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Shiva and Shaivism | The Nondualistic School of Kashmiri Shaivism

The Nondualistic School of Kashmiri Shaivism:

Kashmir Shaivism also known as Trika Shaivism is a nondualist tradition of Saiva-Sakta Tantra which originated sometime after 850 CE. Though this tradition was very influential in Kashmir and is thus often called Kashmir Shaivism, it was actually called “Trika” by its great exponent Abhinavagupta. The tradition also flourished in Odisha and Maharaṣhṭra. Its defining features is its idealistic and monistic philosophical system, known as Pratyabhijnā (“Recognition”). It was propounded by Utpaladeva (c. 925-975 C.E.) and Abhinavagupta (c. 975-1025 C.E). Its main driving forces or presiding deities are the three goddesses namely Parā, Parāparā, and Aparā who play a central role in transformative process of the mind and body.

While Trika draws inspiration from numerous Saiva texts, such as the Shaiva Agamas and the Saiva and Sakta Tantras, its major scriptural authorities are the Malinivijayottara Tantra, the Siddhayogeśvarīmata and the Anāmaka-tantra. Its main commentaries or explanatory works are those of Abhinavagupta, such as the Tantraloka, Mālinislokavarttika, and Tantrasāra. They are in turn derived from the essential doctrine contained in the Mālinīvijayottara Tantra, although they also drew heavily on the Kali-based Krama of the Kulamarga.

Kashmir Shaivism claimed to supersede Shaiva Siddhanta, a dualistic tradition which scholars consider a more traditional and standard form of tantric Shaivism. The Shaiva Siddhanta goal of becoming an ontologically distinct Shiva (through Shiva’s grace) was replaced by recognizing oneself as Shiva who, in Kashmir Shaivism’s monism, is the entirety of the universe. In the ninth or the tenth century CE, Abhinavagutpa and Vasugupra or probably his student Bhatta Karika presented its basic tenets in the Shiva Sutras and Spandakarika to denote a marked deviation from dualistic philosophy of the Shaiva Siddhanta.

In the last century, Kashmiri Saivism was made popular by the contribution of Swami Lakshman Joo, his student Acharya Rameshwar Jha. Mention may also be made of Swami Muktananda. Although he did not belong to the direct lineage of Kashmir Shaivism, he felt an affinity for the teachings, validated by his own direct experience. He encouraged Motilal Banarsidass to publish Jaideva Singh’s translations of Shiva Sutras, Pratyabhijnahrdayam, Spanda Karikas and Vijnana Bhairava.[ He also introduced Kashmir Shaivism to his followers in the West through his writings and lectures. We have assembled here a few important resources for further information on Kashmiri Saivism1

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