PIECES OF V AC

A STUDY OF THE LETTER� OF THE SANSKRIT ALPHABET AND
THEIR METAPHYSICAL ROLE IN THE EMANATION OF MANIFEST
REALITY AS DESCRIBED IN SELECT HINDU TANTRAS
by
Eric Robert Dorman
A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of the California Institute of Integral
Studies in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for a Master of Arts
Degree in Philosophy and Religion with a concentration on Asian and
Comparative Studies
California Institute of Integral Studies
San Francisco, CA
2009
UMI Number: 1466061
Copyright 2009 by
Dorman, Eric Robert
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CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL
I certify that I have read PIECES OF V AC: A STUDY OF THE LETTERS
OF THE SANSKRIT ALPHABET AND THEIR METAPHYSICAL ROLE IN
THE EMANATION OF MANIFEST REALITY AS DESCRIBED I N
SELECT HINDU TANTRAS by Eric Robert Dorman, and that in my
opinion this work meets the criteria for approving a thesis submitted in
partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts degree at the
California Institute of Integral Studies.
James Ryan, Ph.D. , Chair
Professor, Asian and Comparative Studies
Timothy P. Lighthiser, Ph. D.
Faculty, Asian and Comparative Studies
© 2009 Eric Robert Dorman
Eric Robert Dorman
California Institute of Integral Studies, 2009
James Ryan, Ph.D., Committee Chair
PIECES OF V AC: A STUDY OF THE LETTERS OF THE SANSKRIT
ALPHABET AND THEIR METAPHYSICAL ROLE IN THE EMANATION
OF MANIFEST REALITY AS DESCRIBED IN SELECT HINDU TANTRAS
ABSTRACT
In the Hindu Tantric traditions, the emanation of the universe holds
within its manifestation the hidden truths leading to resorption. Yet these
truths are not as hidden as one might think. In fact, they are constantly
present through the concept of U0C, "word," in the form of the letters of the
Sanskrit alphabet.
This study offers an in-depth look into the letters of the Sanskrit
alphabet as they take part in the metaphysical manifestation of the
universe in three schools of Hindu Tantra: Kashmir Saivism, Srrvidya, and
Pafcaratra. Herein, I present the emanation of the universe in regard to
the letters through the views of a select group of texts, commentaries, and
modern scholarship. It is the goal of this study to isolate the various
Tantric understandings of the alphabet while at the same time not losing
sight of the alphabet's place in the larger process of emanation.
IV
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Abstract æ o + o æ o o æ æ æ ææ e æ æ æ æ æ o o æ æ ææ o o æ = ¬ æ æ o æ o + o o æ æ o o o æ ¬ ¬ ææ e e + ¬ e æ æ æ o æ æ æ æ o æ æ æ e æ e æ o e æ o o + o ¬ æ o iv
List of Figures . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . ... . . . ... . . . . . . . . .... .. . . .. . .. . . .. . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . viii
Abbreviations . .. .. . . . . . . ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix
Note on Transliteration and Capitalization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x
Introduction = . + ¬ ¬ + + o = ¬ æ o o = o . ¬ = ¬ . æ + . ¬ . o ¬ = æ + . . ¬ ¬ ¬ æ . = = ¬ + ¬ o = = + ¬ ¬ ¬ o + . . . = = ¬ = = . = = ¬ ¬ = = = = = + o . = 1
Chapter I. Background æ o = = = . . . o = = = = . o . = = . = = = . = + . . . . = = = = = + . . o = = ¬ = . . æ = + = = . = = = + = = . = = = 12
The Word in the Vedas and Upani�ads = . = . = . + æ . o o o = . . . + = = = = o = = = = = = = = 12
Bhartrhari's Concept of the Word æ . = = + + = = = = + = ¬ o = = . + = + = = + o + = = o æ + = = . = = o = 15
Chapter II. Foundational Concepts of Tantra = + = = . = + + ¬ = = = = = + = + = - = = = o = . . = = = ¬ + 18
The Stages of the Word o o = = . ¬ ¬ = . . . . . o ¬ = = ¬ o æ o e ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ æ o . = ¬ + . o = æ ¬ = o ¬ æ + o o . o + o o¬ 18
The Notion of X+ 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Sakti and Divine Consciousness o = = ¬ = ¬ + o . o ¬ . ¬ ¬ . = = ¬ ¬ + + . . . . æ = ¬ o + = = . . . = = = 23
Chapter III. Saiva-Centered Tantrism and Kashmir Saivism . = ¬ ¬ = . + = + o¬ o 26
Tattvas . ¬ æ æ æ ¬ o . o ¬ æ ¬ + = = = ¬ + ¬ ¬ o æ + ¬ . ¬ ¬ o¬ ¬ o « + ¬ ææ æ o . . ¬ . . ¬ ¬ æ ¬ ¬ o o o ¬ = = = + + o + ¬ . æ æ o æ ¬ & o ¬ ææ 32
Mahas.�ti = = o o . = + = + ¬ o o¬ æ o o . æ o + + o .= æ ¬ o . ¬ æ . ¬ . . . æ ¬ . ¬ ¬ o ¬ æ o o = = = æ . æ ¬ . o æ o o + ¬ o æ¬ æ ¬ o . . = 36
Mat.ka o o o . + = æ = o = + = . . o + = o = + ¬ o o o æ + . o æ æ æ o o o . ¬ . ¬ . . ¬ = o ¬ o ¬ . ¬ = . ¬ ¬ . o æ ¬ ¬ o ¬ ¬ o + ¬ = ¬ æ ¬ ¬ = = o=39
Malinr. = ¬ o = æ æ o ... o o ¬ o = . æ = = = + o + = . = = + o + o æ + « e o æ æ o o . æ ¬ æ o = = + ¬ æ æ = + = o æ e æ + o = + æ . æ = o = . ¬ æ 41
The Gross Emanation ¬ . ¬ ¬ æ ¬ o + + . . + + + = o . = = ¬ ¬ æ + . o + o ¬ = o o . . . . = + = = = . = = o = = . = = o = 43
The Emanation in Greater Detail æ o æ o . + + o o . = = = o e . o = . = o + o + = + ¬ ¬ æ o o æ o + = ¬ ææ 45
M
The Vowels: A, A, I, I, U, and 0 . . . . + . . . . . . . . . . . e . . o . . o . e . . e . e 47
The Vowels:�, R L, and L (The Vocalic Liquids) . . . . . 58
The Vowels: E, AI, 0, and AU . . . . . . . . . . . . . o . . . . . . . . o . . . . . . . e . . 63
The Vowels: Bindu . o . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o . . . . . . . o . . . o . . . . + 67
The Vowels: Visarga a . . . . . . = e . . + e . . . . . . . e . . + . + . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
The Consonants: Ka to K$a o . . . . . . . . . . = . . . . . = . . . . . . + . . . . . . . = . . 75
The Consonants: The Semi-Vowels . . o . . . o o . . . + . . . . . o . . . . . . . 81
The Consonants: D$man and K$a + . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o . o o 84
Chapter I V Srfvidya . . . . . . . . . . . o . « . . . . . . o . . . . = . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
The Srrcakra = . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o . . . . . . . . . . . . o . . . o . . . + . . . e . . . . . . . . . . + + . . 89
The Emanation of the Sanskrit Alphabet. . . . . . . . . . ¤ . . . + . . o . . . . . . . . . . 96
Bindu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . + . . . . 99
Triko.a . . = o . . . = . . . . = = . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . + . . . . . o . . . . . = . . . . . o . . . . . . = . . . . . . . 1 03
Vasuko.a . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o . . . . o . o o . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . e e æ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o 107
The Two Sets of Ten Minor Triangles . . . = . . . . . . . o . . . . . . + . . . . 110
The Outer Set of Fourteen Minor Triangles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115
The Lotus Petals . = . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o . . . = . . . . ¬ . o . . . . . . . . . o . . o . . . . o . . + 118
Chapter V Paicaratra. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122
General Understanding of the Sanskrit Alphabet. . e . . . . . . . + . . . . . . 1 23
The Emanation of the Alphabet . . . . . . . . + . . . + + . + . . e e + + . . . = e . + + + + . . . . . . . 1 26
VI
The Vowels e « « « e n « e e = e « « e e e n e e n « e n e e « e e « e « e « a n e e n « e e « « « n e a « a = « « n « n a 128
The Consonants e = « « e a « e « « « e e « « « « e = « = e a = = e « a = e « « e « e = « a e a n « e e e n « e n a 133
Concluding Remarks a « a « « a « e n a + « s n = + « « + + « a = e e e « « « « « « « « e « « « « a « = n « a « a « « e « « a a a « a a o a « « 138
References n = = o a a « a « « a a + e « a e a e n « « « e « a « a e « e e « « « e « « « e « n a n e = = a = « = « = a = = = a « = e + = n = a n a = + a = = a a = + 142
vii
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1
Line Drawing of the Srrcakra = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = « = = = = ø = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = ø = = = ø = = « = = = = = 92
N11\
ABBREVIATIONS
Ahirbudhnya Sa11 hita ABS
Kamakalavilasa KKV
Lak9mf Tantra LT
Paratrrsika Vivarana PTV
Sarada til aka tan tram SIT
Satvatasa11 hita SatS
Tantraloka TA
Tantrasara TS
Tripura Upani9ad TrU
Vakyapadrya VP
Yoginrhrdaya YH
\X
NOTE ON TRANSLITERATION AND CAPITALIZATION
Throughout this thesis, words from the Sanskrit l anguage will be
transliterated using the International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration
system (lAST). Therefore the transliteratons of Sanskrit words appearing
in this work will be consistent with most modern scholarship in South
Asian studies.
When dealing with grand concepts that cannot rightly be translated
into the English language, such as many metaphysical elements of the
Hindu Tantric tradition, I make use of capitalization of nominal words.
For example, the words "ultimate," divine," "self," and "absolute" will
appear throughout this thesis in both capitalized and non-capitalized
form. The former form represents a greater concept, often substituting for
what the Western mind might consider "God. " The latter form will simply
represent the word in i ts denotative meaning.
7
Matrka is the source of all mantras, the origin of all sciences and the soil
from which all the principles, all sages and all knowledge are born.
- Lak$mi Tantra XX. 52
INTRODUCTION
The most general intent of any worldview, philosophy, or religion is
to understand the universe in which we exist. We seek answers and
attempt to define the structure of a grand system that does not reveal itself
easily. Each system of thought carries notions about the nature of the
universe, ranging from the rigorously scientific to the subtly metaphysical,
that describe how the universe comes into being. Each system explains
what we know by experience and what we attempt to know through
speculation. Rarely does one find a worldview in which the universe has
always existed j ust as it does now. The Abrahamic traditions clearly
remark on a linear discussion of the universe and time, beginning from a
single event and moving in one direction toward final ascent. Some Asian
traditions maintain a cyclical understanding of the universe and time,
seeing the concept of emanation as repetitive. Even the scientific
community, though not through universal agreement, offers an
understanding of the universe as emanation from some source, leaving
room for ei ther a linear or cyclical slant. The theme in this thesis is the
emanation of the universe and the creation of reality, in its broadest sense.
I give this expansive generalization not as an introduction to the
specific subject matter of this essay, but as a foundational grounding and
ideological backdrop to a much narrower piece of the puzzle. This
particular study cannot possibly rein in the immense amount of material
in play in regard to the emanation of the universe, and so, instead, I intend
to simply look at one aspect of one tradition in an effort to provide a
source of information that illuminates a particular cog in the grand
machine, all mechanical implications aside. Throughout this study I wish
to keep this general concept of emanation alive and well, for to
understand something specific and seemingly minute without giving
credence the "big picture" would be to actually render its study ineffective
and truly fruitless.
Within the vast philosophical tradition that falls under the general
l abel of Hinduism, resides a strain of thought that ties together disparate
factions of the Indian subcontinent; this strain of thought is found in both
the ancient and modern understandings of the emergence of the universe.
Sound, above all else, unites the Hindu grasp of the viable universe with
the subtler nature of pure Reality. The broadness of Hinduism's
understanding of the power of sound culminates in the concept of U0C,
"word. " Throughout the canon of Hindu scripture and literature, U0C has
Z
held a central, yet unassumingly subtle role in the concepts of emanation
and eventual resorption.
Nowhere does the emanative nature of vic take on a more integral
role than in the tediously scientific formulations of Hindu Tantra. Already
a school of thought that focuses heavily on the subtle elements of reality,
Tantra elevates vic and the general mystic nature of sound to a level of
intense importance and powerful efficacy. Three large schools of Tantra,
the Saivism of Kashmir, Srfvidya, and Pafcaratra, have illustrated their
versions of the emanation of the universe and its subsequent resorption
through the language of vic. In fact, the term mantrasistra, "teachings of
mantra" or "science of mantra," appears interchangeably in these systems
with "Tantra,"1 accentuating the central importance of vic through its use
in mantra.
Mantra, though, as it permeates Tantric tradition in i ts audible
form, portrays only one, rather mundane level of vic. Through processes
which I will elaborate on below, the mantra itself holds a fairly late
position i� the emanation of the universe through sound. This late
emergence of mantra, however, does not relinquish its importance nor
reduce its gravity in the grand spectrum of the Tantric understanding of
1
Gupta, Hoens, and Goudriaan, Hindu Tantrism, 103.
¯

ò
the universe. In fact, mantra serves as the gateway toward a subtler
realization. Hindu Tantra, much more so than mainstream Hinduism,
takes the efficacy of mantra to heart. Oftentimes the casual observer
remarks on the meaning of a certain mantra as it translates to definable
words and their subsequent dictionary meanings. Yet in Tantric
formulations, mantra need not necessarily mean anything, at least in terms
of mundane word definitions. Therein lies the keyhole to unlock the
playfully hidden Reality in the mantra. Paul Eduardo Muller-Ortega
writes:
The arcane lore of mantic encryption is redolent with the
complex correspondences of Abhinavagupta's matrkasastra
or philosophy of language. In this view, the phonemes that
compose the mantras are expressions of the most
fundamental, cosmogonic forces of reality. It is no accident
that chapter 30 of Abhinavagupta's Tantrtloka . . e [is] given
over to an examination of these fundamental linguistic,
conceptual, and world-building correspondences. The
complex linkages between tattvas (fundamental principles)
and vanzas (phonemic linguistic elements) are central to an
understanding of what Abhinavagupta entails in the process
of encoding. 2
Thus inerent in the phonemes of the Sanskrit language are tattvas,
"elements," which I will describe below, that correspond to certain letters
depending on their place in the emanation or resorption. These qualities
allow mantra to contain esoteric meanings that extend far into the
2
Muller-Ortega, "Ciphering the Supreme," 24 .
¯¯
^
+
metaphysical realm. To use a scientific term, Tantra dissects the mantra in
order to understand its mechanism and its processes.
The sounds of mantra go much deeper than audible resonation on
the gross level, rising to intermediate and higher levels where the
mundane vibrations of the mantra become the vibrations characteristic of
a dynamic understanding of the universe more attuned with the ultimate
Reality of Hindu philosophy. Thus, in mantra, the trained and dutifully
initiated ear not only hears the ultimate Reality pulsating through human
speech, but also knows that mantra exists as the powerful and
omnipresent Reality transcending and including the entirety of the
umverse.
The transition from mundane mantra to full realization of the
divine Ultimate (the reverse order of emanation) does, however, require
an intermediary step. Logically, and linguistically this step is the van.ws,
"letters, " which comprise the mantric words.3 The Hindu grammarians,
especially Bharthari, used this logic as a springboard for much of the
mystic and metaphysical analysis of the phonemes of the Sanskrit
alphabet. Prabhat Chandra Chakravarti writes that the grammarians
3 Of course, mantra can often exist as a single phoneme of the alphabet but in the
scope of this study, one should understand the subtle, yet key difference between
phoneme as mantr
a
nd phoneme as letter.
¬
3
"started with the physical analysis of words and conceived sound [sabda]
as what clothes itself with letters. "4 Guy L. Beck notes that the seventeenth
chapter of the Ahirbudhnya Samhita, an important Pafcaratra text from
the fourth or fifth century L|,¯ reads:
These alphabets seem to serve a double purpose: enabling
the initiate to quote the mantras without endangering their
secrecy, and providing him with a handle for their mystic
interpretation. These lists, then, are an indispensable key to
the mantras.
6
In other words, the letters serve as elements of a diagram, mapping
out a particular mantra so that one, if knowledgeable, can follow the
instructions. Yet at the same time, they contain the immense mystic weight
inherent in their nature, hidden to the uninitiated. Tantric understanding
of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet derives from the notion that sabda,
"sound," is identical with the Ul timate, or brahman. Sir John Woodroffe,
the Tantric scholar who brought much of the hidden school of Hinduism
to the scholarly light, wrote:
4 Chakravarti, Philosophy of Sanskrit Grammar, 85.
5 Bhattacharyya, Tantrabhidhana, 7.
6
Beck, Sonic Theology, 337.
¬
¬
6
The string of fifty
7
letters, from A to K$a, which are the
Mat:ka, "is eternal, unbeginning and unending, and
Brahman itself." This great saying is the gist of all Tantras.
Lest through human error the pronunciation of any letters
should be lost or distorted, Vidhata (Brahma) has created
alphabets (ak1ara), and put them into writing. 8
This linguistic step between the mantric words and the subtler vic
will be the centerpiece and focus of this essay. The phonemes of the
alphabet, just as the mantra in general, exist on a hierarchy of reality
ranging from the most subtle level to the most corporeal. And, j ust as the
Tantric gurus did with the dissection of the mantra, so, too, did they dig
deeper into the phonemes themselves. On the surface we understand the
letters presented before us as merely symbolic notations of certain sounds
present in the words we utter. This, of course, represents the mundane
view. If I may again summon a scientific comparison, this gross
understanding of the phonemes of the Sanskit alphabet would be the
physical equivalent of the fundamental particles of matter. For the
majority of our purposes, both physically and metaphysically, depending
on whicn metaphor one wishes to use, this level of understanding offers
perfectly acceptable results. For the common practitioner, understanding
'The number fifty is the most common quantity of letters of the Sanskrit
alphabet, though variations exist throughout both Tantric and non-Tantric texts
and will be noted as such.
` Woodroffe, Principles ofTantra, 194.
*

7
the letters as the symbolic building blocks of daily mantras suffices j ust as
does a high school physics student knowing the atomic mass of a proton
allows him or her to pass their exam. However, as the scientific
community knows well, and as the Tantric gurus have known for
centuries, what can easily be regarded as fundamental only satisfies the
demands of the prosaic worldview. Indeed, the term ak$ara in Sanskrit
refers both to "letter" and "imperishable" (lit. a, "not" + k$ara,
"decaying"),9 relating the potency of the phonemes to their fundamental
mystic nature. Tantra, just as its philosophical brethren in quantum
physics, elicits the dynamic Reality inherent in the seemingly static letters
of the alphabet.
This appreciation and dedication to the Reality inherent in the
phonemes make up a very large portion of the Tantric literature, and it is
the goal of this study to isolate the various Tantric understandings of the
alphabet while at the same time not losing sight of the alphabet's place in
the l arger process of emanation. While I do not intend on formulating
anything particularly new or revolutionary, I have prepared this study as
the groundwork for a comprehensive look into the specifics of the Sanskrit
alphabet as it is understood through the lens of Tantric Hinduism.
9 Ibid., 1 65, 195.
b
I will stucture this study in five chapters. The first chapter will
discuss the general understanding of sound in Hindu Tantrism as it
derives from Vedic notions of vic and the philosophies of grammar.
The second chapter will cover much of the fundamental concepts of
Tantra's vic-based theology and provide a background for the more
technical and tedious information in the latter three chapters.
These final three chapters will discuss the use of the Sanskrit
alphabet in its emanative aspect in three major divisions of Hindu Tantra.
Beginning with selected texts and writers of Saiva Tantrism, specifically
Kashmir Saivism, Chapter III will discuss their intensely intricate
understanding of the Sanskrit alphabet. This third chapter will serve as
the bulk of this essay as many of the concepts therein will trickle down
into the following two schools of Tantra. In it, I will describe the general
understanding of the emanation of the phonemes of the Sanskrit alphabet.
As with all studies in Hinduism, and in Tantra especially, though, I use the
term "general" here with the understanding from my readers that no such
concept exists in South Asian studies. Thus, my intent here is to offer a
starting point and reference to be used throughout the essay.
9
The fourth chapter will proceed with the philosophical offshoot of
Kashmir Saivism, the Sakta-centered tradition of Srividya, and look in
depth at the alphabet as it emanates through the framework of the srfcakra.
Finally, the fifth chapter will discuss the Sanskrit alphabet's
representation in the l ater writings of the Pafcaratra school, thus
concluding the coverage of the traditional triad of Siva, Sakti, and Vi$1U.
As with any study on this l arge of a scale, and especially on this
sporadic of a topic, there are limitations which must be addressed right
from the start. First, I am approaching these elements of the alphabet from
the angle of texts in translation, specifically translation into English. Thus,
I am restricted to Western translations of Tantric texts, of which there are
relatively few available compared to the vast canon of Tantric works not
even yet translated out of the Sanskrit or vernacular in which they were
written. In addition to this restraint, and in order to provide a sweeping
survey of the three main traditions within Hindu Tantra, I have focused
on just a few particular texts and authors within the traditions that seem
to have had the most influence on the respective school' s mystic
understanding of the Sanskrit alphabet. Certainly ancillary works should
not be ignored in a more thorough study, of which this is likely a
precursor. Therefore, I have limited my scope to the following: For
10
Kashmir Saivism I have looked almost exclusively to the massively in-
depth study provided by Andre Padoux, but also to the work of Paul
Muller-Ortega, who writes on the texts, translations, and academic
commentary of Abhinavagupta. Their scholarship, in addition to the
translations of Jaideva Singh, have contributed greatly to this particular
angle. For Srrvidya, I have looked to the Kamakalavilasa and the scholarly
work of Douglas Renfrew Brooks. Finally for Pafcaratra, I have focused
on the Lak$mf Tantra as translated and commented upon by Sanjukta
Gupta.
11
CHAPTER I
BACKGROUND
The Word in the Vedas and Upani�ads
Even in the earliest forms of the Brahmanical tradition, the Word
(vac) held significant meaning on both the corporeal and divine levels of
reality. The universe is derived from vac and also exists as vac, therefore all
reality must, too, be vac.10 The great concept of brahman certainly equates
with the supreme Word, eliminating the possibility for anything to exist
outside of the Word. From this Vedic-Brahmanical understanding the
various currents of Hinduism developed the Word in several ways, yet the
core remained. Andre Padoux describes this development as a "linguistic
theology"11 in which, even subtly, the Word maintains a prominent
position in the understanding of reality and the divinity therein.
The roots of the importance of the Word lie in the �g Veda, where
vac plays a key role in the cosmogonical story of the universe. �g Veda

10. 71 reads:
~º¹·
. . . when [the first seers] set in motion the first beginning of
speech, giving names, their most pure and perfectly guarded
secret was revealed through love .. .Through the sacrifice they
IO �g
Veda 10. 125
11
Padoux, Vac, 2.
¯
+
12
traced the path of speech and found it inside the sages. They
held it and portioned it out to many . . P
This verse understands the Word on two levels. The first identifies
speech as coming from the seers, which logically undermines the notion of
the Word as ultimate origin, but the second, subtler understanding notes
that speech exists within the sages, implying an earlier origin. Another
important element here is that vtc gives names, a concept commonly
understood in many cultures to be more than just identification, and, in
fact often equated with the act of giving existence. l3 In other words,
speaking something's name makes it real. Thus the Word operates as the
creative force of the universe, existing as the origin and the originator. All
the realities and possibilities of realities exist within vtc, though the
universe does maintain structure within the creative force just as the poet
creates his or her songs within the boundaries of meter.
Similarly, the Upani$ads reflect a reality derived from the divine
Word. The famous syllable awrz offers the most visible example.
Chandogya Upani$ad II. 23. 3 reads, " ... As all the leaves are bored through
by a pin, so all words are bored through by 0UU. This whole world is
12
Doniger, Rig Veda, 61 .
13
Padoux, Vac, 7.
13
nothing but aw "14 In this case the universe manifests through the Word,
in the form of aur, which is i tself divine. This level of understanding
satisfies the vast majority of the Hindu tradition, yet there is, of course, a
deeper understanding present, and it is this deeper understanding that I
will elaborate on in this study.
It is at this level of the Word and phenomenal world, though, that
the majority of human beings find themselves, and it is from this level that
seemingly all the traditions within India wish to find a way out. That
wish, however, does not exclusively denote removal of oneself from the
phenomenal world. In fact, the root of the Tantric traditions and the
grammar-philosophy of Bharqhari, to be discussed below, suggest just the
opposite: that it is in this manifest world where the Divine resides,
specifically the divine Word, and that knowing the Divine is as simple as
knowing the world through empirical language. These notions are
certainly not even contemporary with Bhart:hari or Tanta, either, as the
foundation for their formation lie in the Vedas and Upani�ads. Chandogya
Upani�ad II. 22. 3-4 delineates the known varieties of phonemes according
to their respective forms at higher levels of understanding. It reads:
All vowels are the embodiments of Indra; all spirants are the
embodiments of Praji-pati; all consonants are the
14 Olivelle, Upani�ads, 117.
:
i+
embodiments of Death. If one should reproach a person for
his vowels, he should tell that one, 'I have taken refuge in
Indra. He will answer you.'
So if one should reproach a person for his spirants he
should tell that one, 'I have taken refuge in Praja-pati. He will
smash you. ' And if one should reproach a person for his
consonants he should tell that one, ' I have taken refuge in
Death. He will burn you up. 'l5
Thus the phonemes of human language do not exist separately
from the divine qualities of the Ultimate and, therefore, identify with the
Word in its unitary and absolute form. Takng refuge in the deities which
correspond to the categories of phonemes, though, does not suffice for this
subtler understanding. The ascent of the individual human being, through
his or her empirical language, to the divine consciousness and on to the
Word as Absolute requires a deeper, subtler, and more intricately involved
understanding of both the phenomenal reality and the ultimate Reality.
Bhartrhari's Concept of the Word
The rise of Buddhism in India created a str among those in the
Brahmaical tradition and in this age, from the sixth century |LÍ to the
sixth century LÍ, many revivals and revisions of Brahmanical thought
ushered in what we think of as modern Hinduism. While much focus
centered on indigenously derived image worship, the epics, and the
'´ R
adhakrishnan, The Principle Upani$ads, 374.
¯

15
subsequent production of the Puralas, the grammarian Bhartrhari looked
back to the Vedas and Upani$ads for inspiration.16
Bharthari lived sometime during the fifth century LÍ and
developed his philosophy of grammar in the Vtkyapadfya, a work that has
only recently been translated and studied outside of India, mostly due to
its obscurity and the fact that certain parts are missing. Bharthari
theorized that the Sanskrit language is the definitive connection to the
Ultimate and through the proper understanding of this language, one can
attain the necessary knowledge of the Divine. His concept of the Ultimate
is purely non-dualistic and he conceives of brahman and sabda as
coexistent, comprising both parts of the sabdabrahman, which is the
ultimate RealityP This sabdabrahman manifests itself as the known world,
including, most importantly, spoken language. Bhartrhari thus argues that
through correct understanding of the Sanskrit language, one can break
through the barriers of ignorance that have separated words from the
Word and attain knowledge of the Divine. Finally, the last key part to
º-!°·
Bharthari' s understanding of language, and the element that sets him
apart from other grammarians, is his emphasis on the bond between
l6
Coward, Bhartrhari, 17.
17 Ibid., 25.
16
thought and language. He claimed that no cognition can exist without
language. As opposed to the seemingly logical view that thought must
presuppose language, Bharqhari suggested the opposite: that language
comes before thought, and thus serves as its inner uni ty. 18 In the words of
T. R. V. Murti, "Word and thought develop together, or rather they are
expressions of one deep spiritual impulse to know and to
communicate. "
19 Therefore, the mechanism of thought relies just as
heavily on language as spoken word and so thought, then, also contains
within it the ability to know the Word.
Bharqhari's theory thus accentuates the originality of vtc and its
existence as all reali ty. Harold Coward points out this necessity by arguing
that to suppose that language is merely a convention proves false since the
idea of a convention presupposes language. Therefore even such a notion
as God cannot even be thought without first having a language with
which to have a thought.20
'` Patnaik,
S
abda, 133.
'¯ Coward, Bhartrhari, 30.
20
Ibid., 33.
17
CHAPTER II
FOUNDATIONAL CONCEPTS FOR TANTRA
The Stages of the Word
Before I can delve deeper into the intricacies of the Sanskrit
alphabet, I must provide the philosophcal framework of the Hindu, and
specifically Tantric, herarchy of sound. Bhart:hari understood vic existing
in three levels: the highest is pasyantf, the intermediate is radhyami, and
the lowest is vaikharf. Tantric philosophy of vic, though, added a fourth
level of sound above pasyantf referred to as parivic. The addition of this
highest level of vic plays easily into the subtle theistic underpinnings of
even advaita schools of Tantra, as it often refers to Absolute Siva, or
paramasiva.21 The Yogakundall Upani�ad, a rather recent text, summarizes
the levels of the Word thusly: "That Vak. . . whi ch sprouts in Para, gives
forth leaves in Pasyantl, buds in Madhyama and blossoms in VaikharL"22
Parivic operates on two l evels at once. As stated before, it can
repres

.

t the Ultimate and identify with Siva or it can be another term for
the sabdabrahman. More commonly understood in the latter fashion, the
pariivic level of sonic reality is said to stem from the bindu, one of the three
¨
1
The term paramasiva mostly appears in Kashmir Saiva writings.
¨¨ Woodroffe, The Garland oJLellers, 214.


1b
immediate differentiations of the Supreme. John Woodroffe, under the pen
name Arthur Avalon, comments in his summary of the first chapter of the
SI, a text composed around the eleventh century L],23 that what emerges
from the hindu is an emanation of "indiscernible letters of the alphabet. . . in
a 'volume of sound' (sabdabrahman) . "2
4
Thus, in this lesser of the two
forms, paravtc can be understood as the undifferentiated cacophony of the
universe.
However, the understanding of sabdabrahmau as identical to partvtc
is not consistent throughout Tantra. Woodroffe even mentions in another
work that "In reality sabda eternally exists as brahman, "25 implying a
higher status for paravac than the subtly differentiated sabdabrahman. This
discussion, though, sets the stage for the efficaciousness of the phonemes
as they emerge. If, as pre-Tantra schools tended to think, the sabda, or
sounds inherent in the letters of the alphabet, was generated from some
source, such as the akasa, "ether, " then there could be no directly divine
potency in the letters themselves. The Tantric understanding, though,
identifies sabda, and thus the essence of the individual phonemes, as self-
23 Bhattacharyya, Tantrabhidhana, 147.
24 Avalon,
S
arada-Tilaka Tantram, 7.
25 Woodroffe, Principles ofTantra, 171 .

19
existent and merely manifested from the Ultimate
2
6 or from Au:.
2
7 The
difference between generation and manifestation may seem like merely
splitting hairs on the surface, but their distinction is of profound
metaphysical weight.
Descending from the panivac toward the manifestation of the
material universe, vac arrives at the pasyantf, "visionary, " stage. Here the
phonations of vac are manifested and differentiated beyond the level of
static potentiality, but not as of yet perceptible to the mundane aural or
cognitive perception. 28
Vac then declines to the intermediate stage of the Word, madhyamt.
Here, sound manifests for the first time into mundane perceptibility, and
while it has not yet reached the point of human speech, this is the level
where human thought and inner-dialogue begin to emerge. 29 Vtc has thus
gone from existing as a self-reflection of the divine consciousness to a
diversified and manifest self-reflection of the individual consciousness,
whichb

comes individual human beings. While the Tantric schools
26
Ibid.
2
7 Woodroffe, The Garland of Letters, 52.
28
Padoux, Vac, 1 42.
29 Ibid., 143.
20
describe tis level as pre-phenomenal and preceding the phonemes of
human language, one should recall that under Bhartrhari's theory of
language, even inner thought and individual consciousness can only exist
as a result of language. Thought, or consciousness, and the words used to
learn and know reality cannot be taken individually and must be
understood to be identical in the unity of the Word.30 Thus it is at the
madhyanzi level of vie that I believe the true potency and power of
knowledge as cognition takes place. This intermediate level is the catalyst
and the metaphorical boatman that connects the realms of corporeal
knowledge and the subtle corresponding knowledge of the divine unity
within vie.
The final. stage, vaikharf, is where the breath and letters come
together to put forth the sound vibrations that make up the phonemes and
empirical speech. Padoux writes, "The sound vibration, then, is as fully
manifest and distinct. ..as it possibly can be. "31 The universe becomes
manife_ted and human beings within it are granted the ability to
communicate using the diluted and diversified vie.
3
0
'
Patnaik, Sabda, 29.
31 Padoux, Vae, 143£.
:
Zi
The Notion of X+ 1
One very important concept to understand in regards to the general
Hindu theory of language is unity in diversity or, as I have labeled it, x +
1. Surpassed only by the Buddhist tradition, Hinduism has compiled
numbered lists for just about every element of their philosophy. One
common trend, though, is for there always to be just one more item tacked
on to every list, the+ 1. There were originally three Vedas+ 1 Atharva
Veda, three major divinities+ 1 Goddess, three letters in aur + 1 aur
itself, etc.
32 Even larger lists such as partitions of the universe or the
number of tattvas of Siva often have+ 1 attached. The greater significance
of this numeration is the idea that that extra one represents the totality of
all those before it. The x + 1 is the unity in diversity, the subtle dynamic
energy that both binds and expresses that within itself, including itself.
The Word, then, is both the lists and the + 1, though it is through the + 1
that the true dynamism emerges, and thus ignites reality with diversity.
How did the unity of the Word come to manifest as the varied
world humans experience? The theories of Bharqhari suggest an answer
in two parts. First, there is the classic example of miyi, "ignorance,"
pervading the material worl d. In this miyi, humanity has forgotten the
32 Ibid., 20.
22
true meaning of vic and thus lost the connection to the Divine.33 Similar to
the non-dualistic Vedantin's understanding of maa, this ignorance has
clouded the material world and made vic appear as many diverse objects
and many languages. The second part has to do with the Word desiring
itself to be expressed. Bhartrhari argues that the sphota, or inner meaning
of the Word and of words, contains kraltt, an innate energy within the
Word loaded with potentiality.34 This potential is the energy of the Word,
the+ 1, and the force that supplies its dynamic nature, leading it to
manifest into the phenomenal world.
Sakti and Divine Consciousness
The more commonly used term, especially in Tantra, for the + 1 of
the divine Word is sakti, the female energy. In schools of Saivite Tantra,
especially the Saivism of Kashmir, the greater Reality often takes the form
of Siva, which exists in a purely static state. This silent Siva stands in sheer
contrast to what I have described as the bursting forth of the dynamically
potent Word, understood in this depiction as Sakti, the female companion
to Siva. A seeming duality appears here on the surface. The Word only
33 Coward, Bhartrhari, 33.
34 Ibid., 38.

represents half of the origin while Siva represents the other, greater half.
While some patriarchal Brahmanical traditions may have wanted it this
way, the subtler understanding suggests otherwise. If one factors in the x
¬ 1, we find Siva to be a very essential part of reality, but the static part
nonetheless. The+ 1 is sakti, the dynamic energy that is non-dual with
Siva, enlivens Siva, identifies with Siva, and manifests Siva into the
phenomenal world. Through the Word, the Ul tmate, which is the Word,
comes to be conscious of itself in diversity.
Padoux writes:
Siva is .. .immanent (visvamaya) and is inseparably united
with his energy, Sakti, who is, strictly speaking, the cause
and source of the entire manifestaton . . . . the energy
corresponds to the Word aspect of the primary principle; it is
self-awareness (vimarsa) of the light of consciousness, and
that self-awareness gives it life.35
Likewise, the Word gives reality life by allowing it to be self-aware
in its diversity, carrying with it the knowledge innately present within the
Divine. If we understand consciousness as that which defines life and
dynamism, then the Word cannot be separate in any way from
consciousness because the Word is dynamic and alive.36 This
understanding of the bond between consciousness and the Word ties back
35 Padoux, Vac, 89.
3
6
Ibid., 78.
24
in with Bhart:hari's understanding that there can be no words, no
thought, and no conscious expression whatsoever without the presence of
the Word in the form of language or speech. In relation to my main point,
the necessary presence of the Word in consciousness and the active duty of
the Word in consciousness provide a direct route from the mundane
thought processes, which obtain knowledge to the divine consciousness
embodied in the unity in diversity of the Siva-sakti union.
Thus, the very ability for the Word to manifest itself into the
phenomenal world displays its dynamic nature. This dynamism pervades
all of reality and trickles down from the transcendental levels all the way
to empirical levels of humanity, where the Word becomes temporal and
subject to human diversity. Padoux remarks, " . . . . the powers that give life
to the cosmos are identical with those that make human beings alive. "37
This life need not be understood merely as the biological force keeping
humans coherent, but as something subtler that allows one to connect,
though this dynamic energy of the Word present in one's consciousness, to
the divine consciousness and, indeed, know i t.
´' Ibid., 24.
25
CHAPTER III
SAlVA-CENTERED TANTRA AND KASHMIR SAIVISM
The Saiva tradition of Kashmir, above all others, carefully fleshes
out the essence of the Sanskrit alphabet as it plays an integral role in both
the emanation of the material universe and the metaphysical resorption
with the Ultimate, paramasiva. To do this, Kashmiri Saivites use what is
known as a matrkicakra. The mitrkicakra, or theory of the alphabet, not
only explains the emanation of the universe, but also, very logically,
describes the common situation of its practitioners seeking highest
attainment while operating out of a purely corporeal existence. This first
of the three sections on sectarian understandings of the Sanskrit alphabet
will take on a slightly generalized approach, beginning with the common
Tantric conceptions of the alphabet and then going more in depth into the
specifically Kashmir Saiva elements. This description of the origin of the
alphabet comes from the work of Dirk Jan Hoens38 and certainly does
have its leanings toward the Saiva and Sakta schools of thought, but it is
the best one can do at this point in the discussion.
The Sanskrit alphabet exists in the order it does due to many
reasons both metaphysical and phonetical, which, as Bharqhari theorized,
¯` Gupta, Hoens, and Goudriaan, Hindu Tanl!·ism, 98f.
¯

26
do not necessarily have to exist in different veins. Metaphysically, the
understanding of how the Sanskrit alphabet is broken down is best
explained by Kiemaraja in his commentary on verse 3.13 of the Spanda
Karikas:
. . . when [Siva], veiling by way of sport the real nature of His
Self adorned with the Highest Power (parasakti) endowed
with universal energy, desires to display manifestation in
different forms, on the screen of His own Self, then His
Power of Absolute Freedom . . . becomes Will which assumes
the power of cognition and action. As such that Power of
Absolute Freedom becomes two in the form of seed (vowel)
and matrix (consonant) which respectively indicate Siva and
Sakti. It also appears as ninefold according to the division of
letter-groups (vargabhedena), and fiftyfold according to the
division of letters of these groups.39
Immediately, though, an inconsistency exists as just a few lines later
in the commentary, K$emaraja writes of the eight-fold division of the
letter-groups, which align with the eight presiding goddesses of the letter
groups: Yogrsvarf or Mahalakimi for the svara, Brahm! for the ka-varga,
Mahesvari for the ca-varga, Kaumari for the ta-varga, Vai$nav1 for the ta-
varga, Varahi for the pa-varga, Aindrf or Indranr for the semivowels, and
Camun<a for sa to k�a.
4
0
These apparent discrepancies can be understood
in two ways. First, the ninth member can be understood in the x + 1
´¯ Singh, The Yoga of Vibration and Divine Pulsation, 155.
4
0
Iid., 156 n. 2.
27
model, where the ninth and final grouping of letters is also the entirety.
Second, and more in line with the syllabic groupings, the final conjunct
phoneme k�a can be considered in its own grouping. In this case, Jaideva
Singh notes that the corresponding presiding goddesses vary slightly. The
svaras are represented by Siva-Sakti and Yogfsvari moves into alignment
with k�a, leaving the rest as they were in the previous order.4
1
Syllabically, the alphabet breaks down more structurally.
Deconstructing the alphabet from the top down, the first organizational
aspect is the separation of the vowels (svaras) and the consonants
(vyafjanas). The vowels come first and represent the initial stages of
emanation. Depending on the particular view, the vowels represent either
ultimate Siva itself or his highest sakti. Regardless, a through alJ (visarga)
represent the arising of manifestation and serve as the foundation of all
other letters. Thus, Siva or Siva-Sakti are present throughout the alphabet.
A is said to be citsakti, the sakti of consciousness, and the
subsequent source of all letters. It is Siva, the divine consciousness. Thus i
represents divine consciousness and itself, since phonetically, and thus
metaphysically, a is the product ofa +a. This union of divine
41
Ibid., 157 O. 4.
28
consciousness and itself represents the inseparable union (ytmala) of Siva
and Sakti in a state of absolute bliss (ananda).
Next comes i, representing the power of will (icchasakti),
4
2 followed
by f, representing the power of sovereignty or of reigning (!sana). The
beginnings of light into the process of manifestation occur at the
emergence of u, which corresponds to awakening or coming forth
(unmefa), culminating in the stage of power of knowledge {jfanasakti). The
first six sounds (a to a) sum up in the form of a, which represents the bzja,
"seed," for the entirety of the svaras.
The next set of vowels (r, f, J, and J hold a rather interesting place
in the cosmogony of the Sanskrit alphabet and will be treated with much
more detail below. For now it will suffice to say that they represent a
pause in the emanation and offer a subtler transition of gradation. � is the
manifestation of icchasakti in a purely settled form, while r represents the
same sakti in a more unsettled or perturbed form. The corresponding
double representation of the power of will (icchasakti) then puts forth J and
J as it reaches the stability of the earth.
The diphthongs {e, ai, O, and au) reach the level of power of action
(kriyasakti) beginning withe, a euphonic combination of a and i, and its
4
2
The iccha, jiiana, aDd kriyasaktis will be discussed IOmore detail below with
regard to the trikma.
¯
¾
29
"long" form ai, the euphonic combination of a and e. The kriyasakti
becomes more manifest as the letter O emerges from the combination of a
and u and reaches full manifestation at au, the combination of a and O.
The final two svaras (a111 and a) carry enough metaphysical weight
to fill volumes. However, in the terms of basic phonetic emanation they
provide both a summation of svaras and a fluid transition into vyanjanas.
The hindu, or anusvara, represented as mr, depicts the entirety of the
fourteen vowels already manifested and serves to represent the singular,
dimensionless point of Siva in his Absolute form, as is evidenced by its
graphic use in the devantgarz script as a singular dot (. ). If the anusvara as a
single point represents the unity of Siva-Sakti then the meaning of a].
(visarga), graphically represented as two points (:), is self-apparent. The
division of the ultimate consciousness into two, namely Siva and Sakti,
sets off the creation of the manifest world, and thus at the culmination of
the vowels, representative of the divine powers of Si va-Sakti, visarga sets
the stage for the next round of emanation, represented by the consonants.
Hoens remarks that the second-tier emanation also represents a
"liberation" from condensed unity as is evidenced by the escape of breath
that is the functional part of visarga. 43
4
3
Gupta, Hoens, and Goudriaan, Hindu TantJ·ism, 99.
¬
*
30
The next stage of emanation of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet
covers the emergence of the consonants (vyaijanas). Consonants are
secondary to the vowels and, in fact, can only exist, phonetically and
metaphysically, with the aid of vowels.44 Vowels are the seeds (bzjas), the
expressive elements (vtcaka), while the consonants are the wombs (yonis),
the expressed elements (vacya). As Hoens quotes from Jayaratha's
commentary on Abhinavagupta' s Tantrtloka, "the vowels are the ultimate
cause of all the letters, "45 and thus every letter from here on out condenses
directly from the vowels, which are the themselves direct elements of the
Absolute.
The condensation (ghanatt) of the consonants goes as follows: a
condenses to form the gutturals (ka�thya), which are the stops (sparsa) ka
through gha and the nasal (anunasika) na; i condenses to form the palatals
(ttlavya), which are the sparsa ca through jha and the anunasika iia; ]
condenses to form the retroflexes (or cerebrals) (mardhanya), which are the
sparsa tq"through qha and the mzunasika 7a; J condenses to form the dentals
(dantya), which are the sparsa ta through dha and the ammasika na; and u
44 Consonants by themselves cannot produce any vibratory sound. Thus even in
their simplest representation the vyaiijanas are accompanied by the ultimate svar
a.
45 Gupta, Hoens, and Goudriaan, Hindu Tantrism, 99.

