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 Spandanirṇaya (Spanda Nirnaya) Section I (aphorisms 6 to 10) Pure - Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir

Pure translation


This is the third set of 5 aphorisms out of 25 aphorisms constituting the first Section (dealing with Svarūpaspanda or Spanda as one's own nature). As you know, the entire work is composed of 53 aphorisms of Spandakārikā-s plus their respective commentaries.

Of course, I will also insert the original 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, go to "Scriptures (study)|Spandanirṇaya" in Trika section.

Read Spandanirṇaya and experience Supreme Ānanda or Divine Bliss, 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.


 Aphorisms 6-7

(Now Vasugupta, the author,) defines the means, together with tokens of recognition, for the recognition, (if you will excuse the repetition), of the (Spanda) principle which has thus been dealt with (in the commentaries on the previous stanzas) by (the use of) conclusive argument --i.e. the Spanda principle was already absolutely proved by means of solid evidence--:

That principle (of Spanda) should be inspected with care (and) respect, by which this group of organs or instruments --intellect, ego, mind, powers of perception and powers of action--, (though) insentient, (proceeds) as (if it were) sentient by itself, (and) together with the inner group (of Karaṇeśvarī-s or goddesses of the senses) enters into the states of "Pravṛtti" --i.e. to go toward external things--, "Sthiti" --i.e. to maintain those very external things for a while-- (and) "Saṁhṛti" --i.e. to dissolve those things in one's own Self--, inasmuch as this natural Freedom of Its (exists) everywhere||6-7||

That principle (of Spanda) being investigated with respect, faith --śraddhā-- and care --prayatna-- should be inspected such as it has been established in the Śivasūtra-s:

"Bhairava --Supreme Being-- (is) a sudden flash or elevation of divine Consciousness"

(In other words, it should be inspected) as being a sudden flash or elevation whose nature is Bhairava --the Supreme Self--, viz. as the cessation of all the differences or dualities, as the expansion of one's own vigor or power (and) as the act of applying oneself to the perfect (and) inner essential nature1 |

(The expression) "Yataḥ... iyam" —inasmuch as this— (in the aphorism implies that) the akṛtrimā (or) natural Freedom of that Śiva —one's own essential nature—, whose form --the form of such a Freedom-- is the principle of Spanda (and) which is known to everyone as their own Self --everybody experiences that Freedom as being their own inner Being--, continues shining forth everywhere. (The phrase "sphurantī sthitā" or "continues shining forth") is to be supplied (to the seventh aphorism) in order to complete the sense|

"What (is) that principle?", (the author) described (It) beginning with "yatas" (and) ending in "labhate" --the entire sixth aphorism and the first word of the seventh one--|

(The word) "ayam" (in the sixth aphorism refers to) this which consists of eye-ball --i.e. power of seeing, not the mere physical organ--, etc. --i.e. the karaṇavarga or group of organs or instruments--, well known to people, and not the one that is treated in the scriptures --viz. the karaṇeśvarīcakra or group of deities of the senses--, because (the karaṇeśvarīcakra), being always invisible, cannot be indicated as "this" --it is not an object like the organs or instruments of the senses, mind, ego and intellect--. The group of organs or instruments, composed of thirteen indriya-s or powers --five powers of perception, five powers of action, mind, ego and intellect--, (is vimūḍha) or particularly insentient, (that is,) it appears as inert or insentient on account of Māyā --Ignorance, the sixth tattva or category in the process of universal manifestation--. (And,) though (the group of organs or instruments) reaches a state of inertia --absence of consciousness-- greater than (that of) a bewildered limited being2 , enters, as if it was not insentient, i.e. as if it was sentient by itself, into the states of Pravṛtti, Sthiti and Saṁhṛti. (In other words,) it becomes oriented to the objects of the senses --to go toward external things--, it feels attracted by that --by the objects of the senses-- --to maintain those very external things for a while-- and it withdraws from that --to dissolve those things in one's own Self--. This is the meaning|

How (do they do that)? (They do so) together with the inner group. Here, the inner group (is) the deities or goddesses of the senses --the powers that make the senses work-- (and) not the inner (psychic) organs --intellect, ego and mind-- since they are included by the word varga or group --viz. mind, ego and intellect are already included in the abovementioned karaṇavarga, the group of senses or instruments--. (The "inner group") is not (either) the puryaṣṭaka --the subtle body formed from intellect, ego, mind and five Tanmātra-s or subtle elements-- to be described subsequently, because the triad of inner (psychic) organs --intellect, ego and mind-- which resides in it --in the subtle body-- is included by the word varga or group --the same story in this case, as mind, ego and intellect are already included in the abovementioned karaṇavarga, the group of senses or instruments--. (The Tanmātra-s are not the inner group either), because it cannot be proved or established, with regard to someone who is (still) to be taught —viz. who is not a Yogī (yet)—, that (these) subtle elements, being mere latent tendencies, are the authors in person --the direct authors-- of (the acts of) Pravṛtti --to go toward external things--, etc.3 . (Besides,) because instruction is not necessary in the case of a Yogī who has directly perceived the Tanmātra-s (and) is attentively applied to come into contact with the Highest Principle by himself, therefore this partisan or partial viewpoint is not true4 |

(And it is again) the karaṇavarga --the group of senses or instruments-- (which) is connected with this (phrase occurring in the sixth stanza): "(though) insentient, (proceeds) as (if it were) sentient", and not the inner group of deities or goddesses of the senses, because the nature of this (group is) the Delight or Bliss of Consciousness --in short, this group of goddesses is "innately" sentient like Consciousness Itself, and not "insentient but proceeding as if it was sentient"--|

Thus, this (is) the sense of what is said (between "Yataḥ" and "Labhate", which comprises the entire sixth aphorism and the first word of the seventh one): To wit, this one's own essential nature that is Śaṅkara --Śiva--, through (His) Absolute Freedom, which carries out what is very hard to be accomplished, manifests simultaneously as one --as a unity-- the group of goddesses of the senses whose essence is Consciousness, and the group of senses or instruments, which look like inert, (and) makes (them both) perform Pravṛtti, Sthiti and Saṁhṛti --to go toward external things, to maintain those very external things for a while and to dissolve those things in one's own Self, respectively--. In consequence of which, according as the glorious goddesses of the senses bring about manifestation of various objects, etc., so the group of senses or instruments, though inert, seems to be --lit. is perceived as if-- doing that (as well)|

