Saivism in Prospect and Retrospect

Saivism in Prospect and Retrospect

by Dr. C. L. Raina

The circuitous upper valley of Vitasta, is the famous Kashmir in theDr. C. L. RainaHimalayan region. There are Harimukh ( Haramukta ) and Amarnath mounts, branches off from the great Himalayas a little further east, proceeds due south and encircling the sources of Vitasta, turns north west, where it is called Pir Pantsal or Panchaldhara now Banihal range ). These lesser mountains of the Himalayas surround the valley of Kashmir on all sides; leaving only a narrow outlet for the Vitasta at Baramulla. Kashmir valley is thus surrounded by the Himalayas and Vitasta has been the life and source for the socio-economic welfare of Kashmir. The climate of Kashmir is fine to suit the spring, summer and autumn season while the winter season makes the inhabitants of Kashmir to be in their homes. At the fag end of winter Kashmiri Hindus observe the Maha Shivaratri with great pomp and show associated with the belief and tradition of the union of Siva and Shakti. Many mythological stories are connected with the celebration of the Maha Shivaratri popularly known in Kashmir as Herat. Should we believe that Harmukta, Amarnath cave or Ma Shivaratri are the impact of Saivism for which Kashmir enjoys a special position in the globe for giving a dynamic philosophy of day to day living ? Is it closely related to Vedanta System or the Sankhya System or its obligation is due to Shakti worship that we see in every corner of Kashmir or because of the impact of Tantra fold prevalent in Kashmir. Kashmir is one of the Shakti pithas among fifty pithas mentioned in Lalita Sahasranama. Such questions need a rationalistic approach of study rather to believe in tradition and myth.

Dr. Radhakrishnan has very truly said that spiritual life was the true genius of India. Those who made the greatest appeal to the Indian mind were not the military conquerors, not the rich merchants or the great diplomats but the holy sages, the rishis who embodied spirituality at its finest and purest. The great sages and seers or the holy men had the vision to realise the truth according to the need and requirement of the time. Ekam Sat, Vipra Bahuda Vadanti stands true in the highly rationalistic age. It is, therefore, no wonder why Kashmir could give its own philosophy of Saivism.

Philosophy in its widest etymological sense means " love of knowledge. " It tries to know things that immediately and remotely concern man. What is the real nature of man ? What is the end of this life ? What is the nature of this world in which he lives? Is there any creator of this world ? How should man livein the light of his knowledge of himself, the world and God ? These are some of many problems that have been discussed threadbare in the Siva philosophy. It is easily intelligible because it does believe in the existence of matter and spirit. Life is worth knowing and hence worth enjoying. There seems to be vision of truth ( darshana ). According to Rabindranath Tagore in " The Spirit of India, " " Brahman is Truth, Wisdom and Infinite-Satyam, Jnanam Anantam Brahma. Peace is in Brahma, goodness is in Brahma and the unity of all things. He who is one, who is above all colour distinctions, who dispenses the inherent needs of men of all colours, who comprehends all things from their beginning to the end. Let Him unite us to one another with wisdom which is the wisdom of goodness.

The Saiva philosophy is typical of the entire range of Hindu thought. It subscribes to the belief in three padarths or categories viz., God, Soul and the bonds and thirty six tatvas ( principles ). It varies from idealistic monism and the pluralistic realism. It recognises thirty six principles as against the twenty four of the Sankhya and Yoga system. Panchratra also recognises twenty four principles. According to Pauskara Agma- "The Advaita Vedanta reckons thirty six principles, but the new principles in this scheme are not independent principles, being for the most part, modification of one principal, Vayu the cosmic force. "

We have the five gross elements known as "Mahabutas"- ether, air, fire, water and earth; the last possesses the five qualities of sound, touch, colour, taste and odour; ether has sound alone. These qualities are called " Tanmatras ". According to "Paushkara-Agma " and Sivajnanamahapadyam, it is very much of an idealistic view of susbstance. The tanmatras are themselves evolutes of that variety of individuation ( ahankara ) wherein the quality of darkness and inertia ( tamas ) is predominant. This variety of " Ahankara " is also called bhutadi, since it is indirectly the cause of the elements. According to Sankhya " manas " is recognised to be an organ of both sense and action. Ahankara is itself derived from " Buddhi " or intellect. It is the determining faculty and self-derivative. Buddhi, Ahankar, manas and chitta constitute the internal organs. Thus the twenty four impure principles are known as " Bhogya-kanda."