Ói
condenses to form the labials (o?thya), which are the sparsa pa through bha
and the anunasika ra. The semivowels (anatalstha) emerge next as ya
derives from i, ra from ), la from l, and va from u (+a). Then come the
sibilants (i?man) as sa emerges from i, ?a from )¸ and sa from!. The letter ha
emerges at some point but does not receive direct treatment in this
particular rendition of the alphabet. Hoens mentions only that ha is a gross
form of visarga. Nonetheless, ha needs mention as it does count in the fifty
letters. Finally, the last letter in the emanation of the alphabet is k?a. This
combination of ka and sa represents the entirety of the alphabet as it
contains within itself the a element, which is supreme consciousness and
root of all the vowels, all consonants, and the visarga element,46 as well as
the first and last consonants, making it self-inclusive in the total of fifty
Sanskrit letters.
Tattvas
The Kashmir Saiva understanding of the Sanskrit alphabet goes
-�·
hand in hand with its reliance on the tattvas, or elements of reality, which
reflect the parts, or aspects, that make up the whole of both objective and
4
6
Though not directly stated, the assumption here is that the sa aspect in the
combination simultaneously as is often the case in Sanskit grammar, exists as ha,
the grosser form of ah. Thus the double meaning allows the combination k:a to
represent the bookends of both the vowels (a to a h) and the consonants (ka to sa) -
m

32
subjective reality. The concept of tattva is not unique to Tantra and, indeed,
exists prominently in Sa:khya and Vedantic philosophy as well. In the
philosophy of the Upani$ads, though, the tattvas only numbered twenty-
five. In these schools of thought, this number is the point at which the
tattvas cease. However, as Lakshman Jee says, " .. .in Saivism nothing as yet
has happened."4
7
The Tantric understanding contains eleven more
elements that delve deeper into the subtle nature of Siva, or ultimate
Reality. Swami Lakshman Jee presents the complete thirty-six tattvas as
follows.48
The eleven Tantric tattvas begin at the highest level of reality with
the five suddha tattvas (Pure Elements). They are siva (ahar, Ultimate), sakti
(ahatJ), sadasiva (ahar in idam), zsvara (idam in ahar), and suddhavidya (aha111
in ahar and idam in idam).
Then follow the $at kaicukas (Six Coverings or Sheaths), the six
tattvas that the Tantric schools understand as the metaphysical barriers
betwee]J,, the higher understanding of Reality and that of the Vedantic
schools, through which puru$a must transcend. They are maya (illusion of
47 Jee, Kashmir Shaivism, 7.
4
8
Ibid., lff. Unless otherwise noted, the list and elaboration of tattvas derives
from this source.
33
the mundane self), kala (creativity), vidya (limitation of knowledge), raga
(limitation of attachment), kala (limitation of time), and niyati (limitation of
place).
After the Kashmir Saiva' s eleven higher tattvas come the twenty-
five standard tattvas, beginning with the pair of independent subjective
characteristics puru?a (the ego as connected to subjectivity) and prakrti
(nature) . Then follow the atahkara�ws (Three Internal Organs), or what
Swami Lakshman Jee refers to as the "objective cum subjective
elements. "49 They are aharkara (the ego as connected to objectivity),
buddhi (intellect), and manas (mind).
The final twenty tattvas are considered the gross, or objective,
tattvas and depict the emanation of the universe from the brink of the
subjective state down to the most mundane level of reality. At the top are
the paica jiandriyas (Five Organs of Cognition), which consist of srotra
(organ of hearing, ear), tvak (organ of touching, skin), cak?u (organ of sight,
eye), rasant (the organ of tasting, tongue), and ghratza (the organ of
smelling, nose). Then emanate the paiica karmendriyas (Five Organs of
Action), which are vtc (action of speech), pttzi (action of the hand), ptda
(action of the foot), payu (excretory action), and upastha (procreative
49
Ibid., 5.
Ó+
action). Next come the paica tanmitras (Five Subtle Elements), which are
sabda (sound), sparsa (touch), nlpa (form), rasa (taste), and gandha (smell ) .
These paica tanmitras derive directly from the last and most mundane five
tattvas, the paiica mahibhutas (Five Great Elements). They are ikisa (ether),
viyu (air), tejas (fire), jala (water), and finally prthivf (earth).
The Tantric understanding of the emanation of the universe depicts
the entirety of both the objective and subjective world consisting of these
tattvas. They are literally the ingredients from which the manifest reality is
constructed, and yet they also represent the totally unmanifest state of
Reality from which they emerged. The highest tattva, siva, is both an
element of the Ultimate and the Ultimate itself. In view of this, one might
understand the tattvas to be thirty-five in number, with the thirty-sixth
acting as the * 1, representing the rest in their entirety. From this
transcendental tattva, the remaining thirty-five tri ckle down from the
supremely subtle suddha tattvas toward the very mundane paiica
mahtblnitas, creating the material world so familiar to the corporeal senses.
The tenet

of Kashmir Saivism, and indeed Tantra in general, describe the
emanation of the tattvas coinciding directly with the emanation of the
phonemes. The phonemes of the Sanskrit alphabet themselves partake in
the manifestation of the universe from the Ultimate, each representing
Ô3
both an element of the manifest universe and the Ultimate itself. How
exactly the emanation of the phonemes of the Sanskrit alphabet fits in with
these thirty-six tattvas becomes a complicated manner due to the levels of
sonic reality discussed above: partvic, pasyantf, madhyami, and vaikharf.
Mahasr!ti
The Sanskrit alphabet is arranged differently and the corresponding
tattvas are connected differently depending on the sonic leveJ.S0 The
highest level, parivic, consists of the potentiality for the "great
emanation," or the mahisr?ti, 5
1
of the manifest universe and features the
letters and tattvas existing in order from highest to lowest. In the kula-
related schools of Saivism, this arrangement falls under the name sabdarisi
or sabdarisibhairava, literally meaning the totality of sounds of Bhairava. 52
Thus the emanation takes place beginning with the siva tattva
corresponding with the sixteen svaras (a to a]) . The emanation then moves
slowlytoward the mundane by connecting sakti tattva with the phoneme
5° For a simple and direct chart of the phoneme-tatlva relationships at the
different levels of sonic reality see Padoux, Vac, 318f Table 5. 1.
5
1
Padoux, Vac, 306.
52 Ibid., 306f Î. 237.

36
k?a, sadasiva tattva with ha, zsvara tattva with sa, suddhavidya tattva with ?a,
and mahamaya with sa. Notice, though, that the l ast corresponding feature
of the phoneme sa, mahiimaya, is not one of the previously mentioned
tattvas that make up the manifest worl d. According to Padoux, who
references TA 9. 150-52, mahamaya, "great illusion," only exists at the
paravac level of the "great emanation"53 and thus cannot be considered
among the elemental aspects of the manifest universe.54
Moving further down toward the manifest world, the anatalstha
(ya, ra, Ia, and va) are connected with the ?at kafcukas. Padoux, however,
lists them as five in number, 55 considering maya to be outside the grouping
while still enveloping them. Thus va connects to maya, Ia connects with
kala, and ra connects with vidya. The remaining two tattvas of this class,
¯¯ Ibid., 310f n. 250. Padoux elaborates that the mahamayt is the "transcendental
illusion" which marks the potentiality for differentiation, during which the
characteristic will become represented by the maya tattva.
54 It should be noted that Padoux also mentions a description from PTV that
describes the emanation without nahamaya, thus connecting kfa with anisritasiva,
another non-tattva, and ha with sakti tattva, etc. (310f n. 250).
55 Padoux, Vac, 309f.
�.
¬

kala and niyati, become emanated within the whole of the last three semi-
vowels (ya, ra, and Ia). 5
6
The correspondences between phonemes and tattvas on the
mahasr?ti becomes much clearer and simplistic when we look at the solid
consonants (sparsa and anunasika). In general, these letters connect to the
increasingly mundane elements of manifest reality, which makes sense
phonetically if we consider that sparsa means "touching" or "contacting,"
correlating to the increasingly sense-pervaded reality that forms as the
emanation occurs. 5
7
Ma connects with puru?a tattva and bha connects with
prakrti. The rest of the O?thya (labials) ba through pa going in reverse order
match up respectively with the atabkara�ws (buddhi tattva, aharnkara tattva,
and manas tattva). The dantya (dentals) na through ta in reverse order
match up with the pafca jfandriyas58 (srotra tattva through ghra7a tattva) .
The murdhanya (cerebrals) �w through ta in reverse order match with the
pafca karmendriyas (vac tattva through pada tatlva) . The talavya (palatals) ia
through. ca in reverse order match with the pafca tanmitras (sabda tattva
56 Swami Lakshman Jee notes that the condensation of the kaiicukas into four
parts results in kala and kala connecting with ya, and raga and niyati connecting
with fa (Kshmir Shaivism, 23).
5
7
Padoux, Vac, 309 n. 244.
58 Padoux refers to the Five Sense-Organs as buddzndriya ( Vac, 309).

Jb
through gandha tattva). Finally, the kaJthya (gutturals) na through ka
moving in reverse order match up with the parka mahabhutas (tktsa tattva
through prthivz tattva) . Thus the end of the representative emanation
arrives at the letter ka and the prthivz tattva, earth. The entire lineup
described in the mahasr�ti resides in the potentiality of the Ultimate at the
partvtc level of sonic reality.
Matrka
If we move one level down, however, the entire system of
phoneme¯tattva relationships changes, albeit linearly. At the pasyantz level
of sonic reality (partpara) the manifestation and differentiation of the
Ultimate has begun to take place. Whereas the general theme of the
phoneme structure on the partvtc level was emanation, the phoneme-
tattva relationships at the pasy0ntl level represents a reflection
(pratibimba).59 The order of the phonemes remains the same, but the
corresponding tattvas reverse directly, appearing as a reflection of the
mahasr�ti- Metaphysically, this plays into the understanding of pasyantl as
merely a few subtleties away from the Ultimate, partvtc. The entire
emanation, and thus entire resorption, is knowable at pasyantl, yet it is just
59 Padoux, Vac, 312.
¯¯

JV
a reflection of the true Reality. Just as we may see our reflection in the
mirror and know most everything about our appearance, we do not quite
see the reality of how we appear. According to Padoux, this general theory
is unique to Abhinavagupta's writings on Kashmir Saivism.60
This assortment of the alphabet is referred to by the term matrkt.
According to T A 3. 198, as quoted by Padoux, the matrkt is the arising of
phonemes within the energy emanating from the contact between the
"mass of sounds" (Bhairava) and the shadow of the objectivity derived
from its act of consciousness.61 It is more commonly understood as the
general term for "mother, " and thus mttrkt implies itself to be the
"mother" of all the letters a to kfa. The sixteen svaras continue to be
represented by siva tattva, though this time understood as not just Siva but
as a reflection of Siva in Sakti. As this level, which is one step beneath
Siva, who is the svaras, the vowels are not to be understood as the
foundation of reality but as merely reflections of that foundation.6
2
The
continuation of the phoneme-tattva relationships is fairly straightforward
60
Ibid., 315.
6
1
Ibid., 312.
6
2
Ibid., 317.
4
0
with the understanding that the tattvas are simply reflected from the
mahasr?ti. However, there do exist a few hitches along the way.
The direct reflection would imply ka to correspond with sadasiva
tattva, which is does in most listings. The exception is Abhinavagupta' s
rendering of the furthest point of pasyantf as anasritasakti, another non-
tattva. Padoux theorizes that arzasritasakti acts as a transitory link between
the matrka and the mahasr?ti.
6
3 Whereas in the mahasr?ti the kaiicukas were
condensed into four, in matrka, they occur as six in full, corresponding to
the letters gha through jha.
Malin!
The matrka extends further out from Siva in the emanation of the
manifest world, yet it still resides in a realm of heavy subjectivity. The next
step toward the objective level of reality comes at the madhyama stage of
sonic reality, where the alphabet gets jumbled up, foreshadowing the
"gross" level of words and hard letters. This representation of the Sanskrit
alphabet is called malin!, named after the Goddess wearing a garland of
fifty phonemes (vanamali) .
64
Moving closer toward the manifest, the
6
3 Ibid., 315£. Anasritasakti acts similarly to the non¯tattva anasritasiva that
occurred at its correlation with k?a at the early stages of the "great emanation."
64 Ibid., 320.
+i
phonemes are in complete disarray in madhyami; vowels and consonants
appear completely randomly with the alphabet beginning with na and
ending with pha.
6
5 Unlike the letters, though, the tattvas remain in their
regular order. The first sixteen letters of milinf (na to ga) align with the
Siva-Sakti aspect of differentiated reality while the remaining thirty-four
letters (gha to pha) match up with the corresponding tattvas in descending
order, sadasiva tattva to prthivf tattva.
Abhinavagupta formulates two theories on the emergence of
milinr
66
The first, from the PTV describes it as the dynamic energy of
Sakti emerging from the reflections of the pasyanlf stage. In Padoux's
words, " . . . the milinf, appears primarily as a highly efficacious energetic
shuffling of sabdarasi. "
67
The second theory, from the TA, places milinf as
arising from sarghatta, the friction produced between the sabdarisi, which
is Siva, and the mitrki, which is Sakti, resulting in the intermingling of
seeds and wombs (vowels and consonants), perturbed into creating waves
'´ The entire order of the phonemes in malin! is as follows: na, r, t, !, J, tha, ca, dha,
Î, Ja, u, u, ba, k, kha, ga, gha, iza, i, a, va, bha, ya, (a, (ha, tha, jha, iia, ja, ra, ta, pa, cha,
La, a, sa, a}, ha, ?a, k?a, ra, sa, am, ta, L¸ ai, 0, au, da, and pha. Padoux notes that there
is a variation of ths order found in the SatS (a Pancaratra text) where tha comes
after na instead of between J and ca. (Padoux, Vac, 321 n. 272).
''Padoux, Vac, 323f.
'' Ibid., 323.
+Z
on the once serene ocean of Siva consciousness. The sexual imagery here is
not without meaning as the sacred act of union pervades much of the
Tantric philosophy especially in regards to the emanation of the manifest
world. Padoux notes that these two theories are by no means
contradictory, for, in fact, the reflection theorized in the former easily
translates into emission, as it is presented in the latter. The central point to
absorb here, in regard to mtlinf, is the efficacy of its understanding as
jumbled reality. In other words, the form and structure of the seemingly
differentiated malinf depicts the greater idea of unity in diversity present
as the seeds and wombs intermingle. Yet, all elements of malinf remain
emanations from, and microcosms of, the Ultimate that was present at
paravac.
The Gross Emanation
Finally, the emanation reaches the vaikharf stage of sonic reality and
the letters have fully manifested into the sensual parts of spoken and
written language with which we are familiar. Though veiled in miyi, the
phonemes contain within themselves the entire emanation process and,
therefore, contain extremely powerful potentialities for the adept who
knows their nature. Padoux quotes from the TS, ch. 3, "They become thus

efficacious (suddhair paramarsai]) and therefore are able to bestow
enjoyment and liberation. "68 It is at this level that the actual practice of
Hindu Tantric ritual comes into play. Though beyond the scope of this
study, it is relevant to note that the emanation present within the
individual corporeal phonemes is what allows the mantra and ritual
placement or visualization of the Sanskrit letters to have any efficacy
whatsoever. The compressed letters are, as Abhinavagupta refers to them,
upayas or "ways" and "means" for which the adept can attain knowledge
of Realit. 69 PT 8-9a reads:
Therefore, beginning with 'a' and successively ending with
'k?a' it is known as sr?ti or manifestation. 0 glorious one, this
manifestation consisting of ' a' to 'k?a' is always known in all
the Tantras as the source of all the mantras and incantations
( vidyanar) .
7
0
68
Ibid., 328.
69 Ibid.
7
0
Singh, A Trident ofWisdom, 88.

44
The Emanation in Greater Detail 71
So far, I have described the very general emergence of the letters of
the Sanskrit alphabet as they are understood in Hindu Tantra. Now, I will
look at the same process through a more intense lens, focusing on the
tenets of Kashmir Saivism and elaborating on the metaphysical levels and
implications of the cosmogony as it relates to the phonemes.
I will begin with the first sixteen letters, the svaras a to ah. Padoux
summarizes these phonemes, collectively corresponding to Siva, thusly:
. . . each [phoneme] emerges together with a different aspect of
the divine energy: they are but aspects or moments of the
supreme Godhead when, intent on creation, he goes through
an inner evolution which will bring him from a primal and
eternal state of transcendent72 and changeless absolute­
changeless but not lifeless of course-as symbolized by the
phoneme a, to a state where all the energies are fully and
intensely awake (au); then, after these energies have
gathered, as it were, upon themselves, are focused on one
point (bindu), to an aspect where Siva will emit, through his
energy, the manifestation archetypally contained within
'' The details within the forthcoming elaboration on the emanation of the
Sanskrit
'
alphabetderive mostly from three sources: Gupta, Hoens, and
Goudriaan, Hindu Tantrism, 98f; Jee, Kshmir Shaivism, 1 5-27; and Padoux, Vac,
235-304. Any direct quote or other source will be noted separately.
7
2
Although the word "transcendent" often appears, and will continue to appear,
in discussions of this matter, I have a difficult time with its denotation in regard
to a non-dual system of philosophy. Given the implications of such a system any
use of the word "transcendent" should be carefully considered and never used in
direct relation to Siva, or the Ultimate, as compared to the manifest since the
essence of the non-dual outlook negates the idea of transcendence.
'
+3
himself, this emission having indeed for its symbol the
sixteenth phoneme: the visarga. 73
The svaras are so called because they vocalize (svarayanti) by
producing their own sound. Thus they "reveal their own nature" within
the wombs (consonants) and provide the breath (prtiJ.w), or dynamic
energy, for the static consonants. Padoux notes that this latter
characteristic of the svaras demonstrates the large theme running
throughout Hindu Tantra, and especially in Kashmir Saivism, that the
macrocosm of the universe is represented in the microcosm of the body?4
The sixteen svaras collectively align with the siva tattva during the para and
pasyant' stages of sonic emanation, the only subtle difference being that
during the former stage, as the alphabet is in sabdarasi, the svaras represent
the literal "oneness" of Siva-Sakti while during the latter stage, mitrka, the
svaras represent the reflection of Siva as seen in Sakti. Once the emanation
reaches madhyama, the alignment of the svaras and siva tattva no longer
apply due to the jumbled up nature of malin!. Even more so at vaikharf do
we fnd ð less apparent relationship between the two. At the level of
mundane speech and language, the tattvic puissance of svaras remains
hidden in potentiality.
7
3
Padoux, Vac, 233.
74 Ibid., 234.
4
6
The Vowels: A, A, I, I, U, and D
A begins the Sanskrit alphabet7
5 as it also begins the entire manifest
universe. It is the fundamental phoneme (idyavana), the original sound
from which all other sounds in the Sanskrit alphabet emerge. Phonetically
speakng, a is the origin, as well as a member of the three fundamental
phonemes (a, i and u) from which the rest of the ten initial svaras are
formed.76 It is anuttara, "none higher, "77 the Absolute, and manifests as
citsakti, the energy of consciousness of Siva. The understanding of a as
identical with the Absolute is not exclusive to the esoteric realms of Hindu
thought. In chapter ten of the Bhagavadgita, K;na, representing the
Ultimate in avatar form, states "Of letters I am (the letter) A . . . "78
Commentary on PTV 5-9a begins, "That anuttara itself whose nature is 'a'
is all this universal manifestation (kaulikasn;tirupam) . This is what is being
ascertained here. "7
9
75 The letter a or its direct equivalent begins many alphabets of languages,
ancient and modern.
7
6
a, i, and u combine in various ways to form a, f, u, e, ai, o, and au.
77 Muller-Ortega, The Triadic Heart of
S
iva, 88.
7
8
Radhakrishnan, The Bhagavadgfa, 266.
7
9 Singh, A Trident o[Wisdom, 89 .
¬
47
In many ways the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet epitomizes the
x + 1 concept mentioned above. In the PT a embodies the x + 1 aspect of
Tantric metaphysics as it is described as the seventeenth kala,
encompassing and representing itself as the whole of the sixteen kalas.
Commentary on the first verse of the PT reads:
'A' is the Sakti (kala) who is above the range of maya
(amayzya), who is not found in Sruti-Sstra (i. e. in the Vedic
tradition), who is bliss {camatkara) of the very waveless ocean
of consciousness abiding in the natural, supreme Light, who
covers both the initial and the final stage of the perfect !­
consciousness, which comprehends the entire cosmos which
is the expression of the creative delight of Sakti.so
In the same vein a is also considered beyond anihata, "unstruck," sound.
Later in the same commentary Abhinavagupta writes:
So it is being decisively propounded here that ' a' is the stage
of the highest sound (paravagbhumi]) in which alone of these
letters there is the non-conventional, eternal, natural form
consisting only of consciousness. In the nature of
consciousness, the omnifariousness of everything
{sarvasarvitmakati) is always present. 81
According to SvT 7.59, a is "self-uttered . . . and dwells within the heart of all
sentie
n
t beings. "82
8
0
Ibid., 24£.
81 Ibid., 91.
82
Padoux, Vac, 237.
-

48
In the non-dual Saivism, a takes on a double role as both source of
all energy and all other letters, in addition to being considered beyond the
letters (avar�w). A represents the akula nature within the kula itself. In other
words, even as a is equated with brahman through its identification with
anuttara, it also represents the vimarsa, "reflective awareness,"83 of Siva,
embodying both the object and subject of Reality (i. e. the static and
dynamic aspects of the Ultimate) . If we extrapolate the mystic undertones
of this understanding of the nature of a as both object and subject, and as
both static and dynamic, we come to the Kashmir Saiva ideal of unity in
diversity, through the relationship between vimarsa and parimarsa,
"synthetic, creative consciousness,"84 of Siva himself. Thus we have the
ultimate awareness split into two unique, but intimately connected facets
of the divine consciousness. Parimarsa is the awareness that is responsible
for the manifestation, even if it does not play out objectively in this level
of consciousness. A, the original step toward emanation of the manifest
univer� as understood in Tantric schools, especially Kashmir Saivism, is
said to be of the vimarsa, the akula consciousness directed back toward
parimarsa through the original divine union. Thus the emanation of the
8
3 Ibid., 239.
84 Ibid.
+V
manifest universe, stemming from a, must therefore also be reflective on
the panmarsa level of awareness, or the consciousness of Siva himself,
resulting in the important Tantric mystic notion that even the most
mundane and seemingly corporeal elements of this manifest world must
innately have within themselves the subtle, yet powerful, vimarsa toward
Siva, illuminating them with endless potential for self-knowledge of the
Ultimate. On this aspect Muller-Ortega writes:
While the anuttara is an absolute reality, it is not correct to
conceive of it as in any way separate from finite realities. The
anuttara is lauded as that which is completely full
(paripirl). anuttara), and as the abode (dhama) in which
everything occurs.
85
The second letter of the Sanskrit alphabet vocally extends the first.
Euphonically, i is the product of a duplication of a, as a + a ¯ i according
to the sandhi rules.86 A higher understanding, though, reveals the more
metaphysical interpretation of the equation. If we are to understand a as
the Ultimate Siva and also understand it as Sakti, in the sense of unity in
diversity then a + a equates to Siva + Sakti, resulting in what Hoens notes
- ··
85 Muller-Ortega, The Triadic Hearl of
S
iva, 90.
86
Abhinavagupta does note in TA 3. 160-161 that two anuttars can come together
and form either a disturbed energy (k?obhtlmaka), resulting in tnanda (t), or an
undisturbed energy, which would obviously produce the same essence of the
anuttara. Jayaratha furthers this apparent contradiction by citing internal sandhi
rules which allow a and a to come together as a (Padoux, Vac, 246).
�.
50
as yamala, "inseparable union,"87 and what TA 3. 68 describes as sarghatta,
"unifying friction, "88 thus earning the distinction as ananda, or "supreme
bliss." Muller-Ortega points out here that the sexual imagery need not be
overlooked, as the creation of a stems directly from the powerful union of
Siva and Sakti. More than just metaphorical union, the use of the term
sarghatta implies a certain frictional embrace, "a rubbing or clashing
together, "89 characteristic of lovers in passionate entanglement.90 As
anandasakti, the phoneme a has taken up partnership with citsakti, a, to
represent the pre-manifested existence at this early stage of the emanation.
According to Lakshman J ee:
. . . cit sakti and ananda sakti, the energies of consciousness and
bliss, are totally inseparable. Where there is consciousness
(cit) there is bliss (ananda), and where there is bliss there is
consciousness. Here, at this stage, the universe has not yet
taken its shape. It is only residing in ananda sakti, the energy
of bliss.9
1
`' Gupt

Hoens, and Goudriaan, Hindu TanlJ·ism, 98.
'¯ Padoux, Vac, 244. Jayaratha adds in his commentary to this verse that the
union of a and a is also a calana (stir), an ucchalatta (springing forth), or a spanda
(vibration).
`¯ Monier-Williams, Sanskrit-English Dictionar, 1130.
9
0
Muller-Ortega, The Triadic Heart of
S
iva, 1 09.
9
1
Jee, Kashmir Shaivism, 17.

31
Yet the emergence of i in the emanation of the universe is not
without hints of differentiation. In the euphonic combination, one
observes that in order for i to form, it must have the two parts a and a.
Thus a has divided itself into component parts of itself, losing the ultimate
distinction of a without losing the essence of the energy of consciousness
of a. Whereas a contains both kula and akula in perfect unity, i permits their
distinction, though subtly, since they still both remain in Siva. The
distinction, as Padoux notes, lies in the vimarsa of a that is provided by a.92
The progression into i also marks a major step toward differentiation in
regards to the numerology of lunar days (tithis). Beginning with i and
continuing on to ah, the fifteen post-aHuttal svaras coincide with the
fifteen tit his. 93
The third letter of the Sanskit alphabet, i, emanates from the
Absolute as a vibratory potentiality for dynamism. I corresponds to
icchisakti, "the energy of will," and describes absolute Siva's first signs of
intentign within the emanation of the manifest universe. At the level of i,
though, the will still lies dormant in a non-agitated state. The eighth
chapter of the TS reads, "The power of will has indeed for nature a
9
2
Padoux, Vac, 245.
93 Singh, A TridentoJWisdom, 1 90.
:
52
balanced movement, without specification, toward knowledge and
activity."94 Thus while a creative impulse has appeared in i, there exists no
sign that it will actually take place. TA 3. 71 refers to i as "the supreme
sovereign of nonfearsome energies,"95 implying the restrained nature of
icchasakti. As i is still within Siva, it cannot truly bring about any sort of
differentiation. Padoux describes this distinction sans differentiation by
calling the arising of i part of the "inner evolution"96 of the Supreme,
allowing the foundation of eternality and immovability to remain
unshaken, even at the emergence of new potentialities. The first chapter of
the TS describes this creative intent as being born out of 0, the power of
bliss, and emanating as the wonder (camatkara) of a at its own liberation
from the purely unmanifested Ultimate. 97
There are two slightly varying approaches to the emanation of the
fourth letter of the Sanskrit alphabet, f. The first, put forward by
Lakshman Jee, introduces f as simply a more agitated form of icchasakti.98
94 Padoux, Vac, 247 1. 58.
95 Ibid., 247.
9
6
Ibid., 246.
9
7
Ibid., 247.
9S Jee, Kashmir Shaivism, 17 .
×

53
Though agitated, f still resides within the potentiality of iccha and
ultimately within Siva. The second, takng one step further in regard to
distinction between the short and long forms, describes l as !sana, "the
energy of sovereignty"99 or "the power of lordship."100 Both depictions
complement each other as the TS says that it is in iccha that fsana rests. l01
Euphonically, f exists just as did a, by the combination of two of its
short forms under the sandhi rules of Sanskrit. Mystically, f comes about
through an intensification of the iccha. Commentary on PT 5-9a reads,
"Iccha itself wishing to perceive (lit. seize) the future jfana or knowledge
through its autonomy becomes 'f' which denotes !sana or sovereignty. "10
2
Here f foreshadows the coming of the next letter, U¸ while also expressing
the increasingly growing potentiality of the svaras.
The fifth letter of the Sanskrit alphabet, u, continues the growing
internal desire of Siva to manifest the universe. It is referred to as urznte$a,
the awakening or revelation, and essentially brings about the intention of
the Ultmate to differentiate. TA 3.73-74 reads, "This solitary reflective
99
Gupta, Hoens, Goudriaan, 98.
100
Padoux, Vac, 248.
101
Ibid.
102
Singh, A Trident ofWisdom, 162 .
=

3+
awareness of the self which occurred previously, which is the unfoldment
of the universe of the knowable, [now] exists in the aspect of the power of
cognition."103 It is the stage of emanation at which the objective becomes a
possibility, though not yet a viable reality. Lakshman Jee describes the
emergence of u by saying, "At this point the apprehension takes place in
Lord Siva's consciousness that if I go forward, if I move onwards I may
lose my own nature. "104 U presents the arising of jfinasakti, the energy of
knowledge, completing the foundational energies along with citsakti,
inandasakti, and icchisakti. In other words, u depicts the consciousness of
Siva as having not only gained reflection of itself, but also becoming
aware of the internal tendency toward desire of differenti ating itself and
having the knowledge to actually allow such a manifestation to occur.
D is the symbol that represents the entirety of the first six
phonemes and is considered to be the seed (bfja) for the manifestation of
the sixteen svaras. It is the apprehension of which Lakshman Jee speaks in
the preyious quotation, marking Siva's realization of the effects of
103
Padoux, Vic, 250 D. 73.
10
4 J
ee, Kshmir Shaivism, 17.
¬

33
differentiation. As such, u is known as ilnati, "lessening,"105 signifying the
loss of presence of the citSakti and inandasakti if the Ultimate is to manifest.
Just as with the previous two long svaras, the il emanates following the
union of u and u and, as with i and f, it maintains the same sakti of
knowledge, jianasakti, only varying in its degree of agitation. TA 3.75-376
says, "When, as revelation becomes more marked, the objective aspect [of
power of cognition] sustains a great disturbance, then deficiency (Cmati)
arises in pure consciousness. "
106 Mirroring the previous pair of phonemes,
unati rests in unme;a. The transition from u to u is captured in explicit
detail in Abhinavagupta' s commentary on the PT:
When umne;a or the arising of knowledge (umni;atti) has, in
consciousness, the desire for further objectivity
(umnimi;atiyim), the transcendental consciousness becomes
diminished (unibhuta anuttarasm!wit) owing to contraction
(sankocavasena) which is due to all forms lying within or
tending to assume subsequent objectivity (anta}priiJa
sarvasvarfpa-unme;ottaraika-rapairapi) and to the multitude of
existents which lie within as nearly objective, in which the
aspect of difference is almost indistinct and which are
tending to appear objectively (antaiJkarmJa-vedyadesfya­
asphuta-priyabhedil!lsa-bhisaninabhivarisibhi}). This reduced
~*'·.
?
consciousness, because of its retention within itself of all
objectivity (sarvabhivagarbhfkimJa), is like the udder of the
wish-fulfilling celestial cow, viz. the parisakti (anmiga-
10
S
Padoux notes that in ABS 16.47, a Paicaratra text, Û is aligned with t11.wrupa
(Vac, 251 n. 78) and that in the thrd chapter of the TS Û is referred to as armi,
"waves" (Vac, 253).
10
6
Padoux, Vac, 251.

56
dhainavfn:pt-paradevattyt/-fdhorupt), and upholding the
multitude of entire objectivity, becomes manifest (sphuta),
wide-spreading jntna sakti
?
i. e.
a
'
. 1 07
Thus concludes the initial six vowels, from which the remaining
svaras as well as the consonants emerge. The PT notes, "The vowels
which are up to the end of u' are known as tithfsa, because out of them,
the other remaining phonemes are born."
108 The three fundamental
phonemes of this group (a, i, and u) act as a triad of the energies of Siva,
anuttara (energy of consciousness), iccht (energy of will), and unmefa
(energy of cognition or awakening) . They are completely self-existent and
act as bzjas for the remaining svaras and vyanjanas. According to TA
3. 192b-193a, a, i, and I I act as "the supreme effulgence of Bhairava (Siva),
the power of the Suprem� Lord in all its fullness. "109
Abhinavagupta sums up the first six phonemes in the third chapter
of the TS:
The first three [phonetic] awarenesses (partmarsa: a, i, u)
being essentially on the side of the aspect of light [of
c.onsciousness] (praktsabhtgastratvt), are solar (surttakam) .
In the three other ones [a, Ï, o] dominates delight (thltda),
which is essentially rest (visranti); they have, therefore, the
1
°7 Singh, A Trident of Wisdom, 162f.
108
Ibid., 211.
109
M
uller-Ortega, The Triadic Heart of
S
iva, 115.
¬

57
nature of the moon. It is understood, however, that [in both
cases] there is no aspect of or element of action
(karmiiZSa)
_
110
The last sentence captures the essence of these letters compared with the
letters to come in regard to the overall emanation of the alphabet and its
subsequent mystic underpinnings. A though f present the most subtle
levels of manifestation and, in fact, merely suppose the act itself without
giving any indication that Siva will actually carry through. The phonemes
that follow illustrate the potentiality of these first six in dynamic action,
though not without first going through a rather profound hesitation that
coincides with the emergence of the amrta bfja, "liquids."
The Vowels: B, R L, and L (The Vocalic Liquids)
The vocalic liquids present an intriguing point in the Sanskrit
alphabet both for their uniqueness and for their position in the grand
emanation of the manifest world. I have not come across a satisfactory
phonetic explanation for the emergence of the phonemes r
, f,
/, and f
1 1
1
1
10
Padoux, Vac, 254.
111
In fact, J only exists on a purely theoretical level as it is not found in actual
use.
3b
within Hindu Tantra. 1 1 2 The best explanation I have found on this level is
repeated by both Hoens and Padoux. 1 13 They assert that r derives from i,
icchtsakti, though in a totally unperturbed, stable state. E then emerges as
a slightly more agitated, yet still extremely stable, version of r. At the point
at which r and t acquire the stability of the earth (sthairya, niscalati) they
become represented by ! and J As to why these phonemes are placed in all
representations of the Sanskrit alphabet between H and e, making them a
sudden stop in the fluid motion toward manifestation, is unclear from the
standpoint of pure syllabic understanding. The metaphysical
interpretation of this placement, however, allows for much more insight.
Just as with the initial six phonemes, the vocalic liquids exist and
occur within the consciousness of Siva, The level of r, t, /, and J differs
from a through u in that Siva has come to a complete standstill, even in the
subtle potentiality of manifestation, as if the Ultimate were having a
moment of cosmic hesitation. For this reason the vocalic liquids are
descrih�d as "sterile" and "neuter."
1 14 Lakshman Jee refers to it as:
1 12
It should be noted, however, that Bhartrhari (VP 4. 148) aligns the vocalic
liquids with the phoneme a and ABS 16.53 explains them as a conjunction
between the sounds r and l and the vowel a (Padoux, Vac, 256 n. 91).
1 13
Gupta, Hoens, and Goudriaan, Hindu Tantrism, 89; Padoux, Vac, 256.
1
1
4
Padoux, Vac, 254.
¬
»
59
. . . that state where the Supreme, filled with consciousness
and bliss, resides in His own nature. He does not move out.
Because of this there is no possibility of the universe coming
out into manifestationJ15
This point is a hesitation, after having made such intense internal
progress in the initial six phonemes. Siva literally brings the apprehension
which first appeared in u to the forefront, allowing it to be expressed in
the four phonemes that cannot progress themselves. As I noted before, the
vocalic liquids derive from i and thus posses icclsakti as their formative
energy. Therefore they still possess the highly impulsive will toward
emanation, as if the manifestation, even while under hesitation, cannot
help but take place eventually In his commentary on the TA, Jayaratha
notes, however, that even though the power of will exists in the vocalic
liquids, it is not the full emanative will of Siva. Instead, what pervades the
vocalic liquids is only the chiya, "shadow," of the will. l16 Abhinavagupta
elaborates on this aspect in the PT by describing the four vocalic liquids
as a state of void (anlsrita Siva) and comparing it to that space in between
hops of the frog. l17 This brilliant analogy epitomizes the nature of these
1 15
Jee, Kashmir Shaivism, 1 8.
1 16
Padoux, Vac, 256£.
11
7
Singh, A Trident ofWisdom, 1 65.

60
letters in that it describes them as merely the space in between two
legitimate forces at work. Thus they cannot be considered totally inert, but
instead maintain the essence of icchisakti and the creative impulse that
goes along with it. The PT continues:
The consciousness that is anuttara (a) and inanda (i) does not
expand in the first four spheres (i. e. r, t, /, [ (na prasarati), of
kriyisakti,
l
18 for that is an unnamable (anikhyi) state, not
being the object of name and form (nima-n1pa).
Anuttara and inanda being the final support of
everything (paryantabhittiripatvit) and after having been the
foundation of the entire activity in every kind of knowledge
cease (from expansion), ak9ubdha icchi ends in k9ubdha fsina.
So far as its relation to impetuous eagerness is concerned, it
is capable of expanding both in its own field and in anuttara
and inanda, because of its capacity for succession.
Then that kriyisakti full of impetuous eagerness,
penetrating into its own form (denoted by r, f, /, J) which is
void (i. e. devoid of all manifestation), immerges [sic] at first
into a luminous form which is tejas or fire (denoted by the
experience of r). Thus arise r and f. How can it be denied
that in these letters, the energy of icchisakti (i) and that of
fsinasakti (f) are associated with the sound of "R" whose
essential nature is luminosity . . .
When icchi-fsina desires to enter the void, i . e. the state
of anisrita Siva, who is free of any manifestation, they have
first to pass through the stages of luminosity (bhissvararipa)
i. e. the stages r and f united with the r sound. After this,
zchi-fsina following the sound 'l' assumes the form of l and J
which indicates immobility, the essential nature of the earth
(pirthivaripa-satattva) . . . This group of four letters on account
l
lS
Here Abhinavagupta aligns kriyasakti with the vocalic liquids. However,
Lakshan Jee places the emergence of kriyasakti with the next group of svaras,
starting with e (Kshmir Shaivism, 19). I find that the placement with r, t, /, and T to
be premature as well, considering that the very essence of kriyasakti implies
action and the voc'i
c liquids represent a state of pure potentiality in repose .
¬
61
of its penetration into vacuity is like burnt seed and is said to
be eunuch. There is in them no total absence of germ i .e. the
state of a vowel. Nothing can exist which is neither germ nor
womb, which symbolize Siva and Sakti . . . Even in worldly
pleasures, there is felicity in repose of this kind. That is why
this group of four letters is said to be the germ of
immortali ty. 1 19
At this point one cannot help but see the underlying sexual
implications inherent in the process of emanation through the phonemes
of the Sanskrit alphabet. While the obvious use of the bzja and yoni as
descriptors for the svaras and vyafjanas, respectively, needs no further
elaboration, the existence of ], f, ], and J at this stage in the emanation
takes on a much subtler, highly Tantric connotation. If we consider the
emanation of the alphabet as it occurs within Siva as paralleled to the act
of sexual arousal, the imagery of ], t, ], and J as amrta bfja, "ambrosial
seed," illuminates the moment of hesitation. Just as the process of arousal
features the moment of pause just before emission of semen, so too does
the supreme consciousness of Siva pause after its proto-emanative
buildup, before allowing complete kriyasakti to take hold and
uncontrollably emi t the manifestation of the differentiated world. Padoux
writes:
The inner movement of Siva toward emanation came to a
kind of pause with the four "sterile" phonemes, which
l
l
9
Singh, A Trident of Wisdom, 165£.
-
«
62
correspond to the unalloyed power of will at rest within
itself. For it is only though the combination, the union of
two complementary elements or aspects that, in a system of
thought which, like the Trika, is thoroughly permeated with
sexual symbolism, manifestation can progress_ l20
Connecting this idea with the last line quoted in the above passage from
the PTV the Tantric practice of retention of semen becomes clearer. Padoux
comments:
It might actually be taken as an allusion to Tantric sexual
practices, from which these metaphysical considerations
may derive, and where the yogin achieves the highest bliss
and the goal of his practice if he is able to retain his energy
within, that is, to prevent the emission of semen_l21
The Vowels: E, AI, 0, and AU
After the moment of hesitation with the vocalic liquids has passed,
the emanation returns to its path toward complete manifestation,
beginning the implementation of kriytsakti, the power of action. This sakti
completes the trio, along with icchtsakti and jiinasakti, that forms the
triko�w, which will be elaborated on more thoroughly below. The next set
of four vowels derive directly from the combination of pairs from the
initial six. TA 3. 92-94 reads:
1
2
0
Padoux, Vac, 263.
121
Ibid., 259.
bJ
The five1 2
2
[vowels] precedingly [sic] described, all springing
upwards, mixing and confounding with one another, take on
different forms. The Absolute, supreme vibration, and bliss,
moving up and rubbing and embracing will and
unfoldment, assume the most diverse forms. 123
The absolute, supreme vibration, a, and bliss, i, mix with will, i, and
unfoldment, u, to form these new combinations of both phonemes and
metaphysical energies. They are referred to in phonetical terms as the
"diphthongs," being the combination of two vowel sounds, promoting the
idea that in order for progress to continue forward there must be a union.
The first diphthong results from the combination of a or i and i or f,
making the phoneme e. Metaphysically, it is the combination of cit and
iinandasakti with icchisakti. In the Devanigarf script, as well as in the Siradii
script of Kashmir, 124 the letter e takes on the appearance of a downward
facing triangle, which is often aligned with the notion of the trikma of
icchi, fiina, and kriyisakti.
1 2
5 The sexual implications also emerge as the
downward facing triangle often associates with the yoni, which can
122
Padoux notes that the TA groups anuttara (a) and ananda (a) together as
inseparable ( Vac, 263) .
1
2
3 Padoux, Vac, 263.
1
2
4 Muller-Ortega, The Triadic Heart of
S
iva, 113.
125
I
will elaborate much more on the trik0a in the following section on Srrvidya
as it plays a much more prominent role therein.
¯
·
64
represent both the maternal womb or the female sexual organ. Jayaratha
writes in his commentary on TA 3.94:
By [the term] 'trikmJa' is indicated [or hinted at] the aspect of
place of birth, in other words of the ' mouth of the Yogininz
1
26
(yoginzvaktra) of this [ phoneme] . . . From this place is born the
supreme Energy as has been said: ' When She comes forth,
curved, out of the triangular seat' and: ' the triangle is called
bhaga [that is: vulva], secret mmJtala, abiding in the sky i ts
angles being will, cognition, and action while in its center
evolves the cincini [sound] _ l27
Muller-Ortega comments that the potent sexual imagery and metaphysical
implications signify the significance of e, the first diphthong, as
representative of not just sexuality, but fertility and reproduction as the act
of manifestation nears. 128
The next diphthong arrives from the euphonic combination of a
and e, pushing the latter phoneme (which is i, since t is a + i) to its vrddhi,
"increased," state to make the letter ai. It is the coming together of cit and
inandasakti with e. The resulting imagery of ai is of two interlocking
triangles. The first comes from the triad a + a ¯ ü, representing Raudrr,
Ambika, and Jye�tha, and the latter comes from the a + i ¨ e triad,
representing icchi, jiiina, and kriyasakti. Again returning to the sexual
1
2
6
A female yogi.
12
7 Padoux, Vac, 266.
1
2
8 Muller-Ortega, The Triadic Hearl of
S
iva, 113.

