Shiva, the Masculine Principle in Tantra

 

 

In the Hindu pantheon, Shiva is one of gods in the Divine trinity composed of Brahma, Vishnu and Himself, each representing one of the three aspects of the Divine, that is The Creator, The Sustainer and respectively The Destroyer of the Universe. Shiva is said to live in Svarloka, the realm of gods and demi-gods ruled by Indra, the greatest among them.

Shiva, as distinguished from Parama-Shiva, corresponds to that aspect of the ultimate Reality which is pure consciousness, pure subject, pure I, without even the slightest notion of “I am” or “I am this” or “I am here”.

In his Tantra-Loka, Abhinava Gupta refers to Shiva as “the Mother and the Father of the Universe”. Shiva is the seed, or origin of the multidimensional universe, giving rise to all other ontological categories. Yet, there is no duality in Shiva because he is still completely immersed in blissful union with Shakti.

However, in order to understand properly this fundamental concept of Tantrism, which is the masculine principle – Shiva, we should look back towards the roots of Tantra.

Tantrism enjoys suddenly an immense popularity among philosophers and teologicians as well as among “practitioners” (yogis, ascetics, etc.), its prestige reaching the folk strata. All great Hindu religions have thus assimilated Tantra in one form or another. This process had actually begun thousands of years beforehand, during the Aryan civilization and during the blending of the different co-existing traditions (Dravidian, etc).

The legend says that during these inflaming times a great man was born, named Sadashiva. His name means “the one who dedicated his life to the well-being of his fellows”. Sadashiva, known as Shiva, was an outstanding spiritual teacher or Guru. He was the one who first offered humanity a systematic presentation of a sheer spiritual thought. As the legend goes, he is the one to set the basis of spiritual dance and music in India and is therefore known also as NATARAJA, The God of Cosmic Dance.

Moreover, the real founder of Hindu traditional medicine and also the provider of a system and knowledge in this field (bearing the name Vadyak Shastra) is nonetheless Shiva.

Shiva played an extremely important role in the social area as well. He is the creator of the system of marriage, in which both partners accept equal responsibilities, disregarding caste or community. Shiva himself came from a mixed family and through his marriage to an Aryan princess helped a lot in unifying the warring fractions in India at that time. The Hindu sage Sri Shankar, expert in studies and research on Tantrism, considers Shiva as a real father of human civilization.

However, Shiva’s most important contribution to the development of a truly spiritual civilization represents the concept of DHARMA. DHARMA is a Sanskrit word translated literally as “innate characteristic”. Which may be the innate characteristic of a human being? Shiva explained that human beings seek and yearn for happiness placed beyond that originated in the satisfaction of the senses. The indisputable aim of all human beings, whether aware of this or not, is to obtain absolute peace and freedom, infinite knowledge and spiritual beatitude.

Shiva’s ideas were transmitted orally at first, then in written form. Parvati, his wife used to ask him questions on topics raised by the spiritual practice he taught.

The tantra-s (texts, writings which present the tantric philosophy and practice) are in fact the dialogues between Shiva and his wife Parvati, dialogues in which Parvati asks questions on spiritual matters and Shiva gives divine answers.

The tantra-s are divided into two great categories:

1. The theoretic principles of the tantric system. Tantric philosophy and conceptions on different matters are to be found in the writings named NIGAMA.

2. The practices through which the proposed aims may be attained; the different methods, techniques and procedures are to be found in the texts named AGAMA.

Many of these antique manuscripts were lost for good, others are damaged by time, and others still are unreadable by the mundane because of their coded text meant to hide the tantric secrets from the eyes of the unknowledgeable. This is also one reason for which the conceptions and fundaments of Tantra have not been completely decoded up to our days.

Part of Shiva’s original teachings were lost, other parts were spread on large areas, being assimilated in different ways and under different forms in the traditions and local schools.

Each Hindu believer followed his own path, according to their inner aspirations, choosing one spiritual current which implied the adoration of one of these three gods.

Thus, Tantrism and Yoga are specially oriented towards the adoration of Shiva and are therefore called Shaivites, and this spiritual current is named Shaiva. Others have turned towards the cult of Vishnu, named Vaishnava.

We should nonetheless carefully distinguish between different spiritual currents and opposing spiritual currents, which is not the case of Shaivism and Vaishnavism. Some Western studies have committed the error of sustaining the idea that there were
antithesis, competitions and even fighting between the two spiritual currents. The Western searcher should properly understand that for the Hindu, Shiva and Vishnu represent two complementary aspects of Brahma, The Creator. The first of these two gods, Shiva represents the destructive, transforming and reiterating principle of the infinite Creation, while the latter – the animating, conservative principle, which maintains the creation in its whole.

Unfortunately, nowadays Tantra appears to most people as a tenebrous, unbreakable and controversial mystery owing to a multitude of misunderstandings and misconceptions that occured in the minds of some of the “reputed” Western researchers of Tantra.

The Tantrics (that is the practitioners of Tantra) and the Yoghis (the practitioners of Yoga) belong to the Shaivite current. The aspect of the Ultimate Reality in the form of the Transformer, the renewer of an eternally vivacious, effervescent Creation suited best to their spiritual quest and ardor.

Shaivism presents Shiva as endowed with all the attributes of the Supreme Divinity, and therefore He is the Supreme Creator. His symbolic representation while performing the magic dance of creation is an iconographic theme quite rich in symbolism and offers us an idea about the rhythm of life of the whole creation, and as well of its destruction. We will discuss these aspects in detail further on.

The name Shiva signifies “the good and the kind”. Paradoxically, He is the designated God of destruction, but this must not be understood as the destroyer of human being, but the destroyer of ignorance and corruption in the human nature. Thus, He is an infinitely benevolent force as He rapidly casts away the restraining ignorance and allows human beings to contemplate His magnificence.


