Saturday, November 9, 2019



What is the Bhagavad-Gita?
The Bhagavad-Gita is the eternal message of spiritual wisdom from ancient India. The word Gita means song and the word Bhagavad means God, often the Bhagavad-Gita is called the Song of God.

Why is the Bhagavad-Gita called a song if it is spoken? 
Because it has rhyming meter is so beautifully harmonic and melodious when spoken perfectly.

What is the name of this rhyming meter?
It is called Anustup and contains 32 syllables in each verse.

Who originally spoke the Bhagavad-Gita?
Lord Krishna originally spoke the Bhagavad-Gita.

Where was the Bhagavad-Gita originally spoken?
In India at the holy land of Kurukshetra.

Why is the land of Kurukshetra so holy? 
Because of benedictions given to King Kuru by Brahma that anyone dying in Kurukshetra while performing penance or while fighting in battle will be promoted directly to the heavenly planets.

Where is the Bhagavad-Gita to be found?
In the monumental, historical epic Mahabharata written by Vedavyasa.

What is the historical epic Mahabharata?
The Mahabharata is the most voluminous book the world has ever known. The Mahabharata covers the history of the earth from the time of creation in relation to India. Composed in 100,000 rhyming quatrain couplets the Mahabharata is seven times the size of the Illiad written by Homer.

Who is Vedavyasa? 
Vedavyasa is the divine saint and incarnation who authored the Srimad Bhagavatam, Vedanta Sutra, the 108 Puranas, composed and divided the Vedas into the Rik, Yajur, Artharva and Sama Vedas, and wrote the great historical treatise Mahabharata known as the fifth Veda. His full name is Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa and he was the son of sage Parasara and mother Satyavati.

Why is the Mahabharata known as the fifth Veda? 
Because it is revealed in the Vedic scripture Bhavisya Purana III.VII.II that the fifth Veda written by Vedavyasa is called the Mahabharata.

What are the special characteristics of the Mahabharata?
The Mahabharata has no restrictions of qualification as to who can hear it or read it. Everyone regardless of caste or social position may hear or read it at any time. Vedavyasa wrote it with the view not to exclude all the people in the worlds who are outside of the Vedic culture. He himself has explained that the
Mahabharata contains the essence of all the purports of the Vedas. This we see is true and it is also written in a very intriguing and dramatically narrative form.

What about the Aryan invasion theory being the source of the Bhagavad-Gita? 
The Aryan invasion theory has been proven in the 1990s not to have a shred of truth in it. Indologists the world over have realized that the Aryans are the Hindus themselves.

What is the size of the Bhagavad-Gita? 
The Bhagavad-Gita is composed of 700 Sanskrit verses contained within 18 chapters, divided into three sections each consisting of six chapters. They are Karma Yoga the yoga of actions. Bhakti Yoga the yoga of devotion and Jnana Yoga the yoga of knowledge.

When was the Bhagavad-Gita spoken? 
The Mahabharata confirms that Lord Krishna spoke the Bhagavad-Gita to Arjuna at the Battle of Kuruksetra in 3137 B.C. According to specific astrological references in the Vedic scriptures, the year 3102 B.C. is the beginning of kali yuga which began 35 years after the battle 5000 years ago. If calculated accurately it goes to 5153 years from Nov 29, 2017.

What is the opinion of western scholars from ancient times? 
According to the writings of both the Greek and the Romans such as Pliny, Arrian and Solinus as well as Megastathanes who wrote a history of ancient India and who was present as an eyewitness when Alexander the Great arrived in India in 326 B.C. was that before him were 154 kings who ruled back to 6777 B.C. This also follows the Vedic understanding.

When was the Bhagavad-Gita first translated into English? 
The first English edition of the Bhagavad-Gita was in 1785 by Charles Wilkins in London, England. This was only 174 years after the translation of the King James Bible in 1611.

Was the Bhagavad-Gita also translated into other languages? 
Yes. The Bhagavad-Gita was translated into Latin in 1823 by Schlegel. It was translated into German in 1826 by Von Humbolt. It was translated into French in 1846 by Lassens and it was translated into Greek in 1848 by Galanos to mention but a few.

What was the original language of the Bhagavad-Gita? 
The original language of the Bhagavad-Gita was classical Sanskrit from India.

Why is Srimad often written before the Bhagavad-Gita? 
The word Srimad is a title of great respect. This is given because the Bhagavad-Gita reveals the essence of all spiritual knowledge.

Is history aware of the greatness of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita?
Historically many very extraordinary people such as Albert Einsten, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Herman Hesse, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Aldous Huxley, Rudolph Steiner and Nikola Tesla to name but a few have read Srimad Bhagavad-Gita and were inspired by its timeless wisdom.

What is Kurukshetra?
Kurukshetra is the ancient holy land where the essence of Hinduism originated. The city is spread to an area of 48 kosas in northwest of Delhi, covering about 360 sacred places associated with Mahabharata. It is also the land where the sage Manu penned his 'Manusmriti' and where learned 'rishis' compiled the Rig Veda and Sama Veda. It has been graced with the visits of Lord Krishna, Buddha and the Sikh gurus.
Kurukshetra is named after the great sage king Kuru so also named as the land of a Kuru (progenitor of Pandavas and the Kauravas). The place was the site of the great battle of Mahabharata. The great dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna during the famous battle of Mhahabharta, later took the form of Bhagavat Gita, the holy book of the Hindus so the place also owns the honor for the origin of the sanctified Bhagavat Gita.

Yet the Gita also creates a hierarchy: First come study, understanding, and meditation (dhyana-yoga). These lead to deep contempla-tion of philosophy and eventually wisdom that culminates in renunciation (sannyasa-yoga). Renunciation leads to the proper use of intelligence (buddhi-yoga), then karma-yoga, and finally bhakti-yoga.

Mind in its fourfold nature: chitta, consciousness; manas, instinctive mind; buddhi, intellectual mind; and ahamkara, ego or I-maker. 

The gita deals with three main areas of theology—sambanda, abhideya, and priyojana— or knowledge, application, and the goal. 

Aharya is a Sanskrit term meaning “one who teaches by their conduct.” An acharya is a teacher who leads by example. It is used for teachers and gurus of yoga, as well as for the instructor, sect leader or learned person in many Indian religions. The meaning of acharya is slightly different, depending on whether it is used in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or yoga. 
In addition, Acharya may be used as a suffix for a teacher of any discipline. It is a Brahmin surname which can be found across Nepal and India. 

Ananta is a Sanskrit term which means 'endless' or 'limitless', also means 'eternal' or 'infinite',[1] in other words, it also means infinitude or an unending expansion or without limit. It is one of the many names of Lord Vishnu.[2] Ananta is the Shesha-naga, the celestial snake, on which Lord Vishnu reclines.[3]Ananta is that which is without destruction because it is not subject to the six modifications such as birth, growth, death etc

"Fragment; atom; minuteness, individuality."  The veiling power that provides individuality, or individual ego, to each soul, making the soul seem separate and distinct from God and the universe. The ego, sense of "I" and "mine," ignorance; separation from God. Denotes a sense of finitude and individuality. Derived from the word "anu" meaning an atom or something exceedingly small. One of the three malas or bondages: anava, karma and maya. Anava is the cause of the soul's mistaken sense of separation from God Siva, and the last bond broken at union or Self-Realization

acharya (IAST: ācārya) is a preceptor or instructor in religious matters; founder, or leader of a sect; or a highly learned man or a title affixed to the names of learned men

asanas: postures used to stimulate flow of life-force through the body and to aid meditation.

atman: The human soul or spirit -- the essence of the inner being.

ahimsa: The doctrine of non-violence toward sentient beings.
 To Do No Harm
Hindu wisdom, which inspires humans to live the ideals of compassion and nonviolence, is captured in one word, ahimsa. In Sanskrit himsa is doing harm or causing injury. The "a" placed before the word negates it. Very simply, ahimsa is abstaining from causing harm or injury. It is gentleness and noninjury, whether physical, mental or emotional. It is good to know that nonviolence speaks only to the most extreme forms of forceful wrongdoing, while ahimsa goes much deeper to prohibit even the subtle abuse and the simple hurt. 

In his commentary on the Yoga Sutras, Sage Vyasa defines ahimsa as "the absence of injuriousness (anabhidroha) toward all living beings (sarvabhuta) in all respects (sarvatha) and for all times (sarvada)." He noted that a person who draws near one engaged in the true practice of ahimsa would be freed from all enmity. Similarly, Patanjali (ca 200 bce) regards ahimsa as the yogi's mahavrata, the great vow and foremost spiritual discipline, which those seeking Truth must follow strictly and without fail. This was not meant merely to condemn killing, but extended to harm caused by one's thoughts, words and deeds of all kinds--including injury to the natural environment. Even the intent to injure, even violence committed in a dream, is a violation of the principle of ahimsa. 

Every belief creates certain attitudes. Those attitudes govern all of our actions. Man's actions can thus be traced to his inmost beliefs about himself and about the world around him. If those beliefs are erroneous, his actions will not be in tune with the universal dharma. For instance, the belief in the existence of an all-pervasive Divinity throughout the universe creates an attitude of reverence, benevolence and compassion for all animate and inanimate beings. The natural consequence of this belief is ahimsa, nonhurtfulness. The belief in the duality of heaven and hell, the light forces and the dark forces, creates the attitude that we must be on our guard, and that we are justified in inflicting injury, physically and emotionally, on others whom we judge to be bad, pagan or unworthy for other reasons. Such thinking leads to rationalizing so-called righteous wars and conflicts. We can sum this up from the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain traditions: ahimsa is higher consciousness, and himsa, hurtfulness, is lower consciousness. 

Devout Hindus oppose killing for several reasons. Belief in karma and reincarnation are strong forces at work in the Hindu mind. They full well know that any thought, feeling or action sent out from themself to another will return to them through yet another in equal or amplified intensity. What we have done to others will be done to us, if not in this life then in another. The Hindu is thoroughly convinced that violence which he commits will return to him by a cosmic process that is unerring. Two thousand years ago South India's weaver saint Tiruvalluvar said it so simply, "All suffering recoils on the wrongdoer himself. Thus, those desiring not to suffer refrain from causing others pain" (Tirukural 320). A similar view can be found in the Jain Acharanga Sutra: "To do harm to others is to do harm to oneself. You are he whom you intend to kill. You are he whom you intend to dominate. We corrupt ourselves as soon as we intend to corrupt others. We kill ourselves as soon as we intend to kill others." 

akasha: The ether; primordial substance that pervades the entire universe; the substratum of both mind and matter. All thoughts, feelings, or actions are recorded within it.

 bhakti:  comes from a Sanskrit root which means “to love, to be devoted, to share.” 

BRAHMACHARYA is the blending of two words — Brahma (God, creation) + Charya (to follow). While common translations include celibacy and restraint in many forms, there’s an elevated meaning that perfectly encapsulates the guidance we seek. Brahmacharya = utilizing our vital energy/chi/life force, for our HIGHEST purposes.

Brahman: Hindu god who represents the highest principle in the universe; the essence that permeates all existence. Brahman is the same as atman in the philosophy of the Upanishads.

Charya, literally "conduct," is the first stage of religiousness and the foundation for the next three stages. It is also called the dasa marga, meaning "path of servitude," for here the soul relates to God as servant to master. The disciplines of charya include humble service, attending the temple, performing one's duty to community and family, honoring holy men, respecting elders, atoning for misdeeds and fulfilling the ten classical restraints called yamas

Darshan, ( Sanskrit: “viewing”) also spelled darshana, in Indian philosophy and religion, particularly in Hinduism, the beholding of a deity (especially in image form), revered person, or sacred object. The experience is considered to be reciprocal and results in the human viewer’s receiving a blessing. 

dharma: One's personal path in life, the fulfillment of which leads to a higher state of consciousness.

dhyana: The focusing of attention on a particular spiritual idea in continuous meditation.

guna: A cosmic force or quality. Hindu cosmology maintains that the universe is composed of three such qualities: satvic, meaning pure or truthful; rajasic, meaning rich or royal; and tomasic meaning rancid or decaying.

Sativa : is the quality of balance, harmony, goodness, purity, universalizing, holistic, constructive, creative, building, positive attitude, luminous, serenity, being-ness, peaceful, virtuo
Rajas: is the quality of passion, activity, neither good nor bad and sometimes either, self-centeredness, egoistic, individualizing, driven, moving, dynamic
Tamas: is the quality of imbalance, disorder, chaos, anxiety, impure, destructive, delusion, negative, dull or inactive, apathy, inertia or lethargy, violent, vicious, ignorant

In Indian philosophy, these qualities are not considered as present in either-or fashion. Rather, everyone and everything has all three, only in different proportions and in different contexts.

Ishwara: Personal manifestation of the supreme; the cosmic self; cosmic consciousness.

 jiva-atma - the individual soul, known as the living entity

karma: The principle by which all of our actions will effect our future circumstances, either in the present or in future lifetimes. The several kinds of karma are: personal, family, community, national, global and universal. Ancient rishis perceived personal karma's three-fold edict. The first is sanchita, the sum total of past karmas yet to be resolved. The second is prarabdha, that portion of sanchita to be experienced in this life. Kriyamana, the third type, is karma we are currently creating. The Vedas propound, "Here they say that a person consists of desires. And as is his desire, so is his will. As is his will, so is his deed. Whatever deed he does, that he will reap." 

 kriya is a series of postures, breath, and sound that work toward a specific outcome. Practicing a kriya initiates a sequence of physical and mental changes that affect the body, mind, and spirit simultaneously.    In Kundalini Yoga

Lila (Sanskrit: लीला, IAST līlā) or Leela, like many Sanskrit words, cannot be precisely translated into English, but can be loosely translated as the noun "play". The concept of Lila is common to both non-dualist and dualist philosophical schools, but has a markedly different significance in each. Within non-dualism, Lila is a way of describing all reality, including the cosmos, as the outcome of creative play by the divine absolute (Brahman). In the dualistic schools of Vaishnavism, Lila refers to the activities of God and his devotee, as well as the macrocosmic actions of the manifest universe

mantras: Syllables, inaudible or vocalized, that are repeated during meditation.

 margas, (4)  or "stages" of the soul's evolution on the path to
enlightenment, which also are called padas, are:
 charya pada:  virtuous living, unselfish service.  includes
 karma yoga, or action without thought of reward.  also called dasa marga.
 kriya pada: worshipful sadhanas and joy of communion with
 God.  includes bhakti yoga, or devotional yoga.  also called satputra marga.
 yoga pada:  meditation (under the guidance of a guru), 
 includes raja yoga and kundalini yoga practices.  known  also as the sakha marga.
 jnana pada: the state of the realized soul, the path of

maya: The illusions the physical world generates to ensnare our consciousness.
Maya has two functions:
  1. Covering our intelligence: (Avaranatmika)
  2. Pulling us down:  (Praksepatmika)

moksha: The attainment of liberation from the worldly life.

mandala: Images used to meditate upon.

nirvana: The transcendental state that is beyond the possibility of full comprehension or expression by the ordinary being enmeshed in the concept of selfhood.

Nirvikalpa samādhi, on the other hand, absorption without self-consciousness, is a mergence of the mental activity (cittavṛtti) in the Self, to such a degree, or in such a way, that the distinction (vikalpa) of knower, act of knowing, and object known becomes dissolved — as waves vanish in water, and as foam vanishes into the sea

nivrtti,  negation

ojas: Energy developed by certain yogic practices that stimulates endocrine activity within the body.

Parama is largely used in the Indian language and it is derived from Sanskrit origins. The name's meaning is supreme.

Paramatman or Paramātmā is the Absolute Atman or Supreme Soul or Spirit (also known as Supersoul or Oversoul) in the Vedanta and Yoga philosophies of India. Paramatman is the “Primordial Self” or the “Self Beyond” who is spiritually practically identical with the Absolute, identical with Brahman. Selflessness is the attribute of Paramatman, where all personality/individuality vanishes

Parashiva is the aspect of Shiva, the Absolute which is beyond human comprehension and is beyond all attributes.  n Shaivite theology, the term is similar to Nirguna Brahman

prana: Life energy that permeates the atmosphere, enters the human being through the breath, and can be directed by thought.

pranayama: Yogic exercises for the regulation of the breath flow.

Pratyahara” means literally “control of ahara,” or “gaining mastery over external influences.” It has been compared to a turtle withdrawing into its shell—the turtle's shell is the mind and the turtle's limbs are the senses.

The concept of rita led to the doctrines of dharma (duty) and karma (accumulated effects of good and bad actions). Rita is the physical order of the universe, the order of the sacrifice, and the moral law of the world.

samadhi: State of enlightenment of superconsciousness. The union of the individual consciousness with cosmic consciousness.

Sadhaka: is a Sanskrit term which describes someone who follows a certain sadhana, a spiritual practice or way of life, with the aim of achieving a certain goal. The term can be translated as meaning"spiritually adept."

sadhanas: Spiritual disciplines. Practical means for the attainment of a spiritual goal.

samsara: The phenomena of the senses. Attachment to samsara leads to further rebirth.

*The second yama(law of abstention) is truthfulness(satya). It has two levels:

1.  Truthfulness means conducting of our mind, speech and actions according to truth.
2.  Truthfulness is the result of our mind, speech, and actions being unified and harmonious.  In short, we are truthful to ourselves when the three common vehicles..mind, speech, and body..are harmonious , one with the other.

 savikalpa samadhi (Sanskrit: सविकल्पसमाधि), also called Samprajnata Samadhi and Sabija Samadhi,[web 1][note 1] is meditation with support of an object.

siddhis: Powers of the soul and spirit that are the fruits of yogic disciplines.

soma: A plant, probably with psychedelic properties, that was prepared and used in ritual fashion to enable men to communicate with the gods.

According to Sanskrit Dictionary, "Sri" as a noun, means Srimati Radharani,
Laxmidevi, wealth, opulence, beauty, fame, knowledge, strength, any virtue
or excellence etc. etc.
Also "Sri" as an adjective means splendid, radiant, adorning (decorated)
So when "Sri" is used for Visnu Tattva, it can be taken both as a noun and
an adjective.
But whenever it is used for the jiva tattva, it is used as an adjective.
"Sri-la" means one who possesses wealth (i.e rich), opulence, beauty
"Sri" also means the three Vedas.
So "Srila" means learned personality who knows the three Vedas.
"Sri" means Srimati Radharani.
"Srila" means one who possesses the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani is his
"Sri" is the name of one of the six ragas or musical modes.(masculine)
"Srila" means expertise in music, especially in the "Sri" raga.

tantras: Books dealing with the worship of the female deities and specifying certain practices to attain liberation through sensuality, particularly through the heightened union of male and female energies.

Tapas (tapas, Sanskrit: तपस्) means deep meditation,[2] effort to achieve self-realization, sometimes involving solitude, hermitism or asceticism;[3][4] it is derived from the word root tap (Sanskrit: तप् or ताप) which depending on context means "heat" from fire or weather, or blaze, burn, shine, penance, pain, ...

 yamas and niyamas, or restraints and observances - ancient scriptural injunctions for all aspects of human thought, attitude and behavior. These "do's" and "don'ts" are a common-sense code of conduct recorded in the Upanishads, the final section of the 6,000 to 8,000-year-old Vedas.

yoga: This is the Sanskrit word meaning union and refers to various practices designed to attain a state of perfect union between the self and the infinite. 

Vedas: are regarded as divine in origin. They are referred to as apaurusheya. They are not produced by a couple of individuals. They are not composed by some poets or authors. The Vedas constitute the sublime knowledge revealed to our great ancestors while they were doing their penance.
Vedas are the compilation of the mantras or the hymns. The word ‘mantra’ originates from the Sanskrit word ‘manan’ which suggests ‘thinking’, ‘pondering’ or ‘contemplating’. Most of the mantras are in the form of the metered verse.
The Samhitas are named after the Vedas they belong to. For example, the Samhita of the Rig Veda is called the Rig-Veda-Samhita or the Rig-Samhita.
The Rig-Samhita contains the mantras or the hymns known as ‘richas’. These hymns are metered verses. The Sam-Samhita contains mantras in the form of songs meant for liturgy or public worship. The Yajur-Samhita  contains verities of mantras composed in the poetical and the prose forms. The Atharva-Samhita contains mantras meant for routine rites and rituals.

Patanjali’s Eightfold Path of Yoga:
  1. Yama (moral conduct): noninjury to others, truthfulness, nonstealing, continence, and noncovetousness
  2. Niyama (religious observances): purity of body and mind, contentment in all circumstances, self-discipline, self-study (contemplation), and devotion to God and guru
  3. Asana: right posture
  4. Pranayama: control of prana, the subtle life currents in the body
  5. Pratyahara: interiorization through withdrawal of the senses from external objects
  6. Dharana: focused concentration; holding the mind to one thought or object
  7. Dhyana: meditation, absorption in the vast perception of God in one of His infinite aspects — Bliss, Peace, Cosmic Light, Cosmic Sound, Love, Wisdom, etc. — all-pervading throughout the whole universe
  8. Samadhi: superconscious experience of the oneness of the individualized soul with Cosmic Space
    Vairagya. Vairāgya is a Sanskrit term used in Hindu philosophy that     
    roughly translates as dispassion, detachment, or renunciation, in   
    particular renunciation from the pains and pleasures in the material     
    world (Maya).

  1. Ahimsa or Non-injury
  2. Satya or Truthfulness
  3. Asteya or Nonstealing
  4. Brahmacharya or Sexual Purity
  5. Kshama or Patience
  6. Dhriti or Steadfastness
  7. Daya or Compassion
  8. Arjava or Honesty
  9. Mitahara or Moderate Diet
  10. Saucha or Purity
  1. Hri or Modesty
  2. Santosha or Contentment
  3. Dana or Charity
  4. Astikya or Faith
  5. Ishvarapujana or Worship of the Lord
  6. Siddhanta Sravana or Scriptural Listening
  7. Mati or Cognition
  8. Vrata or Sacred Vows
  9. Japa or Incantation
  10. Tapas or Austerity


Air is blue circle. Earth is yellow square. Fire is red triangle. Water is crescent shape. Spirit is the black oval shape.
Tattva is a Sanskrit word meaning 'thatness', 'principle', 'reality' or 'truth'.[1] According to various Indian schools of philosophy, a tattva (or tattwa) is an element or aspect of reality conceived as an aspect of deity. Although the number of tattvas varies depending on the philosophical school, together they are thought to form the basis of all our experience. The Samkhya philosophy uses a system of 25 tattvas, while Shaivism recognises 36 tattvas.

Tattvas in Samkhya
Main article: Samkhya
The Samkhya philosophy regards the Universe as consisting of two eternal realities: Purusha and Prakrti. It is therefore a strongly dualist philosophy. The Purusha is the centre of consciousness, whereas the Prakriti is the source of all material existence. The twenty-five tattva system of Samkhya concerns itself only with the tangible aspect of creation, theorizing that Prakriti is the source of the world of becoming. It is the first tattva and is seen as pure potentiality that evolves itself successively into twenty-four additional tattvas or principles.

Tattvas in Shaivism
Main article: The 36 tattvas
In Shaivite philosophy, the tattvas are inclusive of consciousness as well as material existence. The 36 tattvas of Shaivism are divided into three groups:
Shuddha tattvas
The first five tattvas are known as the shuddha or 'pure' tattvas. They are also known as the tattvas of universal experience.
Shuddha-ashuddha tattvas
The next seven tattvas (6–12) are known as the shuddha-ashuddha or 'pure-impure' tattvas. They are the tattvas of limited individual experience.
Ashuddha tattvas
The last twenty-four tattvas (13–36) are known as the ashuddha or 'impure' tattvas. The first of these is prakriti and they include the tattvas of mental operation, sensible experience, and materiality.

