Shaivism is practically the oldest spiritual path in the whole world. In India, Shaivism is thousands of years old, and the archeological digs from Mohenjo Daro and Harappa revealed that its history goes back even beyond the calcolitic age.
Shiva represents that hypostasis of God that is manifested as the Great Savior or the Great Master of the ignorant and limited beings. Any sincere, frantic aspiration towards the state of spiritual freedom is addressed in fact to this aspect of God, known as Shiva the Good and Kind.
Any sign of divine grace, which is indispensable for reaching the state of supreme spiritual freedom is closely connected to Shiva. Therefore, we could even say that Shaivism can be found in any place where a strong, authentic spiritual tradition is flourishing.
In India, there are six main forms of Shaivism, from which three are essential:
1. VIRA -SHAIVA, found mainly in the central area of India;
2. SHIVA-SIDDHANTA, in the south.
3. ADVAITA -SHIVA, the most pure and elevated form of Kashmir Shaivism, found in northern India.
The tradition of Kashmir Shaivism was transmitted from master to disciple for centuries in a row, according to the method named “mouth to ear”.
The first fundamental work of Shaivism, attributed to Vasugupta, the first initiate of this spiritual path, who lived at the end of the VIII-th century and at the beginning of the IX-th century AD is named Shiva Sutra and is a compilation of aphorisms, completely hermetical for the uninitiated person, which present the three cardinal paths for reaching spiritual freedom:
1. Shambhavopaya, Shiva’s Path
2. Shaktopaya, Shakti ‘s path or the Path of Energy
3. Anavopaya the Path of limited people
Vasugupta mentioned that he is not the author of Shiva-Sutra, but that he found it written on a rock that came out of the water and that went back into the water after he red and memorized the text.
The entire written tradition (shastra) of Shaivism is divided into three parts:
2. Spanda Shastra – contains the doctrine of the system. The main work of this category belongs to Vasugupta – Spanda Karika.
3. Pratyabhijna Shastra – contains metaphysical works, with a high spiritual level, and is the least accessible for the common reader. In this category the most important works are: Ishvara Pratyabhijna of Utpaladeva and Pratyabhijna Vimarsini, a commentary of the first.
There are several important schools of Shaivism, of which the most elevated belong to the Trika system. The word “trika” means “trinity” in Sanskrit and suggests the idea that in our universe, all things have a threefold nature.
We may express this trinity through: Shiva (God), Shakti (His fundamental creative energy) and Anu (individual, the limited projection of the divinity).
Trika includes several spiritual schools:
Krama – in Sanskrit “process”, “orderly succession”.
Kaula (Kula) – in Sanskrit “community”, “family”, “totality”.
Spanda – term that defines the Supreme Divine Creative Vibration.
Pratyabhijna – term that refers to the direct recognition of the divine essence.
PART 1 | PART 2