Shiva, Shakti And Jiva

 

 

“The love game of Shiva transforms the entire Universe. The love between Shiva and Shakti make the world grow and go down. Shiva can see how his lover becomes a yogi when he is practicing Hatha-yoga, and a fascinating and seductive lover, when he feels the ardent desire of making love with her.”

Shiva Purana

In our article Bhakti and Shakti – Two important aspects for tantric lovers we have talked about the relationship between faith, devotion and the Creative Energy. We have introduced the concept of “androgyn”, meaning the masculine and the feminine co-exist together in each of us.

But every discussion about Shakti, the feminine principle in Tantrism, leads us to its counter part, Shiva, the masculine principle in Creation. We will talk about Shiva, from a transcendent perspective. But for now we’ll analyse briefly the relationship between Shiva and Shakti, so that the reader will be able to easily recognize the masculine principle within him or herself.

The Hindu terminology might seem extremely hard to understand at first, but with patience it will prove to be very useful.

Shiva, signifying the Universal masculine principle, may be found as well inside a man as inside a woman. The ancient texts named him “The Great God” or “The Divine Immortal Principle”, Shiva’s symbol is the phallus.

The lingam represents the Great Spirit, the Universal Spirits in effervescence. The stimulus is the Shakti-The Creative Energy that rotates round the cosmic errection of Shiva as an ocean of infinite variety, a true sea of sensations.

Egyptians, Greeks and Romans in Antiquity, as well as other people from the era b.Ch. worshiped the phallus as the symbol of the masculine principle. Shiva represents the yogic archetype, the Absolute Master of any being on the path of the spiritual evolution.

The Shiva Principle is directly linked to the Eternal Spirit. In the antique mythology, Shiva was presented as “the one who Defeats Death”

The whole universe is created from the union of the two immutable principles that represent the masculine and the feminine principles.

In Eastern iconography, Shiva is represented either as a lingam (a phallus), or as a lingam with a certain face, or as a column, or as a yogi sitting or standing with his lingam in erection, or as an anthropomorphic representation with many arms.

The Tantric works say that there is a lingam in each yoni. Anatomically speaking, this thing makes refference to the clitoris. When it is excited it is erect and reminds us of the inherent bisexuality in every woman.

The understanding of Shiva’s transcendence allows one to perceive the subtle worlds. During the Tantric erotic game try to identify with Shiva’s extraordinary mental energy. This will give you the transcending experience, which is a lot further than the limited world we live in.

Shiva is experimented as an understanding of the space depths, as a penetration in the infinite Universe, beyond any thing or any event, known or unknown. A Hindu Tantric text, Shiva Samhita, says that “those who can experiment Shiva’s principles are the heroes, enterprising, free from the sorrow and blind emotions, capable, perseverant, talented, happy and with a determined and disciplined mind.”

Transcendence can’t be known or perceived from a worldly point of view because, by definition, it goes beyond any limits of the known Universe.

Now, let me introduce you another important concept: Jiva. It means the individual soul. It is compared to a solitary ray of the great sun Brahma, the Creator.

Shiva Samhita presents briefly the nature and the function of Jiva.
It says: “Jiva lives in the man’s body and in the woman’s body as well. It is covered in all kinds of desires. There is a strong and tight relationship between him and the body throughout karma that was accumulated in the past lives. Every being enjoys and suffers according to his/her own past actions. The Jiva who’s done many good and virtuous deeds will enjoy a happy life and wonderful conditions in this world. But the Jiva, who, on the contrary, has done many bad deeds, will never find his peace. No matter what is the nature of his desire, positive or negative, it will always cling to the Jiva and follow him all the time, during his countless reincarnations.”

The concepts of Shiva and Jiva, meaning the supreme masculine principle and the individual soul, are very important in understanding the Universe, especially while on the path of Tantric love. If you can identify yourself with Shiva-The Transcendent, you will have a profound inner vision over the wonderful play between man and woman.

And, if you are able to transfigure your lover as the embodiment of the transcendent, beyond all known limits of this world, then you will be able to fully enjoy the experience of transcendence.

If you worship your lover with love and devotion, the Shakti’s creative energy will awaken the Shiva inside you. Thus, having Shakti as counterpart, Shiva’s force (or in other words the Pure Conscience) will rise strongly inside you.

By an intimate union between Shiva and Shakti, in a complete ecstatic pleasure, Jiva or the individual soul gets free from the slavery of his past existence. Then the couple will be able to reach soon the final freedom.

“There is a bridge between Time and Eternity; this bridge is Jiva, the individual soul itself.”

Chandagya Upanishad

 

Shiva, The Masculine Principle In Tantra

In the Hindu pantheon, Shiva is one of gods in the Divine trinity composed of Brahma, Vishnu and Himself, each representing one of the three aspects of the Divine, that is The Creator, The Sustainer and respectively The Destroyer of the Universe. Shiva is said to live in Svarloka, the realm of gods and demi-gods ruled by Indra, the greatest among them.

Shiva, as distinguished from Parama-Shiva, corresponds to that aspect of the ultimate Reality which is pure consciousness, pure
subject, pure I, without even the slightest notion of “I am” or “I am this” or “I am here”.

In his Tantra-Loka, Abhinava Gupta refers to Shiva as “the Mother and the Father of the Universe”. Shiva is the seed, or origin of the multidimensional universe, giving rise to all other ontological categories. Yet, there is no duality in Shiva because he is still completely immersed in blissful union with Shakti.

However, in order to understand properly this fundamental concept of Tantrism, which is the masculine principle – Shiva, we should look back towards the roots of Tantra.

