Category Archives: philosophy

Adhyasa-Advaith vedant

 

Adhyasa is the core or central thought of Advaith vedant. One of its meaning is superimposition-i. e wrongful imposition of thoughts and memory. It also means Imposing thoughts based on memory(faulty) on something , which is not what it looks like.

The theory of Adhyasa leads one to the correct knowledge (Brahman). Thinking oneself to be a body or mind is Adhyasa. Thinking or imagining oneself to be anything is Adhyasa. Believing happens because of the coincidence of different events happening together. In yog vashisht, one anecdote-that shows to some extent the nature of Adhyasa- has been cited.

A crow was sitting on the top of the coconut tree. An observer was watching it. As soon the crow flew, a coconut fell down on the ground. The observer thought that because the crow flew, a coconut fell down. Whereas the reality was that even if the crow wouldn’t have flown, still the coconut would have fallen down at that time.

Imagination or wrongful imagination – because of the occurrence of different independent events happening simultaneously – leads to Adhyasa.

An example of wrong knowledge has been cited by another example that proves that whatever we term ourselves or others as-is not so. This is more often used by the neo-vedantis. (though, it looks like more that of dependent origination of Buddhists to me).

Whenever, we have to refer to ourselves; we put our index finger towards our body, indicating that we are a body. On further inspection, However the theory of Adhyasa leads us to the conclusion that there is no thing – that we call Body.
The discussion to explain this further goes on like this:
A-is this your body?
B-Yes, this is my body.
A holds the hand of B. Pointing towards the hand, A asks B;
A-is this your body(holding and pointing the hand of B)
B-No, this is my hand.
A asking surprisingly;
A-but you just said, you are body and now you are saying that this is hand. Can you show me, what do you call a hand?
Pointing out towards fingers and thumb. A asks B( holding and pointing towards the thumb of B.)
A-is this your Hand?
B-No, this is my thumb and that are my fingers.
A again getting surprised.

A-you just said that it is your hand. And now your are saying that you have fingers, thumb and skin. And none of them is Hand!

In other words, there is no hand in hand, likewise there is no body that can be called body.

On further inspection, it is further proved that even the thumb is a name given to the collectively assemblage of skin, bones and blood. On further inspection, the bone is a combination of chemicals that includes calcium too. On further enquiring, a conclusion is reached upon ;
The conclusion is:
Whatever we call a thing or body is not so as it probably seems to be . We have given names to different things, and we are lost in those names.

Though a body is an assemblage of different limbs as well as the conscious mind; yet none of the part is the whole. The mind is not a thumb, the mind is not blood, the blood is not a thumb. All these are a part and yet different from the body. Yet the assemblage of all these is termed as body. And then wrongfully we call the body as ‘I’.

Whereas,

There is no I or me. But still different limbs put together is given a name-body; and yet all the limbs are different from each other as well as from the body. Nobody or no part in the body, can be said with certainty as ‘I’. Yet, everyday, everyone says that I am (the body). And that is Adhyasa.

The same rule applies to all the nouns we know of. Breaking down the noun into parts dissolves the idea of the noun (body=assemblage of limbs) A part (of the noun) on further deliberation too dissolves(thumb is made of bones, blood, skin and muscle tissues) ; as it was previously known to us. The theory of Adhyasa along with Neti-Neti(not this, not that) is used to lead oneself to one’s own real nature-which according to Advaith vedant is – Brahman.

Advaith vedant recognizes 6 means of valid knowledge. The foremost among them is Sruti or the Vedas. Rest of the five means are based on logic. They are:
Pratyakṣa (perception),
Anumāṇa (inference),
Upamāṇa (comparison and analogy),
Arthāpatti (postulation, derivation from circumstances),
Anupalabdi (non-perception, negative/cognitive proof)
To be continued….

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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

And

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)

Anand(bliss)

Iecha(will)

Gyan(knowledge) and

Kriya(action)

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)

The I-I (philosophy)

In Yog vashist, an allegorical anecdote is repeated ‘N’ times…
A witness witnesses a crow sitting on a coconut tree.As soon as the crow flew , a coconut fell down on the earth.The witness wrongfully co-relates that because the crow flew from the tree; a coconut fell down.
In reality, if the crow hadn’t flew, the coconut would have still dropped down.

It has been mentioned that it is the wrongful identification with this body(or mind) that is the root cause of all ignorance.

Sage vashist reveals to Rama that the greatest virtue is the renunciation of mind-the ephemeral ‘l’.

This ‘I’ is the reflection of the real unversal ‘I’-the Shiva. Shiva is the supreme ‘I’, the consciousness of the consciousness. The transitory ‘I’, that is according to KS-the contracted form the universal ‘I’- embodies itself or limits itself or creates an feeling of a separate ‘I'(duality or maya)

Out of play, the shiva(consciousness)(experient)who has the nature of Ananda(bliss)-wants to experience ‘Ananda’ in knowledge(pramana) as well as object of knowledge(prameya).But to have these both attributes, there should be time, space and ‘I’.

The supreme ‘I’ because of ‘Bliss’ creates maya, and the only one I.e ‘I’-the shiva-gets contracted , the attributes of universal ‘I’ gets contracted too once it comes In contact(or enters) Maya.

According to KS..following contractions happen to the universal ‘I’- who is originally full of
Chaitanya(consciousness)
Anand(bliss)
Iecha(will)
Gyan(knowledge)
Kriya(action)…

Chaitanya gets contracted and becomes Kala(कला)-limited creativity
Vidya(limited knowledge)
*Raga(attachment)*
Kaal(time)
And Niyati(…this is space)

Because ‘I’ the Shiva(consciousness of consciouness) is the universal first person, it always remains the first person, ‘I'(though limited, once it comes In maya) and the knowledge and object of knowledge remains the 2nd/3rd person. Because ‘I’ loose the unlimited creativity(because of contraction and becomes Kala) , the unlimited knowledge associated with it too gets contracted(vidya)….Then arises Raga(attachment)…..the ‘I’ is in the process of attaching itself to the objects of all the duality or differentiated consciousness. It becomes this whole universe full of sentient(in the form of knowledge and object of knowledge) and insentient beings(in the form of knowledge of insentient)….The universal ‘I’ becomes the ‘I’ of you and me and all beings.

Kaal and niyati…in other words denote the time and space. Space is internal too i.e ChidAkash…it denotes the space inside our mind, where thoughts and feelings rise and fall…

A child remains in the stage of non-duality(and bliss) , till he/she ignorantly superimpose their consciousness on their bodies and entrap themselves as , ‘I am this body ( in time and space)

If we meditate on the transitory ‘I’, and try to find out the source ‘ME’, we realise that we or ‘ME’ is a witness to all the physical and mental activities.We can negate anything and everything that we are witness of, because that is the 2nd/3rd person and the witness (of witness) always remains the first person.

If we delibrate further, we can go up to the void, out of which the mind and its thinking faculity arise. It is not possible to go beyond that void, through the means of mind -which is a synonym of duality.

Vedantis say when we are not aware of ourselves, mind comes into effect instantly; and when we concentrate on mind, it ceases to exist and we remain just as an awareness.But to maintain that awareness is difficult.

‘I’ of supreme consciousness  is non dual in nature so is the transitory (dual) consciousness as long as we maintain/center our awareness on it.

It too is pure awareness as long as we maintain that one-pointednesss. And it becomes truly dual ‘I’ when that awareness is broken, and that ‘I’ becomes the source of all duality…

However….it like shiva-The universal first person always remain the first person.

Abhinavgupta has mentioned Shiva as the ever present ‘NOW’, Shakti as ‘Future’ and past as ‘Pashu’ or ephemeral being.He also mentions that future and past have their origin in ‘NOW’-which is ever present.

This ‘NOW’ is again the synonym of ‘I’ or awareness.

In our lives too, everything is centered around ‘I’. Thinking of past or future is possible only because of ‘NOW’-the ‘I’.without this ‘I’ nothing exists not even ‘NOTHING’ or ‘VOID’.

The ephemeral being as written above denotes himself as ‘I’ and almost everyone belives or has experienced that ‘HE’ has never really changed, though his body has grown old. Somehow the witness(I) of the changes never change.

Subconsciously and linguistically, we have firm faith that the witness(I) is eternal.if someone dies, we say , May he go to heaven’ or VBAJ. What does that mean!

Who will go to heaven or Vaikunth? For example, if I imagine of my death, I immediately picture myself in Heaven/Hell or Vaikunth. Who is it that I am imagining myself to be! I will have no physical body but that does not deter me.Isn’t it that the ‘I’ that I imagine to go to heaven is the witness-whom I know by ‘I’.

It is for that ‘I’ we perform ‘Shraddh’ or other religious practices as we (all human race) have firm belief that the witness will remain, though somewhere else.

