Kashmirian Shivaism is a branch of Shivaism and one of the most famous Hindu philosophical schools. It developed in India between the vii and xii centuries AD, taking over from previous philosophical currents various influences.
Thus, we can say that Kashmirian Shivaism is:
- monistic like Advaita Vedanta
- theistic like Vaishnavism
- basically the same as Yoga
- logically just like Nayaya (another Hindu philosophical current based on the study of logic)
- peaceful and temperate like Buddhism.
Kashmirian Shivaism is essentially idealistic and realistic, advocating in favor of a pragmatic approach to life.
Philosophically it is important to distinguish Kashmirian Shivaism from Advaita Vedanta
because both are the non-dualistic philosophies that give primacy to Universal Consciousness or Chitt Brahman.
→ But in Kashmirian Shivaism, all things are a manifestation of this Consciousness.
This means that, from a phenomenal point of view, the world or Shakti is real, and has its origin in Consciousness (Putty).
→ By comparison, Advaita Vedanta argues that Brahman is inactive (niskriya) and that the phenomenal world is an illusion (Maya).
Thus, we can say that the philosophy of Kashmirian Shivaism, which is also known as Trika, supports the opposite of Shankara’s Advaite.
The ultimate goal in Kashmirian philosophy is that of
- to achieve union with Shiva or the Universal Consciousness,
- or to realize that the seeker is already one with Shiva, through wisdom, yoga practice and grace.
Kashmirian Shivaism is a philosophy based on the highly monistic interpretation of the Tantra Bhairava in contrast to the Advaita Vedanta which is based on the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutra.
It is said that
were revealed by Shiva through his five mouths, called Ishana, Tatpurusha, Sadyojata, Vamadeva, and Aghora.
These five mouths represent the five fundamental energies:
- Chitshakti (Consciousness),
- Anandashakti (Bliss),
- Ichhashakti (Will)
- Jnanashakti (Knowledge)
- Kriyashakti (Action).
When these five energies unite with each other in such a way that each of them merges with the others but are at the same time self-contained, they reveal the sixty-four Bhairavatantras that are purely monistic.
This epistemological approach, as explained by Tantrum, is called Kashmirian Shivaism or tryka philosophy.
The tradition of Kashmirian Shivaism has been transmitted for centuries, only from Master to disciple, “from mouth to ear“.
The first fundamental work of Shivaism, attributed to it Vasugupta (the first initiate of this spiritual path, who lived between the end of the VII century and the beginning of the ninth century AD) is called Shiva Sutra.
It is a collection of stoning and completely hermetic aphorisms for the uninitiated, which presents the three cardinal paths that lead to spiritual liberation:
- The Way of Shiva (Shambhavopaya),
- The Way of Shakti or the Way of Energy (Shaktopaya)
- and The Path of Limited Being (Anavopaya)
Vasugupta mentions that he did not write the Shiva Sutra, but found it written on a rock that rose from the water and sank again under water, after reading and memorizing what was written on it.
The entire shivaite written tradition (shastra) can be divided into three parts:
- Agama Shastra – regarded as a direct revelation from Shiva (God). Includes works like: Shiva Sutra, Malinivijaya Tantra, Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, etc.
- Spanda Shastra – contains the doctrinal elements of the system. The main work in this category is the work of Vasugupta – Spanda Karika.
- Pratyabhijna Shastra – contains works of metaphysical order, having a high spiritual level (being also the least accessible).
In this category the most important are the works of Utpaladeva’s Ishvara Pratyabhijna and Pratyabhijna Vimarshini, a commentary of the first.
There are several important schools of Shivaism, the most elevated being grouped in the Trika system.
The word “trika” in Sanskrit means “trinity” or “trinity”, suggesting the essential idea that absolutely everything has a triple nature.
This trinity is expressed through: Shiva (God), Shakti (His fundamental creative energy) and Anu (the individual, the limited projection of the deity).
The trika philosophical system comprises several spiritual schools:
* Krama – in Sanskrit “trial”, “ordering”, “orderly succession”,
* Kaula (Kula) – in Sanskrit “community”, “family”, “totality”,
* Spanda – a term that denotes the Supreme Divine Creative Vibration,
* Pratyabhijna – a term that refers to the direct recognition of the Divine Essence. These branches of the Shivaite tradition are brilliantly synthesized and unified by the most illustrious personality, the greatest spiritual achievement of this system, the sage Abhinavagupta.