 

Tantrism enjoys suddenly an immense popularity among philosophers and teologicians as well as among “practitioners” (yoghis, ascets, etc.), its prestige reaching the folk strata. All great Hindu religions have thus assimilated Tantra in one form or another.This process had actually begun thousands of years beforehand, during the Arian civilization and during the blending of the different co-existing traditions (Dravidian, etc).

The legend says that during these inflaming times a great man was born, named Sadashiva. His name means “the one who dedicated his life to the well-being of his fellows”. Sadashiva, known as Shiva, was an outstanding spiritual teacher or Guru. He was the one who first offered humanity a systematic presentation of a sheer spiritual thought. As the legend goes, he is the one to set the basis of spiritual dance and music in India and is therefore known also as NATARAJA, The God of Cosmic Dance.

Moreover, the real founder of Hindu traditional medicine and also the provider of a system and knowledge in this field (bearing the name Vadyak Shastra) is nonetheless Shiva.

Shiva played an extremely important role in the social area as well. He is the creator of the system of marriage, in which both partners accept equal responsibilities, disregarding caste or community. Shiva himself came from a mixed family and through his marriage to an Arian princess helped a lot in unifying the warring factions in India at that time. The Hindu sage Sri Shankar, expert in studies and research on Tantrism, considers Shiva as a real father of human civilization.

However, Shiva’s most important contribution to the development of a truly spiritual civilization represents the concept of DHARMA. DHARMA is a Sanskrit word translated literally as “innate characteristic”. Which may be the innate characteristic of a human being? Shiva explained that human beings seek and yearn for happiness placed beyond that originated in the satisfaction of the senses. The indisputable aim of all human beings, wheather aware of this or not, is to obtain absolute peace and freedom, infinite knowledge and spiritual beatitude.

Shiva’s ideas were transmitted orally at first, then in written form. Parvati, his wife used to ask him questions on
topisc raised by the spiritual practice he taught.

The tantra-s (texts, writings which present the tantric philosophy and practice) are in fact the dialogues between Shiva and his wife Parvati, dialogues in which Parvati asks
questions on spiritual matters and Shiva gives divine answers.

The tantra-s are divided into two great categories:

1. The theoretic principles of the tantric system. Tantric philosophy and conceptions on different matters are to be found in the writings named NIGAMA.

2. The practices through which the proposed aims may be attained; the different methods, techniques and procedures are to be found in the texts named AGAMA.

Many of these antique manuscripts were lost for good, others are damaged by time, and others still are unreadable by the mundane because of their coded text meant to hide the tantric secrets from the eyes of the unknowledgeable. This is also one reason for which the conceptions and fundaments of Tantra have not been completely decoded up to our days.

Part of Shiva’s original teachings were lost, other parts were spread on large areas, being assimilated in different ways and under different forms in the traditions and local schools.

Each Hindu believer followed his own path, according to their inner aspirations, choosing one spiritual current which implied the adoration of one of these three gods.

Thus, Tantrism and Yoga are specially oriented towards the adoration of Shiva and are therefore called Shivaits, and this spiritual current is named Shaiva. Others have turned towards the cult of Vishnu, named Vaishnava.

We should nonetheless carefully distinguish between different spiritual currents and opposing spiritual currents, which is not the case of Shaivism and Vaishnavism. Some western studies have committed the error of sustaining the idea that there were antithesis, competitions and even fighting between the two spiritual currents. The Western searcher should properly understand that for the Hindu, Shiva and Vishnu represent two complementary aspects of Brahma, The Creator. The first of these two gods, Shiva represents the destructive, transforming and reiterating principle of the infinite Creation, while the latter – the animating, conservative principle, which maintains the creation in its whole.

Unfortunately, nowadays Tantra appears to most people as a tenebrous, unbreakable and controversial mystery owing to a multitude of misunderstandings and misconceptions that occured in the minds of some of the “reputed” Western researchers of Tantra.

The Tantrics (that is the practitioners of Tantra) and the Yoghis (the practitioners of Yoga) belong to the Shaivist current. The aspect of the Ultimate Reality in the form of the Transformer, the renewer of an eternally vivacious, effervescent Creation suited best to their spiritual quest and ardor.

Shaivism presents Shiva as endowed with all the attributes of the Supreme Divinity, and therefore He is the Supreme Creator. His symbolic representation while performing the magic dance of creation is an iconographic theme quite rich in symbolism and offers us an idea about the rhythm of life of the whole creation, and as well of its destruction. we will discuss these aspects in detail further on.

The name Shiva signifies “the good and the kind”. Paradoxically, He is the designated God of destruction, but this must not be understood as the destroyer of human being, but the destroyer of ignorance and corruption in the human nature. Thus, He is an infinitely benevolent force as He rapidly casts away the restraining ignorance and allows
human beings to contemplate His magnificence.


 

Shaiva Siddhanta

 

 

PART 2
In central India, the Shaiva Siddhanta of the Sanskrit tradition was institutionalized for the first time by Guhavasi Siddha (approx. 675 A.D.). The third successor on this lineage, Rudrashambhu, also known as Amardaka Tirthanatha, founded the monastic order Amardaka (approx. 775 A.D. in the Andhra Pradesh province).

Ever since, three monastic orders that were essential in the spreading of the Shaiva Siddhanta philosophy all throughout India. Besides the Amardaka order, (identified with one the the holy cities of the shaivism, Ujjain), there were also the Mattamayura order, in the capital of the Calukya dynasty, near Punjab, and the Madhumateya order, in central India.

Each of these developed numerous sub-order with a missionary spirit and they have used the influence of their royal protectors in order to spread their teachings in the neighboring areas, especially in the southern India. The Mattamayura order established monasteries in the areas Maharashtra, Kainataka, Andhra and Kerala (approx. 800 A.D.).

