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 Vijnānabhairava (Vijnana Bhairava) - Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir

The Supreme Self as one's own essential nature


 Introduction

Hi, Gabriel Pradīpaka --wrongly-written Pradipaka-- again. What is Vijñānabhairava --wrongly-written Vijnana Bhairava--? It is, simply put, one of the five main Tantra-s considered as venerable by the Trika philosophy. There are 11 Tantra-s that are revered in Trika. Among them, five are the main ones: Mālinīvijaya (also called Mālinīvijayottara), Vijñānabhairava, Svacchanda, Rudrayāmala and Netra (also known as Mṛtyuñjit). Abhinavagupta, the greatest Master of Trika, calls Vijñānabhairava: "Śivavijñānopaniṣad" (The esoteric doctrine for the direct knowledge of Śiva --wrongly-written Shiva or Siva--). Śiva is obviously one's own Self.

The Tantra-s are over 200 books in total, if my memory serves me well. They are directly written by the Supreme Self Himself (viz. Śiva). Therefore, no human author composed them. Generally the teachings are exhibited there in the form of a dialogue between Śiva (the Self) and Śakti --wrongly-written Shakti or Sakti-- (the Power of the Self). Vijñānabhairava deals with 112 techniques to attain Self-realization, i.e. Final Liberation. Apparently, it looks like a useful handbook full of methods to attain the Supreme Goal, but it is much more than that as the reader will soon discover.

This scripture is very difficult to translate and understand too. It is very cryptic to say the least. Hence I will have to use two authoritative commentaries in order to explain many things to the reader, by another gazillion notes of explanation, as always: (1) the commentary written partly by Kṣemarāja --wrongly-written Kshemaraja or Ksemaraja-- and partly by Śivopādhyāya; (2) the commentary called Vijñānakaumudī by Ānandabhaṭṭa. With the help of those commentaries, our boat will arrive in port safely, symbolically speaking. I have already "partially" translated this scripture on paper many years ago, but I never finished the translation because at that time I did not have those two commentaries. Now, of course, I have them... but in Sanskrit only. Well, better something than nothing, hehe. Yes, I can cope with the task anyway, obviously. Do not worry then. You will have your 112 techniques in the end. Stanzas of Vijñānabhairava are already scattered all over the website, because other scriptures I translated frequently quote portions of it. So, my task will be even easier as I have several stanzas already translated and commented. Let us get down to work now!

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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.

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