The Amarnath Pilgrimage: History and Facts
By Prof. M.L. Koul
M.A. (Engilsh), M.A. (Sanskrit), M.A. (Hindi), B.Ed.
Historically, the worship of Shiva lingam has been a very popular religious practicein Kashmir. The same stands corroborated by Kalhan Pandit who in his monumental work, Rajtarangini, makes a mention of 'vateshwar', an ancient Shiva-lingam worshipped even in his lifetime. A king of Kashmir, Ravana, (1000 B.C) worshipped it as it was believed to predict future occurrences and events through the light emanating from the Sri-cakra engraved on it.1 The king was so devout in his worship of the Shiva-lingam that he consecrated the entire valley of Kashmir to the Matha where-in he worshipped the Shiva-lingam.2 The Mahadev Peak, Dyaneshwar lingam and Sureshwar lingam, known as svayambhu lingams, have been objects of worship for the Hindus of Kashmir. Infact, the interiors of Himalayas possess numerous such lingams and Hindus reverently call them Shiva-dhams. Pilgrimages to the Shiva-dhams have been a regular feature without interruptions.
The ancient cave of Amarnath known for its icy-lingam that is naturally formed has been a venerable spot of pilgrimage for thousands of years. The icy-lingam waxes and wanes with the waxing and waning of the Moon. It attains its full length form on the night of shravan Purnima. As per the written records the icy-lingam has been nomenclatured as 'amresh', 'amreshwar', 'rasa-lingam', 'siddhi-lingam,' 'buddhi lingam,' 'shuddhi lingam,' 'puratan buddhi lingam' and 'pumsavan lingam.3 The nomenclature of 'amarnath' as is in vogue has been drawn from and owes its genesis to the 'Amarnath Mahatamya', an authentic work on the Amarnath as a holy place of worship.
As per the 'Amarnath Mahatamya' Shiva in the form of icy-lingam bestowed immortality on gods, devatas and thus he is known as 'amresh' or 'amreshwar'. He delivers his devotees from the pains and pangs of old age and disease soon after they have his 'darshan' and 'Satksatkar' in the formation of icy-lingam. As per the Tantric erudites, He is Amarnath because He commences His ascent from 'ama-kla' to 'purna-kala' and a mere drop from it liberates a pilgrim, a devotee, from age and death and grants him the state of oneness with Supreme consciousness, the same as Shiva. A pilgrim, who in his extreme joyfulness and ecstasy, dances inside the cave, is considered a veritable rudra.
The references to the holy cave of Amarnath are available in Bringesh Samhita, Nilmat Puran, Amarnath Mahatmaya and Rajtaranginis of Kalhan Pandit, Rajanak Jonraj and Shuk Pandit and other travelogues by foreign travellers.
Bringesh Samhita is a compendium of the Mahatamayas of all the prominent and well known tirthas (holy places) of Kashmir compiled by Bringesh, a scholar of eminence. in Kashmir, we have a galaxy of three persons bearing the same name of Brigesh. One was a gana, an attendant of Shiva, the other was a sage and the third a scholar of eminence. Bringesh, the gana, being an unworldly recluse could not have any cultivated interest in writing and compiling the Mahatamayas. The research scholars hold that initial task of compiling Mahatmayas was taken up by Bringesh who was a known sage and the date for it is supposed to be 5th century A.D. The third Brignesh given to scholarship and scholarly pursuits is supposed to have aptly culminated the work as begun by the second Bringeseh in 12th century A.D.4. The entire work is unfortunately lost and the manuscript available in the Ranbir Library, Jammu, is a truncated version and hence falls short of providing multi-dimensional and authentic information about the culture and mores of ancient Kashmir including the topography of the region.
The Bringesh Samhitarelates that Mahakala threatened the gods (devas) with death and destruction and they in all trepidation called on Lord Shiva and humbly entreated Him to protect them from Mahakala's menacing threat of decimation. Shiva in all mercifulness freed them from Mahakala's threat by showering upon them the boon of immortality. Again to seek Shiva's support and protection gods (devas) could not see Him as He was deeply immersed in His devotional and meditative practices. In absolute distress the gods (devas) lifted their hands to supplicate Him to appear before them. Shiva, the merciful, appeared in the formation of an icy-lingam and this is the genesis of the Holy Lingam and subsequent pilgrimage to the holy cave of 'amresh' or 'Amarnath'.
Bringesh Samhita also relates that Kashmir was a vast expanse of water and the sage Kashyap drained the lake for the land to appear. Bringesh, the sage, was scouring the swathes of the valley and discovered the cave wherein an icy-lingam in full length form was standing. Lord Shiva gave him a sceptre for protection of pilgrims which has now taken the form of Chhari Maharaj, the holy mace leading the annual pilgrimage.
As per Amarnath Mahatamya, Parvati, the consort of Shiva, was ultra keen to know in full details the mysteries of life and immortality. Entreating the lord to reveal the mysteries to her, Shiva traversing the tops and ridges of the Himalayas took rest in a cave and disclosed to her all the secrets about life and immortality. Finally Lord transmuted Himself into an icy-lingam.
Vital to the history of Kashmir Nilmatpuran as a fascinating store-house of socio-cultural materials is the earliest work of 6th century A.D. which carries a reference to the Holy cave of 'Amreshwar.6 It authentically establishes that the cave known for its icy-lingam was well within the active consciousness of general populace in Kashmir . The people of Kashmir in particular and the vast masses of people in Indiain general believe Shiva as the god of mountains laden with layers of white snow. Shiva's consort, Parvati, is the daughter of the Himalayas who got wedded to Shiva who has His abode in the snow-capped mountains. Pilgrimages to the mountains as a home to gods have been an ancient practice of the Hindus. The Hindus of Kashmir as part and parcel of the Indian cultural mosaic shared the same cultural spirit and ethos and made pilgrimages to the mountain peaks and mountainous caves in search of spiritual upliftment and spiritual bliss of peace and ananda.
Amarnath Mahatamya gives a full and elaborate account of the pilgrimage to the Holy Cave of Amarnath. It details out all the holy spots enroute to the Holy cave. It does not only mention the religious merit that a pilgrim earns by bathing and cleansing praxes at various holy spots, but also gives an authentic and credible account of their topography and geographical position. Amarnath Mahatamya has its essential base in the Adi-Purana establishing its original position as a Purana. It was regardedas a standard Mahatamya giving lucid details and exact descriptions in concordance with well recognised literarypractices. The Amarnath Mahatamya certainly has a religious and legendary complexion, yet it is a mine of information on the cultural ethos of Kashmir in those hoary days of yore and also the socially-oriented behavioural indices of aboriginal Hindus of Kashmir.
KALHAN'S RAJTARANGINI (1148-50 A.D.)
Kalhan Pandit, the Herodotus of Kashmir history, has made definitive and categorical references to the Holy cave of Amarnath. In Tarang I of his work, Rajtarangini, he makes a mention of a legend of Naga Sushravas, who had given his daughter in wed-lockto a Brahmin youth for the help he had rendered him in harvesting the crops. But king Nara, the ruler of Chakradhar (Chakdar) near vijyeshwar (vegibror), tried to abduct the young Brahman's youthful Naga wife. This aroused the wrath of Naga Sushruvas, who in all blood and fury, arsoned and destroyed Nara's entire kingdom and put him to death. It was done in all bitter revenge and Naga Sushruvas, perhaps fearing fearful reprisals, carried his son-in-law and his spouse to his own abode, Sushram Naga, now known as Shesh Naga. Kalhan writes, "This place is now located enroute pilgrimage to 'Amreshwar'.
Kalhan Pandit describes the Shesh Naga lake as 'the lake of dazzling whiteness resembling a sea of milk' This authentic account available in Rajtarangini unambiguously buttresses the assertion that the pilgrimage to the Holy Cave of Amreshwar must have been much in vogue in Kalhan Pandit's time.
The above-mentioned reference to 'Amreshwar' is not the solitary one that Kalhan Pandit has provided the succeeding generations about Amarnath. He as a historian possessed of an observant eye conveys more credible materials about the cave shrine.
In Tarang II of Rajtarangini Kalhan Pandit conveys that "King Sandimat Aryaraj (34 BC) used to spend the most delightful summer in worshipping linga formed by snow in the regions above the forests."7
It is a clear cut reference to the icy-lingam at Amarnath cave.
In another reference to Amarnath Kalhan Pandit in his Rajtarangini, Tarang VII conveys that Queen suryamati, the spouse of king Ananta "submitted trishuls, banalingas and other sacred emblems in the name of her husband at Amershwar".8
In his second Rajtarangini, Jonraj, a fearless historian of Kashmir, writes, 'Sultan Zain-ul-abidin (1420-1470) paid a visit to the sacred tirth of Amarnath while constructing a canal on the left bank of the river Lidder (lambodari)'. 9
SHUKA PANDIT'S RAJTARANGINI
In his fourth Rajtarangini, also known as Rajavalipataka, Shuka, the disciple of Prajya Bhatt, whose Rajtarangini is lost, gives full length detail of the pilgrimage to the Holy cave of Amarnath. Shuka informs that Akbar who as per history had annexed Kashmir at the pleadings and proddings of two political advisors of Makhdoom Sahib, a Naqshbandi sufi of indigenous origins, anti-shia to his bone-marrow, had made some queries from his governor Yusuf Khan about some political-cum-administrative affairs regarding Kashmir. In his reply to the query made by the emperor he mentions among other things the Amarnath pilgrimage in broad and incisive details. It establishes that the Amarnath pilgrimage was surely in vogue even in the times of Akbar who annexed Kashmir in 1586 A.D.
ASIF VILAS BY PANDITRAJ JAGANNATH
As reinforced by historical evidences Shah Jehan vandalised temples and other places of worship of Hindus in Kashmir and a shocked foreign traveller, Francios Bernier, writes, 'The doors and pillars were found in some of the idol temples demolished by Shah Jehan and it is impossible to estimate their value.'11
But the Amarnath pilgrimage continued un-interrupted despite the emperor's vile iconoclastic activities. In his well-known eulogy of Asif Khan, Shah Jehan's father-in-law, a reputed aesthete, Panditraj Jagannath, makes a categoric mention of Amareshwar while giving a poetic description of Nishat garden as laid out by Asif Khan. In his flight of imagination jagannath writes in the ‘Asif vilas’ that ' Indira, king of the galaxy of gods, comes here to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva.'12
FRANCOIS BERNIER, THE FRENCH PHYSICIAN
Francois Bernier, the French physician, accompanied Aurangzeb, the Bigot, when he was on a visit to Kashmir in 1663 A.D. Driven by curiosity and wander-lust he visited Trisandya, Verinag, Achabal, Wular-lake and Sangsafed facing Harmukh and therefrom he pursued 'Journey to a grotto full of wonderful congellations'. 13 It had taken him two days to reach the grotto, which surely is no place other than that of the Holy cave of Amarnath.
In the second reprint of Bernier's Travelogue titled 'Travelsin Mughal Empire,' a noted historian, Vincent A. Smith, writes in his introduction, ' the grotto full of wonderful congellations is the Amarnath cave, where blocks of ice, stalagmites formed by dripping water from the roof, are worshipped by many Hindus, who resort here, as images of Shiva, glaciers surround the......................'14
KIRPA RAM DUTT AND HOLYCAVE OF AMARNATH (1675 A.D.)
At the behest of Auranzeb his governor in Kashmir , Iftikhar Khan, cruel and theo-fascist, subjected the Kashmiri Pandits to the worst ever persecution and torture for their conversion to Islam. Kashmiri Pandits, five hundred in number, under the astute leadership of Kirpa Ram Dutt, a known Shaivite Scholar, met at the Holy cave of Amarnath to devise a workable strategy to meet the challenge. One of the Pandits at the Holy cave saw Lord Shiva in a dream directing him to call on Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-75A.D) at the village of Anandpur Sahib in the Punjab. It was from the Holy cave of Amaranththat Kirpa Ram Dutta in obedience to the direction of Lord Shiva led the delegation of five hundred Pundits to Guru Tegh Bahadur and rest is history.15
VIGNE, A FOREIGN TRAVELLER
Vigne, another foreign traveller, paid a visit to Ladakh and Tibet during the times of Maharaja Sher Singh of the Punjab . He made an attempt to visit the Holy cave of Amarnath via the traditional route, but was forced to return from vayuvarjan (vavjan) because of inclement weather. Out of sheer curiosity he met various shades of people, mostly the natives and thus gleaned a lot of relevant material about the pilgrimage to the cave and put it to writing in 1842 A.D. In his reputed travelogue titled as 'Travels in Kashmir, Ladakh and Iskardu', vigne conveys, 'The ceremony at the cave of Amarnath takes place on the 15th of the Hindu month of Sawan, 28th July............... not only Hindus of Kashmir but those from Hindustan of every rank and caste can be seen, collecting together and travelling up the valley of Liddar (Lambodari) towards the celebrated cave, which from his description must have been the place which Bernier tried to visit but was prevented.'16
What we get from Vigne’s travel account is that pilgrimage to the Holy caveof Amarnath was not only a local affair, but would draw a crowd of pilgrims from far and near in the country.
GURU ARJAN DEV JI MAHARAJ (1563-1606 A.D.)
It is a known fact that Guru Arjan Dev Ji Maharaj granted land inAmritsar for the ceremonial departure of Chharhi, the holy mace of lord Shiva, marking the commencement of the pilgrimage to the Holy cave of Amarnath. This gracious act of the Guru Maharaj lends unimpeachable credibility to the fact that pilgrimage to the holy cave was not confined to the natives of Kashmir, but would draw enthusiastic pilgrims from across the country. To earn religious merit many devout Hindus would donate lands and moneys to the religious groups and institutions to provide facilities to the pilgrims bound for the Holy cave of Lord Shiva.
PANDIT SAMSAR CHAND KOUL, A NATURALIST OF KASHMIR
In his booklet 'The Mysterious cave of Amarnath', Pandit Sansar Chand Koul, the first ever geographer of Kashmir, author and scholar, informs that 'in 1819 A.D. Pandit Hardas Tiku founded the Chhawni Amarnath at Ram Bagh in Srinagar where saddhus (renunciates) from theplains assembled and where he gave free rations for the journey, both ways from his own private resources".17 The year 1817A.D. as mentioned by Pandit Sansar Chand Koul marks the end of the brutal and tyrannical rule of the Afghans who persecuted Kashmiri Pandits to incredible limits, out-smarting the pains and wounds inflicted on them by the sayyid-sufis from Central-Asian countries.
W. LAWRENCE'S VALLEY OF KASHMIR
In his celebrated work 'Valley of Kashmir' Walter Lawrence, the Settlement Commisioner of Kashmir, has not missed to make a mention of the pilgrimage to the Holy cave of Amarnath.
He writes, ‘Puranmashi the full moon of the month of Sawan is the day when pilgrims must reach the distant cave of Amarnath and worship the snow-lingam which gradually melts away after the puranmashi. Strict Hindus both male and female discard their clothes and put on shirts of birch-bark before they enter this cave.................................’ 18.
ROUTES TO THE HOLYCAVEOF AMARNATH
The traditional route to the Holy cave of Amarnath has been via Lidder Valleydespite the fact that the cave is situated in the geographical environs of theSind Valley. The prominent holy spots enroute the traditional path have been elaborately mentioned in the Amarnath Mahatamya. The holy spots other than Anantnag as elaborated in the Mahatamya are :-
Balihar (Baliyar), Vaghashram (Vagahom), Hastikaran (Hasikhan), Chakresh (Chakdhar), Devak (Divakiyar), Harish Chander (Chandanyar), Surya-guha-vat (Sirigofwar), Sakhras (Sakhras), Badoras (Badur), Hyashashishram (Kamalnag), Uttarnag (Wotarnag), Sarlak (Salar), Khilyayan (Balkhyalan), Narayan-Maha-Khetra (Kolar), Mamlak (Mamleeshwar), Bragupati (Pahalgam), Sthanu-ashram (Chandanwor), Giripesh (Pishbal), Sushrumnag (Shishirnag), Vayuvarjan (Vavjan), Pancha-tarni (Panchtarni), Garbagar (Garabyatra), and Amravati (Ombravati).19
After having ritual baths and performing other ritual practices at these holy spots the pilgrim's progress blissfully climaxes at the Holy Cave where the icy-lingam, the transmuted form of Lord Shiva, is standing either in suyambhu form or in full-length form only to bless the pilgrims and grant them deliverance from sickness of the world caused by meshy layers of duality.
THE BALTAL ROUTE
The Baltal route to the Holy cave of Amarnath is the Sind valley route which has not been popular with the pilgrims, either natives or from various parts of India. The route lies in inhospitable terrain, arduous and difficult, risky and menacing. Thanks to the Border Roads Organisation a negotiable path has been carved out and constructed and in view of the facility a multitude of pilgrims is seen ambling on the path for ‘darshan’ of the Holy icy-lingam. The path remains open for all months of the summer. Distance wise, the Baltal route is shorter than the traditional Pahalgam route.
ROUTE FROM ZOJILLA PASS
The Zojilla route to the Holy Cave of Amarnath has been a known route and comparatively the shortest route to the sacred shrine of Shiva. It is just a track that can be trekked on foot and descends near the cave from the Amarnath peak.
KISHTWAR - SERU ROUTE
Kishtwar -Seru route has equally been a known route to the Hindus of Kishtwar and other belts of the mountainous region. Kashmiri Pandits, who doggedly refused conversion to Islam during the tyrannical days of Sultan Sikander (1387-1407AD) fled to Kishtwar for shelter and safety, trek the same route to pay obeisance to Shiva in the HolyCave. For them, it is a popular route, though it was already popular with the indigenous population of the region.
SACKI- PANTSAL ROUTE
The geographical studies of the region reveal that Sacki-Pantsal route is also a route leading to the HolyCave. But it has not been much in vogue because of its difficult terrain and weather disasters.
PIGEONS IN THE HOLYCAVE
A pair of pigeons, present and flying in the cave, drench its chill-cold and weird environs in mystery and mystique. The pilgrims consider it extremely auspicious and feel blessed, thrilled and transported to mystical realms when they catch a mere glimpse of them. The pair of pigeons in the Holy Cavehas been reverentially depicted in the Amarnath Mahatamya as the two messengers of Lord Shiva disseminating His revealed verities and truths to the world of humans for their spiritual upliftment and emancipation.
As per the legend Lord Shiva revealed to His ever-eager consort, Parvati, the mysteries of creation, life and immortality in the Holy Cave of Amarnath. The pair of pigeons, quietly perched in some niche of the cave, overheard the secrets in full details as were revealed to Parvati by Lord Shiva. Having learnt of their presence in the cave, Lord Shiva granted them the boon of immortality and hence their eternal abode in the Lord's cave.
Foreign travellers having found their way into the purlieux of Kashmir have not missed to make a mention of the pair of pigeons in the cave-temple.
Anchored in speculation, waxing eloquent on the topic of pigeons, vigne, a foreign traveller, writes, ‘The dove (pigeon) has always been an emblem of peace, the sublime and preter-natural have always been concomitants of wildness; solitude accompanied by an extra-ordinary degree of remoteness has often been a cause of sanctification. And the wild and gloomy the locality, the better has it been thought qualified to become the peculiar residence of God.’ 20.
SWAMI VIVEKANAND ONAMARNATH CAVE (1897 A.D.)
Swami Vivekanand, an eloquent and eminent spiritualist of India, paid a visit to the Holy cave and was mystified by the icy-lingam in the Holy cave where Lord Shiva had dwelt upon perennial subjects of creation, life and immortality that have ever been intriguing humankind from the days of its creation. As per his well known biography Swami Vivekanand is reported to have conjectured about how the HolyCavecould have been discovered. The author writes ;-
‘I can well imagine how this cave was first discovered. A party of shepherds, one summer day, must have lost their flocks and wandered here in search of them. What must have been their feeling as they found themselves unexpectedly before this unmelting ice-lingam of white camphor, with the wall itself dripping offerings of water over it for centuries unseen of mortal eyes ? When they came home they whispered to other shepherds in the Valleys how they had suddenly come upon Mahadeva.’ 21
On having entered the cave Swami Vivekananda was overwhelmed with a mystical experience. He had a darshan of Shiva. He called the place religious, inspiring and extremely beautiful. He wove meticulously beautiful poetry about the icy-lingam and its impact on his total psyche.
THE TYRANNICAL RULE OF SULTAN SIKANDER
Sultan Sikander, who had pawned his soul to a Sayyid-Sufi from Central Asia , Mir Mohammad Hamadani, was not only an iconoclast, but a misanthrope, hater of books, enemy of aesthetics and worst form of Islamist. He issued an atrocious and contemptuous government decree ordering the Kashmiri Hindus to get converted to Islam or flee the native land or get perished. As a result, thousands of Hindus were brutally massacred, thousands got converted and thousands fled the land for shelter.
The Sultan's numerous crimes against humanity are :-
1. He did not permit the Hindus to go to temples to pray and worship.22
2. He did not permit them to blow a conch or tolll a bell.23
3. He stopped Hindus from performing their religious practices and celebrating their festivals. 24
4. He killed them if they put a tilak-mark on their foreheads.25
5. At the appearance of the new moon, the Hindus were not allowed to worship or take out processions.26
6. He burnt six mounds (1 mound = 37 kilos) of sacred threads worn by Hindus as a mark of their religious initation only after putting them to cruel death.27
7. He stopped Hindus from undertaking pilgrimages to all Shivadhams (Amarnath, Sureshwar, Harsheshwar, Dyaneshwar, Mahadev Peak).28
8. He stopped Hindus from burning their dead.29
9. He demolished and destroyed the marvellous temples of Martand, Vijyeshwar, Chakrabrat, Tripureshwar, Sureshwari, Varah and many others.30
10. He imposed the hated Jazia (poll-tax) on the Hindus, thus declaring them dhimmis.31
11. He waged war on the Hindus when Mir Mohammad Hamadani declared them ‘Kafirs at war’.32
12. He burnt books on Hindu knowledge, science, astronomy, astrology, music, dance, poetics and medicine.33
The worst ever hurricane fury of genocide of the Kashmiri Hindus34 unleashed by Sultan Sikander and vigorously pursued by Ali Shah and their armies 35 forced Hindus to burn, hang and drown themselves in rivers and wells and jump over steep precipices to protect their religion. The genocide of Hindus acquired a renewed speed and impetus when another wave of Sayyid Sufis led by Sayyid Jalal-ud-din Bukhari36 entered the borders of Kashmir . The Hindus and their cultural signs and symbols were ruthlessly destroyed the same manner as locusts destroy and devour the lush green paddy fields.
Q-FACTOR IN THE HISTORY OF KASHMIRI HINDUS
Zain-ul-abidin came to the throne of Kashmir in 1420 A.D. In his treatment of and attitude unto the remaining small number of Hindus, not more than proverbial eleven families, the Sultan slavishly followed the marked foot-prints of his predecessors and felt no reason to swerve away from the state policy chalked out by the foreign Sayyid-sufis in choke-hold of state apparatus. The Sultan at the behest of Sayyid-suifs in his court replaced Sanskrit as the official language of court by Persian 37. He showered lavish and unprecedented patronage on the foreign musicians from Khurasan and other Central Asian belts thereby discouraging and disparaging the indigenous trends and shades of music38. His court was under the total siege of foreign Muslim ulema and Sayyid-sufis whose inflow into Kashmir had gained tremendous volume and speed. As he was in the line of foreign usurpers Zain-ul-abidin failed to architect a state that would transcend religious hue and complexion. Encouraging foreign craftsmen to pursue their crafts in Kashmir he dealt a massive blow to indigneous crafts and craftsmen, their jobs being practically stolen by foreign Muslims from distant countries. Sharia-bound the Sultan did not order the execution of a foreign Sayyid-sufi when he murdered a saffron-clad recluse in cold blood. The reason cited was that he was a Sayyid-sufi and hence above law and immune to severe punishment. The state that Zain-ul-abidin assiduously built was an all-round affair of the Muslims from distant lands and people in general though forcible converts to Islam remained deeply mired in despondency and alienation. As social and moral cohesion and bonding had ruptured and shredded the individuals as units in the social fabric were reduced to a state of sheer lawlessness and chaos.
No historian of Kashmir has been precise in citing the date and time when the Sultan developed a fatal boil on his body. All sorts of treatment by a host of foreign physicians was administered to the ailing and wailing Sultan. In all desperation the Sultan was informed of a Hindu physician, Shirya Bhatt by name, who had somehow survived the holocaust and was living in obscurity away from the prying eyes of Muslim marauders.
The Hindu physician was called in. In all Jitters and a chill going down his spine Shriya Bhatt examined the awe-inspiring patient, Zain-ul-abidin, the son of Sikander, the iconoclast and commenced his indigenous treatment. Some days elapsed and lo! the high profile patient showed encouraging signs of turning the corner. He recovered and came to live a normal life. Happy and elated the Sultan sent for the Hindu physician, a native under duress in a gulag and in all generosity asked him to name the beneficence or bountiful reward he would like to have from the Sultan.
What the Hindu physician, Shirya Bhatt, in all humility and supplication asked for as the beneficence or bountiful rewardfrom the Sultan worked as Q-factor in the history of Kashmiri Pandits. A pious and noble soul, altruistic in his world view and harassed to his bone-marrow, Shirya Bhatt shell shocked the Sultan when he asked for naught for himself, but prayed for the return and rehabilitation of multitudes of his compatriots who had fled their native land to avert the Muslim persecution, allowing them to pursue their indigenous form of education and have jobs in government. The Sultan, more or less, chastened by the fatal boil and under a debt of gratitude to the Hindu physician ungrudgingly conceded all what the Hindu physician had supplicated for.