Of many guru-s and spiritual teachers, (acarya) who followed and spread the Shaiva Siddhanta throughout India, two siddha-s Sadyojyoti and Brihaspati from the central India are said to have systematized the theology in the Sanskrit language.

Sadyojyoti, initiated by the Cashmere guru Ugrajyoti, preached the Siddhanta as they were specified in Raurava Agama. His successors were Ramakantha I, Srikantha, Narayanakantha, and Ramakantha II, each of the writing many texts on the Shiva Siddhanta.

Later on, the king Bhoja Paramara from Gujarat (approx. 1018) summarized the massive corpus of scriptural texts Siddhanta that preceded him in a concise metaphysical treatise named Tattva Prakasha, considered as the most important Sanskrit scripture of the Shaiva Siddhanta lineage.

Asserting the monist vision of the Shaiva Siddhanta, Shrikumara (approx 1056 A.D.) indicated in his commentary, Tatparyadipika on Bhija Paramaras works the fact that pati, pashu and pasha (God, the being and the bonds) are in the end one, the essence of everything. Shrikumara kept the idea that Shiva is simultaneously the material and effective cause of the universe.

Shaiva Siddhanta was quickly accepted wherever it spread in India, and continued to blossom until the Islamic invasions which virtually annihilated any trace of the Shaiva Siddhanta in the northern and central India, limiting its unhindered practice to the southern areas of the subcontinent.

In the XIIth century, Aghorashiva had the mission of unifying the northern Siddhanta Sanskrit tradition with the Tamil southern one. As the leader of a monastic branch of the Amardaka order of Cidambaram, Aghorashiva gave an unique direction to the Shaiva Siddhanta tradition, preparing the path for a new pluralist school.

Refusing any monist interpretation of the Siddhanta, Aghorashiva brought a dramatic change in the understanding of God, classifying the first five principles (tattva or nada, bindu, saddashiva, ishvara and shuddhavidya) in the category of pasha (bonds), indicating that they were the effects of a cause and that inherently they were elements with no consciousness.

This was clearly a deviation from the traditional path, which presented the five elements mentioned above as being part of Shiva. Aghorashiva laid thus the foundation for a new Siddhanta, independent from the original Shaiva Siddhanta, which was monist and originar from Himalaya.

Despite his pluralist vision of Siddhanta, Aghorashiva was very successful in preserving the priceless Sanskrit rituals of the ancient agama-ic tradition in his writings.

Until today, the Siddhanta philosophy of Aghorashiva was followed by almost all the priests of the temples belonging to this lineage, and his texts, paddhati, on the agama-s have become the standard ritual manuals.

His work Kriyakramadyotika is a wide work, covering almost all the aspects of the Shaiva Siddhanta rituals, including the traditional puja-s diksha, samskara, atmartha and the installment of the deities.

In the XIIIth century, appeared another important achievement in the Shaiva Siddhanta, when Meykandar wrote the 12 Shivajnabodham verses.

This work, as those written after it, formed the theoretical basis of the Meykandar Sampradaya group, preaching a pluralist realism, where God, individual souls and the universe co-exist from the very beginning of things.

They saw the individual soul uniting itself with Shiva, as the salt dissolving into the water, an eternal unity, which is in the same time also duality. This school dominated through its literature the research that followed to such an extent that Shaiva Siddhanta is often identified with an exclusively pluralist school, which is of course wrong.

Actually there are two interpretations, one dualist and one monist, of which the first is the originar philosophical premise, found also in the scriptures preceding Meykandar, the Upanishads included.

Shaiva Siddhanta is rich in its traditions related to the temples, religious festivals, sacred arts, spiritual culture, priesthood, monastic orders, and spiritual lineages. All these are still in flower.

Today, the Shaiva Siddhanta is the most prominent spiritual path amongst the 60 billion Tamil Shaivites who live mostly in the southern India and Sri Lanka. Here, as anywhere, the societies, temples and monasteries are numerous.

Vira Shaivism, Part 1

 

 

The Vira Shaivism is one of the most dynamic Shaivite Schools of the modern times. It was spread by the remarkable Brahmin Sri Basavanna(1105-1157). The practitioners of this tradition drew the roots of their belief beginning with the sages (risi) of the ancient times.

The Vira Shaivites (“heroic”) are also known as the lingayat, the bearers of the linga (phallus). According to the canons of this tradition, all the members should wear a small linga, symbol of the Supreme Shiva, locked in a pandant they have on a necklace around their necks.

A contemporary practitioner stated for us “worshiping the Vira Shaiva style is the best form of worship because the shivalinga is wore on our body and unites our soul with the Omnipresence. This way, we are in close contact with Shiva all the time, without even a second of pause.”

As in the case of the protestant rebellion in the XVI-th century against the Catholic authority, the lingayat movement won the cause of the rebellion against the brahmanic system that promoted social inequality through a hierarchic system of casts, system that condemned an entire social class as being impure.

Being against the current of “spirituality” of their times, the lingayats have rejected the Veda-ic authority, the casts hierarchy, the system of the four dwellings, the multiplicity of gods, the religious service, the animal sacrifice, the karma-ic bounds, the existence of the inner universes, the duality BrahmanAtman (God – individual Self), the worship in the temple and the ritualistic tradition of the type: purification – impurification.

The Vira Shaivism tradition says that Basavanna was a meditative young man, also a fighter, who rejected largely Vira Shaivism practiced during his days. He broke the sacred belt (yajnopavita) when he was only 16 and ran to Sangama, Karnataka.

He received here shelter and encouragement from Isanya Guru, a Shaivite Brahmin from the predominant kalamukha group and he studied here the teachings in the monastery complex and in the temple, for 12 years.

