Category Archives: Saiva Tantra

Vijñānabhairava

विज्ञानभैरव

The Vijñānabhairava – the Bhairava of Consciousness –  (sometimes spelled in a Hindicised way as Vigyan Bhairav Tantra) is a key text of the Trika school of Kashmir Shaivism in Sanskrit language. declares itself to be,  a Trika teaching preserved in the Rudrayāmala. It briefly presents 112 meditation methods (dharanas), rather than ritual, mantra, yantra, etc as most other tantra’s do.

The text appeared in 1918 in the Kashmir Series of Text and Studies (KSTS).The Kashmir Series published two volumes, one with a commentary in Sanskrit by Kshemaraja and Shivopadhyaya and the other with a commentary, called Kaumadi, by Ananda Bhatta.

 

Sanskrit text of the Vijñāna bhairava Tantra

(Devanāgarī and transliteration)

श्रुतं देव मया सर्वं रुद्रयामलसम्भवम्।
त्रिकभेदमशेषेण सारात्सारविभागशः॥ १॥
śrīdevī uvāca
śrutaṃ deva mayā sarvaṃ rudrayāmalasaṃbhavam |
trikabhedamaśeṣe.na sārāt sāravibhāgaśa.h || 1 ||

अद्यापि न निवृत्तो मे संशयः परमेश्वर।
किं रूपं तत्त्वतो देव शब्दराशिकलामयम्॥ २॥
adyāpi na nivṛtto me saṁśayaḥ parameśvara |
kiṁ rūpaṁ tattvato deva śabdarāśikalāmayam || 2 ||

किं वा नवात्मभेदेन भैरवे भैरवाकृतौ।
त्रिशिरोभेदभिन्नं वा किं वा शक्तित्रयात्मकम्॥ ३॥
kiṁ vā navātmabhedena bhairave bhairavākṛtau |
triśirobhedabhinnaṁ vā kiṁ vā śaktitrayātmakam || 3 ||

नादबिन्दुमयं वापि किं चन्द्रार्धनिरोधिकाः।
चक्रारूढमनच्कं वा किं वा शक्तिस्वरूपकम्॥ ४॥
nādabindumayaṁ vāpi kiṁ candrārdhanirodhikāḥ |
cakrārūḍhamanackaṁ vā kiṁ vā śaktisvarūpakam || 4 ||

परापरायाः सकलमपरायाश्च वा पुनः।
पराया यदि तद्वत्स्यात्परत्वं तद् विरुध्यते॥ ५॥
parāparāyāḥ sakalamaparāyāśca vā punaḥ |
parāyā yadi tadvatsyātparatvaṁ tad virudhyate || 5 ||

न हि वर्णविभेदेन देहभेदेन वा भवेत्।
परत्वं निष्कलत्वेन सकलत्वे न तद् भवेत्॥ ६॥
na hi varṇavibhedena dehabhedena vā bhavet|
paratvaṁ niṣkalatvena sakalatve na tad bhavet|| 6 ||

प्रसादं कुरु मे नाथ निःशेषं चिन्द्धि संशयम्।
prasādaṁ kuru me nātha niḥśeṣaṁ cinddhi saṁśayam |

भैरव उवाच।
bhairava uvāca |

साधु साधु त्वया पृष्टं तन्त्रसारम् इदम् प्रिये॥ ७॥
sādhu sādhu tvayā pṛṣṭaṁ tantrasāram idam priye || 7 ||

गूहनीयतमम् भद्रे तथापि कथयामि ते।
यत्किञ्चित्सकलं रूपं भैरवस्य प्रकीर्तितम्॥ ८॥
gūhanīyatamam bhadre tathāpi kathayāmi te |
yatkiñcitsakalaṁ rūpaṁ bhairavasya prakīrtitam || 8 ||

तद् असारतया देवि विज्ञेयं शक्रजालवत्।
मायास्वप्नोपमं चैव गन्धर्वनगरभ्रमम्॥ ९॥
tad asāratayā devi vijñeyaṁ śakrajālavat|
māyāsvapnopamaṁ caiva gandharvanagarabhramam || 9 ||

ध्यानार्थम् भ्रान्तबुद्धीनां क्रियाडम्बरवर्तिनाम्।
केवलं वर्णितम् पुंसां विकल्पनिहतात्मनाम्॥ १०॥
dhyānārtham bhrāntabuddhīnāṁ kriyāḍambaravartinām |
kevalaṁ varṇitam puṁsāṁ vikalpanihatātmanām || 10 ||

तत्त्वतो न नवात्मासौ शब्दराशिर् न भैरवः।
न चासौ त्रिशिरा देवो न च शक्तित्रयात्मकः॥ ११॥
tattvato na navātmāsau śabdarāśir na bhairavaḥ |
na cāsau triśirā devo na ca śaktitrayātmakaḥ || 11 ||

नादबिन्दुमयो वापि न चन्द्रार्धनिरोधिकाः।
न चक्रक्रमसम्भिन्नो न च शक्तिस्वरूपकः॥ १२॥
nādabindumayo vāpi na candrārdhanirodhikāḥ |
na cakrakramasambhinno na ca śaktisvarūpakaḥ || 12 ||

अप्रबुद्धमतीनां हि एता बलविभीषिकाः।
मातृमोदकवत्सर्वं प्रवृत्त्यर्थम् उदाहृतम्॥ १३॥
aprabuddhamatīnāṁ hi etā balavibhīṣikāḥ |
mātṛmodakavatsarvaṁ pravṛttyartham udāhṛtam || 13 ||

दिक्कालकलनोन्मुक्ता देशोद्देशाविशेषिनी।
व्यपदेष्टुमशक्यासाव् अकथ्या परमार्थतः॥ १४॥
dikkālakalanonmuktā deśoddeśāviśeṣinī |
vyapadeṣṭumaśakyāsāv akathyā paramārthataḥ || 14 ||

अन्तःस्वानुभवानन्दा विकल्पोन्मुक्तगोचरा।
यावस्था भरिताकारा भैरवी भैरवात्मनः॥ १५॥
antaḥsvānubhavānandā vikalponmuktagocarā |
yāvasthā bharitākārā bhairavī bhairavātmanaḥ || 15 ||

तद् वपुस् तत्त्वतो ज्ञेयं विमलं विश्वपूरणम्।
एवंविधे परे तत्त्वे कः पूज्यः कश्च तृप्यति॥ १६॥
tad vapus tattvato jñeyaṁ vimalaṁ viśvapūraṇam |
evaṁvidhe pare tattve kaḥ pūjyaḥ kaśca tṛpyati || 16 ||

एवंविधा भैरवस्य यावस्था परिगीयते।
सा परा पररूपेण परा देवी प्रकीर्तिता॥ १७॥
evaṁvidhā bhairavasya yāvasthā parigīyate |
sā parā pararūpeṇa parā devī prakīrtitā || 17 ||

शक्तिशक्तिमतोर् यद्वद् अभेदः सर्वदा स्थितः।
अतस् तद्धर्मधर्मित्वात्परा शक्तिः परात्मनः॥ १८॥
śaktiśaktimator yadvad abhedaḥ sarvadā sthitaḥ |
atas taddharmadharmitvātparā śaktiḥ parātmanaḥ || 18 ||

न वह्नेर् दाहिका शक्तिर् व्यतिरिक्ता विभाव्यते।
केवलं ज्ञानसत्तायाम् प्रारम्भोऽयम् प्रवेशने॥ १९॥
na vahner dāhikā śaktir vyatiriktā vibhāvyate |
kevalaṁ jñānasattāyām prārambho’yam praveśane || 19 ||

शक्त्यवस्थाप्रविष्टस्य निर्विभागेन भावना।
तदासौ शिवरूपी स्यात्शैवी मुखम् इहोच्यते॥ २०॥
śaktyavasthāpraviṣṭasya nirvibhāgena bhāvanā |
tadāsau śivarūpī syātśaivī mukham ihocyate || 20 ||

यथालोकेन दीपस्य किरणैर् भास्करस्य च।
ज्ञायते दिग्विभागादि तद्वच् चक्त्या शिवः प्रिये॥ २१॥
yathālokena dīpasya kiraṇair bhāskarasya ca |
jñāyate digvibhāgādi tadvac caktyā śivaḥ priye || 21 ||

श्री देव्युवाच।
śrī devyuvāca |

देवदेव त्रिशूलाङ्क कपालकृतभूषण।
दिग्देशकालशून्या च व्यपदेशविवर्जिता॥ २२॥
devadeva triśūlāṅka kapālakṛtabhūṣaṇa |
digdeśakālaśūnyā ca vyapadeśavivarjitā || 22 ||

यावस्था भरिताकारा भैरवस्योपलभ्यते।
कैर् उपायैर् मुखं तस्य परा देवि कथम् भवेत्।
यथा सम्यग् अहं वेद्मि तथा मे ब्रूहि भैरव॥ २३॥
yāvasthā bharitākārā bhairavasyopalabhyate |
kair upāyair mukhaṁ tasya parā devi katham bhavet|
yathā samyag ahaṁ vedmi tathā me brūhi bhairava || 23 ||

भैरव उवाच।
bhairava uvāca |

ऊर्ध्वे प्राणो ह्यधो जीवो विसर्गात्मा परोच्चरेत्।
उत्पत्तिद्वितयस्थाने भरणाद् भरिता स्थितिः॥ २४॥
ūrdhve prāṇo hyadho jīvo visargātmā paroccaret|
utpattidvitayasthāne bharaṇād bharitā sthitiḥ || 24 ||

मरुतोऽन्तर् बहिर् वापि वियद्युग्मानिवर्तनात्।
भैरव्या भैरवस्येत्थम् भैरवि व्यज्यते वपुः॥ २५॥
maruto’ntar bahir vāpi viyadyugmānivartanāt|
bhairavyā bhairavasyettham bhairavi vyajyatevapuḥ || 25 ||

न व्रजेन् न विशेच् चक्तिर् मरुद्रूपा विकासिते।
निर्विकल्पतया मध्ये तया भैरवरूपता॥ २६॥
na vrajen na viśec caktir marudrūpā vikāsite |
nirvikalpatayā madhye tayā bhairavarūpatā || 26 ||

कुम्भिता रेचिता वापि पूरिता वा यदा भवेत्।
तदन्ते शान्तनामासौ शक्त्या शान्तः प्रकाशते॥ २७॥
kumbhitā recitā vāpi pūritā vā yadā bhavet|
tadante śāntanāmāsau śaktyā śāntaḥ prakāśate || 27 ||

आमूलात्किरणाभासां सूक्ष्मात्सूक्ष्मतरात्मिकम्।
चिन्तयेत्तां द्विषट्कान्ते श्याम्यन्तीम् भैरवोदयः॥ २८॥
āmūlātkiraṇābhāsāṁ sūkṣmātsūkṣmatarātmikam |
cintayettāṁ dviṣaṭkānte śyāmyantīm bhairavodayaḥ || 28 ||

उद्गच्चन्तीं तडित्रूपाम् प्रतिचक्रं क्रमात्क्रमम्।
ऊर्ध्वं मुष्टित्रयं यावत्तावद् अन्ते महोदयः॥ २९॥
udgaccantīṁ taḍitrūpām praticakraṁ kramātkramam |
ūrdhvaṁ muṣṭitrayaṁ yāvattāvad ante mahodayaḥ || 29 ||

क्रमद्वादशकं सम्यग् द्वादशाक्षरभेदितम्।
स्थूलसूक्ष्मपरस्थित्या मुक्त्वा मुक्त्वान्ततः शिवः॥ ३०॥
kramadvādaśakaṁ samyag dvādaśākṣarabheditam |
sthūlasūkṣmaparasthityā muktvā muktvāntataḥ śivaḥ || 30 ||

तयापूर्याशु मूर्धान्तं भङ्क्त्वा भ्रूक्षेपसेतुना।
निर्विकल्पं मनः कृत्वा सर्वोर्ध्वे सर्वगोद्गमः॥ ३१॥
tayāpūryāśu mūrdhāntaṁ bhaṅktvā bhrūkṣepasetunā |
nirvikalpaṁ manaḥ kṛtvā sarvordhve sarvagodgamaḥ || 31 ||

शिखिपक्षैश् चित्ररूपैर् मण्डलैः शून्यपञ्चकम्।
ध्यायतोऽनुत्तरे शून्ये प्रवेशो हृदये भवेत्॥ ३२॥
śikhipakṣaiś citrarūpair maṇḍalaiḥ śūnyapañcakam |
dhyāyato’nuttare śūnye praveśo hṛdaye bhavet|| 32 ||

ईदृशेन क्रमेणैव यत्र कुत्रापि चिन्तना।
शून्ये कुड्ये परे पात्रे स्वयं लीना वरप्रदा॥ ३३॥
īdṛśena krameṇaiva yatra kutrāpi cintanā |
śūnye kuḍye pare pātre svayaṁ līnā varapradā || 33 ||

कपालान्तर् मनो न्यस्य तिष्ठन् मीलितलोचनः।
क्रमेण मनसो दार्ढ्यात्लक्षयेत्लष्यम् उत्तमम्॥ ३४॥
kapālāntar mano nyasya tiṣṭhan mīlitalocanaḥ |
krameṇa manaso dārḍhyātlakṣayetlaṣyam uttamam || 34 ||

मध्यनाडी मध्यसंस्था बिससूत्राभरूपया।
ध्यातान्तर्व्योमया देव्या तया देवः प्रकाशते॥ ३५॥
madhyanāḍī madhyasaṁsthā bisasūtrābharūpayā |
dhyātāntarvyomayā devyā tayā devaḥ prakāśate || 35 ||

कररुद्धदृगस्त्रेण भ्रूभेदाद् द्वाररोधनात्।
दृष्टे बिन्दौ क्रमाल् लीने तन्मध्ये परमा स्थितिः॥ ३६॥
kararuddhadṛgastreṇa bhrūbhedād dvārarodhanāt|
dṛṣṭe bindau kramāl līne tanmadhye paramā sthitiḥ || 36 ||

धामान्तःक्षोभसम्भूतसूक्ष्माग्नितिलकाकृतिम्।
बिन्दुं शिखान्ते हृदये लयान्ते ध्यायतो लयः॥ ३७॥
dhāmāntaḥkṣobhasambhūtasūkṣmāgnitilakākṛtim |
binduṁ śikhānte hṛdaye layānte dhyāyato layaḥ || 37 ||

अनाहते पात्रकर्णेऽभग्नशब्दे सरिद्द्रुते।
शब्दब्रह्मणि निष्णातः परम् ब्रह्माधिगच्चति॥ ३८॥
anāhate pātrakarṇe’bhagnaśabde sariddrute |
śabdabrahmaṇi niṣṇātaḥ param brahmādhigaccati || 38 ||

प्रणवादिसमुच्चारात्प्लुतान्ते शून्यभावानात्।
शून्यया परया शक्त्या शून्यताम् एति भैरवि॥ ३९॥
praṇavādisamuccārātplutānte śūnyabhāvānāt|
śūnyayā parayā śaktyā śūnyatām eti bhairavi || 39 ||

यस्य कस्यापि वर्णस्य पूर्वान्ताव् अनुभावयेत्।
शून्यया शून्यभूतोऽसौ शून्याकारः पुमान् भवेत्॥ ४०॥
yasya kasyāpi varṇasya pūrvāntāv anubhāvayet|
śūnyayā śūnyabhūto’sau śūnyākāraḥ pumān bhavet|| 40 ||

तन्त्र्यादिवाद्यशब्देषु दीर्घेषु क्रमसंस्थितेः।
अनन्यचेताः प्रत्यन्ते परव्योमवपुर् भवेत्॥ ४१॥
tantryādivādyaśabdeṣu dīrgheṣu kramasaṁsthiteḥ |
ananyacetāḥ pratyante paravyomavapur bhavet|| 41 ||

पिण्डमन्त्रस्य सर्वस्य स्थूलवर्णक्रमेण तु।
अर्धेन्दुबिन्दुनादान्तः शून्योच्चाराद् भवेच् चिवः॥ ४२॥
piṇḍamantrasya sarvasya sthūlavarṇakrameṇa tu |
ardhendubindunādāntaḥ śūnyoccārād bhavec civaḥ || 42 ||

निजदेहे सर्वदिक्कं युगपद् भावयेद् वियत्।
निर्विकल्पमनास् तस्य वियत्सर्वम् प्रवर्तते॥ ४३॥
nijadehe sarvadikkaṁ yugapad bhāvayed viyat|
nirvikalpamanās tasya viyatsarvam pravartate || 43 ||

पृष्टशून्यं मूलशून्यं युगपद् भावयेच् च यः।
शरीरनिरपेक्षिण्या शक्त्या शून्यमना भवेत्॥ ४४॥
pṛṣṭaśūnyaṁ mūlaśūnyaṁ yugapad bhāvayec ca yaḥ |
śarīranirapekṣiṇyā śaktyā śūnyamanā bhavet|| 44 ||

पृष्टशून्यं मूलशून्यं हृच्चून्यम् भावयेत्स्थिरम्।
युगपन् निर्विकल्पत्वान् निर्विकल्पोदयस् ततः॥ ४५॥
pṛṣṭaśūnyaṁ mūlaśūnyaṁ hṛccūnyam bhāvayetsthiram |
yugapan nirvikalpatvān nirvikalpodayas tataḥ || 45 ||

तनूदेशे शून्यतैव क्षणमात्रं विभावयेत्।
निर्विकल्पं निर्विकल्पो निर्विकल्पस्वरूपभाक्॥ ४६॥
tanūdeśe śūnyataiva kṣaṇamātraṁ vibhāvayet|
nirvikalpaṁ nirvikalpo nirvikalpasvarūpabhāk || 46 ||

सर्वं देहगतं द्रव्यं वियद्व्याप्तं मृगेक्षणे।
विभावयेत्ततस् तस्य भावना सा स्थिरा भवेत्॥ ४७॥
sarvaṁ dehagataṁ dravyaṁ viyadvyāptaṁ mṛgekṣaṇe |
vibhāvayettatas tasya bhāvanā sā sthirā bhavet|| 47 ||

देहान्तरे त्वग्विभागम् भित्तिभूतं विचिन्तयेत्।
न किञ्चिद् अन्तरे तस्य ध्यायन्न् अध्येयभाग् भवेत्॥ ४८॥
dehāntare tvagvibhāgam bhittibhūtaṁ vicintayet|
na kiñcid antare tasya dhyāyann adhyeyabhāg bhavet|| 48 ||

