COMPARISION - Kashmir Shaivism and Vedanta
Vedas, which are considered revealed knowledge through the medium of Indianseers (rishis), are revered as mother of all religions in India. They form the matrixof all the theistic philosophies of Indian religions including Kashmir Shaivism.Therefore, the objective here is not to compare Vedas with Kashmir Shaivism but topresent their complementary roles in the development of post- vedic India.I. Background
It is said at the end of the Mahabharata war, which symbolizes the end of the DvapuraEra and the beginning of the Kalyuga Era, through which we are passing now, theinfluence of Vedas dwindled as the Vedic seers disappeared. New class of seers emergedfrom time to time who interpreted Vedic knowledge for the benefit of suffering humanity.Thus six systems of Vedic schools called darshanas came into being. These are:1. Samklya2. Yoga3. Nyaya4. Vaisheshika5. Purva mimamasa6. Advaita VedantaThe last one Advaita Vedanta was propounded by Shankaracharya in the 9th century ADand culminated in the final interpretation of Vedas (Ved –anta – end of Vedas). Althoughthese Vedic darshanas differ in their approach to the interpretation of Vedas but all of them consider Vedas as their base.The focus of all these systems (darshanas) was to explain or resolve the dichotomy between subject and object; the knower and the known; the Cosmic Self and this self; I(aham) and this self (idam). We may group all these systems as Vedanta for the sake of this discussion.
II. Kashmir Shaivism
Along with this group of seers, another group of seers tried to resolve this dichotomy byinvestigating their inner nature. They carried experiments on their bodies by employingyogic practices confined to mental processes and came out with their findings in poeticterms using metaphors, symbols, and allegories. This yogic practice came to be known asTantra. As against the Vedic knowledge, which came mainly through the process of revelation, the tantric knowledge came mainly through various forms of practices(kriyas). Tantric practices were “inward” by nature i.e. they centered around psychophysical makeup of the practitioner as compared to the “outward” nature of Vedic practices, which focus on sacrificial ceremonies along with yoga.