Here he developed a deep devotion for Shiva in His aspect of “Lord of the rivers confluence” – Kudalasangama. At the age of 28, Basavanna reached the conclusion that humankind is mostly based on the doctrine of a personal God, an individual God, in the form of istalinga – chosen exterior divine phallus.

This spiritual realization is the very core of the central belief Vira Shaiva, according with which the human body should be regarded as a living temple of God, which should be perpetually be kept in a state of purity and sublime.

When Basavanna was almost at the end of his studies, he had a bright dream, in which Shiva Kudalasangama gently touched his body, saying: “Basavanna, my son, your time to leave this place has come. Continue your work of building a just society.”

Receiving these inner signals, Basavanna traveled to Mangalavede, and joined the services of the king of those times, Bijjala. Concomitantly with a rapid climbing on the social stairs, (chief officer of the royal treasury, minister) in this Shaivite country tested by the Buddhist and Jainist intrusions, Basavanna promoted his revolutionary message about a new religious and visionary society.

Basavanna had two wives, underlying in his teachings the fact that all practitioners can lead a holy life, not only those who renounce to the pleasures of life.

He would have speeches every night, denouncing the hierarchy of the casts, the magic practices, astrology, building of temples and many other things, stimulating increased numbers of listeners to come and begin to think rationally and worshipping Shiva as the Divine within themselves.

Here, Basavanna lived and preached for 20 years, developing a powerful religious movement. This action of gathering the people together for spiritual speeches became known as Shivambhava Mandapa (“the house of the Siva-ic experience”).

At the age of 48, he moved together with the king Bijjala to Kalyana where his fame continued to grow during the next 14 years. The man who would succeed him in the development of this movement, Allam Prabhu, accompanied him.

Adepts of various paths have gathered from throughout India to meet Basavanna. However, along the years, the opposition to his egalitarian community grew stronger within the ordinary citizens.

The tensions reached a peak in 1167, when a Brahman and a sudra (woman from an inferior cast, considered impure), both lingayat (adepts of the phallic cult of Shiva), got married.

The citizens, disgusted, went to King Bijjala, who had to give order for the execution of the two people, in order to quiet the crowds. However, this proved to be a thoughtless gesture, which only made the situation worse.

The social situation, already unstable, worsened, and lead to the killing of Bijjala by a group of political opponents, or even by radical lingayat. Basavanna died also at the age of 62, in Sangama, in self-seclusion.

Despite the persecutions, the successful spiritual ruling left behind a cherished heritage, including a great number of holy women. If Basavanna was the social architect and the head of this belief, Allama Prabhu was the engine of mysticism and austerity.

The teachings of these two founders are contained in their lyrical prose, (vacana). The spiritual authority of Vira Shaiva derives from the lives and writings of these two remarkable people, as well as from the lives of other shivasarana (people who have abandoned themselves to Shiva).

Their writings have all a common note: they reject the Veda-s, the ritual, the legends about gods and goddesses, considering all formal religions as an “institution” in which spontaneity, dynamism, and the joy of living can never find a place.

As he often underlines, “doing rightfully” – promoted by most of the religions of the day is not a reason good-enough for reaching the ultimate freedom. Allama writes in this sense: “feed the sacred, tell the truth, dig wells for the thirsty and build reservoirs for the city. You can go to heaven after death, but you will never be next to the truth of our God.”

Vira Shaivism, Part 2

 

 

PART 2
The Vacana-s are incandescent poems, full of humor, ridiculing the stupidity and vanity of people, and filled with the ardor of the search of Truth. Rising from all these, as an essence, is a monotheist path recommending the adepts to enter the terrible realm of personal, inner spirituality.

Here are a few examples: Ganacara wrote: “they say I was born, but I have no birth. O, Lord! They say I have died, but I have no death! O, Lord!”

Allama Prabhu, in his turn says: “when there was no beginning and no end, when there was no peace, no no-peace, when there was nothing, no no-nothing, when everything was un-created and un-ripen, You, Guheshvara (Shiva, as master of Mysteries), were alone, just with yourself, present on the same realm and in the same time not present.”

Ironically, during the centuries that followed, the Vira Shaivism absorbed many of the things that Basavanna rejected.

Thus, the worship in the temple reappeared, the rituals, the institutionalization of the crucial guru-disciple relationship, in an exterior way. There were great efforts to derive the Vira Shaiva technology from the Hindu traditional scriptures.

Until those times, the lingayats, rejecting the Veda-s, have placed themselves outside the main Hindu stream, but through the acceptance of several Shaiva Agama – Shaivite writings considered as having been revealed, they aligned themselves to other Shaivite groups.

The Vira Shaivits regard their belief as a distinct, independent religion. The original ideals remain however included in the lingayat scripture, which also contains the vacanas, the historic stories and the verse biographies.

Among the most important texts we may mention here the vacanas of Basavanna, “Mantragopya” by Allama Prabhu, “Karana Hasuge” by Cennabasavanna and the corpus of writings “Sunya sampadana”.

The monist teist doctrine of the Vira Shaivism is named Shaktivisistadvaita, and is a version of modified non-dualism, also accepting the difference and the non-difference between the individual Self and the Divine, through the comparaison with the beams of the sun.

In short, Shiva or the cosmic force are one, (Shiva is you, and so you must come back, you must return to Shiva, to yourself – as the lingayat writings indicate).

However, Shiva is also beyond His creation, which is real not illusory. God is the effective cause as well as the material cause. The individual Self, in its liberated state attains the undifferentiated union with Shiva.

The Vira Shaiva saint Ranukacariya said: “just the water put in water, and the fire in fire, the individual Self that becomes one with Brahman, is not seen as being distinct from Him.”

