Presentation at Kashmir Shaivism International Seminar
Salutations to swamiji,
The ability to think is what makes man stand at the crest of all creation.
And man used this ability in two ways. He observed the world around him,
And kept records of his discoveries and these records became studies for further thinking, giving way to the circle of inventions and more discovery.
In India, from time immemorial, there appeared great thinkers, who came to understand that though this cycle of outward discovery was fascinating, as well as rewarding, it, however, was endless, as the Universe itself was too large. They became keen to know who they themselves were, what was their purpose in life, who had created life, and why? Whether there was a higher power that governed this immaculate Universe? They used the second ability of thought and shifted their focus to man himself. They began to develop an “inward thinking”. Some of these rare individuals discovered that there is a faculty greater even than thinking and rationalizing, the higher knowledge that comes by intuition. Intuitively, they began understanding various phenomenon about not only themselves, but the entire cosmos. They became keen to enhance this subtle way of knowing ,and with interiorized eyes ,they started developing systems of yoking themselves to the intuitive state by will. They were the yogis, and their yoga’s were what we now call meditation. When the most determined of these mediators dwelled on the inner Self with unwavering awareness, they reached the very core of life itself, this core was beyond mind, beyond even flashes of intuition, it was a state of being .In this state the knower, the knowing and the known all became one. The seer , the seeing and the seen became one. This non dual state of oneness, in which the whole universe , all of creation, was actually felt within one’s own Self was obviously a state of tremendous bliss and it came to be called Samadhi, and its expression was Cid ananda, bliss of the Self.
When one arose from this Samadhi, one was back to the outside world as before, but with the massive transformation of knowing that all is one. And this phenomenon of having been in that state of Oneness was termed as Darsana. The possessors of Darsana, were called the Dristas, the seers or the Rsis. Even from the Everests of their spiritual attainments, out of their compassion the Rsis gave pointers for others of the outside world of Samadhi, so that they too may realize it for themselves. So Cidananda, or the meditative climax of finding that the whole universe was, in fact within one’s Self was thought to be man’s greatest achievement in the inner journey, the greatest blessing that divinity could give by revealing itself.
But, the rsis of Kashmir wanted to pursue even the state of Samadhi more. They were not content with just cid ananda, of being blissed only during Samadhi. Perhaps it was the greater design of divinity itself, that the rsi of Kashmir could not ignore his beautiful outer landscape for even the divine mountains within. And he began to seek for even greater blessing,working dexterously on harmonizing the two beatitudes.
And this, to me, was the real advent of Kashmir shaivism, given to us by Vasugupt, Utpala, Somananda, Abhinava, Lalleshwari and of course, Swamiji, they were all adept yogis, they were siddhas, and yet they retained their tremendous love for the manifest beauty of Kashmir.
‘Kashmira parvati paroksh, tat swami ch Maheshwara”, my favourite aphorism from the Puranas of Kashmir, quoted even by Kalhana, emboldens me to suggest that even Lord Shiva wanted us to subscribe to this harmony of both the inner and outer divinity.
And as this Darsana matured, the outstanding feature that started developing was its pragmatism. The love for the reality of the Jagat made our founding spiritual fathers work tirelessly to uphold all of life in the world. They redefined renunciation, they did not want for us to leave our homes, they wanted us to renounce the sense of duality with god. They did not advocate monkhood, though in their task, they may have had to go on long hours, days, even lifetimes of retreat, the fruit which they wanted to give us from their amri trees, was for us to see God everywhere, in everything. They started leading us from Cidananda, to Jagadananda, bliss of the world. I am sure that in their days they loved their baaghs, the shikaras in their ferrylanes, the dainty embroideries on their phirens, the warmth of the kangris,the singing alongside with the chinars with the tumbak naris and the santoors, all was Shiva! So too, our children are engrained with divinity and pragmatism, it is in their DNA !They are a proud people renowned for their efficiency in work, their amiable and warm natures and customs .Only the outer times change, our children can move in their motorbikes and cars, go to gyms, pursue great professions and aspirations, go anywhere, and still see Shiva,in the temples, or in the discotheques, He is everywhere, and the ability to see it like this is the essence of Kashmir shaiv Darsana.
The ability of confluencing the two abilities of outward thinking and inner intuition, the ability to harmonise caring for outer beauty and inner divinity, the ability to perfect working efficiency and inner surety. This is Kashmir shaivism. This is our great inheritance, And I entreat all of you to learn our Darsana for ourselves. When and where does one begin to learn? When the mind is resolved,now is always the best time.And, as many great teachers will be giving out beautiful facets of the darsana, this right here, is a great place to begin!
