Kashmir Shaivism’s Fifteen Verses of Wisdom
Bodhapancadasika by Abhinavagupta, translated by Swami Lakshmanjoo with commentary
1. The brilliance of the One Being’s light does not vanish in external light or in darkness because all light and darkness resides in the supreme light of God Consciousness.
com: Τhe light of a candle is outshined by the light of the sun but the radiance of that One’s Being light is not outshined by external light or overshadowed by darkness. This is because all external light and darkness reside in that Supreme light of Consciousness. In Kashmir Shaivism, the light of the moon represents objective consciousness, the light of the sun represents cognitive consciousness, and the light of fire represents subjective consciousness. That light which is the source of these three lights is known as prakāśa – The Supreme Light of God consciousness.
2. This Being is called Lord Siva. He is the nature and existence of all beings. The external objective world is the expansion of His Energy and it is filled with the glamour of the glory of God Consciousness.
com: This one Being of infinite light is called Lord Siva and the external collection which makes up the objective world is His energy (sakti). Τhe external world is nothing more that the expansion of His Energy. It is not separate from His Energy. This Energy is filled with the radiance of the glory of God Consciousness. And so we see that Lord Siva is the Energy holder and the universal state of the objective field is His Energy, His Sakti.
3. Siva and Sakti are not aware that they are separate. They are interconnected just as fire is one with heat.
com: If for the sake of explanation we make a distinction between Sakti and Siva then one could say that Sakti is the whole universe and that from which this universe issues forth, is Siva. Τhis Siva and Sakti, Lord Siva and this world, are not aware that they are separate. Why is this? Simply because in reality they are not separate at all. The state of Lord Siva and the state of the Universe are one and the same, just as the fire is one with heat. Heat is not separate from fire, fire is not separate from heat.
4. He is the God Bhairava. He creates, protects, destroys, conceals, and reveals His nature through the cycle of this world. This whole universe is created by God in His own nature, just as one finds the reflection of the world in a mirror.
com: This universe is created by Lord Siva in His own nature. The Lord protects and gives strength to the Universe. The universe and the universe holder i.e. the creator of the universe, are one and the same. This Universe is a reflection (pratibimba) of Lord Siva. It is not created in the same way as a woman creates a child, which at birth becomes separate from herself. Rather, this universe is created in the same way as the image of an object, such as city can be found reflected in a mirror. In the case of Lord Siva, there is no city which exists independently of the mirror. The only thing that exists is the city in the mirror. There is no separate object reflected in the mirror, rather Lord Siva creates this whole universe in the mirror of His own nature by His independence (svatantrya), His Freedom.
5. The collective state of the universe is His supreme Energy (Sakti), which He created in order to recognize His own nature. This (Sakti), who is the embodiment of the collective state of the universe, loves possessing the state of God Consciousness. She is in the state of ignorance, remaining perfectly complete and full in each and every object.
com: Why has He created this Supreme Energy in His own nature? He has done this for one reason to recognize His own nature. The whole universe in nothing more than the means by which we can come to recognize Lord Siva. You can recognize Lord Siva through the universe, not by abandoning it, but by observing and experiencing God Consciousness in the very activity of the world. If you remain in universal activity and are attentive to realizing God Consciousness, you will attain it very easily. So, in the universe there is ignorance and there is a way to get of this ignorance. This is the way of meditating in the activity of the world. Lord Siva creates this external universe for the sake of realizing His own nature. That is why this external world is called Sakti, because it is the means to realize one’s own nature. When he was solely Siva, He was in His Full Splendor of God Consciousness. He didn’t recognize His own nature because it was already there. But he wants His own nature to be recognized. And yet, because it is already there, there is nothing to recognize. Therefore in order to recognize His nature, he must first become ignorant of It. Only then He can recognize it. Why should He want to recognize His nature in the first place? It is because of His Freedom. His Svatantrya (independence). This is the play of the universe. The universe was created solely for the fun and joy of this realization. It happens that when His fullness overflows, He wants to remain incomplete. He wants to appear as being incomplete, just so He can achieve completion. This is the Play of Siva’s Svatantrya. This process is also known as unmesa and nimesa. Unmesa is the flourishing of that God Consciousness and nimesa is the withdrawal of that God Consciousness. Unmesa is expansion and nimesa is contraction. Siva contains both of these states within Himself simultaneously. At the time when His nature overflowed, Sakti was in His own nature. (In the