Science and Kashmir
by Virendra Qazi
are analyzing a unique
subject: the synthetics of natural sciences with metaphysics. Our ancient seers
and sages long back conceived the principles of physical or natural science. The
World, as we see, is a play of energy, force or vibration, and not an illusion,
was an important creed of our Sastras. This is in total conformity with modern
Discovery of modern physics that
matter is only waves of various lengths, without their being any essentially
solid, hard stuff is really a re- discovery of what the Trika Shastra conceived
centuries ago as the "Spanda". Through modern physics, we have grown
accustomed to thinking of physical reality as waves of energy--as the
matter-energy continuum. Tantric Shaivism presents the full matrix of energy
pulsation of which physical reality is only a part. From the relatively
superficial perceptions of the senses to the progressively subtle forms of inner
awareness, a unified spectrum of spanda leads inward until the most delicate and
powerful tendrils of individuality merge with the infinitely rapid vibration of
the ultimate consciousness.
Well, before we analyze further
the physical and spiritual science, let us understand in brief the uniqueness of
Kashmir Shaivism. This philosophy occupies a distinguished position among the
various schools of religious creed and thought. It focuses on relation between
God, Nature and Man, which overcomes all the barriers of diverse human-cultures.
It leads to the highest level of self-realization, revealing the inner most
secrets of the nature of self. All the aspects of life are integrated and
taken in totality. Thus, rather than negation and denial, it celebrates
life. Kashmir Shaivism is the school of Indian philosophy, which can inspire us
for both material and spiritual progress. Rather, the approach is from theory to
practice. Indeed, it leads us to the real " Art of Living".
Kashmir Shaivism is presently
evoking deep interest in West, with lot of pioneering research work at leading
universities. In our present strife-torn world this philosophy can be a great
guide and uniting factor. A thrill of self confidence, the spirit of bliss,
surpassing all barriers of caste, creed and gender, no look back, no regret, the
inner journey, see everything as creation of God, etc - how prominently and
conceptually these are emphasized in Kashmir Shaivism. In fact, it should be our
endeavor to present this ancient philosophy in common man's language so that
resurgence takes place with the goal of upliftment of world as a whole.
The prime focus of Kashmir
Shaivism is on the Ultimate Reality called Param Shiva. This basic point is to
recognize this source from which emanates everything and into which merges
everything. Param Shiva is beyond description, beyond all manifestation, beyond
limitation of form, time and space. He is eternal, infinite, all
pervading, all knowing and all-powerful. In fact, this reality is
ineffable and beyond all descriptions.
After our stress on this basic
reality called Param Shiva, let us seek and understand this philosophy. Kashmir
Shaivism is a process of recognizing or discovery of individual soul as one with
the Universal Being through correct knowledge of the "Descend" from
Godhood to manhood. The next is "Ascend" or going back to Godhood.
Lastly great stress is given to "Devotion" towards the Ultimate
Reality called Param Shiva.
As regards the Great Descend,
Kashmir Shaivism postulates 36 categories or "Tattvas" to explain the
process of cosmic evolution or universal experience, i.e., from God hood to
veiling or obscuring force of nature called Maya Shakti leading to various
psycho - physical elements and finally the Panch Mahabhutas - five great
elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether.
The first outward manifestation
of the divine creative energy is called "Shiva - Tattva". It is
the initial creative movement of Paramasiva and is support of all things in the
manifest world, like the canvas of a painting. Next, the "Shakti-Tattava"
is active or kinetic cosmic energy that effects the divine consciousness into
"Maya" is the veiling
or obscuring force of nature that creates a sense of differentiation. As
such, it makes universal consciousness, which is unity, appear as duality and
multiplicity. The result of the limitation of Maya is "Purusha" and
"Prakriti", the limited being and his nature. Here the dual world of
mind and matter is permanently established. This follows various mental
operations, ascertaining intelligence, sense perceptions, ego, etc. The process
is complete finally with the gross Panch Mahabutas as referred above.
Now, let us consider the Ascend
or going back to Godhood. What is source of pain and frustration- duality and
moving away from Godhood! So, it is natural that we must strive to go back to
Godhood. For this there has to be Shaktipath- the descend of Divine Grace.
In order to earn Grace, one has to undergo spiritual discipline, known as
“Upyas” or Trika Yoga. Depending upon potential of individual, these means
or yoga have been categorized with particular emphasis as Anupaya (supreme
means- Bliss), Shambopaya (higher means- Will), Shaktopaya (medium means-
Knowledge) and Anvopaya (inferior means- Action). However, it must always be
remembered that descend of the Divine Grace-Shaktipath- is independent of human
Kashmir Shaivism emphasizes that
one has to discover the inner “Bliss”. Let us not suppress the senses; do
not torture the body or mind, etc. Forcible control will lead to adverse effect.
