DISCIPLINE in Kashmir Shaivism In the summer of 1980 Swami Lakshmanjoo gave a series of lectures on “Practice and Discipline in Kashmir Shaivism.” These lectures, given in Kashmiri language, were later translated into English and published in the book, “Self realization in Kashmir Shaivism”. In his talk on Discipline, Swamiji followed the traditional interpretation of the Yamas (observances) and Niyamas (rules and regulations) as set out by Patanjali in his Yoga Darshana also known as the Yoga Sutras. It should be noted, that Kashmir Shaivism has a uniquely different approach to the eight limbs of Yoga (ashtanga yoga) than that outlined by Patanjali. “In Kashmir Shaivism the yamas, niyamas and asanas, are not added as limbs of yoga.” (Tantraloka 5th ahnika.) In his translation of the 4th chapter of Tantraloka, Swami Lakshmanjoo explains that Abhinavagupta has given importance to only six limbs of yoga–pranayama, pratyahara, dhyana, dharana, tarka and samadhi. Swamiji points out that the eight limbs of yoga, set out by Patanjali, help those aspirants residing on the lower level of practice, the means known as anavopaya. But for more advanced practice, the means known as shaktopaya and shambhavopaya, they are of no use. The main point in Kashmir Shaivism is “awareness.” In Trika Shaivism pranayama, pratyahara, dhyana and dharana are considered to be external ways of maintaining the strength of yoga. There is only one predominant limb of yoga that is “tarka.” Tarka means ‘perception which differentiates’. It is discriminating, transcendental logic. This fifth limb of yoga is the discrimination between individual and universal, i.e. discriminating logic and reasoning from within your own consciousness. Though the first three limbs of ashtanga yoga (yama, niyama and asana) are not mentioned in Kashmir Shaivism, Swamiji gave great importance to the yama of Ahimsa (non-violence) and the niyama of Ishvara Pranidana (devotion to Lord Shiva). The following Continue Reading →


PRACTICE in Kashmir Shaivism This is a discourse on the ways which will lead an aspirant to one-pointedness in meditation and to the Awareness which he aspires. The first requirement is an absolutely clean mind which knows no duality and has feelings of sameness for everyone. This “sameness” means you do not over or under-express love for any one person in particular, nor should you possess animosity against any person. If you do not possess this sense of feeling sameness towards everyone, your efforts to achieve the Truth and Absolute in meditation will be totally wasted and will go un-rewarded, like carrying water in a wicker basket to nowhere. In meditation there is no room for coarse feelings. The mind must be absolutely clean and purged of the acts of “seeming love” and “showing hate.” Both are evils. Only when the mind has been purged of them can you meditate with confidence. At that point you will be glorified by the fruits of this divine exercise of meditation. Now I shall explain how to enter this domain of meditation – this is my advice. MEDITATION When you have decided to meditate, the first important thing that has to be settled is the seat (asana), i.e. the place where you choose to sit for meditation. Here on this seat you have to sit absolutely motionless like a rock, with no movement of your body. You should not twitch your eyelids, move your lips, scratch your ears or nose, yawn or belch. You should be like a frozen body, absolutely motionless. It matters little in the beginning if thoughts continue to stream through your mind, rising and passing away. At this point you should simply avoid physical distractions such as moaning and sneezing. In an hours time you will feel your mind Continue Reading →

Line of Masters

Line of Masters Lord Shiva is infinite and eternal. He is beyond limitation and yet by his independent free will (svatantrya) he has the power to appear limited. He creates the universe for his own play, without beginning or end. In the sixth chapter of his Tantraloka, Abhinavagupta explains in great detail, how in his own body, Lord Shiva creates different concepts of time, to cater for the infinite variety of beings who inhabit the one hundred and eighteen worlds or universes. At the lower cycle of creation, there are sixteen worlds or Bhuvana’s, one of which is our own universe which contains the earth and solar system. Here, the full scale of human life is said to be one hundred years. But the life of our earth and these other sixteen worlds runs into millions and millions of years, which are divided into smaller cycles of time called yugas. The four yugas, known as satya, treta, dvapara and kali, together total 12,000 divine years, or 4,320,000 human years. These yugas are respectively more and more gross, similar to the golden, silver, bronze and iron ages of Greek Mythology. In his translation of the 13th chapter of Tantraloka, Swami Lakshmanjoo tells us that, “in order to create this universe, Lord Shiva conceals his nature by manifesting himself in an infinite variety of beings. On the stage of this universe, he loses himself in the drama of life. Then, by his own sweet will, he reveals his true nature and elevates himself again to the state of Shiva.” This is his play, and the sweetest part of this play is that Lord Shiva always appears at various times, and in various ways, for the upliftment of sincere seekers. At the beginning of the present cycle of sat-yuga Lord Shiva appeared in Continue Reading →

