Kashmir Shaivism is often named Trika. Although the Trika system is the spearhead of the Kashmir school, it is still only a part of it.
Kashmir Shaivism has been mainly preoccupied by two aspects: theory and practice. Any principle of life must be effectively experienced in life, by means of devotion and meditation – this is upasana .
In Shaivism, many upasana-like systems have been considered efficient methods that lead to the realization of the self; among them, the Trika system has been evaluated as the most elevated and efficient.
The Shaivit disciple is not advised to dogmatically practice upasana. The practice that best fits him in order to achieve divine realization should be the one that his guru recommends.
Thus, it is quite evident that the Trika system is only one (even if considered the best) of the practical paths acknowledged by Kashmir Shaivism.
The highest philosophical principles of the shaiva monism can also be achieved by following some other paths like: kaula, mata, vama, etc. Thus, the Trika system is only a part of Kashmir Shaivism, known under its complete name of Trika Shastra.
GOD, THE LIMITED SOUL AND THE RELATION BETWEEN THEM
The word trika means “trinity”. Ideologically, the Trika system of shaiva yoga contains more trinities and that is why it has been given this name.
Trika encourages a yoga practice that is divided into three parts, which are: shambava, shakta and anava. This is the second trinity of the system.
A Shaivit disciple will begin his spiritual path by considering that the whole existence is a trinity made up of God, the limited soul and the relation between them. God is Shiva. The limited soul and its manifestation are named nara.
The philosophy of the Trika system asserts that God “descends” towards the manifested soul and that this soul “ascends” towards God. These two actions are not physical and also they do not represent transformations: God does not change anything of His essential nature which is considered to be the absolute and eternal Reality.
He manifests only an appearance of these actions. Hiding His divinity and His Pure Consciousness, He takes the form of the soul and of the objective Universe.
This appearance is manifested as a reflection, and the significance of this manifestation is God’s divine Power. He has the power to conceal His real nature and also His own essence.
If He had not wanted to manifest the souls and their Universe, He couldn’t have been known as God. Furthermore, God can reveal His real nature, and, through this ability, He reveals Himself to the common soul.
And this soul realizes that it is not different from God. This divine and playful action through which He veils and reveals His real nature represents His divine Power, Shakti .
SHAKTI OPENS THE WAY TO THE DIVINITY
Shakti is the means through which God “descends” towards the limited soul and the world, and also the means through which the soul realizes that it and the world is actually God.
This trinity consisting of God, His Power and the Universe made up of the souls and their phenomenal worlds, is known as the Shiva, Shakti and Nara trinity. This is the most important trinity because the entire existence is made up of it.
The one following the Trika Shastra system, must begin his spiritual practice (sadhana) by studying the idea of this trinity. He must understand that he had descended to the level of a limited soul through Shakti, the Power of Shiva and that he can return to Shiva’s fundamental nature by realizing that Shakti is his own nature.
Any practitioner of the Trika system can pretend based on theory that he is God, but he cannot have a firm faith in this; in fact, from the outside this situation may even seem like a hypocrisy.
Actually, the yoga practice sustained by this system (shaiva yoga), can help him to genuinely realize, the divine powers of omnipotence, omniscience and absolute existence.
This will lead him towards a real and unbroken faith in his divine nature. That is why the practical realization of the divine powers is the only way to become the divinity. From this point of view, Shakti is the gate through which the soul passes in its ascending way towards the nature of its absolute divinity.
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