हृद्याकाशे निलीनाक्षः पद्मसम्पुटमध्यगः।
अनन्यचेताः सुभगे परं सौभाग्यमाप्नुयात्॥ ४९॥
hṛdyākāśe nilīnākṣaḥ padmasampuṭamadhyagaḥ |
ananyacetāḥ subhage paraṁ saubhāgyamāpnuyāt|| 49 ||

सर्वतः स्वशरीरस्य द्वादशान्ते मनोलयात्।
दृढबुद्धेर् दृढीभूतं तत्त्वलक्ष्यम् प्रवर्तते॥ ५०॥
sarvataḥ svaśarīrasya dvādaśānte manolayāt|
dṛḍhabuddher dṛḍhībhūtaṁ tattvalakṣyam pravartate || 50 ||

यथा तथा यत्र तत्र द्वादशान्ते मनः क्षिपेत्॥
प्रतिक्षणं क्षीणवृत्तेर् वैलक्षण्यं दिनैर् भवेत्॥ ५१॥
yathā tathā yatra tatra dvādaśānte manaḥ kṣipet||
pratikṣaṇaṁ kṣīṇavṛtter vailakṣaṇyaṁ dinair bhavet|| 51 ||

कालाग्निना कालपदाद् उत्थितेन स्वकम् पुरम्।
प्लुष्टम् विचिन्तयेद् अन्ते शान्ताभासस् तदा भवेत्॥ ५२॥
kālāgninā kālapadād utthitena svakam puram |
pluṣṭam vicintayed ante śāntābhāsas tadā bhavet|| 52 ||

एवम् एव जगत्सर्वं दग्धं ध्यात्वा विकल्पतः।
अनन्यचेतसः पुंसः पुम्भावः परमो भवेत्॥ ५३॥
evam eva jagatsarvaṁ dagdhaṁ dhyātvā vikalpataḥ |
ananyacetasaḥ puṁsaḥ pumbhāvaḥ paramo bhavet|| 53 ||

स्वदेहे जगतो वापि सूक्ष्मसूक्ष्मतराणि च।
तत्त्वानि यानि निलयं ध्यात्वान्ते व्यज्यते परा॥ ५४॥
svadehe jagato vāpi sūkṣmasūkṣmatarāṇi ca |
tattvāni yāni nilayaṁ dhyātvānte vyajyate parā || 54 ||

पिनां च दुर्बलां शक्तिं ध्यात्वा द्वादशगोचरे।
प्रविश्य हृदये ध्यायन् मुक्तः स्वातन्त्र्यमाप्नुयात्॥ ५५॥
pināṁ ca durbalāṁ śaktiṁ dhyātvā dvādaśagocare |
praviśya hṛdaye dhyāyan muktaḥ svātantryamāpnuyāt|| 55 ||

भुवनाध्वादिरूपेण चिन्तयेत्क्रमशोऽखिलम्।
स्थूलसूक्ष्मपरस्थित्या यावद् अन्ते मनोलयः॥ ५६॥
bhuvanādhvādirūpeṇa cintayetkramaśo’khilam |
sthūlasūkṣmaparasthityā yāvad ante manolayaḥ || 56 ||

अस्य सर्वस्य विश्वस्य पर्यन्तेषु समन्ततः।
अध्वप्रक्रियया तत्त्वं शैवं ध्यत्वा महोदयः॥ ५७॥
asya sarvasya viśvasya paryanteṣu samantataḥ |
adhvaprakriyayā tattvaṁ śaivaṁ dhyatvā mahodayaḥ || 57 ||

विश्वम् एतन् महादेवि शून्यभूतं विचिन्तयेत्।
तत्रैव च मनो लीनं ततस् तल्लयभाजनम्॥ ५८॥
viśvam etan mahādevi śūnyabhūtaṁ vicintayet|
tatraiva ca mano līnaṁ tatas tallayabhājanam || 58 ||

घतादिभाजने दृष्टिम् भित्तिस् त्यक्त्वा विनिक्षिपेत्।
तल्लयं तत्क्षणाद् गत्वा तल्लयात्तन्मयो भवेत्॥ ५९॥
ghatādibhājane dṛṣṭim bhittis tyaktvā vinikṣipet|
tallayaṁ tatkṣaṇād gatvā tallayāttanmayo bhavet|| 59 ||

निर्वृक्षगिरिभित्त्यादिदेशे दृष्टिं विनिक्षिपेत्।
विलीने मानसे भावे वृत्तिक्षिणः प्रजायते॥ ६०॥
nirvṛkṣagiribhittyādideśe dṛṣṭiṁ vinikṣipet|
vilīne mānase bhāve vṛttikṣiṇaḥ prajāyate || 60 ||

उभयोर् भावयोर् ज्ञाने ध्यात्वा मध्यं समाश्रयेत्।
युगपच् च द्वयं त्यक्त्वा मध्ये तत्त्वम् प्रकाशते॥ ६१॥
ubhayor bhāvayor jñāne dhyātvā madhyaṁ samāśrayet|
yugapac ca dvayaṁ tyaktvā madhye tattvam prakāśate || 61 ||

भावे त्यक्ते निरुद्धा चिन् नैव भावान्तरं व्रजेत्।
तदा तन्मध्यभावेन विकसत्यति भावना॥ ६२॥
bhāve tyakte niruddhā cin naiva bhāvāntaraṁ vrajet|
tadā tanmadhyabhāvena vikasatyati bhāvanā || 62 ||

सर्वं देहं चिन्मयं हि जगद् वा परिभावयेत्।
युगपन् निर्विकल्पेन मनसा परमोदयः॥ ६३॥
sarvaṁ dehaṁ cinmayaṁ hi jagad vā paribhāvayet|
yugapan nirvikalpena manasā paramodayaḥ || 63 ||

वायुद्वयस्य सङ्घट्टाद् अन्तर् वा बहिर् अन्ततः।
योगी समत्वविज्ञानसमुद्गमनभाजनम्॥ ६४॥
vāyudvayasya saṅghaṭṭād antar vā bahir antataḥ |
yogī samatvavijñānasamudgamanabhājanam || 64 ||

सर्वं जगत्स्वदेहं वा स्वानन्दभरितं स्मरेत्।
युगपत्स्वामृतेनैव परानन्दमयो भवेत्॥ ६५॥
sarvaṁ jagatsvadehaṁ vā svānandabharitaṁ smaret|
yugapatsvāmṛtenaiva parānandamayo bhavet|| 65 ||

कुहनेन प्रयोगेण सद्य एव मृगेक्षणे।
समुदेति महानन्दो येन तत्त्वं प्रकाशते॥ ६६॥
kuhanena prayogeṇa sadya eva mṛgekṣaṇe |
samudeti mahānando yena tattvaṁ prakāśate || 66 ||

सर्वस्रोतोनिबन्धेन प्राणशक्त्योर्ध्वया शनैः।
पिपीलस्पर्शवेलायाम् प्रथते परमं सुखम्॥ ६७॥
sarvasrotonibandhena prāṇaśaktyordhvayā śanaiḥ |
pipīlasparśavelāyām prathate paramaṁ sukham || 67 ||

वह्नेर् विषस्य मध्ये तु चित्तं सुखमयं क्षिपेत्।
केवलं वायुपूर्णं वा स्मरानन्देन युज्यते॥ ६८॥
vahner viṣasya madhye tu cittaṁ sukhamayaṁ kṣipet|
kevalaṁ vāyupūrṇaṁ vā smarānandena yujyate || 68 ||

शक्तिसङ्गमसङ्क्षुब्धशक्त्यावेशावसानिकम्।
यत्सुखम् ब्रह्मतत्त्वस्य तत्सुखं स्वाक्यम् उच्यते॥ ६९॥
śaktisaṅgamasaṅkṣubdhaśaktyāveśāvasānikam |
yatsukham brahmatattvasya tatsukhaṁ svākyam ucyate || 69 ||

लेहनामन्थनाकोटैः स्त्रीसुखस्य भरात्स्मृतेः।
शक्त्यभावेऽपि देवेशि भवेद् आनन्दसम्प्लवः॥ ७०॥
lehanāmanthanākoṭaiḥ strīsukhasya bharātsmṛteḥ |
śaktyabhāve’pi deveśi bhaved ānandasamplavaḥ || 70 ||

आनन्दे महति प्राप्ते दृष्टे वा बान्धवे चिरात्।
आनन्दम् उद्गतं ध्यात्वा तल्लयस् तन्मना भवेत्॥ ७१॥
ānande mahati prāpte dṛṣṭe vā bāndhave cirāt|
ānandam udgataṁ dhyātvā tallayas tanmanā bhavet|| 71 ||

जग्धिपानकृतोल्लासरसानन्दविजृम्भणात्।
भावयेद् भरितावस्थां महानन्दस् ततो भवेत्॥ ७२॥
jagdhipānakṛtollāsarasānandavijṛmbhaṇāt|
bhāvayed bharitāvasthāṁ mahānandas tato bhavet|| 72 ||

गितादिविषयास्वादासमसौख्यैकतात्मनः।
योगिनस् तन्मयत्वेन मनोरूढेस् तदात्मता॥ ७३॥
gitādiviṣayāsvādāsamasaukhyaikatātmanaḥ |
yoginas tanmayatvena manorūḍhes tadātmatā || 73 ||

यत्र यत्र मनस् तुष्टिर् मनस् तत्रैव धारयेत्।
तत्र तत्र परानन्दस्वारूपं सम्प्रवर्तते॥ ७४॥
yatra yatra manas tuṣṭir manas tatraiva dhārayet|
tatra tatra parānandasvārūpaṁ sampravartate || 74 ||

अनागतायां निद्रायाम् प्रणष्टे बाह्यगोचरे।
सावस्था मनसा गम्या परा देवी प्रकाशते॥ ७५॥
anāgatāyāṁ nidrāyām praṇaṣṭe bāhyagocare |
sāvasthā manasā gamyā parā devī prakāśate || 75 ||

तेजसा सूर्यदीपादेर् आकाशे शबलीकृते।
दृष्टिर् निवेश्या तत्रैव स्वात्मरूपम् प्रकाशते॥ ७६॥
tejasā sūryadīpāder ākāśe śabalīkṛte |
dṛṣṭir niveśyā tatraiva svātmarūpam prakāśate || 76 ||

करङ्किण्या क्रोधनया भैरव्या लेलिहानया।
खेचर्या दृष्टिकाले च परावाप्तिः प्रकाशते॥ ७७॥
karaṅkiṇyā krodhanayā bhairavyā lelihānayā |
khecaryā dṛṣṭikāle ca parāvāptiḥ prakāśate || 77 ||

मृद्वासने स्फिजैकेन हस्तपादौ निराश्रयम्।
निधाय तत्प्रसङ्गेन परा पूर्णा मतिर् भवेत्॥ ७८॥
mṛdvāsane sphijaikena hastapādau nirāśrayam |
nidhāya tatprasaṅgena parā pūrṇā matir bhavet|| 78 ||

उपविश्यासने सम्यग् बाहू कृत्वार्धकुञ्चितौ।
कक्षव्योम्नि मनः कुर्वन् शममायाति तल्लयात्॥ ७९॥
upaviśyāsane samyag bāhū kṛtvārdhakuñcitau |
kakṣavyomni manaḥ kurvan śamamāyāti tallayāt|| 79 ||

स्थूलरूपस्य भावस्य स्तब्धां दृष्टिं निपात्य च।
अचिरेण निराधारं मनः कृत्वा शिवं व्रजेत्॥ ८०॥
sthūlarūpasya bhāvasya stabdhāṁ dṛṣṭiṁ nipātya ca |
acireṇa nirādhāraṁ manaḥ kṛtvā śivaṁ vrajet|| 80 ||

मध्यजिह्वे स्फारितास्ये मध्ये निक्षिप्य चेतनाम्।
होच्चारं मनसा कुर्वंस् ततः शान्ते प्रलीयते॥ ८१॥
madhyajihve sphāritāsye madhye nikṣipya cetanām |
hoccāraṁ manasā kurvaṁs tataḥ śānte pralīyate || 81 ||

आसने शयने स्थित्वा निराधारं विभावयन्।
स्वदेहं मनसि क्षिणे क्षणात्क्षीणाशयो भवेत्॥ ८२॥
āsane śayane sthitvā nirādhāraṁ vibhāvayan |
svadehaṁ manasi kṣiṇe kṣaṇātkṣīṇāśayo bhavet|| 82 ||

चलासने स्थितस्याथ शनैर् वा देहचालनात्।
प्रशान्ते मानसे भावे देवि दिव्यौघमाप्नुयात्॥ ८३॥
calāsane sthitasyātha śanair vā dehacālanāt|
praśānte mānase bhāve devi divyaughamāpnuyāt|| 83 ||

आकाशं विमलम् पश्यन् कृत्वा दृष्टिं निरन्तराम्।
स्तब्धात्मा तत्क्षणाद् देवि भैरवं वपुर् आप्नुयात्॥ ८४॥
ākāśaṁ vimalam paśyan kṛtvā dṛṣṭiṁ nirantarām |
stabdhātmā tatkṣaṇād devi bhairavaṁ vapur āpnuyāt|| 84 ||

लीनं मूर्ध्नि वियत्सर्वम् भैरवत्वेन भावयेत्।
तत्सर्वम् भैरवाकारतेजस्तत्त्वं समाविशेत्॥ ८५॥
līnaṁ mūrdhni viyatsarvam bhairavatvena bhāvayet|
tatsarvam bhairavākāratejastattvaṁ samāviśet|| 85 ||

किञ्चिज् ज्ञातं द्वैतदायि बाह्यालोकस् तमः पुनः।
विश्वादि भैरवं रूपं ज्ञात्वानन्तप्रकाशभृत्॥ ८६॥
kiñcij jñātaṁ dvaitadāyi bāhyālokas tamaḥ punaḥ |
viśvādi bhairavaṁ rūpaṁ jñātvānantaprakāśabhṛt|| 86 ||

एवम् एव दुर्निशायां कृष्णपक्षागमे चिरम्।
तैमिरम् भावयन् रूपम् भैरवं रूपम् एष्यति॥ ८७॥
evam eva durniśāyāṁ kṛṣṇapakṣāgame ciram |
taimiram bhāvayan rūpam bhairavaṁ rūpam eṣyati || 87 ||

एवम् एव निमील्यादौ नेत्रे कृष्णाभमग्रतः।
प्रसार्य भैरवं रूपम् भावयंस् तन्मयो भवेत्॥ ८८॥
evam eva nimīlyādau netre kṛṣṇābhamagrataḥ |
prasārya bhairavaṁ rūpam bhāvayaṁs tanmayo bhavet|| 88 ||

यस्य कस्येन्द्रियस्यापि व्याघाताच् च निरोधतः।
प्रविष्टस्याद्वये शून्ये तत्रैवात्मा प्रकाशते॥ ८९॥
yasya kasyendriyasyāpi vyāghātāc ca nirodhataḥ |
praviṣṭasyādvaye śūnye tatraivātmā prakāśate || 89 ||

अबिन्दुमविसर्गं च अकारं जपतो महान्।
उदेति देवि सहसा ज्ञानौघः परमेश्वरः॥ ९०॥
abindumavisargaṁ ca akāraṁ japato mahān |
udeti devi sahasā jñānaughaḥ parameśvaraḥ || 90 ||

वर्णस्य सविसर्गस्य विसर्गान्तं चितिं कुरु।
निराधारेण चित्तेन स्पृशेद् ब्रह्म सनातनम्॥ ९१॥
varṇasya savisargasya visargāntaṁ citiṁ kuru |
nirādhāreṇa cittena spṛśed brahma sanātanam || 91 ||

व्योमाकारं स्वमात्मानं ध्यायेद् दिग्भिर् अनावृतम्।
निराश्रया चितिः शक्तिः स्वरूपं दर्शयेत्तदा॥ ९२॥
vyomākāraṁ svamātmānaṁ dhyāyed digbhir anāvṛtam |
nirāśrayā citiḥ śaktiḥ svarūpaṁ darśayettadā || 92 ||

किञ्चिद् अङ्गं विभिद्यादौ तीक्ष्णसूच्यादिना ततः।
तत्रैव चेतनां युक्त्वा भैरवे निर्मला गतिः॥ ९३॥
kiñcid aṅgaṁ vibhidyādau tīkṣṇasūcyādinā tataḥ |
tatraiva cetanāṁ yuktvā bhairave nirmalā gatiḥ || 93 ||

चित्ताद्यन्तःकृतिर् नास्ति ममान्तर् भावयेद् इति।
विकल्पानामभावेन विकल्पैर् उज्झितो भवेत्॥ ९४॥
cittādyantaḥkṛtir nāsti mamāntar bhāvayed iti |
vikalpānāmabhāvena vikalpair ujjhito bhavet|| 94 ||

माया विमोहिनी नाम कलायाः कलनं स्थितम्।
इत्यादिधर्मं तत्त्वानां कलयन् न पृथग् भवेत्॥ ९५॥
māyā vimohinī nāma kalāyāḥ kalanaṁ sthitam |
ityādidharmaṁ tattvānāṁ kalayan na pṛthag bhavet|| 95 ||

झगितीच्चां समुत्पन्नामवलोक्य शमं नयेत्।
यत एव समुद्भूता ततस् तत्रैव लीयते॥ ९६॥
jhagitīccāṁ samutpannāmavalokya śamaṁ nayet|
yata eva samudbhūtā tatas tatraiva līyate || 96 ||

यदा ममेच्चा नोत्पन्ना ज्ञानं वा कस् तदास्मि वै।
तत्त्वतोऽहं तथाभूतस् तल्लीनस् तन्मना भवेत्॥ ९७॥
yadā mameccā notpannā jñānaṁ vā kas tadāsmi vai |
tattvato’haṁ tathābhūtas tallīnas tanmanā bhavet|| 97 ||

इच्चायामथवा ज्ञाने जाते चित्तं निवेशयेत्।
आत्मबुद्ध्यानन्यचेतास् ततस् तत्त्वार्थदर्शनम्॥ ९८॥
iccāyāmathavā jñāne jāte cittaṁ niveśayet|
ātmabuddhyānanyacetās tatas tattvārthadarśanam || 98 ||

निर्निमित्तम् भवेज् ज्ञानं निराधारम् भ्रमात्मकम्।
तत्त्वतः कस्यचिन् नैतद् एवम्भावी शिवः प्रिये॥ ९९॥
nirnimittam bhavej jñānaṁ nirādhāram bhramātmakam |
tattvataḥ kasyacin naitad evambhāvī śivaḥ priye || 99 ||