The Sultan to the absolute disapprobation and annoyance of Muslim Ulema and Sayyid-sufis despatched messengers to various parts of the country to spot out exiled Hindus and earnestly urged them to return to their native place. He reduced the quantity of Silver (4 tolas in weight) to be paid as Jazia(poll-tax) by half, but was not gracious enough to withdraw the hateful imposition in full thereby granting them total exemption from the punitive tax.
As the Hindus could not cremate their dead under a despotic decree from the Muslim Sultan called Sikander, they were left with no option but to cremate their dead inside their dwellings and kept the ashes in an urn placed in a space created by removing mud and stone from the main doors of their dwellings. Srivar, a historian of Kashmir, writes that when the Sultan Zain-ul-abidin permitted the severely persecuted Hindus to immerse the ashes of their dead in the Gangabal Lake, ten thousand of them miserably perished in a horrific snow-storm that cruelly hit the upland regions the time they were on a return journey after performing rites and rituals connected with the immersion of ashes40.
Srivar also informs that he as a faithful courtier had to pay tax-money, a monstrosity, for the cremation of his father. When he cheekily brought it to the personal notice of his Sultan in the court, he condescended to reduce the tax money, but was again not magnanimous enough to remit the levey in toto that was punitively imposed on the Hindus by Sultan Sikander41.
The Muslim Sultan, Zain-ul-abidin, as a result of fundamental shift in his attitude permitted the exterminated Hindus to celebrate their religious fairs and festivals, circumambulate around the Sharika Parbat and chant hymns and mantras in high decibel and undertake pilgrimages to their holy spots and Shivadhams42.
It becomes stark clear that pilgrimage to the Holy Cave of Amarnath was cruelly stopped by the Muslim ruler Sultan Sikander, from the day he launched a Muslim crusade against the natives and could not be resumed till Zain-ul-abidin suffered a change of heart after the fatal boil that was treated and cured by Shirya Bhatt, who was later included in his court and put in charge of health facilities for the people.
As per the historical archives, Ibrahim Shah II (1552-54 A.D.) granted religious freedom to all. The Hindus were granted freedom of worship only on payment of Jazia (poll-tax). The Hindus made a request for the remittance of the oppressive tax. The Sultan in all hostility replied, ‘How can I who is a Muslim cease to levy tax from the Hindus?’43
The chak fanatics (1554-85 A.D) who were Shias by faith re-imposed Jazia in full on the Hindus of Kashmir. Any Hindu wearing a sacred thread had to pay an annual tax to the chak rulers. Shuka Pandit, a contemporary historian, makes a comment, ‘The Hindus were overpowered by religious intolerance the same way as the sun is overpowered by the grey sable clouds.’44
By implication what is conveyed by Shuka Pandit is that Hindus performing any religious act including a pilgrimage to the Holy cave of Amarnath had to pay a tax to the Muslim rulers.
The Afghans as per all available versions of Kashmir history were barbarous, crude, cruel, ignorant and inhuman. They chopped off every twig from the tree of mercy. The atrocities inflicted on the Hindus of Kashmir by Afghans were unheard of and beat all previous records. They plundered their houses, looted all what they had by way of material possessions, and anybody complaining or resisting was straight-away put to axe or sword. Persecuting and massacring Hindus was designed to exterminate their entire race or achieve their conversion to Islam. The Hindus fled their land of ancestors to the tropical plains of Indiato save themselves from the barbarous Afghans. When Hindus were existentially in peril, how could they have thought of living a pious life of religiosity and performing pilgrimages to the holy spots (tiraths) that they revered and worshipped for spiritual attainments ? The brutal Afghans stopped them from undertaking pilgrimages to well-known Shiva-dhams or even celebrating their auspicious fairs and festivals. They condemned them as manifestations of infidelity and heresy violative of Sunna and Sharia 45.
The people of Kashmir in general heaved a great sigh of relief when the Sikh army from the Punjab expelled the brutal Afghans from the territory of Kashmir. The soothing relief to the Kashmiri Hindus was that all vexatious and oppressive taxes levied on them were mercifully withdrawn in toto and pilgrimage to the Holy cave of Amarnath was resumed. It was during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh that the Holy Mace symbolic of Shiva's Mace was stored at Amritsar and pilgrimage to the Holycave of Amarnath would kick-start right from Amritsar .
With the Dogra take over of Kashmir in 1846 A.D. the pilgrimage to the Holy cave assumed a new scale and dimension. The number of pilgrims increased manifold and proper arrangements for safe conduct of yatra were meticulously made. The Dogras managed the shifting of the Holy Mace fromAmritsar to Srinagar where it was stored at Dashnami Akhara where from it is traditionally taken to the Holy cave in a massive procession of devotees, pilgrims, sadhus, sanyasis and general mass of Hindus.
MALIKHS OF BATAKOOT
Before discussing the role and status of Maliks of Batakoot it becomes quite imperative to place the Maliks as a generic term in proper historical perspective. It can be gleaned from the pages of Hindu history of Kashmir that the Hindu rulers were extremely vigilant in guarding the frontiers of their kingdom. There were routes and passes that were vulnerable and militarily sensitive and could be used for incursions, surprise raids or full-scale aggressions by the invading hordes. To guard their territories the rulers had set up military-cum watch stations put under the charge of officials designated as dwarpals or dwarpatis. They were also tagged as ‘margeshes’ meaning those who mastered the routes or pathways. These military-cum-watch stations were so fortifiedin terms of men and materials that the marauding armies of Mahmud Ghaznavi failed twice to invadeKashmir and conquer it.
Records Alberuni -
‘They (Hindus) are particularly anxious about the natural strength of their country and therefore take much care to keep a strong-hold upon the entrances and roads leading to it. In consequence it is very difficult to have any commerce with them.......’ 46
It broadly explains how Kashmir resisted going the Islamic way for full six hundred years after the advent of Islam in India.
In the wake of the launch of Muslim crusade against the natives of Kashmir by Sultan Sikander and his Sayyid-sufi mentor from Central Asia, Mir Mohammad Hamadani, the dwarpals, dwarpatis and margeshes like all other hapless segments of Kashmiri Society were coerced, tortured and brutalised to change their indigenous faith. After they got converted merely as statistical Muslims they were renamed as maliks and were allowed to retain their profession or else they were to be de-mobilised. When army was used for whole-sale conversions by Muslim rulers, all the exit routes were totally closed for the fleeing Hindus so that they would not escape the orgy of conversion 47. The same converted Maliks guarding the passes and other exit-points faithfully executed the atrocious writ of the tyrannical rulers.
Maliks as a vital cog in the Muslim state apparatus were tortured, hounded out and made to flee in the aftermath of chaks getting defeated by the mighty Mughal forces. Most of them perished and some survived by hiding themselves in secluded mountainous regions. The surviving ones had no option but to make a truce with the Mughals to earn reprieve. They were permitted to pursue their profession of guarding the routes and ingress-points on mountains girting the valley.
With the advent of Dogras the Maliks lost their professional moorings and utility as they established the same improvised policing methods and techniques that were largely prevalent in the Punjab , perhaps introduced by the Britishers.
MYTH OF DISCOVERY OF THE HOLYCAVEOF AMARNATH BY A MALIK
It is a mere myth, a fib, a lie and a fabrication that the Holy cave of Amarnath was discovered by a Malik in1845 A.D. The litany of references and allusions to theHolyCave are so profusely splashed in the historical works and theological literature of Kashmir that in no uncertain terms establish its enormous antiquity. Most of the Muslims rulers as borne out by historical records banned the pilgrimage to the Holy cave or created insurmountable hurdles and difficulties for the pilgrims to undertake the pilgrimage. Sultan sikander banned everything that had a Hindu flavour. Ibrahim Hussain Shah imposed Jazia (poll-tax) on a Hindu to practice his religion including undertaking pilgrimages. Chaks were crude and intolerant fanatics. They used all wild and cruel methods in their armoury to exterminate Hinduism from Kashmir . Afghans were the cruelest of the cruel. Their persecution of Hindus is bone-chilling and beggars description . The pilgrimage to any and all Shiva-dhams became impossible during the barbaric period. The pilgrimage to the Holy cave of Amarnath was a continuous affair. All written records amply bear it out and fully buttress it. It got interrupted during the time-periods when indigenous religion, medicine, theology and architecture were decimated. The unrelenting natives under constant onslaught during the Sultanate chunk of history and even during post-Sultanate period resisted and rejected conversion and fled the land of their birth six times48. In the history of Kashmiri Pandits the stark resemblances to the Jewish history of the exoduses and persecution are writ large. The small numbers that survived the Muslim genocide or those who found it wise or expedient to return to their native land from the plains never severed and abandoned their linkages with the hall-marks of their religion and culture. Steely and resilient they continued to pay obeisance to the Holy cave of Icy-Lingamfor spiritual fulfillment and ascendance. This fact is amply reinforced by the calender of the native Hindus, nearly five thousand year old in which the pilgrimage to the Holy cave of Amarnath is included as a day of fasting on account of ‘Shrawan Purnima’, the culminating day of the pilgrimage to the Holy cave.
ASSOCIATION OF MALIKS WITH THE AMARNATH PILGRIMAGE
As per my personal findings the Maliks of Batakoot are those who proved stubborn beyond limits and failed to reconcile to the Mughal conquest of Kashmir and to avoid annihilation hid themselves at a distant place in the mountainous region away from the gaze of the Mughal soldiers. As they lost their ancestral occupation and had become rudderless and vagrant the Dogra rulers in view of their history harnessed their services as guides to the pilgrims enroute the Holy cave of Amarnath. Over the years they were assigned the additional jobs of maintenance of the rough track, raising of small sheds on the routes and physical safety of the pilgrims. In lieu of their services they were paid a sufficient part of the offerings that the devotees offered to the Icy-Lingam in the Holy cave.
To reinforce my stand-point I refer to W. Lawrence who lucidly mentions that pilgrims on way to Holy cave were joined by Brahmins at Mattan and further up at Batakoot Maliks used to take charge of the pilgrimage. He also adds that Maliks were supposed to keep the track in order, guide or escort the pilgrims and carry sick pilgrims and ensure that nothing was stolen and received one-third of the offerings at the Holy Shrine of Amarnath.
My probe into the affair has led me to an alternate theory that the Malik clan after their conversion to Islam would collect tax money or Jazia (poll-tax) from the native Hindus and the devout pilgrims across the country on a pilgrimage to the holy cave of Amarnath. For most of the Sultanate period barring a short-lived interlude the native Hindus, their religion and its prominent signatures littered over the entire region were under a determined onslaught and decimation. If Hindus were allowed some sort of vague religious freedom, anthema to Islam, they had to pay tax-money or Jazia(Poll-tax) for their religious observances and pilgrimages. As Maliks were stationed at all vulnerable spots, if Amarnath route was one and I believe, it was, they could have been assigned the authority of collecting the hated tax from any Hindu pilgrim, a dhimmi as per Islamic practices.
WHO IS SECULAR ?
With the eruption of mass frenzy over the diversion of some chunks of forest land at Baltal to Amarnath Shrine Board, some half-baked Mulsim leaders, immature and ill-informed media men and ultra liberals have claimed that the association of Muslims with the pilgrimage is something uniquely secular. Let these worthies be told that it is the Hindus who are ultra secular for having allowed the Muslims to be a part of the pilgrimage and have a share from the offerings. Do Muslims allow the Hindus or for that matter Christians or Jews to be a part of their annual pilgrimage ? It is an established fact that the Hindus have a catholic and tolerant view of the world and are accommodative and assimulative and view God's essence in all men of all faiths. Their tolerant world-view gets established by the vedic dictum - Reality is one, interpretations vary.
If some chunks of people involve themselves in economic activities during the period of pilgrimage to the Holy cave it is absolutely an absurd position to highlight it as basis for orchestration of the secular credentials of that chunk of population. The fact of the matter is that pilgrims on way to the Holy cave duly purchase the services of a chunk of people who happen to be Muslims. It is no charity, it is no benevolence, it is a simple position of purchasing the services of a labourer, a courier, a pony wallah willing to sell his muscle or bodily strength or any other means of assistance to a pilgrim. To colour the pilgrimage as an expression of syncretic culture of Kashmir and to project it as a shining precedent of secularism are mere absurd constructions and far-fetched and irrelevant stipulations. The Kashmiri Pandits who have been hounded out of their native place sufficiently know the worth of syncretic culture of Kashmir and its facade of secular credentials.
1. Kalhan Pandit - Rajtarangini - I, 194
2. ibid - Rajtarangini - I, 195
3. Amarnath Mahatama - St.360-61
4. Prof. N.K. Gurtu - Sri Harseshwara Mahatamya
5. Nilmat-puran - V-1324
6. Kalhan Pandit - Rajtarangini, II, V-267
7. ibid - Rajtarangini, II, V-138
8. ibid - Rajtarangini, VII, V183
9. Jonraj - Second Rajtarangini, VV 1232-33
10. Shuka - Fourth Rajtarangini, V841, vv. 847-49
11. Bernier - Journey to Kashmir , P400
12. Panditraj Jaganath - Asif Vilas
13. Bernier - Travels in Mughal Empire
14. ibid - Travels in Mughal Empire
15. Mohan Lal Koul -Kashmir , wail of a valley atrocity and terror.
16. Vigne - Travels in Kashmir, Ladakh and Iskardu
17. Pt. Samsar Chand Koul - The Mysterious Cave of Amarnath
18. Sir W-Lawrence - Valley of Kashmir
19. Amarnath Mahatamya
20. Vigne - Travels in Kashmir Ladakh and Iskardu
21. Swami Vivekanand - a biography
22. Baharistan -i-Shahi, Taikh-i-Haider Malik, Tarikh-i-Sayyid Ali, Fatuhat-i-Kubriwiya.
25. Hasan - Tarikh-i-Kashmir
26. Fatuhat-i-Kubriwiya, Taikh-i-Sayyid-Ali
28. Baharistan-i-shahi, Taufatul-Ahbab
29. Baharistan-i-Shahi, Tarikh-i-Haider Ali, Tarikh-i-Sayyid Ali,
30. Jonraj, Second Rajtarangini, R.C. Kak, Ancient-Monuments of Kashmir
31. Jonraj, Second Rajtarangini (tr.) St. 654
32. Dr. Qayoom, Rafiqui, Sufisim in Kashmir
33. Srivar, Third Rajtarangini, St-655-56
34. Mohan Lal Koul, Kashmir , Past and Present, P-15
35. Pt. Jia Lal Koul, Kilam, History of Kashmir Pandits Srivar, Third Rajtarangini
36. Dr. M.K. Teng places the date after 20 years of Zain-ul-Abidin's rule begining in 1420 A.D.
37. Srivar, Third-Rajtarangini
39. Jonraj, Second Rajtarangini, Baharistan-i-Shahi
40. Srivar, Third Rajtarangini
42. Jonraj, Second Rajtarangini, Baharistan-i-Shahi
43. Shuka Pandit, Fourth Rajtarangini
45. W. Lawrence, Valley of Kashmir, Pt. J.L. Kilam, History of Kashmiri Pandits.
46. Al Beruni, Al-India
47. Jonraj, Second Rajtaranginig, St. 606
48. K.L. Bhan - Seven Exoduses of Kashmiri Pandits
Periodicals, journals, papers
M.M. Munshi, Tirtha of Amreshwara, Kashmir sentinal, July, 2008.
R.C. Awasthee - The Holy cave of Amarnath Ji, Early Times, Aug. 8.
History of the Amarnath Pilgrimage - Source Wikipedia, Kashmir Sentinel, July 2008.
The Tradition of Lalla Ded
By Prof. M.L. Koul
'Lalla-Ded wrote her poetry with fury and passion and even with intellectual arrogance. Her poetry came to her in a fit of emotions, seized her whole being and inspired her to vomit gems of Kashmiri literature. Lalla Ded vakhs are forceful enough to hit you on the face before you realise what has hit you. More, importantly, you should not read or hear them in English translation'. - Bilhan Koul, Kashmir Sentinel, Nov, 2006.
Fire and fury, spirit and passion, fervour and zest are the distinguishing hall-marks of Lalla-Ded Vakhs which entrench her credentials as an outstanding poet. She was innately gifted with exemplary 'pretibha which in the realms of Sanskrit aesthetics is explained as a faculty to imagine, think and articulate thoughts, ideas, feelings, emotions and experiences having a ring of novelty and creativity (nav-nav unmesh-shaalini prajna). Her vakhs are extremely poignant and have an amazing resonance. In fact, she was a wizard of expression, word and phrase. The equivalent of poet in Sanskrit language is kavi, which Lalla-Ded was, highly knowledgeable and a self-recognised soul (atma pretyabhijna).
Lalla-Ded was a miracle. But, for this miracle to happen, diligent spadework was invested by an array of poets, poetasters, rhapsodists, folklorists and even those who wrote doggerel, much below the mark of that what is accepted as impressive poetry. Prior to the happening of Lalla-Ded miracle, a meaningful tradition had already shaped out with set and visible contours which worked as a support-base or a plank for Lalla-Ded to take-off into horizons that were determined by her personal accomplishments and instinctive potentialities. Her vakhs reveal that she was deeply immersed in the subtleties and turns of Shaiva-thought and had acted out the Shaiva-Yoga praxes for ascension to the state of identity with Shiva, the Absolute in non-dual philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism. She took to Shaiva thought because it was widely current at popular level and dominated the intellectual discourse of the times she was born in and lived through. Sanskrit was the dominant idiom through which the contemporary knowledge was mediated. That is how Lalla-Ded vakhs amply testify to her firm grasp of Sanskrit language and its varied and subtle nuances. In her position as a conscious poet she had studied almost with diligence 'Satva-Chintamani' of Bhatta Narayan and 'Shiva-stotravali' of Acarya Utpaldev. The two were mainly responsible to resolve the palpable conflict between Shaiva thought and devotion (bhakti) and thus had enlarged the domain of Shaiva thought by making Shiva a staple subject of devotion, otherwise deemed to militate against the thesis of non-dualism.
Lalla-Ded chose to pour out her poignant utterances, spiritual in content, in Kashmiri language and not in the idiom of Sanskrit. It has often been said about Lalla-Ded that she deliberately ignored Sanskrit as the language of the learned and expressed herself in Kashmiri as the popular language. But, it is pertinent to refer to Bilhan Pandit, 10th century historian and poet, who categorically conveys that Sanskrit was a popular language, even women folk spoke it in addition to local dialect, desh bhasha. Sanskrit and local dialect, as in other parts of India, have had a symbiotic relationship and Sanskrit as a highly developed language broadly reinforced the local dialect in its over-all growth and enrichment in terms of linguistic parameters. Alive to the Sanskritic tradition Lalla-Ded had a natural bonding with the literary tradition of Kashmiri. The Chumma-sampredai verses and Mahanai Prakash of Shiti Kanth do substantiate that there had been a tradition of writing in Kashmiri of the shade it had evolved into through a process of linguistic evolution. It is apt to say that the established tradition had a history of evolution which is lost to us as a consequence of Cultural Vandalism resorted to by the foreign band of Sayyid-Sufis motivated to reduce Kashmir to an Iranian Colony.
The well-founded tradition, both literary and philosophical, that Lalla-Ded inherited as a precious legacy largely moulded her whole being, trajectory of her thought perspectives and pattern of her poetic expression. Her vakhs indicate that Lalla thirstily drank at the fountain of Shaiva thought which formed a valuable part of the tradition she was a recipient to. She ardently worked out Shaiva-Yoga praxes that had wide acceptability in the rich spiritual tradition of Kashmir. The form of vakh that she chose as a vehicle to give vent to her emotion-packed experiences that she had lived through during an arduous quest of Shiva was already in vogue and usage. It is fanciful to portray her as a person who broke down in sheer angst the ramparts of tradition and bolted away in quest of vistas, un-charted and unexplored. As an exceptional person of intellectual and poetic faculties Lalla-Ded pinnacled the rooted tradition through the gems of vakhs that have a dazzle of impeccable artistic perfection. Lalla-Ded, in fine, was a perpetuator of tradition and established her brilliance as a miracle within the bounds of the same tradition.
The miracle of Lalla-Ded was highly inspiring and had deep impact in shaping the broad cultural responses on part of the succeeding generations of Kashmiris. The tradition, literary and philosophical, finessed by her has not waned in any way despite the emergence of a culture that annihilates symbols, motifs and hall-marks that have linkages with the past of Kashmir. Lalla-Ded has firmly stood the ground, both as a spiritualist and master poet. She has been famous and legendary, not so now in our times, but had attained a summit of eminence and status of a legend in the very times she lived and sonorously sang her amazing couplets with epic souls to the inhabitants of Sharda-peeth, Kashmir as an abode of knowledge and learning.
The younger contemporary of Lalla-Ded, popularly known as Nund Rishi, was the first to acknowledge the tradition of Lalla-Ded. Though pitted against the formidable foreign Sayyid-sufis in tight strangle-hold of Muslim state power, Nund Rishi basked undeterred in the luminosity and spiritual brilliance of Lalla-Ded. He in total submission prays to a Hindu god (diva) to bestow upon him the same boon (vara) that he had bestowed upon Lalla-Ded, the inhabitant of Padmanpore (Pampore). Nund Rishi had the sure feel that Lalla-Ded had drunk an elixir (amrit) that had immortalised her and had freed herself from the rotating wheel of life and death. Without a shade of equivocation he accepts her as a divine incarnation of God on earth (avatar) which overtly speaks volumes for his own faith, religious beliefs and credos. Calling her an 'avtar is not just a tribute to her, but is a frank and full-throated expression of his acceptance of and allegiance to Lalla-Ded's entire spectrum of belief-systems, spiritual axiology, non-violence and Shaiva Yoga praxes for self-recognition (atma pretyabhijjna).
There are echoes and resonances of Lalla-Ded in the shrukhs (slokas) of Nund Rishi who in no way can equal or rival his predecessor in poetic excellences and dazzling flashes of thought. 'Yakh tulkatur ta sheen, byon byon paeda kar ashyan, yamath khotukh pur kin rava, tamath timath tryan akuy gava', a shrukh of Nund Rishi, though in its nuances reflective of Shaiva thought, is a pale imitative version of Lalla-Ded vakh, 'turi salil khot tai ture....shiva mai chara-char zag pashya'
Nund Rishi traversing the trail of Lalla-Ded is fully aware that duality is the source of world, all its pains and sorrows. The mission of a seeker is to cut a sunder the shackles of duality that cause a deep chasm between man and God. One who attains to a position of identity with Shiva is certain to ferry across the ocean of world. Says he -
doyat travith paan yus mande
sui zon sam saras kande zava,
par ta paan yus hurry vyande
sui bava synande tarith aava.
Yoked to the powerful tradition of Lalla-Ded we can safely put that Nund Rishi as a borrower has tried to design many of his shrukhs after the thought content and manner of Lalla-Ded, whom he in all faith calls an 'avatar'. In sheer imitation of Lalla-Ded he dwells upon the theme of moderation in matters of eating as a metapor for worldly joys and pleasures and exhorts his own self to beware of ravenous or compulsive eating. He writes -
Khyama khyama karan yad no ayam
heer zuva yutuy khyata
kaali khyomut gachi zaya
hee zava payas pyata
As revealed by his genuine shrukhs Nund Rishi was a rishi in the vedic connotation of the word. Like the traditional rishis whom he has detailed with their austere ways of life, Nund Rishi also trudged his way to the dense forests in pursuit of God under a misconception that seclusion of the forests would quicken the process of recognition of his intrinsic reality as God. A stage came when it dawned on him that such a manner of asceticism was of no use and succour in matters spiritual. Echoing Lalla Ded, he says -
nasr baba janglan khasun gayam khamee
mea dop yi asi bada yabadat
sara aas karyn kuni kath
The real Nund Rishi lies buried in such shrukhs (slokas) as are couched in archaic Kashmiri, but have been left un-evaluated for fear that a new Nund Rishi might resurrect who would shatter his smoke-screened image that has been deliberately constructed by those very people who refused to hand over his shrukhs in sharda script recorded by Kati Pandit, a scholar of Sanskrit, to Dr. Grierson who was ultra keen to sift and sieve his shrukhs for an authentic edition of them in the manner he had done in case of Lalla-Ded. Prof. P.N. Push in an article published in a book titled 'Nund Rishi' had drawn attention of scholars to the dire need of presenting Nund Rishi in the relevant context of Lalla-Ded tradition. The repertoire of shrukhs that has come my way establish Nund Rishi profusely using the same yoga-related terminology that we find in the vakhs of Lalla-Ded. Muladhar, Kundalini, lama-cakra, sahasrar, shashikal are the fare of such shrukhs. Commentators keen to keep his image stuck to a particular religious creed have skirted away the issue of literary and spiritual evaluation of such shrukhs and have labelled them as ‘samskriti’ or ‘shastra’, which Prof. J.L. Koul, a brilliant and unrivalled scholar of Kashmiri language and literature, has denounced as absurd.
