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 Trika 1 - Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir

History and basic teachings


 Objective of the document's author

This web document about Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir was conceived by Gabriel Pradīpaka, Argentinean. Click here to get more information about our purpose. Because it is about 1000 years old, this philosophy is rather new. It brings brand-new viewpoints about your own nature and that of the universe.

Our minds need new ideas in order to develop their inner potential, and Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir or Trika is filled with revolutionary ideas. Since mankind is really in a bad condition, full of negative thoughts, worshipping such ephemeral things as money and body, the spiritual teaching is necessary, very badly indeed.

When one person does not think or feel properly, the universe around him is not harmonious either. Trika brings ideas that bring about proper thoughts and feelings in you. Therefore, the universe around will become more harmonious, and you will experience true happiness. This is the objective.

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 History

If you have not downloaded the indispensable font(s), you will not see any original Sanskrit characters.

Trika (Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir) was born in Kashmir (IX A.D:), a northern province of India. Since the true meaning contained in Tantra-s (ancient spiritual books) was being distorted, the Supreme Being Himself (who is named Śiva in this philosophical system) opened the Vasugupta's mind (a wise man living in Kashmir at that time). Then, Vasugupta was told by Śiva to seek for some aphorisms engraved on a rock. These aphorisms were named "Śivasūtra-s", the Aphorisms (sūtra-s) of Śiva (the Auspicious One). But, let us listen to the original description by the wise Kṣemarāja (X A.D.):

इह कश्चिच्छक्तिपातवशोन्मिषन्माहेश्वरभक्त्यतिशयादनङ्गीकृताधरदर्शनस्थनागबोध्यादिसिद्धादेशनः शिवाराधनपरः पारमेश्वरनानायोगिनीसिद्धसत्सम्प्रदायपवित्रितहृदयः श्रीमहादेवगिरौ महामाहेश्वरः श्रीमान् वसुगुप्तनामा गुरुरभवत्।

Iha kaścicchaktipātavaśonmiṣanmāheśvarabhaktyatiśayādanaṅgīkṛtādharadarśanasthanāgabodhyādisiddhādeśanaḥ śivārādhanaparaḥ pārameśvaranānāyoginīsiddhasatsampradāyapavitritahṛdayaḥ śrīmahādevagirau mahāmāheśvaraḥ śrīmān vasuguptanāmā gururabhavat|

In this world (iha), on the sacred (śrī) mountain (girau) Mahādeva (mahādeva), someone (kaścid) worthy of reverence (śrīmān) (lived). His heart (hṛdayaḥ) had been purified (pavitrita) by the Noble (sat) Tradition (sampradāya) of the various (nānā) Self-realized Beings (siddha) and Yoginī-s (yoginī) pertaining to the Supreme Lord (pārameśvara). He was devoted (paraḥ) to the worship (ārādhana) of the Auspicious One (śiva). Owing to excess (atiśayāt) of devotion (bhakti) to the Great Lord (māheśvara), which --i.e. devotion-- shone forth (in him) (unmiṣat) by (vaśa) the Descent (pāta) of Power (śakti) --Divine Grace--, gave a teaching (ādeśanaḥ) that did not agree (anaṅgīkṛta) with that of such Self-realized Beings (in Buddhism) (siddha) as Nāgabodhi (nāgabodhi) and the rest (ādi), which were occupied (stha) with lower (adhara) viewpoints (darśana). He was (abhavat) a great devotee of the Lord (mahāmāheśvaraḥ) and a Guru (guruḥ). His name (nāmā): Vasugupta (vasugupta).

I will explain this paragraph now:

Kṣemarāja is the author of this description. He was a pupil of the great Abhinavagupta who belonged to the Śaiva line coming right from Vasugupta. This philosophy is denominated "Shaivism" because it pertains to Śiva (the Auspicious One), the Supreme Being. And it is "Non-dual" because it states that man and God are in abosolute unity. Man is undergoing tremendous suffering because of having forgotten his divine nature. You may say: how could we forget our own nature? Well, to explain it is one of the purposes of Trika (Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir). Besides, since it was born in Kashmir, "of Kashmir" is added. Things are not so simple as for its birth, but for the time being you will have to accept that version.

Vasugupta lived on the mountain Mahādeva. He was a Guru. "Guru" is generally translated as "teacher", but that is not so. Guru is someone who bestows liberation on people directly. A Guru is Divine Grace in person, and he/she also teaches sometimes. But, it is not necessary for a Guru to teach. A Guru (if we could find one) can free us from bondage quickly, but he/she is extremely rare. In turn, a teacher just "teaches", and by means of his/her knowledge people can be freed as it were. However, this explanation about the Guru is approximate. It is very difficult to describe what exactly a Guru is because he/she (whatever forms the Guru may take on) is beyond words. In fact, the Guru is not a physical form, a human being, but rather a Cosmic Principle operating through a human being.

