Category Archives: religion

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….

Advertisements

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)

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)

 

 

 

 

 

sharda1 sharda2

(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

 

Kausar Nag History and the controversy

The Protest headed by the separatists of Kashmir against Kausar nag yatra was not an impromptu agitation. It was rather deliberated upon astutely by the Separatists.And a leading Kashmir-based-English-newspaper was roped in . For example, This leading newspaper of Kashmir, few weeks back had published deliberately that instead of some 40 odd KP’s, 4000 Kashmiri hindus(more than 99% of hindus in Kashmir are Pandits) are going for the yatra. This was enough for the separatists to convey the majority population, that this yatra is a precursor for the return of KP’s into the valley.And thus an era of Hindu-Hegemony has started .( 4000 Hindus are/were going for the yatra, that too from the Reasi side of Jammu according to newspaper reports.)

30-40 odd Kashmiri Pandits(KP’s) wanted to undertake the Kausarnag yatra from Kulgam, as did their predecessors till 1989.But to their dismay, they were stopped by the local administration, even though they had taken the permission to undertake this yatra many days back. It is an irony that the DC of Kulgam backtracked from his original stand and feigned that he had not given any such order.


DC

The main and only reason for the cancellation of the yatra, was the appeasement policy of pak-sponsored-separatists and their cahoots. They alleged that KP’s never undertook this yatra and opined that the yatra will disturb the fragile ecology of the Mountain lake-Kausrnag. But strangely, they have turned a blind eye on other equally important ecological aspects of Kashmir.

The fact however has a different story to tell:

Fact is that 10,000 trees were cut and 30,000 wild lives destroyed to construct Mughal Road. Is that not destruction of ecology! Why didn’t the separatists raised their voice against that road! Or was it that, the road was connecting them to another Muslim dominated area, hence they remained silent! Why haven’t The so called Islamic zealots- turned- environmentalists ever raised their voice against the molestation of water bodies of Kashmir viz Dal Lake, Nagin Lake, Wullar Lake, Manasbal Lake and now extinct Anchaar lake.
What about the environmental hazards which other tourist places like Gulmarg, tangmarg and many other such tourist destinations have to face due to the influx of tourists both Indian and foreign. Has these bigot leaders guts to raise their voices against the influx of tourists to these places? The answer is a big No!!! Fact remains that tourism is the single largest segment which gives livelihood to lakhs of Kashmiris. Every year lakhs of Kashmiris pray to Almighty that more and more tourists should come to Kashmir. Tourists who come to Kashmir spend money like wastrels and don’t mind to loosen their wallets.

The tourists unlike the KP’s don’t call Kashmir their Homeland. But KP’s do. Since, many Kashmiri Muslims have illegally occupied the houses and properties of Kashmir, They fear that if KP’s will come back, they may have to handover those properties back to the Hindus. They are the ones who protest stridently against the coming of KP’s back into the valley. And they are the biggest supporters of the separatists.

B.T.W, Kausarnag is also known as Vishnupad or Kramasaras or kramasara.

The Separatists who are ignorant about the legend and History of Kashmir, particularly Kausarnag should read the write-up, by DR. R.K.Tamiri, that shows the significance of “Vishnupad”..

 

 Visnu Pad Legend:By Dr. R.K. Tamiri

It was in summer (July) of 1982 that I visited the enchanting high altitude lake of Konsarnag. A decade and a half later when I drifted into the field of folkloristics and history I ‘discovered’ that in my trek to this beautiful lake I had accomplished the pilgrimage to the historic Naubandhana Tirtha. Konsarnag, over 2 miles long  and located at an altitude of 12,000 ft, has been worshipped since times immemorial as Visnupad (foot of Visnu). In Nilmat Times it was called by its Sanskrit name Kramasaras or Kramsara (Kramafootstep, Saras lake). Since it is supposed to mark the footstep of Visnu, it is the main objective of the Naubandhana pilgrimage.

