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 Trika 6 - Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir

Jñānendriya-s, Karmendriya-s, Tanmātra-s and Mahābhūta-s


 Introduction

Hi, this is Gabriel Pradīpaka once again. This is the sixth document of the series. We are going to study the last 20 tattva-s in the process of Creation: 5 Jñānendriya-s or Powers of Perception; 5 Karmendriya-s or Powers of Action; 5 Tanmātra-s or Subtle elements and 5 Mahābhūta-s or Gross elements.

This study will be quite simple because it deals with a well-known reality to everyone.

One advise: If you didn't read any or all previous documents of this Trika section, read them before reading this one or you will not understand the teachings properly. Here you are the links to the previous documents: Trika 1 (English), Trika 2 (English), Trika 3 (English), Trika 4 (English) and Trika 5 (English). Let us get down to work.

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 Jñānendriya-s and Karmendriya-s

JÑĀNENDRIYA-S: Firstly a simple table with the five Jñānendriya-s according to Trika:

Tattva 17. Śrotra -श्रोत्र- or Śravaṇa -श्रवण- The power of hearing. It is that energy that ordinarily circulates through the organs of hearing (ears). JÑĀNENDRIYA-S
-ज्ञानेन्द्रिय-
Powers of Perception (predominantly sattvic)
Tattva 18. Tvak -त्वक्- The power of feeling by touch. It is that energy that predominantly circulates through the skin.
Tattva 19. Cakṣus -चक्षुस्- The power of seeing. It is that energy that ordinarily circulates through the organs of seeing (eyes).
Tattva 20. Jihvā -जिह्वा- or Rasanā भरसना- The power of tasting. It is that energy that ordinarily circulates through the organ of tasting (tongue).
Tattva 21. Ghrāṇa -घ्राण- The power of smelling. It is that energy that ordinarily circulates through the organ of smelling (nose).

Jñānendriya-s are born from the mind or Manas (tattva 16). These five Jñānendriya-s along with the respective Karmendriya-s are real instruments of Manas. Through them, one's own mind is able to manifest and then perceive and get in touch with the subtle and gross worlds. The most important thing you should keep in mind is that the Powers (indriya-s) of Perception or Knowledge (jñāna) are not the "organs" of perception but the energies circulating "generally" through them. For example: The power of seeing (Cakṣurindriya) is the energy flowing "normally" through the eyes. If the eyes were to be damaged or not working in you, this power would increase the capacity of perception pertaining to another organ of perception (e.g. ears, nose, etc.). That is why when you close your eyes, you are able to hear even better. This is so because you are using less visual energy and thus the Śrotrendriya (Śrotra-indriya) or power of hearing is enhanced.

The names for the Jñānendriya-s which were given above are usually used with the word "indriya" affixed to them. According to certain rules of Sandhi or Sanskrit Combination (See Combination documents), the original words have often to experience a little change when forming a compound. Thus:

Śrotra + indriya = Śrotrendriya (Tattva 17 - Power of hearing)
Tvak + indriya = Tvagindriya (Tattva 18 - Power of feeling by touch)
Cakṣus + indriya = Cakṣurindriya (Tattva 19 - Power of seeing)
Jihvā + indriya = Jihvendriya (Tattva 20 - Power of tasting)
Ghrāṇa + indriya = Ghrāṇendriya (Tattva 21 - Power of smelling)

These Jñānendriya-s are predominantly sattvic because are related to "knowledge". As you know, Sattva or Sattvaguṇa is a contraction of Jñānaśakti or Supreme Power of Knowledge. Another characteristic of Sattva is that it is rather "static". If you observe the organs of perception, you will note that they remain static while receiving information from the world around them. Of course, they also have a little mobility because the other two Guṇa-s (Rajas and Tamas) are still there to a certain extent. They are "predominantly" but not "completely" sattvic.