The true unity and identity between Shiva (Linga) and the individual Self (anga) is the goal of life described as sunya (the void), which is not an empty void, but a creative void, full of potentialities.

The adept becomes united with Shiva through satsthala, a progressive path, with six steps of devotion and abandon: bhakti (devotion), mahesa (disinterested service), prasada (honest search of Shivas grace), pranalinga (the experience of the Whole as being Shiva), sarana (refuge in Shiva) and aikya (uniqueness in Shiva).

Each phase brings the seeker closer and closer to the final goal, until the individual Self and God are unified into one final state of perpetual Shivaic consciousness, just as the rivers flow into the ocean.

The Vira Shaivism has the means to attain this purpose and these means depend on pancacara (five codes of conduit) si asavarana (eight shields to protect the body as the abode of the Divine).

The five codes of conduit are: lingacara (the daily worship of shivalinga), sadacara (the attention towards vacation and duty), shivacara (the knowledge and acceptance of Shiva as unique God and equality among adepts), bhrityacara (humbleness in front of all creatures), and ganacara (the defense of the community and of the faith).

The eight shields are: guru, linga, jangama (the identification with the wandering monk, one having no possessions), paduka (the water from the ritualic bath of the gurus linga or feet), prasada (the consecrated offering), vibhuti (the holly ashes), rudraksa (the holly seed) and mantra (Namah Shivaya).

Anyone can adopt the Vira Shaiva religion through a formal initiation, named linga diksa, a rite that replaces the traditional ceremony of the sacred belt, consenting in the same time to the daily wear and worship of a shivalinga.

The lingayat-s place a great deal of stress on this life, the equality of all the members, regardless of cast, education, sex, etc., on an intense social implication, and the service brought to the community. Their faith underlines the free will, asserts a determined world and confesses a pure monotheism.

Today, The Vira Shaivism is a vibrant belief, particularly powerful in its origin area, Karnataka, in Central and Southern India. Almost 40 million people live here, out of which approximately one fourth are lingayat-s.

One can hardly find a village in India without a jangama (lingayat monk) and a matha (monastery).
On the occasion of a birth taking place in a lingayat family, the child is brought to their religion this very day, by a jangama, who offers the child a sivalinga in a pandant, attached to a belt. This is the linga the child will wear throughout his or her entire life.

Siddha Siddhanta

Siddha Siddhanta, or the Gorakshanatha Shaivism was generally considered as belonging to the lineage of the first ascetic orders of India.

The sage Gorakshanatha was a disciple of Matsyendranatha, the holly protector of Nepal, claimed by both certain esoteric Buddhist schools and by Hindu as well. Apparently, Gorakshanatha lived in the X-th century and wrote in Hindi.

The historians connect Gorakshanatha lineage with that of Pashupata (already described in one of our previous articles. The Divine in the form of Shiva is considered here as the Shepherd of all creatures), late successors, as well as siddha yoga (the yoga of perfection) and the Agama-ic traditions.

The Gorakshanatha’s adepts themselves consider that Matsyendranatha has learned the secret Shivaic truths from Shiva himself, in the form of Adinatha, and then in his turn he transmitted them directly and identically to Gorakshanatha.

The school synthesized and developed the Hatha Yoga practice to a remarkable degree, so today we may say that this spiritual lineage has provided all the things we know about Hatha Yoga.

Gorakshanatha, prominent guru and author of the work Siddhanta Paddhati (“Considerations on the doctrine of the adepts”) was a man of a tremendous spiritual force, and remarkable discernment.

As a man who renounced the worldly life, his youth is not known to us, yet there are reasons to believe that he was born in the Hindu province Punjab.

After studying for 12 years in the school of his famous guru, Matsyendranatha, Gorakshanatha became a master in the Natha secret knowledge of the yoga, traveling throughout the northern India, from Assam to Cashmere, he worshiped Shiva in the temples, realizing Him in the most profound states of mystic ecstasy, samadhi, and awakening many of the paranormal capacities of a shivait adept.

Creating 12 monastic orders with complexes of temples and monasteries all over northern India, Gorakshanatha popularized his school and in the same time he isolated powerful Shaivism isles apart from the Muslim influence.

Matsyendranatha had already established this school in Nepal, country in which even to this day he is glorified as the holly protector of the country.

The modern researchers and scientists consider that Gorakshanatha’s yoga represents a development from the Pashupata early lineage and from the related ascetic orders, as there are many philosophical and practical similarities.

For the outer society, Gorakshanatha’s yogis were people of great renunciation, remarkable and troubling, dressed in saffron-robes, with their long black hair, and the foreheads whitened by the holy ashes, big, round earrings, rudrashkas, and a whistle around their neck, signifying the primordial vibration, AUM.

The Muslims named the Gorakshanatha adepts kauphati, meaning “the thorn ears” referring to the rite practiced by Goraksanatha’s adepts in order to insert in their earlobes big earrings, sometimes huge ones.

Some Muslims even associated themselves with these kauphati, and several leaders of Goraksanatha monasteries were known at that time as sacred parents of the Muslim tradition, designating the respect with which they were treated.

These Natha perceived their inner and outer universe as being Shiva’s cosmic body, (mahasakara pinda), as a continuous blossoming outside Him as Shakti (energy), in an infinity of individual souls, universes and forces. Earth and life, human weaknesses and human divinity, these are all manifestations of Shiva.

Thus, these people expressed their spiritual exultation in a humane and joyous devotion in worshiping in the temple and pilgrimages. Nonetheless, their inner focus is on the inner practice and kundalini yoga. They would perform inner Parasamvid, the supreme state of transcendence of Shiva.