state of God Consciousness Sakti is complete and in the state of ignorance is complete. And yet Sakti relishes possessing the state of God Consciousness. Ιn each and every object She is complete and in each and every object this completion is neither too little neither too much. In this external world this completion is the same as it was in the state of the fullness of God Consciousness and the same as it was before the creation of the universe). Then He had to separate Sakti from His own nature. In that sτate of separated Sakti, Siva also exists. However, in that state Siva is ignorant and wants, as He did before, to have the fullness of His knowledge. The evidence that, while being in the state of ignorance, Siva was already filled with knowledge, is found in the fact that, at the moment He realizes His own nature and is filled with Knowledge, He has the experience that the state of knowledge was already there. So there was never really any separation. Separation only seemed to exist. (While experiencing an object, which is also in ignorance, in the field of ignorance, this experience is also full. But Siva doesn’t know this fullness and He does not know that He is Full. He only knows this fullness at the time of realizing His own nature. And when He realizes, this memory comes to Him ‘I was already full, so why i was meditating?’
6. The supreme Lord Siva, who is all-pervasive and fond of playing and falling, together with the Energy of His own nature simultaneously brings about the varieties of creation and destruction.
com: This supreme Lord Siva, who is all pervasive along with the energy of his own nature, creates varieties of creation and destruction. He creates everything in this world birds bugs, whatever is possible and whatever is not possible. And He doesn’t create it in succession. He creates it simultaneously. The purpose is to discover that God Consciousness also exists in all creation. What is the Energy of His own nature? Universal Existence, the universal cycle of universe. With this universal cycle Lord Siva is fond of playing and also falling. God has masked His own nature because there is too much ecstasy. He wants to disconnect that ecstasy, but that ecstasy, in reality cannot be disconnected at all. The Lord knows that but still for His own amusement He temporarily disconnects it. Then at the time when he again realizes His own nature, He feels that the ecstasy was already there.
7. This supreme action cannot be accomplished by any other power in this universe except Lord Siva, who is completely independent, perfectly glorious and intelligent.
com: This kind of action cannot be accomplished by any power in this universe other than Lord Siva. Only Lord Siva, by His own Svatantrya can totally ignore and mask his own nature. Lord Siva wants, in His Creation, to disconnect His God Consciousness completely and then to discover that it was never disconnected. Although it is disconnected it is not disconnected. In the real sense it is not disconnected. This is the Supreme action. If you are full of life, how can you be without life? You cannot but Lord Siva can. Lord Siva can become without life. He can become completely insentient (jada) and totally disconnected from God Consciousness, just like a rock. For where is the existence of Lord Siva in a rock? In rocks there is nothing, it is just a rock. This is His Svatantrya, His Glory, His intelligence. Intelligence doesn’t mean that in this super-drama called creation you will only play the part of a woman or a man. With this kind of intelligence you will also play the part of rocks, of trees, of all things. This kind of intelligence is found only in the state of Lord Siva and nowhere else.
8. The limited state of consciousness is insentient and cannot simultaneously expand itself to become the various forms of the universe. The possessor of independence is absolutely different from that insentient state of consciousness. You cannot, therefore, recognize Him in only one way. The moment you recognize Him in one way you will also recognize Him in the other way.
com: The moment you recognize Him in a universal way as unlimited you will also recognize Him individually as limited. This is His play. The limited insentient state of Consciousness is also the Lord. In this super-drama of creation the limited state of Consciousness can play the part only in an individual way. When it has taken the part of a rock it cannot simultaneously, at that moment become a tree, a bird, a tiger, a human being, or the Gods Brahma, Rudra, Visnu, Isvara and Sadasiva. However Lord Siva can. Simultaneously he has become all these forms and every form in the Universe as well. This is the way He spreads and expands His own nature. You Know that an ordinary limited being who lives in one place cannot at the same time live in another place. This is not the case with God Consciousness that is everywhere in each and every way. God Consciousness is in all time, in the present, the past and the future. God Consciousness is unlimited by time and space. The limited state of being is insentient (jada) and yet the possessor of this state is completely independent (svatantra) intelligent (bodha) and absolutely different (vilakasana) from that state. So this limited form of consciousness is attributed only to insentience. But he has created that. For example, a rock is a creation of God when it is only a rock. But a rock is God itself when while it is rock, it is also a human being, a god, a tree, a bird.