The common viewpoint is that the Powers of Perception "perceive" the world, that is, they receive different kinds of impressions from outside and so on. However, according to Trika, the Jñānendriya-s are manifested by Manas in order to bring the world into existence. In other words, the Jñānendriya-s perceive that which was manifested by themselves under the command of Manas. The idea is amazing if you ponder over it. There is no reality out there which is independent from your Manas or mind, but you yourself manifest it and then perceive that. So, you are the author of your own life. Stop complaining about your current life and manifest a different one if you are not pleased with it. There are no people out there being antagonistic toward you. There are no people giving happiness to you. Everything is your own creation. Nobody is yours and you do not belong to anybody. Real happiness comes from within yourself. Abandon ignorance, renounce the present delusion which you live in, and aided by this knowledge attain to your own Self and be happy forever.

KARMENDRIYA-S: Firstly a simple table with the five Karmendriya-s according to Trika:

Tattva 22. Vāk -वाक्- The power of speaking. It is that energy that ordinarily circulates through the organ of speaking (mouth). KARMENDRIYA-S
-कर्मेन्द्रिय-
Powers of Action (predominantly rajasic)
Tattva 23. Pāṇi -पाणि- The power of handling. It is that energy that predominantly circulates through the organs of handling (hands).
Tattva 24. Pāda -पाद- The power of locomotion. It is that energy that ordinarily circulates through the organs of locomotion (legs and feet).
Tattva 25. Pāyu -पायु- The power of excreting. It is that energy that ordinarily circulates through the organ of excreting (anus).
Tattva 26. Upastha -उपस्थ- The power of sexual activity and restfulness. It is that energy that ordinarily circulates through the organs of sexual activity and restfulness (genitals).

These Karmendriya-s are predominantly rajasic because are related to "will". As you know, Rajas or Rajoguṇa is a contraction of Icchāśakti or Supreme Power of Will. Another characteristic of Rajas is that it is rather "dynamic". If you observe the organs of action, you will note that they keep moving all the time while performing actions in the world. Of course, they also have a little immobility because Sattvaguṇa is still to a certain extent. They are "predominantly" but not "completely" rajasic.

Jñānendriya-s emerge "directly" from Manas (tattva 16), while Karmendriya-s do "directly" from Ahaṅkāra. Granted, Manas comes from Ahaṅkāra too, and in this sense Jñānendriya-s also arise from Ahaṅkāra but in an indirect way. Got my point? Karmendriya-s are born because ego (Ahaṅkāra) not only want to perceive the world but also perform actions in it. For example, you are probably now looking at an object... and along with that "static" perception, a desire to "take" it emerges all of a sudden. Thus, Ahaṅkāra manifests the power of handling (Pāṇi) in order to take that object. Afterward, the very Ahaṅkāra will manifest the physical hand and even the object itself... but do not worry about it right now. Let us move slowly step by step.

Just as Jñānendriya-s, Karmendriya-s are not the organs themselves (mouth, hands, legs, feet, anus and genitals) but the energy ordinarily circulating through them. This energy does not disappear if you lose a particular organ. For instance, you lose a leg and then, as time passes by, you note that the other leg has become stronger... and your arms have become stronger and so on. That simple fact shows that Pādendriya (Pāda-indriya) or power of locomotion did not go away together with the leg because it is not "physical" but "subtle". Let us study Tanmātra-s now.

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 Tanmātra-s

Firstly a simple table with the five Tanmātra-s according to Trika:

Tattva 27. Śabda -शब्द- Sound-as-such. You can recognize different sounds because
of this sound pattern.
TANMĀTRA-S
-तन्मात्र-
Subtle Elements (predominantly tamasic)
Tattva 28. Sparśa -स्पर्श- Touch-as-such. You can recognize different kinds of touch because of this touch pattern.
Tattva 29. Rūpa -रूप- Color-as-such. You can recognize different colors because of this color pattern.
Tattva 30. Rasa -रस- Flavor-as-such. You can recognize different flavors because
of this flavor pattern.
Tattva 31. Gandha -गन्ध- Odor-as-such. You can recognize different odors because of this odor pattern.

