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Nandikeśvara kāśika


Nandi or Nandikeswara is considered as the earliest proponent of advaitic form of Saivism.
Tradition has it that at one time Nandikeswara and Panini witnessed Siva‟s Tandava dance. At
the end of the dance Siva sounded the drum fourteen times. Fourteen groups of syllables
emerged from the drum and they were called the Mahesvara Sutra or Siva sutra. These syllables
formed the basis for Panini‟s Sanskrit grammar. Nandikeswara composed the Nandikesa kāsika,
a treatise on advaitic Saiva philosophy as an explanation of the syllables.

The Nandikesa kasika consists of twenty seven verses that are mystical interpretations of the
Mahesvara Sutra or Siva Sutra. Sage Upamanyu has written a commentary, Tattvavimarsini,
which helps to understand the cryptic kasika that is otherwise difficult to understand.

Tamil Siddha Tirumular in his Tirumandiram mentions that he, along with Sanaka, Sanatkumara,
Sanandana, Sanadhana, Patanjali, Vyagrapada and Yoga muni was a disciple of Nandi.
Tirumular‟s Tirumandiram, the earliest Tamil work on advaitic philosophy reflects Nandikesa
kasika‟s explanation of the esoteric principle thus leading to the conjecture that Nandi and
Nandikeswara may be the same person.

A short book on Nandikesa kasika along with a commentary by Sage Upamanyu in Sanskrit has
been published by Kuppuswami Sastri Research Center, Chennai along with Roman
transliteration and English translation (2009). The authors Dr. K.S. Balasubramanian and Dr. T.
V. Vasudevan mention that the text and commentary have been published long ago with Telugu
and Tamil translations but are not available now.

The following is a brief summary of the English translation. Please refer to the original book for
Upamanyu‟s commentary and a detailed translation.

Verse 1

nṛttāvasāne naṭarājarājo
nanāda ḍhakkāṁ navapañcavāram
netadvimarśe śivasūtrajālam (1)

(At the end of his dance, Nataraja, the Lord of dance, in order to uplift Sanaka and other Siddha
sounded the hand drum fourteen times. I comment upon the collection of these aphorisms of
(Upamanyu- He is the Lord of the dance (Nataraja) because of his expertise in manifesting
wonderful cosmic form. He is an expert in dance forms, Tandava and others. To make the
philosophy about atma which is beyond verbal description known, to Sanaka and others, to
elevate them, he sounded the drum fourteen times at the close of the dance to proclaim the
Supreme consciousness that is inherent in him. Through deep thinking I will clearly elaborate up
on those original, the most secretive auspicious aphorisms of Siva that are in the form of variety
of sounds (nada).

Verse 2

atra sarvartra sūtreṣu hyantyaṁ varṇaṁ caturdaśam
dhātvarthaṁ samupādiṣṭaṁ pāṇinyādīṣṭasiddhaye (2)

(Here and in all the fourteen aphorisms, the last letter is for the sake of gaining proficiency in
root (dhātu) of Panini‟s grammar.)

Sutra 1:
a i u ṇ

verse 3

akāro brahmarūpaḥ syānnirguṇassarvavastuṣu
citkalām iṁ samāśritya jagadrūpa uṇ īśvaraḥ (3)

(The Brahman represented by the letter akāra unites with the citkala or consciousness
represented by the letter „i‟ becomes Isvara denoted by the letter „ukāra‟ and remains in the form
of the universe)

(from Upamanyu‟s commentary- the attributless Brahman represented by the letter „a‟ unites
with „i‟ which represents maya and becomes the God with attributes- Isvara- represented by the
letter „uṇ‟. „‟i‟‟ represents both the short vowel and the long vowel. This is based on the sruti
statement “In the beginning there was only non-existence; the existence emerged there from”. In
the Bhagavadgita it is said, “Among all the alphabets I am the syllable „a‟.”

Verse 4

akāraḥ sarvavarṇāgryaḥ prakāśaḥ parameśvaraḥ
ādyamantyena saṁyogāt ahamityeva jāyate (4)

(akāra contains all the letters (colors) is effulgence, the Parameshvara. By joining the beginning
and the last it verily becomes „aham‟)

(from Upamanyu‟s commentary- when the first letter „a‟ is joined with the last letter „ha‟ the
word aham is born. That is, from the Supreme Being (paramatma) Supreme Siva (parama siva)
is born.

Verse 5, 6

sarvaṁ parātmakaṁ poorvaṁ jñāptimātramidaṁ jagat |
jñapterbabhūva pasyantī madhyamā vāk tataḥ smṛtā || (5)
vaktre viśuddhacakākhye vaikharī sāmatā tataḥ |
sṛṣṭayāvirbhāvamātratmā madhyamāvat samāyutam || (6)

(In the beginning everything, this universe, existed as para, consciousness. From consciousness
was born pashyanti and madhyama and vāk (speech). From them the vaikari emerges at the
vishuddhi cakra. By its origin and manifestation, it is similar to the madhyamā.)

