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 Tantricism - Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir

Overview


 Introduction

Gabriel Pradīpaka --wrongly-written Pradipaka-- again. People often think that they can understand "anything" about philosophies and spiritual paths if someone just takes the trouble to explain it to them. This is a common "illusion". Nevertheless, most of them accept that they cannot understand a particular differential equation, for example. This is the paradox.

Why do they behave so? Because philosophies and spiritual paths are "apparently" open to everyone's opinions. Anyone "apparently" might give a serious opinion about a philosophical system or spiritual path without studying it thoroughly first. A common practice which is completely based upon ignorance, no doubt. On the other hand, those people who "really" know those systems and paths, are constantly afraid of saying something which is not correct about them. The more a person knows and understands, the more he thinks that does not know or understand. Knowledge and understanding come to that person in the form of lack of knowledge and understanding. The ignorant people are totally convinced that they know and understand perfectly, even though they neither know nor understand at all.

Despite the aforesaid "illusion", the "real" fact is that the sciences of Yoga, Tantra, Sanskrit, etc., are incredibly deep. If you want to know and understand them, you will have to strive to study them for many years or possibly "the rest of your life". If your knowledge and understanding are not good enough, there is much room to say nonsenses. Three examples of "nonsenses" now :

In Śivasūtra-s (first section), the fifth aphorism states the following:

उद्यमो भैरवः॥५॥
Udyamo bhairavaḥ||5||

"Bhairava" is God, the Supreme Consciousness. In turn "udyamo" is derived from "udyama". If you search for its meaning, you will surely find these ones: "the act of raising or lifting up, elevation, undertaking, beginning, the act of striving after, exerting one's self, exertion, strenuous and continued effort, perseverance, diligence, zeal". Well, which one will you choose? Some people chose "exertion, strenuous and continued effort". Thus, the translation would be:

Bhairava (bhairavaḥ) is an exertion, a strenuous and continued effort (udyamaḥ).

(5th aphorism, Section I --Śivasūtra-s--)

I have heard some strange conclusions based upon that translation. For example: "God makes an effort to manifest the universe". However, if you revise the section in which this aphorism is included, you will realize that no "exertion or effort" is possible there. The first section of Śivasūtra-s deals with the Highest State of Consciousness, where all duality ceases to exist. There is no room for some kind of "exertion or effort" on anyone's part. As you see, a complete "nonsense". The correct translation of "udyama" in this context is "the act of raising or lifting up, elevation", because at this level your experience of God or Bhairava is like that. So:

Bhairava (bhairavaḥ) is a (sudden) elevation (of Divine Consciousness) (udyamaḥ).

(5th aphorism, Section I --Śivasūtra-s--)

The words in brackets and italics --"sudden" and "of Divine Consciousness"-- have been added in order to "polish" and "enhance" the original meaning. This is a common practice when you translate Sanskrit texts. All those "enhancements" should always be somehow highlighted so that the reader may see the original translation as well as the "polished" one.

A second example now:

I always say that the real "Guru" is not a physical form. Besides, I think one does not need any physical or non-physical Guru when is about to attain to Enlightenment. At the highest levels of Consciousness, there is no Guru because there is no room for anything else. How can there be a Guru if there is neither "I" nor "you" there? Such concepts as "Guru and disciple" have simply vanished and dissolved in the Absolute Consciousness. The word "Trika" means "triple", that is, this philosophical system contains three levels of consciousness: 1) non-dual, 2) non-dual/dual and 3) dual. There can be "Guru" at the last two levels but not on the first one. Nevertheless, some people tell me: "But, in Śivasūtra-s it is stated that the Guru is the means". That is correct:

गुरुरुपायः॥६॥
Gururupāyaḥ||6||

The Guru (guruḥ) is the means (upāyaḥ).

(6th aphorism, Section II --Śivasūtra-s--)

But this aphorism is included in the "second Section", which deals with Śāktopāya. Śāktopāya (See Meditation 3) is a level on which "dualism" and "non-dualism" are intermingled. As there is a "trace" of dualism, you can speak of a "Guru". However, if you study the first section (Śāmbhavopāya --See Meditation 2), you will not find any reference to any Guru at all, except maybe at the initial stage. Still, I am not looking down on the function of the Guru, because through Guru's grace one lastly attains to his innermost Self. I am just being precise in my statements. By the word "Guru", I generally mean "Cosmic Guru" or the fifth function of Śiva, which reveals your one's own nature. Regarding the "physical" guru... well, I am not sure. There are surely a true ones, but... there are also so many people just doing business with it. I do not like that. Granted, every disciple of every physical guru affirms that his/her guru is a true one, but as I said before, I am not sure. A person should discern by himself if a physical guru is a true one. Use always your discernment, friend.