Even if according to the secret viewpoint --only fit for advanced students-- there is no inert group of senses or instruments but rather (it is) just the goddesses of the senses, whose bodies (are made out of) Consciousness, who expand in that way --in the form of the group of senses or instruments--, nevertheless, here --in this world--, it has been said so: "(At first,) one is to be instructed in conformity with the very well known beliefs, (and then,) gradually, he is to be conducted to the teaching of secret matters" --therefore, one is firstly taught that there are two different realities known as karaṇavarga (group of the senses or instruments) and karaṇeśvarīcakra (group of deities or goddesses of the senses), but as one advances —in a spiritual sense—, he is finally taught that, as a matter of fact, the former is only the expansion of the latter and NOT something existing separately--|

Thus, in the succession of Pravṛtti --to go toward external things--, etc. (performed) by the group of senses or instruments composed of eyeball --i.e. power of seeing, not the mere physical organ--, etc., by investigating one's group of goddesses of the senses --lit. rays of light-- --in short, marīcicakra is synonymous with karaṇeśvarīcakra in this context-- which presides over that --over the succession of Pravṛtti, etc.--, one's own essential nature, that impels both --karaṇavarga and karaṇeśvarīcakra-- (and) that is the venerable Śaṅkara --Śiva--, should be inspected. By this --by the previous teaching--, it is also said (the following): "(Why should one inspect one's own essential nature?) Because on the attainment of that (essential nature), the natural Freedom belonging to it --to one's own essential nature that is the Supreme Self Himself-- happens to this Yogī (too)"5 |

On that account, only this --the principle of Spanda-- is worth being inspected because it is the highest one can receive. And only this can be inspected, because the means is easy according to the aforesaid reasoning and argument. Hence, (it should be inspected) respectfully, viz. with a great regard leading to the unhindered enjoyment of the desired object --i.e. that conduces to the unhindered enjoyment of Absolute Freedom--|

In this matter, (there is) a right time for (performing such an) inspection in accordance with the teachings to be found here, (in this book)|

As has been said by the guru of the secret (doctrine) --i.e. Utpaladeva--:

"(Let) these joyful sense-activities of mine fall6  on their own objects!, (but,) oh Lord, let there not be the temerity --the reckless act-- of losing, even for an instant (and) even slightly, the Nectar of the unity with You!"||

The kṛtya affix in (the term) "parīkṣyam" --whose meaning is "should be inspected"-- (denotes) worthiness, practicability, timeliness, command, etc.7 |

Moreover, by declaring (that) "the inert group of senses or instruments enters into the states of Pravṛtti --to go toward external things--, etc. by the power of That --Spanda--", which is witnessed or perceived in the experience of everybody, (the author of Spandakārikā-s --i.e. Vasugupta--) has also (happened to) reject by this (statement) the view of the Cārvāka-s, which attributes consciousness to the indriya-s or senses, etc.8 ||7||

Skip the notes

1  The author used the name Bhairava to designate the Absolute for a special reason I will show you now. The literal meanings of the word "Bhairava" are "frightful, terrible, horrible, formidable", but in Trika the acrostic meaning is preferred to the literal one: Bhairava is the Absolute in the sense that He performs bharaṇa (maintenance), ramaṇa (dissolution or withdrawal) and vamana (manifestation or emission). This triple act is generally with reference to the universe: He maintains, withdraws or dissolves and manifests or emits the universe; but in this context the author is not referring to the universe but to the states He brings into existence in the case of a great Yogī. Look:

  1. the cessation of all the differences or dualities —withdrawal or dissolution
  2. the expansion of one's own vigor or power —manifestation or emission
  3. the act of applying oneself to the perfect (and) inner essential nature —maintenance

The order of these processes is not at random: The great Yogī experiences the emergence of Bhairava (the Lord) by firstly undergoing a state of dissolution of all dualities (he sees unity in all). Next, as a foreseeable consequence of such a condition of unity, he is not any longer bothered by anyone/anything at all. At this point, he is able to perceive how his own vigor and power expands as do proportionally diminish the time and effort he devoted previously to avoiding unpleasant situations, unpleasant people, unpleasant objects, unpleasant environments, etc. When all that disturbance replete with dualities (pleasant vs. unpleasant) ends finally, he feels his full vigor and power at maximum. With the experience of such a Supreme State (his essential nature indeed), his only purpose is continuing to experience his own Self, viz. his essential nature full of Absolute Freedom. It is in this sense that the Lord appears in such a great Yogī as "maintenance of the realization of his own essential nature". So, because the Supreme Self manifests Himself in all those ways in a perfect Yogī, He (the principle of Spanda, the Lord) is known as Bhairava, and He should be inspected with respect, faith and care by means of this knowledge I have passed onto you.Return 

2  The sage said that because the stage known as "limited being" arises when Puruṣa (tattva or category 12) is manifested by Śakti or Power of the Supreme Self. The karaṇavarga or group of organs or instruments consists of intellect (tattva 14), ego (tattva 15), mind (tattva 16), powers of perception (tattva-s 17-21) and powers of action (tattva-s 22-26). As the members of karaṇavarga are manifested "after" Puruṣa, they are grosser, viz. more inert or insentient. Read the Tattvic chart for you to fully understand what I have just explained to you.Return 

3  In case you are "someone who is still to be taught" about these elementary matters such as Tanmātra-s, inner psychic organ and so on, read well Trika 5 and Trika 6. The Yogī-s, being greatly experienced and learned, do not need to study that really. Kṣemarāja will say the same thing soon. It is to be noted that by the word "Yogī" neither I nor Kṣemarāja is referring to people merely practicing Yoga. NO, we are speaking about "real masters". In short, people who have attained Self-realization to a certain degree and are well versed in the scriptures. They are not people still making their way in Yoga. Good, now it is clear!Return 

4  Summing it up: According to Kṣemarāja, the āntaracakra or "inner group" is the group of deities or goddesses of the senses (Karaṇeśvarī-s), and not mind, ego, intellect, subtle body or even Tanmātra-s. It is the Karaṇeśvarī-s who make the inert/insentient organs of the senses work as they should and carry out the acts of going toward external things, etc. This is the purport.Return 