Just as Karmendriya-s, Tanmātra-s (Subtle Elements) are also born from ego or Ahaṅkāra. It is not enough for ego to manifest Manas, Jñānendriya-s and Karmendriya-s inasmuch as there is no "real" object yet but only powers to think of, perceive and take objects. Well, the first step in manifesting objects is a "subtle" one, that is, a pattern design of the future object is firstly "drawn". So, Tanmātra-s are the foundations on which the solid house known as "physical" world is going to be built. The term "Tanmātra" is derived from "Tat-mātra", i.e. "only that, merely that". In other words, a Tanmātra is merely something with no particular differentiation in it. For example: Rūpatanmātra is a "pattern color" which is not any known color. It is not red, black, etc., but its "subtle and unnoticed" existence allows you to recognize red, black and the remaining colors. Tanmātra-s are indispensable tools helping Ahaṅkāra to differentiate the various perceptions of the upcoming physical world. In First Steps (3) you will find more information about Tanmātra-s and a practical example of their realization.

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 Mahābhūta-s

From Tanmātra-s the five Mahābhūta-s are developed:

Tattva 32. Ākāśa -आकाश- The space or 3D framework within which the entire physical world exists. MAHĀBHŪTA-S
-महाभूत-
Gross Elements (predominantly tamasic)
Tattva 33. Vāyu -वायु- All that is gaseous. So, it is not only the ordinary "air".
Tattva 34. Agni -अग्नि-
or Tejas -तेजस्-
All that contains heat and color. So, it is not only
the ordinary "fire".
Tattva 35. Āpas -आपस्- All that is liquid. So, it is not only the ordinary "water".
Tattva 36. Pṛthivī -पृथिवी- All that is solid. So, it is not only the ordinary "earth".

I said that Mahābhūta-s arise from Tanmātra-s. A first understanding of this statement would be the following:

From tattva 27. Śabda -शब्द- emerges Tattva 32. Ākāśa -आकाश- Manifestation of Mahābhūta-s
From tattva 28. Sparśa -स्पर्श- emerges Tattva 33. Vayu -वायु-
From tattva 29. Rūpa -रूप- emerges Tattva 34. Agni -अग्नि- or Tejas -तेजस्-
From tattva 30. Rasa -रस- emerges Tattva 35. Āpas -आपस्-
From tattva 31. Gandha -गन्ध- emerges Tattva 36. Pṛthivī -पृथिवी-

This is partially true though. Vedānta (a celebrated philosophical system -- See First Steps series under "Sanskrit" section for more information) states a more sophisticated process for the development of Mahābhūta-s. Of course, Trika agrees with Vedānta's viewpoint. Pay attention:

TANMĀTRA-S %   MAHĀBHŪTA-S  
From tattva 27. Śabda -शब्द- (50%) emerges Tattva 32. Ākāśa -आकाश- Manifestation of
Mahābhūta-s
according to Vedānta
(of course, Trika
completely agrees
with Vedānta's
viewpoint)
From tattva 28. Sparśa -स्पर्श- (12.5%)
From tattva 29. Rūpa -रूप- (12.5%)
From tattva 30. Rasa -रस- (12.5%)
From tattva 31. Gandha -गन्ध- (12.5%)
From tattva 28. Sparśa -स्पर्श- (50%) emerges Tattva 33. Vayu -वायु-
From tattva 27. Śabda -शब्द- (12.5%)
From tattva 29. Rūpa -रूप- (12.5%)
From tattva 30. Rasa -रस- (12.5%)
From tattva 31. Gandha -गन्ध- (12.5%)
From tattva 29. Rūpa -रूप- (50%) emerges Tattva 34. Agni -अग्नि-
or Tejas -तेजस्-
From tattva 27. Śabda -शब्द- (12.5%)
From tattva 28. Sparśa -स्पर्श- (12.5%)
From tattva 30. Rasa -रस- (12.5%)
From tattva 31. Gandha -गन्ध- (12.5%)
From tattva 30. Rasa -रस- (50%) emerges Tattva 35. Āpas -आपस्-
From tattva 27. Śabda -शब्द- (12.5%)
From tattva 28. Sparśa -स्पर्श- (12.5%)
From tattva 29. Rūpa -रूप- (12.5%)
From tattva 31. Gandha -गन्ध- (12.5%)
From tattva 31. Gandha -गन्ध- (50%) emerges Tattva 36. Pṛthivī -पृथिवी-
From tattva 27. Śabda -शब्द- (12.5%)
From tattva 28. Sparśa -स्पर्श- (12.5%)
From tattva 29. Rūpa -रूप- (12.5%)
From tattva 30. Rasa -रस- (12.5%)

