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 Śivasūtravimarśinī-hṛdaya (Shiva Sutra Vimarshini Hrdaya) - Chapter 1

The encounter and the first teachings

 The encounter

Important: All that is in brackets and italicized within the translation has been added by me in order to complete the sense of a particular phrase or sentence. In turn, all that is between double hyphens (--...--) constitutes clarifying further information also added by me.

Kṣemarāja's Sanskrit will be in dark green color while the original Śiva's aphorisms will be shown in dark red color. In turn, within the transliteration, the original aphorisms will be in brown color, while the Kṣemarāja's comments will be shown in black. Also, within the translation, the original aphorisms by Śiva, i.e. the Śivasūtra-s, will be in green and black colors, while the commentary by Kṣemarāja will contain words in both black and red colors. Finally, any other Sanskrit text included (e.g. quotes from other scriptures, apart from those ones already occurring in the Śivasūtravimarśinī itself, of course) will have its own set of colors: Sanskrit and transliteration in black, while the translation will contain words in black and dark red.

Disciple: My beloved Master, I come to you fed up with this Saṁsāra, tired of turning round and round in this world without finding a sense and purpose to my life. Am I going to die maybe without having done nothing but eating, sleeping, mating like an animal and defending what I think it is mine? Is this the whole significance of my existence? I resist to believe that I have entered this human body only to attempt all the time to get my own way. I have done a lot of actions... some good ones, some bad ones... but I have concluded that all of them cannot lead oneself to the Highest Welfare if I do not discover, through your Grace, that Reality underlying all those activities.

Will I have perhaps to spend the rest of my days merely devoted to what is ephemeral or will I have a chance to realize that which is eternal? Oh nectarean full moon refreshing the ones who make their way through the desert of this world, I beg you to reveal me my true nature! All that is needed to do in order to bring about such a revelation, that will most certainly do, because I have nothing to lose aside from a compact mass of ignorance. Show me the path I must tread so that I can lastly arrive in the supreme Goal. I have no other interest whatsoever.

When a Master is so entreated, with a tender heart, he must concede his Grace in the end. In fact, such a pure desire for spiritual Enlightenment steals It from him, as it were.

Master: No doubt I know the path that will finally fill with real significance your existence. This path is full of the teachings and practices stipulated by a venerable scripture: the Śivasūtra-s.

D: I implore you to explain those sūtra-s or aphorisms to me, step by step, very gradually, since my mind is still dull on account of its vain desires.

M: The study of such an important scripture as that one takes many years, in fact the entire lifetime, as every time that one analyzes it again new meanings begin emerging, and these meanings are even deeper than the previous ones. This scripture arises from the Infinite and is, consequently, unfathomable. By keeping that in mind, it is clear that a detailed exposition would be extremely lengthy. Therefore, at first, I am going to lay stress on the Core or Essence of this work.

D: Where did it come from?

M: To speak about its source is like speaking about the origin of the Supreme Self. He is right now as everything you can perceive and experience. Though this Self is you as well as me, He is One without a second. It is not completely right to say that the Śivasūtra-s emanate from the pure Self, because they are the pure Self indeed! They are eternal like Him, pure like Him and unfathomable like Him. Dear disciple, such as it is stated by Śiva in the Gurugītā (fourth stanza):

मम रूपासि
Mama rūpāsi

You are (asi) My (mama) Form (rūpā)

In other words, we both have the same Form or Essential nature. We are the same Supreme Self playing the roles of disciple and master in order to reveal That which is extremely obvious, because God is extremely obvious and completely revealed the whole time, be sure. At this level of absolute unity, to speak about an origin of the Śivasūtra-s other than the glorious Godhead is impossible. Nevertheless, if one moves in duality, where space and time are manifested, the question about date and place in which they were written becomes real and relevant.

D: So, Dualistically speaking, where is it specified the way in which these teachings appeared?

M: Your question is very important as I am going to explain the Śivasūtra-s to you by means of its main commentary: Kṣemarāja's Śivasūtravimarśinī.

The first stanza of this crucial commentary of the Śivasūtra-s is a prayer to the Supreme Self. In it is praised the primordial Consciousness from which the universe emerges and whose form is this very universe too. Thus, through this prayer, the sage Kṣemarāja is paying homage to Spanda (Śakti or divine Power of the Lord) appearing in the form of a Mass of throbbing Bliss. Pay attention now!