The ‘I’ is the first thought that arises when we wake up in the morning and it remains the last when we fall sleep.The dreams too are centered around the ‘I’ and so is the deep sleep.

Shiva- the ‘I’ is sarv-vyapak(ever pervading). He is the awareness of awareness.Revealing and concealing his own self is his play.

But nonetheless , he remains in us as the ever present witness whom we call ‘I’ .

 

(based on the philosophies of Vedant and Kashmir shaivism)

Lord Spontaneous (Shivratri-Herath)

The esoteric form of Shiva as Swacchand Bhairava with his consort Agoreshwari is central to Kashmir Shaivism, writes Sunil Raina

Shivaratri, celebrated on the 13th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Phalgun, is also called Har-ratri or Herath in Kashmiri. The festival has great religious and spiritual significance as it coincides with the emergence of Shiva tattvas on the physical plane. Shiva, at the early dawn of human creation, thought of Shakti, and in her search, donned the form of 18-armed Swacchandnath Bhairava.

Shakti, frightened by this form of Shiva, cast a glance on a pitcher full of water, wherefrom emerged Vatuk Bhairava and Rama Bhairava to defend her. Shiva at that time changed his form to Jawalalinga. Amazed by Shiva’s new form, Shakti along with her defending bhairavas merged with the Jawalalinga. Since this event is believed to have taken place on triyodashi, Kashmiris celebrate Shivaratri on this day, whereas the rest of the country, celebrated the festival on chaturdashi when the linga was pacified.

The esoteric form of Shiva as Swacchand Bhairava with his consort Agoreshwari is central to Kashmir Shaivism, and has been in existence since medieval times. Swacchand Bhairava signifies the prakasha, or the light consciousness, and Agoreshwari signifies vimarsha or Self-awareness. Swacchanda — as the term is understood — means free, independent and spontaneous and is synonymous with Swatantra. Kashmir Shaivism says that nondual conscious freedom is the only freedom that exists where the union with the Absolute is singular, amounting to you being Shiva, and is not dual.

This esoteric form of Shiva is imagined and deified as:

lWhite, five-faced and wide-eyed lord.

lHe is adorned with serpents and wears a necklace of scorpions which is called gunas. The word gunas in Kashmiri means serpent; Kashmiri women wear gunas bracelets that have at their ends, two serpents or red scorpions gazing at each other. This is symbolic of his instantaneous play with the bonds of soul.

lHe wraps a lion skin around his hip and an elephant hide over his shoulders.

lHe wears a garland of skulls, has a black throat and 18 arms.

His consort, who sits on his right thigh, has the same characteristics. By the power of his autonomy, the lord manifests this form with the highest level of Shakti. The lord has done so to facilitate and allow aspirants to enter the light of impartible that is indivisible or nondual as there is nothing like this in appearance anywhere else.

He is wide-eyed. He is in Bhairava Mudra intent on liberation of souls. He is focused within. He neither opens nor closes his eyes. He is overflowing with consciousness and bliss and has three power tools: icchha or will; jnana or knowledge and kriya or action. It is with these tools that Swacchandnath Bhairava manifests this universe with his fivefold acts of shristi or creation, stithi or sustenance, samhara or dissolution, triodanha or concealing and anugraha or revealing.

lBy his act of shristi, he holds and nourishes the universe in a way that he manifests the universe on the panoramic canvas of his identity.

lStithi is the persistence, the moment in which the consciousness is immersed in its projected content.

lSamhara is retraction; consciousness reabsorbs the content it has projected, essentially turning it towards nondual essence.

lTriodanha is enfolding or concealing of creation with respect to time and space.

l Anugraha is unfolding or revealing projections in the manifest world.

With these fivefold acts, Swacchandnath Bhairava, along with Agoreshwari, create an animate and inanimate world, thus unleashing the divine play of reality. The world is nothing but the mirror image of Swacchandnath Bhairava, and to recognise this unity between the individual soul, is the purpose of a well-meaning life. Shiva spreads the nectar of creativeness; shields the jivatman from torturous transmigration; brings forth the inner consciousness by tearing apart the individual ego, which essentially is ignorance; terminates maya; binds the universe and brings forth bliss, which is unlimited.

The night of Shivaratri is essentially considered to bring supreme awareness of Shivahood on the physical plane among aspirants. It removes nonduality among the souls and pushes the seeker to the higher orbit of Self-realisation. The festival of Shivaratri is celebrated with grandeur and reverence in every Kashmiri Hindu household, where each family member observes a fast and contributes towards making this festival a great success.

 

Written by:-Sunil Raina

36 elements and the Basics of Kashmir Shaivism….

 

 Chaitanya (shiv ) (supreme consciousness )is the first element (of 36) according to Kashmir Shaivism(KS). Everything (whole universe) is held in Chaitanya and is non-different from it in reality. the next 35 elements of KS comes out of this first element. Just like the fire has no effect on space that holds it; or water can not wash away the space; earth can not weigh down space or air can not blow space…….similarly the gross world (universe) or subtle world though owe  their existence to Chaitanya, yet it is unaffected by it.
Chaitanya has also be referred as ‘Hridyam'(Heart) in the lingo of Ks and Advaith vedant.
The word “Hridyam” comes twice in ‘Shiv sutras’, and means ‘consciousness ‘ at both places.
The first slok of Shiv-sutras is ‘chaitanyam Atma’ meaning supreme consciousness is the reality of everything. chaitanyam is a synonym of ‘Atma'(that which holds everything ).
Chaitanyam due to its own will, when reflects in the mirror of Maya, diversifies, because of the self- imposed limitations namely anavamala(contraction of real nature), mayayimala (contracted knowledge) and karmmala(contraction of action ) and five kanchukas of maya(kala, kala, raga.niyati and vidya ).
Owing to this  contraction , the unlimited supreme consciousness becomes chit(mind).
This whole world has been termed as the solidification of the limited mind…this mind though owes its existence to Chaitanya, yet because of the forgetfulness of its real nature(that is supreme consciousness), it keeps on taking births after births..
It is the subtle body(Manas, buddhi, Ahamkar and 5 tanmatras), also known as ‘Puryashtak’, that sheds the old body and takes the new as an expression to fulfill a desire(that is endless).

Brahman and Atman has been too often used in the philosophy of Advaith Vedanta . Whereas in KS the emphasis is on Chaitanya.
Chaitanya  has been referred as an Ocean, and the waves as the different worlds/ jivas.
Because of the desire in Shiva(consciousness); time and space comes into effect. A wave (limited being) exists in time as well as space. It rises up(due to spanda in consciousness) in space and lives in a time frame(rising and falling of wave).Though it looks as if a wave is an independent entity ; but in reality waves are but Ocean. So in reality, nothing is happening.
This concept has been used by Advaith Vedanta as well as KS.
Another example to illustrate consciousness is Space and jar. Space is inside the jar. When the jar is broken ; nothing happen to the space inside it(as it is inside as well as outside).
Another example is of a newspaper, we read all the words ; while as we ignore the paper on which all the words and pictures are printed.
In Yoga Vashista, It has been said that ,From the supreme Brahman(consciousness), the mind first arose with its faculty of thinking and imagination. And this mind remains as such in that Brahman(consciousness), even as fragrance in a flower, as waves in Ocean and rays of light in the Sun. Brahman(supreme consciousness) which is extremely subtle and invisible, was forgotten, as it were, and thus arose the wrong notion of the real existence of the world appearance.
If one thinks that the light rays are different and distinct from the Sun, to him the light rays have a distinct reality. If one thinks that the bracelet made of Gold is a Bracelet, to him it is indeed a bracelet and not Gold.
But if one realizes that light rays are non different from the Sun, his understanding is said to be unmodified(nirvikalpa). If one realizes that the waves are non different from the ocean, his understanding is said to be unmodified(nirvikalpa). If one realizes that the bracelet is non-different from Gold, his understanding is said to be unmodified(nirvikalpa).

