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 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 son with his hysteria. Swami Ram laughed and said to them, “Don’t worry, I should have such a disorder.” As Swamiji grew older his desire to completely realize and apprehend the world of spirituality became paramount. To make this a reality he sat at the feet of his guru Swami Mahatabakak and took up the study and practice of Kashmir Shaivism. He became completely engrossed and enthralled with his spirituality wholeheartedly practicing day and night, ultimately experiencing the fullness of Kashmir Shaiva realization. It is to his beloved Kashmir Shaivism that he devoted the whole of his life teaching it to those who asked and translating and commenting on what he considered to be the most important texts of this system. He became renowned as a philosopher saint steeped in the tradition of Kashmir Shaivism. With the growing interest in Kashmir Shaivism over the last thirty years, hardly any publication has appeared without a mention of his name.
It was Swamiji’s fervent life long desire that the teachings and knowledge of Kashmir Shaivism be preserved long after his passing from this world. It was our great fortune that John Hughes journeyed to Kashmir and was able to audio tape record the profound teachings of this unique oral tradition. These teachings were given by Swamiji to his students in the form of lectures and oral translations. This tremendous work spanning almost fifteen years resulted in more than 470 hours of recordings. This included the translations and commentaries of the following texts:
▪ Bhagavad Gītārthasamgraha
▪ Dehastadevatacakra Stotra
▪ Janma Marana Vicāra
▪ Kuṇḍalinī Vijñāna Rahasyam
▪ Parātrīṁśika Laghuvṛitti
▪ Parātrīṁśikā Vivāraṇa
▪ Shiva Sūtra Vimars̄inī
▪ Shiva Stotrāvalī
▪ Spanda Kārikā
▪ Spanda Samdoha
▪ Tatrāloka (18 chapters)
▪ Vātūlanātha Sūtras
▪ Vijñāna Bhairava
Universal Shaiva Fellowship
Under Swamiji’s direct inspiration, the Universal Shaiva Fellowship, a fully accredited nonprofit organization, was established to realize his vision of making Kashmir Shaivism available to the world. This is to be done without the restriction of caste, creed, or color. It is being accomplished by preserving his teachings and making them available in as many forms as possible. This teaching is very valuable and uplifting for humankind. It offers humanity a clear and certain vision in a time of uncertainty. It shows us the way home and gives us the means. As you can see there is a lot of work to be done. It is a tremendous task that is both demanding and exciting and we have dedicated our lives to its accomplishment. Presently the Fellowship is actively engaged in the following four areas;
1). Correcting transcriptions to create perfect records of Swamiji’s lecture/translations.
2). Editing and publishing Swamiji’s lectures and translations. John Hughes is the editor-in-chief of the Universal Shaiva Fellowship and the Lakshmanjoo Academy.
3). Providing for study and worship according to the tradition of Kashmir Shaivism. We offer free weekly Sangha, online study courses and annual four-day retreats in Spring and Fall, in person and online.
4). Creating social media content with daily updates and weekly new excerpts (Blog/Swamiji says), answering questions, and providing information online and by phone.
5). Organizing Annual Events to celebrate Swami Lakshmanjoo’s Birthday and Mahasamadhi (traditional fire ceremony) are open and free to anyone.
In 1982, at his Ashram in Srinagar Kashmir, Swami Lakshmanjoo sanctioned the establishment of the Universal Shaiva Trust. In that same year the first publication titled “Practice and Discipline in Kashmir Shaivism” was published by the Trust. The second publication, “Kashmir Shaivism the Secret Supreme”, was presented to Swamiji by John Hughes on the occasion of his Birthday celebration in 1985.
Below is a copy of the Bylaws of the Universal Shaiva Fellowship.
Article 2. Section 1.
Objectives and purposes.
The primary objectives and purposes of this corporation shall be:
To establish a permanent place of worship in the tradition of Kashmir Shaivism.
These services typically follow the following schedule:
- Singing Shaivite Hymns of praise and supplication.
- Group meditation.
- Partaking of sacred Shaivite Sacraments.
- Studying the sacred Shaivite Scriptures as taught by Swami Lakshmanjoo.
- Sharing fellowship among community members.
To acquire, translate, publish, and distribute the teachings of Kashmir Shaivism as taught by the late Shaivite Master Swami Lakshmanjoo Raina of Kashmir, India, as well as other Shaivite Masters such as Abhinavagupta, Kshemaraja, and Utpaladeva. Teachings will be made available in written, audio, and video formats.
Fund programs and organize lectures, conferences and seminars on the teachings of Kashmir Shaivism.
Hold meditation classes, havan’s (sacred Shaivite fire ceremonies), and courses on the practice of sacred Shaivite religious ritual practices.
Prepare newsletters for the Shaivite community and the general public on the ongoing activities of the Fellowship.
Arrange events of spiritual music and other related community functions which further the understanding of Kashmir Shaivism, without discrimination based on religion, caste, creed, race, gender, and nationality.
Encourage strict adherence to vegetarianism and to follow the practices and principals outlined in the “Lectures on Practice and Discipline in Kashmir Shaivism” by Swami Lakshmanjoo.
To complete all of this we need your help. We simply do not have the resources available to accomplish this very important work. Please help us with a generous donation so that our work can continue, any amount will be greatly appreciated.
We are an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) charitable, nonprofit organization and your donations are fully tax-deductible (for US citizens).