 Propitiatory prayer to Śaṅkara

M: Kṣemarāja begins his Vimarśinī (lit. the one that examines, viz. the commentary examining) with a prayer in honor of Śaṅkara (the Supreme Self dwelling everywhere). Listen to him:

रुद्रक्षेत्रज्ञवर्गः समुदयति यतो यत्र विश्रान्तिमृच्छेद्-
यत्तत्त्वं यस्य विश्वं स्फुरितमयमियद्यन्मयं विश्वमेतत्।
चैतन्यं शाङ्करं तज्जयति यदखिलं द्वैतभासाद्वयात्म॥

Rudrakṣetrajñavargaḥ samudayati yato yatra viśrāntimṛcched-
yattattvaṁ yasya viśvaṁ sphuritamayamiyadyanmayaṁ viśvametat|
caitanyaṁ śāṅkaraṁ tajjayati yadakhilaṁ dvaitabhāsādvayātma||

That (tad) Consciousness (caitanyam) of Śaṅkara (śāṅkaram) triumphs --i.e. "it is victorious"-- (jayati), which (yad) (is) completely (akhilam) non-dual (advaya-ātma) (but it has) an appearance or luster (bhāsa) of duality (dvaita), that (yad) (is) the Reality (tattvam) from which (yatas) the class or group (vargaḥ) of Rudra-s (rudra) (and) Kṣetrajña-s (kṣetrajña) arises (samudayati) (and) in which (yatra) it comes to rest (viśrāntim ṛcchet), whose (yasya) universe (viśvam) consists (mayam) of a throb (sphurita) --or else, an alternative translation would be "whose universe bursts into view therefrom"--, whose (yasya) extent (iyat) (is) this (very) (etad) universe (viśvam) which is full (mayam) of That --i.e. of that abovementioned Consciousness-- (yad). (In short, that Consciousness of Śaṅkara is) the principle (tattvam) of the Primordial Vibration (spanda) of Anuttara --i.e. "Śiva, the Supreme Being"-- (anuttara) that is composed (maya) of the Nectar (amṛta) emerging (ucchalat) from a Mass (vṛnda) of Freedom (svācchandya) and Bliss (ānanda).

Kṣemarāja's propitiatory prayer is really glorious. In exquisite Sanskrit, he extols the Supreme Consciousness of Śaṅkara.

D: Might you explain who is exactly Śaṅkara?

M: The term "Śaṅkara" is an epithet of Śiva. It literally means "auspicious, beneficent, etc.". However, from an acrostic viewpoint, "Śaṅkara" is derived from Śam + kara. "Śam" is the joy that you feel when grasping this non-dual underlying Reality which appears in a dual way. In turn, "kara" means "making, producing, etc.". In other words, "Śaṅkara" is this Primordial Self who brings about the joy of realizing that everything and everybody is Śiva forever.

D: Very good, but who are the Rudra-s and Kṣetrajña-s?

M: Listen up: the aforesaid Consciousness of Śaṅkara is the Reality from which the class or group of Rudra and Kṣetrajña emerges and in which it comes to rest. The Rudra-s are the enlightened beings. They are really free from all limitations as well as their traces. There is a particular term: "Pañcakṛtya" or the five (pañca) acts (kṛtya) of the Lord. They are as follows: Sṛṣṭi (manifestation), Sthiti (maintenance), Saṁhāra (withdrawal or dissolution), Vilaya or Pidhāna (veiling of the essential nature) and Anugraha (bestowal of Divine Grace revealing that very essential nature). It is said that Rudra-s are in charge of the first three acts, that is, manifestation, maintenance and withdrawal; while the remaining two are performed by Śiva Himself. Granted, the Rudra-s are also Śiva, but we are now speaking in a dual way in order to organize this study properly. As Kṣemarāja pointed out:

...which (yad) (is) completely (akhilam) non-dual (advaya-ātma) (but it has) an appearance or luster (bhāsa) of duality (dvaita)...

A chart now:

Chart 1
SṚṢṬI or MANIFESTATION RUDRA-S Enlightened beings whose primordial limitation has thoroughly gone

And who are the Kṣetrajña-s? Well, the rest of conditioned beings whose primordial limitation has not thoroughly vanished. Primordial limitation or impurity is Āṇavamala (See "Overview" in the Trika section for more information). When someone falls prey to Āṇavamala, he experiences that he is not perfect as Śiva is. He does not consider himself as Śiva. He is convinced that he is a limited individual. This is the starting point for an entire set of additional limitations to fall on that wretched being. When I comment on the second aphorism, Āṇavamala will be explained in detail.

D: Kṣemarāja speaks of the Primordial Vibration or Spanda in his prayer. What is it exactly?