65
connotations in this union of microcosmic phonemes, and thus in the
macrocosm of the emanation of the universe, we find that the two
triangles, representing the siddha and the yoginf respectively, interlock as
prescribed in the practices of sexual yoga, symbolized by a six-pointed
triangle, and universally representing the divine union of Siva and Sakti.
The combination of a or t and u or u result in the formation of the
thirteenth svara, o. It is the cit and tinandasakti coming together with the
jianasakti and increasing the potentiality of manifestation of the kriyasakti.
A combines with o to make the fourteenth phoneme, au. AU
represents a stage much closer to the emanation of the manifest world and
features the kriyasakti at i ts highest manifestation, matching the full
manifestation of the two previous energies. Yet, at this point all three
energies still remain totally objective in nature, creating unity within their
pure objectivity. On this Abhinavagupta writes:
The vibration of kriyasakti ends in au. The vibration of iccht
and jiina comes to a stop here, for iccht and jiiina are
included in kriyasakti. In the Trika Sastra, the nature of au is
"�termined as a trident . .
_12
9
Also in the commentary to TA 5.60, Jayaratha describes au as trisUlabfja,
which is the seed that is the trident of Siva's energiesJ30 TA 3. 108
1
2
9
Singh, A Trident ofWisdom, 167.
13
0
Padoux, Vic, 270.
¯:

bb
prescribes that a yogin who gains the ability to totally immerse themselves
in the state of unity of the three energies (i . e. of au) attains niraiiana, a state
of perfection, free from all impurities. 131
The Vowels: Bindu
The final two phonemes of the sixteen vowels of the Sanskrit
alphabet inhabit a realm that technically does not lend itself to
classification as svara or vyar1jana. Both the hindu (anusvara) and visarga
exist as "aftersounds. " Just as the name implies, the anusvara is that which
appends itself to a vowel sound. In the case of the hindu, it is a nasal
aftersound. Syllabically represented as 0Ø, the bindu takes the place of the
definitive vaijana ma at the end of words. As we saw with the vocalic
liquids, arz exists as a shadow (chaya) of the consonant.B2 Mystically,
though, the hindu represents the culminaton of the first fourteen svaras in
the single point of its graphic representation (" ). It is the fifteenth kala, or
phonet awareness. This point, dimensionless in nature, is the ultimate
Siva as it exists in pre-manifestation. Its placement here at the end of the
svaras, though, demonstrates that the physical dimensionless point is yet
131
Ibid., 271 .
132
Ibid., 276.

not as subtle as the completely unmanifest Siva, which would have no
concrete representation at all. Thus the emergence of the bindu point after
the fourteen svaras accentuates the increasingly high-pressured
potentiality within the siva tattva. Therefore I disagree with Padoux on his
statement that the bindu is just a symbol and does not represent movement
toward emanation.
1
33 I believe its placement in line with the svaras and its
position behind the dual point of visarga exemplifies a step in the
ascension of the manifestation.
In the first chapter of the TS, Abhinavagupta writes, in regard to the
bindu's placement during the resorption:
Then, at the end of the power of action [kriyasakti], all that
was to be done and been accomplished is about to enter into
the Absolute, but, before doing so, it all exists as the bindu
which is essentially knowledge (vedana) and pure light
(prakisamttra).
1
34
Noting the bindu as knowledge here is key in understanding the mystic
significance of arz. J ayaratha, in his commentary on T A 3. 133-134, notes
that th
_
bindu on the higher level is not the anusvara of ordinary speech but
instead the "supreme knower. "1
35 Thus the term bindu often is found to be
133
Ibid., 272.
134
Ibid., 273.
135
Ibid., 273£.
bb
replaced by vindu, a description which derives from the root vid, to know
or to find.
136
Jayaratha continues by asserting that the vindu, then, is "the
autonomous knower in the very act of knowing. Its nature is light,
supreme, indivisible . . . He never loses anything from its original nature. "
137
Thus the whole of that which is "known" resides within the ultimate Self,
Siva.
138 This understanding leads directly to the mystical implications
present in the mantra of the self, ahar It features the first, a, and last, ha,
letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, sealed off by the bindu as the culmination
of Siva itself.
136
Whitney The Roots, Verb-Forms, and Primary Derivatives ofthe Sanskrit
Language, 159f. One should note, though, that Whitney provides the root vid as
having these two meanings, to know and to find, as two separate entities. He
writes that the derivation vindu specifically falls under the latter of these
definitions with its use in the Vedas and Bramm:as. However, Whitney also notes
that in l�ter usage, such as with the Tantric texts, the division between the two
definitions becomes unclear, and thus to consider vindu as relating to knowing
and knowledge is not done in error.
13
7
Padoux, Vac, 274.
138
Padoux notes an interesting correlation between the idea of Siva as holding
all knowledge and the generally oral lineage tradition wherein the guru literally
has all the sacred knowledge memorized. Therefore the sacred knowledge
resides within the �If of the guru, the microcosmic version of the Self (Vac, 275).
^
69
According to Lakshman J ee, "The letter aY', therefore, shows you
that the existence of Lord Siva has not moved from His own nature even
though this whole unverse is created in His Sel£."139
The Vowels: Visarga
The final phoneme within the siva tattva is the visarga.
l
4
0
Phonetically, it is the aspirated echo, or shadow, of the vyaiijana ha and
tends to exist at the end of words in the Sanskrit language. Graphically, it
is represented in the devantgarz script as two dots (: ) following the
previous letter. l41 Metaphysically, the graphic representation gives way to
the obvious understanding of visarga as the duplication, or more
specifically, the differentiation of the bindu point into the siva bindu and the
sakti bindu. The step from the fifteenth kala to the sixteenth illustrates the
upcoming manifestation of the Ultimate into apparent duality and,
eventually vast multiplicity. Verbally, it illustrates its proximity to the
139 Jee, -ashmir Shaivism, 20.
14
0
A thorough discussion of visarga, especially within the Kashmir Saiva school
of Hindu Tantrism, far exceeds the boundaries of this study and so I direct the
interested reader to the sixth chapter of Paul Eduardo Mull er-Ortega's The Triadic
Heart of Siva, a phenomenally comprehensive and insightful study on visarga
through the work of Abhinavagupta.
141 It is also depicted as : in the earlier Sarada script, which mostly found use in
the Kashmir regia


70
manifestation by expressing an echoed aspiration, an escape of breath. The
visarga is best understood as a reflection of the bindu, not simply a
division. This is in accord with the advaita philosophy of Kashmir Saivism
since the manifestation of the universe does not separate the Ultimate
from anything, it merely separates the Ultimate from itself. In fact, Muller-
Ortega refers to visarga as the "most ' tantric' concept in Abhinavagupta's
thought."142 In the words of Lakshman Jee, "It is not created, it is a
reflection." 143
Visarga is not the beginning of the emission so much as it is the
emission itself. Abhinavagupta writes in TA 3. 145:
Such is the span or nature of the emission: its nature is to be
made of everything it encompasses. So it is with the ocean,
which is [nothing else] than the unending succession of its
waves. l44
Jayaratha adds in his commentary that visarga cannot be the origin of the
manifestation because such a causal role for visarga makes no sense as it
still resides in a level ruled by non-duality. Abhinavagupta summarizes
1
4
2
Muller-Ortega, The Triadic Heart of
S
iva, 1 24.
143 Jee, Kashmir Shaivism, 20.
144 Padoux, Vac, 279.
¬
¬
¯i
the idea by writing, "The emittive state is the projection of the Self, in the
Self, by the Self."145 In the Pl he writes:
That transcendental state whose very nature is an eagerness
always to exhibit that kind of multitudinous variety, always
goes on expanding from the point of view of manifestation
(visarga) . . .
The consciousness symbolized by one phoneme, viz.
'a' i. e. the anuttara or transcendental consciousness indeed by
its very nature transcends all concept of space, time and
causality and which .. .is wholly perfect, resorts instantly to
the stage of para visarga, i .e., the supreme stage of
manifestation.
It is only after connexion [sic] with the stage of para
visarga i. e. the supreme creative elan, that there is a the
stance of tnanda, iccht, fsana, unme?a, its expansion, i .e. unatt
or I1, its diversity i. e., ],t, J, J and the product of kriytsakti viz.
e, at, o, au.
That supreme, energy of manifestation (para or
sibhava visarga) becomes supreme-cum-non-supreme energy
(paripara) which expands because of its excessive plentitude
[sic] and because of its being inseparably connected with that
supreme energy (svasattinintarikatayi) and instantly
becomes the aspect of 'ha' i. e. apara visarga or external
manifestation. 146
Thus the visarga denotes the culmination of the entire process I have
discussed so far, actualizing the building potentiality of the internal
energies of Siva and his non-dual divine consciousness into the
manifestation of the mundane universe. Just as the visarga ends the siva
14
5
Ibid.
14
6
Singh, A Trident ofWisdom, 1 8lf.
"
. �
¯Z
tattva, so too will its mundane form, ha, end the emanation of the thirty-
five non-Supreme tattvas.
Visarga represents the dormant kut:ralinf, the sakti energy present at
the microcosmic level of the human being, at the moment of its
awakening. Like the kutralinf, the visarga is the divine energy compressed,
and as it is itself the manifestaton, so to does it rise through the stages of
outward emanation that will bring about the remaining letters of the
Sanskrit alphabet. The visarga is the "very cosmic pulsation of the
deity,"
1 47 on the macroscopic level and again correlates on the sexual and
yogic levels wi thin the microcosmic realm. The vocalic liquids represent
the moment of hesitation during arousal, a point at which the emanation
could be stalled and the amrta withheld. The diphthongs represent the
progressive nature of the union of the preceding energies, building up to
the culmination in the trikot:a and its intimate relationship with the a, a, t
triad, resulting in the maximum intensification of the kriytsakti, and
pushing forth the act of manifestation. The hindu presents the final
representation of pure unity a moment of absolute oneness between the
static Siva and the dynamic Sakti. And finally the visarga embodies the
cosmic vibration that ultimately emits the manifest universe through its
147 Padoux, Vac, 281
¯
¾
73
divine pulsation, just as ejaculation on the microcosmic level emits the
seeds into the womb. Abhinavagupta writes:
Siva intent on creativity in the form of expansion by means
of the energy of the great mantra of the Supreme primal
word, viz. the perfect I, in union with Sakti, in whom the
urge for expansion is implicit, and in whom abounds the
bloom of the compactness of their energy, becomes engaged
in the act of creative expansion . . .
Then, when an exciting visual or auditory perception
enters the percipient, then on account of its exciting power, it
fans the flame of passion in the form of agitation of the
seminal energy . . .
When there is the dissolution of pra�za and apana
(marudadi), in su!umna which, as the cental channel, is full of
the storage of the energy of all the senses, then one's
consciousness gets entry into that state of the great central
su;umna channel where it acquires union with the pulsation
of one's Sakti (nijasakti-k!obhatadatmyart), then all sense of
duality dissolves, and there is the perfect !-consciousness
generated by the abundance of the perfection of one's on
inherent Sakti. Then by one's entry into the union of Siva
and Sakti (rudrayamalayoganupravesena) which consists in the
bliss of their essential nature of manifestation and by one's
complete integration (visle!a�za) with the expansive flow of
the energy of the great mantra of perfect !-consciousness,
there is the manifestation of the akula or anuttara (Absolute)
Bhairava-nature which is beyond all differentiation
(nistaraiga), unalterable and eternal (dhruvapadamaka).
In the case of both sexes sustained by the buoyancy of
their seminal energy the inwardly felt joy of orgasm
(anta]sparsa sukharz) in the central channel induced by the
excitement of the seminal energy intent on oozing out at the
moment of thrill (kampakale sakalavfrya­
k$obhojjigami?atmakarz) is a matter of personal experience to
every one. This joy is not simply dependent on the body
which is merely fabricated thing. If at such a moment it
serves as a token of remembrance of the inherent delight of
the Divine Self (tadabhijiianopadesadvare�za) . . +, one's
¯+
consciousness gets entry into the eternal, unalterable state
(dhruvapade) that it realized by means of the harmonious
union (visle?ma) with the expansive energy of the perfect !­
consciousness which constitutes the venerable Supreme
Divine Sakti (paribhattirikiri1pe) who is an expression of the
absolutely free manifestation of the bliss of the union of Siva
and Sakti denoting the Supreme Brahman.148
In regard to the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, this emittive act of
visarga thus brings about the vymijmzas, which are the products of the bzjas
(vowels) mixing with the yonis (consonants). Thus every phoneme from
here on out results as a mixture of the seeds and wombs, the culmination
of the cosmic act of sexual union.
The Consonants: Ka to K$a
As visarga emits the manifest universe, the remaining phonemes
and tattvas of the mundane reality below siva tattva emerge, though they
still remain metaphysically entrenched within siva tattva due to its + 1
nature. The consonants have no existence in themselves as they are
entirely dependent upon the svaras for both their origin and their
expression. Phonetically, this notion is verified by the fact that a vyaijana
literally cannot be pronounced without the assistance of a vowel sound.
1 48
Singh, A Trident
2
Wisdom, 42f .

75
While any vowel sound will do, all svaras derive directly from anuttara,
and thus the common presentation of the consonants is to appear with a.
The consonants are subordinate to the vowels because they act
passively as wombs while the vowels, as seeds, maintain the dynamic
aspect of manifest reality. Yet visually, in the devanigarf script, the
consonants take on a seemingly dominant role, leaving the vowels to exist
as mere markings or not at all. 149 Thus on the manifest level the vyafjanas
appear as the higher reality when, in fact, metaphysically, it is the svaras
that act as the pulse of the universe. They are metaphysically solid, arising
from agitation or coagulation within the svaras. The consonants are the
vicya, that which is expressed, as contrasted with vicaka, that which
expresses, which describes the vowels. One must remember, however, that
even on the manifest level of the mundane consonants, the presence of
Siva within the svaras, which manifest as the vyafjanas, remains apparent.
Thus even as the letters are distributed outwardly through both the
subtleties of mantra and the grossness of language, they maintain divinity,
serving as constant access to the ultimate Siva.
The emission of the vyaiijana phonemes is rather straight forward
and harkens back to the creative potenti ali ty wi thin the three highest
149 In Sanskrit there is no vowel marking for a as it is assumed to exist wherever
there is not a marking to suggest otherwise.
:
76
powers of the svaras, anuttara, icchi, and unmefa (a, i, and u). The guttural
letters (ka, kha, ga, gha, and na) derive from the hardening (ghanati) of
anuttara, the phoneme a. Abhinavagupta writes, "The condensation of ' a'
itself makes the class 'ka', all of them being guttural. "150 Jayaratha explains
in his commentary to TA 3. 149 that the single letter a is able to produce
five separate letters due to its inherent five energies, 15
1
which Padoux
notes in this context as annuttara, inanda, icchi (agitated and unagitated),
and unmefa.
152 Lakshman Jee notes that the resulting five consonants
derive directly from whichever of the energies is most potent in the
reflection with anuttara. I53 This, in turn, relates directly to which tattva
becomes expressed as the alphabet emerges in its sabdarisi (para) form.
Thus the emission in which the reflection of kriyisakti dominates brings
forth prthivz tattva (earth) along with ka, the emission in which the
15
0
Singh, A Trident ofWisdom, 175.
151
Padoux, Vac, 296.
152
Ibid., 296f n. 203.
153 Jee, Kashmir Shaivism, 21. Lakshman Jee uses cit, ananda, iccha, jiiana¡ and kriya
as the five energies in action during the condensation of a.
°
»
77
reflection of jiianasakti dominates brings forth jala tattva (water) along with
kha, etc., up to 1ia, finishing out the mahibhutas.
l
54
The palatals (ca, cha, ja, jha, and iia) are the hardening (ghanati) of
icchi, the phoneme i. The PT says, "the condensation of ' i' makes the ' ca'
class, all of them being palatal . "155 Again these five phonemes derive
directly from the mixture of the formative power, icchi, and the five
energies inherently present. The culmination is a palatal phoneme and its
corresponding tattva. Thus the emission in which the reflection of
kriyasakti dominates brings forth gandha tattva (smell) along with ca, the
emission in which the reflection of jianasakti dominates brings forth rasa
tattva (taste) along with cha, etc., up to ia, finishing out the tamnitras.
The next two groups of vyaijanas have a slightly alternative route
to emission. Both the cerebrals (ta, tha, qa, qha, and 1a) and dentals (ta, tha,
da, dha, and na) derive from the same icchi as the palatals, though this time
the power is expressed though the vocalic liquids (r, f, J, and J. The PV
states,
:
:The condensation of r brings about the ' ta' class, all of them being
cerebral. The condensation of T brings about the ' ta' class, all of them
1
5
4 Refer to pp. 32-36 of this essay for the listing of the tattvas.
155 Singh, A Trident of Wisdom, 175.

¯b
being dental . "
1
56 The instant reaction at this notion should be to draw
pause and recall that the vocalic liquids were considered "neutral" and
"sterile," logically incapable of producing any other phonemes. Padoux
notes this paradox and references Abhinavagupta' s response in TA
3. 175-178, in which he argues that the actual power of creation happening
at this moment stems from the iccha, and it is only through the lens of the
vocalic liquids that the new consonants are formed. The vocalic liquids are
thus present more to serve the needs of the phoneticians who classify r
with the cerebrals and J with the dentals.
1
57 According to Lakshman Jee,
both sets of five phonemes derive not directly through iccht, but through
the anasrtasiva,
158 a non-tattva discussed earlier in its relation to the "void"
of the vocalic liquids. The cerebrals emerge from the anasrtasiva and its
refection of the five energies through r and f while the dentals emerge
from the anasrtasiva and its refection of the five energies through J and [
Thus, for the cerebrals, the emission in which kriyasakti dominates brings
forth upastha tattva (the active creative or
g
an) along with ta, the emission
156
Ibid. It is interesting to note that the PT places the cerebrals and dentals in
this particular section as coming after the labials.
15
7 Padoux, Vac, 297f n. 208.
158
Jee, Kashmir Shaivism, 22.
¬

79
in which the refection of jiinasakti dominates brings forth piyu tattva (the
excretory organ) along with tha, etc., up to �za, finishing out the
karmendriyas. And, for the dentals, the emission in which kriyisakti
dominates brings forth ghri�za tattva (the organ of smelling) along with ta,
the emission in which the reflection of jfinasakti dominates brings forth
rasani tattva (the organ of tasting) along with tha, etc., up to na, finishing
out the jiinmdriyas.
The labials (pa, pha, ba, bha,and ra) derive from the power of the
unfolding or awakening (unme?a), u. The PTV states, "The condensation of
'u' gives rise to 'pa' class, all of them being labial. "159 They are the product
of the power of jiiina and the reflection of the five energies. Thus the
emission in which kriyisakti dominates brings forth manas tattva (mind)
along with pa, the emission in which the reflection of jfinasakti dominates
brings forth buddhi tattva (intellect) along with pha, etc., up to ma, finishing
out the antalkara!as.
Jayaratha sums up the emission of the consonants proper in the
commentary to T A 3. 152:
The second class [of phonemes] made of a fivefold energy is
issued out of the Absolute. Then from [the power of] will, in
its undisturbed form, connected with the fire or earth, the
two [groups comprising] eight [phonemes] beginning with
159
Singh, A Trident ofWisdom, 175.


ta, pa and so on, are produced by the [power] of awakening.
In this way are expounded the consonants. l60
The Consonants: The Semi-Vowels
The next set of non-svara phonemes are not so fluidly derived. The
semi-vowels (ya, ra, la, and va) euphonically operate as alternatives for
regular vowels when placed before another vowel. Ya comes from i, ra
from [ Ia from/, and va from u. They are thus also aligned with the
phonetic classes as follows: ya with the palatals, ra with the cerebrals, la
with the dentals, 161 and va as a unique, bilabial classification, which
typically comes down to a l abial distinction. The PT, throwing in the
sibilants as well, states:
. . . 'ya' and sa' go along with the ca' class; ' ra' and '?a' go
along with ' ta' class being cerebral. ' La' and 'sa' go along
with ' ta' class, being dental. ' Va' issues from ' ta' and lpa' class
i. e. it is labio-dentalJ
62
As with the entire process of the emanation of the alphabet, there
are mystc underpinnings inherent in the creation of the semi-vowels,
*� t
160
Padoux, Vac, 298.
161
There is assumedly a misprint in Padoux's book ( Vac, 299) where he lists la as
aligned with the labials, yet immediately thereafter refers to a section of the PTV
in which Abhinavagupta directly places la with the dentals.
162
Singh, A Trident !Wisdom, 175.

81
resulting in various characteristics as well as bringing forth the six tattvic
internal states of purufa. l63 Ya, as a phonetic result of i or f placed before a,
represents the power of will (either agitated or unagitated) coming toward
the Absolute, resulting in what Padoux notes as the seed of wind
(vayubzja). 164
Thus this phoneme is characterized by swift movement and
correlated with the double tattvas of kala and kala, the limitatons of time
and creativity, respectively. Ra forms as the power of will is expressed
through the lens of objectivity and light, specifically that of fire, which
Padoux notes as an attribute of r. 165 Thus the resulting semi-vowel is the
seed of fire (agribzja), characterized by the nature of heat, and also brings
forth the vidya tattva, the limitation of knowledge. Likewise, la forms as
the power of will is expressed through the lens of stability, specifically that
of the earth, which is an attribute of j. Thus the resulting semi-vowel is the
seed of the earth (prthivfbzja), characterized by immobility, and also brings
out raga tattva and niyati tattva, the limitations of attachment and space
respectively. Va emerges euphonically from u or u coalescing with a. Thus
16
3 These six tattvas should be understood as products of the state of purw;a and
not as creations of
S
iva, since they are limitations. Lakshman Jee refers to these
six tattvas as antal;stha, "being in the midst or between," another term for the
semi-vowels (Kashmir Shaivism, 23).
16
4 Padoux, Vac, 299.
16
5 Ibid., 256.
bZ
this semi-vowel arises from the combination of the power of awakening
(unme!a) with the Absolute. According to Jayaratha, va is the seed of
Varu:ta, which cools and makes the manifestaton flourish
(ipyayakiritva).
166 Along with va comes the miyi tattva, the limitation of
ignorance and objectivi ty.
Padoux notes that there may be some confusion as to the difference
between the semi-vowels and the diphthongs, seeing how each are formed
by the junction of two vowels. He references the TA and explains that the
diphthongs are formed within Siva and thus maintain the Absolute as
their most dominant feature, while the semi-vowels are formed with the
power of will (icchi) or the power of awakening (unme!a) as the dominant
member, making the resulting phonemes slightly less prominent in their
metaphysical status. 167 Syllabically, this line of explanation makes sense
because in the diphthongs, a, Absolute, comes first in the pairing while in
the semi-vowels, it is the various aspects of the power of will (i, f, ], and l)
and the_power of awakening (u or 1) that initiate the contact.
1
66
Ibid., 299.
1
6
7 Ibid. , 300.
83
The Consonants: D $man and K$a
The remaining phonemes of the Sanskrit alphabet to be discussed
are the i?man, which are the three sibilants (sa, fa, and sa) and ha, and the
conjunct letter, k$a. Like the semi-vowels, these phonemes do not derive
their characteristics directly from the energies of Siva. Instead, they derive
from the "swelling of the heat of (Siva's) own nature,"
1
68 bringing forth
the suddha tattvas, or pure elements. Indeed, in terms of proximate
characteristics of the manifest universe, the tattvas aligned with these final
letters offer the closest realization of the ultimate Siva. The three sibilants
(sa, fa, and sa) emerge out of three aspects of the power of will (i, ], and /,
respectively), taking residence within the palatal, cerebral, and dental
classification of the consonants. According to the TA, the sibilants form
after the purer forms of icchi are met with objectivity that develops as a
"steam" or "expiration" (Lfman) and thus produce the phonemes with the
same sort of phonic resonance. 169
Jhus, when i is roughened (ri$ila) by the i?man, the result is the
phoneme sa, which brings forth the suddhavidyi tattva, the state of aha1-
ahaJz / idat]z-idmrz; when r is faced with the objectivity of zi?man, the result is
168
J
ee, Kashmir Shaivism, 23.
1
6
9 Padoux, Vac, 301 .
:
b+
the phoneme Ea, which brings forth the fsvara tattva, the state of ida1-aha1;
and finally, when l is faced with the objectivity of UEman in a highly
awakened, yet ultimately steady manner, the result is the phoneme sa,
which brings forth the sadasiva tattva, the state of ahal-idarz.
Abhinavagupta writes, "the entire universe shines within the letter sa. "
17
0
The fourth ifman is the manifested aspirant, ha, described as
merely a gross form of visarga and thus holding within itself the entire
history or timeline of the emanation. I t is the closest phoneme to the
Absolute, bringing with i t the final manifested tattva in the form of sakti
tattva, the state of ahm!. It is by many calculations the final letter of the
Sanskrit alphabet, taking its pl ace within ahm!, the mantra of the self
which begins with a and ends with ha. Jayaratha, in his commentary on
TA 3. 179, writes:
The energy of the Transcendent is the visarga, of which ha is
the shrunken, dried-up form (isyittal rupam), and because
of this [direct connection with] the Absolute, it has the same
place of articulation as the latter'sP
1
F
inally, the last phoneme in the Sanskrit alphabet, as it is rendered
in Kashmir Saivism, is the conjunct letter kfa, known as kutabfja, seed of
170
Ibid.
171
Ibid., 303£.
85
"the summit." 17
2
In other systems of the alphabet, ha terminates the
emanation, but the Trika, in order to achieve fifty phonemes, adds kt;a.
173
It is unique in that it is the only phoneme which brings together two
consonants as opposed to two vowels. Padoux comments:
[K;a is created] through the bringing together (pratyahara) of
two consonants, ka and sa, regarded as vivified (anupri]ita),
one by the Absolute, a, the other by the visarga, which is . . . the
energy of akula, So it appears as the symbol for the
inseparable union of Siva and the energy, the source of all
phonemes, whose series end with a symbol of that
wherefrom they were issued. l74
Thus kt;a represents the totality of the entire manifestation,
featuring the first consonant, ka, the last non-ha consonant, sa, and the
initial vowel a. Jaideva Singh comments that kt;a, as a combination of two
consonants, symbolizes the external and mundane union of Siva and
Sakti.
1
75 Abhinavagupta's commentary on the PTV extends the
metaphysical implications of kt;a by describing the conjunct phoneme as a
turnaround point for the emanation. He writes that while the emanation
of this tinal phoneme denotes the rise of the infinite manifestations of the
'´ Monier-Williams, Sanskrit-English Dictionary, 299.
173 Padoux, Vac, 241 n. 43.
17
4
Ibid., 304.
17
5
Singh, A Trident oJWisdom, 187.

bb
objective world, it also marks the end of the emanation. Factoring in the
cyclical understanding of time and the universe, the final stage of the
emanative process simply indicates the beginning of the transcendental
process. 176
Thus concludes the general emanation of the manifest universe
through the letters of the Sanskit alphabet as understood in the Kashmir
Saiva school of Hindu Tantrism.
17
6
Ibid., 1 84.
87
CHAPTER IV
SRIVIDYA
Following in the philosophical footsteps of Kashmir Saivism came
the more Sakta-centered Tantric tradition of Srividya. This tradition likely
began as a differentiated unit sometime in the fouth or fifth century LÍ,
with the written forms of their doctrine appearing later, around the
eleventh or twelfth century LÍ. While certainly a different school of Tantric
thought, the Srividya borrows heavily from Kashmir Saivism in the realm
of philosophy of sound. The pervasive Tantric emphasis on the
importance and sacredness of sound culminates in Srividya as the srzvidya
mantra, which is the audible equivalent of Siva-Sakti, the binary pair that
holds the greatest significance in the Srividya school. According to the
tradition, the srzvidya mantra is a culmination of the thousand names of
the goddess Lalita, who is considered the most important manifestation of
the Goddess, 177 condensed down to 300 names, and then finally arriving
at a compact mantra comprised of ffteen or sixteen syllables, which exist
individually as bzjasP8 These syllables, though they are just single
phonemes, should be understood as sound on the mantra level and not at
17
7 Brooks, Three Cities, 73.
178
Ibid., 104.
88
the subtly higher level of van;a. Douglas Brooks writes, "Creation in its
material manifestations is paralleled in sounds that are metalinguistic
formations reflecting the original state of ontological unity. "179
The Sricakra
For the purposes of this study I want to look at the letters of the
Sanskrit alphabet themselves as they are understood in the Srividya
school, and for that one must ascend to the higher focus of Srrvidya, and
most widely-known visual element of Hindu Tantra, the srfcakra. While
the srfvidya mantra proves to be efficacious, it has various forms
depending on the parampari, "lineage," of the tadition in which it used
and thus can be viewed as transitory. The srfcakra, however, is viewed as
"original" in its cosmic form and therefore unalterable and pure. 1 80 The
srfcakra, or srfyantra, is, just like all yantras, a graphic representation of the
absolute Divine, which in this case is Srr. The srfcakra is literally the
entirety of the universe in graphic form, understood as more than j ust a
two-dimensional picture, but as a three-dimensional representation of
1
7
9 Ibid., 60.
1 80
Ibid., 107.
89
Reality. Brooks describes the concept of the yantra as it relates both to
Srfvidya and the more general reality in eloquent detail:
The srfyantra or srfcakra of the Srrvidya school . . .is a yantra in
this classical sense: it is a model that parallels the material,
verbal, and cognitive realities it represents. According to
Srrvidya adepts, the srfcakra is not only a blueprint of the
primordial creative act in which the One becomes Many, it is
the very form (svarupa) the universe assumes at macrocosmic
and microcosmic levels. Put differently, the srfcakra is at once
the subtle shape or configuration of the universe and the
subtle essence of the human body, speech, and mind. More
than simply a description of these realities, the yantra
functions as a road map which, with proper instructions,
shows the adept the way back to the ultimate's origins. Not
unlike a map, which only symbolizes a corresponding
reali ty, the yantra is an index of reality: it is not merely a
depiction of reality but its actual, subtle context.l81
Once viewed in this manner, the yantra takes on the form of a
mountain with the center point (bindu) as its summit. Herein begins the
connection with the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. The sricakra basically
includes a series of nine interlaced triangles of increasing size placed
around a central point. 182
Around the triangles are two sets of lotus petals,
the firs
_
level with eight and the second with sixt�en. Surrounding the
1b1
Ibid., 63.
18
2
Ibid., 107ff. Unless otherwise noted, the following general description of the
srrcakra derives from this source.
VU
petals are three concentric circles, which are then bordered by four
"gateways" which can be depicted as either opened or dosed. l83
The meat of the srzcakra is in its triangles. The nine triangles are
divided into five downward-facing triangles, representing Sakti, and four
upward facing triangles, representing Siva. KKV 23-24 identify these
major triangles thusly: the five downward facing triangles are associated
with the saktis Vama, Jye?tha, Raudrz, Arhbika, and Parasakti; and the four
upward facing triangles are associated with the saktis lccha, ]iana, Kriya,
and Santa. As I pointed out in the emanation of the letters in the Kashmir
Saiva school, the symbolic image of the interlocking triangles in the
srzcakra amplifies the same conjugal concept. Starting from the center of
the yantra, each downward facing tiangle, symbolic of the yoni or womb,
unites in divine embrace with the upward-facing triangles, symbolic of the
divine linga, or phallus.
18
3
The depiction of the sricakr on the following page features a version of the
closed gateways, promoted by Bhdskarardya. Brooks notes that the Kaulas tend
to prefer the depiction with gateways opened (Three Cities, 107).

91
The Srrcakra. Line drawing adapted from Sri Yantra, Mike Horvath in Wikipedia
2006, reprinted under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License
Within the srfcakra there are also sub-cakJ-as whch maintain their
own mystical significance through the emanation. There are nine in total,
starting with the bindu and inner most triangle (trikm;a) as one, continuing
outwa
:
? with the group of eight minor triangles (vasuko�w), the two
groups of ten minor triangles, the outer group of fourteen minor triangles
(manvasra), the group of eight lotus petals, the group of sixteen lotus
petals, and finally the "gateways" of the srfcakra (bluJpura). The ninth sub-
cakra exists as the + 1 element of the srfcakra, exemplifying the unity in the
92
diversity. The mystic nature of these nine sub-cakras, as it plays out in the
strongly Sakta aspects of Srividya, is summed up in TrU 2:
The nine [sub-] cakras created the nine Yonis; joined together
[to form these] nine [ (sub-)cakras, there are] nine yoginfs
[presiding over each of the (sub-)cakras] . [There are also]
presiding female deities over [each of the] nine [sub-]cakras.
Syont [the goddess presiding over the cakras is the cause of
happiness] . There are nine gestures (mudrts) and nine
bhadrts184 for each place (mahfntm) on the cakra.
1
85
Thus each level of the srfcakra has its own representftiVe sakti which acts
as an agent of emanation from the top down, and as an object of worship
and attainment on the way back up. They are both the creative powers
and the veil s of Reality.
Taking it one step further, we can also see that each individual
triangle within the entire srfcakra has significance and mystic
ramifications. TrU 3 reads:
Originally she was one, she became nine, she became
nineteen and then twenty-nine. Then [she became] forty­
three. [She is] shining intensely as if desirous. Let the
·Mothers [identified with the forty-three yoginzs placed on the
minor triangles of the srzcakra] enter into me [ through the
pocess of nytsa and mantras ]
_
1 86
18
4
Mantras to the nine goddesses presiding over the nine sub-cakras.
1
8
5 Brooks, Three Cities, 157.
186
Ibid., 160.
93
Thus the original one, itself a sub-cakra, is taken to mean the bindu I
triko�za triangle, which becomes nine by adding in the eight minor
triangles of the vasuk01.za sub-cakra. Then one adds the two sub-cakras of ten
minor triangles to get to nineteen and twenty-nine respectively. Finally,
adding in the sub-cakra of the fourteen minor triangles, one culminates
with the forty-three total triangles serving as yonis, or seats of the forty-
three yoginfs.
Visualized as a three-dimensional mountain, often referred to as
meru cakra or Sumeru, 187
the adept's goal in his or her practice is to scale
the mountain from the valleys of the mundane to the summit, wherein one
can realize and identify with the true nature of the Divine. This angle is of
the utmost importance to the actual practitioner within the Srfvidya school
and should not be lost in the technicalities of associations with the
metaphysical nature of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. It is easy to
forget in the tedious listing of characteristics that the premises presented
here are religious in nature. KKV 21 reads:
The wise know no difference between the Mahesf [The Great
Goddess] and the Cakra. Para Herself is the subtle form of
18
7
Sumeru is the name of the mythical city located at the center of the universe
(Brooks, Three Cities, 107).
¬

94
both these (Devatt and Cakra) . There is no difference between
the two in gross form also.
Ioo
Thus the srzcakra is identical with the Goddess on the level of true Reality
and should be rendered as such.
For the purposes of this study I want to look at the reverse process
where the universe emanates out from the summit. This is the "inside out"
interpretation, the "creation method" or sr;ti krama, which aligns with the
process of creation and thus the emanation. l89
Before I carry on the description of the phonemes as they relate to
the parts of the srzcakra, I should note that some confusion can arise in
regard to what phonemes derive from where on the yantra. As I will show
below, the emanation of the Sanskrit letters tends to be repetitive and
seemingly redundant as one descends from the summit of the srfcakra,
leading to considerable bewilderment for the logical mind. Thus, in order
to best provide a framework for the following discussion, I summon the
comparison between the srfcakra and the fractal geometry of mathematics.
For tho�e- unfamiliar with fractals, the basic concept of their rendering is
that any given point on a particular graphic representation of a fractal
appears as if it is the entire function. In other words, each part is
1
88
Avalon, Kma-Ialt-Vilasa, 43.
1
8
9 Brooks, Three Cities, 107.

95
essentially equal to the whole. Likewise, the nature of the srrcakra allows it
to exist as a whole emanative unit, while at the same time offering its
parts, the sub-cakras, as representations of alternative wholes. I hope this
model alleviates any further confusion.
The Emanation of the Sanskrit Alphabet
The srrcakra visualizes the emanation of the manifest universe in the
Srrvidya school by depicting the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet in a
descending order, from the summit down to the "valley." Just as in the
Kashmir Saiva emanation, though not as rigorously structured, the letters
follow a certain order and represent certain stages of the manifestation,
corresponding to certain metaphysical notions of the individual letters. I
will frame this particular discussion on the cosmogonic mysticism of the
Sanskrit letters by describing their basic process of emanation in relation
to the srfcakra as explained in the work of Douglas Brooks,1 90 who derives
much of this information from the Tripura Upani�ad, a later text form the
eighteenth century L͸
1
9
1
and in the work of Sir John Woodroffe,
specifically his translation of Kimakaliivilisa.
19
0
Brooks, Auspicious Wisdom, 125ff.
191 Brooks, Three Cities, 15lff.

96
In general it is important to note a few characteristics about the
Srfvidya emanation of the alphabet as compared to the Kashmir Saiva
approach. As I mentoned in the previous section, the Saiva schools of
Tantra generally accept the count of fifty letters for their rendition of the
Sanskrit alphabet. In the Srfvidya, however, there are at least two versions
of that count. KKV 32 directly mentions the count to be 51: " . . . by these
three is produced Vaikharf who is the fifty-one letters of the alphabet. "1 92
This numeration includes all fifty phonemes that emerged in Kashmir
Saivism with the addition of the Vedic cerebral ]a. However, Bhaskararaya,
in TrU 1, describes the srzcakra, and thus all reality, as represented by forty-
eight phonemes. This arrangement does not include the Vedic ]a, since it
easily assimilates into la, the letter kEa, since it is a conjunct of two other
letters, and ha, since it is already represented in part by visarga. l93
Brooks
notes that the forty-eight-phoneme structure is the minority opinion and is
offered up in the TrU as a method to harmonize certain auspicious
numbexs within the Srfvidya.l94 Thus when TrU 1 states, "She presides
over the three cities and the three paths [and this sr!cakra] in which the
192 Avalon, Kama-Kla-Vilasa, 63.
19
3 Brooks, Three Cities, 154.
1
94 Ibid., 246 n. 38 .
¯
¬
97
syllables 'a', 'ka', and ' tha' [representing the forty-eight letters of Sanskrit)
are inscribed,"1 95 it attempts to frame the alphabet into three sets of
sixteen letters. The sixteen is significant in the Srrvidya school for i t is the
number of syllables in one version of the srfvidya mantra. The first begins
with a, which means all the vowels (a, a, i, f, u, a, J, f, /, [, e, ai, 0, au, arz, and
ah), the second group begins with ka (the consonants ka196, kha, ga, gha, fza,
ca, cha, ja, jha, iia, ta, tha, ca, cha, �za, and ta), and the third group begins
with tha (the consonants tha, da, dha, na, pa, pha, ba, bha, ma, ya, ra, la, va, sa,
�a, and sa) . The breakdown of these phonemes into three plays into the
triadic themes of Tantrism in general, yet one could seemingly argue that
the additon of the three other phonemes would just as easily lend itself to
numerological symbolism. The verdict rests on a matter of preference.
The greater metapll.sical issue at hand in this first verse of the TrU
is the seminal nature of these initial phonemes. The commentary says, "As
the banyan tree is found in its seed,1 97 so these [syllables] contain
195
Ibid., 151.
196
Brooks claims that this second group does not actually include ka and instead
begins with kha and goes through tha (Three Cities, 246 n. 38). In light of the
available materials, ths claim seems to be in error as the alignment supposed by
Bhaskararaya works perfectly stable as it is, resulting in three equally divided
groups of sixteen phonemes.
1
9
7 See Chandogy

Upani$ad Vl. 12.
"
Vb
everything and are complete."
1
9
8
While these three syllables clearly refer
to their existence on the mundane, vaikharf' leve1, the idea remains present
at all levels up to parivic, including the most subtle form of parivic at the
summit of the srfcakra, the hindu.
Bindu
At the center of the srfcakra resides the hindu point, central to much
metaphysical speculation and generally regarded as the hfja of the entire
alphabet and thus the entire manifest universe. The hindu can represent
visarga, the sixteenth vowel, and is known as sarvinandamaya, "that which
consists of all bliss. " The inherent split in the graphic representation of
visarga and the linguistic echo of its pronunciation promote the hindu point
as a fountainhead for manifestation coming out of the Absolute. As with
the visarga in Kashmir Saiva thought, this, too, represents the
manifestation itself coming to active fruition. To use a graphic metaphor,
the manifestation occurs as a volcano with the hindu at the peak spewing
forth the manifest universe in the form of the other phonemes into
existence.
Naming the sub-cakra as sarvinandamaya accentuates the
achievement one gains upon worshiping the deity with which the
198
Brooks, Three Cities, 154.

99
particular level is associated, as well as understanding what the role of
that particular deity I aspect plays in the mundane worl d. This trend will
follow with the remaining sub-cakras as well. For hindu, the presiding
deity is Mahitripurasundarf, who also presides over all the other presiding
deities of the srfcakra. In addition to the presiding deities over the sub-
cakras, each level has its own subordinate deities identified as yoginfs,
which tend to correlate to the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet present at a
particular sub-cakra, though even within the Srfvidya there is no
consistency on this matter, as will be evident below. The classification of
the yoginf present at the level of bindu is parapararahasya, "supreme secret
of the supreme." At this unitary level of bindu, though, the yoginf is also
identified as Mahitripurasundarf. This particular yoginf is also the sixteenth
nityidevata, "eternal deity, " which correspond to the sixteen kalis, or
phases of the moon, a fact that will become significant in the later stages of
the srfcakra emanation.
The bindu can also identify with the divine seed of Siva, acting as a
representative of the linga within the initial downward-facing triangle,
yoni, of the srfcakra. The potentiality held within the bindu as the divine
semen awaits manifestation. Bhaskararaya quotes the Yoginzhrdaya in his
commentary to verse 1 of the TrU:
100
. . . the haindava cakra [i. e. , the central point or hindu of the
srfcakra] has the nature of the three Little Mothers (mitrkis)
[viz., the devolutions of the Absolute Brahman in the form of
sound (sahda) kown as pasyantf, madhyami, and vaikharf]
and it pervades the place of the universal waves [i. e., the
world consisting of the thirty-six tattvas] .
199
The one hindu, then, existing within the subtlety of parivic, holds within
i tself the other levels of speech, and thus it contains the entirety of the
manifestation.
Bhaskararaya' s commentary to verse 2 of the TrU lays out the
essential triads residing in the hindu.
200
There are three categories under
which the saktis fall: the santa (her supreme peaceful aspect), the Amhiki
(the aspect of the supreme Mother), and the pari (the aspect of the
Supreme). Under santi reside the icchi, kriyi, and jiiinasaktis; under Amhiki
reside Vara, Jyestha, and Raudrz;
201
and under pari reside pasyantf,
madhyami, and vaikharf. Thus, herein lies the potentiality for the expansion
of hindu, with its triad of triads, into the next stage of emanation on the
srfcakra. These triads will differentiate the Absolute and begin to manifest
the mundane world while maintaining the inherent nature of these saktis.
`´´ Ibid., 153£.
200
Ibid., 157, 249 n. 64.
201
Bhaskararaya comments that these three saktis are complemented by their
male companions:
J
hmt, Vi?IU, and Rudr (Brooks, Three Cities, 157).