VisnuPad Legend: Konsarnag lake is one of the two places in Kashmir Valley that is associated with worship of ‘Visnupad’. The other shrine of ‘Visupad’ is located in the foothills of Pir Panjal at Fatehpur, in Dooru-Shahbad tehsil, not much away from Verinag (Nilkunda) Spring. Fatehpur shrine houses as per local folklore, footprints of Visnu on a stone. In the Vedic literature (Rigvedic verse I22.17) mentions three steps of Visnu. According to Sakapuni, Visnu placed his steps in a 3-fold manner, on the earth (as fire) in the atmosphere (as the lightening) and in the sky as the sun. Visnu is chiefly extolled for his three strides with which he traversed the world. The Mahabharata speaks of him as the presiding deity of motion. The Natyashastra of Bharata applies to him the epithet amitagata, one with unrestrained movement and the earth is often described as having been trodden by Visnu in the past. In the epic-purana period a few holy spots were supposed to bear the markings of the feet of Visnu, whose main attribute  is his power of striding. Scholar BM Baru explains Visnupada as an astronomical term, when the sun is on the rising point (Samarohana) and setting (Gayasiras). Stories about a hill bearing the footprints of Visnu were current in the days of Yaska. Visnusmriti mentions Visnupada alongwith Godavari, Gomati, Vipasa etc. besides Gaya. An important aspect of Gaya pilgrimage (where a person can perform his own sraddha), is visit to Visnupada temple (bearing foot-prints of Visnu). This temple existed in 4th Century AD, but the temple in its present condition belongs to Gupta period. However, Buchanan draws our attention to an inscription that says the temple was constructed by King Jayasimha (1128-49 AD) of Kashmir in honour of the footprints of deity Dattatreya (a form of Visnu). The epics refer to a Visnupada situated in the north. Mahabharat a carries as many as six references to it, three of which speak of it as a spot on the top of a northern hill. Historian Suvira Jaiswal says, “At present we cannot determine its exact location, it appears to have been in the north”. Popularity of worship of Visnupada in Kashmir is certainly due to sway of Buddhism in the region. Jaiswal argues,” the practice of dedicating the footprints of Visnu and of erecting shrines over them became popular certainly due to the Buddhist influence. It was later adopted by Vaisnavism in which Visnu’s foot was already much exalted. But it was not popular among Vaisnavas, as dearth of available evidence indicates”.

Dessication of Satisar Legend: Kashmir’s religious tradition locates on the peaks in the vicinity of Konsarnag lake the seat from which Visnu, Siva and Brahma fought the water demon Jalodbhave and dessicated Satisaras. The western most and the highest peak (15523 ft) is said to have been the site of Naubandhana tirtha. In the Kashmir version of the deluge Visnu in his Matsya (fish) avtara had bound to this peak the  Nau (ship into which Parvati/Sati had converted herself) to save the seeds of beings from destruction. Konsarnag lake lies at the foot of this peak and to the northwest of it.