Further, in Saiva system, there are seven mixed principles where Mula Prakriti is termed as " Prakriti-Maya ". It is the product of " Ashudda Maya and it evolves primarily into three principles- Kala (Time), Niyati (Destiny) and Kala. Time is an independent Principle. In experience, we observe that even when all necessary causes are present, the effect is not produced except with the passage of time. We find that time matures and time heals. Destiny sees that every soul has its due in the matter of the enjoyment of its appropriate fruit. Kala is the instrument whereby the darkness that envelopes soulsis removed in part. It has two functions to evolve into "Mula Prakriti " and on the other into Vidya ( knowledge) and Raga (attachments) Kala, Niyati, Kala, Vidya and Raga are termed as five sheaths or pancha kanchukas. According to Tattva Traya Nirnaya the five Kleshas are called Pumsatva Mala or human impurities and the soul is admitted to be known as Purusha Tattva.

The pure principles are five. Siva Tattva is the first of these and the cause of the rest - Shakti, Sadasiva, Ishwara and Shuddhvidya. Shivatattva is one, pervasive and eternal, it is the resultant of both knowledge and action and happens to be the cause of other pure principles. It is not however to be identified with Siva. Neither Siva himself nol his inherent Shakti can be directly the cause of any principles as they would then be the cause liable to tranformation and affected by interness. Thus Shivatattva is an evolution through " Maha Maya " or cosmic force quite different from "Ashuddh maya" as mentioned earlier. Dr. Burnett has translated the Aghora Siva's commentary on the Tattva Prakasha in the following manner " Even the realistic school has to admit maya to be a parigraha shakti. While, however, the idealistic school draws what seems to be the natural inference and compares the product to the reflection in a mirror.... Aghora Siva condemns it as an interpolation According to him Lhere is an order of evolution and involution even among the pure principles.

Souls are naturally infinite, pervasive and omniscient, yet they experience themselves as limited, finite and little knowing. This is due to the bonds of " anava " Karma and Maya. Souls which have all the three kinds of bonds are called Sakalas. Those for whom Maya alone has been resolved by the involution of the worlds in the periodical deluges are called Pralaya Kalas.

God is pure, omnipotent, omniscient, gracious, enternally free from bonds. He is both the material and the efficient cause of the world; through his Shaktis. He is the material cause and in His own nature the efficient cause. Souls in their essential nature are the same as God but their potencies are concealed by beginningless " Anava. " The ignorance of souls can be removed partially through the bodies, instruments provided by " Ashuddha Maya "- the physical world around us. God functions through His own energy called the energy of concealment ( Tirodham Shakti ). Through mere mementum or through the residue of Prarabdha Karma, the physical body may persist for a while after spiritual illumination; but it does not fetter the enlightened soul since it is not cognised as such. The attainment of Sivatva may be understood as complete merger in Siva or the realisation of an identity of essence in spite of differencein existence.

The origins of Saivism or the roots of Saivism are found in pre-Aryan society. The hold of Saivism extends not only over the whole of India, from the Indus valley to Bengal but beyond the northern mountains to central Asia. The characteristics of Saivism are the exaltations of Siva above all other gods, the highly concrete conception of the deity and a close relationship between Sivaand his devotees. On the one hand, Siva is identified with the eternal Absolute, formless. On the other hand, he is the God of all gods, potent for good and evil. He is " Girish ", " Ishan " and " Maheshwara " the supreme Lord. In Rig Veda, he is known as Rudra,


" Prostrations to the Lord, the Master of the Universe, the great God, the three eyed one, the destroyer of Tripura, the extinguisher of the Trika fire and the fire of death, the blue-necked one, the Victor over Death, the Lord of all, the ever peaceful one, the glorious God of gods. He is attained by Tapas or austerity and comes to our refuge and frees us from all bondage."

