What is Kashmir Shaivism?

Kashmir, where Kashmir Shaivism was founded.

Kashmir Shaivism is a group of numerous tantric and monistic religious traditions which flourished in Kashmir in the later centuries of the first millennium C.E. to the early century of the second millennium. These non-duality Tantric Shaiva traditions began after the 850C.E. Also known as the Trika School, Kashmir Shaivism is a pan-Indian which flourished in Maharastra and Odisha. Kashmir Shaiva succeeded Shaivism Siddhanta, a unique tradition which is considered to be a normative tantric Shaivism. The goal of Shaiva Siddhanta of being the distinct Shiva was reached in Kashmir Shaivism by recognizing oneself as the Shiva. Paul Reps introduced Vijnana Bhairava Tantra to the west by translating it to English in his book known as Zen-Flesh, Zen-Bones.


From 850 to 900 CE, the Spandakarika and Shiva sutra was the first attempts from the domain of sakta saiva in presenting a non-dualistic Gnostic and metaphysics Soteriology to oppose the dualistic exegesis of Shaiva Siddhanta. Either Bhatta kallata or Vasugupta created the Spandakarika. As per the traditions, the Shiva sutras came to Vasugupta in the form of a dream. The first theologian of monistic Shaivism was Somananda, a tutor of Utpaladeva.

For many centuries the Kashmir Shaivism was underground, and while there were no publications until the 14th century, there were some practitioners and yogis who followed the Shaivism teachings. Swami Lakshman helped revive both the yogic and scholarly parts of the Kashmir Shaivism during the 20th century. His contributions inspired a new generation of practitioners and scholars who converted Kashmir Shaivism into a reliable field of practice.

Acharya Rameshwar is credited for the establishment of the Kashmir Shaivism within the learned Varanasi community. Acharya (Lakshman’s disciple) used his personal experience, creativity, and knowledge of the ancient texts to make it possible for the scholars and layman to access the Kashmir Shaivism concepts. His original documents of the Sanskrit verses were compiled and published as sami swatantram and purnata pratyabhijna. Another scholar who contributed to the spread of Kashmir Shaivism was Swami Muktananda. Although he did not belong to Kashmir Shaivism's direct lineage, he helped introduce its concepts to the western meditators through his lecture and teachings.

How Is Kashmir Shaivism Practiced?

To achieve moksha spiritual practice is mandatory. Some of the methods to help you attain moksha include anavopaya (body’s process), saktopaya (mind’s way), anupaya (Methodless method) and sambhavopaya (consciousness method).

What Is Anovapaya?

Anovapaya which means purification of your body involves offering external objects and incense to the deity. Anovapaya includes breaths offerings; therefore, an individual must learn how to control his/her pulse and heart by lowering them significantly. An individual must renounce the consumption of water and food during the final stages of anavopaya which results in him/her connecting with the supreme state in the form of Shiva thus his/her body is purified, and ojas generated.

When Should Kaula Be Practiced?

Kaula is a religious tradition in Tantric Shaivism and Shaktism which is characterized by distinctive symbolism and rituals associated with the worshipping of Shakti. Although this practice is domesticated within the householder traditions, Kashmir Shaivism recommends that an individual should practice Kaula secretly to help him/her keep-up with his/her heritage. Kaula is practiced in isolation.

What Is The Difference Between Advaita Vedanta And Kashmir Shaivism?

Although they are non-dual philosophies which promote universal consciousness, Kashmir Shaivism believes that the world phenomenon is real while Advaita thinks that it is an illusion. Advaita Vedanta believes that Brahman (supreme) is inactive while Shaivism holds that everything is a manifestation of our consciousness


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