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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.
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 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 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. 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 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 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 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 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".
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.In 2014 new translation of Shiva Sutras into English has been made available along with innovative commentary organized into chapters called cascades
Shiva also known as Mahadeva is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is the Supreme Being within Shaivism, one of the major traditions within contemporary Hinduism.
Shaivism is one of the major traditions within Hinduism that reveres Shiva as the Supreme Being. The followers of Shaivism are called "Shaivites" or "Saivites". It is one of the largest sects that believe Shiva — worshipped as a creator and destroyer of worlds — is the supreme god over all. The Shaiva have many sub-traditions, ranging from devotional dualistic theism such as Shaiva Siddhanta to yoga-oriented monistic non-theism such as Kashmiri Shaivism. It considers both the Vedas and the Agama texts as important sources of theology. The origin of Shaivism may be traced to the conception of Rudra in the Rig Veda.
Swami Lakshman Joo Raina was a mystic and scholar of Kashmiri Shaivam or Trika. He was known as Lal Sahib by followers.
Vasugupta was the author of the Shiva Sutras, an important text of the Advaita tradition of Kashmir Shaivism, also called Trika.
Bhatta Kallata also referred as Kallata was a notable 9th-century Shaivite thinker who may have written the Spanda-vritti, and Spanda-karika.
Somananda was one of the teachers of Kashmir Shaivism, in the lineage of Trayambaka, author of the first philosophical treatise of this school, Śivadṛṣṭi. A contemporary of Bhaṭṭa Kallaṭa, the two formed the first wave of Kashmiri Shaivites to propose in a rigurous and logical way the concepts of nondual Shaivism. Somananda lived in Kashmir, most probably in Srinagar, where most of the later philosophers of the school lived, as a householder.
The Kāpālika tradition was a non-Puranic form of Shaivism in India. The word Kāpālikas is derived from kapāla meaning "skull", and Kāpālikas means the "skull-men". The Kāpālikas traditionally carried a skull-topped trident (khatvanga) and an empty skull as a begging bowl. Other attributes associated with Kāpālikas were that they smeared their body with ashes from the cremation ground, revered the fierce Bhairava form of Shiva, engaged in rituals with blood, meat, alcohol, and sexual fluids.
Svātantrya is the Kashmiri Shaivite concept of divine sovereignty. Svātantrya is described as an energy that emanates from the Supreme (Paramaśiva), a wave of motion inside consciousness (spanda) that acts as the fundament of the world, or in another view, the original word. It does not use any external instrument as it itself is the first stage of creation.
The tattvas in Indian philosophy are elements or principles of reality. Tattvas are the basic concepts to understand the nature of absolute, the souls and the universe in Samkhya and Shaivite philosophies. Samkhya philosophy lists 25 tattvas while later Shaivite philosophies extend the number to 36.
Kaula, also known as Kula, and, is a religious tradition in Shaktism and tantric Shaivism characterised by distinctive rituals and symbolism connected with the worship of Shakti. It flourished in India primarily in the first millennium AD.
Prakāśa is a concept of Kashmir Shaivism translated by various authors as "light", "splendour", "light of consciousness", "luminous and undifferentiated consciousness" or "primordial light beyond all manifestations". Fellow Tantric practitioners Tibetan Buddhists practice Clear Light yoga based on a similar concept.
The Agamas are a collection of scriptures of several Hindu devotional schools. The term literally means tradition or "that which has come down", and the Agama texts describe cosmology, epistemology, philosophical doctrines, precepts on meditation and practices, four kinds of yoga, mantras, temple construction, deity worship and ways to attain sixfold desires. These canonical texts are in Sanskrit and Tamil.
The Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra is a key Tantra text of the Trika school of Pratyabhijna/Kashmir Shaivism in Sanskrit language. Cast as a discourse between the god Bhairava and his consort Bhairavi, it briefly presents 112 Tantric meditation methods or centering techniques (dharana). These include several variants of breath awareness, concentration on various centers in the body, non-dual awareness, Mantra chanting, imagination and visualization and contemplation through each of the senses. A prerequisite to success in any of the 112 practices is a clear understanding of which method is most suitable to the practitioner.
Pratyabhijna is an idealistic monistic and theistic school of philosophy in Kashmir Shaivism, originating in the 9th century CE. The term Trika was used by Abhinavagupta to represent the entire Kashmir Shaivism or to designate the Pratyabhijna system.
Lilian Silburn (1908–1993) was a French Indologist specialising in Kashmir Shaivism, Tantra and Buddhism.
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