Tattvas in Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Within Puranic literatures and general Vaishnava philosophy tattva is often used to denote certain categories or types of being or energies such as :
The Supreme personality of Godhead. The causative factor of everything including other Tattva(s).
Any incarnation or expansion of Krishna.
The multifarious energies of the Lord Krishna. It includes his internal potency Yoga Maya and material prakrti
The living souls (jivas).
Lord Siva (excluding the Rudra(s)) is not considered to be a jiva.
The total material energy (prakrti).
In Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy that there are a total of five primary tattvas described in terms of living beings, which are collectively known as the Pancha Tattva and described as follows:
"Spiritually there are no differences between these five tattvas, for on the transcendental platform everything is absolute. Yet there are also varieties in the spiritual world, and in order to taste these spiritual varieties one should distinguish between them".[2]
Tattva in Jainism
Main article: Tattva (Jainism)
Jain philosophy can be described in various ways, but the most acceptable tradition is to describe it in terms of the Tattvas or fundamentals.[3] Without knowing them one cannot progress towards liberation. They are:
  1. Jiva - Souls and living things
  2. Ajiva - Non-living things
  3. Punya - Results of Good Deeds (Good Karma)
  4. Pap - Results of Bad Deeds (Bad Karma)
  5. Asrava - Influx of karma
  6. Bandha - The bondage of karma
  7. Samvara - The stoppage of influx of karma
  8. Nirjara - Shedding of karma
  9. Moksha - Liberation or Salvation
Each one of these fundamental principles are discussed and explained by Jain Scholars in depth.[4] There are two examples that can be used to explain the above principle intuitively.
  • A man rides a wooden boat to reach the other side of the river. Now the man is Jiva, the boat is ajiva. Now the boat has a leak and water flows in. That incoming of water is Asrava and accumulating there is Bandh, Now the man tries to save the boat by blocking the hole. That blockage is Samvara and throwing the water outside is Nirjara. Now the man crosses the river and reaches his destination, Moksha.
  • Consider a family living in a house. One day, they were enjoying a fresh cool breeze coming through their open doors and windows of the house. However, the weather suddenly changed to a terrible dust storm. The family, realizing the storm, closed the doors and windows. But, by the time they could close all the doors and windows some of the dust had been blown into the house. After closing the doors and the windows, they started clearing the dust that had come in to make the house clean again.
This simple scenario can be interpreted as follows:
  1. Jivas are represented by the living people.
  2. Ajiva is represented by the house.
  3. Punya is represented by enjoyment resulting from the nice cool breeze.
  4. Pap is represented by discomfort resulting from the storm.
  5. Asrava is represented by the influx of dust.
  6. Bandh is represented by the accumulation of dust in the house.
  7. Samvar is represented by the closing of the doors and windows to stop the accumulation of dust.
  8. Nirjara is represented by the cleaning up of already collected dust from the house.
  9. Moksha is represented by the cleaned house, which is similar to the shedding off all karmic particles from the soul.
Tattva in Hindu esotericism
In Hindu esotericism and tantrism there are five tattvas creating global energy cycles of tattvic tides beginning at dawn with Akasha and ending with Prithvi:[5]
  1. Akasha (Spirit tattva) – symbolized by a black oval
  2. Vayu (Air tattva) – symbolized by a blue circle
  3. Tejas (Fire tattva) – symbolized by a red triangle
  4. Apas (Water tattva) – symbolized by a white moon
  5. Prithvi (Earth tattva) – symbolized by a yellow square
Every complete cycle is lasting two hours.[6] This system of five tattvas which each can be combined with another, was also adapted by the Golden Dawn (Tattva vision).
See also
  1. ^ "tattva - of the truth" from BG 2.16
  2. ^ Chaitanya Caritamrita, Adi-lila 7.5
  3. ^ Uma Swami, Tattvartha Sutra,100-200 BC
  4. ^ Mehta, T.U. Path of Arhat - A Religious Democracy, Volume 63 Page 112, Faridabad: Pujya Sohanalala Smaraka Parsvanatha Sodhapitha, 1993.
  5. ^ Rama Prasad: Nature's Finer Forces. The Science of Breath and the Philosophy of the Tattvas. 1889 / Kessinger Publishing 2010, ISBN 978-1162567242
  6. ^ John Michael Greer: The New Encyclopedia of the Occult, Llewellyn Publications, 2003 (p. 470-471 [1])
  • Prasad, Ram (1997). Nature's Finer Forces: The Science of Breath and the Philosophy of the Tattvas. Kessinger. ISBN 1-56459-803-9
  • Ramacharaka Yogi (1997). Science of Breath. Kessinger. ISBN 1-56459-744-X
  • Singh, Jaideva (1979). Siva Sutras: The Yoga of Supreme Identity. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas.
  • Tattvakosha - An Encyclopedia on Absolute Truth in a Vedic paradigm.
Further reading
External links

The 36 tattvas

Chart of the 36 tattvas in Kashmir Shaivism
In Kaśmir Śaivism, the 36 tattvas describe the Absolute, its internal aspects and the creation including living beings, down to the physical reality. The addition of 11 supplemental tattvas compared to the Sāṃkhya allows for a richer, fuller vision of the Absolute. Going from śiva to pṛithvī tattva we find the process of manifestation, the creation of the universe; going the opposite way we find the process of spiritual evolution culminating with the dissolution in Śiva.
Tattvas divide into three groups: Ashuddha, or impure (material, sensorial, the organs of action, the mind and the ego), Shuddhashuddha, or pure-impure (the soul and its limitations) and Shudda, or pure (internal aspects of the Absolute). The impure tattvas are the domain of objectivity and duality, the pure-impure tattvas are the domain of knowledge and the pure tattvas are the domain of transcendental unity and non-differentiation.
The five mahābhūtas
The five mahābhūtas are the ingredients of the physical world. They represent the final point of manifestation, where light (Prakāśa) is condensed into matter, yet, at the same time, the mahābhūtas remain identical with Śiva.[1]
pṛthvī - earth
Pṛthvī tattva is produced by gandha tattva (medium for olfactory sensations). It is also the abode of Kuṇḍalinī Śakti, the energy that resides in potentiality at the base of the spinal column. Kuṇḍalinī Śakti is identical to Para Śakti when it emerges and rises to the top chakra.
According to ṣaḍādhvān the material world is created by Prakāśa (spiritual light, uncreated light). Kaśmir Śaivism describes the reflection of the top principle (Śiva tattva) right into the lowest principle (Pṛithvī tattva) – an idealist monistic world view where transcendence is present right in the middle of physical. Thus, there is no dualism between spirit and matter.
Pṛthvī tattva signifies concreteness, stability, patience, strength, abundance, nurturing and protection. Pṛthvī is symbolised by the Mother Earth – a universal symbol for fecundity, inexhaustible creativity and sustenance. Pṛthvī's specific shape is square, the specific color is yellow-brown. Its corresponding force center is Muladhara Chakra.
jala - water
Jala tattva (also known as apas tattva) refers to the liquid state. It is produced by Rasa tattva (the medium for taste sensations). Jala can assume any form, or we can say it contains all the possible forms. That is why it has been a symbol of the non-manifested, unlimited potentialities and the transcendence. Its basic state is passive and it can become the receptacle of various impressions and energies.
Other symbols associated with Jala tattva are: the power of purification, the subconscious mind, empathy, sexuality, abundance, power to dissolve, regenerate, the medium where the human life appears (amniotic fluid), the birthplace of life on our planet (primeval ocean) and the mythical chaos and formlessness that precedes creation. Waters exist before and after any cycle of creation. The linear flow of water as a river signifies the flow of time. Water immersion signifies the ritual regression to the original principle, reincorporation into the undifferentiated.[2]
tejas - fire
tejas tattva is produced by Rūpa tattva, the medium for visual sensations and corresponds to the third chakra, Manipura Chakra. Some of the qualities of fire are: solar, masculine, dynamic, restless and extroverted. Tejas is associated with the digestive fire, passion, intuition and the uncreated light of consciousness (Prakasa). Traditionally it has been associated with a number of animals, both real and mythical: lion, fox, horse, salamander, phoenix and dragon. The tattvic form of Tejas is the upwards pointing triangle and the tattvic color is red.
The concept of agni (fire) is associated with the concept of soma (nectar) forming a complementary pair. Soma is fuel to agni and it quenches its continuous thirst. From their union a new creation is born, and vice versa, the pair agni – soma appears everywhere there is a creative process. For example in a loving couple, passion is agni and the loved one is soma. In the human body, digestion is agni and food is soma. In the tantric sexual alchemy, there is the pair tejas (agni) – ojas (soma). Even on a larger scale, in a star, the atomic fire is agni and the hydrogen fuel is soma. When one looks carefully we can find a soma for any agni. In the human psyche, agni acts as desire and intentional will, and soma is whatever is the object of that desire or will.
vāyu - air
Vāyu tattva is produced by Sparśa tattva (the medium for the tactile sensations).
The symbolism of air contains among other: masculine, yang, mobile, dry, subtle and elevated. It is a symbol for freedom, open spaces, intellect, mind, the ability to fly, penetrate anywhere (like air does), intangible and elusive (like the wind). Breath symbolises life, to breathe is to assimilate spiritual power. In many languages breath is associated to the notion of soul:
  • in Arabic and Hebrew the word "ruh" signifies both "breath" and "spirit"
  • in Sanskrit, "atman" means breath, soul or vital principle
  • in Greek, "psyche" means both breath and life, soul
  • in Latin, "anima" means both breath and soul
  • in Romanian, the word "suflet" means soul, and comes from the word "suflu" which means breath
Vāyu tattva is considered to be the vehicle of prana; prana is the vital energy (etheric energy) that forms the etheric body (Pranamaya Kosa). Its tattvic shape is the circle, the color is blue.
ākāśa - aether
Ākāśa tattva is produced by Śabda, the medium for auditive sensations and is associated with the fifth chakra, Viśuddha. Ākāśa is fundamentally different from the other four mahābhūtas as it is non manifested in the physical world – it is the void, the space, support of the other four tattvas yet, unlike them, untouchable and unseen.
Ākāśa tattva is also called the aether or "fifth element". It is invisible, all pervading – a symbol of the spirit. It appears empty yet it contains huge energies (the energy of the void).
Aether is associated to the sky, has no qualities (hot or cold, wet or dry, no odor) and is unchangeable. Ākāśa is the support of the cosmic memory (the ākāśic records). Its form is the ovoid. The ovoid is the form of Brahmāṇḍa, the primordial world-egg, origin of the creation.