‘O’ Rama, whatever you do that is nothing but pure consciousness. Brahman(consciousness ) alone is manifest here as all this, for nothing else exists. there is no scope for ‘this’ an the ‘other’. Therefore , abound on even the concepts of liberation and bondage. Remain in the pure, egoless state, engaging yourself in natural activity.’
Said Sage Vasishta to Rama( from the book yog vashishta)

The 2nd element according to KS is the Shakti-tattva. She is also referred as Anand(bliss). Shiv and Shakti are intertwined and inseparable. Without Shakti,  Shiv become lifeless corpse(shav).. It is because of Shakti , Shiv has been been referred as Shaktiman.
The nature of consciousness (shiv) is Bliss (Shakti). Shiva is the light and Shakti  is the luminosity .Shiva is Prakash and Shakti is the Vimarsha. though for Many, they may sound two; but actually they are one .
Shiv and Shakti together are also referred as Aham. A ‘-represents Shiva and Ma’ represents Shakt. the letter ‘m’ indicates the whole ”pratyahara’, which are contained  in the letters from ‘a’ to ‘h’ and which has created according to KS one hundred and eighteen worlds, the thirty six elements, and five circles(kalas), has in reality created nothing. It is just one point.
All the vowels represent Shiv and all the consonants represent Shakti. When they meet together, a word is formed and then sentences are formed. It is by these words and sentences an impression is formed on the mind and one gets entangled in samsara; and when due to the Anugraha (Shakti) of Shiva, all the words and sentences unfold themselves as nothing but Shiva.
‘Aham’ in this stage is the ‘I’ of the universal ‘I'(Parmshiv). It also means as ‘I am’. this stage has been referred as Shiv pramtri(experiencer), as it is none but Shiva who is the real experiencer of everything through our senses.
All the actions (verbs) are but Shakti. All the actions carried out by mind and the sense organs are but Shakti. whatever one can think of, or whatever one sees or feels is but Shakti. She is the Maya Shakti , she is Maya, she is khechri, Buchari. She is ‘AMA’, ‘Kama’, ‘Parvati’. She is Sharika. She is Tripura, who dwells in the three stages of Waking state, Dreams and Deep sleep. She is also the Turiya.

The third element according to KS is Sadasiva tattva. This is also known as iecha(desire/will).Here Shiv-Shakti(Aham)(I am) expresses itself as ‘Aham-idam’ (I -ness or I am in this ness).I am this whole universe .This is a subjective   Tattva as is Shiv-Shakti, Iswara and Shuddh Vidya.

The pramatri (experiencer) of this stage is also termed as ‘Mantra-Mantreshwar’. this tattva further expresses itself as the five vital breaths, namely Pran(centered at Heart and moves upward. This is also known as Sun as the outgoing breath is hot/warm.  It’s movement is from Heart to Throat.) Apana(centered near the organs of sex and Excretion. and it’s movement is always downward ), samana( centered near naabi. aids in digestion), Udan vayu( moves from neck to the crown ) and Vyan( holds all the breaths in itself like the Akash.)
‘SadaSiva’ tattva is denoted by the letter ‘gha’ of Sanskrit.
The fourth element is ‘Ishwara tattva’. This is also known as Gyan(knowledge ). Here ‘Aham’ expresses itself as ‘Idam Aham'( this ness in I-ness).From Sadasiva tattva where the expression was ‘I am this whole universe ‘, it becomes ‘This universe is my own expression ‘.It further expresses itself in the five ‘Gyanindreyas'(organs of knowledge ). Here the Pramatri( experiencer) is known as ‘Mantreshwar’.
It is represented by the letter ‘na’ of Sanskrit.
The fifth element is ‘suddha vidya tattva’. This is also known as ‘Kriya'(action ). Here ‘Aham’ expresses itself as ‘Aham Idam-Idam Aham'( I-ness in thisness ; thisness in I-ness).The experiencer experiences at this level that this universe is not an illusion and this universe is my own expansion.The pramatri(experiencer) at this level is known as ‘mantra-Pramatri’. It expresses further as the five organs of action(Karmindreyas).
The letter ‘I’ of Sanskrit represents this tattva.
These first five elements come under the category of ‘Shuddh tattvas'(pure elements). Here there is no duality as yet.
After the first five tattvas(pure elements), the subjective non dual aspect of Shiva descends in Maya(6th element ).the subjective experiencer after entering / reflecting in Maya  becomes the Knowlege(pramana) and objects(prameya). Subjectivity ends and the world of Objectivity begins .One becomes many. The supreme consciousness tends to forget its own nature(in the mirror of Maya) yet it is aware of its own nature( because the Maya itself gets it’s power from it and that it is always aware of itself in the subjective plane of Sudda tattva). The diversified tri-Guni Maya is represented by the alphabet ‘ca’ of Sanskrit.The five unlimited powers of Parmshiv ( Chaitanya, Anand, Iecha, Gyan and Kriya) gets contracted after entering in the field of Maya and become the five coverings/sheaths namely Kala, Vidya,raga, Kala and Niyati owing to the triple ignorance namely Anavamala(contraction of Iecha),Mayaimala(contraction of knowledge ) and Karmmala(contraction of Kriya).
The first kanchukas namely ‘Kala'(7th element) creates an impression that it has limited creativity and  not unlimited .It is denoted by the letter ‘cha’ of Sanskrit.The second kanchukas namely ‘vidya'(8th element) creates an impression of limited knowledge .It is denoted by the letter ‘ja’ of Sanskrit.The third kanchukas is ‘Raga’ (9th element) meaning ‘attachment’. This is that attachment which results from not being full and that he must have this or that to make him full. It is denoted by the letter ‘jha’ of Sanskrit.The fourth kanchukas I.e the 10 th element is the ‘kala’. Here it means ‘Time’.The action of this tattva is to keep ‘purusa’ in a particular time or make him believe that he is 30 years old or 40 years old and and that he is not timeless or eternal. This tattva is represented by the alphabet, ‘Dha’ of Sanskrit .The fifth kanchukas ie the 11th element is ‘niyati tattva’. this element makes an impression in the experiencer in the Purush that he is residing in such and such place and not at all places.this is represented by the letter ‘ va’ of Sanskrit .
The next element(12) is the ‘purusa’ and 13 the is ‘prakriti’. these two tattvas are interdependent .
Prakriti is the element which is referred to as nature(three gunas, namely Sattvic, Rajsic and Tamsic ). ‘Purush’ is that which reacts to ‘Prakriti’ .purush is represented by the letter ‘ na’ and Prakriti as ‘ta’ of Sanskrit.
The experiencer(pramatri) form ‘Purush’ to ‘Maya’ tattva is known as Vijnankala pramatri’. This is Akin to the stage of ‘Deep sleep’.The ‘pralayakala pramatri stage’ lacks the mala(ignorance) of ‘Mayayimala’ and ‘karmmala. It has only one mala I.e ‘Anavamala’. This is our stage when we are in deep sleep.

The 14th element is ‘Ahamkar’(ego connected with Objectivity ).The 15th element is ‘Buddhi'(intellect ).The 16th element is ‘Manas’. Together these three elements is typically , what is termed as ‘Mind’. This is also referred as ‘Chitta’. The contraction of Chit-Anand shakti(Shiv-Shakti) due to ignorance(duality) is the ‘Chitta’.
At this level, the limitation of Knowledge has set in. Before this level, the knowledge is in a dormant stage.
The expression of Chaitanya is the Manas; the expression of Anand Shakti is Buddhi and Ahankar.
The Prakriti tattva(13 the element) has three attributes ie Sattvic, Rajsic and Tamsic. As already discussed , the further expression of Ishwar tattva(knowledge) and Shuddh vidya(Kriya ) is the Gyanindreyas (organs of Knowledge) and Karmindreyas (organs of action).
The three gunas of Prakriti makes the Gyanindreyas , Karmindreyas and Panch Mahabhoot(5 gross elements viz  Earth water air fire and Ether) as Sattvic, Rajsic and Tamsic respectively………
Buddhi, Ahamkar and Manas are represented by the letters ‘tha’ , ‘da’ and ‘dha’ of Sanskrit respectively…
After Antahkarnas,(3+2).. (Internal organs), comes the ‘Pancha Gyanindreyas ‘ (five organs of cognition)..
These are
(17th)Srotra-ear…organ of Hearing
(18th)Tvak-Skin, organ of touching
(19th)Cakshu-eye, organ of seeing
(20th)Rasana-tongue, organ of tasting.
(21st)Ghrana-nose, organ of smelling
They are represented by the  alphabets ‘na’, ‘ta’, ‘tha’, ‘da’ and ‘dha’ of Sanskrit respectively…

 

Pancha Karmindreyas (five organs of action ) consist of
(22nd)Vak(speech ), (23rd)pani(hand),(24th) pada(foot), (25th)payu(excretion) and(26th)Upastha(creative/reproductive).
They are represented by the letters ‘na’ , ‘ba’, ‘bha’, ‘Pha’ and ‘pa’ of the Sanskrit alphabets respectively

Panch tanmatra(five subtle elements) consist of:
(27th)Sabda(sound)
This tanmatra is found in Akasa tattva(32th element)
(28th)Sparsha tanmatra (touch); representing the gross element of (29th)vayu(air-the 33th element)
(30th)Rupa tanmatra(form), 29th element ; this is found in the gross element of agni(fire)(34th element)
(31st)Rasa tanmatra(taste)-the 30th element is found in the gross element of jal(water)(34th element) and Gandha tanmatra(smell) is chiefly found in the 36th element of Prithvi(earth)
The gross elements of Earth(36th), water(35th) , fire(34th), air(33rd) and Ether(32nd) are related to the tanmatras in this way
Earth-this has all the five tanmatras namely Gandha , rasa,rupa, sparsha, and Sabda.but the chief tanmatra connected with Earth element is Gandha(smell).
The water element has only four(rasa, rupa,sparsha and sabda ).the chief tanmatra connected with this element is rasa (taste).
The tejas(fire) element has only three tanmatras connected with it(rupa, sparsha, sabda)…the main tanmatra however is rupa(form) attached to fire element.
The vayu(air) Element has only two tanmatras connected to it(sparsha and sabda).the chief however is Sparsha.
The Akasa(ether ) has only one tanmatra attached to it and that is ‘sabda'(sound)
The Sanskrit alphabets representing these elements are
Earth(‘ksa’), water (‘ha’), fire(‘sa’), air(‘sa’), akasha(‘sa’)
Gandha(‘va’), rasa(‘la’), rupa(‘ra’), sparsha(ya) and sabda(‘ma’)
From Prikriti tattva to the jala(water) tattva, the experiencer (pramatr) is termed as Pralayakala pramatri. In this stage apart from anavamala; Mayaimala ( limitation of Knowledge ) too has set in.
This has also been referred as Dream state.