Be as you are. When one discovers inner bliss he/she will give up fascination
for outer worldly enjoyments. Outwardly one may perform the age-old traditions
but inwardly he/she has to seek exact truth through the practices taught in
Trika Yoga. There is no restriction based on color, creed, gender, etc. in
eligibility for initiation in this Yoga.
As regards "Devotion",
it is an essential aid to all the practices. An aspirant not blessed with
devotion for the Lord can not succeed in the practice or Saivayoga. After
inculcating the principles and treading the path as explained above, we should
surrender and submit to the Ultimate Reality. This will, no doubt, lead us to
the ultimate goal
Coming back to great "
Descend", the in-evolution or movement from Godhood to manhood or the great
creation, let us analyze it in detail. What is the cause of the first movement
or the impulse to create?
Sankhya says that it is due to
the association of purusha and prakriti, but no reason is given for this
association. Vedanta contends that only an intelligent agent can set Universal
Consciousness in motion; so it postulates Brahman or the supreme lord. Both
systems show where the initial impulse originates, but neither explains why.
Kashmir Shaivism answers this question by saying that consciousness eternally
alternates between two phases, rest and action, that is, Prakasha and Vimarsha.
The Prakasha phase is a period
of potentiality, technically called pralaya or reabsorption. It is the passive
phase of consciousness. Here all the forms of the manifest universe are
dissolved and their essence re-absorbed by the universal consciousness. During
the period of potentiality, pralaya, all manifestations are dormant just as the
characteristics of a mango tree are dormant in a mango seed. After this period
of latency, the universal seeds begin to germinate and consciousness becomes
The active phase of
consciousness is called srishti or the creation of the universe. This phase of
manifestation is also called abhasa. Each phase of action is said to generate
the seeds of potentiality that germinate during the period of rest to bring
about the next phase of action, in the same way that the flowering of a mango
tree produces the seed for the growth of another tree.
The philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism, especially, the process of creation can be better understood by a
careful study of this spanda principle. Spanda is the energy that permeates the
universe during its processes of evolution, vibration, and the ceaseless force
from which springs everything that exists. It is the source of universal energy
which manifests itself in fear, joy, and anger, and which throbs in word and
thought. When a person is overwhelmed with ecstasy, joy or anger he experiences
Spanda. Spanda is the supreme universal power, which embodies all
manifestations. It is the first motion of will, the impetus of spirit.
In the Kena Upanishad a student
asks his teacher, "who directs the mind towards its object? Who causes the
prana or life force to function? Who compels men to speak? What God makes the
eyes and ears function? " The teacher answers that the Ultimate Conscious
Force or Spanda is the source of all actions, emanations, illumination, and
unfolding; but it remains unattached to all these. Furthermore, it is by means
of this Universal Conscious Force that the eyes see, the ears hear, the mind
thinks, the intellect grasps, the metabolism works, and the planets move.
The power of Spanda is the
dynamic aspect of the transcendental Reality. This Reality is the abode of all
powers of manifestation and action. Through introspection, an aspirant can
experience the inner motive force of Spanda. Abhinavgupta, the great master of
Kashmir shaivism, observes that Spanda is unobjectified desire, which leads
consciousness to feel incomplete. It is the first stage of consciousness before
it crystallizes into the reasoning process.
Though Spanda is expressed in
various ways according to the particular movement in which it manifests,
Ramakantha, the author of a commentary on the Spandakarika, has used it in the
special sense of an inner rhythm of aesthetic spiritual experience. This may be
characterized as a flash of thought or an inner perception such as pleasure or
pain. He also uses it in the sense of an unobjectified desire.
All action merely represents an
expression of the individual's will. Immediately before beginning an action, one
experiences a kind of stir within. Wordily action is therefore a unity because
of the oneness of will and purpose. Spanda is the first flutter of Pure
Consciousness in the process of the five fold actions: emanation, existence,
dissolution, concealment, and bestowal of grace.
Spanda cannot be understood by
intellectual interpretations of metaphysical ideas. It can only be grasped
through introspection. One can observe within oneself the various changes that
take place in the satisfaction of a wish or desire.
Spanda is that power of
consciousness that infuses life into physical senses, which would otherwise
appear inert. A person who observes his own nature can comprehend that power.
Spanda animates the senses and is the origin of the processes of creation,
existence, and dissolution. Every natural phenomenon is brought about by this
same power. An individual can watch his thinking process as well as the various
steps involved in the fulfilling of a desire and thereby observe Spanda at work.
When a person is thinking of one
aspect of an idea, another aspect of the same idea suddenly arises in his mind.
In this process, the junction-point between the two thoughts is called unmesha.
