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 Śivasūtravimarśinī (Shiva Sutra Vimarshini) Section III (aphorisms 1 to 11) Pure - Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir

Pure translation


Śivasūtravimarśinī continues: Kṣemarāja keeps commenting the aphorisms.

This is the first set of 11 aphorisms out of 45 aphorisms of which the third Section (dealing with Āṇavopāya) consists. As you know, the entire work is composed of 77 aphorisms of the Śivasūtra-s plus their respective commentaries.

Of course, I will also insert the Śiva's aphorisms on which Kṣemarāja is commenting. Even though I will not comment on either the original sūtra-s or the Kṣemarāja's commentary, I will write some notes to make a particular point clear when necessary. If you want a detailed explanation of the hidden meanings in this scripture, go to "Scriptures (study)/Śivasūtravimarśinī" in the Trika section.

Read Śivasūtravimarśinī and experience Supreme Delight, dear Śiva.

This is a "pure translation" document, that is, there will be no original Sanskrit, but sometimes there will be a minimal quantity of transliterated Sanskrit in the translation itself of the text. Of course, there will not be any word for word translation. Anyway, there will be transliterated Sanskrit in the explanatory notes. If you are a blind person using a screen reader and do not want to read the notes, or simply if you are not blind but want to skip the notes, click on the respective "Skip the notes" to keep reading the text.

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 hyphen (--...--) constitutes clarifying further information also added by me.


 Aphorism 1

Now, (Śiva,) being desirous of explaining Āṇavopāya1 , firstly shows the essential nature of a aṇu or limited being --the individual Self--—

The individual Self (is) mind||1||

Citta --in this context-- (is) this which, because of its being clad with desires for objects (of senses), consists of buddhi --intellect, i.e. the tattva or category 14--, ahaṅkāra --ego, i.e. the tattva 15-- (and) manas --ordinary mind, i.e. the tattva 16--, which are always engaged in ascertaining, etc. about them --viz. about the aforesaid objects--2 . That very (citta is) ātmā --the individual Self-- (or) aṇu --lit. atom, i.e. the Supreme Self being reduced to a mere limited being-- (because,) as it primordially ignores --lit. due to primordial ignorance-- that its real nature is Consciousness, constantly moves on, i.e. (the whole time) it goes to (various) forms of existence by clinging to the conditions or qualities of Sattva, etc.3 . This is the meaning|

(As a matter of fact,) there is no wandering of this (ātmā) whose nature is nothing but Consciousness|

For this very reason, ātmā (has been) formerly indicated (as) "Consciousness which is omniscient and omnipotent (is) ātmā --the Self or true nature of Reality--" in I, 1 (of the present scripture), with the intention of establishing and explaining its real nature which is its true state|

But now (the definition of ātmā) is suitable to (its) state of aṇu --i.e. limited being--, (all of which) has mainly to do with its appearance in limitation or contraction. Thus, there is no inconsistency or impropriety between the former (and) the later (definition)4 ||1||

Skip the notes

1  Āṇavopāya is the means pertaining to the aṇu or individual Self (i.e. a conditioned being). So, the third Section dealing with the means or method that uses an aṇu's viewpoint has begun.Return 

2  By the word "etc." the author indicates the activities of ego and ordinary mind. While buddhi ascertains about objects of senses, ego is occupied in taking possession of them (e.g. this thing is mine). Manas (ordinary mind) is nothing else that the vikalpa-s or thoughts associated with those very objects. The three form the Antaḥkaraṇa or inner psychic organ according to the Trika system. Therefore, citta here is "mind" but in the sense of Antaḥkaraṇa and not like mere manas. This is the difference between citta and manas. Got the point? Well done!Return 

3  In other words, the qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. For more information, read my study of these three qualities of Prakṛti.Return 

4  By "I, 1" the author indicates the first aphorism of the first Section of the present scripture, obviously. And that aphorism is also the very first aphorism of venerable Śivasūtra-s. There, the innate nature of "ātmā" is clearly defined as "Consciousness which is omniscient and omnipotent" (Caitanya). However, in this third Section it is not its "essential condition" what is being described, but rather its "āṇavadaśā" or "state of aṇu or limited being". Under these circumstances, ātmā is the same as citta (the aggregate of intellect, ego and ordinary mind). In other words, with its appearance in limitation, the Supreme Self who is essentially nothing but pure Consciousness, becomes identified with citta. There are not "two" ātmā-s at all, one unlimited and the other limited! So, there is no inconsistency between what I, 1 and III, 1 declare with reference to ātmā.Return 


 Aphorism 2

Of this (ātmā) who is (now) an aṇu or limited being whose nature is citta—

(Mind-born) knowledge (is) bondage||2||

That knowledge (is) bondage whose nature is modes of ascertainment, etc.1  full of pleasure, pain (and) stupefaction or delusion, (and) which --i.e. the knowledge-- consists of the manifestation of differences --duality-- proper to them --i.e. to the aforesaid modes--|

Since (such an aṇu or limited being) is bound by that (mind-born knowledge), it transmigrates indeed!|

That is (also) said in venerable Tantrasadbhāva:

"Standing in Sattva, Rajas --lit. relating to Rajas-- and Tamas, (and) knowing (only) through (his) senses, the embodied one wanders about in this way, moving from one place to another place --actually and figuratively--2 "||

This very (truth) has been repeated by means of this (quote):

"Completely stopped and besieged by Puryaṣṭaka which arises from (the five) Tanmātra-s --i.e. subtle elements-- (and) resides in mind, ego (and) intellect, the subservient (limited being or paśu) experiences the rise or generation of ideas derived from that (Puryaṣṭaka), (along with) the enjoyment (of pleasure and pain coming from those very ideas). He transmigrates due to the continuance of that (Puryaṣṭaka)..."|
(See Spandakārikā-s III, 17 and a portion of the 18th)

In the scripture dealing with Spanda --in short, in the Spandakārikā-s--, in order to prevent this (transmigration or Saṁsāra the author specifies:)

"... Therefore, we (proceed to) explain the cause of this dissolution of transmigration"||
(See Spandakārikā-s, remaining portion of III, 18)


Skip the notes

1  Ascertainment or inquiry is the work of buddhi or intellect. By "etc." the author is tacitly mentioning the activities of "ordinary thought full of fancies" and "self-conceit", which are proper to manas (ordinary mind) and ahaṅkāra (ego). All in all, the sage Kṣemarāja is talking about citta, i.e. the antaḥkaraṇa or inner psychic organ.Return 

2  From one city to another city, from one mental state to another mental state, from one desire to another desire and so on. All this leads nowhere!Return 


 Aphorism 3

An objection! In view of what has been said in venerable Vijñānabhairava:

"In the world, knowledge (is) giver of light and ātmā (is) giver of light. The knower becomes manifest or revealed in knowledge since there is no difference between these both --viz. between knowledge and knower--1 "||

(so,) even "the (mind-born) knowledge is full of light", (then,) how (is) it --i.e. mind-born knowledge-- bondage?2 |

This (is) true if, through the favor of the Supreme Lord, one could recognize in such a manner --i.e. to realize that even mind-born knowledge is full light--. However, when through His māyāśakti3  there is no realization like that, then—