This is His play and the reason why He has created differentiated existence. In His play He has played this kind of trick wherein the rock becomes only a rock. It is totally unaware of anything, including its true nature as universal God Consciousness. And in His Play He enjoys the state of rock being limited to being a rock and also being universal. So there are two states to consider. The state of ignorance and the state of knowledge. When there is knowledge, a rock is not only rock, it is also universal. With knowledge, a rock is a rock and it is also all people. It is all trees, it is everything. When there is intelligence a rock is everyone and everything. But when a rock is just a rock, when it is ignorant, then it is a rock and nothing else. But at the same time, in that rock God is satisfied. Lord Siva enjoys the seeming limited aspect of ignorance because He Knows that ignorance is not, in the real sense, ignorance at all. He enjoys that. So you cannot recognize Him in only one way. At the very moment you recognize Him in one way you will recognize Him in the other way as well. This is the reality of Kashmir Shaivism as explained by Abhinavagupta. From the point of view of the rock, a rock is only a rock. This is the state of insentient limited being. From the point of view of Universal Consciousness, there is nothing that is outside of Universal Consciousness. The rock, is therefore a human being, a god,..because it is one with the universal state of God Consciousness.
9. This Lord Siva, who is completely independent (svatantra), has the diversity of creation and destruction existing in His own nature. And, at the same time, this diversity is found existing in its own way as the field of ignorance.
com: This is why our masters have taught us to meditate, to find out what the rock truly is. When you meditate then the rock will become universal. When there is nothing there is no problem. When there is only yourself then there is a problem. When there is only the other person then there is a problem. But when you come to that you are universal then there is no problem. This is why meditation has been expounded in Shaivism, in order for you to realize the reality of God-consciousness. Creation and destruction (sristi-samhara) also take place together. In this way there is creation and destruction in the cycle of action and creation and destruction in the cycle of knowledge. Creation and destruction in the cycle of action is just what takes place in the world of ignorance. For instance, there is a mountain. It is created and it exists in the realm of action. The results of this action are that after one thousand centuries this mountain will become dust. It will fall and crumble. This is creation and destruction in the cycle of action. Now you have to transform this action, the activity of this created thing, into knowledge. Then action will become universal. In that universality there is knowledge, pure knowledge, purna jnana. So, in this creation and destruction, when action is created, knowledge is destroyed and when knowledge is created action is destroyed. For instance, I perceive a mountain, it is in action. It is gradually crumbling into dust. If i perceive it in knowledge, the knowledge of God Consciousness will transform this perception making it universal and i will not feel that it is in action. The reason being that after one thousand centuries this mountain will become dust, I will feel that it has taken the formation of dust. I will not feel that it is destroyed. So it was not in action, it was in knowledge. In universality a rock is God and dust is also God. Knowing that there is no difference between the dust and the rock is knowledge. In the beginning the dust was rock and it had the shape of rock. After two thousand centuries the shape of the rock changed and it became dust. And yet when there is real knowledge, there is no difference between these two, the rock and dust. That is God. So the variation of creation and destruction, take place in this way so that there is no effect at all, no effect in either way. If the variation of creation and destruction were only in action and not in knowledge, then creation and destruction would actually take place. But whenever after many lifetimes, real knowledge dawns, you will find out and you will recognize that from the very beginning nothing has actually happened. You were already there. Though real knowledge appear to be destroyed, it was not destroyed. This is the trick, the play of Lord Siva – to make knowledge appear as if it has been destroyed. So what is the purpose of action? It is completely independent and it is play. The purpose of this action is play.
It is said:
Αt the time of reaching the superstate of God Consciousness, pleasure and pain have no value. Pleasure is the same, pain is the same, death is the same, life is the same. At that moment bondage and liberation are the same. Existence and non-existence are the same. Becoming a rock and becoming intelligent are the same.