The five tanmātras - subtle mediums of the sensations
While mahābhūtas are the basis for the material world, sensations and perceptions are but limited aspects and views of it, in no way able to fully describe it. We cannot actually perceive the reality, all we can access are limited "bands" of information that form a description of reality. This restriction however applies only to the limited beings (jiva, or aṇu). For one who has gone beyond māyā, in the realm of the pure tattvas, there can be direct perception of reality, because as one's self is Atman, so are the external objects. In such a state an enlightened being can perceive the world beyond the five senses (direct perception), in a state of diversity in unity and unity in diversity. Another way to put it is that he then recognizes (Pratyabhijña) himself (Atman) in any object.
These bands of information are the five tanmātras. Being closer to the subject than the physical reality, tanmātras are more elevated than mahābhūtas and are described as their source of creation.
gandha - the transit medium for the olfactive sensations
  • smell in itself
  • creates pṛithvī tattva
rasa - the transit medium for the taste sensations
  • taste in itself
  • creates jala tattva
rūpa - the transit medium for the visual sensations
  • form (and color) in itself
  • creates tejas tattva
  • it contains forms and colors
sparśa - the transit medium for the touch sensations
  • touch in itself
  • creates vāyu tattva
śabda - the transit medium for the auditive sensations
  • sound in itself
  • creates ākāśa tattva
The five karmendriyas - organs of action
Karmendriyas represent both the physical organs and the corresponding subtle (astral) organs of action, specific to activity in the astral plane.
As their name says, karmendriyas are karman indriyas, that is internal organs that create karma. They are connected directly to the manas tattva and represent its solar, active function. The jñānendriyas (sense organs) represent the lunar, passive function of manas.
pāyu - the excretion organ
Pāyu tattva, the excretion organ, is the first karmendriya; it is associated with Muladhara chakra, having as inferior octaves the pṛithvī (earth) and gandha (smell) tattvas.
Its role in the awakening of Kundalini
Pāyu tattva is the medium of Kundalini[3] and the sexual energy (ojas) – a regenerative, almost inexhaustible power that lies at the lower part of the trunk. Correct control of this lower energy leads to a huge increase in spiritual power.
The harmonious activation of pāyu tattva is essential for obtaining control of such an energy. This is why many techniques involving pāyu tattva are methods of awakening of Kundalini:
  • aśvini mudrā – the horse gesture
  • mulā bandha – the root lock
  • śakticalana mudrā – moving the shakti
  • mahamudra – the great seal (from hatha yoga)
  • siddhasana, an important asana where the heel is pressing the perineum or anus
When pāyu is in harmony, there is a feeling of immense force, and better control. When it is disturbed, many conditions my occur such as: stubbornness, greed, fear and anxiety.[5]
upastha - the sexual organs
The term upastha means in Sanskrit sexual organs, 'the part which is under' or lap. Upastha tattva means the power of procreation and sexual enjoyment, or the generative organ.[6]
Differentiation and complementarity related to the sexual organs
Upasta tattva is the most differentiated organ in the body, between man and woman. Even the English word sex, coming from the Latin sexus, is related to the original meaning of division. Perhaps the most defining element of a human's body is its sex. We care to know a baby's sex before anything else. Thus sex divides humanity in two and defines our most fundamental psychological traits.
The other fundamental characteristic of upasta tattva is its complementarity. The male sexual organ (lingam) and the female sexual organ (yoni) are complete only in sexual union. In tantra, lingam has come to symbolise Śiva and yoni to symbolize Śakti, the two most elevated aspects of the Absolute. The sexual union depicted in the Yab-Yum posture represents not only the creative act on the human level, but also on a cosmic level. The union of Śiva and Śakti is eternal and supremely blissful, generating in its pulsating rhythm the fundamental movement of consciousness (spanda), which is the source of creation.
On a tangent note, the duality-complementarity principle also appears in physics: the wave-particle duality and the space-time couple are just the most prominent. Physicists talk about symmetry and symmetry breaking as fundamental in the structure of the universe.
Symbolism of the androgyne
Having both the male and female sexual organs, the androgyne represents perfect equilibrium and completeness. Ardhanarishvara is represented as half male, half female, Śiva and Śakti united into one being. Even if not on a physical level, the androgyne is completed in the tantric sadhana by awakening the spiritual force of the body (Kundalini) and uniting it with the principle of consciousness. In this state there is perfect harmony of the yin and yang and absorption into the Absolute.
Tantric practices related to the sexual organs
Besides maithuna and the tantric sexual union, there are a series of exercises meant to develop and control the sexual energies. One such exercise is yoni mudra.
pāda - the locomotion organ
Main article: Pada (Hindu mythology)
Pada Tattva represents both the physical organ of locomotion and the subtle energetic structures associated with it. Between the seven force centers it is associated with Manipura Chakra[7] and in the hierarchy of 36 tattvas it is a superior octave of tejas tattva.
Subtle anatomy of the feet
Feet acting as grounding conduits: the continuous contact of feet with the ground is a symbol of relying onto and being a part of the sphere of earth. In Hinduism some rites are required to be officiated bare foot.[8] Touching the ground permits a better contact with the earth energies.
The sole of the foot is seen as a microcosm of the body. All the organs and aspects are projected on the surface of the sole, forming a mystical map.[9] By massaging the sole of the foot, the healer intends to project his action on the whole body or on the diseased organ. This practice is called padabhyanga in ayurveda and in modern times appears as reflexology.
Symbol of force
The symbolism of the foot derives from that of its main functions: standing and walking. Standing upright is a poise of strength, self-esteem and human dignity. Walking represents an action of domination over space. The feet contain the largest muscles and bones of the body, develop the most powerful physical force and support the whole weight of the body. Thus, reuniting the symbols of force, dignity, uprightness and domination, it is associated with the concept of vira – the heroic being.
Symbol of devotion
The foot is seen in Hinduism as a symbol of devotion. The custom of venerating guru's feet is a clear message of acceptance and submission – by placing the foot of the master (lowest part of his body) on the head of the disciple (highest part of the body), the disciple assumes a totally receptive position, which is essential for the process of initiation. A variant of this practice is venerating the feet of a deity, for example Shiva, Vishnu or Buddha (buddhapada):.[10][11]
Symbol of humility
Kneeling (half-using the feet) symbolizes submission and humility. In some monasteries, monks not only knee, but lay flat down on the floor[12] face down during prayer (not using their feet at all) – signifying the total submission of the individual will in front of the divine.
Symbol of purity
The expression lotus feet appears in many religious texts in a devotional context. Ex: I worship the auspicious lotus feet of the Eternity called Bhagamalini.[13] The lotus is a symbol of beauty and purity. The foot, being in contact with the ground, is considered impure (but only in some contexts, because its symbolism is very complex). Thus, the expression lotus feet is a negation of impurity, a declaration of divinity.
Spiritual sacrifice
In pada-yatra, the devotional pilgrimage on foot, the participants seek purification through sacrifice. Sacrifice is considered to be a form of tejas (fire), which is tattvically associated with the pada tattva (feet).
Symbol of domination
The feet are also a symbol of domination. In the legend of Vamana, an incarnation of Vishnu, the world is completely covered in three steps (trivikrama) – one covered the earth (human world), the second covered the sky (the world of the deities) and the third was placed on the head of king Bali of asuras. The three strides represent domination over the physical, celestial and human worlds.
In another symbolic representation, Nataraja Shiva is crushing with his foot the demon Apasmara (a demon representing ignorance) – thus affirming himself as the supreme force that dissolves illusion through his divine grace.
In a related context, the feet can be a symbol of dependence. Kali, the goddess of time and transformation is represented as standing on the inactive body of Shiva. This image symbolizes the active role of Shakti, its reliance on Shiva in as support and the fact that Shiva needs Shakti in order to manifest.
Symbol of transcendence
The imprint of the feet on the ground is a symbol of transcendence. There are such sacred places of pilgrimage associated with various divine figures (see Buddha footprint and Petrosomatoglyph).
The foot in Hatha yoga
In Hatha Yoga, the feet are considered conduits of the energies of earth. They present a number of secondary chakras and nadi. In many asana they act as a grounding pathway.
  • Padahastasana (foot to hand circuit) – forming a closed circuit through the hands the and feet; feet also act as a conduit of the energies of earth (prithivi)
  • Sirsasana (headstand – up-down circuit) – feet are used as antennas for receiving the energies descending from the sky
  • Talasana (tree pose – down-up circuit) – hands stretched upwards connect to the energies of the sky while the feet connect to the energies of the earth
  • Trikonasana (triangle pose) – feet form a triangle with the earth, the triangle being the tattvic shape of tejas; this posture activates tejas and Manipura Chakra which are associated with Pada Tattva as stated before
Feet positions in meditation
In the traditional meditation postures feet act as physical support and are instrumental in the activation of the vital energies:
  • Padmasana (lotus pose) – here the feet form a closed circuit, a triangle base for the body and along with the hands, a pyramid shape for the whole body
  • Siddhasana (perfect pose) – the heel exerts pressure on the perineum (see payu tattva for more context) thus activating the sublimation of the sexual potential; the feet, associated with tejas, are thus united with the center of sexual energy (ojas), forming a complementary pair tejas-ojas (an instance of the agni-soma couple). Their union is the basis for the creative alchemical act of reverting sexual energy to ananda, its ultimate source.[citation needed]
  • Sukhasana (pleasant position) – the crossed legged position often used for meditation
  • Virasana (hero's pose) – feet are crossed; feet are also tattvically associated with the concept of Vira (spiritual hero)
  • Bhadrasana (position of the throne) – uniting the soles (and the chakras in the soles) a closed circuit appears, activating Kundalini[14]
Walking meditation
In walking meditation (also called Kinhin in Zen) one uses his feet to impose a structured rhythm to the mind. The aim here is to expand consciousness by stopping the fluctuations of the mind by this simple physical device.
Sacred dance
Sacred dance is another complex spiritual tradition where the feet play a major role. Here too every gesture is infused with consciousness and symbolism. As a form of art, it brings about the expansion of the consciousness for both the artists and the audience. The dynamic pose of Nataraja is a symbol of universal movement which is identical to the universal creative energy because everything in the world is movement and energy.
pāni - hand, the organ of apprehension
Pāni tattva (the hand) is the most complex action organ. Acting as a mirror of consciousness, it immediately reacts to, and expresses the will. It has a complex symbolism and multiple functions. The hand can express emotions and speech. One can see through touch and speak in hand language.
Pāni tattva is not equal to the physical hand itself but it is a structure in consciousness associated with the hand. Tattvically, pāni tattva is a superior octave of sparśa tattva (touch) and vāyu tattva (air). From the seven force centers, it is related to Anahata chakra.
Subtle anatomy of the hand
A series of minor force centers (chakras) exist in the palm of the hand, elbow and shoulder, united by a series of force channels (nadi).[15] Thus, the hand is a conduit of subtle energy. By performing a scared hand gesture (or a magical action, mudra) one can tune in a specific resonance. One's handprint is his symbol, signature, mark of possession and domination. Hindu Gods (deva) are often represented with multiple hands, suggesting their multidimensionality. A strong arm is the mark of the hero (vira). The invisible hand of God is a symbol of God's mysterious power.
Correspondence of the five fingers with the five elements
There are various ways fingers are associated to the five elements. For example: thumb – fire, index – air, middle – Sky, ring – earth, little – water. Almost all people develop a strong polarity between the hands, forming a preference for either the right hand or the left hand. The dominating hand is associated with yang and the other with yin. The hand and the body both have five extremities thus the hand has been put in correspondence with the body.
Pāni tattva is sometimes called the organ of apprehension and is the main external tool of the mind. Writing, in its role of external memory, is associated with ākāśa. The hand is a symbol of action, strength, domination and protection. It is used for imposing a specific resonance, energy transfer, giving a blessing and spiritually investing another person. The "eye in the hand" is associated with protection, luck[16] and 'clairvoyant action'.
Functions and symbols of the hand
More functions and symbols:
  • the hand that talks – hand language
  • the hand expresses emotions – fidgeting, etc.
  • the hand as an instrument of memory – writing, drawing
  • the hand as an instrument of healing (sometimes, the hand of the king) – miracle worker
  • the hand of providence (Hand of God) – symbol of the mysterious and irresistible power of God, forces outside the human control
  • the eloquent hand gesture – nonverbal communication, auxiliary communication
Symbolism of the hand gestures
  • both hands raised – victory, prayer, praising the Divine
  • one raised hand – symbol of the voice; symbol of song
  • hand on the heart – attitude of the sage
  • hand on the neck – sacrifice
  • covered or concealed – respect
  • folded – tranquility
  • palms upward, laid on each other – meditation
  • palms together – prayer
  • clenching fist – anger
  • raising the right hand – threatening
  • placed in the hands of another – submission and trust
  • clasping – praising the Lord (original symbolism), fraternity, welcome, agreement
  • handshake symbol – sincerity, friendship
  • many people joining hands – to unite
  • palm placed on the top of the head of another – blessing, investiture, relaying energy
  • raising a prized object with both hands – victory
[17] [18]
Role of the hand in Hatha yoga
In hatha yoga are described a series of hand gestures (mudra). The role of the mudra is to impose a specific resonance. Some of the mudras are:
  • abhaya mudra – the right hand slightly elevated, the palm turned outwards – fearlessness, renunciation
  • namaskara mudra – both palms folded together - prayer, purity, sacrality
  • jnana mudra – the tip of the index finger touches the tip of the thumb, forming a circle - concentration
  • dhyana mudra – both hands resting on the lap, palms upwards.[19][20]
vāk - the speech organ
Vak tattva is the organ of speech, including the mouth and the subtle structures of consciousness associated with it. As all the other karmendriyas, vak tattva is an instrument for the creation of karma and also an instrument for the practice of karma yoga, a discipline with the purpose of liberation from the bondage of karma.
Relationship with other tattvas
A number of other tattvas take part in the process of creation of sound: as support for the propagation of sound and for its cyclical oscillating nature is the time-space tattva, akasa. Because sound is a mechanical vibration, it also needs a physical support which is provided by vayu tattva (air), and thirdly, the articulation of sounds is related to the tongue (rasana tattva).
In the sequence of tattvas, vak tattva is the most elevated karmendriya and its corresponding sense organ - śrota tattva (the ear) is the first outward expansion of the mind (manas tattva). The force centers primarily associated with speech are Vishuddha chakra – center placed in the region of vak indriya and Muladhara chakra as the seat of pārāvak.[21]
Mouth and assimilation of food
Vak indriya (mouth), the instrument of eating, is also the first part of the body that comes in contact with the food and plays a role of subtle assimilation of energies, directly from the food. The mouth is described to be lined up with thousands of fine force channels (nadi) that have the role of absorbing prana from food.[22] In the practice of ayurvedic medicine, plants are taken and held under the tongue for a few minutes just for this same purpose.
Articulation of speech
Depending on the position where the tongue articulates speech, there are a number of classes of sounds: velar, palatal, cerebral, dental and labial. In Kashmir Shaivism each class of phonemes is correlated with specific mantric energies of the sound.[23] The full sequence of phonematic energies is called mātṛkā and contains 50 sounds, associated with the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. On a cosmic scale, the creation of the universe is described in Kashmir Shaivism as an evolution of sound, a descending process originating from the level of logos (pārāvak). Each phoneme represents a stage in the process of evolution, a tattva, a world in itself. Sounds are associated with energies and ultimately with aspects of consciousness. The magical power of sounds and words is derived from this association with energy (śakti) and consciousness (śiva). The study of these energies is an essential part of Kashmir Shaivism.[24]
Vāk (speech) is seen as the result of the dynamic union of two parts that form the mouth (upper and lower), a complementary union of the opposites, yin and yang. There is always such a fusion of yin and yang at the basis of any creative process.
Speech as a creative power
Vak tattva plays a major creative role in the human being as the instrument of speech and as such, the origin of the interior world of thought. Speech acts as a mirror of the exterior reality, duplicating everything that exists outside into the mind. The word is the vehicle of the limited ego, ahamkara. The word as such is an imperfect tool though, because while it can reflect the exterior reality it always approximates. For example, when we say I saw a man we don't say much - what kind of man, what impressions did he give us, etc. The word is just an abstraction from reality. Thus language is at the same time a tool and an obstacle in knowledge.[25]
Three creative voids
Together with the mouth (the void that creates speech), two other creative aspects of the human body are the vulva (yoni) and the Heart (hṛdaya). Yoni creates both human life and of the energy of spiritual evolution (that is, the energy of transmuted sexual fluids and ascending kuṇḍalinī). The heart (hṛdaya, aham), as defined in Kashmir Shaivism, is a matrix of energies centered around the Self (ātman), substrate and center for all the activities of consciousness. Yoni, heart and mouth represent three levels of the void and three centers of creative power.
In relation to sexual activity, both mouth and yoni are somewhat similar in form and role and sometimes their use is reversed (see the so-called 69 sexual position). Kissing it begins a prelude to the sexual union and serves as a symbol of it. The mouth is the source of the exterior speech, but on the highest level, parāvak (supreme word) is also named Logos Spermatikos in Greek – (spermatikos=seed, a sexual reference to its role as a creative power).[26] Thus we can see the multiple parallels and connections between mouth and yoni as both are expressions of the creative void, matrices of creation present in the human body.
Levels of speech
Speech is considered in Kashmir Shaivism to exist on multiple levels, but only the exterior (or spoken) speech is expressed through vāk tattva. The full scale of speech is as follows:
  • vaikharī vāk – spoken word, exterior
  • madhyamā vāk – mental speech, interior
  • paśyantī vāk – pure intentionality, pre-speech
  • parāvāk  identical to the nature of the Spirit
As the self is expressed in three levels, ego, soul and spirit, so is speech expressed in three different ways:
  • at the level of the ego (ahaṃkāra), speech is fully differentiated; it includes madhyamā vāk and vaikharī vāk, thus the vehicle of speech is the word itself
  • at the level of the soul (jivātman, or puruṣa in Kashmir Shaivism) language is not ruptured from its real signification any more; it can be described as paśiantī vāk, the language of mantric syllables, symbols and non-sequential instant knowledge (intuition).
  • at the level of the spirit (atman), language is expressed as supreme word - parāvak; in term of sound, it is represents silence;[29] here there is only one single reality and one single meaning and it is described in a multitude of concepts, all approximative, as conscious light (prakāsa-vimarṣa), compact mass of consciousness and beatitude (cid-ananda-Ghana), supreme freedom (svātantrya), atemporal vibration (spanda) and the spontaneous flash of conscious light that projects objects into reality (abhāsa). Thus at this level there is absolutely no difference between the word and its significance.
On this scale vāk tattva corresponds to the first level of speech, that of the ego and vaikharī vāk.
Limiting power of words
The power of words is that of creating a new world, a world of the mind. Words act as symbols of external reality, yet their very act of indicating (or reflecting the exterior reality) is imprecise. Being trapped into the prison of words, ruptured from direct experience, the western philosophy is limited to an edifice of mental speculation.[30] While philosophy relies solely on words it cannot be a true path to the absolute Truth, because words are imprecise, limited tools.[31] Thus in Kashmir Shaivism as in many other oriental spiritual schools, accent falls on direct experience and realization through the means of the various disciplines of yoga and meditation. In Shaivism, words play as references, mere guide marks or pointers for the consciousness in its endeavor of rediscovering its true nature.[32]
Occult power of the word
The word has spiritual, magical, mystical and even demoniac powers, some of which are described in the following concepts:
  • mantra – the sacred syllable, both sound and spiritual energy, is a fundamental tool in tantra and consequently, in Kashmir Shaivism (see the practice of japa and uccara)
  • prayer and religious chanting – are essential instrument in religious rituals
  • casting a spell, incantation – speech is the principal magical instrument
  • scriptures – sacred words considered to be originated from God Himself, such as agamas in Kashmir Shaivism; a notable difference between the occidental scriptures and the Kashmir Shaivism agamas is that the agamas are considered to be Shiva Himself, in the form of word, not just the mere words of Shiva
  • degraded speech – curses and profanities – associated with demoniac resonances
  • satya siddhi – the power of efficient speech – whatever one says, comes true – such a power is said to be the result of the practice of satya – truthfulness
  • nyāsa – a magical ritual of imposing mantras with the hand on specific parts of the human body, thus awakening the latent occult powers within it
Word as a medium for spiritual initiation
In most spiritual schools, speech is the preferred medium of spiritual initiation. Sometimes written word is used, but the most secret initiations are traditionally transmitted "from mouth to ear". Oral teachings are usually reinforced through repetition (ritual) to become a spiritual foundation.[33]
Words in meditation
The practice of meditation aims to stop the mental chatter altogether (the concept of "citta-vritti-nirodha" of Patanjali) or replace it with sacred speech (laya yoga, japa, uccara). Regular speech must be put aside in order for consciousness to reach that level which goes beyond the mental.
  • mauna (self-imposed silence) – produces the accumulation of a large energy in vak tattva
  • bhavana (contemplation) – speech charged with spiritual energy (Sakti) through intense visualisation
  • koan – a kind of paradoxical contemplation expressed in words with the purpose of projecting the mind beyond words
  • neti neti – a kind of contemplation where negation is used instead of affirmation; the reasoning behind this technique is that the absolute cannot be captured in any affirmative affirmation as it lies beyond the sphere of speech, but it can be discovered through meditation with the help of various negations ("Atman (the spirit) is not this, Atman is not that") that act only as guide marks along the way, pointing to the various mistaken assumptions that need to be surpassed
  • devotional speech - known under various names in other spiritual traditions as nembutsu, dhikr; in Kashmir Shaivism too there are a number of remarkable devotional works
The five jñānendriyas - sense organs
ghrāṇa - nose
rasanā - tongue
cakṣu - eye
tvak - skin
śrotra - ear
Antaḥkaraṇa - the inner instrument
Antaḥkaraṇa, also called the internal organ, is part of the pure-impure tattvas. Activity in these tattvas is subjective cum objective. Antaḥkaraṇa contains five tattvas: manas, ahaṃkāra, buddhi, prakṛti and puruṣa tattva.
manas - the lower mind
The manas name comes from the verbal root man – to think. Manas is the instrument for the creation of vikalpa (dual thoughts). Its state is described as always agitated. Manas is the hub connecting the ten organs of action and senses to the upper tattvas (intellect, ego and soul). It does not simply transit the sensations, but also filters and assembles them into a coherent vision. Manas operates based on learned behavior, instincts, habits and automatisms, like a complex computer processing data (from the senses) and transmitting commands. Because of its agitated nature, manas is termed "the undisciplined mind", fraught with contradictions: doubt, faith, lack of faith, shame, desire, fear, steadfastness, lack of steadfastness.
Manas interprets everything in terms of attraction and repulsion. While the ego (ahaṃkāra tattva) can understand and assume a moral code, the notions of good and evil, manas is limited to the complementary pair of pleasure and pain, acting only on the desires that arise. Its program is Repeat pleasure and avoid pain.[34]
Manas operates both in the subtle and the physical plane (brain). Manas is the center of logical reasoning while buddhi is the center of intuition, discrimination and will. Depending on the state of consciousness, manas can act either as a cause of conditioning and bondage or as a path towards freedom. The latter is possible for poets, artists and those who are illuminated (can operate within the pure tattvas, beyond māyā).
ahaṅkāra - the empirical ego
Ahaṅkāra tattva is the first seat of subjectivity. Ahaṃ means "I" and kāra means "to do", thus, ahaṅkāra - the instrument of Ahaṃ (the Spirit), the principle of individuation, acting as an independent conscious entity within the impure reality - yet, it does not have consciousness of its own. ahaṅkāra is a receptacle of Cit śakti, its consciousness is but a small spark from Cit, the universal consciousness. Its operating mode is assuming authorship of all the actions of buddhi, manas, the senses and organs of action.
Ahaṅkāra lives in the sphere of duality, in a state of identification with the physical body, its needs and desires. In ahaṅkāra predominates rajas guna (agitation). Because it identifies only with a small part of the creation (the body) and rejects everything else as "not me", it becomes subject to a series of afflictions such as: pride, egoism, competitiveness, hate and jealousy.
On the other hand, with ahaṅkāra tattva appears, for the first time, individual will, determination, a sense of morality and ethics and it is thus the first step on the spiritual path. Without a sufficiently harmonious and powerful ahaṅkāra (personality) it is impossible to exert the level of effort required to accede to a higher spiritual level.
The position of ahaṅkāra and buddhi are sometimes presented in reversed order because, as the principle of "I-ness", ahaṅkāra is allowed control over the manas (sensorial mind) and buddhi (superior intellect, intuition). Yet, buddhi is a superior tattva, and ahaṅkāra is only allowed from a functional point of view a superior position to buddhi. From an absolute point of view, ahaṅkāra is created by buddhi and thus subordinated to it.
buddhi - the intellect
Buddhi tattva represents the intuitive understanding, the superior mind, which can rise above ego and the sensorial. It does value judgments, discriminates between possibilities, decides and determines, based on the information presented from the lower tattvas. In buddhi tattva there is a predominance of sattva guna (purity) and the energy of jñāna śakti – the energy of knowledge.
The name buddhi contains the Sanskrit radical dhi, meaning reflection, intuitive penetration and higher awareness. Other notable terms containing dhi are samādhi (yogic ecstasy) and dhyana (meditation). One of the prescribed ways of developing buddhi is the study of sacred texts. In Kashmiri Shaivism, Bauddha Jñāna (the intuitive and conceptual understanding) is considered the foundation of illumination because once profoundly understood, something is always accessible, while the second type of knowledge, Paurusha Jñāna (to know through direct experience) is limited only to the moments of inspiration.
prakṛti tattva
Prakṛti tattva is the fundamental operative energy of the soul (jivatman), or, in other words, it creates the world of puruṣa. In Kaśmir Śaivism prakṛti has a different meaning than in Sāṃkhya; while here it means an energy of the individual, in Sāṃkhya it refers to the fundamental energy of the manifestation. Thus, as defined in Kaśmir Śaivism, every puruṣa has his individual prakṛti.
Prakṛti and Puruṣa are closely interdependent. They are the reflection of śiva and śakti tattva in the sphere of māyā. The difference is that, while śiva and śakti tattva are infinite and nondual, puruṣa and prakṛti are limited and subject to duality. Other than that, what śiva-śakti do on a universal scale, puruṣa-prakṛti do on a personal scale. They have the same energies of will, knowledge and action and perform the five actions of creation, sustenance, dissolution, occultation and grace.
In G. V. Tagare's The Pratyabhijñā Philosophy, these five actions and their correlates are given as follows:[35]
Śiva's level
Level of the limited being
appearance (creation)
enjoying (maintenance)
experiencing within oneself (resorption)
sowing seeds
(occultation, reduction of knowledge
to a subconscious impression, saṃskāra)
dissolution of residual impressions(saṃskāras),
grace, nonduality
Prakṛti tattva has three tendencies (guna), in perfect equilibrium: Sattva (purity), Rajas (agitation) and Tamas (inertia). They derive from the triad Icchā, Jñāna and Kriyā as follows:
Derives from
Jñāna śakti
Buddhi tattva
Icchā śakti
Ahaṃkara tattva
Kriyā śakti
Manas tattva
Prakṛti is the source of all tattvas from buddhi down to pṛithvī (earth) – the creator of both the individual and of the external reality.[36]
Puruṣa tattva is defined as the living soul (jivatman), the limited being (jiva), the one who is bound (paśu),[37] the spiritual atom (aṇu). It is not only the human being, but every sentient being.
Puruṣa appears as the result of the process of contraction or occultation Śiva assumes willingly. This feat is achieved by the five limitations (kañcuka tattvas) and the cosmic illusion (māyā tattva). Śiva is also known as Pati, the master, while Puruṣa is the Paśu (the bonded one). Between Pati and Paśu is Pāśa - the limitation itself. Pāśa is the cumulative effect of māyā and the five kañcukas, or, from another perspective, the effect of the three impurities or poisons (malas): ānava mala, kārma mala and māyīya mala.
  • Ānava Mala – the belief that he is limited, finite and small in comparison to the world
  • Kārma Mala – the belief that he (the limited self) is the author of the action, instead of recognizing Atman as the real agent
  • Māyīya Mala – the belief in duality, separatedness [37]
Puruṣa acts as the subject in all the limited (dual) mental and sensorial states of consciousness. In fact the real author of all the actions is Atman, the supreme Self, which resides at the level of śiva and śakti tattva. Puruṣa is the owner of prakṛti, which creates the intellect, ego, sensorial mind, senses and organs of action. Puruṣa needs prakṛti in order to act as an individual in relation to the external reality, but he doesn't need any intermediary to reconnect to his source, Atman.
Ṣat kañcukas
Kañcukas means armour. Here it is used in the sense of limiting filter, a restrictive force creating a "prison" for the consciousness inside the dual creation.
Powers that maintain the individual soul resting in the middle like Trishanku, which otherwise would fall into the condition of complete inertia like a rock, etc, or would ascend into the sky of Consciousness like the Supreme Lord. Abhinavagupta [38]

The theory of the 5 sheaths existed long before. Shankara writes in his 'Atma Bodha'[39] about the five sheaths the Immaculate Atman appears to have borrowed.
Trishanku is a mythical character who wanted to ascend to heaven in his physical body. While the sage Viswamitra was helping him ascend, the Gods were in opposition, thus he became suspended half way through.
Abhinavagupta describes the kañcukas as five forces that create a middle ground between the realm of the pure tattvas and objectivity; the purpose of this middle ground is to reunite both the spiritual and the material, the subjective and the objective - a playground of spiritual evolution that is needed if such entities as jiva (the limited being) are to exist.
Thus kañcukas have a triple role: they act as an entry barrier towards the realm of the pure tattvas for the limited beings (jiva), they also act as a gateway for the illuminated, who can pass without impediment between the pure and impure realities, and finally, they create a middle ground of subjective-cum-objective activity, where spiritual evolution can take place.
The five kañcukas present both a limited aspect and a universal aspect. They are like intervals, with one end in the infinite and the other end in the finite. They are:
omnipotence – sarvakartṛtva
limited power – kalā
omniscience – sarvajñatva
limited knowledge – vidyā
fullness, perfection – pūrṇatva
limitation of desire – rāga
eternity – nityatva
limitation of time or life – kāla
omnipresence – vyāpakatva
limitation of space – niyati
The combined effect of the five limitations (kañcukas), is described as follows, by Abhinavagupta, in just one phrase:
Thus, the subject, being limited or intertwined with kāla, vidyā, kalā, rāga and niyati and being deprived of divine glory by māyā, shines as limited, feeling 'that which knows something now, does this and is attached to this, am I' – Īśvarapratyabhijñā Vimarśinī of Abhinavagupta.[41]

niyati - spatial limitation
Niyati tattva reduces the state of omnipresence to the level of finitude. The subject can be only in one place, his body is limited and outside his body is the domain of "not myself". This is the fundamental duality of the existence in the impure domain (meaning tattvas from puruṣa to pṛithvī).
Based on the duality between the limited subject and the world, a series of physical limitations arise, like: hunger, fatigue, sickness and the need to protect oneself. By constant identification with these limitations the ego (ahaṃkāra) is formed. Ahaṃkāra exerts itself tirelessly in its pursuit of happiness, yet it understands happiness in a very limited and dual fashion, which can never be a stable fulfillment.
kāla - limitation in time
Kāla tattva reduces the experience of eternity to that of time and limited life span. Under kāla tattva time takes three aspects: past, present and future. But while the past is just a memory and the future is a probability, only the present is actually experienced.
Time limitation has to do with death, rebirth and becoming subject to the cosmic cycles of life. Time is relative to the observer. Objective time is sometimes faster, other times slower than the subjective (interior) time. As the consciousness expands, time flow is perceived as being slower. When a state of enlightenment (the revelation of the Self, Atman) is achieved, kāla kañcukas (limitation) becomes transparent and eternity shines as the present moment.
rāga - incompleteness, the limitation of desire
Rāga tattva is the limitation of the "perfect fullness of the Absolute". While in the realm of the pure tattvas (from śiva tattva to śuddha vidyā tattva) every possibility is simultaneously fulfilled, under the effects of this limitation, there is experience of incompleteness, and so, desire for various objects appears.
The source of perfect bliss is a Ānanda. Ānanda is the reflection of absolute consciousness (Cit) on itself. In an analogy, the white light of Cit is said to become the rainbow of Ānanda, expressing every possible color at the same time. Yet, in the dual world, the infinite nuances of Ānanda cannot be experienced at once, and appear as various distinct forms of emotion or rasa (aesthetic flavours). This is the work of the rāga kañcuka.
vidyā - the limitation of knowledge
Vidyā tattva is the constriction of infinite knowledge to limited and imperfect knowledge. In the realm of pure tattvas, Śiva has direct access to any information about anything as the whole creation rests inside Him, like one's thoughts rest inside one's mind. Yet, to know everything at once is to know that which is inside everything and beyond. Acting as its source and the witness, Cit is said to be the basis for the whole creation, the ultimate Truth, which is the only truth one needs to know. Everything else is derived from it.
The limited being, unable to recollect his essence of Cit (infinite consciousness), operates in the realm of dual knowledge. His objects of knowledge are distinct/differentiated. This type of knowledge may become more and more subtle with study and practice, yet it is never able to describe Cit. The only way to rise to the level of non dual knowledge is through the act of Grace of Śiva. This point is specific to Kaśmir Śaivism.
One can prepare for the descent of grace by studying the sacred texts and purifying his body (physical and subtle). Even so, the Grace of Śiva will come only at Śiva's absolutely free will.
kalā - limitation in power
Kalā tattva – the limitation in power, is what makes one forget his original status of omnipotent being and assume the belief in the limitation of his power. This wrong belief acts as a chain limiting his spiritual progress. In this state, he identifies with his limited actions and bears the fruits of the karma they generate.
In order to recollect his true nature, of infinite consciousness and bliss – cit-ānanda, he needs a level of power unavailable to limited beings. Only by understanding this and accepting that it is Śiva that is acting, not his ego, will he become open to the Grace of Śiva, which is identical to a huge impulse of power that shatters duality and transports him directly into the realm of the pure tattvas.
By opening his heart to Śiva, thinking of himself as a channel of Śiva's energy, he creates a special status of "spiritual son". A spiritual son's actions are endowed with efficiency by virtue of a direct link between his heart and the infinite heart of Śiva.
māyā - the origin of illusion and duality
Māyā tattva is a very important stage in the process of manifestation. means "to measure"; measurable means finite. From the infinite being that is Śiva, it creates the finite: the illusion of multiplicity, differentiation in multiple objects and limitation of objects. This process of manifestation is based on a series of multi-levelled reflections (pratibimba), creating a series of octaves or intervals. From pure consciousness and bliss Śiva-Śakti becomes vital and mental energy, and then matter. Thus the process of creation is a process of descent and Māyā is the tool by which this descent starts. On the other hand, māyā is the portal towards the rediscovery of Śiva - when it is seen in the context of the spiritual evolution.
In Kaśmir Śaivism māyā is not separated from Cit (supreme consciousness). This is a major difference between Kaśmir Śaivism and Advaita Vedānta. Thus, māyā is created by Ānanda Śakti, the operative energy of Śiva. In turn, māyā is the instrument of creation for the dual world.[42]
Even though Śiva assumes limitations in his role as a limited being jiva, Śiva never becomes a subject to any external limitations. Svātantrya, the absolute free will Śiva, is the sole cause for the apparition of duality [43] One cannot possibly understand at the level of dual existence, the motive why Śiva creates duality and the world with all its individual beings. It remains a profound mystery [44]
God, Consciousness in essence, like a magician, makes the whole ensemble of things which reside in Him appear outside Himself without any external cause, solely by the power of His will. Utpaladeva [45]