Sakala pramatr is the stage of the experiencer at Gross level. This has its effect on only one element and that is Earth.This level has all the three limitations namely Anavamala, Mayayimala and Karmmala(limitation of action).This is what is also known as the Waking state.
Pramatr, pramana and pramey meaning Experiencer, Knowledge(of object) and Object is an important concept of both Vedanta and KS.In the level of Shuddh tattvas(pure elements); there is only the Experiencer. It is a stage of non-duality.It is only after Shiva wants to experience his own state of duality; Maya (duality) comes into effect and thus the Knowledge and the Objects appear.
First the knowledge of Duality appears and the Mind is formed and then the Mind solidifies itself and the world materializes.

To realise that the Object(Prameya), knowledge of object (pramana) and the experient(pramatra) are not different from each other and that our real ‘self’is none other than Shiva-the universal experient is the essence of Kashmir Shaivism.

The Legend of Sarda, Shankaracharya and mysterious Sandalwood idol…

 

I had heard of the Mysterious  Sharda Temple at Village Sardi(P.O.K) many a times in the past. The word ‘Sarda’ itself is as mystical as is the Goddess Sarda. Kashmir in the past was a synonym to the Goddess. The ancient script of ‘Sarda’ that was once the vernacular of the Kashmiris ; or was widely spoken and written by the learned Scholars of Kashmir, clearly indicates that ‘ Sarda’ had a very deep impact on the lives of the Kashmiris and thus Kashmir.

Namaste Sarada Devi, Kashmira Mandala Vasini (Salutations to Goddess Sarada who resides in Kashmir’. This hymn unambiguously states that the Mystical Goddess was widely believed to live in Kashmir.

The Sarda temple was  just like any other venerated temple of KP’s for me and did not arose special attention, until I read the account of the pilgrimage of King Zain-ul-Abidin(AD 1420-70) to Sharda  possibly in the year 1422 A.D. I found the mention of the pilgrimage in Rajatarangini of Kalhan by  M.A.Stein, ” in the Chapter “The Shrine of Sharda”.

It was rather interesting to note that Sarda temple at one stage in the long History of Kashmir attracted many devotees and Scholars. The area where the temple is situated, was not under the sovereignty of the Rulers of Kashmir in continuity, and intermittently, the area of Sardi was out of bound  for rather long stretches of time. This political constraint dissuaded the Kashmiri Hindus to visit this place as frequently as they used to,  when it was a part of the Kingdom of Kashmir. The rough terrain  and the inclement weather too ensured that the Temple maintained its Aura of mystery , solitude and Spirituality.

For some reasons, I was intrigued to know that  there was a wooden(sandalwood) image of Goddess Sarda at Shardapeeth(Kashmir) and that the original idol was taken away by the Shankarachraya.It crossed my mind that If the original idol was taken away by Shankaracharya,; was the wooden idol of Sarda at the time of Zain-ul-Abidin, a different one then!

Traditionally, and may be historically, if we look into the past, we can easily conclude that the KP’s worshipped the God/Goddess mostly in their natural state/form. For example, KP’s worship Goddess Sharika as a ‘Srichakra’, believed to be inscribed naturally on a Boulder, smeared in vermilion. Again at Raithan temple, Goddess Ragya is venerated in the form of a natural Boulder. A Stone slab is revered as Goddess Bala Devi in Balhoma. Mata Jwalaji in the form of  an uninterrupted, continuous flame is worshipped at Khrew. There is also a stone slab, that too is venerated by the devotees. At other places, the object of worship is either a natural spring or a lake. The exception is for the Stone Shiva-Linga, which is widely worshipped throughout the state.

But a Wooden Idol, and that too of Sandalwood ! seemed incongruous. Before coming to any conclusion, some historical facts documented in the form of Books of History and legends can not be ignored.

The legend of Sharda

According to Mahatmaya, The sage Sandilya, son of sage Matanga, was practicing great austerities, in order to obtain the sight of the Goddess Sarda, who is a shakti embodying three separate manifestations. Divine advice prompts him to proceed to the place-Syamala. There at GHOSA, i.e ‘Gus’, appears to him ‘Mahadevi’, and promises to show herself in her true form( Shakti) in the Sarda’ forest. The Goddess vanishes from his sight at Hayasirsasasrama, (Hayhom), situated about 4 miles to the N.N.E of Gus.

The Sage next proceeds to the Krisnganga, a spring now usually known as Krishnganga, in which he bathes. Thereupon,  half his body becomes golden, emblematic of his approach to complete liberation from darkness. The Naga is situated above the village of Drang also known as Son-Drang. It is this appellation which the Mahatmaya wishes to reproduce by calling the place of Sage’s miraculous transformation ‘Suvarnardhangaka’.

From thence, Sandilya ascends the mountain range to the north, on which he sees a dance of Goddesses in a forest called Rangavati (Rangvor), immediately below the pass by which the route leading from Drang towards the Kisanganga crosses the watershed. He then passes the Gostambhana forest, i.e, the Marg Gthamman and arrives at TEJAVANA, the residence of Gautama, on the bank of the Krisnganga. The Mahatmaya describes at some length, the sacred character of the latter place which is identical with Tehjan(Thagain), a small hamlet on the left bank of the Kisanganga. It then relates how the sage after crossing on the way a hill, on the east side of which he sees the God Ganesha, arrives in the Sardavana i.e, at the present Sardi. After a Hymn in praise of Sarda in her triple form of Sarda, Narada(sarswati) and vagdevi, an account is given how the goddess at that sacred spot revealed herself to the Sage and rewarded his long austerities by inviting him to her residence on Srisaila.

Pitrs also approach there to Sandilya and ask him to perform their Sraddhas. On his taking water from the Mahasindu for the purpose of the Tarpana rite, half of its water turns into honey and forms the stream hence known as Madhumati. Ever since baths and Shraddhas at the Samgama of the Sindhu and Madhumati assure to the pious complete remission of sins, etc.

The mention of this confluence leaves no doubt as to where the Mahatmaya places the site sacred to Sarada. By SINDHU can be meant only the Kisanganga which, as in Kalhana’s days, is still locally known merely as ‘Sind’ , the river. Madhumati  is the name which local tradition gives to this day to the stream that joins the Kisanganga at Sardi from the south.

The temple is believed to be one of the Shakti-peethas(out of 51).It is believed that the right hand of Shiva’s consort-SATI-had fallen here.

 

 

The Mystical wooden(Sandalwood) idol of Sharda

A.Stein has mentioned that the Sharda temple is found in “Jonararaja’ Chronicle. The passage containing it belongs to those additions of the text with which Professor Peterson edition(1896) had first acquainted them. It is mentioned that the tolerant King Zain-l-Abidin(Bada Shah), whose attitude towards his Brahman Subjects was well Known, is believed to have accompanied the regular pilgrimage, apparently in the year 1422 A.D, in order to witness the miraculous manifestations of the Goddess. From the description in the  verse 1057, it seems that these were ordinarily the appearance of Sweat on the face of the image of the Goddess, the shaking of the arm, and a sensation of the Heat on touching the feet.

After bathing and drinking at the Madhumati Stream, the King seated himself at the Sacred spot which was thronged by pilgrims and Temple priests. Owing to the baseness, he witnessed in these people, the King is said to have displayed anger and to have lost faith in the goddess. Having failed to see her manifest herself in a visible and material way, which Jonaraja plausibly explains by a reference to the Kaliyuga and the want of faith in the worshippers, he then endeavored to obtain her sight in a Dream. For this purpose,   the King went to sleep on the night of the 7th day of waxing moon in the month of Bhadrapada in the court of the temple. Sarada, however refused to vouchsafe any sign of her presence to the King in his sleep either. From due regard for the prince’s high personal qualities, the author is forced to ascribe this disappointment to the Wickedness of his servants and the conflux of Mlecchas. Having thus disappointed, the virtuous Zain-ul-abidin, the goddess is said to have, herself, crushed her image to pieces.