101
The KKV exemplifies this as well in verse 22: "The center of Cakra
[srfcakra] is Para (Para-maya). This is Bindu-tattva.
"2
0
2
Bhaskararaya
comments on verse 1 of the TrU, "In this [hindu] the Great Being is
present."203 Yet due to its high status in the realm of para, shielded by the
other layers of the srfcakra I have yet not explained, it cannot be attained,
experienced, or understood. Bhaskararaya continues:
[The Great Being] indicates, then, that it is ineligible
[therefore] for external worship (hahirpuja) . . . Only knowers of
Brahman know that [the hindu] is identical with the supreme
goddess204 and only within themselves. Others do not know
this.
2
05
Thus in order for the inner essence of the hindu, the seed of Siva, to be
accessible it must manifest into a lower form of existence, which brings
about the next sub-cakra.
202
Avalon, Kama-Kala-Vil0a, 45.
20
3
Brooks, Three Cities, 157.
20
4 This line echoes KKV 21.
20
5 Brooks, Three Cities, 157.


1
0
2
Trikona
KKV 22 finishes, leading into verse 23:
When It (the bindu) becomes ready to evolve (ucchana) It
transforms and manifests as a triangle. This (triangle) is the
source of three (saktis, namely) Pasyantf and others and is
also the three bfjas. 206
Immediately surrounding the hindu is the first triangle, referred to as
lriko�w and known as sarvasiddhipradiyaka, "that which accompanies all. "
Its presiding deity is Tripurimbiki, "Tripura the Mother, " and the yoginfs
associated with the trikoJa are the fifteen "very secret" (atirahasya) yoginfs.
This first layer surrounding the bindu is the first product of the actual
manifestation of the Divine and thus it creates a ring of objectivity, though
still subtle, around the para. Bhaskararaya refers to the trikoJa as the final
and closest sheath that hides the bindu from the mundane world.
Punyanandanatha's commentary to KKV 23 states that the three saktis
which emerge are, on the general level, icchisakti, jiinasakti, and kriyasakti,
which then reflect the broad levels of pasyantf, madhyami, and vaikharr.207
The placement of the emanation of the Sanskrit alphabet amongst
all these metaphysical considerations is brought up in an introductory
fashion in KKV 24, which ends with the line, "The two letters (a and ha)
2
06
Avalon, Kama-Kla-Vilisa, 45
2
0
7
Ibid., 46.
103
taken separately and collectively make with the foregoing nine the eleven-
fold Pasyantf."
20
8 As I have discussed, a and ha make up the first and last
letters respectively of the Sanskrit alphabet, in its most general layout, and
we know from the prominence placed on the self-mantra, ahar, that the
inclusion of these two phonemes implies the entirety of the alphabet, and
thus the entirety of the manifestaton. This verse places this notion in
context of the srfcakra by offering up these two letters as bookends to the
saktis in play. There are first the five saktis of the downward facing
triangles ( Vimi, ]ye�thi, Raudrf, Arhbiki, and Parisakti) and then the four
saktis of the upward facing triangles (Icchi, Jiina, Kriyi, and Santa) . With a
on one side of these nine and ha on the other, the eleven-fold essence of
the bindu-tattva manifests the level of pasyantf outwardly. And so, from the
level of pure undifferentiated potentiality comes the entirety of the
alphabet, containing within it the divine dynamism of the saktis, which
will now proceed to pervade the manifest world. This interpretation is not
unitary, however, as I will show below that the Srividya put forth by
Bhaskararaya and studied by Brooks presents the trikm;a as symbolic of
the vaikharf level of speech.
20
8
Ibid., 45.
104
Alphabetically, the trikmJa represents the three letters a, i, and e,
metaphysically (and euphonically) combining Siva, a, and Sakti, i, to form
e, which many Tanta scholars have noted resembles a tri angle in its
devamigarf symbol. Brooks writes, " . . . the triko�z a's phonic reality in the form
of e is visually paralleled. "209 Thus the triangle formed by the iriko�w
carries significant symbolism as a yoni, the central womb to the whole
srfcakra and thus to manifest reality.
Broadly, the trikOJa is identified as bringing forth the remaining
fifteen vowels (since visarga was aligned with bindu), though in the KKV's
depiction of the emanation as it pertains to the srfcakra, the vowels appear
later in the diagram. The vowels are placed around the triangle of the
trikm.w, five per side starting at the bottom and moving counterclockwise.
Thus a, i, i, f, and u on the right side; a, ], f, /, and J on the top; and e, ai, 0,
au, and aft on the left side. Brooks notes that these fifteen vowels
correspond to the fifteen yoginfs of the triko�a, known as nityidevatis,
"eternal deities/' or tithis, which are the deities that align with the phases
of the moon (kalis). They are Kimesvarf, Bhagamilinf, Nityiklinni, Bherundi,
Valmivasinz, Mahivajresvarf, Sivadutf, Tvariti, Kulasundarf, Nityi,
2
0
9 Brook, Auspicious Wisdom, 125.
:
1 05
Nilapttakinf, Vijayt, Sarvamangalt, ]valamtlinf, and Citra.210 As visarga has
already been shown to represent the sixteenth kala, the tipping point of
potency between the manifest and unmanifest, the fifteen vowels here
symbolized in triko�ta act as the sheaths protecting and hiding the true
Reality. Thus Brooks labels them as the devolution of sound and assigns
this level of the srfcakra as vaikharf, the mundane level of speech.
21 1
This ideal fits with the notion of the srfcakra and how i t relates to
the inner practice of tantric yoga. The hindu corresponds to the sahasrdala
or the brahmandhrapadma cakra within the body, that being the highest
center, located at the top of the skull. 2
12 The triko�w, though, is associated
with the mitltdhtra cakra, which resides at the base of the spine and
represents the lowest yogic center. This jump from the highest to the
lowest level of yogic practice in one step is not thoroughly explained,
though the likely reading would be to see the trik01
.
1a, though high on the
mountain of the srfcakra, as still very much residing in the mundane as
compared to the subtle unity of the hindu.
210
Ibid. , 126, 245 n. 41 . The sixteenth nityadevala was Mahalripurasundarz,
associated with bindu.
2
1 1
Ibid., 126.
2
1
2
Ibid.
1Ûb
VasukoDa
The next level of the srfcakra consists of eight minor triangles
expanded (pmpaiica) out of triko�za kown as vasuko�za and referred to as
sarvarogahara, "that which destroys all disease." The presiding deity of the
vasuko�a is Tripurtsiddha, "Tripura who confers perfection," and the
corresponding yoginfs are called rahasya, "secret." KKV 29 reads:
The Cakra of eight triangles which is constituted of the
letters Sa, $a, Sa and the Pa-varga is an expansion ( Vistara) of
the middle triangle. These nine triangles together with the
Bindu make the ten (Dasaka) which are lighted by the light of
Cit (Cid-d'pa) .
213
Thus this sub-cakra contains the last eight consonants (sa, ?a, sa, pa, pha, ba,
bha, and ma) .
21
4 This moving backwards through the consonants reflects
their association with the thirty-six tattvas mentioned in the section on
Kashmir Saivism. While no direct correlation between the phonemes and
the tattvas is made at this level in the Srfvidya texts and studies that I have
researched, the directional trend of sa to ka matching with sakti tattva to
prthiv' �ttva, at least in terms of the sabdarasi, "emanation," seems to play
out in Srfvidya with the initial levels of the srfakra as well.
2
13 Avalon, Kama-Kla-Vil0sa_ 60.
2
14 These do not co
'
nt la since it is spoken for in the trik0a sub-cakra .
+
107
According to the Srrvidya traditon studied by Brooks, the vasuko!a
sub-cakra represents all the consonants of the Sanskrit alphabet.
Combining the vasuko1a with the bindu and triko1a, then, completes the
entirety of the Sanskit alphabet and thus the entire manifestation. Yet I
have only covered a very small part of the yantra. In this sense the notion
of the srfcakra is immersed in the Tantric ideology of both unity in
diversity and also the constant subtle emphasis on the omnipresent
totality of ultimate Reality. The bindu point, the summation of the bindu-
triko1a-vasuko1a, and the entirety of the srfcakra all separately represent the
Ultimate equally. Even in matters of ritual, this multivalent structure of
the srfcakra lends itself to practical application. On this matter,
Bhaskararaya comments on TrU 2:
An injunction in the Tantras states that in an emergency
(ipatkalika) the summarized form of the [srfcakra] piija may
begin with the vasuko!a [cakra consisting of the eight minor
triangles and proceed up] to the bindu [in the center of the
srfcakra] . 215
Each section is a microcosm of the greater srfcakra macrocosm. Thus it
truly does not matter where the letters emerge from the srfcakra since
every part is also the whole, matching the notion that every letter is equal
to the entire alphabet.
215
Brooks, Three Cities, 159.
¬
^
1Ûb
However, the mere symbolism of the entirety of the Sanskit
alphabet will not suffce in a subtler understanding of the vasukm;a. The
rahasyayoginfs of the vasuko1a are the eight vigdevatis, "deities of speech":
Visinf, Kimesvarf, Modinf, Vimali, Aru�zi, Jayauf, Sarvesvarf, and Kaulinf.
These eight yoginfs are the source of the mitrkas, "little mothers," which, as
we know, are all the letters of the Sanskit alphabet. Each vigdevati is
aligned with one of the traditional eight groupings of letters of the
Sanskrit alphabet.�1 6 Visinf is the source of the sixteen vowels, Kame5varf is
the source of ka-varga; Modinf is the source for ca-varga, Vi mala is the source
for ta-varga, Arw_i is the source for ta-varga, Jayanf is the source for pa-
varga, Sarvesvarf is the source for the semi-vowels ya through va, and
Kaulinf is the source for sa through k$a. 217
Brooks accentuates that these emergences of the Sanskit phonemes
should not be understood so lightly as merely sounds of a spoken
language. Summarizing the very essence of the alphabet as it is
understod in the srfcakra, he writes:
The sounds themselves . . . are not mere sounds. They are
deities in phonic aspects subordinated to presiding deity of
-
1 6
Brooks, Auspicious Wisdom, 128.
-
`' Recall that in certain formulations of the Sanskrit alphabet the phonemes ha,
k�a, and the vedic fa are not included, making the total number of letters forty-
eight.
�+

1UV
the sub-cakra; as substances issuing forth from the ultimate,
which assume the mundane form of a sound in Sanskrit,
they are aspects of consciousness, not insentient entities.
Within the srfcakra, these sounds and deities are viewed as
part of a deliberate design by macrocosmic consciousness to
bring itself forth. Creation is an immanent form of the
creator such that transcendence is measured in degrees
rather than in substance. In other words, the srfcakra's
devolution is a process of divine sentience assuming
increasingly more mundane forms; it is not a process by
which the sentient becomes insentent. Not only is the world
a manifestation of Sakti as power, the world is essentially
animate in devolving degrees of self-consciousness.2
1
8
The Two Sets of Ten Minor Triangles
The emanation spreads outward, creating two sets of ten minor
triangles. The inner set of triangles, referred to as sarvarakfikara,219 "that
which protects all, " is presided over by Tripuramilinf, "the garlanded
Tripura. " The yoginfs associated with this level of the srfcakra are classified
as nigarbha, "hidden. " They are placed counterclockwise around the sub-
cakra, starting at the triangle at the base. The nigarbhayoginfs are: Sarvajii,
Sarvasakti, Sarvaisvaryapradi, Sarvajianamayf, Sarvavyadhivinasinf,
Sarvtdhirasvanipi, Sarvapipahart, Sarvinandamayf, Sarvarakfasvarfpil.zf, and
21
8 Brooks, Auspicious Wisdom, 128£.
2
1
9
This level is also techcally referred to as antardasara, "inner ten."

. t
1 1 0
Sarvepistaphalaprada. 22
0
According to KKV 30, the emanation of the inner
sub-cakra of ten minor triangles brings forth the letters in ta-varga and ta-
varga. Curiously, though, Brooks notes that in the Sriidya ritual manuals,
these letters are not the ones which match up with these yoginfs. 2
2
1
Instead, at this sub-cakra in the srfcakra pujt, the ritual manuals say that the
letters ra, ya, ra, la, va, sa, qa, sa, ha, and k?a emanate. This particular lineup
of the Sanskrit letters makes sense graphically since these phonemes serve
the back half of the alphabet, typically associated with being closer to the
Ultimate on the sabdartsi level of phonetic emanation. There is no
definitive indication of how exactly these yoginfs and phonemes are
matched up, however, and so the more important observation available at
this point is to see the cusp between the subtle-leaning elements of the
manifestation and the mundane-leaning elements. In other words, these
two sets of ten minor triangles act as paralleled images between which lies
the line between mystical and material.
_Quoting a verse from an unidentified Tantra, Bhaskararaya,
commenting on TrU 3, writes, "The two sets of ten [minor] triangles
[within the srfcakra] have a shining form (sphuradnlpa) which depends
2
20
Brooks, Auspicious Wisdom, 130f.
2
2
1
Ibid., 246 O. 53.
¯
o
1 1 1
upon illumination (prakisa) [of the] ten elements and the ten essences. "222
This division present at the point between the two sub-cakras of ten minor
triangles gives rise to a discussion of the place of these ten elements and
ten essences. Clearly the intent in making this statement is to differentiate
between the elements and their essences as a parallel to contrasting the
manifest reality from the unmanifest Reality, or more accurately at this
particular juncture, the tangible from the subtle. Scholars point to these
elements and essences as the bhutas and tmzmitras from the bottom of the
thirty-six tattvas.
22
3 However, as I described previously, there are only five
of each in the universally accepted Tantric catalog of tattvas. Bhaskararaya,
in his commentary on TrU 3, explains this phenomenon by writing that
these two levels consist of the "five subtle elements (silk!mabhuta) and five
physical elements (sthulabhuta); thus there are ten elements. The ten
essences (tanmitras) beginning with sound arise by dividing these
physical and subtle [elements] . "224 The implication, as Brooks notes, is
that the ten elements/ essences are actually represented by the standard
222 Brooks, Three Cities, 160. Brooks also notes that this verse resembles, but is not
identical to YH 1 . 16 (Auspicious Wisdom , 246 n. 52) .
223
Note, though, that the direct mention of the tat tvas does not arise until the
sub-cakra of ten minor triangles, leaving open speculation about their place in the
emanation at the higher levels of the srzcakra.
22
4 Brooks, Three Cities, 1 60.

iiZ
tattvas in their bilateral rendering.22
5
In other words the five rahtbhatas
(prthivf, jala, tejas, vayu, and tktsa) act in both gross and subtle forms,
making ten. The same goes for the five tanmttras (gandha, rasa, ripa, sparsa,
and sabda).
The outer set of triangles, referred to as sarvtrthastdhaka,
22ó
"that
which accomplishes all," is presided over by Tripurtsrf, "auspicious
Tripura. " The yoginfs associated with this level of the srfcakra are classified
as kulota, meaning "crossing beyond the kula." These yoginfs, too, are
placed around the sub-cakra counterclockwise starting at the base. The
kulottfn:ayoginfs are: Sarvasiddhipradt, Sarvasaflpatpradt, Sarvapriyankarf,
Sarvarmigalaktri �z f, Sarvaktimapradt, Sarvad uhkhavimocinf,
Sarvamrtyuprasamanf, Sarvaviglmanivari�If, Sarvtizgasundarf, and
Sarvasaubhtgyadtyinf. According to the second line of KKV 30, the
emanation of the outer sub-cakl·a of ten minor triangles brings forth the
letters ca, cha, ja, jha, ia, ka, kha, ga, gha, and 1ia. This ordering of the letters
of the �.fi nskrit alphabet matches the ordering of Am:tananda, who, in his
commentary on YH 1 . 16, remarks that this second set of ten minor
triangles identifies with Krodhi$a, a deity known as the Lord of Anger,
225
Ibid., 251 n. 82.
226
This level is als
Q
technically referred to as bahirdasira, "outer ten."
¬
i iö
who, in turn, identifies with the phoneme ka and the subsequent nine
letters that follow ka.227 Though, again, in the Srfvidya ritual manuals of
srfcakra puji, the emanated letters differ.228 In the ritual manuals the
phonemes �La, ta, tha, da, dha, na, pa, pha, ba, and, bha emerge at this sub-
cakra. These letters place the sub-cakra of the outer ten minor triangles
farther away from the Ultimate and closer to the totally objective reality.
KKV 31 reads, "The light of these [ first] four Cakras is the fully evolved
[outer] Cakra of ten triangles."229 Thus in the emanation of the srfcakra,
this fifth sub-cakra is the collective product of the first four, implying its
separateness and clear progression toward manifestation.
In some regards these two sub-cakras finalize the coming together
of the mundane world. Their respective groups of yoginfs are typically
referred to as devfs, which elicits a more anthropomorphic understanding
of their nature, both at this level of the srfcakra and at this state of the
emanation of the manifest reality. 230 These two sets of ten minor triangles,
22
7 Brooks, Auspicious Wisdom, 131 .
2
28
Ibid., 246 D. 53.
22
9 Avalon, Kama-Kala- Vilasa, 62.
2
3
0
Brooks, Auspicious Wisdom, 130.


i i+
though, are still illuminated upon from the hindu, trikoiJa, etc. above,
emphasizing the all-pervasiveness of sabdabrahman.
The Outer Set of Fourteen Minor Triangles
Even though the alphabet has technically been completed at this
point within the descriptions of some Srividya texts like the TrU, the
srzcakra continues on. The next level, referred to as sarvasaubhagyadayaka,23l
"that which grants all prosperity, " includes fourteen minor triangles
reflected from the outer level of ten minor triangles and is presided over
by the deity Tripuravasinl The corresponding yoginzs at this level are
referred to as sampradaya, "traditional. " They are listed as
Sarvasmrzk?obhinz, Sarvavidrivil;f, Sarvakar?i�Lf, Sarvihladinf, Sarvamohinf,
Sarvastarbhinf, Sarvajmbhiif, Sarvavasmikarf, Sarvaraiijinf, Sarvonmadinf,
Sarvarthasadhinf, Sarvasampatpilriif, Sarvamantramayf, and
Sarvadvandvak?ayankarf. Whereas the yoginfs were referred to as devfs in the
previous sub-cakras, the sampradayayoginfs are referred to as saktis,
emphasizing the element of certain yogic powers (siddhis) available to the
adept during practice.
231
This level is als
2.
technically referred to as manvasr.

1 15
The fourteen minor triangles at this sub-cakra lend themselves to
several associations given that particular number's auspicious use in
Hindu Tantra. They are aligned with the fourteen Hi{s, "subtle yogic
channels" of the nervous system and Bhaskararaya, in his commentary on
TrU 3, attributes the next fourteen tattvas to these minor triangles, writing:
And from these [ten essences, i. e. the outer level of ten minor
triangles] arose the fourteen, namely the five organs of
action, the five organs of knowledge, and the four inner
organs. 232
These tattvas are the karmendriyas, the jfanendriyas, and the anta/Jkarmas.
Note that Bhaskararaya refers to the antal:tkarmas as four in number. This
arrangement differs from the Kashmir Saiva version in which they are
only three in number. Brooks notes that the four antal_kararws referred to
here are manas, buddhi, ahaJlkira, and citta. 233 The final member is "new"
to the lineup; no additional information is given in my research.
The final line of KKV 31 reads, "(Then) appeared the Cakra of
fourteen triangles wherein are the fourteen vowel letters beginning with
A. "234 This includes the simple and complex vowels. It is curious to note
232
Brooks, Three Cities, 160.
2
33 Ibid., 251 n. 83.
2
34 Avalon, Kama-Kla-Vilasa, 62.
:;
i 1 b
that the emanation of the svaras, typically associated with the most subtle
levels of the manifestation, arrive here at a level very close to the base of
mundane reality. The KKV even says in verse 32 that at this point in the
sub-cakras, the emanation appears in the form the of vaikharf level of sonic
reality, blasting forth the fifty-one letters (a to k$a) of the Sanskrit alphabet
in their grossest form.
This differs from the view of Bhaskararaya and the Srrvidya studies
of Brooks, where the emergence of vaikharf took place at the sub-cakra of
triko]a. Yet both versions do place the appearance of the vaikharf level of
sonic reality as taking place right after the emanation of the svaras.
Metaphysically, neither of these situations parallel the previously
discussed moments of manifestation as the visarga, noted either as the
catalyst for manifestation or the manifestation itself, is not present. A
subtler reading, though, could point to the association of the bindu, at the
summit of the srfcakra, with the visarga and argue that in the Srrvidya the
true manifestation begins not after the vowels, but before them and all
other letters at the dimensionless point at the center of the yantra.
Graphically and physically, of course, this formulation makes sense, yet
the underlying metaphysical underpinnings of the Sanskrit phonemes
lend themselves to mysterious interpretation.
i i¯
The Lotus Petals
The sarvasaubhigyadayaha sub-cakra completes the section of the
srfcakra that features the minor triangles emanating out from bindu. Next
follows the level of eight lotus petals, known as sarvasarzk?obhm
.
za, "that
which moves all," and which is presided over by Tripurasundarf, the
"Lovely Tripura. " The sarvasarzk?obhma' s yoginfs are referred to as
guptatara, "more concealed," and are named as follows: Anmigakusumi,
Anmigamekhalii, Anangamadani, Anmigamadanituri, Anmigarekhi,
Anangaveginf, Anangankusi, and Anangamalinf.
KKV 34 reads, "The eight groups of letter beginning with the Ka
group which are Vaikhari-Sakti are on the petals of the lotus of eight
petals . . . , "235 which expl ains that this level of the srfcakra represents the
eight groups of letters of the Sanskrit alphabet post-svaras (ka-varga, ca-
varga, ta-varga, ta-varga, pa-varga, semi-vowels, i1?man, and k?a) as they are
understood in the vaikharf level of sonic reality. This mention in the KKV is
the extent to which the letters are directly connected with this particular
sub-cakl.
It is interesting to note, though, that considering the yoginfs of this
sub-cakra, the efficacy and outright power of the letters of the Sanskrit
2
35 Ibid., 64.
118
alphabet become slightly illuminated. Brooks notes that the yoginfs of this
level all begin with ananga, meaning "limbless," and are all thus
"incorporeal deities with the capacity to affect events in the material
world. "236 Being as this sub-cakra identifies with the vaikharf level of sonic
reality, recently in terms of the KKV and long since earlier sub-cakras in
terms of Bhaskararaya, the identification of these petals with the entirety
of the manifested letters of the Sanskrit alphabet and their respective
representative yoginf of transcendent yogic ability should not be taken as
coincidental or meaningless. It simply highlights a key aspect of the
alphabet as it relates to metaphysical speculation. Letters, as the
emanation themselves, encapsulate the divine aspects and powers, and
thus through their careful and proper use, the adept can access that hindu
drop within them.
The next level of the srfcakra stems out of the eight lotus petals and
emerges as a level of sixteen lotus petals, known as sarvaSi pariparaka, "that
which fulfills all hopes. " The presiding deity over this sub-cakra is
·¬<·.·
Tripuresf, "Lordly Tripura," and the yoginfs are classified as gupta, meaning
"concealed. " They are Kamakar:;itf, Buddhyakar:;itf, Aharrzakar?il:f,
2
36
Brook, Auspicio

s Wisdom, 135.

1 19
According to KKV 33, this sub-cakra represents the sixteen vowels
from a to a}, the third location on the srfcakra identified with the svaras.
Again the connection with the sixteen phases of the moon becomes
apparent as these yoginfs are also referred to as nityakaltyoginfs, which act
at this sub-cakra more as attributes of the corresponding nityadevatts of the
triko�ta than the divine beings themselves, emphasizing the subtle decline
in power while moving outward from the center of the srfcakra.
237
Thus
the two sub-cakras of lotus petals encapsulate the entire Sanskrit alphabet
and offer another microcosm of the macrocosmic srfcakra. The distance
from the bindu and the direct emergence of vaikharf, though, emphasize
this final representation of the complete alphabet as the mundane version
seen in language and corporeal speech.
The remaining parts of the srfcakra are the three circles that
surround the level of sixteen lotus petals and the open or closed gateway
that contains the whole yantra. While both of these elements carry
significant metaphysical and philosophical significance, the considerations
as they relate to the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet cease at the sixteen
237 Ibid., 163.
120
petals, and thus for the purposes of this study they will not be discussed.
For more on these elements and more in depth information on all the
elements of the srzcakra see the sixth chapter of Auspicious Wisdom by
Douglas Renfew Brooks.
Thus concludes the general emanation of the the manifest world
through the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet as understood through the
Srividya school of Hindu Tantrism.
iZi
CHAPTERV
PANCARATRA
The fnal school of Hindu Tantra that I wish to cover in this study is
the Vi�l)u-centered line of Tantra, representng the Sa:hita "collection" of
works, Pafcaratra.
2
38 Pafcaratra ties itself back to the Vedas and, in some
regards, considers its texts to be the direct extension of the Vedas.
2
39
Similar to the other schools of Tantra in its most general aspects,
Pafcaratra deals almost exclusively with the view of Sakti as Lak�mf,
consort to Vi�l)U. Much of the Pafcaratra doctrine, philosophy and
theology comes in the Lak�mf Tantra, a relatively later text that appears
somewhere between the ninth and twelfth centuries L]
¸
240
Continuing the Tantric importance of the letters of the Sanskrit
alphabet, the Lak�mf Tantra devotes three of its chapters exclusively to
discussing the emanation of the phonemes and their mystic use during
resorption. Throughout the LT the speaker is Sakti in the Pafcaratra form
of Lak�mf, goddess and consort to Vi�l)u. As with the format of most
Tantras, the LT is structured as a conversation between a subject and a
2
3
8
Gupta, Hoens, and Goudriaan, Hindu Tantrism, 10.
2
3
9
Ibid., 15.
240
Bhattacharyya,_anlrabhidhana, 85.
"
122
form of the ultimate Divine. Unlike most Tantras, however, the LT features
Srf herself as the teacher, whereas usually the Goddess is learning from
Siva or some other representaton of the pure Ultimate.
As the majority of information regarding the letters of the Sanskrit
alphabet remains common throughout Hindu Tantra, this final section of
my study will be relatively concise and limited to just the specifics of the
Pafcaratra take on the place of letters in the mystic process.
General Understanding of the Sanskrit Alphabet
The Pafcaratra school of Hinduism extends further back than
ei ther of the two previously studied traditions, yet its recognition as
Tantric emerges later and is contentiously debated. Goudriaan notes,
" . . . the Pafcaratrins-the followers of 'Tantric Vai$1)avism' -decline to be
called Tantrics because they do not want to be considered worshipers of
the Mother Goddess."24
1
Indeed, much of the foundation for the
cosmogony of the manifest universe as it relates to the letters of the
Sanskrit alphabet emerge in the early Pafcaratra texts, only to be
assimilated later into the heavily structured theories of Kashmir Saivism
and Srfvidya discussed above. The later writings of Pafcaratra, such as the
2
41
Gupta, Hoens, and Goudriaan, Hindu Tantrism, 9.
¬

123
LT, however, certainly have the necessary elements of Tantric ideology and
thought.
Paicaratra understands miitrki (the Sanskrit alphabet) as the
manifestation of vi$1USakti,
242
a culmination of fifty saktis
24
3 corresponding
to the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet.
2
44 The process takes place as
the Ultimate evolves into the manifest universe, descending from the
complete unmanifest to the level of gross language and speech. The first
stage of the subtle differentiation is sabqabrahman, which derives directly
out of the Ultimate in the form of Sakti. LT 18. 18 reads, "I (sabdabrahman)
am essentially consciousness and bliss, the source of all mantras; the
absolute; the mother of all sound; Sakti not subjected to appearance and
disappearance."
2
45 Here, Laksmf reiterates her differentiated status as
sabdabrahman in addition to maintaining her pervasion in all forms of
reality. As she emanates into the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, it
242 LT 20.32-33.
243
Gupta, Hoens, and Goudriaan, Hindu Tantrism, 97.
244 Al though no direct menton is made to this technicality, my study has led me
to understand t
h
at t
h
e fifty letters spoken of in the LT are the same fifty of the
S
rrvidya minus the vedic cerebral ja.
245 Gupta, Lak?mf
I
ntra, 99.

124
becomes clear how literally she claims to be the source of all mantras. LT
18.39-42 elaborate on the pervasion:
Mantras that are of an efficacious and beneficial nature
replete with me; phonetic units; parts of speech; sentences as
well as treatises (prakarm
.
za) and subdivisions (ahnikas); parts
of texts such as chapters, paragraphs, cants, ucchvasas,
patalas etc.; prasnas; vaks, anuvaks; man<alas; kan<as and
diverse sarhitas; B, Yajus and Saman;246 suktas as well as
khilas; words forming sastras and tantras; also the external
(public) and internal (esoteric) agamas and all the various
languages - all these fall under direct or indirect speech
(gfr).247
Thus throughout the vaikharf level of sonic reality, she forms the
foundational dynamism present and efficaciously understood in all forms
of sound, whether it be in sacred mantra or even just in the prosaic parts
of a conversational sentence. LT 20.6-8 continue this thread:
I (the same Sakti) am the essence of light and bliss endowed
with perfect equilibrium. When in order to liberate the jfvas,
my own sakti activates merely a ten millionth of a hundred­
thousand-billionth fraction of myself, I then automatically
evolve out of the great God into Sabdabrahman.
Consider this unmanifested eternal (Sabdabrahman)
as resembling the faint sound produced by (the automatic
vibration of) the strings (of a musical instrument. That (faint
sbund) is indeed multiplied by numerous other sounds
(van;a) in order to sustain (creation).248
24
6
Note the omission of the Atharva Veda, typically the one associated with
Tantra.
247
Gupta, Lak?m! Tantr, 102.
24
8
Ibid., 109.
125
Again Lak$mf states how she emerges from the Ultimate, even in
such a minute form, to pervade the resulting creation. Here that creation is
described as the multiplication of that "faint sound" into varr:as, or letters.
It is interesting to note here that in contrast to the presentation of the
emanation of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet in Kashmir Saivism and
Srfvidya, this verse of the LT notes the purpose of the phonemes as
sustaining, not merely creating. The obvious tie here to the generalized
role of Vi$DU as the maintainer likely explains the peculiari ty.
The Emanation of the Alphabet
The eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-third, chapters of
the LT describe the mysticism of the alphabet from the point of view of Srr,
describing the letters both as they emerge within her self and as they
resorb back into her self. As the focus of this study is the emanation, I will
be concentrating on the former. Chapter nineteen begins, "I am the
primary, total 1-hood of Hari, characterized by the creative urge (sisrk?t) .
Being the supreme Sakti manifest as creation, I become creatively
active. "249 The emanation of the Sanskrit alphabet is the manifestation of
2
49 Ibid., 104.
iZO
the dynamic feminine energy inherent within the Ultimate, here described
as Hari, or Vi$lU, flowing from a to sa.
Once at the level of vaikhar', Sakti begins the mundane
manifestation, starting at the sonic state of ekapad'. 250 Here she is literally
one sound, the sabdabrahman, in its most blissful subtle state. She then
splits into the sound denoting and the object denoted, marking the dvipadr
sonic state. At this state she emphasizes the dual nature of sound in that in
any utterance, both the aspects of the manifest and unmanifest are fully,
yet

ubtly, present. Dvipadf is soon followed by the catu$padf state, in
which she has divided into the four broad categories of the Sanskrit
alphabet: f$man (sa, $a, sa, and ha), anta]stha (ya, |T, la, and va), svaras (the
vowels), and sparsa (the consonants). These categories of sounds denote
the coming of four types of unmanifest qualities: dravya (objects), jiti
(genus), gu�w (quality or element), and kriyi (action) respectively.
2
5
1
She
then splits into the familiar eight categories of letters (svaras, ka-varga, ca-
varga, t-varga, ta-varga, pa-varga, the semi-vowels, i?man, and k$a) under
the state of a;tapadf. Here, the four types of unmanifest qualities of
catu;padf are each represented in their dual nature as both the object and
250
LT 18.30
251
LT 18. 31, 33-34
¯

1 27
its name, equalling eight total. A?tapadf is followed with the addition of
the unvoiced sounds such as visarga in the sonic state of navapad
z.2
5
2
In the
context of the eight aspects of a?tapadf, the navapadf exemplifies the x ¬ 1
structure of counting by acting as both the whole and the final member.
The Vowels
Verse ÍO of the nineteenth chapter of the LT begins by naming the
fifteen vowels a through anz as Lak�mr's "similar" states of existence (dasa) .
She names a as her "eternal essence" in regard to vac, representing self-
revealed consciousness at its most subtle phonic form. LT 1 9.3 introduces
the second svara, a, as the result of a achieving the state of ananda. Here
again, as with the previous Tantric versions of the emanation, the initial
phoneme, a, carries enormous linguistic, phonetic and metaphysical
weight. It is seen as not only the foundational part and source of all the
vowels, but as essential to the pronunciation, and thus efficaciousness, of
the Sanskrit consonants.
LT 19. 4 introduces i as iccha, f as fana, u as unme?a, and u as urja.
Verses five through seven bring forth the middle "liquid" vowels, (r, f, J
,
and n as modifications of i (icchl), f (fsana), ll (unme$a), and u (urja)
252
LT 18.32, 35
iZb
respectively. The vocalic liquids are followed by the letter e as a
combination of the first vowel, a, with i (iccha) and ai (named jagadyoni) as
a combination of i (iccha) and a (anmzda) . Verse 16.51 of ABS, an earlier
Pai'caratra text from about the fourth or fifth century L], 253 identifies ai as
aisvaryavan, meaning "endowed with power."254 The vowel o appears as
the combination of the first vowel, a, and H (unme?a) while au (called
sadyojata) comes from the combination of a with the recently formed o.
ABS 16.52 names o as ota, "invoked," and au as aurjitya, or "characterized
by its potency. "255
It should be noted here that ABS 16.48-52 places the vocalic liquids
after the diphthongs and identifies the diphthongs with the term kitta,
typically used in relation with k$a.
2
6 Kuta, a neuter noun, often refers to a
bone in the front of the head (a horn) or the summit of a mountain, likely
alluding to the peak of some obj ect, event or experience. Its frequent use
with k?a exemplifies the x ¬ 1 of its function, representing itself, as well as
all the letters before it, at the peak of a reversed mountain. In other words,
253 Bhattacharyya, Tantrabhidhana, 7.
25
4 Padoux, Vac, 269 Î. 132.
255 Ibid., 269 Î. 133.
25
6
Ibid., 263 Î. 115"
·'
129
k?a is the summit of manifestation as viewed from the bottom up. A
possible explanation for the use of kuta in regard to diphthongs placed
before the vocalic liquids resides in the underlying micro I macro cosmic
sexual symbolism inherent in any tantric explanation of the emanation of
the universe. If the vocalic liquids are understood as an unproductive
pause during the initial buildup of potentiality within the Ul timate, then
the diphthongs as hita represent a moment of peak experience reached
before the pause, representing both the culmination of potentiality as well
as the experience of the ultimate energy. In other words, this alignment in
ABS expresses the yogic pause at its highest possible experience of the
dynamism of the Divine instead of allowing more buildup after the pause,
thereby allowing the adept to have the potential to retain the physical
emanation at its highest possible undifferentiated state.
Verse seven of the nineteenth chapter of the LT concludes by
explaining that the nature of these vowels as movement toward the more
mundane level of existence (vaikharf) is due to the fact that even the high-
level vowels are still derivations from the original a. Gupta notes that the
purpose here is to point out that the differentiation present at vaikharf
130
contrasts with the completely unpolarized nature of the earlier nida and
hindu states, and the potentially polarized sound present at madhyama. 257
LT 19.8-9 explain the emergence of the final vowel in this rendering.
Arf appears at the point in the emanation at which the previous thirteen
vowels (i to au) reach their most subtle stage of pure knowledge. The
verse implies that while a, directly representing the unmanifest, is the
origin of all the vowels, ar represents their culmination and annihilation
in the sense of both x + 1 and in terms of acting as a microcosm of the
greater emanation of the alphabet. As we have seen in the other Tantric
schools, the svaras are emanated within the Ultimate as it prepares for the
manifestaton of truly mundane objects, and thus this mini-emanation of
vowels within Lak$mi serves to accentuate both the potentiality and the
inherent and dynamic diversity on the verge of gross emanation.
The explanation of the visarga does not come up until LT 18.20 but
in keeping with order I will skip to it now. The visarga, a], acts as the pure
x + 1 element in the emanation of the vowels, representing both itself and
the culmination of a through mp. As with the Kashmir Saiva explanation,
alJ represents the creative agent in the emanation, meaning that, due to its
x + 1 nature, it contains both the creative (a]) and destructive (mf) aspects
25
7 Gupta, Lk?mf T�ntr, 104 Î- 5.

131
of the Ultimate. Here also LT 19.20-29 bring in the symbolism of the sun
and moon often associated with ar and al. They are said to be two
devayo�1, "luminaries," each having seven rays of light, corresponding to
the fourteen letters of the alphabet already emanated. Ar as the surya
(sun) form contains the letters a, i, u, J, j, t, and o as its rays, which are
referred to in LT 19. 24 as so:aka, "that which dries up," augmenting its
destructive nature. These seven rays are characterized by "light,
sharpness, pervasiveness, assimilation (the mind's capacity to grasp,
grahma), projection (k:epm_w), agitation (zra�), and maturity (ptka),"
258
respectively. Al as the soma (moon) form contains the letters t, f, i, f, [, ai,
and au as its rays, which are referred to in LT 19.25 as nourishing, adding
to its creative nature. These seven rays are characterized by "fluidity,
coolness, calmness, loveliness, contentment, delight, and bliss,"
259
respectively.
The vowels reach completion in a culmination of incredible
potenq�lity. LT 19.28-29 reads:
The great s-!ti (sakti) Mahanada, adorned with clusters of
millions of saktis - resplendent with these rays consisting of
Agni (i.e. Surya) and the moon and manifesting herself by
258
Ibid., 106£.
2
5
9
Ibid., 107.
132
embodying . . . the Person in the form of hindu (which
represents the state of existence) consecutively following the
Soma-form - appears actively as the final vowel () . 260
The Consonants
Having completed the inner emanation of the vowels, Lak�mf now
seeks to actively create. Armed with fifteen limbs (the vowels a to arz
)
, 261
she creates the mundane universe with the twenty-five standard tattvas
(purwa to prthivf) in addition to some others. Unlike the Kashmir Saivas,
the phoneme-tattva relationship in Pafcarira is not clear cut. While most
of them are similar, a few are missing and a few are doubled, as we will
see. The LT breaks down the consonants into three groups: ka to ra, which
represent the material, objective, and completely differentiated state of the
divine presence in the manifestation; sa to ha and kfa, which represent the
unpolarized and absolute state of the divine presence in the manifestation;
and the semi-vowels (ya to va), which represent an intermediate state
through which meditation can transverse between the absolute and the
~c
differentiated.26
2
26
0
Ibid.
26
1
R
ecall that a/:z represents the culminaton itself (i .e. x + 1).
262 G
upta, Lak$m1 7nlr, 105 n. 2.

133
LT 19. 13-16 begin with this intermediate state, referring to it as
dhtrmp, a deep and singly focused meditation. Ya represents kriyasakti
being said to consist of "a piece of (Sakti's) active (aspect) . . -"263 While not
directly stated, this implies its alignment with the kala tattva, representing
creativity. Ya is also referred to here as vtta. Ra, referred to as repha and
pavaka, represents the vidya tattva by consisting of a piece of her jfana
aspect. La, somehow regarded as prthivf, though not apparently in the
tattvic sense, represents maya tattva. Va, referred to as Varu�za and holding
the essence of joy, represents raga tattva. These four phonemes act as a
middle ground between the absolute and relative, or para and apara. LT
19.34 describes these phonemes as representing the four states of
existence: ya represents jagrat, the waking state; ra represents svapna, the
dream state; la represents sw;upti, the deep sleep state; and va represents
turzya, the transcendental state.
The absolute state of phonemes within the manifestation are
represented by H�HhH and k?a. LT 19. 16 refers to these letters as
paicabrahman, the five-fold pure Brahman, which represents Satya and the
four Vvuhas (the four characteristics of the four manifestations of the
Ultimate), acting together as five aspects of the kriyasakti of the Divine in
26
3 Ibid., 1 05.
¬
1.
134
creative action. Sa represents the Vyuha Aniruddha, the prthivf tattva, and
the divine attibute bala. $a represents the Vyuha Pradyumna, the jala tattva,
and the divine attribute vfra. Sa represents the Vyaha Sar!lkan;ara, the tejas
tattva, and the divine attribute tejas. Ha represents the Vyaha Vasudeva, the
vayu tattva, and the divine attribute sakti. K?a represents the powerful and
culminating sakti Satya, the ikisa tattva, and the divine attribute aisvarya.26
4
The five saktis within these five phonemes serve as the cause of the
manifestation of the universe. LT 19.33 compares the power within these
phonemes to the power to burn inherent in a great fire.
The absolute group (sa to k?a) and intermediate, dharari group (ya
to va) are separated from the created, prakrti group of letters (bha to ka) by
the letter ma, which plays the role of a transitory phoneme unique to the
Pafcaratra structure of the alphabet. It is depicted as a sort of microcosm
of the semi-vowels, representing a transitory aspect of the ultimate Reality
that Lak�mi claims is necessary to make the evolution or devolution from
Brahman to differentiated reality. She states, in LT 19.38, "Therefore at my
bidding the dharalas are manifested out of myself. Hence the person
known as bhoktr (i. e. jiva) represents a fourfold state (of existence). "
2
65
26
4 Ibid., 105f D. 1-4.
265
Ibid., 107.
iö3
This same act of manifestation, then, emerges in the phoneme ma, which
then moves into the remaining consonants.
Lakmi, in LT 19. 39, says of ma:
Ma, capable of enjoying (the fruits of the jiva's activities) and
at the same time capable of achieving emancipation, is a
direct offshoot of myself .. .for the purpose of creating objects
of enjoyment for this person to delight in.266
Thus ma ushers in the purely objective version of reality, filled with variety
for the adept. This line accentuates the Tantric understanding of the pure
divinity of even the objective world and the necessity for the truly wise to
enjoy the manifest world for this inherent, though hidden, divinity. Before
the manifestation can truly differentiate, though, LT 19.40 describes the
phoneme bha as representing a womb emerging from Lak;mi with an
"insentient, supreme, subtle equilibrium of the gunas"267
This womb, subtly different than the state of transition at ma,
produces the twenty-three letters of the objective world, along with the
corresponding twenty-three lowest tattvas.268 The first three letters to
emerge are the remaining phonemes of the pa-varga (ba, pha, and pa),
266
Ibid., 107£.
267
Ibid., 108.
268
LT 19.41-4
1 36
which represent buddhi, ahaflktra, and manas respectively. Then follows the
dental phonemes and the jitnendriyas with na representing srotra, dha
representing tvak, da representing cak?u, tha representing rasant, and ta
representing ghrt�za. Next are the cerebrals and the karmendriyas with �za
representing vt, rha representing pt1i, ra representing ptda, tha
representing payu, and ta representing upastha. Then emerge the palatals
and the tanmttras with iia representing sabda, jha representing sparsa, ja
representing n1pa, cha representing rasa, and ca representing gandha.
Finally come the most mundane of phonemes and elements, the gutturals
and the mahtbln:Uas (in the LT referred to as "subtle elements"
2
69) with 1ia
representing tktsa, gha representing vtyu, ga representing tejas, kha
representing jala, and ka representing prthivf.
Thus concludes the emanation of the manifest universe through the
Sanskrit alphabet as described by the Goddess Lak�mf, the divine
Ultimate of the Pafcaratra school of Hindu Tantrism.
269
Gupta, Lak?ml T
e
.
ntra, 108.