Rupa Bhavani, famously known as Alkeshvari, stands out as a devout poet much in the tradition of Lalla-Ded. She in all faith followed the trail that was foot-printed by Lalla-Ded in the realms of spirituality, yoga, philosophy and poetic expressions. Jonraj and Srivar who have graphically recorded the holocaust of Kashmiri Hindus during the Sultanate period have not recorded the historicity of Lalla-Ded as a civilisational sentinel of Kashmir. The credit goes to Rupa Bhavani, who unequivocally acknowledges Lalla-Ded as her supreme preceptor, sat-guru. Says she -
shuddham atyant vidhyadharam
lal naam lal param gvaram
Rupa Bhavani as a devotee of Shiva, whom she calls Parmatma, was given to dyan, dharna, and tapsya and had selected many places for the purpose. All the places where she meditated and acted out many yoga-related methodologies are calm, silent and serene, situated in soothing physical environs, thus conducive to spiritual ascension. Chashma Sahibi (Jyestha Rudra), Lar, Manigam and Vaskura are known places of her meditation. These places held in great esteem by spiritualists of all hues and devotees of Rupa Bhavani have been centres of pilgrimage for commoners seeking spiritual guidance and solace. But, sadly, the Muslim terrorists and their supporters have desecrated or destroyed some of these centres of Shaiva spiritualism.
Rupa Bhavani who lived in Mughal times was known as a great spiritualist and her stock in public esteem was very high. A Muslim of the name of Shah Qalandar, said to be a saint, drew her attention by asking her name. She said, ‘Rouf’. Shah Qalandar, a Muslim given to the religious ideology of conversions, pointedly said, ‘If you cross over, you will turn into gold’. She shot back, ‘If you cross over, you will turn into ‘mokhta’, a pearl’. The double entendre conveys that he would attain mukhti, self-realisation. The dialogue brings out the basic difference between Hindus and Muslims, one is a non-proselytising creed and the other is a proselytising faith. The Hindu saint sought his cross-over for realisation of his essence and the Muslim saint for her conversion to Islam.
Rupa Bhavani was a shaivite in her world-view and as such as a practitioner sought for union with Shiva through the same methodologies that her sat-guru had blazed for her. Shiva, to her, is sahaj, Omni-present, all-pervading and self-born. With her gaze turned inwards she is keen to have His blissful union as ‘param gati’, which is mukhti, self-recognition in Shaiva lexicon.
Says she -
sahaj sarvatra vyapi svoreth vicharyam
bahubal svabhava eekant svyambhu parmakari
antar mukhi dresthi nervan rahysa tati parmagati
Rupe Bhavani was a yogini who through regular Shaiva yoga had awakened her kundlini, which is ever luminous. She had sublimated her pranapan process through regular courses of pranayam and stilled her mind which otherwise remains disturbed through varied distractions. Kundlini through such practices moves upwards through six-cakras and touches sahasrar, which is the seat of nectar (amrit). Kundlini as per Shavites is the seat of Shiva and is the cause of manifestation. Says Rupa Bhavani -
shuddyokht muladhari kundli mandli gavri
sed arth sukham soshupti cakra virakht shanta dhari
antarmukhi dreshti nirvan rahasya tati paramgati !
A seeker who has realised himself has not to take to rudraksha-maala for Japnov has he to meditate on a mantra. For such a soul there are no hopes to be cherished. He rises above the distinctions of kula (family) and gotra. He permanently resides in sahasrar and non-dual naad and bindu. Says she
ludra buchha na aasa na gutri na bashi
na kuli na kretyam mahanand rupam
shyayam thaan vaasi aadi sarva madhyam
antarmukhi dreshti nervaan rahasya tati param gati
The poetic language of the poet is predominantly Sanskrit that is laced with apt word and phrase. There is a sprinkling of Persian words that had formed a part of Kashmiri language by the time she burst out her vakhs. Her vakhs are not lacking in spontaneity and flow, yet she is less comprehensible than her poetic master, Lalla-Ded.
Parmanand, the unrivalled poet of vatsun and leela, is a devotee of Lord Krishna and uses his immense poetic acumen and fervour in depicting multifarious phases of Lord Krishna's life in the world, actually a divine incarnation of Vishnu. He is unmatchable in sweetness and beauty of language and apt use of words and phrases to generate the rasa of devotion. He has described Shiva after the Puranic style and worships Him the same way as he worships Lord Krishna.
Equally in the line of Lalla-Ded Parmanand as an insightful poet has brought out the uniqueness of Lalla-Ded in a verse as a yogini who dwelt in dwadashant mandala, realised anahat nad and nad and bindu and thus attained to a state of Supreme Anand, beauteous bliss. Says Paramand -
Lallishwari yi yuga aas sadaran
dadashant mandal manz kuni zani
anahatnad bend om prazanavan
pravan anand aam pana vani
The Shaiva metaphysics of Shiva and Shakhti, pretyabhijjna maha-vakya of 'so-ham', 'ajapa jap', shashi-kala, nad-bindu, dyan-dharna, jnan and moksa as self-recognition are the lexicon of Parmanand, who as an ardent devotee (bhakta) is in quest of his parmatma, shiva or Krishna for spiritual union. Says he about ‘ajapa gayatri’ -
Om bhur bhuva svaha shiva shombhu
ajapa gayatri soham su
There are a number of Muslim poets who cherished the spiritual brilliance of Lalla-Ded and wax eloquent in their appreciation of Lalla-Ded as a yogini par excellence. The spiritual personality of Lalla-Ded and her tremendous poetic faculties have been a source of great inspiration for them. Despite the syndrome of ‘dislocated sensibilities’ they have by and large stuck to their race-memory and the treasure-trove of cultural inheritance. Shams Faqir, Nyama Saab, Asad Parray, Wahab Khar, Ahad Zargar, Svacchha Kraal et al are the poets who have resounding echoes of Lalla-Ded vakhs in their poetic expressions. Muladhar, Shashikal, Hridai, Sat, Paan Praznav, Jnan and similar word-hoard of yoga and other concepts of Shaiva thought form an essential part of their poetic consciousness. Their utterances have a consensual approval at mass level, but there is an order of thought that has rejected them as nonconformist. Some of them were spurned as heretics. Some of them migrated from their original places of birth and took shelter in areas where they had a support-base among the Kashmiri Pandits.
To camouflage their real identity as natives they have been burdened with the tag of sufis, which trickily uproots them from the roots of their native soil. In a study of such poets Amin Kamal titled his books as ‘Sufi Shairi’. Moti Lal Saqi also made a fruitful contribution to the editing of the works of such poets with glossaries explaining the words belonging to the domain of Yoga and Shaivite philosophy. Very lately attempts have been made to interpolate spurious materials into their works which distort their real image as poets in the tradition of Lalla-Ded.
The appellation of ‘shastar’ or ‘samskriti’ for the poetic materials of these poets is inapt and inappropriate for it does not relate the poetic expressions of these poets to the integrated personalities which they had. What they have uttered is assigned to their sufistic thought and Samskriti is just there to be kept apart as something incidental to them, not integral to them as poets.
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.
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 workParapreveshika 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). Lexicallysamkalpa and vikalpala of manas is termed as 'manas vyapar', mind's activity.
manyate budhyate anena iti manah/mansah
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 akulamShivah 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) ofanavamal, 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 kraibearing 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 asapan. Pran, actually called pran-vayu, emerges from hridai, heart (not the actual human heart) and stops at bahya-dvadashant. Apan, lexically calledapan-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 ofSushumna-nadi, lexically known as madhya-dam in Shaiva-yoga. It is calledmadya-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. Sagunis 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 andantahkaran 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 sayszuva 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 itsahaj-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 needsham & 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’.
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 hamsaas mantra is neither to be uttered nor is it meditated upon. It becomes an indissoluble part of consciousness supreme.
Bhakti and Worship in Scriptures in Kashmir Shaivism and Lal Ded Vakh
By Prof. M.L. Koul
Bhakti as per the traditional mould can be defined as motiveless service to God. It has close linkages with actions (karman) that human beings routinely perform during the span of their life. It is axiomatic that the world depends on actions (loko ayam karma bandanah). Actionless-ness is a marker of death and decay. In the dynamics of life action is what integrates a man in a bond of cohesion with other members of a social group. Renunciation has come to occupy a dominant position in the trajectory of Indian spirituality. But renunciation never stipulates giving up of action. But what is to be renounced is desire, attachment or fruit accruing from a particular action that is performed. In the words of Prof. Hiriyanna, ‘The Gita-teaching stands not for renunciation of action, but for renunciation in action’. Human beings within the bounds of this world have to act to live, exist and carry on the material activities, but what is desired is that any action of any form or hue should not have the motivations of desire, attachment or fruit. A motiveless action has a close nexus with knowledge too. A true Jnani, a knower, alone can surrender himself to God who has assured him of protection (na mebhaktah pranashyati). Bhakti, therefore, features total surrender to God.
The main locus of bhakti is Maheshvar, call Him Shiva, Ram or Krishna. Thebhakta reposes full and unflinching faith in Him and totally depends on Him for grace (shakhtipat). Absolute dependence and unflinching faith formulate the two critical ingredients of bhakti. A sinless bhakta in the embrace of a virtuous life has full faith in his Maheshvar that He will liberate him from the rotating wheel of life and death. A bhakta even if mired in sinful life can also depend on Him to ferry him across the ocean of samsar. A bhakta can serve his Maheshvar as a servant (dasa) serves his master. He can cultivate a relation of friendship with Him and worship and adore Him for spiritual gains. This type of relationship has generated an enchanting treasure of aesthetics in the domain of art and poetry. There can be a bhakta who defies all constraints and starts loving his Maheshvar. But, in such a relationship of love, he rises above the trivial form of love in mundane life. The loving relationship with Maheshvar elevates him to such a state of heightened consciousness where margins between him and his Maheshwar fade away and the two become indistinguishably as one.
The rishis and munis have written tracts on bhakti which delineate their experiences in their varied relationships with Maheshvar either as servants, friends or lovers. What one gets from these expositions is that Bhakti is all through experiential, not a subject for theorisation. The fact remains that bhakti as an emotional expression of a bhakta can be portrayed in concordance with the world-view that he harbours. The great poets like Tulsidas, Surdas, Vidyapati, Jaidev et al have delineated their forms of bhakti as moulded by their views on man, world and Maheshvar. Despite philosophisation of bhakti, a bhakta is and has to be completely involved in his service, friendship or courtship unto his Maheshvar. The suffering (arta),the searcher (Jijnasu) and the self-interested (artharthi) are on the peripheries of bhakti as they in their forms of bhakti are not totally involved in the relationship that they forge with their Maheshvar. It is only the wise(Jnani) who is the true bhakta because of his total involvement in his object of service or love, that is Maheshvar.
Gleaning through the pages of the Indian scriptures of yore it becomes evident that bhakti, its contents, forms and contours have evolved through ages in consonance with the philosophical-cum-religious consciousness in India. The 'Nasidiya Sukhta' of the Rig Veda typifies the vedic rishi's mind that is intensely curious to probe and know the origins of universe. Riddled with doubt and indecision, the rishi oscillates between sat (being) and asat(non-being). The whole sukhta vividly reflects his amazement at 'the prospect of universe' (vishva). He is completely lost in the perennial problem of knowing the origins of cosmos, how and wherefore of it. The Vedic rishi is equally beset with a sense of fear in face of awful forces of nature. That is why vedic gods symbolise powers of nature. Observes Max Mullar, 'These gods were the first philosophy, the first attempt at explaining the wonders of nature'.
The mammoth corpus of Vedic literature throws up the Vedic Rishis bearing a mind beset with 'wonder' and 'fear'. The two, singularly or in combination had not the potential to generate an impulse of 'bhakti' and 'worship'. In absence of a motivating impulse there could be no relationship, personal or impersonal, between the rishis and the plethora of gods. Yet, we glimpse the first germinations of 'bhakti' and 'worship' in the hymns (richa) sung by thevedic rishis. Sacrifices were offered to gods through yajnas only to propitiate them for bestowal of prosperity in life, abundance of crops and protection of cattle-wealth. They were also propitiated as not to wreak havoc on them through earth-quakes, floods and other natural disasters. The Vedic hymns in general are purely formalistic deficient in the basic sentiments that pave way for ‘bhakti and ‘worship’.
The Upanishads are an important milestone in the development of philosophical and religious consciousness in India. The first seeds that were sown in the Vedic hymns burgeoned forth in the upanishadic tracts as the crux of human excellence. Deflecting away from the formalities of sacrifices and ‘complexus of ceremonies’ upanishads pointer to a ‘deepening inwardness’ by focusing on ‘Atman’, the Self, a region of new quest, vaster than the objective world’. Philosophical ruminations and over-all religious consciousness morphed into a genre that marked a departure from what we had in the Vedas. The upanishadic formulations and conceptualisations proved trend-setting and determined the future course of Indian philosophy anddharma.
Swami Ranganath Nanda puts, ‘The upanishads not only gave a permanent orientation to the Indian culture and thought, but also blazed a trail for all subsequent philosophy in East and West'.
Upanishads in their essence are knowledge-oriented and also the path that they blazed is based on knowledge (Jnan). The knowledge-path (Jnan marg)poses insurmountable difficulties for a bhakta with an intent to tread upon it. It has been characterised as 'ksurasya dhara nishita duratya durgam pathah'.The high-brow upanishadic formulations like 'aham brahmosmi', 'tat tvam asi'and 'soham', though replete with path-breaking philosophical content, could not attract the popular sentiment because of the lack of elements in them that form the sheet-anchor for 'bhakti' and 'worship'.
With the passage of time the knowledge-oriented spiritual goals suffered a dilution and space thus created was occupied by 'bhakti' and 'worship' that allowed a free play to aesthetics and human emotions. The emerging trend got crystallised in the Narayan upanishad, Krishna upanishad and Ramtapni upanishad that focussed on bhakti and worship of Narayan, Krishan and Ram as gods in human form. The three gods were presented as manifest forms of Brahman, as the ultimate Reality and got merged in the same ultimate principle. Though 'bhakti' and 'worship' were the main focus, the trend as such could not materialise as an independent path to God-realisation.
Buddhism debated philosophical and religious issues from ascetic and regressive points of view. 'Sarvam dukham and Sarvam mithya' were sympbols of the Buddhist philosophy of pessimism and rejectionism. At the philosophical level the non-soul doctrine of the Buddhists coupled with momentariness of everything failed to find resonance in the Indian mind. Kashmir as the pivotal centre of Buddhist thought and dharma stemmed the negationist trend when the Kashmiri Pandit thinkers as masters of the Buddhist philosophy gave it a positive and affirmative orientation. Mahayana Buddhism in a new mould blazed the trail for 'bhakti' and 'worship' of Buddha as a divine incarnation.
Shankaracharya as a colossus striding the domain of Indian philosophy and dharma gave a new orientation to the vedantic philosophy and dharma. He systematised it in a manner that Max Mullar in awe appraises him as 'the finest flower of Indian wisdom'. Shankar's philosophy is monistic in approach and logic. Brahman, to Shankar, is the absolute reality and phenomenal world is only illusory and false (branti and mithyaa). He has distrust for the role of action for it has 'a reference to the world which is dual and false'. He emphatically stresses the path of knowledge (Jnan marg) as it leads a seeker ‘out of the dualist eddies of the world’. Like kierkegaard, the existentialist, Shankar has pointed out the limitations of reason and intellect in self-realisation as it is an ‘intuitively lived and felt experience’.
It was a rude shock to the Shankarites when Shankaracharya authored a work like 'Saundariya-lahiri' and stotras like the Dakshinamurti Stotra'.In the said-works he appreared to impair his own essential position as a non-dual philosopher and the knowledge path he had advocated as a means to self-realisation (moksa) . The very change in the philosophical position of Shankaracharya confirms his visit to Kashmir as described in 'shankar Digvijay'. His contact with the Kashmiri Pandit Shaivites left him convinced of the Shaivite philosophy of non-dualism. The switch over to the path of 'bhakti' and 'worship' opened new vistas for the seekers keen to realise their spiritual goals and aspirations.
Ramanujacharya, vaishnavite to the core, made a judicious mix of non-dual thesis of absolutism with personal theism (belief in Mahashvam). He was not the innovator. In fact, such an attempt was already made in theBhagvatgita, Mahabharata and the Vishnu Puran and Bhagvatam. It is apt to put that Ramanujacharya was mainly inspired by the Alvar saint-poets who had marked a trail of powerful tradition which a philosopher of the calibre of Ramanujacharya furthered and perpetuated. The non-dual thesis ofShankaracharya set in a frame of philosophical rigour was controverted by a plethora of Indian thinkers of repute. The critical treatment that they gave to the Shankaran non-dual thesis gave rise to the philosophical schools of qualified monism, pure monism, non-dualism and dual-cum-non-dualism. The new schools of thought with their own specific approach to the issues of philosophy were tagged with the label of Viahsnaivism which made a significant contribution to the dissemination of 'bhakti' and 'worship' at popular level.
The Alvar saint poets from Tamil-land fully cyrstallised the new trend of'bhakti' and 'worship' through their enchanting hymns brimming with intense love of Vishnu. Instinctive knowledge of God and His contemplation are the dominant themes of their
hymns. The saint-poets are the ardent devotees who have completely resigned themselves to the mercy of Vishnu and have expressed their total dependence on Him for deliverance. The deep impact of Rigveda on the Alvar saint-poets can be realised when they conceptualise the world as the body of Vishnu and feel transported to dizzying levels of ananda by dedicating themselves to His Service. The alvars in the tone and essence are extremely passionate in their yearning which is divergent from coarse and worldy passion. The philosophical frame to the Alvars was provided by the Acaryaslike Nathmuni who had made their own insightful forays in the realms of philosophy.
The trend-setting wave of 'bhakti' and 'worship' travelled all the way from south of India to the North where an eminent sage, Rama Nand, found it significant for impulsing a new movement of 'bhakti' and 'worship'. To his numerous disciples he imparted the mantra of ‘Ramayanamah’ which unleashed a momentous movement of bhakti creating a heightened consciousness at grass-root level to stem the tide of Muslim invasion on the very civilisation and culture of India. Kabir, Gurunanak, Tulsi Das, Sur Das and other literary luminaries forming vanguard of the movement played their part as bhaktas with an amazing sense of history.
Bhakti and worship in Kashmir Shaivishm
Shankaracharya as an immaculate philosopher of non-dual absolutism considered 'bhakti' & 'worship as antithetical to the rope-snake metaphor that establishes the primacy of knowledge (Jnan) in matters of release from the shackles of 'bandan' (bondage). Philosophically speaking, he made no attempt to explore a possibility of developing a concordance between bhakti and worship and his principal thesis of knowledge (Jnan). He thought that any type of reconciliation between bhakti and worship and his thesis of non-dual absolutism would fracture his total fabric of thought.
Kashmir Shaivism, though a philosophy of non-dual absolutism, does not contribute to the Shankaran thesis of exclusion of bhakti and worship from the realms of non-dual philosophy. The Shaivites of Kashmir are essentially integrati-onists who have dialectically maintained the integrity of their non-dual thesis by giving legitimacy to the precepts and practices of bhakti and worship. Kashmir Shaivism has been appraised as 'more monistic than monism itself'. Bhakti and worship as per it do not in any way impair the tone, essence and unity of its thesis. A concordance has been established between bhakti and worship and knowledge (Jnan) by re-naming 'bhakti' as'atma bhakti' and puja (worship) as 'atma puja' (self-worship.
A bhakta conforming to the Shaiva thought cannot perform worship or devote himself to the service of Shiva in a manner that smacks of dualism. He sees his own intrinsic-essence as Shiva when he worships Shiva or sets up a warm relation of friendship and intimacy with Him. Shiva as per the theoretical asumptions of Kashmir Shaivism has prominent attributes of omniscience, omni-presence, eternity et al. A bhakta while devoting himself to Shiva super-imposes the same attributes of Shiva on himself. So does the worshipper. This is how the Shaivite thinkers have resolved the conflict between bhakti and worship and knowledge of Shiva (Shiva-Jnan).
The Shaiva bhakti is superior to any form of Jnan (knowledge). Successes in the domain of Shaiva yoga do not crystallise without bhakti. Bhakti is both means to an end and an end in itself. The highest knowledge of non-dual philosophy is featured as the highest form of bhakti. Says utapaldev-
Jnanasya parma bhumi yog asya parma dasha
tvad bhakti tya vibho karhi purna syat arthita
Bhakti is considered spiritual knowledge (adhyatam vidhya). 'Shivo bhutva shivam yajet' is replaced by 'bhakto bhutva shivam yajet'. The state of identity with Shiva is not acceptable if its medium is not bhakti.
bhavat bhakti amrit asvadat bodhyasya syat para api
dasha sa mam preti swamin asvasyeva shukhtah
Bhakti is the distilled essence of worship (puja) . It is more efficacious and helpful in recognising one's essence as Shiva than yoga and its allied practices. yogis strictly practise yam, niyam and pretyahar to come to the state of samadhi, but bhaktas ascend to the same state through bhakti(devotion) and maintain the state even in active consciousness (vyuthan).
Bhakti has been defined as samavesh which means direct entrance into the supreme consciousness of Shiva, 'milan' is named as sukhi' and 'virah' is named as 'dukha'. Sukha is perpetual unity with Shiva and dukha is separateness from Shiva. In the lexicon of love-poetry they are usually phrased as 'samyog' & 'viyog'. To go to the shelter of Shiva (sharan) is to have unity with Shiva in normal active life. A true bhakta wears the same temper and attitude of equipoise when he is in unity with Shiva or when he is in a state of duality.
The Kashmiri Shaivites as celebrated aesthetes have classified bhakti asrasa. It is a continuous and perpetual source of joy, happiness and ecstasy. Abhakta when in union with Shiva finds himself in the same state of 'anand'which a lover of wine is immersed in. Bhatta Nayak and utpaldev apexing an uninterrupted tradition of 'bhakti' and 'worship' as was prevalent in Kashmir have often used wine as a metaphor. Both are poets of bhakti which, to them, is a rasa that not only intoxicates but also transports to partake of Shiva's consciousness that exudes the nectar of anand.
A bhakta establishes a personal relationship with Shiva as his Ishta Deva. He serves Him devoutly as a servant serves his master. The Shaivas consider the relation of a servant with his master based on 'dasta bhava' as superior to any other relationship with Shiva. He can be His friend. He can even establish a relation of courtship with Shiva. These are the manifold forms of personal relationships that a bhakta can forge with Shiva.
Shiva has a transcendental aspect as well. He is consiciousness Supreme, something that is not tangible. Shiva in His manifest form of Shakti is the subject for Shaiva bhakti. It is the being of Shiva who is chidanand, that forms the subject and theme of the Shaiva bhakti. Neglegible examples of impersonal form of bhakti are certainly available.But, the dominant relationship that bhaktas form with their Ishta-deva, Shiva, is warmly personal.
The Hindu history of Kashmir buttresses the view that Kashmir has been a seat of Shaivism through ages. The plethora of gods and goddesses in the Shaiva pantheon have been adored and worshipped. Temples have been built and consecrated to Shiva, Shakti, Kumar, Ganesha and other bhairavs.People throng to Shaktipeethas for worship. The devotees firm in faith and conviction melodiously sing vedic mantras and Shiva-stotras. The way they worship establishes that there is a fusion of vedas and agamas in the methodology. The worship of Ishta devas and Ishta devis is resorted to ‘deepen the gaze within’.
The worship of a god in a temple has been a standard practice of the Shaivas. Classified as external worship (bahya puja) it has been doctrinally recognised as beneficial to the initiates on the Shaiva path. To develop a mood of concentration and revert the gaze within, an initiate takes to external worship of any form. Such a worship is categorised as 'anavopaya'.By gradual stages he learns the highest form of bhakti and worship which isatmabhakti and 'atma puja'.
Bhakti in Lalla Ded Vakh
No right thinking person can dispute the status of Lalla Ded as Shaiva yogini. She took the Shaiva-praxis to recognise her essential worth as Shiva. Lalla Ded was a bhaktin too, who is consensually ranked with great bhaktas like guru Nanak, Sant Kabir, Meera Bhai, Raidass, Tulsi Dass et all. Prof. B.N. Parimu in his monumental studies on Lalla Ded uneqivocally calls her the fore-runner of the Bhakti. Movement in India. As yoga and bhakti are not mutually contradictory to each other, Lalla meticulously practised bhakti yoga. Her self-image as a 'bhaktin' had fortified her against the zig zags and adversities of life and world, and had invested her person with absolute equipoise and equanimity of temper and deportment.
bo yod shankar bakhach asa
makris sasa mal kya peye
Lalla Ded had been an ardent devotee of Shiva. When she was a child, she would foot her way to the Shiva temple at Harsheshwar for worship. She continued with the practice after she got married at Padmapur (Pampore). Chanting of mantras and the name of Shiva at the Shiva temples assisted her to gain calmness of mind and concentration too. She took to a plethora of practices till she deepened her spiritual awareness.
As a restless worshipper she joined a guru who put her on a path that could not help her in realising her spiritual yearnings. It is in pain and agony she cries 'abakh chyan pyom yath razdane'. She gained confidence as a bhaktaonly after she got a sat guru, a perfect soul, who awakened her into a new consciousness of a true bhakta of Shaiva extraction.
As a conscious shaivite, well-groomed in the theory and praxis of Shaivism, Lalla Ded had marched far on the high road of bhakti and worship. Under the insightful guidance and initiation of her sat-guru she realised that real bhaktiwas 'atma bhakti' and real worship was 'atma worship'. As shiva is the only subject and we are His emanations, not outside Him, but in Him only, He, therefore, cannot be accessed on the plank of a separate polarity. Bhakti and worship based on a premise that is separate from Him, are not a source to the spiritual recognition of one's essence as Shiva.