The effect of māyā is the sensation of division into interior and exterior, subject and object. In Kaśmir Śaivism it is considered that exterior objects and limited beings (jiva) are never separated from one's consciousness, or Śiva's consciousness.[45]
Śuddha tattvas
This group of five tattvas describe the Divine Consciousness. They appear by the projection of the five principal energies of the Absolute:
  • Cit śakti – divine consciousness – creates śiva tattva
  • Ānanda śakti – supreme bliss – creates śakti tattva
  • Icchā śakti – divine will – creates sadāśiva tattva
  • Jñāna śakti – divine power of knowledge – creates īśvara tattva
  • Kriyā śakti – power to manifest – creates śuddha vidyā tattva [46]
These five tattvas are called "pure" because they are the domain of pure subjectivity, non duality, where Śiva is clearly manifested and there is no impediment or limitation.
Even though there are five aspects of Śiva, they are always one, beyond any duality. Śiva remains always one, there are no five separate entities here.
śuddha māyā
Śuddha māyā means pure delusion. From here on, the limitations of māyā are existent and the dualistic knowledge shines. As per Swami Sivananada's book Tantra Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Nada Yoga this is the 3rd manifestation.
Note: Placeholder Section. Needs to be elaborated
śuddha vidyā
Śuddha vidyā means pure knowledge. From here on, the limitations of māyā are inexistent and the pure non-dual knowledge shines.
When puruṣa, through the grace of Śiva reveals his essence of Atman, he gets first into the realm of śuddha vidyā tattva. But the realisation of identity with Śiva is not perfectly stable yet and his access to this state comes and goes. Here, the subjects thinks: "I am Śiva, the universe is real".
I-ness and This-ness are equally balanced and the experience of the universe gets more distinct.[47] It is a state of unity in diversity.
Śuddha vidyā acts as the instrumental function of sadāśiva tattva and īśvara tattva.
The affirmation at the level of īśvara tattva is: "This universe is my expansion, not an illusion". It is associated to jñānana śakti, the divine power of knowledge.
Beings residing on this level are called mantreśvara (lords of the mantra). Here the world is explicitly detailed yet the creation hasn't yet begun. Thus, it is a state of divine existence where Śiva first projects the world in his mind, before creating it in reality.
The īśvara and sadāśiva tattvas are associated to the flux and reflux of the divine consciousness, Cit (Īśvara is unmeṣa - the expansion of the universe).
The affirmation at this level is "I am this Universe". The accent here falls on "I". The focus is on the subject. Here Śiva manifests as sovereign will - ichhā śakti. Beings residing on this level are called mantra-maheśvara (great lords of the mantras). On sadāśiva tattva objectivity exists only in a very incipient form. Here the universe is said to be vague (asphuṭa) and dominated by the experience of "I-ness" (Kṣemaraja) [48]
The term Śakti comes from the root shak - to be capable of. Śakti is the operative (or kinetic) aspect of consciousness, its power to act and the cause of all motion in the universe.[49] Because Śakti brings everything into existence She is the feminine aspect of the universe in the cosmic couple Śiva-Śakti.
Śiva and Śakti tattva are inseparable and interdependent; Śiva is the interior aspect of consciousness and Śakti is the exterior [50] - they are united like fire and its capacity to burn. Any difference between them is just a matter of semantics. In another metaphor, Śiva is an infinite ocean and Śakti a wave on its surface. In a third metaphor, Śiva is a perfect mirror and Śakti is the image inside the mirror. All these analogies try to express the unity of Śiva and Śakti. Like the image cannot be separate from the mirror in which it exists, so Śiva and Śakti are but one reality.
On the level of Śakti tattva the experience of I-ness is pure and universal and there is no trace of the experience of This-ness. The top two tattvas (Śiva and Śakti) are said to be non manifested because they don't participate to the cycle of creation. They act only as a backdrop or canvas for the creation.
In the triad sat-cit-ananda, Śakti tattva is associated to ānanda - infinite bliss. Where Śakti is predominant, there is experience of bliss. In the pair Prakasa-Vimarsa, Śakti tattva is Vimarsa - the reflexive aspect of Śiva - that is - Śiva perceiving Himself (reflecting on his own nature). On account of it being dynamic and ever vibrating, Śakti is also known as spanda. Spanda is the fundamental vibration of consciousness that permeates the whole universe.
The will to create the universe appears first in Śakti tattva. Even though māyā is the actual instrument of creation, it relies in turn on Śakti for its power.
Śiva tattva is the transcendental consciousness, the canvas on which the whole creation is projected. Śiva tattva appears as Cit, the passive aspect of pure consciousness, non manifested, inactive in report with creation, the static center and substratum of all change.[49]
Another way to describe Śiva tattva is Prakasa - the uncreated light. It is the power of consciousness to shine without any external support. Prakasa is existence, as nothing that exists is different from it and there is nothing outside it. In Kaśmir Śaivism, from the Vedic expression Sat-cit-ananda, Sat (pure existence) is omitted on account that Cit (pure consciousness) contains it implicitly; thus the expression becomes just Cit-Ānanda.
Śiva tattva is the supreme subject. His nature is that of pure I-ness without any This-ness. His existence cannot be detected by an act of perception. Only on account of his effects can we postulate his existence.[49]
Śiva and Śakti tattvas are the plane where the supreme Self, Atman, exists. Beyond Śiva tattva there is only the Transcendence (Parama Śiva).
Differences from Sāṃkhya
The unique point of view of Kashmir Shaivism is expressed in the exposition of supplementary 11 tattvas compared to Veda or Sāṃkhya. They are māyā, niyati, kāla, rāga, vidyā, kalā, śuddha vidyā, īśvara, sadāśiva, 'śakti and śiva tattva. The rest of 25 tattva, which are common to Sāṃkhya, have in Kashmir Shaivism a slightly lesser position, as the categories of matter specific to the impure creation (dual creation).
See also
  1. ^ The Pratyabhijñā Philosophy, G.V.Tagare, 2002, pag. 25
  2. ^ Symbolism of Place, John Fraim,, cap. 7
  3. ^ Kundalini, The Energy of the Depths, Lilian Silburn, 1988, pag. 27
  4. ^ Kundalini Yoga, Swami Sivananda, free online version at
  5. ^ Muladhara Chakra
  6. ^ Introduction to Kashmir Shaivism, Gurudev Siddha Peeth, Ganeshpuri, 1975, pag. 33
  7. ^ Panels of the VIIth World Sanskrit Conference: Kern Institute, Leiden, August 23–29, 1987, Johannes Bronkhorst, pag. 58
  8. ^ Pada (Hindu mythology)
  9. ^ Modern Institute of Reflexology
  10. ^ Relics of the Buddha, John Strong, pag. 85
  11. ^ Theory And Practice of Yoga: Essays in Honor of Gerald James Larson, Knut A. Jacobsen, pag. 239
  12. ^ Prostration,
  13. ^ Subhagodya,
  14. ^ Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Kundalini Tantra, Chapter 2, Posture
  15. ^ Healing With the Chakra Energy System: Acupressure, Bodywork, And Reflexology for Total Health, John R. Cross, pag 145
  16. ^ Hamsa
  17. ^ The Complete Dictionary of Symbols, Jack Tresidder, pag. 222
  18. ^ A Dictionary of Symbols, Juan-Eduardo Cirlot, p. 137
  19. ^ Spirit and Art: Pictures of the Transformation of Consciousness, Van James, pag. 132
  20. ^ For some mudra illustrations – Living Yoga: Creating a Life Practice, Christy Turlington, pag. 101
  21. ^ Vāc, The Concept of the Word In Selected Hindu Tantras, André Padoux, page 146
  22. ^ Magnetic Force: How to Unfold the Psychic Forces Latent Within You, A. P. Mukerji, page 118, [online version|^ "God speaks into silence and his word creates", Silence, the Word and the Sacred: Essays, E. D. Blodgett, pag. 15^ See Heidegger and Deconstructionism; Silence, the Word and the Sacred: Essays, E. D. Blodgett, pag. 85^ jnānam bandhaḥ, Śiva Sutra, verse 2^ "The Tao that can be talked about is not the real Tao" – Tao Te Ching; Northrop Frye: Religious Visionary and Architect of the Spiritual World By Robert D. Denha^ The Yoga of Kaśmir Śaivism, Consciousness is Everything, Swami Shankarananda, pag.105
  23. ^ Atma Bodha(Vers 15)
  24. ^ The Pratyabhijñā Philosophy, G.V.Tagare, 2002, pag. 87
  25. ^ The Yoga of Kaśmir Śaivism, Consciousness is Everything, Swami Shankarananda, pag. 104
  26. ^ The Yoga of Kaśmir Śaivism, Consciousness is Everything, Swami Shankarananda, pag. 102
  27. ^ The Yoga of Kaśmir Śaivism, Consciousness is Everything, Swami Shankarananda, pag. 103
  28. ^ a b The Yoga of Kaśmir Śaivism, Consciousness is Everything, Swami Shankarananda, pag. 10

What is Vedanta?