A last example of "nonsenses":

The mantra "Haṁsa". I have read many authors giving meditation techniques based on Haṁsa. They say that you should repeat "haṁ" when inhaling and "sa" when exhaling. And this is a serious mistake. Overlooking the fact that you should not repeat "Haṁsa" but only "hearing" the sound of your own breathing (which sounds like "ha-sa"), there is a misunderstanding about the meaning of every syllable. The correct way of practicing is like this:

Attempt to hear the sound "ha" when inhaling, and the sound "sa" when exhaling. The sound "ṁ" is Praṇava or Om̐ (the sacred Word). In short, you should try to hear "ha" when breathing in and "sa" when breathing out. After some practice, the middle state (the space between inhalation and exhalation) is developed, that is, the gap increases, becomes larger. When this happens, you only pay attention to the gap or middle state. In due course, you are able to listen to the sound Om̐ arising from there. This sound is produced by the primeval throbbing of Śakti. Om̐ is the original word from which the entire universe has been born.

As you see, if your knowledge is not enough, you are likely to make many mistakes, some of which could be really serious. This is specially harmful when you are a teacher trying to "illuminate" someone, hehe! Obviously, you will switch off all of your disciple's lights if you are going to pass on him/her that bundle of pure idiocy and ignorance. Therefore, before teaching someone a lesson about Yoga, philosophy and so on, one should have learnt it in an appropriate manner.

You may wonder why I was talking about misunderstandings, tergiversations and the like. Well, this is the answer:

Tantricism has been extremely misunderstood in the West. Most people here think that Tantricism is "only" related to sexual practices. This is completely false, be sure. Besides, there is a misunderstanding regarding that branch of Tantricism using sexual practices to attain to Enlightenment. In sum, quite a mess. Obviously, the final result of this chaos is "extra ignorance". There are two things you have to firstly understand:

1) Tantricism is not synonymous with "sexual practices".

2) One of the two major branches in Tantricism is related to sexual practices indeed, but these practices are intended for "serious aspirants" who have been duly taught and prepared by a "true" and "proficient" guru. There can be surely some people who are directly taught by the "Cosmic Guru", but that is not commonly seen. The crucial point here is that you cannot simply read a book dealing with Tantricism, take a woman or a man and perform "tantric" sexual practices. This is not a serious behavior, really. Not at all. Sexual Tantricism is intended for a Yogī and a Yoginī who are conversant with Tantric scriptures and practices. It is not a matter of physical poses but states of consciousness. If both of practitioners are not adepts in Tantricism, the sexual practice will fail to give the proper fruits.

The word "Tantra" has many meanings: a loom, the warp, the essential part, characteristic feature, framework, doctrine, rule, etc. Of course, you may take both "doctrine" and "the essential point" to translate the term "Tantra". Notwithstanding, there is another way of translating it. Listen:

"Tantra" is derived from the verbal root "tan" (to extend). Thus, the word "Tantra" would mean "that doctrine in which some types of teachings are extended or developed". "What are those teachings?", you may wonder. Wait a minute! Before making that point clear, I must give you a brief historical reference.

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 Brief historical reference

I do not like to talk about "dates" because I consider Time to be a kind of "illusion". It is "real" but it only occurs at a particular level of consciousness. According to Trika, it begins from the tattva (category) 10 as a mere notion of division into parts. Above this tattva there is neither the aforesaid notion nor Time itself. All sacred scriptures come from that timeless region and they are subsequently beyond Time too.

At that eternal level, the scriptures do not exist in the form that we know them, at all. All letters and words forming a scripture are merged into a mass of Divine Consciousness. They are not seen as something different and separate from Śiva Himself. There is no distinction there. Afterward --when the notions of time and space are manifested--, although all letters and words remain in complete unity with each other, there is difference. In short, you may differentiate one word from the other, but you perceive that there is no separation between them. The scripture appears as an organic entity which is absolutely coherent in all respects. By "organic" I mean "living", that is, a "living entity" and not "dead matter". From the fourteenth tattva (intellect), there is separation as well as difference. That is, you can differentiate the words from each other as well as see them as forming "separate" sections. In sum, the "living organic entity" is no more. When the physical world is finally manifested, the sacred scriptures maintain their previous characteristics (difference and separation in respect to their words) but they appear now as "printed books" or "webpages" (hehe!) or any other kinds of publications. (See Tattvic Chart and all documents of Trika section for more information)

Thus, the Tantra-s undergo all the time the following cycle of manifestation:

Tattva-s 1-5 Divine region in which there is neither notion of Time nor Time itself. All letters and words in the Tantra-s is cannot be differentiated or separated from each other. There is only one Mass of Divine Consciousness. This is the Supracausal level.
Tattva-s 6-13 Appearance of the notion of time along with the rest of limitations. All letters and words in the Tantra-s can be differentiated now, but a underlying unity still remains. In sum, even though there is difference, there is no separation at all.
This is the Causal level.
Tattva-s 14-31 Appearance of the mind. All letters and words in the Tantra-s can be both differentiated and separated from each other, but only at a mental level, because the physical world has not been manifested yet.
Tattva-s 32-36 Appearance of the physical world. All letters and words in the Tantra-s can be differentiated and separated from each other at a physical level now, that is, they appear as "printed books", "webpages"
and all types of publications.