M: Spanda or Primordial Vibration is an epithet of Śakti Herself. Spanda is the Power of the Lord Śiva, by which He carries out the Cosmic Play known as the universe. Both Śiva (Anuttara) and Śakti (Spanda) arise from the Nectar of Paramaśiva (the Supreme Śiva), who is described by Kṣemarāja as a Mass of Freedom (svācchandya) and Bliss (ānanda). This Spanda is always victorious, because nothing can harm it. Spanda is immortal and it remains the same Reality throughout the entire aggregate of changes in mind, world, etc. And this Spanda is You. Enough of this.

Kṣemarāja is now about to explain the reason for his commentary on the Śivasūtra-s. Listen attentively to him.


 Why is Kṣemarāja writing this commentary on the Śivasūtra-s?

M: In the second stanza, Kṣemarāja expounds the reason for writing his commentary:

असामञ्जस्यमालोच्य वृत्तीनामिह तत्त्वतः।
शिवसूत्रं व्याकरोमि गुर्वाम्नायविगानतः॥

Asāmañjasyamālocya vṛttīnāmiha tattvataḥ|
Śivasūtraṁ vyākaromi gurvāmnāyavigānataḥ||

Having noted (ālocya) incongruence (asāmañjasyam) in the commentaries (vṛttīnām) at this time (iha), since they are not consistent (vigānataḥ) with the Sacred Tradition (āmnāya) of the Guru-s or Masters (guru), I expound (vyākaromi) the Śivasūtra-s (śivasūtram) according to their real meaning (tattvatas).

As you can see, Kṣemarāja has made clear the fact that he is writing a commentary because the available ones at his time were not reliable at all. In other words, this sage writes and makes known his commentary since he noticed incongruence in those Śivasūtravṛtti-s (commentaries on the Śivasūtra-s) that were prevalent in Kashmir at that time. The word "vigānataḥ" is an optional form to express the Ablative case of "vigāna" (inconsistency, incongruence). The usual way would be "vigānāt", but this time the affix "taḥ" has been used instead. As you surely know (if not so, see Declension pages within the "Sanskrit" section), the Ablative case indicates "from, on account of, since, because of, due to, owing to, etc." Thus, the word "vigānataḥ" means "due to inconsistency" or "because of incongruence" and so on. However, the word "vigānataḥ" may also mean "from a special and superior understanding (of the aphorisms)", as the prefix "vi" might be derived from "viśeṣeṇa" (specially, exceedingly, particularly, etc.). So, the entire translation would read like this:

Having noted (ālocya) incongruence (asāmañjasyam) in the commentaries (vṛttīnām) at this time (iha), I expound (vyākaromi) the Śivasūtra-s (śivasūtram), according to their real meaning (tattvatas), from a special and superior understanding (of the aphorisms) (vigānataḥ), in accordance with the Sacred Tradition (āmnāya) of the Guru-s or Masters (guru).

As you has surely noted, Kṣemarāja has not specifically pointed out which incongruent commentaries he is talking about. He only has said that he is about to put this incongruence to an end, once and for all. And he will do so, be sure. Besides, according to the alternative translation, he affirms that he is possessed of a special and superior understanding of the sūtra-s themselves. He was a disciple of the great master Abhinavagupta, a renowned Guru in the Trikāmnāya (the Sacred Tradition of the Trika system). As Abhinavagupta was a true Master belonging to the original lineage of Guru-s coming from Vasugupta, Kṣemarāja has the authority for properly commenting on such a great scripture as the Śivasūtra-s. Again, since he has been a genuine disciple of that sublime Master called Abhinavagupta, he can justly claim to have a special and superior understanding of the aphorisms.

After these two stanzas, Kṣemarāja explains the origin, in time and space, of the celebrated Śivasūtra-s (the aphorisms of Śiva).

D: Do not stop, please! Continue your account. I am very interested in knowing the origin, in time and space, of such a crucial scripture as the Śivasūtra-s.

M: I will do something better than telling this story myself; I will let the sublime Kṣemarāja do the job. Pay attention to what I am on the point of saying to you because it directly arises from the mouth of this great Trika Master.


 How the Śivasūtra-s were discovered according to Kṣemarāja

M: How were the Śivasūtra-s discovered by the sage Vasugupta? This question has three possible answers:

  1. According to Bhāskara, a Siddha (a perfected being) revealed the Śivasūtra-s to Vasugupta in a dream.
  2. According to Kṣemarāja, they were found by Vasugupta engraved on a flat stone by following the instructions given to him by Śiva during a dream.
  3. It were taught by Śiva to Vasugupta in a dream, according to Kallaṭa (a disciple of Vasugupta himself).

