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 Spandanirṇaya (Spanda Nirnaya) 1 - Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir

Introduction - Part 1


 Introduction

Hi, Gabriel Pradīpaka --wrongly-written Pradipaka-- again. As I said in the first document on Śivasūtravimarśinī, the discovery of Śivasūtra-s by Vasugupta marked the beginning of Trika system (also known as "Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir"), at least in its formal aspect. On Śivasūtra-s this entire philosophical system is based. If you want to have an overview of Trika literature, click here. After Śivasūtra-s were discovered and spread by Vasugupta, he felt that he should somehow write a kind of running commentary on them. He did so, and his commentary was known as Spandakārikā-s (a collection of concise statements in verse --kārikā-s-- about the Primordial Vibration or Throb --Spanda--). Spanda is synonymous with Śakti, I-consciousness. Spanda is the Power of Śiva, by which He is conscious of Himself. Besides, Spanda allows Him to manifest, maintain and withdraw the entire universe. Spanda is a Divine Throb, but not in a physical sense. Not at all. It is a kind of movement in the space of Consciousness. Śiva is with no movements, but somehow something is moving in Him and this is Spanda. Well, it is difficult to explain this by using limited terms as it is a Divine Reality which lies beyond all words. There are four commentaries on Spandakārikā-s:

Vṛtti (by Kallaṭa --a disciple of Vasugupta--)

Spandapradīpikā (by Bhaṭṭotpala)

Vivṛti (by Rāmakaṇṭha)

Spandanirṇaya (by Kṣemarāja)*

*It is to be noted that there is another commentary by Kṣemarāja called "Spandasandoha", but it is only a commentary on the first aphorism of Spandakārikā-s.

The present document deals with Spandanirṇaya by Kṣemarāja. This commentary in prose is considered to be the most authoritative among the four. It is a very long commentary indeed, full of scholar terms and sesquipedalian compounds (long and abstruse compounds) to which Kṣemarāja seems to be addicted.

The Vṛtti by Kallaṭa gives a simple explanation of the kārikā-s. In turn, Bhaṭṭotpala wrote a commentary which is principally a compilation of quotes extracted from other books. However, the commentary by Rāmakaṇṭha (i.e. "Vivṛti") closely follows the Vṛtti by Kallaṭa. As you can see, only Kallaṭa and Kṣemarāja wrote original commentaries.

A final words: Some authors state that Kallaṭa (a disciple of Vasugupta) was the real author of Spandakārikā-s, but Kallaṭa himself denies that statement through the following asseveration:

यत् स्पन्दामृतं वसुगुप्तपादैः दृब्धम्
Yat spandāmṛtaṁ vasuguptapādaiḥ dṛbdham

Spandakārikā-s --also known as Spandāmṛta or the Nectar of Spanda-- (spanda-amṛtam) which (yad) were composed --lit. "strung together" like beads in a necklace-- (dṛbdham) by venerable or revered (pādaiḥ) Vasugupta (vasugupta)...

Thus, it appears that Vasugupta was the real author of Spandakārikā-s, while Kallaṭa only made them known.

Important: All that is in brackets and italicized within the translation has been added by me in order to complete the sense of a particular phrase or sentence. In turn, all that is between double hyphens (--...--) constitutes clarifying further information also added by me.

Let us get down to work.

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 Propitiatory prayer to Śakti

Kṣemarāja begins his commentary with a propitiatory prayer to Goddess. Listen:

सर्वं स्वात्मस्वरूपं मुकुरनगरवत्स्वस्वरूपात्स्वतन्त्र-
स्वच्छस्वात्मस्वभित्तौ कलयति धरणीतः शिवान्तं सदा या।
दृग्देवी मन्त्रवीर्यं सततसमुदिता शब्दराश्यात्मपूर्णा-
हन्तानन्तस्फुरत्ता जयति जगति सा शाङ्करी स्पन्दशक्तिः॥१॥

स्पन्दामृते चर्वितेऽपि स्पन्दसन्दोहतो मनाक्।
पूर्णस्तच्चर्वणाभोगोद्योग एष मयाश्रितः॥२॥