For my part, I will just try to give you a very basic idea of how rich and supportive of pragmatism some of the advanced ancient Kashmir shaiv texts are.
In the Vijnanbhairava, which loosely translated would mean the applied knowledge of Lord Shiva, the Devi asks the lord to teach some methods that will help an aspirant reach high levels of shivahood for himself. Now Shivji comes out with 112 yoga dharanas, which can be practised. Its wonderful to note, that not all the yogas are of the same grade, but they all lead to the same summit. And Shiva has been thoughtful enough to prescribe so many different methods to tune into the higher frequency of vibrant divinity.
Do you remember, when, as children,or sometimes, even accompanying our children to a magic show, we used to be amazed at the conjurer’s tricks,say of making things disappear or appear? While most spiritual systems may tend to rubbish this as hoax, lord shiva is far kinder,and in his advanced meditative technology, tells us, to mature that amazement (vismaya) which you feel at the show of magic, into a meditation, make it a bhumika (base) for yoga .For those of you who love music, the sadavasantam(evergreen) shiva says, that anand (ecstasy) you feel while listening to, or humming alongside your favourite tune, let that ecstasy lead you to know that it is your right as shiva to be happy,
Not even your right, this is your actual nature, you only have to re-cognize it, pratya bjna.
He goes on to say that even the literally hair raising arousal we get when we see our favourite land, Des Dristi, or when we are reminded of our excellent preceptors, the para patras, as many of Swamiji’s devotees would be feeling during this celebration, know that to be the oneness with Shiva himself. Whether even it is the eating of good food, (which is of course another great inheritance) the delight that one gets ,know that to be the delight of Shiva enjoying his own creation.
I will repeat that, Shiva enjoying his own creation, this is the essence of Kashmir shaivism ! Kashmir shaiv tells you in the most direct of words,that you are the God you looked for,you, are Shiva! You are Shiva every moment, even if you don’t know it, and it helps you only to re-cognise, that you are and have always been Shiva, because, All is Shiva. And this is why I love Kashmir shaiv. It is by design that Kashmir Shaiv speaks of so many things which can be delighted in our own culture,as pathways to divinity, to abiding happiness, provided, of course, we do everything with the remembrance of our shivahood. When every act has become a ritual dedicated to the divinity that abounds everywhere, And then the Lord says:
Yatra yatra manas tustir, manas tatra aiv dharayet,
Tatra tatra parananda svarupam samparvartate
A yogi should fix his mind on any phenomenon that brings delight,
Because the repose in delight is the nature of the lord.
But to ensure that we are bonafide yogis and not self deceiving bhogis, we will have to begin where we began, to make sure that we end where our normal state becomes a flow of divinity, we must train as yogis with the introverted, meditative eye.
For these sections of the Vijnanbhairava that I have chosen are only to illustrate how a matured yogi can reach the level when all is yoga,so if you can already do that, great! It means you have strong anugraha already, you may take the high path, but even if you cant straightaway do that, your Guru will tell you which Upaya suits your present disposition,
And lead you up the same mountain of Mahadev where the sutra’s of Shiva are revealed by Shiva, for Shiva to know that He, in fact, is Shiva!! This is why I love Kashmir shaiv I love and live it , and again entreat upon you to know it for yourself, and then, like good shaivites, share it with those who devotedly wish to learn.
To end, I would like to recite a poem written in reverence of Lalleshwari, Lalded or even Lal didi as I heard someone call her.
Sang Lalli in Kashmir
Enchanting is paradise,
And you forget,
For HE who hides.
Even through the brilliant guise,HE is everywhere!
But sits where you wont seek
Such is the player!
Such is the player,
That doubt will cloud the peak
Here? In my own bosom?
Aah how could that be?
O Lalli Lalli!
Don’t you know,
That HE is you
Hailing from a well known business family of J&K state, Shail Gulhati is a practicing Shaivite mystic(and this can be mentioned, because one of our goals is to end the idea that spirituality and the world are mutually exclusive).
He has authored two books.
The yogi and the snake", a parable set in a mystical dialogue format between a seeker whose self esteem is low and the supreme spiritual master Shiva, who unfolds the secrets of spiritual pluralism that bridge the gap between ancient mystic wisdom and contemporary spiritual understanding, thus restoring his esteem for him by transforming his perception. And more recently ,"NAAMROOP-A Tribute to the divine" a book of verses and paintings to the divine, with celebrated Delhi based artist, Arpana Caur.
Shail Gulhati has participated in the third international seminar on Kashmir Shaivism, and also the 19th SAARC writer’s summit, with poems. He writes spiritual articles regularly for newspapers. You can find reference for his Kashmir Shaiv Darsana at Facebook
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