Well, three different interpretations with three common points: 1) The Śivasūtra-s were revealed by a higher Reality (Śiva or a Siddha); 2) They were not written by any human being; and 3) Vasugupta was the recipient of that revelation.

D: How interesting!

M: As you can see, Kṣemarāja's version about the discovery of the Śivasūtra-s is one of the three that have been formulated. But, despite the different versions, the important fact is that the Śivasūtra-s were revealed to Vasugupta by a superior Reality, that is, they were not written by a human hand. Listen to his words:

इह कश्चिच्छक्तिपातवशोन्मिषन्माहेश्वरभक्त्यतिशयादनङ्गीकृताधरदर्शनस्थनागबोध्यादिसिद्धादेशनः शिवाराधनपरः पारमेश्वरनानायोगिनीसिद्धसत्सम्प्रदायपवित्रितहृदयः श्रीमहादेवगिरौ महामाहेश्वरः श्रीमान् वसुगुप्तनामा गुरुरभवत्। कदाचिच्चासौ द्वैतदर्शनाधिवासितप्राये जीवलोके रहस्यसम्प्रदायो मा विच्चेदीत्याशयतोऽनुजिघृक्षापरेण परमशिवेन स्वप्नेऽनुग्रह्योन्मिषितप्रतिभः कृतो यथात्र महीभृति महति शिलातले रहस्यमस्ति तदधिगम्यानुग्रहयोग्येषु प्रकाशयेति। प्रबुद्धश्चासावन्विष्यंस्तां महतीं शिलां करस्पर्शनमात्रपरिवर्तनतः संवादीकृतस्वप्नां प्रत्यक्षीकृत्येमानि शिवोपनिषत्सङ्ग्रहरूपाणि शिवसूत्राणि ततः समाससाद। एतानि च सम्यगधिगम्य भट्टश्रीकल्लटाद्येषु सच्छिष्येषु प्रकाशितवान् स्पन्दकारिकाभिश्च सङ्गृहीतवान्। तत्पारम्पर्यप्राप्तानि स्पन्दसूत्राण्यस्माभिः स्पन्दनिर्णये सम्यग्निर्णीतानि। शिवसूत्राणि तु निर्णीयन्ते॥
तत्र प्रथमं नरेश्वरभेदवादिप्रातिपक्ष्येण चैतन्यपरमार्थतः शिव एव विश्वस्यात्मेत्यादिशति-

Iha kaścicchaktipātavaśonmiṣanmāheśvarabhaktyatiśayādanaṅgīkṛtādharadarśanasthanāgabodhyādisiddhādeśanaḥ śivārādhanaparaḥ pārameśvaranānāyoginīsiddhasatsampradāyapavitritahṛdayaḥ śrīmahādevagirau mahāmāheśvaraḥ śrīmān vasuguptanāmā gururabhavat|  Kadāciccāsau dvaitadarśanādhivāsitaprāye jīvaloke rahasyasampradāyo mā vicchedītyāśayato'nujighṛkṣāpareṇa paramaśivena svapne'nugrahyonmiṣitapratibhaḥ kṛto yathātra mahībhṛti mahati śilātale rahasyamasti tadadhigamyānugrahayogyeṣu prakāśayeti|  Prabuddhaścāsāvanviṣyaṁstāṁ mahatīṁ śilāṁ karasparśanamātraparivartanataḥ saṁvādīkṛtasvapnāṁ pratyakṣīkṛtyemāni śivopaniṣatsaṅgraharūpāṇi śivasūtrāṇi tataḥ samāsasāda|  Etāni ca samyagadhigamya bhaṭṭaśrīkallaṭādyeṣu sacchiṣyeṣu prakāśitavān spandakārikābhiśca saṅgṛhītavān|  Tatpāramparyaprāptāni spandasūtrāṇyasmābhiḥ spandanirṇaye samyagnirṇītāni|  Śivasūtrāṇi tu nirṇīyante||
Tatra prathamaṁ nareśvarabhedavādiprātipakṣyeṇa caitanyaparamārthataḥ śiva eva viśvasyātmetyādiśati—