Vedanta is the world’s foremost school of thought on self-management. It finds its’ origin in the Vedas, the sacred scriptures of the world.
The word ‘Vedanta’ is a combination of the two words 'Veda' which means ‘knowledge’ and 'Anta' which means ‘the end of’ or ‘the goal of’. So ‘Vedanta’ literally means ‘the culmination of knowledge’
Vedanta is a science and must be approached as one would physics, chemistry or mathematics. The concepts must be questioned, tested and made one’s own by living the principles. Only then can you say that you are a Vedantin, a lover of Truth.  
Just as science is the amalgam of the knowledges contributed by numerous scientists, So it is with Vedanta. Vedanta is the ultimate philosophy laid down by several subjective scientists who were Self-realised masters.
Vedanta, a philosophy and science of our true identity, the Supreme Indivisible Absolute Pure CONSCIOUSNESS, contains four yogas of devotion, selfless service, knowledge and meditation which are found in Buddhism, Christianity, Sikhism, Hinduism, Islam and the practices of all who seek peace and joy in the oneness that uplifts and unifies us.
Hence, Vedanta is the cornerstone of all religions, revealing the truth of our life that leads to the ultimate liberation, free from suffering and bondage and attaining a state of immortality, everlasting peace and fulfilment.
The knowledge of Vedanta provides us with a blueprint for action knowing which we can gain not only material prosperity but more importantly access to our true nature, the Divine Self within. It may be a knowledge that is thousands of years old but it has remained a source of eternal wisdom for several generations and will remain so for many more to come. Hence, Its eternal and universal application appeals to all lovers of truth.
The most unique feature of Vedanta is that it does not base itself on any personalities for authority. It is a knowledge that is founded on its own authority. Its truth is its authority. It trains you to think for yourself. To analyse, investigate and realise the quintessence of life. Not to submit yourself to blind faith, superstitious belief or mechanical ritual.
The Kingdom of Heaven within You
Vedanta declares, “Thou art That.” This means your true nature is essentially Divine, of completeness, of Supreme  bliss and Happiness.
Behind the conditioned consciousness, the individual ego (I, me and mine) that is created by thoughts, there is the real Self, the true ‘I’.
The ego is a false projection of thoughts; the true Self ( the Indivisible Absolute Unconditioned Pure CONSCIOUSNESS) is the reality. This ultimate truth of life is supported by several scientific corroboratory evidences which stand to reason. A careful and scientific analysis of life's experiences would provide us enough reason to substantiate this ultimate in human perfection, the ultimate state of Self-realisationGod-realisation.
                   Self-knowledge is the key to freedom. It is like waking up from a terrible dream, to find out you are quite alright and the entire dream, including your identity within it, was a mere appearance. When you mistakenly see and superimpose a snake upon a rope lying by the roadside, you have fear. In clearer light, you discover the rope and all fear ends. Similarly all your personal insecurity and fear ends upon the discovery of who you really are, your true identity - the Supreme Self!
The truth of who I am is revealed upon negating the false I-thoughts of the finite, limited body, mind and intellect. A thousand ideas of who we are arise on the false foundation of the belief that we are the body-mind-intellect complex. “I am born; I am aging and getting old; I am physically challenged; I will die,” and so on are examples of thoughts of the self coming forth from the body-identification. “I am jealous; I am sad; I am dull,” and so on are examples of I-thoughts arising from the identification with the finite mind and intellect.
Following the revelation of Vedanta, a seeker stays alert and questions one's habitual ideas of the self. In the erasure of the ego (the false self), the true Self shines forth just as the bright sun stands out upon the moving away of clouds.
Spiritual Practice
You are already free and Divine; you do not have to become something different from what you really are. you just have to know it, experience it, realize it.
the seeker engages with Vedanta through study, listening (Shravana), reflection (Manana) and meditation (Dhyana).
With The pursuit of The appropriate yogas ( Spiritual disciplines) of  Karma Yoga ( Right Action), Bhakti Yoga ( Devotion) and Jnana Yoga ( True Knowledge) in accordance with one's inner nature,  The mind is freed from all misunderstanding and ignorance, is driven away from all the unwarranted fears that arise out of one's wrong perception.
These spiritual disciplines helps one investigate the mystery of life and answer the baffling questions:
•  Who am I?
•  Who are you? 
•  Where have I come from?
•  Why are we here? 
•  When, Wherefrom & Why this World?
•  What is the goal of human life?
•  What is the source of true and permanent happiness?
•  How do I bring that happiness into myself and the world?
•  What is permanent, impermanent?
Until through subjective inquiry we arrive at the core of our personality and understand that lasting happiness ultimately lies beyond the external world and can only be found internally within one’s own Self.
The Transformation
The profound and practical wisdom of Vedanta brings about a psychological revolution. A thousand fears disappear; a thousand beliefs based on duality vanish. With this sublime wisdom one sees God alone everywhere. He experiences The unifying Divinity in  The  diversities of The world. No divisions. No demarcations. No denominations. Only Divinity.
There was duality before, characterized by the divisions of what I am and what I should become. There was also the sense of the small me and the big God. There was comparison, competition. There were the painful judgements of doing poorly, failing, hurting and getting hurt. When you abide in your Infinite Self, you rise above all these. It is therefore called absolute or complete transformation.
The Blissful Core of Your Being
Finally Vedanta, through meditation, takes you  to the realm of the Infinite. This is the essential nature and goal of every human being. Your core.
Boundless you are and will not settle for any less, driven by the nostalgia for the Infinite. Vedanta takes you to that supreme Goal - systematically, one step at a time.
The wisdom of Vedanta is the final flowering of all spiritual thought, It is a very simple philosophy - Man is essentially the Spirit and the Spirit is the Supreme Indivisible Absolute CONSCIOUSNESS. There exists nothing but The One Non-dual Reality- the Infinite Unconditioned Pure Awareness!
This awareness can be realised by selfless work and meditation. This understanding helps us to live in this world as a very creative and dynamic human being, enjoying genuine prosperity with  reduced stress levels and permanent peace of mind. . Invoking the Loveful & Blissful CONSCIOUSNESS in and through our activities. It is a matter of shifting your perspective from the ‘I am the Body’ to ‘I am the Supreme Indivisible Absolute Pure CONSCIOUSNESS’. A simple leap from the limited awareness to the limitless awareness, a marvelous leap from the finite to the Infinite!
All of us seek to be happy, content, creative, loving - this becomes your natural state of being when you realise that you are the loveful & blissful Awareness in the presence of which everything happens.
An  integrated  mind lives in harmony internally as well as externally – ie. with the totality .
his  Harmonious situation is  the what  drives  Dharma . All dictates of Dharma ( Niti ) ensure such a situation ultimately. 
  Fundamentals of Vedanta - I
      Vaisheshikas  postulate  that ……
-         Atoms (  the  smallest particle , and hence have to be sub atomic particles) are the cause of the world.
-         Matter is divided and sudivided, we reach a stage beyond which no division is possible, the undivisible element of matter is Parmanu.
-         The universe exists in the atomic state in the state of Pralaya or dissolution
-         The atoms are imperceptible, indestructible and eternal.
-          That except Akash (ether), all other elements were physically palpable and hence comprised miniscule particles of matter.
-         These Parmanu combine with another , while in motion. When two Parmanu belonging to one class of substance combined, a dwayanuka (binary molecule) was the result. This dwayauka had properties similar to the two parent Parmanu. The unseen merits and demerits of the souls are the ones that set the atom in motion – Adhrushta ,  that unseen principle )
-         An individual anu doesn't possess any property, but as it combines with another anu, a diatomic molecule ( dwayanuka ) is formed, which, in turn, combines with other three similar molecules to produce a tri-molecules ( trayanuka ) , only then the properties are perceived. These 'trayanukas' further combine to give the structure of gross bodies and their properties become suitable for direct perception.
-         Atoms  ( Paramanu ) are spherical ..but dyads  don’t have  the spherical nature of the atoms.
The very first point taken up by Sankaracharya is that ..the qualities of the atoms ( the Cause) not present in the effect ( Dyads and so on ) . hence the argument against Vedanta’s postulate that Brahman is the  cause , on the ground  that the World which is insentient originated from the sentient / intelligent Brahman ,  is not tenable. The same argument  applies Vaisheshika’s  postulate as well.
    What  Causes  the motion and  subsequently the  combination of atoms . Adhrushta is       
    insentient and has to bepresent in the soul .Being present in soul)  it can not set the motion
    of atoms . If it is inherent in atom, as it being  always present dissolution is never  possible ,
    for  the atoms  will always be active. Hence , there is no possibility for original motion in the
   atoms ( without an efficient cause)
   Atoms cannot be the  cause also  on account  of  Samavya  (inherence) cited  by Vaisheshikas       
   as this will lead to regressus  infinitum. The dyads are said  to be connected to the atoms,
   which are their constituents. This  connection is  required  as Dyads  and atoms  are said to be    
   of different qualities. However , since Samvaya itself being different  from these ie. The Dyads
   and atoms which it  connects , another Samavaya will be required for this connection andthat  
   Samvaya will require another Samvaya , thus  rendering the argument  defective   
  Thirdly the nature of  atoms ( if  taken as the ultimate cause particles)  cannot be permanent   
  activity or inactivity .If  they are active  always , dissolution is not possible. If , on the other
  hand , they are inactive , creation is not possible. Their  nature cannot be activity ( or,
  integration ) and inactivity  ( or, disintegration)  as they are contradictory.
  Atoms  thus would  require an efficient  cause for  their activity or inactivity .The earlier post
  Has already  taken up the issue of  their  eternality in detail.
Conclusion : Atoms cannot be the cause of the universe.
A Century after Rutherford’s  findings and journey into quarks and Leptoquarks Science  is struggling to identify the  ultimate cause for the actions of these particles . Even is  we  accord
Vaccum which  has to have  energy as  per t he singularity Theorems , what accosts energy  to Vaccum  would  still remain a mystery, which  will continue even if Higgs Boson  are isolated.  
 Fundamentals of  Vedanta – II : KNOWLEDGE 
We have discussed , in part I  that whatever  is the  nature of the  mind , it is only with  the  mind  that  we can have knowledge . What is knowledge ?  
1) Knowledge is eternal
2) Ignorance appears to obliterate the knowledge of objects
3) Knowledge of objects takes place by the removal of  the ignorance covering the
    knowledge  of the object.
4) Objective knowledge is  only attributive knowledge .
5) Knowledge can be gained only by a conscious entity- essentially the  Consciousness
   has to illumine the thought related to the object , for the knowledge of the object to
   occur. This entity alone is  the substantive.
6) The  Reality  is devoid  of any attribute.- Nirguna .
6) Saastraas alone are  the  tools  or Pramaana , for gaining the knowledge of
    the substantive.
7) Saastras indicate a process of  negation in the understanding of the  Reality and  call
    that as the pure  knowledge
When Ignorance that is covering the knowledge of the objects is removed we discover the existence of those objects. Implication of this is that knowledge is eternal and self-evident, but gets revealed when the ignorance that appears to cover the object of knowledge is removed ‘ignorance’ desists us from the knowledge of an object , but it is more like a darkness covering the knowledge of all the objects in a dark room
However , I am also  aware of the darkness and  this  awareness is also an object of knowledge -  the Consciousness , because   of  which  I have the knowledge of  the darkness itself , is not opposite to darkness.
The  Knowledge we ‘gain’ is  only a qualified knowledge and termed as objective knowledge and  is defined as being aware  of object’s existence and aware of its attributes that are perceived through senses. The precise definition of an object rests on the precise definition of its distinguishing attributes.
Objective knowledge is only attributive knowledge since senses can measure only the attributes of an object and the attributes of the substantive that can be perceive directly by them. Senses  cannot  gather substantive itself.
The attributes perceptible to the senses and that differentiate the objects  belong to
the objects and not the substantive .For example the attributes of Gold  which is of
the substantive are  not all readily  visible to  the senses  and these attributes cannot differentiate one object of Gold from the other. The malleability of the gold which distinguishes it from other metals is not apparent and it  cannot differentiate a gold  ring from a set of  bangles. 
Once we understand that it is  the substantive which matters really we shall understand
the objects in the real  perspective – the ring , the bangles are all in essence the  gold itself in different  forms.  
The  substantive is one without a second ,and hence  there is nothing to differentiate the Reality  from any other entity. Existence ,Consciousness ,Bliss are not attributes of the Reality . They are its intrinsic structure to differentiate it from all unconscious entities .
The self is wrongly  viewed as a subject in relation to an object .
Object is not a self-existent entity, since it is not self-conscious. For an object’s
Existence to be established , a conscious entity has  to illumine its existence.
Pure knowledge, on the other hand ,is pure consciousness – this  knowledge is ‘objectless awareness’.   
Knowledge of the substantive can only be gained by Saastra Pramaana.
The  means knowledge – that  which  is operative for the  knowledge to take place is called  Pramaana -  ‘Pramaa karanam pramaanam’
The Process of  valid knowledge involves  three constituents :  the subject –Predicate-Object structure (Triputi)
 ….. The knower or ‘Pramaata’ - subject who owns that knowledge .
….  Vishaya  or ‘Prameya’ - Object of knowledge
….. ‘Pramiti’ - knowledge of the object
Pramaana is  that which is   ‘non-negatable’ – which is not  sublated  subsequently. Absolute knowledge is defined as that which can never be negated or contradicted at any time -  which is  real :  ‘Trikaala abaadhitam satyam
 Sruti alone becomes the source of  that knowledge of the material cause from all
objects in the universe , being concerned  with the Reality while  other  Pramaanaas like
Perception ( Pratyaksha Pramaanaa) are  concerned  with  empirical things .
The insight ,Sruti provides through its  teaching is  mediate knowledge ( Paroksha Jnana ) and  the reason , purified & sharpened again by  the  teachings of the sruti , plays  an important role in the transformation of the mediate  knowledge  into an  immediate one (Aparoksha jnana)
The Vedic revelation, is an absolutely independent (Nirapeksham) and self-constituting authority (Svarthe pramanyam). But human dicta  (Purusha-vacasam) are dependent upon an external basis and mediated (Vyavahita) by memory (Smrti) and discourse (Vaktr).
Hence it  must be recalled  that the search for  the Absolute  cannot  be  outside our experience. It  is from our  day to day  experience  that we  have  to find the Truth – the Absolute , which is  indeed the  self  of the individual . Faith on the  Saastras  helps  us in this pursuit.
The very process of ‘ knowing ’  involves subject-object distinction .The self in itself is not a knowing subject .Nor can the  mind by  itself  know anything ,being inert (Jada)
In the  absence of the   knowing subject , there is no scope of for  any  Pramaanaa.
For a knowing  subject  to  be  available , a blend of  the Self  and the mind is required , as is a mutual  superimposition of the  self  and  the  not-self (itaretaraadhyaasaa
 SUM  UP :
The substantive cannot be grasped  by the  senses – Agraahya / Apremya. The method of
Vedanta  is one of negation which in that process differentiates the Reality from   all objects in the Universe. When I know who I am, what I will know is I am the substantive for all - the intellect, the mind and the body as well.
The Reality cannot be objectified, it can be recognised  only as the witness-consciousness behind the mind
I am functioning as the knower (pramata). If Brahman is limitless, It cannot be a prameyam, because prameyam is limited by pramata; prameyam is notpramata. So we have to negate all known objects ( all prameyams); but this is an endless job. The best way to negate prameyams is to negate pramata. If there is no pramata, there is no prameyam.
 Method of Vedanta     3  -  The Reality  
Self – the only Reality  -  The Substantive 
The  general belief is that the world consists of  objects (entities) which are perceived  or otherwise presumed to exist as entities, bysubjects (observers).These  subjects are defined  as  , by  various philosophies as the Individual , the mind or the consciousness.
The subject-object relation arises  with the mind or in the mind, ontological status of each or both of them is a philosophical question that is closely related to the analysis of the mind. 
As Krishna says in the  Bhagavd Gita (13.2)
Know that I am the Knower of the field (kshetrajna) in all the fields (kshetras). The knowledge of kshetra and of kshetrajna is what I call true wisdom . 
But , the Self is  Aprameya – not cognizable  ( by  senses)  ……
Etat aprameyam” (It is unknowable)  - BrhadaranyakaUpanishad : IV.iv.21
None of the criteria by which we know things is applicable in respect of Brahman - Attributes (guna),species (jati), relationship (sambandha) and function ( kriya)-Brahman being without attributes  (Nirguna), without any  Relation (Asanga)  and  without involved in Action (Akarta).
“Yato Vacho Nivartante apraapya manasa saha” ( Words, alongwith  mind, return without  reaching it)  - Taittriya Upanishad  2.4.1
How , then , to know the Self -  Generally the means is  to  distinguish the Reality from whatever  is cognizable by us . The  sruti  again  says ,
Manasaa eva anudrashtavyam” (Through the mind alone It is to be realised)- Brhadaranyaka Upanishad : IV.iv.20
To  overcome this  difficulty Vedanta employs a synthesis of  objective and subjective method .
Even  though, in Vedanta ,Sruti  alone  is taken as  the Pramanaa , it doesnot  mean that there is  no  place for  reason in the system.Sruti does not supersede reason  nor  soes reason  become  superfluous  on account of  Sruti . Even as Sruti  provides  insight  into  the nature of the Reality 
Reasom has  to  explicate  it , make it intelligible and  tenable , and  prepare the ground  for direct and  immediate apprehension of the Reality. Reason plays an  important  role in  transformation of  mediate  knowledge  into an immediate ( Aparoksha Jnan) knowledge.
The synthetic  method of  Vedanta emerges beautifully in Chandyoga  Upanishad  where Uddalaka
describes the  objective  manifestation of the  self  of the Universe ,and immediately takes a swift turn  to state that the Universal  Self is identical  with the self  the disciple Svetaketu
Let us look  at some scriptural statements first,  to  distinguish the   Reality …..
-  …Ekam  eva  Adhvitiyam ( Only one  without a  second– ( Ch.Up 6.2.1) 
- …. Satyam Jnanam Anantam Brahma (  Existence-Consciousness-Infinity )  [Taitt.Up. 2.1.]
To  understand  these  statements we shall now  dwell in  further details…
( A ) Looking  at  - “ Ekam  eva  Adhvitiyam”.
One way of establishing duality  is  by proving the reality of difference. Differences are of three kinds:
Svagata bheda:The difference of a tree from its leaves, flowers, fruits, etc, is the difference within an object. 
Sajaatiiya bheda :  The difference of one tree from another tree is the difference between objects of the same species.
Vijaatiiya bheda :The difference of a tree from a rock is the difference between objects of different species.
None of these differences exists with regard to the Reality (Brahman), since there is nothing else of the same species (Ekam)  or of a different species (Adhvitiya) and there is no internal difference because Brahman is homogeneous and  does not have parts ( Avibhakta).
So,  there is nothing like it , nothing  unlike it .
The word “one’ negates Sajaatiiya bheda, the word ‘only’ negates Svagata bheda and the words ‘without a second’ negates Vijaatiiya bheda. Brahman is free from all limitations.
It  is to be  rememberd that ‘The Only  one without a second ‘ is a  clarifying statement and not a causal  statement stated along with  the causal statement .
B.(i) Visheshana is that characteristic by which an object can be separated (or marked out) from other objects that belong to the same class. Examples are the color of a flower that distinguishes it from other flowers, like yellow color separating a yellow flower from red flower. Yellow or red color is the Visheshana among the class of flowers. Similarly the thick soft skin in the neck of a cow is the Visheshana  that distinguishes the cow from other four leg animals.
Lakshana is a marker (or a quality) that separates an object from all objects that does not belong to its class.
Space allows all objects to be contained in it, yet none of the objects have this quality of space. So the Lakshana of space is to contain all objects.Brahman is Unlimited / Infinite. Infinity is the Bhavarupa Visheshana of Brahman that separates Him from the humans.
We will now apply the Visheshana to distinguish Brahman from the multitude of names and  forms .
Brahman and humans belong to the same class ,  for , both have knowledge . However the
humans have limited knowledge, while Brahman is omniscient (infinite knowledge)
Thus infinity is the (Bhavarupa ) Visheshana of Brahman that distinguishes Him from the humans.
Abhava Rupa Visheshana of Brahman (  of  the ‘is not’ type) -  
Brahman is described as…
apahatapapma vijaro vimrutyu vishoko vijighatso apipasaha ‘ - (Ishopanishad – verse 8)
Brahman is not affected by dharma and adharma, he is not subject to change( Avikaara) , he is not subject to destruction ( Avinaashi) , he  neither has emotions like sorrow nor does he feel hunger and thirst etc. , unlike the humans . For all these human qualities of  "is", Brahman exhibits "is not". So "is not" is the Abhavarupa Visheshana that separates Brahman from humans - of names and forms .
It is clear from the above that the Visheshanas "infinite” and "is not" separate Brahman from the humans .
( C ) Now taking  the second  scriptural statement – ‘satyam Jnanam Anantham’..  we shall review the Lakshanas (Characteristics) that help us understand Brahman
In the statement  “satyam jnanam anantam brahma” each of the  three words, satyam, jnanam and anantam has a different meaning, but together they denote brahman. Here satyam, jnanam anantam are identical with Brahman , for herein  they do  not  denote attributes ( Visheshana) ,  but function as a Distinguishers that characterise . A particular quality which distinguishes any given entity is called lakshana – It is a lakshanam because it is a  distinguisher (vyavartakam )
Satyamn, jnanam anantam Brahman dwells on  lakshana of Brahman -  both Svaroopa Lakshna and  Tatastha Lakshana .
Svaruupalakshanam : Refers  to the essential nature which is  present in that thing as long as the it  lasts and distinguishes it  from the  rest
  'Svaroopam sat vyavartakam svaroopa lakshanam' - That which is intrinsic to a thing
and at the same time it distinguishes the thing from all the other objects
Tatasthalakshanam—  an accidental attribute and  not intrinsic to the thing , which helps to distinguish the thing as long as  the distinguishing factor is present  or associated with the thing -the Tatastha   Lakshana
Is an indicative meaning , pointer and  is incidental. Is  an non-intrinsic lakshana.-as in  pointing to the river from a  distance , since the same cannot be seen , one would point to a tall tree on its  bank ....The  tree  here is the Tatstha Lakshana of the river.
'Kadachit kartve sati vyavartakam tatastha lakshanam'.
Brahman as Cause of the creation (jagat karana ) is a Tatastha Lakshana.
C (i) Satyam :
The Jagat which  is  the effect (Karya) is a variation in name and form; the essence belongs to the Cause , the Kaarana . The variation of form in effect  (Karya) was not there prior to  the existence of  the effect , manifests  during the period of  the effect  and disappears again when the effect  dissolves. But the instrumental cause  of  the effect always maintains its  swarupa .
So we conclude that the  effect is asatya (unreal) and the  cause  is satya (real).
yat rupena yat nischitam tat rupam na vyabhicharati tat satyam” ( Once an object known in a form always maintains that form is real)
yat rupena yat nischitam tat rupam vyabhicharat tat anritam " (An object once known in a form, fails to present in that form always, is unreal).
So Jagat as effect  is unreal; Brahman as the  cause  Real. This is the first Lashana separating Brahman from Jiva.
“ Satyam” indicates that the entity is an eternally existing entity (Trikale api thishtathi) , the word,”Jnanam” is juxtaposed to show that the entity is not inert but that it is a conscious entity.
When two or more words in a sentence, each of which has a different meaning, together denote one and the same object, they are said to be in apposition (Samanadhikaranyam )
That is  the literal  meaning is not  taken. Here the Sruti employs  ekatve  Samanadhikaranyam – referring to  attribute description to distinguish/Identify the thing . Although the three words are distinguishers ( Vyavartakas ), they are  not Just  attributes ( Visheshana).
Satyam thus indicates essential menaing (lakshyartha) not  word meaning  (vachyartha)
Likewise , each word is a explanatory equivalent and in its fullest meaning, governs the other two and thereby gives new, expanded meanings  rendering the knowledge  general ( nirvishesha ) 
C ( ii ) Jnanam : The intellect perceives the knowledge of pot, cloth etc. These are distinctive knowledge, specific to the pot, cloth respectively. This mode of mind ( vritti jnana)  is a specific attribute of the object like pot or cloth. The pot, cloth etc. are substantive (visheshya) and the specific knowledge of pot cloth etc. are attributive knowledge (visheshana). The attributive knowledge is unreal because , without substantive, there cannot be attribute knowledge - the pot, cloth etc. appear and or disappear now and  then .
Hence when Sruti declares that Brahman is knowledge (Consciousness), it cannot be the vritti jnana, because Brahman is real; the consciousness that is described in the Saastras is the attributive to the substantive Brahman, which is Real.
But even such an entity , eternally existing and  conscious as well  can be a limited entity, with a limited location, existing along with other entities, i.e., one among many.
Hence  ‘Anantam’ is juxtaposed to show that it is infinite , space-wise, time-  besides It there is no other entity ( of the same ontological status)
C (iii) Anantham : Brahman being Real, is different from all Karya or effects. Brahman being of the nature of consciousness, is different from Jada. Now there is the Jiva who is neither Karya nor Jada. So if Brahman is shown to be different from Jiva, then we have separated Brahman from everything else, for which we have to focus on the Lakshana which separates Brahman from the Jivas. The scriptures call Brahman as Anantha or limitless.
The famous sutra  in  Brahma Sutra - : Janmadyasyayatah ( ...tat Brahmah ) which  means
Brahman is that from which Creation ( shristi ) etc. (as also Sthiti and Laya) takes place.
Brahman is Utpathi shristi, sthiti, laya karanam. These  are Brahman’s  Thatastha  lakshanam
But being the cause of Creation etc. is not intrinsic to the nature of Brahman. However ,these  ( shristyadi karanatva lakshana ) help us to distinguish Brahman from jagat or jiva
The Sruti , Acharya says , has used  the words  ingeniously.. Satyam word is used but the
limitation created by the word Satyam will be neutralised by Anantam. Likewise the limitation
created by the word Jnanam  is be neutralised  by Satyam and by Anantam.
So This statement  indicates the  one  indivisible Brahman
(D) Vedanta employs  another method of  negation (nishedha mukha bodhanam) : By the elimination of all differences due to limiting adjuncts - “Neti , Neti”.
One positive method (‘vidhi mukha bodhanam’) which we can use, with a slight modification. We said that Brahman cannot be defined by relationship, because Brahman is asanga. While this is so, in so far as  real relationship is concerned, it is not so  when it comes to a question of unreal relationship.  As an unreal relationship between Substratum (adhishtanam) and adhyasa, Brahman can be defined.
Satyam Jnanam Anantam 
We have  understood the  Reality  w.r.t. Bheda and Visheshana
Now taking  the second  scriptural statement – ‘satyam Jnanam Anantham’..  we shall review the Lakshanas (Characteristics) that help us understand Brahman
In the statement  “satyam jnanam anantam brahma” each of the  three words, satyam, jnanam and anantam has a different meaning, but together they denote brahman. Even as they are Lakshanas, they do  not  denote attributes ( Visheshana),but function as a Distinguisher (vyavartakam)
Satyamn, jnanam anantam Brahman dwells on  lakshana of Brahman -  both Svaroopa Lakshna and  Tatastha Lakshana .
Svaruupalakshanam : Refers  to the essential nature which is  present in that thing as long as the it  lasts and distinguishes it  from the  rest .
 'Svaroopam sat vyavartakam svaroopa lakshanam' - That which is intrinsic to a thing
and at the same time it distinguishes the thing from all the other objects
 - Tatasthalakshanam—  an accidental attribute and  not intrinsic to the thing , which helps to distinguish the thing as long as  the distinguishing factor is  present  or associated with the thing -the Tatastha   Lakshana .     'Kadachit kartve sati vyavartakam tatastha lakshanam'.
 Brahman as Cause of the creation (jagat karana )  is a Tatastha Lakshana.
C (i) Satyam :
The Jagat which  is  the effect (Karya) is a variation in name and form; the essence belongs to the Cause , the Kaaran . The variation of form in effect  ( Karya) was not there prior to  the existence of  the effect , manifests  during the period of  the effect  and disappears again when the effect  dissolves. But  the instrumental cause of  the effect always maintains its  swarupa .
So we conclude that the  effect is asatya (unreal) and the  cause  is satya (real).
yat rupena yat nischitam tat rupam na vyabhicharati tat satyam” ( Once an object known in a form always maintains that form is real)
So Jagat as effect  is unreal; Brahman as the  cause  Real.
The root meaning of  Sat is existence  but the  construed meaning  is  ‘is’  ie. ‘existence in time’  thereby being  time-bound. This cannot  denote Brahman.
When juxtaposed with the word Anantam the word  Satyam  gets released from the time bound concept thereby rendering the Lakshyartha ( Indicated Meaning) - Timeless existence
“ Satyam” thus indicates that the entity is an eternally existing entity (Trikale api thishtathi) and hence is  Real .
When juxtaposed  with the word,”Jnanam” it means that the entity is not inert but that it is a conscious entity. Renders the meaning as ever existing, changeless knowledge  .
C ( ii ) Jnanam : The intellect perceives the knowledge of pot, cloth etc. These are distinctive knowledge, specific to the pot, cloth respectively. This mode of mind ( vritti jnana)  is a specific attribute of the object like pot or cloth. The pot, cloth etc. are substantive (visheshya) and the specific knowledge of pot cloth etc. are attributive knowledge (visheshana). The attributive knowledge is unreal because , without substantive, there cannot be attribute knowledge - the pot, cloth etc. appear and or disappear now and  then.
Hence when Sruti declares that Brahman is knowledge (Consciousness), it cannot be the vritti jnana, because Brahman is real; the consciousness that is described in the Saastras is the attributive to the substantive Brahman, which is Real.
But even such an entity , eternally existing and  conscious as well  can be a limited entity, with    a limited location, existing along with other entities, i.e., one among many- a  la Universe .                             
Hence  ‘Anantam’ is juxtaposed to show that it is infinite , space-wise, time-wise. Besides it    there is no other entity (of the same ontological status).This thus signifies limitless knowledge       or the knowledge itself. Having negated the limited aspect of knowledge, knowledge is freed       from   all limitation -  Knowledge that  is Real & Eternal
C (iii) Anantham : Brahman being Real, is different from all Karya or effects. Brahman being of the nature of consciousness, is different from Jada. Now there is the Jiva who is neither Karya nor Jada. So if Brahman is shown to be different from Jiva, then we have separated Brahman from all entities .                   
The Sruti , Acharya says , has used  the words  ingeniously.. Satyam word is used but the
limitation created by the word Satyam will be neutralised by Anantam. Likewise the limitation  created by the word Jnanam  is be neutralised  by Satyam and by Anantam.                                          
What remains is limitless knowledge—awareness—that which is
the invariable in all forms of knowledge. Therefore, awareness is Satyam and this
awareness – satyam - is limitless Brahman.                                                                                                          
This, then, is how Brahman is revealed by known words—by implication (lakshana) alone, not as the direct meaning of these words
The famous sutra  in  Brahma Sutra - : Janmadyasyayatah ( ...tat Brahmah ) which  means
Brahman is that from which Creation ( shristi ) etc. (as also Sthiti and Laya) takes place.
Brahman is Utpathi shristi, sthiti, laya karanam. These  are Brahman’s  Thatastha  lakshanam
But being the cause of Creation etc. is not intrinsic to the nature of Brahman. However ,these        
(shristyadi karanatva lakshana ) help us to distinguish Brahman from jagat or jiva
So This statement  indicates the  one  indivisible Brahman 
Such  harmony  is achieved  by  directing the mind  inwards – Nivritti , meaning  renouncing the external  objects and bringing the thoughts back – inwards thus  achieving tranquility of mind.
Happiness we  seek  is thus  ensured .
 ...Let  us now  see what can the mind  contribute and how......
- Antahkarana : Manas / Buddhi / Chitta (Memory)/ Ahampratyaya or Ahamartha (I
  notion  / ego) – All this together is the Mind.
-  The mind is an entity that expresses as  thoughts ( Vritti)
-  Thoughts are momentary , as they  keep changing from moment to moment
-   Yet there is an awareness of these changes that is constant – that is the changeless        
-         The reflection of this changeless consciouness  renders the mind sentient and the mind is   able  to  Cognise the world of  objects.
-         This reflected consciousness in the mind is called  “Chidabhasa
-         The Mind and Chidabhasa together are called “Ahamkara” – the changing ‘I ‘).
-         The body, the ahamkara and atma together are called "jiva"- (‘I am the Karta / Bhogta’)
-         The Changeless I is  invoked  as a continuing entity  - is  the Sakshi , being the witness of the changing mind.
-         Hence there are  Two consciousness in existence - a knower-consciousness and another consciousness which is the substratum of that consciousness
     Prior  to  detailing these terms  Chidabhasa , Jiva , Brahman etc. we  shall touch  upon the  concept  of  mind.
Nature & Function of the Mind :
In Vedanta, mind is considered as 'flow of thoughts' (Vritti Dhaara) . Just as a flow of water is called ‘river’, a flow of thoughts is the ‘mind’.More correctly it may be described as ‘the basis on which the thoughts flow, rather than the flow itself’. It is the mind which determines the nature of the flow of  thoughts. Just as Mumbai’s Mithi river is  quantum leaps away from the Ganges , the individual minds differ vastly in being the basis on which each  mind operates.
-   Mind  is a Subtle Matter.
-   Is a  Dravya (  Substance ) – is one  of the  nine categories of padarthas
-   Mind is a matter  since  it has  Gunaas ( Quality) – Budhi , a component  of  Mind is a one of
    the  24 Gunas (  among  14  that  apply to the  self ) 
-  Mind  is a matter  since  it has Gunaas
-  Mind  is  not an agent  of  knowledge  but  an instrument of  knowledge
    ( The  Agent is the  Individual Soul – Jiva )
-  Is also the locus of  valid  knowledge
-  Is an invariable accompaniment of  the self. Knowledge arises in the Self on account of the
To  understand this description , let us detail  the classification of  objects.The entire universe is divided into two sets:
Bhava-padartha                                                  Abhava-padartha                       
Dravya ( 5 elements,time,space,Mind)                     ---------|--------------         
Guna  (Visesha,Samanya & others)           Samsargabhava                      Anyonya Abhava
Karman                                                  (relational absence)                   (Mutual  Absence)
Samanya                                              Atyantabhava(absolute  absence)                       
Visesha                                                Pragabhava   (pre-absence)
Samavaya                                             Pradhvamsabhava (destruction)         
Qualities reside in a locus which is different from the qualities ( Gunaas) and that locus is called a substance ( Dravya)
 Dravya  is a Bhava Padaartha ( Matter).Matter is something that has relative presence  but Jada  (nescience).
Mind & Brain :
Brain is static,Whereas mind is dynamic. Mind has to move to provide accessibility of the world to the knower by plugging in and plugging off the senses.
If the mind were just a function of the body, then we cannot explain with any clarity the Avasthaas - the waking state, dream, deep sleep, and super consciousness.
 For example, if the ego is the primary by-product of the workings of the brain, then what happens to it during deep sleep.
This  brings us to the  unique method of Vedanta , which  explores the deep sleep state :
However , we shall discuss briefly  the concept of the Self  first and then  proceed.
Vedanta had a clear conception of the self , steers  itself  away  from  the  western dilemmas of Body Vs Mind , Self  Vs Ego , Mind Vs Consciousness etc in a  single stroke of defining the Self .
The Self  alone is the  subject. All others are not-self . As  Sankaracharya says- ‘It is obvious that the subject and the object — that is, the Self  and the Not-Self, which are as different as darkness and light are — cannot be identified with each other.
The Self is  different from the body , mind  and intellect.
The self  alone persists under all circumstances and is beyond  Space & Time .
However , the self   is conditioned  in  its  manifestation in the empirical  world.We shall see the different aspect of  the conditioning of the  Self later.
 Method of Vedanta - Brief Introduction 
Recognition of a continuous I without a vritti is  possible only if there is a constant consciousness other than the momentary consciousness of the mind, a constant I that exists even when the mind is absorbed  in thoughts relating to an external occurrence and is, therefore, not in a position to  entertain an ahamartha vritti. 
 To understand this Unchanging Consciousness as an object is  not possible , it being the subject.
‘You  cannot  know  the knower  of knowledge’- Br.Up.3-4-2
 ‘When  the  false identification of  the non-self is  removed , the intrinsic nature of Self  alone remains. This  is what is  meant  by saying  the Atman is known.
Vedanta , hence , reaches out to this understanding through a  process of  negation. However , there is one positive  method - as an ‘relationless relationship’ between the substratum and the  superimposition ( Adhishtana  and Adhyasa )
The method of  negation involves analysis of  the Three States (Avasthaa Trayaa) or the Five  sheaths  (Pancha Kosha ).This  analysis stand above all philosophical  exercises including  Speculative  philosophies.  Further, the analysis singularly reinforces the Concept of the  Self  in Indian Philosophical systems.
Fundamentals of vedAnta - Introduction
vedAnta Fundamentals: What vedAnta offers the world
The Complete Vedanta Page- An important Article
Fundamentals of Vedanta Philosophy
Shiva and his meaning

Meaning Of Shiva
             The terms Siva or Sankara mean Auspicious. Sam means Chitaananda (Blissful Awareness). Kara means the one who causes it. Sankara means the One who causes blissful awareness. Sankara is the One who confers Chitaananda on those who take refuge in Him or adore Him.
               The secret of Creation is evident from the description of the form of Siva. The crescent moon on Sivas head symbolizes the consciousness in human beings, the Ganga symbolizes the Life Force and the snakes on Sivas body represent the myriad of living beings. He resides on a silver mountain. His dearest friend is Kubera, the Lord of Wealth. Despite being endowed with all these, why was He obliged to carry the begging bowl? To demonstrate to the world that every kind of wealth is a hindrance to spiritual advancement, Siva renounced everything. It is through renunciation Siva became the eternal embodiment of supreme bliss.
                  Iswara is also symbolized in the Linga Form, Lings is derived from the Sanskrit root, Li, means Leeyathe, 'merges'; it is the form in which all forms merge. Siva is the goal who blesses beings with the most desirable gift of meaning in the universe. That is the end, the death, which one should strive for, the end which Siva can vouch-safe.
                   Siva means, graciousness; auspiciousness; Mangalam. He is all graciousness, ever auspicious, Sarva Mangalam. That is the reason why the epithet, Sri, which indicates these qualities, is not added to the name Siva, Sankara, lsvara etc. It is added to the number of Avatars, for they have taken on perishable bodies for a specific purpose. They have to be distinguished from other humans, by the epithet, Siva is eternally gracious, auspicious, mangala and so the epithet is superfluous. Siva is adored as the teacher of teachers, Dakshinamurti. The form of Siva is itself a great lesson in tolerance and forbearance.
                        The Lord has another name. It is only when the love principle underlying this name is rightly understood, the real form of the Cosmos can be recognized. That name is Saambasiva.Saa means divinity. Amba refers to the cosmos. Siva means the Supreme person (Purusha).
                Easwara has yet another name: Yogasikha. The sky is His blue form. The directions (Dik) are His garment. Hence He is known as Digambara. He is also known as Panchaanana - the Five-headed One. The five are: Earth, water, fire and aakaasa (space). His five heads represent the five basic elements (panchabhuthas). Siva is also described asBhuthanaatha - the Lord of all created beings. Bhutha refers to creation. Easwara is the Lord of every creature in the universe. Hence, the entire cosmos is reflected as an image in the Lord. Siva is known as Subhankara- the one who is ever good (Subham).
                 The three eyes of Siva represent the three worlds (lokas). Siva's trident is symbolic of the Past, the Present, and the Future, the three aspects of Time. The three gunas (Satwa, Rajas, Thamas) are images of the Trinity - Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. The three worlds, the triune aspect of Time, the three gunas (qualities) are the manifestations of the Easwara Principle.
                           It is for the well-being of the world that Siva swallowed the Halahala poison. Again, it is for the sake of the worlds good that Siva contained the Ganga in His matted locks. Siva bears the moon on His head to confer peace of mind on mankind. When man moulds himself on the pattern of Easwara, he will get rid of all his evil tendencies and offer to the world what is good in him. That is the meaning of the worship of Siva. It is only when man gives up utterly his bad thoughts, evil desires and wicked deeds, he will be able to transform himself into divinity.