Lalla Ded came to a stage in her spiritual journey where she rose above the formalities of formal worship. That is why she stressed the unity of vital-airs with that of pran as pranna as essence of Shiva in life.
deva vata divar vata
pyatha bon chuya ekvat
kas puzi karak hoola bata
kar pranas to pavanas sanghat
Bhakti in Kashmir Shaivism cannot climax until a bhakta surrenders himself to the grace (shaktipat) of Shiva. This view of Shaivas is buttressed even by Bhagvatgita. Lalla Ded as a Shaiva-Bhaktin burnt away the dirts (malas) and killed her petty desires to arouse the divine volition (Iccha) and surrendered herself to Shiva for grace. Says she--
dali travamus tati
Lalla Ded had Shiva as her personal god. She had forged a variety of relationships with Shiva. She served Him as a servant, made friends with Him and loved Him intensely.
Intense moments of love she sang out her love-lorn song to awaken her beloved within her frame for unity and absolute purity. Sings Lalla--
pota zooni vathith mot bolnovum
dag lalanavam dayi sanzi prahe
lali lali karan lal vozanovum
meelith tas man shrochyom deh
Lalla Ded was a proud Shaiva-bhaktin who as a self-recognised soul harboured a consciousness of unity with Shiva even when she engaged herself in normal chores and responsibilities of world and life.
Pratybhijjna-From Scriptures to Kashmir Shaivism to Lalla Ded Vakh
By Prof. M.L. Koul
THE Doctrine of Pratyabhijjna is a highly significant development in the theory and practice of Kashmir Shaivism. It is neither a school of Kashmir Shaivism nor is it a sub-trend within its matrix. The philosophisation of the vision of Agamas became apparent in the seminal work of Shiva-Sutra authored by Vasugupta, a sage and thinker. The Doctrine of Pratyabhijna graduates the philosophical vision of Acarya Vasugupta to the stature of philosophy proper. HowPratyabhijjna expounded and interpreted the theory and practice of Kashmir Shaivism came to be the essential philosophy of it. It posed philosophical issues, formulated and conceptualised them, forged a system based on required building blocks and used logic to gell and cement the system. It is apt to say that if Kashmir Shaivism is a system of thought, it is because of the rational approach of Pratyabhijjna to the issues of theory and practice as expounded by Kashmir Shaivism.
Pratyabhijjna epitomises the full thesis of Kashmir Shaivism, its architectonics and architecture and logical exploration of that area of knowledge that subordinates empirical and theoretical learning to the cognition of identity with consciousness supreme or Shiva. Being the Central philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism, it is imprinted with the semantics of a man attaining pratyabhijna (recognition) of his real identity. Oft-quoted upanishadic 'Maha-Vakyas (great sentences) carry a ring of 'Pratyabhijjna'hall-marking the identity of man with Brahman, the ultimate reality. 'I am Brahman' (aham brahmosmi), "Thou art that' (tat twam asi) & "This self is Brahman' (ayam atma brahma) explicitly reveal the identity of self with Brahman. The upanishads are replete with such maha-vakyas (great sentences) which Shaivite scholars of Kashmir and Varanasi acknowledge as'pratyabhijjna maha-vakayas'.
The word 'pratyabhijjna' with its morphological variations travelled to Kalidas, 5th century poet and dramatist, who crafted an epoch-making drama titled as 'Abhijnan Shakuntalam'. The word 'abhijnan' fascinated a scholar like Dr. Laxmidhar who went whole hog to interpret it as 'pratyabhijjna'. In his doctoral thesis, the Birthplace of Kalidas, the learned writer opines that 'Abhijnan Shakuntalam' is 'the allegorical representation of the philosophy of pratyabhijjna'. In elaboration of his thesis he states that Dushyant, hero of the drama, represents Shiva and Shakuntla, heroine of the drama, represents Shakti. The ring, which is a motif of love, used as a dramatic device is the cause that reminds Dushyant of his marriage to Shakuntala. The same is interpreted by Dr. Laxmidhar as Kalidasa's profound knowledge of the Pratyabijjna Doctrine central to the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism.
The conclusive thesis of Dr. Laxmidhar that the Doctrine of Pratyabhijjna had gained wide currency in the times of Kalidas, 5th century A.D., is not historically credible. The galaxy of scholars from Kashmir led by Swami Laxman Joo Maharaja, Dr. Balji Nath Pandit and Prof. Nila Kanth Gurtu are on terra firma of history when they place Acarya Vasugupta in the second half of 8th Century A.D. It was his pupil, Siddha Somanand, 9th century A.D. who was the first philosopher of Kashmir Shaivisism to conceptualise the seminal idea of 'pratyabhijjna' in his theoretical work titled 'Sivadrshti'. Siddha Somanand, a seer of tremendous erudition, had received the idea of 'pratyabijna' as a legacy from the vibrant Vedantic and Epic sources. It was his feat of genius that he invested the word 'pratyabihjjna' with a lofty philosophical meaning that gradually morphed as the sublime theme of Kashmir Shaivism at the hands of philosophical seers like Acarya Utpaldev, Acarya Abhinavgupta and a host of their successors in due line of the same tradition.
Besides vedantic and epic sources, Siddha Somanand, was also aware of the Pali version of the lexical word 'Pratyabhijjna' as 'Paccabinna' littered over the Buddhist philosophies that dominated the intellectual landscape of Kashmir for a better part of its history. In the Buddhist lexicon the word 'paccabinna' denotes conceptual knowledge that is recognised through the tool of a sign, symbol or motif. Possessed of an acumen and discernment of a great theoretician Siddha Somanand treated the Buddhist philosophies incisively and critically with a view to laying the foundation of Kashmir Shaivism indubitably non-dual. Logic is Sidha Somanand's excellence. It is manifest from the conceptualisations and formulations that he has ably framed in his philosophical manual called 'Sivadrishti'. In the annals of Kashmir Shaivism Siddha Somanand has earned tremendous appreciation and recognition as a logician and rationalist par excellence. His approach and premis have always been preferred to the mystical treatment that Ksemaraj, a worthy pupil of Bhagwan Abhinavgupta, has given to the philosophical issues of Kashmir Shaivism. That is why the vibrant Shaiva tradition of Kashmir has not lent much of credence to his work titled 'Pratyabhijjna Hridayam' as a work on Pratyabhijjna and its essential theme.
In his ardent quest of source-materials that led to the evolutionary development of the theme of Pratyabhijjna Dr Laxmi Dhar aptly quotes verses from the Nilamatapurana that amply establish the Pratyabhijjna theme, if not in a philosophical sense, but in a sense that appears akin to the theme of Prayabijjna. In his doctoral thesis 'The Doctrine of Recognition' Dr. RK Kaw has quoted verses in full from the text of Nilamata purana and has aptly evaluated them as 'seed ideas' that served the philosophical fare of Siddha Somanand who transformed them into a full-fledged concept that shaped the whole course of future development in the domain of Kashmir Shaivism.
The high-ranking philosopher of the Doctrine of Pratyabhijjana is Acarya utpaldeva, the celebrated pupil of Siddha Somanand, who deftly built a coherent architecture on the substratum of the doctrine originally conceptualised by his preceptor (sat-guru). Ishvar Pratyabhijjna-Karika is his principal work on the theme of Pratyabhijjna. Written in an aphoristic style he commented on his own 'Karikas' with a view to explaining and clarifying his concepts and 'seed ideas'. This work known as 'Vritti', a commentary, is lost in the holocaust wrought by foreign Sufi-Sayyids on the natives of Kashmir. 'Siddhitrayi', a trilogy of treaises on philosophical issues like 'relation,', 'time and space' and 'Sankhya as a thought model' is a philosophical work highlighting the 'Pratyabhijjna' perspective.
Acarya Utpaldeva is a philosopher, logician and incisive critic of prevalent philosophical systems. He raises issues philosophical, debates theme thread-bare and architects a theoretical structure where in all catergories of thought are cogently synergised. As a seer of exemplary erudition he had comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the Buddhist schools of philosophy, vedantic model of thought, Sankhya and other materialist philosophies. Kashmir Shaivism is a system of thought because of the brilliance of Acarya Utpaldeva as a philosopher having skills in methodologies of debating issues on logical and analytical lines.
In his doctoral thesis 'The Doctrine of Pratyabhijjna' Dr. RK Kaw is all plaudites for Acarya Utpaldeva for his remarkable originality of 'systematising the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism' which in essentials is the Pratyabhijjna Doctrine.
In his brilliant introduction to the masterly work of Bhagwan Abhinavagupta, Ishavar Pratyabhijjna Vimarsini, Pt. Madhusudan Koul, the then Director of Research Department, J&K Government, writes, 'the object of Utpaldeva was, first, to canonise the new system of Shaiva monism and to establish it on philosophical lines, second, to check the Buddhist in-roads levelled against it and lastly, to popularise the system as superior to the other prevailing systems of philosophy'.
The Pratyabhijjna Doctrine would not have acquired heightened philosophical finesse and sophistication had Bhagwant Abhinavagupta, the doyen of Kashmir Shaiva thought, not expounded it with his scintillating philosophical insight and sagacity. His two commentaries on the Pratyabhijjna philosophy are outstanding contributions to the domain of philosophy in general and to the domain of Pratyabhijjna philosophy in particular. In his 'Laghu Vimarsini' he dwelt on the semantics of Pratyabhijjna and spelt it out to make it understandable to averages. But, in his 'Brahati Vimarsini' he explained and clarified the vital concepts and formulations which Acarya Utpaldeva had neatly delineated on his own 'Karikas', styled in aphorisms, about the Doctrine of Pratyabhijjna.
A long line of Acaryas in the un-interrupted tradition of Kashmir Shaivism enriched and reinforced the conceptual frame of Pratyabhijjna philosophy through their scholarly works, and elaborate commentaries on the theory and praxis of the Prayabhijjna philosophy. New concepts were framed, old ones were subjected to revaluation and re-appraisal and new dimensions were added to the main philosophy of Pratyabhijjna. The theoretical frame was made more comprehensive and cohesive and empirical segment of the Pratyabhijjna philosophy was given a new orientation and thrust. The Acaryas who in deed and word were men of form divine included well-known seers like Ksemaraj, Yogaraj, Jayarath, Sivopadyaya and Bhaskaracarya. The list would remain incomplete if the name of Swami Laxmanjoo Maharaj is not mentioned. His immense contribution to Pratyabhijjna philosophy and its wide propagation deserves separate study and appreciation.
Acarya Somanand on Pratyabhijjna
In Sivadrsti Acarya Somanand refers to the concept of Pratyabhijjna as 'a simultaneous act of perceiving some aspects of a thing and remembering all aspects of it in totality as perceived or cognised in the past' (V 118-120). He morphs the same statement to the level of philosophy for recognition of Supreme Realty of Shiva, the immanence of whom is within the grasp of every ordinary individual. But, the other attributes of Shiva like His omniscience and omnipotence are not within the range of his experience because of the limitations that wrap his being. But, he has heard about these attributes of Shiva from many others within the orbit of his contact who are well-versed in the corpus of scriptures. So, his memory retains impressions of Shiva's inherent attributes other than His pervasion in all objects around the world. The moment an individual perceives one attribute of Shiva through his random observations in the world he comes to remember other attributes of Shiva that are already implanted on his memory plate. In Pratyabhijjna two simultaneous acts of direct perception and remembrance are integrated and unified. Says Acarya Somanand-
tasmat samgraha ekya vastu shaivam vyavasthitam
tatha sumran yogat cha samaryate kim tathavidham
yadrk drashtam drashtata syat athwa jnanam etat
drsta sumanyoke stihe tad-uppadyate
tatha sa prabyabhjjnat sa eva ayam iti sithiti (Sivadrshti)
Acarya Utpldeva on Pratyabhjjna
In the second and third karikas of Ishvar Pratyabhijjna Karika Acarya utpaldeva controverts the polemics of his critic who is critical of Pratyabhijjna thought by informing him that Maheshvar (Lord) has the absolute sovereign powers of cogntiion and action and is in no need of proofs (pramanas) to establish His being as such. But, a Jiva, who is Shiva only, has forgotten his intrinsic powers of freedom to cognise and act because of delusion (moha-vashat). Pratyabhijjna is to realise his inherent powers of cognition and action which otherwise he has forgotten and thus are dormant or unrealised. writes Acarya Utpaldeva--
Kartari Jnatari sia-atmanya adi sidhe mahesvare
ajadatma nishedham va siddhim va viddeht kah
kintu moha-vashat drshte anupplakshyate
shakhtya avishkarnen iyam pratyabhijjna updashyate
Karikas-2 & 3 IPK
Bhagwean Abhin-avagupta on Pratyabhijjna
Bhagwan Abhinavgupta delineates 'Pratyabhijjna as 'Maheshwar(sovereign Lord becoming) manifest now as it was always so before.'
Writes the Acarya, 'tasya mahehvarasya pratyabhijjna pratipam atma abhimukhena prakashah pratyabhijjna'. After dwelling on two vital words of 'pratipam' and 'abhimukhena', Dr R.K. Kaw concludes that Pratyabhijjna is an act of cognition 'facing oneself of what was forgotten'.
Bhagwan Abhinavagupta makes it amply clear that the recognition of Mahehshvar (sovereign Lord) is not in reality recognition of some-thing that is not already known. In fact, recognition of Maheshvar was within the range of experience but is forgotten (Jnantasya api visumritasya eva chaditasya eva purnah). A seeker in quest of 'atma pratyabhijjna' (self-recognition) is already aware of his innate reality but has forgotten it because of his own deluding powers. He takes that as his real 'Self' which actually is his 'not-self'. When he removes this veil of delusion, he cognises his original reality as Shiva. He is Shiva be cause he in his origins is Shiva. His experience of being a Shiva was already known to him. So, Bhagwan calls it, 'bhat-bhasman anusandhatmika...'
Two Illustrative Examples
Bhagwan Abhinav-agupta has given two examples to explain the concept of 'Pratyabhijjna'.
There is a lady who has been betrothed to a man. She has not met or seen him. She has started loving him and is love-laden. Her fiance, somehow, stands before her and is one among many others. She is unable to locate him, much less recognise him. Finally a man reveals the identity of the one she is betrothed to. She realises that he is her fiance who will be her husband in future. The revelation gives her lots of pleasure. This is whatpratyabhijjna is.
In another example a king has heard of a pandit and his achievements in the Shastras and other segments of knowledge. But, the king has not seen him and therefore does not know him. Another pandit in the king's court fetches him to the court and reveals his identity to the king. Thus, the king recognises his identity as the same Pandit about whom he had heard from many sources. It is also a case of pratyabhijjna.
Pratyabhijjna and Intellectual Knowldge.
Kashmir Shaivism does not discount but appreciably recognises the part that intellectual knowledge plays in the process of Pratyabhijjna. All the philosophers who moulded and structured the philosophical discourse of Shaiva thought have written prolific tomes on issues relevant to it. As an article of faith they hold that all forms of knowledge emanate from Shiva as the source. It is testified by the fact of Shiva lucidly answering all the metaphysical questions posed to Him by His ever-inquisitive consort, Parvati.
Intellectual knowledge gained from diligent studies in scriptures, varied forms of thought and other segments of learning shape the temper of an aspirant, broaden his perspectives on life and world, deepen his understanding of metaphysical ontological and epistemological problems, cultivate his aesthetics, dispel his doubts and deepen his knowledge relating his field of study and more than most, purify his mind for a spiritual awakening. Mundane knowledge though classed as 'apara' knowledge is not rejected as negative but is accepted as a step in the attainment of self-recognition. Though widely accepted as positive yet intellectual knowledge is not in any way what we call self-recognition (pratyabhijjna).
'Pratyabhijjna' can be had when an aspirant removes his crippling limitations that are caused by three 'dirts' (malas) lexically known as anava-mal, mayiya-mal and karma-mal. These limitations shrink and inhibit his inherent powers (shaktis) of cognition and action. He sees things but does not see them in depth. He has perceptions and knowledge, but are limited in range and scope. His limitations get reflected when he perceives the world apart from him. In his basics he is Shiva with all the attributes of freedom, omniscience and omnipotence. But it is the 'self-veiling' act that has reduced him to a 'Jiva' or 'Anu' in Shaiva parlance. Under the initiation and guidance of a preceptor (sat-guru) or through impartation of a 'mantra' or by grace (shaktipat) he comes to recognise himself as Shiva with all his intrinsic powers. It is no sea change or transformation (parinamvad). It is a simple change of condition that makes a 'jiva' or 'anu' to intuit his 'Shiva condition'. He is free from all limitations. He is in close harmony with the outside world. In fact, he intuits all that is outside him as his own pulse of emanation. He experiences Shivahood right in the world as a living and existing individual. He is 'Jeevan mukhta'. As a 'self-recognised' soul he lives an unfettered normal life and with an awakened sense of social responsibility he urges and guides others to prepare for attainment of 'self-recognition'. His condition is that of 'loftiness', 'sublimity' and 'elevation' with a deepened sense of commitment to fellow-beings.
The Theme of Pratyabhijjna
The non-dual Shaivites of Kashmir hold that 'Pratyabhijjna' always denotes and connotes 'atma-pratyabhijjna' (self-recognition). 'Self', therefore, is the genreric theme of 'pratyabhijjna'. 'self' is not the ordinary self of a Jiva. It is identical with the Highest Lord (Maheshvar). In the Bhaskari it is clearly put that 'self' remains established in a Jiva on the basis of self-experience, reason and scripture (evam sva samvedana uppatya agam siddham maheshvar rupam atma svarupam). Maheshvar as the Highest Reality is well-within the experiential range of a Jiva. As he is wrapped up under the layers of delusion or darkness or limited knowledge (mita-jnan), the self comprehends itself as the duality and multiplicity of the world. In Parmarth-Sar Bhagwan Abhinavaupta writes:-
ajnan timir yogat ekam api svam svabhava atmanam,
grahya-grahak nana veichitrena avabudhyat!
'Self' is eternal and self-luminous (sva prakash). It is self-proved (svayam siddha). As all forms of knowledge shine in its light, no reason based knowledge can establish its luminosity (prakash). 'Self' is consciousness, which is free to create the world of objects out of its own essence. 'Self' as such is transcendental and immanent too. As per the Shaiva thought 'Self' through its own absolute freedom (svatantrya), assumes a limitation that causes loss of freedom to cognise and act. A Jiva living in the objective world takes body, breath and ego as his real Self. 'Pratyabijjna' is to cognise his essential nature of Shivahood which he has forgotten under the impact of assumed limitations.
'Pratyabhijjna' as per the world-view of Shaiva masters is knowledge (Janan). But it is not the same knowledge that we take pains to acquire from multiple sources of discursive knowledge. It is the knowledge which in the words of Dr. Kamlakar Mishra is 'an awakening, enlightenment or rising to a higher level of awareness or consciousness'. 'Pratyabhijjna' is the real knowledge as it is knowledge of the 'Self', atma jnan, which is beyond the subject-object dichotomies of the world and is deeply rooted in an integrated vision that perceives everything in the world of multiplicity as its own expansion or emanation. The state of ordinary knowledge is that of limited knowledge or circumscribed vision or awareness. But the state of 'Pratyabhijjna' is that of 'bodh', illumination or enlightenment. Though 'pratyabhijjna' is intuitional, yet it is a sustained intuition, a sustained enlightenment. A self-recognised soul, who is a Shiva, continues to bask in the light of consciousness (bodh-prakash). He loves all humans of all grades and stations in life because he sees them all as his own projection (abhasa). He is the real seer, rishi, acarya above all trivial and tribal affiliations andlinkages, His perception of love is not that of 'obedience' but that of universal variety as is epitomised in the Vedic dictum, 'Vasudaiva Kutumbakam'.
'Pratyabhijjna' is to recognise that the real nature (svabhava) of 'Self' is'Prakash and Vimarsh, which is termed as Shiva'. 'Pratybhijjna' is to cognise oneself as Shiva as that is the stuff of one's being.
Pratyabhijjna in Lalla Ded Vakh
Lalla Ded was s Shaiva-yogini with her gaze rivetted to the goal-post of 'atma pratyabhijjan' (self-recognition). Going through the mill of yogic practices under the tutelage of a prescient preceptor, she had stilled her 'chitta', purified it (chitta samskar) and harnessed all the potentials of her psycho-physical frame to awaken her initiative processes for recognition of her intrinsic nature of Shiva. Through initiation and intellectual knowlege (baudik jnan) she was able to identify the deluding energies that wean away a man from the path of real knowledge and keep him entangled in dualities of the world. Lalla Ded transcended all that symbolises 'not-self' and what remained was her real 'Self' which she recognised as her fundamental essence.
As an initiated Shaivite Lalla Ded was well-groomed in the fact that she was possessed of all the six attributes that feature the sovereignty of Shiva. Yet she was aware that she was unable to act out her inherent attributes because of the limitations that engulfed her total being.
yimai shey che timai sheya meya
shyam gata che byan tats
yohai byan abeed che ta mea
cha shyan sami ba sheyi mushyas
When she set herself onto the path of self-quest she fought anger (krodh), greed (lobh) and ravenous eating (ahar) as markers of 'not-self' that distract and disturb the mind (man) of a seeker. Though body is a vehicle for spiritual enlightenment, Lalla Ded discarded the penchant for identification of her real 'Self' with body, breath and subject object apprehensions through intellectual clarity and courses in yoga. Pratyabhijjna dawned on her after the veil of delusion (moha) was cut as-under and removed.
The Shaiva position vis-a-vis Shiva is that He is absolutely free and has no constraints in matters of willing, knowing and acting. In existentialist parlance He can be said to be 'condemned to freedom'. It is out of His absolute freedom that Shiva assumes a limitation and turns into a living individual, existing, breathing, making choices and decisions. Such an act, kriya in Shaivite parlance in no way impairs His absolute sovereingty or transcendance. In fact, His sovereignity lies in creation. Matya Skakti is His own energy whcih He harnesses at will for this act. Through this energy Shiva forgets Himself only to assume limitation of an individual.
Lalla Ded is in full know of the transcendance of Shiva in which state there are no 'I' and 'thou' relationships, subject-object dischotomies and no ideas to contemplate on. Shiva's transcendance is total equilibrium and quiescence. She calls Shiva as 'sarvakreyi', all-doer. He forgets Himself to get shrivelled into a limited individual
tsu na bo na dheya na dyan
gava pania sarva-kreyi mashith
Lalla Ded had known it as a theoretical tenet, but she realised it thruogh Shaiva-Yoga only to become wise by recognising her own, reality as Shiva. Thsoe who do not know their own essence as Shiva are blind and remain entangled in the meshes of ignorance or limited knowledge.
anto dyuthukh kenh na anvya
gayi sath layi par pashith
The limitations that Shiva assumes through His own sovereignty are lexically known as malas (dirts) in Kashmir Shaivism. Three forms of malas wrap up an individual in layers of limitation inhibiting the inherent potentialities of an individual as Shiva. Anavamala, mayiyamal and karma mal impair his divine faculties of 'fullness', omniscience' and 'one-ness'.
As a caged being he lives in the empirical world of name and form. The very empirical life impels him to soar above the dualities of the world. It may be at the behest of Shiva's grace (shaktipat) or sat-guru (shaiva guru). The limitations (malas) that are inhibiting, crippling and impairing are in any case to be curbed, burnt (as Lalla says) and finally removed even to the last vestiges. In fact, removal of dirts is the gate-way of Pratybhijjna.
As an inquisitive seeker Lalla Ded was naturally conscious of her caged existence in the empirical world. Taking that as a reality she took to Shaiva-Yoga trajectory to transcend her limitations. She burnt the dirts coiling her heart and slew her passions through meditating on her own intrinsic Shivahood and as a last act surrendered herself to Shiva's grace (Shaktipat) for removal of 'anava mal'. It earned her name as a 'tapasvini' or a 'yognini' and that remained her identity down the ages.
mala vondi zolum
telli lalla nava drama
Lall Ded cleansed her mind (man) of the dirts (malas) staining it. It shone dazzlingly like a mirror that is dust free. Her clean mind as the plank made her soar into a state of self-recognition (pratyabhijjna). Recognition of Shiva within her microcosmic frame underscores her own condition of Shivahood.
makris mala zan chalum manas
ada labum zanis zan
Having realised the mission of self-recognition Lalla Ded is blithe and rapturous. She is all through new as a result of 'bodh jnan' or enlightenment (sva prakash). Her body and mind in complete purity are totally soaked. Her chitta has come to the state of chitti (consciousness divine) and she perceives all objects in the world as her own emanation (abhasa) and all forms of nature in the same way of her own projection.
Says Lalla Ded
Chyath navai chandrama novuya
zalmai dyuthum navam novuya
yana pyatha mea tan man novuya
tana lalla bo navan navai chyas
Lalla Ded's objective in pursuing spiritual path was only to get merged into Shiva, thereby losing her identity as a separate pole. It is also called moksa (liberation) from the pains and agonies of birth and death that ensue because of one's own karmas actions committed in previous lives. Lalla Ded, therefore, was a liberated soul, one who had recognised her essential essence as Shiva and become an inseparable part of Shiva or consciousness supreme.
Su yali dyuthum nishi panas
sorui sui ta ba no kenh
YOGA-In Indian Scriptures, Kashmir Shaivism and Lal Ded Vakh
By Prof. M.L. Koul
YOGA is the metaphor of Indian spirituality. It has a history as old as the Himalayan mountain ramparts guarding the civilisational frontiers of India. The statue of a yogi in dhyan mudra as a rare find from the archaeological sites of Mohenjo-daro (now in Pakistan) sufficiently testifies to Yoga as an ancient practice of the ancients. The broad ouever of Indian scriptures from vedas to the epics, to the philosophical Geeta, to the Puranas and all streams of literary works are pregnant with copious references and details that surely establish the enormous antiquity of yoga. Patanjali, a rishi of the highest order, wrote an elaborate treatise on yoga delineating its semantics and mundane and supra-mundane ideals. Patanjali Yoga is ‘more an enunciation of esoteric practices for self-realisation than a frame-work of coherent philosophy’. During its evolutionary process yoga got appended to the Sankhya thought for philosophical anchorage. Being essentially a spiritual discipline all schools of thought accepted it for practical realisation of their purported philosophical goals.