Nilmat Story: As per the legend narrated by Nilmat Mahatmya, at the end of Manvantra (one of the 71 Caturyugas) all the movable/immovable creations of the earth were destroyed completely, sparing of course the mountains. The whole of Jambudvipa was effaced, the earth turned into a sea. After the destruction Lord Mahadeva stayed all around the world in the form of water. At that time, the Goddess Sati assumed the form of a boat. The future Manu, through magical power, placed all the seeds in that boat. Visnu in Matsya form dragged off that boat by means of his horn, fastened it to the top of a mountain and left for an unknown place. This mountain peak came to be called Naubandhana peak-holy and destroyer of all sins and fears. The goddess Sati in boat form becomes the earth and on that earth comes into being a lake of clear water, Satidesa, 6 Yojanas long and half of that in breadth, enjoyable, heart-enrapturing and the sporting place of the gods. Indra was sporting once on the bank of Konsarnag, accompanied and his wife Saci. Daitya Chief Sangrha, who was exceedingly difficult of being conquered came there while Indra was sporting. He was aroused by Saci and wanted to carry her away. This angered Indra. In the fight between Indra and Sangraha that lasted a year, the Daitya Chief was killed and Indra ascended to heaven. However, just before his death, Sangraha discharged his semen into the lake. A child was born in the waters out of the semen of the evil-minded Daitya Chief.As he was born in the water, the child came to be called Jalodbhava (demon-child). Due to compassion, the Nagas led by their chief Nila brought up that child in the waters. Having propitiated the God Pitamaha with penance, Jalodbhava obtained from him a triple boon, viz. immortality in the water, magical power and unparalled prowess. The Daitya chief devoured all the human beings who lived in various regions near the lake. The people fled away from Kashmir due to fear. At that time Kashyapa was on a pilgrimage of Kashmir to visit the holy spots. Nila went to meet Kashypa at a place called Kanakhala. On his visit to holy Visnupada, Nila pleaded before Kashypa,” Now that imprudent fellow (Jalodbhava) who obtained boons from Brahma of imperceptible birth, ignores me like anything and I am incapable of keeping him under control due to the boon of the lord of three worlds.” Kashypa accompanied by Nila, the Lord of Nagas reached the abode of Brahma and complain to Vasudeva, Isvara, Ananta about the activities of Jalodbhava. The God Pitamaha tells Nila, the sage of unparalleled valour, “we shall go to Naubandhan a to subdue him. Then the God Kesava (Visnu) will undoubtedly kill him”. Gods mounted their respective Vahans (vehicles), Hari on Tarksya, Hara along with his wife on bull, Brahma on Swan and the two Nagas on the cloud. They went after Jalodbhava. Kashypa went by his supernatural power. Indra heard that and, in the company of the hosts of gods, went to that place where Kesava had gone. Other smaller gods also came on their respective mounts to witness the fight. Having reached Nauban-dhana, Visnu adopted a firm position. As Jalodbhava heard the sound of the retinue of the gods, knowing himself to be imperishable in the water he did not come out. The pleased Madhusudana, having learnt that the water-demon would not come out, entered Naubhandna in the company of Gods. Rudra took position on Naubhandna peak, Hari on the southern peak, Brahma on the northern peak and the gods and the asuras following them. With gods having taken up the positions, God Janardana implored Ananta to kill the demon,” Breaking forth Himalaya today with the plough,make soon this lake devoid of water”. Ananta broke forth Himalaya with the plough.When the water of the lake was disappearnig, Jalodbhava practised magic to create darkness all around. Then the God Siva, holding the sun and the moon in his hands, brought the world to light.With the vanishing of darkness, Hari through yogic powers assumed another body and fought with the demon. There was a terrible fight between Visnu and the demon with trees and peaks of mountains.Hari cut of forcibly the head of the demon and Brahma felt pleased. Brahma, Visnu and Sambhu gave their own names to the peaks of which they had taken their positions. So the peaks came to be called Brahma, Visnu and Mahesvara. That which is Naubandhana peak is Sankara. The one on its right side is celebrated as Hari and the left one as Brahma. The Gods declared, “whoever shall see you after taking bath in the lake Kramasara shall see three of us on the mountain and will go to heaven.” As per tradition even the evil-doers are freed by seeing these peaks. Different places on the peaks are worshipped as hermitages erected by Brahma, Kashypa, Mahadeva, Ananta, the sun and the moon and Hari. Mahadeva’s hermitage is located on the spot where Visnu stood and obtained victory at that time. Hari’s hermitage is celebrated as Narsimha. After the slaying of the demon, the Sudarsana wheel, intoxicated with the blood of Jalodbhava, wandered in the deserted land and was caught by Sankara. The latter handed over the discuss to Jnarndana. The latter made his abode on the head of Jalodbhava. He erected a divine image, on which both Kesava and Siva-the destroyer of all sins-are represented. Kashyapa then declared land as habitable, holy and charming. He asked Nagas to live in the company of Pisachas. When Nila, the Naga Lord reminded sage Kasypa about war-like nature and evil-doings of Pisachas, Sage Kasypa explained to him the role of Nkumbha, the noble lord of Pischas appointed by Kubera to keep Pisachas in check. The Sage Kasyapa discussed with Nila the compromise, whereby Pischas would live for six months in the Valley. Nilmat assigns two explanations for the Valley being named as Kashmir. Kasyapa played an instrumental role in reclaiming Valley land, while Balarama took out the water through the plough-wielder. Kasypa is also called Prajapati. Both Prajapati as well as water are called Ka. Source of Vyeth (Vitasta, Jehlum, Hydspes): Veshau, the ancient Visoka, which later on turns into Vitasta, receives streams coming from the northern slope of the Pir Panjal range between Sedau and Banihal passes. Its traditional source is placed in the Kramasaras or Konsarnag. This is the third aspect of veneration for this lake. Visoka, means griefless (free from pain). Traveller GT Vigne crudely describes it as meaning as river of Visnu. Nilmat describes Visoka as Uma. Later, after worshipping Lakshmi to purify Kashmir Veshan was glorified as Visoka. The fine waterfall which is formed by the stream of Konsarnag, not far from the village of Sedau, is known as Ahrbal. In Nilmat times it was called Akhor bila, ‘the mouse-hole’. Aharbal is its present name. Abul Fazl, a minister at Emperor Akbar’s court,in his ‘The AINI Akbari’ describes Veshau as “the name of a stream which issues picturesquely from an orifice in a mountain and at the same place is a declivity down which the waters tumble from a height of 20 yards with a thundering roar”. Abul Fazl (16th century) and GT vigne (1834) have documented sanctity of Aharbal. Abul Fazl writes,” Hindu devotees throw themselves down from its summit and with utmost fortitude sacrifice their lives, in the belief that it is a means of securing their spiritual welfare”. GT Vigne says, “Arabul (Aharbal) is a place of peculiar sanctity with the Hindus and as such, is frequently visited by them, though perhaps less now than formerly, before the prosperity of the Valley was on the wane, and the precipice overhanging its flood has been upon several occasions the last resting place for the feet of the Hindu suicide.” Little is known about how Kramasaras lake came to be called Konsarnag. Since this lake is also the abode of the Naga Kaundinya, the place became famous by the name Kaundinyasara. There is strong probability that Kaun(dinya)sara over a period of time came to be called as Kons’rNag. GT vigne, however, attributes the change of nomenclature to Islamic influence. He says,” As…it is pronounced Kauser Nag it may be inferred that the Musalmans have, on account of its extent and height, given it the name of Kaunser, or Kautser, one of the rivers of paradise, whose waters, whiter than milk or more odoriferous than musk, roll into the fish-pool, a month’s journey in circumference, and by which the righteous are refreshed after passing the bridge of Al Sirat”. Interestingly, Vigne describes the lake as Kosah Nag. There is also a village named Konsarbal below  Nandimarg. The spring in this village is also called Konsarbal. Kashmiri Pandits and Gujar/Bakarwals hold the lake in great veneration. As per folklore of Kashmiris Pandits of village Avil, which forms one of the base camps for trek to Konsarnag, the lake Visnupad has its four toes (signifying 4 rivers) towards Punjab and heel towards Kashmir (one river). How such an important pilgrimage was abandoned by Kashmiri Pandits over the past few centuries remains unclear. Gujar/Bakarwals of Rajouri usually come with their flock of cattle in the last week of May, when the entire region is covered with a thick blanket of snow. They camp on the banks of the lake in stone shelters and usually slaughter a sheep. Its head is thrown into the lake and the roasted meats on stone plates is served to people. If the head sinks, only then they move ahead. There are three versions of Naubandhana Mahatmya (43, 85, 86, Stein Collection). As per Naubandhana Mahatmya, the pilgrimage used to take place on Bhadon Shuklapaksha Ekadashi. It asks the pilgrims to do Tarpan in the lake to get rid of sins. On the day of Dadshi one has to take bath at Sangam and conduct tarpan for Saints/Pityrs and offer gifts. Then pilgrims have darsana of peaks, which as per belief assure a place in heaven. Performing sraddha is considered quite good because as per mahatmya, God is present here. Journey: Naubhandana Tirtha is located in Kulgam tehsil. One can reach Konsarnag lake by either of the two routes-Avil or via Aharbal. Avil (old name, Awal) was in olden times ruled by a Kotraj (local chief), who controlled the territory from Damhal Hanjipora to Aharbal. Discovery of ancient pottery, pitchers, pestels etc in the area indicates that the region had human settlement from very early times. As per local lore, the flourishing town of Awal vanished following a devastating earthquake. An old Persian inscription on a grave reveals that Shah Behram ruled Awal during late medieval period. Prior to migration, the village had 25 Pandit families. Except for one family all are Rainas. The grandfather of Mansa Ram Raina, who hailed from Rainawari, had come to Avil during later half of Afghan rule. Sahaz Ram Raina, who lived in 19th century was a an ascetic of great merit. There is a small spring named Thaal Nagin in Avil’s Pandit mohalla. During old times, as per a legendary account, plates (Thalis) would come out of spring whenever any request was made. The water of Thalnagin is ice-cold in summer and warm in winter. Avil to Konsarnag: A gradual ascent through a forest for over an hour leads to Naribal, the last inhabited village, where Gujjars live. The village is also called Naribal Nagin due to the presence of a small spring. Water collected here is then resupplied to Avil village by PHE department. After climbing some distance one reaches AalascharMar. Pilgrims/Trekkers do not take rest here. It is said if a person stops here he won’t be able to go ahead then. People while passing through this place usually deposit a stick or a wooden piece for safe journey onwards. While descending down from Alachmar to the other side there are two tracks. The track on the right side leads to Chirun Bul. The elevated plain is called Astan Marg. The encounter between Sikhs and Pathans took place here in 1819. The Chirunbul meadow is one km. long. Kashmiri shepherds are seen here. After walking some distance, Chirunbul nullah  (Vigne’s Shurji-Murg river) is crossed on a seasonal log bridge. Gradual ascent for 3 kms through forests leads to Manzipal (Henna stone). There used to be a seasonal watermill and a shop, run by a Pandit family. There are two big memorial stones here-Danyagon (Paddy heap) and Makaigon (Maize heap). Locals as usual attribute these stones to Pandavs. There is also a small spring here named Pari Nagin, the fairy spring. Locals do not venture to visit this area in late evenings and claim that fairies descend to sing in late hours. It is an uphill journey for another two hours through the forest to reach an alpine sloppy meadow called Lahanpathri. Lot of Kashmiri shepherds are seen here in summer months. One can stay for the night at Lahanpathri and avail the hospitality of shepherds or return to Manzipal base camp. Indersar : Indersar lake is 2 kms  from Lahanpathri. God Indra who figures in Konsarnag mythology is associated with this lake. Unlike Ksirsar and Brahmsar, this lake finds no mention in Nilmat or Naubandhana mahatmya. Lake is circular in shape, about 1 km in circumference. Since the mountain peaks are little away, pilgrims can easily do circumambulation of the lake. Lake water is warm as sunlight falls regularly on this lake. How the water from Indersar escapes is not known. Apparently there is no outlet. From Indersar one has to come back to Lahanpathri and then gradually descend through a tree-less area. Chittinadi, coming from Ksirsar lake is crossed over a logbridge and at times one can simply wade through the gushing stream. After crossing Chittinadi, there is gradual ascent along the base of the peaks to Ksirsar. The distance is over 4 kms.