Chapter 19

The Schools of Kashmir Shaivism Excerpt from the book Kashmir Shaivism: The Secret Supreme Chapter 19 Abhinavagupta listen to audio and download here   Kashmir Shaivism is known as the Pure Trika System. The word trika means “the threefold science of man and his world.” In the idea of trika, there are three energies: para (supreme), apara (lowest), and parapara (combination of the lowest and the highest). These three primary energies represent the threefold activities of the world. In the thought of the Trika, therefore, it is admitted that this whole universe and every action in it, whether spiritual, physical, or worldly, is existing in these three energies. The Trika Philosophy is meant for any human being without restriction of caste, creed, or color. Its purpose is to enable you to rise from individuality to universality. The Trika System is comprised of four sub-systems; the Pratyabhijna system, the Kula system, the Krama system, and the Spanda system. These four systems, which form the one thought of the Trika system, all accept and are based on the same scriptures (agamas). These scriptures form the ninety-two agamas of Shaivism. The monistic Bhairava Shastras are supreme (para) and are sixty-four in number; the mono-dualistic Rudra Shastras are medium (parapara) and are eighteen in number; and the dualistic Shiva Shastras are inferior (apara) and are ten in number. Pratyabhijna System The word pratyabhijna means “to spontaneously once again recognize and realize your Self.” Here you have only to realize, you do not have to practice. There are no upayas (means) in the Pratyabhijna system. You must simply recognize who you are. Wherever you are, whether you are at the level of Supreme Being, at the level of yoga, or at that level which is disgusting, you can recognize your own Nature then and there without moving anywhere or doing anything. For example, take the case of a bride and groom. The Continue Reading →

Shiva Sutras

Shiva Sutras: The Supreme Awakening This spiritual treasure, gifted by God to the sage Vasagupta for the upliftment of human kind, is considered to be one of Kashmir Shaivism’s most important scriptures. The Shiva Sutras are divided into three parts. And according to Kshemaraja, the commentator, the three parts correspond to the three means (upayas) for the attainment of liberation as revealed by Kashmir Shaivism. These upayas are the means for traveling from individual limited consciousness to universal God consciousness. The first and highest means, for highly qualified aspirants, is called shambavopaya. The second, for aspirants of medium qualifications, is called shaktopaya. And the third, for inferior aspirants, is called anavopaya. Thus, the first awakening of the Shiva Sutras explains shambhavopaya; the second awakening explains shaktopaya, and the third awakening explains anavopaya. Drawing from the Malinivijaya Tantra Abhinavagupta defines shambhavopaya as the upaya wherein the aspirant achieves entry into supreme consciousness just by the grace of his master, without adopting any process. He does not use thought (dhyana), mantra, or any other aid to meditation. Shaktopaya he defines as the upaya where the aspirant achieves mystical entry (samavesha) through contemplation of that mental object which cannot be spoken or recited. Anavopaya he defines as the upaya where mystical entry takes place through concentration on parts of the body, contemplation (dhyana), recitation, taking the support of breath (uccara), and mantras. The means of traveling from limited consciousness to universal consciousness depends on the ability of the aspirant. Abhinavagupta tells us that the aspirant should always try for the highest and best thing first. Thus, in his Tantraloka, he has defined and elaborated the highest upaya, shambavopaya, first. His descriptions of shaktopaya and anavopaya follow. And so it is that the Shiva Sutras also start with the highest and most refined means. Photo on the left: Shiva Rock (Shankaropal), where fifteen hundred years ago, the Shiva Sutras were revealed to the Sage Vasugupta Order the Shiva Sutras: The Supreme Awakening study set Continue Reading →