चिद्धर्मा सर्वदेहेषु विशेषो नास्ति कुत्रचित्।
अतश्च तन्मयं सर्वम् भावयन् भवजिज् जनः॥ १००॥
ciddharmā sarvadeheṣu viśeṣo nāsti kutracit|
ataśca tanmayaṁ sarvam bhāvayan bhavajij janaḥ || 100 ||

कामक्रोधलोभमोहमदमात्सर्यगोचरे।
बुद्धिं निस्तिमितां कृत्वा तत्तत्त्वमवशिष्यते॥ १०१॥
kāmakrodhalobhamohamadamātsaryagocare |
buddhiṁ nistimitāṁ kṛtvā tattattvamavaśiṣyate || 101 ||

इन्द्रजालमयं विश्वं व्यस्तं वा चित्रकर्मवत्।
भ्रमद् वा ध्यायतः सर्वम् पश्यतश्च सुखोद्गमः॥ १०२॥
indrajālamayaṁ viśvaṁ vyastaṁ vā citrakarmavat|
bhramad vā dhyāyataḥ sarvam paśyataśca sukhodgamaḥ || 102 ||

न चित्तं निक्षिपेद् दुःखे न सुखे वा परिक्षिपेत्।
भैरवि ज्ञायतां मध्ये किं तत्त्वमवशिष्यते॥ १०३॥
na cittaṁ nikṣiped duḥkhe na sukhe vā parikṣipet|
bhairavi jñāyatāṁ madhye kiṁ tattvamavaśiṣyate || 103 ||

विहाय निजदेहस्थं सर्वत्रास्मीति भावयन्।
दृढेन मनसा दृष्ट्या नान्येक्षिण्या सुखी भवेत्॥ १०४॥
vihāya nijadehasthaṁ sarvatrāsmīti bhāvayan |
dṛḍhena manasā dṛṣṭyā nānyekṣiṇyā sukhī bhavet|| 104 ||

घटादौ यच् च विज्ञानम् इच्चाद्यं वा ममान्तरे।
नैव सर्वगतं जातम् भावयन् इति सर्वगः॥ १०५॥
ghaṭādau yac ca vijñānam iccādyaṁ vā mamāntare |
naiva sarvagataṁ jātam bhāvayan iti sarvagaḥ || 105 ||

ग्राह्यग्राहकसंवित्तिः सामान्या सर्वदेहिनाम्।
योगिनां तु विशेषोऽस्ति सम्बन्धे सावधानता॥ १०६॥
grāhyagrāhakasaṁvittiḥ sāmānyā sarvadehinām |
yogināṁ tu viśeṣo’sti sambandhe sāvadhānatā || 106 ||

स्ववद् अन्यशरीरेऽपि संवित्तिमनुभावयेत्।
अपेक्षां स्वशरीरस्य त्यक्त्वा व्यापी दिनैर् भवेत्॥ १०७॥
svavad anyaśarīre’pi saṁvittimanubhāvayet|
apekṣāṁ svaśarīrasya tyaktvā vyāpī dinair bhavet|| 107 ||

निराधारं मनः कृत्वा विकल्पान् न विकल्पयेत्।
तदात्मपरमात्मत्वे भैरवो मृगलोचने॥ १०८॥
nirādhāraṁ manaḥ kṛtvā vikalpān na vikalpayet|
tadātmaparamātmatve bhairavo mṛgalocane || 108 ||

सर्वज्ञः सर्वकर्ता च व्यापकः परमेश्वरः।
स एवाहं शैवधर्मा इति दार्ढ्याच् चिवो भवेत्॥ १०९॥
sarvajñaḥ sarvakartā ca vyāpakaḥ parameśvaraḥ |
sa evāhaṁ śaivadharmā iti dārḍhyāc civo bhavet|| 109 ||

जलस्येवोर्मयो वह्नेर् ज्वालाभङ्ग्यः प्रभा रवेः।
ममैव भैरवस्यैता विश्वभङ्ग्यो विभेदिताः॥ ११०॥
jalasyevormayo vahner jvālābhaṅgyaḥ prabhā raveḥ |
mamaiva bhairavasyaitā viśvabhaṅgyo vibheditāḥ || 110 ||

भ्रान्त्वा भ्रान्त्वा शरीरेण त्वरितम् भुवि पातनात्।
क्षोभशक्तिविरामेण परा सञ्जायते दशा॥ १११॥
bhrāntvā bhrāntvā śarīreṇa tvaritam bhuvi pātanāt|
kṣobhaśaktivirāmeṇa parā sañjāyate daśā || 111 ||

आधारेष्व् अथवाऽशक्त्याऽज्ञानाच् चित्तलयेन वा।
जातशक्तिसमावेशक्षोभान्ते भैरवं वपुः॥ ११२॥
ādhāreṣv athavā’śaktyā’jñānāc cittalayena vā |
jātaśaktisamāveśakṣobhānte bhairavaṁ vapuḥ || 112 ||

सम्प्रदायम् इमम् देवि शृणु सम्यग् वदाम्यहम्।
कैवल्यं जायते सद्यो नेत्रयोः स्तब्धमात्रयोः॥ ११३॥
sampradāyam imam devi śṛṇu samyag vadāmyaham |
kaivalyaṁ jāyate sadyo netrayoḥ stabdhamātrayoḥ || 113 ||

सङ्कोचं कर्णयोः कृत्वा ह्यधोद्वारे तथैव च।
अनच्कमहलं ध्यायन् विशेद् ब्रह्म सनातनम्॥ ११४॥
saṅkocaṁ karṇayoḥ kṛtvā hyadhodvāre tathaiva ca |
anackamahalaṁ dhyāyan viśed brahma sanātanam || 114 ||

कूपादिके महागर्ते स्थित्वोपरि निरीक्षणात्।
अविकल्पमतेः सम्यक् सद्यस् चित्तलयः स्फुटम्॥ ११५॥
kūpādike mahāgarte sthitvopari nirīkṣaṇāt|
avikalpamateḥ samyak sadyas cittalayaḥ sphuṭam || 115 ||

यत्र यत्र मनो याति बाह्ये वाभ्यन्तरेऽपि वा।
तत्र तत्र शिवावास्था व्यापकत्वात्क्व यास्यति॥ ११६॥
yatra yatra mano yāti bāhye vābhyantare’pi vā |
tatra tatra śivāvāsthā vyāpakatvātkva yāsyati || 116 ||

यत्र यत्राक्षमार्गेण चैतन्यं व्यज्यते विभोः।
तस्य तन्मात्रधर्मित्वाच् चिल्लयाद् भरितात्मता॥ ११७॥
yatra yatrākṣamārgeṇa caitanyaṁ vyajyate vibhoḥ |
tasya tanmātradharmitvāc cillayād bharitātmatā || 117 ||

क्षुताद्यन्ते भये शोके गह्वरे वा रणाद् द्रुते।
कुतूहलेक्षुधाद्यन्ते ब्रह्मसत्तामयी दशा॥ ११८॥
kṣutādyante bhaye śoke gahvare vā raṇād drute |
kutūhalekṣudhādyante brahmasattāmayī daśā || 118 ||

वस्तुषु स्मर्यमाणेषु दृष्टे देशे मनस् त्यजेत्।
स्वशरीरं निराधारं कृत्वा प्रसरति प्रभुः॥ ११९॥
vastuṣu smaryamāṇeṣu dṛṣṭe deśe manas tyajet|
svaśarīraṁ nirādhāraṁ kṛtvā prasarati prabhuḥ || 119 ||

क्वचिद् वस्तुनि विन्यस्य शनैर् दृष्टिं निवर्तयेत्।
तज् ज्ञानं चित्तसहितं देवि शून्यालायो भवेत्॥१२०॥
kvacid vastuni vinyasya śanair dṛṣṭiṁ nivartayet|
taj jñānaṁ cittasahitaṁ devi śūnyālāyo bhavet||120 ||

भक्त्युद्रेकाद् विरक्तस्य यादृशी जायते मतिः।
सा शक्तिः शाङ्करी नित्यम् भवयेत्तां ततः शिवः॥ १२१॥
bhaktyudrekād viraktasya yādṛśī jāyate matiḥ |
sā śaktiḥ śāṅkarī nityam bhavayettāṁ tataḥ śivaḥ || 121 ||

वस्त्वन्तरे वेद्यमाने सर्ववस्तुषु शून्यता।
ताम् एव मनसा ध्यात्वा विदितोऽपि प्रशाम्यति॥ १२२॥
vastvantare vedyamāne sarvavastuṣu śūnyatā |
tām eva manasā dhyātvā vidito’pi praśāmyati || 122 ||

किञ्चिज्ज्ञैर् या स्मृता शुद्धिः सा शुद्धिः शम्भुदर्शने।
न शुचिर् ह्यशुचिस् तस्मान् निर्विकल्पः सुखी भवेत्॥ १२३॥
सर्वत्र भैरवो भावः सामान्येष्व् अपि गोचरः।
न च तद्व्यतिरेक्तेण परोऽस्तीत्यद्वया गतिः॥ १२४॥
समः शत्रौ च मित्रे च समो मानावमानयोः॥
ब्रह्मणः परिपूर्णत्वातिति ज्ञात्वा सुखी भवेत्॥ १२५॥
kiñcijjñair yā smṛtā śuddhiḥ sā śuddhiḥ śambhudarśane |
na śucir hyaśucis tasmān nirvikalpaḥ sukhī bhavet|| 123 ||
sarvatra bhairavo bhāvaḥ sāmānyeṣv api gocaraḥ |
na ca tadvyatirekteṇa paro’stītyadvayā gatiḥ || 124 ||
samaḥ śatrau ca mitre ca samo mānāvamānayoḥ ||
brahmaṇaḥ paripūrṇatvātiti jñātvā sukhī bhavet|| 125 ||

न द्वेषम् भावयेत्क्वापि न रागम् भावयेत्क्वचित्।
रागद्वेषविनिर्मुक्तौ मध्ये ब्रह्म प्रसर्पति॥ १२६॥
na dveṣam bhāvayetkvāpi na rāgam bhāvayetkvacit|
rāgadveṣavinirmuktau madhye brahma prasarpati || 126 ||

यद् अवेद्यं यद् अग्राह्यं यच् चून्यं यद् अभावगम्।
तत्सर्वम् भैरवम् भाव्यं तदन्ते बोधसम्भवः॥ १२७॥
yad avedyaṁ yad agrāhyaṁ yac cūnyaṁ yad abhāvagam |
tatsarvam bhairavam bhāvyaṁ tadante bodhasambhavaḥ || 127 ||

नित्ये निराश्रये शून्ये व्यापके कलनोज्झिते।
बाह्याकाशे मनः कृत्वा निराकाशं समाविशेत्॥ १२८॥
nitye nirāśraye śūnye vyāpake kalanojjhite |
bāhyākāśe manaḥ kṛtvā nirākāśaṁ samāviśet|| 128 ||

यत्र यत्र मनो याति तत्तत्तेनैव तत्क्षणम्।
परित्यज्यानवस्थित्या निस्तरङ्गस् ततो भवेत्॥ १२९॥
yatra yatra mano yāti tattattenaiva tatkṣaṇam |
parityajyānavasthityā nistaraṅgas tato bhavet|| 129 ||

भया सर्वं रवयति सर्वदो व्यापकोऽखिले।
इति भैरवशब्दस्य सन्ततोच्चारणाच् चिवः॥ १३०॥
bhayā sarvaṁ ravayati sarvado vyāpako’khile |
iti bhairavaśabdasya santatoccāraṇāc civaḥ || 130 ||

अहं ममेदम् इत्यादि प्रतिपत्तिप्रसङ्गतः।
निराधारे मनो याति तद्ध्यानप्रेरणाच् चमी॥ १३१॥
ahaṁ mamedam ityādi pratipattiprasaṅgataḥ |
nirādhāre mano yāti taddhyānapreraṇāc camī || 131 ||

नित्यो विभुर् निराधारो व्यापकश्चाखिलाधिपः।
शब्दान् प्रतिक्षणं ध्यायन् कृतार्थोऽर्थानुरूपतः॥ १३२॥
nityo vibhur nirādhāro vyāpakaścākhilādhipaḥ |
śabdān pratikṣaṇaṁ dhyāyan kṛtārtho’rthānurūpataḥ || 132 ||

अतत्त्वम् इन्द्रजालाभम् इदं सर्वमवस्थितम्।
किं तत्त्वम् इन्द्रजालस्य इति दार्ढ्याच् चमं व्रजेत्॥ १३३॥
atattvam indrajālābham idaṁ sarvamavasthitam |
kiṁ tattvam indrajālasya iti dārḍhyāc camaṁ vrajet|| 133 ||

आत्मनो निर्विकारस्य क्व ज्ञानं क्व च वा क्रिया।
ज्ञानायत्ता बहिर्भावा अतः शून्यम् इदं जगत्॥ १३४॥
ātmano nirvikārasya kva jñānaṁ kva ca vā kriyā |
jñānāyattā bahirbhāvā ataḥ śūnyam idaṁ jagat|| 134 ||

न मे बन्धो न मोक्षो मे भीतस्यैता विभीषिकाः।
प्रतिबिम्बम् इदम् बुद्धेर् जलेष्व् इव विवस्वतः॥ १३५॥
na me bandho na mokṣo me bhītasyaitā vibhīṣikāḥ |
pratibimbam idam buddher jaleṣv iva vivasvataḥ || 135 ||

इन्द्रियद्वारकं सर्वं सुखदुःखादिसङ्गमम्।
इतीन्द्रियाणि सन्त्यज्य स्वस्थः स्वात्मनि वर्तते॥ १३६॥
indriyadvārakaṁ sarvaṁ sukhaduḥkhādisaṅgamam |
itīndriyāṇi santyajya svasthaḥ svātmani vartate || 136 ||

ज्ञानप्रकाशकं सर्वं सर्वेणात्मा प्रकाशकः।
एकम् एकस्वभावत्वात्ज्ञानं ज्ञेयं विभाव्यते॥ १३७॥
jñānaprakāśakaṁ sarvaṁ sarveṇātmā prakāśakaḥ |
ekam ekasvabhāvatvātjñānaṁ jñeyaṁ vibhāvyate || 137 ||

मानसं चेतना शक्तिर् आत्मा चेति चतुष्टयम्।
यदा प्रिये परिक्षीणं तदा तद् भैरवं वपुः॥ १३८॥
mānasaṁ cetanā śaktir ātmā ceti catuṣṭayam |
yadā priye parikṣīṇaṁ tadā tad bhairavaṁ vapuḥ || 138 ||

निस्तरङ्गोपदेशानां शतम् उक्तं समासतः।
द्वादशाभ्यधिकं देवि यज् ज्ञात्वा ज्ञानविज् जनः॥ १३९॥
nistaraṅgopadeśānāṁ śatam uktaṁ samāsataḥ |
dvādaśābhyadhikaṁ devi yaj jñātvā jñānavij janaḥ || 139 ||

अत्र चैकतमे युक्तो जायते भैरवः स्वयम्।
वाचा करोति कर्माणि शापानुग्रहकारकः॥ १४०॥
atra caikatame yukto jāyate bhairavaḥ svayam |
vācā karoti karmāṇi śāpānugrahakārakaḥ || 140 ||

अजरामरताम् एति सोऽणिमादिगुणान्वितः।
योगिनीनाम् प्रियो देवि सर्वमेलापकाधिपः॥ १४१॥
ajarāmaratām eti so’ṇimādiguṇānvitaḥ |
yoginīnām priyo devi sarvamelāpakādhipaḥ || 141 ||

जीवन्न् अपि विमुक्तोऽसौ कुर्वन्न् अपि न लिप्यते।
jīvann api vimukto’sau kurvann api na lipyate |

श्री देवी उवाच।
śrī devī uvāca |

इदं यदि वपुर् देव परायाश्च महेश्वर॥ १४२॥
idaṁ yadi vapur deva parāyāśca maheśvara || 142 ||

एवमुक्तव्यवस्थायां जप्यते को जपश्च कः।
ध्यायते को महानाथ पूज्यते कश्च तृप्यति॥ १४३॥
evamuktavyavasthāyāṁ japyate ko japaśca kaḥ |
dhyāyate ko mahānātha pūjyate kaśca tṛpyati || 143 ||

हूयते कस्य वा होमो यागः कस्य च किं कथम्।
hūyate kasya vā homo yāgaḥ kasya ca kiṁ katham |

श्री भैरव उवाच।
śrī bhairava uvāca |

एषात्र प्रक्रिया बाह्या स्थूलेष्व् एव मृगेक्षणे॥ १४४॥
eṣātra prakriyā bāhyā sthūleṣv eva mṛgekṣaṇe || 144 ||

भूयो भूयः परे भावे भावना भाव्यते हि या।
जपः सोऽत्र स्वयं नादो मन्त्रात्मा जप्य ईदृशः॥ १४५॥
bhūyo bhūyaḥ pare bhāve bhāvanā bhāvyate hi yā |
japaḥ so’tra svayaṁ nādo mantrātmā japya īdṛśaḥ || 145 ||

ध्यानं हि निश्चला बुद्धिर् निराकारा निराश्रया।
न तु ध्यानं शरीराक्षिमुखहस्तादिकल्पना॥ १४६॥
dhyānaṁ hi niścalā buddhir nirākārā nirāśrayā |
na tu dhyānaṁ śarīrākṣimukhahastādikalpanā || 146 ||

पूजा नाम न पुष्पाद्यैर् या मतिः क्रियते दृढा।
निर्विकल्पे महाव्योम्नि सा पूजा ह्यादराल् लयः॥ १४७॥
pūjā nāma na puṣpādyair yā matiḥ kriyate dṛḍhā |
nirvikalpe mahāvyomni sā pūjā hyādarāl layaḥ || 147 ||

अत्रैकतमयुक्तिस्थे योत्पद्येत दिनाद् दिनम्।
भरिताकारता सात्र तृप्तिर् अत्यन्तपूर्णता॥ १४८॥
atraikatamayuktisthe yotpadyeta dinād dinam |
bharitākāratā sātra tṛptir atyantapūrṇatā || 148 ||

महाशून्यालये वह्नौ भूताक्षविषयादिकम्।
हूयते मनसा सार्धं स होमश् चेतनास्रुचा॥ १४९॥
mahāśūnyālaye vahnau bhūtākṣaviṣayādikam |
hūyate manasā sārdhaṁ sa homaś cetanāsrucā || 149 ||

