Matrikachakra – Kashmir Shaivism. 

In kashmir Shaivism, the sanskrit/Hindi Vowels represent Shiv, and the consonants represent the Shakti. Shiv is allegorically termed as light and Shakti as its luminosity. Shiv is static, Shakti is dynamic.

Param shiv, like the Brahman (of Advaith)  can not be defined, though the creativity, both non dual and dual of paramshiv can be expressed by the 36 elements or tattvas.
The first tattva or element according to Kashmir Shaivism is Shiv – an synonym for Chaitanya or Consciousness. All the activity goes on in this first element.

The sixteen vowels of KS are represented by the first Tattva-shiv.

Everything is Shiv-shakti. Even our language. When shiv(vowels) and Shakti(consonants) meet, a word is formed and when many words combine, a language is formed. The language is the expression of thoughts. The mind is nothing without these thoughts and they act as a support for mind. At the same time, it makes the mind to forget its  non-dual nature  and engages it in the world of duality. Thus, This language binds a pashu (empirical being) or liberates him/her. Every word is thus a manta for the Yogi.

The first alphabet अ represents Chaitanya. आ represents Anand or Bliss. A desire arises in Shiva to experience its nature-Ananda in duality as well. For that Shiva has to create Duality,  as to begin with there is nothing except shiv. This desire is represented by the next two alphabets इ  ई. The first one represents Iecha and the second one Ishan. As soon as the desire arises, the knowledge of duality too arises instantly in the heart(consciousness)  of Shiva. They are represented by the next two Vowels उ ऊ. They are known as unmesha and unnata.

At this point, an apprehension arises in Shiva, that what if Shiva forgets its real nature, once he manifests as duality(universe). Fearing that it might forget its real nature I. e Consciousness – bliss, he rests back in its nature that is अ आ( Consciousness-bliss). Retracting from knowledge to first stage(consciousness bliss) gives rise to the next 4 vowels

ऋ(r)  ॠ(r)  लृ(lr)  lrii(could not find the sanskrit alphabet on my phone). These are the four stages of void.

After retracting to the initial stage of अ आ, it strikes Shiva that it can not forget it’s real nature and Shiva comes out from the apprehension and carries forward from where it has stopped.
अ आ mixes with the Iecha इ ई thus giving rise to the next two vowels ए ऐ. Again अ आ now mixes with Gyan उ ऊ, and gives rise to the next two vowels ओ औ. These four vowels ए ऐ ओ औ represent the four stages of kriya or action of Shiva. ए ऐ ओ औ represent the least vivid, somewhat vivid, vivid and the most vivid action of Shiva.

The next vowel अं represent that though desire, knowledge and knowhow has risen in the heart(consciousness) of Shiva, yet it is still at the level of non-duality (represented by point). The next vowel is represented by two dots : The upper dot represents shiv and the lower dot represents shakti. In fact, it also signifies that at this level, it is the shiva that becomes the shakti.

From this point on, everything becomes shakti. It has been termed that the projection of shiv on shakti happens inversely,  that is, the first element appears as the last and the last tattva which is prithvi(Earth) appears as first. In other words, it implies that the subtler elements appear last and the grossest first. Thus the projection appears first as the
Panch Mahabhutas(five gross elements) represented by कvarg, then

Panch tanmatras represented by चvarg.

Panch karmindreyas(organs of action) represented by टvarg.

Panch gyanindreyas by तvarg

Antahkarn(5 internal organs) by  पvarg

5 kanchukas+maya(sheaths) by य र ल व


5 shuddh tattvas(pure elements) by श ष स ह.

The first vowel- which is Shiv is अ, and the last consonant is ह. When they combine with each other, they become अंह or Aham-that means  ‘I’  or ‘I am’. Whenever we say anything that has ‘I’, or wherever we refer to the first person, it is Shiv(and shakti) , to whom we are referring. Shiv is always the first person and thus we all are ‘Shiv’. Thus  ‘Aham’  is also a mantra which is meant for the contemplation for the sadhakas of Kashmir Shaivism as not only all the 36 elements are present in this mantra, but its philosophy as well.