Non-discrimination of (such) principles as Kalā, etc., (is) Māyā||3||

This non-discrimination of the tattva-s or principles from Kalā --tattva 7-- down to the earth --tattva 36-- —whose natures are limited doership, etc.— arranged as Kañcuka-s, puryaṣṭaka (and) gross body4 , which --i.e. non-discrimination-- (consists of) perceiving as identical those (tattva-s) which are regarded as separate, (is) Māyā (or) a manifestation --i.e. the tattva 6-- full of primal ignorance about the Supreme Principle|

That has been said in venerable Tantrasadbhāva:

"This (limited being) has his consciousness covered by Kalā, the objects of his senses are displayed by Vidyā; he is dyed --i.e. he is (emotionally) affected-- by Rāga, (and) is endowed with organs of perception, etc. Thus, the mayic bondage is said to be heartrending to him. In a word, the Guṇa-s --Rajas, Sattva and Tamas-- depend on that --i.e. of Māyā--, and also righteous and unrighteous activities (depend on Māyā). Abiding in that (Māyā), he is in bondage, (and) remains bound by those (abovementioned things) indeed"|

In Spandakārikā-s this (teaching) has been expressed indirectly by means of this (first line of the aphorism):

"Nonetheless, these (very emanations of Spanda), laboring diligently and incessantly to cover or veil their --i.e. of the people who have unawakened intellects-- (real) state or nature, (cause) people of unawakened intellect (to fall)"|
(See Spandakārikā-s I, 20)


Skip the notes

1  Another possible translation for prakāśaka is "revealing" or even "revealing light". The knower is none other than the ātmā whose nature is "light", because the one who sheds light is not different from the light itself. Therefore, knowledge (light) and knower (giver of light) are the same thing always.Return 

2  For Sanskrit students: The phrase "kathamasya bandharūpatvam" literally means "How (katham) of this --i.e. of its-- (asya) the state of having the nature of bondage (bandharūpatvam)?". Of course, I cannot translate it like that, oops!Return 

3  Māyāśakti (lit. mayic power) is not the same as Māyātattva (or Māyā, plainly), the sixth category in the process of universal manifestation as taught in Trika. No sir! Māyāśakti is His power for bringing about differences (duality) where there is eternal unity. Therefore, His favor or prasāda is simply His removing māyāśakti, which reveals the inherent underlying unity. So, if someone enjoys His favor, the mind-born knowledge can never bind him because such a person realizes that even that miserable knowledge is also light. Freedom and bondage are then related to His removing or not māyāśakti. It is that simple!Return 

4  Kalā is the seventh tattva (category or principle) in the universal manifestation. The nature of Kalā is limited doership. By "etc.", the author tacitly mentions the natures of the rest of tattva-s (from 8 through 36 --the earth--). Kañcuka-s are sheaths of ignorance, while puryaṣṭaka is the subtle body composed of buddhi (intellect), ahaṅkāra (ego), manas (ordinary mind) and the five Tanmātra-s (subtle elements, the tattva-s 27 through 31). For more information about all these things, and also to understand the next quote of Tantrasadbhāva, read Trika 4, Trika 5 and Trika 6.Return 


 Aphorism 4

Therefore, in order to put and end to this (bondage)

The dissolution of the parts --of the tattva-s or principles of manifestation-- in the body --physical, subtle and causal-- (should be accomplished by Bhāvanā or creative contemplation)||4||

Śarīra --lit. body-- (means here) the gross (body) that consists of great elements --viz. tattva-s 32 through 36--, the subtle (body) that is puryaṣṭaka --viz. intellect, ego, ordinary mind and Tanmātra-s--, (and) the highest (body) --i.e. the causal one-- that ends in Samanā --viz. the body formed from vital energy and subtle mind up to Samanā, the latter being the Śakti or Power of the Lord displaying herself as thought from śūnya or state of void down to the tattva 361 --. In that (śarīra or body), those kalā-s (or) parts are the tattva-s --principles or categories-- beginning with the earth --tattva 36-- (and) ending in Śiva. The dissolution of those (parts) into their own causes must be meditated on (either) by Bhāvanā --creative contemplation-- of the disappearance (of one tattva into the preceding one) or by means of thinking about burning, etc.2 . This is to be supplied (to the aphorism to complete the sense)|

That was said in venerable Vijñānabhairava:

"One should think gradually --i.e. little by little-- about the whole (universe) appearing as Bhuvanādhvā3 , etc., by remaining in gross, subtle and causal --i.e. by dissolving one into the other successively-- till (there is) at last dissolution of mind"||

So also:

"One should imagine that his own body has been burnt by Kālāgni rising from the great toe of the right foot. In the end, the light of Śānta --lit. the Peaceful One, i.e. Śiva-- arises4 "||

There is such (a description of the dissolution) in all the Āgama-s --the revealed scriptures--|

For this very reason, in venerable Pūrvaśāstra --i.e. Mālinīvijayatantra--, dhyāna, etc. are said to be āṇava --i.e. belonging to Āṇavopāya--:

"The complete absorption into one's essential nature that occurs by means of Uccāra, Karaṇa, Dhyāna, Varṇa and Sthānakalpanā, is known as Āṇava5 "||
(See II, 21 in Mālinīvijaya)

This (kind of methods) --i.e. Āṇavopāya's methods--, because of its being gross, has not been summarized in Spandaśāstra --viz. Spandakārikā-s--, which reveals Śāktopāya --in short, Spandaśāstra deals with Śāktopāya--|

Nonetheless, whatever pertaining to Śāktopāya, etc. may be found here as a concluding means, that, even in this (context), was made concordant (with Āṇavopāya) by us from the book dealing with Spanda --i.e. by quotes extracted from Spandakārikā-s itself--, and will be made concordant (in the future too, just) a little||4||

Skip the notes

1  For more information about Samanā, read the last three stages of Meditation 6.Return 

2  In order to perform creative contemplation (a kind of visual imagination) of the dissolution of every tattva into the preceding one, one must first have full knowledge about the tattvic scheme as formulated by the Trika system: Tattvic Chart. The method that uses burning is described here while I explain Dhyāna according to Āṇavopāya.Return 

3  Read my study about the Six Courses to fully understand that topic.Return 

4  The term "Śānta" also means "Peace". So, there is this twist in the translation. But, of course, the Supreme Lord is that Peace too. Additionally, in some versions of Vijñānabhairava, the final portion varies from "prajāyate" (arises) to "tadā bhavet" (then, there is). Therefore, the translation twists again: "Then, there is a flash of Peace lastly". Here you have it... you will not want to be a translator after all that. Joking apart, sometimes, I can be pondering even for about one hour over the most exact/possible meaning of a single term. Some strange paragraphs can take hours, not because I do not understand the meaning quickly (reading Sanskrit is rather easy in my case... well, generally at least, because sometimes the text is so nightmarish that I get stuck for a while) but because I want to be so accurate/literal as possible while at the same time the reader will be able to understand me. In this way, it is not just a matter of merely consulting a dictionary and, oh dear!, you have the exact translation magically. Really?