5  The subject looks complicated, but it is very simple. The only obstacle always around is that the sage Kṣemarāja is such a great Master that only a powerful disciple can duly follow him. The level of the teacher should not be too high or the disciple will not be able to understand him. If the teacher is quite a Master like Kṣemarāja, he will need disciples of great caliber or his teachings will never be understood as they should. It is not just about Sanskrit knowledge but also about Self-realization. Due to his exalted position, Kṣemarāja describes experiences and realities that most aspirants are still to experience. Well, if you are one of these aspirants still making his/her way, I will attempt to fill the gap somehow with my own explanations of his teachings. Let me explain to you in detail now:

The principle of Spanda or Primordial Vibration is none other than Śakti, and Śakti is the Power of the Supreme Lord (viz. Śiva). Despite the "apparent" difference and separation between Śakti and Śiva, this is so just in the world of the words and not in the facts. Both realities are one and the same Reality, and there is no doubt about it! If you attain one of them, you attain both. Good!

So, this Spanda firstly "appears" as the karaṇeśvarīcakra or group of the goddesses/deities of the senses. This group is also called marīcicakra (lit. group of the rays of light). This group of goddesses is in direct contact with Spanda, with the Supreme Consciousness, and therefore is "never" insentient. Karaṇeśvarīcakra is composed of the glorious Karaṇeśvarī-s or goddesses of the senses, who are "not" tattva-s or manifestations, but the adorable Śakti appearing in that form. That is why when you investigate these goddesses of the senses you can attain Śakti Herself (i.e. Spanda), and when you attain Śakti you attain automatically Śiva too. And, following this logical reasoning, as Trika formulates that the Supreme Lord (Śiva) is the Self or essential nature in everybody, if you attain Him, this "amounts" to attaining your own essential nature or "svarūpa".

On the other hand, when these very goddesses expand and assume more and more limitation, they become "insentient" (as it were!) and form the celebrated karaṇavarga or group of senses/instruments (five powers of perception, five power of action, mind, ego and intellect, i.e. the tattva-s from the 14th down to the 26th). So, as a matter of fact, there are NOT two realities: karaṇeśvarīcakra and karaṇavarga, because the latter is just a manifestation of the former... but it is "convenient" to verbally divide the things in that way in order to understand how the whole thing works. In this way, it is said that karaṇeśvarīcakra presides over the states/acts of Pravṛtti (to go toward external things), Sthiti (to maintain those very external things for a while) and Saṁhṛti (to dissolve those things in one's own Self), which are performed by karaṇavarga or group of senses/instruments. Very good!

And when should you investigate the goddesses of the senses? Simple: At the moment the senses are working. For example, your eyes work on account of these goddesses. Mere flesh is insentient, but when it is endowed with life, acts as if it was sentient. This is the mystery. As you investigate the power behind your organs of the senses, you reach Spanda sooner or later. Spanda is your own essential nature, i.e. the Supreme Lord (Śaṅkara or Śiva). But why should you take all that trouble involved in investigating the goddesses, etc.? Because when you attain Him, you also attain His Absolute Freedom. And, since He is your own essential nature, when you attain His Absolute Freedom, you are also absolutely free!

There is a common illusion here: Most people suppose that they are free. For this reason, they see no point in taking the trouble to make enormous efforts for investigating their own essential nature and getting His Absolute Freedom. This illusion of "being already free" is pretty usual, and it is the explanation of why this world is not full of great Yogī-s. By this word I mean "great beings, great sages, people spiritually eminent" and not mere men or women practicing Yoga. Trika postulates that the Lord resides in everybody and IS everybody, but, at the same time, NOT everybody has realized this Truth yet. It is in this sense that searching for His Absolute Freedom makes sense. If not so, what would be the point of writing scriptures, explaining them, translating them, etc.?, because nobody would need instruction then.

But this is not the case really, as most human beings have not realized their essential nature and consequently they are not completely free like the Supreme Lord. They are slaves to their minds, bodies, external objects and the like. They do not have a "real I" but a "false one". As the external circumstances change, as their bodies change, their minds change accordingly and such people, being fully identified with their bodies and minds, are absolutely unable to remain in a equable state. So, they cannot remain undisturbed constantly, because their minds, bodies and external circumstances "still" can alter their inner state. A person that cannot remain equable in the face of happiness, sorrow, pain, pleasure, etc. is NOT free. Such a person CAN be free, but it is not "cheap" but "super expensive" (not in money but in effort). Someone is completely free, in the full sense of word, who has realized his real "I" (his own Self) and is able to retain this experience constantly (i.e. who has become stabilized in such an experience).

According to Trika, nobody can realize his essential nature without His Grace. It is only the Supreme Lord who can bestow Absolute Freedom on an aspirant. No ego can get that, but Absolute Freedom is always His gift to the seeker that has proven he is worth receiving it. This gift is extremely costly despite it is a "gift". It is not about coming, taking it and that is it. NO. The aspirant will generally have to make tremendous efforts for years (or even his entire life), except he is very advanced, spiritually speaking, from his very birth, which is not seen frequently.

After years and years investigating his own essential nature and performing colossal efforts, an aspirant can reach His Freedom finally. When this happens, he experiences "camatkāra" or "amazement", because he is absolutely amazed at the fact that he is so free! In the ordinary state of consciousness (vyutthāna), i.e. in bondage, the states of pleasure and pain are ignorantly associated with the "I". In other words, an ignorant person feels that "it is him" who is feeling pleasure and pain, and in this way pleasure and pain fully affect him because they are regarded as associated with the Self. That person cannot help it, i.e. it is not purposely but because he has not realized that his own Self or I is NOT associated with pleasure and pain or anything else related to body, mind, etc. But in the case of a great Yogī, since he has a real "I" (not a false one!) due to his state of Self-realization, the states of pleasure and pain are felt like external (read Śivasūtravimarśinī, III, 33).