In this world (iha), on the sacred (śrī) mountain (girau) Mahādeva (mahādeva), someone (kaścid) worthy of reverence (śrīmān) (lived). His heart (hṛdayaḥ) had been purified (pavitrita) by the Noble (sat) Tradition (sampradāya) of the various (nānā) Self-realized Beings (siddha) and Yoginī-s (yoginī) pertaining to the Supreme Lord (pārameśvara). He was devoted (paraḥ) to the worship (ārādhana) of the Auspicious One (śiva). Owing to excess (atiśayāt) of devotion (bhakti) to the Great Lord (māheśvara), which (devotion) shone forth (in him) (unmiṣat) by (vaśa) the Descent (pāta) of Power (śakti) --i.e. Divine Grace--, gave a teaching (ādeśanaḥ) that did not agree (anaṅgīkṛta) with that of such Self-realized Beings (in Buddhism) (siddha) as Nāgabodhi (nāgabodhi) and the rest (ādi), who were occupied (stha) with lower (adhara) viewpoints (darśana). He was (abhavat) a great devotee of the Lord (mahāmāheśvaraḥ) and a Guru (guruḥ). His name (nāmā): Vasugupta (vasugupta).

And (ca) once upon a time (kadācid), the Supreme (parama) Śiva (śivena), disposed (pareṇa) to grant Favor (anujighṛkṣā) and with the intention (iti-āśayataḥ) that: "Let the Secret (rahasya) Tradition (sampradāyaḥ) not (mā) be interrupted (vicchedi) in this world (loke) of the living beings (jīva) which is mostly (prāye) perfumed (adhivāsita) with the dualistic (dvaita) viewpoint (darśana)!"; expanded (unmiṣita... kṛtaḥ) in dream (svapne) the consciousness (pratibhaḥ) of that (Vasugupta) (asau) by bestowing Divine Grace on him (anugrahya). (He said to him) so (yathā... iti):

"Here (atra), on this mountain (mahībhṛti), there is (asti) the Secret Esoteric Teaching (rahasyam) on a big (mahati) slab (tale) of rock (śilā). Having obtained it (tat adhigamya), reveal it (prakāśaya) to those who are fit (yogyeṣu) for receiving Divine Grace (anugraha)".

Having awakened (prabuddhaḥ ca), he --i.e. Vasugupta-- (asau) started to search about (anviṣyan) that (tām) big (mahatīm) stone (śilām). (And having found it,) he turned it round (parivartanataḥ) by a mere (mātra) touch (sparśana) of the hand (kara), seeing with his own eyes (pratyakṣīkṛtya) the dream (svapnām) confirmed (saṁvādīkṛta). He thus (tatas) obtained (samāsasāda) these (imāni) Aphorisms (sūtrāṇi) of Śiva (śiva), which (rūpāṇi) are a compendium (saṅgraha) of the Esoteric Doctrine (upaniṣad) of Śiva (śiva).

And (ca), having completely (samyak) studied them (etāni... adhigamya), he revealed them (etāni... prakāśitavān) to (such) noble (sad) disciples (śiṣyeṣu) (as) most venerable (bhaṭṭaśrī) Kallaṭa (kallaṭa) and others (ādyeṣu), and (ca) collected them (etāni... saṅgṛhītavān) in the form of Spandakārikā-s (spandakārikābhiḥ). The aphorisms (sūtrāṇi) dealing with the Primordial Vibration (spanda) --i.e. Spandakārikā-s or Spandasūtra-s--, obtained (prāptāni) from that (tad) uninterrupted discipular succession (pāramparya), have been totally (samyak) ascertained (nirṇītāni) by us (asmābhiḥ) in Spandanirṇaya (spandanirṇaye). And now (tu), the Śivasūtra-s (śivasūtrāṇi) are being ascertained (nirṇīyante).

In them --i.e. in the Śivasūtra-s-- (tatra), it is firstly (prathamam) taught (ādiśati), in complete opposition (prātipakṣyeṇa) to those following the doctrine (vādi) of difference (bheda) between man (nara) and the Lord (īśvara), that "Śiva (śivaḥ) alone (eva), in the highest sense (paramārthatas) of (the word) Consciousness (caitanya), (is) the Self (ātmā) of the universe (viśvasya... iti)".—

D: Please, expand the already detailed description of Kṣemarāja if possible.

M: Oh yes, it is possible. Vasugupta lived on the mountain Mahādeva. He was a Guru. "Guru" is generally translated as "teacher", but that is not so. Guru is someone who bestows Liberation on people directly. A Guru is Divine Grace in person, and he/she also teaches sometimes. But, it is not necessary for a Guru to teach. A Guru (if we could find one) can free us from bondage quickly, but he/she is extremely rare in this world. In turn, a teacher just "teaches", and by means of his|her knowledge people can be freed, as it were. However, this explanation about the Guru is approximate. It is very difficult to describe what exactly a Guru is because he/she (whatever forms the Guru may take on) is beyond words. In fact, the Guru is not a physical form, a human being, but rather a Cosmic Principle operating through a human being. Guru is the vehicle of Anugraha or Divine Grace (the fifth Pañcakṛtya, see the above chart).