यागोऽत्र परमेशानि तुष्टिर् आनन्दलक्षणा।
क्षपणात्सर्वपापानां त्राणात्सर्वस्य पार्वति॥ १५०॥
yāgo’tra parameśāni tuṣṭir ānandalakṣaṇā |
kṣapaṇātsarvapāpānāṁ trāṇātsarvasya pārvati || 150 ||

रुद्रशक्तिसमावेशस् तत्क्षेत्रम् भावना परा।
अन्यथा तस्य तत्त्वस्य का पूजा काश्च तृप्यति॥ १५१॥
rudraśaktisamāveśas tatkṣetram bhāvanā parā |
anyathā tasya tattvasya kā pūjā kāśca tṛpyati || 151 ||

स्वतन्त्रानन्दचिन्मात्रसारः स्वात्मा हि सर्वतः।
आवेशनं तत्स्वरूपे स्वात्मनः स्नानम् ईरितम्॥ १५२॥
svatantrānandacinmātrasāraḥ svātmā hi sarvataḥ |
āveśanaṁ tatsvarūpe svātmanaḥ snānam īritam || 152 ||

यैर् एव पूज्यते द्रव्यैस् तर्प्यते वा परापरः।
यश्चैव पूजकः सर्वः स एवैकः क्व पूजनम्॥ १५३॥
yair eva pūjyate dravyais tarpyate vā parāparaḥ |
yaścaiva pūjakaḥ sarvaḥ sa evaikaḥ kva pūjanam || 153 ||

व्रजेत्प्राणो विशेज् जीव इच्चया कुटिलाकृतिः।
दीर्घात्मा सा महादेवी परक्षेत्रम् परापरा॥ १५४॥
vrajetprāṇo viśej jīva iccayā kuṭilākṛtiḥ |
dīrghātmā sā mahādevī parakṣetram parāparā || 154 ||

अस्यामनुचरन् तिष्ठन् महानन्दमयेऽध्वरे।
तया देव्या समाविष्टः परम् भैरवमाप्नुयात्॥ १५५॥
asyāmanucaran tiṣṭhan mahānandamaye’dhvare |
tayā devyā samāviṣṭaḥ param bhairavamāpnuyāt|| 155 ||

षट्शतानि दिवा रात्रौ सहस्राण्येकविंशतिः।
जपो देव्याः समुद्दिष्टः सुलभो दुर्लभो जडैः॥ १५६॥
वरितिन्
सकारेण बहिर्याति हकारेण विषेत् पुनः।
हंसहंसेत्यमुं मन्त्रं जीवो जपति नित्यशः॥१५६॥
ṣaṭśatāni divā rātrau sahasrāṇyekaviṁśatiḥ |
japo devyāḥ samuddiṣṭaḥ sulabho durlabho jaḍaiḥ || 156 ||
variation
sakāreṇa bahiryāti hakāreṇa viṣet punaḥ |
haṁsahaṁsetyamuṁ mantraṁ jīvo japati nityaśaḥ ||156||

इत्येतत्कथितं देवि परमामृतम् उत्तमम्।
एतच् च नैव कस्यापि प्रकाश्यं तु कदाचन॥ १५७॥
ityetatkathitaṁ devi paramāmṛtam uttamam |
etac ca naiva kasyāpi prakāśyaṁ tu kadācana || 157 ||

परशिष्ये खले क्रूरे अभक्ते गुरुपादयोः।
निर्विकल्पमतीनां तु वीराणाम् उन्नतात्मनाम्॥ १५८॥
paraśiṣye khale krūre abhakte gurupādayoḥ |
nirvikalpamatīnāṁ tu vīrāṇām unnatātmanām || 158 ||

भक्तानां गुरुवर्गस्य दातव्यं निर्विशङ्कया।
ग्रामो राज्यम् पुरं देशः पुत्रदारकुटुम्बकम्॥ १५९॥
bhaktānāṁ guruvargasya dātavyaṁ nirviśaṅkayā |
grāmo rājyam puraṁ deśaḥ putradārakuṭumbakam || 159 ||

सर्वम् एतत्परित्यज्य ग्राह्यम् एतन् मृगेक्षणे।
किम् एभिर् अस्थिरैर् देवि स्थिरम् परम् इदं धनम्।
प्राणा अपि प्रदातव्या न देयं परमामृतम्॥ १६०॥
sarvam etatparityajya grāhyam etan mṛgekṣaṇe |
kim ebhir asthirair devi sthiram param idaṁ dhanam |
prāṇā api pradātavyā na deyaṁ paramāmṛtam || 160 ||

श्री देवी उवाच।
śrī devī uvāca |

देवदेव माहदेव परितृप्तास्मि शङ्कर।
रुद्रयामलतन्त्रस्य सारमद्यावधारितम्॥ १६१॥
devadeva māhadeva paritṛptāsmi śaṅkara |
rudrayāmalatantrasya sāramadyāvadhāritam || 161 ||

सर्वशक्तिप्रभेदानां हृदयं ज्ञातमद्य च।
इत्युक्त्वानन्दिता देवि कण्ठे लग्ना शिवस्य तु॥ १६२॥
sarvaśaktiprabhedānāṁ hṛdayaṁ jñātamadya ca |
ityuktvānanditā devi kaṇṭhe lagnā śivasya tu || 162 ||

The Trika-Krama Synthesis of Abhinavagupta

AbhinavaGupta is the seminal figure in the story of Kashmir Saiva Tantrism. His genius was to synthesize hundreds of seemingly disparate Tantras (scriptures). By the year 950, the many Tantras had shared themes, practices, and vocabulary, but not much doctrinal agreement, coherence, or systematic thinking. Near the end of the 10th century, AbhinavaGupta wrote his magnum opus, Light on the Tantras (Tantraloka) and in this and other associated works he created the theological structure that makes sense out of the vast and diverse corpus of the tantric tradition. He was able to demonstrate that there is a single, coherent View (darsana) of reality that can be derived from them.

This View can be summarized by the organizing equation 3+1, which I will explain below. Almost everything about Abhinava and his synthesis can be derived from this model and this is not surprising, for the model is provided by the very name of the school of tantra with which he is most associated: the Trika or “Trinity,” whose central teaching is that the triad of the individual soul (Nara), Shakti, and Shiva are, in reality, three expressions of an undifferentiated unity, the timeless ground of all Reality, known as the Heart of Being.

In every experience, there are three factors: 1). the thing known or perceived, 2). the means by which it is known, and 3). the knower. These three are expressed in every sentence that articulates conscious experience, even the most basic, such as “I see a pot.” But the three factors of experience are, upon deeper investigation, realized as three aspects of a dynamic process by which Consciousness reflects on itself in the form of an apparently different and distinct object of awareness. They are the three flowering buds of a single root, as it were, and it is language that fools us into thinking that there are really three separate things. This is why spiritual practice MUST go beyond the realm of language and the mind, since that realm conditions us to experience dualistically.

Similarly, the three primary powers of Consciousness-in-form, those of Willing (iccha), Knowing (jnana), and Acting (kriya), are to be understood as the expression of the fundamental ground in which they inhere, which is – to approximate in words – formless, autonomous Consciousness, blissful through reposing in itself (cidananda). The ultimate ground is your ever-present true nature, the Deity-Self revealed by the scriptures, whose primary purpose is to point you to its realization. Abhinava’s powerful articulation of this ultimate truth was stunningly captured by Alex Sanderson’s summation of deity through Abhinava’s eyes.

(Deity is) the absolute autonomy of a non-individual consciousness, which alone exists, containing the whole of reality within the bliss of a dynamic “I”-nature, projecting space, time, and the interrelating fluxes of subjective and objective phenomenon as its content and form, manifesting itself in this spontaneous extroversion through precognitive impulse (iccha), cognition (jnana), and action (kriya) as the three radical modes of an infinite power.

There are three different means to liberation – focused on body, heart-mind, and spirit respectively – that bring one to the realization of precisely the same ultimate reality because they derive from and are rooted in that very reality, the nameless Fourth, which simultaneously transcends them and yet is present in them, constituting their essence.  In every example of the 3+1 pattern, the +1 is the same, it is the One that gives rise to all the triads.

We can also see this pattern in Abhinava’s interpretation of the Spanda, which is a lineage of teachings that refer to the innate dynamism or vibrancy of Consciousness. It is the dynamic core of the Light of Consciousness, which creates the pulsating appearance of movement that is ultimately motionless. By meditating on the spanda, one penetrates through the Shakti state to the non-dual ground (+1) in which the triad of individuated Consciousness (Nara), Shiva, and Skati, which coincide in undifferentiated reality. All three modes are expressions of the non-dual ground, the nameless Fourth.

Some see reality as inherently dualistic – that distinction is ultimately real (the bheda view). They do good works and worship a separate almighty God that they hope will bless them with His grace. Others see distinctions that are subsumed within a greater unity, with distinction and unity having equal weight in experience (the bhedabheda view). They cultivate spiritual knowledge and relish beautiful things as a vibration of Consciousness. Still others see completely non-dualistically, that is, seeing difference as unreal or only very superficially real, with unity absolutely dominant in experience (the abheda view). They reject all practice, subtle and gross, and dwell in the immediate, intuitive insight of the transcendent “I” nature. So, where does the +1 come in? This is the key to understanding the ultimate consummation of tantric philosophy. You see, the non-dual view just mentioned excludes the dualistic view, seeing it as simply wrong. It is not an all-inclusive non-duality, and it lends itself to transcendentalism, a major pitfall of the spiritual path. Therefore, Abhinava presented a View called paramadvaya, “the supreme non-duality.” This view includes both duality and non-duality as valid experiences and levels of perception. Non-duality transcends duality, but the “supreme non-duality” transcends the transcendent. How can we understand this paradox? The supremely non-dual nameless Fourth is simultaneously transcendent and immanent: it englobes, includes, and emanates as ALL these different views. It is the all-inclusive Heart of reality, the dynamic power of Consciousness (cidananda), which articulates every possibility, becomes everything, and yet is no-thing.

In the dualistic orthodoxy (the Siddhanta sect), worship of the linga (stone idol representing Shiva) is taught, with the intention of coming to see it as embodying the whole universe; but in the Kula and similar systems, linga-worship is forbidden, so that one may come to see the universe as one’s own body. But here in the all-inclusive (way of supreme non-duality) what reason could there be for requiring the ritual or forbidding it? – Abhinava Gupta, the Tantraloka.

No practice is specifically enjoined, because it is not a guaranteed means of access to Siva (for a given individual), and no practice (even a dualistic one) is specifically prohibited, because it can do nothing to divine or diminish that (divine) Reality. For the Lord is all-encompassing, so injunction and prohibition are merely differential constructs within his nature. They cannot compromise that nature itself. – Abhinava Gupta, Tantraloka 4.271-2.

He is essentially saying that no single practice can be universally enjoined or prohibited for all practitioners. Each person must have a committed practice, but each practice must be carefully tailored to that person’s constitution, psychology, and desired goal.

Here (i.e., on this “level” of practice) there is no purity and no impurity, no dualism or non-dualism, no ritual nor its rejection, no renunciation and no possession…all the observances, rules, and regulations (found in the other Tantras) are neither enjoined or prohibited in this way. Or, everything is enjoined and everything is forbidden here! In fact, there is but one commandment on this (higher path), O Queen of the Gods: the yogi is to make an effort to steady his awareness on reality. He must practice whatever makes this possible for him. – Malinivijayottara Tantra.

We have seen how the 3+1 pattern applies to the phenomenology of experience, to the primary powers of Consciousness, the methodology of practice, the primary lineages, Spanda practice, and the nature of reality. Abhinava had a powerful motivation for articulating this pattern: it is, in essence, the fruit of synthesizing the two primary traditions that he inherited – the Trika and the Krama. Initiated into the radically non-dual Krama as a young man, but attaining the final goal through the grace of a master of the Trika, he was obviously compelled to integrate the teachings of both into a greater harmony.

There are three goddesses of the Trika that embody the three aspects of experience: Knower, Knowing, and Known (they also embody the powers of Willing, Knowing, and Acting, which correspond to these three). These three are seen, in the Trika/Krama synthesis, as emanations of the Supreme Goddess, sometimes known as Matrsadbhava, which means both “the essence of all mothers” and “the essence of all knowers.” She is also identified by Abhinava as Kali Sankarsani, and this is the name of the high goddess in the Krama tradition. She is the Nameless, timeless ground, the ultimate all-consuming Power of Awareness into which dissolution itself dissolved. She is called the Fourth, for She is the ground of the threefold process of Creation, Stasis, and Dissolution that applies to all things. She is the ultimate emptiness, the no-thing-ness that is simultaneously complete fullness. Integrating Her into the theology of the Trika provides the +1 of the 3+1 pattern.

Central to the Krama is the worship of the phases of Awareness in the form of the twelve Kalikas or emanations of Kali. Abhinava argues that these twelve goddesses arise through the confluence of the three aspects of experience (where knower, knowing, and the known = the three Trika goddesses) with the four phases of the Krama: Creation, Stasis, Dissolution, and the Nameless ground. Putting them together, we have (3×4=12) he twelve Kalikas.

We are multiplying the three aspects of experience by the four sequential phases (krama means “phase”). For example, the first of the twelve Kalis is Srstikali, and her essence expresses the creation (or rather emission) of the object of experience. The second is Raktakali, the persistence of the object of experience. And so it goes, all the way to the twelfth Kali, who is the Nameless ground in which the Knower dissolves. Thus the series of twelve also constitutes a map for the involution of consciousness to its final resting place, the mind’s faculties having been withdrawn into the individual subject, the individual subject having been withdrawn into  the transcendent Subject, and that having been withdrawn into non-subjective pure Awareness (the twelfth Kali). Abhinava considers the twelve Kalis to be the primary circuit of power (sakti-cakra) in the analysis of Awareness’ innate power of self-expression. All other circuits or deities are to be seen as condensations or amplification of this primary circuit.

 

The Kulamarga

An Overview of the Kulamarga

The Kulamarga departs markedly from the Mantramarga. We are offered two distinct cults of their deities, one following the Mantramarga (tantra-prakriya) and the other, seen as more elevated, following the Kulamarga (kula-prakriya). In the latter, instead of the elaborate and time-consuming process of initiation through offerings into a consecrated fire (hautri diksa) seen throughout the Mantramarga, we see initiation through the induction process (avesah) by the Goddess and the consumption of “impure” sacramental substances (caruprasanam, virapanam). We also find sexual intercourse with a consecrated consort (duti) as a central element of private worship (adyayagah), sanguinary sacrifices, and collective orgiastic rites celebrated by assemblies of initiates and women of low caste. These are the two ritual components of Abhinavagupta’s system: Tantra prakriya, the exoteric, normative liturgy of the entire Tantric community, centered on the God Bhairava; and kula prakriya, the secret and esoteric rites of the inner circle of the “clan” of initiates, centered on the Goddess and her proliferation into multiple goddesses. In his exegesis of the kula prakriya, Abhinavagupta sublimates, cosmeticizes, and semanticizes many of its practices into a type of meditative asceticism whose aim is to realize a transcendent subjectivity, but one which is imminent in the world and the Self. In the process, he transforms ritual from a form of doing to a form of “knowing.”

The Kulamarga, also called the Kula Teaching (kulasasanam, kulamnayah, and the like), or simply the Kula, was focused on the propitiation of the Goddess Kulesvari with or without Bhairava (Kulesvara) surrounded by the eight Mothers, and attended by Ganesa and Vatuka, with ancillary worship of the four Siddhas who propagated the tradition with their consorts, ending with Matseyendra (Macchanda) and his consort, Konkana, and the six non-celibate “princes” (rajaputrah) who were the sons of this couple together with their consorts; but this was variously inflected and modified in liturgical systems most obviously by the identity of the central deity.

In an early classification, seen in the Cincinimata, we are told of four forms of the Kaula cult, called the “transmissions” (anvayah) or “teachings” (amnayah), each assigned to one of the four cardinal directions: the Eastern (purvamnayah) associated with the goddess Kulesvari and closely related to that taught in the Trika; the Northern (uttaramnayah) associated with the goddess Kali (Kalasamkarsini); the Western (pascimanamnayah) with the goddess Kubjika and her consort, Navitman; and the Southern (daksinamnayah) with Kamesvari and the goddess known as the Nityas. This last transmission was eclipsed in time by its own outgrowth, the cult of the mild goddess Tripurasundari, also known as Sri Vidya, which eventually became the most widespread and popular form of Sakta worship, surviving with some vigor down to the present day. This was the situation up until the 12th century CE.

The creativity of these traditions was not exhausted. In later times, probably in eastern India after the decline of Buddhism in that region, various goddesses not encountered in earlier Kaula/Sakta sources, such as Syama (Daksinakali), Tara, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, and Bhuvanesvari, made their appearance in a new wave of Saiva-Sakta scriptural literature, eventually forming with Tripurasundari a fixed repertoire known as the Ten Mahavidya Goddesses, and preserving in the cults of Tara and Chinnamasta two deities of the Buddhist Tantric traditions that had formerly been so strong in the region comprising the modern states of Bengal, Bangladesh, Bihar, and Orissa.

The Kulamarga

Antecedents of the Kulamarga: The Kapalikas and the Cult of the Yoginis

The traditions of the Kulamarga are Kapalika, the basic form of their ascetic observances being that of the skull. The Kapalika background is evident from iconography of the divine couple. Worshipped within an enclosure of cremation grounds, they themselves wear the bone ornaments and brandish the skull-staff of the Kapalika tradition.  The Kapalikas, the ‘skull-men, so called because, like the Lakula ascetic of the higher path, they carried a skull-capped staff (khatviraga) and carried a cranium begging bowl; that is, they had undertaken the ‘great vow ’ (mahdvrata), the penance for Brahmanicide.

The Kapalika ascetic was quite the opposite of the respectable Smarta Brahman householder or even Saiva Siddhantin. Yet his doctrines and practices were developed on the basis of Saiva Siddhanta ideology, which lie radically re-interpreted. The Kapalika ascetic lived in the cremation grounds, imitating his fierce deities and appeasing these deities with offerings of blood, meat, alcohol and sexual fluids from ritual intercourse unconstrained by caste restrictions. These were highly polluting activities to an orthodox Brahman and even the sight of such an ascetic would pollute him. While meat and wine were common enough among the lower castes, they were impure for a Brahman. An orthodox Brahman would make only pure, vegetarian offerings to his gods and sexual activity would be constrained by the code of varnasrama-dharma, and excluded from the world of puja. In place of vegetarian food the Kapalika offered meat, in place of milk the Kapalika offered wine. The goal of the Kapalika was power (siddhi) which he thought he could achieve through breaking social taboos, appeasing his deities with offerings which would be anathema to the vedic practitioner, and harnessing the power of his deities through controlled possession.