The Self is the real "I" that resides in everybody all the time, but when this Self becomes identified, as it were, with body, mind, objects, etc., a false "I" appears. It is not even an "I", in the right sense of the word, because it just consists in an ignorant identification. As I said before, most of people have a false "I" and not a real one --or better said, they have no "I" but only false identification--, and this is the reason why they are constantly in trouble. The cause of the troubles is NEVER something external or body or mind, etc. NO, it is always the absence of a real "I". When an aspirant realizes his true "I", his own Self, all his troubles are gone immediately. And yes, most people will think that this is impossible, because the troubles are "obviously" outside or in the body o in the mind, etc. NO, the troubles persist only because one has not realized his own Self. When one realizes Him, the troubles are not any longer "troubles" but facts occurring to the body, mind, etc. but not altering one's peace. They never touch the real "I". This is what an enlightened Yogī perceives from his state of Absolute Freedom. I am speaking the truth.

When Self-realization appears, the mind/ego is "transferred" to somewhere else. It is like people being in the same room as oneself and then all these people are transferred to another room. One hears their voices, but they are felt "distant". Likewise, a Yogī who experienced Self-realization feels his mind distant and therefore is not affected by it at all. His physical body is felt like a mere shell and not like the "I". Thus, he is not affected by his body either. All the rest (external things, external circumstances, etc.) cannot reach him, because he is not identified with mind and body. He is only identified with his real "I" (his Self) who being the Subject (and never an object) cannot be touched by any object (body, mind, objects, etc.). This is always so in "everybody", but the great Yogī has an actual apprehension of such a state. This is the difference!

So, this Yogī who has attained and become stabilized in His Absolute Freedom, is completely invulnerable in the sense that he is not affected by anything. His body can die or live, his mind can be full of thoughts or empty, his life can be a success or a failure, but he remains the same under all circumstances. He has his center in his Self (his real "I") and not in somewhere else (mind, body, external objects, personal life, etc.) like the rest of people. So, he will no more fall victim to ignorance and its progeny. His state is inconceivable and absolutely astonishing. What else could one say about him then?

Anyway, when an aspirant is trying to become stabilized in his own essential nature characterized by His Absolute Freedom, prays like the sage Utpaladeva will soon do. Keep reading.Return 

6  This is intended for students of Sanskrit grammar: The word "patantu" means "let them fall!" (3rd P, plural, Imperative Mood), but I had to move that "let" to the beginning of the sentence for keeping a legible structure in English and displaying a word for word translation that is helpful in your studies. The other possibility was to include "let" along with the rest of words between "let" and "fall": "Let these joyful sense-activities of mine fall!", but if I had done it, this would have rendered the method of translating word for word useless, because there are too many words in parentheses, as you can see. Hopefully you understood me, hehe.Return 

7  In the word "parīkṣya" (should be inspected), the verb is "parīkṣ" (to inspect, examine, etc.) and the affix is "ya" but derived from "kyap" and not from "yat" or "ṇyat" (other two possible affixes). The three affixes "kyap", "yat" and "ṇyat" result in the same word in the end: "ya". However, the way in which the "base" is formed varies [read Affixes (1) for more information about all these technical terms]. For instance, if the affix was "yat" or "ṇyat", the final word would be "parekṣya", which I have never seen, and not "parīkṣya". There is an enormous pile of rules and exceptions too, of course (Sanskrit is anything but simple, as always, hehe). Another example: the root "kṛ" means "to do, make, practice, etc.". If I add the affix "ṇyat" to it, I have to replace final "ṛ" in "kṛ" with "ār". So, the base is: "kār". Now I add the affix "ya" (derived from "ṇyat"): kār + ya = kārya (to be done, made, practiced, etc.). But if I want to add the affix "kyap" to the same root (i.e. to "kṛ"), I must add "t" to the root in order to form the base, like this: "kṛt". Now I add the affix "ya" (derived from "kyap"): kṛt + ya = kṛtya (what should be done, made, practiced, etc.). Oh, kṛtya is exactly the name of the affix mentioned by Kṣemarāja... what a coincidence!, hehe. OK, the topic dealing with affixes is a terrifying portion of the Sanskrit grammar. We could be months or years discussing all the possible combinations and possibilities of the huge pile of Sanskrit affixes. There are so many words derived from adding affixes to verbs that you could not believe it. Just some more examples: vidyā (knowledge, wisdom), kriyā (activity), bhogya (object being enjoyed or perceived). The mountain of words could fill the entire outer space. Therefore, just trust me then: the affix is "ya" derived from "kyap". Very well!

Now, "parīkṣya" appears in the stanza as "parīkṣyam" because it was declined or inflected in Nominative case, singular, neuter gender. The gender is neuter because the word being qualified (i.e. "tattva" or "principle") is also neuter: "tattvam". Check the aphorism if you are still doubtful. Good!

The sage indicated that the affix denotes "worthiness" because the principle of Spanda is "worth being inspected". What could be more important than the Core of Reality? What could be more important than Absolute Freedom? Nothing else could. If one does not realize his essential nature or Spanda, he is only bearing a false "I" and not a real one. In this case, he is just a limited being, and due to the presence of that false "I", he will be at the mercy of almost everything outside and inside. It is not necessary a world war to disturb the "apparent peace" of someone without a real "I", since just some mosquitoes would do the trick easily. In fact, as there are plenty of limited beings around him, the possibilities of more disturbances increase exponentially. No need to have an entire gang breaking into his house to disturb him... just a little defamation is enough for making him lose his cool for days!

