Shiva Sutras of Vasugupta

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Shiva Sutras are a collection of seventy seven aphorisms that form the foundation of the tradition of spiritual mysticism known as Kashmir Shaivism. They are attributed to the sage Vasugupta of the 9th century C.E. [1] [2] [3]

An aphorism is a concise, terse, laconic, and/or memorable expression of a general truth or principle. They are often handed down by tradition from generation to generation. The concept is distinct from those of an adage, brocard, chiasmus, epigram, maxim, principle, proverb, and saying; some of these concepts are species of aphorism.

Mysticism Practice of religious experiences during alternate states of consciousness

Mysticism is the practice of religious ecstasies, together with whatever ideologies, ethics, rites, myths, legends, and magic may be related to them. It may also refer to the attainment of insight in ultimate or hidden truths, and to human transformation supported by various practices and experiences.

Kashmir Shaivism school of Hindu philosophy

Kashmir Shaivism is a group of nondualist Tantric Shaiva exegetical traditions from Kashmir that originated after 850 CE. The term Trika was used by Abhinavagupta to represent the entire Kashmir Shaivism or to designate the Pratyabhijna system and this was actually pan-Indian, also flourishing in Oḍiśā and Mahārāṣṭra.


Vasugupta is said to have lived near Mahadeva Mountain in the valley of the Harvan stream behind what are now the Shalimar Gardens near Srinagar. One myth is that he received the aphorisms in a dream visitation of a Siddha or semi-divine being. Another is that Lord Shiva came to him in a dream and instructed him to go to a certain rock on which he would find the teachings inscribed [4] . This rock called Shankaropala is still visited by devotees. The other theory is that Lord Shiva taught the Siva-Sutras to Vasugupta in a dream. Whatever the truth is these myths point to the traditional belief that the Shiva sutras are of Philosophical origin or revelation and are surely a very great product of Sanatana Dharma.

Shalimar Bagh, Srinagar

Shalimar Bagh is a Mughal garden in Srinagar, linked through a channel to the northeast of Dal Lake, on its right bank located on the outskirts of Srinagar city in Jammu and Kashmir, India. Its other names are Shalimar Garden, Shalimar Bagh, Farah Baksh, and Faiz Baksh, and the other famous shoreline garden in the vicinity is Nishat Bagh. The Bagh was built by Mughal Emperor Jahangir for his wife Nur Jahan, in 1619. The Bagh is considered the high point of Mughal horticulture. It is now a public park. It is also called the "Crown of Srinagar".

Srinagar City in Jammu and Kashmir, India

Srinagar is the largest city and the summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It lies in the Kashmir Valley on the banks of the Jhelum River, a tributary of the Indus, and Dal and Anchar lakes. The city is known for its natural environment, gardens, waterfronts and houseboats. It is also known for traditional Kashmiri handicrafts and dried fruits. It is the northernmost city of India with over 1 million people.

Siddha one who is accomplished in Indian tradition

Siddha is a term that is used widely in Indian religions and culture. It means "one who is accomplished". It refers to perfected masters who have achieved a high degree of physical as well as spiritual perfection or enlightenment. In Jainism, the term is used to refer the liberated souls. Siddha may also refer to one who has attained a siddhi, paranormal capabilities.

Historically the Shiva Sutras and the ensuing school of Kashmir Shaivism are a Tantric or Agamic tradition. The Tantrics saw themselves as independent of the Vedic mainstream schools of thought and practice, and as beyond the rules that had been put in place by them.

Tantra Esoteric traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism

Tantra denotes the esoteric traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism that co-developed most likely about the middle of the 1st millennium AD. The term tantra, in the Indian traditions, also means any systematic broadly applicable "text, theory, system, method, instrument, technique or practice".

Vedic period Ancient South Asian Period

The Vedic period, or Vedic age, is the period in the history of the northern Indian subcontinent between the end of the urban Indus Valley Civilisation and a second urbanisation which began in the central Gangetic Plain c. 600 BCE. It gets its name from the Vedas, which are liturgical texts containing details of life during this period that have been interpreted to be historical and constitute the primary sources for understanding the period. These documents, alongside the corresponding archaeological record, allow for the evolution of the Vedic culture to be traced and inferred.

A number of commentaries were written by Vasugupta’s contemporaries or successors. Most famous of them is Kshemaraja’s Vimarshini (10th Century C.E.) which has been translated into English by Jaideva Singh and Swami Lakshman Joo. Another is a commentary called the Varttika by Bhaskara (11th century C.E.) which has been translated into English by Mark Dyczkowski.

Rajanaka Kṣemarāja (क्षेमराज) was a philosopher and brilliant disciple of Abhinavagupta, who was a peerless master of tantra, yoga, poetics, and dramaturgy. Not much is known of Kṣemarāja's life or parentage. His chief disciple was a sage known as Yogāraja. The Pratyabhijnahridayam, a work in which Kṣemarāja brings the main tenets of the Pratyabhijna system into a succinct set of sutras for those who may not have studied in-depth metaphysics, occupies the same place in Kashmir Shaivite or Trika literature as Vedanta Sara does in Vedanta. Other works of his: Spandasandoha, Spandanirnaya, Svacchandodyota, Netrodyota, Vijnanabhairavodyota, Shivasutravimarsini, Stavacintamanitika, Parapraveshika, Tattvasandoha.

"Man bound in all the phases of waking, dream and dreamless sleep by the body,prana, pleasure, etc. does not recognize his own consciousness which is of thenature of the great power and full of perfect bliss." -- Kṣemarāja

Jaideva Singh was an Indian musicologist and philosopher. He played a key role in the development of All India Radio where he was chief producer. He was influenced by the Indian musicologist Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande.

Bhaskara was a notable writer on the Kashmir Shaivism sect of Hinduism. He wrote an important commentary on the Shiva Sutras of Vasugupta. According to Dyczkowski, "We know nothing about him except that he was the son of one Divakarabhatta and was, therefore, like the other Kashmiri Saiva authors, a Brahmin by caste, as Bhatta was a title bestowed to learned Brahmins in Kashmir at that time" (p. 2).

There are many translations of the Shiva Sutras into English. A painstaking Italian translation of the Sutras and the Kshemaraja's Vimarshini by Raffaele Torella is also available. Kriya yogi Shri Shailendra Sharma translated Shiva Sutras from Sanskrit to Hindi with commentary. [5] In 2014 new translation of Shiva Sutras into English has been made available along with innovative commentary organized into chapters called cascades [6]

See also


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  1. Jagadish Chandra Chatterji (1914). Kashmir Shaivaism. SUNY Press. pp. 156–. ISBN   978-0-88706-179-0.
  2. Vasugupta (1992). The Aphorisms of Siva: The Siva Sutra with Bhaskara's Commentary, the Varttika. SUNY Press. ISBN   978-0-7914-1264-0.
  3. Swami Lakshmanjoo (2007). Shiva Sutras: The Supreme Awakening. AuthorHouse. pp. 10–. ISBN   978-1-4343-1407-9.
    • Dyczkowski, Mark S. G. (1987). The Doctrine of Vibration: An Analysis of the Doctrines and Practices of Kashmir Shaivism. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. p. 21. ISBN   0-88706-432-9.
  4. Shiva-Sutras
  5. Translation.