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Kashmir Shaivism and Vedanta

Kashmir Shaivism and Vedanta

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Published by Soham Hamsah

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Published by: Soham Hamsah on Jan 10, 2012
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08/15/2013

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 Kashmir ShaivismandVedanta
(A Collection of Articles on the Comparative View)
 
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.
 
II. Kashmir Shaivism
 Along with this group of seers, another group of seers tried to resolve thisdichotomy by investigating their inner nature. They carried experiments ontheir bodies by employing yogic practices confined to mental processes andcame out with their findings in poetic terms using metaphors, symbols, andallegories. This yogic practice came to be known as Tantra. As against theVedic knowledge, which came mainly through the process of revelation, thetantric knowledge came mainly through various forms of practices (kriyas).Tantric practices were “inward” by nature i.e. they centered aroundpsychophysical makeup of the practitioner as compared to the “outward”nature of Vedic practices, which focus on sacrificial ceremonies along withyoga.Over a period of time thousands of tantric traditions developed in India andabroad, which came to be classified under three major categoriesa) Shaiva-Shakti Tantrism,b) Buddhist Tantrism, andc) Vaishnava Tantrism.Shaiva-Shakti Tantrism which recognizes Lord Shiva as the Supreme andAbsolute Consciousness with Shakti as His dynamic energy came to be knownas Shaivism and developed in three widely apart regions in India:a) Kashmir in the north,b) Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the south, andc) Gauda (Bengal) in the east.The tantric practices prevalent in these regions came to be grouped under sixtraditions:a) Shaiva Sidanta,b) Pashupati Shaivism,c) Kashmir Shaivism,d) Vira Shaivism,e) Shiva Advanta, andf) Siddha Sidhanta.It is Kashmir Shaivism that provided the philosophy of Trika, which providedrelationship between God, nature, and man. It also provided the philosophy of Shiv-Shakti and Nara (man), which forms the main philosophy (Vidya Pada) of all Shaivic philosophies.

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