THE GODS OF THE SENSES
The tantric tradition of Kashmir Shaivism asserts that the five senses of the human being (smell, taste, sight, touch, hearing) and the mental “sense” must be worshiped by the yogi-s in a profound state of meditation, as being the manifestations of the sacred and divine power of the Supreme Consciousness.
This Supreme Consciousness emits (in Creation) these senses just as the sun shines everywhere. Thus, the senses can be embodied and worshiped as gods that emanate the refined sensations that the yogi feels in his environment.
Basically, there is no difference between the senses and the gods that govern them. But the tantric doctrine of the Divine Supreme Resonance (Spanda) says that there is a certain difference, as the physical senses are expansions of the subtle bodies and consciousness of the gods that they represent.
In order to sustain these statements, tantric texts offered us a painting: The Supreme Master Shiva (in His aspect of Absolute Principle of Creation) is also the Supreme Conscious Subject (Mahapramatri) and master of the Wheel of Manifestation, endowed with the sacred power of the senses.
He is placed in the Supreme Heart (hridaya) of His Absolute Consciousness; in an incomparable happiness, He spins the smaller wheels of the manifested powers of these senses.
HOW TO WORSHIP THESE GODS
The images and names associated to these gods of the senses vary from one tradition to another, according to the type of rituals in which these gods used to be worshiped and to their roles.
There is also a subtle vision of the so called “circle of senses, connected to the Deified Body”, which is in fact the inner circle consisting of the gods of the senses and also the outer circle of the effective physical senses, having a coarser nature.
The great sage and liberated soul Abhinavagupta describes the way in which the worship of these gods must be visualized during meditation.
Thus, he places each god of senses on a petal of the lotus of the Supreme Consciousness’s Heart and placing in the middle the divine couple made up by Anandabhairava and Anandabhairavi.
The gods of the senses continuously move around the glorious and bright couple, looking for the most refined and elevating sensations that they can offer as a gift, as an act of supreme worship.
Abhinavagupta suggests that the invocation of the great gods Vatuka and Ganesha should be done first, as they govern the subtle energy obtained through inhalation (apana when descending) and through exhalation (prana when ascending).
Then, the Great Anandabhairava should be worshipped, as he is the real master (sadguru), who is the yogi’s discriminating consciousness itself, the one that enlightens him on the path towards spiritual accomplishment through His intellect.
Meanwhile, his consort, Anandabhairavi, gives birth (udaya), in a blissful state, to the whole Creation.
Around the divine couple there are: goddess Brahmani, that represents the intellect (buddhi) of the human being and that offers the flowers of pure discrimination; Kaumari, that is, the mind (manas), that offers the flowers of pure and sublime thoughts (vikalpa); Vaishnadi that governs the sense of hearing (the ear), offering the most enchanting and sublime sounds and tunes; Varahi that represents the sense of touch (the skin), offering wonderful tactile sensations; Indrani that governs the sense of sight (the eyes) offering the vision of some wonderful shapes; Chamunda for the taste sense (the tongue) offering delicious taste sensations and Mahalakshmi that symbolizes the sense of smell (the nose), offering delightful olfactory sensations.
Abhinavagupta, after worshipping the human being’s most pure and divine essence itself, which is the Supreme Self (Atman), endowed with the power of all existential categories (tattva), concludes as follows:
“Full of veneration, I thus worship the circle of the eternally active deities (satatodita) in my own body, eternally present in all beings and which also constitutes the pulsating and radiating essence of the experiences that I live every minute.”
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