Note that Mahābhūta-s has a five-fold nature because of their being formed from five Tanmātra-s, that is to speak, every Gross Element can be heard, touched, seen, tasted and smelled to an extent completely dependent upon the respective percentage. For instance: Agni is "mostly" seen, but it can also be heard, touched, tasted and smelled. As you know, Agni or Fire is the basic component in all colors. Therefore, all colors are "mostly" seen, but they can also be heard, touched, tasted and smelled. Interesting! The same process can be applied to the remaining Mahābhūta-s.

Ego or Ahaṅkāra manifests Mahābhūta-s from Tanmātra-s in order to have some objects to experience and enjoy. He tries to find "lasting" happiness in objects all the time, but he fails to find it there. The reason is simple: "it is not there!" The objects of which the entire world consists, are reflections of the Supreme Self who is the "real" source of Bliss. The Supreme Self is a Witness to the aforesaid objects and that Supreme Self is You. Awake! The world is as a dream. When you dream in the night, you experience various worlds containing oneiric objects which looks like "real" ones. When you wake up in the morning, you realize that all was a mere dream. You feel specially happy when the dream was a nightmare, hehe! When you are in wakefulness, you understand that every object in the dream was really your own mind. Likewise, all objects around you in the waking state are another dream... a little longer. When you finally go beyond all "dreams" (those of wakefulness included), you attain to your own Self who is not describable by words. Just as you cannot fully realize the nature of wakefulness while asleep and dreaming, so you cannot completely understand your real essence while you are spiritually "snoring". You need to awake a little bit to grasp a little bit... if you want more, you need to awake a little more. When you have gone beyond all dreams, you get "all". Therefore, strive to achieve final Emancipation and stop falling asleep all the time. Since the world is a Play of Śiva, enjoy it but do not develop attachment to it. There is nothing out there that is the "goal" of your life. There is nothing out there giving you happiness or sadness. Only the Witness in you is the genuine goal. This world is like a long dream. Wake up now!

Well, a last teaching: All objects around you consist of Gross Elements but each of them has a different proportion of a particular Mahābhūta. For example: air is composed predominantly of Vāyu, but it also contains Ākāśa, Agni, Āpas and Pṛthivī. That is way, you can "hear, see, taste and smell" air, to a certain extent of course, apart from "touching" it (main characteristic of Vāyu). Besides, Vāyu itself contains the five Tanmātra-s despite Sparśa is predominant (50%) in it. Usually, Mahābhūta-s are balanced, but sometimes there is a lack of balance. At that moment, you may feel somewhat disturbed. For instance: you lean out of the window on a 20th floor and you feel vertigo... you even feel pain in the heart area. Why? Because there is too much Vāyu. The heart area is paining to you since Anāhatacakra is in charge of Vāyu in your body... but this will be studied some day, not now. Likewise, when Agni is predominant you feel disturbed. For example: a too hot room. You can surely find many more examples.

A few concluding words now.

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 Concluding remarks

This document is finished! I have also finished the study of 36 tattva-s according to Trika... for now. We will go deep into the subject in the future, when studying Śivasūtra-s, etc. in depth. The most important thing you must ever remember is the following: The world emerges from You (Śiva). There is nobody opposing You and there is nobody helping You either. Everything is like a dream. In a dream you undergo so many experiences... some of them are nice... some... ūugh! But when you wake up in the morning, all is gone (nightmares and nice dreams). Renounce self-invented ignorance and be really blissful. Repeat constantly "Śivo'ham" (I am Śiva) and abandon Ahaṅkāra or ego. You do not need to experience all this misery in your life. You can be completely happy if you decide to. There is no real happiness or sadness in this world because it is a dream. Remember this teaching and meditate on the Witness who is Śiva, who is You. See you soon!

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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.