It is mentioned unambiguously,  that the idol self-destructed itself. However much later, Alberuni , too has written that a miracle-working image of Sarada, was yet in existence in the early part of the fifteen century, and that its destruction, rightly or wrongly, was connected with a pilgrimage which Zain-ul-abidin made to this site.

In the Sixteenth century, the temple of Sarda must have enjoyed yet considerable reputation in Kashmir itself. This is proved by “ABU-L-FAZL’s” notice of the site(Ain-Akb.,ii.p 365): “At two days distance from Hachamun is the river named padmati(Madhumati), which flows from the Dard(Dard) country. Gold is also found in this river. On its Banks, is a stone-temple called “Sarda”, dedicated to Durga and regarded with great veneration. On every eight tithi of the bright half of the month, it begins to shake and produce the most extraordinary effect.”

Here Haehamn stands plainly for Hayhom: Padmati is an evident clerical error for Madmati, i.e, Madhumati. From the statement which makes this River come from the Dard country, it appears that there is here some confusion between the Madhumati and the Kisanganga, which latter alone can be described as flowing from that region. It must, however, be noticed that a not very clear passage of the Sardamahatmaya,120, seems to ascribe to the Kisanganga also the second name Madhumati.

The notice of Gold being found in the river clearly applies to the Kisanganga, which drains a Mountain region known as auriferous to the present Day. The story told of the Sarada temple Shaking on the eight sudi of each month, is evidently a lingering reflex of the miracle ascribed to Sarda’s image in Jonaraja’s account.

The date indicated is that still observed for pilgrim’s visits to the Shrine, but when A.Stien visited the site in Sep 1892, The legend of the Shaking of limbs or sweat from the forehead of the idol of Sarda was unheard of. In fact, there was no idol of Sarada at all. Instead, a large rough slab on the ground which measures about 6 by 7 feet, with a thickness of about half a foot is worshipped as Goddess Sharda.This stone is believed to cover a KUNDA(spring-cavity), in which Sarada appeared to Sage Sandilya, and is the object of the Pilgrims’ special veneration. At the time of “Stein’s” visit to the temple, a red cloth canopy with plenty of tinsel surmounted the sacred spot. Conches, bells, and other implements of worship filled the remainder of the interior space.

Adi Shankaracharya’s visit to Sarda temple and Kashmir

Most of the Scholars believe that Adi Shankaracharya (A.D-788-820) visited Kashmir in the first quarter of ninth century A.D.

Adi Shankaracharya, a great philosopher is believed to have visited Kashmir in the first quarter of 9th Century (788-820 A.D) .According to writer of ‘Sankara Digvijaya’ — ‘Sankara visited Kashmir after giving a final blow to Buddhism in the rest of India”. PN Magzine,  a research scholar of repute, writes in ‘Shankaracharya Temple and Hill’ that Shankaracharya visited Kashmir with the intention of advancing Vedantic knowledge. That time Kashmiris were culturally and spiritually much advanced and believed strongly in the greatness of both Shiva and Shakti. Shankara did not, at that time, when he visited Kashmir, believe in Shakti cult . PN Magzine mentions that Shankaracharya with his party camped outside the city of Srinagar, without any boarding and lodging arrangements. Seeing the plight of visitors a virgin was sent to meet Shankara. She found the party uneasy and frustrated because of not being able to cook as no fire was made available to them. The first glimpse of Shakti was exhibited to Shankara by this girl, when Shankara expressed his inability to make a fire, in reply to girl’s question that you are so great, can not you make fire. The girl picked up two thin wooden sticks (samidhas) into her hand, recited some mantras and rubbed the sticks and fire was produced to the surprise of Shankara. PN Magzine further adds that later a Shastrarth (religious discourse) was arranged between Shankara and a Kashmiri woman. This discourse continued for 17 days. Shankaracharya yielded before the lady in discussion and accepted the predominance of Shakti cult (greatness of Devi).

According to PN Magzine, after accepting predominance of Shakti cult, Shankara wrote Saundarya Lahari, in praise of Shakti, at the top of the hill, known till then as Gopadari Hill. Pandit Gopi Krishan writer that Panchastavi–gamut of Shakti Shastra–a priceless gem — a peerless hymn of praise addressed to Kundalini. The work has been cited as source book by several eminent scholars, but the name of the author has remained undisclosed”. According to him the only other work in whole gamut of Shakti Shastra in the country, comparable to Panchastavi is Saundarya Lahari. PN Magzine says that Saundarya Lahari is acclaimed as master-piece in Sanskrit literature. After the visit of Adi Shankaracharya to Kashmir, he became staunch believer of Shakti-Shri Chakra – the symbol of Devi (Goddess) as mentioned in ‘Shankara Digvijay’ – Life history of Shankaracharya. Thus we know that even, a very knowledge philosopher, a Saint of greater order- Adi Shankaracharya – gained further depth in spiritualism and mysticism in Kashmir.Kashmiri Pandit – great ‘Mehman Nawaz’ – highly appreciative of knowledge (which has at time proved undoing for them), awarded a degree of the Sharda Peetha, the highest honour conferred on any dignitary of knowledge when Shankaracharya visited Sharda, a famous temple, Shrine of Goddess Saraswati and a famous university of learning.

 

It is believed that was  Adi shankaracharya entered the Sarda temple from its Sothern gate and had a debate with the Scholars of that Area/Temple. He emerged as a winner and was conferred to sit on Sarvanjnanapeetham or Sarvajna peetha(Throne of Wisdom).In his Honor, the southern gate of Sarda temple was closed for ever. The Śāradā image at  Shringeri Shardamba temple was once said to have been made of sandalwood, which is supposed to have been taken by the Shankaracharya from Sarda temple Kashmir.

Adi-Shankaracharya according to Sringeri Sharda peetham

Jagadguru Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada established the first of the four Amnaya Peethams at Sringeri more than twelve centuries ago to foster the sacred tradition of Sanatana Dharma.

Hallowed for all times by Sage Rishyashringa who stayed and performed Tapas here, Sringeri attracted the great Acharya with a remarkable sight.

Tradition has it that after the Acharya had dispersed all the non-Vedic creeds prevailing in the country, He was on the look-out for a convenient and holy place where he could establish an institution to spread the truths of Advaita Vedanta. When the Acharya came to Sringeri, he saw an unusual sight on the banks of the Tunga. A cobra was seen spreading out its hood over a frog in labour pains, to give it shadow from the scorching mid-day sun. Struck with the sanctity of the place, which could infuse love between natural adversaries, the Acharya chose this very location to establish His first Math.

The Madhaviya Shankara Digvijayam describes that the Acharya came across many virtuous people at Sringeri and taught them the doctrine of Advaita. He then invoked the Divinity of Knowledge, Goddess Sharada and consecrated an icon of the Goddess. Thus the Peetham He founded at Sringeri in South India for fostering the Vedas and the sacred tradition of Sanatana Dharma came to be known as the Dakshinamnaya Sri Sharada Peetham.

The Acharya appointed his prime disciple, Sri Sureshwaracharya as the first Acharya of the Peetham. Since then, the Peetham has been blessed with an unbroken Guru Parampara, a garland of spiritual masters and Jivanmuktas representing Sri Adi Shankaracharya. The succeeding Acharyas have led a life of such austere penance that it has led disciples to adore in them the radiance of Sri Adi Shankara Himself.

Sandalwood Idol of Sarda Mata at Sringeri

 

The ancient temple of Sri Sharada, the presiding deity of Sringeri has a glorious history that begins with the setting up of the Dakshinamnaya Peetham by Sri Shankara Bhagavatpada. Originally it was an unpretentious shrine with the Murti of Sharada made of sandalwood, installed over the Sri Chakra that Sri Adi Shankara carved on a rock. Subsequently Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha and Sri Vidyaranya had a temple built in the Kerala style, with timber and tiled roof. Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha substituted the sandalwood idol with the present golden idol.

However, it is not clear whether, the installed idol was the same Idol, that Adi Sankara had allegedly brought with him from Kashmir.

Geographical Availability of Sandalwood in Kashmir and Karnataka

The availability of Sandalwood is abundantly found in and around the district of Chikmaglur (Sringeri comes in this district) in Karnataka. While as, it is hardly found in and around Kashmir valley. But, before coming to any conclusion; it will be pertinent to discuss again, here, the Temple and Legend of Kapteshwar Temple of Kashmir Valley; where, a mysterious Sandalwood idol of Siva used to emerge from a pond.

The legend of Kapatesvara(From Rajatarangini)

The valley of the Arpath or Harsapatha, which opens to the east of Anantnag, is also known as Kuthar. The name is in all probability connected with that of the ancient Tirtha of KAPATESVARA, situated on the Southern side of the valley close to the village of Kother. The name of the latter is undoubtedly a derivative of Kapateshwara as the analogy of Jyether<Jyeshthesvara, Triphar<Tripuresvara, etc. clearly shows.