You may wonder who Nāgabodhi was. Well, he was a celebrated Buddhist teacher who lived about 500-700 A.D. Vasugupta lived in Kashmir about 900 A.D. Nāgabodhi wrote "Śrīguhyasamājamaṇḍalopāyikāviṁśavidhi" (a long name) which is based on "Guhyasamāja" (a Buddhist Tantra). The doctrines taught by these Buddhist teachers (Nāgabodhi and the rest) did not agree with that taught by Vasugupta, specially as far as the nature of Ultimate Reality is concerned.

The Siddha-s are self-realized male Yogī-s, while Yoginī-s are self-realized female Yogī-s. The spiritual lineage or Noble Tradition (satsampradāya) of Vasugupta was composed of Siddha-s and Yoginī-s. His extreme devotion to Lord had its roots in "Śaktipāta" --Descent of Power--. "Descent of Power" could be translated as "Divine Grace" in this context. However, the Śaktipāta process is not an easy-to-describe one. I will try to explain it later.

Kṣemarāja continues to say:

कदाचिच्चासौ द्वैतदर्शनाधिवासितप्राये जीवलोके रहस्यसम्प्रदायो मा विच्छेदीत्याशयतोऽनुजिघृक्षापरेण परमशिवेन स्वप्नेऽनुग्रह्योन्मिषितप्रतिभः कृतो यथात्र महीभृति महति शिलातले रहस्यमस्ति तदधिगम्यानुग्रहयोग्येषु प्रकाशयेति।

Kadāciccāsau dvaitadarśanādhivāsitaprāye jīvaloke rahasyasampradāyo mā vicchedītyāśayato'nujighṛkṣāpareṇa paramaśivena svapne'nugrahyonmiṣitapratibhaḥ kṛto yathātra mahībhṛti mahati śilātale rahasyamasti tadadhigamyānugrahayogyeṣu prakāśayeti|

And (ca) once upon a time (kadācid), the Supreme (parama) Śiva (śivena), disposed (pareṇa) to grant Favor (anujighṛkṣā) and with the intention (iti-āśayataḥ) that: "Let the Secret (rahasya) Tradition (sampradāyaḥ) not (mā) be interrupted (vicchedi) in this world (loke) of the living beings (jīva) which is mostly (prāye) perfumed (adhivāsita) with the dualistic (dvaita) viewpoint (darśana)!"; expanded (unmiṣita... kṛtaḥ) in dream (svapne) the consciousness (pratibhaḥ) of that (Vasugupta) (asau) by bestowing Divine Grace on him (anugrahya). (He said to him) so (yathā... iti):

"Here (atra), on this mountain (mahībhṛti), there is (asti) the Secret Esoteric Teaching (rahasyam) on a big (mahati) slab (tale) of rock (śilā). Having obtained it (tat adhigamya), reveal it (prakāśaya) to those who are fit (yogyeṣu) for receiving Divine Grace (anugraha)".

And now, my explanation:

Since Śiva, the Supreme Being within all of us, did not want the Secret Tradition to be interrupted, in dream He said to Vasugupta that the Secret Esoteric Teaching was under a big stone on the mountain Mahādeva. The Secret Tradition was composed of all true teachers who had taught the real Tantric meaning. And now, owing to the growing distortion regarding meanings contained in those sacred books (Tantra-s), Śiva Himself had to intervene.

This world is mostly perfumed (influenced) with the dualistic viewpoint. In a word, living creatures consider themselves to be separated and different from God. Thus, they undergo tremendous and unnecessary suffering. According to Trika (Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir), nothing can never be different or separated from God, because He is all and all Creation is Him. This is not pantheism, because Trika says that God is all of us and we are all God, not a part of Him. He lives as a "whole" in every part of His Creation. This idea may be controversial just as all new ideas are, no doubt. It is controversial because it shakes man's egoist structure and brings about a revolution inside him. Before discarding new ideas, man should study them with care. Therefore, all these new ideas --as it were (Trika is over 1,000 years old)-- stated by Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir must be firstly analyzed and then accepted or discarded. This would be a wise behaviour.

Despite the aforesaid unity, man has somehow forgotten this truth, has forgotten his divine nature and fallen into the ignorance. Trika and many other philosophical systems explain that process of forgetting in different ways. The explanation given by Trika will be analyzed later.