While the right current Siddhanta modeled their religion on the Vedic prototype that had been dominant in an earlier Indian religion (especially 1000BCE – 400CE), the left current Kulamarga or Kaula emerged out of an equally old but more “populist” stratum of Indian religion, a fascinating and strange shamanistic visionary world of propititation of nature goddesses and animal headed yoginis. This is an area of Indian religion that is not well documented because it was largely illiterate, though we see many signs of its influence on literate religion. This shamanistic world, which was the older cultural background of the Kaula stream thus provided its aesthetic template, involving rituals and power-seeking rites that might seem disturbing, unbelievable, or even abhorrent to us. The sadhaka or ascetic practitioner performed these rites in frightening places such as cremation grounds, using mortuary elements like human skulls and ash from the funeral pyre. The rites invoked group of wild and fierce goddesses, often envisioned as nature spirits (called apsaras, dakinis, matrs, grahis, etc), and were led by a chief goddess or by the firece form of Siva himself – Bhairava.    If the sadhaka’s practice wa successful, the deities appeared to him, at which point he woujld make a blood or sacrificial offfering. Mythologically, he would be accepted by the goddesses and would rise into the sky with them, becoming the leader of their wild band – in other words, becoming like Bhairava Himself.

Around the 9-10th century, a paradigm shift of sorts occurred century, away from these earlier forms of Kaula practice which had involved cremation ground-based asceticism featuring the use of blood sacrifice and alcohol as a means to feeding and satisfying a host of terrible Kula (clan) deities. The emphasis moved away from feeding those ravenous deities towards a type of erotico-mystical practice involving a female horde, collectively known as the Yoginis, led by the terrible male Siva-Bhairava, together with his consort, the Goddess (Aghoresvari, Uma, Candi, Sakti, etc.). The Kaula rites were grounded in the cults of the Yoginis, medieval heiress to the Matrkas (Mothers), Yaksinis (female Dryads), and Grahinis (female Seizers) of earlier traditions who, like them, were often represented as supernatural or preternatural hybrids between human, animal, bird, and plant worlds. These petulant female deities, located at a shifting threshold between the divine and the demonic, were by turns terrible and benign with regard to humans, who traditionally worshipped them with blood offerings and animal sacrifice. Once gratified by said oblations, the Yoginis would reveal themselves as ravishing young women and gratify their human devotees in return with supernatural powers (siddhis), most particularly the power of flight.

64 Yoginis in a Temple

Induced possession by these Yoginis was the prime means to the ends of the Kaula, the “clan-generated” practices, also termed the “clan-practice” (kulacara), “clan religion” (kuladharma), or the “clan generated gnosis” (kulajnana). Kaula practitioners were primarily concerned with worldly powers (siddhis) and bodily immortality (jivanmukti) with the enjoyment (bhukti) of said powers and immortality taking precedence over any ideal of consciousness raising or disembodied liberation from cyclic rebirth (mukti), embraced by more conventional Tantric practitioners. These powers were gained by transacting with the Yoginis, who, in the Kaula context, were also identified with the female ritual consorts of the male practitioner. That is, the Yoginis of the Kaula Tantric tradition were at once regarded as flesh-and-blood women with whom male practitioners interacted, and the devouring semi-divine beings who were the object of their worship cults. In the secular literature, these Yoginis were often portrayed as witches or sorceresses, ambiguous, powerful, and dangerous figures that only a heroic male would dare approach, let alone attempt to conquer. It is for this reason that the fully initiated male practitioners of the Kaula termed themselves Champions or Virile Heroes (Viras); alternatively, they referred to themselves as Perfected Beings (Siddhas), by way of identifying themselves with another order of semi-divine beings, the male counterparts to the Yoginis of Epic and medieval Indian mythology.

On certain nights of the lunar month and solar year, Kaula practitioners would assemble on cremation grounds, or at “clan mounds” or “seats” (pithas), “clan-mountains” (kula-parvatas) or “fields” (ksetras). These gatherings were called “mingling” (melakas, melanas, melapas), involving the union of male and female initiates, of Yoginis whose presence and interaction with their heroic (Vira) or perfected (Siddha) male counterparts was the sine qua non of Kaula practice.

At these gatherings the Yoginis would descend from the sky to meet their male consorts awaiting them on the ground. These Yogini’s flight was fueled by the man and animal flesh that was their diet; however, the Siddhas or Viras, by virtue of their own practice, were able to offer the Yoginis a more subtle and more powerful energy source. This was their semen (virya), the distilled essence of their own bodily constituents. The Yoginis, gratified by these offerings, would offer their form of grace to the Siddhas or Viras. Instead of devouring them, they would offer them a counter-presentation of their own sexual discharge, something these male partners would have been as needful as the Yoginis were of male semen. Why? According to the Kaula tradition, the Godhead externalized himself (or herself in the Krama) in the form of a cluster of 8 great goddesses, who in turn proliferated into the multiple circles of feminine energies (usually 64) that was the Yogini entourage. These semi-divine Yoginis and the human women who embodied them carried in their bodies the germ plasm of the Godhead, called the “clan nectar” (kulamrta), “clan fluid” (kuladravyam), “vulval essence” (yoni-tattva), the “command” (ajna), simply the “fluid (dravyam), or the “clan” (kula). While this divine essence naturally flowed through women, it was considered absent in males. Therefore, the sole means by which a male could access the flow of the supreme godhead at the elevated center of the mandala, the clan “flow-chart,” was through the Yoginis who formed or inhabited its outer circles.

Yogini Mandala

Only through initiation by and continued interaction with the Yoginis could these male practitioners access the fluid essence and boundless energy of the godhead. It was therefore necessary that male practitioners be “inseminated” or more properly speaking “insanguinated,” with the sexual or menstrual discharge of the Yoginis – rendering the “mouth” of the Yogini their sole conduit to membership in the clan and all its prerequisites. Here, the “mouth” of the Yogini was her vulva, and “drinking female discharge” (rajapana), the prime means to fulfill the male needs. Therefore, the erotico-mystical practice, the “Tantric sex” practiced by the Kaula practitioners, mainly involved the drinking of these power substances that were sexual fluids, either through mutual oral congress or through a form of genital sex called vajroli mudra (urethral suction) by which the male partner used his penis as a straw to suck up the sexual discharge of the female partner. The ending of this encounter was the much coveted ability of flight, which was later to be internalized and reinterpreted along the means of experiencing God-Consciousness, but which more likely reflected the seeking of supernatural power among the Kaula.

Since its origins, the Kaula has essentially consisted of a body of techniques for the control of multiple, often female, beings, both for one’s own benefit and as tools to use against others. These may be reduced to three principal types: 1). Mantras, acoustic formulas that, when enunciated properly under the proper conditions, control said beings; 2). Techniques of possession, in which the same beings act through one’s own body; 3). The gratification of these beings through sacrificial offerings, with or without the transformative medium of vedic fire. In this last case, the supreme offering is none other than the bodily constituents of the practitioner himself. Here, human practitioners make the supreme sacrifice of their own person, moving the Tantric deity to reciprocate with untold powers and supernatural enjoyments. It is these three types of practice that have constituted the Tantric mainstream in the history of South Asian religions.

White essentially argues that “tantric” sex was a means of transmitting esoteric knowledge through the transmission of sexual fluid from the mouth (vulva) of the Yogini, which served to initiate the practitioner into the Kaula lineage via fluid gnosis or sexually transmitted messages.

Veneration of the Yoni

The Early Kaula

Kaula is sometimes referred to as the whole left side of Tantra, – the non-dual, transgressive, goddess-worshipping side, but within this general rubric, there was also a specific lineage grouping called Kaula, what we have been calling the Kulamarga. It is headed by the semi-historical, semi-legendary figure of Macchanda Natha (Matseyendra) “Lord Fisherman,” possibly of the 8th century. Macchanda is one of the most highly revered masters of the Tantra, considered a maha-siddha in both Saiva and Buddhist camps and has even been made into a deity in Nepal’s Kathmandhu valley, which still celebrates an annual festival in his honor, though they have long since forgotten his teachings.

In the original sources, he is revered as the avatar or revealer of the Truth in the fourth and current age of the Kali Yuga.  He was from Kamarupa (modern Assam) in the Far East, but must have traveled widely, for we know that his partner and consort was nick-named Konkanamba, “the Mother from Konkan,” a place on the western coast of modern Bombay. Unfortunately, her name is not as well remembered as that of her partner’s, even though the two were originally praised as a pair of awakened masters. They worshipped Siva and Sakti as a conjugal pair, under the names Kulesvara and Kulesvari (Lord and Lady of the Family). Later practitioners influenced by Kaulism often used those names for whatever specific forms of Siva and Sakti they worshipped.

Macchanda (a.k.a. Matseyendranatha) was a siddhi who incorporated the teachings of a the Kapalikas and their associated Yogini cult into his Kaulajnananirnaya (KJnN), for which reason he is exalted, in later works, as the founder of the Kaula. The KJnN is arguably a foundational text of the Kaula dated to around the 9th or 10th century. This final derivation of the Kaula is termed the “Fish-Belly.” In a mythological account, we read of Bhairava, having transformed himself into a fisherman, retrieving the Kaula scriptures from the belly of a fish. The other motif of the fish belly is suggestive of the evocative and sexual practices of the Yogini Kaula because the belly expands and contracts like the sexual organs.

Matseyendra

Macchanda and Konkanamba are said to have had twelve sons. Six became celibate ascetics and six became married householders. It was the latter six whom Macchanda and Konkamba initiated, transmitting to them their wisdom-teachings. Interestingly, the names of these six sons are not Sanskrit, but rather are associated with tribes beyond the pale of normal Indian society, thus alluding to early shamanic origins of the Kaula teachings. These six sons (together with their consorts) became the six heads of six lineages, called ovallis. The lineages developed into specific clans, which maintained networks of lodges near sacred sites around the subcontinent and had special hand-signals so members could recognize each other. The name of the six clans were Ananda, Bodhu, Avali, Orabhu, Pada, and Yogi, and their members, accordingly, had names ending in one of the six clan names.

This “original” Kaula lineage is not included amongst the nine main samparadayas that we will discuss because it is not a separate school in the same sense, with its own sectarian doctrines and specific cult of worship. It was rather a particular way of practicing the Tantra, with a greater emphasis on the sensual, and its real significance lay in the profound influence it exerted on some of the left current schools, so that in time two variants of some sects were acknowledged. For example, there is the Trika of the Mantramarga and the Kaula Trika of the Kulamarga.  This influence served to counter the transcendentalist emphasis seen in some parts of the tradition, for what characterized the Kaula above all else was its emphasis on the primacy of the body and on the immanent aspects of the divine. A totally practice-based lineage, it taught the use of sensual experience as a springboard into divine Presence. Therefore it is solely within the Kaula influenced lineages that sexual rites were practiced and that transgressive substances were both offered to God and consumed by the offerer (as is considered necessary in a non-dual view that “walks the talk”).

The Reformation of the Kaula

By the late 9th century the Kaulas were often highly educated people and refined aesthetes and sometimes were connected to the royal court. Still, they had to deal with an earlier scriptural tradition that at times emphasized otherworldly magical rites, some of which were offensive to Indian society. You see, ancient India was a deeply traditional society in which there was no possibility of simply rejecting an earlier layer of one’s tradition. If the earlier tradition did not fit the current paradigm, it had to be reinterpreted. This is precisely what the more sophisticated Kaulas of classical tantra did. They did not take the shamanistic rites described above literally; rather, they argued that the wild goddesses were expressions of the various energies of the human mind and body. The mortuary symbols were taken to represent transcendence of the ego and the attachment to body-based identity. When the ego is suspended, they taught, external objects lose their otherness and shine within consciousness as the flavors of pure aesthetic experience. The goddesses of the sense-energies are gratified by this offering of “nectar” and thereby converge, fusing with the practitioner’s radiant and expansive awareness. He thereby experiences himself as a single mass of blissful consciousness. Finally, flying through the sky as Bhairava himself, was taken to indicate an awe-inspiring divine state in which the liberated practitioner flies free in the sky of pure awareness, unbound by ordinary limiting cognitions, but still embodied, (i.e. possessed of his senses and faculties).

This process of reinterpretation (sometimes called “hermeneutics”) is central to all religions. The important thing to understand is that from inside the religion, it has no quality of artificiality. Rather, the interpreters believe that they are simply drawing out the real, deeper meaning of early scriptures, the meaning that God had always intended. (This is not to say that the sophisticated Kaula interpreters totally rejected those ascetics who chose to pursue cremation ground ritual and power-seeking; such ascetics, who had become the minority, were benignly tolerating as something like an eccentric and socially inappropriate cousin, embarrassing at times, but still part of the family).

So the sophisticated and literate expression of the left-current of non-dual Saiva Tantra “purified” the shocking or repellent elements of earlier goddess worship, not by rejecting them but by reinterpreting them as the elements of an interior spiritual experience. These Kaulas were great aesthetes, especially in Kashmir, where the left current flourished. For them, the highest state of consciousness was that of camatkara, that is, wonder or aesthetic rapture, the experience of amazement at the raw and vivid beauty of embodied existence. Their “aestheticization” of earlier tradition fit in well with their non-dualist beliefs; now they could confront even the most apparently horrific states of death and so-called impurity as aspects of their own divine inner being, aspects of the total beauty of existence. You can see this perspective in certain varieties of tantric art, depicting fierce yet benevolent deities.  Fierce deities are an exclusive characteristic of the non-dual type of tantra.

Abhinavagupta, marginalized the ritual of fluid exchange and sublimated it into wider body of ritual and meditative techniques. These techniques were designed not to threaten the purity regulations that were requires for high caste social functioning. These theoreticians eliminated the major goal of those “hard core” practices – the transformation and consumption of sexual substances to gain supernatural powers – by interpreting such antinomian practices metaphorically and switching the goal post from siddhis to the expansion of consciousness, now viewed as the cultivation of a divine state of mind homologous to the bliss experienced in sexual orgasm. This was a revisionist Tantra form orthopraxy to orthodoxy, from doing to knowing. Thus, for example, the drinking of female menstrual discharge became abstracted into a program of meditational mantras.

For all intense and purposes the Kaula disappeared in the 12th and 13th centuries, with a catastrophic break in most of the guru-disciple lineages, a break most likely occasioned by the progressive Muslim conquest of north India. Thereafter, it is only appropriate to speak of Tantric or Kaula revivals.

References:

  1. Sanderson, Alexis. “Saivism and the Tantric Traditions” in The World’s Religions. Hardy, F., Clarke, P., Houlden, L., and Sutherland, S. (Eds). Routledge Press, London, 1990.
  2. Sanderson, Alexis. “The Saiva Age – The Rise and Dominance of Śaivism during the Early Medieval Period.” In The Genesis and Development of Tantrism. Einoo, Shingo (Ed). University of Tokyo, Tokyo, 2009, pp. 41–349.
  3. Samuel. Geoffrey. The Origins of Yoga and Tantra: Indic Religions to the 13th Century. Cambridge University Press, NY, 2008.
  4. White, David Gordon. Kiss of the Yogini: “Tantric Sex” in its South Asian Contexts. The University of Chicago Press, IL, 2003.
  5. Wallis, Christopher. Tantra Illuminated: The Philosophy, History, and Practice of a Timeless Tradition. Anusara Press, TX, 2012.

 

The Pure Universe (Suddhadhvan)

The so-called pure universe comprising the top five tattvas is not a place; it is the divine Reality that pervades the whole of the manifest universe. The top five tattvas are essentially a description of God/dess. Though divided into five levels, they are all aspects of the Divine and are referred to as phases of God’s awareness. The differences between them are differences of perspective and emphasis. To reach any of the five tattvas of the Pure Universe is to attain complete liberation and awakening.

Tattva #5: Pure Mantra-Wisdom (Suddha-vidya)

The level of Pure Wisdom is also the level of mantra (besides meaning “wisdom,” vidya is also the feminine word for mantra). The wisdom spoken of here is not any type of intellectual knowledge, but rather the various phases of Siva-Sakti self-awareness expressed in the form of the 70 million mantras – all the mantras that have ever existed or will ever exist. In the tantric tradition, mantras are actually conscious beings, analogous to angels in the Christian tradition. Someone who attains liberation on the level of tattva #5 becomes a mantra-being. We know that this doctrine that mantras are conscious was taken seriously, because the texts tells us that if a guru grants initiation into the Tantra to someone who subsequently falls from the path, then that guru must perform a special ritual to apologize to the mantras for putting them to work needlessly.

It is absolutely crucial to understand that in this tradition, a mantra, its deity, and its goal are all one and the same. Thus, for example, Laksmi’s mantra (Om srim mahalaksmyai namah) is the Goddess Laksmi in sound form; it is her sonic body. Nor is her mantra sometimes separate from the goal from which it is repeated (to cultivate abundance), for it is the very vibration of abundance. So all the various deities of Indian spirituality exist on the level of the Suddha-vidya as phases of Siva-Sakti’s awareness – the many facets of the One jewel. Further, there are countless mantras-beings on the Suddha-vidya level that do not correspond to known Indian deities; perhaps we can suppose that the deities of spiritual traditions exist on this level, insofar as they can be understood as having a sonic forms.

One who reaches liberation on this level sees the entire universe as a diverse array of energies, but with a single essence. She sees no static matter, experiencing everything as interacting patterns of vibration. The wonder of that which she seeks takes precedence over her I-sense, though there is unity between them: “I am this!” (idam evaham).

The divine Power that corresponds to this level is kriya-sakti, the Power of Action, because the primary characteristic of mantras is that they are agents of transformative change (i.e. action).

Tattva #4: The Lord (Isvara)

This is the level of the personal God, God as being with specific qualities, that is, the Deity that can be named in various languages (Krishna, YHWH, Allah, Avalokitesvara, etc). This is the level of reality that most monotheistic religions presume to be the highest. Isvara is a generic, non-sectarian term for God.

The universe that was previously in blur comes into such sharp focus; what was ambiguous is now clear. This level is associated with jnana-sakti, the Power of Knowing, for Isvara holds within His being the knowledge of the subtle patterns that will be used in the creation of the universe. He empowers His regents on tattva #5 (who are all really aspects of Himself) to stimulate the primordial, homogenous world-source (maya, tattva #6) with this pattern, “churning” her so that she begins to produce differentiation of the lower tattvas, starting with the contractions called the kancukas (tattva #7 and below).