Modern scientists put it in their own terminology. They call it an altered state
of consciousness or a state of higher consciousness. They say that everything in
the universe functions like a pendulum, which moves from one point of rest to
another. In other words, all matter vibrates. This point of rest is very dynamic
in that it is where the change of direction takes place. At that point it
actually disappears for a fraction of a micro second and then reappears. This
means that we have a system in which all our realities exist on an off-on basis.
During the off period we expand and fill the entire universe; the we contract
and continue in our normal reality as if nothing had happened. It is not the
physical object that expands but rather it is its essence that extends to fill
A seeker should become familiar
with this junction point, which is the background of all his thoughts and
images. Here he can experience the conscious force that brings about the sudden
change from one image to another. The various images are fleeting; but their
source, which pervades them all, is unchanging.
Now, let us stress again on the
natural sciences. Let us take a voyage through the history of the Universe, as
we currently believe it to have been. At that instant, from nothing, a tiny
speck of infinitely hot light appeared. This is the event referred to as the
"Big Bang." Inside the speck was all of space. The fireball began to
expand. In one trillion-trillionth of a second, the Universe grew a hundred
million times bigger; its temperature dropped from near infinity to about 10,000
trillion trillion degrees. Electrons and positrons formed, immediately
annihilated, and repeated this cycle over and over.
In practically no time, a vast
expansion of the size of the Universe took place and the temperature became such
that real matter, particle and anti-particle pairs could form and go their
separate ways. The Universe entered into a period of frenetic matter creation,
which lasted about a second. When the frenzy was over, matter had won out over
antimatter. However, protons, neutrons, and electrons were only a minute
constituent of the Universe.
Eastern wisdom defined thousands
of years ago the concept of Spanda, as a vibration or flashing forth of the
Divine Consciousness, as being the fundament of the entire manifestation of the
Universe. In this vision, consciousness is everywhere, even in the most
insignificant particle of matter. In other words, the whole matter contains
consciousness (therefore, life) in various proportions. In the smallest measure,
all that we know and have known, are fragments of our being. Within everything
and every one, there is a tiny tiny vibration.
Sir James Jeans said, " The
universe starts to look more like a great thought, than a great machine."
Spanda is the vibratory dynamism of the absolute consciousness.
LALLESHWARI - HER SPIRITUAL GEMS
While expounding the relevance
of Kashmir Shaivism our deepest gratitude goes to Lalleshwari, whose teachings
give a unique opportunity to have insight into this mystic philosophy. She
conveyed its essence in a simple way for benefit of the humanity.
She had a vision -- of past
present and future! She could see beyond times; right from the formation of
Universe. She saw Kashmir valley out of vast lake, a great expansion of water,
surrounded on all sides by mountains. After this vision of the past she could
see the present - her times. She could narrate the woes and turbulence
permeating her life and the society in general.
Let us conclude with her
mystical outpourings, the Lal - Vakh.
THE EARTH AS A TINY DOT BUT FULL
OF LIFE AND OTHER MANIFESTATIONS.
What a surprise! This earth looks
like a lake so small, in which a mustard seed cannot be contained,
sariphol na vetse,
Tath sari sakalay poni cen;
Mrag, sragal, gandi, zalhasti,
Zen na zen ta totuy pen.
But from this very source
or lake all (the sakala) drink water;
The deer, the jackals, the rhinoceros and the
Are no sooner born than they fall into it (The life
THE MYSTRY OF LIFE FORCE - THE PRANA.
He guru Parameshwra,
Bavtam tseyi chuy antar vyod;
Dwashavai vopadan kanda-pura,
Hah kava turun ta hah kava tot?
She asks her Guru to solve
the riddle. O my teacher! Thou art as God to me!
Explain thou to me, for the inner meaning (or the
difference) is known to thee;
Both the breathings take their rise from the region
of the Bulb:
Why then is 'hah' (short breath) cold and 'hah'
(long breath) warm?
Nabhisthanas tsit zalavani
Brahmasthanas shishirun mwakh,
Brahmandas chai nad vahavani
Tavai turun 'hah','hah' gav tot.
The region of the navel is
glowing with fire, by its very nature, The hot air rises up to the throat which
is the passage for inspiration and expiration, But, from Brahmanda there is a
cold stream flowing downwards, The short breath is cold, therefore, and the long
one is hot.
On the subtle plane, the
coolness of short breath and the warmth of a long breath are related to two
facts accepted by the yogis. The navel region or ' kanda-pura' is the region of
the sun where the abdominal heat glows perpetually. The long expiration is said
to get warmed up by the heat of the bulb at the navel.
Against this, the yogis also assert the presence of
the microcosmic Moon in the Brahmarandhra or the upper extremity of the susumna
nadi. The region of the Moon being cold, by its very nature, gives out a cold
current down the Susumna. This current cools the breath as it is carried by Ida
nadi or Candra nadi in short breathing.