The first main problem with this is that every term can contain a huge pile of possible meanings according to the different contexts, and you will have to choose only one from them in general. Other meanings cannot be found in a "regular" dictionary, and you are bound to resort to other sources (e.g. commentaries in Sanskrit and the like). On other occasions, the translations of very difficult passages must come by divine revelation or one just gets stuck and cannot advance anymore. Though repeated salutations to the Lord please Him and the Merciful One gives the translation finally, most of the time it is just about His ahaitukī karuṇā or causeless compassion. I meant that, out of sheer compassion, He brings the hidden meanings to light from the depths of His own Being and a revelation occurs in the mind of the "apparent" translator. It is the light of Śānta, it is a flash of Peace, as the possible translations of the above Vijñānabhairava's stanza specify. In the end, everything is just His work and skills. These are His scriptures as well. For this reason, as you translate this sacred language, your individuality fades away and He remains alone. No surprise, because the divine Lord is the only One here! What you call "you" is not "you" but "He" always.Return 

5  Read Meditation 4 and Meditation 5 to fully understand this. But also read Meditation 1 as an introduction to the long topic.Return 


 Aphorism 5

In this way, after describing the āṇava method --i.e. pertaining to Āṇavopāya-- called dhyāna, (Śiva now) describes prāṇāyāma, dhāraṇā, pratyāhāra and samādhi1 , which are (handy) for the acquisition and preservation of that (dhyāna) alone—

(The Yogī should bring about) dissolution (of the vital energy) in the subtle channels, conquest of the gross elements, withdrawal (of his mind) from the gross elements (and) separation --pṛthaktva-- from the gross elements (by means of Bhāvanā or creative contemplation too)||5||

"(These methods) should be effected or accomplished through Bhāvanā --creative contemplation-- by the Yogī", this is to be supplied (to the aphorism to complete the sense)|

The saṁhāra (of the vital energy) flowing in the subtle channels (or) tubes --suṣi-- that carry prāṇa, apāna, etc., (consists of) producing or effecting the dissolution (of that vital energy) into one place, i.e. into the middle subtle channel —viz. (into Suṣumnā), whose nature (is) the fire of udāna —, by means of the device of prāṇa and apāna2 |

That is stated in venerable Svacchandatantra:

"One should inhale through the left (nostril and) exhale through the right (nostril)3 . This (is) complete purification of the subtle channels and of the path to Liberation --i.e. Suṣumnā--. From the act(s) of exhaling, inhaling (and) stopping --i.e. retaining-- (breath,) prāṇāyāma is said to be triple. These (three prāṇāyāma-s are) certainly common (and) external --because breath is retained outside, not inside the body, after exhaling it--. However, (there are) three that are internal --because breath is retained inside, not outside the body, after inhaling it--. The three internal (prāṇāyāma-s) are to be performed (in this way:) By the internal (prāṇāyāma) one should exhale (and) by the internal one one should inhale indeed. (Lastly, by the internal one) one performs --lit. having performed-- tremorless retention of the breath"||
(See stanzas 294-297 in the 7th paṭala of Svacchandatantra)

Conquest of the gross elements (such as) earth, etc. (is) mastery or dominion (over them) by means of concentrations or dhāraṇā-s4 |

As has been said in that very (Svacchandatantra):

"Air-related concentration in the great toe, fire-related (one) in the middle of the navel, earth-related (one) in the region of throat, water-related (one) with its seat --i.e. seat or focus of the concentration-- in the uvula, (and finally,) concentration on the ether or space on the top of the head. (This series of concentrations) is said to bring about all the supernatural powers5 "|
(See stanzas 299-300 in the 7th paṭala of Svacchandatantra)

Withdrawal of the mind from the gross elements (is) therefore pratyāhāra|

That is declared in that very (Svacchandatantra):

"(Restraining and checking very gradually the vital energy in the navel) by transferring (it) from the heart down to the navel and also (restraining and checking) the mind (in the navel by the device of withdrawing it) from senses and objects of senses (toward the navel), the fourth prāṇāyāma (known as) the very tranquil or calm one (takes place) indeed. This is what has been taught6 "||
(See stanza 297 in the 7th paṭala of Svacchandatantra)

Through the transference of the vital energy from the heart down to the navel, and also (through the transference) of mind toward it --i.e. toward the navel-- from the objects of senses (by pratyāhāra or the device of withdrawal). This is the meaning|

Separation from the gross elements (is assuming) the nature of the pure (and) independent Consciousness --i.e. Śiva-- that is unaffected by them --i.e. by the gross elements--|

That is said in that very (Svacchandatantra):

"Oh goddess, after gradually piercing through all (the granthi-s or knots --heart, throat, etc.--) which end in Unmanā, by the experiences --acting as a means-- previously mentioned (in the sixth paṭala or chapter of Svacchandatantra); by abandoning (all that, the Yogī) attains (Supreme) Freedom7 "|
(See stanza 327 in the 7th paṭala of Svacchandatantra)

That which was formerly said in I, 20 (of the present scripture), viz. "(The other supernormal powers of the enlightened Yogī are: the power of) putting together existent entities; (the power of) separating them all --i.e. the existent entities-- (and the power of) assembling --saṅghaṭṭa-- everything (what has been separated by space and time)", takes place effortlessly to the one who has entered into Śāmbhavopāya --the means pertaining to Śiva--|

But this --i.e. what I, 20 describes-- is to be accomplished and achieved with effort in Āṇavopāya --the means pertaining to the limited being--. This is the difference||5||

Skip the notes

1  These terms are to be understood practically in the same way as they were defined by the sage Patañjali in his Yogasūtra-s II, 49 (prāṇāyāma) - III, 1 (dhāraṇā) - II, 54 (pratyāhāra) - III, 3 (samādhi), respectively. To pick up all the information you need, read those aphorisms on the page containing all the original sūtra-s, i.e. Pātañjalayogasūtra-s, and also on the one explaining Aṣṭāṅgayoga.Return 

2  This long topic has been dealt with when I explained Uccāra in Meditation 4. The device of prāṇa (the vital energy going out with the exhalation) and apāna (the vital energy coming in with the inhalation) is simply a breathing stoppage that forces the vital energy inside to proceed toward Suṣumnā (the middle or central channel). I spoke about Suṣumnā in Meditation 6 as well. When prāṇa and apāna get stabilized in the middle channel, that is samāna. Finally, this samāna is dissolved in udāna, hence the latter is figuratively called "a fire". Oh well, read those pages, please, so that I do not have to write an interminable note here, lol.Return 

3  Despite "savya" and "apasavya" mean literally "left" and "right" respectively, I interpreted "savyena" and "apasvyena" such as Kṣemarāja indicates in his commentary on Svacchandatantra, i.e. as the indeclinables "to the right" and "to the left". He starts his commentary on VII, 294 in Svacchandatantra in this way: "Savyena dakṣanāsāpathena recayedrecakaṁ kuryādapasavyena vāmena pūryeta vāyupūraṇaṁ kuryādityarthaḥ" - "He should exhale —i.e. he should perform the act of breathing out— through savya —i.e. through the right nostril—; (and) he should inhale —i.e. he should fill with air— through apasavya —i.e. through the left (nostril)—. This is the meaning". So, now it is clear, right?