The previous chart clearly indicates that the Tantra-s emerge from the depths of your own Self. Śakti Herself brings about the manifestation of the Tantra-s for You, Śiva, right now. It is a cycle of manifestation whose origin is a timeless one. What is the point of assigning time to that which is eternal?

Most researchers living in the West are fond of finding out "dates". They find enormous problems when trying to date a particular Indian scripture, specially if it is really ancient, because people of India are not fond of dates at all. I have never seen an original Indian scripture in Sanskrit with something like this: "Written in March 15th, 2000 BC", haha!

However, I will be compassionate to those people who love "dates". According to some authors, the Tantra-s appeared around the fourth or fifth century AD. Of course, other authors state an earlier date: 1) around the second century AD; 2) around 240 BC and 3) the date could even be placed earlier, according to some scholars. In short, nobody knows really when the Tantra-s appeared. The reason for this uncertainty is that Tantricism is not a philosophical system or religion but a broad philosophical and religious movement... but I will explain this to you later on.

Well, this historical reference was really brief, hehe!

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 Eight characteristic features

Tantricism is not either a philosophical system or a religion. It is a broad philosophical and religious movement which spread within Hinduism, Buddhism and even Jainism. This is what you must first understand. If you treat Tantricism as a philosophy or religion, you will never understand why there are tantric Vaiṣṇava-s (followers of Viṣṇu) when the vast majority of them are Veda-oriented. You will not understand why there is Tantricism in Buddhism either, and so on. No, as I stated before, Tantricism is a broad philosophical and religious movement. It is new way of thinking (different from that of Veda-s) about philosophical and religious subjects. Got it? Well done. Let us go on. There are eight features characterizing Tantricism:

1) It is a new vision about all, and differs from that of Veda-s in many points.

2) The Tantra-s are a series of books which have been revealed, that is, they were not written by a human hand.

3) Tantricism may be divided into two main branches: Dakṣiṇācāra (right-hand Tantra) and Vāmācāra (left-hand Tantra).

4) It states that the worldly life should not be abandoned but rather be used as a means to Enlightenment.

5) Śakti or the Supreme Mother of all is certainly a central aspect in Tantricism. However, Tantricism is not synonymous with Shaktism.

6) There is a strong emphasis on initiation. An aspirant must be initiated by a proficient guru so that he may gain access to the secrets contained in the Tantra-s.

7) There is a remarkable correlation between man, universe, gods and ritual.

8) The Tantra-s appear as a series of books in which Śiva is the guru and Śakti the disciple, and vice versa (i.e. Śakti is the guru and Śiva the disciple).

Let us going deeper into each of these features.

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Going deeper into the previous features

Pay attention:

1) It is a new vision about all, and differs from that of Veda in many points.

The main characteristic of Tantricism is that it is completely detached from Veda-s. There is a new set of practices, rituals and viewpoints which are more appropriate to man in the current age (Kaliyuga). According to the Veda-s, the ancient vedic rituals (yajña-s) are not necessary in this Kaliyuga. So, they were mostly discarded. Tantricism took those vedic rituals and adapted them by adding all tantric symbolism to them. This is one point of difference between Tantricism and Veda-s.

Another point of difference is the following: in Tantricism there is no distinction of caste or sex. Thus, anyone who has been properly initiated can do all practices in complete freedom. This is an interesting feature, I think, and it clearly shows why Tantricism seems to be better adapted than the Veda-s to the conditions and needs of man nowadays. I am not saying that the Veda-s are now good for nothing, because that would be "another" nonsense. The truth contained in the Vedic scriptures is undeniable, no doubt. I am only stating the differences between the original Tantricism and the original Veda-s regarding some viewpoints and concepts. There have surely been many changes in the vedic systems in order to adapt them to the present age.

There are some other points in which Tantricism does not agree with the Veda-s. One of them is described by me later (See 4- It states that the worldly life should not be abandoned but rather be used as a means to Enlightenment.).

2) The Tantra-s are a series of books which have been revealed, that is, they were not written by a human hand.

There are many Tantra-s (over 200 or even more --some tantric teachers state that there are one million Tantra-s--). These books have a unique characteristic: revelation. In other words, they have been revealed and not written by any human being. That is why they are known as Āgama-s. The term "Āgama" come from the root "ā-gam" (to come), that is, these texts "have come" from the Divine Himself. You know that the ancient Ṛṣi-s wrote the contents of the Veda-s, and that the sage Vyāsa compiled all that knowledge in the form of those celebrated books. However, nobody knows who was the real author of the Tantra-s. Indian tradition states that they were revealed by God, but the westerners could be somewhat skeptic in accepting that statement to the letter. Still, the occidental researchers have failed to find an author for the Tantra-s so far. Funny!