           Lord Shiva represents the aspect of the Supreme Being (Brahman of the Upanishads) that continuously dissolves to recreate in the cyclic process of creation, preservation, dissolution and recreation of the universe. As stated earlier, Lord Shiva is the third member of the Hindu Trinity, the other two being Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu.
Owing to His cosmic activity of dissolution and recreation, the words destroyer and destruction have been erroneously associated with Lord Shiva. This difficulty arises when people fail to grasp the true significance of His cosmic role. The creation sustains itself by a delicate balance between the opposing forces of good and evil. When this balance is disturbed and sustenance of life becomes impossible, Lord Shiva dissolves the universe for creation of the next cycle so that the unliberated souls will have another opportunity to liberate themselves from bondage with the physical world. Thus, Lord Shiva protects the souls from pain and suffering that would be caused by a dysfunctional universe. In analogous cyclic processes, winter is essential for spring to appear and the night is necessary for the morning to follow. To further illustrate, a goldsmith does not destroy gold when he melts old irreparable golden jewelry to create beautiful new ornaments.
Lord Shiva is the Lord of mercy and compassion. He protects devotees from evil forces such as lust, greed, and anger. He grants boons, bestows grace and awakens wisdom in His devotees. The symbolism discussed below includes major symbols that are common to all pictures and images of Shiva venerated by Hindus. Since the tasks of Lord Shiva are numerous, He cannot be symbolized in one form. For this reason the images of Shiva vary significantly in their symbolism.
The unclad body covered with ashes: the unclad body symbolizes the transcendental aspect of the Lord. Since most things reduce to ashes when burned, ashes symbolize the physical universe. The ashes on the unclad body of the Lord signify that Shiva is the source of the entire universe which emanates from Him, but He transcends the physical phenomena and is not affected by it.
Matted locks: Lord Shiva is the Master of yoga. The three matted locks on the head of the Lord convey the idea that integration of the physical, mental and spiritual energies is the ideal of yoga.
Ganga: Ganga (river Ganges) is associated with Hindu mythology and is the most sacred river of Hindus. According to tradition, one who bathes in Ganga (revered as Mother Ganga) in accordance with traditional rites and ceremonies on religious occasions in combination with certain astrological events, is freed from sin and attains knowledge, purity and peace. Ganga, symbolically represented on the head of the Lord by a female (Mother Ganga) with a jet of water emanating from her mouth and falling on the ground, signifies that the Lord destroys sin, removes ignorance, and bestows knowledge, purity and peace on the devotees.
The crescent moon: is shown on the side of the Lord's head as an ornament, and not as an integral part of His countenance. The waxing and waning phenomenon of the moon symbolizes the time cycle through which creation evolves from the beginning to the end. Since the Lord is the Eternal Reality, He is beyond time. Thus, the crescent moon is only one of His ornaments, and not an integral part of Him.
Three eyes: Lord Shiva, also called Tryambaka Deva (literally, "three-eyed Lord"), is depicted as having three eyes: the sun is His right eye, the moon the left eye and fire the third eye. The two eyes on the right and left indicate His activity in the physical world. The third eye in the center of the forehead symbolizes spiritual knowledge and power, and is thus called the eye of wisdom or knowledge. Like fire, the powerful gaze of Shiva's third eye annihilates evil, and thus the evil-doers fear His third eye.
Half-open eyes: when the Lord opens His eyes, a new cycle of creation emerges and when He closes them, the universe dissolves for creation of the next cycle. The half-open eyes convey the idea that creation is going through cyclic process, with no beginning and no end. Lord Shiva is the Master of Yoga, as He uses His yogic power to project the universe from Himself. The half-open eyes also symbolize His yogic posture.
Kundalas (two ear rings): two Kundalas, Alakshya (meaning "which cannot be shown by any sign") and Niranjan (meaning "which cannot be seen by mortal eyes") in the ears of the Lord signify that He is beyond ordinary perception. Since the kundala in the left ear of the Lord is of the type used by women and the one in His right ear is of the type used by men, these Kundalas also symbolize the Shiva and Shakti (male and female) principle of creation.
Snake around the neck: sages have used snakes to symbolize the yogic power of Lord Shiva with which He dissolves and recreates the universe. Like a yogi, a snake hoards nothing, carries nothing, builds nothing, lives on air alone for a long time, and lives in mountains and forests. The venom of a snake, therefore, symbolizes the yogic power.
A snake (Vasuki Naga): is shown curled three times around the neck of the Lord and is looking towards His right side. The three coils of the snake symbolize the past, present and future - time in cycles. The Lord wearing the curled snake like an ornament signifies that creation proceeds in cycles and is time dependent, but the Lord Himself transcends time. The right side of the body symbolizes the human activities based upon knowledge, reason and logic. The snake looking towards the right side of the Lord signifies that the Lord's eternal laws of reason and justice preserve natural order in the universe.
Rudraksha necklace: Rudra is another name of Shiva. Rudra also means "strict or uncompromising" and aksha means "eye." Rudraksha necklace worn by the Lord illustrates that He uses His cosmic laws firmly - without compromise - to maintain law and order in the universe. The necklace has 108 beads which symbolize the elements used in the creation of the world.
Varda Mudra: the Lord's right hand is shown in a boon- bestowing and blessing pose. As stated earlier, Lord Shiva annihilates evil, grants boons, bestows grace, destroys ignorance, and awakens wisdom in His devotees.
Trident (Trisula): a three-pronged trident shown adjacent to the Lord symbolizes His three fundamental powers (shakti) of will (iccha), action (kriya) and knowledge (jnana). The trident also symbolizes the Lord's power to destroy evil and ignorance.
Damaru (drum): a small drum with two sides separated from each other by a thin neck-like structure symbolizes the two utterly dissimilar states of existence, unmanifest and manifest. When a damaru is vibrated, it produces dissimilar sounds which are fused together by resonance to create one sound. The sound thus produced symbolizes Nada, the cosmic sound of AUM, which can be heard during deep meditation. According to Hindu scriptures, Nada is the source of creation.
Kamandalu: a water pot (Kamandalu) made from a dry pumpkin contains nectar and is shown on the ground next to Shiva. The process of making Kamandalu has deep spiritual significance. A ripe pumpkin is plucked from a plant, its fruit is removed and the shell is cleaned for containing the nectar. In the same way, an individual must break away from attachment to the physical world and clean his inner self of egoistic desires in order to experience the bliss of the Self, symbolized by the nectar in the Kamandalu.
Nandi: the bull is associated with Shiva and is said to be His vehicle. The bull symbolizes both power and ignorance. Lord Shiva's use of the bull as a vehicle conveys the idea that He removes ignorance and bestows power of wisdom on His devotees. The bull is called Vrisha in Sanskrit. Vrisha also means dharma (righteousness). Thus a bull shown next to Shiva also indicates that He is the etemal companion of righteousness.
Tiger skin: a tiger skin symbolizes potential energy. Lord Shiva, sitting on or wearing a tiger skin, illustrates the idea that He is the source of the creative energy that remains in potential form during the dissolution state of the universe. Of His own Divine Will, the Lord activates the potential form of the creative energy to project the universe in endless cycles.
Cremation ground: Shiva sitting in the cremation ground signifies that He is the controller of death in the physical world. Since birth and death are cyclic, controlling one implies controlling the other. Thus, Lord Shiva is revered as the ultimate controller of birth and death in the phenomenal world.