Philologically, yoga as a word owes its origin to the root 'yuj' which means to unite, to join or to hyphenate. Panini, a brilliant grammarian of India, traces the word yoga to 'yuj samadhav', to 'yuj yoge', to 'yuj samyame'.The consensus among the Indian rishis is that yoga implies to unite, to yoke or to hyphenate the individual soul with that of the universal or macro-cosmic soul.
Patanjali, the systematiser of yoga as a spiritual discipline, defines it as suppression of the mind's activities and proclivities (yogash cha chitta-vrati nirodah). It is also called samadhi yoga (yogah samadhi). Lord Krishna, decked as Yogeshvar Krishna, defines yoga as the fortified capacity of a seeker to keep his poise in face of wordly successes and failures, triumphs and set-backs, favourable and unfavourable events, achievements and losses. Such a temper of firm stability and equilibrium gained as a result of assiduous practice (abhyas) is featured in the Bhagvatgeeta as 'sama yoga'
Yogastha kuru karmani sangam tyakhtva dhananjai!
siddhi-assidhayo samo bhutva samtvam yoga uchyate !!
'yogah karmasoo kovashalam' (Geeta chap. v) defines the entire gamut of human activities performed without a trace of attachment (moha) as yoga.
The renowned sage of modern times, Sri Aurbindo, explains yoga as ‘not only the realisation of God, but an entire consecration and change of the inner and outer life till it is fit to manifest a divine consciousness and become a part of divine work' (lights on yoga).
Yoga is a comprehensive name for all shades of spiritual practices that were/are acted out by seekers at various hermitages presided over by rishis(seers). This is how different treatises on yoga have given varied classifications of yoga. The seminal work on yoga, called yoga-karika,makes a mention of 'eight limbs of yoga' (ashtang yoga). Yoga-sutra of Rishi Dattatreya and yog-raj upanishad, specifically ennumerate mantra-yoga, laya yoga, hatha yoga and raj yoga as four limbs of yoga. TheBhagvatgita mentions dhyan yoga, karma yoga, sankhya yoga and sanyas yoga thereby adding new spiritual practices to the corpus of yoga.
Patanjali's sutra underlining 'eight limbs of yoga' states- 'yam-niyam-asan-pranayam-pratyahar-dharna-dhyan-samadhayo ashtav angani'. Yam means to remove one's mind and other senses from disturbing thoughts.Niyam is to bind oneself to the rules of shauch (purity), santosh(contentment), tap (meditation), sva-adhyai (self-study), Ishvar-prenidhan(devotion of God). Asan means a comfortable seat that a seeker should have while setting himself to dhyan/dharna/samadhi. Pranayam is to control one's breathing process. Pretyahar is to withdraw one's senses from the outer world. Dharna is to fix one's mind on an icon or a part of one's body to increment concentration. Dhyan is self-absorbtion and Samadhi is meditation for God-realisation.
The practices and spiritual goals as conceived and systematised by Patanjali rishi have served as salient guide-lines to all seekers through generations. The yogic body (astral body) from muladhar to sahasrar has had wide acceptance across the board of spiritualists or God-seekers. The ascent from muladhar to sahasrar has remained as the spiritual evolution for a seeker subscribing to any hue of spiritual philosophy. Consensus has been broad. Changes if any have been neglegible and minimal.
Yet, yoga as a subject of theory and practice has undergone gradual evolution without getting mired in the pools and puddles of stagnation. Its idea and idiom have been growing and expanding in scope and application. Many sages, thinkers and practitioners have re-oriented the theme of yogaand re-defined its goals and ideals for widening its range and scope. The tantrics subscribing to a novel pole of theory and practice have considerably enriched the archive of yoga by raising mantra yoga, laya yoga & kundalini yoga to a surmounting pedestal. They opened up new vistas in the realms ofyoga for spiritual discernment and self-realisation.
The historical material that we gather from the pages of Kashmir history affirm that Kashmiri Pandits as Buddhist monks fertilised the spiritual swathes of Tibet, Japan and China through the theme and idiom of yoga. They played an admirable role in weaving the spiritual fabric of Central Asian countries, again, through the praxes of yoga. Smarting under pain and anguish of non-acceptance and persecution at their native abodes the semitised sufis of various hues who entered Kashmir and other parts of India as sappers and miners of Islam highlighted their so-called sufi temper through the same corpus of yogic practices which the Kashmir Pandit monks had effortfully introduced in these countries through inter-active sessions and debates. Even in modern times yoga continues to be a paramount hall-mark of the spiritual heritage of India. It has caught attention of large numbers of men and women beyond the margins of India. Our sages and gurus are more than generous in providing spiritual succour and fare to those who are spiritually hungry.
Yoga in Kashmir Shaivism
As per Kashmir Shaivism, Shiva assumes the form of a man, an individual self, through His intrinisc attribute of absolute freedom (svatantrya). For this, He harnesses His own in-built potency which is Maya. In Shankar Vedant Maya as a category of thought is an independent pole which overtly rivals the sovereignity of Brahman. But, contrary to this, in Kashmir Shaivism, Maya is Shiva's own potency through which He sportively veils Himself to create difference (maya vibhedkarini). Shiva is jiva and jiva is Shiva is a cliched statement in Kashmir Shaivism. Through the sportive act of veiling Himself Shiva assumes a limitation without losing His absolute lordship and transcendence. A Jiva, an individual self, has cramping limitations which reduce his universal authorship (sarva-kartritava), omni-science (sarva-jnatritava), all-satisfaction of universal consciousness (purntava), eternity(nityatava) & freedom and Universality (niyati). In Shaiva lexicon a limited individual is pasu because he is encased and shackled by five sheaths calledkanchukas.
A Jiva, individual self, has a gross body consisting of panch-bhutas, earth fire, water, air and sky. For the maintenance of his whole body pran-Shakti permeates it. A Jiva has also a psychic frame called antakaran that consists of mann, buddhi and ahankar. The existing and living Jiva as a conditioned and limited being is required to realise or cognise his original condition of Shiva and that forms the value. To actualise the value a Jiva, individual self, has to tread upon and work out a spiritual trajectory under the spiritual guidance of a sat-guru. The Shaiva Yoga as a corpus of esoteric practices defines the trajectory for self-realisation which in Shaiva terminology is self-recognition (pretibijjna).
In the realms of Kashmir Shaivism the regimen of esoteric practices has been named as yoga, but has deliberately been qualified as 'Shaiva-Yoga'.The practices which form the warp and woof of Shaiva-Yoga are mostly drawn from the non-dual Tantras like Malini-Vijay, Netra, Vijnan Bhairav and Shiva-Sutra. The Patanjali Yoga that broadly rotates round externally-oriented practices lacks in the critical potential to lead an inquisitive seeker far on the highway of self-cognition (pretibijjna). The very definition of yoga as suppression of natural human instincts and other in-born urges is not acceptable to the theory and practice of Shaivism. As Kashmir Shaivism is affirmative in its essential world-view it could not, in any way legitimise the practices that somehow violated the very spirit and soul of it. A Jiva, individual self, is accepted as he intrisically is. Nothing is thought of which has to be forcibly thrust upon an aspirant. Kashmir Shaivism, by and large, is a pravarti marg which is for sublimation and gratification of all that which defines an essential man. Bhukhti and Mukhti hyphenate the worldly and spiritual destination charted out by Kashmir Shaivism. The existing world and spirituality of sorts, in its approach and premise, have been reconciled and co-related.
Utpaldev, a scintillating genius of Kashmir Shaivism, defines Shaiva-Yogaas a new and easy-to-practise path (Sughat esh margo navah). His definition is based on the assertion that Shaiva-Yoga can serve common-place house-holders more than a life-negating monk. It is also an easy path because yam, niyam and pretyahar are presumed optional in the process of achieving spiritual destination. Shaiva Yoga is even hesitant to accept the status and fruitfulness of Samadhi-Yoga as its well-defined parameters evaluate it as 'a superior-type of dream-less state of sleep' (sushupti).
Contrary to Patanjali Yoga, Shaiva-Yoga directly shoots at the distant stars. It prompts a seeker to commence his spiritual journey with the highest practice which in Shaiva-Yoga is anupaya, a path-less path. It is called anupaya because it does not delineate a trajectory to recognise one's innate nature of Shiva. In case a seeker does not succeed by directly taking to anupaya, he can take a re-course to a low-grade practice for gradual ascent by stages.
IN Shaiva-Yoga the guidance of a sat-guru, a perfect soul, is a must. The Shaiva-texts describe a sat-guru as one who initiates, teaches and showers grace (Shaktipat). For the disciple a sat-guru is Shiva Himself. Guru, to Khemraj, is the means to realisation (Shiva-Sutra). A disciple has to be insightful and receptive to what sat-guru teaches him. Sat-guru and disciple are in a relation of identity.
Reason in Shaiva-Yoga is not at all considered as extraneous. Right reason is a real aid in learning and grasping the subtleties of Shaiva-thought. It plays a positive role in cleansing the head and heart of a seeker. Sharp intellect tempers an aspirant for the quest. The world-view that Kashmir Shaivism projects as its essence needs a reason-based comprehension and appreciation.Hence, reason, to Kashmir Shaivism, is a valued asset for a seeker undertaking a spiritual journey.
Scriptures pertaining to the domain of Shaivism and other forms of thought-structures are receptacle of all the distilled knowledge that has come right from Shiva Himself. As per spand-pradeep 'God reveals Himself through them (scriptures). They are one of the forms in which He, (Shiva) is directly apparent in this world'. The scriptures teach, reveal, delineate and describe what is worth to be sought after. The scriptural knowledge as wisdom has to be translated into experiential knowledge through the Shaiva-praxes.
What is highly significant about Kashmir Shaivism is that it is so inclusive that it does not reject any method and form of spiritual discipline of indigenous origins that helps in the expansion and heighening of consciousness (unmesh) of a seeker. Any method that suits the abilities and psychic-frame of a seeker can be practised to cognise his original status of Shiva. Methods or means are many in number. Their worthiness and usefulness as a tool are determined by the spiritual goals that a seeker pursues. Shaiva-Yoga recognises as many as twenty-four means (upayas). Vijnan-Bhairav is a known compendium of 112 dharnas which can be put into practice for realising the spiritual goal of pretibijjna.
The Shaiva-Yoga has offered 'samavesh' as a new concept that rivals, equals or surpasses 'samadhi' as a supreme practice stipulated in the Patanjali-Yoga. In his voluminous work Tantralok Abhinav Gupta explains that 'samavesh' is mergence of a seeker's consciousness into the consciousness of Shiva wherein he feels that he is omni-present, all-powerful and all-knowing.
Aaveshashcha-svatantrayase sva tad rupa nimajnat !
par tad rupta shamboradhyat shakhtyavibhaginah !!
Again in his commentary on utpaldev's Ishvar-pretibijjna Abhinavagupta describes'samavesh' as the state of turiya or still a higher state of turiyatit.
In Shaiva-Yoga Shambavopaya is the highest practice. In it all mental activities cease and mind glitters without a stir of thought. The seeker with his mind calmed and stilled turns inwards. Inward light shines and flashes. With regular practice such a state is to be prolonged. It results in going beyond the time-space limitations. The seeker with highly intuitive qualities gets a feel of his Shiva-like powers and ultimately cognises himself as Shiva.
'Svatantry-shakhtimevadhikam pashyan nirvikalpameva Bhairva samavesham anubhavati (Tantra-Sar-Abhinavgupta) .
Shakhtopaya is the second practice that Shaiva-Yoga prescribes for seekers who do not have the ability to take to sambhavopaya. It is based on a regular practice to imagine oneself as Shiva. It dispels all other thought currents that disturb the mind. The act of imagining oneself as God is called bhavana. The regular practice awakens the pure consciousness of a seeker who starts feeling that he has shiva-like powers and potencies. Shakhtopay is based on the element of Jnan (knowledge). It can be called a technique of auto-suggestion or self-hypnotism.
Anavopaya is the last of the practices. It is better known as kriya-yoga because it is based on meditation and other practices. A seeker focuses on an object, an icon, a picture or a part of his body with the impression that it is Shiva or is permeated by Shiva. It helps in purification of thought known as 'vikalp samskar' . All forms of external rituals are included in anava-yoga. Anava-yoga helps in going over to the next stage of Shakta-Yoga.
Yoga in Lalla Ded Vakhs
The general perception that a lay reader of Lalla Ded Vakhs forms is that she was a yogini of the highest order. Being shaivite to the core she had deeply penetrated the spiritual imagination of Kashmiris as a shaiva-yogini. In his voluminous work 'The Word of Lalla' Sir Richard Temple bafflingly characterises her as Shaiva-Yogini on the basis of contents of her vakhs which he has admirably translated into the idiom of English.
What I gather from my diligent study of Lalla Ded Vakhs is that she had first tried her luck with a guru other than Sidda Srikanth. His prescription and spiritual discourses somehow failed to lead her far on the spiritual highway. It was in a vein of sheer dismay that she poured out 'abakh chaan pyom yath razdanay'. Sidda Srikanth whom she calls 'omniscient' subsequently phrased her spiritual evolution through debates and discourses coupled with all grades of shaiva-practices. Her initiation and consecration in the theory and practice of non-dual Shaivism marked her absolute break from hazy spiritual goals and the very manner she conducted herself in normal life and its affairs. 'gora sund vanun ravan tyol pyom'.
The bija-mantra through which Siddha Srikanth initiated her was the vedic symbol oum and Shaiva symbol aham, apparently two divergent bija-mantras, but in a synthesis connoting and denoting the same Reality of Shiva in transcendence and immanence. Lalla sings—
dama dama omkar mann parnovum
panai paran ta panai bozan
suham padas aham golm
teli Lalla ba vachus prakashasthan
Lalla Ded though an instinctive seeker faced a catastrophic crisis in life when her marriage got fractured. As a result, agitation, conflict, despair, anger, anguish and uncertain future must have been the dominant weaves of her mental and psychic frame. She being in critical doldrums could not have direct tryst with the Shaiva path of 'pathless path', anupaya. She could not have begun her spiritual journey even with shambhava-yoga that features the predominance of divine consciousness as a result of stilling and silencing of 'chita'-mind, a pre-requisite for it. Her vakhs affirm and establish that she engaged herself with jap, tap, dhyan, laya and pretyahar as the common place yogic-practices to calm her mind which was deeply agitated and extremelly disturbed. In a good number of vakhs she positively refers to 'abhyas',regular practice of yoga for concentration and chita-samskar (purification of mind), thus enabling herself to go over to other levels of Shakta Yoga and Shambhava Yoga. The intensity of her yoga-practices that steeled her for spiritual elevation is revealed by the vakh:-
mala vondi zolum
jigar (kam) morum
teli lalla nav dram
yeli dala travimas tati
Three dirts, mayiya, karma and anava, are to be consumed and removed in the blazing fire of yoga. Anava mal as such cannot be removed through any form of Yoga. It needs Shiva's unreasoned shaktipat (grace). That is why Lalla Ded says that she surrendered herself in totality to His grace.
Lalla Ded initially was not introduced to the yogic practices. It was her Shiva-guru who introduced such practices to her and over a period of time she came to realise their vital role and efficacy in attaining identity with Shiva. Through practices (abhyas) of controlling her fickle mind and managnig the nerve-plexi Ida, pingla and sushmana and tearing and pulverising the bunch of klesas disturbing the mind she learnt how to jell the alchemy of yoga for spiritual destination of unity with Shiva. Lalla Ded conveys:
Zaniha nadi dal mann ratith
chatith vatith kutith kaleesh
zanha ada asta rasayan gatith
shiva chuya kruth tai chen vopadeesh
Lalla Ded must have undergone sham and dam as very essential practices for making over from anava yoga to other higher levels of yoga. Having steeled herself through vigorous practices she pacified her chita (mind), cleansed it of impurities of distraction, gloom and despair and made over to higher levels of Shakta Yoga and Shambhava Yoga that would ensure her self-cognition. She conveys that Shiva (sahaj) does not need sham and dam for identity with Him. He needs to be accessed and attained through Iccaha which means Iccaha Yoga which is shambhava yoga,sure path to spiritual fulfilment. Lalla says:
sahzas sham dam na gache
yachi pravakh mukti dhar
salilas lavan zan meelith gache
toti chuai dwarlabh sahaz vyachar
The navel-region (nabisthan), technically called kand-pura, is the sun-region where heat glows incessantly. The vital air (prana) rising from navel along pingla nadi is warm when exhaled from nose. The air gets warmed up by the heat glowing at the navel region. Lalla Ded asserts that brahmand is the moon-region at the extreme end of sushmana nadi and is naturally cold. A cold current coming down thesushmana nadi cools the breath carried by Ida during the process of breathing in. Lalla Ded explains the whole process of pranayam in the Vakh as under:-
nabisthans chai prakrath zalvani
hindis tam yati pran vatagat
brahmandas pyath chai nad vohvani
ha-ha tava turun ha-ha tava tot
Lalla Ded is unequivocal in proclaiming that she was born in the world for meditation (tapasya), a known yogic practice of wide acceptance. It was through intense meditation that she attained the divine light of consciouenss (bodh prakash),a state of turiya which is the state of Shiva (Shivahood), She is liberated as liberation while living (jeevan-mukhut) as a perennial state of Shiva-consciousness is beyond the condition of gyrations of life and death. Lalla says:-
samsaras aayas tapsya
bodha prakash lobum shaz
maryam na kanh marna kansi
mara nech lasa nech
Lalla Ded in essence is a Shaiva-Yogini par-excellence. Her varied mystical experiences are, vividly revealed through her prismatic vakhs couched in coherently brilliant language of indigenous origins.
The Reality Of Shiva from Kashmir Shaivism to Lalla Ded Vakhs
By Prof. M.L. Koul
The Shaiva thinkers of Kashmir structured their thought model on the fulcrum of Shiva as the highest metaphysical reality. Shiva is synonymous with consciousness supreme. 'Chaitanyam atma' as formulated by acarya vasugupta invests the Shaiva thought with such a distinguishing feature as marks its divergence from other variants of absolutism. Chaitanyam as drawn from chetna as per Khemraj marks the absolute freedom of consciousness supreme or Shiva to know and act. It is the state of one ness (aham) and in no way impairs the absolute reality of Shiva. Though an active agent in the processes of creation (manifestation), Shiva is perfect, and transcendental. He is self-proved (svata sidda) and needs no logical pramanas to prove and establish His existence.
Besides being svata-sidda, Shiva is prakash, light of luminosity and Jnan, all-knowing, everything known to Him. Prakash also underlines Shiva's transcendence and equipoise in the state of transcendence. Shiva as against Vedanic Sat, Cit, Anand is only Cit and Anand. It is His Kutasth Swarup. His luminosity is His Prakashrupta and Anand is His gushing out (Uchhalan) to act out the vilas (sport) of creation. Shiva has no taints of limitation and succession. He is beyond Vikaras (deformities). He is the first and the last cause of the manifestation. Prior to His emergence of will to manifest what is inside Him to Himself, the universe with all its diversities lies in Him in a state of submergence. In his monumental work Tantralok, Abhinavgupta conveys the same position of Shiva which is commented upon as—
'sa cha svata-sidda prakashatma parmarthrupa parmeshvar Shiva aiva'
Shiva is not only Prakash but Vimarsa also. Vimarsa as per Dr. Jaidev Singh is the sciring of Shiva's own consciousness. Vimarsa is Shakti, the nature of Shiva. It denotes Shiva's power to act. As per Shaiva texts diamond is prakash, but it is absolutely deficient in knowing itself as prakash. But Shiva knows Himself as prakash. Various names have been given to Vimarsa. It is Kartritva, Swatantrya, and Parashakti. Had Shiva been prakash only the universe would not have appeared. It is because of Vimarsa that Shiva manifests the universe on the screen of His own consciousness. All that we find in the universe is an abhasa and each abhasa is self-expression of Shiva. What we find outside in the universe is inside Shiva only—yadantastad sahir.
The Shaivite monists of Kashmir have taken a different position on theVedanic stand-point of Vivartvad which means imposition of world on Brahman through ignorance (avidya). To justify their non-dual position they assert that Shiva through his Swatantrya Shakti imposes world on Himself through His own maya-Shakti. The Vedantists are afraid that if Maya is taken as the Shakti of Brahman, it means dragging Brahman into the world of impurity. Had they taken such a position of maya as the Shakti of Brahman, their Brahman would have metamorphosed into Shiva of Kashmiri thinkers. Unlike the Vedantists the Shaivites do not negate the world to reinforce the metaphysical reality of Shiva. When Shiva is pure luminosity (prakash), which is the sheet anchor of all abhasas, He is transcendental. When He is immanent in the world, He is Vimarsa. Shiva is an active agent in manifesting the world. He is the first and final cause of the manifested world.
Shiva and Shakti, to Kashmiri thinkers of monism, are not two separate entities or polarities. They are one and only one. When Shiva through His divine will wants to see what is inside Him, He is Shakti. Had he no will power to manifest Himself to Himself, He would have been inanimate and life-less (Jada). Shiva's Swatantrya lies in willing, knowing and acting. Shakti is the potency of Shiva to create the universe. His divine activities are known in Shaiva parlance as His Kriya. Activities of willing, knowing and acting are not His Vikaras (deformities) as is the case in Vedanta. Kashmiri Shaivites take Jnan and Kriya in combination. Their position is not that of Vedanta which holds Jnan and Kriya as two separate categories, one cancelling the other. Shiv is Kriya, the universe that He creates (manifests) is His doing. His Kriya does not taint the purity of His being. Shiva is Maheshwar (Lord), not because of His prakash or Jnan, but because He acts to manifest the universe. His lordship is in His manifestation of the world. Shiva is both transcendental and immanent.
Shiva performs five acts (panchkretya). He creates, preserves, withdraws, obfuscates and showers grace (anugrah). His five-fold acts define Shiva's Swatantrya (absolute freedom). In Svacchand Tantra we have--
srishti samhar kartaram vilai sithiti karkam
anugrah karam devam pranatarti vinshanam
It needs be emphasised that Shiva as the sovereign lord has no compulsions to commit five acts. He has no lag for the filling of which he performs five-acts. He is all perfect and purna. His inherent nature of being purna and perfect gets in no way impaired by His act of manifestation of the phenomenal world. He creates but has no purpose to create. His creation and creative impulse underline his swatantrya to do anything. He creates out of anand which establishes His Vilasa of Lordship (maheshvariya). In his celebrated work Shiva-strotravali utpaldev sings that Shiva steeped in Hisananda imagines diverse objects of the world out of His free-will just forleela (sport). In Paratrimshikha Abhinavgupta writes that the vibration of Shiva's anand is the universe.
'Akul' & 'Kul are two agamic terms that have oft been used to denote Shiv and Shakti. 'Akul' is Shiva who is synonymous with consciousness supreme. 'Kul' is the Shakti that creates the universe. These two terms have come to non-dual Shaivism from Kaulachar that was practised at many places in India .Their meanings have been retained by the Kashmiri thinkers. InParatrimshika Abhinavgupta has extensively dealt with the terms of 'Akul' and 'Kul', one denoting the transcendental Shiva as consciousness supreme and the other as the Shakti of that consciousness tending to create.
Shiva in Lalla-Ded Vakhs
Lalla Ded Vakhs are deeply soaked in Shiva-consciousness. The attainment of Shivahood is her ultimate destiny. Initiated in the Shaiva praxis by her preceptor, Sidda Srikanth, Lalla Ded devotedly and single-mindedly worked out the upayas (methodologiesthat her celebrated preceptor had introduced to her. Her Vakhs lucidly reveal that she is fully aware of the real swaroop of Shiva. She sings out that Shiva is Chidanand, Cit and Anand, Jnan and Prakash. Cit is the consciousness supreme which is the source of life and universe and anand is the gushing out (Ucchalan) of that consciousness supreme. She also sings that Shiva with whom she has to gain identity is Prakash as He illumines in His own light, celestial light and is Jnan as He is all-knowing.
As Lalla Ded was a Shaiva Yogini she has experienced the luminosity of Shiva's consciousness through the relentless pursuit of Shaiva trajectory. She has not just shone in His Prakash as Muslim mystics would in the light of God, but she is an inalienable part of that luminosity and is totally soaked in it. As her Vakhs convey she has intensely felt the condition of getting merged in the luminous state of Shiva's consciousness. She is not merely speculating, but expressing her felt-experience in a language that objectifies that experience, though subtle and nebulous. Being one with Shiva's Prakash and Jnan, His entire mass of divine consciousness, Lalla has risen to the status of one who is liberated while living. She has no confusions and dilemmas of ananu (Jiva) who is tossed about in the dualities of the world.
Lalla Ded sings-
Chidanandas Jnan prakashas
Yimav Chyun tim zeevantai mokhta
vishaymis samsarnis pashyas
abodi gandah shyat-shyat ditya.
