Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Thirty Six Elements(Kashmir Shaivism)and 24 elements of Advaith vedanta

There are 36 elements according to Kashmir Shaivism unlike the 24 elements which the vedantis acknowledge.
1.Panch Maahaabutaas-five Gross elements

2.Panch Tanmatras-Five Subtle elements

3.Panch Karmendriyas-(five organs of action)

4.Panch jnanendriyas-(five organs of cognition)
1.Ghraana-(nose, organ of smelling)
2.Rasaana-(Tongue, organ of taste)
3.Chakshu-(eye, organ of seeing)
4.Tvak-(Skin, Organ of touching)
5.Srotra-(ear, organ of hearing)

5.Antahkarnas-(3+2 internal organs)
3.Ahamkara-(ego connected with objectivity )
4.Prakriti-(nature/three Gunas i.e satvic,rajsic and tamsic)
5.Purusha-(ego connected with subjectivity-reacts to prakriti)

6.Sat Kancukas-(six coverings)
1.niyati-(limitation of place)
2.Kaala-(limitation of time)
3.raga-(limitation of attachment)
4.vidya-(limitation of knowledge)
6.maya-(illusion of individuality)

7.Suddha tatvas-(pure elements)
1.Suddha vidya-(iness in iness—–thisness in thisness)
2.isvara-(thisness in iness)
3.sadasiva-(iness in thisness)

According to the Vedanta the 24 elements consists of

1.Panch Mahabhuta
2.Five tanmatras(same as in Kashmir shaivism)
3.five jnanendriyas(same as in Kashmir shaivism)
4.five karmindreyas(same as in Kashmir shaivism)
5.fourfold Antahkarn, namely-manas(mind), budhi(intellect), chitta(memory or sub consciousness) and ahamkara(egoism)

The five vital breaths are:
1.Pran Vayu
2.Apaan vayu
3.Saman vayu
4.vyan vayu
5.udaan vayu.
There are also five subsdiary divisions known as upapranas or upvayus namely:

Pran vayu
Breathing in and out; regulation of breath in mouth and nose; segregating and digestion of food and fluids ;Converting the waste-material of food and fluids into stool, urine and sweat, and converting vital fluids into semen is executed by the “Pran vayu”. It resides in the heart and moves up to the upper part of nose. Regulates the sense organs from heart and above.

Apana Vayu
Responsible for the excretion of faeces, urine and semen .Its movement is from the navel to downwards( reproductive organ and Anus).It resides in guhadesh(Reproductive organ and Anus).

Saman vayu
It resides in the navel .Its movement is from the navel to the heart.It stokes the gastric fires, aiding digestion, and maintaining the harmonious functioning of the abdominal organs. It integrates the whole of the human gross body.

Vyan Vayu
It mostly resides above the reproductive organ.It pervades the entire body, distributing the energy derived from food and breath through the arteries, veins and nerves.

Udaan vayu
Working through the throat(the pharynx and the larynx), controls the vocal cords and the intake of air and food. It is because of the Udaan vayu that the subtle body detaches from the gross body at the time of death.

It relieves pressure on the abdomen by belching.

It controls the movement of the eye-lids to prevent foreign matter entering the eyes; it also controls the size of the iris,thereby regulating the intensity of light for sight.

It prevents substances passing up the nasal passage and down the throat by making one sneeze or cough.

It cause yawnings and induce sleep.

It produces phlegm, nourishes and remains in the body even after death and sometimes inflates a corpse.

KS opines that all the 36 elements are Shiva-The supreme consciousness; whereas, Advait vedant uses the 24 elements to prove that none of these elements is Brahman.The 36 elements are the swatantrya or free will of shiva according to KS. ‘Neti Neti’ (not this, not that) is a tool that negates everything and is a tool to ascertain for a AV Practitioner that he/she is neither the Mahabhutas nor the tanmatras nor the organs of action and knowledge, nor is he the Mind or intellect…..but pure consciousness. consciousness is Brahman. KS on the other hand opines that since the objects of knowledge, the knowledge of objects and even the experient (of knowledge and object ) can not exist without being illumined by the light of consciousness, hence consciousness is all.

for subject-object connection, the epistemology of KS suggests that actually there is no sequence as is explained initially through the 36 elements. The subject-Object experience is for that experient, who is at the level of ‘Pashu’ or empirical being. Pashu is shiva but bereft of swatantrya. The objects hide the real nature of the Subject, even though the objects rise/exist because of the subject. If for an experient; the subject-object connection ceases by the grace of shiva, he/she too becomes shiva.

Interestingly, Many Advaith Vedantis opine Maya as the Shakti of Brahman!

Both KS as well as Advaith Vedant emphasize on consciousness. The former uses the Vedas, Upnishads and Bhagvad Geeta as a reference; whereas, KS uses Tantra/ Agama as a reference.

refrences:Kashmir Shaivism-the secret supreme(swami laxmanjoo)shivsutras(explained by swami laxmanjoo)Patanjalyogpradeep and Light on pranayama by BKS Iyengar