In the Yajur Veda ~Taittiriya Samhitta, " VI 2 3, however we meet with stories concerning Rudra's exploits such as killing the "Asuras" and destroying their "Tripura."

Due to the advancement of Hindu mathematics, it has been felt to simplify the highest Truths in the symbolic fashion. Lingam has been the emblem of Siva. Is the Sivalinga a phallus? The worship of the Linga as a symbol once started, there was little to prevent a confusion in the popular mind between this and the cult of phallus and legends came to be invented of the origin of the worship of Linga as the phallus of Siva. Barth is of the opinion that these lingas are perhaps theleast offensive to look at. Anyhow, they are the least materialistic and if the common people make fetishes ofthem, it is nevertheless true that the choice of these symbols by themselves to the exclusion of every other image was, on the part of certain founders of sects such as Basava, a sort of protest against idolatry. In other words, the Puranic exaltation of Linga worship over image worship, the former leading to release and the latter only to some variety of prosperity. The Linga purana version is due to Siva becoming a pillar of fire, whose top and bottom could not be seen by Brahma and Vishnu.

Siva is known as Pashupati ( the lord of creatures ). Abhinav Shankara in his Rudrabhashya lays the foundation for the tenets of Saivism concerning pati, pashu and pasha ( bondage ). Kaivalya Upanishad describes Sivayoga as a means of realease. Saivism closely agrees with the Sankhya in its dogmatics and with the Yoga sehool in its practical discipline.

Role of Shakti in Saivism is clear from Lalita, Bhawani and Rajina Sahasranam. Sri Chakra worship stands a witness to the unification of Shakti and Siva. Sri Chakra is the symbol of the infinite.

Sri Aurobindo in his book-philosophic work Savitri-has sung the praises of the symbol of the infinite as under:

The unseen grew visible
to student eyes,
Explained was the immense
Inconscients Scheme
Audacious lines were traced
upon the Void;
The infinite was reduced to
Square and Cube
Arranging symbol
and significance
They framed the Cabbla of Cosmic Law,
The balancing line discovered of
Life's technique
And structured her magic and
her mystery.
- Savitri ( 11:11 )

Consciousness in the spirit and it is responsible for the Truth and Bliss. Arunopanishad says : " Realise in us the microcosm, Thy form of Macrocosm. Make me know again ". In Saiva system we can't ignore the Shakti, the energy force of Siva.

Shankara in Soundarya Lahari explains the unification of Siva and Shakti in the following fashion:


Sri Chakra is verily the macrocosm as well as the microcosm, is the body of the two in one, Siva Shakti. Sri Aurobindo emphasised it as under:

"This is the knot that ties together the
The two who are one and the Secret of
all power,
The two who are one are the might and
right in things "
- Savitri ( 1.4 )

In Kashmir Saivism is known as " Trika Philosophy " or Trika Shasua. Trika Shastra symbolises the same Trayambhaka Sampradaya or Rahasya Sampradaya. Trika accepts the most important triad Siva, Shakti and Anu or atom ( matter ) or again Siva, Shakti and Nara or lastly of the godesses Para, Apara and Paratpara. It also explains nondual ( abheda ), non-dual cum dual ( bhedaabedha ) and dual ( bheda ).

This system has two main branches Spanda and Pratibijna. The Trika is also known as " Svantryavad ", " Svantantriya " and Spanda expressing the same concepts. Abhyasvada is another name of the system. It is called Kashmir Saivism, because it enriched its culture, literature and spiritual integrity.