Even though all Tantra-s are formally Āgama-s or revealed scriptures, this term is generally assigned to those Tantra in which Śiva is the guru and Śakti the disciple. In turn, those Tantra-s wherein the roles are exactly the opposite (Śakti is the guru and Śiva is the disciple), are known as Nigama-s. This word has various meanings: insertion (specially of the name of a deity into a liturgical formula), the root or source of a word, sacred precept, the words of a god or holy man, doctrine, instruction, etc. Of course, the term Nigama-s is "also" associated with the Veda-s.

3) Tantricism may be divided into two main branches: Dakṣiṇācāra (right-hand Tantra) and Vāmācāra (left-hand Tantra).

This is an important characteristic which should be fully understood. Why? Before answering this question, I will define the correct meaning of the two terms:

Dakṣiṇācāra (dakṣiṇa-ācāra) means "the right-hand ācāra". The word "ācāra" has various meanings: "conduct, behavior, practice, usage, precept, rule, etc.". One good translation would be the following: "the right-hand rule", but there could be other possible interpretations (e.g. "the right-hand precept"). In short, this term is generally used in the sense of "the right-hand path or Tantra". In turn, Vāmācāra (vāma-ācāra) means "the left-hand path or Tantra".

Right-hand Tantra is based upon "meditation", while left-hand Tantra is based upon "ritualistic practices including sexual intercourse which is spiritually oriented". Thus, Tantricism is not synonymous with "spiritual sexual intercourse" exclusively, (not to mention "a mere sexual intercourse") because there is also Dakṣiṇācāra, which is completely based on "meditative practices".

So, if you want to make love by using weird poses and the like... do as you wish, but please, do not use the word "Tantric" for every thing that your mind happens to create, because this would be another "rock" on the back of Tantricism. The science contained in Vāmācāra (left-hand Tantra) is a high one, and it is only intended for those people who were initiated by a guru who is conversant with all tantric practices and theory.

4) It states that the worldly life should not be abandoned but rather be used as a means to Enlightenment.

This is an important feature in Tantricism. The well-known vedic spirit of renunciation is here replaced for "a reintegration of the worldly life to the purposes of Enlightenment". The "desire" and all values associated with it are now employed to achieve final Liberation. The tantric practitioner is both a master in spiritual matters and a master in worldly matters, because, in fact, there is no difference between "spiritual" and "worldly". They are the two aspects in which the Divine Mother (Śakti) is manifested. So, a freed person is 1) one who has transcended all pains and Saṁsāra (transmigration of the souls, that is, to be born and then to die, and to die and then to be born), 2) one who has acquired astonishing skills to lead a mundane life which is full of fulfillments.

The person does not have to abandon all and go to the woods in order to attain to Mokṣa or Liberation (as stated in the Veda-s). Not at all. He can remain at home, leading a worldly life, and at the same time he can be able to achieve Enlightenment. Sex is an important element in a family life, you know. Vāmācāra's teachings were firstly meant to turn sex into something which would be helpful rather than a hindrance. Got it? So, wife and husband might attain to Mokṣa even in a family environment. This revolutionary viewpoint about sex and family life is better adapted to the current conditions and needs of man, I think. Granted, so many tergiversations and misunderstandings have occurred... so many people mistaking a mere sexual enjoyment for a "spiritual Vāmācāra practice". Well, it seems that human being has the horrible habit of corrupting all that is originally pure and sacred. And now, a quote extracted directly from the second section of Kulārṇavatantra. In this Tantra, Śiva is the guru and Śakti the disciple. She is called "deveśī" or "goddess" (lit. "wife of the god --Śiva--") here:

मद्यपानेन मनुजो यदि सिद्धिं लभेत वै।
मद्यपानरताः सर्वे सिद्धिं गच्छन्तु पामराः॥११७॥

मांसभक्षणमात्रेण यदि पुण्यगतिर्भवेत्।
लोके मांसाशिनः सर्वे पुण्यभाजो भवन्त्विह॥११८॥

स्त्रीसम्भोगेन देवेशि यदि मोक्षं व्रजन्ति वै।
सर्वेऽपि जन्तवो लोके मुक्ताः स्युः स्त्रीनिषेवणात्॥११९॥

Madyapānena manujo yadi siddhiṁ labheta vai|
Madyapānaratāḥ sarve siddhiṁ gacchantu pāmarāḥ||117||

Māṁsabhakṣaṇamātreṇa yadi puṇyagatirbhavet|
Loke māṁsāśinaḥ sarve puṇyabhājo bhavantviha||118||