The Six Systems of Hindu Philosophy

Theoria and Praxis
Throughout its long and largely unrecorded history, Indian thought preserved its central concern with ontology and epistemology, with noetic psychology as the indispensable bridge between metaphysics and ethics, employing introspection and self-testing as well as logical tools, continually confronting the instruments of cognition with the fruits of contemplation. Through its immemorial oral teachings and a vast variety of written texts, the fusion of theoria and praxis, theory and practice, was never sacrificed to the demands of academic specialization or the compartmentalization of human endeavor. Diverse schools of thought shared the conviction that true understanding must flow from the repeated application of received truths. Coming to know is a dynamic, dialectical process in which thought stimulates contemplation and regulates conduct, and in turn is refined by them. Although an individual who would be healthy and whole thinks, feels and acts, gnosis necessarily involves the fusion of thought, will and feeling, resulting in metanoia, a radically altered state of being. The Pythagorean conception of a philosopher as a lover of wisdom is close to the standpoint of an earnest seeker of truth in the Indian tradition.
Indian thought did not suffer the traumatic cognitive disruption caused by the emergence of ecclesiastical Christianity in the Mediterranean world, where an excessive concern with specification of rigid belief, sanctioned and safeguarded by an institutional conception of religious authority and censorship, sundered thought and action to such an extent that it became common to think one way and act in another with seeming impunity. The chasms which opened up between thought, will and feeling provided fertile soil for every kind of psychopathology, in part because such a fragmentation of the human being engenders inversions, obsessions and even perversities, and also in part because for a thousand years it has been virtually impossible to hold up a credible paradigm of the whole and healthy human being. The philosophical quest became obscured in the modern West by the linear succession of schools, each resulting from a violent reaction to its predecessors, each claiming to possess the Truth more or less exclusively, and often insisting upon the sole validity of its method of proceeding. The slavish concern with academic respectability and the fear of anathemization resulted in the increasing alienation of thought from being, of cognition from conduct, and philosophical disputation from the problems of daily life.
Indian thought did not spurn the accumulated wisdom of its ancients in favour of current fashions and did not experience a violent disruption of its traditional hospitality to multiple standpoints. The so-called astika or orthodox schools found no difficulty in combining their veneration of the Vedic hymns with a wide and diverse range of views, and even the nastika or heterodox schools, which repudiated the canonical “authority” of the Vedas, retained much of Vedic and Upanishadic metaphysics and almost the whole of their psychology and ethics. Indian philosophical schools could not see themselves as exclusive bearers of the total Truth. They emerged together from a long-standing and continuous effort to enhance our common understanding of God, Man and Nature, and they came to be considered as darshanas or paradigmatic standpoints shedding light from different angles on noumenal and phenomenal realities. They refrained from claiming that any illumination which can be rendered in words–or even in thoughts–can be either final or complete.
The Six Schools
“It may be pointed out here that a system of philosophy however lofty and true it may be should not be expected to give us an absolutely correct picture of the transcendent truths as they really exist. Because philosophy works through the medium of the intellect and the intellect has its inherent limitations, it cannot understand or formulate truths which are beyond its scope…. We have to accept these limitations when we use the intellect as an instrument for understanding and discovering these truths in the initial stages. It is no use throwing away this instrument, poor and imperfect though it is, because it gives us at least some help in organizing our effort to know the truth in the only way it can be known–by Self-realization.” (I. K. Taimni)
The ageless and dateless Vedas, especially the exalted hymns of the Rig Veda, have long been esteemed as the direct expression of what gods and divine seers, rishis or immortal sages, saw when they peered into the imperishable center of Being which is also the origin of the entire cosmos. The Upanishads (from upani and sad, meaning “to sit down near” a sage or guru), included in the Vedas, constitute the highest transmission of the fruits of illumination attained by these rishis. Often cast in the form of memorable dialogues between spiritual teachers and disciples, they represent rich glimpses of truth, not pieced together from disparate intellectual insights, but as they are at once revealed to the divine eye, divya chakshu, which looks into the core of Reality, freely intimated in idioms, metaphors and mantras suited to the awakening consciousness and spiritual potentials of diverse disciples. However divergent their modes of expression, they are all addressed to those who are ready to learn, willing to meditate deeply, and seek greater self-knowledge through intensive self-questioning. The Upanishads do not purport to provide discursive knowledge, conceptual clarification or speculative dogmas, but rather focus on the fundamental themes which concern the soul as a calm spectator of the temporal succession of states of mind from birth to death, seeking for what is essential amidst the ephemeral, the enduring within the transient, the abiding universals behind the flux of fleeting appearances.
From this standpoint, they are truly therapeutic in that they heal the sickness of the soul caused by passivity, ignorance and delusion. This ignorance is not that of the malformed or malfunctioning personality, maimed by childhood traumas or habitual vices. It is the more fundamental ignorance (avidya) of the adroit and well-adapted person who has learnt to cope with the demands of living and fulfil his duties in the world at a certain level without however, coming to terms with the causes of his longings and limitations, his dreams and discontinuities, his entrenched expectations and his hidden potentials. The sages spoke to those who had a measure of integrity and honesty and were willing to examine their presuppositions, but lacked the fuller vision and deeper wisdom that require a sustained search and systematic meditation. For such an undertaking, mental clarity, moral sensitivity, relaxed self-control and spiritual courage are needed, as well as a willingness to withdraw for a period from worldly concerns. The therapeutics of self-transcendence is rooted in a recondite psychology which accommodates the vast spectrum of self-consciousness, different levels of cognition and degrees of development, reaching up to the highest conceivable self-enlightenment.
Upanishadic thought presupposed the concrete and not merely conceptual continuity of God, Nature and Man. Furthermore, Man is the self-conscious microcosm of the macrocosm, where the part is not only inseparably one with the whole but also reflects and resonates with it. Man could neither be contemplated properly nor fully comprehended in any context less than the entirety of visible and invisible Nature, and so too, ethics, logic and psychology could not be sundered from metaphysics. “Is,” the way things are, is vitally linked to “must,” the ways things must be, as well as to “ought,” the way human beings should think and act, through “can,” the active exploration of human potentialities and possibilities, which are not different, save in scope and degree, from cosmic potencies. A truly noetic psychology bridges metaphysics and ethics through a conscious mirroring of rita, ordered cosmic harmony, in dharma, righteous human conduct that freely acknowledges what is due to each and every aspect of Nature, including all humanity, past, present and future.
The ancient sages resolved the One-many problem at the mystical, psychological, ethical and social levels by affirming the radical metaphysical and spiritual unity of all life, whilst fully recognizing (and refusing to diminish through any form of reductionism) the immense diversity of human types and the progressive awakenings of human consciousness at different stages of material evolution and spiritual involution. The immemorial pilgrimage of humanity can be both universally celebrated and act as a constant stimulus to individual growth. Truth, like the sun shining over the summits of a Himalayan range, is one, and the pathways to it are as many and varied as there are people to tread them.
As if emulating the sculptor’s six perspectives to render accurately any specific form in space, ancient Indian thinkers stressed six darshanas, which are sometimes called the six schools of philosophy. These are astika or orthodox in that they all find inspiration in different ways in the Vedas. And like the sculptor’s triple set of perspectives–front-back, left side-right side, top-bottom–the six darshanas have been seen as three complementarities, polarized directions that together mark the trajectory of laser light through the unfathomable reaches of ineffable wisdom. Each standpoint has its integrity and coherence in that it demands nothing less than the deliberate and radical reconstitution of consciousness from its unregenerate and unthinking modes of passive acceptance of the world. Yet none can claim absoluteness, finality or infallibility, for such asseverations would imply that limited conceptions and discursive thought can capture ultimate Reality. Rather, each darshana points with unerring accuracy towards that cognition which can be gained only by complete assimilation, practical self-transformation and absorption into it. At the least, every darshana corresponds with a familiar state of mind of the seeker, a legitimate and verifiable mode of cognition which makes sense of the world and the self at some level.
All genuine seekers are free to adopt any one or more of the darshanas at any time and even to defend their chosen standpoint against the others but they must concede the possibility of synthesizing and transcending the six standpoints in a seventh mode which culminates in taraka, transcendental, self-luminous gnosis, the goal of complete enlightenment often associated with the secret, incommunicable way of buddhiyoga intimated in the fourth, seventh and eighteenth chapters of the Bhagavad Gita.
Although scholars have speculated on the sequential emergence of the darshanas, and though patterns of interplay can be discerned in their full flowering, their roots lie in the ancient texts and they arise together as distinctive standpoints. It has also been held that the six schools grew out of sixty-two systems of thought lost in the mists of antiquity. At any rate, it is generally agreed that each of the later six schools was inspired by a sage and teacher who struck the keynote which has reverberated throughout its growths refinement and elaboration. As the six schools are complementary to each other, they are traditionally viewed as the six branches of a single tree. All six provide a theoretical explanation of ultimate Reality and a practical means of emancipation. The oldest are Yoga and Sankhya, the next being Vaishesika and Nyaya, and the last pair are Purva Mimansa and Vedanta (sometimes called Uttara Mimansa). The founders of these schools are considered to be Patanjali of Yoga, Kapila of Sankhya, Kanada of Vaishesika, Gautama of Nyaya, Jaimini of Purva Mimansa and Vyasa of Vedanta, though the last is also assigned to Badarayana. All of them propounded the tenets of their philosophical systems or schools in the form of short sutras, whose elucidation required and stimulated elaborate commentaries. Since about 200 C.E., a vast crop of secondary works has emerged which has generated some significant discussions as well as a welter of scholastic disputation and didactic controversies, moving far away from praxis into the forests of theoria, or reducing praxis to rigid codes and theoria to sterile formulas. At the same time, there has remained a remarkable vitality to most of these schools, owing to their transmission by long lineages which have included many extraordinary teachers and exemplars. This cannot be recovered merely through the study of texts, however systematic and rigorous, in a philosophical tradition which is essentially oral, even though exceptional powers of accurate recall have been displayed in regard to the texts.
Nyaya and Vaishesika
Nyaya and Vaishesika are schools primarily concerned with analytic approaches to the objects of knowledge, using carefully tested principles of logic. The word nyaya suggests that by which the mind reaches a conclusion, and since the word also means “right” or “just,” Nyaya is the science of correct thinking. The founder of this school, Gautama, lived about 150 B.C.E., and its source-book is the Nyaya Sutra. Whilst knowledge requires an object, a knowing subject and a state of knowing, the validity of cognition depends upon pramana, the means of cognition. There are four acceptable pramanas, of which pratyaksha–direct perception or intuition–is most important. Perception requires the mind, manas, to mediate between the self and the senses, and perception may be determinate or indeterminate. Determinate perception reveals the class to which an object of knowledge belongs, its specific qualities and the union of the two. Indeterminate perception is simple apprehension without regard to genus or qualities. In the Nyaya school, indeterminate perception is not knowledge but rather its prerequisite and starting-point.
Anumana or inference is the second pramana or means of cognition. It involves a fivefold syllogism which includes a universal statement, an illustrative example and an application to the instance at hand. Upamana is the apt use of analogy, in which the similarities which make the analogy come alive are essential and not superficial. Shabda, sound or verbal expression, is the credible testimony of authority, which requires not uncritical acceptance but the thoughtful consideration of words, meanings and the modes of reference. As the analytic structure of Nyaya logic suggests, its basic approach to reality is atomistic, and so the test of claims of truth is often effectiveness in application, especially in the realm of action. Typically, logical discussion of a proposition takes the form of a syllogism with five parts: the proposition (pratijna) the cause (hetu), the exemplification (drishtanta), the recapitulation (upanaya) and the conclusion (nigamana).
However divergent their views on metaphysics and ethics, all schools accept and use Nyaya canons of sound reasoning. A thorough training in logic is required not only in all philosophical reasoning, exposition and disputation, but it is also needed by those who seek to stress mastery of praxis over a lifetime and thereby become spiritual exemplars. This at once conveys the enormous strength of an immemorial tradition as well as the pitiable deficiencies of most professors and pundits, let alone the self-styled so-called exoteric gurus of the contemporary East. Neither thaumaturgic wonders nor mass hypnosis can compensate for mental muddles and shallow thinking; indeed, they become insuperable obstacles to even a good measure of gnosis and noetic theurgy, let alone authentic enlightenment and self-mastery.
The Vaishesika school complements Nyaya in its distinct pluralism. Its founder, Kanada, also known as Kanabhaksha, lived around 200 C.E., and its chief work is the Vaishesika Sutra. Its emphasis on particulars is reflected in its name, since vishesha means “particularity,” and it is concerned with properly delineating the categories of objects of experience. These objects of experience, padarthas, are six: substance (dravya), quality (guna), and karma or movement and activity (forming the triplicity of objective existence), and generality (samanya), particularity (vishesha) and samavayi or inherence (forming a triad of modes of intellectual discernment which require valid logical inference). A seventh object of experience, non-existence (shunya), was eventually added to the six as a strictly logical necessity. The Vaishesika point of view recognizes nine irreducible substances: earth, water, air, fire, aether (akasha), time, space, self and mind, all of which are distinct from the qualities which inhere in them. The self is necessarily a substance–a substrate of qualities–because consciousness cannot be a property of the physical body, the sense-organs or the brain-mind. Although the self as a substance must be everywhere pervasive, its everyday capacity for feeling, willing and knowing is focussed in the bodily organism.
Since the self experiences the consequences of its own deeds, there is, according to Vaishesika, a plurality of souls, each of which has its vishesha, individuality or particularity. What we experience is made up of parts, and is non-eternal, but the ultimate components–atoms–are eternal. Individuality is formed by imperceptible souls and certain atoms, which engender the organ of thought. At certain times, during immense cosmogonic cycles, nothing is visible, as both souls and atoms are asleep, but when a new cycle of creation begins, these souls reunite with certain atoms. Gautama asserted that even during incarnated existence, emancipation may be attained through ascetic detachment and the highest stages of contemplative absorption or samadhi. Though the Vaishesika school wedded an atomistic standpoint to a strict atheism, over time thinkers accepted a rationalistic concept of Deity as a prime mover in the universe, a philosophical requisite acceptable to Nyaya. The two schools or systems were combined by Kusumanjali of Udayana about 900 C.E. in his proof of the existence of God. Since then, both schools have been theistic. The Jains claim early parentage for the Vaishesika system, and this merely illustrates what is very common in the Indian tradition, that innovators like Gautama and Kanada were reformulating an already ancient school rather than starting de novo.
Purge Mimansa
The Purva Mimansa of Jaimini took as its point of departure neither knowledge nor the objects of experience, but dharma, duty, as enjoined in the Vedas and Upanishads. As the accredited sources of dharma, these sacred texts are not the promulgations of some deity who condescended to step into time and set down principles of correct conduct. Rather, the wisdom in such texts is eternal and uncreate, and true rishis have always been able to see them and to translate that clear vision into mantric sounds and memorable utterances. Hence Mimansa consecrates the mind to penetrating the words which constitute this sacred transmission. Central to the Mimansa school is the theory of self-evidence–svata pramana: truth is its own guarantee and the consecrated practice of faith provides its own validation. Repeated testings will yield correct results by exposing discrepancies and validating real cognitions. There is a recognizable consensus amidst the independent visions of great seers, and each individual must recognize or rediscover this consensus by proper use and concentrated enactment of mantras and hymns. Every sound in the fifty-two letters of Sanskrit has a cosmogonic significance and a theurgic effect. Inspired mantras are exact mathematical combinations of sounds which emanate potent vibrations that can transform the magnetic sphere around the individual as well as the magnetosphere of the earth. Self-testing without self-deception can become a sacred activity, which is sui generis.
From the Mimansa perspective, every act is necessarily connected to perceptible results. One might say that the effects are inherent in the act, just as the fruit of the tree is in the seed which grew and blossomed. There is no ontological difference between act and result, for the apparent gap between them is merely the consequence of the operation of time. Since the fruit of a deed may not follow immediately upon the act, or even manifest in the same lifetime, the necessary connection between act and result takes the form of apurva, an unseen force which is the unbreakable link between them. This testable postulate gives significance to the concept of dharma in all its meanings–“duty,” “path,” “teaching,” “religion,” “natural law,” “righteousness,” “accordance with cosmic harmony”–but it cannot by itself secure complete liberation from conditioned existence. Social duties are important, but spiritual duties are even more crucial, and the saying “To thine own self be true” has an array of meanings reaching up to the highest demands of soul-tendance. In the continual effort to work off past karma and generate good karma, there is unavoidable tension between different duties, social and spiritual. The best actions, paradigmatically illustrated in Vedic invocations and rituals, lead to exalted conditions, even to some heavenly condition or blissful state. Nonetheless, as the various darshanas interacted and exchanged insights, Mimansa came to consider the highest action as resulting in a cessation of advances and retreats on the field of merit, whereby dharma and adharma were swallowed up in a sublime and transcendental state of unbroken awareness of the divine.
In striving to penetrate the deepest arcane meaning of the sacred texts, Mimansa thinkers accepted the four pramanas or modes of knowledge set forth in Nyaya, and added two others: arthapatti or postulation, and abhava or negation and non-existence. They did this in part because, given their view of the unqualified eternality of the Vedas, they held that all cognition is valid at some level and to some degree. There can be no false knowledge; whatever is known is necessarily true. As a consequence, they saw no reason to prove the truth of any cognition. Rather, they sought to demonstrate its falsity, for if disproof were successful, it would show that there had been no cognition at all. The promise of gnosis rests upon the sovereign method of falsifiability rather than a vain attempt to seek total verification in a public sense. Shifting the onus of proof in this way can accommodate the uncreate Vedas, which are indubitably true and which constitute the gold standard against which all other claims to truth are measured. Mimansa rests upon the presupposition of the supremacy of Divine Wisdom, the sovereignty of the Revealed Word and the possibility of its repeated realization. Even among those who cannot accept the liturgical or revelatory validity and adequacy of the Vedas, the logic of disproof can find powerful and even rigorous application. As a method, it became important to the philosophers of Vedanta.
Vedanta (Uttara Mimansa)
Vedanta, meaning “the end or goal of the Vedas,” sometimes also called Uttara Mimansa, addresses the spiritual and philosophical themes of the Upanishads, which are considered to complete and form the essence of the Vedas. Badarayana’s magisterial Brahma Sutras ordered the Upanishadic Teachings in a logically coherent sequence which considers the nature of the supreme brahman, the ultimate Reality, and the question of the embodiment of the unconditioned Self. Each of the five hundred and fifty-five sutras (literally, “threads”) are extremely short and aphoristic, requiring a copious commentary to be understood. In explaining their meaning, various commentators presented Vedantic doctrines in different ways. Shankaracharya, the chief of the commentators and perhaps the greatest philosopher in the Indian tradition, espoused the advaita, non-dual, form of Vedanta, the purest form of monism, which has never been excelled. He asked whether in human experience there is anything which is impervious to doubt. Noting that every object of cognition–whether dependent on the senses, the memory or pure conceptualization–can be doubted, he recognized in the doubter that which is beyond doubt of any kind. Even if one reduces all claims to mere avowals–bare assertions about what one seems to experience–there nonetheless remains that which avows. It is proof of itself, because nothing can disprove it. In this, it is also different from everything else, and this difference is indicated by the distinction between subject and object. The experiencing Self is subject; what it experiences is an object. Unlike objects, nothing can affect it: it is immutable and immortal.
For Shankara, this Self (atman) is sat-chit-ananda, being or existence, consciousness or cognition, and unqualified bliss. If there were no world, there would be no objects of experience, and so although the world as it is experienced is not ultimately real, it is neither abhava, non-existent, nor shunya, void. Ignorance is the result of confusing atman, the unconditioned subject, with anatman, the external world. From the standpoint of the cosmos, the world is subject to space, time and causality, but since these categories arise from nascent experience, they are inherently inadequate save to point beyond themselves to the absolute, immutable, self-identical brahman, which is absolute Being (sat). Atman is brahman, for the immutable singularity of the absolute subject, the Self, is not merely isomorphic, but radically identical with the transcendent singularity of the ultimate Reality. Individuals who have yet to realize this fundamental truth, which is in fact the whole Truth, impose out of ignorance various attitudes and conceptions on the world, like the man who mistakes an old piece of rope discarded on the trail for a poisonous serpent. He reacts to the serpent, but his responses are inappropriate and cause him to suffer unnecessarily, because there is no serpent on the trail to threaten him. Nonetheless, the rope is there. For Shankara, the noumenal world is real, and when a person realizes its true nature, gaining wisdom thereby, his responses will be appropriate and cease to cause suffering. He will realize that he is the atman and that the atman is brahman.
Although brahman is ultimately nirguna, without qualities, the aspirant to supreme knowledge begins by recognizing that the highest expression of brahman to the finite mind is Ishvara, which is saguna brahman, Supreme Reality conceived through the modes of pure logic. Taking Ishvara, which points beyond itself to That (Tat), as his goal and paradigm, the individual assimilates himself to Ishvara through the triple path of ethics, knowledge and devotion–the karma, jnana and bhakti yogas of the Bhagavad Gita–until moksha, emancipation and self-realization, is attained. For Shankara, moksha is not the disappearance of the world but the dissolution of avidya, ignorance.
Ramanuja, who lived much later than Shankara, adopted a qualified non-dualism, Vishishtadvaita Vedanta, by holding that the supreme brahman manifests as selves and matter. For him, both are dependent on brahman, and so selves, not being identical with the Ultimate, always retain their separate identity. As a consequence, they are dependent on brahman, and that dependency expresses itself self-consciously as bhakti or devotion. In this context, however, the dependence which is manifest as bhakti is absurd unless brahman is thought to be personal in some degree, and so brahman cannot be undifferentiated. Emancipation or freedom is not union with the divine, but rather the irreversible and unwavering intuition of Deity. The Self is not identical with brahman, but its true nature is this intuition, which is freedom. Faith that brahman exists is sufficient and individual souls are parts of brahman, who is the creator of universes. Yet brahman does not create anything new; what so appears is merely a modification of the subtle and the invisible to the gross which we can see and sense. Because we can commune with this God by prayer, devotion and faith, there is the possibility of human redemption from ignorance and delusion. The individual is not effaced when he is redeemed; he maintains his self-identity and enjoys the fruits of his faith.
About a century and a half after Ramanuja, Madhava promulgated a dualistic (dvaita) Vedanta, in which he taught that brahman, selves and the world are separate and eternal, even though the latter two depend forever upon the first. From this standpoint, brahman directs the world, since all else is dependent, and is therefore both transcendent and immanent. As that which can free the self, brahman is identified with Vishnu. Whereas the ultimate Reality or brahman is neither independent (svatantra) nor dependent (paratantra), God or Vishnu is independent, whereas souls and matter are dependent. God did not cause the cosmos but is part of it, and by his presence keeps it in motion. Individual souls are dependent on brahman but are also active agents with responsibilities which require the recognition of the omnipresence and omnipotence of God. For the individual self, there exists either the bondage which results from ignorance and the karma produced through acting ignorantly, or release effected through the adoration, worship and service of Deity. The self is free when its devotion is pure and perpetual. Although the later forms of Vedanta lower the sights of human potentiality from the lofty goal of universal self-consciousness and conscious immortality taught by Shankaracharya, they all recognize the essential difference between bondage and freedom. The one is productive of suffering and the other offers emancipation from it. But whereas for Shankara the means of emancipation is wisdom (jnana) as the basis of devotion (bhakti) and nishkama karma or disinterested action, the separation between atman and brahman is crucial for Ramanuja and necessitates total bhakti, whilst for Madhava there are five distinctions within his dualism–between God and soul, God and matter, soul and matter, one form of matter and another, and especially between one soul and another–thus requiring from all souls total obeisance to the omnipresent and omnipotent God.
Suffering is the starting point of the Sankhya darshana which provides the general conceptual framework of Yoga philosophy. Patanjali set out the Taraka Raja Yoga system, linking transcendental and self-luminous wisdom (taraka) with the alchemy of mental transformation, and like the exponents of other schools, he borrowed those concepts and insights which could best delineate his perspective. Since he found Sankhya metaphysics useful to understanding, like a sturdy boat used to cross a stream and then left behind when the opposite bank has been reached, many thinkers have traditionally presented Sankhya as the theory for which Yoga is the practice. This approach can aid understanding, providing one recognizes from the first and at all times that yoga is the path to metaconsciousness, for which no system of concepts and discursive reasoning, however erudite, rigorous and philosophical, is adequate. More than any other school or system, Yoga is essentially experiential, in the broadest, fullest and deepest meaning of that term.
The term “Sankhya” is ultimately derived from the Sanskrit root khya, meaning “to know,” and the prefix san, “exact.” Exact knowing is most adequately represented by Sankhya, “number,” and since the precision of numbers requires meticulous discernment, Sankhya is that darshana which involves a thorough discernment of reality and is expressed through the enumeration of diverse categories of existence. Philosophically, Sankhya is dualistic in its discernment of the Self (purusha) from the non-self (prakriti). In distinguishing sharply between purusha, Self or Spirit, on the one hand, and prakriti, non-self or matter, on the other, the Sankhya standpoint requires a rigorous redefinition of numerous terms used by various schools. Even though later Sankhya freely drew from the Vedic-Upanishadic storehouse of wisdom which intimates a rich variety of philosophical views, its earliest concern does not appear to have been philosophical in the sense of delineating a comprehensive conceptual scheme which describes and explains reality. Early Sankhya asked, “What is real?” and only later on added the question, “How does it all fit together?”
Enumerations of the categories of reality varied with individual thinkers and historical periods, but the standard classification of twenty-five tattvas or fundamental principles of reality is useful for a general understanding of the darshana. Simply stated, Sankhya holds that two radically distinct realities exist: purusha, which can be translated “Spirit,” “Self” or “pure consciousness,” and mulaprakriti, or “pre-cosmic matter,” “non-self” or “materiality.” Nothing can be predicated of purusha except as a corrective negation; no positive attribute, process or intention can be affirmed of it, though it is behind all the activity of the world. It might be called the Perceiver or the Witness, but, strictly speaking, no intentionality can be implied by these words, and so purusha cannot be conceived primarily as a knower. Mulaprakriti, however, can be understood as pure potential because it undergoes ceaseless transformation at several levels. Thus, of the twenty-five traditional tattvas, only these two are distinct. The remaining twenty-three are transformations or modifications of mulaprakriti. Purusha and mulaprakriti stand outside conceptual cognition, which arises within the flux of the other tattvas. They abide outside space and time, are simple, independent and inherently unchanging, and they have no relation to one another apart from their universal, simultaneous and mutual presence.
Mulaprakriti is characterized by three qualities or gunas: sattva or intelligent and noetic activity, rajas or passionate and compulsive activity, and tamas or ignorant and impotent lethargy, represented in the Upanishads by the colors white, red and black. If mulaprakriti were the only ultimate reality, its qualities would have forever remained in a homogeneous balance, without undergoing change, evolution or transformation. Since purusha is co-present with mulaprakriti, the symmetrical homogeneity of mulaprakriti was disturbed, and this broken symmetry resulted in a progressive differentiation which became the world of ordinary experience. True knowledge or pure cognition demands a return to that primordial stillness which marks the utter disentanglement of Self from non-self. The process which moved the gunas out of their perfect mutual balance cannot be described or even alluded to through analogies, in part because the process occurred outside space and time (and gave rise to them), and in part because no description of what initiated this universal transformation can be given in the language of logically subsequent and therefore necessarily less universal change. In other words, all transformation known to the intellect occurs in some context–minimally that of the intellect itself–whilst the primordial process of transformation occurred out of all context, save for the mere co-presence of purusha and mulaprakriti.
This imbalance gave rise, first of all, logically speaking, to mahat or buddhi. These terms refer to universal consciousness, primordial consciousness or intellect in the classical and neo-Platonic sense of the word. Mahat in turn gave rise to ahankara, the sense of “I” or egoity. (Ahankara literally means “I-making.”) Egoity as a principle or tattva generated a host of offspring or evolutes, the first of which was manas or mind, which is both the capacity for sensation and the mental ability to act, or intellectual volition. It also produced the five buddhindriyas or capacities for sensation: shrota (hearing), tvac (touching), chaksus (seeing), rasana (tasting) and ghrana (smelling). In addition to sensation, ahankara gave rise to their dynamic and material correlates, the five karmendriyas or capacities for action, and the five tanmatras or subtle elements. The five karmendriyas are vach (speaking), pani (grasping), pada (moving), payu (eliminating) and upastha (procreating), whilst the five tanmatras include shabda (sound), sparsha (touch), rupa (form), rasa (taste) and gandha (smell). The tanmatras are called “subtle” because they produce the mahabhutas or gross elements which can be perceived by ordinary human beings. They are akasha (aether or empirical space), vayu (air), tejas (fire, and by extension, light), ap (water) and prithivi (earth).
This seemingly elaborate system of the elements of existence (tattvas) is a rigorous attempt to reduce the kaleidoscope of reality to its simplest comprehensible components, without either engaging in a reductionism which explains away or denies what does not fit its classification, or falling prey to a facile monism which avoids a serious examination of visible and invisible Nature. Throughout the long history of Sankhya thought, enumerations have varied, but this general classification has held firm. Whilst some philosophers have suggested alternative orders of evolution, for instance, making the subtle elements give rise to the capacities for sensation and action, Ishvarakrishna expressed the classical consensus in offering this classification of twenty-five tattvas.
Once the fundamental enumeration was understood, Sankhya thinkers arranged the tattvas by sets to grasp more clearly their relationships to one another. At the most general level, purusha is neither generated nor generating, whilst mulaprakriti is ungenerated but generating. Buddhi, ahankara and the tanmatras are both generated and generating, and manas, the buddhindriyas, karmendriyas and mahabhutas are generated and do not generate anything in turn. In terms of their mutual relationships, one can speak of kinds of tattvas and indicate an order of dependence from the standpoint of the material world.
No matter how subtle and elaborate the analysis, however, one has at best described ways in which consciousness functions in prakriti, the material world. If one affirms that purusha and prakriti are radically and fundamentally separate, one cannot avoid the challenge which vexed Descartes: how can res cogitans, thinking substance, be in any way connected with res extensa, extended (material) substance? Sankhya avoided the most fundamental problem of Cartesian dualism by willingly admitting that there can be no connection, linkage or interaction between purusha and prakriti. Since consciousness is a fact, this exceptional claim involved a redefinition of consciousness itself. Consciousness is necessarily transcendent, unconnected with prakriti, and therefore it can have neither cognitive nor intuitive awareness, since those are activities which involve some center or egoity and surrounding field from which it separates itself or with which it identifies. Egoity or perspective requires some mode of action, and all action involves the gunas, which belong exclusively to prakriti. Consciousness, purusha, is mere presence, sakshitva, without action, dynamics or content. Awareness, chittavritti, is therefore a function of prakriti, even though it would not have come into being–any more than anything would have evolved or the gunas would have become unstable–without the universal presence of purusha. Thus it is said that purusha is unique in that it is neither generated nor generating, whereas all other tattvas are either generating, generated or both.
In this view, mind is material. Given its capacity for awareness, it can intuit the presence of purusha, but it is not that purusha. All mental functions are part of the complex activity of prakriti. Consciousness is bare subjectivity without a shadow of objective content, and it cannot be said to have goals, desires or intentions. Purusha can be said to exist (sat)–indeed, it necessarily exists–and its essential and sole specifiable nature is chit, consciousness. Unlike the Vedantin atman, however, it cannot also be said to be ananda, bliss, for purusha is the pure witness, sakshi, with no causal connection to or participation in prakriti. Yet it is necessary, for the gunas could not be said to be active save in the presence of some principle of sentience. Without purusha there could be no prakriti. This is not the simple idealistic and phenomenological standpoint summarized in Berkeley’s famous dictum, esse est percipi, “to be is to be perceived.” Rather, it is closer to the recognition grounded in Newtonian mechanics that, should the universe achieve a condition of total entropy, it could not be said to exist, for there would be no possibility of differentiation in it. Nor could its existence be denied. The presence of purusha, according to Sankhya, is as necessary as is its utter lack of content.
Given the distinction between unqualified, unmodified subjectivity as true or pure consciousness, and awareness, which is the qualified appearance of consciousness in the world, consciousness appears as what it cannot be. It appears to cause and initiate, but cannot do so, since purusha cannot be said to be active in any sense; it appears to entertain ideas and chains of thought, but it can in reality do neither. Rather, the action of the gunas appears as the activity of consciousness until the actual nature of consciousness is realized. The extreme break with previous understanding resulting from this realization–that consciousness has no content and that content is not conscious–is emancipation, the freeing of purusha from false bondage to prakriti. It is akin to the Vedantin realization of atman free of any taint of maya, and the Buddhist realization of shunyata. Philosophical conceptualization is incapable of describing this realization, for pure consciousness can only appear, even to the subtlest cognitive understanding, as nothing. For Sankhya, purusha is not nothing, but it is nothing that partakes of prakriti (which all awareness does).
Sankhya’s unusual distinction between consciousness and what are ordinarily considered its functions and contents implies an operational view of purusha. Even though no properties can be predicated of purusha, the mind or intellect intuits the necessity of consciousness behind it, as it were. That is, the mind becomes aware that it is not itself pure consciousness. Since this awareness arises in individual minds, purusha is recognized by one or another egoity. Without being able to attribute qualities to purusha, it must therefore be treated philosophically as a plurality. Hence it is said that there are literally innumerable purushas, none of which have any distinguishing characteristics. The Leibnizian law of the identity of indiscernibles cannot be applied to purusha, despite the philosophical temptation to do so, precisely because philosophy necessarily stops at the limit of prakriti. Purusha is outside space and time, and so is also beyond space-time identities. Since the minimum requirements of differentiation involve at least an indirect reference to either space or time, their negation in the concept of indiscernibility also involves such a reference, and cannot be applied to purusha. Even though Sankhya affirms a plurality of purushas, this stance is less the result of metaphysical certitude than of the limitations imposed by consistency of method. The plurality of purushas is the consequence of the limits of understanding.
Within the enormous and diverse history of Indian thought, the six darshanas viewed themselves and one another in two ways. Internally, each standpoint sought clarity, completeness and consistency without reference to other darshanas. Since, however, the darshanas were committed to the proposition that they were six separate and viable perspectives on the same reality, they readily drew upon one another’s insights and terminology and forged mutually dependent relationships. They were less concerned with declaring one another true or false than with understanding the value and limitations of each in respect to a complete realization of the ultimate and divine nature of things. Whilst some Western philosophers have pointed to the unprovable Indian presupposition that the heart of existence is divine, the darshanas reverse this standpoint by affirming that the core of reality is, almost definitionally, the only basis for thinking of the divine. In other words, reality is the criterion of the divine, and no other standard can make philosophical sense of the sacred, much less give it a practical place in human psychology and ethics. In their later developments, the darshanas strengthened their internal conceptual structures and ethical architectonics by taking one another’s positions as foils for self-clarification. Earlier developments were absorbed into later understanding and exposition. Historically, Sankhya assimilated and redefined much of what had originally belonged to Nyaya and Vaishesika, and even Mimansa, only to find much of its terminology and psychology incorporated into Vedanta, the most trenchantly philosophical of the darshanas. At the same time, later Sankhya borrowed freely from Vedantin philosophical concepts to rethink its own philosophical difficulties.
Despite Sankhya’s unique distinction between consciousness and awareness, which allowed it to preserve its fundamental dualism in the face of monistic arguments–and thereby avoid the metaphysical problems attending monistic views–it could not avoid one fundamental philosophical question: What is it to say that prakriti is dynamic because of the presence of purusha? To say that prakriti reflects the presence of purusha, or that purusha is reflected in prakriti, preserves a rigid distinction between the two, for neither an object reflected in a mirror nor the mirror is affected by the other. But Sankhya characterizes the ordinary human condition as one of suffering, which is the manifest expression of the condition of avidya, ignorance. This condition arises because purusha falsely identifies with prakriti and its evolutes. Liberation, mukti, is the result of viveka, discrimination, which is the highest knowledge. Even though viveka might be equated with pure perception as the sakshi or Witness, the process of attaining it suggests either an intention on the part of purusha or a response on the part of prakriti, if not both. How then can purusha be said to have no relation, including no passive relation, to prakriti? Even Ishvarakrishna’s enchanting metaphor of the dancer before the host of spectators does not answer the question, for there is a significant relationship between performer and audience.
Such questions are worthy of notice but are misplaced from the Sankhya standpoint. If philosophical understanding is inherently limited to the functions of the mind (which is an evolute of prakriti), it can encompass neither total awareness (purusha) nor the fact that both purusha and prakriti exist. This is the supreme and unanswerable mystery of Sankhya philosophy, the point at which Sankhya declares that questions must have an end. It is not, however, an unaskable or meaningless question. If its answer cannot be found in philosophy, that is because it is dissolved in mukti, freedom from ignorance, through perfect viveka, discrimination. In Sankhya as in Vedanta, philosophy ends where realization begins. Philosophy does not resolve the ultimate questions, even though it brings great clarity to cognition. Philosophy prepares, refines and orients the mind towards a significantly different activity, broadly called “meditation,” the rigorous cultivation of clarity of discrimination and concentrated, pellucid insight. The possibility of this is provided for by Sankhya metaphysics through its stress on the asymmetry between purusha and prakriti, despite their co-presence. Prakriti depends on purusha, but purusha is independent of everything; purusha is pure consciousness, whilst prakriti is unself-conscious. Prakriti continues to evolve because individual selves in it do not realize that they are really purusha and, therefore, can separate themselves from prakriti, whilst there can never be complete annihilation of everything or of primordial matter.
Whereas Yoga accepted the postulates of Sankhya and also utilized its categories and classifications, all these being in accord with the experiences of developed yogins, there are significant divergences between Yoga and Sankhya. The oldest Yoga could have been agnostic in the sense implicit in the Rig Veda Hymn to Creation, but Patanjali’s Yoga is distinctly theistic, diverging in this way from atheistic Sankhya. Whilst Sankhya is a speculative system, or at least a conceptual framework, Yoga is explicitly experiential and therefore linked to an established as well as evolving consensus among advanced yogins. This is both illustrated and reinforced by the fact that whereas Sankhya maps out the inner world of disciplined ideation in terms of thirteen evolutes–buddhi, ahankara, manas and the ten indriyas–Patanjali’s Yoga subsumes all these under chitta or consciousness, which is resilient, elastic and dynamic, including the known, the conceivable, the cosmic as well as the unknown. Whereas Sankhya is one of the most self-sufficient or closed systems, Yoga retains, as a term and in its philosophy, a conspicuously open texture which characterizes all Indian thought at its best. From the Vedic hymns to even contemporary discourse, it is always open-ended in reference to cosmic and human evolution, degrees of adeptship and levels of initiatory illumination. It is ever seeing, reaching and aspiring, beyond the boundaries of the highest thought, volition and feeling; beyond worlds and rationalist systems and doctrinaire theologies; beyond the limits of inspired utterance as well as all languages and all possible modes of creative expression. Philosophy and mathematics, poetry and myth, idea and icon, are all invaluable aids to the image-making faculty, but they all must point beyond themselves, whilst they coalesce and collapse in the unfathomable depths of the Ineffable, before which the best minds and hearts must whisper neti neti, “not this, not that.” There is only the Soundless Sound, the ceaseless AUM in Boundless Space and Eternal Duration
Almost nothing is known about the sage [Patanjali] who wrote the Yoga Sutras. The dating of his life has varied widely between the fourth century B.C.E. and the sixth century C.E., but the fourth century B.C.E. is the period noted for the appearance of aphoristic literature. Traditional Indian literature, especially the Padma Purana, includes brief references to Patanjali, indicating that he was born in Illavrita Varsha. Bharata Varsha is the ancient designation of Greater India as an integral part of Jambudvipa, the world as conceived in classical topography, but Illavrita Varsha is not one of its subdivisions. It is an exalted realm inhabited by the gods and enlightened beings who have transcended even the rarefied celestial regions encompassed by the sevenfold Jambudvipa. Patanjali is said to be the son of Angira and Sati, to have married Lolupa, whom he discovered in the hollow of a tree on the northern slope of Mount Sumeru, and to have reduced the degenerate denizens of Bhotabhandra to ashes with fire from his mouth. Such legendary details conceal more than they reveal and suggest that Patanjali was a great Rishi who descended to earth in order to share the fruits of his wisdom with those who were ready to receive it.
Some commentators identify the author of the Yoga Sutras with the Patanjali who wrote the Mahabhashya or Great Commentary on Panini’s famous treatise on Sanskrit grammar sometime between the third and first centuries B.C.E. Although several scholars have contended that internal evidence contradicts such an identification, others have not found this reasoning conclusive. King Bhoja, who wrote a well-known commentary in the tenth century, was inclined to ascribe both works to a single author, perhaps partly as a reaction to others who placed Patanjali several centuries C.E. owing to his alleged implicit criticisms of late Buddhist doctrines. A more venerable tradition, however, rejects this identification altogether and holds that the author of the Yoga Sutras lived long before the commentator on Panini. In this view, oblique references to Buddhist doctrines are actually allusions to modes of thought found in some Upanishads.
In addition to our lack of definite knowledge about Patanjali’s life, confusion arises from contrasting appraisals of the Yoga Sutras itself. There is a strong consensus that the Yoga Sutras represents a masterly compendium of various Yoga practices which can be traced back through the Upanishads to the Vedas. Many forms of Yoga existed by the time this treatise was written, and Patanjali came at the end of a long and ancient line of yogins. In accord with the free-thinking tradition of shramanas, forest recluses and wandering mendicants, the ultimate vindication of the Yoga system is to be found in the lifelong experiences of its ardent votaries and exemplars. The Yoga Sutras constitutes a practitioner’s manual, and has long been cherished as the pristine expression of Raja Yoga. The basic texts of Raja Yoga are Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Yogabhashya of Vyasa and the Tattvavaisharadi of Vachaspati Mishra. Hatha Yoga was formulated by Gorakshanatha, who lived around 1200 C.E. The main texts of this school are the Goraksha Sutaka, the Nathayoga Pradipika of Yogindra of the fifteenth century, and the later Shivasamhita. Whereas Hatha Yoga stresses breath regulation and bodily discipline, Raja Yoga is essentially concerned with mind control, meditation and self-study.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is universal in the manner of the Bhagavad Gita, including a diversity of standpoints whilst fusing Sankhya metaphysics with bhakti or self-surrender. There is room for differences of emphasis, but every diligent user of Patanjali’s aphorisms is enabled to refine aspirations, clarify thoughts, strengthen efforts, and sharpen focus on essentials in spiritual self-discipline. Accommodating a variety of exercises–mind control, visualization, breath, posture, moral training–Patanjali brings together the best in differing approaches, providing an integrated discipline marked by moderation, flexibility and balance, as well as degrees of depth in meditative absorption. The text eludes any simple classification within the vast resources of Indian sacred literature and a fortiori among the manifold scriptures of the world. Although it does not resist philosophical analysis in the way many mystical treatises do, it is primarily a practical aid to the quest for spiritual freedom, which transcends the concerns of theoretical clarification. Yet like any arcane science which necessarily pushes beyond the shifting boundaries of sensory experience, beyond conventional concepts of inductive reasoning and mundane reality, it reaffirms at every point its vital connection with the universal search for meaning and deliverance from bondage to shared illusions. It is a summons to systematic self-mastery which can aspire to the summits of gnosis.
The actual text as it has come down to the present may not be exactly what Patanjali penned. Perhaps he reformulated in terse aphoristic language crucial insights found in time-honoured but long-forgotten texts. Perhaps he borrowed terms and phrases from diverse schools of thought and training. References to breath control, pranayama, can be found in the oldest Upanishads, and the lineaments of systems of Yoga may be discerned in the Maitrayana, Shvetashvatara and Katha Upanishads, and veiled instructions are given in the “Yoga” Upanishads–Yogatattva, Dhyanabindu, Hamsa, Amritanada, Shandilya, Varaha, Mandala Brahmana, Nadabindu and Yogakundali–though a leaning towards Sankhya metaphysics occurs only in the Maitrayana. The Mahabharata mentions the Sankhya and the Yoga as ancient systems of thought. Hiranyagarbha is traditionally regarded as the propounder of Yoga, just as Kapila is known as the original expounder of Sankhya. The Ahirbudhnya states that Hiranyagarbha disclosed the entire science of Yoga in two texts–the Nirodha Samhita and the Karma Samhita. The former treatise has been called the Yoganushasanam, and Patanjali also begins his work with the same term. He also stresses nirodha in the first section of his work.
In general, the affinities of the Yoga Sutras with the texts of Hiranyagarbha suggest that Patanjali was an adherent of the Hiranyagarbha school of Yoga, and yet his own manner of treatment of the subject is distinctive. His reliance upon the fundamental principles of Sankhya entitle him to be considered as also belonging to the Sankhya Yoga school. On the other hand, the significant variations of the later Sankhya of Ishvarakrishna from older traditions of proto-Sankhya point to the advantage of not subsuming the Yoga Sutras under broader systems. The author of Yuktidipika stresses that for Patanjali there are twelve capacities, unlike Ishvarakrishna’s thirteen, that egoity is not a separate principle for Patanjali but is bound up with intellect and volition. Furthermore, Patanjali held that the subtle body is created anew with each embodiment and lasts only as long as a particular embodiment, and also that the capacities can only function from within. Altogether, Patanjali’s work provides a unique synthesis of standpoints and is backed by the testimony of the accumulated wisdom derived from the experiences of many practitioners and earlier lineages of teachers.
Some scholars and commentators have speculated that Patanjali wrote only the first three padas of the Yoga Sutras, whilst the exceptionally short fourth pada was added later. Indeed, as early as the writings of King Bhoja, one verse in the fourth pada (IV. 16) was recognized as a line interpolated from Vyasa’s seventh commentary in which he dissented from Vijnanavadin Buddhists. Other interpolations may have occurred even in the first three padas, such as III.22, which some classical commentators questioned. The fact that the third pada ends with the word iti (“thus,” “so,” usually indicating the end of a text), as it does at the end of the fourth pada, might suggest that the original contained only three books. However, the philosophical significance of the fourth pada is such that the coherence of the entire text need not be questioned on the basis of inconclusive speculations.
Al-Biruni translated into Arabic a book he called Kitab Patanjal (The Book of Patanjali), which he said was famous throughout India. Although his text has an aim similar to the Yoga Sutras and uses many of the same concepts, it is more theistic in its content and even has a slightly Sufi tone. It is not the text now known as the Yoga Sutras, but it may be a kind of paraphrase popular at the time, rather like the Dnyaneshwari, which stands both as an independent work and a helpful restatement of the Bhagavad Gita. The Kitab translated by al-Biruni illustrates the pervasive influence of Patanjali’s work throughout the Indian subcontinent.
For the practical aspirant to inner tranquillity and spiritual realization, the recurring speculations of scholars and commentators, stimulated by the lack of exact historical information about the author and the text, are of secondary value. Whatever the precise details regarding the composition of the treatise as it has come down through the centuries, it is clearly an integrated whole, every verse of which is helpful not only for theoretical understanding but also for sustained practice. The Yoga Sutras constitutes a complete text on meditation and is invaluable in that every sutra demands deep reflection and repeated application. Patanjali advocated less a doctrinaire method than a generous framework with which one can make experiments with truth, grow in comprehension and initiate progressive awakenings to the supernal reality of the Logos in the cosmos.
The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit verbal root yuj, “to yoke” or “to join,” related to the Latin jungere, “to join,” “to unite.” In its broadest usages it can mean addition in arithmetic; in astronomy it refers to the conjunction of stars and planets; in grammar it is the joining of letters and words. In Mimamsa philosophy it indicates the force of a sentence made up of united words, whilst in Nyaya logic it signifies the power of the parts taken together. In medicine it denotes the compounding of herbs and other substances. In general, yoga and viyoga pertain to the processes of synthesis and analysis in both theoretical and applied sciences. Panini distinguishes between the root yuj in the sense of concentration (samadhi) and yujir in the sense of joining or connecting. Buddhists have used the term yoga to designate the withdrawal of the mind from all mental and sensory objects. Vaishesika philosophy means by yoga the concentrated attention to a single subject through mental abstraction from all contexts. Whereas the followers of Ramanuja use the term to depict the fervent aspiration to join one’s ishtadeva or chosen deity, Vedanta chiefly uses the term to characterize the complete union of the human soul with the divine spirit, a connotation compatible with its use in Yoga philosophy. In addition, Patanjali uses the term yoga to refer to the deliberate cessation of all mental modifications.
Every method of self-mastery, the systematic removal of ignorance and the progressive realization of Truth, can be called yoga, but in its deepest sense it signifies the union of one’s apparent and fugitive self with one’s essential nature and true being, or the conscious union of the embodied self with the Supreme Spirit. The Maitrayana Upanishad states: “Carried along by the waves of the qualities darkened in his imagination, unstable, fickle, crippled, full of desires, vacillating, he enters into belief, believing I am he, this is mine, and he binds his self by his self as a bird with a net. Therefore a man, being possessed of will, imagination and belief, is a slave, but he who is the opposite is free. For this reason let a man stand free from will, imagination and belief. This is the sign of liberty, this is the path that leads to brahman, this is the opening of the door, and through it he will go to the other shore of darkness.”
Thus, yoga refers to the removal of bondage and the consequent attainment of true spiritual freedom. Whenever yoga goes beyond this and actually implies the fusion of an individual with his ideal, whether viewed as his real nature, his true self or the universal spirit, it is gnostic self-realization and universal self-consciousness, a self-sustaining state of serene enlightenment. Patanjali’s metaphysical and epistemological debt to Sankhya is crucial to a proper comprehension of the Yoga Sutras, but his distinct stress on praxis rather than theoria shows a deep insight of his own into the phases and problems that are encountered by earnest practitioners of Yoga. His chief concern was to show how and by what means the spirit, trammelled in the world of matter, can withdraw completely from it and attain total emancipation by transforming matter into its original state and thus realize its own pristine nature. This applies at all levels of self-awakening, from the initial cessation of mental modifications, through degrees of meditative absorption, to the climactic experience of spiritual freedom.
Patanjali organized the Yoga Sutras into four padas or books which suggest his architectonic intent. Samadhi Pada, the first book, deals with concentration of mind (samadhi), without which no serious practice of Yoga is possible. Since samadhi is necessarily experiential, this pada explores the hindrances to and the practical steps needed to achieve alert quietude. Both restraint of the senses and of the discursive intellect are essential for samadhi. Having set forth what must be done to attain and maintain meditative absorption, the second book, Sadhana Pada, provides the method or means required to establish full concentration. Any effort to subdue the tendency of the mind to become diffuse, fragmented or agitated demands a resolute, consistent and continuous practice of self-imposed, steadfast restraint, tapas, which cannot become stable without a commensurate disinterest in all phenomena. This relaxed disinterestedness, vairagya, has nothing to do with passive indifference, positive disgust, inert apathy or feeble-minded ennui as often experienced in the midst of desperation and tension in daily affairs. Those are really the self-protective responses of one who is captive to the pleasure-pain principle and is deeply vulnerable to the flux of events and the vicissitudes of fortune. Vairagya implies a conscious transcendence of the pleasure-pain principle through a radical reappraisal of expectations, memories and habits. The pleasure-pain principle, dependent upon passivity, ignorance and servility for its operation, is replaced by a reality principle rooted in an active, noetic apprehension of psycho-spiritual causation. Only when this impersonal perspective is gained can the yogin safely begin to alter significantly his psycho-physical nature through breath control, pranayama, and other exercises.
The third book, Vibhuti Pada, considers complete meditative absorption, sanyama, its characteristics and consequences. Once calm, continuous attention is mastered, one can discover an even more transcendent mode of meditation which has no object of cognition whatsoever. Since levels of consciousness correspond to planes of being, to step behind the uttermost veil of consciousness is also to rise above all manifestations of matter. From that wholly transcendent standpoint beyond the ever-changing contrast between spirit and matter, one may choose any conceivable state of consciousness and, by implication, any possible material condition. Now the yogin becomes capable of tapping all the siddhis or theurgic powers. These prodigious mental and moral feats are indeed magical, although there is nothing miraculous or even supernatural about them. They represent the refined capacities and exalted abilities of the perfected human being. Just as any person who has achieved proficiency in some specialized skill or knowledge should be careful to use it wisely and precisely, so too the yogin whose spiritual and mental powers may seem practically unlimited must not waste his energy or misuse his hard-won gifts. If he were to do so, he would risk getting entangled in worldly concerns in the myriad ways from which he had sought to free himself. Instead, the mind must be merged into the inmost spirit, the result of which is kaivalya, steadfast isolation or eventual emancipation from the bonds of illusion and the meretricious glamour of terrestrial existence.
In Kaivalya Pada, the fourth book which crowns the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali conveys the true nature of isolation or supreme spiritual freedom insofar as it is possible to do so in words. Since kaivalya is the term used for the sublime state of consciousness in which the enlightened soul has gone beyond the differentiating sense of “I am,” it cannot be characterized in the conceptual languages that are dependent on the subject-object distinction. Isolation is not nothingness, nor is it a static condition. Patanjali throws light on this state of gnosis by providing a metaphysical and metapsychological explanation of cosmic and human intellection, the operation of karma and the deep-seated persistence of the tendency of self-limitation. By showing how the suppression of modifications of consciousness can enable it to realize its true nature as pure potential and master the lessons of manifested Nature, he intimates the immense potency of the highest meditations and the inscrutable purpose of cosmic selfhood.
The metapsychology of the Yoga Sutras bridges complex metaphysics and compelling ethics, creative transcendence and critical immanence, in an original, inspiring and penetrating style, whilst its aphoristic method leaves much unsaid, throwing aspirants back upon themselves with a powerful stimulus to self-testing and self-discovery. Despite his sophisticated use of Sankhya concepts and presuppositions, Patanjali’s text has a universal appeal for all ardent aspirants to Raja Yoga. He conveys the vast spectrum of consciousness, diagnoses the common predicament of human bondage to mental ailments, and offers practical guidance on the arduous pathway of lifelong contemplation that could lead to the summit of self-mastery and spiritual freedom
  1. Hindus believe in a one, all-pervasive Supreme Being who is both immanent and transcendent, both Creator and Unmanifest Reality.
  2. Hindus believe in the divinity of the four Vedas, the world's most ancient scripture, and venerate the Agamas as equally revealed. These primordial hymns are God's word and the bedrock of Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion.
  3. Hindus believe that the universe undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation and dissolution.
  4. Hindus believe in karma, the law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words and deeds.
  5. Hindus believe that the soul reincarnates, evolving through many births until all karmas have been resolved, and moksha, liberation from the cycle of rebirth, is attained. Not a single soul will be deprived of this destiny.
  6. Hindus believe that divine beings exist in unseen worlds and that temple worship, rituals, sacraments and personal devotionals create a communion with these devas and Gods.
  7. Hindus believe that an enlightened master, or satguru, is essential to know the Transcendent Absolute, as are personal discipline, good conduct, purification, pilgrimage, self-inquiry, meditation and surrender in God.
  8. Hindus believe that all life is sacred, to be loved and revered, and therefore practice ahimsa, noninjury, in thought, word and deed.
  9. Hindus believe that no religion teaches the only way to salvation above all others, but that all genuine paths are facets of God's Light, deserving tolerance and understanding.