OK, if you are reading this, you already know the "delights" of being a limited individual at the mercy of mosquitoes, lice, diseases, bad weather, calumnies, gossiping, wars, etc. on the outside, as well as, wrath, lies, depression, disappointment, distraction, foolishness, the ever-present attachment, etc. on the inside. If you are fed up with being a universal laughingstock, with your happiness always dependant on "something/someone else", then, sooner or later, one way or the other, you will become a spiritual aspirant searching for a way out. The state of universal laughingstock, also known as "bondage" (read Śivasūtravimarśinī I, 2), is not your "real" state. Your essential nature is Absolute Freedom and this is what you should attain at all costs. While bondage is seen as the Play of the divine Lord in the eyes of an enlightened being, it is not a desirable condition in the eyes of a limited being. All in all, while you do not have an "actual" realization of your real essence, you will feel that bondage is not good and enjoyable. Of course, after attaining Final Liberation, you will see all as the Play of Consciousness, but this is true only in the case of the ones who achieved such an exalted state. For the rest of people, bondage is exactly that: limitation, contraction, restriction, lack of Freedom and so on. The attainment of Liberation makes sense only if bondage is like that, because if bondage was a desirable state it would be Liberation then. Good, hopefully you understood my point. So, nothing else here is more worth being inspected than your own essence, than your own Self, and there is no doubt about it. If you still have doubts about the importance of inspecting your own essential nature, you are not mature enough, spiritually speaking. There are stages on the spiritual way, but there must be a point when Liberation becomes the most important thing in one's life. If this does not happen, no Liberation will occur. By the most important thing in life I do not mean that one has to push aside all the rest. NO. However, one will notice that "all the rest" becomes secondary in comparison with the achievement of Spanda. After achieving and becoming stabilized in Absolute Freedom, one can do whatever he wishes because the goal of life was already accomplished. This is the sense.

Next, the affix also denotes "practicability". This means that "it is possible to inspect one's essential nature or Spanda". It is very difficult to "fully" accomplish it despite the means is easy, as the sage said before, but "it is completely possible to do it". Liberation is a matter of an instant, but it "generally" takes plenty of time to attain it for the first time. Subsequently, it takes plenty of time to become stabilized in that experience of Absolute Freedom. Well, it will not be "a piece of cake" but "oh my God, this is such an ordeal!" in the vast majority of the cases. Of course, ignorance will not give up just like that. So, it is no surprise that you will have to make a tremendous effort to overcome your own impurity, but Final Liberation is possible and attainable within a lifetime if one is "serious and sincere" in his efforts.

The affix indicates "timeliness" as well. When should one inspect his own essential nature or Spanda? If you read the present aphorism, you will find the answer easily: "When the senses and instruments are working". As they are working all the time, you have the entire wakefulness (about 16 hours, right?) so as to inspect the origin of both the group of senses/instruments and the group of goddesses of the senses (karaṇavarga and karaṇeśvarīcakra, respectively). Easy answer!

Finally, the affix points out "command". Why? Because you need knowledge enough in order to inspect your own essential nature properly. And this knowledge can only come from a guru or spiritual preceptor. As a result, what the affix is denoting is that your inspection should occur under the command and special instructions of your own spiritual teacher. OK, now everything is crystal clear, isn't it?

I have been recently said that some translators explain the teachings in a difficult manner. And this is true in certain cases. Anyway, if you read what the sage Kṣemarāja said about the affix kṛtya in his commentary, it is completely obvious that he did not intend to reach the masses. My work as a translator is receiving the food in a crude way, and then regurgitating it into your mind. Yes, the example was a little disgusting but effective in figuratively describing my task. I have to read and study all this extremely difficult text for months only for passing knowledge onto you, hehe! Well, this has been a huge note of explanation. Hopefully I made this abstruse subject very clear to you.Return 

8  The Cārvāka-s are the followers of the Cārvāka system also called Lokāyata. This school is something like the Indian materialism. It postulates that the body is the Self and that the only goal in life is satisfying the senses. You can read a bit more about this doctrine in First Steps 2.Return 


 Aphorism 8

Now, how is it said that "the senses/instruments --more exactly, the karaṇavarga or group of senses/instruments which was explained previously, viz. five powers of perception, five powers of action, mind, ego and intellect--, having obtained, in a certain manner, consciousness from that principle (of Spanda) enter into the states of Pravṛtti --to go toward external things--, etc. by themselves", inasmuch as (it is) this experient or knower himself (who) directs or moves at will (his) senses/instruments as if they were a scythe, etc.?|

It has also been said that "that principle (of Spanda) should be inspected with care". How (is) that (possible)? Because our desire moves only outward and is not able to engage in the inspection of (such a) principle. Having so objected, (Vasugupta, the author of the Spandakārikā-s) said:

This (limited individual) does not direct or drive the goad of desire. But yet, by getting in touch with the Force or Power of the Self, (that) person becomes equal to That||8||

(The word) "ayam" or "this" (denotes) a common person --i.e. a limited individual--, (and) the desire itself (is) "nodana" (or) goad. Because of which --in short, "because he is a limited individual"--, he does not direct or drive that --the goad of desire--. (In other words,) he does not engages in the matter of moving (his) senses (toward their respective objects). But yet, by getting in touch with That, viz. with the Force or Power —which is the principle of Spanda— of the Self whose nature is Consciousness, (that is to say,) by a penetration of little importance performed by That --by the Force or Power of the Self--, (that person) becomes equal to That1 . (Likewise,) even that which is insentient --the inert karaṇavarga or group of senses/instruments-- becomes sentient by sprinkling (it) with the drops2  of the Nectar of I-consciousness --the mere presence of the Lord and His Power in the form of the real "I" in oneself is enough to make these inert senses/instruments completely sentient, this is the meaning--|

Consequently, that principle (of Spanda) not only sets the senses/instruments in motion but even him --the limited being who appears to be moving the senses/instruments--, (and) by infusing consciousness into the supposed artificial --i.e. invented-- experient or knower, (the principle of Spanda) makes (him) capable of performing Pravṛtti --to go toward external things-- etc., hence this erroneous conception of his --of the artificial experient--: "I set the senses in motion"3 |

Nonetheless, he himself --the limited individual or artificial experient-- (is) nothing without the penetration of the principle of Spanda. In this way, it is appropriate to say that the principle conferring consciousness upon (both) senses/instruments and the (artificial) experient by the expansive penetration of Its own --of the Spanda-- group of rays of light should be inspected4 |

Nevertheless, if (it is maintained that) one directs or drives the senses/instruments by another sense/instrument whose form is a goad called desire, then the sense/instrument called desire, since it is directed or driven, would require another sense/instrument for its being set in motion --for its being directed--, (and) that (would) even (require) another. Thus, there would be an endless series (of senses/instruments directing other senses/instruments)|

With respect to what was said (in the objection): "Our desire is not able to engage in that --viz. in the inspection of the principle of Spanda--". In that case, the first half of the stanza is to be used as an admission (of this view), (while) the last (half of it is to be used) as the answer indeed5 |