The first vowel अ (Siva tattva) when joins with the last consonant ह(shakti tattva) , Aham अंह is formed. The expression of shiv-shakti tattva is This Aham or I (I am).

The third tattva Sadashiva denoted by स in Matrikachakra has an expression asअहं ईदम or I am this or thisness. The classification of first person with respect to thisness(universe or objectivity) is clear.

The fourth tattva is Isvara  represented by ष in Matrikachakra. This stage is represented by ईदम अहं or Idam Aham meaning  I am this or thisness. Idam or thisness has become the first person here and Aham has been relegated to inferior stage. The stage of objectivity is clearer to another degree.
The fifth tattva is Shuddh vidya represented by श in Matrikachakra and its expression is अहं ईदम ईदम अहं. Meaning I am this/thisness and this I am. The sense of duality is much more clearer than the previous stages.

From Aham at Shiv-shakti to Aham Idam Idam Aham at Shuddh vidya in the decreasing order of the subtleness or the process of subjectivity to objectivity has been displayed lucidly in the philosophy as well as epistemology of Kashmir Shaivism.

The attributes  of Shiva which is

Chaitanya (Consciousness)



Gyan(knowledge) and


apply in this order in the 36 elements(but inversely)

The 36 elements in their order and as denoted by Alphabets according to Matrikachakra is given below.
1.Panch Maahaabutaas-five Gross elements
1.Prithvi(Earth) क  (Kriya)

2.Jaala(water) ख (Gyan)

3.Tejas/agni(fire)  ग (Iecha)

4.Vaayu(air)    घ  (Anand)

5.Akasha(ether)  ङ  (Chaitanya)
2.Panch Tanmatras-Five Subtle elements

1.Gandha(smell)च (Kriya)

2.Rasa(taste)छ (Gyan)

3.Roop(form)ज (Iecha)

4.sparsha(touch)झ (Anand)

5.Shabda(sound)ञ (Chaitanya)
3.Panch Karmendriyas-(five organs of action)

1.upastha(creation/reproduction)ट (Kriya)

2.paayu(excretion)ठ (Gyan)

3.paada(foot)ड (Iecha)

4.pani(hand)ढ (Anand)

5.vaak(speech)ण (Chaitanya)
4.Panch jnanendriyas-(five organs of cognition)

1.Ghraana-(nose, organ of smelling)च (Kriya)

2.Rasaana-(Tongue, organ of taste)छ, (Gyan)

3.Chakshu-(eye, organ of seeing)ज (Iecha)

4.Tvak-(Skin, Organ of touching)झ (Anand)

5.Srotra-(ear, organ of hearing)न  (Chaitanya)
5.Antahkarnas-(3+2 internal organs)

1.Manas-(mind)प Kriya

2.Buddhi-(intellect)फ Gyan

3.Ahamkara-(ego connected with objectivity )ब  Iecha

4.Prakriti-(nature/three Gunas i.e satvic,rajsic and tamsic)भ Anand

5.Purusha-(ego connected with subjectivity-reacts to prakriti)म Chaitanya
6.Sat Kancukas-(six coverings)

1.niyati-(limitation of place)य (Kriya)

2.Kaala-(limitation of time)र (Gyan)

3.raga-(limitation of attachment)ल (Iecha)

4.vidya-(limitation of knowledge)र (Anand)

5.Kala-(creativity)ल (Chaitanya)

6.maya-(illusion of individuality)व (Consciousness gets contracted in case when  subject becomes object and vice versa I. E object dissolves in subject)
7.Suddha tatvas-(pure elements)

1.Suddha vidya-(iness in iness—–thisness in thisness)श Kriya

2.isvara-(thisness in iness)ष Gyan

3.sadasiva-(iness in thisness)स Iecha

4.shakti-(iness)ह Anand

5.Shiva-(iness-being)-(अ आ इ ई उ ऊ ऋ ऋृ लृ lii ए ऐ ओ औ अं अः)

To continue..

Reference – Kashmir Shaivism books(mostly translated by Swami lakshmanjoo)


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