Śiva gave specific instructions to Vasugupta. Vasugupta did His bidding and we can now enjoy the Secret Esoteric Teaching found on the big stone. Let us keep listening to Kṣemarāja:

प्रबुद्धश्चासावन्विष्यंस्तां महतीं शिलां करस्पर्शनमात्रपरिवर्तनतः संवादीकृतस्वप्नां प्रत्यक्षीकृत्येमानि शिवोपनिषत्सङ्ग्रहरूपाणि शिवसूत्राणि ततः समाससाद।

Prabuddhaścāsāvanviṣyaṁstāṁ mahatīṁ śilāṁ karasparśanamātraparivartanataḥ saṁvādīkṛtasvapnāṁ pratyakṣīkṛtyemāni śivopaniṣatsaṅgraharūpāṇi śivasūtrāṇi tataḥ samāsasāda|

Having awakened (prabuddhaḥ ca), he --i.e. Vasugupta-- (asau) started to search about (anviṣyan) that (tām) big (mahatīm) stone (śilām). (And having found it,) he turned it round (parivartanataḥ) by a mere (mātra) touch (sparśana) of the hand (kara), seeing with his own eyes (pratyakṣīkṛtya) the dream (svapnām) confirmed (saṁvādīkṛta). He thus (tatas) obtained (samāsasāda) these (imāni) Aphorisms (sūtrāṇi) of Śiva (śiva), which (rūpāṇi) are a compendium (saṅgraha) of the Esoteric Doctrine (upaniṣad) of Śiva (śiva).

Vasugupta awakened, remembered the dream and went to the place where the big stone was supposed to be. He found it and, after turning it round by a mere touch of the hand, he confirmed his dream. Vasugupta obtained a set of 77 aphorisms which were known as "The Aphorisms of Śiva -- Śivasūtra-s". Śivasūtra-s is a very important Scripture in Trika's literature. Vasugupta taught those sacred aphorisms to his pupils: Kallaṭa and the rest, who were fit for receiving Divine Grace. In turn, these pupils taught them to their own pupils and so on. Thus, an immense literature was born.

Well, I will explain now the basic teachings of Trika:

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 Basic Teachings

I was thinking for a long time about how to explain the Basic Teachings without putting something of my own creation. It is really difficult to teach such a great philosophy as Trika without adding personal opinions. Since my opinions are intermingled with the real teachings, it is not easy for me to separate them. One does not know himself, even though one imagines he does; therefore the task of separating personal concepts from original teachings is rather complicated.

I will try to use the sword of my discernment in order to be as objective as possible. Sorry about my probable mistakes. All these teachings will be explained in details later (on the following Web documents about Trika).

The Basic Teachings are as follows:

1)  "Trika" means "threefold". One interpretation states that Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir is known as Trika or Threefold System because it analyzes the nature of Śiva, Śakti and Nara. Śiva is God, and Śakti is God's I-consciousness. Nara is man (the human being). Trika teachs that Śiva, Śakti and Nara are not different from one another. In short, Man and God are one and the same. In fact, just the Supreme Self, known as Śiva in this philosophical system, is the Self of the entire universe.

2)  Therefore, there is no difference between Śiva (God) and Śakti (God's I-consciousness). God is and knows He is. There is not any difference at all.

3)  Śiva is a name for the static aspect of God.

4)  Śakti is a name for the dynamic aspect of God.

5)  Śiva-Śakti is Freedom Itself.

6)  Therefore, the human being is inherently free too.

7)  However, the human being experiences bondage because of "mala" (limiting condition).

8)  Nevertheless, that mala is not something outside human being himself.

9)  God becomes "man" (so to speak; because lastly God is God and becomes nothing) through mala (impurity, limiting condition). In a word, mala arises from God.

10) Śiva or God is not inactive. He has Śakti or I-consciousness. In short, He has Will, which gives rise to Knowledge and Activity.

11) When a human being realizes his inherent unity with Śiva and Śakti, "mala" (limiting condition) ceases to exist completely.

12) His realization puts an end to the whole "apparent" bondage.

13) Since a human being is essentially God, manifests the entire universe around him (maybe a "difficult to accept" teaching).

14) Even though Non-dualism between God and human being is predominant in this philosophical system, all others viewpoints (mostly dualistic) are explained and included too.

15) The universe is the playful unfoldment of God's power. Therefore, the universe is born right now from Joy.

16) Unhappiness is experienced by a human being when he becomes oblivious of his spiritual nature.

17) When he remembers his spiritual nature and realizes his unity with God, unhappiness is turned into happiness.

18) Mala or impurity is nothing but ignorance of one's essential nature.

19) Human mind is Śakti Herself having undergone a process of successive contractions.

20) Therefore, human mind experiences complete happiness only when it merges in God.

21) God is not a void, but a Self full of I-consciousness.

22) He may appears to be a "void" because He does not contain, in His innermost nature, any objects.

23) The human being must understand that his own mind is the Divine Mind having undergone a process of succesive contractions.

24) Consequently, understanding of one's mind is encouraged, not simply control of it.

25) To control mind, as it were, one must firstly understand it.

Well, I think it is enough for the time being. I know, I know, these teachings expounded in this way appear to be a kind of dogma. Please, be patient. I will give complete explanation later (in Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir: Part 2, 3, etc.) to all teachings merely outlined here.

And I finished my work now. See you in "Trika: Part 2".

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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.