D: Who was Nāgabodhi?

M: He was a celebrated Buddhist teacher who lived about 500-700 A.D. Vasugupta lived in Kashmir about 900 A.D. Nāgabodhi wrote the "Śrīguhyasamājamaṇḍalopāyikāviṁśavidhi" (a long name) which is based on the "Guhyasamāja" (a Buddhist Tantra). The doctrines taught by these Buddhist teachers (Nāgabodhi and the rest) did not agree with that taught by Vasugupta, specially as far as the nature of Ultimate Reality is concerned.

D: The sage spoke about Siddha-s and Yoginī-s. Who are they, Master?

M: The Siddha-s are self-realized male Yogī-s, while the Yoginī-s are self-realized female Yogī-s. The spiritual lineage or Noble Tradition (Satsampradāya) of Vasugupta was composed of Siddha-s and Yoginī-s. His extreme devotion to Lord had its roots in "Śaktipāta" --Descent of Power--. "Descent of Power" could be translated as "Divine Grace" or Anugraha in this context. However, the Śaktipāta process is not an easy-to-describe one.

D: Why is Śaktipāta difficult to be described?

M: It is very subtle. I need your full attention, dear disciple, because I am going to show you a mystery now. From a non-dualistical viewpoint, there is no Śaktipāta because Śiva is "absolutely" alone.

D: Alone?

M: The Supreme Reality is like a coin with two sides. One side is known as Śiva and the other as Śakti. Śakti makes Śiva conscious of His own existence. Śakti is the Power of Śiva. Without Śakti as this "I am" right now, you would not know you exist. When the ordinary mind is stopped and the superior Mind appears, you experience "I am", "I am", "I am". Formerly, you experienced "I am this", "I am that", but now, only "I am" remains. Anyway, that superior Mind is also a form of Śakti just as was the ordinary mind. A subtler form of Śakti indeed, but Śakti in the end. Go beyond that Śakti and That which is left is called Śiva. This Śiva you are right now does not know He exists when Śakti is removed from Him. Experience now your real essence as "this state" where you do not know you exist, and enjoy the Supreme Peace.

But, Śakti appears again in the way of a superior Mind and you feel: "I am". Now, you perceive all around and see no difference or separation between you and that which is perceived (i.e. the universe). At this point, you are at a level of unity in the diversity. Your non-dual nature appears dyed with the color of a subtle dualism, like a rose dyeing a crystal when placed near it, metaphorically speaking. In other terms, you remain as what you always are, but now there is the appearance of an universe around. Still, this universe is in complete unity with you. You feel that the world is your own cosmic body. Here, the Śaktipāta process appears, that is, there is a flow of Divine Grace coming out of the Guru and reaching the disciple, but... from the Guru's viewpoint, there is no flow coming out and reaching a disciple... and, at the same time, from the disciple's viewpoint, there is such a flow. In short, you yourself, playing the roles of Guru and disciple, experience both things: "no flow of Divine Grace" and "a flow of Divine Grace". This is dualism mixed with non-dualism.

And, when Śakti shows complete dualism, then there is no Śaktipāta, since for Śaktipāta to happen you need someone experiencing unity (viz. the Guru) and someone experiencing duality (viz. the disciple). The Guru may appear in a human form or not, this is not relevant really. The important thing is the presence of someone who can grasp the non-dual Reality lying behind the dual drama called "the world". If there is nobody experiencing unity, so there is no Guru and consequently there is no Śaktipāta. This is a secret I am revealing. Ponder over what you have learnt, please. You are certainly both Guru and disciple. This is what you must lastly understand. If you cannot grasp this Truth, you will not understand my teachings ever, no matter how great scholar you may become.

D: I will keep it in the cave of my Heart, Master!

M: Ah, the Heart. Abhinavagupta, the Kṣemarāja's Guru, uses very often the word Heart (Hṛdaya) to describe the Core of All, i.e. the Highest Reality appearing in the form of a triangle... oh well, another long story, undoubtedly. Now, coming back to what I asked you before, do it and you will attain final Liberation very quickly, dear disciple. In fact, you never attain Liberation but you realize you are forever free. As the sage Abhinavagupta points out in his Tantrāloka (Vol. I, first line of the stanza 156):

मोक्षो हि नाम नैवान्यः स्वरूपप्रथनं हि सः।
Mokṣo hi nāma naivānyaḥ svarūpaprathanaṁ hi saḥ|

No doubt (hi) that what is known as (nāma) Liberation (mokṣaḥ... saḥ) (is) nothing else but (na eva anyaḥ) the unfoldment (prathanam) of one's essential nature (sva-rūpa) indeed (hi)!