सम्यक्सूत्रसमन्वयं परिगतिं तत्त्वे परस्मिन्परां
तीक्ष्णां युक्तिकथामुपायघटनां स्पष्टार्थसद्व्याकृतिम्।
ज्ञातुं वाञ्छथ चेच्छिवोपनिषदं श्रीस्पन्दशास्त्रस्य त-
द्वृत्तावत्र धियं निधत्त सुधियः स्पन्दश्रियं प्राप्नुत॥३॥

Sarvaṁ svātmasvarūpaṁ mukuranagaravatsvasvarūpātsvatantra-
svacchasvātmasvabhittau kalayati dharaṇītaḥ śivāntaṁ sadā yā|
Drigdevī mantravīryam satatasamuditā śabdarāśyātmapūrnā-
hantānantasphurattā jayati jagati sā śāṅkarī spandaśaktiḥ||1||

Spandāmṛte carvite'pi spandasandohato manāk|
Pūrṇastaccarvaṇābhogodyoga eṣa mayāśritaḥ||2||

Samyaksūtrasamanvayaṁ parigatiṁ tattve parasminparāṁ
tīkṣṇāṁ yuktikathāmupāyaghaṭanāṁ spaṣṭārthasadvyākṛtim|
Jñātuṁ vāñchatha cecchivopaniṣadaṁ śrīspandaśāstrasya ta-
dvṛttāvatra dhiyaṁ nidhatta sudhiyaḥ spandaśriyaṁ prāpnuta||3||

She (sā), the Power (śaktiḥ) of the Primordial Vibration (spanda), the Śakti of Śaṅkara (śāṅkarī), who (yā) always (sadā) perceives (kalayati) all (categories or tattva-s) (sarvam) which constitute the essential nature (sva-rūpam) of Her own (sva) Self (ātma), from the earth (dharaṇītaḥ) up to Śiva (śiva-antam), on Her own (sva) canvas (bhittau) formed from Her (sva) free (svatantra) and transparent (svaccha) Self (ātma) through (that aforesaid) essential nature (sva-rūpāt), just as (vat) a city (nagara) (is reflected) in a mirror (mukura); (who is) the Goddess (devī) that sees --i.e. "that is conscious of"-- (dṛk) the virility or power (vīryam) of Mantra (mantra), (who is) the endless (ananta) flash (sphurattā), constantly (satata) emerging (samuditā), of the perfect (pūrṇa) I-consciousness (ahantā) whose essence (ātma) (consists of) a multitude (rāśi) of sounds (śabda), is victorious (jayati) in (this) world (jagati)||1||

Although (api) the Nectar (amṛte) of the Primordial Vibration (spanda) (has been) slightly (manāk) relished (carvite) through Spandasandoha (spandasandohataḥ), I am (now) making (mayā āśritaḥ) a full (pūrṇaḥ) effort (udyogaḥ eṣaḥ) for (giving to the students) the enjoyment (bhoga) of (completely) relishing (carvaṇā) That --i.e. the Divine Self in the form of Spanda-- (tad)||2||

If (ced) all of you want (vāñchatha) to know (jñātum) the secret doctrine (upaniṣadam) of Śiva (śiva), the exact (samyak) interconnection (samanvayam) of the aphorisms (sūtra), the highest (parām) ascertainment (parigatim) of the Supreme (parasmin) Principle (tattve), a sharp and keen (tīkṣṇām) statement of argument (yukti-kathām), the right application (ghaṭanām) of means (upāya), a detailed explanation (vyākṛtim) which is correct and wise (sad) and clear (spaṣṭa) in meaning (artha), (so,) oh sages (sudhiyaḥ), fix (nidhatta) (your) thought(s) (dhiyam) upon this (atra) commentary or gloss (vṛttau) of that (tad) venerable (śrī) scripture (śāstrasya) dealing with the Primordial Vibration or Spanda (spanda), (and) obtain (prāpnuta) the wealth (śriyam) of (that very) Spanda (spanda)!||3||

I proceed to explain the secret meanings hidden in this glorious prayer:

to be continued

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 Further Information

Gabriel Pradīpaka

This document was conceived by Gabriel Pradīpaka, one of the two founders of this site, and spiritual guru conversant with Sanskrit language and Trika philosophy.

For further information about Sanskrit, Yoga and Indian Philosophy; or if you simply want to comment, ask a question or correct a mistake, feel free to contact us: This is our e-mail address.