True!, this person cannot set (his) desire or will in motion, nor is he fit for taking possession of the principle (of Spanda) --i.e. for experiencing it as if it was an object-- at will, because That --viz. Spanda-- is inconceivable6 . But yet, when, after calming down (his) desire which runs after objects by firstly letting it have --lit. preceded by-- its enjoyment, gets in touch with the principle of Spanda, that is the inner Force or Power of the Self and that confers consciousness upon his own senses/instruments, then he becomes equal to That. (In a nutshell,) by entering into That, he obtains Absolute Freedom everywhere like That. Since this is so, therefore the principle (of Spanda) should be inspected. This is the meaning|

It has been said (in this eight stanza) "by getting in touch with the Force or Power of the Self", because there is predominance of "touch" in the stage of Śakti7 ||8||

Skip the notes

1  Kṣemarāja is speaking the "whole" truth here. The word "kiyanmātra" (of little importance, a trifle) is very significant! What the sage is affirming is that the Liberation of a limited individual (whom I called: "universal laughingstock" in a previous note) is a trifle to the Supreme Lord. By merely getting in touch for an instant with His Power (with His Spanda or Śakti), by merely being penetrated by His Force for a moment, such a limited person can become Śiva, i.e. he can realize his real nature in a twinkle. This is no problem for the Supreme Lord, because He is extremely immaculate. In spite of manifesting the entire universe as a Play, His Power is always "full", not undergoing any decrease at all. If an ordinary person in bondage is hardly touched by Spanda, he realizes his own Self immediately. When someone experiences His Freedom, he cannot believe his eyes, as the well-known saying expresses. What one perceives "at that moment" is absolutely inconceivable! Amazing! It is the Highest Reality! Hence the delight of His Freedom is known as "camatkāra" or "astonishment". The Yogī who achieved That says "camat!" (an interjection indicating surprise), no doubt about it.

The sage is mentioning this for showing the sovereignty and pre-eminence of His Power and NOT for encouraging people to abandon their spiritual practices since... well, it is just an instant and that is all one needs! Because the question still remains: "Why should the Supreme Lord touch a limited individual in the first place?". It is because of this that searching for Liberation makes sense, because through different practices (whatever they may be), one accumulates merit. Through this accumulated merit, when it is enough, one is worth receiving His Freedom forever. Well, one will never be so worthy as to receive That, but the Lord is so compassionate, you know. Anyway, despite His causeless Compassion, one should keep making efforts to attain Final Liberation as soon as possible. Beyond my "dualistic" explanation, this is the process the vast majority of people will have to experience if they want to be absolutely Free like Him. If I had to speak in a strictly "non-dualistic" way, there would no limited individual in the first place... so, the entire aphorism the sage is commenting would be as good as useless. OK, this is wholly true too, of course, but while a person be unable to realize his non-dual nature, to speak to him in a strictly "non-dualistic" way is also practically useless. The sage said something like that in his commentary on the two former aphorisms, when he spoke about the esoteric viewpoint: "(At first,) one is to be instructed in conformity with the very well known beliefs, (and then,) gradually, he is to be conducted to the teaching of secret matters". Now it is clear!Return 

2  The original word (the one to be found in a dictionary) is "vipruṣ" (drop), but it forms the Nominative case (singular, feminine) in this way: "vipruṭ". By a simple rule of Sandhi or combination, that "ṭ" changes to "ḍ" before "a" (in "abhiṣekāt"). I am informing you of this subtlety because if you are a Sanskrit student and want to find "vipruṭ" in the dictionary, you will find nothing, at least if you use the same dictionary as myself, hehe.Return 

3  The artificial experient or knower is the false "I". And it is the real "I" or Self who infuses consciousness into that false "I", making him so capable of move his own senses/instruments. Then, this false "I" feels he is the one moving the senses/instruments. Due to this erroneous notion regarding doership, he becomes responsible for all that his senses/instruments do. The law of Karma (cause and effect) is born from this "apparently" little error. So, by becoming "responsible" for all his senses/instruments do, he also becomes the receiver of the fruits of the good and bad actions performed by those very senses/instruments. This is the starting point of the Play of the Supreme Lord as well as the beginning of the tragedy for the limited being. This is the way by which the wheel of Transmigration or Saṁsāra (i.e. bondage) is set in motion. Just a little misconception!Return 

4  The artificial experient or knower (in my own case: Gabriel) is nothing else than the result of the penetration of Spanda in an inconceivable way. It cannot be conceived in the sense that no word can describe "exactly" how this process occurs. In turn, even if it could be described "precisely" in words, no ordinary mind, being a manifestation of That, can understand the One who manifested it. A common mistake would be to think about a inert body being penetrated by the Force of God and thus being endowed with life. But this is only something very approximate, because as a matter of fact, the penetration carried out by the Force of God manifests everything simultaneously: space, body, artificial experient, senses/instruments and the rest. This description is more approximate but "still" not thoroughly precise because there is no manifestation at all, at least not in the manner the ordinary mind conceives it. Well, just believe me then, hehe.

Next, since this Spanda (the Force of God) "manifests" (for want of a better word) and gives consciousness to both senses/instruments and the supposed experient by Its own rays of light, It is certainly worth being inspected carefully. In fact, It is the most important thing to be inspected always and everywhere. Nothing could be more important than examining the Cause of all that exists, because, first, It is the real Owner of all, and second, because Its very inspection brings about Final Liberation. Excellent!Return 

5  The first part of this eighth stanza agrees with the position of the objector: "This (limited individual) does not direct or drive the goad of desire".