By "unfoldment" the sage means: "realization", viz. you realize your essential nature (Śiva) and the natural consequence of this act is Mokṣa or Liberation.

D: I will do your bidding, Master! And now, would you kindly speak about the reason why Śiva appeared in dream within the mind of Vasugupta?

M: Yes. Śiva, the Supreme Being, did not want the Secret Tradition to be interrupted. This is the reason. As a result, in dream He said to Vasugupta that the Secret Esoteric Teaching was on a big stone on the mountain Mahādeva. The Secret Tradition was composed of all true teachers who had taught the real Tantric meaning. And now, owing to the growing distortion of the meanings contained in those sacred books (Tantra-s), Śiva Himself had to intervene. Likewise, He is now speaking in my mind and revealing these secrets for you, disciple. Wherever there is a real Master and a true disciple anxious of teaching and learning the Truth contained in the sacred Āmnāya or Tradition, the Highest Lord is right there as both. Therefore, there should be no fear about an interruption of the living tradition, which is, all things considered, the relationship between Guru and disciple, because Śiva has absolute Freedom and cannot be ever interrupted by anything. If the sacred Tradition were to be maintained by mere human beings, full of limitations, then it would not be "sacred" but "imperfect and limited". Śiva alone is the support of it. May this conviction become firm in you.

D: I will do my best!

M: Afterward, the sage Kṣemarāja states that this world is mostly perfumed (influenced) with the dualistic viewpoint. In a word, living creatures consider themselves to be separated and different from God. Thus, they undergo tremendous and unnecessary suffering. According to Trika (Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir), whose primordial scripture (i.e. the Śivasūtra-s) is being analyzed right now, nothing can never be different or separated from God, because He is all and the entire Creation is Him. This is not pantheism, because Trika says that God is all of us and we are all God, not a part of Him. He lives as a "whole" in every part of His Creation. This idea may be controversial just as all new ideas are, no doubt. It is controversial because it shakes man's egoist structure and brings about a revolution inside him. Before discarding new ideas, man should study them with care. Therefore, all these new ideas --as it were (Trika is over 1,000 years old)-- stated by Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir must be firstly analyzed and then accepted or discarded. This would be a wise behavior. However, despite the aforesaid unity, man has somehow forgotten this truth, has forgotten his divine nature and fallen into ignorance. Trika and many other philosophical systems explain that process of forgetting in different ways.

And Śiva gave specific instructions to Vasugupta. Vasugupta did His bidding and now both can enjoy the Secret Esoteric Teaching found on the big stone.

D: Describe a little more how Vasugupta did His bidding, please.

M: Vasugupta awakened, remembered the dream and went to the place where the big stone was supposed to be. He found it and, after turning it round by a mere touch of his hand, he confirmed his dream. Vasugupta obtained a set of 77 aphorisms which were known as "The Aphorisms of Śiva --the Śivasūtra-s--". The Śivasūtra-s are a very important scripture in the Trika's literature. After having completely studied them, Vasugupta taught those sacred aphorisms to his pupils: Kallaṭa and the rest, who were fit for receiving Divine Grace. In turn, these pupils taught them to their own pupils and so on. Thus, an immense literature was born [See Trika 2 (English) for more information].

Vasugupta also collected and compiled the 77 Śivasūtra-s in the form of the Spandakārikā-s or Spandasūtra-s. Kṣemarāja states that the Spandakārikā-s were composed by Vasugupta himself. Nonetheless, other authors have a different opinion. These authors think that Kallaṭa (disciple of Vasugupta) was the real author of the Spandakārikā-s. Kṣemarāja also says that this scripture has been totally ascertained in his Spandanirṇaya, the most complete commentary on the Spandakārikā-s to date.

D: Śiva said "... reveal it to those who are fit for receiving Divine Grace...". Why not to others as well?

M: There is a saying: "For making gold one must firstly have gold". If one is not situated in the adequate standpoint, beyond space-time and its respective progeny (mind, people, objects, etc.) saturated with dualism, this teaching will be practically useless to him. And nobody can reach that position without the Grace of the Supreme Self.

D: But if someone, by chance, listen to these teachings despite he does not have the adequate viewpoint, then, would this mere act of listening not help him to get it?

M: Nobody, "by chance", can access this type of knowledge. If somebody can, it is due to the presence of Divine Grace... even a little bit of It is enough. That is why lots of people keep listening to these teachings for years without understanding an iota, but wait!, one day they "realize" the hidden meaning and consequently such teachings become significant to them. And what is "that" which made those people hear the teachings despite they could not understand anything really?: Śiva's Grace.