What Are the Ten Classical Restraints?
Hinduism's ethical restraints are contained in ten simple precepts called yamas. They define the codes of conduct by which we harness our instinctive forces and cultivate the innate, pristine qualities of our soul. Aum.

The yamas and niyamas are scriptural injunctions for all aspects of thought and behavior. They are advice and simple guidelines, not commandments. The ten yamas, defining the ideals of charya, are: 1) ahimsa, "noninjury," do not harm others by thought, word or deed; 2) satya, "truthfulness," refrain from lying and betraying promises; 3) asteya, "nonstealing," neither steal nor covet nor enter into debt; 4) brahmacharya, "divine conduct," control lust by remaining celibate when single, leading to faithfulness in marriage; 5) kshama, "patience," restrain intolerance with people and impatience with circumstances; 6) dhriti, "steadfastness," overcome nonperseverance, fear, indecision and changeableness; 7) daya, "compassion," conquer callous, cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings; 8) arjava, "honesty," renounce deception and wrongdoing; 9) mitahara, "moderate appetite," neither eat too much, nor consume meat, fish, fowl or eggs; 10) shaucha, "purity," avoid impurity in body, mind and speech. The Vedas proclaim, "To them belongs yon stainless Brahma world in whom there is no crookedness and falsehood, nor trickery." Aum Namah Sivaya.

Life on the Astral Plane

Each night when you read your lesson in this book, realize that therein is your key to entry into the astral school of Himalayan Academy. Going to sleep thinking about the lesson you have been reading, try to wake up slowly in the morning and, with effort, recall what you have been doing during the night on the astral plane. 

The astral world is a plane in space, just as the physical world, as we know it in the conscious mind, is a space plane. It is the particular rate of vibration which each of these worlds generates that determines the space plane it occupies. Looking out through the conscious mind, we perceive outer space. Looking into the subconscious mind, we perceive inner space. As the habit patterns of the subconscious mind control many of our conscious-mind happenings on the physical plane, so does the superconscious mind control many of the occurrences of the astral plane through the subconscious astral body. This has to do with the awakening of the subsuperconscious mind. The subsuperconscious mind becomes stronger and stronger, providing we exercise our intuition on the conscious-mind level. 

Just as you choose your friends on the physical, conscious plane, so do you attract kindred beings to you in the astral world. By keeping our homes clean and peaceful, by keeping our bodies and clothing fresh and clean, the odic force becomes quite pure and enables us to be more actinically alive. This condition also keeps lower astral people away from us, so long as we do not ourselves enter into an instinctive, astrally odic vibration. The spiritual, actinic vibration keeps all lower astral influences away, just as doors, locks, windows and walls discourage unwanted entrance into buildings. 

It is not advisable to admit lower astral entities if you are sensitive to this possibility, for doing so creates a double influx of odic force, whereas the striving of a yoga student is to become actinically superconscious and not to intensify the odic subconscious. Astral entities live in their own world on the astral plane. Possibly you enter this plane at night, too, but during the day we must attend to our conscious-mind activities and take care of our immediate programs, keeping the two worlds apart as distinctly as our sleeping state is separated from the state of being awake. 

When the physical body dies, this automatically severs the actinodic silver cord that connects the astral and physical bodies. Then the process of reincarnation and rebirth eventually begins. The physical body remains on the physical plane as a conglomeration of magnetic forces and begins to dissolve into the forces of surrounding nature. The actinic life of the physical body and the vital health body travels up the silver cord as it dissolves and lends a tremendous charge to the astral body. This movement registers on the subconscious astral body all conscious-mind memory patterns of the life just lived, and the person becomes fully conscious on the astral plane. 

This tremendous charge of odic and actinic force registering upon the astral body at the time of transition, or death, is what stimulates and gives the initial impulse to the process of reincarnation. This process is largely controlled by the activity of subconscious habit forces. 

Before the reincarnation cycle fully takes hold, however, the person just departed often quickly recreates the same states of consciousness, the same interests he was accustomed to on the physical plane, and he may go on as usual, meeting his family who visit him during their sleeping hours in their astral bodies. Although the astral body is still bound by the habit patterns of its physical life, it continues to wear away from the moment of transition, and odic force is continuously fed back to the physical plane in an effort to make contact again with family, friends or loved ones through the medium of memory and desire. Another physical body is created, and a reentry into the conscious world is made. The old astral body is dropped off, and the newly generated actinic forces give life to a new physical body and a new health body, along with a new astral body. The new astral body is the sum total of all preceding subconscious experience, and it may be quite mature during the time the physical body is only a child. The odic astral form that was left behind is called an astral shell and eventually corresponds to the corpse of the dead physical body.

Kundalini, the Spiritual Force

Hatha yoga (ha-pingala and tha-ida) balances the two forces, the ida and the pingala. The straight, erect spine releases the actinodic flow of the sushumna current. The mind centered in the contemplative atmosphere, cognizing timelessness, causelessness, spacelessness while sitting in the lotus position, awakens the pineal and pituitary centers, and the door of Brahman at the top of the head. 

The force of the actinodic causal body, the sheath of cognition, vijnanamaya kosha, a pure actinic force running through the sushumna current, is called the kundalini. As this kundalini force becomes activated, the sushumna power begins to grow, or the actinodic causal body begins to grow, and the higher chakras of cognition and universal love begin to spin faster. Once kundalini power has been activated, its force expands or contracts consciousness. As man's consciousness expands into actinic spheres, more kundalini power is used. This power is lessened as his consciousness emerges into the limited fields of the odic world. 

Often known as the serpent power, the kundalini is coiled at the base of the spine in the instinctive man who resides mostly in the force fields of memory and fear. When this power becomes uncoiled, the serpent, or kundalini, luminously raises its head, and finally, after nirvikalpa samadhi, it lifts its power to the top of the head. 

When nirvikalpa samadhi has been practiced daily for many, many years--according to the classical yoga teachings, for twelve years--and the golden body has been built, the kundalini force coils itself in the sahasrara chakra of the yogi, at the top of the head. This is known as the manas chakra, located about where the hairline begins at the forehead. This chakra eventually becomes the muladhara chakra, or the memory-pattern chakra, of the golden body. The manas chakra is fully activated when the golden body is fully unfolded. This is known in Hindu and Egyptian mystic schools as the golden body of light, for it registers in the minds of those who look upon it, to their soul body, as a golden ball of light or a golden body.

When the kundalini rises into the realms of pure actinicity, the pineal gland and pituitary center are activated. When these two centers are activated simultaneously, the forces of both of them merge, bringing man into nirvikalpa samadhi. Therefore, the aggressive odic force merges with the passive odic force, in perfect balance, and the actinodic power of the sushumna current comes into perfect balance, poised with the kundalini force. The yoga adept finds himself on the brink of the Absolute, cognizing That which he cannot explain, knowing there is something beyond which the mind does not know, conceiving That which cannot be conceived, because form, which is mind, cannot conceive formlessness. Then the yogi touches into the Self and becomes a knower of the Self, merges with Siva. 

When the ida, pingala and sushumna forces merge and reside in perfect balance, the third eye awakens. When the pituitary, pineal glands and the sushumna source are in perfect balance, man is able to perceive consciously into other worlds of the mind. The golden body, as it begins to grow after the renunciate, or sannyasin, attains nirvikalpa samadhi, is built by man's service to his fellow man.