Ksirsar: Ksirsar is spread over thirty kanals. Though circular in shape, it has numerous podia-like elongations. The lake has a clear outlet for water. Its water is milky-white. Since the peaks are too close, no circumambulation of the lake is possible. It is said that there is a big memorial stone of cow. Water oozing out from the glaciers on the peaks falls on the cow and then comes out through teats into the lake. The lake has a clear outlet for its waters. Ksirsar finds mention in Nilmat and Naubhandana mahatmya. The latter describes Ksirsar as resembling a full-moon of Purnima, with its water looking like Ksir. It refers to Upmanu’s asrama here. As per Naubhandna Mahatmya, the lake was created by Sankara himself and one reaches Shivlok by taking bath in it. Nilmat says,” one attains heaven and saves one’s family by seeing the sacrificial place of Brahma there. By seeing there the beautiful Ksirsara, one is released from sins. By bathing on the dark 14th after reaching the source of the Samara (? Chittinadi), one is freed from all the sins and is honoured in the world of Rudra”. Naubhandana Mahtmaya says Upmanu’s asrama is situated in the forest around Ksirsar. Bath in Brahmsar lake, as per Naubhandna mahatmya, has the merit of getting access to Brahmlok. For Brahmsar lake base camp is Hakwas. It can be approached from Lahanpather, Manzipal or Chiryun Bal. The route to Hakwas from Lahanpather and Manzipal is through a dense forest called Hapatnar. It is 4 hours easy journey from Lahanpathri to Hakwas.Frmo Avil to Hakwas it is 17 kms. Hakwas is a big meadow, almost equalling lovely meadow of Kongwattan.  Above Hakwas is another meadow, known to the people of the area as Gokul Marg, the meadow of Lord Krishna. A nullah hakwas nullah’ flows around Hakwas.