Shiva is a creative agent. He can be likened to a painter who delineates the universe on the canvas of His own consciousness. When He creates, He is the Shakti. He and His divine consciousness pervade the universe, whether animate or inanimate. From man to everything living to dead objects have immanence of Shiva. He is not like a monotheistic God who creates the world and leaves it alone. The creator and the created never meet. Shiva is present in everything living or non-living. As an ultimate destiny everything finds its resting place in Shiva's consciousness supreme. Lalla Ded says:-
Gagan Chaya Bhutal Chay
Chay Dyan Pawan Ta Rath
Lalla Ded knows the inherent nature of Shiva, who is anahat, pranav, unhindered sound of oum, kha-swarup, shunyalia, aham, I consciousness, bindu and nada and as pure consciousness has no name and form, caste, colour and gotra. Lalla Ded is aware of the trajectory that she has to warily follow to attain emergence into the pure consciousness of Shiva, wherein the stir of creativity lies undifferentiated from the vast ocean of that consciousness. As an initiate she has to practise pran-apan to pacify her chitta (mind) from kshob (disturbance) brought about by currents and cross-currents of diverse thoughts. She has to pass through states where there will be a void or support-lessness and also flashes of illuminating consciousness uplifting her from the crippling limitations that have bound her as a jiva. Shiv, to her, is the only deity that qualifies to ride the 'trigunatmac' horse as put in the allegory.
Lalla Ded’s Shiva is-
anahat kha-swarup shunyalia
yas nav na varan na guthur na raef
aham vimarasa nada bindai von
sui deeva ashwa war chyadyas
Lalla Ded is in full know of her human condition. She is a Jiva beset with enormous web of limitations. Her Shiva has six attributes which He can harness at His mere will with nothing to restrain Him. He has the attributes of sovereign power (maheshwariya), omnipotence (sarva-kartritva), Omniscience (sarvajnatritva), all-inclusiveness (purnatva) eternality (nityatva), and all-pervasiveness (vyapaktva). What essentially distinguishes her from Shiva is that He masters His in-built attributes while she is in a state of servitude to the limitations that have enmeshed her.
Lalla Ded pours out-
yimai sheya chya timai sheya meya
shamgala chaya byan tatis
yohai byan abeeda chya ta meya
chya shyan sami ba sheyi mushis
Shiva is transcendetal, beyond the confines of time and space, but He is equally immanent, present in everything He incessantly creates on the screen of His own consciousness. His is not the case of a semitic God who creates the world and withdraws from it for fear of losing His unity. Shiva creates all the world of animates and equally creates the world of inanimates. A dead stone also has the spark of His creative consciousness, but the spark is slightly weak. Whatever appears in the world is within the ambit of His all-pervasive consciousness.
Lalla Ded Conveys the immanence of Shiva-
Shiva chuya zavul zal vahravith
kranzan manz chuy tarith kyath
Shiva as prakash or in transcendence is rest, equipoise and perfect equilibrium. He brims with anand (bliss). The canvas of universe that He incessantly opens out and draws in as a matter of sport (Leela) is His garden where He deilghts in the flowers of smell, taste, sight, sound and touch. The multifarious diversity that Shiva creates is His act of lordliness and it in no way disturbs His poise and tranquility. Lalla Ded as a yogini living in the flowery world of smell, sight et al is so well-poised in her awareness that she sees Shiva in the world, yet beyond the confines of the world as a perceptible garden. She is at a station where she is absolutely content and joyous having dips in the ever-gushing nectar of Shiva's consciousness supreme. She calls such dips as 'dying' because it is a state of mergence. Lalla Ded sings:-
Lala ba chayan suman baga baras
vuchum Shivas Shakhat meelith tavah
laya karmas amryat saras
tati maras ta karyam kyha
It is a matter of common observation that water as an element under freezing conditions gets frozen into the form of snow and ice. When the sun shines upon snow or ice, it gets melted, back into the state of water. The element of water, the process of getting frozen and snow or ice, though sequentially three in number are essentially one. Water as the basic substance under a freezing process turns into snow or ice. Similarly the fundamental fluid of Shiva's consciousness having a stir of creativity in a submerged condition assumes varied forms under the willing impulse of Shiva Himself. Diversity as we find in the multi-faceted universe is eternally one with the creative consciousness of Shiva. It is an eternal process of opening out (unmesh) and withdrawing in (nimilan)
Lalla Ded sings out-
Turi salil khot ture
himi trai gayi byan abyan vimarsa
chyatani rava bhati sab samai
shiva mai charachar jagpashya
The frightful and ominous clouds of bigotry and intolerance had enveloped the skies of Kashmir when Lalla Ded was treading the native land of Kashmir. The forcible conversions with the aid of Muslim state power had already kick-started. In her trenchant exhortation to the hordes of Sayyid-Sufis acting as sappers and miners of Islam she clamours out the immanence of Shiva and need to follow the path of self-recognition as part of Trika Darshan to see essence of Shiva in men of all faiths:-
Shiva chuya thali-tahl rozan
mozan hynd ta musalman
trukhai chyukh pan praznav
soya chai shivas saet zani-zan
The Concept of Sunya From Buddhism to Kashmir Shaivism to Lalla Ded
By Prof. M.L. Koul
All credible evidences from the annals of Kashmir history establish that Kashmir was a pivotal centre of Buddhist thought and learning. To counter the narrow philosophical positions of Hinyana Buddhism it was in Kashmir that the doctrinal positions and theoretical mould of the Mahayana Buddhism were formulated and shaped out. A galaxy of Buddhist scholars of great eminence who were Kashmiri in their origins or had settled in Kashmir from other parts of India contributed their speculative faculties to the enunciation of the contours of Mahayana Buddhism and enriched its thought-content by shaping out its structures. All concerted efforts were made to disseminate the thought to a number of countries beyond the margins of the native country. The Mahayana thought in its debate of Reality, Soul and Human destiny had marked features of synonymity with the mainstream thought of India.
Mahayana thought over a period of time branched off into two thought divisions of Madhyamik and Vijnanvad. In the pages of Buddhist thought Madhyamik is also designated as Sunyvad because of its core philosophy about sunya. Nagarjun, a great celebrity in the realms of Buddhist thought, founded the Madhyamik school through his work named as 'Madhyamik-Karika. In his seminal work Nagarjun rejects the idea of an object existing or not-existing permanently or temporarily. He as a way out sought for a mean or middle-path. Being an expert dialectician he searched for causes for things that were existing. His postulations were startling as the world for him did not exist and was nothing but void, and emptiness. Things that exist are inherently lacking in substance. Anything that depends on a cause to exist has no existence and reality of its own.
In the words of stcherbabsky, "A dependent existence has no existence, just as borrowed money is no real wealth."
The mainstream Indian philosophical thought was wary to accept the stipulations of Nagarjun and characterised it as a philosophy of voidism or nihilism. All affirmative schools of thought put the thesis of Nagarjun to a scathing criticism and dismissed it as destructive.
It was Dr. T.R.V. Murti who in his highly acclaimed work, Buddhism, gave a new orientation to the very concept of Sunya as propounded by Nagarjun. He forcefully argued against those scholars who had interpreted sunya as voidism, emptiness or sheer nihilism. As per Dr. Murti, Nagarjun never thought of sunya as voidism, emptiness or nihilism. He places Nagarjun's sunya atpar with Brahman in Vedanta, or Vijnan in Vijnavad. Sunya, to him, is a metaphysical reality or a metaphysical concept. As Madhyamik is an absolutism, Dr. Murti calls sunya its metaphysical reality.
Dr. Murti maintains that sunya is a being that lies behind the world of relativity and conditioned existence. As a metaphysical being it is neither relative nor conditioned. He further states that world is sunya because it is relative and has no independent existence of its own.
'Sunyata' is another concept that is popular with the voidists. The critics of voidism understand it in the sense of negation. But, it, in fact, means negation of all views and even its own view.
Despite the wide-spread range of Buddhism in Kashmir, the popularity of Shiva's worship and many broad conceptualisations about popular religion never ceased to be. Being the most tolerant religion of the world religions, Buddhism was never in conflict with other forms of religions and their variegated methodologies of worship. Though a popular creed in Kashmir, Buddhism with its non-soul doctrine and sunya-like nihilistic conceptions failed to appeal to the spiritual impulse of Kashmir. The result was the churning of an affirmative strand of thought that evolved as a reaction to the formulations of the Buddhist thinkers. With Shiva as its core concept the new thought drew upon the philosophies of Sankya, Vaishnavism and Buddhism to weave its own harmonised pattern planked on non-dual structures. As a monistic absolutism it re-cycled old metaphysical and epistemological issues and evolved new approach and premis to yarn its world-view logically and coherently. Sunya as a vital Buddhist concept was appropriated, and was oriented in a manner that appeared absolutely at variance with its original Buddhist trappings and semantics.
The non-dual thinkers wedded to Shaivism put the Buddhist thesis of sunya to a thorough and incisive debate in all its ramifications. What emerges from the contours of their debate is that sunya as a metaphysical concept can be acceptable and accorded the same position that Brahman in Vedanta has. They appear to have no serious objections to place sunya even at par with Vijnan in Vijnanvad. But, they have far-reaching reservations to treat sunya at par with the metaphysical Reality of Shiva who has the pre-eminent attribute of 'Swatantrya', which is perfect freedom to act and know. Because of the attribute of 'Swantantrya', Shiva is 'Chaitanya' and sunya is lacking in this essential attribute. So, they evaluate sunya as a lower level of reality which they are unable to accept as the absolute Reality that Shiva encompasses.
The Shaiva thinkers seriously object to the voidist position of rejecting the world as emptiness or void. The world, to them, is neither insubstantial nor momentary. In their thought-model Shiva pre-exists as a being and Shakti is His becoming and their unicity is the absolute reality. If Shiva is real, so is His Shakti. As per logic, that what is real will generate or emanate real. Real generating or emanating unreal is logically preposterous. The Shaiva thinkers are loud in their assertion that world and objects in the world are real as they are one with the light of consciousness. If they were not to appear or illumine in the light of consciousness, they would not exist at all.
The non-dual shaivites are unanimous is rejecting the Buddhist thesis of monetariness as it reduces all manner of experiences, fleeting and abiding, to mere nothingness. As emphasised by them, the concept of momentariness dismisses all possibilities of making judgments and establishing contact through expression and communication.
In the annals of philosophy it is well-known that no new thought is totally new. What appears as new has ideas, concepts and stipulations from that what is dismissed as old and jaded. The non-dual thesis of Kashmir Shaivism as already mentioned has strands from Shaiva Siddhant of South of India, Sahajyani Buddhism, Sankhya and varied philosophies of Vaihsnavism. Sunya as a concept has been incorporated from Buddhism, especially its variant called Madhyamik. The Shaivite thinkers have modified sunya to reinforce and strengthen their own philosophical positions and fundamental thesis of monism. The Buddhist meanings and trappings of sunya have been totally discarded and given a new orientation in sync with the core philosophy of non-dual Shaivims. The very definition of sunya has been altered as 'shunyam ashunaym iti ukhtam which in translation means 'shunya is said to be ashunya'. It is not an inexplicable riddle. The definition makes it clear that sunya is not void or emptiness. What we call sunya does contain something lying in a state of total mergence.
The Shaivites translate sunya as 'abhava', which when broken up becomes 'a + bhava' meaning Shiva and world or objects lying in His consciousness. Sunya, to them, is in no case or condition as what the Buddhists call void or emptiness. Sunya is what the Shaivites call 'sad-bhava' which marks the presence of world or objects, but in a state of total mergence.
The following verse explains the Shaivite position on sunya:-
ashunaym shunyam iti ukhtam, shunyat abhava uchyate,
abhava satu vigyeyo yatra bhava layam gata
It conveys that sunya is asunya, not the condition of sunya, void or emptiness. Sunya means abhava (in translation), which again means a state in which objects (bhavas) lie in a condition of absolute mergence (in Shiva's consciousness supreme, the objects are there, but not in their name and form, but in a state of absolute dilution indistinguishable from Shiva's consciousness supreme also called 'maha-vyom'.
Sunya in the vakhs of Lalla Ded
Lalla Ded had a strong theoretical knowledge of the tenets of non-dual Shaiva philosophy of Kashmir. She was fortunate enough to have a preceptor (guru) like Sidda Srikanth, popularly known as Syada mol, who happened to be in the line of the tradition of Shaiva acharyas. Besides theoretical studies Lalla Ded as demanded by the thought itself was initiated in the Shaiva praxis by the same preceptor. As her mystical experiences reveal she was put on the path of higher ascension and had to achieve Sivahood through the Shaiva-yoga which her venerated preceptor had introduced to her dose by dose, step by step.
As Lalla Ded was a Shaiva practitioner she happened to experience some such states where she felt that she neither belonged to the world of objects nor had the spiritual flashes that would have satiated her yearnings of attaining identity with Shiva. Such of her conditions are termed as sunya which every initiate has to experience while working out Shaiva praxis under the guidance of a Shiva-guru, a realised soul.
After rummaging all the available verions of Lala Ded's vaakhs I was able to find out seven vaakhs in which Lalla Ded has made an explicit mention of sunya, a state she had to experience before achieving the state of self-recognition. She was an ardent follower of the Shaiva precept of 'Shivo Bhutwa Shivam Yajet'.
Lalla Ded ardently worked out the Shaiva Yoga, the practices prescribed in it. A situation emerged when the external world appeared to get absorbed in her own self and the imbalance between subject and object appeared to disappear and all got merged into sunya (void). It is a stage in her spiritual evolution and not the situation in which she finally attained Sivahood. She even ascended the state of sunya when she had felt that the world of name and form had risen to absorption. What was left was the state of anamaya which in Shaiva parlence means the condition of supremacy of the luminosity of consciousness supreme carrying the stir (spand) to create and absorb. The experience intensely felt by Lalla Ded has been grippingly conveyed in the vaakh:
‘abhyas savikas layi wothu
gaganas saghun myul samistrata!
Sunya gol ta anamaya motu
yuhuy wopadesh chuy bata !!
Being aware of the entire upanishadic ouvre of literature Lalla Ded has woven a superb allegory to explain the three functions of Param Shiva who creates, maintains and assimilates the universe. For the purpose she mentions Shiva who is the horse, Keshav who is the saddle and Brahma who is the sitrrups. The horse in the allegory is the 'trigunatmac horse' and Param Shiva alone having the attributes of 'anahat, kha swaroop, shunyalai’ is capable of riding it.
Anahat, Kha-Swaroop, Shunyalai, aham-vimarsa and nada-binda have philosophical meanings and need be studied in the light of the thought Lalla Ded was thoroughly cultivated by her preceptor.
As per the Shaiva texts Bindu is the undifferentiated, luminous and eternal consciousness supreme. Nada is the Shakti, the potency to manifest what lies in the Bindu. Bindu expands from Chitta-kala to anand-shakti, Iccha Shakti, Jnan Shakti and Kriya Shakti.
Many unrelated meanings have been attributed to anahat. What Lalla Ded means by anahat is related to Bindu and Nada. Anahat is 'pranav', Om, an unhindered and eternal sound, which is Bindu when in a state of unity with Param Shiva and Nada when in outward expansion.
Kha-swaroop and shunyalai are the attributes of Param Shiva who is beyond time and space and is the abode of sunya which means that in the consciousness of Shiva the world of objects lies in a state of total mergence.
Lalla Ded conveyes:
Anahat Kha-Swaroop, Sunyalai
Aham-Vimarsa Nada Byand Yas Von
As a Shaiva practitioner Lalla Ded merged her two breaths, pran and apan, into the Sushmana-nadi, also known as madhyanadi, which is considered as having a sunya like condition. She realised that the outward world had ceased to be for her and the state of duality was not a reality. In this psychic condition of having broken with the outward world she experienced a new state of having lost her not-self, which till then was under the delusion of taking it as her real self. With his experience as her sheet anchor she felt that the lotus of self-luminosity was about to enfold and bloom.
The following vaakh conveys the same felt-experience:-
Sunyuk madan kodum panas
mea Lalli roozam na bodh na hosh
Vazay sapnis panai panas
ada kami hili phol Lalli pamposh !!
Kashmir thought of Shaiva non-dual is a philosophy of positive affirmation and has in no uncertain terms rejected all forms of asceticism. Lalla as evidenced by her vaakhs has lived a life of high moral values in which avaricious greed, lust and insatiable eating have no place. Greed, lust and indiscriminate indulgence in pleasures of eating signify attachment of an individual to the things that he takes for his real self. That is why Lalla says that vain imaginings are to be abandoned and petty desires are to be slain. It never means that she is preaching for any form of asceticism. Her emphasis is to abandon any form of attachment that encases the real self of an aspirant. Lalla exhorts to concentrate on Shiva, which will pave his way to the attainment of a state where he will get merged in Sunya, a name for transcendental Shiva in which the world and its objects lie in a condition of absolute dilution. The following verse is meaningful in this context:-
Loob marun sahaz vetsarun
drogu zanun kalpan trav !
Nishe chuy ta duru mo garun
sunes sunyah milith gauv !!
Before Lalla Ded achieved her spiritual state of serlf-recognition she had followed many a course to act out their efficacy and usefulness in achieving her destination. She had studied Tantras, especially Bhairav Tantras and the practices prescribed in them. She utilised all her learning from them and took to mantras, worked them out and marched ahead. She felt that what she had achieved through Tantras and Mantras was that she had purified her chitta, limited form of chitti, consciousness supreme. After purification of her chitta, which was there but was free from the disturbance brought about by subject-object relationship, Lalla Ded attained the state of an aspirant, who has attained a loftiness of spiritual hue and is in ecstasy where nothing remains, but her own self stripped of all malas of attachment and duality. She in this lofty state merged into sunya, transcendental Shiva in whom the world of objects remains submerged in an undifferentiated form.
Lalla Ded sings:
Tanthar gali tai manthar motse
manthar gol tai motseyi chyath !
Tseth gol tai kenh ti na kune
sunes sunyah milith gauv !!
Sunya to Lalla Ded has come from non-dual thought of Kashmir, Shaivism which in turn had appropriated it from Buddhist thought. As a superb poet she sang it in vaakhs couching her intensely-felt experiences. Being a philosophical concept, Lalla Ded communicates the states of sunya that she had experienced during the course of her spiritual evolution. She is a great poet because she makes her felt experiences the stuff of her verse-sayings. Her poetry is great because she is philosophical in what she conveys and pours out.
Aum in Indian Scriptures, Kashmir Shaivism and Lalla Ded Vakh
By Prof. M.L. Koul
Writes Paul Tillich, 'In religion no one can avoid use of symbolism nor should one wish that it were possible to do so. The more lively a religion, the more complex its symbolism has to be, for it is thus it secures what protection it can get against the ever-present danger of literalism which is fatal to the life of any religion'.
Rigveda as the oldest record of human civilisation is replete with its own slew of symbols and motifs that potentially express its broad mosaic of myths, theology, thoughtflashes and religious reflections. Aum is the dominant divine symbol that fully reflects the Rigvedic essence and weltanchuung. It symbolises the reality that has been a deep concern of man since his inception on the earth.
As a religious symbol aum signifies a Reality that is transcendental, omnipotent, omniscient and inifite, yet it suffuse all that is manifest in nature. All Rigvedic gods are nature-gods, representing forces pervading nature.
As per the Indian tradition aum is the first fundamental sound that burst out of the throat of Brahma, the creator, when he began to give utterance to the Vedic learning embedded in His lotus-heart. Aum as the first word is considered highly auspicious (manglik pada) Swami Dayanand Saraswati, a billiant scholar of Vedas, states that Aum is the most excellent name of God. It is composed of three letters, a,u & m which in turn represent many names of God. The letter a represents gods like agni, virata, & vishva. The letter urepresents gods like vayu, tejas & hiranyagarb. The last letter m represents gods like ishwar, aditya and prajna. The vedic mantras sung in praise of multiple gods begin with Aum as the Divine Reality.
In the Prasnopanishad, the ever-curious Satyakam asks Rishi Piplad an array of questions about Aum, mainly about the merits which a devotee achieves when he meditates upon it. He is told that Aum is an all comprehensive sound-symbol of Brahman, the Reality, that is both beyond the universe and immanent in the universe. If meditated upon as a blend of three letters, a, u & m a devotee will come to behold that Macrocosmic self residing in his own heart.
As per Kathopunishad, Aum is the word that all vedas expound. It is the destination of all forms of meditation. Kath characterises Brahman as the Imperishable and Aum as the Supreme Support. If a devotee knows Aum as the support, he obtains an exalted position in the Abode of Brahman.
Shvetashvatar upanishad says that Aum as an object of meditation will lead a devotee to the destination of Brahman.
Chandoyya upanishad proclaims Aum as an object of meditation. It callsAum a spiritual charm. Brahman is to be worshipped through Aum as a means to attain the Immanent and All-pervading Brahman.
In the Taittirya-Upanishad, Aum is equated with Brahman. It is all and everything (oum iti Brahman, oum itidam sarvam).
In the Bhagwatgeeta Lord Krishna tells Arjuna, who was smitten by serious doubts, that He (Lord Krishan) is the rasa in water, luminosity (prakash) in the sun and the moon and omkar in the vedas (sloka 8, chap. 7). He again tells him that the vedic scholars know the highest Reality as omkar (sloka 11, chap. 8). Lord Krishna also tells Arjuna that a man who gives up his mortal coil while uttering the divine akshar aum & mulling over its embedded meaning attains His Abode (sloka 13, chap. 8).
As conceived by the vedic seers aum has continued to dominate the spiritual and philosophical discourse in India. It remains the dominant symbol that shapes and moulds the broad contours of the Indian spiritual way of life. aumis not just a sign, but a potential symbol which as per Paul Tillich 'participates in the reality that it represents'.
Throughout the chequered history of India and cruel rule of Muslims aum has provided a spiritual succour to the oppressed people and has continued to find resonance in the 'collective unconscious' of the natives of this ancient land.
As a spiritual beacon it has been paving the trail of men in quest of spiritual sublimity for making human life more meaningful and more purposeful on the earth. aum enshrines a sublime value that Hindus assiduously pursue to touch a horizon where any shade of difference between them and the ultimate Reality fades. It represents catholicity, breadth of vision and holistic outlook on man, world and Brahman. It embodies the spirit of ‘vasudaiva kutumbkam’.
Aum in Kashmir Shaivism Despite Kashmir being a mountain-girt valley it broadly was a part and parcel of the territorial and cultural landscape of India. The excavations as Burzhom have authentically established that the Bruzhom man, a pit dweller, was racially and anthropologically a Harapan. It can, therefore, be deduced that Kashmir had a protracted vedic age with its roots bed-rocked in the history and culture of Kashmir. Aum as a valued spiritual legacy dominated the spiritual paradigm and spiritual trajectories in Kashmir. It could not be dislodged from the spiritual pedestal even after some trendsetting Tantric motifs and symbols were introduced by Kashmir Shaivites who wove a perfect network of thought from the strands that had come all the way from south of India to Kashmir, renowned as Shardapeeth.
Despite manifest Tantric foundations of Kashmir Shaivism, the Kashmiri thinkers remained within the ambit of the vedic tradition by showing their absolute allegiance tovedacar and vedic symbology of aum, omkar, pranav. As per the entrenched vedic legacy, the letters a, u & m are deemed as referrals toBrahma as rajas, vishnu as satvas and mahesh as tamas.
A dot (bindu) above aum symbolically indicates Param Shiva or Param Brahma or Brahman transcending the world of sense objects. aum is taken as an eternal, un-hindered sound, anahat nad, ever vibrating in the heart of man. It has been linked with bindhu & nada. when aum or pranav is in a state of unity with Shiva or consciousness supreme, it is bindu and when it expands into manifest forms neel, peel & sukha, it is nada.
Aum is bindu in un-manifest form and it is nada in manifest form. The entire word-hoard (shabad rashi) owes its genesis to the eternal, un-hindered sound,aum, or pranav. Aum if taken as para-vak represents universal ideation which is the matrix of all sounds. It as the first sound is not manifest. It remains in a state of mergence in the consciousness supreme. But, it is astir, throbbing and not in a state of stagnation. When the process of ideation begins, it is Pasyanti. It is just a nebulous idea without form. It all happens in the creative mind of Shiva. When the idea takes on a form in His mind, it is Madhyama, this-ness, idea has taken a form. Finally, the idea takes a definite form and shape, it is manifest. It is called Vaikhuri, a manifest expression, gross word in verbal form.
In his erudite commentary on Samb-Panchashika, Khemraj conveys that aum as the eternal inaudible sound throbs incessantly in the heart of man. It is the para-vanifrom which emerges Pashyanti, which is impregnated with form-less words and further expands into other layers of words with forms gross.
The verse reads:-
Aum iti antar nadanati
niyatam yah prati prani shabdo
Vani yasmat prasarti
para shambadtanmatra garbe
Kashmir Shaivism holds that Supreme consciousness or Shiva is beyond the physical world, grants liberation to seekers while living and creates and is the foundation of three vedas and is known as pranava, having a unique-type of self-reflection enabling an aspirant to realise his own true nature (swarup) of Shiva.
The verse reads:-
Yatra aarood trigun upandi Brahma tad bindu rupam
Yogindranam yadapi parmam bhati nirvanmargah
tryi aadhar pranav iti yet mandalam chand rashme
antah sukhshyam bahirapi brahat mukhtaya prapana
Aum, to Jagdhar Bhat, a thirteen century poet-scholar of Kashmir, is the combination of three morases (matra) of a,u & m and is the eternal inaudible sound, which is the matrix of the entire word-hoard and goes on pulsating within the heart of all.