Kashmir Shaivism, The Secret Supreme

Kashmir Shaivism The Secret Supreme. Scholars past and present have been at a loss to understand the cryptic language that Abhinavagupta used in his writings. Yet in this book Swami Lakshmanjoo, without the aid of notes or text books, verbally revealed the essence of the first fifteen chapters of Abhinavagupta’s magnum opus Tantraloka. Chapter One Thirty-six Elements – Tattvas. The nature of the thirty-six elements (tattvas) from earth to Shiva, and the omnipresent state of Parama Shiva. Chapter Two The Six-fold Path of the Universe – Shadadhvan. Shadadhvan is the explanation of the whole universe both subjective and objective. The three-fold path of the subjective world consists of letters (varnas), words (mantra) and sentences (pada). And the three-fold path of the objective world consists of 118 worlds (bhuvanas), 36 elements (tattvas) and 5 circles (kalas). Chapter Three The Theory of the Alphabet – Matrika cakra. The five great energies of Lord Shiva represent the sixteen vowels of the Sanskrit alphabet from ‘a’ to ‘ah’. The consonants from ‘ka’ to ‘ha’ are a reflection of these sixteen vowels. Matrika teaches us that by taking the first and last letter, and adding the vowel ‘m’ you create the universal mantra of Lord Shiva, ‘aham’. Chapter Four The Theory of Reflection – Pratibimbavada. The universe as we see it is a reflection in the mirror of God consciousness. But, unlike an ordinary mirror, which needs an object to create a reflection, the universe as reflected in the mirror of God consciousness, is created by the absolute independent will of God known as svatantrya. Everything exists in the mirror of God consciousness where the reflection and the reflected are one. Chapter Five The Explanation of Means – Upayas. Kashmir Shaivism proclaims that there are three means (upayas) for entering into the state of Universal Continue Reading →


Kashmir Shaivism The tradition now known as Kashmir Shaivism is an ancient tradition which found its roots and flourished in the Valley of Kashmir. This valley, known as sharada peetha, (seat of learning), has remained a center of spiritual learning for over two thousand years. Many seekers made the arduous journey over the rugged Himalayas to the Kashmir Valley to enrich their knowledge. Timeless and with universal appeal the tradition of Kashmir Shaivism encompasses and gives full expression not only to the actual nature of reality, but also to the means to be employed to realize this reality. This teaching lays bare the very secrets of life. Early on the saints and sages of this tradition realized that because of the possibility of the misuse of the powers it revealed, these teachings should be concealed; hidden from that person who might attempt to use them for her or his own per- sonal selfish gain. For this reason the texts were encoded so that they would only be accessible to one who had the key, the key of the oral tradition which has passed from master to disciple in an unbroken chain. And this chain continued from ancient times to the present. It is by the grace of God, that even at times of great threat, Shaiva masters protected these teachings from possible extinction. Swami Lakshmanjoo Swami Lakshmanjoo was the last in an unbroken line of Kashmir Shaiva masters. As a boy his life was filled with a spiritual thirst to know and realize God. From a very early age he was filled with spiritual experiences. In fact these experiences were so intense that his parents thought he was suffering from hysteria. They were very concerned and approached their family guru, Swamiji’s grand master Swami Ram, requesting him to help their Continue Reading →


Teachings The teachings of Kashmir Shaivism are derived from the ninety-two Tantras, also known as Agamas, revealed by Lord Siva in the form of a dialog between himself and the Divine Mother. Of these Tantras, sixty-four are considered purely monistic, eighteen are monistic-cum-dualistic, and ten are dualistic. Kashmir Shaivism derives its teachings from the sixty-four monistic Tantras, known as the Bhairava Tantras, the essence of which is called ‘Trika Shaivism’. Due to the rise and fall of Kashmir over the past eight centuries, the knowledge of Kashmir Shaivism has remained practically hidden from view. As an oral tradition, its teachings have always been passed down by word of mouth, from master to disciple. Today, scholars find it difficult to piece together the intricate web of Kashmir Shaiva philosophy, since many of its earlier manuscripts are now extinct. Fortunately, Swami Lakshmanjoo was a direct descendant in the unbroken chain of Masters of this oral tradition. With the gradual emergence of Kashmir Shaivism, over the last three decades, hardly any publication has appeared without mention of his name. Seeking his guidance for all of his publications on Kashmir Shaivism, Jaideva Singh looked upon Swami Lakshmanjoo as, “the doyen of Shaiva Agama.” In 1972 Swami Lakshmanjoo gave a series of lectures, which he considered to be ‘the essence of Trika Philosophy’. Without the aid of texts, Swamiji revealed the most important aspects of Kashmir Shaiva Philosophy, at the same time revealing some of the unknown secrets of his oral tradition. His memory was so vast that he could effortlessly verify his statements with quotes and references from the various Shaiva tantras. Fifteen of the topics selected covered the essence of the first fifteen chapters of Abhinavagupta’s Tantraloka. These lectures were recorded by John Hughes and form the substance of Swami Lakshmanjoo’s book, Kashmir Shaivism, the Secret Supreme. A devotee once asked Swamiji, what was the best way to learn Kashmir Shaivism. His simple reply was, “read my Secret Supreme over and Continue Reading →