The place of pilgrimage is the sacred spring of PAPASUNDA(Sin removing), situated a short distance above Kother near Acchabal. In it Lord Shiva is believed to have shown himself in the disguise(Kapata) of pieces of wood floating on the water. The legend is related at length in the Nilmata, and the author of the Haracaritacintamani devotes to it a separate canto which has now become the Official Mahatmaya of the Tirtha.

According to Nilmata; Once many sages stood in great penance on the sacred bank of Drsadvati in Kurukshetra to have a sight of Rudra-the lord of the Gods. Impressed by their Devotion, Shiva told them in a Dream to go soon to Kasmira where there is a spacious and immaculate abode of the Naga. He told them that there he would be visible in Disguise. Having heard him in a dream they all reached the abode of the Naga. They could not see even a little water, for the water was all covered with pieces of wood. Moving the wooden logs with their hands, the best sages obtained Rudrahood with their bodies by merely taking bath.

However, one vasistha Brahman, named Graparasar neither took the bath nor touched the wooden logs. He went on prolonged fasting and made his body decay. Rudra then spoke to him in a dream and advised him to obtain Rudrahood quickly by taking bath and touching the wooden logs.  Gauraparasara persisted, ‘that you can be visible after the attainment of Rudrahood is a fact, ‘O father of the world! But my mind is not satisfied without the sight of the lord of the Gods. You have said that you would be visible in disguise in the abode( of the Naga).

The Brahman refuses to leave and continues fasting, Sankara replies:  I have already provided them, my manifestation in the form of the wooden log. Merely by seeing me, they attained Rudrahood, O twice-Born! Now, due to your penance which is greater, I give you the desired boon. Ask for what you desire and Obtain Rudrahood.

The Brahman demands that Mahesvara should manifest in the form of a wooden log, to all the human beings, as it did to the sages. Mahesvara agrees and remarks, ‘O best among the twice-born, all those people who will see(the god) standing in the form of wood, (will see the gods) not always but only occasionally. With a desire to do favor to them, my gana-the Nandi in the form of wooden log shall always be visible to the human beings. And having seen (him) they would attain Rudrahood with their bodies. As I shall appear before men, so I shall obtain the name, Kapatesvara.

Alberuni too had heard of the Kapateshvara tirtha and its legend. He writes ‘ a pond called Kudaishashr(Kapatesvar) to the left of the source of the vitasta, in the middle of the month of Vaisakha, Mahadeva appears annually.’

AB-L-FAZL, Ain-I Akb, ii, p.358, mentions “in the village of Kotihar, a deep spring surrounded by stone temples. When its water decreases, an image of Mahadeva in Sandalwood appears.”

The sacred spring rises in a large circular tank which is enclosed by an ancient stone-wall and steps leading into the water. According to Kalhana’s account this enclosure was constructed, about a century before his own time, at the expense of the well-known king Bhoja of Malava.The latter is said to have taken a vow always to wash his face in the water of the Papasundana spring.

Connection between Sarda temple and Kapteshwar temple

Though, the architecture of Sharda temple (POK) resembles to that of the Kashmiri architecture , which can still be found in the ruins of Naranaag or the the Sun temple of Martand, But for some reasons, Sir A.Stein thought that the ruins of Sarda resemble most to that of Kapateshwara temple.

Also, it is intriguing,   to note that the famous travelers and Historians of the past, like Alberuni and Ab-L-Fazl, both have written that there was the legend of the mysterious and venerated Idol of Sharda at the Temple (POK). Pertinently, both have mentioned that the wooden idol of Mahadeva would emerge from a pond at Kapatesvara, when its water receded.

This clearly indicates, that in Kashmir, there was use of Sandalwood for making Idols of Gods/Godesses; although it is not clear, how it came into existence for religious purposes and how it ended .But, as of today, The Redoubtable temples of Kashmirian architecture, be it Sarda, Martand, or Naranaag are at the brink of extinction and need immediate attention from the concerned authorities. The hoary legends, that once reverberated in the cradle of Kashmir valley, are reduced to dying  echoes .

However, some of the sacred Hymns like- ‘Kashmir Purvasini, Vidhya Dieyinam Shawetambuj Viharinam, Chaturbuj Dharini… Shattantriveena Vadini… Mokshadayini, Papanashneemam … Vitasta Rupenam … Himachidit Girishshobinam … Kalashamrit Dharayae. Translated this means;Residing in Kashmir from ancient times..giver of knowledge.. seated on a white bird {Swan}..having four arms, carries hundred stringed veena.. giver of moksha and forgiver of sins.. just like with grace of Vitasta {Jhelum River}.. gracing a snow clad mountain..carrying a pot with holy nectar-    will remain immortal. And with it, will live- ‘the legend of Sarda ‘ forever.

And so will the mystery…

 

( by:Sandeep Raj koul)

 

 

 

 

 

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(Photo courtesy: Rukhsana Khan)

 

 

References:

the shrine of Sharda-note B-I 37-Kalhana’s Rajatarangini(M.A.Stein)

tirtha of Kapatesvara,p-467,Kalhana’s Rajtarangini-ii volme(M.A.Stein)

http://www.ikashmir.net/saints/shankracharyavisittokashmir.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharada_Peeth

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandalwood

http://www.sringeri.net/history

http://www.sringeri.net/history/sri-adi-shankaracharya/biography/abridged-madhaviya-shankara-digvijayam/part-5

http://panunkashmir.org/kashmirsentinel/maya1999/4.5.html

http://koausa.org/temples/sharda3.html

 

The Mystic Chakra of Sharika Mata (Tripuasundari) at Hari Parbhat

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“Hari Parbhat” also known as “Sharika peeth” is one of the most holiest sacred Place for the Hindus of Kashmir. Legend says that at this Place, Goddess Sharika killed the demon “Jalodbhava”. The Goddess in the form of “Haer”(Myna) at the behest of her devotees dropped a Pebble from above on Jalodbhava. The pebble became larger and larger. When it Hit the Demon, the pebble had grown to the size of a Hill.The Demon was crushed under the Hill. The Hill that dropped on the Demon came to be known as “Hari Parbaht”. The Mother Goddess resides there by the name of “Sharika” or “Tripursundari”. The eighteen-armed Goddess is considered as the presiding deity of the Srinagar city. She resides here in the form of syambu “Sri-Chakra”, also known as “Maha yantra”.This mystic Chakra is self-engraved on the Holy Shila( a vertical rock smeared in sindoor).Since the Divine Mother resides in the form of a “Chakra”, hence, she is also locally known as “Chakeshwari” and the place/temple as “Chakrieshwar”.

The significance of Sri-Chakra , is written on a Board in the premises of the temple. I am merely reproducing it verbatim.