Besides, since I saw serious inconsistencies between the stanzas quoted here and the original ones of the Svacchandatantra (possibly some typos in the process of transcribing), I made the decision to directly import those original stanzas from the venerable Svacchandatantra to the text of the Śivasūtravimarśinī in order to fix all the errors. Am I crazy? Yes, at least temporarily! These translations, studies and explanations can easily drive a person mad, be sure, not only because they are extremely difficult to perform and my intellect is always at 100% for hours, but because the text contains, apart from the teaching, overwhelming powers emanating from the signs themselves. I cannot describe the experience in words. It is just like being in the presence of something extremely healing and radioactive at the same time. People constanly saying that they are in search of God (the absolute Lord of the entire universe), believe me, most of them do not know what they are saying. If a limited being, as such (i.e. without His grace, without any special preparation/training, etc.), finds the Lord and His Power, his physical body will not survive the experience. The impact of the experience is so blessing that kills your individuality to its very roots! All these texts I am translating were written by Him Himself and commented by great sages. Therefore, they are full of His Power and divine mysteries. When one approaches them, he should be very careful and respectful then.Return 

4  The term "dhāraṇā" (concentration) must be interpreted here such as the sage Patañjali defined it in his Yogasūtra-s (III, 1).Return 

5  Kṣemarāja comments extensively on these two stanzas of the Svacchandatantra, giving the exact method to practice them. Anyway, the reader is advised to not study that lest he gets all the supernatural powers in the process! My God, you will not want to get all those superpowers, be sure. As the eminent sage Patañjali declares in his celebrated Yogasūtra-s (III, 37):

"Te samādhāvupasargā vyutthāne siddhayaḥ" - "Those (supernormal powers) are obstacles or hindrances in Samādhi, (but) accomplishments in Vyutthāna --i.e. the ordinary state of consciousness in which the mind fluctuates--".

So, while those supernatural powers are real achievements for someone whose goal is remaining in the ordinary state of consciousness in which the mind works all the time, they are like a curse for someone wanting to remain in Perfect Concentration (Samādhi) and finally attain Liberation.

OK, back to topic. The first paragraph of the Kṣemarāja's commentary on these two stanzas of Svacchandatantra will make my own translation be much more understandable, I guess:

"Pādadeśe tiryaggateḥ nābhau jāṭharāgneḥ kaṇṭhe sthitipade dharaṇyā ghaṇṭikāyāṁ rasasya brahmarandhre ca vyomnaḥ sadbhāvāttathaiva dhāraṇā uktāḥ|" - "The concentrations are described (as follows:) On the one who moves horizontally --an epithet of the air-- in the region of the foot; on the belly-fire in the navel; on earth —whose state is standing firmly— in the throat; on water in the uvula; and, likewise, on the ether or space —which is (one's own) real Being— in Brahmarandhra --i.e. in the central hole of Sahasrāracakra, on top of the head--".

Oh, good, now it is clear, right? If you expected another word for word translation in this note, you are crazier than myself. Do not worry, the translation is right. Just trust me then. Anyway, you can check it with the help of a dictionary if your Sanskrit knowledge is enough to do so. Word by word translations are very nice but so time-consuming as well. This is why I am not including them in the explanatory notes.

Of course, air, belly-fire, earth, water and ether/space, are the well-known Mahābhūta-s (lit. great elements, i.e. the gross elements), viz. the tattva-s or categories 32 through 36 in the scheme of universal manifestation according to the Trika system.Return 

6  Oh well, in order to understand why I translated that stanza of Svacchandatantra in the way I did, you will need to read the "entire" Kṣemarāja's commentary on such a stanza. The topic is very complex but his words will dissipate all the doubts. By the way, the entire commentary that Kṣemarāja composed on Svacchandatantra is known as Svacchandoddyota. This contains 15 paṭala-s or chapters, and the scholars know that Kṣemarāja was his author from the very start when the sage wrote in the fifth verse of his introduction to the book: "Kṣemarājo vivṛṇute śrīsvacchandanayaṁ manāk||5||" - "Kṣemarāja slightly explains the doctrine of venerable Svacchandatantra". Yes, despite that the word manāk (slightly, a little, in a small degree) looks like a kind of joke, he is right in regard to other great Sanskrit scholars and sages, but not in respect to the rest of us, obviously. Anyway, seeing the depth and spirituality of the teachings given in the venerable Svacchandatantra, yes, the sage was rather concise (about 2000 pages, I am not kidding). Of course, for a Western mind used to read summaries all the time, his commentary will look like very voluminous, but it is just an appearance... let us try to be optimistic, please, lol. Sorry, Lord, but I have to be a little sarcastic here and play some jokes or I will die while beholding the concise Svacchandoddyota right in front of me now. Yes, I have it in front of me right now, friend. The amount of teachings and wisdom contained in this book is simply overwhelming. No human being could fully "understand" this book even in an entire lifetime, but with His divine favor everything is possible, you know.

Now, back to topic with his "brief" commentary on VII, 297 (7th chapter, stanza 297). Remember that the previous stanzas (from the 294th) of Svacchandatantra were already translated above [see "One should inhale through the left (nostril and) exhale through the right (nostril)... (Lastly, by the internal one) one performs --lit. having performed-- tremorless retention of the breath"]. So, the technique commented by Kṣemarāja starts from that tremorless retention of the breath. Check the stanza VII, 297 above to understand the meaning of this commentary:

"Niṣkampakumbhakānantaraṁ hṛdayasañcārāditi śanaiḥ śanairhṛdayādadhaḥsañcārayuktyā prāṇaṁ nābhyāmeva niyamyetyarthāttathā mana indriyagocarāditi tatpratyāhārayuktyā nābhyāmeva mano niyamya manoniyamapūrvakaṁ prāṇaṁ nābhau niyacchataḥ supraśāntaḥ prāṇāyāmo bhavati||297||" - "(This prāṇāyāma comes) immediately after the tremorless retention of breath. (In the stanza,) 'hṛdayasañcārāt' really means 'Restraining and checking very gradually the vital energy in the navel by the device of transference --i.e. by transferring the vital energy-- from the heart downward --i.e. down to the navel--'. So also, 'mana indriyagocarāt' (means) restraining and checking the mind in the navel by the device of withdrawing (it) from that --i.e. from senses and objects of senses-- (toward the navel). By restraining and checking the vital energy in the navel, along with restraining and checking of the mind (there too), the prāṇāyāma (called) supraśānta --very tranquil or calm-- takes place||297||"

It is the fourth prāṇāyāma because of its following the previous three internal ones: exhalation, inhalation and retention of the breath. Now you understand why I translated the above stanza in the way I did it.Return 

7  The word "lakṣaṇa" means "mark, attribute, characteristic, etc.". So, "lakṣaṇaiḥ" would mean "by the marks, attributes, characteristics, etc.". Anyway, the sage Kṣemarāja explains in this way the meaning of "lakṣaṇaiḥ" in his commentary on this stanza of Svacchandatantra:

"Lakṣaṇairiti praṇavādhikāroktairanubhavairyujyata iti śeṣaḥ" - "(The word) 'lakṣaṇaiḥ' (in the stanza) means that 'he is endowed with the experiences mentioned in the Praṇavādhikāra --i.e. the sixth chapter in Svacchandatantra, also known as Pañcapraṇavādhikāra--'. This is to be supplied (to the stanza to complete the sense)"