At the level of Isvara there is a balanced equality and identity between God and his incipient creation. The Sanskrit phrase used to represent this experience of reality is aham idam idam aham, or “I am This, This am I.” There is a fascinating and purely coincidental parallel here with the self-declaration of the God of the Hewbrew Bible, who when asked for His name (at Exodus 3:14), replied simply, ehyeh Asher ehyeh, ” I am that I am.”

In NST, it is not only God who exists at this level; so do any beings who have reached that same level of awareness. Thus the difference between Isvara and other beings abiding at tattva #4 is one of office, not of nature.

Tattva #3: The Still-Benevolent One (Sada-Siva)

The word “God” is no longer applicable here, for this level transcends any form of a deity with identifiable names or attributes. This is the level on which only the slightest subtle differentiation has just begun to emerge between the absolute Deity and the idea of the universe, the universe that S/He will create out of Him/Herself. Thus, it is the level of iccha-sakti, the divine Will Power, the creative urge or primal impulse toward self-expression. The Sanskrit phrase said to express this experience of reality is aham idam or “I am this,” or “this incipient totality is my own Self,” where there is identity between the Divine and the embryonic universe held within it. The sense of “I” has clear priority, wholly enveloping the “this”; so all beings who attain unity-consciousness with emphasis on the “I” pole abide at this level.

The Sada-Siva-tattva is the first movement into differentiation, for at the level of tattvas 1 and 2, there is absolute non-duality. The divine at this level is called Sada-Siva (eternally Siva) to remind us that even as a universe comes into being through the power of the Will, the Absolute loses none of its divinity; it is “still Siva.”

Historically, Sadasiva is also the name for the high deity of one form of Saiva Tantra, a form that was later surpassed by the worship of the conjoined and co-equal pair of Siva and Sakti. he is also pictured as the form of Siva that sprouts the five faces that speak the five streams of sacred scripture. Thus Sadasiva is sometimes considered the first ray of divine compassion.

Tattva #2: The Power / The Goddess (Sakti)

In the traditional tattva hierarchy, Sakti is #2, but in the non-dual school, care is taken to emphasize that Siva and Sakti switch places, for they are two sides of the same coin. That is, neither Siva nor Sakti has priority – it is a matter of which aspect is dominant in any given experience.

The word Sakti literally means “power, potency, energy, capacity, capability.” In NST, all powers are worshipped as goddesses, or rather as form of the Goddess (Maha-Devi). Sakti can no more be separated from Siva than heat can be separated from fire. All forms of energy are Sakti, and since matter is energy, the whole manifest universe is seen as the body of the Goddess, and the movements of all forms of energy are Her dance.

The term sakti is often used to specifically denote spiritual energy, or God’s transformative power. In these scriptures, this meaning is often conveyed with the special term rudra-sakti, which refers to the primal, awe-inspiring divine Power that flows though us in spiritual experience. An infusion of this divine Power is called rudra-sakti-samavesa, where samavesa refers to the spiritual experience comprising an expansion of consciousness, a dissolution of the boundaries between self and other, a sharing of self-hood with God/dess and/or the with the whole universe, and often a blissful influx of energy.

Tattva #1: The Benevolent One (Siva)

In the context of NST, Siva is not the name of a God. Rather, the word is understood to signify the peaceful, quiescent ground of all Reality, the infinite silence of a transcendent Divinity, or, in the poet’s phrase, the “still point at the center of the turning world.” While Sakti is extroversive, immanent, manifest, omniform, and dynamic, Siva is introversive, transcendent, unmanifest, formless, and still. Siva is the absolute void of pure Consciousness. (To be more accurate, Consciousness is never absolutely still, so on the level of the Siva-tattva, there is what Abhinava calls kimcit-chalana, an extraordinary subtle movement, an imperceptible and exquisitely sweet undulation).

Siva is the ground of being, that which gives reality its coherence. His nature is beyond any qualities, and is, therefore, difficult to express in words; however, he is described as the coherence and unification of all the various Saktis. Thus, he is called sakti-man, the one who holds the Powers, or rather “holds space” for their unfolding. However, since Siva is literally nothing without the Powers of Consciousness, Bliss, Will, and so on, it is usually Sakti that is worshipped as the highest principle in NST. Siva is that which grounds and coheres the various powers; He is the Lord of the Family (kulesvara), the center axis of the spinning wheel of the Powers. As the coherent force, Siva hardly has an insignificant function, but as he is not as an embodiment of potency himself, he is less likely to attract worship in a spiritual system that is focused primarily on the empowerment of its adherents.

The previous  paragraph defined Siva primarily as spaciousness, the hosting space for the energy that is called Sakti. This space/energy polariy is the one given in a Trika text called the Vijnana-Bhairava-Tantra, among other sources. We should note that in other contexts, the roles are defined differently. For example, the influential Recognition School (a subset of the Trika) defines Siva-Sakti as the two complimentary aspects of one divine Consciousness: Siva is the Light of Manifestation (prakasa), also known as the Light of Consciousness (cit-prakasa), and Sakti is blissful self-reflective awareness (vimarsa). This pairing is sometimes concisely abbreviated as cid-ananda (Awareness-Bliss). In this way of understanding Siva-Sakti, He is the illuminative power of Consciousness that manifests and shines as all things, and She is the power by which that same Consciousness folds back on itself and becomes self-aware and thus can enjoy itself. While new students of the Trika often want a a simple, cut and dry definition of the polarity of Siva and Sakti, the tradition does not offer one. Indeed, as this paragraph has shown, we get different definitions within the very same school. These need not be seen as contradictory, however, for the ultimate reality of Siva-Sakti transcends all thought; the diverse explanations are just varying orientations or angles of approach to that one Reality, serving different students in different contexts.

In other schema, that of the radical Krama school, Siva disappears entirely, for there the two aspects of the One are represented as different facets of one Goddess: the indescribable Void of absolute potential, the formless ground of all reality (Siva’s usual role) is represented as the dark and emaciated, terrifyingly attractive Goddess, Kali, who devours all things and makes them one with Herself; and the infinite Light that encompasses all things and beings with loving compassion and insight is represented as white and full bodied Goddess, Para, overflowing with boundless nectar. But, Abhinava Gupta stresses, these apparent opposites (black and white; empty and full) are simply the two forms of the one Great Goddess. The Krama school simply wishes to avoid the inevitably dualistic implications of Siva-Sakti as two beings joined together.

How to reconcile these two different presentations? The answer is simple: they need no reconciliation, for they are each perfectly fitted to the system in which they occur; and the absolute Reality beyond words can be represented by any of these schemas or by none.

It is important to note that the term Siva or “God” never loses its importance in the tradition, though some might construe the more refined philosophies of NST as atheistic because they wholly repudiate the notion of God as a separate person, a “guy in the sky” or indeed anything separate from your essence-nature as dynamic free Awareness. Yet it is significant that these very traditions continue to use the term “God” and its synonyms (mahesvara “Great Lord,” and paramesvara “Supreme Divinity”). Tantra does not seek to dispense with the love and devotion that is inspired by this personalizing and anthropomorphizing of the Absolute because it is a path of intimate relationship. At the same time, remember that the tradition gives us a beautiful non-dual definition of the word “God.”

…in actuality it is the unbounded Light of Consciousness, reposing in its innate Bliss, fully connected to its Powers of Willing, Knowing, and Acting, that we call God. – Abhiniva GuptaEssence of the Tantras.

It is the context of this definition that we may understand such scriptural statements as “Nothing exists that is not God.” But here we are anticipating the next segment: for “beyond” even tattva #1 is that which unfolds all the tattvas, from 1 to 36, within itself as the expression of its blissful self-awareness.

Tattva #0: The Heart (Siva/Sakti in perfect fusion) – Paramasiva

This secret tattva, taught only in the non-dual tantric sources, is the key to understanding the whole philosophy of NST. It is #0 because it does not crown the hierarchy, for as we have seen, the “highest” tattva is absolutely transcendent Siva. But the Ultimate Principle (paramartha), tattva #0, is not transcendent; for to transcend is to go beyond, and thus, exclude. In non-dual understanding, the Ultimate must be that which simultaneously transcends and encompasses all things. It is the supreme paradox for it expresses itself as the very substance of all things while simultaneously being something more than simply the sum of all perceptible levels of realities. This absolute principle cannot be written in the tattva list, for it pervades the whole as the indefinable essence of all things, manifest and unmanifest. It is absolutely incomprehensible by the mind.

This whole universe is One Reality – unbroken by time, un-circumscribed by space, unclouded by attributes, unconfined by forms, inexpressible by words, and impossible to understand with the ordinary means of knowledge. – Abhiniva Gupta, Essence of the Tantras.

This all-pervasive and ultimate Reality, subtler than the subtlest, beyond the highest transcendent Siva and yet closer to you than your own breath, equally present in the most sublime refined pure awareness of infinite openness and in the scent of the foulest excrement, its radiantly beautiful divine nature tainted though it shines equally in the form of all that is called pure and impure – this is what NST calls the Heart (hridaya) or the Essence (sara) of Reality. This is also known as Paramasiva. He also gives it more mysterious names, citing the scriptures: he calls it Visarga (the Absolute Potential), Spanda (the Vibration), Urmi (the Wave), Drk (the resounding silence), and Yamala (the Couple: the perfect fusion of Siva and Sakti as one). It is this same ultimate principle that is worshipped in radically non-dual Goddess tantra as Kali Kala-sankarsani: the radiant Dark, the resounding silence, the Devourer of Time – which is meant the timeless ground of the cycle of creation, stasis, and dissolution.

This is the doctrine of the higher non-duality (paramadvaya) which subsumes both duality and ordinary non-duality. It is all-encompassing, including even duality as a level within the Real, whereas ordinary non-duality simply negates duality as wrong or false. But duality is a level of reality, an undeniable experience, and a meaningful realm of discourse, so no system is complete that simply denies it. And just as duality is superseded, and subsumed, by the all-encompassing truth of non-duality, that too is superseded, and subsumed, by the all encompassing truth of higher non-duality.

This Heart, this Vibration, this Essence, is the light by which all things are illuminated, the reality by which all things are real. It is the omnipresent divinity, manifest equally in all things. Philosophers tend to object to the articulation of the nature of reality, saying that if everything is equally divine, the word “divine” loses its meaning because something has value only in opposition to something that doesn’t. While this objection is perfectly rational, it is operating on a level of understanding that, for the tantrika, is superseded by the immediate mystical experience that initiates share – an experience in which everything is indeed perceived as equally suffused with beautiful divine radiance, in which total freedom and the joy of being permeate the entire sphere of perception, and in which no phenomenon whatsoever can be perceived as anything less than absolutely perfect. This vision of reality has been labeled “trans-rational” because of the fact that it cannot be fully understood by the mind, despite the fact the one who has had the experience usually considers it the most intensely real experience of their life. (Even this experience, though, is merely a pointer to the state of abiding in oneness with the ground of reality, which is not an experience per se, since all experience comes and goes. Nothing can be said in words about the non-state of nirvana, permanently abiding in the Heart of reality).

This is not to say that in this expanded mode of perception, everything is considered the same. In fact, diversity is very much a part of the aesthetic mode, as this way of seeing celebrates all things as different expression of one reality. In fact, every thing is beautiful to the tantrika precisely because it expresses the One principle differently. Every sentient being is worthy of reverence because he/she expresses his/her Godhood in a unique manner, never seen before and never to be seen again.

The spiritual experience of one Divinity pulsating joyously in all that exists, as well as paradoxically present in the repose in the non-state of complete stillness and emptiness, is considered a gift of divine grace. Yet it can only be fully understood, cultivated, and firmly rooted as abiding realization through spiritual practice.

The Five Shells or Veils (kancukas)

Though we have been proceeding from the bottom up, it doesn’t make sense to discuss the kancukas that way, so we will proceed to tattvas 7 through 11 and then move on to 6. The five kancukas unfold directly from Maya (tattva #6) and are veils that contract Siva’s self-awareness into that of the limited individual (jiva). However, in the original tantric tradition, the understanding is this: Siva first contracts himself down to a single point of awareness, shedding his omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence completely. Then, in order to manifest as a sentient being, he equips himself with five limited capacities. These are the five kancukas, meaning “shell” or “armor,” for these are the qualities necessary for experience and action in the world of duality. However, it is true that kancuka can also mean “covering,” and the most common way of presenting the kancukas is as the coverings that conceal  the fullness of divine reality. Thus, we can say that Siva + kancukas = jiva (individual).

Tattva #7: Limited Power of Action (kala)

This is the fundamental kancuka; the others all follow from God’s self-imposed limitation on his power of action, his omnipotence. Note that kala does not mean “powerlessness,” but rather “limited power.” Kala is in fact that principle which animates the individual soul’s capacities to a greater or lesser degree. Each of the five kancukas is a limited form of the Divine Power. We seek to cultivate them and expand them with sadhana (spiritual practice). Thus kala in its fully expanded form is simply the omnipotent kriya-sakti, or the Power of Divine Action. On the spiritual path, we are waxing from a mere sliver of divine power toward the total fullness of our capacity to express our innate divinity.

Tattva #8: Limited Power of Knowledge (vidya).

The second veil is not ignorance, but incomplete knowledge. The problem of this kancuka is not that we know nothing, but that we know a little bit and think that this is all we need to know. The “shell” (kancuka) of vidya protects us by allowing us to understand something about our world, but when we believe that we know what life is like, that we have an understanding that is complete except in the trivial details, when in fact we are seeing only a small fragment of the true reality, we disallow the possibility of divine illumination.

When a man looks on the horizon of his own knowledge and believe that he sees the horizon of knowledge itself, he is truly lost.

Yet, this very limited knowledge that binds us to a contracted experience of what reality is, is itself simply a limited form of the Divine Power of Knowing, jnana-sakti. Thus, it is usually not the case that what we know about life is wrong, but rather that it needs to be situated in a larger context, integrated into a more encompassing vision. The tantrika seeks to ever expand their understanding, which may be why this power is also called unmesa-sakti, the Power of Unfolding. This unfolding is fueled by our intention and our practice of self-aware reflection, supported by the contemplation of the Tantras. In the expansion of our limited power of knowledge, we seek to move beyond words to an inner knowing, an embodied experiential knowledge that the word-based understanding of the intellect can only approximate.

Tattva #9: Desire (raga)

When fully expanded consciousness contracts into the form of an individual, it experiences itself as incomplete and imperfect, and therefore desires whatever it thinks it needs for completion. This desire is called raga, and is thought of as a non-specific craving for worldly experience. It is non-specific in the sense that it is a craving for something not quite known that gets rationalized as a specific desire based on each person’s unique life experiences (i.e. love, sex, admiration, money, power, etc). But in fact all craving is truly craving for only one thing: the fullness of divine Consciousness. Therefore, when any other desire gets fulfilled, it is found to be unsatisfactory – the craving still remains.

The literal meaning of the word raga is “color,” for like dye these desires saturate and even stain the mind, influencing how we see things and people. In the Tantra, desire is not a problem but an opportunity to follow the desire back to its source and to realize that what we really crave is fullness, wholeness – that we will be satisfied by nothing less than knowing (and being) God. Thus we come to understand that raga is the limited form of the Divine Power, iccha-sakti, or the Power of Will, the deep impulse to express the fullness of our authentic being. From this perspective, desire can teach us about those areas of life in which we many need to expand and express ourselves more fully and authentically. We can choose to activate our iccha-sakti in those areas, flowing forth our intentionality from a place of fullness, not of lack. But as long as you are ignorant of the true nature of desire, as long as you believe that possessing something outside of yourself will somehow permanently or completely fulfill you, you will continue to experience an insatiable void, an emptiness that cannot be filled, and an inexplicable angst that will burden you until the end of your life. It is primarily this raga, or craving for more, that propels us into the round of samsara, but again, raga should be not be rejected, but transmuted. In the mythological tales, even Lord Shiva had an addiction to gambling and wine, a craving that he transformed into an addiction to “shattering the fear of being in all worlds.” The first step in such a transmutation is tracing desire back to its source and realizing that your longing is longing for divine fullness, letting that longing soften your heart and compel you to seek true connection to the One.

Tattva #10: Time (kala)

The fourth of the pre-requisites for embodied experience is Time. Instead of a timeless simultaneity for absolute Consciousness, for which the entire universe is a single complex creation including all times, embodied beings generally experience time at the slow crawl of one second per second. This also means that we experience time sequentially, with one thing following another in a process of continual change (though some sources tell us that change is mere appearance and what really happens is that the Goddess Kali devours the whole universe in each instant and then recreates it anew in a slightly different form, hundreds of times each second).

We are often burdened by our awareness of the past and future – endless regrets and hopeful expectations, worry and anxiety – yet it is because of that very awareness that we can grow. The very thing that causes us suffering is also the means of our fulfillment once we shift our attitude toward it and our understanding of it. We do not seek to be entirely in the present moment the way animals are, with no conscious awareness of past and future. Rather, we seek to be centered in the present moment, aware of our past behind us and our future ahead of us while being free of the four modes of escaping the experience of now – guilt/regret, nostalgia/reverie, fantasy/daydream, and anxiety/worry.

When you look at this chart, you’ll acknowledge stress and dis-ease caused by guilt and worry, but think there is nothing wrong with nostalgia and fantasy. Yoga psychology challenges this notion, telling us that losing ourselves in fantasy is as detrimental to us as being obsessed by worry because fantasizing is equally effective in removing us from full awareness of the present. The present is what is real, and it is what we are called to respond to. In fact, the only way your hopes for the future can ever become a reality in the present is by careful attention to the details of the present-moment reality. A more accurate perspective would be to accept that there is no future per se, but only a constantly flowing present, which though close and reverent attention, reveals its divinity to the yogi. In this way, we can learn to experience ourselves as a whole being, with our past and future part of our present, without grasping toward either. In this way, we can become free of the net of time, entering into eternally flowing simultaneity (nityodita).

Tattva #11: Causality (niyati)

Niyati is the force that binds us to our karmas; it is the law of cause and effect that ensures that we reap what we sow. Because of niyati, you are certain to experience the results of your own karmic actions and no one else’s. A karmic action is a morally charged action motivated by a desire to attain or avoid a specific result. When we learn to perform actions unattached to the final outcome, those actions have no karmic charge and therefore do not bind us, whatever the result may be. Thus, the liberated being is no longer bound by niyati, fate, and is free from karma, though he or she may still undergo the fruits of karmas accrued before liberation.

