The Kashmirean Shaivit Literature is divided into three main parts: Agama Shastra, Spanda Shastra and Pratyabhijna Shastra.
Agama Sastra includes the works considered to be divinely inspiration, particularly in the Shaiva Agama literature, including the Shiva Sutras; a work of capital importance attributed to the sage Vasgupta or to his disciple Kallata (about 850-900).
This work develops the principles of the Shiva Sutras. The main components of Pratyabhijna Shastra are Shiva Drishti, the work of Vasuguptas disciple, Somananda and Pratyabhijna Sutra which belong to Utpaladeva (about 900-950).
After this and parallel to it, other spiritual lines have developed, like Kula and Krama.
Furthermore, Kashmir Shaivism can be understood only if one goes through all its facets, because in truth it is said: “The mind is seen as a hierarchic (krama) family of agents (kula), which spontaneously perceives the true Self (pratyabhijna), with a creative power that can be perceived as pulsating (spanda)”.
Abhinavagupta (about 950-1000) is probably the most prominent figure in Kashmir Shaivism, as he wrote almost 40 works including Tantraloka, a text containing the Agama Shiva philosophy and ritual.
Kashmir Shaivism established itself as an important philosophical school due to the bright encyclopedic works written by this great sage. Kashmir Shaivism offers a rich and detailed understanding of the human psyche and a clear and distinct path for Kundalini – siddha – yoga as a path towards self-realization.
Throughout its history, this tradition produced many adepts of remarkable depths and force. It is said that Abhinavagupta himself after finishing his last work on the Pratyabhijna system, entered into Bhairava s cave, next to the Mangam locality together with 1200 disciples and disappeared with them.
This Shaivit system is intensely monistic. It does not deny the existence of a personal God or of other gods. Nonetheless, it emphasizes the practitioners personal meditation and reflection as well as his guidance by a guru (master).
The creation of the world and of the individual soul is explained as abhasa, Shivas quickening outside himself, in his dynamic aspect of Shakti, as impulse and vibration named spanda.
As Self of everything, Shiva is immanent and transcendent at the same time, and through his shakti he performs the five actions: creation, preservation, re-absorbtion, revelation and concealment.
Kashmir Shaivism is not interested in worshipping a personal God, instead, it is attracted towards reaching the transcendental state of shivaic consciousness. As an esoteric and contemplative path, Kashmir Shaivism also embraces jnana (knowledge) and devotion (bhakti).
The spiritual practice (sadhana), leads to the assimilation of the object and the universe, until the Absolute Self (Shiva) is revealed as being one with the universe.
The supreme purpose, the freedom from all bonds is achieved through sustained recognition (pratyabhijna) of the true individual self as being nothing else but Shiva.
There is no sinking of the individual self into God, since essentially they are one. There are three paths (upaya), which are stages used for attain the supreme consciousness. They are not sequential, but they depend upon the adepts level of evolution.
The first of them is anavopaya, which corresponds to the regular level of adoration, yogic effort and purification through the control of the breath. The second is shaktopaya, the preservation of a constant consciousness focused on Shiva through discrimination.
The third stage is shambhavopaya, in which the adept instantaneously attains the supreme consciousness through his or her unbending will or through the simple fact that the guru indicates the identity between himself/herself and Shiva.
There is also a fourth path, anupaya, “without means”, which consists in a mature recognition of the Self. On this path, nothing needs to be done, attained, or fulfilled, except for remaining in ones own being, which is Shiva.
The realization depends on the guru, whose grace is the flower that crowns the sadhana (spiritual practice). Despite many renowned masters, the geographic isolation of the Kashmir valley and the late Muslim domination are responsible for its limited fame.
Recently, modern scientists have uncovered the scriptures and published some of the surviving texts. Swami Lakshman Joo represented the original tradition (parampara).
Today, the various organizations from around the world promulgate the esoteric teachings of Kashmir Shaivism, all over the world. While the formal adepts of the school exist in unknown numbers, Kashmir Shaivism remains an important influence in India.
Many adepts of Kashmir Shaivism have left the war-tormented valley to find a new residence in Jammu, New Delhi and other places in northern India. This diaspora of Shaivit learned men still serves to spread these teachings into new areas.
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