprâptirbhavatîti úivam

By attainment of such krama mudra and bhairava, as a result of entering into the perfect I -consciousness or Self, which is in essence Cit and ananda and also of the nature of power of the great mantra, there accrues Lordship over the group of the deities of consciousness that bring about all emanation and re-absorption of the Universe. All is the nature of Siva.

When one is completely established in Siva consciousness in Samadhi and Vyutthan, One gains Lordship over every power of emanation and re-absorption that arises from consciousness, because, all is the nature of Siva.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel