Techniques of Transmission in Kashmir Saivism

by Lilian Silburn

Based on the works of Abhinavagupta (AD 950–1016)

Siva seated, statue


See: Table of Contents

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  • [1. Intro] Somananda's Sivadrsti, I, 37-38. [a] Consider in this regard the words of Angelus Silesius: "All this is play that God is engaged in." (II, 198)

    [a. ]

  • [2. ch2] S.D., I, 37.
  • [3. ch2] and [3. ch5] The Persian sufi Mawlana DjalalodDin Rumi writes:
    "You are a pearl hidden in a handful of straw mixed with mud. If you wash your face of this mud, oh what a beautiful face! And what will happen then? You are the son of a king ... If you seek the kingdom of your father, oh miserable one! What will happen then?" (op. cit., p. 235)
  • [4. ch3] and [4. ch5] Master Eckhart, [b] citing the words of the Evangelist: "Know that the kingdom of God is near" specifies, "Yes, the kingdom of God is within us." Then he comments: "Now, you should know how the kingdom of God is near us. We should consider this idea carefully. If I were a king and didn't know it, then I wouldn't be king. But if I had the firm conviction of being king, or if all the men with me were similarly persuaded and I were convinced of their conviction, then I would in fact be king, and all the kingly riches would be mine ... Similarly, our beatitude is wed to what we recognize (bekenne) and know (wizze) of the sovereign Good, which is God." (Pf., p. 220-221)

    [b. Meister Eckhart (14th century): ]

    And Ruysbroeck: [c] "Without knowledge, we cannot possess God ... If we could be happy without knowledge, so could a stone (which possesses no knowledge whatsoever) also be happy. If I were master of the entire world, what would it matter to me if I knew nothing of it?" L'Anneau ou la pierre brillante. Translated by the Benedictines of Saint Paul of Wisques. Vromant, Paris and Brussels, vol. III, 1928, p. 257.

    [c. John of Ruusbroec (14th century): ]

  • [5. ch3] and [5. ch5] Abhinavagupta lived near Srinagar at the end of the tenth and the beginning of the eleventh century. He had numerous teachers who familiarized him with the doctrine of the Agamas [d] and its various schools, as well as with the majority of the Indian philosophical systems, including Buddhism. But the teacher whom he venerated above all was Sambhunatha, [e, f] who initiated him into the mystical life. Abhinavagupta expresses his veneration for Sambhunatha in the opening stanzas of the Tantraloka.

    [d. ]

    [e. See ]

    [f. According to the Wikipedia article on Abhinavagupta, his teacher Sambhunatha was a practioner of Kaula: "Kaula practices are based on tantra, closely related to the siddha tradition and shaktism. Kaula sects are noted for their extreme exponents who recommend the flouting of taboos and social mores as a means of liberation. Such practices were often later toned down to appeal to ordinary householders, as in Kasmiri Saivism." ]

    He [Abhinavagupta] wrote commentaries on the works of his most famous predecessors, especially Utpaladeva's Isvarapratyabhijnakarika, [g] Utpala himself being a disciple of Somananda, [h] author of the Sivadrsti.

    [g. ]

    [h. ]

    Although quite famous throughout India for his brilliant views on aesthetics and drama, his [Abhinavagupta's] unpublished other works and commentaries have been overlooked for a long time. Published only within the last century, they are now somewhat better known, and have been the subject of translations into various European languages. The reader will find various excerpts from some of his original works and commentaries in this article. The Tantraloka is a vast compendium of the whole of Saivite philosophy and mystical practice.
  • [6. ch5] On equality, cf. here, p. 265.
  • [7. ch6] One has thus several sanskrit terms: citsakti relates to anupaya, nonpath in the strict sense of the word; anandasakti relates to anupaya, the lowest path; icchasakti relates to sambhavopaya; jnanasakti relates to saktopaya; kriyasakti relates to anayopaya.
  • [8. ch3] and  [8. ch7]  Cf. I. P.v. Vol. II, pp. 131-132, or 11, 3, 17. On the subject of the intimate embrace of God which replaces the efforts of imagination that is no longer disengaged from objectivity, H. Corbin cites a passage from Ibn Arabi: "When mystics finally experience that God is the same being they previously imagined as their own souls, they act as if in a mirage. Nothing has been abolished from their being. The mirage remains an object of sight, but they know what it is, i.e., that it is not water." (Fotuhat, II, 33 9, cited in Im. [?] p. 246, note 124) [i]

    [i. Futuhat. See ]

  • [9. ch3] and [9. ch7] I. P.v. Vol. II, p. 131-132, or II, 3. 17.
  • [10. ch4] and  [10. ch7] Svasvarupa can also be translated as "one's own essence" but here it has to do with the Superessence, the intimate (sva) form (rupa) of the intimate (sva).
  • [11. ch 4] and [11. ch 7] Samavesa: textually, copenetration or interpenetration.
  • [12. ch7] I. P.v., III, 2. 11-12.
  • [13. ch7] Nirupayasamavesa. In describing the person who has reached Reality, a sufi exclaims: "A Wacil [?] has not arrived at such a sublime level without having seen ... that his own intimate being is that of Allah ..., without having entered or exited from Him." p. 31. This same Treatise on Unity [k, l] specifies that Allah neither enters into anything nor does anything enter into Him: "He is not found in anything, nor is anything found in Him by any exit or entrance whatsoever." p. 24

    [k. Presumably Ibn Al Arabi or a commentator. See for example /sufi/Ibn-Al-Arabi-The-Treatise-on-Unity-extract-2-pages.pdf ]

    [l. See Unity of Being: ]

  • [14. ch7] Without cinta, mental obsession, or "thoughts continually turned to God", as in the path of consciousness. Master Eckhart, who also emphasizes a vibrant, internally present God, writes that true possession of God "rests upon a feeling in the heart ... upon an orientation of the will toward God. Not upon a fixed, permanent idea of God! Man should not be satisfied with an idea of God, for when the idea disappears, so will God. But one should have a real God, beyond the thoughts of men and beyond all creation. This God will not disappear, that is, unless one voluntarily turns from him. A person who thus posesses God, essentially, takes God as divine, and God shines before him through all things. Everything allows him to taste God, and in all things is God reflected in him..." (P. 165)
  • [15. ch7] One can read in some of the Masters: thanks to a Revelation due to the guru.
  • [16. ch7] Suddhavidyavastha in the first case, and suddhavidyapramatr in the second. Cf. Madame Guyon, [m] Les Torrents p. 116: "God first presents himself as states of light, then as a state of taste, and then as a condition of confused and indistinct thoughts. Finally he presents himself permanently and the soul establishes itself there forever."

    [m. French mystic (1648-1717) ]

    Taste and condition of confused thoughts correspond to bhavana [n] in the path of the energy. One finds the same distinction with the sufis, here p. 74. Avicenne [o] writes that the soul first has sparks of light, these become more and more frequent, until they are finally merged in a single, permanent light.

    [n. The constant practice of contemplation.]

    [o. (980-1037) ]

  • [17. ch7] Master Eckhart also wrote: "if nature in its action begins with the weakest, God in his action could hardly begin with the strongest and the most perfect!" (P. 242)
  • [18. ch8] Cf. p. 149.
  • [19. ch8] This takes place in the path of knowledge and then in that of the will. Cf. here, pp. 187-188, 190, 264-265.
  • [20. ch8] As for the fourth pranayama, it occurs only in the middle pathway, the exhaled breath is directed towards the highest center at the moment of the void, and the inhaled breath, towards the heart at the moment of fullness. At the point of suspension, breath and thought remain very calm, without the least oscillation (cf. S.S.v. III.6).
  • [21. ch8] The aranis are used in lighting the fire of vedic sacrifice. Here the inhaled and exhaled breaths, by their churning light the fire of kundalini or the ascending breath.
  • [22. ch8] Cakra. It is a matter here of the ascending breath of spiritual energy, called kundalini. A description of it is given in the Tantraloka (V. 4362) [probably 43-62].
  • [23. ch9] Cf. here p. I.P.v., vol. II p. 261, Karika 7.
  • [24. ch9] Cf. here p. 205.
  • [25. ch9] According to Ruysbroeck's expression. [p]

    [p. John of Ruusbroec (14th century): ]

  • [26. ch10] According to the description of the divine path, a single breath suffices to accomplish all; it happens that in practice, the limitations do not break apart all at once. Nevertheless, they do cease spontaneously under the pressure of renewed impulses.
  • [27. ch10] The soul enveloped in love discovers its royal nature and cries:
    "Mine are the skies, the earth, the nations; mine are the just, the sinners... all things are mine; God himself is mine and for me since Christ is mine and entirely for me. Thus, my soul, what might you want, and what do you seek? All is yours, and all is for you."
    "Do not lower yourself below that, do not stop at the crumbs which fall from the table of your Father. Be at ease, and glorify yourself in that which makes your glory! Hide yourself in it and rejoice, and you will fulfill the aspirations of your heart."
    Oracion del alma enamorada. Saint John of the Cross. Obras de San Juan de la Cruz, p. 817. Madrid, 1954.
  • [28. ch10] Here, p. 259.
  • [29. ch10] Vipaka, instantaneous assimilation, inevitable burning of the divine fire.
  • [30. ch11] Master Eckhart writes, "The more a master is wise and powerful, the more his work is immediately realized... and the more simple it is." (P. 39)
  • [31. Appendix] H.A., Huit stances sur l'Incomparable, p. 57. (Abhinavagupta: Anuttarastika) See Appendix: Eight Stanzas on the Incomparable

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