About Shivaism

Article taken over by the www.adanima.org website

Shivaism would seem to be, literally, the oldest spiritual tradition of the world. In India, Shivaism has a multimillionaire age, the archaeological excavations at Mohenjo Daro and Harappa revealing a history that goes even beyond the chalcolithic. Shiva represents that hypostasis of the divine that manifests itself as the Great Initiator or Great Savior of the limited and ignorant beings. Any aspiration towards the state of spiritual liberation is addressed, in fact, to this saving facet of the Divinity, bearing the name of Shiva (“The good and the gentle one”).

Any manifestation of Divine Grace, indispensable to the achievement of the state of spiritual liberation, is closely related to Shiva. In India, there are six main forms of Shivaism, three of which are essential: vira-shaiva, spread predominantly in the central area of India; shiva-siddhanta, in the south and advaita-shiva , the purest and highest form of Shivaism, in Kashmir (northern India).

The tradition of Kashmir Shivaism has been transmitted for centuries, only from Master to disciple, “from mouth to ear”. The first fundamental work of Shivaism, attributed to Vasugupta (the first initiate of this spiritual path, who lived between the end of the VII century and the beginning of the IX century AD) is called shiva Sutra and 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 Shiva Sutra, but found it written on a rock that rose from the water and sank again under the water, after reading and memorizing what was written on it. The entire written Shivaite tradition 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 Ishvara Pratyabhijna by Utpaladeva and Pratyabhijna Vimarshini, a comment of the first. There are several important schools of Shivaism, the most elevated being grouped in the Trika system. The word “trika” means “trinity” or “trinity” in Sanskrit, 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).

Trika 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 were brilliantly synthesized and unified by the most illustrious personality, the greatest spiritual achievement of this system, the wise Abhinavagupta.

His most important work, Tantraloka, written in verse, unifies all the apparent differences between the branches or schools of Cashmerian Shivaism up to him, offering a coherent and complete vision of the system. Realizing the difficulty of this work, Abhinavagupta wrote a summary of it, in prose, called Tantrasara (“The Supreme Essence of Tantra”).

The great sage Abhinanagupta is said to have been a manifestation of Shiva. Even today he is unanimously accepted as one of the greatest Indian philosophers and estheticians. Although India has had many estheticians, Abhinavagupta remains unique through its masterful synthesis of all the visions and theories up to it, giving them a much broader, deeply spiritual perspective. Abhinavagupta was born approximately in the year 950 AD. C. and lived until the eleventh century. It is said that at some point, he left with a large group of disciples in a cave to meditate and never came back.

Abhinavagupta’s successor was Kshemaraja, his direct and most important disciple. Then, gradually, the secret tradition of Shivaism faded in Kashmir. It flourished a little more, about 300 years after that, in the south of India, where some great initiates lived: the famous Jayaratha, who masterfully concentrated Tantraloka, as well as the visionary Bhattanarayana, the author of the initiatory poem of great depth: Stavacintamani (the Secret Sanctuary of the Gem of Divine Love). The last continuation of Kashmir’s Sivaite tradition was Swami Brahmacharin Lakshman (Lakshmanjoo),who lived until 1992.

Cashmerian Shivaism has tantric influences. And here, as in tantrism, we find the fundamental idea of the mysterious connection between everything and everything, between different aspects of creation, as a holographic model of the universe. Thus, the entire universe is a gigantic network of virtual resonances that are established between each point (“atom”) of the Universe and all the other “atoms”. Knowing in depth only one aspect (“atom”) of the Universe, one can know everything, the whole Universe, because everything is resonance.

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