In turn, the last part of it constitutes a reply to such a position: "But yet, by getting in touch with the Force or Power of the Self, (that) person becomes equal to That".Return 

6  The sage is speaking about the impossibility of experiencing Spanda or I-consciousness as if it was an object. This is not possible because That is avikalpya or inconceivable, i.e. It is beyond the sphere of vikalpa or thought. One's own I-consciousness (the real "I"), being the Supreme Subject, cannot ever be experienced as an object. Additionally, this implies that It cannot be experienced at will either, because That is free. Now, it is time to go deep at the teachings, gradually, dear reader. Listen to me carefully: A "common" conception is thinking that the spiritual aspirant, having realized his state of bondage and so on, "goes toward" the Supreme Self. Well, this is a way to teach the things to beginners, because otherwise the truth would not be understood properly by them. Anyway, as the reader has probably been reading for long by now, it is time to speak in a more "exact" manner:

It is not true at all that one (the limited individual) goes toward God. NO. It is Him who approaches the limited being. The Superior cannot be caught by the inferior ever! When the conditioned being cannot experience Him at will, how will he manage to approach Him then? My teaching could turn out confusing or even annoying, but I am speaking the truth. To say that "one goes toward Him" or "in search of Him" is just a way to explain that, as a matter of fact, "He is approaching oneself". It sounds "weird", right?... "Oh, He is approaching me!"... instead of "Oh, I am going to Him!". The latter sounds more "normal" or something. Well, human vanity is so vast that it sounds so: "normal". The real truth is that He comes near the limited individual and not vice versa. He does so whenever He wishes, because He is completely free. Even the practices that the limited individual performs in order to please Him occur due to His own Will or Desire. How could the Universal Self, endowed with Absolute Freedom and Power, be taken by assault by someone whose peace can be disturbed by a few mosquitoes? Joking apart, use the expressions "to go to Him" or "to go in search of Him" only like a manner of describing something that happens exactly in the opposite way, specially if you are a teacher instructing beginners in these matters. Good, now it is clear!Return 

7  Always remember that Spanda is another name for His Śakti or divine Power. Spanda is one's own I-consciousness, one's own essential nature. And yes, as the sage affirms, all that is related to Śakti is always related to "touch". This is well-known among the Yoga practitioners, but generally by practice and not by theory. If you want a little theory, read my explanation of the ninth stage (called Śakti) in Meditation 6, which provides a clue to why She (Śakti) is predominantly associated with "touch".Return 


 Aphorism 9

An objection!: Why does this embodied being not shine always in all his perfection and fullness, even though he is identical with the Supreme Lord? Why does he require the touch of the inner Force or Power of the Self? Having so objected, (Vasugupta) said:

When the agitation of that (limited individual) who is incapacitated by his own impurity --aśuddhi-- (and) who wishes --abhilāṣī-- to do actions --i.e. to act-- thoroughly dissolves, then the Supreme State occurs||9||

(The word) "nija" (means) "one's own". This Power of Will which is caused to come forth by His Absolute Freedom, when assuming contraction or limitation (and as a result) its nature (consists in) non-examination of one's own essential nature --i.e. when one stops realizing his essential nature, at the beginning of the process of limitation--, (becomes) the impurity known as Āṇavamala characterized by the notion of imperfection. The Power of Knowledge, because it is polluted by the five Kañcuka-s or Sheaths arisen from that mala or impurity --viz. from Āṇavamala--, gradually assumes --lit. by gradually assuming-- contraction or limitation —firstly it reaches the state of limited knowledge (or Vidyākañcuka) since omniscience (entered into) bheda or duality; (and) finally --when the contraction is complete-- (it transforms into both) the inner (psychic) organ (and) the Buddhīndriya-s or Powers of perception --also known as Jñānendriya-s--— (and in this way becomes) the impurity (called) Māyīyamala whose form consists of an expansion of different objects. The Power of Action gets limited gradually (as well) —firstly it assumes contraction in the form of limited activity (or Kalākañcuka) since omnipotence (entered into) bheda or duality; (and) finally --when the contraction is complete-- (it turns into) the Karmendriya-s or Powers of action— (and in this manner becomes) the impurity (known as) Kārmamala consisting in performing good and bad actions1 . For that very reason, in the case of (the limited individual) who is incapacitated by that (impurity) --by Āṇavamala, which gave rise to Māyīyamala and Kārmamala-- in his being deprived of omniscience and omnipotence, (and) who wishes to do actions —wordly acts (as well as) those prescribed in the scriptures—, since he does not obtain what he wishes, he is always bewildered by the desires, (and) for that very reason (too), he does not rest on his own essential nature even for an instant. (However,) when, by having recourse to (both his) experience (of the Self and) the argument —mentioned (before and also) to be mentioned later on—, the agitation, which is (nothing but) an erroneous conception of a experient or knower who is helpless due to desire, pralīyeta (or) thoroughly dissolves --pralīyeta in the stanza amounts to "prakarṣeṇa līyeta"-- firstly by means of the cessation of the misconception of the not-Self as the Self, (and) lastly by means of the cessation of the misconception of the Self as the not-Self, then the Supreme State whose nature is the principle of Spanda occurs, i.e. It comes within the range or sphere of recognition of this (limited individual) --the limited individual can realize It--. Such is the meaning|

But It --the principle of Spanda-- does not come into being at that time, because It is eternal --lit. because of the eternity of its--|

(That) was also declared in Vijñānabhairava:

"Oh dear one!, when the group of four (composed of) 'mind full of ideas and desires, ascertaining intellect, vital energy and limited experient ' is completely dissolved, then that (aforesaid) vapus or essential nature (known as) Bhairava --the Lord-- (arises)2 "||

Those who are convinced that by the expression "one's own impurity" (the author of the present aphorism suggested that) "there is a separate substance called mala", have been indirectly censured (by the entire commentary on this aphorism)||9||

Skip the notes

1  I could have written quite a mammoth note explaining all the sage spoke about, but it would have been wasted time, because I already did so in Trika 1, Trika 2, Trika 3, Trika 4, Trika 5 and Trika 6. Go read those documents in case you need a detailed description of the processes of the universal manifestation.Return 

2  The stanzas in Vijñānabhairavatantra are generally hard to translate because the Sanskrit being used in that book looks involved and obscure. I do not know exactly why, but there are scriptures composed in a way that is very difficult to translate. They are quite a nemesis even for advanced Sanskrit students. Rookies in Sanskrit, of course, are always advised to dodge them at all costs, or their ship will be wrecked very soon, hehe. Vijñānabhairavatantra is one of this kind of scriptures specially designed to kill translators' egos, hehe. So, translating it is really not great fun but a journey to "error", even for experienced Sanskrit translators if they do not have at hand the respective commentaries written by great sages. Anyway, my translation of this cryptic stanza is right, and I can prove it by quoting a little portion from the looooong commentary by Śivopādhyāya and Kṣemarāja on this stanza (the 138th). Right at the beginning of the commentary it clearly reads: "Mānasa is that which consists of ideas --viz. mind--, cetanā (is) intellect, śakti (is) that whose name is prāṇa --viz. vital energy--, (and) ātmā" (is) the limited experient connected with this --with mind, intellect and vital energy--. When this group of four is completely dissolved, i.e. when the Delight --camatkāra-- of Consciousness takes place, then that previously described essential nature (known as) Bhairava (arises in the form of) inner Joys of the Self-experience, etc."