D: Understood.

M: Finally, the sage declares that only Śiva, in the highest sense of the word Consciousness, is the Self of the entire universe. This is absolute "non-dualism" and is obviously in total opposition to dualism, which teaches that man and God are different and separate from each other. This final statement is conclusive, and helps dissipating all doubts about the exact position of Trika in the framework of the Indian philosophies. Trika "does" contain dualism and dualism|non-dualism (a mixture of both), but it is "predominantly" a non-dual system as Kṣemarāja has clearly pointed out. In other words, Trika postulates that the final experience of Emancipation is a non-dual one, i.e. "you realize that you are Śiva Himself". Trika "does not" deny dualism (diversity) and dualism|non-dualism (unity in the diversity), but it tends to "non-dualism". It is vital you understand this point, disciple.

So, Śiva (one's own Self) or Consciousness is the essential nature of the universe, viz. "All is Śiva". One studies the Śivasūtra-s only to realize "That".

D: Your explanations have dissipated my doubts, Master.

M: Before beginning to study the Kṣemarāja's Śivasūtravimarśinī, I am going to pass you certain information about the way in which it is organized. Of course, since this scripture is a commentary of the Śivasūtra-s themselves, it will be ordered in a similar manner:

  1. Śivasūtravimarśinī is divided in three sections such as the Śivasūtra-s: Śāmbhavopāya (the means or method of Śiva), Śāktopāya (the means or method of Śakti) and Āṇavopāya (the means or method of a limited individual).
  2. In the first section, there is predominance of Icchāśakti (Power of Will). In the second section, Jñānaśakti (Power of Knowledge) prevails. And in the third section, Kriyāśakti (Power of Action) is preponderant.
  3. Śivasūtravimarśinī is a commentary on the celebrated Śivasūtra-s. The latter contains 77 aphorisms: 22 in the first section, 10 in the second section and 45 in the third section.
  4. In the first section, absolute non-dualism (complete unity) is predominant. In the second section, there is a balance between non-dualism and dualism (unity in the diversity). And in the third section, dualism (diversity) is prevailing.
  5. This dialogue between us, called Śivasūtravimarśinī-hṛdaya (El The Core of Śivasūtravimarśinī -the scripture that examines the Śivasūtra-s-), will not study "all" the aphorisms and the respective commentaries written by Kṣemarāja. It just will analyze the main ones. For that reason it is called "The Core...", you know. In future dialogues, the rest of aphorisms|commentaries will be described in detail.

This is all you need to know to start with the study of Śivasūtravimarśinī.

D: Dear Master, I feel that my memory will not be able to contain so much knowledge. Am I fit for such a sublime teaching?

M: Take refuge in me and do not worry anymore. Just as taking refuge in Lord Kṛṣṇa is the essence of the holy Bhagavadgītā, so is also the essence of our conversation. Kṛṣṇa, Śiva and so on, all of them are names designating the Supreme Self. There is nothing else but Him here. Do not be afraid then.


 Concluding remarks

You have learnt lots of things now by the grace of Kṣemarāja. You already know the reason for his commentary and the way in which the Śivasūtra-s were discovered by Vasugupta. It seems that Kṣemarāja was fed up with some incongruent commentaries on the Śivasūtra-s and decided to write one by himself. The same thing occurs right now regarding the entire system.

Some people talk and write about Trika without a proper knowledge of the purport contained in such sacred scriptures as Śivasūtra-s, Spandakārikā-s, etc. Those people do not even know how to read in Sanskrit, but they only take the translation given by someone else. The work of a "good and reliable" translator is very important for people to obtain the core of a particular scripture, but many subtleties can be only understood if one is able to read Sanskrit directly. That is why I am teaching Sanskrit along with Trika on this site. The key to "fully" understand Trika and any other philosophical system in Sanskrit, lies in "to know" how to read in Sanskrit properly. Remember that.

And the first part of the dialogue between the master and his disciple is over. In the next chapter, the former will commence displaying and explaining the Kṣemarāja's commentaries on the venerable Śivasūtra-s. May this conversation be for the good of everyone!


 Further Information

Gabriel Pradīpaka

This document was conceived by Gabriel Pradīpaka, one of the two founders of this site, and spiritual guru conversant with Sanskrit language and Trika philosophy.

For further information about Sanskrit, Yoga and Indian Philosophy; or if you simply want to comment, ask a question or correct a mistake, feel free to contact us: This is our e-mail address.

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