The Trika is a spiritual philosophy. Its concepts are experience concepts. Its greatest exponents are yoginies of high stature who showed wonderful insight into abstruse points of philosophy.

( Pratybigna-Karika I-38 )

This system is a statement based on experience about the nature of Reality and a way of Life. Among the Agamas, Malinivijaya, Sivachanda, Vignan Bhairva, Ananda Bhairva, Mrigendra, Matang, Netra Svayambhu and Rudrayamala happen to be the chief ones, they were written to stop the propagation expounding a purely advaitic metaphysics of Siva Sutra revealed to a sage called Vasugupta ( 9th century ).

The Pritigna Shastra is really the philosophic branch of Trika. Siddha Somananda, the disciple of Vasugupta is credited with adopting the method of giving an elaborate treatment of his own views. Parmartha Sara and Tantra Sara both by Abhinava Gupta and Pritibigna Hridya are three but important works of the school: Tantraloka.

According to the Trika, the Shastras have eternal existence. It means wisdom, self-existent and impersonal. It is also known as ' Shabda ' and ' Vak. ' Shastra is authority according to Tantrasara, told or revealed by the Supreme Lord. Therefore, Shabda creates or manifests every thing. Reality is ineffable and beyond any descriptions. Trika tries to formulate a philosophy about its nature. Siva and Shakti are not two separate realities. Kalidasa in Raghu Vamsa refers to Siva and Shakti as " Jagtah Pitarau Vande Parvati Parameshwarau ". Like fire and its burning power, Siva and Shakti are the same identical facts though they are spoken of as distinet ( Siv Drishti III. 7 ). Shakti is known as Swantriya and the principles of universal manifestation of five fold aspects as Chit Shakti- the power of self consciousness entails Ananda enjoyment and wonderment on the part of Siva, bliss gives rise to Ichha, desire to create, then Jnana or knowledge leading to Kriya Shakti will to act. According to Tantrasara, some times, Chit and Anada Shaktis are kept in background; Icha, Jnana and Kriya are taken to be the principal powers.

Universe is Siva's Krida or play. Siva's self imposition of limitation upon Himself and also His breaking the fetters and returning to His own native glory are both Krida and play. Siva as Shakti manifests Himself as a correlated order of knowers, knowables and means of knowledge. The limited individual is subject to ignorance, which according to Trika is two fold viz. paurasha and bandha. The descent of the force of grace achieves two purposes: first pasa-kshya, the destruction of fetters and secondly Sivatva yoga - the restoration of Shiva-hood. The most important of this is Diksha orinitiation. The Trika says that is a result of Shaktipat, one is brought to a real Guru. It awakens the " kriya-shakti " in the limited soul. There are four " upayas " or means of attaining the supreme goal. They are "anupaya; Sambhava, Sakta and Anav upaya ". Due to Shaktipat or descent of grace in a very intense degree, everything needed for the realisation, beginning from the liquidation of the atomic impurity down to the recognition of the state of Paramashiva may be achieved by the aspirant immediately and without going through any Sadhna or discipline. Samvid is the only reality, knowledge of duality is nothing in itself and can be removed through the rise of Shuddha Vikapa of Nirvikalpa. "

Dhyana means meditation in the hear space or " Hriday-Akash " on the Supreme Reality. By the process of meditation the whole field of knowables is swallowed up and absorbed into the knower. Uccara means the directing the pranta or vital force upwards in the process of meditation. Through these already experienced means, the limited individual attains the rich treasures of his own true Self.

The Trika does not stop with the deliverance of the Soul from Maya from the delusion of duality. It goes to the concept of the divinisation of the Soul which means the recognition of its own identity with Parmashiva.

The Trika philosophy promises to satisfy both matter and spirit. It does not give independent reality to Prakriti. It is a stage in the evolution of the universe out of parmashiva. The Trika is a virgin field of research and wilt repay the most conscious labour of philosopher for many years to come. 

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