(from Upamanyu‟s commentary- It is only the Isvara who since time immemorial existed as the
Jiva with countless limitations prompted by the activities due to karma undergoes changes para
in the navel region, paśyanthi in the heart region, madhyamā in the visuddhi cakra and later as
vaikari in the mouth thus assuming the form of Veda. The Sruti also says that it is only the
speech which created the worlds. That is, the subtle speech transforms into the world and one
part of it is experienced.)

Verse 7, 8

akāraṁ sannidhīkṛtya jagatāṁ kāraṇatvataḥ |
ikārassarvavarṇānāṁ śaktitvāt kāraṇaṁ matam || (7)
jagatstrṣṭumabhūtvāñchā yadā hyāsīttadābhavat|
kāmabījamiti prāhurmunayo vedapāragāḥ || (8)

(Due to its proximity with akāra, the ikāra is the cause of the world and because of its
potentiality it is the cause of all the syllables) (7)

(The world came into existence due to the desire to create. The seers who were experts in
scriptures called it „the seed of desire‟ -kāmabhijam) (8)

(Upamanyu- It is said that “The entry of the self-effulgent Supreme Reality into the transcendent
Siva to create the visible world is verily the „seed of desire‟. “ O dear, one should contemplate
on the Self as the great kāmakala form that is established in the bija and bindu and that which is
the goal to be attained)
Verse 9

akāro jñaptimātraṁ syādikāraścitkalā matā
ukāro viṣṇurityāhurvyāpakatvānmaheśvaraḥ (9)

(akāra is verily the consciousness. Ikāra is citkala (digit of the consciousness). The syllable “u”
is Vishnu due to its omnipresence it is Mahesvara.)

(Upamanyu- due to his all-pervasive nature, denoted by the syllable „u‟, the sense of existence of
Isvara is denoted by „ṇ‟ and hence it is known as “uṇ” (Isvara).

Sutra 2
ṛ lṛ k

verse 10

ṛ lṛ k sarveśvaro māyāṁ manovṛttimadarśayat
tāmeva vyaktimāśritya jagadrūpamajījanat (10)

(the Lord indicated by ṛ lṛ k showed maya as the disposition of the mind. By employing the
manifestation he gave birth to the form of the world.)

(Upamanyu- The Lord denoted by ṛ, revealed maya as mental disposition (denoted by the letter
lṛ) and created the world, at his will, by resorting to her (denoted by the letter k.

From a variant of this verse- the Lord whose nature is pure consciousness created the expanded
form of the universe comprising of animate and inanimate beings by resorting to his consort,
maya. (Thus, ṛ represents Sarveswara, lṛ- maya and k- the world)

The Vedic passage “The Supreme Being is of black and red color denoting ṛta and satya” is the
testimony for the letter (ṛ) denoting him. Another Vedic passage says, “He willed, let me
multiply into many beings‟.

In the Sritantra it is said, “The Parameshwara who is in the form of my mind is lṛkāraha”.
According to Siddhanta Kaumudi- The ṛ and lṛ are identical.)

Verse 11

vṛttivṛttimatoratra bhedaleśo na vidyate
candracandrikayoryadvat tathā vāgarthayorapi (11)

(There is no difference between the modification and the possessor of the modification like the
moon and its brilliance, the word and its meaning)

Verse 12

svecchayā svasya cicchaktyā viśvamunmīlayatyasau
varṇānāṁ madhyamaklībamṛlṛvarṇadvayaṁ viduḥ (12)

(When he desires, He awakens the universe by his power of consciousness (cit sakti). The wise
understood the dual syllables ṛ and lṛ which are in the middle of the syllables.)

Sutra 3

e o ṅ

Verse 13

e o ṅ māyośvarātmaikyavijñānam sarvavastuṣu
sākṣitvātsarvabhūtānāṁ sa eka iti niścitam (13)

(e o ṅ represent the oneness or union of maya and Isvara in all entities. He is definitely the
witness, the One. )

(Upamanyu- If it is said that he created, then there occurs two entities, the creator and the created
which will lead to non-dualism. This conflict is resolved by saying “Having
created, he entered into that very thing.” There is no non-dualism here as there is transformation
of one‟s own Self into that which was created.)

Sutra 4

ai au c

verse 14

ai au c brahmasvarūpassan jagatsvāntargataṁ tataḥ
icchayā vistaraṁ kartumāvirāsīt kṛpānidhiḥ (14)

(ai auc being the Brahman holding the entire universe within himself being compassionate
wanted to expand the universe and manifested himself.)

(upamanyu- ai is formed by the conjunction of the long form of a and i. ai which has the primal
energy manifested himself, in order to expand the universe. au formed by the conjunction of the
long form of a and u is God, the pure consciousness. The Being who is consciousness is
variegated by maya. Thus, the conjugation of ā and ū indicate all the created, that occur through
desire. Hence, it is said in Jnanottama that the world pervaded by pranava (om) is rooted in
maya. In this way the assemblage of principles from Siva up to Prakriti emerged from the
thirteen syllables. These fourteen aphorisms symbolize fourteen worlds, fourteen cakras and
fourteen enclosures.

