UMAPATI – SHIVA, THE LOVER OF UMA
The melodious voice of Uma Pashyanti, Shiva’s lover is the only one apt to sing His greatness. Her contemplative gaze is merely her intense desire of worshiping her beloved, with whom she is merging. She distances herself from him only to be able to contemplate His greatness and to allow universal love and happiness to spring from their mutual attraction.
The graceful dance of the beautiful Kamakala (the divine creative energy) attracts her lover’s heart, which is overwhelmingly and passionately in love with her. Thus, Shakti‘s tender and voluptuous gestures owe their amazing magic to Shiva’s presence.
In return, her seductive moves awaken inside of Him a gigantic and endless desire to become one with her. The divine energy (Shakti) appears as the pure mirror in which Shiva perceives Himself and loves Himself infinitely, recognizing Himself as the transcendent and supreme “I”.
Abhinavagupta describes the eternal self-abandon in this relationship in the third book of his fundamental work Tantraloka.
Inside the very Absolute, one may distinguish the couple (yamala) formed of akula (Shiva) and kauliki (Shakti), i.e. Shiva-prakasha, the conscious light in its uniqueness and Shakti-vimarsha, the force of consciousness, with expansion as its characteristic.
Shiva and Shakti are inseparably united, and they are eternally facing each other, eternally happy because of their mutual contemplation, happiness rooted in their perfect knowledge of the self.
The vivid union (samghatta) of Shiva and Shakti reveals the aspect of one of God’s unique creative vibrations (spanda), essence named Supreme Self or Supreme I – AHAM in Sanskrit, or Heart (hridaya).
In the first stage of the infinite, pure happiness (ananda), is Shiva becoming aware of Himself as a mysterious energy somewhat passive within Himself, without any intention or creative will.
Then, in the stage of will (iccha shakti) His first pulsation toward manifestation allows God’s love to move towards Himself, which at this level has accepted to show itself.
The love of this form of existence within the Self, manifests spontaneously as a form of wonder (camatkara) in front of His absolute freedom. Abhinavagupta names this new awareness “mutual” (pratyavamarsa) because Shiva, less absorbed by His own beatitude, aspires to become detached from it, only to be able to contemplate it more.
And this “I” which Shiva loves even in the core of the pure, universal happiness, from which He then wishes to be indefinite (without differentiating or delineating it) will be perceived by His cognitive energy (jnana shakti) in the form of the cosmos, a universal object included at this stage as an idea in God’s Heart, and which, later on is manifested as such through His activity (kriya shakti).
In the stage of pure love, the stage of pure desire or pure creative will, Shiva’s aspiration towards beatitude (ananda) remains in its inner and totally tranquil form.
But, when the attachment to this cosmic beatitude appears, the desire is backed up by a sort of agitation (prakshoba) and implies the shadow of a deficiency, as the existence of desire implies first of all deficiency and separation.
However, if Shiva hadn’t estranged Himself from His own beatitude, the necessity of regaining His plenitude would not have appeared. This shadow of an “imperfection”, this first “flaw”, this “fissure” is the one that grants love (both divine and human) to the very possibility of existence.
THE WHOLE UNIVERSE IS HIS SELF
Before being able to love, Paramashiva has to give up, so to speak His pure consciousness and absolute freedom. Apparently tearing apart their undivided essence, He reveals to all limited and individual beings freedom (Shakti, vimarsha, or nada) and Consciousness (Shiva, prakasha, or bindu).
Through the miraculous game of divine freedom and consciousness He creates the cosmos and the beings (nara) that inhabit it, the whole of evolution springs from an act of love, Shiva loving Himself in His Supreme creative energy, Shakti, forever free and spontaneous.
The reverse process of re-absorption begins from the universe, more precisely from the limited, individual being that is in love with the universal energy (Uma Shakti) and merges with it. During her turn, Uma merges with Shiva, and thus she “carries” the yogi to the inexpressible Paramashiva.
When Shiva, whose energy gives birth to the worlds, turns towards the world to desire, to know and to give life, He is named by the Shivaits “the sweet and powerful blossom of the hidden triangle of the heart”.
This mysterious triangle, a deep and heavily guarded secret of the Trika school is the very trident of Shiva, a symbol of the perfect union of the three fundamental divine energies: iccha – the pure undifferentiated aspiration, jnana – self-knowledge, and kriya – effective action.
The divine feminine creative energy (Shakti) forms the essential nature of Shiva’s consciousness, as He, leaving the plenitude of beatitude, characteristic to transcendence, began to vibrate more and more towards His own manifestation.
Consequently, Shiva is identical with the mysterious triangle of the Heart (trikona) that always sweetens the nectar of the worshiper’s inner happiness.
This triangle made up of the three divine fundamental creative energies, hardly separated from Supreme Happiness (ananda shakti) and from the Absolute consciousness (cit shakti) is undifferentiated and mingled into a coherent vibration, forming the foundation of the spiritual life in which Shiva is perceived inside knowledge and action.
HIS GRACE IS YOUR ABILITY TO LOVE
On this clear foundation we may easily distinguish the veritable love of God (bhakti). It becomes clear then, that divine love is at the same time subtle ineffable consciousness, divine flavour (rasa), and the void of His own re-paused will.
This divine love is consequently free, intimate, ineffable, and under no circumstances merely an agitation of the emotions or a simple sentimental graciousness.
On the other hand, the knowledge impregnating this love has nothing to do with the logical, superficial, and clear knowledge of the inner sense (the inferior mind, manas), or with the intellect (buddhi), as this is a mysterious and profound knowledge gained through identification (samavesha) – the fusion between the human and divine will – which begins through introspection of the heart and ends with an undifferentiated intuitive knowledge (nirvikalpa).
The science of love transcends both discursive knowledge and ignorance, at the same time surpassing their ultimate substratum. Even more than this ecstatic flavor and than the identifying knowledge, bhakti now appears as a limitless effort of the will (iccha shakti), aided by efficiency.
Iccha shakti is the spring of the manifestation of divine grace (tivrashaktipata), which a yogi may experience without dying, and which is said to have poured on Abhinavagupta as well. This form of God’s grace immediately leads the rare yogis capable of receiving it on a direct path to spontaneous illumination (pratibha) thus granting them the ultimate freedom in this very life.
The sign of these manifestations is an intense, unflinching and completely detached love towards Shiva. This peculiar and special state of love neglects the ephemeral joys of this world and leads the yogi through its force to the divine state of Bhairava.