Ancient Indian tradition traces the origins of the Saiva cult to the Agamic thought current. The emergence of the Trika school of Saivism in Kashmir marks the climax in the development of the Advaita Saiva thought, being backed up by a rich Sanskrit literature. The doctrine of recognition (pratyabhijna) constitutes the cardinal doctrine in the philosophy of the Advaita Saiva School. The sadhaka (spiritual seeker) has to try to discover his real being by removing the various veils, to thereafter recognize his true essence.
The Advaita Saivas describe the nature of the Supreme Reality, one without a second, in two different ways namely, as Caitanya or Samvid as an abstract metaphysical principle (nirakara tattva) as well as Parama Siva and Paramesvara possessing a form (sakara Being). They also describe the Supreme Reality as the transcendent Absolute (anuttara) and at the same time as all-pervasive Reality (visvatmaka).
The Advaita Saiva philosophers have not only shed light on the process of the world manifestation in the conventional way, they have added a new dimension to it by describing it in terms of involution on the part of Caitanya to the gross level of matter; or as the unfoldment on the part of the Supreme Lord out of His free will, exercising His svatantrya sakti; or as His self-extension in the aspect of His Sakti. They mention seven different kinds of experients or subjects (embodied, un-embodied, and disembodied), a concept unique in the annals of Indian philosophy. The concept of purnahamta (pure I-experience) symbolizing the fullness-nature of the Supreme Experient, i.e. Siva pramata, different from explained in this book in esoteric terms as it marks a unique contribution of Kashmir Saivism to Indian philosophical thought.
Table of Contents:
- Origin and development of the Advaita Saiva thought in India
- Nature of the supreme reality
- The supreme reality: its manifestation as the world
- The nature of man and this status in the world-manifestation
- Glossary of technical terms in Sanskrit
- Selected bibliography.
About the Author:
Dr. Debabrata Sen Sharma, a well-known scholar of Sanskrit and Indian Philosophy and Religion, has spent more than half a century in studying, teaching and writing on the Advaita Shaiva thought of Kashmir. Retired as Professor of Sanskrit and Director of the Institute of Sanskrit and Indological Studies from the Kurukshetra University of Haryana, now settled down in Kolkata, he is devoting all his time to read in depth, write and translate Sanskrit texts on Shaivism. He had the rare privilege of studying abstruse Sanskrit texts on Shaivism and Tantra with Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. Gopinath Kaviraj, an acknowledged authority on Saiva-Sakta Tantras and a spiritual master, for eight long years at Varanasi.