In verse 9, Abhinavagupta explained that the varieties of creation and destruction are residing in Lord Siva’s own nature. Lord Siva creates, protects and destroys this universe. Lord Siva also, in His own nature, conceals and reveals Himself. In The next verse he says,
10. In this world you will find varieties of creation and destruction, some of which are created in the upper cycle, some of which are created below, and some of which are even created sideways. Attached to these worlds smaller portions of worlds are created. Pain, pleasure, and intellectual power are created according to the status of being. This is the world.
com: You find varieties of creation and destruction in this world. And there is also variation in these varieties. Variation means that the varieties of creation and destruction do not correspond to each other. For instance, our period of twenty-four hours is the span of a mosquito’s life. That is, twenty-four hours for a human is equal to one hundred years for the mosquito. Now the greatest span of a human is one hundred years. It is said that six months to a human is equal to twenty-four hours for those gods residing in the worlds of the anscestors (pitri-loka). This is how time expands. Our six months is equal to their twenty-four hours. And this expansion of time continues all the way to Lord Siva where the blinking of His eyes is equal to the lifetime of one-hundred years of Sadasiva. (The words blinking His eyes, are used just to make you understand that it is jus a flash. Blinking is not exactly the blinking of His eye. When Lord Siva opens His eyes Sadasiva is created and when he closes His eyes Sadasiva is destroyed.) This is the variety we come to know in this universe of one hundrend and eighteen worlds.
This is variation in the varieties of creation and destruction and these varieties are according to time. You cannot therefore, depend upon time. Time only appears, it doesn’t exist.
This is why Abhinavagupta, in this verse, says that in these one hundred and eighteen worlds there is an infinite variety of creation. And moreover, in this world pain and pleasure and intellectual power are all created according to the status of being.
For example a mosquito cannot meditate. Whereas on the other hand, Lord Siva can. Intellectual power therefore is also created with variations. A mosquito has intellectual power according to his existence and Lord Siva has intellectual power according to His Existence. And this intellectual power is also a trick, part of Lord’s Siva’s play. This is the world.
11. If you do not understand that there is actually no span of time, this misunderstanding is also the independence (svatantrya) of Lord Siva. This misunderstanding results in worldly existence (samsara). And those who are ignorant are terrified by worldly existence.
com: If the notion of time were correct, then there would not be this difference of time where your one human day is equal to one hundred years in the life of the mosquito. This difference of time is also the independence (svatantrya) of Lord Siva. In this worldly existence-samsara, ignorant people are terrified and cry out because of this independent, free will of Lord Siva. They do not know of its existence and they do not know that they do not know. They do not even feel that they do not know. If they did feel that they didn’t know, they would know. As soon as they felt that they did not know, they would know. What terrifies them is just not knowing and not knowing that they do not know. This is pure ignorance. This is that ignorance where those who are ignorant, do not know that they are ignorant.
12. & 13. When, because the grace of Lord Siva is showered upon you, or due to the teachings or vibrating force of your Master, or through understanding the scriptures concerned with Supreme Siva, you attain the real knowledge of reality, that is the existent state of Lord Siva, and that is final liberation. This fullness is achieved by elevated souls and is called liberation in this life (jivanmukti).
com: Υogis understand that samsara is only a trick that there is actually no span of time. They know that if there were a span of time then differences of time would not exist. If time really existed then twenty four hours for the mosquito would be the same as it is for humans and the same as it is for Lord Siva. In this Universe of 118 worlds all varieties of creation are in the grip of time (kala) and this time is controlled by the Lord of Death (Yama). When there is time there is death. When there is time there is birth. When there is the kingdom of time there is everything: there is pain, there is pleasure, there is sadness, there is happiness, there is joy, there is sex, there is the absence of sex, there is detachment and there is attachment. In this world you are caught in the grip of time to the extent of your own capacity. Now sometimes in some places on some occasions it happens that the grace of Lord Siva is showered on a person. When that grace of Lord Siva is showered on you, or when your God Consciousness is vibrated by the vibrating force of the teachings of your master, then you come to understand that there is no time. Then you realize that a trick is being played on you by Lord Siva. When one is filled with ignorance he has the false understanding that he is the player. He thinks that he himself is playing. This is a false notion. He is not the player, he is the one being played. When you come to know that this is a trick, you have nothing to do. But how do you come to know that? You come to know by the grace of Lord Siva, you come to know by the grace of your master, you come to know by the grace of the scriptures (sastras).