137
CONCLUDING REMARKS
The general intent of this study is not to formulate some grand
conclusion on the issues discussed herein and, indeed, one of the greatest
essences of studying the Hindu tradition is the sheer impossibility to
provide any type of all-encompassing amalgam of its facets. Therefore,
any sort of synthesis would be both inconsistent with this project and
highly disingenuous to the subject matter. Instead, I hope that what one
derives from this study is simply a more comprehensive understanding of
just how the phonemes and letters of the Sanskrit alphabet interrelate with
the metaphysics of Hindu Tantra.
The Saivism of Kashmir developed an intricate expansion of Vedic
and Upani1adic notions of the phonemes and their correspondences with
the tattvas of both the manifest and unmanifest reality. The tradition
illustrates a cyclical cosmogony that begins and ends with the absolute
Siva, while in the meantime scales up, down, and in between the
phonemes of the Sanskrit alphabet. The apparent disorder of language is
caused by viewing reality though the layers of manifestation, veiling the
higher structure of the alphabet. Yet this seeming chaos also represents the
greater truth, that even in the structure and oneness of the Absolute, an
inherent dynamism, embodied in Sakti, pervades the universe.
138
The Srividya school borrows much of its syllabic metaphysics from
the Saiva schools and elaborates upon it through their heavy use of the
srfcakra. This widely recognizable yantra not only represents all of reality
in its typically two-dimensional graphic form, but also is seen as being all
Reality in its three-dimensional understanding. It is a metaphysical fractal
which seems to constantly contradict itself in its representation of the
Sanskrit letters and their placement in the emanation of the manifest
universe. The higher understanding, however, allows one to see the
srfcakra and the phonemes as omnipresent from any scale, starting from
the immeasurable bindu point to the outer petals. Any one sub-cakra
encompasses the entirety just as does the whole srfcakra, again
emphasizing the inherent dynamic unity within the very real diversity.
Finally the Pancaratra school of Hindu Tantra presents only a slight
derivation on the themes of the first two schools. Whereas the Saiva school
of Kashmir and the Srividya school operated around the central premise
of Siva and Sakti, Pancaratra narrates its cosmogonic emanation around
Vi$DU and Lak$mi, the Vai$1avite versions of the supreme masculine and
feminine aspects of Reality The central delineation of the manifestation of
the universe, though, remains in line with the emanation of the manifest
139
world from a single dynamic oneness outward into varying degrees of
differentiation.
And so, as we ascend from the depths of intricate detail and lofty
metaphysical interpretation, we have to take a step back from this study
and consider what exactly we can derive from it as scholars of South
Asian religion and as human beings in general. The scholar of religion
would be lax in their craft if they were to just take the information
presented in this essay as technical jargon aimed at creating archival lists.
The aspects of the Hindu Tantric tradition described in this study are real
and functioning elements of a human spiritual tradition and we, as
observers and chroniclers of these traditions, cannot lose sight of the
inherently human implications therein. Often the study of the humanities
forgets that which makes its study so important, the human being, an
intrinsically dynamic and varied figure.
As observant human beings, then, we must apply this knowledge
and understanding to our work. We must be able to see the implications of
the multifarious elements coinciding with the seemingly simplistic
phonetic particles of language. In this specific case of the Sanskrit
language and the Hindu Tantric religion, the phonemes are the dynamism
of perc
;
eived reality. Lalan Prasad Singh writes:
i+Û
Each and every letter from a to k?a of Matrka Varna is living
energy. They are the acoustic root of the different waves and
vibrations of the cosmos. These letters are the representative
sonoric manifestations of the universe.
270
The phonemes and letters are blueprints, tools, guides, and clues to
the true nature of Reality. They are the diversity within the unity. They are
the keys to the deeper structure of the universe and the hints to the true
relation of ourselves, and all we experience in the manifest world, to the
Absolute.
270
Singh, Tantra: It

Mystic and Scientifc Basis, 80.
'�
141
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trans. 1982. Sirada-Tilaka Tan tram, Delhi: Motilal
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Beck, Guy L. 1989. Sonic theology: Hinduism and the
soteriological function of Sacred sound. PhD diss.,
Syracuse University, Dissertation Abstracts Interational,
publ. nr. AAT 9014335, DAI-A 51 101: 191.
Bhattacharyya, Narendra Nath. 2002. Tantribhidhina: A Tantric
lexicon. New Delhi: Manohar.
Brooks, Douglas Renfrew. 1990. The secret of the three cities: An
introduction to Hindu Sikta Tanh-ism. New Delhi:
Munshiram Manoharlal.
_. 1992. Auspicious wisdom: The texts and traditions of
Srfvidyi Sikta Tanh-ism in South India. Albany: SUNY
Press.
Chakravarti, Prabhat Chandra. 1930. The philosophy of Sanskrit
grammar. Calcutta: Calcutta Univ. Press.
Coward, Harold. 1976. Bhartrhari. Boston: Twayne.
Doniger, Wendy, trans. 1981. The Rig Veda. New York: Penguin.
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. 2003. Ciphering the Supreme: Mantric encoding in
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Satguru.
Patnaik, Tandra. 1993. Sabda: A study of Bhartrhari's philosophy of
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Radhakrishnan, S., trans. 1992. The principal Upani?ads. 3rd ed.
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_ trans. 1994. The Bhagavadgfti. 3rd ed. Noida, UP:
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_ trans. 1992. The yoga ofvibration and divine pulsation: A
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Whitney, William Dwight. 2006. The roots, verb-forms, and primary
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. 1970. Principles ofTantra (Part ll). 4th ed. Madras:
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144

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CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL

I certify that I have read PIECES OF V AC: A STUDY OF THE LETTERS OF THE SANSKRIT ALPHABET AND THEIR METAPHYSICAL ROLE IN THE EMANATION OF MANIFEST REALITY AS DESCRIBED I N SELECT HINDU TANTRAS b y Eric Robert Dorman, and that in my opinion this work meets the criteria for approving a thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts degree at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

James Ryan, Ph.D . , Chair Professor, Asian and Comparative Studies

Timothy P. Lighthiser, Ph. D. Faculty, Asian and Comparative Studies

© 2009 Eric Robert Dorman .

This study offers an in-depth look into the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet as they take part in the metaphysical manifestation of the universe in three schools of Hindu Tantra: Kashmir Saivism. Srrvidya. and Paficaratra.." in the form of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. I present the emanation of the universe in regard to the letters through the views of a select group of texts.Eric Robert Dorman California Institute of Integral Studies. 2009 James Ryan. they are constantly present through the concept of vtic. the emanation of the universe holds within its manifestation the hidden truths leading to resorption.D. and modern scholarship. It is the goal of this study to isolate the various Tantric understandings of the alphabet while at the same time not losing sight of the alphabet's place in the larger process of emanation. commentaries. Herein. iv . Committee Chair PIECES OF VAC: A STUDY OF THE LETTERS OF THE SANSKRIT ALPHABET AND THEIR METAPHYSICAL ROLE IN THE EMANATION OF MANIFEST REALITY AS DESCRIBED IN SELECT HINDU TANTRAS ABSTRACT In the Hindu Tantric traditions. "word. Ph. Yet these truths are not as hidden as one might think. In fact.

. .. .. . . . .. . . . . . . .. . . . .. . . . . . . .. . . .. . . . . .. . . . .. .. . .. . . . . 36 39 . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . .. Saiva-Centered Tantrism and Kashmir Saivism .... . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . .. .. . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . .. . . . . . . . . .. . . . 23 26 32 . . . ix Note on Transliteration and Capitalization . . . . . . .. . . .... . . .r�ti Mat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... . . . . . . . . . .. . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . .. . . Chapter III. . . . . . .. . 1 .. viii Abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . .. . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . .. . ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. v . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... . . . . . . ... .. . . . . . . . .. . . . Background . . . . . . . . 41 . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . .. . Chapter I. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 12 15 18 18 The Word in the Vedas and Upani�ads .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . .TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract . . . . . . . . . Chapter II. . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . ... . . .. . . . . . . . 43 45 The Emanation in Greater Detail . . . . . . . . Foundational Concepts of Tantra The Stages of the Word . . .. .. . . .. . . . . . .. . . . . .. . .. . . . . . . Bhartrhari's Concept of the Word . . . . . . . . The Gross Emanation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . .. . . . .. . .. .. . . .. . . . . . .. .rka Malinr. . . . . . The Notion of X+ 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . .. . . . . . .. . .. . . . . . .. . . . . . . .. . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. .. . . . . .. .. 22 Sakti and Divine Consciousness . . . . . . . . .. . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tattvas . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . .. .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . x Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . iv List of Figures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mahas. .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Consonants: Ka to K$a . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Consonants: The Semi-Vowels . . I. . . . . . . . . . . The Two Sets of Ten Minor Triangles . . . . . . . U. . ..The Vowels: A. . . . . . 1 23 .. . . . . . . . . . . . 9 9 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 The Vowels: Bindu . . . . 58 The Vowels: E. . . . . . . . . . . . .. 67 . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . R L. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and L (The Vocalic Liquids) . . . . . . . . . . Triko. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1 5 The Lotus Petals . . Vasuko. . . . . . . . . Pai'icaratra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Srfvidya . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . 1 22 General Understanding of the Sanskrit Alphabet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 Chapter I V. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .a . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 1 1 0 The Outer Set of Fourteen Minor Triangles . . . . 9 6 . . . . . The Vowels: Visarga . . . . . .. . . . . . 47 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 03 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I. . . . . . . and 0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 9 . . . . . Bindu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . The Emanation of the Sanskrit Alphabet. . . . . . . . . . . . 8 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . and AU . . . . The Emanation of the Alphabet . . . . . . . . . . . AI. . 107 . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Vowels:�. .. . . . . A. . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1 8 . . 0. . . . . . . .a . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 26 vi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Q. . . . 70 . . . . . Chapter V. . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Consonants: D$man and K$a . . . . . .Q. . . 8 8 The Srrcakra . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. .. . . . . . .The Vowels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . vii . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128 1 33 1 38 1 42 The Consonants Concluding Remarks References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92 Vll\ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1 Line Drawing of the Srrcakra . . . . .

ABBREVIATIONS Ahirbudhnya Sa111hita Kamakalavilasa Lak9mf Tantra Paratrrsika Vivarana Sarada til aka tan tram Satvatasa111hita Tantraloka Tantrasara Tripura Upani9ad Vakyapadrya Yoginrhrdaya ABS KKV LT PTV SIT SatS TA TS TrU VP YH ix .

I make use of capitalization of nominal words." divine. Therefore the transliterations of Sanskrit words appearing in this work will be consistent with most modern scholarship in South Asian studies. words from the Sanskrit language will be transliterated using the International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration system (lAST). often substituting for what the Western mind might consider "God. For example. such as many metaphysical elements of the Hindu Tantric tradition. The former form represents a greater concept." "self. the words "ultimate.NOTE ON TRANSLITERATION AND CAPITALI ZATION Throughout this thesis. " The latter form will simply represent the word in its denotative meaning." and "absolute" will appear throughout this thesis in both capitalized and non-capitalized form. X . When dealing with grand concepts that cannot rightly be translated into the English language.

beginning from a single event and moving in one direction toward final ascent. ranging from the rigorously scientific to the subtly metaphysical. leaving room for either a linear or cyclical slant. The Abrahamic traditions clearly remark on a linear discussion of the universe and time.Lak$mi Tantra XX. 52 INTRODUCTION The most general intent of any worldview. though not through universal agreement. . Each system explains what we know by experience and what we attempt to know through speculation. seeing the concept of emanation as repetitive. Rarely does one find a worldview in which the universe has always existed just as it does now. philosophy.Matrka is the source of all mantras. the origin of all sciences and the soil from which all the principles. Each system of thought carries notions about the nature of the universe. all sages and all knowledge are born. in its broadest sense. offers an understanding of the universe as emanation from some source. Some Asian traditions maintain a cyclical understanding of the universe and time. We seek answers and attempt to define the structure of a grand system that does not reveal itself easily. The theme in this thesis is the emanation of the universe and the creation of reality. Even the scientific community. . or religion is to understand the universe in which we exist. that describe how the universe comes into being.

all mechanical implications aside. viic has 2 . and so. above all else. instead. This particular study cannot possibly rein in the immense amount of material in play in regard to the emanation of the universe.I give this expansive generalization not as an introduction to the specific subject matter of this essay. this strain of thought is found in both the ancient and modern understandings of the emergence of the universe. resides a strain of thought that ties together disparate factions of the Indian subcontinent. Within the vast philosophical tradition that falls under the general label of Hinduism. I intend to simply look at one aspect of one tradition in an effort to provide a source of information that illuminates a particular cog in the grand machine. "word. The broadness of Hinduism's understanding of the power of sound culminates in the concept of vtic. but as a foundational grounding and ideological backdrop to a much narrower piece of the puzzle. unites the Hindu grasp of the viable universe with the subtler nature of pure Reality." Throughout the canon of Hindu scripture and literature. Sound. Throughout this study I wish to keep this general concept of emanation alive and well. for to understand something specific and seemingly minute without giving credence the "big picture" would be to actually render its study ineffective and truly fruitless.

"teachings of mantra" or "science of mantra. portrays only one."1 accentuating the central importance of viic through its use in mantra. and Paficaratra. the Saivism of Kashmir. - � 3 . have illustrated their versions of the emanation of the universe and its subsequent resorption through the language of viic. In fact. the mantra itself holds a fairly late position i� the emanation of the universe through sound. rather mundane level of viic. Nowhere does the emanative nature of viic take on a more integral role than in the tediously scientific formulations of Hindu Tantra. Tantra elevates viic and the general mystic nature of sound to a level of intense importance and powerful efficacy. as it permeates Tantric tradition in i ts audible form. This late emergence of mantra. Through processes which I will elaborate on below." appears interchangeably in these systems with "Tantra. Already a school of thought that focuses heavily on the subtle elements of reality. Mantra. Hindu Tantrism. 103. though. however. Hoens. and Goudriaan. does not relinquish its importance nor reduce its gravity in the grand spectrum of the Tantric understanding of 1 Gupta. Srfvidya. Three large schools of Tantra. the term mantrasiistra. yet unassumingly subtle role in the concepts of emanation and eventual resorption.held a central.

2 . conceptual. lfi< 4 . Hindu Tantra.. Oftentimes the casual observer remarks on the meaning of a certain mantra as it translates to definable words and their subsequent dictionary meanings.. It is no accident that chapter 30 of Abhinavagupta's Tantrtiloka . Thus inherent in the phonemes of the Sanskrit language are tattvas." 24 . These qualities allow mantra to contain esoteric meanings that extend far into the 2 Muller-Ortega. . that correspond to certain letters depending on their place in the emanation or resorption. . the phonemes that compose the mantras are expressions of the most fundamental. mantra need not necessarily mean anything. takes the efficacy of mantra to heart. The complex linkages between tattvas (fundamental principles) and vanzas (phonemic linguistic elements) are central to an understanding of what Abhinavagupta entails in the process of encoding.. In fact. In this view. cosmogonic forces of reality. Paul Eduardo Muller-Ortega writes: The arcane lore of mantric encryption is redolent with the complex correspondences of Abhinavagupta's matrkasastra or philosophy of language. at least in terms of mundane word definitions. Therein lies the keyhole to unlock the playfully hidden Reality in the mantra. and world-building correspondences. mantra serves as the gateway toward a subtler realization. much more so than mainstream Hinduism. "elements." which I will describe below. Yet in Tantric formulations. "Ciphering the Supreme. [is] given over to an examination of these fundamental linguistic..the universe.

Logically. Tantra dissects the mantra in order to understand its mechanism and its processes. require an intermediary step." which comprise the mantric words. 5 . "letters. however.metaphysical realm.ws. Thus. The sounds of mantra go much deeper than audible resonation on the gross level. this step is the van. used this logic as a springboard for much of the mystic and metaphysical analysis of the phonemes of the Sanskrit alphabet. but also knows that mantra exists as the powerful and omnipresent Reality transcending and including the entirety of the umverse. mantra can often exist as a single phoneme of the alphabet but in the ·� scope of this study. the trained and dutifully initiated ear not only hears the ultimate Reality pulsating through human speech. and linguistically. Prabhat Chandra Chakravarti writes that the grammarians 3 Of course. To use a scientific term. in mantra. rising to intermediate and higher levels where the mundane vibrations of the mantra become the vibrations characteristic of a dynamic understanding of the universe more attuned with the ultimate Reality of Hindu philosophy. one should understand the subtle. The transition from mundane mantra to full realization of the divine Ultimate (the reverse order of emanation) does.3 The Hindu grammarians. yet key difference between phoneme as mantra�nd phoneme as letter. especially Bhart:rhari.

wrote: 4 Chakravarti. Yet at the same time.5 reads: These alphabets seem to serve a double purpose: enabling the initiate to quote the mantras without endangering their secrecy. Beck notes that the seventeenth chapter of the Ahirbudhnya Samhita. Sonic Theology. the Tantric scholar who brought much of the hidden school of Hinduism to the scholarly light. Sir John Woodroffe. 6 In other words. if knowledgeable. These lists. an important Paficaratra text from the fourth or fifth century CE. then. Philosophy of Sanskrit Grammar."4 Guy L. Tantric understanding of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet derives from the notion that sabda. or brahman. 7. 85. the letters serve as elements of a diagram. and providing him with a handle for their mystic interpretation. 6 Beck." is identical with the Ultimate. are an indispensable key to the mantras. "'ii­ -ll'>O 6 . 5 Bhattacharyya. Tan trabhidhana. can follow the instructions. mapping out a particular mantra so that one. hidden to the uninitiated ."started with the physical analysis of words and conceived sound [sabda] as what clothes itself with letters. they contain the immense mystic weight inherent in their nature. 337. "sound.

and put them into writing. from A to K$a. just as the mantra in general. this level of understanding offers perfectly acceptable results. 8 Woodroffe. exist on a hierarchy of reality ranging from the most subtle level to the most corporeal. Principles of Tantra. this gross understanding of the phonemes of the Sanskrit alphabet would be the physical equivalent of the fundamental particles of matter. This. For the common practitioner. which are the Mat:rka. depending on whicn metaphor one wishes to use.iara). "is eternal. did they dig deeper into the phonemes themselves. 194. For the majority of our purposes.The string of fifty 7letters." This great saying is the gist of all Tantras. though variations exist throughout both Tantric and non-Tantric texts and will be noted as such. � 7 . and Brahman itself.8 This linguistic step between the mantric words and the subtler viic will be the centerpiece and focus of this essay. just as the Tantric gurus did with the dissection of the mantra. Lest through human error the pronunciation of any letters should be lost or distorted. too. And. If I may again summon a scientific comparison. represents the mundane view. Vidhata (Brahma) has created alphabets (ak1. both physically and metaphysically. The phonemes of the alphabet. unbeginning and unending. of course. On the surface we understand the letters presented before us as merely symbolic notations of certain sounds present in the words we utter. understanding 7 The number fifty is the most common quantity of letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. so.

I have prepared this study as the groundwork for a comprehensive look into the specifics of the Sanskrit alphabet as it is understood through the lens of Tantric Hinduism. This appreciation and dedication to the Reality inherent in the phonemes make up a very large portion of the Tantric literature. While I do not intend on formulating anything particularly new or revolutionary.9 relating the potency of the phonemes to their fundamental mystic nature. 9 Ibid.. 1 65. 8 . and as the Tantric gurus have known for centuries. "not" + k$ara.the letters as the symbolic building blocks of daily mantras suffices j ust as does a high school physics student knowing the atomic mass of a proton allows him or her to pass their exam. "decaying"). a. elicits the dynamic Reality inherent in the seemingly static letters of the alphabet. Indeed. However. and it is the goal of this study to isolate the various Tantric understandings of the alphabet while at the same time not losing sight of the alphabet's place in the larger process of emanation. 195. just as its philosophical brethren in quantum physics. what can easily be regarded as fundamental only satisfies the demands of the prosaic worldview. Tantra. as the scientific community knows well. the term ak$ara in Sanskrit refers both to "letter" and "imperishable" (lit.

Chapter III will discuss their intensely intricate understanding of the Sanskrit alphabet. The second chapter will cover much of the fundamental concepts of Tantra's viic-based theology and provide a background for the more technical and tedious information in the latter three chapters. I use the term "general" here with the understanding from my readers that no such concept exists in South Asian studies. As with all studies in Hinduism. though. I will describe the general understanding of the emanation of the phonemes of the Sanskrit alphabet. specifically Kashmir Saivism. and in Tantra especially. Beginning with selected texts and writers of Saiva Tantrism. In it.I will structure this study in five chapters. This third chapter will serve as the bulk of this essay as many of the concepts therein will trickle down into the following two schools of Tantra. These final three chapters will discuss the use of the Sanskrit alphabet in its emanative aspect in three major divisions of Hindu Tantra. Thus. my intent here is to offer a starting point and reference to be used throughout the essay. 9 . The first chapter will discuss the general understanding of sound in Hindu Tantrism as it derives from Vedic notions of viic and the philosophies of grammar.

I am restricted to Western translations of Tantric texts. and especially on this sporadic of a topic. As with any study on this large of a scale. of which there are relatively few available compared to the vast canon of Tantric works not even yet translated out of the Sanskrit or vernacular in which they were written.The fourth chapter will proceed with the philosophical offshoot of Kashmir Saivism. the Sakta-centered tradition of Srividya. of which this is likely a precursor. I have limited my scope to the following: For 10 . First. I am approaching these elements of the alphabet from the angle of texts in translation. Certainly ancillary works should not be ignored in a more thorough study. there are limitations which must be addressed right from the start.caratra school. In addition to this restraint. Finally. Sakti. and in order to provide a sweeping survey of the three main traditions within Hindu Tantra. and Vi$1JU. I have focused on just a few particular texts and authors within the traditions that seem to have had the most influence on the respective school's mystic understanding of the Sanskrit alphabet. specifically translation into English. the fifth chapter will discuss the Sanskrit alphabet's representation in the l ater writings of the Paf\. and look in depth at the alphabet as it emanates through the framework of the srfcakra. Therefore. Thus. thus concluding the coverage of the traditional triad of Siva.

Their scholarship. For Srrvidya. I have looked to the Kamakalavilasa and the scholarly work of Douglas Renfrew Brooks.Kashmir Saivism I have looked almost exclusively to the massively indepth study provided by Andre Padoux. who writes on the texts. translations. for Paficaratra. Finally. have contributed greatly to this particular angle. I have focused on the Lak$mf Tantra as translated and commented upon by Sanjukta Gupta. in addition to the translations of Jaideva Singh. and academic commentary of Abhinavagupta. but also to the work of Paul Muller-Ortega. 11 .

The roots of the importance of the Word lie in the �g Veda. . when [the first seers] set in motion the first beginning of speech. be vac. 125 11 Padoux.! 10.CHAPTER I BACKGROUND The Word in the Vedas and Upani�ads Even in the earliest forms of the Brahmanical tradition. The universe is derived from vac and also exists as vac.Through the sacrifice they IO �g Veda 10. therefore all reality must. too... From this Vedic-Brahmanical understanding the various currents of Hinduism developed the Word in several ways. even subtly.. 2. the Word maintains a prominent position in the understanding of reality and the divinity therein. their most pure and perfectly guarded secret was revealed through love . Andre Padoux describes this development as a "linguistic theology"11 in which. yet the core remained . .. eliminating the possibility for anything to exist outside of the Word .. giving names. .71 reads: -·'·' . 12 .10 The great concept of brahman certainly equates with the supreme Word. the Word (vac) held significant meaning on both the corporeal and divine levels of reality. Vac. �g Veda . - . where vac plays a key role in the cosmogonical story of the universe.

Similarly. and. P This verse understands the Word on two levels. 23. " . 3 reads. 13 Padoux. existing as the origin and the originator. Rig Veda. speaking something's name makes it real. 13 . so all words are bored through by aurrz. but the second. All the realities and possibilities of realities exist within vtic. Chandogya Upani$ad II. This whole world is 1 2 Doniger.l3 In other words.. which logically undermines the notion of the Word as ultimate origin.. Another important element here is that vtic gives names. in fact often equated with the act of giving existence. Vac. As all the leaves are bored through by a pin. . 61 . They held it and portioned it out to many . subtler understanding notes that speech exists within the sages. Thus the Word operates as the creative force of the universe. The famous syllable awrz offers the most visible example. 7. The first identifies speech as coming from the seers. though the universe does maintain structure within the creative force just as the poet creates his or her songs within the boundaries of meter.traced the path of speech and found it inside the sages. the Upani$ads reflect a reality derived from the divine Word. a concept commonly understood in many cultures to be more than just identification. implying an earlier origin.

22. either. which is itself divine. the root of the Tantric traditions and the grammar-philosophy of Bharqhari. to be discussed below. :. and it is this deeper understanding that I will elaborate on in this study. in the form of aurrz. and it is from this level that seemingly all the traditions within India wish to find a way out. That wish. and that knowing the Divine is as simple as knowing the world through empirical language. It is at this level of the Word and phenomenal world. of course.: 14 . It reads: All vowels are the embodiments of Indra. Upani�ads. "14 In this case the universe manifests through the Word. In fact. 3-4 delineates the known varieties of phonemes according to their respective forms at higher levels of understanding. all consonants are the 14 Olivelle. specifically the divine Word. that the majority of human beings find themselves. 1 1 7. however. suggest just the opposite: that it is in this manifest world where the Divine resides. Chandogya Upani�ad II. a deeper understanding present. These notions are certainly not even contemporary with Bhart:rhari or Tantra.nothing but awrz. though. as the foundation for their formation lie in the Vedas and Upani�ads. all spirants are the embodiments of Prajii-pati. does not exclusively denote removal of oneself from the phenomenal world. This level of understanding satisfies the vast majority of the Hindu tradition. yet there is.

Bhartrhari's Concept of the Word The rise of Buddhism in India created a stir among those in the Brahmanical tradition and in this age. identify with the Word in its unitary and absolute form. and more intricately involved understanding of both the phenomenal reality and the ultimate Reality. the epics. subtler. he should tell that one. does not suffice for this subtler understanding.' So if one should reproach a person for his spirants he should tell that one.' And if one should reproach a person for his consonants he should tell that one. He will smash you. though. The Principle Upani$ads. - � 15 . and the IS Radhakrishnan. through his or her empirical language.'l5 Thus the phonemes of human language do not exist separately from the divine qualities of the Ultimate and. The ascent of the individual human being. from the sixth century BCE to the sixth century CE. He will burn you up. While much focus centered on indigenously derived image worship. therefore. to the divine consciousness and on to the Word as Absolute requires a deeper. 'I have taken refuge in Praja-pati. If one should reproach a person for his vowels. Taking refuge in the deities which correspond to the categories of phonemes.embodiments of Death. 374. many revivals and revisions of Brahmanical thought ushered in what we think of as modern Hinduism. 'I have taken refuge in Indra. 'I have taken refuge in Death. He will answer you.

including.. 16 .subsequent production of the Pural)as. the last key part to . and the element that sets him apart from other grammarians.. the grammarian Bhart:rhari looked back to the Vedas and Upani$ads for inspiration.. one can attain the necessary knowledge of the Divine. spoken language. 1 7. one can break through the barriers of ignorance that have separated words from the Word and attain knowledge of the Divine. is his emphasis on the bond between l 6 Coward. Bhartrhari. which is the ultimate RealityP This sabdabrahman manifests itself as the known world. His concept of the Ultimate is purely non-dualistic and he conceives of brahman and sabda as coexistent. Finally. Bhartrhari thus argues that through correct understanding of the Sanskrit language. most importantly. Bhart:rhari theorized that the Sanskrit language is the definitive connection to the Ultimate and through the proper understanding of this language... 25. comprising both parts of the sabdabrahman. 1 7 Ibid. Bhart:rhari' s understanding of language. mostly due to its obscurity and the fact that certain parts are missing. a work that has only recently been translated and studied outside of India. 1 6 Bhart:rhari lived sometime during the fifth century CE and developed his philosophy of grammar in the Vtikyapadfya.

Murti. Bharqhari suggested the opposite: that language comes before thought.thought and language. Harold Coward points out this necessity by arguing that to suppose that language is merely a convention proves false since the idea of a convention presupposes language. Therefore even such a notion as God cannot even be thought without first having a language with which to have a thought. and thus serves as its inner unity. 20 Ibid . Bhartrhari. also contains within it the ability to know the Word. or rather they are expressions of one deep spiritual impulse to know and to communicate. 133. Sabda. the mechanism of thought relies just as heavily on language as spoken word and so thought. 18 In the words of T. Bharqhari's theory thus accentuates the originality of vtic and its existence as all reality. Coward. 33. V . He claimed that no cognition can exist without language." 1 9 Therefore.20 18 19 Patnaik. 30.. "Word and thought develop together. R . 17 . then. As opposed to the seemingly logical view that thought must presuppose language.

Woodroffe.. Bhart:rhari understood viic existing in three levels: the highest is pasyantf. added a fourth level of sound above pasyantf referred to as pariiviic. the intermediate is rnadhyamii. gives forth leaves in Pasyantl. a rather recent text. The Garland oJ Lellers.CHAPTER II FOUNDATIONAL CONCEPTS FOR TANTRA The Stages of the Word Before I can delve deeper into the intricacies of the Sanskrit alphabet. The addition of this highest level of viic plays easily into the subtle theistic underpinnings of even advaita schools of Tantra. and the lowest is vaikharf. Tantric philosophy of viic. the sabdabrahman. summarizes the levels of the Word thusly: "That Vak. as it often refers to Absolute Siva. one of the three 21 22 The term paramasiva mostly appears in Kashmir Saiva writings. and specifically Tantric. which sprouts in Para. though. 214. � � 18 . or paramasiva. More commonly understood in the latter fashion. As stated before. buds in Madhyama and blossoms in VaikharL"22 Pariiviic operates on two levels at once.21 The Yogakundall Upani�ad. hierarchy of sound. . the pariiviic level of sonic reality is said to stem from the bindu. I must provide the philosophical framework of the Hindu. it can repres ��t the Ultimate and identify with Siva or it can be another term for .

Woodroffe even mentions in another work that "In reality sabda eternally exists as brahman. John Woodroffe. in this lesser of the two forms. Tantrabhidhana. such as the akasa. or sounds inherent in the letters of the alphabet. sets the stage for the efficaciousness of the phonemes as they emerge. "ether. under the pen name Arthur Avalon. as pre-Tantra schools tended to think." then there could be no directly divine potency in the letters themselves.. This discussion.immediate differentiations of the Supreme. the sabda. If. a text composed around the eleventh century CE. was generated from some source. The Tantric understanding. Sarada-Tilaka Tantram. However. 23 that what emerges from the hindu is an emanation of "indiscernible letters of the alphabet. paravtic can be understood as the undifferentiated cacophony of the universe. identifies sabda. 171 . 7. � 19 . 147. though.. the understanding of sabdabrahmau as identical to partivtic is not consistent throughout Tantra. 25 Woodroffe. 24 Avalon. as self23 Bhattacharyya."25 implying a higher status for paravac than the subtly differentiated sabdabrahman. though. and thus the essence of the individual phonemes. comments in his summary of the first chapter of the SIT.in a 'volume of sound' (sabdabrahman). Principles of Tantra." 24 Thus.

madhyamti. 1 43. While the Tantric schools 26 Ibid. whichb�comes individual human beings. Descending from the panivac toward the manifestation of the material universe. 1 42. Here.existent and merely manifested from the Ultimate 26 or from Au:rn. 29 Ibid. 27 The difference between generation and manifestation may seem like merely splitting hairs on the surface. 28 Vac then declines to the intermediate stage of the Word. this is the level where human thought and inner-dialogue begin to emerge. vac arrives at the pasyantf. "visionary. 20 . The Garland of Letters. Here the phonations of vac are manifested and differentiated beyond the level of static potentiality.. 28 Padoux. " stage. 52. 27 Woodroffe. sound manifests for the first time into mundane perceptibility. and while it has not yet reached the point of human speech. but not as of yet perceptible to the mundane aural or cognitive perception.29 Vtic has thus gone from existing as a self-reflection of the divine consciousness to a diversified and manifest self-reflection of the individual consciousness. but their distinction is of profound metaphysical weight. Vac.

then. 1 43£. 21 . 29. Sabda. This intermediate level is the catalyst and the metaphorical boatman that connects the realms of corporeal knowledge and the subtle corresponding knowledge of the divine unity within vile."31 The universe becomes manife_§ted and human beings within it are granted the ability to communicate using the diluted and diversified vile. and the words used to learn and know reality cannot be taken individually and must be understood to be identical in the unity of the Word. stage. is as fully manifest and distinct. Thought. ' 30 Patnaik. "The sound vibration. or consciousness.. .as it possibly can be.30 Thus it is at the madhyanzil level of vile that I believe the true potency and power of knowledge as cognition takes place. Padoux writes. ::. Vae. The final. 31 Padoux.describe this level as pre-phenomenal and preceding the phonemes of human language. vaikharf. is where the breath and letters come together to put forth the sound vibrations that make up the phonemes and empirical speech. one should recall that under Bhartrhari's theory of language. even inner thought and individual consciousness can only exist as a result of language.

The Word. There were originally three Vedas+ 1 Atharva Veda. is for there always to be just one more item tacked on to every list. 20. three major divinities+ 1 Goddess." pervading the material world. The greater significance of this numeration is the idea that that extra one represents the totality of all those before it. 32 Even larger lists such as partitions of the universe or the number of tattvas of Siva often have+ 1 attached. The x + 1 is the unity in diversity.The N otion of X+ 1 One very important concept to understand in regards to the general Hindu theory of language is unity in diversity or. etc. One common trend. Surpassed only by the B uddhist tradition. How did the unity of the Word come to manifest as the varied world humans experience? The theories of Bharqhari suggest an answer in two parts. the subtle dynamic energy that both binds and expresses that within itself. x + 1. is both the lists and the + 1. there is the classic example of miiyii. First. though it is through the + 1 that the true dynamism emerges. three letters in aurn + 1 aurn itself. "ignorance. In this miiyii. and thus ignites reality with diversity. Hinduism has compiled numbered lists for just about every element of their philosophy. including itself. as I have labeled it. then. the+ 1. humanity has forgotten the 32 Ibid. though.. 22 .

the female energy. The second part has to do with the Word desiring itself to be expressed .33 Similar to the non-dualistic Vedantin's understanding of maya. understood in this depiction as Sakti. for the + 1 of the divine Word is sakti. leading it to manifest into the phenomenal world. contains kraltt. This silent Siva stands in sheer contrast to what I have described as the bursting forth of the dynamically potent Word. an innate energy within the Word loaded with potentiality. the female companion to Siva. The Word only 33 Coward.. especially in Tantra.34 This potential is the energy of the Word. A seeming duality appears here on the surface. In schools of Saivite Tantra. and the force that supplies its dynamic nature. or inner meaning of the Word and of words. Bhartrhari argues that the sphota. 38. 23 . Sakti and Divine Consciousness The more commonly used term. Bhartrhari. which exists in a purely static state. the greater Reality often takes the form of Siva. this ignorance has clouded the material world and made viic appear as many diverse objects and many languages. 34 Ibid. especially the Saivism of Kashmir. the+ 1.true meaning of viic and thus lost the connection to the Divine. 33.

comes to be conscious of itself in diversity. Padoux writes: Siva is . then the Word cannot be separate in any way from consciousness because the Word is dynamic and alive. carrying with it the knowledge innately present within the Divine. Vac.35 Likewise.the energy corresponds to the Word aspect of the primary principle. the dynamic energy that is non-dual with Siva. the Ultimate. The+ 1 is sakti. enlivens Siva. While some patriarchal Brahmanical traditions may have wanted it this way. which is the Word. 24 . identifies with Siva. greater half. the cause and source of the entire manifestation . and that self-awareness gives it life. . Through the Word. Sakti. 78. it is self-awareness (vimarsa) of the light of consciousness. who is. . and manifests Siva into the phenomenal world. we find Siva to be a very essential part of reality. . strictly speaking. If we understand consciousness as that which defines life and dynamism. the Word gives reality life by allowing it to be self-aware in its diversity.36 This understanding of the bond between consciousness and the Word ties back 35 Padoux. 36 Ibid. If one factors in the x + 1.... the subtler understanding suggests otherwise. 89.immanent (visvamaya) and is inseparably united with his energy.represents half of the origin while Siva represents the other. but the static part nonetheless.

the powers that give life to the cosmos are identical with those that make human beings alive."37 This life need not be understood merely as the biological force keeping humans coherent. . the necessary presence of the Word in consciousness and the active duty of the Word in consciousness provide a direct route from the mundane thought processes. indeed. . In relation to my main point. 37 Ibid. which obtain knowledge to the divine consciousness embodied in the unity in diversity of the Siva-sakti union. but as something subtler that allows one to connect. 24. to the divine consciousness and. Thus.in with Bhart:rhari's understanding that there can be no words. This dynamism pervades all of reality and trickles down from the transcendental levels all the way to empirical levels of humanity. 25 . " .. no thought. know it. the very ability for the Word to manifest itself into the phenomenal world displays its dynamic nature. where the Word becomes temporal and subject to human diversity. and no conscious expression whatsoever without the presence of the Word in the form of language or speech. . Padoux remarks. though this dynamic energy of the Word present in one's consciousness.

which. beginning with the common Tantric conceptions of the alphabet and then going more in depth into the specifically Kashmir Saiva elements. above all others. carefully fleshes out the essence of the Sanskrit alphabet as it plays an integral role in both the emanation of the material universe and the metaphysical resorption with the Ultimate. not only explains the emanation of the universe.CHAPTER III SAlVA-CENTERED TANTRA AND KASHMIR SAIVISM The Saiva tradition of Kashmir. but also. and Goudriaan. Kashmiri Saivites use what is known as a matrkiicakra. paramasiva. The Sanskrit alphabet exists in the order it does due to many reasons both metaphysical and phonetical. The miitrkiicakra. This first of the three sections on sectarian understandings of the Sanskrit alphabet will take on a slightly generalized approach. or theory of the alphabet. 98f. � - 26 . but it is the best one can do at this point in the discussion. Hindu Tanl!·ism. This description of the origin of the alphabet comes from the work of Dirk Jan Hoens38 and certainly does have its leanings toward the Saiva and Sakta schools of thought. describes the common situation of its practitioners seeking highest attainment while operating out of a purely corporeal existence. To do this. Hoens. as Bharqhari theorized. 38 Gupta. very logically.

. Aindrf or Indranr for the semivowels. 155. Kaumari for the ta-varga. Metaphysically. Varahi for the pa-varga.la for sa to k�a. Brahm! for the ka-varga.13 of the Spanda Karikas: . Vai$nav1 for the ta- varga. veiling by way of sport the real nature of His Self adorned with the Highest Power (parasakti) endowed with universal energy. then His Power of Absolute Freedom. and fiftyfold according to the division of letters of these groups. 27 . It also appears as ninefold according to the division of letter-groups (vargabhedena).. Mahesvari for the ca-varga.when [Siva]. the ninth member can be understood in the x + 1 39 Singh. First. the understanding of how the Sanskrit alphabet is broken down is best explained by Ki?emaraja in his commentary on verse 3. 4 0 These apparent discrepancies can be understood in two ways. The Yoga of Vibration and Divine Pulsation. which align with the eight presiding goddesses of the letter groups: Yogrsvarf or Mahalaki?mi for the svara. on the screen of His own Self. 156 n.becomes Will which assumes the power of cognition and action.39 Immediately.. and Camun<. 40 Ibid. As such that Power of Absolute Freedom becomes two in the form of seed (vowel) and matrix (consonant) which respectively indicate Siva and Sakti.. an inconsistency exists as just a few lines later in the commentary.do not necessarily have to exist in different veins. desires to display manifestation in different forms. K$emaraja writes of the eight-fold division of the letter-groups.. 2. though.

the alphabet breaks down more structurally. A is said to be citsakti. 4. the vowels represent either ultimate Siva itself or his highest sakti. the final conjunct phoneme k�a can be considered in its own grouping. Jaideva Singh notes that the corresponding presiding goddesses vary slightly. It is Siva. where the ninth and final grouping of letters is also the entirety. Regardless. since phonetically. Thus. and the subsequent source of all letters. In this case. and thus metaphysically. a through alJ (visarga) represent the arising of manifestation and serve as the foundation of all other letters. The svaras are represented by Siva-Sakti and Yogfsvari moves into alignment with k�a. Siva or Siva-Sakti are present throughout the alphabet. This union of divine 4 1 Ibid. 1 57 n. a is the product ofa +a. Thus ii represents divine consciousness and itself. the first organizational aspect is the separation of the vowels (svaras) and the consonants (vyafijanas).model. the divine consciousness. leaving the rest as they were in the previous order. Depending on the particular view. the sakti of consciousness.. 28 . and more in line with the syllabic groupings. The vowels come first and represent the initial stages of emanation. Second. Deconstructing the alphabet from the top down.41 Syllabically.

culminating in the stage of power of knowledge {jfianasakti).. which represents the bzja. J. which corresponds to awakening or coming forth (unmef?a). - . ai. representing the power of will (icchasakti). representing the power of sovereignty or of reigning (!sana). The diphthongs {e. a euphonic combination of a and i. a nd kriyasaktis will be discussed in more detail below with regard to the trikm:za. The corresponding double representation of the power of will (icchasakti) then puts forth J and J as it reaches the stability of the earth.consciousness and itself represents the inseparable union (ytimala) of Siva and Sakti in a state of absolute bliss (ananda). 42 followed by f. and its 4 2 The iccha. o. The next set of vowels (r. The first six sounds (a to a) sum up in the form of a. and J) hold a rather interesting place in the cosmogony of the Sanskrit alphabet and will be treated with much more detail below. while r represents the same sakti in a more unsettled or perturbed form.. � is the manifestation of icchasakti in a purely settled form. f. jiiana.. Next comes i. "seed. The beginnings of light into the process of manifestation occur at the emergence of u. 29 . For now it will suffice to say that they represent a pause in the emanation and offer a subtler transition of gradation. and au) reach the level of power of action (kriyasakti) beginning withe." for the entirety of the svaras..

43 43 Gupta. (visarga).) carry enough metaphysical weight to fill volumes. as is evidenced by its graphic use in the devantigarz script as a singular dot (. representative of the divine powers of Siva-Sakti. depicts the entirety of the fourteen vowels already manifested and serves to represent the singular. and thus at the culmination of the vowels. Hoens. the euphonic combination of a and e. represented as mrz. graphically represented as two points (:). dimensionless point of Siva in his Absolute form. represented by the consonants."long" form ai. The division of the ultimate consciousness into two. or anusvara. and Goudriaan. The kriyasakti becomes more manifest as the letter o emerges from the combination of a and u and reaches full manifestation at au. sets off the creation of the manifest world. in the terms of basic phonetic emanation they provide both a summation of svaras and a fluid transition into vyanjanas. If the anusvara as a single point represents the unity of Siva-Sakti then the meaning of a]J. The hindu. Hindu TantJ·ism. The final two svaras (a111 and aiJ.). 99. However. the combination of a and o. visarga sets the stage for the next round of emanation. is self-apparent. "'" 30 . Hoens remarks that the second-tier emanation also represents a "liberation" from condensed unity as is evidenced by the escape of breath that is the functional part of visarga. namely Siva and Sakti.

which are the themselves direct elements of the Absolute. Consonants are second ary to the vowels and. while the consonants are the wombs (yonis). which are the stops (sparsa) ka through gha and the nasal (anunasika) na. J condenses to form the dentals (dantya). Thus even in their simplest representation the vyaiijanas are accompanied by the ultimate svara 4 5 Gupta. can only exist. the expressive elements (vticaka). The condensation (ghanatti) of the consonants goes as follows: a condenses to form the gutturals (ka�Jthya). As Hoens quotes from Jayaratha's commentary on Abhinavagupta' s Tantrtiloka. r condenses to form the retroflexes (or cerebrals) (mardhanya). 44 Consonants by themselves cannot produce any vibratory sound. Hindu Tantrism. Hoens. � 31 ."45 and thus every letter from here on out condenses directly from the vowels. 99. and u a.44 Vowels are the seeds (bzjas). which are the sparsa tq"through qha and the mzunasika 7Ja. "the vowels are the ultimate cause of all the letters. with the aid of vowels. which are the sparsa ca through jha and the anunasika iia. and Goudriaan. i condenses to form the palatals (ttilavya). in fact. the expressed elements (vacya). phonetically and metaphysically. which are the sparsa ta through dha and the ammasika na.The next stage of emanation of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet covers the emergence of the consonants (vyaiijanas).

