Practical Kashmir Shaivism

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This website has a nice introduction into Kashmir Shaivism. I don't practice this way, but found the material very interesting...




Two main concepts that id' like to explore --


Chakrodaya and Ajapa-Gayatri.


I'm not quoting from the first article due to copyright notices. 

This website has some info about these --





Our Masters have indicated that there are two principle forms of practice of asana pranayama: Chakrodaya and Ajapa Gayatri.

Ajapa Gayatri:
Ajapa Gayatri is anusandhan along with the slow and silent movement of the breath. The inhaling and exhaling should be so slow and so utterly silent that even he who is breathing cannot hear his own breath. You are to maintain continiously refreshing full awareness in the centre of two breaths while breathing in and out slowly and silently. You must maintain full awareness at the point where the inhaling breath reaches its completion, the birthplace of the exhaling breath and so also you must maintain awareness at the end point of exhalation, the birthplace of inhaling breath. The practice of Ajapa Gayatri does not allow the missing of a single breath. Your awareness must be breakless, continiously refreshed and must be fixed in the centre of two slowly and silently moving breaths. The settling in asana through Ajapa Gayatri is extremely difficult. To practice Ajapa gayatri you should “ball your fists, clench your teeth, tense all the muscles of your body but conquer your mind”. This is the advice of Sage Vashistha to Lord Rama. He tells him that he must first conquer his mind and then only practice ajapa gayatri. 

You must maintain awareness which is continually fresh and new, filled with excitement and vigour, in the centre of the two breaths. You are to breathe in and out slowly but in this case with sound. In the practice of chakrodaya, you must inhale and exhale in long breaths.the longer the breath, the less space it occupies, the quicker the result. In chakrodaya, the breath has to be inhaled and exhaled by the through the throat and not by the heart which could be very dangerous and deadly procedure.
Through practice of this gross movement of breath is refined and with passage of time, becomes more and more subtle. At this point begins pranayama. 
Turya is neither wakefulness , dream not the deep sleep. In reality, it exists in the junction between any of these three states. When you enter into the state of turya, the five organs of action are rendered powerless and cease to function. Turya does not concern himself with external occuring around him. This is the full state of pranayama. In the state of turya, you perceive mentally thepresence of five subtle elements. Hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell. You must ignore them completely and settle deeply into your own one pointed awareness. This settling is called pratyahara. It is the winding up of the external world and entering into the supreme internal world. And when the breath enters into the central vein(sukshama nadi) and is thereby annhiliated, at this point in your journey , meditation ceases. This state cannot be concentrated upon. It is held automatically. Old ladies generally say “ let me have the power to do where there is nothing to be done.let me have the power to contemplate where there is nothing to contemplate"
This unification of individual God Consciousness and Universal God Consciousness leads to that supreme state where God Consciousness is experienced without break and in all states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep. This is supreme state of fullness while in the body and is called jagat ananda.


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Here is a lecture given by Mark Dyczkowski, it's mostly about chanting Om, but it touches on many subjects, such as Vijnanabhairava tantra and Kashmir Shaivism generally, although the content given here (except for verses from Vijnanabhairava and Spandakarikas from his book) is mostly Upanishadic, still a great deal of knowledge, most of which is hard to obtain even for gods in many kalpas... I mean, hard to find anywhere else on the web.



Of course when it comes to practical side of Shaivism then Vijnanabhairava is a no-brainer. Just be careful to pick Swami Lakshmanjoo or Jaideva Singh edition (or both) and not Osho or Lorin Roche edition as they are not real Vijnanabhairava.

Some links that you might also find helpful:

a homepage of Christopher Wallis, he seems a bit "New Agey" to me, but in his book and blog posts he also presents many practical sides of Shaivism and he certainly knows the tradition well

some Argentinian guy who claims to have had a spontaneous initiation, I can't assess validity of many things on this site though

homepage of aforementioned Mark Dyczkowski, whom I don't need to introduce I think, he has lots of courses and some free info too, really priceless IMO, his reading list is also great, working my way through titles that I've missed (Aspects of Kashmir Shaivism is a gem really)
everyone knows this site I think but gonna post it regardless, Mike's translations and articles are mostly centered around Shaktism (particularly Kalikula and Śri Vidya), nevertheless he has a great deal of information there, some very hard to obtain and his abstacts and translations are really neat, he has a section on Shaivism too

another scholar of great importance, he used to have his website with various texts, translations and papers but here is most of what was there anyway, if not more, you can find real gems on academia.edu, for example "The Yoga of the Malinivijayottaratantra" by Somadeva Vasudeva


You can also of course just study Tantraloka in it's entirety and get to know Tantra from Abhinavagupta Himself. Anyway - I'm most curious about the self-initiation into Trika described by Ahinavagupta in his 4th chapter of Tantraloka, does anyone have any information on Raktadevi and Her mantra?