Strīsambhogena deveśi yadi mokṣaṁ vrajanti vai|
Sarve'pi jantavo loke muktāḥ syuḥ strīniṣevaṇāt||119||

If (yadi) a man (manujaḥ) really (vai) could attain (labheta) to Perfection (siddhim) by drinking (pānena) wine (madya), (then) may all (sarve) (those) vile (pāmarāḥ) people who are addicted to drinking (pānaratāḥ) wine (madya) achieve (gacchantu) Perfection (siddhim)!||117||

If (yadi) the achievement (gatiḥ) of Virtue (puṇya) would result (bhavet) from merely (mātreṇa) eating (bhakṣaṇa) meat (māṁsa), (then) may all (sarve) carnivorous beings (māṁsāśinaḥ) in this world (loke... iha) be (bhavantu) virtuous (puṇyabhājaḥ)!||118||

Oh goddess (deveśi)!, if (yadi) (the beings) indeed (vai) attain (vrajanti) to Liberation (mokṣam) through the enjoyment (sambhogena) of women (strī), (then) all (sarve) creatures (jantavaḥ) in this world (loke) would become (syuḥ) liberated (muktāḥ) by frequenting (niṣevaṇāt) women (strī)||119||

Through the use of fine irony it is clearly indicated that a mere mundane enjoyment is not always "a tantric one". In Vāmācāra, one drinks wine, eats meat, have sexual intercourse, etc., for the sake of Enlightenment. Moreover, he is constantly following the strict rules stated in the proper tantric Śāstra-s (scriptures). Every act in the Vāmācāra rituals has a special symbolism and significance and it is performed for the sake of Liberation. Enough of this.

5) Śakti or the Supreme Mother of all is certainly a central aspect in Tantricism. However, Tantricism is not synonymous with Shaktism.

Śakti or the Divine Mother is by far the most important deity in Tantricism. She is the core of all tantric practices. She is known as Kuṇḍalinī when residing in a living being. She is the bestower of the Supreme Bliss for all those followers that worship Her according to the sacred rituals and meditations contained in the Tantra-s. Her importance has been emphasized in Niruttaratantra:

बहूनां जन्मनामन्ते शक्तिज्ञानं प्रजायते।
शक्तिज्ञानं विना देवि निर्वाणं नैव जायते॥

Bahūnaṁ janmanāmante śaktijñānaṁ prajāyate|
Śaktijñānaṁ vinā devi nirvāṇaṁ naiva jāyate||

After (ante) many (bahūnām) births (janmanām), the knowledge (jñānam) of Śakti (śakti) is born (in oneself) (prajāyate). Oh goddess (devi)!, without (vinā) the knowledge (jñānam) of Śakti (śakti), Nirvāṇa --final Liberation-- (nirvāṇam) does not (na eva) spring up (jāyate).

However, Tantricism should not be "strictly" equated to Shaktism, because there are groups of Śākta-s (followers of Śakti) which are not "tantric" at all. In turn, there are tantric groups that worship Śiva, Viṣṇu, etc. as well as Śakti. This is a common misunderstanding which results in more ignorance and confusion, obviously.

6) There is a strong emphasis on initiation. An aspirant must be initiated by a proficient guru so that he may gain access to the secrets contained in the Tantra-s.

This is an essential feature in Tantricism. One "must" be initiated in order to understand the Truth according to the Tantra-s. Hundreds of scholars could explain Tantricism to you, but that would be the millionth part of what you could obtain from the lips of a proficient tantric guru. Why? Because the knowledge changes if the level of consciousness changes. In the common state of consciousness (which is known as "wakefulness", haha!, this name is a joke, really), you only understand the teachings at that level. No matter how many books you may read, if your state of consciousness does not change, your understanding will not be modified.

That is why the initiation is strongly emphasized in Tantricism. Through both the ritual of initiation and the subsequent practices prescribed by the guru, your state of consciousness is lifted up and the natural consequence of that elevation is the modification of knowledge for you. You had read a Tantra before the initiation and your understanding was at a certain level. But, you read the same book again after the initiation, and you note that your understanding has radically changed. You understand now many things that were "in the dark" or which were not properly interpreted by you before. Many people think that the spiritual growth is merely a matter of "more" knowledge being accumulated in oneself. Nonetheless, it is really a matter of modifying the current state of consciousness so that one may understand all in a new light. Good!

7) There is a remarkable correlation between man, universe, gods and ritual.