Brahmsar: While going from Chiryunbal to Hakwas, a bridge is crossed near Hera (upper) Chiryun bal. Then one has to climb gradually a distance of 8 kms (3 hrs), at places over old snow, to reach Brahmsar Lake. Kashmiri shepherds have their camps here in summer. Peaks are quite close to the lake. with little sunshine falling on it. Lake is covered on three sides and its water looks black due to the shadow of the peaks falling on it. Ice-flakes are also seen floating on the lake. The lake has a fearful look. Since the peaks are too close, there is strong echo. People get a feel of hearing ‘heavenly’ sounds. These sounds are attributed to aboriginal prehistoric people-Nagas, Pisachas and Kinnaras. The water of the lake comes out through a regular outlet. Pilgrims desirous of taking bath do not venture to go into the lake. They take out water for bath from the lake at its outlet. Brahmsar lake is spread over 15 kanals. The path from Brahmsar to Konsarnag is via Ksirsar and Indersar and is quite tough. It takes two hours. Only shepherds and Bakarwals take this route. Brahmsar stream is the first to join Hakwas nullah. At this spot is a bridge. Then the latter is joined first by Ksirsar nullah and later Indersar stream near Hera Chiryunbal. Subsequently, the Kaundinya stream (Konsarnag stream) joins it at Sangam. After this, a small stream coming from Ramkansan (opposite to Kongwattan, joins it and it becomes Veshav (ancient Visoka). Near Ramkansan is a sandy meadow, Sekijan , where Galwans are seen camping. The place where Kaundinya stream is joined by other streams is called Dhaumysrama. As per Nilmat taking bath here is equal to performing Rajasuya, and Vajpeya, the merit of giving one thousand cows. Just below the sangam, as per Naubhandna mahatmya is a fearful spring called Gambhir spring, right in the middle of the stream. To propaliate it, ‘Prasad’ of stream water is prepared. Kaundinya stream is formed by the confluence of two streams, one coming from the lake (though no visible outlet is seen) and the second as per Naubhandana Mahtmaya, Kumaradara Mool Waters. It is a sacred stream and the merit of taking bath here is equal to performing Pundarika. Bath in Chittinadi of Ksirsar gives the merit (gift of) a hundred cows. Mandakini stream mentioned in Nilmat in the vicinity of Konsarnag Lake has not been identified. Veshav means devoid of pain or griefless. Nilmat (versa 1329) says, “A man becomes devoid of grief and possessed of wealth, by taking bath in the Visoka and obtains the holy mefit of (performing) Devasattra”. Aharbal to Konsarnag: It is 48 kms by road from Srinagar to Shopian and then another 13 kms to Aharbal. The latter is 28 kms  from Kulgam. Avil, Damhal Hanjipora, and Manzgam are better-known villages on Shopian-Aharbal route. As already described Avil forms base camp for trek to Brahmsar, Indersar and Ksirsar lakes. There is a well-known Ganesh asthapan, named Mahabal on right bank where Danavkandi Marg nullah joins Veshau. Kashmiri Pandits of the neighbouring villages used to take turmeric-laced rice on Navreh the new year day of Kashmiri Pandits. Archeological remains seen here point towards the antiquity of the place. At Ahrabal, the river Veshau falls some 25 ft over a precipice. Vigne who visited the place in December 1834 while on way to Konsarnag writes, “In spring the rush of the water is tremendous; but the beauty of the place is not owing to its volume or the height of its fall, which does not exceed 25 feet, but to its dark, deep and precipitous sides, the thick pine forest that surrounds it and the relief that is afforded by the snows of the Pir Panjal, that rise majestically behind it.” CMs school teacher Nand Lal Bakaya, who became a legend in his lifetime for extraordinary skills in adventourous trekking, writes about Aharbal fall: “(it) is a wonderful sight, especially in the morning or at noon when the rays of the sun breaking on the spray form rainbows. The fall is best seen from the right bank”. Ahrabal to Kongawatan: The path to Kongwatan passes through forests on the right bank of river Veshau. Guruatan is 1 km away from Aharbal Galwans are seen roaming around. A bridge has to be crossed at Guruwatan for onward journey. A track here leads to Hurapur, Sedau. On the right bank of Veshau is seen a huge stone, named Pandav dul. It looks as if a big pestel has been turned upside down. Its inner side is polished. After another 4 kms we reach Sangam, where Hakwas nullah alongwith streams from other lakes joins Kaundinya stream. At Sangam the left track leads to Kongwatan, while the right road goes to Ramakansan/Sekijan. A minihydroelectric station is coming up near Sangam at a place called Chori Kholu.  A wooden bridge has to be crossed at Sangam on way to Kongwatan. A leisurely walk for another 4 kms (1« hr) takes one to Kongwatan.