But yeah, when it comes to practical Shaivism then Vijnanabhairava tantra and Dyczkowski and Joo materials are the way to go I think.


I'd really like to invite everyone to discussion of Kashmir Shaivism as it is a system that is very close to my heart.

Edited by pessimystic
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Thanks for these resources. 


I have heard great things about Kashmir Shaivism and from what I remember it was very very interesting.

They explained all very well and precisely.

I will dig a bit more into it now. 



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Also check out more stuff from Sutra Journal, they aren't exclusively about Shaivism (not even exclusively about Tantra) but there are some gems there, like this one article here which concisely presents the life and subsequent ascension of Abhinavagupta who was an incarnation of Bhairava.


Another really valuable article from Wallis:

Speaking of which - if anyone would be interested in Kundalini and chakras in Kashmir Shaivism tradition then the best book on the matter is "Kundalini: Energy Of The Depths" by Lilian Silburn.


Also, "Born of the Yogini's Heart" by Paul Muller-Ortega is worth reading, it's somewhere on the web. It's a short article but very illuminating regarding the "cavern of the heart" metaphor in Shaivism.


But well, it's not really practical per se, nevertheless it does contribute to understanding of the system.


@Nothingness I think that the best entry-level book would be Kashmir Shaivism: The Secret Supreme or, mentioned before, Aspects of Kashmir Shaivism. Paramarthasara of Abhinavagupta is also very valuable as it juxtaposed Trika's theory of liberation (and particularly that of jivanmukti - embodied liberation) on earlier, Advaitic notions, with it being actually a very innovative commentary and modification of earlier Paramarthasara of Adi Sesa. The reading list on Dyczkowski's site is spot on, it's also categorized into sections - beginner, advanced etc.



Edited by pessimystic
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I'm very interested in K.S.


I'll be reading one of the books mentioned above, but I was wondering if anyone could tell me, briefly, the main differences (if there are any) between Kashmir Shaivism and Advaita Vedanta. 


I am very well acquainted with A.V., all types of Yogas, and Sanatana Dharma in general, but lack knowledge about Kashmir Shaivism.


Thank you. 

Edited by Nothingness

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1 hour ago, Nothingness said:

I'm very interested in K.S.


I'll be reading one of the books mentioned above, but I was wondering if anyone could tell me, briefly, the main differences (if there are any) between Kashmir Shaivism and Advaita Vedanta. 


I am very well acquainted with A.V., all types of Yogas, and Sanatana Dharma in general, but lack knowledge about Kashmir Shaivism.


Thank you. 


Here is a very nice article going over the differences.




There is much more but a brief example:


Three important observations to highlight the differences in the manifestation philosophies of Vendana and Kashmir Shaivism are:

a) Purusha
 While the Purusha of Vedanta is a Universal soul (God-like), He is atmen (pure spirit). In contrast, in Kashmir Shaivism it is bound soul – a jiva, nara, pashu or anu – a limited soul.

B) Prakriti
Prakriti in Vedanta is involved in manifestation as an independent element. It is a cosmic substance that is termed as perennial impulse in nature (like Shakti tattva). But the Prakriti of the Kashmir Shaivism deals with limited jiva only.
c) Maya
Maya in the Vedanta is the means of operation. It is not an element. It is force that creates the illusion of non-perception in nature. It has no reality. It is only the appearance of fleeting forms which are all unreal and like mirage vanishes when the knowledge of reality draws.  In contrast, in Kashmir Shaivism maya is a tattva. It is real. It is the power of contraction or limiting the nature of five universal modes of consciousness.    It cannot be separated from Absolute Reality – Parmshiva.

5. Three Gunas (attributes)
Vedanta describes Prakriti as a combination of three Gunas – Satvic, Rajas, and Tamas. Further it describes the nature of these gunas. Thus Satva is enlightenment and pleasure; Rajas is turbulence and pain; and Tamas is ignorance and lethargy. It does not explain the source of the nature of these gunas.
Kashmir Shaivism has examined this issue. In their view, Paramshiva possesses limitless power to know, to do, and to diversify. These powers are known as jnana, kriya, and maya. By the limitations brought about by maya, the Infinite Consciousness is reduced to finite consciousness – purusha (the limited being, anu or pashu).Here they view these experiences as pleasure, pain, and ignorance.


Edited by Jonesboy
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