So, the purport is that the Yogī is able to pierce through all the granthi-s (knots), etc. up to Unmanā through his being endowed with the experiences of various states associated with every stage. These experiences are mentioned in that chapter of Svacchandatantra and act like a means for him to attain the Supreme Spirit. I have written a study about "The way of Praṇava" in Meditation 6.Return 


 Aphorism 6

In this way, the supernatural power —constituted by various realities (manifested by the Supreme Self)— that (is produced) by means of purification of the body, purification of the gross elements, Prāṇāyāma, Pratyāhāra, Dhāraṇā, Dhyāna and Samādhi, occurs because of a veil (drawn by) Moha --i.e. Māyā--, and not because of knowledge of the (Highest) Principle --which is not a mere tattva or manifested reality but one's own real Being--. (The author of the Śivasūtra-s, i.e. Śiva,) said so—

Supernatural power (occurs) because of a veil (drawn by) Māyā or Ignorance||6||

Moha is what deludes, i.e. Māyā --ignorance--. Because of a veil drawn by that (Moha), there takes place the supernatural power obtained by the aforesaid succession of dhāraṇā, etc., which --i.e. the supernatural power-- appears in the form of enjoyment of various realities|

However, (that supernatural power) does not (denote) the manifestation of the Highest Principle|

That is declared in venerable Lakṣmīkaulārṇava:

"God, the divine Lord who is self-existent (and) without residual impressions of (previous) births --i.e. God is not under the law of Karma (cause and effect)--, by being deluded (by His own Māyāśakti), does not see Śiva who is without any thoughts, who is the supreme Abode, who is beginningless and endless (and) who is present before the very eyes of all beings1 "|

Nonetheless, to the one whose delusion has been dissolved:

"By resorting to the vital energy that is in the middle --viz. udāna--, in between the passages of prāṇa and apāna, and (afterward) by resorting to the Power of Knowledge; and having established himself in that (Power of Knowledge, the Yogī) should take his seat (there)2 .

Because the Supreme Spanda or Vibration --i.e. Śakti-- that is beyond the subtle (prāṇāyāma) is obtained after abandoning the gross state of the vital energy, etc. --i.e. the gross prāṇāyāma composed of exhalation, inhalation and retention of the breath-- and then the subtle (prāṇāyāma) which is internal --i.e. it is marked by udāna ascending inside Suṣumnā--, (therefore,) that Prāṇāyāma --viz. the Supreme Spanda or Vibration-- from which (the Yogī) does not fall again is prescribed (as the most excellent)3 .

Since that condition of sound-as-such, etc. --i.e. the five Tanmātra-s or subtle elements, tattva-s 27 to 31-- (brought about) by the qualities of Prakṛti --tattva 13-- is experienced by the mind, by abandoning it --i.e. by abandoning that condition--, (the Yogī) enters that Supreme Abode or State by mentally seizing the Consciousness that is devoid of thoughts4 . This is said to be Pratyāhāra --withdrawal-- which cuts away the noose of transmigratory existence --Saṁsāra--.

Having transcended the attributes of thought (and) having meditated on the supreme all-pervasive (Reality) —which cannot be meditated on --i.e. which is not an object of meditation--— as being one's own Light —which is fit for meditation —5 , that --i.e. the act which has just been mentioned-- the wise know as Dhyāna or meditation.

Dhāraṇā or concentration (occurs when) the Supreme Being is always held (in consciousness) by him --i.e. by the Yogī--. That concentration is pointed out as being able to remove the noose of transmigratory existence.

In this world, the thought of sameness (in the form of) 'I (am) Śiva', 'I (am) the One without a second', in regard to (all) the beings appearing as oneself (and) the others, is known as the highest Samādhi or perfect concentration"||

(Therefore,) by the precept(s) (above) defined in most venerable Mṛtyujit --i.e. Netratantra--, also by Dhāraṇā, etc. there is certainly an absorption into the Supreme Principle, and not (only) a limited supernatural power||6||

Skip the notes

1  If you think that the scripture is speaking about some other God than You Yourself, you do not understand properly. It is You (your real Self, not your ego called John, Juan, etc.) who is self-existent and not ruled by the law of Karma. It is You who, deluded by your own mayic power (which manifests duality), do not perceive Śiva (your essential nature) who is devoid of any thoughts, who is the supreme Abode or State, who is without any beginning or end, and who is present before the very eyes of all beings, to wit, who is pretty obvious to all of them. No matter how great Trika scholar you may be, if you fail to understand that you are essentially God, you will never understand Trika indeed. Even in this means (i.e. Āṇavopāya) where the viewpoint of a limited being is prevalent and the delightful play of devotee-Lord, bondage-Liberation and so on is at its height, you must not lose sight of Reality ever.Return 

2  Udāna runs through Suṣumnā (the central subtle channel). In turn, apāna is associated with Iḍā and prāṇa with Piṅgalā. Hence the scripture says that Udāna is in the middle, in between the passages of prāṇa and apāna, since Suṣumnā runs in between the passages (nāḍī-s or subtle channels) known as Piṅgalā and Iḍā. As Udāna ascends, its state of vital energy is gone and it develops into Power of Knowledge (Jñānaśakti) due to the emergence of Cit or pure Consciousness (Śiva). So, finally the Yogī should take his seat there, in Jñānaśakti.Return 

3  The gross prāṇāyāma is simply exhalation, inhalation and retention of the breath. The subtle prāṇāyāma is related to the emergence of udāna in Suṣumnā. When Udāna develops into Power of Knowledge and finally the Yogī becomes established in the Supreme Spanda or Vibration, he attained the most excellent prāṇāyāma. This sublime prāṇāyāma that is even beyond the subtle one is not to be understood as mere restriction or control (āyāma) of the vital energy (prāṇa) but rather as a cessation of the vital energies participating in the varieties of gross and subtle prāṇāyāma-s, i.e. prāṇa (exhalation), apāna (inhalation), samāna (retention) and udāna. The Supreme Spanda or Vibration is nothing but Śakti (the Power of the Lord), the Source of all vital energies. So, it is no surprise that the best prāṇāyāma is the state where all the vital energies or prāṇa-s come to an end in Her again.

There is no fall of the Yogī since he has attained Śakti who is inseparable from Her Lord Śiva. In this way, the great Yogī, fully realizing his unity with Cit or pure Consciousness (i.e. Śiva), never returns to the ordinary state of consciousness, viz. he does not come back to misery any more. OK, it is enough for now.Return 

4  The expression "sva-cetasā" does not mean in this context "with/by his own mind" but "avikalpasaṁvitparamārśanena" or "by mentally seizing (paramārśanena) the Consciousness (saṁvid) that is devoid of thoughts (avikalpa)". In other words, the Yogī should enter the Highest State with full Self-consciousness. This is the meaning.Return 

5  In this context "svasaṁvedyam" means "svaprakāśam" (as being one's own Light), and "dhyeyam" is "dhyānārham" or "fit for meditation". Apparently, there is a contradiction in the phrase because, how could one meditate on the supreme all-pervasive Reality that cannot be meditated on? That is why the expression "dhyeyaṁ svasaṁvedyam" was added afterward. In short, the Highest Self cannot be meditated on since He is not an object of meditation but the Supreme Subject in all. But one can meditate on Him, as it were, as being one's own Light, i.e. by realizing that oneself is Him. The term "dhyātvā" (having meditated) is to be taken here as "vimṛśya" (having realized, been conscious/aware of). In this sense, despite one cannot meditate on the Supreme Lord as being an object, he can realize his inherent unity with Him. Now the meaning is clear.Return 


 Aphorism 7

(Śiva) said this --lit. that-- (when Moha or Delusion is conquered)

(The Yogī acquires) mastery of the Natural Knowledge through an all-pervasive conquest of Māyā or Ignorance||7||

Mohajayāt (means) through the subjugation of Māyā, whose nature --i.e. of Māyā-- is (being) a noose that ends in Samanā (and) consists of primordial ignorance1 |

Through what kind (of subjugation)? Through that kind (of conquest) whose ābhoga (or) expansion (is) ananta or unlimited --i.e. boundless--, viz. which extends up to the cessation of the residual impressions (of past actions)2 |

(So,) there is mastery or conquest, (in other words,) acquisition of Natural Knowledge whose nature is defined (in the following fragment of Svacchandatantra:)

"She brings about examination of the beginningless characteristic (of the Lord) --i.e. His absolute Freedom or Svātantrya--, etc.3 "||
(See IV, 396 in Svacchandatantra)

(Acquisition of Natural Knowledge was spoken of) even (in the context) of Āṇavopāya since it --i.e. Āṇavopāya-- is said to end in Śāktopāya|

So, in venerable Svacchandatantra, beginning with:

"Oh handsome one!, (there is) an endless network of nooses reaching up to Samanā"||
(See IV, 432 in Svacchandatantra)

(and ending with:)

"After abandoning identification of oneself with nooses --i.e. bonds--, that act of viewing one's own essential nature (takes place). This is Ātmavyāpti --lit. inherence in the Self--4 . Śivavyāpti --lit. inherence in Śiva-- (occurs) in a manner different from that --viz. from Ātmavyāpti--. The artha-s --desired objects-- (are) those whose characteristic is omniscience, etc. When (the Yogī) contemplates, (within himself, on those artha-s) as pervading (everything), this is Śivavyāpti, which is cause or means for (the promotion or development) of Caitanya (into Svātantrya or the Absolute Freedom of the Supreme Lord)5 "||
(See IV, 434-435 in Svacchandatantra)

(Thus,) according to the book --i.e. Svacchandatantra--, it is said that (there is) the acquisition of Sahajavidyā --Natural Knowledge-- whose nature is Śivavyāpti --inherence in Śiva-- (conducive to) Unmanā --the state of Śiva, full of His Absolute Freedom-- through a conquest of Moha or Māyā, which spreads up to Ātmavyāpti or inherence in the Self --in other words, Māyā ends when Ātmavyāpti appears--|

That has been said in that very (scripture) --viz. Svacchandatantra--:

"For that reason, by abandoning Ātmatattva --lit. the principle of the Self, i.e. Ātmavyāpti or inherence in the Self--, (the Yogī) should attach (himself) to Vidyātattva --lit. the principle of divine Knowledge--. That (Vidyā or divine Knowledge) is to be known as Unmanā --the state of Śiva-- indeed. Manas --lit. mind, i.e. a state where mind is working-- is said to be a notion or desire. (Such a) notion or desire (is) knowledge (taking place) gradually, while Unmanā --the Supreme State devoid of mind-- (occurs) simultaneously (and is) firm --i.e. everlasting--. Therefore, since there is no other (one), She (is) certainly the Highest Vidyā --i.e. divine Knowledge--. Here --when the Highest Vidyā arises-- indeed (the Yogī) acquires the superior qualities of omniscience, etc., simultaneously. (1) She brings about examination of the beginningless characteristic (of the Lord) --i.e. His absolute Freedom or Svātantrya--; (2) arouses and causes to perceive/understand the state of the Supreme Self; (and) (3) excludes what is not the state of the Supreme Self; because of (all) that She is called 'Vidyā'. Established there --in the state devoid of mind (unmanā), i.e. in the Supreme Self--, he manifests the Highest Light --viz. the Light of the Lord--, the Supreme Cause"||
(See IV, 393-397 in Svacchandatantra)


Skip the notes

1  Samanā is the Śakti or Power of the Lord displaying herself as thought from śūnya or state of void down to the tattva 36. For more information about Samanā, read the last three stages of Meditation 6.Return 

2  A unlimited expansion, i.e. all-pervasive. Hence my translation in the aphorism: jayāt anantābhogāt - through an all-pervasive conquest. Saṁskāra-s are the residual impressions of past karma-s or actions. The aggregate of all those residual impressions is ego. So, when such an aggregate is removed, one's own individuality is over and the Lord remains alone in the form of your own Self (You Yourself!).Return 

3  The sage Kṣemarāja quoted the entire stanza before, in the aphorism 21 of the first Section. Anyway, he will quote it fully again in the present commentary of this aphorism.Return 

4  This is the first stage in the process of Final Liberation according to Trika. The bonds are all the limitations such as Kañcuka-s, ego, mind, body, etc. When one perceives his inner Self or essential nature as being only Jñāna or Knowledge, devoid of all Kriyā or activity, this is Ātmavyāpti or inherence in the Self (viz. inherent and inseparable presence of the Self in the Yogī). In this case, the Self is perceived as a Witness isolated from everything else. Such as the sage Kṣemarāja expresses in his commentary on this stanza of Svacchandatantra: "... svarūpaṁ pāsottīrṇacinmātratvaṁ yad..." - "... (The term) svarūpa (in the stanza is) what consists of merely Consciousness that transcends the nooses or bonds...".

In turn, the term "avalokana", though literally means "beholding, seeing, etc.", according to Kṣemarāja is "ātmatvenābhimanana" - "to think (something) to be oneself". Hence my translation of "avalokana" as "identification". This clarification will help people understand why I translated in the way I did, specially those people studying Sanskrit in depth. Svacchandatantra is full of "apparent" inconsistencies, as if the author did not follow now and then the strict grammatical rules. Therefore, the translators need to read the scholarly commentary of Kṣemarāja (i.e. Svacchandoddyota), as he belongs to the tradition and consequently knows the secret meanings of many obscure terms and expressions occurring in venerable Svacchandatantra. By the way, Svacchandoddyota is the only commentary on Svacchandatantra. There was another one by a different commentator, but it was lost over the centuries.