46 as well as the first and last consonants. This combination of ka and sa represents the entirety of the alphabet as it contains within itself the a element. The semivowels (anatal. Thus the double meaning allows the combination k:?a to represent the bookends of both the vowels (a to a h) and the consonants (ka to sa) . or elements of reality. the last letter in the emanation of the alphabet is k?a. which is supreme consciousness and root of all the vowels.. Finally. � 32 .condenses to form the labials (o?thya). the grosser form of ah. ra from r. Hoens mentions only that ha is a gross form of visarga. .. all consonants. the assumption here is that the sa aspect in the combination simultaneously. la from l. that make up the whole of both objective and 46 Though not directly stated. Then come the sibilants (il?man) as sa emerges from i. ha needs mention as it does count in the fifty letters. ?a from r.. which reflect the parts. or aspects. and va from u (+a). Tattvas The Kashmir Saiva understanding of the Sanskrit alphabet goes --�\- hand in hand with its reliance on the tattvas.. The letter ha emerges at some point but does not receive direct treatment in this particular rendition of the alphabet. Nonetheless. and sa from !. and the visarga element. as is often the case in Sanskrit grammar. which are the sparsa pa through bha and the anunasika rna. making it self-inclusive in the total of fifty Sanskrit letters. exists as ha.stha) emerge next as ya derives from i.

and suddhavidya (aha111 in aharrz and idam in idam). though. exists prominently in Sa:rnkhya and Vedantic philosophy as well.in Saivism nothing as yet has happened.. Kashmir Shaivism. the higher understanding of Reality and that of the Vedantic schools. the list and elaboration of tattvas derives from this source. In the philosophy of the Upani$ads. . or ultimate Reality. as Lakshman Jee says. Then follow the $at kaiicukas (Six Coverings or Sheaths). " . 33 . zsvara (idam in aharrz).. lff. They are siva (aharrz. the six tattvas that the Tantric schools understand as the metaphysical barriers betwee]J. Unless otherwise noted. In these schools of thought.subjective reality. The concept of tattva is not unique to Tantra and. the tattvas only numbered twentyfive. Ultimate). through which puru$a must transcend. 48 Ibid. 7."47 The Tantric understanding contains eleven more elements that delve deeper into the subtle nature of Siva. However. this number is the point at which the tattvas cease. Swami Lakshman Jee presents the complete thirty-six tattvas as follows. sakti (ahatJ1).. They are maya (illusion of 47 Jee. sadasiva (aharrz in idam). indeed.48 The eleven Tantric tattvas begin at the highest level of reality with the five suddha tattvas (Pure Elements).

The final twenty tattvas are considered the gross. nose). buddhi (intellect). 5. 34 . tongue). tattvas and depict the emanation of the universe from the brink of the subjective state down to the most mundane level of reality. which consist of srotra (organ of hearing. which are vtic (action of speech). At the top are the paiica jiiandriyas (Five Organs of Cognition). or what Swami Lakshman Jee refers to as the "objective cum subjective elements. tvak (organ of touching. and ghratza (the organ of smelling. vidya (limitation of knowledge). and niyati (limitation of place).. Then emanate the paiica karmendriyas (Five Organs of Action). rasanti (the organ of tasting. After the Kashmir Saiva' s eleven higher tattvas come the twentyfive standard tattvas. kala (limitation of time). ptida (action of the foot). raga (limitation of attachment). ptitzi (action of the hand). payu (excretory action). or objective. kala (creativity). and upastha (procreative 49 Ibid. Then follow the atahkara�ws (Three Internal Organs). and manas (mind)."49 They are aharitkara (the ego as connected to objectivity). ear). eye). cak?u (organ of sight. beginning with the pair of independent subjective characteristics puru?a (the ego as connected to subjectivity) and prakrti (nature) .the mundane self). skin).

and yet they also represent the totally unmanifest state of Reality from which they emerged. siva. which are sabda (sound). and indeed Tantra in general. The highest tattva. with the thirty-sixth acting as the + 1. representing the rest in their entirety. rasa (taste). describe the emanation of the tattvas coinciding directly with the emanation of the phonemes. The tenet� of Kashmir Saivism. jala (water). Next come the paiica tanmiitras (Five Subtle Elements). the remaining thirty-five trickle down from the supremely subtle suddha tattvas toward the very mundane paiica mahtiblnitas. sparsa (touch). They are iikiisa (ether). and finally prthivf (earth). one might understand the tattvas to be thirty-five in number. They are literally the ingredients from which the manifest reality is constructed. The phonemes of the Sanskrit alphabet themselves partake in the manifestation of the universe from the Ultimate. creating the material world so familiar to the corporeal senses.action). is both an element of the Ultimate and the Ultimate itself. From this transcendental tattva. each representing 35 . tejas (fire). the paiica mahiibhutas (Five Great Elements). and gandha (smell). In view of this. The Tantric understanding of the emanation of the universe depicts the entirety of both the objective and subjective world consisting of these tattvas. nlpa (form). viiyu (air). These paiica tanmiitras derive directly from the last and most mundane five tattvas.

� 36 . and vaikharf. Vac. pasyantf. 52 Ibid. literally meaning the totality of sounds of Bhairava. The emanation then moves slowly-toward the mundane by connecting sakti tattva with the phoneme 5 ° For a simple and direct chart of the phoneme-tatlva relationships at the different levels of sonic reality see Padoux. this arrangement falls under the name sabdariisi or sabdariisibhairava." or the mahiisr?ti. 318f Table 5.both an element of the manifest universe and the Ultimate itself.. Vac. 5 1 Padoux. 306f n.S0 The highest level. consists of the potentiality for the "great emanation. 5 1 of the manifest universe and features the letters and tattvas existing in order from highest to lowest. 237. madhyamii. Mahasr!?ti The Sanskrit alphabet is arranged differently and the corresponding tattvas are connected differently depending on the sonic leveJ. pariiviic. 52 Thus the emanation takes place beginning with the siva tattva corresponding with the sixteen svaras (a to a]J_). In the kularelated schools of Saivism.1. 306. How exactly the emanation of the phonemes of the Sanskrit alphabet fits in with these thirty-six tattvas becomes a complicated manner due to the levels of sonic reality discussed above: partiviic.

Ia connects with kala. ra. that the last corresponding feature of the phoneme sa." only exists at the paravac level of the "great emanation"53 and thus cannot be considered among the elemental aspects of the manifest universe. According to Padoux. ·11<0 37 . during which the characteristic will become represented by the ma a tattva. though. (310f n. 55 considering maya to be outside the grouping while still enveloping them.k?a. Thus va connects to maya. Padoux elaborates that the mahama ti is the "transcendental y illusion" which marks the potentiality for differentiation. another non-tattva. Padoux. zsvara tattva with sa. "great illusion. etc.150-52. 250). the anatal. mahiimaya.. mahamaya. Vac.54 Moving further down toward the manifest world. 55 Padoux. and ra connects with vidya.stha (ya. and ha with sakti tattva. 310f n. 250. and mahamaya with sa . thus connecting kf?a with aniisritasiva. Ia. who references TA 9. Notice. lists them as five in number. ·!�. y 54 It should be noted that Padoux also mentions a description from PTV that describes the emanation without nzahamaya. 53 Ibid. suddhavidya tattva with ?a. 309f. The remaining two tattvas of this class. is not one of the previously mentioned tattvas that make up the manifest world. sadasiva tattva with ha. however. and va) are connected with the ?at kaficukas.

309).kala and niyati. The dantya (dentals) na through ta in reverse order match up with the pafica jfiandriyas58 (srotra tattva through ghra7Ja tattva). In general. The murdhanya (cerebrals) �w through ta in reverse order match with the pafica karmendriyas (vac tattva through pada tatlva) . 309 n." correlating to the increasingly sense-pervaded reality that forms as the emanation occurs. and manas tattva). 244. which makes sense phonetically if we consider that sparsa means "touching" or "contacting. � 38 .56 The correspondences between phonemes and tattvas on the mahasr?ti becomes much clearer and simplistic when we look at the solid consonants (sparsa and anunasika). ra. The talavya (palatals) iia through. aharnkara tattva. The rest of the O?thya (labials) ba through pa going in reverse order match up respectively with the atabkara�ws (buddhi tattva. become emanated within the whole of the last three semivowels (ya. 58 Padoux refers to the Five Sense-Organs as buddzndriya ( Vac. Vac. ca in reverse order match with the pafica tanmiitras (sabda tattva 56 Swami Lakshman Jee notes that the condensation of the kaiicukas into four parts results in kala and kala connecting with ya. 23). and Ia). 57 Padoux. 57 Ma connects with puru?a tattva and bha connects with prakrti. and raga and niyati connecting with fa (Kashmir Shaivism. these letters connect to the increasingly mundane elements of manifest reality.

albeit linearly. Matrka If we move one level down. Thus the end of the representative emanation arrives at the letter ka and the prthivz tattva. the entire system of phoneme tat tva relationships changes. yet it is just 59 Padoux. partivtic.59 The order of the phonemes remains the same. and thus entire resorption.Metaphysically. Whereas the general theme of the phoneme structure on the partivtic level was emanation. � 39 .thya (gutturals) na through ka moving in reverse order match up with the parka mahabhutas (tiktisa tattva through prthivz tattva). 312.through gandha tattva). but the corresponding tattvas reverse directly. At the pasyantz level - of sonic reality (partipara) the manifestation and differentiation of the Ultimate has begun to take place. the phoneme- tattva relationships at the pasyantl level represents a reflection (pratibimba). earth. The entire lineup described in the mahasr�ti resides in the potentiality of the Ultimate at the partivtic level of sonic reality. Vac. however. ""'. this plays into the understanding of pasyantl as merely a few subtleties away from the Ultimate. is knowable at pasyantl. The entire emanation. appearing as a reflection of the mahasr�ti. Finally. the kaJJ.

. 62 Ibid. which is one step beneath Siva.62 The continuation of the phoneme-tattva relationships is fairly straightforward 60 Ibid. 40 . According to TA 3. As this level. 312. The sixteen svaras continue to be represented by siva tattva. 317. this general theory is unique to Abhinavagupta's writings on Kashmir Saivism. 315.60 This assortment of the alphabet is referred to by the term matrkti.. but as merely reflections of that foundation." and thus mtitrkti implies itself to be the "mother" of all the letters a to kf.a reflection of the true Reality.a. Just as we may see our reflection in the mirror and know most everything about our appearance.198.61 It is more commonly understood as the general term for "mother. the vowels are not to be understood as the foundation of reality. who is the svaras. though this time understood as not just Siva but as a reflection of Siva in Sakti. as quoted by Padoux. According to Padoux. 61 Ibid.. the matrkti is the arising of phonemes within the energy emanating from the contact between the "mass of sounds" (Bhairava) and the shadow of the objectivity derived from its act of consciousness. we do not quite see the reality of how we appear.

320. The exception is Abhinavagupta' s rendering of the furthest point of pasyantf as anasritasakti. named after the Goddess wearing a garland of fifty phonemes (van'}. the 63 Ibid.with the understanding that the tattvas are simply reflected from the mahasr?ti." 64 Ibid. there do exist a few hitches along the way. Anasritasakti acts similarly to the non tattva anasritasiva that - occurred at its correlation with k?a at the early stages of the "great emanation. This representation of the Sanskrit alphabet is called malin!.amalii) . they occur as six in full. where the alphabet gets jumbled up. The next step toward the objective level of reality comes at the madhyama stage of sonic reality. 63 Whereas in the mahasr?ti the kaiicukas were condensed into four. The direct reflection would imply ka to correspond with sadasiva tattva. corresponding to the letters gha through jha.. yet it still resides in a realm of heavy subjectivity. Malin! The matrka extends further out from Siva in the emanation of the manifest world. foreshadowing the "gross" level of words and hard letters. which is does in most listings. 41 . 64 Moving closer toward the manifest. another non- tattva. 315£. However. in matrka. Padoux theorizes that arzasritasakti acts as a transitory link between the matrka and the mahasr?ti..

a. and pha. !. perturbed into creating waves The entire order of the phonemes in malin! is as follows: na. o. u. pa. sa. ka. appears primarily as a highly efficacious energetic shuffling of sabdarasi. k?a. ba. sa. In Padoux's words. The first sixteen letters of miilinf (na to ga) align with the Siva-Sakti aspect of differentiated reality while the remaining thirty-four letters (gha to pha) match up with the corresponding tattvas in descending order. u. t. i.(Padoux. sadasiva tattva to prthivf tattva. au. and the miitrkii. from the PTV. describes it as the dynamic energy of Sakti emerging from the reflections of the pasyanlf stage. e. tha. f. La. (fa. which is Sakti. the tattvas remain in their regular order." 67 The second theory. a. r. ta. gha. which is Siva. ?a. cha. places miilinf as arising from sarrzghatta. 323. Padoux notes that there is a variation of this order found in the SatS (a Pancaratra text) where tha comes after na instead of between J and ca. va. ya. JJa. Vac. am. ca. Vac. iza. rna. 321 n.66 The first. tha. jha. ra..the miilinf. (iha. bha. 6S 66 67 Padoux.. 272). ga.. a}:z. vowels and consonants appear completely randomly with the alphabet beginning with na and ending with pha. ta. J. dha. the friction produced between the sabdariisi. iia. 42 . ha. kha. 323f. 65 Unlike the letters. ja. " . resulting in the intermingling of seeds and wombs (vowels and consonants). though. ai.phonemes are in complete disarray in madhyamii. Ibid. Abhinavagupta formulates two theories on the emergence of miilinr. da. from the TA.

all elements of malinf remain emanations from. in regard to mtilinf. for. therefore. the emanation reaches the vaikharf stage of sonic reality and the letters have fully manifested into the sensual parts of spoken and written language with which we are familiar. Padoux quotes from the TS. the form and structure of the seemingly differentiated malinf depicts the greater idea of unity in diversity present as the seeds and wombs intermingle.on the once serene ocean of Siva consciousness. is the efficacy of its understanding as jumbled reality. ch. especially in regards to the emanation of the manifest world. in fact. The sexual imagery here is not without meaning as the sacred act of union pervades much of the Tantric philosophy. the reflection theorized in the former easily translates into emission. Padoux notes that these two theories are by no means contradictory. The Gross Emanation Finally. the phonemes contain within themselves the entire emanation process and. The central point to absorb here. Though veiled in miiyii. Yet. "They become thus 43 . In other words. contain extremely powerful potentialities for the adept who knows their nature. as it is presented in the latter. the Ultimate that was present at paravac. 3. and microcosms of.

The compressed letters are. 88. 328. 70 68 Ibid.. 70 Singh. Though beyond the scope of this study. beginning with 'a' and successively ending with 'k?a' it is known as sr?ti or manifestation. 0 glorious one.) and therefore are able to bestow enjoyment and liberation. upayas or "ways" and "means" for which the adept can attain knowledge of Reali ty. � 44 . it is relevant to note that the emanation present within the individual corporeal phonemes is what allows the mantra and ritual placement or visualization of the Sanskrit letters to have any efficacy whatsoever. 69 Ibid. this manifestation consisting of ' a' to 'k?a' is always known in all the Tantras as the source of all the mantras and incantations (vidyanarrz).69 PTV 8-9a reads: Therefore."68 It is at this level that the actual practice of Hindu Tantric ritual comes into play. as Abhinavagupta refers to them.efficacious (suddhair paramarsai]J. A Trident of Wisdom.

The Emanation in Greater Detail 71

So far, I have described the very general emergence of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet as they are understood in Hindu Tantra. Now, I will look at the same process through a more intense lens, focusing on the tenets of Kashmir Saivism and elaborating on the metaphysical levels and implications of the cosmogony as it relates to the phonemes. I will begin with the first sixteen letters, the svaras a to ah. Padoux summarizes these phonemes, collectively corresponding to Siva, thusly: . . . each [phoneme] emerges together with a different aspect of the divine energy: they are but aspects or moments of the supreme Godhead when, intent on creation, he goes through an inner evolution which will bring him from a primal and eternal state of transcendent72 and changeless absolute­ changeless but not lifeless of course-as symbolized by the phoneme a, to a state where all the energies are fully and intensely awake (au); then, after these energies have gathered, as it were, upon themselves, are focused on one point (bindu), to an aspect where Siva will emit, through his energy, the manifestation archetypally contained within

The details within the forthcoming elaboration on the emanation of the Sanskri t'alphabet derive mostly from three sources: Gupta, Hoens, and Goudriaan, Hindu Tantrism, 98f; Jee, Kashmir Shaivism, 1 5-27; and Padoux, Vac, 235-304. Any direct quote or other source will be noted separately.

71

72 Although the word " transcendent" often appears, and will continue to appear,
in discussions of this matter, I have a difficult time with its denotation in regard to a non-dual system of philosophy. Given the implications of such a system any use of the word "transcendent" should be carefully considered and never used in direct relation to Siva, or the Ultimate, as compared to the manifest since the essence of the non-dual outlook negates the idea of transcendence.
';t
45

himself, this emission having indeed for its symbol the sixteenth phoneme: the visarga . 73 The svaras are so called because they vocalize (svarayanti) by producing their own sound. Thus they "reveal their own nature" within the wombs (consonants) and provide the breath (prtiJ.w), or dynamic energy, for the static consonants. Padoux notes that this latter characteristic of the svaras demonstrates the large theme running throughout Hindu Tantra, and especially in Kashmir Saivism, that the macrocosm of the universe is represented in the microcosm of the body?4 The sixteen svaras collectively align with the siva tattva during the para and

pasyant'i stages of sonic emanation, the only subtle difference being that
during the former stage, as the alphabet is in sabdarasi, the svaras represent the literal "oneness" of Siva-Sakti while during the latter stage, miitrka, the

svaras represent the reflection of Siva as seen in Sakti. Once the emanation
reaches madhyama, the alignment of the svaras and siva tattva no longer apply due to the jumbled up nature of malin!. Even more so at vaikharf do we find a less apparent relationship between the two. At the level of mundane speech and language, the tattvic puissance of svaras remains hidden in potentiality. 73 Padoux, Vac, 233. 74 Ibid., 234. 46

The Vowels: A, A, I, I, U, and D
A

begins the Sanskrit alphabet75 as it also begins the entire manifest

universe. It is the fundamental phoneme (iidyavan:za), the original sound from which all other sounds in the Sanskrit alphabet emerge. Phonetically speaking, a is the origin, as well as a member of the three fundamental phonemes (a, i and u) from which the rest of the ten initial svaras are formed .76 It is anuttara, "none higher,"77 the Absolute, and manifests as

citsakti, the energy of consciousness of Siva. The understanding of a as
identical with the Absolute is not exclusive to the esoteric realms of Hindu thought. In chapter ten of the Bhagavadgita, K:n;;na, representing the Ultimate in avatar form, states "Of letters I am (the letter) A . . . "78 Commentary on PTV 5-9a begins, "That anuttara itself whose nature is 'a' is all this universal manifestation (kaulikasn;tirupam) . This is what is being ascertained here."79

75 The letter a or its direct equivalent begins many alphabets of languages, ancient and modern. 76 a, i, and u combine in various ways to form a, f, u, e, ai, o, and au. 77 M uller-Ortega, The Triadic Heart of S iva, 88. 78 Radhakrishnan, The Bhagavadgfla, 266. 79 Singh, A Trident o[Wisdom, 89 .
.

...

47

81 Ibid. a is "self-uttered . In the PTV.e. eternal. Commentary on the first verse of the PTV reads: is the Sakti (kala) who is above the range of maya (amayzya). who is bliss {camatkara) of the very waveless ocean of consciousness abiding in the natural. "unstruck. � 48 .. 237. which comprehends the entire cosmos which 'A' is the expression of the creative delight of Sakti.In many ways the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet epitomizes the x + 1 concept mentioned above... encompassing and representing itself as the whole of the sixteen kalas. in the Vedic tradition). and dwells within the heart of all sentientbeings. In the nature of consciousness. 82 Padoux. supreme Light."82 80 Ibid.. Vac. who covers both the initial and the final stage of the perfect !­ consciousness. natural form consisting only of consciousness. who is not found in Sruti-Stistra (i. 81 According to SvT 7.so In the same vein a is also considered beyond aniihata. the omnifariousness of everything {sarvasarviitmakatii) is always present." sound. a embodies the x + 1 aspect of Tantric metaphysics as it is described as the seventeenth kala.59. Later in the same commentary Abhinavagupta writes: So it is being decisively propounded here that ' a' is the stage of the highest sound (paravagbhumi]J) in which alone of these letters there is the non-conventional. 9 1 . 24£.

the akula consciousness directed back toward pariimarsa through the original divine union."84 of Siva himself. a takes on a double role as both source of all energy and all other letters. even if it does not play out objectively in this level of consciousness. 239. is said to be of the vimarsa. especially Kashmir Saivism. in addition to being considered beyond the letters (avar�w). the original step toward emanation of the manifest univer�� as understood in Tantric schools.In the non-dual Saivism. Pariimarsa is the awareness that is responsible for the manifestation. 49 . even as a is equated with brahman through its identification with anuttara. "synthetic. through the relationship between vimarsa and pariimarsa. embodying both the object and subject of Reality (i. 84 Ibid.e. Thus the emanation of the 83 Ibi d. In other words. A represents the akula nature within the kula itself. "reflective awareness. If we extrapolate the mystic undertones of this understanding of the nature of a as both object and subject. creative consciousness. and as both static and dynamic. we come to the Kashmir Saiva ideal of unity in diversity. the static and dynamic aspects of the Ultimate) ." 83 of Siva.. A. it also represents the vimarsa. Thus we have the ultimate awareness split into two unique. but intimately connected facets of the divine consciousness.

lk 85 Muller-Ortega. vimarsa toward Siva. which would obviously produce the same essence of the anuttara. or an undisturbed energy. or the consciousness of Siva himself. ii is the product of a duplication of a. Euphonically.160-161 that two anuttaras can come together and form either a disturbed energy (k?obhtilmaka). and as the abode (dhama) in which everything occurs. then a + a equates to Siva + Sakti. 86 Abhinavagupta does note in TA 3. resulting in the important Tantric mystic notion that even the most mundane and seemingly corporeal elements of this manifest world must innately have within themselves the subtle. If we are to understand a as the Ultimate Siva and also understand it as Sakti. a nuttara). The anuttara is lauded as that which is completely full (paripiirl). as a + a = ii according to the sandhi rules. in the sense of unity in diversity. On this aspect Muller-Ortega writes: While the anuttara is an absolute reality. Jayaratha furthers this apparent contradiction by citing internal sandhi rules which allow a and a to come together as a (Padoux.. The Triadic Hearl of S iva. though. 50 . Vac. 246). 85 The second letter of the Sanskrit alphabet vocally extends the first. stemming from a.manifest universe. yet powerful. �. resulting in what Hoens notes . 90... must therefore also be reflective on the panimarsa level of awareness. resulting in tinanda (ti).86 A higher understanding. it is not correct to conceive of it as in any way separate from finite realities. reveals the more metaphysical interpretation of the equation. illuminating them with endless potential for self-knowledge of the Ultimate.

Padoux. 98.68 describes as sar{lghatta. Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Jayaratha adds in his commentary to this verse that the union of a and a is also a calana (stir). According to Lakshman Jee: . The Triadic Heart of S iva. as the creation of a stems directly from the powerful union of Siva and Sakti. and Goudriaan. "a rubbing or clashing together."89 characteristic of lovers in passionate entanglement.91 87 88 Gup t�� Hoens. Here.as yamala. at this stage. 1 09." Muller-Ortega points out here that the sexual imagery need not be overlooked. 244. 1 7. 90 Muller-Ortega. the energy of bliss. to represent the pre-manifested existence at this early stage of the emanation. More than just metaphorical union. Hindu TanlJ·ism. the energies of consciousness and bliss. cit sakti and ananda sakti. It is only residing in ananda sakti. Kashmir Shaivism. or "supreme bliss. 1130. "inseparable union. 91 Jee. are totally inseparable. 89 Monier-Williams. � 51 ." 87 and what TA 3. a. the phoneme a has taken up partnership with citsakti. the use of the term sarrzghatta implies a certain frictional embrace. or a spanda (vibration). ."88 thus earning the distinction as ananda. Vac.90 As anandasakti. and where there is bliss there is consciousness. an ucchalatta (springing forth). Where there is consciousness (cit) there is bliss (ananda). . the universe has not yet taken its shape. "unifying friction.

52 . emanates from the Absolute as a vibratory potentiality for dynamism. lies in the vimarsa of a that is provided by a. 1 90. "the energy of will.92 The progression into ii also marks a major step toward differentiation in regards to the numerology of lunar days (tithis). the will still lies dormant in a non-agitated state. though subtly. In the euphonic combination. 93 The third letter of the Sanskrit alphabet.Yet the emergence of ii in the emanation of the universe is not without hints of differentiation. A Triden to :. i. At the level of i." and describes absolute Siva's first signs of intentign within the emanation of the manifest universe. the fifteen post-an utta ra svaras coincide with the fifteen tithis. Thus a has divided itself into component parts of itself. it must have the two parts a and a. Beginning with ii and continuing on to ah. losing the ultimate distinction of a without losing the essence of the energy of consciousness of a. since they still both remain in Siva. ii permits their distinction. The eighth chapter of the TS reads. Whereas a contains both kula and akula in perfect unity. The distinction. 245. Vac. though.:. one observes that in order for ii to form. "The power of will has indeed for nature a 92 Padoux. JWisdom. I corresponds to icchiisakti. as Padoux notes. 93 Singh.

� 53 . f.balanced movement. . 247 n. without specification.. 9S Jee. put forward by Lakshman Jee.97 There are two slightly varying approaches to the emanation of the fourth letter of the Sanskrit alphabet.. As i is still within Siva. 246."95 implying the restrained nature of icchasakti. 17 . there exists no sign that it will actually take place.. and emanating as the wonder (camatkara) of a at its own liberation from the purely unmanifested Ultimate. 58. Kashmir Shaivism." 94 Thus while a creative impulse has appeared in i. 247. introduces f as simply a more agitated form of icchasakti. Padoux describes this distinction sans differentiation by calling the arising of i part of the "inner evolution"96 of the Supreme. the power of bliss. TA 3. The first. allowing the foundation of eternality and immovability to remain unshaken. 97 Ibid.. toward knowledge and activity. 96 Ibid. 95 Ibid.. The first chapter of the TS describes this creative intent as being born out of ii. 247.. even at the emergence of new potentialities.98 94 Padoux. it cannot truly bring about any sort of differentiation.71 refers to i as "the supreme sovereign of nonfearsome energies. Vac.

"This solitary reflective 99 Gup ta. Goudriaan. Mystically. f exists just as did a. A Trident of Wisdom. "the energy of sovereignty"99 or "the power of lordship. . and essentially brings about the intention of the Ultimate to differentiate. taking one step further in regard to distinction between the short and long forms. the awakening or revelation. � 54 . seize) the future jfiana or knowledge through its autonomy becomes 'f' which denotes !sana or sovereignty.73-74 reads. Vac." 100 Both depictions complement each other as the TS says that it is in iccha that fsana rests. It is referred to as urznte$a. f still resides within the potentiality of iccha and ultimately within Siva. continues the growing internal desire of Siva to manifest the universe. 1 02 Singh... 101 Ibid. u. describes 1 as !sana. The fifth letter of the Sanskrit alphabet. l 0 1 Euphonically. Hoens.Though agitated. 248. u... while also expressing the increasingly growing potentiality of the svaras. 98. 162 . The second. 100 Padoux. TA 3. by the combination of two of its short forms under the sandhi rules of Sanskrit. f comes about through an intensification of the iccha.. Commentary on PTV 5-9a reads." 102 Here f foreshadows the coming of the next letter. "Iccha itself wishing to perceive (lit.

u depicts the consciousness of Siva as having not only gained reflection of itself. iinandasakti. It is the apprehension of which Lakshman Jee speaks in the preyious quotation." 103 It is the stage of emanation at which the objective becomes a possibility. Viic. completing the foundational energies along with citsakti. but also becoming aware of the internal tendency toward desire of differentiating itself and having the knowledge to actually allow such a manifestation to occur. [now] exists in the aspect of the power of cognition. Kashmir Shaivism. 250 n. 17.awareness of the self which occurred previously. 104 J ee. the energy of knowledge. Lakshman Jee describes the emergence of u by saying." 104 U presents the arising of jfiiinasakti. though not yet a viable reality. which is the unfoldment of the universe of the knowable. "At this point the apprehension takes place in Lord Siva's consciousness that if I go forward. D is the symbol that represents the entirety of the first six phonemes and is considered to be the seed (bfja) for the manifestation of the sixteen svaras. In other words. ·� 55 . marking Siva's realization of the effects of 103 Padoux. and icchiisakti. 73. if I move onwards I may lose my own nature.

253). Just as with the previous two long svaras.a or the arising of knowledge (umni. unatii rests in unme... jiianasakti. "When. viz. the transcendental consciousness becomes diminished (unibhuta anuttarasm!wit) owing to contraction (sankocavasena) which is due to all forms lying within or tending to assume subsequent objectivity (anta}JpriiiJa sarvasvarfipa-unme. 78) and that in the third chapter of the TS a is referred to as armi.attii) has. then deficiency (Cmatii) arises in pure consciousness. � 56 . This reduced consciousness. As such. as with i and f. in consciousness. 251 n. a Paiicaratra text.wrupa (Vac.atiiyiim).. 106 Padoux. because of its retention within itself of all objectivity (sarvabhiivagarbhfkiimJa).a.47. a is aligned with t11. as revelation becomes more marked." 105 signifying the loss of presence of the citSakti and iinandasakti if the Ultimate is to manifest. the il emanates following the union of u and u and. is like the udder of the wish-fulfilling celestial cow. u is known as ilnatii. 251. "waves" (Vac. the pariisakti (anmigaI ""'\'.. "lessening. the objective aspect [of power of cognition] sustains a great disturbance. 10S Padoux notes that in ABS 16. the desire for further objectivity (umnimi. The transition from u to u is captured in explicit detail in Abhinavagupta' s commentary on the PTV: When umne. it maintains the same sakti of knowledge.75-376 says." 106 Mirroring the previous pair of phonemes.differentiation. in which the aspect of difference is almost indistinct and which are tending to appear objectively (antaiJkarmJa-vedyadesfya­ asphuta-priiyabhediil!lsa-bhiisaniinabhiivariisibhi}J). only varying in its degree of agitation. Vac..ottaraika-rapairapi) and to the multitude of existents which lie within as nearly objective. TA 3.

because out of them.dhainavfn:tpti-paradevatttytt/J-fldhorupti). f. 1 the other remaining phonemes are born. and unmef?a (energy of cognition or awakening). becomes manifest (sphuta). "The vowels which are up to the end of u' are known as tithfsa.192b-193a.. 115. icchti (energy of will). 107 I I Thus concludes the initial six vowels. the 1 °7 Singh. from which the remaining svaras as well as the consonants emerge. the power of the Suprem� Lord in all its fullness. 162f. and u) act as a triad of the energies of Siva. a. therefore.onsciousness] (praktisabhtigastiratvtil). anuttara (energy of consciousness). They are completely self-existent and act as bzjas for the remaining svaras and vyanjanas. u) being essentially on the side of the aspect of light [of c. A Trident of Wisdom. are solar (surytitakam). - � 57 . and upholding the multitude of entire objectivity. 108 Ibid." 1 08 The three fundamental phonemes of this group (a. i. a ' . 109 Muller-Ortega. In the three other ones [a. According to TA 3. The PTV notes.] dominates delight (tihltida). they have. o. i.e. i. 211. wide-spreading jntina sakti i. which is essentially rest (visranti). The Triadic Heart of S iva."1 09 Abhinavagupta sums up the first six phonemes in the third chapter of the TS: The first three [phonetic] awarenesses (partimarsa: a. and 11 act as "the supreme effulgence of Bhairava (Siva).

merely suppose the act itself without giving any indication that Siva will actually carry through. /. that [in both cases] there is no aspect of or element of action (karmiii?ZSa) 110 .. 111 In fact. and L (The Vocalic Liquids) The vocalic liquids present an intriguing point in the Sanskrit alphabet both for their uniqueness and for their position in the grand emanation of the manifest world. A though fi present the most subtle levels of manifestation and.nature of the moon.." The Vowels: B. "liquids. in fact. 254. however. and f 1 1 1 1 1 0 Padoux. Vac.. The last sentence captures the essence of these letters compared with the letters to come in regard to the overall emanation of the alphabet and its subsequent mystic underpinnings. f. though not without first going through a rather profound hesitation that coincides with the emergence of the amrta bfja. 58 . I have not come across a satisfactory phonetic explanation for the emergence of the phonemes r. R L. It is understood. The phonemes that follow illustrate the potentiality of these first six in dynamic action. J only exists on a purely theoretical level as it is not found in actual use.

1 1 4 Padoux. then emerges as a slightly more agitated. version of r. though in a totally unperturbed. The metaphysical interpretation of this placement.within Hindu Tantra. Vac. as if the Ultimate were having a moment of cosmic hesitation. making them a sudden stop in the fluid motion toward manifestation." 1 1 4 Lakshman Jee refers to it as: 11 2 It should be noted.53 explains them as a conjunction between the sounds r and l and the vowel a (Padoux. As to why these phonemes are placed in all representations of the Sanskrit alphabet between fi and e. 148) aligns the vocalic liquids with the phoneme a and ABS 16. The level of r. stable state. icchtisakti. Vac. allows for much more insight. 256. Just as with the initial six phonemes. the vocalic liquids exist and occur within the consciousness of Siva. E. yet still extremely stable. At the point at which r and t acquire the stability of the earth (sthairya. Hindu Tan trism. even in the subtle potentiality of manifestation. that Bhartrhari (VP 4. Padoux. 91). 254. t. however. is unclear from the standpoint of pure syllabic understanding. /. and Goudriaan. however. 1 1 3 They assert that r derives from i. "'" 59 . For this reason the vocalic liquids are descrih�d as "sterile" and "neuter. 1 1 2 The best explanation I have found o n this level is repeated by both Hoens and Padoux. and J differs from a through u in that Siva has come to a complete standstill. Hoens. 256 n. 1 13 Gupta. niscalatii) they become represented by ! and J. 89. Vac.

Jayaratha notes. cannot help but take place eventually. it is not the full emanative will of Siva. after having made such intense internal progress in the initial six phonemes. that even though the power of will exists in the vocalic liquids. resides in His own nature.. allowing it to be expressed in the four phonemes that cannot progress themselves. filled with consciousness and bliss. "shadow. as if the manifestation. As I noted before. Vac. 1 65. l 16 Abhinavagupta elaborates on this aspect in the PTV by describing the four vocalic liquids as a state of void (anlisrita Siva) and comparing it to that space in between hops of' the frog. however. � 60 . Instead. l17 This brilliant analogy epitomizes the nature of these 1 15 Jee. 256£. 1 16 Padoux. 1 1 7 Singh. the vocalic liquids derive from i and thus posses iccluisakti as their formative energy. 1 8. what pervades the vocalic liquids is only the chifya. Siva literally brings the apprehension which first appeared in u to the forefront." of the will. He does not move out. Kashmir Shaivism. even while under hesitation. that state where the Supreme... In his commentary on the TA. A Trident ofWisdom. Therefore they still possess the highly impulsive will toward emanation. Because of this there is no possibility of the universe coming out into manifestationJ1 5 This point is a hesitation.

and T to be premature as well. Lakshman Jee places the emergence of kriyasakti with the next group of svaras. devoid of all manifestation). Thus they cannot be considered totally inert. they have first to pass through the stages of luminosity (bhiissvarariipa) i.. However. t. l 18 for that is an unnamable (aniikhyii) state. but instead maintain the essence of icchiisakti and the creative impulse that goes along with it. Then that kriyiisakti full of impetuous eagerness. /. z'cchii-fsiina following the sound 'l' assumes the form of l and J which indicates immobility. immerges [sic] at first into a luminous form which is tejas or fire (denoted by the experience of r). . I find that the placement with r. because of its capacity for succession.e. [) (na prasarati).e. who is free of any manifestation. not being the object of name and form (niima-n1pa). t. the stages r and f united with the r sound. After this. The PTV continues: The consciousness that is anuttara (a) and iinanda (ii) does not expand in the first four spheres (i.e. it is capable of expanding both in its own field and in anuttara and iinanda. 19). of kriyiisakti. . the essential nature of the earth (piirthivariipa-satattva) . J ) which is void (i. penetrating into its own form (denoted by r. So far as its relation to impetuous eagerness is concerned. How can it be denied that in these letters. .: 61 . the energy of icchiisakti (i) and that of fsiinasakti (f) are associated with the sound of "R" whose essential nature is luminosity . the state of aniisrita Siva. . /. This group of four letters on account l l S Here Abhinavagupta aligns kriyasakti with the vocalic liquids. r. Thus arise r and f. When icchii-fsiina desires to enter the void. f.letters in that it describes them as merely the space in between two legitimate forces at work. /. ak9ubdha icchii ends in k9ubdha fsiina.. starting with e (Kashmir Shaivism.e. . i. Anuttara and iinanda being the final support of everything (paryantabhittiriipatviit) and after having been the foundation of the entire activity in every kind of knowledge cease (from expansion). considering that the very essence of kriyasakti implies action and the voc'!li c liquids represent a state of pure potentiality in repose .

of its penetration into vacuity is like burnt seed and is said to be eunuch. There is in them no total absence of germ i .e. the state of a vowel. Nothing can exist which is neither germ nor womb, which symbolize Siva and Sakti . .. Even in worldly pleasures, there is felicity in repose of this kind. That is why this group of four letters is said to be the germ of immortali ty.1 1 9 At this point one cannot help but see the underlying sexual implications inherent in the process of emanation through the phonemes of the Sanskrit alphabet. While the obvious use of the bzja and yoni as descriptors for the svaras and vyafijanas, respectively, needs no further elaboration, the existence of r, f, ], and J at this stage in the emanation takes on a much subtler, highly Tantric connotation. If we consider the emanation of the alphabet as it occurs within Siva as paralleled to the act of sexual arousal, the imagery of r, t, ], and J as amrta bfja, "ambrosial seed," illuminates the moment of hesitation. Just as the process of arousal features the moment of pause just before emission of semen, so too does the supreme consciousness of Siva pause after its proto-emanative buildup, before allowing complete kriyasakti to take hold and uncontrollably emi t the manifestation of the differentiated world. Padoux writes: The inner movement of Siva toward emanation came to a kind of pause with the four "sterile" phonemes, which l l 9 Singh, A Trident of Wisdom, 1 65£.
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62

correspond to the unalloyed power of will at rest within itself. For it is only through the combination, the union of two complementary elements or aspects that, in a system of thought which, like the Trika, is thoroughly permeated with sexual symbolism, manifestation can progress_l 20 Connecting this idea with the last line quoted in the above passage from the PTV the Tantric practice of retention of semen becomes clearer. Padoux comments: It might actually be taken as an allusion to Tantric sexual practices, from which these metaphysical considerations may derive, and where the yogin achieves the highest bliss and the goal of his practice if he is able to retain his energy within, that is, to prevent the emission of semen_l 21

The Vowels: E, AI, 0, and AU After the moment of hesitation with the vocalic liquids has passed, the emanation returns to its path toward complete manifestation, beginning the implementation of kriytisakti, the power of action. This sakti completes the trio, along with icchtisakti and jiiiinasakti, that forms the

triko�w, which will be elaborated on more thoroughly below. The next set
of four vowels derive directly from the combination of pairs from the initial six. TA 3.92-94 reads:

1 20 Padoux, Vac, 263. 1 21 Ibid., 259.
63

The five 1 22 [vowels] precedingly [sic] described, all springing upwards, mixing and confounding with one another, take on different forms. The Absolute, supreme vibration, and bliss, moving up and rubbing and embracing will and unfoldment, assume the most diverse forms. 123 The absolute, supreme vibration, a, and bliss, ii, mix with will, i, and unfoldment, u, to form these new combinations of both phonemes and metaphysical energies. They are referred to in phonetical terms as the "diphthongs," being the combination of two vowel sounds, promoting the idea that in order for progress to continue forward there must be a union. The first diphthong results from the combination of a or ii and i or f, making the phoneme e. Metaphysically, it is the combination of cit and
iinandasakti with icchiisakti. In the Devaniigarf script, as well as in the Siiradii

script of Kashmir, 124 the letter e takes on the appearance of a downward facing triangle, which is often aligned with the notion of the trikm:za of
icchii, fiiiina, and kriyiisakti. 1 25 The sexual implications also emerge as the

downward facing triangle often associates with the yoni, which can

1 22 Padoux notes that the TA groups anuttara (a) and ananda (a) together as inseparable ( Vac, 263). 1 23 Padoux, Vac, 263. 1 24 Muller-Ortega, The Triadic Heart of S iva, 113. 125 I will elaborate much more on the trik01:za in the following section on Srrvidya as it plays a much more prominent role therein.
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64

Again returning to the sexual 1 26 A female yogi. its angles being will. Jayaratha writes in his commentary on TA 3. Vac. in other words of the 'mouth of the Yogininz 1 26 (yoginzvaktra) of this [phoneme] .represent both the maternal womb or the female sexual organ. cognition. and action while in its center evolves the cincini [sound]_l27 Muller-Ortega comments that the potent sexual imagery and metaphysical implications signify the significance of e. 128 The next diphthong arrives from the euphonic combination of a and e. and the latter comes from the a + i e triad.. as representative of not just sexuality." state to make the letter ai. since e is a + i) to its vrddhi. representing Raudrr. 113. 266. secret mmJtjala. 1 28 Muller-Ortega. curved. as has been said: 'When She comes forth. pushing the latter phoneme (which is i. The Triadic Hearl of S iva. out of the triangular seat' and : ' the triangle is called bhaga [that is: vulva]. and kriyasakti. The first comes from the triad a + a = a. From this place is born the supreme Energy. "increased. The resulting imagery of ai is of two interlocking triangles. but fertility and reproduction as the act of manifestation nears. � 65 . and Jye�tha.94: By [the term] 'trikmJa ' is indicated [or hinted at] the aspect of place of birth.. jiiiina. 1 27 Padoux. = Ambika. representing icchii. the first diphthong. It is the coming together of cit and iinandasakti with e. abiding in the sky.