This is another feature of Tantricism. Man, universe, gods and ritual are not considered separate entities but rather different manifestations of the same Śakti. Therefore, during a particular ritual every element of it is symbolic of something else. The flowers are representative of something else, the incense is representative of something else and so on. This viewpoint is based upon the crucial teaching that "worldly and spiritual" are the two faces of a same coin. One often thinks that "spirituality" is associated with something which is "within", while "worldliness" is associated with something which is "without". So, if you see a light "within", that is a "spiritual" experience, while if you see a light "without", that is a "worldly" experience. Besides, the worldliness is based on "day-to-day experiences". It is approximately so. For example, you are meditating and, all of a sudden, a blue dot appears in front of you. Oh, you feel so happy, you are so pleased with that vision. Afterward, you come out of that meditation, open the windows and let the sunlight flood your room. It is really possible that you will not experience that sunlight as "spiritual" too. Why? Because it is "without" and you see it every day. Thus, your mind thinks of it as a "mundane" manifestation. However, Tantricism considers all to be the manifestation of Śakti, the Divine Mother. So, an external light is as spiritual as an internal one and vice versa. In fact, there is neither spirituality nor worldliness because only one Supreme Consciousness is permeating everything and everyone. Got it?

Consequently, you may use a set of elements as representative of other realities. For example: a man represents Śiva and a woman represents Śakti. Then, their union is representative of that of Śiva and Śakti. Microcosm and macrocosm are closely allied to each other, because the two are the manifestation of only one Power. The following fragment extracted from the ancient Tantra-s clearly shows the aforesaid correlation between man, universe, gods and ritual. The sādhaka or practitioner is meditating on the Divine Mother (Śakti) in his heart lotus. He forms a mental image of Śakti there, and begins worshipping Her this way:

हृत्पद्मासनं दद्यात् सहस्रारच्युतामृतैः।
पाद्यं चरणयोर्दद्यान्मनसार्घ्यं निवेदयेत्॥

तेनामृतेनाचमनं स्नानीयमपि कल्पयेत्।
आकाशतत्त्वं वसनं गन्धं तु गन्धतत्त्वकम्॥

चित्तं प्रकल्पयेत् पुष्पं धूपं प्राणान् प्रकल्पयेत्।
तेजस्तत्त्वं च दीपार्थे नैवेद्यं च सुधाम्बुधिम्॥

अनाहतध्वनिं घण्टां वायुतत्त्वं च चामरम्।
नृत्यमिन्द्रियकर्माणि चाञ्चल्यं मनसस्तथा॥

पुष्पं नानाविधं दद्यादात्मनो भावसिद्धये।
अमायामनहङ्कारमरागममदं तथा॥

अमोहकमदम्भं च अद्वेषाक्षोभके तथा।
अमात्सर्यमलोभं च दशपुष्पं प्रकीर्तितम्॥

अहिंसा परमं पुष्पं पुष्पमिन्द्रियनिग्रहम्।
दयाक्षमाज्ञानपुष्पं पञ्चपुष्पं ततः परम्॥

इति पञ्चदशैर्पुष्पैर्भावपुष्पैः प्रपूजयेत्॥

Hṛtpadmāsanaṁ dadyāt sahasrāracyutāmṛtaiḥ|
Pādyaṁ caraṇayordadyānmanasārghyaṁ nivedayet||

Tenāmṛtenācamanaṁ snānīyamapi kalpayet|
Ākāśatattvaṁ vasanaṁ gandhaṁ tu gandhatattvakam||

Cittaṁ prakalpayet puṣpaṁ dhūpaṁ prāṇān prakalpayet|
Tejastattvaṁ ca dīpārthe naivedyaṁ ca sudhāmbudhim||

Anāhatadhvaniṁ ghaṇṭāṁ vāyutattvaṁ ca cāmaram|
Nṛtyamindriyakarmāṇi cāñcalyaṁ manasastathā||

Puṣpaṁ nānāvidhaṁ dadyādātmano bhāvasiddhaye|
Amāyāmanahaṅkāramarāgamamadaṁ tathā||

Amohakamadambham ca adveṣākṣobhake tathā|
Amātsaryamalobhaṁ ca daśapuṣpaṁ prakīrtitam||

Ahiṁsā paramaṁ puṣpamindriyanigraham|
Dayākṣamājñānapuṣpaṁ pañcapuṣpaṁ tataḥ param||

Iti pañcadaśairpuṣpairbhāvapuṣpaiḥ prapūjayet||

He gives (dadyāt... dadyāt) (his) heart (hṛt) lotus (padma) as the seat (āsanam), and the water for washing (pādyam) the feet (caraṇayoḥ) in the form of the nectars (amṛtaiḥ) flowing (cyuta) from Sahasrāra --the supreme Cakra placed at the crown of the head-- (sahasrāra). He presents (nivedayet) the offering --lit. water offered to a guest-- (arghyam) in the form of (his) mind (manasā).

