Kashmir Shaivism versus Vedanta – A Synopsis
by Piyaray L. Raina
This presentation was made by the author at the WAVES (World Association of Vedic Studies) symposium in the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, RI,USA - July 12-14, 2002
Vedas, which are considered revealed knowledge through the medium of Indian seers (rishis), are revered as mother of all religions in India. Theyform the matrix of all the theistic philosophies of Indian religionsincluding Kashmir Shaivism. Therefore, the objective here is not tocompare Vedas with Kashmir Shaivism but to present theircomplementary 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 theDvapura Era and the beginning of the Kalyuga Era, through which we arepassing now, the influence of Vedas dwindled as the Vedic seersdisappeared. New class of seers emerged from time to time who interpretedVedic 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 9thcentury AD and culminated in the final interpretation of Vedas (Ved –anta –end of Vedas). Although these Vedic darshanas differ in their approach to theinterpretation of Vedas but all of them consider Vedas as their base.The focus of all these systems (darshanas) was to explain or resolve thedichotomy between subject and object; the knower and the known; theCosmic Self and this self; I (aham) and this self (idam). We may group all thesesystems as Vedanta for the sake of this discussion.