The verse reads:-
Aum iti safurad urasya anahatam
garb gumfitam samast vankhmayam
dandhaneeti hrat param padam
tat sat akhsharam upasahemaha
As per the Kashmir Shaivites the triad of a,u & m refers to many triads of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh; Iccah, Jnan and Kriya; satva, rajas andtamas and subject, object and praman (proof).
- Prof. N.K. Gurtu, Commentary on sambapanchashikha
In his scintillating commentary on Bhagwatgeeta, Abhinavagupta writes that the inaudible word (anahat shabad) that is audible only to the seekers is the nature (swarup) of the ultimate Reality. He equates 'aum' with the consciousness supreme that embodies the universe within its matrix in an undifferented forms.
Aum in Lalla Ded Vakh
Though a Shaivite to the core, Lalla Ded as revealed by her vakhs was initiated into the world of Shiva through the bija mantra, aum, by her venerable guru, Siddha Srikanth. To her, the manifesting word of Shiva or Brahman is aum or pranav (Lord of living beings).
Repetition of the word, aum, was the key that proved efficacious in the processes of concentrating her mind as a first step to march ahead on the spiritual journey that she had assiduously embarked upon.
She was a seeker, an instinctive seeker who meditated upon aum. reflected upon it as the most sacred syllable of the three vedas, rig, sam and yajur and immersed herself in the Shaiva-Yoga praxis to cognise her pristine nature of Shiva.
Lalla Ded was highly aware of the great spiritual significance of aum as the vedic symbol. She had come across aum as delineated in the vedas as the crux of vedic learning and vedic spiritual praxes. She clearly says that she had read only one word 'aum' as the essence of Vedas and then placed it in her mind through its regular recitation with one single-pointedness. To her, aum, was the spiritual charm beyond which she felt no necessity to seek for other means. Aum as a bija mantra metamorphosed her from ashes into pure gold.
Omei akuy achur parum Sui ha malie rotum vondas manz
Sui ha mali kani peth garum ta charum asus sas sapdas sone
Omei akuy achur parum Sui ha malie rotum vondas manz
Sui ha mali kani peth garum ta charum asus sas sapdas sone
To Shaivites aham is the most powerful mantra that leads a seeker to spiritual fulfilment. But, to Lalla Ded, aum is the mantra that alone works for any seeker. She has concentrated and meditated upon it and it is through this mantra that she established a bridge between her microcosmic self and macrocosmic Reality. The fact very well known to Lalla Ded is that the eternal, un-hindered sound, aum, throbs in the heart of every man. What is needed is only to concentrate on it for higher ascendance.
Lalla Ded says:-
Akuya omkar yus nabhi dare
kombuya brahmandas somai gare
akuya mantra yus chyatas kare
tas sas mantra kyaha zan kare
As Lalla Ded has marched upon spiritual path step by step, She has worked out various methodologies at various stages to tune and temper and temper herself to the consciousness supreme. In the course of her Shaiva praxes a stage came when she got merged in the essence of aum, that is Shiva consciousness, and had a feeling that her body got blazed like a red-hot coal. It is a spiritual feeling, quite nebulous and Lalla Ded has objectified it through red-hot coal as a matter of her observation in the world. It is a stage that seekers reach as a result of Shaktopaya. She gave up the six paths ofvarna, mantra, pada, kala, tattava and bhuvan as prescribed in the Shaiva methodology and embarked direct upon Shambhava-yoga (sat marg) for complete mergence in the Shiava-consciousness.
Says Lalla Ded:-
Akuya omkar yali layi onum
vohee korum panun paan
shya vath travith sat marg rotum
tyali Lalla bo vachas prakashasthan.
Guru in Kashmir Shaivism and Guru in Lalla Ded Vakh
By Prof. M.L. Koul
In the annals of Kashmir Shaiva-praxis guru (preceptor, spiritual director) has been accorded a distinguished stature of respect and reverence for the part he plays in initiating and guiding disciples in spiritual trajectories. High-level spiritual attainments and exemplary wisdom alone are the titles of guru. A siddha purusha, a perfect soul, is what guru is. Such a soul alone is qualified to have disciples whose spiritual destinies he shapes and moulds through Shaiva practices or his personal grace (shaktipat).
Guru in Shaiva parlance is Shivaguru or sat-guru. He is Shiva, acts as Shiva or at the behest of Shiva. A devotee or his disciple bows to him in absolute supplication for having set him onto the trail of Shiva and cultivated him into a frame a pre-requisite to recognise his pristine nature of Shiva.
In his highly acclaimed commentary on Shiva-Sutra Khemraj informs that guru is one who teaches Reality or Truth (grinati updishyati tatvikam artham iti guru). He reveals the potencies of mantra to his pupils (sah guru...mantra viryi prakashakah). In spand-karika Bhatta Kallat eulogises his guru for the benediction of ferrying his boat across the ocean of doubts (agad samshai ambodi sam utran tarinam) through his illuminating teachings. In Malinivijay Tantra guru is described as one who fully knows the essentials of thought (Kashmir Shaivism) he is wedded to and throws light on the power of Mantras.
In the same Tantra guru is said to have power of grace (parmeshwari anugrahika shakti). If pleased with his disciple, guru reveals to him all the hidden truth about 'matrikacakra' which exactly as per Shaiva thought is Shiva's manifestation of the universe from the first letter 'a' to the last letter 'h' comprising Sanskrit string of letters.
No knowledge without guru (guru bina na jnanam) is a cliched statement underpinning the vital significance of guru in the attainment of Jnan which is Shiva-consciousness.
Guru as an embodiment of spiritual knowledge and radiance is extra careful of not impinging on the sense of self-worth and self-image of a disciple.
Guru in the manner of a psychoanalyst peers through the mind (chitta) of a disciple, measures his level of consciousness and his intuitive quality to recognise his pristine nature of Shiva and puts him on the highway of quest. A Shiva-Guru is more than aware that his disciple either a 'muud' (inferior in consciousness) or 'su-prabuddha' (superior in consciouenss) has a sense of autonomy.
Without impairing it he cognises it as a positive factor contributing to his spiritual advancement. Keen to awaken his disciple to the inward reality of 'self' Guru replenishes and reinforces all what his disciple has as it is deemed fundamental to 'self' and its cognition. Concerted effort on part of guru is to expand and broaden his sense of self-worth, selfimage and autonomy which are limited and inhibited because of his conditioned existence of an 'anu', a bound jiva.
Shiva guru, even if a monk, assiduously prepares his disciple for the world.
He in no way commands him to robe himself after the manner of a recluse (sanyasin). He tastefully sublimates, refines and tempers the attitudes and proclivities of a seeker for a balanced mind which acts as a receptacle for flashes of Shiva-consciousness. The microcosmic body along with its multiple senses and potentialities are harnessed and not suppressed as Shiva-guru is for affirmative view of life and world. A seeker remains in the world, a meshy layer of dualities, and gains an insight into his original nature of Shiva right in the world. No prescriptions are there to abandon the world and live the life of a recluse.
What concerns Shiva-guru most is that he moulds his disciple in sync with his cultural bequest and cultural setting.
He roots him in the indigenous soil he is a product of and reinforces his linkages with the same roots. His icons are native, his gods are native, his holy places are the Shiva-dhams littered over the whole native place and his world-view belongs to him as a legacy.
He worships water flowing in the vitasta and his logic is not rock-hard as is found in desert cultures. Shiva-guru firmly rooted deep down in his native soil enriches and fertilises the broad swathes of spiritual way of life through his teaching and preaching based on catholicity of outlook and broad values of humanism.
To him, Shiva is world and world is Shiva. It is a philosophical position which shocks the believers of rock-hard logic that narrows the space for pluralistic ways of life and pluralistic ways of thought.
Guru as an expert in the Shaiva academics expands the intellectual horizons of his pupil, sharpens his thinking abilities and leads him with an awakened mind and brain to attain his spiritual destiny of Shivahood. A constant interaction between a pupil and his guru is the mechanism through which the pupil learns about metaphysical issues along with their complexities and intricacies and removes cobwebs of his doubts and misunderstandings and the guru exposits all the fundamental issues of the thought-model he actually symbolises. All the line of Shiva-gurus from Vasgupta to Bhatta Kallat to Somanand to utpaldev to Abhinavgupta and last but not the least Swami Laxman Ji Maharaj have been remarkable theoreticians of Kashmir Shaivism.
Scholarship and Shaiva-Yoga have been two facets of all the Shiva-gurus. Jnan (knowledge) and self-recognition (spirituality), to them, have not been dichotomous.
Shiva-guru is essentially a man of culture. His aesthetic faculties are sharp and tempered. Invested with profound knowledge of the whole spectrum of heritage he revitalises and refurbishes it through an interactive process of imbibing and interriorising the reigning values and critically analysing and evaluating them. Revitalisation and perpetuation of the contours of native culture is the leit motif of a Shiva-guru.
Abhinavgupta, a profile thinker and siddha purusha was an exemplary aesthete.
Having thoroughly studied aesthetics as a component of the extensive mosaic of Indian culture at the lotus feet of his erudite guru, Tota Bhatt, he made a precious contribution to the realms of aesthetics through his path-breaking commentary on Anandvardhan's 'Dwanyalok' from a Shaivite perspective.
Guru, in sum, is an aesthete and deals with the finer stuff of beauty. Most of the Shiva-gurus have been deep-set lovers of music, drama, dance and poetry and used them as resource to share the finest aesthetics of Shiva as the source of beauty.
Much like six systems of Indian philosophy Kashmir Shaivism is not only a logically structured model of thought but also contains a whole range of practices for the realisation of spiritual destiny of a seeker. Shaiva-Yoga what Kashmiri Shaivites call it is a regimen of practices for all types of seekers having individual differences. Guidance and initiation of an accomplished Shivaguru or satguru is a must for all types of seekers at various levels of consciousness.
Shiva-guru unhesitatingly showers grace (shakhtipat) on an aspirant who is extremely awake and has inituitive ability to recognise his real swaroop (nature) of Shiva. His mere look at the aspirant works as an alchemy that melts his dross (malas) encasing him and frees him from knots and complexes that bind him as an 'anu' or 'pasu'. Guru's grace on such an aspirant is without reason and logic and totally un-asked for. Guru's shakhtipat (grace) on an aspirant means his mergence (samavesh) into Shivaconsciousness.
Such grace for Shivaconsciousness is known as 'Shambhva' methodology. Khemraj puts in his commentary on Shiva-Sutra-akinchit chintakasya guruna pratibodhata Jayate yah samavesha shambhava asau udahritah Deficient in inspiraion and intiative faculty Shiv-Guru puts such an aspirant to a regular and uninterrupted practice of knowing his innate reality. He is taught and directed to imagine himself to be Shiva only and that alone as his reality.
A sort of auto-suggestive technique this type of Shaiva-Yoga is known as shakhta-yoga, bhavanana-yoga or chitta-sambodh yoga.
--Malinivijay Tantra writes.
uccar rahitam vastu chetsa eva vichintayan
yam samavesham aapnoti shaktah so atra abhideyate
An aspirant innately having low level of consciousness and steeply mired in the gross stuff of the world is prescribed anava-yoga. Shiva-guru in view of his deficiences introduces him to a regimen of pranaym (breathing exersises) and dyan, concentration on an icon, a mantra or a syllable. Such practices raise his level of consciousness so as to motivate him for higher levels of methodologies for attainment of mergence (samavesh) into or identity with Shiva.
Guru is a liberator, uplifter and path finder of the aspirants who are intensely motivated to pursue the path of spiritual quest. He Is a crutch to those who are lacking in Shiva consciousness. Guru, more than most, is a vital link between a seeker and his ultimate destination. His relations with his pupil are the same that we witness between father and son. Ved Vyas labelled as 'vishal buddhi' tyPifies guru. 'Vyas purnima' as a commemorative date stands enshrined in the calender of Kashmiri Pandits, which is nearly 5000 year old. Guru in reality is Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh.
As revealed by her treasure- trove of Vakhs it can be said with certitude that Lalla Ded had intense spiritual sensibilities which were tapped for final fruition by her guru, Sidda Srikanth. A name in Shaiva thought and Shaiva Yoga, Sidda Srikanth, was the family guru of Lalla Ded. In the style of Shiva-guru he had continuous sessions of debates and discourses with her with a view to sharpening her philosophical clarity on issues relevant to the Shaiva thought. Lalla Ded flumoxed her guru when she interpreted 'prakash' luminosity, tirth-holy place, 'bandhav'-real kins and 'sokh' a pleasurable feeling in a manner that completely contradicted the views that he harboured on them. It was sufficient to convince Siddha Srikanth of the philosophical mould of Lalla Ded.
In one of her extra-ordinary discourses with her guru Lalla Ded unequivocaly conveys that Siddha Srikanth was a man of omniscience, had recognised his Shiva swaroop (real nature) and was possessed of calm and collected mind. She begged of him to give her refuge and anchorage as she was love-consumed quite keen to merge into the ocean of Shiva's bliss. She also drew his attention to the evanescence of time and implored him to initiate her and others present at the time of debate without loss of time. Says Lalla Ded Syada mali syado syada kathan kan thav kal ava kuthan ta kariv kyaha In a candid vein Lalla Ded conveys that she pestered her guru ruthlessly to explain to her the nature of the 'Nameless' and in the process got tired and exhausted. Then she conveys her impression that the 'nameless' is the source of something (universe) which lies submerged, there in an undifferentiated form.
gwaras pritsham sasi late yas na kenh vanan tas kyah nav
pritshan pritshan thachista loosas kenh nas nisha kyah tam draw !!
There are ample internal evidences available from Lalla Ded Vakhs that she through her regular interaction with her guru, Siddha Srikanth, who is parmeshwar to her, allayed her doubts and misgivings about metaphysical issues and Shaiva-yoga praxes. She implores him to teach her (grinati updishati tatvikam artham iti guru) the secret about pran and apan as to why one is hot and the other is cold though both rise from the same region. says Lalla Ded he gwara parmeshwara bhavatam cheya chuy antar vyud dwashivai whopdan kandpura ha-ha kwa turn ta ha-ha kwa tot Pran and apan are the two lexical words in all versions of Yoga. But, Lalla Ded during the interaction is promped to know about the Shaiva meanings of these two lexical words. In Shaiva Yoga the lexical word 'chandrama' denotes the breath emerging from outer dwadashant moving towards 'hridaya' and the breath emerging from inner dwadashant (hridaya) moving towards outer-dwadashant.
The first is apan-breath and the second is pran breath. The breath moving outside (pranvayu) is naturally hot. It is at the 'hridaya' that apan-vayu halts and pran-vayu emerges.
In the same way it is at the outer-dwadashant that pranvayu ends and apan-vayu emerges. Both pran and apan vayus are the gross forms of the original all-pervading 'pranshakti'.
In his classical work 'Ascent of Self', Prof. B.N. Parimoo has characterised the said-Vakh as a soliloquy, posing the question and answering it herself. But, the author of the write-up after due thought does not agree to the view of Prof. Parimoo. The second line of the Vakh- "bhavatam cheya chuy antar vyud" is significant which surely conveys that she wants her guru to express (bhavatam) his own views on the Shaiva Yoga meanings of pran and apan vayu as he has knowledge about it and knows about it experientially.
Lalla Ded having undergone numerous sessions of discourses with her Shiva guru for awakening and sharpening of her Shiva-consciousness was finally imparted 'diksha' which in the words of Ram Kanth, a noted Shaiva scholar of Kashmir, is a sort of consecration ceremony only to initiate one into the higher life, bestowing on the initiate the boon of self-knowledge and casting away the dirts due to sense of difference (swaroopasambodhadanatmako bhedamayabandha - ksapanalaksansca samskarvisesah).
Lalla Ded had diksha, an initiation through a 'vachan", which means a word (vachak pad) embedded with denotative meaning (vachya). The embedded meaning as conveyed by the line (nebra dopnam andar acheun) is the reference to the senses as shackles (pasa) which are to be withdrawn for attainment of Shiva-consciousness.
Though Lalla Ded has used 'mantra' in many a Vakh, yet in the small Vakh under reference she uses 'kunuy vachun' which is for mantramantra varnatmakah sarvey sarvey varnah shivatmakaha Mantra comprising impregnated letters or symbols are pointers to 'ahanta', I consciousness of Shiva. What Srikanth did with Lalla Ded through 'kunuy vachun' or Mantra was to direct her mind (chitta) to 'ahanta', Iconsciousness of Shiva. In Shaiva Yoga mantra is the main shakhtopaya for selfrecognition (pratibijjna).
The 'kunuy vachun' or mantra deeply impacted her psycho-physical frame throwing her into a convulsion of joy and ecstasy (tawai hyutum nangai nachun).
The vakh reads as
gwaran dopnam kunuy vachun nebra
dopnam andrai achun Sui Lalli gava
mea vakh ta vachun tawai hyutum nangai nachun
The word of Shiva-guru which is mantra, divine power clothed in sound, coupled with the ritual of cleansing of her body and mind with the holy waters of Ganga as the symbol of absolute purity led Lalla Ded to attain Shivahood while in life, thereby conquering the fear of death.
Sings Lalla Ded:-
gwara kath hridayas manzbag ratam
ganga zala navum tan ta mann
Sodih Jeevan mokhtai provum
yama bhayi cholum polum arat
Motivated with a deep sense of responsibility unto others Lalla Ded declaims that absolute trust and faith in the word of Shiva-guru, his mantra, the ever fleeting mind under the control of Jnan (Shivaconsciousness), the outward directed senses completely pacified and calmed are the gateway to final bliss (anand) surmounting the existential fear of death and anybody generating fear by putting a man to death.
Says Lalla Ded:-
gwara shabdas yus yach patch bare
gyan vagi rati chyath torgas yandrai shomith
anand kare adakus mari bai maran kas
The internal evidence of the vakhs does not buttress the view that Lalla Ded's case was that of guruna pratibodtah', generating 'samavesh', mergence into the ocean of Shiva consciousness, characterised as 'shambava upaya'. What I have gleaned from all versions of Vakhs is that her guru had mapped her ascent step by step and stage by stage. She had tried the methodoligies of 'anava yoga' which stress measures like pranayam, concentration (dyan) on some form of icon or any other symbol as suggested to her by her venerable guru and pilgrimages to holy places for purification of mind and body. Because of her deep sense of 'loss and married life pain' as a result ship-wrecked married life Lalla Ded must have deep disturbances (ksob) agitating her mind (chitta). So, taking up the anava methodology was necessary to pacify her mind and steadily she must have been led to adopt 'shakta' methodologies to develop a frame necessary for further ascent of being one with Shiva.
Gurunatha-Paramarsa (of Madhuraja)
By Prof. M.L.Koul
Acharya Abhinavagupta, the great Kashmiri Shaivite philosopher of Tenth Century A.D. was a multi-faceted genius. He made extraordinary contributions to the domain of philosophy and aesthetics. His two commentaries on Isvarpratyabijjna of Utpaldeva are vital to the understanding of Kashmir Shaiva monism, centering round Shiva as an absolute. The Acarya perfected the theory and praxis of Trika as a part of Kashmir Shaiva monism. Many a scholar has nomenclatured Shaiva monism as Trika Philosophy in recognition of his stature as an expositor of Trika. Acarya's many works have been lost as a result of intolerant Vandalism and ravages of time. We still have his numerous works, commentaries and devotional hymns, which establish him as an incomparable Shaiva master.
Abhinavagupta's fame, in his own life time, had spread beyond the purlieux of Kashmir. Many outstanding students and practitioners of Shaivism flocked to Kashmir to learn from him. Madhuraja, the great practitioner of Khandana (:smashing false wisdom) and mandana (:establishing truth), in his 74th year came to Kashmir to become Acaryas disciple. Madhuraja, who belonged to Madhura (Modern Madurai, Tamil Nadu), was a yogi of the Pasupata Sampradaya. In his quest for knowledge, he moved from place to place, carrying no personal belongings except a staff (Dandah), a water vessel (Kamanduluh), an earthen vessel (Karpar) and a patch-work blanket (Kantha).
Madhuraja, author of a number of works, was proficient in prose as well as verse. He was deeply impressed by the Acarya's exposition of Utpala's Sivadrsti, perhaps presented by him in the (now lost) Siva drsti-locana. Two other works of Abhinavagupta, lost to us now, are mentioned by Madhuraja, namely: Pancasika and Kathamukha Mahatilaka. Of these the latter is referred to by Acarya himself in his Paratrimsika, while the former is a new name. Dr. V. Raghavan, to whom we owe the credit for retrieving one of the manuscripts of Gurunatha Parmarsa, identifies it with Paryanta-Pancasika.
Madhuraja looked upon Acarya Abhinavagupta as Daksinamurthi reborn in Kashmir. He has paid a poetic tribute to his guru, Abhinavagupta. His panegyric, Gurunatha Paramarsa, was published by the Research and Publications Department, J&K Govt. in 1960, when late Prof. PN Pushp was its director. Commenting on the forte of the Paramarsa, Prof Pushp wrote, "The pen-portrait of Abhinavaguptacarya in the arcadian milieu of his asrama lit up by his spiritual radiance is so vivid and superb, and gives a convincing peep into the integrated personality of the great Acarya".
The text of Gurunatha Paramarsa, as established by the Research Department is based on two manuscripts -- a) Swami Lakshmana Joo of Ishbar, who copied out the manuscript in 1925 from a Devanagari transcript belonging to a grahasti mahatma of Madras (46 verses) b) Manuscript D. No: 15323 of the Sanskrit College, Tripunittura, Cochin, as utilised by Dr. V. Raghavan in his edition of the work, published in the JOR, Madras (47 verses).
In the two manuscripts, only twenty eight verses are common. Out of the nineteen verses peculiar to manuscript mentioned in (b), only 1-9 verses refer to Abhinava-Bharati, Acarya's celebrated commentary on Natyasastra of Bharata. May be the other ten verses have been drawn from some other works of Madhuraja. Prof. Mohan Lal Koul, who holds deep insights into Kashmir Saivism and cultural tradition of Kashmir has translated 'Gurunatha Paramarsa' from original Sanskrit into English for the readers of Kashmir Sentinel. Below is the English translation -- (The Editor)
Sun Worship in Kashmir by Prof. M.L. Koul
The sun-god is in essence is a Vedic god and its reverential worship has been widely prevalent throughout including Kashmir. In the Rig-veda we find a web of mythology woven around the sun-god known as Aditi. During the upanishadic era the sun-worship had assumed tremendous significance and the Chamdogya upanishad is replete with references to the sun-worship as it created life and also nourished it. In the Mahabharata the sun-god attained a sweeping sovereign status and in some respects was deemed more significant than most other gods in the Hindu pantheon. The sun-worship was so pervasive that massive temples were built in honour of the sun-god. The magnificent Konark temple, built in the eleventh century A.D. testifies to the importance and prevalence of the sun-god worship.
The sun-worship touched a new height during the reign of King Harsha. In his court, an eminent writer Banabhata, has made a specific reference to Harsha's father, who was an ardent devotee of sun-god and offered its worship as a matter of regular practice. Kalhana's Rajatarangini equally establishes that the sun-worship was prevalent in Kashmir too. As Kashmir had been a crucible of numerous cultural traditions and trends, the sun-god was worshipped alongwith a litany of religious gods and icons connected with Buddhism, Shaivism and Vaishnavism. As per Kalhana, a ruler named Ranaditya as a devotee had built a sun-temple at a place known as 'Simharotsika'. The temple was said to be grand, massive and exemplary in terms of art. He has made a mention of another sun-temple, known world over as Martand. This temple is built on an elevated plateau in natural ambience in the vicinity of Mattan in Anantnag.
The temple was made to perfection by Lalitaditya, who besides being a conqueror was a great builder. Martand as a temple has been evaluated as the 'germ of Indian architecture', which set a trend in the contemporary temple architecture. The temple caused amazing wonder to medieval fanatic Zealot Sultan Sikander, who set up a government department to destroy it by the use of gun-powder. The hamlet of Mattan which has been of great religious importance to the Hindus all over India has been traditionally known as the 'Surya tirth', a place of sun-pilgrimage. After Mattan, second in importance was Kwalkhetra, not far away from Srinagar. Here Pandits would go on pilgrimage for sun-worship and for a purificatory bath to wash off worldly sins. As per Nilmatpurana, there were eight places exclusively meant for sun-worship in Kashmir. The temples built at the places were known as Aryaman Arka, Divakar, Surya , Savitra, Martand etc, all these words are synonyms of the word sun. Kashmiri Pandits still stick to a number of rituals, which are directly related to sun-workshipr
The Kashmiri Pandit scholars who were intimately connected with Dr George Grierson were not at all in agreement with his formulations about the origins of Kashmiri language. There were many other European scholars like Ralph Turner, Joules Block, Stenkonow and George Morgenhtierna, who openly flouted the observations made by Grierson. The fundamental word-hoard of Kashmiri language, its syntax, its noun and verb forms and more than most words related to agricultural processes and names of implements used during such operations owe their origin to Sanskritic word-hoard. Dr Grierson has placed Kashmiri in the Dardic group of dialects and subdialects. These, as per him, are intermediate to the Indo-Aryan and Iranian groups of languages. Stenkonow and Joule Block have placed the Dardic languages or dialects within the Indo-Aryan group of languages and not in the Iranian cluster of languages. Even the very word 'Dard' is itself a Sanskritic word and as a language is a metamorphosed form of old Vedic Sanskrit Languages Chitrali, Kafri, Shina, Kashmiri and Kohistani are the Dardic group of languages,which in terms of linguistics are directly related to Paischachi, which is a recognised prakrit, having a sufficient quanta of litterature.