He also (api) prepares (kalpayet) the water to be sipped from the palm of the hand --a purificatory ceremony that is performed before any ritual or meal-- (ācamanam) (as well as) the water to be used in ablutions (snānīyam) by means of that very (tena) nectar (amṛtena). (He gives) the principle (tattvam) of Ākāśa --ether or space-- (ākāśa) as the dress (vasanam), and the power of smelling (gandhatattvakam) as the odor (gandham).

He prepares (prakalpayet) (his) mind (manas) as the flower (vai) (and) arranges (prakalpayet) (his) vital energies (prāṇān) as incense (dhūpam). (He) also (ca) (arranges) the principle (tattvam) of Tejas --fire-- (tejas) for it to act as (arthe) the lamp (dīpa), and (ca) the ocean (ambudhim) of nectar (sudhā) as the offering of food (naivedyam).

(He prepares) the Anāhata (anāhata) sound --which keeps sounding constantly in the heart lotus-- (dhvanim) as the bell (ghaṇṭām), and (ca) the principle (tattvam) of Vāyu --air-- (vāyu) as the fly-whisk made of tail of Yak (cāmaram). (He offers) the actions (karmāṇi) of the senses(indriya) as well as (tathā) the unsteadiness (cāñcalyam) of mind (manasaḥ) as dance (nṛtyam).

For realizing (siddhaye) the state (bhāva) of the Self (ātmanaḥ), he gives (dadyāt) flower(s) (puṣpam) of various sorts (nānāvidham): absence of delusion (amāyām), nonegotism (anahaṅkāram), dispassion and detachment (arāgam) as well as (tathā) absence of arrogance (amadam);...

... absence of both bewilderment (amohakam) and (ca) deceit (adambham), as well as (tathā) nonmalevolence (adveṣa) and freedom from agitation (akṣobhake); absence of envy (amātsaryam) and (ca) liberty from covetousness (alobham)" --(these virtues) are named (prakīrtitam) the ten (daśa) flower(s) (puṣpam)--.

The supreme (paramam) flower(s) (puṣpam) (known as) Áhiṁsā --nonviolence and harmlessness-- (ahiṁsā) and subjugation (nigraham) of the senses (indriya) (along with) the flower(s) (puṣpam) (known as) compassion (dayā), patience (kṣamā) and knowledge (jñāna), (are) therefore (tatas) the highest (param) five (pañca) flowers (puspam). Thus (iti), through (these) fifteen (pañcadaśaiḥ) flowers (puṣpaiḥ), (which are actually fifteen) flowers (puṣpaiḥ) formed from feelings (bhāva), he performs the worship (prapūjayet).

The sādhaka or practitioner uses every object in the ritual as representative of a virtue, state and so on. This is a common feature in Tantricism.

8) The Tantra-s appear as a series of books in which Śiva is the guru and Śakti the disciple, and vice versa (i.e. Śakti is the guru and Śiva the disciple).

As I said previously, even though all Tantra-s are formally Āgama-s or revealed scriptures, this appellative is commonly assigned to those Tantra-s in which Śiva is the guru and Śakti the disciple. On the other hand, the Tantra-s wherein Śakti is the guru and Śiva the disciple are known as Nigama-s. Nevertheless, there are some scriptures where this dialogue occurs despite they are not "tantric" ones (e.g. Gurugītā in Skandapurāṇa).

Let us study now the relationship between Tantricism and Trika.

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 Tantricism and Trika

Even though Trika accepts the authority of all Tantra-s, just a few ones were included in its literature. There are eleven Tantra-s which are held in high esteem:

(1) Mālinīvijaya (also known as "Mālinīvijayottara") is the most important and authoritative Tantra included in Trika's literature. (2) Vijñānabhairava; (3) Svacchanda; (4) Rudrayāmala; (5) Mṛgendra; (6) Mataṅga; (7) Ucchuṣmabhairava; (8) Svāyambhuva; (9) Ānandabhairava; (10) Naiśvāsa and (11) Netra (also known as "Mṛtyuñjit".

I will give now a brief description of the main Tantra-s in Trika's literature:

Mālinīvijaya or Mālinīvijayottara This is the most important and authoritative Tantra according to Trika tradition. The word "Mālinī" refers to a particular arrangement of the letters in the alphabet, which is considered to be very important from a ritualistic and spiritual viewpoint. When the letters of Sanskrit alphabet are given in a regular order (Vowels, Gutturals, Palatals, Cerebrals, Dentals, Labials, Semivowels, Sibilants and Sonant Aspirate), this arrangement is known as Mātṛkā. In turn, when the same letters are shown in an irregular order, this arrangement is known as Mālinī or Uttaramālinī. Here you are the Mālinī arrangement (note that "ḹ" and "kṣa" are included, while in Mātṛkā arrangement are not generally included):
न ऋ ॠ ऌ ॡ थ च ध ई ण उ ऊ ब क ख ग
घ ङ इ अ व भ य ड ढ ठ झ ञ ज र ट प छ ल
आ स अः ह ष क्ष म श अं त ए ऐ ओ औ द फ
na ṛ ṝ ḷ ḹ tha ca dha ī ṇa u ū ba ka kha ga
gha ṅa i a va bha ya ḍa ḍha ṭha jha ña ja ra ṭa pa cha la
ā sa aḥ ha ṣa kṣa ma śa aṁ ta e ai o au da pha
Vijñānabhairava It is lastly a compendium of 112 dhāraṇā-s or techniques to concentrate one's own mind. It is very important. Abhinavagupta (a great Trika master) called it "Śivavijñānopaniṣad" (The esoteric doctrine for the direct knowledge of Śiva). Through those dhāraṇā-s, you come in touch directly with Śiva, and not other ritual is necessary then. It is a Tantra really abstruse and full of deep esoteric meanings. You will find some stanzas extracted from Vijñānabhairava in the documents under Trika section.
Svacchanda A long scripture. Ritual is emphasized as well as yogic techniques and Praṇava (Om̐). The celebrated division into twelve stages of the evolution of Om̐ in oneself has been taught here. Om̐ is originally Aum̐. When you repeat Aum̐, your mind should be concentrated on the following three places: (1) "a" in the navel; (2) "u" in the heart; and (3) "ṁ" in the mouth. The remaining 9 stages occur spontaneously while Aum̐ goes up to the highest level. Nevertheless, at the beginning of your practice with Praṇava (Aum̐), you do not realize them. As you begin realizing those 9 stages (one by one), your consciousness is gradually raised toward higher levels:(4) "Bindu" --a brilliant point of light-- in the middle of the eyebrows; (5) "Ardhacandra" --a half-moon-- in the forehead; (6) "Nirodhikā" or "Nirodhinī" --a straight line-- in the upper area of the forehead; (7) "Nāda" or "Anāhatanāda" --a unstruck spontaneous sound-- in the central channel or passage --Suṣumnā-- situated within the spinal column; (8) "Nādānta" in Sahasrāra or Brahmarandhra --the highest Cakra or Center of energy placed slightly above the crown of the head--; (9) "Śakti" in the skin; (10) "Vyāpikā or Vyāpinī" at the root of the tuft of hair (śikhā) on the head; (11) "Samanā" in the tuft of hair (śikhā) on the head; and (12) "Unmanā" in the last part of the tuft of hair (śikhā) on the head.
Rudrayāmala A very important text in which the divine pair (yāmala) of Rudra-s (Śiva and Śakti) is studied. It is said that the celebrated text known as Parātriṁśikā forms the last part of Rudrayāmala. Abhinavagupta (a great master in Trika tradition) wrote two commentaries on Parātriṁśikā called Parātriṁśikāvivaraṇa and Parātrīśikālaghuvṛtti respectively. Parātriṁśikā is also known as Trikasūtra, because the principal teachings of the Trika system are expounded in it.
Netra or Mṛtyuñjit This Tantra studies a particular form of Śiva known as "Netra" (the Eye). This Netra is Mṛtyuñjit (the Conqueror of Death). Hence Netratantra is also called "Mṛtyuñjit". Innumerable "mantric" techniques and names of godheads may be found in this work. The sacred Mantra Om̐ Juṁ Saḥ is also taught here.

Very often people wonder: "What is the origin of Trika?" A concise and precise answer to that question is the following: "Trika was born when Tantricism met traditional Shaivism in Kashmir eleven centuries ago". This would be a good response. Hence Trika has Tantric and Śaiva components as its core. There is at present a controversy about the origin of Tantricism: "Was it born in a Buddhist environment or in a Śaiva one?" By the word "Śaiva", I mean "pertaining to Shaivism". Nobody can give a definitive answer to that crucial question for the time being. However, it is clear that the earliest Tantric schools found in the Śaiva environment all the favorable conditions for a further development. Thus, even though the Trika system was formally born when Śiva instructed the sage Vasugupta (IX AD) to search for Śivasūtra-s which had been written by Him on a flat stone, we could affirm that this historical event was just the natural consequence of a slow fusion of Tantric and Śaiva ideas over a long period of time in Kashmir.

Well, enough of this. We will keep talking about it on some other document probably.

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 Concluding Remarks

It has been a good and rather complete document. The core of all teachings I have given to you is the following: "Tantricism is not a philosophy or religion but a new way of viewing all, which is not based on the traditional Vedic viewpoint". Another important point is that according to Tantricism one is not bound to abandon "all" in order to attain to Liberation. He can live happily a family life while carrying out his spiritual practices. This viewpoint was a revolution when it appeared for the first time and even continues so to this day. The contribution of Tantricism to the renewal of old ideas, rituals and the like, was really massive and crucial indeed. It has been a blessing for us all. May this blessing dwell in your heart forever. 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.