60. A U represents a stage much closer to the emanation of the manifest world and features the kriyasakti at its highest manifestation.connotations in this union of microcosmic phonemes. representing the siddha and the yoginf respectively. A combines with o to make the fourteenth phoneme. and universally representing the divine union of Siva and Sakti. for icchti and jiiiina are included in kriyasakti. 270. Yet. matching the full manifestation of the two previous energies.108 1 29 Singh. A Trident ofWisdom. at this point all three energies still remain totally objective in nature. Jayaratha describes au as trisUlabfja. _1 29 Also in the commentary to TA 5. Viic. interlock as prescribed in the practices of sexual yoga. 1 67. -· -� 66 . In the Trika Sastra. symbolized by a six-pointed triangle. . It is the cit and tinandasakti coming together with the jiianasakti and increasing the potentiality of manifestation of the kriyasakti. which is the seed that is the trident of Siva's energiesJ30 TA 3. On this Abhinavagupta writes: The vibration of kriyasakti ends in au. and thus in the macrocosm of the emanation of the universe. The vibration of icchti and jiiiina comes to a stop here. creating unity within their pure objectivity. o. we find that the two triangles. au . the nature of au is "<i�termined as a trident . 130 Padoux. The combination of a or ti and u or u result in the formation of the thirteenth svara.

free from all impurities. a state of perfection. This point. 132 Ibid. Syllabically represented as a1J1. though. though. 271 . ar.B2 Mystically.. Its placement here at the end of the svaras. 67 . 1 3 1 The Vowels: Bindu The final two phonemes of the sixteen vowels of the Sanskrit alphabet inhabit a realm that technically does not lend itself to classification as svara or vyar1jana." Just as the name implies. of au) attains niraiijana. is the ultimate Siva as it exists in pre-manifestation.. demonstrates that the physical dimensionless point is yet 131 Ibid. the hindu represents the culmination of the first fourteen svaras in the single point of its graphic representation ("). 276. the bindu takes the place of the definitive vyaiijana ma at the end of words. or phonetLc awareness. In the case of the hindu. It is the fifteenth kala. As we saw with the vocalic liquids. it is a nasal aftersound. the anusvara is that which appends itself to a vowel sound. dimensionless in nature. Both the hindu (anusvara) and visarga exist as "aftersounds.prescribes that a yogin who gains the ability to totally immerse themselves in the state of unity of the three energies (i.z exists as a shadow (chaya) of the consonant.e.

at the end of the power of action [kriyasakti]. 272. 273.. before doing so. In the first chapter of the TS.1 33-1 34. Abhinavagupta writes. " 1 35 Thus the term bindu often is found to be 133 Ibid. in regard to the bindu's placement during the resorption: Then. Thus the emergence of the bindu point after the fourteen svaras accentuates the increasingly high-pressured potentiality within the siva tattva. Jayaratha.. notes that th_� bindu on the higher level is not the anusvara of ordinary speech but instead the "supreme knower. all that was to be done and been accomplished is about to enter into the Absolute. it all exists as the bindu which is essentially knowledge (vedana) and pure light (prakiisamtitra). 1 34 Noting the bindu as knowledge here is key in understanding the mystic significance of arrz. 134 Ibid. 135 Ibid. 133 I believe its placement in line with the svaras and its position behind the dual point of visarga exemplifies a step in the ascension of the manifestation. but. 273£. in his commentary on TA 3.. which would have no concrete representation at all. Therefore I disagree with Padoux on his statement that the bindu is just a symbol and does not represent movement toward emanation.not as subtle as the completely unmanifest Siva. 68 .

to know or to find. Vac. 274. 136 Whitney. '1'li 69 . such as with the Tantric texts. Its nature is light. One should note. and thus to consider vindu as relating to knowing and knowledge is not done in error. 1 36 Jayaratha continues by asserting that the vindu. as two separate entities. 137 Padoux. 1 38 This understanding leads directly to the mystical implications present in the mantra of the self. to know and to find. though. The Roots. supreme. He never loses anything from its original nature. However. sealed off by the bindu as the culmination of Siva itself. letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. Verb-Forms. then. the microcosmic version of the Self (Vac. 159f. a. Therefore the sacred knowledge resides within the �If of the guru. Siva.. Whitney also notes that in l� ter usage." 1 37 Thus the whole of that which is "known" resides within the ultimate Self. 138 Padoux notes an interesting correlation between the idea of Siva as holding all knowledge and the generally oral lineage tradition wherein the guru literally has all the sacred knowledge memorized.replaced by vindu. a description which derives from the root vid. is "the autonomous knower in the very act of knowing. the division between the two definitions becomes unclear. and last. that Whitney provides the root vid as having these two meanings. and Primary Derivatives of the Sanskrit Language. indivisible . aharrz. 275). ha.. He writes that the derivation vindu specifically falls under the latter of these definitions with its use in the Vedas and Bramm:tas. It features the first.

According to Lakshman J ee. especially within the Kashmir Saiva school of Hindu Tantrism. vast multiplicity. far exceeds the boundaries of this study and so I direct the interested reader to the sixth chapter of Paul Eduardo Muller-Ortega's The Triadic Heart of Siva. it is represented in the devantigarz script as two dots (:) following the previous letter. which mostly found use in the Kashmir regia� � 70 . 1 40 A thorough discussion of visarga." 139 The Vowels: Visarga The final phoneme within the siva tattva is the visarga. The step from the fifteenth kala to the sixteenth illustrates the upcoming manifestation of the Ultimate into apparent duality and. it illustrates its proximity to the 1 39 Jee. a phenomenally comprehensive and insightful study on visarga through the work of Abhinavagupta. eventually. the graphic representation gives way to the obvious understanding of visarga as the duplication. or more specifically. the differentiation of the bindu point into the siva bindu and the sakti bindu. 20. Verbally. l 40 Phonetically. "The letter aYf1'. it is the aspirated echo. Graphically. of the vyaiijana ha and tends to exist at the end of words in the Sanskrit language. shows you ' that the existence of Lord Siva has not moved from His own nature even though this whole universe is created in His Sel£. 141 It is also depicted as : in the earlier Sarada script. -kashmir Shaivism. therefore.l4 1 Metaphysically. or shadow.

it is a reflection. Kashmir Shaivism. Abhinavagupta writes in TA 3. 1 24. So it is with the ocean.manifestation by expressing an echoed aspiration. not simply a division. 20. MullerOrtega refers to visarga as the "most 'tantric' concept in Abhinavagupta's thought. 144 Padoux. an escape of breath. The visarga is best understood as a reflection of the bindu." 1 43 Visarga is not the beginning of the emission so much as it is the emission itself. "It is not created.l44 Jayaratha adds in his commentary that visarga cannot be the origin of the manifestation because such a causal role for visarga makes no sense as it still resides in a level ruled by non-duality. Abhinavagupta summarizes 142 Muller-Ortega. The Triadic Heart of S iva.145: Such is the span or nature of the emission: its nature is to be made of everything it encompasses. which is [nothing else] than the unending succession of its waves. 279." 1 42 In the words of Lakshman Jee. In fact. it merely separates the Ultimate from itself. 71 . 143 Jee. """ <!i. This is in accord with the advaita philosophy of Kashmir Saivism since the manifestation of the universe does not separate the Ultimate from anything. Vac.

au. i. . A Trident of Wisdom. unatti or tl.the idea by writing. r. That supreme. J. J and the product of kriyttsakti viz. actualizing the building potentiality of the internal energies of Siva and his non-dual divine consciousness into the manifestation of the mundane universe.is wholly perfect. t. o. 72 ." 1 45 In the PlV he writes: That transcendental state whose very nature is an eagerness always to exhibit that kind of multitudinous variety. apara visarga or external manifestation. its expansion. i.e. . e. the anuttara or transcendental consciousness indeed by its very nature transcends all concept of space. icchtt. Just as the visarga ends the siva 145 Ibid. viz. It is only after connexion [sic] with the stage of para visarga i. .. time and causality and which . "The emittive state is the projection of the Self. energy of manifestation (para or siibhava visarga) becomes supreme-cum-non-supreme energy (pariipara) which expands because of its excessive plentitude [sic] and because of its being inseparably connected with that supreme energy (svasattiiniintarikatayii) and instantly becomes the aspect of 'ha' i. that there is a the stance of ttnanda. 146 Thus the visarga denotes the culmination of the entire process I have discussed so far. always goes on expanding from the point of view of manifestation (visarga) . - � . The consciousness symbolized by one phoneme.e. its diversity i. by the Self.. 1 8lf. fsana.e. 'a' i..e. the supreme creative elan.e.e. the supreme stage of manifestation. at. resorts instantly to the stage of para visarga. unme?a. 146 Singh. in the Self.

a moment of absolute oneness between the static Siva and the dynamic Sakti. the sakti energy present at the microcosmic level of the human being. and as it is itself the manifestation. Like the kut:�rJalinf. And finally. The diphthongs represent the progressive nature of the union of the preceding energies.. so to does it rise through the stages of outward emanation that will bring about the remaining letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. the visarga embodies the cosmic vibration that ultimately emits the manifest universe through its 1 47 Padoux. The vocalic liquids represent the moment of hesitation during arousal.tattva. building up to the culmination in the trikot:�a and its intimate relationship with the a. 73 .. Visarga represents the dormant kut:�rJalinf." 1 47 on the macroscopic level and again correlates on the sexual and yogic levels within the microcosmic realm. ti triad. The visarga is the "very cosmic pulsation of the deity. resulting in the maximum intensification of the kriytisakti. the visarga is the divine energy compressed. 281. at the moment of its awakening. a point at which the emanation could be stalled and the amrta withheld . - . The hindu presents the final representation of pure unity. end the emanation of the thirty- five non-Supreme tattvas. ha. and pushing forth the act of manifestation. Vac. a. so too will its mundane form.

and in whom abounds the bloom of the compactness of their energy. . in su!Jumna which. . This joy is not simply dependent on the body which is merely fabricated thing. there is the manifestation of the akula or anuttara (Absolute) Bhairava-nature which is beyond all differentiation (nistaraizga). as the central channel. . In the case of both sexes sustained by the buoyancy of their seminal energy. 74 . the perfect I. the inwardly felt joy of orgasm (anta]:zsparsa sukharyz) in the central channel induced by the excitement of the seminal energy intent on oozing out at the moment of thrill (kampakale sakalavfrya­ k$obhojjigami?atmakarrz) is a matter of personal experience to every one. If at such a moment it serves as a token of remembrance of the inherent delight of the Divine Self (tadabhijiianopadesadvare�za) . . unalterable and eternal (dhruvapadamaka). then on account of its exciting power.Jobhatadatmyarrt). in whom the urge for expansion is implicit. Then. . then all sense of duality dissolves. one's . when an exciting visual or auditory perception enters the percipient. . becomes engaged in the act of creative expansion . then one's consciousness gets entry into that state of the great central su.. Then by one's entry into the union of Siva and Sakti (rudrayamalayoganupravesena) which consists in the bliss of their essential nature of manifestation and by one's complete integration (visle!Ja�za) with the expansive flow of the energy of the great mantra of perfect !-consciousness. just as ejaculation on the microcosmic level emits the seeds into the womb. in union with Sakti.umna channel where it acquires union with the p ulsation of one's Sakti (nijasakti-k!.divine pulsation. When there is the dissolution of pra�za and apana (marudadi). it fans the flame of passion in the form of agitation of the seminal energy . viz. Abhinavagupta writes: Siva intent on creativity in the form of expansion by means of the energy of the great mantra of the Supreme primal word. and there is the perfect !-consciousness generated by the abundance of the perfection of one's on inherent Sakti. is full of the storage of the energy of all the senses.

. the remaining phonemes and tattvas of the mundane reality below siva tattva emerge. A Trident Wisdom.148 In regard to the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. though they still remain metaphysically entrenched within siva tattva due to its + 1 nature. this notion is verified by the fact that a vyaiijana literally cannot be pronounced without the assistance of a vowel sound. 42ff. Phonetically. The consonants have no existence in themselves as they are entirely dependent upon the svaras for both their origin and their expression. 1 48 Singh. Thus every phoneme from here on out results as a mixture of the seeds and wombs.consciousness gets entry into the eternal. this emittive act of visarga thus brings about the vymijmzas.. which are the products of the bzjas (vowels) mixing with the yonis (consonants). unalterable state (dhruvapade) that it realized by means of the harmonious union (visle?m:za) with the expansive energy of the perfect !­ consciousness which constitutes the venerable Supreme Divine Sakti (pariibhattiirikiiri1pe) who is an expression of the absolutely free manifestation of the bliss of the union of Siva and Sakti denoting the Supreme Brahman. The Consonants: Ka to K$a As visarga emits the manifest universe. the culmination of the cosmic act of sexual union. 75 . 2f .

that which is expressed. as contrasted with viicaka. which describes the vowels. the consonants take on a seemingly dominant role. that which expresses. they maintain divinity. remains apparent. Thus even as the letters are distributed outwardly through both the subtleties of mantra and the grossness of language. The consonants are the viicya. The emission of the vyaiijana phonemes is rather straight forward and harkens back to the creative potentiality wi thin the three highest 1 49 In Sanskrit there is no vowel marking for a as it is assumed to exist wherever there is not a marking to suggest otherwise. which manifest as the vyafijanas. however. serving as constant access to the ultimate Siva. in the devaniigarf script. 76 . the presence of Siva within the svaras. arising from agitation or coagulation within the svaras. They are metaphysically solid.While any vowel sound will do. in fact. The consonants are subordinate to the vowels because they act passively as wombs while the vowels. maintain the dynamic aspect of manifest reality. and thus the common presentation of the consonants is to appear with a. :. metaphysically. all svaras derive directly from anuttara. that even on the manifest level of the mundane consonants. as seeds. leaving the vowels to exist as mere markings or not at all. it is the svaras that act as the pulse of the universe. 1 49 Thus on the manifest level the vyafijanas appear as the higher reality when. Yet visually. One must remember.

. A Trident ofWisdom. Lakshman Jee uses cit. The guttural letters (ka. the emission in which the 150 Singh. jiiana. and unmef?a. 296f n. and unmef?a (a. Abhinavagupta writes. 152 Ibid. 296. Vac.powers of the svaras. "The condensation of ' a' itself makes the class 'ka'. and na) derive from the hardening (ghanatii) of anuttara. in turn. 1 5 1 which Padoux notes in this context as annuttara. Kashmir Shaivism. 1 52 Lakshman Jee notes that the resulting five consonants derive directly from whichever of the energies is most potent in the reflection with anuttara. iinanda. 203. i. iccha. icchii. Thus the emission in which the reflection of kriyiisakti dominates brings forth prthivz tattva (earth) along with ka. gha. and u). the phoneme a. 151 Padoux. 21. all of them being guttural. relates directly to which tattva becomes expressed as the alphabet emerges in its sabdariisi (para) form. in ' 77 . ga. ananda. 1 53 Jee. icchii (agitated and unagitated)." 1 50 Jayaratha explains in his commentary to TA 3. kha.I53 This. anuttara.149 that the single letter a is able to produce five separate letters due to its inherent five energies. and kriya as the five energies""' action during the condensation of a. 175.

Thus the emission in which the reflection of kriyasakti dominates brings forth gandha tattva (smell) along with ca. icchii.. up to iia. J. � 78 . The PTV says. though this time the power is expressed though the vocalic liquids (r. finishing out the tamniitras.reflection of jiianasakti dominates brings forth jala tattva (water) along with kha. the phoneme i. and the five energies inherently present. l 54 The palatals (ca.. cha. 175." 1 55 Again these five phonemes derive directly from the mixture of the formative power. and 1Ja) and dentals (ta. The next two groups of vyaiijanas have a slightly alternative route to emission. dha. all of them being palatal. The condensation of T brings about the 'ta' class. and na) derive from the same icchii as the palatals. etc. etc. da. all of them being cerebral. and J). A Trident of Wisdom. :: The condensation of r brings about the 'ta' class. finishing out the mahiibhutas. The PTV states. "the condensation of 'i' makes the 'ca' class. and iia) are the hardening (ghanatii) of icchii. The culmination is a palatal phoneme and its corresponding tattva. the emission in which the reflection of jiianasakti dominates brings forth rasa tattva (taste) along with cha. ja. all of them 1 54 Refer to pp. jha. up to 1ia. qa. f. qha. tha. Both the cerebrals (ta. 155 Singh. tha. 32-36 of this essay for the listing of the tattvas.

being dental. the emission 156 Ibid.1 75-1 78. 297f n. Padoux notes this paradox and references Abhinavagupta' s response in TA 3. for the cerebrals. both sets of five phonemes derive not directly through icchti. 158 Jee. in which he argues that the actual power of creation happening at this moment stems from the iccha. 208." 1 56 The instant reaction at this notion should be to draw pause and recall that the vocalic liquids were considered "neutral" and "sterile. and it is only through the lens of the vocalic liquids that the new consonants are formed. It is interesting to note that the PTV places the cerebrals and dentals in this particular section as coming after the labials. Thus. The cerebrals emerge from the anasrtasiva and its reflection of the five energies through r and f while the dentals emerge from the anasrtasiva and its reflection of the five energies through J and [. � 79 . but through the anasrtasiva. 1 57 According to Lakshman Jee. 1 5 8 a non-tattva discussed earlier in its relation to the "void" of the vocalic liquids. the emission in which kriyasakti dominates brings forth upastha tattva (the active creative organ) along with ta." logically incapable of producing any other phonemes. Vac. Kashmir Shaivism. 22. 157 Padoux. The vocalic liquids are thus present more to serve the needs of the phoneticians who classify r with the cerebrals and J with the dentals.

Then from [the power of] will. the emission in which kriyiisakti dominates brings forth ghrii�za tattva (the organ of smelling) along with ta. A Trident ofWisdom. ba. "The condensation of 'u' gives rise to 'pa' class.kara!Jas. finishing out the jiiiinmdriyas. in its undisturbed form. The PTV states. . u. the emission in which the reflection of jfiiinasakti dominates brings forth buddhi tattva (intellect) along with pha. etc. etc . Jayaratha sums up the emission of the consonants proper in the commentary to TA 3.152: The second class [of phonemes] made of a fivefold energy is issued out of the Absolute. finishing out the karmendriyas.in which the reflection of jiiiinasakti dominates brings forth piiyu tattva (the excretory organ) along with tha." 1 59 They are the product of the power of jiiiina and the reflection of the five energies. 175. Thus the emission in which kriyiisakti dominates brings forth manas tattva (mind) along with pa.. And. all of them being labial. � 80 . bha. up to ma. the emission in which the reflection of jfiiinasakti dominates brings forth rasanii tattva (the organ of tasting) along with tha. connected with the fire or earth. . the two [groups comprising] eight [phonemes] beginning with 159 Singh. The labials (pa. up to na. up to �za. finishing out the antal. for the dentals.and rna) derive from the power of the unfolding or awakening (unme?a). pha. etc .

yet immediately thereafter refers to a section of the PTV � 81 . la with the dentals. In this way are expounded the consonants.e.[ Wisdom. ra from L Ia from /. 162 Singh. being dental. Vac. ' Va' issues from 'ta' and lpa' class i. it is labio-dentalJ 62 1 I As with the entire process of the emanation of the alphabet. and va from u.ta. . 161 and va as a unique. ra with the cerebrals. states: . The semi-vowels (ya. and va) euphonically operate as alternatives for regular vowels when placed before another vowel. pa and so on. there are mystic underpinnings inherent in the creation of the semi-vowels. throwing in the sibilants as well. A Trident !?. The PTV. 298. 'ya' and sa' go along with the ca' class. 161 There is assumedly a misprint in Padoux's book ( Vac. which typically comes down to a labial distinction. aligned with the labials. 'ra' and '?a' go along with ' ta' class being cerebral. l 60 The Consonants: The Semi-Vowels The next set of non-svara phonemes are not so fluidly derived. 299) where he lists la as in which A bhinavagupta directly places la with the dentals. are produced by the [power] of awakening. la. -� I 160 Padoux. . 1 75. 'La' and 'sa' go along with 'ta' class. bilabial classification. They are thus also aligned with the phonetic classes as follows: ya with the p alatals. ra. Ya comes from i.

la forms as the power of will is expressed through the lens of stability. 164 Thus this phoneme is characterized by swift movement and correlated with the double tattvas of kala and kala. 23). Va emerges euphonically from u or u coalescing with a. Thus 163 These six tattvas should be understood as products of the state of purw. characterized by immobility. 164 Padoux.resulting in various characteristics as well as bringing forth the six tattvic internal states of puruf?a. Likewise. the limitation of knowledge. the limitations of time and creativity. as a phonetic result of i or f placed before a. respectively. since they are limitations. 165 Ibid.. Thus the resulting semi-vowel is the seed of the earth (prthivfbzja). and also brings out raga tattva and niyati tattva. l 63 Ya. characterized by the nature of heat. resulting in what Padoux notes as the seed of wind (vayubzja). the limitations of attachment and space respectively. Ra forms as the power of will is expressed through the lens of objectivity and light. "being in the midst or between. specifically that of the earth. 256. which is an attribute of j. represents the power of will (either agitated or unagitated) coming toward the Absolute. 299.stha." another term for the semi-vowels (Kashmir Shaivism.a and not as creations of Siva. 82 . Vac. specifically that of fire.. 165 Thus the resulting semi-vowel is the seed of fire (agrzibzja). which Padoux notes as an attribute of r. and also brings forth the vidya tattva. Lakshman Jee refers to these six tattvas as antal.

1 66 Along with va comes the miiyii tattva. 83 .. seeing how each are formed by the junction of two vowels. the limitation of ignorance and objectivity.this semi-vowel arises from the combination of the power of awakening (unme!'}a) with the Absolute. 300. 1 67 Ibid. a.. According to Jayaratha. 1 66 Ibid. this line of explanation makes sense because in the diphthongs. f. which cools and makes the manifestation flourish (iipyayakiiritva). and l) and the_power of awakening (u or 11) that initiate the contact. He references the TA and explains that the diphthongs are formed within Siva and thus maintain the Absolute as their most dominant feature. Absolute. while the semi-vowels are formed with the power of will (icchii) or the power of awakening (unme!'}a) as the dominant member. Padoux notes that there may be some confusion as to the difference between the semi-vowels and the diphthongs. making the resulting phonemes slightly less prominent in their metaphysical status. 299. comes first in the pairing while in the semi-vowels. 167 Syllabically. it is the various aspects of the power of will (i. r. va is the seed of Varu:t:ta.

the sibilants form after the purer forms of icchii are met with objectivity that develops as a "steam" or "expiration" (Lif?man) and thus produce the phonemes with the same sort of phonic resonance. The three sibilants (sa. 1 69 Padoux. when r is faced with the objectivity of zi?man. in terms of proximate characteristics of the manifest universe. and /. Indeed. when i is roughened (ril$ila) by the ii?man. they derive from the "swelling of the heat of (Siva's) own nature. f?a. taking residence within the palatal. Kashmir Shaivism.: 84 . r. these phonemes do not derive their characteristics directly from the energies of Siva. the state of aha1]1ahaJ?z / idat]z-idmrz. respectively). f?a. and sa) emerge out of three aspects of the power of will (i. 23. :. which brings forth the suddhavidyii tattva. Vac. and the conjunct letter. Like the semi-vowels. 301 . k$a. Instead. 1 69 Jhus. and sa) and ha. the tattvas aligned with these final letters offer the closest realization of the ultimate Siva. cerebral." 1 68 bringing forth the suddha tattvas. the result is 168 J ee.The Consonants: D $man and K$a The remaining phonemes of the Sanskrit alphabet to be discussed are the ii?man. According to the TA. and dental classification of the consonants. or pure elements. the result is the phoneme sa. which are the three sibilants (sa.

known as kutabfja. is the conjunct letter kf}a. as it is rendered in Kashmir Saivism. of which ha is the shrunken. writes: The energy of the Transcendent is the visarga. the state of ahm!l. seed of 1 70 Ibid. Abhinavagupta writes. the last phoneme in the Sanskrit alphabet. it has the same place of articulation as the latter'sP 1 Finally. dried-up form (iisyiittalfl rupam). " 1 70 The fourth iif}man is the manifested aspirant. It is by many calculations the final letter of the Sanskrit alphabet. the result is the phoneme sa. I t is the closest phoneme to the Absolute. when l is faced with the objectivity of UE}man in a highly awakened. the state of ida1Jl-aha1Jl. ha. which brings forth the fsvara tattva.. the state of ahal!l-idartz. taking its place within ahm!l. the mantra of the self which begins with a and ends with ha. which brings forth the sadasiva tattva. 85 . yet ultimately steady manner. 1 79. described as merely a gross form of visarga and thus holding within itself the entire history or timeline of the emanation. and finally. Jayaratha. " the entire universe shines within the letter sa. 1 71 Ibid. bringing with i t the final manifested tattva in the form of sakti tattva. and because of this [direct connection with] the Absolute. in his commentary on TA 3 .the phoneme E}a. 303£.

He writes that while the emanation of this tinal phoneme denotes the rise of the infinite manifestations of the 172 Monier-Williams. 187.. one by the Absolute.a represents the totality of the entire manifestation. but the Trika. Padoux comments: [K. 173 It is unique in that it is the only phoneme which brings together two consonants as opposed to two vowels. the source of all phonemes. 1 75 Abhinavagupta's commentary on the PTV extends the metaphysical implications of kt. 304. ka.. 299. 1 73 Padoux. sa..a is created] through the bringing together (pratyahara) of two consonants. adds kt. So it appears as the symbol for the inseparable union of Siva and the energy. 24 1 n. ka and sa. a by describing the conjunct phoneme as a turnaround point for the emanation. which is .. the last non-ha consonant. 43." 1 72 In other systems of the alphabet.. Vac. a. Jaideva Singh comments that kt.. ha terminates the emanation. l74 Thus kt. the other by the visarga. Sanskrit-English Dictionary. as a combination of two consonants.a . A Trident oJ Wisdom. in order to achieve fifty phonemes. � 86 . symbolizes the external and mundane union of Siva and Sakti."the summit. 175 Singh. the energy of akula.. and the initial vowel a. 174 Ibid. featuring the first consonant. whose series end with a symbol of that wherefrom they were issued.a . regarded as vivified (anuprii]Jita)..

1 84 . 87 . it also marks the end of the emanation. Factoring in the cyclical understanding of time and the universe. the final stage of the emanative process simply indicates the beginning of the transcendental process .objective world.. 176 Ibid. 176 Thus concludes the general emanation of the manifest universe through the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet as understood in the Kashmir Saiva school of Hindu Tantrism.

which is the audible equivalent of Siva-Sakti. While certainly a different school of Tantric thought. The pervasive Tantric emphasis on the importance and sacredness of sound culminates in Srividya as the srzvidya mantra. the Srividya borrows heavily from Kashmir Saivism in the realm of philosophy of sound. 178 Ibid. 177 condensed down to 300 names. the binary pair that holds the greatest significance in the Srividya school. This tradition likely began as a differentiated unit sometime in the fouth or fifth century CE. 73. According to the tradition. who is considered the most important manifestation of the Goddess. should be understood as sound on the mantra level and not at 1 77 Brooks. 88 . with the written forms of their doctrine appearing later. 1 04 . around the eleventh or twelfth century CE.CHAPTER IV SRIVIDYA Following in the philosophical footsteps of Kashmir Saivism came the more Sakta-centered Tantric tradition of Srividya. and then finally arriving at a compact mantra comprised of fifteen or sixteen syllables. the srzvidya mantra is a culmination of the thousand names of the goddess Lalita.. Three Cities. which exist individually as b zjas P 8 These syllables. though they are just single phonemes.

the subtly higher level of van;a. Douglas Brooks writes, "Creation in its material manifestations is paralleled in sounds that are metalinguistic formations reflecting the original state of ontological unity." 179

The Sricakra

For the purposes of this study, I want to look at the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet themselves as they are understood in the Srividya school, and for that one must ascend to the higher focus of Srrvidya, and most widely-known visual element of Hindu Tantra, the srfcakra. While the srfvidya mantra proves to be efficacious, it has various forms depending on the paramparii, "lineage," of the tradition in which it used and thus can be viewed as transitory. The srfcakra, however, is viewed as "original" in its cosmic form and therefore unalterable and pure. 180 The

srfcakra, or srfyantra, is, just like all yantras, a graphic representation of the
absolute Divine, which in this case is Srr. The srfcakra is literally the entirety� of the universe in graphic form, understood as more than just a two-dimensional picture, but as a three-dimensional representation of

1 79 Ibid., 60. 180 Ibid., 1 07.

89

Reality. Brooks describes the concept of the yantra as it relates both to Srfvidya and the more general reality in eloquent detail: The srfyantra or srfcakra of the Srrvidya school...is a yantra in this classical sense: it is a model that parallels the material, verbal, and cognitive realities it represents. According to Srrvidya adepts, the srfcakra is not only a blueprint of the primordial creative act in which the One becomes Many, it is the very form (svarupa) the universe assumes at macrocosmic and microcosmic levels. Put differently, the srfcakra is at once the subtle shape or configuration of the universe and the subtle essence of the human body, speech, and mind. More than simply a description of these realities, the yantra functions as a road map which, with proper instructions, shows the adept the way back to the ultimate's origins. Not unlike a map, which only symbolizes a corresponding reali ty, the yantra is an index of reality: it is not merely a depiction of reality but its actual, subtle context.l 81 Once viewed in this manner, the yantra takes on the form of a mountain with the center point (bindu) as its summit. Herein begins the connection with the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. The sricakra basically includes a series of nine interlaced triangles of increasing size placed around a central point. 182 Around the triangles are two sets of lotus petals, the firs_� level with eight and the second with sixt�en. Surrounding the

181

Ibid., 63.

182 Ibid., 1 07ff. Unless otherwise noted, the following general description of the srrcakra derives from this source .
90

petals are three concentric circles, which are then bordered by four "gateways" which can be depicted as either opened or dosed .l 83 The meat of the srzcakra is in its triangles. The nine triangles are divided into five downward-facing triangles, representing Sakti, and four upward facing triangles, representing Siva. KKV 23-24 identify these major triangles thusly: the five downward facing triangles are associated with the saktis Vama, Jye?tha, Raudrz, Arhbika, and Parasakti; and the four upward facing triangles are associated with the saktis lccha, ]l"iana, Kriya, and Santa. As I pointed out in the emanation of the letters in the Kashmir Saiva school, the symbolic image of the interlocking triangles in the

srzcakra amplifies the same conjugal concept. Starting from the center of
the yantra, each downward facing triangle, symbolic of the yoni or womb, unites in divine embrace with the upward-facing triangles, symbolic of the divine linga, or phallus.

183 The depiction of the sricakra on the following page features a version of the closed gateways, promoted by Bhaskararaya. Brooks notes that the Kaulas tend to prefer the depiction with gateways opened (Three Cities, 107).
� 91

There are nine in total.a) as one. The ninth sub- cakra exists as the + 1 element of the srfcakra. starting with the bindu and inner most triangle (trikm. the group of sixteen lotus petals. and finally the "gateways" of the srfcakra (bluJpura). the two groups of ten minor triangles. reprinted under the Creative Commons A ttribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License Within the srfcakra there are also sub-cakJ-as which maintain their own mystical significance through the emanation.The Srrcakra. Line drawing adapted from Sri Yantra. the outer group of fourteen minor triangles (manvasra). Mike Horvath in Wikipedia 2006. exemplifying the unity in the 92 . continuing outwa:? with the group of eight minor triangles (vasuko�w). the group of eight lotus petals.

joined together [to form these] nine [ (sub-)cakras. we can also see that each individual triangle within the entire srfcakra has significance and mystic ramifications. Taking it one step further. she became nine. she became nineteen and then twenty-nine. [She is] shining intensely. 1 85 Thus each level of the srfcakra has its own representfitiVe sakti which acts as an agent of emanation from the top down. There are nine gestures (mudrtis) and nine bhadrtis 184 for each place (mahfntim) on the cakra. TrU 3 reads: Originally she was one. The mystic nature of these nine sub-cakras. Let the ·Mothers [identified with the forty-three yoginzs placed on the minor triangles of the srzcakra] enter into me [through the process of nytisa and mantras ] _ 186 184 Mantras to the nine goddesses presiding over the nine sub-cakras. is summed up in TrU 2: The nine [sub-]cakras created the nine Yonis. and as an object of worship and attainment on the way back up. 1 85 Brooks. 93 . 160. [There are also] presiding female deities over [each of the] nine [sub-]cakras. as if desirous.diversity. there are] nine yoginfs [presiding over each of the (sub-)cakras] . Then [she became] forty­ three. 1 57. They are both the creative powers and the veils of Reality. Syonti [the goddess presiding over the cakras is the cause of happiness] . as it plays out in the strongly Sakta aspects of Srividya. 186 Ibid.. Three Cities.

one culminates with the forty-three total triangles serving as yonis. Visualized as a three-dimensional mountain. KKV 21 reads: The wise know no difference between the Mahesf [The Great Goddess] and the Cakra. Then one adds the two sub-cakras of ten minor triangles to get to nineteen and twenty-nine respectively. ""'" � 94 . is taken to mean the bindu I triko�za triangle. adding in the sub-cakra of the fourteen minor triangles. 1 07). This angle is of the utmost importance to the actual practitioner within the Srfvidya school and should not be lost in the technicalities of associations with the metaphysical nature of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. Finally. 1 87 the adept's goal in his or her practice is to scale the mountain from the valleys of the mundane to the summit. or seats of the fortythree yoginfs. itself a sub-cakra. Three Cities.Thus the original one. which becomes nine by adding in the eight minor triangles of the vasuk01. often referred to as meru cakra or Sumeru.za sub-cakra. Para Herself is the subtle form of 187 Sumeru is the name of the mythical city located at the center of the universe (Brooks. It is easy to forget in the tedious listing of characteristics that the premises presented here are religious in nature. wherein one can realize and identify with the true nature of the Divine.

each part is 1 88 Avalon. As I will show below. 43. which aligns with the process of creation and thus the emanation.both these (Devatti and Cakra). the emanation of the Sanskrit letters tends to be repetitive and seemingly redundant as one descends from the summit of the srfcakra. For tho�e. I summon the comparison between the srfcakra and the fractal geometry of mathematics. ISS Thus the srzcakra is identical with the Goddess on the level of true Reality and should be rendered as such. 1 89 Brooks.l89 Before I carry on the description of the phonemes as they relate to the parts of the srzcakra. the basic concept of their rendering is that any given point on a particular graphic representation of a fractal appears as if it is the entire function. In other words. leading to considerable bewilderment for the logical mind.unfamiliar with fractals.. � 95 .ti krama. This is the "inside out" interpretation. the "creation method" or sr. Three Cities. For the purposes of this study I want to look at the reverse process where the universe emanates out from the summit. There is no difference between the two in gross form also. in order to best provide a framework for the following discussion. 1 07. I should note that some confusion can arise in regard to what phonemes derive from where on the yantra. Thus. Kama-I<alti-Vilasa.

1 5 l ff. a later text form the eighteenth century CE. 191 Brooks. Auspicious Wisdom. 1 9 1 and in the work of Sir John Woodroffe. as representations of alternative wholes. � 96 . the letters follow a certain order and represent certain stages of the manifestation. corresponding to certain metaphysical notions of the individual letters. The Emanation of the Sanskrit Alphabet The srrcakra visualizes the emanation of the manifest universe in the Srrvidya school by depicting the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet in a descending order. the nature of the srrcakra allows it to exist as a whole emanative unit. 190 who derives much of this information from the Tripura Upani�ad. though not as rigorously structured. Three Cities. I hope this model alleviates any further confusion. I will frame this particular discussion on the cosmogonic mysticism of the Sanskrit letters by describing their basic process of emanation in relation to the srfcakra as explained in the work of Douglas Brooks. 190 Brooks." Just as in the Kashmir Saiva emanation.essentially equal to the whole. specifically his translation of Kiimakaliiviliisa. while at the same time offering its parts. 125ff. Likewise. the sub-cakras. from the summit down to the "valley.

in TrU 1. . since it is already represented in part by visarga. 193 Brooks.l94 Thus when TrU 1 states. Bhaskararaya. Kama-Kala-Vilasa.l 93 Brooks notes that the forty-eight-phoneme structure is the minority opinion and is offered up in the TrU as a method to harmonize certain auspicious numbexs within the Srfvidya.. the letter kE. 97 . Three Cities. . "She presides over the three cities and the three paths [and this sr!cakra] in which the 192 Avalon. since it easily assimilates into la. KKV 32 directly mentions the count to be 51: " . ""'· .a. 1 94 Ibid." 192 This numeration includes all fifty phonemes that emerged in Kashmir Saivism with the addition of the Vedic cerebral ]a. However. This arrangement does not include the Vedic ]a. as represented by fortyeight phonemes. and thus all reality. 63. 38 . describes the srzcakra.In general it is important to note a few characteristics about the Srfvidya emanation of the alphabet as compared to the Kashmir Saiva approach. 1 54. there are at least two versions of that count... 246 n..by these three is produced Vaikharf who is the fifty-one letters of the alphabet. and ha.. As I mentioned in the previous section. since it is a conjunct of two other letters. the Saiva schools of Tantra generally accept the count of fifty letters for their rendition of the Sanskrit alphabet. In the Srfvidya. however.

tha. 'ka'. dha. va. e. /. u. f. ai. "As the banyan tree is found in its seed. the second group begins with ka (the consonants ka196. pha. 38).ysical issue at hand in this first verse of the TrU is the seminal nature of these initial phonemes. �a. ra. cj. and the third group begins with tha (the consonants tha. arrz. In light of the available materials. The breakdown of these phonemes into three plays into the triadic themes of Tantrism in general. da. a. au. and ta). yet one could seemingly argue that the addition of the three other phonemes would just as easily lend itself to numerological symbolism. ba. The greater metapll. "'" 98 . this claim seems to be in error as the alignment supposed by Bhaskararaya works perfectly stable as it is. 196 Brooks claims that this second group does not actually include ka and instead begins with kha and goes through tha (Three Cities. 12. i. ja. la. 151. and ah). gha. kha. ga. f. The first begins with a. cj. iia. a.. ta. 246 n. sa. ma.a. jha. The commentary says. pa." 195 it attempts to frame the alphabet into three sets of sixteen letters. ya. which means all the vowels (a. [. a. ca. 1 97 See Chandogy�Upani$ad Vl. r.ha.syllables 'a'. cha. and sa). bha. The sixteen is significant in the Srrvidya school for it is the number of syllables in one version of the srfvidya mantra.1 97 so these [syllables] contain 195 Ibid. na. �za. resulting in three equally divided groups of sixteen phonemes. The verdict rests on a matter of preference. fza. and 'tha' [representing the forty-eight letters of Sanskrit) are inscribed.

vaikharf' leve1. central to much metaphysical speculation and generally regarded as the hfja of the entire alphabet and thus the entire manifest universe.everything and are complete. To use a graphic metaphor. and is known as sarviinandamaya." The inherent split in the graphic representation of visarga and the linguistic echo of its pronunciation promote the hindu point as a fountainhead for manifestation coming out of the Absolute. 1 54. The hindu can represent visarga. Three Cities. represents the manifestation itself coming to active fruition. including the most subtle form of pariiviic at the summit of the srfcakra. the idea remains present at all levels up to pariiviic. too. As with the visarga in Kashmir Saiva thought." 1 98 While these three syllables clearly refer to their existence on the mundane. Bindu At the center of the srfcakra resides the hindu point. Naming the sub-cakra as sarviinandamaya accentuates the achievement one gains upon worshiping the deity with which the 1 98 Brooks. this. � 99 . the sixteenth vowel. "that which consists of all bliss. the manifestation occurs as a volcano with the hindu at the peak spewing forth the manifest universe in the form of the other phonemes into existence. the hindu.

The potentiality held within the bindu as the divine semen awaits manifestation. though even within the Srfvidya there is no consistency on this matter. In addition to the presiding deities over the sub- cakras. which tend to correlate to the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet present at a particular sub-cakra. This particular yoginf is also the sixteenth nityiidevata. a fact that will become significant in the later stages of the srfcakra emanation. as will be evident below. The bindu can also identify with the divine seed of Siva. The classification of the yoginf present at the level of bindu is parapararahasya. as well as understanding what the role of that particular deity I aspect plays in the mundane worl d.particular level is associated. though. Bhaskararaya quotes the Yoginzhrdaya in his commentary to verse 1 of the TrU: 100 . yoni. This trend will follow with the remaining sub-cakras as well. acting as a representative of the linga within the initial downward-facing triangle. For hindu." which correspond to the sixteen kaliis. each level has its own subordinate deities identified as yoginfs. of the srfcakra. the yoginf is also identified as Mahiitripurasundarf. or phases of the moon. "eternal deity. the presiding deity is Mahiitripurasundarf. "supreme secret of the supreme. who also presides over all the other presiding deities of the srfcakra." At this unitary level of bindu.

153£. 200 Ibid. then. These triads will differentiate the Absolute and begin to manifest the mundane world while maintaining the inherent nature of these saktis. 249 n. 199 Ibid. the Amhikii (the aspect of the supreme Mother).. and vaikharf] and it pervades the place of the universal waves [i. holds within itself the other levels of speech.. the devolutions of the Absolute Brahman in the form of sound (sahda) known as pasyantf. � 101 . 64.. kriyii. with its triad of triads. Vi?IJU. and vaikharf. 157). under Amhikii reside Varna. Jyestha. 200 There are three categories under which the saktis fall: the santa (her supreme peaceful aspect).. madhyamii. the world consisting of the thirty-six tattvas] . Under santii reside the icchii.e. 201 and under parii reside pasyantf. and thus it contains the entirety of the manifestation.. Bhaskararaya' s commentary to verse 2 of the TrU lays out the essential triads residing in the hindu. existing within the subtlety of pariiviic.. the haindava cakra [i. madhyamii. the central point or hindu of the srfcakra] has the nature of the three Little Mothers (miitrkiis) [viz. herein lies the potentiality for the expansion of hindu. Three Cities. and jiiiinasaktis. and the parii (the aspect of the Supreme).. 201 Bhaskararaya comments that these three saktis are complemented by their male companions: J1!ahmti. and Rudra (Brooks.. Thus. 157. 1 99 The one hindu. and Raudrz. into the next stage of emanation on the srfcakra.e.

45. Only knowers of Brahman know that [the hindu] is identical with the supreme goddess204 and only within themselves. � � 1 02 . that it is ineligible [therefore] for external worship (hahirpuja) . "In this [hindu] the Great Being is present. 205 Brooks. to be accessible it must manifest into a lower form of existence. Bhaskararaya continues: [The Great Being] indicates.Vilasa. which brings about the next sub-cakra. the seed of Siva.205 Thus in order for the inner essence of the hindu.The KKV exemplifies this as well in verse 22: "The center of Cakra [srfcakra] is Para (Para-maya). 202 Avalon. 157. Kama-Kala. 203 Brooks."203 Yet due to its high status in the realm of para. it cannot be attained. then.. experienced. This is Bindu-tattva. shielded by the other layers of the srfcakra I have yet not explained. 157. Others do not know this. or understood. "202 Bhaskararaya comments on verse 1 of the TrU. 204 This line echoes KKV 2 1 . Three Cities. Three Cities..