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The sacred “Sri Chakra”, commonly known by the Hindus as “Sri Yantra” is composed of circles and the lotus petals, contains nine independent trikonas(Triangles), mystically drawn within the other. The four Triangles that point upwards represent “Shiva” and the other five pointing downwards represent “Shakti”.The Shiva Triangles are called “Sri Kanthas” or Shiva element, and the Shakti triangles are known as “Shiva-yuvatis” or Shakti element. All these are quite independent of the central Bindu and are formed by the Mulaprakrati of Shiva Bindu.
The intersecting triangles represent the play of creation, protection and absorption of the whole universe by the pure divine force known as “Sudha Shakti”.The central point in the Chakra is Bindu which symbolizes the union of “Shiva with Shakti” or “Kameshwar with Kameshwari”.
“Sri Yantra” is, in fact, the most magnificent composition of nine independent trikonas, charged with the supreme occult significance. The Trikonas in their upward and downward positions intersect one another and form themselves into forty three big and small triangles. All these triangles are enclosed in the first inner circle on which is drawn one Lotus with eight petals called “Ashta Dal”, which represents the mystical lotus of creation. The another circle following this with sixteen petalled lotus, drawn on it is called “Shada-shadal”. This Lotus is significant of sixteen kalas or phases of the moon. The whole set of triangles and the Lotus petals are further enclosed in triple concentric circles or three-fold girdles called “Trimekhla”, The whole diagram, forming the mystical chakra, fixed in a square, with triple parallel lines, having four openings or gates on its four cardinal points make up the Devi’s mansion. In the center of the whole composition lies the Bindu(point) which, in fact is the mysterious matrix of the Maha-Yantra. The description of this “Yantra” is given in sloka 11 of “Sundaryalahri”, reproduced just below the Yantra itself.
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The “Yantra” is adopted for the worship of the mighty “Shakti-Lalita Devi” and is considered to be the most popular symbol that the Icon or image of “Srividhya” i.e “Tripursundari” herself.
The mystery of “Sri Yantra” is quite remarkable. Its secret doctrine is largely acknowledged even by the renowned foreign authors and scholars. While acknowledging the mystical performance of these mysterious Yantras and Mandals, a foreign Scholar “Shree Guiseppe Tuccti” has stated In his book, “The theory and practice of Mandals” that the best example of Hinduist Mandal is the one called “Sri Chakra” or the wheel of “Sri” i.e the mystic wheel of “Shakti” or divine power, which is the motive force of the universe and by virtue of which God manifests and displays himself in things which are all of necessity the effect of Shakti itself. Since without “Shakti”, God can do nothing. One can well imagine and understand the might of this “Shakti”, which the God himself has acknowledged as stated in “Sundarya-Lahiri” that only conjoined with thee Oh! “Shakti” have I the power to be the absolute lord otherwise I would not be able to move. Such is the mighty “Shakti-Lalita-Devi”, the ruling Deity of this celebrated “Maha Yantra”.
The “Yantra” can be described in two ways.It may be started from any of the four gates of outer Chakra and worked inwards towards the central Bindu or in the reverse order, It may be started from the Bindu and worked outwards towards the gates. The former process is called “Layakrama”(involution) and the latter “Srashtikrama”(Evolution). Here it is described in the latter way.
Starting from the central point (Bindhu) and ending with the for gates the whole complex is divided into nine Chakras or wheels called Yantras which according to “Tantraja Tantra” are:-
1.Central Red Bindu, described as ……………………………………………………………………………………………Sarvanandmaya.
2. Central White Triangle, described as…………………………………………………………………………………….Sarvasidhipradha.
3.Eight red Triangles, described as ……………………………………………………………………………………………Sarvaroghara.
4.Ten Blue Triangles, described as…………………………………………………………………………………………….Sarvarakshakar.
5.Ten Red Triangles, described as……………………………………………………………………………………………..Sarvarthasadhak.
6.Fourteen blue triangles, described as ……………………………………………………………………………………Sarvasaubnagyadayak.
7.Eight Red Lotus petals, described as……………………………………………………………………………………….Sarvasamksobhan.
8.Sixteen blue lotus petals, described as …………………………………………………………………………………..Sarvaparipuraka.
9.Surrounding Yellow ground between the outer most circle and four gates……………………………Trilokyamohan.

Explaining the complex of these yantras the sacred, “Tripuramahimstrotam” says that the same “Mulavaidyaksars” as having contributed towards the unfolding of this “Sri Yantra” are responsible for the evolution of this universe as well, when it says that:-
(a) From the “Lakar”, which, according to “Laya-Krama” represents the first outer chakra i.e the yellow surrounded ground, This “Pararupa” earth on which we live has been born and on which there are Mountains, Forests, Grooves, fifty peetas(Seats), all places of pilgrimages, all Ganges, all “Khetrasthanas”, this chakra is known as “Trilokyamohan”, that is the Enchanter of the Universe.
(b) From “Sakar”, representing the second chakra of sixteen blue petalled lotus, it took the form of the Moon, Stars, Planets, Zodiac(Rashi Chakra).This Yantra is described as “Sarvasanksobhan”.
(c) In “Ikar”, which is represented by the fourteen blue triangles, It is “Turyamaya” or the creator of the universe. This yantra being fourth in the order is described as “Sarvasaulhagvadayak” i.e all auspicious.
(d) In “Ekar”, which obtains the fifth place in the order and it is represented by Ten Red Triangles the “Vishavi Shakti” manifests herself as one engaged in “Vaishvaplan” (preservation of the universe). This Yantra is described as “Sarvarthasadak” or fulfiller of all desires.
(e) In “Rakar”, which is represented by ten blue triangles and is the sixth yantra in the order, the all luminous and the most flaming aspect of the deity is revealed.This Yantra is described as “Sarvarakshakar”-That is all protecting deity.
(f) In “Kakar”, the shakti is radiated as “Kamda” or granter of all desires, “Kamrupni” or changer of form at will and “Avaya” or eternal. This Yantra, represented by eight red Triangles and occupying the seventh position in the order, is described as “Sarvaroghara” or curer of all diseases.
(g) The eighth Yantra which is represented by the crescent shaped central white triangles is known as “Vishvayoni” or the Womb of the Universe signifying the Karnam or the cause.Here Shakti is identified in “Shunyarpa” (Zero or void form) of the Bindhu Rupa Shiva. This Yantra is described as “ Sarvasidhiprada” or giver of all Siddhis.
(h) The ninth and the last Yantra, represented by the central Bindu, is described as “Sarvanandmaya” i.e all pervading and all blissful flaming Shiva or “Shivajyotimaya”.

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The wheel of the universe( Sansar Chakra) is thus equated with the “Mulavidya” and identified with the “Sri Chakra”.The letter established in Lakar,Sakar, Hakar, Ikar, Ekar, Rakar, and Kakar and associated with various Yantras described above, are its “Beejaksharas”(seeds) and the protecting deities, which are symbolic tattwas, are the Shivas themselves.
The central Bindu has three fold aspects. It is called “Bindu Triya”.The upper part of this focal point, represents the face of Devi and the two below it, her breasts. This is the symbolism of worship in which such anthropomorphic forms are employed by the worshippers who clearly see such images as they are carved or conceived in their minds during their worship. More abstractedly the three Bindus are compared to the Sun, Moon and the fire representing the names given to the aspects of “Para Bindu”.
While commenting upon the Yantra worship, Sir John Woodroff, (Arthur Avalon) another learned Scholar and noted Author says, “that the more experienced and correct view is that the mind is shakti, which is a particular manifestation of it. By continual and repeated practice in that Chakra after Chakra everything becomes divinized” and again hesitates that “Practice of the ritual transforms the mind itself and what is at first seen merely as an external Yantra with lines, curves and petals, becomes a pure mental state in the Sadhka himself. He too is a “Sri Yantra” and realizes himself as such.. The body of the Sadhaka is thus identified with “Sri Yantra” and its nine apertures (Naudwar) correspond to the nine chakras in the Yantra. The Human body, is as such considered like an Island of nine gems which are described to be:- Ajas, Sukra, Majja, Meda, Asti, Mamsa, Roma, Tvak and Rudhir. “The object of the worship of these chakras, as such is the realization of the one Abedabhavana of the Knower who is the one’s own self-(Swatma) or the worshipper, the knowledge and the object of the Knowledge i.e the “Sri Chakra” itself. In fact worship of sri yantra is the unification of these three-The knower of the Knowledge and the object of the knowledge.”
“This celebrated yantra”, says Sir John woodruff further, represents the human body, the whole universe and the man for what is in the former is in the latter and vice-versa as also the Shiva Shakti Swarupa or Atma. It is thus the symbol of Devi as she is in her own form (Swarupa) and as she is in the form of the universe (Vishwatma).

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According to the TANTRAJA TANTRA, there are 960 yantras which are assigned to ADYA, NITYA AND LALITA, the three Goddesses, who are known as “Tripurasundari”. Conjoined in one.
Different fruits are gained by worshipping different Yantras. Of the 960 Yantras the principal one’s are:- Sri yantra, Puja Kamal Chakra, Amritghat, Siddhavajra, Kesthavajra, Wajralinga, Merulinga, Yoni, Vajravajrak, Maha Vajra and Vajra.
Yantras are purely linear diagrams. They are drawn provisionally or permanently. When it is desired to be drawn permanently, It is inscribed on a stone or on copper or Bronze Plates that are often seen in Hindu temples, Shrines and other places of worship. Righteously, the Yantra deserves a place in every Hindu Home if one desires to be happy, prosperous and free from ailments.

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The three Malas(impurities/limitations) according to Kashmir Shaivism.

According to Kashmir Shaivism, there are 36 elements(from shiv tatva to prithvi tatva).By the pure will(icchca) of Shiva, The param shiva descends/ascends/emerges from the highest tattva i.e Chaitanya-(the supreme consciousness present in everything-be it living, dead, be it mind or matter, desires, actions, perceivable or unfathomable, be it a tiniest single cell or this whole of universe)-to the grossest element i.e prithvi(earth).In fact chaitanya cannot be expressed or written about.Yogis have stated that it is the state of being.

Chaitanya is an element synonym to shiva, whereas the next element i.e Ananda(Bliss)-is also known as Shakti. Shiva and Shakti are inseparable, hence Chaitanya and Ananda are also inseparable. The next three elements i.e sadashiva, ishwara and Shuddh vidya are synonyms to Iccha(will), Jnana(unlimited knowledge) and kriya(unlimited action).These five elements form shuddh tatvas(pure elements)
To this point, it is the undifferiated self of shiva. There is no maya element present there. From the shuddh tattvas to the six kanchukas(six coverings of maya), Swami lakshmanjoo has described another tattva(though technically not an element) as Mahamaya tattva or vijnankala.