Kongwatan to Konsarnag :Kongwatan is one of the finest meadows surrounded by pines and firs. Mr Ghulam Nabi Gohar has immortalized this meadow, in his Kashmiri novel. There is a small Forest Rest House here. From Kongwatan we come to a place called Adangi while walking along the right bank of Veshau. A 4-km leisurely walk takes to Mahinag. There is a small spring here. It is believed that water of Konsarnag oozes out at Mahinag.  Mahinag spring, spread over half a kanal, is circular in outline and has no old masonary. There used to be an old forest hut here. It was damaged by heavy snowfall and does not exist any longer. A dangerous glacier bridge has to be crossed some distance away. After crossing the bouldered bed of a river one reaches Satpukhrin. Seven small nullahas are seen here. Then there is ascent of 1000 ft to reach the pass overlooking the Konsarnag lake. Similar height is to be descended down to reach the lake. The journey takes 5 to 6 hours. Across the lake is a beautiful pass, called by Bakarwals as Konsargali. In Vigne’s time it was known by the name of Futi Panjal or the Ridge of victory. On the left the pass leads to Rajouri and Budhal via Ropri pass, while the right track goes to Gool and Riasi via Nalla Shergadi. It is just 4 hurs trek to Gool from Konsarnag. This pass remains snow bound even as late as early August.

Vigne’s account:

Vigue visited Konsarnag in the beginning of December.Snow which had fallen a month before the usual time had disappeared under the rays of sun. About the exit of lake waters Vigne writes,”…on its left bank…its full strong torrent is suddenly seen gushing out from the foot of the last and lofty eminence that forms the dam on the western end of the lake, whose waters thus find an exit, not over but through the rocky barrier with which it is surrounded”. Locals believe Konsarnag to be the origin of Thanna and Rajawur river also. Height of the lake is 12,000 ft. When the water in lake is low (as in December) it does not exceed 3/4ths of a mile, while its breadth is 500 to 600 yards. The position of the lake is same as that of the Valley, north-west and south-east. The peaks which are on the eastern side care called the Koserin Kutur and are the highest in the Pir Panjal. The peaks are remarkably pointed, sides are bare and scarped. About the formation of the lake Valley, Vigne says,”…to all appearance the Valley of the lake has been formed by the forcible separation of the mountain-top. Judging from the angle at which they enter the lake, the bottom must originally have been about 200 feet in depth below the present level of water”. As per Vigne Bernier’s description of the great lake ejecting fine sands possibly refers to Konsarnag. Bernier says that icebergs are driven by the wind in the spring. When vigne visited it a thin sheet of ice had covered the lake in particular places. He says that the mountain-gusts may sometimes be rushing through the gully at the southern end of the lake, and sweep across its surface with terrific violence. Vigne also recounts the local lore about this mountain tarn. At the western end the trap-rock descends to the water in a succession of steps or benches. The three steps are claimed to be those of Raja, Vizier and his Sardars. About the veneration of local Hindus for this lake, vigne says that they occasionally pay a visit for the purpose of ablution. A local Pandit who accompanied him used to visit the lake annually for performing his ablutions. Vigne refers to an incident in which a young man was confronted by a demon/deyu while he was standing on a rock, a short distance from the rock. The demon was not allowing the young man to move. As the latter was encouraged to move, the demon “seized” and drowned him.

Sultan Zain-ul-Abdin’s visit: Sultan Zain-ul-Abdin, the benevolent monarch of Kashmir visited Konsarnag lake in 1463 AD. He was so fascinated by the lake that he constructed its replica ‘Zainasara’ within Pampore, so that every Kashmiri could have a feel of what great wonder was Konsarnag lake. Budshah (the Great King), as Sultan Zain-ul-Abdin was called by Kashmiris, visited the lake in the company of Srivara, the chronicler and Sinha bhatta and was accompanied by his two sons, Haji and Behram. In Budshah’s time Naubandhana pilgrimage was quite popular. Srivara has given graphic description of King’s visit. It took them three days to reach the lake. First he went to Vijayeswara (Bijbehara) and watched enthralling dramatic performance, to which neigthbouring chieftains too had been invited. From Vijayeswara the Sultan went on foot. Srivara recorded the visit of Budshah for posterity in these words: The Sultan possessing charming devotion on seeing the Konsarnag stamped with the image of the foot of Lord Visnu derived untold bliss by making an obeisance at the foot of Naubandhana mountain (verse 96). Having observed non-stop and plentiful streams coming down the mountain with a darkish hue of musk coloured flowers afforded immense pleasure to the tallest Sultan (likening it) to the body of Hari (Visnu) dressed as a Yogi (verse 98). The Sultan boarded a boat, lined by five boatmen and taking me (Srivara) and Sinha Bhatta, roamed in the deeps of the lake. I (Srivara) recited songs from Gita-Govinda to him and Sultan derived great aesthetic pleasure from it. While roaming in the lake, it began to snow. The Sultan made three rounds around the lake. Sultan after strolls in the lake tied his boat there true to old tradition. King kept remembering the ‘ever-young’ Konsarnag lake upto Kumara. (The author is well known researcher on Kashmir Culture and history. He has authorred painting and  theatre in Kashmir Suraj Tickoo’s Journey)

 

 

 

please check the video for details of Kausarnag/vishnupad

From Kalhans Rajatarangini, The Translator M.A.Stein, in the chapter-Ancient Geography of Kashmir-section-2(the pir panjal range) has written as follows about Kausarnag:

Proceeding westward from Banhal we come to a group of three snowy peaks reaching above 15000 feet.With their bold Pyramidal summits they form conspicuous objects in the panorama of the range as seen from the valley.Kashmir tradition locates on them the seats from which Vishnu, Siva and Brahman according to the legend already related, fought jalodbhava and desiccated the satisaras.The westernmost and the highest of these peaks(15523 feet) forms the famous NAUBANDHA Tirtha.According to the legend related in the Nilmata and other texts and connected with the Indian deluge story, Vishnu in his fish Avatara had bound to this peak the ship(nau) into which Durga had converted herself to save the seeds of the beings from destruction.At the foot of this peak and to the north-west of it, lies a mountain lake over two miles long, known now as kausarnag, the Kramasaras or Kramasara of the Nilmat and Mahatmayas.It is supposed to mark a footstep(krama) of Vishnu and is the proper object of Naubandhana pilgrimage..