If you say that you can come to know that this is a trick from lectures or from reading, I say that this is not real knowledge. Real knowledge exist when you know yourself exactly.
14. These two cycles, bondage and liberation, are the play of Lord Siva and nothing else. They are not separate from Lord Siva because differentiated states have not risen at all. In reality, nothing has happened to Lord Siva.
com: In the two cycles of bondage and liberation, the cycle of bondage is concerned with the not-knowing cycle. When you do not know what you are doing, then you do not know where you are established. That is the cycle of bondage. What is the cycle of knowledge? It is liberation. What is liberation? Liberation exists, when you come to understand that it is the play of Lord Siva and nothing else. At that point you understand that nothing has happened, nothing is lost and nothing is gained. In brief exact words, these two cycles, bondage and liberation are not separate from Lord Siva. Why? Because differentiated states have not risen at all. It is only a trick that you are ignorant and somebody else is elevated. But the question arises-whose trick is it? Is it your trick or Lord Siva’s trick? It is your trick. Because if it were not your trick then you could not be liberated. It is your own trick that has made you ignorant. You fool yourself. And when that supreme force enters you, it will shatter this ignorance into pieces. You do not need anybody’s help in shattering it. You have enslaved yourself, you can free yourself and become a king. You must understand that in reality nothing happened to Lord Siva. He is never ignorant. He is never elevated. From which point would he be elevated? Was he not elevated before? Why even use this word elevation? Elevation is meant for those who are sunk or who are sinking. If He has never sunk down and you are one with Him, then why talk of elevating yourself? You are already elevated you are divine. This is Kashmir Shaivism..and is misunderstood by many people. You must first come to understand this and then you will begin to become Lord Siva. You are Siva and will eventually come to the conclusion that you are Siva. And yet, you are not actually Siva, because you have not yet achieved that state. You must come to know and see in yourself situated in this way. If you are not situated in this way and boast saying ‘Ι am Lord Siva’ you will be slapped and made to understand that you are not Lord Siva. You have to find out yourself where you are situated. It happens by the grace of Lord Siva, by the grace of your master or by the grace of the sastras.
15. In this way the Lord, Bhairava, the essence of all being, has held in His own way in His own nature, the three great energies: the energy of will (iccha-sakti), the energy of action (kriya-sakti), and the energy of knowledge (jnana-sakti). These three energies are just like that trident which is the three-fold lotus. And seated on this lotus is Lord Bhairava, who is the nature of the whole universe of 118 worlds.
com: The nature of this universe is the existence of Lord Siva. Lord Siva’s existence is naturally everyone’s nature. Lord Siva is found everywhere. Lord Siva is even found in the absence of Lord Siva. Even there He is not absent, He is existing. There He resides alone in His Kingdom. No one else is found there.
“The birth of the world, its maintenance, its destruction, the soul’s obscuration and liberation are the five acts of His Dance.”
‘‘So this Universe is a reflection in the Lord, in the perfectly reflective void of Bhairava’s Consciousness (and arises) under the influence of nothing outside (that Consciousness). This ability of the Lord to embody Himself as the Universe is the supreme goddess (that our masters) call ‘creativity'(pratibham), ‘the feminine ultimate’ -anuttaram. It is the Supreme power of Universality (Kauliki Saktih), the ability of this deity (Bhairava) embodied in the sound a (akulasya) to manifest the universe (though) transcending it, the power with which the Lord is ever one. The Power of Bliss is (anandasaktih) is the combination (yamalamrupam) of these two, the passionate embrace, out of which this universe is emitted. This is the (ultimate) reality beyond both the universe-transcending and the universal. It is the Goddess (devi), the Essence saram and the Heart. It is the Highest (para), omnipotent state of absolute potential (visargah).”
-Tantraloka, Abhinavagupta (3.65-3.69)
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