Besides, and now addressing the Sanskrit students: Svacchandatantra is a clear example of theory vs. practice, I mean, you can study all the grammatical rules but when you face certain "real" texts you cannot translate them. Why? Because they do not follow the grammatical theory, whether because there were errors in the transcription, or because the author encrypted secret meanings in strange ways, or because the style is very old, or simply because the meter requirements demanded a twist in the way of writing. That is why I dislike to teach Sanskrit language by examples such as "This is a box - This is my cat" and the like, as if Sanskrit was English, Spanish, etc. In doing so in excess, though it is apparently indispensable when one teaches newbies Sanskrit, it will make the student think that the real texts will follow logical nice patterns always. This is the main reason why many advanced Sanskrit students are completely unable to translate "by themselves" a real text at first, in spite of all their massive grammatical knowledge.Return 

5  For Sanskrit students: the text "Sārvajñyādiguṇā ye'rthā vyāpakānbhāvayedyadā" looks strange because the word "tān" [those - Accusative plural of tad (m.)] is missing. So, there is no apparent connection between "Sārvajñyādiguṇā ye'rthāḥ" and "vyāpakān" as the former is declined in Nominative plural, while the latter is in Accusative plural. Now, for the rest of mortals (lol!): I need to make some points very clear so you understand why I translated the stanza in the way I did. To accomplish all that, I will translate the entire Kṣemarāja's commentary on the two lines "Sārvajñyādiguṇā ye'rthā vyāpakānbhāvayedyadā| Śivavyāptirbhavatyeṣā caitanye heturūpiṇī||" in his Svacchandoddyota:

"Ye vakṣyamāṇāḥ sarvajñatvasarvakartṛtvādiguṇā dharmāḥ paramopādeyatvenārthyamānatvādarthāstānvyāpakāniti aśeṣamantarabhedena kroḍīkurvato yadā svātmani bhāvayettadā tadbhāvanāpariniṣpattirātmanaḥ śivavyāptiḥ sā ca bhāvake caitanye heturūpiṇī prayojikā tatprasādādeva śuddhātmanastadbhāvanāprarūḍheḥ||435||" - "The artha-s --desired objects--, which will be studied later, are those whose guṇa or characteristic is omniscience, omnipotence, etc. since they are pointed out as most excellent. When (the great Yogī) contemplates, in his own being --i.e. within himself--, on those (artha-s) as 'pervading' (everything), i.e. as embracing everything by internal non-duality, then perfection in his contemplation (is) his Śivavyāpti (or inherence in Śiva, the Supreme Lord). This (Śivavyāpti) is cause or means for the promotion or development of Caitanya --Consciousness-- in the pure-minded one who has attained that contemplation through His favor alone".

Now a short explanation of what the sage said: While at first, in Ātmavyāpti, the great Yogī experienced his essential nature as mere Jñāna or Knowledge, completely devoid of Kriyā or Action, after that, the artha-s such as omniscience, omnipotence, etc. are contemplated as pervading or embracing everything by internal non-duality. In short, the powers of omniscience, omnipotence, etc. are projected onto everything, and the entire process results in the Yogī viewing unity in all the things. The Self is not seen any longer as isolated from the rest, but on the contrary, the Yogī realizes that his Self is the Supreme Lord (Śiva) and consequently the entire universe.

Anyway, there are phases in the process. The first symptom of Śivavyāpti is Kramamudrā. In this Mudrā (Seal) there is sequence or succession (krama). How? The Yogī cannot stop his eyes from opening and closing successively. When the eyes are closed, he beholds his inner Self, and when they are open, he sees the entire universe pervaded by the same Self. This sequence continues for some time and is completely controlled by the Lord (i.e. no ego is able to bring about this at all). Nonetheless, the appearance of Kramamudrā and the resulting realization that everything is the Supreme Self is not Final Liberation according to Trika. Final Liberation is only attained when the Yogī achieves the Absolute Freedom (Svātantrya or Svācchandya) of the Lord. And in this sense Śivavyāpti is "bhāvake caitanye heturūpiṇī prayojikā", i.e. "cause or means for the promotion or development of Caitanya --Consciousness--". Development or transformation into what? Into Absolute Freedom! All in all, Śivavyāpti leads to Final Liberation indeed. And this occurs only in the pure-minded one who has attained that kind of contemplation. And of course, it is only due to His favor and not otherwise (e.g. by personal efforts). There are more mysteries here, but the Lord is telling me that it has been more than enough.Return 


 Aphorism 8

In this way, this one who has reached Natural Knowledge—

(The Yogī who has attained to Sahajavidyā or Natural Knowledge is) awake and watchful, (while) the second one, (i.e. "the world", appears) as (his) effulgence of light||8||

Even after having obtained the Pure Knowledge, on the attainment of concentration on that --i.e. Pure Knowledge--, (the Yogī remains) awake and watchful. With regard to his own I-ness --the portion Aham or I-- consisting of perfect Vimarśa --i.e. Śakti--, that which (is) the second one, (which) is considered as This-ness --the portion Idam or This--, (which) appears as an object --to the Supreme Subject or I--, (in short,) the world1 ... (well,) that (is) his effulgence of light (or) splendor. He --the great Yogī-- is of such a sort --i.e. like that--|

(All in all,) his universe shines forth like his own splendor. This is the meaning2 |

As has been said in venerable Vijñānabhairava:

"In whichever thing --e.g. blue, pleasure, etc.-- Caitanya or Consciousness of the Omnipresent One --i.e. Parabhairava, the Highest Lord-- is manifested, since that thing --i.e. blue, pleasure, etc.-- is characterized only by It --by Caitanya of the Omnipresent One--, (so,) through dissolution in Cit --Consciousness who is omnipresent-- (one gets endowed) with the essence of plenitude --in short, one experiences the plenitude of Parabhairava, the Highest Lord--3 "||

Also, in venerable Sarvamaṅgalā:

"There is said to be only two categories, viz. Śakti --Power-- and the Possessor of Śakti. The Possessor of Śakti (is) the Great Lord certainly --i.e. Śiva--, (and) His śakti-s or powers --the multiple aspects assumed by Śakti-- (are) the entire world"||


Skip the notes

1  For more information about Aham and Idam (I and This), read Trika 3.Return 

2  And of course, all this detailed description is nothing but the state of Śivavyāpti which was spoken of in the commentary on the previous aphorism.Return 

3  An ordinary person considers that the objects being perceived by his senses are related only to the senses, brain, etc. But in the eyes of a great Yogī, this is not like that, because he realizes that Consciousness of the Omnipresent Lord is in whichever thing he may be perceiving. Just like a mirror containing the reflections of multiple objects is not different from those reflections, so, the great Yogī realizes that all he perceives through his senses is only God. The Subject (God) is present as all these objects around here, such as blue, pleasure, etc. And, since these things are characterized only by the Lord, by dissolving his mind in this Lord (Consciousness), the great Yogī attains Bharitātmā or the "One whose essence is full" (i.e. Parabhairava, the Highest Being). Having so done, he gets endowed with the essence of plenitude. This is the meaning.Return 


 Aphorism 9

And this (Yogī) endowed with such qualities (is) always engrossed in the consciousness of his own essential nature—

(This very Yogī is) a Self (that is merely) a dancing actor||9||

He acts and dances, i.e. by the play of his movements he exhibits on his own screen --viz. the screen of his Consciousness-- the manifestation of multiple roles during the various states of waking, etc. --i.e. sleep and deep sleep--. (This manifestation of multiple roles) has for its root --i.e. it is based on-- his essential nature that is hidden within. Thus, (he is) a Self (that is merely) a dancing actor|

That is declared in the prayer of praise performed by the goddess in the seventh chapter of venerable Naiśvāsatantra entitled "Goddess (and) Great Lord as a dancing actor":