Niyati is also associated with specific places (desa), because it is your unique set of karmas that determines your location. That is, because of your karmas, you are born on the Earth, living where you do and not in another city, country, or planet. Thus, the inverse of niyati, or rather its full expansion, is all-pervasiveness or non-locality.

Tattva #6: Maya

Now we come to the top of the hierarchy of manifest reality, the highest principle that is not the Absolute itself. In other traditions, maya means illusion or delusion, but not so in tantraMaya is the “world-source” (jagad-yoni), the Divine’s power to project itself into manifestation. It is also the power of differentiation, by which the One appears to be many. Maya is not given a negative valuation in tantra, even though it does, in a sense, delude us into seeing duality where there is only unity; for seeing dualistically is a necessary part of the process of Self-exploration that the Divine has freely chosen by manifesting a universe in the first place. Maya is the power the Divine uses in the creative expression of its nature. The paradox of maya is that it is the power that creates the apparent differentiation that causes so much trouble and is the same power that God uses to glorify Himself. Maya is the form of the Goddess that constitutes all manifest reality, blessing us with the opportunity for the more challenging – and therefore deeper – realization of unity-in-diversity. Look around you right now and see a flash of the truth: everything that is happening is Her play. Just as we form different ornaments out of pure gold and call them earrings, bracelets, anklets, and so on, in the same way all things of the universe are made from one substance, the energy-body of the Goddess, and differ from one another only in name, form, and function – not in essence.

The 36 Tattvas

The 36 tattvas are representations of the principles of reality and provide a sort of cosmologic map of existence – a map of the conscious being’s experience of reality. The tattvas are like a map of the spiritual journey. They are a map of subtle reality and, thus, a means for us to find out where we are, where we have come from, and how we can get back. What the list of tattvas provides is an ontological map, a map of the various states of being assumed by Consciousness as it congeals itself into the universe – and, in reverse, the process by which it then returns to the state of supreme Siva. What the tattvas chart is the flow of citisakti as it proceeds from its own center, which is both nowhere and everywhere. The map encompasses our life: the beginning point and the ending point and the path inbetween. Ultimately, we end up exactly where we began. In this sense, the spiritual journey is not unlike other journeys in life: we travel somewhere and along the way, we see certain landscapes, experience diffent cultures, meet various people. In the end, we come back home again.
Ther word tattva derives from the root tat, meaning “that” or “that which is,” implying that whatever this term is applied to is as basic a unit as one can find. Tattva means “that-ness.” We often translate it as “principle of reality.” Abhinava Gupta offers this technical definition:
A tattva is that which, by virtue of its reality, enables conscious agents to subsume the categories within it.
The tattvas can be enumerated from the bottom up or the top down. The top down order (Siva to Earth) is the order of creation (srsti-krama) and the bottom up is the order of liberation or the return to Source (samhara-krama).

The first five tattvas are the great elements of materiality, or panca maha-bhutas.
TATTVA #36: Earth (prthvi).
Earth, at the bottom of the tattva hierarchy, is not seen by NST as the “lowest” of the principles, but rather as the most complete; that level of reality in which all the tattvas are fully manifest. In other words, at the top of the tattva hierarchy (Paramasiva-tattva) all the principles are present in potential form, while at the bottom all those potentialities inherent in the Divine are fully expressed. Earth is the principle of solidity, density, resistance, and groundedness. The bija (seed mantra) used to invoke it is lam. All five senses are engaged in perceiving it.
TATTVA #35: Water (apah)
Water is the principle of liquidity. The senses of hearing, touch, sight, and taste are engaged in its perception. The bija is vam.
TATTVA #34: Fire (tejas)
Fire is the principle of combustion and transformation. The senses involved are hearing, touch, and sight and the bija is ram.
TATTVA #33: Wind (vayu)
Wind is the principle of mobility and the primary characteristic of air is the way it moves to fill a partial vacuum, constantly seeking to even itself out. The senses of hearing and touch are engaged in perceiving it, especially the latter. The bija is yam.
TATTVA #32: Space (akasa)
The principle of vacuity and extension in three dimensional reality, which is engaged by the sense of hearing in the sense that sound resonates through space. The bija is ham.
The next five tattvas are the tanmatras or the “subtle elements,” which is to say the properties of things that make them perceptible to our senses. Sentient beings live in a world that is smellable, tasteable, visible, tangible, and audible. By virtue of these qualities, they developed senses corresponding to them.
TATTVA #31: Odor (gandha)
TATTVA#30: Flavor (rasa)
TATTVA #29: Appearance (rupa)
TATTVA #28: Tactility (sparsa)
TATTVA #27: Sound Vibration (sabda)
The next five are the “action capacities” (karmendriyas). These are the five fundamental functions of a human being in relation to his or her environment.
TATTVA #26: Evacuation (bowels)
TATTVA #25: Reproduction (genitals)
TATTVA #24: Locomotion (feet)
TATTVA #23: Manipulation (hand)
TATTVA #22: Speech (mouth).
The next five are the “sense capacities” or jnanendriyas. They are the internal correlates of the five “subtle elements” above, the sensory energies that have evolved in conformity with the manifold sensibility of reality. Since all that really exists is a single field of energy, the senses (even touch) are essentially frequency analyzers that translate vibration into the apparently tangible and static realities perceived by our brain, such as the visual appearance and sound of a thing.
TATTVA #21: Smelling (ghrana)
TATTVA #20: Tasting (rasana)
TATTVA #19: Seeing (caksus)
TATTVA #18: Touching (tvak)
TATTVA #17: Hearing (srotra)
These four sets of five tattvas that make up the lower tattvas may be aligned in the following way to bring out their correspondences more clearly.

Most of us live in a mental world of our own making to such an extent that we are not well grounded in the sensual world. When we do pay attention to it, we see it through glass, darkly filtering it through our mentally constructed world. This is why the Tantra stresses sensual meditations – meditative savoring of food and music, as well as slowed down and ritualized acts of refined awareness like the Japanese Tea Ceremony (Chanoyu) – that allow us to cultivate our ability to allow the senses to experience their objects fully. When fed properly, the “goddess” rewards you by suffusing your awareness with aesthetic rapture, increasing your capacity to experience beauty. The whole world becomes more vivid and real, more radiantly lovely, more full of life-energy, not the relatively dull and lifeless world perceived by one living in their own mental world, or the insubstantial shadow-world perceived by a transcendentalist meditator. The latter are the worlds of one who starves the goddess of the senses.
The next three tattvas are aspects of the mind, or antah-karana.
TATTVA #16: Mind (manas, faculty of attention and sense-processing)
The manas is the common functional mind, processing and synthesizing the data collected by the senses. It is also the faculty of attention, and thus it is the manas that needs to be gently trained and lovingly disciplined when learning to meditate.
TATTVA #15 Ego (ahankara, identity-constructor)
The ahankara is the part of the mind that identifies what is “me” and “mine.” It appropriates certain things and experiences, assimilating them into its constructed sense of identity. Simply put, it is what you think you are. So the ego declares that, “I am fat,” “I am thin,” “I am clever,” “I am stupid,” “I am independent,” I am a victim,” and every other “I” statement. The aggregation of all of these thoughts constitutes the egoic identity. The egoic identity is a fictitious construct, consisting primarily of self-images that persist because they are believed and attached to. Each such self-image is based on a particular moment or moments of past experience that generated a mental construct (vikalpa) that was taken as a static reality. Thus the ego is essentially a fiction, because all that really exists is the flux phenomenon in each present moment. It seems real because you believe in it, and belief shapes experience.
Ego, then, is a persistent contraction of awareness in the form of a collection of self-images that causes suffering through artificial self-limitation.
Since it is part of the inherent dynamism of consciousness to pulsate continuously through cycles of expansion and contraction, whenever we get “stuck” in one or the other, we lose alignment and experience suffering. The ego should be a fluid entity, but instead becomes a static prison.
The ego is not the enemy. It is not to be annihilated, but rather purified and infinitely expanded. Since the ego simply means “what you think you are,” expanding it means expanding your sense of self, including more and more in your self-definition. Ultimately, when the ego expands infinitely, you experience all things in yourself and yourself in all things. There are no more boundaries to selfhood. When you experience all beings as part of yourself, you naturally act with compassion and wisdom. This is the state of purno’ham vimarsa, which can be translated several ways: “the perfect ‘I’ consciousness,” or “the awareness that ‘I am full and complete’” or “the awareness that ‘the real I encompasses everything.” It is the state of complete all-inclusive expansion. Just as the mass of any object accelerated to the speed of light increases to infinity, in the same way when the ego reaches the state of complete expansion, it merges into the ocean of consciousness.
TATTVA #14: Discerning Faculty, Intellect (buddhi)
This is the most important mental faculty for all schools of yoga philosophy. The buddhi is the faculty of reason by which we formulate conceptions and make decisions. It is the power of imagination. It is the faculty of discernment by which we decide what is beneficial for us and what is not. Abhinava argues that discernment (tarka) is the highest of all the practices of yoga, and the only one that leads to liberation. The most important form of discernment on the spiritual path, he tells us, is discerning between what is to be held close and what is to be laid aside – that is, what is ultimately benificial for us and what is not.
And there’s the rub: what gaurantee do we have that the buddhi is accurate in its discernment? In fact, we have ample evidence of its inaccuracy, for many times we choose what we think is beneficial, and it turns out not to be so. Of course, this is not as huge a problem as it seems because of the path of Tantric yoga, most “mistakes” become advantages when regarded as growth opportunities. But since the learning from some mistakes is harder and more time consuming than others, we wish to constantly refine and improve our ability to choose what is benificial, and thereby increase our efficiency of movement on the path. Why does that seem so difficult?
In yoga philosophy, the buddhi is impaired in its function, by the presence of what are called samskaras, or the subliminal impressions of past experiences. In common Sanskrit usage, a samskara is literally an impression, like a footprint in the sand at the beach. Now, if there are a series of deep footprints and other impressions in the sand, when the tide comes in and the water flows over them, it will flow differently than if the sand were perfectly smooth. In precisely the same way, when the energy of reality flows through your mind, it is affected by the deep impression of past experiences that are lodged there, and thereby flows differently. Thus based on our experience of the past, we formulate projections and make assumptions that too often are misaligned with the reality of the present. Our brains are good at pattern-matching – perhaps too good, for even a superficial resemblance of the current situation to a past situation will cause us to unconsciously assume that the present is like the past in most or all of its details. This act of unconsciously projecting the past onto the present is the primary reason we are unable to be aware of the reality of the current situation as it is, and thereby make good choices.
The spiritual path is very much about developing clear vision, about cultivating the ability to see things as they are. In classical yoga philosophy, the practices of yoga (especially meditation) have the primary purpose of dissolving the samskaras in order to bring about this clear vision, and the clear discernment that results from it. The analogy that is often given is that of polishing a dirty mirror. When, through yoga, the mirror of the buddhi become clear, it can perfectly reflect the light of the divine self. Thus, the more we practice yoga, the more accurate our intuition and discernment becomes. Sometimes people think great yoga masters can read minds or have other psyhic abilities. In fact, they just see without obstruction, something so rare in our world that it seems like a magical power. And indeed, knowledge is power – the only kind that cannot be taken away. A master with a purified buddhi can always see the most benificial course of action in any given sitaution, giving him or her a great power to change situations and uplift human beings.
Finally, we should note that in tantric philosophy, the buddhi is not lcoalized in the brain but extends throughout the body. Thus, samskaras of different kinds are distributed throughout the body, and can be released by the physical as well as the mental practices of yoga. We exprience the buddhi on different levels of the body; for example, when we speak of a “gut instinct,” we refer to an aspect of the buddhi’s intentionality associated with the very deep, unconscious samskaras, subjectively associated with the viscera; however, without the practice of yoga, the gut instinct in which we place so much trust might lead us badly astray.
TATTVA #13: Secondary Materiality (prakrti)
Prakrti, sometimes translated as “nature,” sometimes as “materiality,” really refers to the entire physical universe of matter/energy. Note that the Sanskrit word reflects the knowledge that matter is simply energy, albeit moving at a much lower vibration. In the human microcosm, prakrti refers to the body/mind field. Just as matter and energy are aspects of each other, the body and mind are not separate, but on a continuum: the mind is the subtlest aspect of the body, and the body is the most tangible manifestation of the mind. This is why dis-ease in the mind affects the body and vice versa.
Prakrti can also refer to the unmanifest field of primordial materiality at the beginning of the universe out of which all lower tattvas are created. In this form, prakrti consists of perfect balance of the three gunas, or qualities of nature: sattva (lucidity and lightness); rajas (energy and passion); and tamas (darkness, heaviness, and inertia). These three gunas recombine in various proportions to create tattvas 14-36 (above). The field of prakrti, then, is everything that can become an object of consciousness (i.e. everything except tattvas 1-12). However, note that in tantra, prakrti is defined as “secondary materiality” because there is a higher principle, Maya, which is the primary source of the universe.

TATTVA #12: Individual “Soul” (purusa, the knowing subject, the Self, the witness, pure consciousness, the embodied knower of the field; = atman, jiva).
The purusa sits at the top of the hierarchy of tattvas in the system of Sankhya and the classical yoga of Patanjali. For those non-tantric systrems, it is the ultimate principle, a transcendent reality: spirit as opposed to matter/energy. They propose that there are a plurality of divine souls (each sentient being having his own), that are not part of one overarching conscious entity. For tantric philosophy it naturally follows, the purusa is not the highest principle for it does not express an all-encompassing view. Rather, purusa is correctly understood as a contracted form of the universal Consciousness, defined as Siva veiled by the five types of limitation (kancukas). In some systems of Indian philosophy, the individual soul is a permanent entity, but in tantric saivism, it is a phase of contraction, and every contraction gives way to expansion – in this case, expansion back into the absolute fullness of unlimited divine Awareness. So, the individual soul is not permanent, it is a wave on the ocean of Being. But how does Siva, the absolute Consciousness, manifest itself in the form of an individual like you? By concealing itself with five “veils.”
The Five Shells or Veils (kancukas)
Though we have been proceeding from the bottom up, it doesn’t make sense to discuss the kancukas that way, so we will proceed to tattvas 7 through 11 and then move on to 6. The five kancukas unfold directly from Maya (tattva #6) and are veils that contract Siva’s self-awareness into that of the limited individual (jiva). H0wever, in the original tantric tradition, the understanding is this: Siva first contracts himself down to a single point of awareness, shedding his omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence completely. Then, in order to manifest as a sentient being, he equips himself with five limited capacities. These are the five kancukas, meaning “shell” or “armor,” for these are the qualities necessary for experience and action in the world of duality. However, it is true that kancuka can also mean “covering,” and the most common way of presenting the kancukas is as the coverings that conceal the fullness of divine reality. Thus, we can say that Siva + kancukas = jiva (individual).
Tattva #7: Limited Power of Action (kala)
This is the fundamental kancuka; the others all follow from God’s self-imposed limitation on his power of action, his omnipotence. Note that kala does not mean “powerlessness,” but rather “limited power.” Kala is in fact that principle which animates the individual soul’s capacities to a greater or lesser degree. Each of the five kancukas is a limited form of the Divine Power. We seek to cultivate them and expand them with sadhana (spiritual practice). Thus kala in its fully expanded form is simply the omnipotent kriya-sakti, or the Power of Divine Action. On the spiritual path, we are waxing from a mere sliver of divine power toward the total fullness of our capacity to express our innate divinity.
Tattva #8: Limited Power of Knowledge (vidya).
The second veil is not ignorance, but incomplete knowledge. The problem of this kancuka is not that we know nothing, but that we know a little bit and think that this is all we need to know. The “shell” (kancuka) of vidya protects us by allowing us to understand something about our world, but when we believe that we know what life is like, that we have an understanding that is complete except in the trivial details, when in fact we are seeing only a small fragment of the true reality, we disallow the possibility of divine illumination.
When a man looks on the horizon of his own knowledge and believe that he sees the horizon of knowledge itself, he is truly lost.
Yet, this very limited knowledge that binds us to a contracted experience of what reality is, is itself simply a limited form of the Divine Power of Knowing, jnana-sakti. Thus, it is usually not the case that what we know about life is wrong, but rather that it needs to be situated in a larger context, integrated into a more encompassing vision. The tantrika seeks to ever expand their understanding, which may be why this power is also called unmesa-sakti, the Power of Unfolding. This unfolding is fueled by our intention and our practice of self-aware reflection, supported by the contemplation of the Tantras. In the expansion of our limited power of knowledge, we seek to move beyond words to an inner knowing, an embodied experiential knowledge that the word-based understanding of the intellect can only approximate.
Tattva #9: Desire (raga)
When fully expanded consciousness contracts into the form of an individual, it experiences itself as incomplete and imperfect, and therefore desires whatever it thinks it needs for completion. This desire is called raga, and is thought of as a non-specific craving for worldly experience. It is non-specific in the sense that it is a craving for something not quite known that gets rationalized as a specific desire based on each person’s unique life experiences (i.e. love, sex, admiration, money, power, etc). But in fact all craving is truly craving for only one thing: the fullness of divine Consciousness. Therefore, when any other desire gets fulfilled, it is found to be unsatisfactory – the craving still remains.
The literal meaning of the word raga is “color,” for like dye these desires saturate and even stain the mind, influencing how we see things and people. In the Tantra, desire is not a problem but an opportunity to follow the desire back to its source and to realize that what we really crave is fullness, wholeness – that we will be satisfied by nothing less than knowing (and being) God. Thus we come to understand that raga is the limited form of the Divine Power, iccha-sakti, or the Power of Will, the deep impulse to express the fullness of our authentic being. From this perspective, desire can teach us about those areas of life in which we many need to expand and express ourselves more fully and authentically. We can choose to activate our iccha-sakti in those areas, flowing forth our intentionality from a place of fullness, not of lack. But as long as you are ignorant of the true nature of desire, as long as you believe that possessing something outside of yourself will somehow permanently or completely fulfill you, you will continue to experience an insatiable void, an emptiness that cannot be filled, and an inexplicable angst that will burden you until the end of your life. It is primarily this raga, or craving for more, that propels us into the round of samsara, but again, raga should be not be rejected, but transmuted. In the mythological tales, even Lord Shiva had an addiction to gambling and wine, a craving that he transformed into an addiction to “shattering the fear of being in all worlds.” The first step in such a transmutation is tracing desire back to its source and realizing that your longing is longing for divine fullness, letting that longing soften your heart and compel you to seek true connection to the One.
Tattva #10: Time (kala)
The fourth of the pre-requisites for embodied experience is Time. Instead of a timeless simultaneity for absolute Consciousness, for which the entire universe is a single complex creation including all times, embodied beings generally experience time at the slow crawl of one second per second. This also means that we experience time sequentially, with one thing following another in a process of continual change (though some sources tell us that change is mere appearance and what really happens is that the Goddess Kali devours the whole universe in each instant and then recreates it anew in a slightly different form, hundreds of times each second).
We are often burdened by our awareness of the past and future – endless regrets and hopeful expectations, worry and anxiety – yet it is because of that very awareness that we can grow. The very thing that causes us suffering is also the means of our fulfillment once we shift our attitude toward it and our understanding of it. We do not seek to be entirely in the present moment the way animals are, with no conscious awareness of past and future. Rather, we seek to be centered in the present moment, aware of our past behind us and our future ahead of us while being free of the four modes of escaping the experience of now – guilt/regret, nostalgia/reverie, fantasy/daydream, and anxiety/worry.
When you look at this chart, you’ll acknowledge stress and dis-ease caused by guilt and worry, but think there is nothing wrong with nostalgia and fantasy. Yoga psychology challenges this notion, telling us that losing ourselves in fantasy is as detrimental to us as being obsessed by worry because fantasizing is equally effective in removing us from full awareness of the present. The present is what is real, and it is what we are called to respond to. In fact, the only way your hopes for the future can ever become a reality in the present is by careful attention to the details of the present-moment reality. A more accurate perspective would be to accept that there is no future per se, but only a constantly flowing present, which though close and reverent attention, reveals its divinity to the yogi. In this way, we can learn to experience ourselves as a whole being, with our past and future part of our present, without grasping toward either. In this way, we can become free of the net of time, entering into eternally flowing simultaneity (nityodita).