Now you can understand why I translated in the manner I did.Return 


 Aphorism 10

An objection!: When the agitation whose nature is I-ness in the limited experient dissolves, (then) the (Supreme) Principle (would) become as a result devoid of vibration --i.e. activity-- like a motionless ocean. (Vasugupta) removes (that) doubt in this way:

In that case, his innate nature characterized by knowledge (and) activity (appears), by which (that person) then knows and does all that is desired (by him)||10||

(The term) "tadā" (means) "as regards the one to be instructed --i.e. the disciple--". (The expression) "akṛtrimo dharmaḥ" (means) "innate nature", which has been previously pointed out as Absolute Freedom (and) whose essence is the Supreme Lord. (The phrase) "jñatvakartṛtva" (means) knowledge and activity whose essence is Light --Śiva-- (and) Bliss --Śakti-- remaining in a homogenous state1 . (The term) "lakṣaṇa" (indicates) something whose nature is invariable and constant --in short, it indicates a "characteristic". Now, the meaning of the entire compound "jñatvakartṛtvalakṣaṇaḥ" in the stanza is: "that endowed with the invariable characteristic of knowledge and activity whose essence is Light and Bliss remaining in a homogenous state". And that is nothing but a description of "akṛtrimo dharmaḥ" or "the innate nature" of the disciple--. (The second) "tadā" --lit. then-- (in the stanza implies that) such (an invariable characteristic) of which --of the innate nature of the disciple-- appears, i.e. becomes manifest to this person, at the moment of the cessation of the agitation --"then" = "at the moment of the cessation of the agitation"--. This is the meaning|

"From where does this (characteristic) become manifest?". (Vasugupta) said: "By which then —at the time of the entrance into the Supreme State— all that is desired (by him)", i.e. all that was desired to know or desired to do at the moment of his desiring to enter That --the Supreme State--, that is exactly what he knows and does|

The two particles "ca" here --occurring in both the aphorism and the above commentary-- express simultaneity and not as some (postulate): "By the two particles 'ca' (the author of Spandakārikā-s) indicates the identity or unity of knowledge and activity". Because that --i.e. such an identity or unity-- is (already) declared by this only "differencer" —viz. "characterized by knowledge (and) activity"— (that qualifies) "dharma" or "nature", by indicating that with which it --i.e. dharma or nature-- is connected (and) expressing its real nature2 ||10||

Skip the notes

1  That teaching indicates that the nature or "core" of knowledge and activity in such a disciple who has realized his Self is a state where Śiva and Śakti "have the same taste" (samarasa). As the former is the Subject while the latter transforms into all the objects, "sāmarasya" (the state of samarasa) implies the absence of Subject and objects. Both realities remain blended homogeneously and there is no duality at all. This is the Highest Reality or Paramaśiva (the Supreme Śiva), but this name is just for the sake of somehow designating That which is indescribable.

If you realize That, you will find "within That" the entire manifestation in a potential mode. All that has been manifested, all that is being manifested and all that will be manifested is "right here", in the Core, waiting for you. This is why when you realize That, you are no longer affected by anything at all. When you can behold "in awe" that Core, how are you supposed to be interested in something else? This absolute disinterest is a mark of Absolute Freedom. Anyway, as you have "everything" at your disposal, you can know and do whatever you wish, by simply resorting to this Core. So, due to the overwhelming greatness and majesty of That (the Highest Reality), a wise person should, with all his heart, strive to realize the Highest Reality. The rest is secondary and only serves the purpose of Self-realization.Return 

2  The phrase "characterized by knowledge (and) activity" in the 10th aphorism being studied works like a "viśeṣaṇa" or "differencer". This is a technical term used in Sanskrit grammar to designate a special word or phrase acting as an adjective that particularizes or defines another word (which is known as "viśeṣya" or "the word to be differenced or qualified"). So, the expression "characterized by knowledge (and) activity" qualifies the word "dharma" (nature), showing that "nature" is connected with knowledge and activity, and also expressing its real nature or characteristic. As the sage commented, "knowledge and activity" are to be interpreted here as having the nature of Light and Bliss remaining in a homogenous state. This is a clear expression or description of "dharma" or "nature" of the disciple, i.e. of the limited individual who is about to attain Final Liberation by his entrance into the Supreme State.

Even though the Supreme State is a constant and invariable Reality, Its realization on the disciple's part is "new" and absolutely mind-blowing (for want of a better word). When people speak about the Supreme State, the Lord, the Core of Reality, etc., they very often forget the dimension of That they are talking about. An example: Just as you would be seriously worried if you knew that the very "sun" in person is making His way to your home, imagine the act of realizing that the Reality who manifested all that exists is "actually" coming directly to you, so to speak, not like a mere philosophical theory but as a undeniable fact. No show, no business, no pretension, none of the lights and audiences that plague this world like in a comedy... only you realizing your own Real Self. This is why an aspirant must be trained for so many years before receiving That. Besides, he must accumulate merits to be worth receiving such an Absolute Freedom.

When that Supreme Self appears, the little song of your ego finally comes to an end, along with your ideas about what you are, together with all your conceptions about the universe, about the rest of people, and so on. All that will be gone and replaced with Reality. Even your physical body could be gone too, since there are two kinds of Enlightenment, one known as "Jīvanmukti" in which you retain your physical body, and another called "Videhamukti" in which you discard your physical body. All this is not under the control of any ego, of course. Anyway, the perception of "retaining or discarding the physical body" is only in the eyes and minds of the rest of people around the liberated one and not in himself (in the one becoming liberated), since all differences (life and death included) are completely removed at that time. From that time on, whether he retains or discards his physical body, he remains the same forever, completely unaffected by anything at all.

OK, it is enough for now!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.

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.