"You, in one aspect, (are) the inner self, the dancing actor, (but in another aspect, You are) the protector of Your own essential nature as the Supreme Being1 "||

(It has) also (been said) by Bhaṭṭaśrīnārāyaṇa (in his Stavacintāmaṇi):

"(You have brought about) the Drama of the three worlds --heaven, hell and earth--, which contains the true seed or source of all that has been manifested2 . Having (You) presented the prologue (of this Drama), Oh Hara --an epithet of Śiva--!, what poet, other than Yourself, is fit for bringing it to its conclusion3 ?"||

(And even) in venerable Īśvarapratyabhijñā, which contains the secret doctrine of all Āgama-s or revealed scriptures, (you can read the following):

"When the world is asleep, only the Supreme Lord, the One who sets in motion the dancing drama (known as) Saṁsāra --i.e. Transmigration full of misery--, is awake"||


Skip the notes

1  In His aspect as the inner self (antarātmā), He is a dancing actor who, because of his connection with puryaṣṭaka (subtle body made of intellect, ego, mind and subtle elements), is bound by tendencies or vāsanā-s of good and bad actions, which force him to wander about from one form of existence to another. That is to say, he takes endless births due to those tendencies. He is therefore subject to Saṁsāra or Transmigration (viz. misery). It is termed "inner self" since it is within the outer self (physical body). In turn, the word "kośa" is not to be interpreted as "sheath" in this context, but as "svasvarūpaparamātmatva" or "Your own essential nature as the Supreme Being". Summing it up, the Great Lord is both the limited being bound by his subtle body, etc., and the Supreme Being dwelling always in His own divinity. He protects His essential nature in the sense that He does not allow anything to touch it. In this way, He, in His innermost essence, remains always beyond the entire manifestation brought about by His Māyā or Ignorance. So, He is all always. This is the meaning.Return 

2  The term "bīja" (seed, source) means here Māyā and her progeny (Prakṛti, etc.), but in drama, it means "the origin of the plot". So, the possible translation of this stanza is double, on one hand, Māyā is the seed originating all the existents, and on the other hand, She is also the origin of the plot of this universal Drama. This is the meaning.Return 

3  Since the Lord wrote the prologue or "prastāva" of this universal Drama, who else other than Him is able to write its "saṁhāra" or conclusion? When one realizes his own essential nature and consequently the truth that everything and everybody is Him, this is the conclusion of the Drama. Anyway, this state can only be attained through His favor and "not otherwise" (e.g. by personal efforts) according to the Trika system. Despite the personal efforts can take oneself to a certain state of consciousness, the conclusion (Final Liberation) is always "written" (figuratively speaking) by Him alone. This is the meaning.

An additional subtlety: The term "kaḥ", apart from "what, who", also means "Prajāpati" (Lord of the creatures), i.e. the One who created the living creatures. The Prajāpati topic is a very long one for this note of explanation. For now, just understand that if this meaning is introduced in the translation, there is this twist: "(Where) is the Prajāpati other than Yourself...?" The rest is clear, I suppose.Return 


 Aphorism 10

(In the following aphorism, Śiva) spoke about the stage or place (where) this kind of actor in the dancing drama (called) the world plants (his) feet (and) plays (his) role—

The stage (for that Nartaka or dancing actor to play --see 9th aphorism-- is his) inner soul (which consists of the causal and subtle bodies)||10||

Raṅga or stage is where the Self takes delight with the intention of showing the play of the dancing drama (known as) the world. (In other words, raṅga is) the place (where the Self) assumes various roles. Antarātmā (is) the soul or being that is internal with respect to the (physical) body. (Such a inner soul) has the subtle body for its form, (and) its nature is a contracted manifestation whose essential part (is either) void or vital energy1 |

This (Nartaka), who has his feet planted on that (stage), manifests the dancing drama (called) the world by a succession of movements of his own (inner) senses2 |

(It has been) said in venerable Svacchandatantra:

"Getting into contact with the subtle body or puryaṣṭaka, he wanders about in all forms of existence (and is consequently) known as the inner being or soul...3 "||
(See X, 85 in Svacchandatantra)


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1  What the author meant to say is simply that the nature of the inner soul is the causal body (void and vital energy, which are a contracted manifestation of Śakti), but its form (like a garment) is the subtle body or puryaṣṭaka (intellect, ego, mind and the five subtle elements known as Tanmātra-s). This is why I added in my translation of the present aphorism: "which consists of the causal and subtle bodies".Return 

2  The movements of his inner senses are the vibrations of the Natural Svātantryaśakti of the Lord (His Power of Absolute Freedom).Return 

3  The suspension points stand for the remaining part of the stanza: "nibaddhastu śubhāśubhaiḥ|" - "that is certainly bound by good and bad (vāsanā-s or tendencies)". That which was added in parentheses by me fully agrees with what the sage Kṣemarāja comments in his Svacchandoddyota: "Tatsambandhādvāsanārūpaiḥ śubhāśubhairnibaddhaḥ san yoneryonyantaraṁ prasaran" - "Due to (his) connection with that (subtle body or puryaṣṭaka), he continues to be bound by good and bad vāsanā-s or tendencies (resulting from good and bad actions, and therefore) moves from one form of existence to another". Everything is very clear now, right?Return 


 Aphorism 11

In this manner, of this who acts and dances on the stage of the inner being or soul—

The senses (of that Nartaka or dancing actor are) the spectators (of his playing)||11||

The senses of the Yogī —faculty of seeing, etc.— undoubtedly behold inwardly their own essential nature which is full of excessive joy in exhibiting the dancing drama (called) Saṁsāra --i.e. Transmigration--. By the development of the representation of that (dancing drama), they cause (Yogī) to enter into the fullness of the flavor or taste of Camatkāra1 , in which --i.e. in the fullness-- the difference or duality has vanished|

As the Veda-s (express):

"(However,) some wise man, gaining —desiring2 — immortality with reverted eyes --viz. introspectively--, beheld the Self inwardly"||
(In Kaṭhopaniṣad II, 1, 1)


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1  Camatkāra literally means "astonishment, surprise", but in an artistic environment it means "delight of the artistic experience", while in Trika it means "bliss of the supreme I-consciousness". So, this term is one of those words you cannot translate accurately all the time because it varies according to the contexts. In this case, since Trika is being taught, you could interpret it to be "bliss of the supreme I-consciousness", but at the same time, as a dancing drama is being spoken of, you can consider the translation "delight of the artistic experience" as perfectly valid too. To include both translations in the text was not convenient. That is why I left Camatkāra as such there. Sometimes people complain about these "bothersome" (lol!) Sanskrit terms in the middle of sentences in English, Spanish, Portuguese, etc. They complain because they do not understand that the exact translation is sometimes so long and/or varied that it is just not convenient to include it in the sentence itself. English, Spanish, Portuguese and the rest of vernacular languages are so limited and ambiguous while Sanskrit is so unlimited and precise, you know.Return 

2  Two possible readings: "aśnan" - "gaining" or "icchan" - "desiring". It is usual finding scriptures with multiple readings in certain portions of the text. No surprise here then.Return 


 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.

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