Kama-Kala. which then reflect the broad levels of pasyantf. which ends with the line. and kriyasakti." Its presiding deity is Tripuriimbikii. though still subtle. "Tripura the Mother. madhyamii.Viliisa.. around the para." and the yoginfs associated with the trikoJJa are the fifteen "very secret" (atirahasya) yoginfs. 103 . Punyanandanatha's commentary to KKV 23 states that the three saktis which emerge are. 207 The placement of the emanation of the Sanskrit alphabet amongst all these metaphysical considerations is brought up in an introductory fashion in KKV 24. leading into verse 23: When It (the bindu) becomes ready to evolve (ucchana) It transforms and manifests as a triangle. This (triangle) is the source of three (saktis. 206 Immediately surrounding the hindu is the first triangle. referred to as lriko�w and known as sarvasiddhipradiiyaka. "The two letters (a and ha) 206 Avalon. 45 207 Ibid. and vaikharr. jiiiinasakti. Bhaskararaya refers to the trikoJJa as the final and closest sheath that hides the bindu from the mundane world. "that which accompanies all. namely) Pasyantf and others and is also the three bfjas. icchiisakti.Trikona KKV 22 finishes. 46. This first layer surrounding the bindu is the first product of the actual manifestation of the Divine and thus it creates a ring of objectivity. on the general level.

and we know from the prominence placed on the self-mantra. from the level of pure undifferentiated potentiality comes the entirety of the alphabet. however. containing within it the divine dynamism of the saktis. Arhbikii. and thus the entirety of the manifestation. Jiiiina. the eleven-fold essence of the bindu-tattva manifests the level of pasyantf outwardly. Kriyii. as I will show below that the Srividya put forth by Bhaskararaya and studied by Brooks presents the trikm. which will now proceed to pervade the manifest world. ]ye�thii. There are first the five saktis of the downward facing triangles (Viimii." 2 08 As I have discussed. in its most general layout. 45. Raudrf. and Santa). With a on one side of these nine and ha on the other.. and Pariisakti) and then the four saktis of the upward facing triangles (Icchii. that the inclusion of these two phonemes implies the entirety of the alphabet. 104 .taken separately and collectively make with the foregoing nine the elevenfold Pasyantf. a and ha make up the first and last letters respectively of the Sanskrit alphabet. And so. This verse places this notion in context of the srfcakra by offering up these two letters as bookends to the saktis in play. 208 Ibid. aharrz.a as symbolic of the vaikharf level of speech. This interpretation is not unitary.

a. the triko�za's phonic reality in the form of e is visually paralleled. which are the deities that align with the phases of the moon (kaliis). to form e. f. " . the trikmJa represents the three letters a. :. though in the KKV's depiction of the emanation as it pertains to the srfcakra. i. Broadly. They are Kiimesvarf. and e. /. . a. Nityiiklinnii. Bhagamiilinf. a. Brooks notes that these fifteen vowels correspond to the fifteen yoginfs of the triko�a. .w. Bherundii. Kulasundarf. ai. ii. Mahiivajresvarf. and u on the right side. five per side starting at the bottom and moving counterclockwise. the central womb to the whole srfcakra and thus to manifest reality. r."209 Thus the triangle formed by the iriko�w carries significant symbolism as a yoni.. metaphysically (and euphonically) combining Siva. and af!t on the left side. i. the vowels appear later in the diagram. Valmivasinz. The vowels are placed around the triangle of the trikm. Tvaritii. 1 25. i. which many Tantra scholars have noted resembles a triangle in its devamigarf symbol. and Sakti.Alphabetically. Thus a. 1 05 . Nityii. Sivadutf. and J on the top. Auspicious Wisdom. au. Brooks writes. the trikOJJa is identified as bringing forth the remaining fifteen vowels (since visarga was aligned with bindu). 209 Brooks. "eternal deities/' or tithis. known as nityiidevatiis. f. and e.

though the likely reading would be to see the trik01. that being the highest center. the tipping point of potency between the manifest and unmanifest. The hindu corresponds to the sahasrdala or the brahmandhrapadma cakra within the body. 245 n. 1 26. Vijayti.1a. 2 11 Ibid. 210 Ibid. This jump from the highest to the lowest level of yogic practice in one step is not thoroughly explained. is associated with the mitltidhtira cakra.Nilaptitakinf. as still very much residing in the mundane as compared to the subtle unity of the hindu. Sarvamangalti. 2 1 0 As visarga has already been shown to represent the sixteenth kala. though. The sixteenth nityadevala was Mahalripurasundarz.21 2 The triko�w. which resides at the base of the spine and represents the lowest yogic center. 1 06 . 2 1 1 This ideal fits with the notion o f the srfcakra and how i t relates to the inner practice of tantric yoga. located at the top of the skull. though high on the mountain of the srfcakra.. 1 26. the fifteen vowels here symbolized in triko�ta act as the sheaths protecting and hiding the true Reality. 21 2 Ibid. and Citra. 41 . the mundane level of speech. Thus Brooks labels them as the devolution of sound and assigns this level of the srfcakra as vaikharf. associated with bindu.. ]valamtilinf.

." The presiding deity of the vasuko�a is Tripurtfsiddha. . at least in terms of the sabdarasi. and ma) . $a.VasukoDa The next level of the srfcakra consists of eight minor triangles expanded (pmpaiica) out of triko�za known as vasuko�za and referred to as sarvarogahara... ba. nt . 107 . 21 4 This moving backwards through the consonants reflects their association with the thirty-six tattvas mentioned in the section on Kashmir Saivism. sa. ?a.!. "secret. 2 1 4 These do not co'. "Tripura who confers perfection. pa. bha. the directional trend of sa to ka matching with sakti tattva to prthiv'i �� ttva. 21 3 Thus this sub-cakra contains the last eight consonants (sa. Kama-Kala-Viltlsa 60. pha." KKV 29 reads: The Cakra of eight triangles which is constituted of the letters Sa. Sa and the Pa-varga is an expansion (Vistara) of the middle triangle. 2 13 Avalon. "emanation. lza since it is spoken for in the trik01:za sub-cakra . "that which destroys all disease." seems to play out in Srfvidya with the initial levels of the srfcakra as well." and the corresponding yoginfs are called rahasya. These nine triangles together with the Bindu make the ten (Dasaka) which are lighted by the light of Cit (Cid-d'ipa) . While no direct correlation between the phonemes and the tattvas is made at this level in the Srfvidya texts and studies that I have researched.

215 Each section is a microcosm of the greater srfcakra macrocosm. In this sense the notion of the srfcakra is immersed in the Tantric ideology of both unity in diversity and also the constant subtle emphasis on the omnipresent totality of ultimate Reality. ""· 108 . Thus it truly does not matter where the letters emerge from the srfcakra since every part is also the whole. The bindu point. Three Cities. On this matter. then. and the entirety of the srfcakra all separately represent the Ultimate equally. Even in matters of ritual. the summation of the bindu- triko1Ja-vasuko1Ja. 215 Brooks. Combining the vasuko1Ja with the bindu and triko1Ja.According to the Srrvidya tradition studied by Brooks. 159. matching the notion that every letter is equal to the entire alphabet. the vasuko!Ja sub-cakra represents all the consonants of the Sanskrit alphabet. Yet I have only covered a very small part of the yantra. Bhaskararaya comments on TrU 2: An injunction in the Tantras states that in an emergency (iipatkalika) the summarized form of the [srfcakra] piija may begin with the vasuko!Ja [cakra consisting of the eight minor triangles and proceed up] to the bindu [in the center of the srfcakra] . completes the entirety of the Sanskrit alphabet and thus the entire manifestation. this multivalent structure of the srfcakra lends itself to practical application.

Modinf is the source for ca-varga. he writes: The sounds themselves . making the total number of letters fortyeight. Jayanf is the source for pa- varga. These eight yoginfs are the source of the miitrkas. Modinf. �. 2 1 7 Brooks accentuates that these emergences of the Sanskrit phonemes should not be understood so lightly as merely sounds of a spoken language. "deities of speech" : Viisinf. Each viigdevatii is aligned with one of the traditional eight groupings of letters of the Sanskrit alphabet.. and Kaulinf is the source for sa through k$a. are all the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. Summarizing the very essence of the alphabet as it is underst9od in the srfcakra. 109 . Recall that in certain formulations of the Sanskrit alphabet the phonemes ha. Auspicious Wisdom. Vimalii. � 1 6 Viisinf is the source of the sixteen vowels. Kiimesvarf. "little mothers. and the vedic fa are not included. k�a. Kame5varf is the source of ka-varga.a. Jayauf. 128. Sarvesvarf is the source for the semi-vowels ya through va. Arw_1ii is the source for ta-varga." which.However. Vi mala is the source for ta-varga. The rahasyayoginfs of the vasuko1)a are the eight viigdevatiis. Aru�zii. . They are deities in phonic aspects subordinated to presiding deity of 2l 6 2 17 Brooks. Sarvesvarf. � . as we know. the mere symbolism of the entirety of the Sanskrit alphabet will not suffice in a subtler understanding of the vasukm. are not mere sounds. and Kaulinf. .

" They are placed counterclockwise around the sub- cakra. 1 28£. Sarvavyadhivinasinf." The yoginfs associated with this level of the srfcakra are classified as nigarbha. not insentient entities." �. and 21 8 Brooks. Sarvarakf?asvarfipil.zf. which assume the mundane form of a sound in Sanskrit.anamayf. Auspicious Wisdom. referred to as sarvarakf?iikara. the world is essentially animate in devolving degrees of self-consciousness. Sarviinandamayf. the srfcakra 's devolution is a process of divine sentience assuming increasingly more mundane forms. Sarvaisvaryapradii. 110 . 2 1 9 This level is also technically referred to as antardasara. "the garlanded Tripura. creating two sets of ten minor triangles. Within the srfcakra." is presided over by Tripuramiilinf. "hidden. .ii. these sounds and deities are viewed as part of a deliberate design by macrocosmic consciousness to bring itself forth. starting at the triangle at the base. In other words.2 19 "that which protects all. Not only is the world a manifestation of Sakti as power. The inner set of triangles. they are aspects of consciousness. Sarvajii. it is not a process by which the sentient becomes insentient. as substances issuing forth from the ultimate. Sarvtidhiirasvanipii. Sarvapiipaharti. The nigarbhayoginfs are: Sarvajii. Sarvasakti.t:i.the sub-cakra. Creation is an immanent form of the creator such that transcendence is measured in degrees rather than in substance. "inner ten.2 1 8 The Two Sets of Ten Minor Triangles The emanation spreads outward.

however.. Bhaskararaya.Sarvepistaphalaprada. and k?a emanate. qa. 111 . sa. In other words. 246 n.. ra. 1 30f. _Quoting a verse from an unidentified Tantra. and so the more important observation available at this point is to see the cusp between the subtle-leaning elements of the manifestation and the mundane-leaning elements. Auspicious Wisdom. sa. "The two sets of ten [minor] triangles [within the srfcakra] have a shining form (sphuradnlpa) which depends 220 Brooks. This particular lineup of the Sanskrit letters makes sense graphically since these phonemes serve the back half of the alphabet. 53. ha. va. 22 1 Ibid. writes. the ritual manuals say that the letters rna. these two sets of ten minor triangles act as paralleled images between which lies the line between mystical and material. 220 According to KKV 30. la.22 1 Instead. commenting on TrU 3. ya. though. Brooks notes that in the SriVidya ritual manuals. at this sub-cakra in the srfcakra pujti. - o:i. the emanation of the inner sub-cakra of ten minor triangles brings forth the letters in ta-varga and ta- varga. There is no definitive indication of how exactly these yoginfs and phonemes are matched up. typically associated with being closer to the Ultimate on the sabdartisi level of phonetic emanation. these letters are not the ones which match up with these yoginfs. Curiously.

)mabhuta) and five physical elements (sthulabhuta). Clearly the intent in making this statement is to differentiate between the elements and their essences as a parallel to contrasting the manifest reality from the unmanifest Reality. as Brooks notes. explains this phenomenon by writing that these two levels consist of the "five subtle elements (silk!. Brooks also notes that this verse resembles. is that the ten elements / essences are actually represented by the standard 222 Brooks." 222 This division present at the point between the two sub-cakras of ten minor triangles gives rise to a discussion of the place of these ten elements and ten essences. thus there are ten elements.. 223 However. Three Cities. ""'" . Scholars point to these elements and essences as the bhutas and tmzmiitras from the bottom of the thirty-six tattvas. that the direct mention of the tat tvas does not arise until the sub-cakra of ten minor triangles. The ten essences (tanmiitras) beginning with sound arise by dividing these physical and subtle [elements] . as I described previously." 224 The implication. the tangible from the subtle. Three Cities. 224 Brooks. 1 60. 223 Note.16 (Auspicious Wisdom . 246 n. 52) . 112 . Bhaskararaya. 1 60. there are only five of each in the universally accepted Tantric catalog of tattvas.upon illumination (prakiisa) [of the] ten elements and the ten essences. in his commentary on TrU 3. though. or more accurately at this particular juncture. leaving open speculation about their place in the emanation at the higher levels of the srzcakra. but is not identical to YH 1 .

jha. The same goes for the five tanmtitras (gandha. Sarvad uhkhavimocinf. tejas. and sabda). making ten." The yoginfs associated with this level of the srfcakra are classified as kulottfn-.tattvas in their bilateral rendering. 251 n.a. cha. ga.tananda. This ordering of the letters of the �. ja. Sarvaktimapradti. The kulottfn:zayoginfs are: Sarvasiddhipradti. in his commentary on YH 1 . rilpa. remarks that this second set of ten minor triangles identifies with Krodhi$a. Sarvtiizgasundarf. referred to as sarvtirthastidhaka. "auspicious Tripura. Sarvamrtyuprasamanf. 225 Ibid. and tiktisa) act in both gross and subtle forms. are placed around the sub-cakra counterclockwise starting at the base. rasa. and 1ia. ka. 1 13 .. 226 This level is alsQ. sparsa. Sarvarnmigalaktiri�z f._ technically referred to as bahirdasiira. gha. the emanation of the outer sub-cakl·a of ten minor triangles brings forth the letters ca. and Sarvasaubhtigyadtiyinf.finskrit alphabet matches the ordering of Am:r. Sarvaviglmanivari�If." These yoginfs. "outer ten. 226 "that which accomplishes all. According to the second line of KKV 30. iia." is presided over by Tripurtisrf. Sarvapriyankarf. a deity known as the Lord of Anger. Sarvasaf!lpatpradti. kha. vayu. 82. 16. The outer set of triangles." ·llot. jala. who.225 In other words the five rnahtibhatas (prthivf. meaning "crossing beyond the kula. too.

who, in turn, identifies with the phoneme ka and the subsequent nine letters that follow ka.227 Though, again, in the Srfvidya ritual manuals of

srfcakra pujii, the emanated letters differ.228 In the ritual manuals the
phonemes �La, ta, tha, da, dha, na, pa, pha, ba, and, bha emerge at this sub-

cakra. These letters place the sub-cakra of the outer ten minor triangles
farther away from the Ultimate and closer to the totally objective reality. KKV 31 reads, "The light of these [first] four Cakras is the fully evolved [outer] Cakra of ten triangles."229 Thus in the emanation of the srfcakra, this fifth sub-cakra is the collective product of the first four, implying its separateness and clear progression toward manifestation. In some regards these two sub-cakras finalize the coming together of the mundane world. Their respective groups of yoginfs are typically referred to as devfs, which elicits a more anthropomorphic understanding of their nature, both at this level of the srfcakra and at this state of the emanation of the manifest reality.230 These two sets of ten minor triangles,

227 Brooks, Auspicious Wisdom, 131 . 228 Ibid., 246 n. 53.

229 Avalon, Kama-Kala-Vilasa, 62. 230 Brooks, Auspicious Wisdom, 1 30.

1 14

though, are still illuminated upon from the hindu, trikoiJ.a, etc. above, emphasizing the all-pervasiveness of sabdabrahman.

The Outer Set of Fourteen Minor Triangles Even though the alphabet has technically been completed at this point within the descriptions of some Srividya texts like the TrU, the

srzcakra continues on. The next level, referred to as sarvasaubhagyadayaka,23 l
"that which grants all prosperity," includes fourteen minor triangles reflected from the outer level of ten minor triangles and is presided over by the deity Tripuravasinl. The corresponding yoginzs at this level are referred to as sampradaya, "traditional." They are listed as

Sarvasmrzk?obhinz, Sarvavidriivil-; f, Sarvakar?i�Lf, Sarviihladinf, Sarvamohinf, Sarvastart1bhinf, SarvajmbhiiJ.f, Sarvavasmikarf, Sarvaraiijinf, Sarvonmadinf, Sarvarthasadhinf, SarvasampatpilriiJ.f, Sarvamantramayf, and Sarvadvandvak?ayankarf. Whereas the yoginfs were referred to as devfs in the
previous sub-cakras, the sampradayayoginfs are referred to as saktis, emphasizing the element of certain yogic powers (siddhis) available to the adept during practice.

231 This level is als2..technically referred to as manvasra.
� 1 15

The fourteen minor triangles at this sub-cakra lend themselves to several associations given that particular number 's auspicious use in Hindu Tantra. They are aligned with the fourteen Hii{jfs, "subtle yogic channels" of the nervous system and Bhaskararaya, in his commentary on TrU 3, attributes the next fourteen tattvas to these minor triangles, writing: And from these [ten essences, i.e. the outer level of ten minor triangles] arose the fourteen, namely the five organs of action, the five organs of knowledge, and the four inner organs. 232 These tattvas are the karmendriyas, the jfianendriyas, and the anta/Jkarm:zas. Note that Bhaskararaya refers to the antal:tkarm:zas as four in number. This arrangement differs from the Kashmir Saiva version in which they are only three in number. Brooks notes that the four antal_1kararws referred to here are manas, buddhi, ahaJ?lkiira, and citta. 233 The final member is "new" to the lineup; no additional information is given in my research. The final line of KKV 31 reads, " (Then) appeared the Cakra of fourteen triangles wherein are the fourteen vowel letters beginning with
A."234 This

includes the simple and complex vowels. It is curious to note

232 Brooks, Three Cities, 160. 233 Ibid., 251 n. 83. 234 Avalon, Kama-Kala-Vilasa, 62.
:;',;;
116

Metaphysically. though. this formulation makes sense. Yet both versions do place the appearance of the vaikharf level of sonic reality as taking place right after the emanation of the svaras. arrive here at a level very close to the base of mundane reality. 1 17 . the emanation appears in the form the of vaikharf level of sonic reality. at the summit of the srfcakra.that the emanation of the svaras. typically associated with the most subtle levels of the manifestation. but before them and all other letters at the dimensionless point at the center of the yantra. could point to the association of the bindu. yet the underlying metaphysical underpinnings of the Sanskrit phonemes lend themselves to mysterious interpretation. neither of these situations parallel the previously discussed moments of manifestation as the visarga. noted either as the catalyst for manifestation or the manifestation itself. Graphically and physically. A subtler reading. is not present. The KKV even says in verse 32 that at this point in the sub-cakras. of course. blasting forth the fifty-one letters (a to k$a) of the Sanskrit alphabet in their grossest form. with the visarga and argue that in the Srrvidya the true manifestation begins not after the vowels. This differs from the view of Bhaskararaya and the Srrvidya studies of Brooks. where the emergence of vaikharf took place at the sub-cakra of triko]Ja.

" and which is presided over by Tripurasundarf. KKV 34 reads. "more concealed.The Lotus Petals The sarvasaubhiigyadayaha sub-cakra completes the section of the srfcakra that features the minor triangles emanating out from bindu. .. "The eight groups of letter beginning with the Ka group which are Vaikhari-Sakti are on the petals of the lotus of eight petals ." and are named as follows: Anmigakusumii. Anmigarekhii. ta-varga. the "Lovely Tripura. known as sarvasarrzk?obhm. Anmigamadaniiturii. semi-vowels. though.za. the efficacy and outright power of the letters of the Sanskrit 235 Ibid. and k?a) as they are understood in the vaikharf level of sonic reality. It is interesting to note. ta-varga. 118 ."235 which explains that this level of the srfcakra represents the eight groups of letters of the Sanskrit alphabet post-svaras (ka-varga. "that which moves all. ca- varga. . pa-varga. that considering the yoginfs of this sub-cakra. i1?man. 64. Next follows the level of eight lotus petals. Anmigamekhalii. Anangankusii. and Anangamalinf. Anangaveginf. This mention in the KKV is the extent to which the letters are directly connected with this particular sub -cakra . Anangamadanii." The sarvasarrzk?obhm:za' s yoginfs are referred to as guptatara. .

"that which fulfills all hopes.. meaning "concealed. the identification of these petals with the entirety of the manifested letters of the Sanskrit alphabet and their respective representative yoginf of transcendent yogic ability should not be taken as coincidental or meaningless. Aharrzakar?il:rf. � � 1 19 . known as sarvaSiipariparaka. and thus through their careful and proper use." and the yoginfs are classified as gupta. recently in terms of the KKV and long since earlier sub-cakras in terms of Bhaskararaya..i ttf. Tripuresf. "Lordly Tripura."236 Being as this sub-cakra identifies with the vaikharf level of sonic reality.alphabet become slightly illuminated. meaning "limbless.." and are all thus "incorporeal deities with the capacity to affect events in the material world.... Brooks notes that the yoginfs of this level all begin with ananga. The next level of the srfcakra stems out of the eight lotus petals and emerges as a level of sixteen lotus petals. Buddhyakar::. as the emanation themselves. encapsulate the divine aspects and powers. i ttf.i. Auspicio s Wisdom. Letters." They are Kamakar::. It simply highlights a key aspect of the alphabet as it relates to metaphysical speculation. 135. 236 Brooks. the adept can access that hindu drop within them." The presiding deity over this sub-cakra is .

which act at this sub-cakra more as attributes of the corresponding n ityadevattis of the triko�ta than the divine beings themselves. though.According to KKV 33. Again the connection with the sixteen phases of the moon becomes apparent as these yoginfs are also referred to as nityakaltiyoginfs. The distance from the bindu and the direct emergence of vaikharf. emphasizing the subtle decline in power while moving outward from the center of the srfcakra..237 Thus the two sub-cakras of lotus petals encapsulate the entire Sanskrit alphabet and offer another microcosm of the macrocosmic srfcakra. this sub-cakra represents the sixteen vowels from a to a}J. 120 . While both of these elements carry significant metaphysical and philosophical significance. 163. The remaining parts of the srfcakra are the three circles that surround the level of sixteen lotus petals and the open or closed gateway that contains the whole yantra. the considerations as they relate to the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet cease at the sixteen 237 Ibid. the third location on the srfcakra identified with the svaras. emphasize this final representation of the complete alphabet as the mundane version seen in language and corporeal speech.

For more on these elements and more in depth information on all the elements of the srzcakra see the sixth chapter of Auspicious Wisdom by Douglas Renfew Brooks.petals. Thus concludes the general emanation of the the manifest world through the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet as understood through the Srividya school of Hindu Tantrism. 121 . and thus for the purposes of this study they will not be discussed.

10. goddess and consort to Vi�l)u. philosophy. As with the format of most Tantras. 239 Ibid. ""' 122 . Throughout the LT the speaker is Sakti in the Paficaratra form of Lak�mf. Much of the Paficaratra doctrine. Paficaratra. and theology comes in the Lak�mf Tantra.. representing the Sa:rnhita "collection" of works. Hindu T antrism. 238 Paficaratra ties itself back to the Vedas and. 239 Similar to the other schools of Tantra in its most general aspects. a relatively later text that appears somewhere between the ninth and twelfth centuries CE . 240 Bhattacharyya.CHAPTER V PANCARATRA The final school of Hindu Tantra that I wish to cover in this study is the Vi�l)u-centered line of Tantra. consort to Vi�l)U. 240 Continuing the Tantric importance of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. and Goudriaan. in some regards. 85. Hoens. the Lak�mf Tantra devotes three of its chapters exclusively to discussing the emanation of the phonemes and their mystic use during resorption._Janlrabhidhana. considers its texts to be the direct extension of the Vedas. Paficaratra deals almost exclusively with the view of Sakti as Lak�mf. the LT is structured as a conversation between a subject and a 238 Gupta. 15.

form of the ultimate Divine. Hindu Tan trism. Goudriaan notes. much of the foundation for the cosmogony of the manifest universe as it relates to the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet emerge in the early Paficaratra texts. such as the 241 Gupta.."241 Indeed. the LT features Srf herself as the teacher. 9. the Paficaratrins-the followers of 'Tantric Vai$1)avism' -decline to be called Tantrics because they do not want to be considered worshipers of the Mother Goddess. this final section of my study will be relatively concise and limited to just the specifics of the Paficaratra take on the place of letters in the mystic process. however. Hoens. ""' � 123 . only to be assimilated later into the heavily structured theories of Kashmir Saivism and Srfvidya discussed above. whereas usually the Goddess is learning from Siva or some other representation of the pure Ultimate. yet its recognition as Tantric emerges later and is contentiously debated. General Understanding of the Sanskrit Alphabet The Paficaratra school of Hinduism extends further back than either of the two previously studied traditions. The later writings of Paficaratra.. " . Unlike most Tantras. and Goudriaan. As the majority of information regarding the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet remains common throughout Hindu Tantra.

244 Although no direct mention is made to this technicality. Hindu Tantrism. "I (sabdabrahman) am essentially consciousness and bliss. Laksmf reiterates her differentiated status as sabdabrahman in addition to maintaining her pervasion in all forms of reality. my study has led me to understand that th e fifty letters spoken of in the LT are the same fifty of the Srrvidya minus the vedic cerebral ja. descending from the complete unmanifest to the level of gross language and speech. As she emanates into the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. 243 Gupta. LT 1 8 . the source of all mantras.caratra understands miitrkii (the Sanskrit alphabet) as the manifestation of vi$1JUSakti. 97. certainly have the necessary elements of Tantric ideology and thought. it 242 LT 20. 245 Gupta.£ntra. � 124 . the absolute. the mother of all sound.242 a culmination of fifty saktis2 43 corresponding to the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. 1 8 reads. and Goudriaan. The first stage of the subtle differentiation is sabqabrahman. however. Sakti not subjected to appearance and disappearance." 2 45 Here. Paii. Lak?mf I. Hoens. which derives directly out of the Ultimate in the form of Sakti.32-33.LT. 2 44 The process takes place as the Ultimate evolves into the manifest universe. 99.

6-8 continue this thread: I (the same Sakti) am the essence of light and bliss endowed with perfect equilibrium. sentences as well as treatises (prakarm. also the external (public) and internal (esoteric) agamas and all the various languages . vaks. phonetic units. typically the one associated with Tantra. patalas etc. whether it be in sacred mantra or even just in the prosaic parts of a conversational sentence. prasnas. Bk.becomes clear how literally she claims to be the source of all mantras. That (faint sbund) is indeed multiplied by numerous other sounds (van. 247 Gupta.. paragraphs. LT 18..247 Thus throughout the vaikharf level of sonic reality. LT 20. When in order to liberate the jfvas. parts of texts such as chapters.ias and diverse sarnhitas. ucchvasas. 248 Ibid. man<. Yajus and Saman. my own sakti activates merely a ten millionth of a hundred­ thousand-billionth fraction of myself. I then automatically evolve out of the great God into Sabdabrahman.248 246 No te the omission of the Atharva Veda. 1 09.a) in order to sustain (creation). anuvaks. she forms the foundational dynamism present and efficaciously understood in all forms of sound.all these fall under direct or indirect speech (gfr). Consider this unmanifested eternal (Sabdabrahman) as resembling the faint sound produced by (the automatic vibration of) the strings (of a musical instrument.39-42 elaborate on the pervasion: Mantras that are of an efficacious and beneficial nature replete with me.246 suktas as well as khilas. cants. words forming sastras and tantras.lalas.z a) and subdivisions (ahnikas). 102. kan<. parts of speech. 125 . Lak?m! Tan tra.

or letters. I become creatively active. As the focus of this study is the emanation. The obvious tie here to the generalized role of Vi$DU as the maintainer likely explains the peculiarity. It is interesting to note here that in contrast to the presentation of the emanation of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet in Kashmir Saivism and Srfvidya. to pervade the resulting creation. chapters of the LT describe the mysticism of the alphabet from the point of view of Srr. nineteenth."249 The emanation of the Sanskrit alphabet is the manifestation of 249 Ibid. Chapter nineteen begins. 126 . The Emanation of the Alphabet The eighteenth. characterized by the creative urge (sisrk?ti). even in such a minute form. "I am the primary. 1 04.Again Lak$mf states how she emerges from the Ultimate. Being the supreme Sakti manifest as creation. not merely creating. this verse of the LT notes the purpose of the phonemes as sustaining. twentieth and twenty-third. I will be concentrating on the former. total 1-hood of Hari. describing the letters both as they emerge within her self and as they resorb back into her self.. Here that creation is described as the multiplication of that "faint sound" into varr:tas.

ta-varga. Once at the level of vaikhar'f. present. il?man. At this state she emphasizes the dual nature of sound in that in any utterance. flowing from a to sa. jiiti (genus). 25 0 Here she is literally one sound. the four types of unmanifest qualities of catu. the semi-vowels. She then splits into the sound denoting and the object denoted. Sakti begins the mundane manifestation. yet �ubtly. ra. sa. anta]:zstha (ya.padf are each represented in their dual nature as both the object and 250 LT 1 8.the dynamic feminine energy inherent within the Ultimate. svaras (the vowels). and va). or Vi$l)U. 33-34 - � 1 27 . both the aspects of the manifest and unmanifest are fully. la. $a. marking the dvipadr sonic state. Here. here described as Hari. and ha). 25 1 She then splits into the familiar eight categories of letters (svaras. ta-varga. Dvipadf is soon followed by the catu$padf state. in which she has divided into the four broad categories of the Sanskrit alphabet: fi$man (sa. These categories of sounds denote the coming of four types of unmanifest qualities: dravya (objects). the sabdabrahman. and k$a) under the state of a. and kriyii (action) respectively.30 251 LT 1 8. ka-varga. gu�w (quality or element).:. ca- varga. and sparsa (the consonants).tapadf. in its most blissful subtle state. pa-varga.31. starting at the sonic state of ekapad'f.:.

Verses five through seven bring forth the middle "liquid" vowels. Here again. the initial phoneme. A?tapadf is followed with the addition of the unvoiced sounds such as visarga in the sonic state of navapadz. of the Sanskrit consonants. J. u as unme?a. as the result of a achieving the state of ananda.its name. the navapadf exemplifies the x + 1 structure of counting by acting as both the whole and the final member. a. f (fsana). a. and n as modifications of i (icchli). equalling eight total. carries enormous linguistic. She names a as her "eternal essence" in regard to vac. representing selfrevealed consciousness at its most subtle phonic form. and u as urja.4 introduces i as iccha.25 2 In the context of the eight aspects of a?tapadf. It is seen as not only the foundational part and source of all the vowels. and u (urja) 252 LT 18.3 introduces the second svara. f. LT 1 9. The Vowels Verse two of the nineteenth chapter of the LT begins by naming the fifteen vowels a through anz as Lak�mr's "similar" states of existence (dasa). but as essential to the pronunciation. as with the previous Tantric versions of the emanation.32. f as fsana. (r. LT 19. ll (unme$a). and thus efficaciousness. phonetic and metaphysical weight. 35 128 .

255 Ibid. as well as all the letters before it. or "characterized by its potency. Tantrabhidhana. 256 Ibid. a. Verse 16.respectively. with i (iccha) and ai (named jagadyoni) as a combination of i (iccha) and a (anmzda). 7. a.48-52 places the vocalic liquids after the diphthongs and identifies the diphthongs with the term kitta.. ABS 1 6. likely alluding to the peak of some object. an earlier Pai'icaratra text from about the fourth or fifth century CE.51 of ABS. representing itself." 254 The vowel o appears as the combination of the first vowel. "invoked. Vac. a neuter noun.52 names o as ota." and au as aurjitya. 254 Padoux. typically used in relation with k$a. 1 32. event or experience. In other words. Its frequent use with k?a exemplifies the x + 1 of its function. and u (unme?a) while au (called sadyojata) comes from the combination of a with the recently formed o.253 identifies ai as aisvaryavan." 255 It should be noted here that ABS 16. 269 n. 253 Bhattacharyya. 1 15"'" ·'<i> 129 .. 263 n. The vocalic liquids are followed by the letter e as a combination of the first vowel. 1 33. meaning "endowed with power. 25 6 Kuta. at the peak of a reversed mountain. often refers to a bone in the front of the head (a horn) or the summit of a mountain. 269 n.

A possible explanation for the use of kuta in regard to diphthongs placed before the vocalic liquids resides in the underlying micro I macro cosmic sexual symbolism inherent in any tantric explanation of the emanation of the universe. then the diphthongs as hita represent a moment of peak experience reached before the pause. representing both the culmination of potentiality as well as the experience of the ultimate energy. In other words. Verse seven of the nineteenth chapter of the LT concludes by explaining that the nature of these vowels as movement toward the more mundane level of existence (vaikharf) is due to the fact that even the highlevel vowels are still derivations from the original a. this alignment in ABS expresses the yogic pause at its highest possible experience of the dynamism of the Divine instead of allowing more buildup after the pause. If the vocalic liquids are understood as an unproductive pause during the initial buildup of potentiality within the Ultimate. thereby allowing the adept to have the potential to retain the physical emanation at its highest possible undifferentiated state. Gupta notes that the purpose here is to point out that the differentiation present at vaikharf 130 .k?a is the summit of manifestation as viewed from the bottom up.

a]J. meaning that. directly representing the unmanifest. representing both itself and the culmination of a through mp.contrasts with the completely unpolarized nature of the earlier niida and hindu states. alJ represents the creative agent in the emanation. 104 n. As with the Kashmir Saiva explanation. As we have seen in the other Tantric schools. The visarga. Arfl appears at the point in the emanation at which the previous thirteen vowels (ii to au) reach their most subtle stage of pure knowledge. and the potentially polarized sound present at madhyama. � � 131 . it contains both the creative (a]J) and destructive (mfl) aspects 257 Gupta. due to its x + 1 nature.8-9 explain the emergence of the final vowel in this rendering. The explanation of the visarga does not come up until LT 1 8. Lak?mf T ntra. 257 LT 1 9. The verse implies that while a.20 but in keeping with order I will skip to it now. acts as the pure x + 1 element in the emanation of the vowels. arrz represents their culmination and annihilation in the sense of both x + 1 and in terms of acting as a microcosm of the greater emanation of the alphabet. 5. and thus this mini-emanation of vowels within Lak$mi serves to accentuate both the potentiality and the inherent and dynamic diversity on the verge of gross emanation. is the origin of all the vowels. the svaras are emanated within the Ultimate as it prepares for the manifestation of truly mundane objects.

f.e. coolness. LT 1 9. 132 . delight. j. adorned with clusters of millions of saktis . ai.. "luminaries. loveliness. "that which dries up. and au as its rays. Here also LT 19.20-29 bring in the symbolism of the sun and moon often associated with arrz and al). u. and maturity (ptika). sharpness. and o as its rays. agitation (zra�:za). i." each having seven rays of light. which are referred to in LT 1 9. The vowels reach completion in a culmination of incredible potenq�lity. They are said to be two devayo�1.epm_w). These seven rays are characterized by "light. e. Al:z as the soma (moon) form contains the letters ti." 259 respectively." augmenting its destructive nature. corresponding to the fourteen letters of the alphabet already emanated.aka. 259 Ibid. pervasiveness. 106£. which are referred to in LT 19. 1 07. Arrz as the surya (sun) form contains the letters a. contentment. assimilation (the mind's capacity to grasp. grahm:za). [. r. projection (k:. il..24 as so:." 258 respectively. and bliss. f. adding to its creative nature. Surya) and the moon and manifesting herself by 258 Ibid. These seven rays are characterized by "fluidity.25 as nourishing. calmness.28-29 reads: The great s-r!?ti (sakti) Mahanada.resplendent with these rays consisting of Agni (i.of the Ultimate.

� 133 . Unlike the Kashmir Saivas. objective. 105 n. 262 G upta.embodying.appears actively as the final vowel (l:z) . the phoneme-tattva relationship in PaficariHra is not clear cut. the Person in the form of hindu (which represents the state of existence) consecutively following the Soma-form . The LT breaks down the consonants into three groups: ka to rna.nlra. sa to ha and kf?a.a to prthivf) in addition to some others... and completely differentiated state of the divine presence in the manifestation. 26 1 Recall that a/:z represents the culmination itself (i . 2. as we will see. Lak$m1 7J!. which represent the unpolarized and absolute state of the divine presence in the manifestation. e . x + 1). and the semi-vowels (ya to va). 26 2 _. 260 The Consonants Having completed the inner emanation of the vowels. Armed with fifteen limbs (the vowels a to arrz ). which represent the material. Lak�mf now seeks to actively create. a few are missing and a few are doubled. which represent an intermediate state through which meditation can transverse between the absolute and the differentiated. 260 Ibid. While most of them are similar. 261 she creates the mundane universe with the twenty-five standard tattvas (purw.

the dream state.upti. LT 1 9. this implies its alignment with the kala tattva. represents raga tattva. somehow regarded as prthivf. acting together as five aspects of the kriyasakti of the Divine in 263 Ibid. ra represents svapna. which represents Satya and the four V. the transcendental state.. or para and apara. Va. 134 . represents maya tattva. La. 1 6 refers to these letters as paiicabrahman. - 1!i. la represents sw.vuhas (the four characteristics of the four manifestations of the Ultimate). 1 05. referred to as Varu�za and holding the essence of joy. Ya is also referred to here as vtita. The absolute state of phonemes within the manifestation are represented by u�. 1 3-16 begin with this intermediate state. and va represents turzya. These four phonemes act as a middle ground between the absolute and relative.34 describes these phonemes as representing the four states of existence: ya represents jagrat. "263 While not directly stated. .. represents the vidya tattva by consisting of a piece of her jfiana aspect. referred to as repha and pavaka. LT 1 9. referring to it as dhtirmpi. Ra. . Ya represents kriyasakti being said to consist of "a piece of (Sakti's) active (aspect) . the five-fold pure Brahman. a deep and singly focused meditation.LT 1 9. the deep sleep state. though not apparently in the tattvic sense.nwn and k?a. representing creativity. the waking state.

and the divine attribute sakti. She states. Ha represents the Vyaha Vasudeva. K?a represents the powerful and culminating sakti Satya. and the divine attribute bala. 1 05f n . $a represents the Vyuha Pradyumna. 1 -4 . the prthivf tattva.creative action. the jala tattva. in LT 1 9..e. which plays the role of a transitory phoneme unique to the Paficaratra structure of the alphabet. Hence the person known as bhoktr (i.33 compares the power within these phonemes to the power to burn inherent in a great fire.264 The five saktis within these five phonemes serve as the cause of the manifestation of the universe. Sa represents the Vyuha Aniruddha. LT 1 9. The absolute group (sa to k?a) and intermediate. prakrti group of letters (bha to ka) by the letter ma. "Therefore at my bidding the dharal)as are manifested out of myself. and the divine attribute aisvarya. the vayu tattva. the iikiisa tattva. representing a transitory aspect of the ultimate Reality that Lak�mi claims is necessary to make the evolution or devolution from Brahman to differentiated reality.ar:za. It is depicted as a sort of microcosm of the semi-vowels. and the divine attribute vfrya. and the divine attribute tejas. 135 . 107.38. dharar:zii group (ya to va) are separated from the created.. Sa represents the Vyaha Sar!lkan. the tejas tattva. jiva) represents a fourfold state (of existence)." 265 264 Ibid. 265 Ibid.

in LT 19. divinity. filled with variety for the adept.mi with an "insentient. pha. subtle equilibrium of the gunas"267 This womb. 108. This line accentuates the Tantric understanding of the pure divinity of even the objective world and the necessity for the truly wise to enjoy the manifest world for this inherent. produces the twenty-three letters of the objective world.39. which then moves into the remaining consonants. says of ma: Ma. emerges in the phoneme ma. though... though hidden. Lak1?mi. supreme. Before the manifestation can truly differentiate. LT 1 9. then..for the purpose of creating objects of enjoyment for this person to delight in. 1 07£..This same act of manifestation. 268 LT 19.268 The first three letters to emerge are the remaining phonemes of the pa-varga (ba. 267 Ibid.266 Thus ma ushers in the purely objective version of reality.40 describes the phoneme bha as representing a womb emerging from Lak.4 1 -44 1 36 . and pa). 266 Ibid. is a direct offshoot of myself . . capable of enjoying (the fruits of the jiva's activities) and at the same time capable of achieving emancipation. subtly different than the state of transition at ma. along with the corresponding twenty-three lowest tattvas.

Lak?ml T ntra. 269 Gupta. cha representing rasa. tha representing payu. e. and ta representing ghrti�za. the gutturals and the mahtibln:Uas (in the LT referred to as "subtle elements"269) with 1ia representing tiktisa. and manas respectively. and ta representing upastha. gha representing vtiyu. ga representing tejas. da representing cak?u. 108. tha representing rasanti.which represent buddhi. Then emerge the palatals and the tanmtitras with iia representing sabda. kha representing jala. rjha representing pti1Ji. . � 137 . and ka representing prthivf. Then follows the dental phonemes and the jiitinendriyas with na representing srotra. Finally come the most mundane of phonemes and elements. ja representing n1pa. the divine Ultimate of the Paficaratra school of Hindu Tantrism. jha representing sparsa. dha representing tvak. rja representing ptida. Thus concludes the emanation of the manifest universe through the Sanskrit alphabet as described by the Goddess Lak�mf. ahaf!lktira. and ca representing gandha. Next are the cerebrals and the karmendriyas with �za representing vti.

and in between the phonemes of the Sanskrit alphabet. an inherent dynamism. Yet this seeming chaos also represents the greater truth.CONCLUDING REMARKS The general intent of this study is not to formulate some grand conclusion on the issues discussed herein and. pervades the universe. The tradition illustrates a cyclical cosmogony that begins and ends with the absolute Siva. veiling the higher structure of the alphabet. The Saivism of Kashmir developed an intricate expansion of Vedic and Upani1?adic notions of the phonemes and their correspondences with the tattvas of both the manifest and unmanifest reality. I hope that what one derives from this study is simply a more comprehensive understanding of just how the phonemes and letters of the Sanskrit alphabet interrelate with the metaphysics of Hindu Tantra. any sort of synthesis would be both inconsistent with this project and highly disingenuous to the subject matter. down. that even in the structure and oneness of the Absolute. indeed. while in the meantime scales up. Instead. 138 . The apparent disorder of language is caused by viewing reality though the layers of manifestation. one of the greatest essences of studying the Hindu tradition is the sheer impossibility to provide any type of all-encompassing amalgam of its facets. embodied in Sakti. Therefore.

allows one to see the srfcakra and the phonemes as omnipresent from any scale. again emphasizing the inherent dynamic unity within the very real diversity. the Pancaratra school of Hindu Tantra presents only a slight derivation on the themes of the first two schools. It is a metaphysical fractal which seems to constantly contradict itself in its representation of the Sanskrit letters and their placement in the emanation of the manifest universe. Whereas the Saiva school of Kashmir and the Srividya school operated around the central premise of Siva and Sakti. This widely recognizable yantra not only represents all of reality in its typically two-dimensional graphic form.The Srividya school borrows much of its syllabic metaphysics from the Saiva schools and elaborates upon it through their heavy use of the srfcakra. but also is seen as being all Reality in its three-dimensional understanding. though. Finally. starting from the immeasurable bindu point to the outer petals. the Vai$1)avite versions of the supreme masculine and feminine aspects of Reality. The higher understanding. Pancaratra narrates its cosmogonic emanation around Vi$DU and Lak$mi. Any one sub-cakra encompasses the entirety just as does the whole srfcakra. The central delineation of the manifestation of the universe. however. remains in line with the emanation of the manifest 139 .

Often the study of the humanities forgets that which makes its study so important. an intrinsically dynamic and varied figure. cannot lose sight of the inherently human implications therein. Lalan Prasad Singh writes: . we must apply this knowledge and understanding to our work. As observant human beings. The aspects of the Hindu Tantric tradition described in this study are real and functioning elements of a human spiritual tradition and we. we have to take a step back from this study and consider what exactly we can derive from it as scholars of South Asian religion and as human beings in general. 140 . the phonemes are the dynamism of perceived reality. then. And so. as we ascend from the depths of intricate detail and lofty metaphysical interpretation.world from a single dynamic oneness outward into varying degrees of differentiation. We must be able to see the implications of the multifarious elements coinciding with the seemingly simplistic phonetic particles of language. In this specific case of the Sanskrit language and the Hindu Tantric religion. as observers and chroniclers of these traditions. the human being. The scholar of religion would be lax in their craft if they were to just take the information presented in this essay as technical jargon aimed at creating archival lists.

They are the diversity within the unity. They are the acoustic root of the different waves and vibrations of the cosmos. 80. tools. These letters are the representative sonoric manifestations of the universe. guides.Each and every letter from a to k?a of Matrka Varna is living energy. and all we experience in the manifest world. 270 Singh. They are the keys to the deeper structure of the universe and the hints to the true relation of ourselves. � ·�1!Jj. and clues to the true nature of Reality. to the Absolute. Tan tra: It Mystic and Scientific Basis. 270 The phonemes and letters are blueprints. 141 .

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