(Last Updated on : 26/12/2013)
Kashmir Shaivism is one of the most highly developed schools of Indian Philosophy
. It developed between the 7th and 12th Centuries of the Christian era. Kashmir Shaivism is also called Trika Philosophy, the three-fold scene, which is based on three energies of Lord Shiva
. Kashmir Shaivism is not a religion. It is a philosophy open to those who have the desire to understand it; hence, for its study there are no restrictions of caste, creed or colour.
Kashmir Shaivism, as has already been mentioned, is called the Trika Philosophy, the threefold science. This three fold science is based on the three Energies of Lord Shiva. These three Energies are called Para, Parapara, and Apara (Supreme, Intermediate, and Inferior.) Para means the Supreme Energy of Lord Shiva, otherwise known as his subjective Energy. Parapara is the medium, the Intermediate Energy of Lord Shiva. It is called his cognitive Energy, The third, Apara, is Lord Shiva's Inferior Energy and is referred to as his Objective Energy.
It is believed that the human being resides in the objective inferior energy of Lord Shiva. As long as one resides in objective energy one is the victim of sadness and sorrow and is entangled in the wheel of repeated births and deaths. So one has to emerge from objective energy and enter into subjective energy, in which one is liberated from all this sadness, and becomes absolute in the attainment of final beatitude. This Trika Philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism teaches one how this individual being immersed in inferior objective energy can be carried towards the Supreme, Subjective Energy of Lord Shiva through his cognitive, Intermediate Energy. So the purpose of studying this Trika system is to rise from objective energy through cognitive energy and finally be one with the subjective Energy of Lord Shiva.
In order to achieve this state, there are three means which have been laid down by Trika thought. These means lie within the sphere of cognitive energy, for it is cognitive energy alone that can carry one towards the subjective energy of Lord Shiva. The purpose of cognitive energy is to develop the limited being's capacity and ability to receive God-consciousness. In the body of cognitive energy, as has been said, are three means. The first and Supreme means is called Shambhavopaya. The second, intermediate means is called Shaktopaya and the third, inferior means is called Anavopaya. These means are handled and practised according to the ability of the seeker.
Shambhavopava in Kashmir Shaivism
Shambhavopaya is that path wherein the individual has to do away with all the various long-winded procedures such as recitation of Mantras
, of Sadhana
based on breathing, meditation
on particular deities, concentrating on some spiritual thought and so on. He only has to develop his awareness of Consciousness and that too not in any particular place. By the constant awareness of this Consciousness, the individual 'I' consciousness fast disappears and it is united with God-consciousness. In this stage the Sadhaka is one with His Subjective Energy and becomes Jivan Mukta (released in life). This path is meant for those seekers who reside at the highest level of ability.
Shaktopava in Kashmir Shaivism
Shaktopava is the means in which the aspirant or seeker has to develop concentration upon God-consciousness by means of some particular spiritual thought bestowed by the master. Here the Sadhaka has to concentrate on that particular thought of God-Consciousness without the support of Pranayama
, Mantra and so on. He must develop God-Consciousness simply and only by meditating upon this thought. That single thought of God-Consciousness will alone carry him to the Supreme State and Transcendental being. Shaktopaya is meant for those who have neither the highest nor the lowest power of meditating energy.
Anavopaya in Kashmir Shaivism
Anavopaya is that means in which a Sadhaka who is endowed with an inferior capacity of mind and meditation must develop God-Consciousness by resorting to meditation. This is done on the two breaths, inhalation and exhalation, to the practice of Pranayama and the recitation of Mantras. In this third inferior path a Sadhaka has, of course, to develop God-consciousness, but, as he is not gifted with higher meditating capacity, he has to seek the support of these inferior methods (Pranayama etc.), that finally he may be carried to God-consciousness, in the end.
All the important works on this philosophy are written in Sanskrit language
. Very little has so for been written in English on this subject and practically nothing has been written on it in Hindi. There are a few translations of some minor works on Shaivism
available in English. The Pratyabijna Vimarsini of Abhinavagupta
, the most important work on the subject, has recently been translated into English and has been published also. But it remains a fact that one cannot still learn much about Shaivism even after studying this rendering. Only a person who can understand the original Vimarsini in Sanskrit can fully understand that translation with the help of the original Sanskrit. There are one or two independent works in English available on the subject, but even those works do not throw sufficient light on the fundamental principles of the Shaivism of Kashmir.
Kashmir Shaivism remained confined within the boundaries of Kashmir. The Punjab
and all other frontier regions of India were frequently attacked first by Huns and then by Pathans in those centuries and, therefore, scholars and students could not come to, or go from, Kashmir freely and safely in those times. For this reason, knowledge of this most important school of Indian philosophy got itself confined to the boundaries of the Valley of Kashmir and could not spread in other parts of India. It is on account of this fact that the Shaivism of Kashmir is very little known to scholars outside Kashmir even to this day.