Siva mentions to Gauri in the Mahamantratattvaprakashini “I goddess, you are indeed my form
the tattva mantra, the cakra of fourteen. The turya consisting of the thirteen syllables is our
mantra. In the expanded form it is the bindu from which all the syllables orginate. Emergence
of the syllables is from the bindu and from it originated the principal elements such as space.
Bindu is the transcendental form of Sricakra. The fourteen (syllables) emerged from the cakra.
From the fourteen emerged the fourteen worlds.

Sutra 5
ha ya va ra ṭ

verse 15

bhūtapañcakametasmāt hayavaraṇ mahesvarāt
vyomavāyvambuvahnyākhyabhūtānyāsītsa eva hi (15)

(The five elements such as space, air, water, fire etc. occurred from originated from the syllables
ha, ya, va, ra ṭ, Mahesvara. He is verily the five elements.)

Verse 16

hakārād vyomasaṁjñaśca yakārād vāyurucyate
rakāradvahni rephādvahniśca stoyaṁ tu vakārāditi śaivarāṭ (16)

(According to Saiva the space is indicated by the syllable ha, air through ya, fire through ra and
water through va.)

Sutra VI
la ṇ
Verse 17

ādhārabhūtaṁ bhūtānamannādīnām ca kāraṇam
annadretastato jīvaḥ kāraṇatvāt laṇ īritam (17)

(The element that is the substratum of everything, the cause of matter and food, from the food
the semen and the limited soul. Due to its nature of being the cause it is called laṇ)

(laṇ- represents the earth element, the substratum for medicinal plants, the food from which
becomes the semen and thus the jiva)

Sutra VII
ña ma ṅa ṇa na m

Verse 18

śabdasparśau rūparasagandhāśca ñamaṅaṇanam
vyomādīnāṁ guṇā hyete jānīyāt sarvavastuṣu (18)

(sound, touch, form, taste and smell are the ñamaṅaṇanam. One should that these are the
qualities of the elements space etc. in all objects.)

Sutra VIII
jha bha ñ gha ḍha dha ṣ

verse 19

vākpāṇī ca jhabhaññāsīdvirāḍrūpaṁ cidātmanaḥ
sarvajantuṣu vijñeyaṁ sthāvarādau na vidyate (19)

(jha bhañ is the speech (vak) and hand of the cosmic form of the Self, the nature of
consciousness. It exists in all life forms except plants.)

Verse 20

vargāṇāṁ turyavarṇā ye karmendriya gaṇā hi te
ghaḍhadhaṣ sarvabhūtānāṁ pādapāyū upasthakaḥ (20)

(The fourth syllable in the group of syllables is the motor organs. gha ḍha dha ṣ are the feet, anus
and the organ of reproduction for all the creatures respectiely.)

Sutra X
ja ba ga ḍa da ś
Verse 21

śrotratvaṅnayana prāṇauhvādīndriyapañcakam
sarveṣāmapi jantūnāīritaṁ jabajaḍadaś (21)

(ja ba ga ḍa da ś are the five sense organs- skin, tongue, ears, eyes and nose respectively of all
the beings)

Sutra XI
kha pha cha ṭha tha ca ṭa ta v

Verse 22

prāṇādi pañcakaṁ caiva mano buddhirahaṅkṛtiḥ
babhūva kāṇatvea khaphachaṭhathcaṭatav (22)

(from kha pha cha ṭha tha ca ṭa ta v emerged the five vital breaths (prana, apana, vyana, udana
and samana respectively), mind, intellect and ego.)

Verse 23

vargadvitīyavarṇotthāḥ prāṇādyāḥ pañca vāyavaḥ
madhyavargatrayājjātā antaḥkaraṇavṛttayaḥ (23)

(The five vital airs beginning with prana occur from the second syllable in each group. The
internal organs (of mind, ego and intellect) occur from the first syllables of the three interim

Sutra XII
ka pa y

Verse 24

prakṛtiṁ puruṣaṁ caiva sarveṣāmeva sammatam
saṁbhūtamiti vijñeyaṁ kapābhyāmti niścitam (24)

(The definitude that prakriti and purusha were born from ka and pa is accepted by all)

Sutra XIII
śa ṣa sa r

Verse 25
sattvaṁrajastama iti guṇānāṁ tritayaṁ purā
samāśritya mahādevaḥ śaṣasarkrīḍati prabhuḥ (25)

(Lord Mahadeva plays with the three qualities- sattva, rajas and tamas. They evolved from śa ṣa
sa r)

Verse 26

śakārādrajaso bhūtiḥ ṣakārāttamaso bhavaḥ
sakārātsattvasaṁbhūtiriti triguṇasambhavaḥ (26)

(the rajas arises from śa, tamas from ṣa and sattva from sa)

Verse 27

tattvātītaḥ paraḥ sākṣi sarvānugrahavigrahaḥ
ahamātmā paro hal syāditi śambhustirodadhe (27)

(Lord Śambhu disappeared stating, “transcending the principles I am the Supreme, Witness,
embodiment of Grace, the Supreme Soul represented by the term hal”)

Saivāgama describes ha as the syllable of Siva.