The Signs of Kali Yuga, Part 2

PART 2

On the other hand, as it is said in Vishnu Purana:

“In the Kali Yuga, only one quarter of each of the four feet of Dharma [penance, truthfulness, compassion and charity] remains. And that too goes on decreasing day by day while the ‘feet’ of Adharma [unrighteousness] increase greatly. So that in the end Dharma becomes extinct.

In that [Kali] age, people will be greedy. They will take to wicked behaviour. They will be merciless, indulge in hostilities without any cause, unfortunate, extremely covetous for wealth and women. High social status will be attained by Sudras, fishermen and such other classes…

When deceit, falsehood, lethargy, sleepiness, violence, despondency, grief, delusion, fear, and poverty prevail, that is the Kali Yuga…

… mortal beings will become dull-witted, unlucky, voracious, destitute of wealth yet voluptuous, and women, wanton and unchaste.

Countries will be laid waste by robbers and vagabonds; the Vedas will be condemned by heretics; kings will exploit their subjects, and twice-borns like Brahmanas will only think of the gratification of their sexual desires and other appetites.

Celibates [of the Brahmacarya ashrama] will cease to observe their vows of study, purity and celibacy; householders will take to begging [instead of giving alms]; hermits [of the vanaprastha ashrama] will resort to villages [leaving their retreats in the forests]; and Sannyasins will be extremely greedy for money. [In short, the whole system of the Varnashrama Dharma will have broken down.]

Petty-minded people will conduct business transactions and merchants will be dishonest.

In the Kali Yuga, men will abandon their parents, brothers, friends, and relatives. They will establish their friendships on a sexual basis.

People who are ignorant of religion will occupy high seats [and pulpits] and will [pretend to] preach religion.

People will have their minds weighed down with constant anxiety and fear. This will be due to devastating famines and heavy taxation. The land will not grow food-crops, and the people will always be in fear of impending droughts.”

ABOUT PRALAYA

Visnu Purana (1.3., 1-3) underlines: “The end of the world (Pralaya) can be of three kinds only: caused (naimittika), natural (prakrita) or immediate (atyantika). Caused destruction, which implies all living creatures of earth, occurs at the end of each kalpa (cycle of an era, yuga). This is accidental or caused (naimittika).

Natural destruction (prakrita) implies the whole universe. It occurs when the divine dream that is the creation ceases. Matter, space and time cease to exist. This destruction occurs at the end of time.

The third type of destruction, the immediate destruction (atyantika) refers to the individuals freedom (moksa), for whom the apparent world ceases to exist.

Consequently, the immediate action involves only the individual, while caused destruction involves all living creatures on earth and natural destruction implies the end of the universe.

The destruction [of the species], which we call accidental or caused occurs at the end of each Manvantara (Manus age), of one cycle of a yuga. It involves the human species only and it occurs only when the Creator no longer finds alternatives to put an end to the unpredicted and disastrous multiplication of living creatures.

This destruction will begin with a submarine explosion, named Vadava, which will take place in the southern ocean. It will be preceded by the 100-year drought during which all weak people will perish. Seven explosions of light will drain the waters.

All great rivers, springs and subterranean waters will drain. Twelve suns will un-drain the seas. Nurtured by this water, other seven suns will be formed, which will burn to ashes the three worlds. The earth will become hard as the turtle shell.

A fire from the mouth of a subterranean snake will burn the inferior worlds, then the surface of the earth, and then the atmosphere. This mass of fire will soon cover everything with tremendous noise.

Surrounded by circles of fire, all living creatures, moving or not, will be destroyed. The God of destruction will blow gigantic clouds, which will make a terrible noise. A mass of clouds charged with energy, self-destructive (sarvantaka) will appear on the sky like a hred of elephants.” (Visnu Purana, I, cap. 8, 18-31.)

“When the moon is in the Pusya constellation (the Aquarius), invisible coulds, named Puskara (clouds of death) and Avarta (clouds without water, nirjala) will surround the earth.” (Siva Purana 5.1., 48-50)

“Some of these clouds will be black, other will be white as the jasmine, others still will be brown, others yellow, others grey as the donkey, others red or blue as the lapis or the sapphire, others will be stained, or orange or violet. They will look like cities or mountains. They will cover the earth.

These gigantic clouds, making a terrible noise, will darken the sky and will flood the earth with a rain of dust that will put out the terrible fire (we already saw in the assures case the destruction of a world with terrific guns that destroy any form of life).

Then, through an endless flood, they will drown everything under the waters. This dilluvian rain will pour down on earth for 12 years and the humanity will be destroyed. The earth will sink into darkness. The flood will last for 7 years. The earth will look like a gigantic ocean.” (Visnu Purana, 1, cap.7, 24-40).

Kashmir Shaivism, Part 2

 

 

PART 2
The Kashmiri Shaivite Literature is divided into three main divisions: Agama Shastra, Spanda Shastra and Pratyabhijna Shastra.

Agama Sastra includes the works considered of divine inspiration, particularly in the Shaiva Agama literature, including the Shiva Sutras a work of capital importance attributed to the sage Vasgupta or to his disciple Kallata (about 850-900).

This work develops the principles of Shiva Sutras. The main components of Pratyabhijna Shastra are Shiva Drishti, work of Vasuguptas disciple, Somananda and Pratyabhijna Sutra belonging to Utpaladeva (about 900-950).

After this, and parallel to it have developed other spiritual lines, of which we mention Kula and Krama.

Moreover, the Kashmir Shaivism can be understood only if one goes thoroughly through all its facets, because in truth it is said: “The mind is seen as a hierarchic (krama) family of agents (kula), which perceives spontaneously the true Self (pratyabhijna), with a creative power that can be perceived as pulsatory (spanda)”.