Tattva #11: Causality (niyati)
Niyati is the force that binds us to our karmas; it is the law of cause and effect that ensures that we reap what we sow. Because of niyati, you are certain to experience the results of your own karmic actions and no one else’s. A karmic action is a morally charged action motivated by a desire to attain or avoid a specific result. When we learn to perform actions unattached to the final outcome, those actions have no karmic charge and therefore do not bind us, whatever the result may be. Thus, the liberated being is no longer bound by niyati, fate, and is free from karma, though he or she may still undergo the fruits of karmas accrued before liberation.
Niyati is also associated with specific places (desa), because it is your unique set of karmas that determines your location. That is, because of your karmas, you are born on the Earth, living where you do and not in another city, country, or planet. Thus, the inverse of niyati, or rather its full expansion, is all-pervasiveness or non-locality.
Tattva #6: Maya
Now we come to the top of the hierarchy of manifest reality, the highest principle that is not the Absolute itself. In other traditions, maya means illusion or delusion, but not so in tantra. Maya is the “world-source” (jagad-yoni), the Divine’s power to project itself into manifestation. It is also the power of differentiation, by which the One appears to be many. Maya is not given a negative valuation in tantra, even though it does, in a sense, delude us into seeing duality where there is only unity; for seeing dualistically is a necessary part of the process of Self-exploration that the Divine has freely chosen by manifesting a universe in the first place. Maya is the power the Divine uses in the creative expression of its nature. The paradox of maya is that it is the power that creates the apparent differentiation that causes so much trouble and is the same power that God uses to glorify Himself. Maya is the form of the Goddess that constitutes all manifest reality, blessing us with the opportunity for the more challenging – and therefore deeper – realization of unity-in-diversity. Look around you right now and see a flash of the truth: everything that is happening is Her play. Just as we form different ornaments out of pure gold and call them earrings, bracelets, anklets, and so on, in the same way all things of the universe are made from one substance, the energy-body of the Goddess, and differ from one another only in name, form, and function – not in essence.
The Pure Universe (Suddhadhvan)
The so-called pure universe comprising the top five tattvas is not a place; it is the divine Reality that pervades the whole of the manifest universe. The top five tattvas are essentially a description of God/dess. Though divided into five levels, they are all aspects of the Divine and are referred to as phases of God’s awareness. The differences between them are differences of perspective and emphasis. To reach any of the five tattvas of the Pure Universe is to attain complete liberation and awakening.
Tattva #5: Pure Mantra-Wisdom (Suddha-vidya)
The level of Pure Wisdom is also the level of mantra (besides meaning “wisdom,” vidya is also the feminine word for mantra). The wisdom spoken of here is not any type of intellectual knowledge, but rather the various phases of Siva-Sakti self-awareness expressed in the form of the 70 million mantras – all the mantras that have ever existed or will ever exist. In the tantric tradition, mantras are actually conscious beings, analogous to angels in the Christian tradition. Someone who attains liberation on the level of tattva #5 becomes a mantra-being. We know that this doctrine that mantras are conscious was taken seriously, because the texts tells us that if a guru grants initiation into the Tantra to someone who subsequently falls from the path, then that guru must perform a special ritual to apologize to the mantras for putting them to work needlessly.
It is absolutely crucial to understand that in this tradition, a mantra, its deity, and its goal are all one and the same. Thus, for example, Laksmi’s mantra (Om srim mahalaksmyai namah) is the Goddess Laksmi in sound form; it is her sonic body. Nor is her mantra sometimes separate from the goal from which it is repeated (to cultivate abundance), for it is the very vibration of abundance. So all the various deities of Indian spirituality exist on the level of the Suddha-vidya as phases of Siva-Sakti’s awareness – the many facets of the One jewel. Further, there are countless mantras-beings on the Suddha-vidya level that do not correspond to known Indian deities; perhaps we can suppose that the deities of spiritual traditions exist on this level, insofar as they can be understood as having a sonic forms.
One who reaches liberation on this level sees the entire universe as a diverse array of energies, but with a single essence. She sees no static matter, experiencing everything as interacting patterns of vibration. The wonder of that which she seeks takes precedence over her I-sense, though there is unity between them: “I am this!” (idam evaham).
The divine Power that corresponds to this level is kriya-sakti, the Power of Action, because the primary characteristic of mantras is that they are agents of transformative change (i.e. action).
Tattva #4: The Lord (Isvara)
This is the level of the personal God, God as being with specific qualities, that is, the Deity that can be named in various languages (Krishna, YHWH, Allah, Avalokitesvara, etc). This is the level of reality that most monotheistic religions presume to be the highest. Isvara is a generic, non-sectarian term for God.
The universe that was previously in blur comes into such sharp focus; what was ambiguous is now clear. This level is associated with jnana-sakti, the Power of Knowing, for Isvara holds within His being the knowledge of the subtle patterns that will be used in the creation of the universe. He empowers His regents on tattva #5 (who are all really aspects of Himself) to stimulate the primordial, homogenous world-source (maya, tattva #6) with this pattern, “churning” her so that she begins to produce differentiation of the lower tattvas, starting with the contractions called the kancukas (tattva #7 and below).
At the level of Isvara there is a balanced equality and identity between God and his incipient creation. The Sanskrit phrase used to represent this experience of reality is aham idam idam aham, or “I am This, This am I.” There is a fascinating and purely coincidental parallel here with the self-declaration of the God of the Hewbrew Bible, who when asked for His name (at Exodus 3:14), replied simply, ehyeh Asher ehyeh, ” I am that I am.”
In NST, it is not only God who exists at this level; so do any beings who have reached that same level of awareness. Thus the difference between Isvara and other beings abiding at tattva #4 is one of office, not of nature.
Tattva #3: The Still-Benevolent One (Sada-Siva)
The word “God” is no longer applicable here, for this level transcends any form of a deity with identifiable names or attributes. This is the level on which only the slightest subtle differentiation has just begun to emerge between the absolute Deity and the idea of the universe, the universe that S/He will create out of Him/Herself. Thus, it is the level of iccha-sakti, the divine Will Power, the creative urge or primal impulse toward self-expression. The Sanskrit phrase said to express this experience of reality is aham idam or “I am this,” or “this incipient totality is my own Self,” where there is identity between the Divine and the embryonic universe held within it. The sense of “I” has clear priority, wholly enveloping the “this”; so all beings who attain unity-consciousness with emphasis on the “I” pole abide at this level.
The Sada-Siva-tattva is the first movement into differentiation, for at the level of tattvas 1 and 2, there is absolute non-duality. The divine at this level is called Sada-Siva (eternally Siva) to remind us that even as a universe comes into being through the power of the Will, the Absolute loses none of its divinity; it is “still Siva.”
Historically, Sadasiva is also the name for the high deity of one form of Saiva Tantra, a form that was later surpassed by the worship of the conjoined and co-equal pair of Siva and Sakti. he is also pictured as the form of Siva that sprouts the five faces that speak the five streams of sacred scripture. Thus Sadasiva is sometimes considered the first ray of divine compassion.
Tattva #2: The Power / The Goddess (Sakti)
In the traditional tattva hierarchy, Sakti is #2, but in the non-dual school, care is taken to emphasize that Siva and Sakti switch places, for they are two sides of the same coin. That is, neither Siva nor Sakti has priority – it is a matter of which aspect is dominant in any given experience.
The word Sakti literally means “power, potency, energy, capacity, capability.” In NST, all powers are worshipped as goddesses, or rather as form of the Goddess (Maha-Devi). Sakti can no more be separated from Siva than heat can be separated from fire. All forms of energy are Sakti, and since matter is energy, the whole manifest universe is seen as the body of the Goddess, and the movements of all forms of energy are Her dance.
The term sakti is often used to specifically denote spiritual energy, or God’s transformative power. In these scriptures, this meaning is often conveyed with the special term rudra-sakti, which refers to the primal, awe-inspiring divine Power that flows though us in spiritual experience. An infusion of this divine Power is called rudra-sakti-samavesa, where samavesa refers to the spiritual experience comprising an expansion of consciousness, a dissolution of the boundaries between self and other, a sharing of self-hood with God/dess and/or the with the whole universe, and often a blissful influx of energy.
Tattva #1: The Benevolent One (Siva)
In the context of NST, Siva is not the name of a God. Rather, the word is understood to signify the peaceful, quiescent ground of all Reality, the infinite silence of a transcendent Divinity, or, in the poet’s phrase, the “still point at the center of the turning world.” While Sakti is extroversive, immanent, manifest, omniform, and dynamic, Siva is introversive, transcendent, unmanifest, formless, and still. Siva is the absolute void of pure Consciousness. (To be more accurate, Consciousness is never absolutely still, so on the level of the Siva-tattva, there is what Abhinava calls kimcit-chalana, an extraordinary subtle movement, an imperceptible and exquisitely sweet undulation).
Siva is the ground of being, that which gives reality its coherence. His nature is beyond any qualities, and is, therefore, difficult to express in words; however, he is described as the coherence and unification of all the various Saktis. Thus, he is called sakti-man, the one who holds the Powers, or rather “holds space” for their unfolding. However, since Siva is literally nothing without the Powers of Consciousness, Bliss, Will, and so on, it is usually Sakti that is worshipped as the highest principle in NST. Siva is that which grounds and coheres the various powers; He is the Lord of the Family (kulesvara), the center axis of the spinning wheel of the Powers. As the coherent force, Siva hardly has an insignificant function, but as he is not as an embodiment of potency himself, he is less likely to attract worship in a spiritual system that is focused primarily on the empowerment of its adherents.
The previous paragraph defined Siva primarily as spaciousness, the hosting space for the energy that is called Sakti. This space/energy polariy is the one given in a Trika text called the Vijnana-Bhairava-Tantra, among other sources. We should note that in other contexts, the roles are defined differently. For example, the influential Recognition School (a subset of the Trika) defines Siva-Sakti as the two complimentary aspects of one divine Consciousness: Siva is the Light of Manifestation (prakasa), also known as the Light of Consciousness (cit-prakasa), and Sakti is blissful self-reflective awareness (vimarsa). This pairing is sometimes concisely abbreviated as cid-ananda (Awareness-Bliss). In this way of understanding Siva-Sakti, He is the illuminative power of Consciousness that manifests and shines as all things, and She is the power by which that same Consciousness folds back on itself and becomes self-aware and thus can enjoy itself. While new students of the Trika often want a a simple, cut and dry definition of the polarity of Siva and Sakti, the tradition does not offer one. Indeed, as this paragraph has shown, we get different definitions within the very same school. These need not be seen as contradictory, however, for the ultimate reality of Siva-Sakti transcends all thought; the diverse explanations are just varying orientations or angles of approach to that one Reality, serving different students in different contexts.
In other schema, that of the radical Krama school, Siva disappears entirely, for there the two aspects of the One are represented as different facets of one Goddess: the indescribable Void of absolute potential, the formless ground of all reality (Siva’s usual role) is represented as the dark and emaciated, terrifyingly attractive Goddess, Kali, who devours all things and makes them one with Herself; and the infinite Light that encompasses all things and beings with loving compassion and insight is represented as white and full bodied Goddess, Para, overflowing with boundless nectar. But, Abhinava Gupta stresses, these apparent opposites (black and white; empty and full) are simply the two forms of the one Great Goddess. The Krama school simply wishes to avoid the inevitably dualistic implications of Siva-Sakti as two beings joined together.
How to reconcile these two different presentations? The answer is simple: they need no reconciliation, for they are each perfectly fitted to the system in which they occur; and the absolute Reality beyond words can be represented by any of these schemas or by none.
It is important to note that the term Siva or “God” never loses its importance in the tradition, though some might construe the more refined philosophies of NST as atheistic because they wholly repudiate the notion of God as a separate person, a “guy in the sky” or indeed anything separate from your essence-nature as dynamic free Awareness. Yet it is significant that these very traditions continue to use the term “God” and its synonyms (mahesvara “Great Lord,” and paramesvara “Supreme Divinity”). Tantra does not seek to dispense with the love and devotion that is inspired by this personalizing and anthropomorphizing of the Absolute because it is a path of intimate relationship. At the same time, remember that the tradition gives us a beautiful non-dual definition of the word “God.”
…in actuality it is the unbounded Light of Consciousness, reposing in its innate Bliss, fully connected to its Powers of Willing, Knowing, and Acting, that we call God. – Abhiniva Gupta, Essence of the Tantras.
It is the context of this definition that we may understand such scriptural statements as “Nothing exists that is not God.” But here we are anticipating the next segment: for “beyond” even tattva #1 is that which unfolds all the tattvas, from 1 to 36, within itself as the expression of its blissful self-awareness.
Tattva #0: The Heart (Siva/Sakti in perfect fusion) – Paramasiva
This secret tattva, taught only in the non-dual tantric sources, is the key to understanding the whole philosophy of NST. It is #0 because it does not crown the hierarchy, for as we have seen, the “highest” tattva is absolutely transcendent Siva. But the Ultimate Principle (paramartha), tattva #0, is not transcendent; for to transcend is to go beyond, and thus, exclude. In non-dual understanding, the Ultimate must be that which simultaneously transcends and encompasses all things. It is the supreme paradox for it expresses itself as the very substance of all things while simultaneously being something more than simply the sum of all perceptible levels of realities. This absolute principle cannot be written in the tattva list, for it pervades the whole as the indefinable essence of all things, manifest and unmanifest. It is absolutely incomprehensible by the mind.
This whole universe is One Reality – unbroken by time, un-circumscribed by space, unclouded by attributes, unconfined by forms, inexpressible by words, and impossible to understand with the ordinary means of knowledge. – Abhiniva Gupta, Essence of the Tantras.
This all-pervasive and ultimate Reality, subtler than the subtlest, beyond the highest transcendent Siva and yet closer to you than your own breath, equally present in the most sublime refined pure awareness of infinite openness and in the scent of the foulest excrement, its radiantly beautiful divine nature tainted though it shines equally in the form of all that is called pure and impure – this is what NST calls the Heart (hridaya) or the Essence (sara) of Reality. This is also known as Paramasiva. He also gives it more mysterious names, citing the scriptures: he calls it Visarga (the Absolute Potential), Spanda (the Vibration), Urmi (the Wave), Drk (the resounding silence), and Yamala (the Couple: the perfect fusion of Siva and Sakti as one). It is this same ultimate principle that is worshipped in radically non-dual Goddess tantra as Kali Kala-sankarsani: the radiant Dark, the resounding silence, the Devourer of Time – which is meant the timeless ground of the cycle of creation, stasis, and dissolution.
This is the doctrine of the higher non-duality (paramadvaya) which subsumes both duality and ordinary non-duality. It is all-encompassing, including even duality as a level within the Real, whereas ordinary non-duality simply negates duality as wrong or false. But duality is a level of reality, an undeniable experience, and a meaningful realm of discourse, so no system is complete that simply denies it. And just as duality is superseded, and subsumed, by the all-encompassing truth of non-duality, that too is superseded, and subsumed, by the all encompassing truth of higher non-duality.
This Heart, this Vibration, this Essence, is the light by which all things are illuminated, the reality by which all things are real. It is the omnipresent divinity, manifest equally in all things. Philosophers tend to object to the articulation of the nature of reality, saying that if everything is equally divine, the word “divine” loses its meaning because something has value only in opposition to something that doesn’t. While this objection is perfectly rational, it is operating on a level of understanding that, for the tantrika, is superseded by the immediate mystical experience that initiates share – an experience in which everything is indeed perceived as equally suffused with beautiful divine radiance, in which total freedom and the joy of being permeate the entire sphere of perception, and in which no phenomenon whatsoever can be perceived as anything less than absolutely perfect. This vision of reality has been labeled “trans-rational” because of the fact that it cannot be fully understood by the mind, despite the fact the one who has had the experience usually considers it the most intensely real experience of their life. (Even this experience, though, is merely a pointer to the state of abiding in oneness with the ground of reality, which is not an experience per se, since all experience comes and goes. Nothing can be said in words about the non-state of nirvana, permanently abiding in the Heart of reality).
This is not to say that in this expanded mode of perception, everything is considered the same. In fact, diversity is very much a part of the aesthetic mode, as this way of seeing celebrates all things as different expression of one reality. In fact, every thing is beautiful to the tantrika precisely because it expresses the One principle differently. Every sentient being is worthy of reverence because he/she expresses his/her Godhood in a unique manner, never seen before and never to be seen again.
The spiritual experience of one Divinity pulsating joyously in all that exists, as well as paradoxically present in the repose in the non-state of complete stillness and emptiness, is considered a gift of divine grace. Yet it can only be fully understood, cultivated, and firmly rooted as abiding realization through spiritual practice.
SOURCE: Wallis, Christopher. Tantra Illuminated: The Philosophy, History, and Practice of a Timeless Tradition. Anusara Press, The Woodlands, TX, 2012.