The anavamala comes into effect in the sphere of the six kanchukas. Shiva due to his own will starts to experience the world of differentiation and becomes limited, owning to non-contemplation of his essential nature. Jnanshakti(the power of knowledge) gets polluted by the kanchukas or the coverings of maya and he becomes reduced to the limited knowledge. At last, it acquires utmost limitation in the formation of the psychic apparatus((antahkarana, i.e mann(mind), buddhi(intellect),ahamkar(ego), prakrati(nature) and purush(one that reacts to prakrati)) and the organs of sense(Bhuddindriya).This is mayayi mala(limitation brought about by maya) which brings about consciousness of difference among objects. This mayayi mala is the second impurity.

Kriya sakti(action) gets limited gradually in the sphere of difference when omnipotence is reduced to limited activity till at last by the formation of the organs of action, the empirical individual gets limited to the utmost extent. He thus performs good and bad deeds. This is the Karma mala or the limitation due to action.

source:books on Kashmir shaivism.

Anugraha(Grace)/Shaktipata-Kashmir Shaivism

According to Kashmir Shaivism Anugraha(grace and Shaktipata takes place in nine ways:

1.tivrativra Shaktipata(Super Supreme Grace)
One attains the true self, real and true nature completely. The Grace is too strong for the body to resist; one has to give up one’s body(Death).He becomes a Master and elevates the hearts of the deserving disciples invisibly. He uplifts the mankind secretly. Once he is satisfied with his work, he submerges with Shiva according to his will .One who attains this form of Grace becomes super supreme Master.

2Tivramadyha Shaktipatha( Supreme medium Grace)
One attains the true and real self; but one does not leave body in this type of grace. One is said to be “Pratiba Guru”-master who is not made by master, but by his self(shiva),by one’s own grace. These masters live in their physical form to uplift the humanity. They are self-initiated masters.
One who is bestowed with this grace enters completely in the trance of Shiva-Shakti(Energy of Shiva).There are five signs in him, that are observed by people;
1.intense love for lord shiva.
2.Whenever he recites any mantra; the devta of the mantra appears before him at once; The fruits of the mantra are realized promptly.
3.control over the five elements.
4.His works are without any defects.
5.He masters all Shastras.

3.Tivramandha Shaktipatha(Supreme low grace)
By this types of Grace one’s mind desires to be at the feet of master. He gets a master who is all-knowing and perfect. There is no difference between his master and lord shiva. The master does not initiate him; but merely put his hand on his head or by just by the mere gaze of his master;. He becomes perfect and enters into transcendental meditation effortlessly at once. He becomes enlightened by the mere touch or look of his master.

4.Madhya tivra Shaktipatha(medium supreme grace)
By this grace one reaches at the feet of Master who is absolutely a perfect master.The disciple is initiated by the master unlike the above cases. The master gives him mantra and the way to tread. One gets enlightened partially; the disciple is not satisfied completely in his physical body. He gets his complete satisfaction after he leaves his body and becomes one with shiva at the time of his death.

5.Madhya Madhya Shaktipata(medium middle grace)
When lord shiva bestows this grace; an intense desire of achieving lord shiva rises in the mind of the disciple. One wants Lord shiva as well as the worldly pleasures and enjoyments of the world. He is initiated by an able master.Though the intensity of his desire is more on attaining the state of shiva,he attains bliss, but he cannot completely overcome his worldy desires . After the death of such a disciple; he enters the kingdom of paradise and enjoys the pleasures to his satisfaction. He does not come back to this mortal world; but is again initiated by the master there and he becomes enlightened and realizes the shiva and merges in him.

6.Madhya mandha Shaktipata(medium low grace)
There is an intense desire for attaining lord shiva as well as the pleasures of the world. He does not attain self-realization completely.After his death he enters the kingdom of paradise and enjoys to his satisfaction. After that he is born again in this mortal world and lives a short life(15-30 yrs).He focuses on lord shiva and devotes his short life to shiva and becomes complete with Shiva.

7.Mandha tivra Shaktipata(inferior supreme grace)
8.Mandha Madya Shaktipata(inferioir medium grace)
9.Mandha Mandha shaktipata(inferior low grace)
For 7,8 and 9 types of grace,one has to take many births, before one attains the state of shiva……

religions

I have limited knowledge about religions. At the same time, I feel all the religions have many things in common like the concept of hell and heaven…world beyond death!
All the religions have segregated the function of god. Everything is a will of God and he has given responsibilities to different angels to execute his will. There are angels of death in all religions. There is also an idea of Satan in almost all religions. It does mean that god is above the idea of birth and death, heaven and hell and everything else which can be conceived by human mind.
In Hinduism God is segregated the most. There are 330million gods and goddesses who have different powers and responsibilities.Godess saraswati bestows us with knowledge, Goddess laksmi gives us wealth and prosperity. Lord Brahma is the creator, lord Vishnu is sustainer and lord Shiva is destroyer…
It is also said by some Hindu philosophers (maharishi Mahesh yogi) that all 330 million gods and goddess reside in us in our human body and human mind. Therefore our body and mind is the temple of god.
In Hinduism This whole world, the process of life and death is seen as Maya or illusion. In Buddhism and Hinduism there is a concept of wheel of life and death and law of karma or action. In Buddhism there is a concept of Dukha.It is seen as sorrow, hatred, jealousy, sufferings, diseases and craving for things that can’t be obtained. End of craving or desires is seen as nirvana in Buddhism.
Maya is seen as an illusion and at the same time Mahamaya is seen as a goddess.
There is also concept of brahm.Brahm means god, it also means universe and at the same time it also means illusion. Whole world and universe is seen as Maya. Life and death is Maya. It is said that without Maya there can not be life and death. Maya rides the chariot of five horses and these five horses represent five senses.
All religious scriptures give us knowledge and intelligence of some sort. There are Hindu philosophers who argue that our knowledge, Intelligence and contemplation helps us reach a certain level in spirituality and after a certain level one has to drop everything learnt so far. It is argued that people who are very religious seldom get nirvana as this sect of people use their acquired knowledge more often and this knowledge acts as an obstacle(maya) for them and holds them back to Maya.
It is believed that present age is 27th kalyug.One yug consists of four ages or era’s namely satyug,Treta yug,Dvapara yug and kalyug.Four yugas constitute one day and one night of lord Brahma. All major religions have one more thing in common…call it Armageddon or qayamat or pralaya i.e. destruction by nature’s fury.
From Markandeya Purana: “At the end of the night, when the inundating Pralay receded and the Lord awakened from His prolonged sleep, He began the work of creation again. It was even more amazing for Markandeya to see the inundating water recede and new creation taking place. He began to pray the Lord with folded hands. Pleased by his prayers, the Lord said that He always protected His devotees even during the most severe crises. Markandeya then asked about the appearance of the true devotees of the Lord. He also expressed his curiosity to know the reasons of their birth.”
In Shia Islam, Qayāmat means “The Day of Judgment” and denotes that God will raise mankind for Judgment. It is one of the Shi’a Roots of Religion (Usūl al-Dīn).
All dead from throughout history will be brought forth to life again, and judged for either hell, or heaven. Prior to this, the Mahdi, along with Jesus, will return to the world in order to restore justice.
In the Book of Revelation, God, ushering in the Great Tribulation judgments, commands seven angels to pour “seven vials of the wrath of God” upon the Earth. Armageddon then follows the pouring of the sixth vial (or bowl):
“And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”
In all the religions whether Christianity or Buddhism or Islam or Hinduism. The perception of god and God’s deeds are almost same. There is a pre-conceived notion about God. We say God is merciful, creator, lord, king and so on and so forth and at the same time we human beings are servants. If God is the creator, then who is the destroyer?
If God brings Happiness, then who brings sorrow and grief? If god gives life then who gives us death? In Hinduism Lord Yumraja is the god of death. In Christianity it is the angel azrael.Muslims call that angel iz’rail.

Well the idea behind the above writing is to perceive god in totality,i.e in good and bad.
It is often said that Satan is responsible for man’s evil deed. By the way” who created Satan?”
There are number of similarities in all the major religions. The difference I feel is the terminology and language. Sanskrit for Hinduism
and budhism,Arabic for Muslims and English and Hebrew for Christians and Jews. Languages are a part and parcel of cultures. It is not the teachings of religions which create disharmony but the medium in which the scriptures are written as people clinch to their cultures with as much sincerity as they follow their religions and are seldom ready for change. Different languages many times creates confusion and communication gap which further leads to misunderstanding. It is very important to have respect for every religion for a peaceful society and peaceful world .whatever may be the differences in religions and religious terminology, the basic teachings of all the religions remains same and more and more efforts should be taken in order to create bridges among all the religions for a better world for all.
There may not be uniformity in religions as every religion claims to be best, but there is uniformity in laws of god, or Allah or Paramatma…..or whatever name you call.