Abhinavagupta (about 950-1000) is probably the most prominent figure of the Kashmir Shaivism, as he wrote almost 40 works including Tantraloka, a comprising text on the Agama Shiva philosophy and ritual.

Kashmir Shaivism established as an important philosophical school due to the bright encyclopaedic works wrote by this great sage. The Kashmir Shaivism offers a rich and detailed understanding of the human psychic and a clear and distinct path on Kundalini-siddha-yoga as a path of self-realization.

Along its history, the tradition produced many siddhas, adepts of a remarkable depths and force. It is said that Abhinavagupta himself after finishing his last work on the Pratyabhijna system, entered into Bhairavas cave, next to Mangam locality together with 1200 disciples, just to disappear afterwards with them.

This Shaivite system is intensely monistic. It does not deny the existence of a personal God or of other gods. Nonetheless, it emphasises the practitioners personal meditation and reflexion and on his guidance by a guru (master).

The creation of the world and of the individual soul is explained as abhasa, Shivas quickening outside himself, in his dynamic aspect of Shakti, as as impulse, as vibration named spanda.

As Self of everything, Shiva is immanent and transcendent at the same time, and through his shakti he performs the five actions of creation, preservation, resorbtion, revelation and occultation.

The Kashmir Shaivism is not interested in worshipping a personal God, as it is attracted towards reaching the transcendental state of shivaic consciousness. As an esoteric, contemplative path, the Kashmir Shaivism also embraces jnana (knowledge) and devotion (bhakti).

The spiritual practice, sadhana, leads to the assimilation of the object, the universe, until the Absolute Self (Shiva) is revealed as being one with the universe.

The supreme purpose, freedom from bonds is sustained recognition (pratyabhijna) of the true individual self as being nothing else but Shiva.

There is no sinking of the individual self into God, since essentially they are one. There are three paths (upaya), stages of attaining the supreme consciousness. They are not sequential, but they depend upon the adepts level of evolution.

The first of them is anavopaya, which corresponds to the regular level of adoration, yogic effort and purification through the control of the breath. The second is shaktopaya, the preservation of a constant consciousness focused on Shiva through discrimination.

The third stage is shambhavopaya, in which the adept attains instantaneously the supreme consciousness through his or her unbending will or through the simple fact that the guru indicates the identity between himself or herself and Shiva.

There is also a fourth path, anupaya, “without means”, which consists in a mature recognition of the Self. On this path, nothing needs to be done, attained, or fulfilled, except for remaining in ones own being, which is Shiva.

The realization depends on sadguru, whose grace is the flower that crowns the sadhana (spiritual practice). Despite many renowned masters, the geographic isolation of the Kashmir valley and the late Muslim domination are responsible for its not so spread fame.

Relatively recently, modern scientists have brought to light the scriptures, publishing some of the surviving texts. Swami Lakshman Joo represented the original tradition (parampara).

Today, the various organizations from around the world promulgate the esoteric teachings of Kashmir Shaivism, all over the world. While the formal adepts of the school exist in unknown numbers, the Kashmir Shaivism remains an important influence in India.

Many adepts of the Kashmir Shaivism have left the war-tormented valley to find a new residence in Jammu, New Delhi and other places in northern India. This diaspora of Shaivite learned men serves still at the spreading of the teachings in new areas.

Shaivism – Legends about the Future, Part 2

 

 

PART 2
Thus, Visnu invented a stratagem to end the Assures’ virtuous existence and actions and He created a strange character, a pervert being named Arihat (=the destroyer of all pious beings).

Arihat was supposed to preach a puritan, lifeless religion, mainly based on materialism, in which there was no creator, the manifestation had no purpose, and the only thing that was responsible for any stage of life was hazard.

Through cunningness, Arihat and his new disciples managed to infiltrate to the king of the Assures and to persuade him of the superiority of the new religion.

Inspired by Vishnu, and betrayed by the perfidy sage Narada, the kind approved his initiation into the new religion and its preaching into all the three citadels. Thus, all Shiva‘s spiritual rituals and all the Assures’ power drawn from this cult decayed. (cf. Rudra Samhita, 5.5., 1-60.).

This was the reason for which Shiva approved the destruction of the Assures, but not before asking the new Arien gods to recognize His authority as shepherd (Pashupati) of the “flock” formed from all the beings of the world (celestial, human, animal and vegetal).

This is how part of the Assures’ wisdom related to the Shaivite cult could be transmitted across generations, in a secret tradition and despite the new Arien religions that developed in Kali Yuga. Shiva had to remain the supreme and mysterious God.

After the destruction of the three citadels, by Shiva himself, Arihat and his disciples were advised by Vishnu to retreat into the desert and wait for Kali Yuga there.

Then, they will be able to spread again their message among ignorant people, whose vanity made then easy to control and corrupt, leading them thus to decline and the final explosion that will end the human race. (cf. Rudra Samhita, 5.4., 19-21.)

The history of the three citadels represents the end of a great civilization, who reached a high technical level. Is it a story about a distant past, or a premonition of the future? Maybe a little bit of both.

What is really important is the message that clearly gets to us: a change for the worse in the Assures’ religious, social, and moral conceptions was able to cause the end of a civilization.

The cult of the shivaic phallus, symbol of the principle of life, the practice of Tantric yoga and the seeking of the understanding of the cosmological realities and natural laws were replaced by sentimental, puritan, egalitarian and negative notions.

The times we live in are bringing before our eye a worrying image: due to a strange sense of vanity, people seek to change the divine order, the natural order of things, replacing it with a human order, which opposes so-called moral virtues to the magic of the divine rites, and neglects the spiritual powers.

This attitude of ultimate denial of the universe’s divine order, can only lead humanity to disaster, as history taught us.