According to Hornley, Pashachi is a Dravidian prakrit, but Purshotamdeva and Dr Gune as experts consider it a metamorphosed form of Sanskrit and Shaursemi prakrit. It is pertinent to put that Dr TN Ganjoo under the able guidance of Dr RK Sharma, former HoD of Hindi, Kashmir University, has thoroughly researched the subject and established the origin of Kashmiri language to the Vedic Sanskrit. Dr Grierson had colonialist imperatives in distorting the origins of Kashmiri language in a region, which was being eyed by British Imperial government for imperialist designs. Dr Grierson, whose presumptions were accepted uncritically, was equally unaware of the fact that the literature of Kashmiri language pre-dated fourteenth century and references in this behalf, which are of extreme relevance are available from the works of Abhinavagupta, Bilhana, Kalhana.
Philosophy - A Synoptic View
By Prof. M.L. Koul
Be it said in all fairness that philosophy in India did not begin as an independent segment of human investigation. It actually overlapped with religion which to a large extent concealed it under a covering of myths and credos but never hampered it from assuming its bold contours. As is well known, India is a land of multiple and multiform religions that have all long sought support and succour from philosophy to buttress and fortify their essential doctrines and positions. This link between philosophy and religion, not in any way tenuous, resulted in generating new taxonomies of ideas and concepts that enriched the content of religions and also provided a nisus to the process of weaving the warp and woof of systematic thought models. The close inter-relationship between philosophy and religion in India is in no way a matter of weakness on part of Indian philosophy. In reality, the culture and civilization of India, on the whole, have the inspiration of religions behind them and religions have the inspiration and energy of philosophy behind them. To the Western mind, this weltans chung appears to be an anathema and that is how scholars in the west are misled into wrong assessments about the nature of the Indian philosophy. Thinkers in the west are fed and nourished by the Green thought, which in its broad essentials was based on the pedestal of rationalism. Their absolute commitment to reason deters them from placing the Indian thought structure in the category of philosophy. Their categorization of the Indian philosophy is that of religious philosophy in letter and spirit. Karl Potter an eminent scholar of Indian philosophy, is of the view that all systems of Indian philosophy are goal-oriented and hence they be evaluated by standards peculiar to them, certainly not conforming to the standards applicable to philosophy in the west. But objectively speaking, the nature of philosophy in India is not different from that of the philosophy in the west. The Indian philosophers have never repudiated reason, never sealed discussions on the nature of Reality, never taken well-founded beliefs at their face value and never stopped from asking questions about the universe and the real meaning of human existence. True as it is, the Indian thinkers were not mere theoreticians, but, for them, philosophy as view of life was inseparable from philosophy as way of life. Winternitz, colebrook, Neitzehe, Scholpanhauer and many other orientalists had an appreciative understanding of the Indian cultural ethos and their evaluations of the entire corpus of the Indian literature in general and philosophy in particular are more objective and precious than those that verge on pre-occupied opinions. As in the west, so in India, philosophers were in quest for the ultimate truth and the systems they have structured are as coherent and well-knit as many other systems in the west. Indian thinking is the product of its own milieu and it has to be evaluated as it is. Indian philosophers loved wisdom or sophia, evined a keen curiosity to plumb the depths of atman and its nexus with the world that evolves. The total spectrum of thought processes leads us to believe that Indian thinkers were motivated by an intellectual quest for goals that were metaphysical and spiritual in essence and for practical realisation of truth. The vedic and upanishade visionaries from Uddalak, Yajn-avalak, Kapil, Kanad, Patanjali to sankar and off the beat thinkers like Buddha and Mahavir and others possess all the credentials for entry into the famed hall of pre-eminent thinkers.
Religions in India were far from being rigid and dogmatic. They had no set codes to reduce vast numbers of Indian masses to the sheer position of obedience and conformity. They had intrinsic proclivity to allow openness and variety of thinking that led to the formation of a broad mosaic in which each thread of thought merged on the pattern but at the same time stood out of it to attract attention. From a bird's eye view of the broad mosaic of Indian culture, one gathers the idea of a key role that tradition has played in preserving age-old religious mores and also in assimilating any new model of philosophy and enquiry within its ambit and perpetuating its bonds with centuries old thought process without hampering such an enquiry from burgeoning into an independent philosophical thinking. The close nexus the religions in India had with philosophy desisted them in a large measure from ossifying into rigid and lifeless dogmas and tradition cemented the bond between the two without playing the negative role of stunning and stultifying the growth of either of them. Numerous thought proceses with varied approaches and premises to essential problems of life and world have come into being in India and tradition deep-rooted as it has cemented their links with the essential genius of India. Tradition elsewhere has proved reactionary and retrogressive by way of discouraging and even suppressing new trends of thought, but in the Indian cultural model, it has not worked fetters on the wings of speculative thought. Instead it has aided all stirrings in the minds of men towards new horizons of thinking by way of raising a corpus of questions regarding man's existence and the world where he held his being. To hold that tradition in India was always healthy and positive certainly smacks of conservatism and parochialism. But what is significant about India is the growth of regenerative and assimilative movements after every crisis caused by the choking impact of tradition at a time when it proved a hurdle in the development of new thinking processes.
Various systems of philosophy that had their genesis and growth in India are essentially rooted in the empirical experience but most of the systems ultimately find their apogy in transcendentalism. In fact, empirical data and observable facts have been culled and gleaned and utilized as 'building blocks' to structure and construct these transcendental systems. The philosophers in India are in no way contented with the mere analytical explanations of the world process and the mass of data provided by them to the human senses, but they have posed the essential hypothesis of absolute Reality as the creator, defender and supporter of the world. In fact, thinkers in India by and large have a 'metaphysical hunger' to know and understand what lies beyond the ‘elusive and mysterious veil of nature'. They have offered a concept of absolute Reality which is a changeless principle, infinite and beyond the precincts of temporality. Most systems of Indian philosophy pose, discuss and explain the concept of absolute Reality from their own positions. In fact, these systems are 'insights' affording man ‘sight of the sensible verities’ enabling 'him to understand in the light of reason the super-sensible truth". The systems, in fine, afford a mine of debate and discussion of Reality, which is generally believed to be one of the essential functions of philosophy.
To distinguish between 'Reality' and 'appearance' is one of the commonplace functions of Indian philosophy. Reality is immutable and is the uncaused cause of appearances. Reality in Advait-vedanta is pure, untouched and undefined by appearances. Brahman as Reality in Vedanta is transcendental. But Paramsiva in 'Saivadvaya philosophy of Kashmir is both transcendental and immanent Reality. Brahmana is Sat, cit and anand, away from the gross impurities and defilements of the world of Maya, but Paramsiva is directly involved in the cosmic process. The nexus between reality and appearances have been discussed and analysed from dualistic, dual-cum-non-dualistic and non-dualistic stand points. Reality is being, unchangeable and permanent and appearances are becoming, changeable and immanent.
It is commonly believed that architectonics of philosophy in the west are put on the pedestal of reason. Philosophers from Aristotle to Bertand Russel have never ignored and repudiated the primacy of reason and intellect in their efforts to structure their philosophies and the systems they have constructed are reason-oriented and logic-based. But, contrary to the western standpoint, the Indians do not commit themselves to reason though the systems they have structured provide ample evidence of reason-reoriented analysis and explanation of the empirical data. Liberation or moksa from the bondage and trammels of birth and death is the principal goal they assiduously pursue with a deep sense of faith. Observes Karl Potter, "Pract-ically all philosophical systems view liberation as the highest aim of mankind and Advaita is no exception...liberation consists of release from the process of birth, life, death and transmigration". Puts Dr. Theos Bernard, “Hindu Philosophy does not attempt to train one to discern metaphyiscal truths; it offers a way of thinking which enables one rationally to understand the Reality experienced by self-fulfilled personalities and thereby to lead one to realisation of Truth. In this light philosophy is seen as art of life and not a theory about the universe".
A way of thinking which enables one rationally to understand the reality experiened by self-fulfilled personalities, and thereby to lead one to realisation of truth. In this light, philosophy is seen as art of life and not a theory a bout the universe”.
Despite such views and evaluations of Indian philosophy, it can be safely put that Indians have woven philosophical systems that are thoroughly coherent, compact and systematic. They have devised certain physical and mental constructs and also devised concomitant tools to test and verify their validity. If the constructs whether physical or mental are coherently built step by step with a view to erect the edifice, it is not fair to say that Indian philosophy is lacking in logic. The Buddhist philosophy in its broad contours is highly logical. It has set up certain categories which it elucidates and estabalishes by attempting to furnish proofs with a view to prove their validity. Sankhya philosophy sets up two categories of Purusa and Prakriti and elucidates and explains them by furnishing and marshalling sound proofs. The inner logic underpinning the Sankhya system leads it to the stand ponit of pure dualism even if the predominance of Purusa as the ultimate reality is maintained. The Vaishesika system in its essentials is realistic pluralism and has given a scientific analysis of the ‘catalogue of categories’ that it has drawn to establish its fabric. Nyaya as a system is known as taraksastra or science of logic. It gives a logical discussion and elucidation of the problems of perception, inference, comparison and causation. All the systems of Indian philosophy by and large have a spirit of logic running through them and that is why they are not perpetually teetering on the verge of collapse. Each system appears to be a monolith with least visible cracks in it.
It is not out of place to put that the dominance of over-intellectualism and reason in philosophy was challenged by and was not acceptble to the thinkers who in philosophical paralance are called existentialists. Reason, according to them, puts fetters on the understanding of an existing and living individual, who in the classical philosophy of the west, was lost in corrosive and uprooting universalism and homogenising abstractions and generalisations. Most of the existentialists began as Hegelians but finally ended by denouncing Hegal and his philosophical postulates. Fichte, Joseph schelling and Hegel despite differences in their systems objectified thought as reality and equated it with being. Existentialists protested against any attempt to objectify thought and made a willing, striving, suffering and above all existing individual the focal point of their philosophy. The upanishadic seers had put emphasis on and at the same time signalled the importance of self-knowledge (Aatmanam Vidhihi as the supreme wisdom and the same thread of thought is found oft-recurring almost in every sphere of Indian philosophy and religious thought. The entire line of Indian thinking though distanced by mighty time-spaces is in quest, has raised and discussed all vital issues of human existence and human condition. The individual as such is not ignored; instead is made deeply conscious of his essential and inevitable destiny. The Indian existentialism generates from a consideration of life vis-a-vis its ultimate destiny. It also asserts its essential stand point by not accepting the divorce and dichotomy between ‘theory and practice,’ doctrine and life, truth and its practical realisataion. With the emphatic assertion of the supremacy of human mind or self, the Indian thinking raises a protest against votaries of reason, who altogether overlook the fact that human mind has the potentia of soaring to lofty heights of consciousness if and when it is properly initiated and put to the rigour of discipline where reason ceases to have any importance and actually proves a fetter or restraint. In fact, heightening of human consciousness after crossing beyond the trammels and limitations of body and the world is the leit motif of Indian philosophy. Reality as such is not only to be explained and expounded theoretically but it is to be realised and appropriated by heightening the level of consciousness to the point where it has a full and intense feeling of identity with the reality as the only ultimate truth.
The fact has to be recognised that Indian philosophy has its peculiar manner of handling and dilating upon the essential problems of human existence and world. It is unfair to evaluate it by the tools of Fitchte, Kant and Hegel tradition or Erdman, uberweg academical tradition. The reality is that Indian thinking has raised the question of ‘Atman’ according to its own angle of vision’. ‘In the words of Max Muller’, puts Hiriyana, ‘philosophy was recommended in India not for the sake of knowledge, but for the highest purpose that man can strive in this life’. Darshan while discarding the key-hole vision of man presents an uplifted vision of him. It does not only rivet man’s attention on the perceptible world outside him but also acquaints him with and develops in him an awareness of his own mental and spiritual nature by transcending the methods of physics. Darshan, to the Indian mind, is not only a matter of weaving a web of theories and structuring systems, but, more than most, it is essentially a spirit or method of fathoming and experientially realising the inmost depths of one’s own being.
Indian philosophy is not all spiritual. It embraces a broad but chequered history of materialism within its ambit. No evaluation of Indian thinking can afford ignore Lokayat system in ‘a catalogue of the philsophic forces of India’. Lokayat as a system of thinking simply afirms that all is matter. It in direct contrast to spiritualism denies the primacy of spirit over matter. Lokayat is bold and fearless in total rejection of Vedic authority and belief in theism and attaches the greatest importance to the world of senses which was the greatest casualty at the hands of idealists and spiritualists. The principal character of Lokyat system was ‘practical, rather than metaphysical’, teaching utilitariansm and crude materialism in an outspoken way. Being atheists in their approach and premis,
Lokayat thinkers have been contemptuously rejected, but as thinkers, they invested their thinking to denounce theories invested with spiritual aura and grandeur. Lokayat, infine, has raised questions and framed opinions of real import and value. It understands the world from a different angle of vision and furrows a new path by raising new issues and putting them on the pedestal of common sense realism. The statement that ‘philosophy in India is essentially spiritual’ is belied by Lokayat.
Rigveda-as the first written record of mankind is the repertoire of philosophical ideas. It is not a book, but a compilation of books. It records and provides an insight into that hoary past of India of which scanty notices are available. The Rigvedic seers reflect a thinking that in its essentials centres round “religion, myth and mystery”. Most of the hymns of the Rigveda contain germs of thought, hints at guesses of truth and flashes of insights into supreme being. In the hymns questions of perennial significance are raised, but not answered. Ideas as espoused by the Rigveda are not regular and consistent, yet they reveal and reflect a mind that is vivacious, this worldly and down to earth. Observes Swami Ranga Nath Nanda, “In the Rigveda, we are already face to face with the emergence of the life of the mind, the life of thought, not merely in the field of literature, but also in the field of bold philosophical speculation’.
It is the first written record of mankind and its hymns though addressed to various gods contain seed ideas that are essentially philosophic in content. It provides an amazing insight into that hoary past of which minimum or negligible records and notices are available. The hymns underpin a thinking that rotates round 'religion myth and mystery'. Most of them contain 'germs of thought', 'hints at surmises about truth' and 'flashes of insight into the Supreme Being'. In the hymns questions of perennial significance are raised, but not answered. They do not present a pattern of thought that is coherent and consistent, but they reflect a mind that is vigorous, this-worldly and brimming with vivacious life. The Rigvedic seers seem to be opening new vistas into the realms of philosophical speculation by raising meaningful questions about the nature of universe and meaning of human life. The philosophic mood of the Rigveda set the tone and temper for future evolution of Indian philosophy. To Max Muller, 'the Vedas were unique and priceless guides in opening before us tombs of thought richer in relics, than the royal tombs of Egypt and more ancient and primitive in thought than the oldest hymns of Babylonia and Acadian poets'.
The Rigvedic gods symbolise nature powers and are anthropomorphic representations of various phenomena of nature. Observes Max Muller, "These gods were the first philosophy the first attempt at explaining the wonders of nature". The gods that are purported as agents behind the natural phenomena reveal the religious consciousness of the Indians in a seminal form. 'The Hymn of Creation' underpins an intense curiosity to probe the ultimate origin of the universe. It radiates a consciousness that swings between 'being' and 'non-being' and reveals a mood of wonderment at the prospect of cosmos and underpins a reflective seriousness to know the origins of it.
The Upanishads as texts of Indian wisdom have attracted the deep attention of thinkers and scholars of all shades and persuasions. To Schopenhaur, they were the products of the highest wisdom and as such were 'the solace of his life and solace of his death'. But, to Max Muller, the Upanishads contained a heap of rubbish from which fragments of gold had to be extracted. The first encounter that the European scholars had with the Indian wisdom was through the Upanishads. They were baffled and dazzled. With a view to downgrading their importance in terms of philosophy most of them came out with irrelevant appraisals lacking in historical perspective. An Indian scholar, Ranade, evaluated the available texts from a historical stand-point without taking them as excellent and flawless bits of human wisdom.
The Upanishads, in fact, mark the burgeoning of the seeds that were sown in the garden-bed of Rigveda in particular and other Vedas in general. Among other connotations the Upanishads imply 'rahasya' or secret or esoteric predilections. The Vedic texts had emphasised 'sacerdotalism' and 'complexus of ceremonies'. But, the Upanishads emerged as a protest against these ritual crafts and marked a milestone towards 'deepening inwardness'. Seriously doubting the utility and purpose of sacrifices and rituals, the Upanishads fixed their accent of emphasis on 'Atman' or self, a region deeper and vaster than the external world. 'Sacerdotalism' with its barren-ness and superfluity had misled spiritual aspirants from the region of inner world as a locus of probing and fathoming. 'Quest within' is the cardinal principle of Upanishads ruminations. Lacking in an integrated frame, the Upanishadic are interspersed with 'flashes of insight' and 'gems of thought'. They impacted the entire Indian stream of culture and thought and more than most the trends of thought outside the purlieux of India.
As per the Upanishadic stipulations, Atman as self or soul is the fundamental essence of man. It originally meant 'breath' but subsequently donned another layer of meaning signifying everything from gross body to the finest principle underlying the existence of man. Finally it came to constitute an essential part of anything, especially of man, his self or soul. To Sankara, ‘Atman’ is all pervading, it is the subject and it knows, experiences and illuminates the objects. It is immortal and immutable'. In its profounder connotations, Atman means the self-conscious being within man underpinning the ultimate reality. The Upanishads as a whole explain Atman as the innermost existence and body and mind as 'the trappings that dress reality'.
The over-riding concern of the Upanishads is to probe the primordial source of cosmos. It is this sense of pre-occupation that has motivated the Upanishadic seers to establish an entity called 'Brahman' as the life-breath of cosmosas a whole. The word 'Brahman' is derivable to the root 'brh' meaning 'to grow' or 'to burst forth'. Brahman' is that which naturally 'bursts forth' as world and soul. As per the Taittiriya Upanishad, all existence is traceable to the fount of 'Brahman' is that which naturally 'bursts forth' as world and soul. As per the Taittiriya Upanishad, all existence is traceable to the fount of 'Brahman', 'from which all beings originate by which they are sustained and into which they are withdrawn'.
Though packed with stray and disjointed ideas, the Upanishads have established the spiritual unity of all forms and varieties of existence through lofty utterances of deeper import. The opening verse of Isha Vasya Upanishad posits Isha (Supreme Lord) as the omnipresent reality of the entire creation. The Mandukya Upanishad opens a new vista through the utterance 'This Atman is Brahman'. The same idea is crystallised through the utterance 'Thou Art That' as available in the Chandogya Upanishad. The Brhihadaranyak Upanishad establishes the identity of man with Supreme Truth through its utterance 'I am Brahman'. These utterances are gems of thought and highlight a trend-setting standpoint impacting the struggling minds to free themselves from cold and frigid doctrines of deism. Observes Krishna Chaityna that the current set in motion by these resounding utterances 'flowed to the mystics of Persian Sufism, the mystic logos-doctrine of the neo-Platonists and the Alexandrian Christians, to the radical doctrines of Eckhardt and Tauler".
That the universe functions like a machine is not what the Upanishadic seers hold and trot out. Nor do they subscribe to the view that 'world is a phantom or a mere appearance'. They endeavour to discover an underlying unity, essentially spiritual, amidst diversities of life and world. Man is seen as undergoing a continuous process of becoming with a view to getting identified with ultimate reality. As a seeker he is required to achieve ethical excellence leading to the awakening and fruition of his faculties and urges to share the final beautitude and bliss.
Mimansa as a school of thought owes its origins to Jaimini who found discerning intellects like Prabhakara and Kumarilla Bhat to elaborate and propound his views. Though 'Mimansa' implies critical analysis and investigation, yet it as a system of thought remains stuck in the grooves of Vedic ritualism with its enormous superfluities. To Jaimini and all shades of mimansakas, Vedas are a revealed knowledge and a plethora of commands and injuctions allied with them are eternal and unchangeable. Owing total servility to the Vedas the manner of explicating issues relating observance of rituals by the mimansakas is downright traditional and fossilised. Performance of rituals is so vital for the mimansakas that it has nearly grabbed the position of God as its ground principle. Despite many a lacuna, the Mimansa has evolved a sound theory of knowledge. It appears that it has accidentally strayed into the field of linguistic analysis through the tools of logic. It also counters the standpoint of the Buddhists and Nayayki as regarding their exposition of language and theory of knowledge.
To Himansakas, knowledge is 'apprehension that is immediate, direct and valid, not tainted by defects and not to be made invalid by subsequent knowledge'. They stick to the position that no erroneous cause or condition is required to validate knowledge. In fact, knowledge, to them, is self-valid and 'itself certifying its own truth'. To Kumarilla Bhat, knowledge lies in 'apprehending an object only to be set aside by the discrepancies arisen by its non-confirmity to the inherent nature of the object'. To Prabhakar, 'all cognitions as cognitions are valid and their lack of validity depends upon their disagreement with the nature of objects'. Mimansakas are considerably aware of deficient tools that render knowledge invalid.
Mimansa as a school of thought is broadly realistic in its approach to and treatment of issues relating philosophy. The system that it has built is not propped upon the crutches of God. In fact, the agency of God or a transcendent being is missing in it. But doctrines like transmigration of soul, law of Karma and eternal world do provide the strengthening support to the edifice of Mimansa as a thought system. The creation and dissolution of the world does not find favour with the proponents of Mimansa as it conflicts with its basic assumption of holding the Vedas as eternal and revealed knowledge.
Doctrinally speaking, Mimansa is barren and a mis-mash of borrowed view-points from different systems of thought. As a structured system it is so fragile that it comes tumbling as and when authority of the Vedas is questioned or doubted. Mimansa holds that absolute obedience to the Vedas and their injunctions is the definite path that can lead a seeker to heaven as a matter of redemption from the tangles of birth and death. Ethical life as a tool of salvation is more stressed than that of knowledge or contemplation.
As a separate school of thought Sankhya is a unique development in the annals of Indian philosophy. Its origins can be sought in the thinking moods and concepts that are found enunciated in the Upanishads and epics. The Sankhya as a word connotes 'enumeration' and 'reasoning'. It is enumeration as the system has devised twenty-five categories to reinforce its positions. It is reasoning as it has formulated its positions logically and intellectually.
Sankhya is predominantly materialistic in its exposition of the realities of man and world. Despite its bold and novel doctrinal positions, it has been regarded as an orthodox school of thought. Debi Prasad Chattopadyaya has elaborately exposited the basic positions of Sankhya from a materialistic standpoint. But what makes the Sankhya system as a hall-mark in the realms of Indian thought is its reasoned discussion of the fundamental categories of Purusa and Prakriti and the process of cosmic evolution. The system is so logical and reason-oriented that it knocks the bottom out of the myth created by some Westerners that Indian thought is not a reasoned discourse. Observes theos Bernard, "The Sankhya is the oldest school of Indian philosophy for it is the first attempt to harmonise the philosophy of the Vdas through reason".
Kapil Muni is said to have authored the Sankya Sutras that are not now extant. Isharkrishna and Vachaspati Misra are the later authors who have expounded the Sankhya positions from their own perspectives. The exposition that they have offered form the substratum of the critical analysis of the system. The available Sankhya Sutras uphold the authority of the Vedas and primacy of the spirit over matter. That the Sankhya system is akin to the Tantric thought and tradition is established by Sankara calling the Sutras of Kapila as 'tantrakhya'. It leads one to believe that the original Sankhya positions were materialistic and atheistic. Jacobi holds the same view but is outright rejected by Dr. Radhakrishnan who observes that Sankhya 'at any stage of its development could never be identified with materialism'. Despite Radhakrishnan's spirited defence of the Sankhya orthodoxy, the fact remains that Purusa is grafted on the system in a manner that it does not appear to be organically woven with the inner logic of the system.
The Sankhya in its basics is a dualism that rotates round two of its dominant categories, Purusa and Prakriti. It stipulates them as two separate and independent categories without any cogency for a meaningful contact or bond. Prakriti is stipulated as beginningless and endless matter constituting the basis of the world of name and form. It grows and evolves as per its own dynamics and does not depend on any external agency to impulse its growth and development. Prakriti is 'absolute, eternal, unmanifest, ever dynamic and imperceptible' and in this state it is known as Mula Prakriti or Pradhan. It is endowed with three attributes of satva, rajas and tamas. Satva is 'static energy, psychological poise', rajas is 'dynamic energy and psychological extroversion', and tamas is 'physical inertia and mental apathy'. Constituting matter the three 'gunas' with their intrinsic energies maintain an equilibrium and 'are inseparably linked and mutually condition one another'. The process of evolution is generated when the three gunas lose their equipoise and get disturbed. The evolutionary process implies change 'which is homogenous and heterogeneous'. The cause for the loss of equipoise of the gunas is inherent dynamism or contradiction.
The Sankhya has delineated a sketch of a yogic discipline or praxis for attainment of release from the sorrows afflicting a man through his contact with the 'miserable and corruptible world'. There is no concept of grace as it does not sit well with its essential atheism. Redemption or release from the world in the parlance of the system is known as kaivalya.
The Sankhya thought is original, compact, analytical and more that most penetrating. Its impact on the formative processes of other systems has been tremendous and overwhelming. In fact, all systems with rare exceptions have 'filled their husks' with the Sankhya content including its structural elements. The entire corpus of Indian literature from the Mahabarta to the mythological Puranas are replete with they stray doctrines of Sankhya. It has given a comprehensive description of evolutionary processes which are not viewed 'from angles metaphysical' but are based on 'the conservation, transformation and dissipation of energy'. The Sankhya thought has devised 'a theory of matter, a theory of causality, a theory of knowledges and a theory of cosmic evolution'.