tragedy and humour of being a KP

March 2003.It was a sunny bright day. My Enfield-Bullet bike was in a dire need of a proper service. I took my bike to the local mechanic-Akram in Ghaziabad. As he was inspecting my Bike, an Ambassador car halted in front of me. The glass windows of the car rolled down. I saw an elderly Sikh in an orange dress. He called on me , “ where is this Agarsen Chowk?”.I came closer to the car, gesticulated, and said, “ turn straight and then turn right from the first crossing.” “What is your name?” The turbaned old man asked me abruptly. “My name is sandeep Koul” said I. “Oh! You are a Kashmiri Pandit! Come in my car.” He said excitedly. I was irked by what he said. I hardly knew him and here he was, urging me to accompany him. It looked as if he read my face. He pulled the wallet from his coat, opened it, looked for something and finally picked a card which he handed over to me. “Here! Take my card. My name is B.L.Sharma- “prem”. I am a former MP from BJP.”I looked at the card in my hand. It was white and green in colour and had an emblem of four lions(as seen in Indian currency coins) at the top. The name written on it was indeed B.L.Sharma “prem”(Member of parliament).

I was exited now. For the first time, I was face-to-face speaking to an M.P. with alacrity, I sat besides him in his ambassador. “We have a rally today at Ghaziabad. It seems our local team of Ghaziabad and I are talking on different tracks. There is some miscommunication and we are not able to track each other. Though, they are somewhere nearby. You please talk to them, since you know this place”, he said to me. He dialed some number from his mobile and handed over the phone to me. The voice from the other side in a gushed tone said, “ Sharmaji, where are you?” I answered back, “I am sandeep. We are on NH-24, Near Rahul Vihar. The person on the other side said, “You wait there. we will reach there within 5 minutes.”

Sharmaji told me briefly about his life, his family and his mission. The 1947 partition. He told me that to protect the Hindus, he has embraced Sikhism. At that time, the chief-minister of J&K was Mr.Gulam nabi Azad. He also expressed his views on Him, Hindus of Jammu and as well as Kashmiri Pandits. Soon, his local team traced us.

The local-team were all motor-cyclists. There were at least 20 motor bikes. Each bike carrying two persons. Many of them had Swords in their hands, which they waved at us and at each other with enthusiasm .A person came close to the window of our car. He said to Sharmaji, “Please follow us. we are nearby to the venue of the program. Sharmaji nodded his head in approval and said, “Alright. By the way he is Sandeep koulji. He is an uprooted hindu from Kashmir”, as he pointed towards me. The person’s faced beamed with glee as he said, “ Sandeeji, welcome. you please attend our program.”I did not wanted to attend, as politics was not my cup of tea. But on the behest of Sharmaji, I agreed.

Soon, we reached “Agarsen-chowk”-our venue. Hundreds of supporters had already gathered there. As the crowd saw us, they raised their hands in the air and chanted loud, “Jai shri Ram”, “Bharat Mata ki jai”.I alighted from the car. Sharmaji too followed me. With folded hands(namaskar), he greeted the crowd. Many people rushed towards him and touched his feet in reverence. Many people mistook me for some leader and touched my feet too. Sharmaji was used to this treatment but I was not. I was blushing, feeling embarrassed. I tried to gently push away the crowd, touching my feet.

Sharmaji went up to the podium. I sat down on a chair. But the associates of Sharmaji insisted me to sit on the podium alongside Sharmaji. Before the actual program started, An announcer announced about the program. He spoke about many issues pertaining to Hindus. At last he said, “Today, a special guest has come with Sharmaji .A kashmiri pandit refugee from Kashmir.I request my colleagues to felicitate both of them.”A line of his associates garlanded Sharmaji and me. Though, I had started enjoying the attention, But, Clearly I was not prepared for this impromptu.

Soon, Many speakers spoke in length about the infiltration on the Hindu culture. Examples were cited from the history. Many tales of the 1947 genocide were told poignantly. The mass-exodus of Kashmiri pundits was also cited. “See, how pathetic, the lives of Kashmiri Pandits have become. You can ask our Kashmiri pandit brother here. ”a speaker said. And everybody spoke about Kashmiri Hindus .Each time, Kashmiri Hindus were spoken of, a finger was pointed towards me. Frankly speaking, I was feeling as if I am a culprit.

A member of the organizing team came up to me and said in a low-voice, “you too say something. It will have a very good impact on the listeners.” Their- pointing- fingers –at- me had already made me feel guilty. An object that is loathsome-yet important(this holds true even today). So, I humbly turned down his offer. I went up to Sharmaji and took his permission to leave. He told me to be in touch with him and gave me his mobile number.

I was in touch with him for some time. He even introduced me to some people. Out of those people, I am still in touch with few , even today. I somehow lost the number of Sharmaji some years back. But, whenever, I recall that incident, I end up with a Grin. And I am reminded that indeed, “Tragedy is the biggest comedy.”

Saving my Rakhi Brother-2nd and last part

Soon after Ashok and his family left for Jammu, many more Kashmiri Pandits followed their footsteps. By the Mid-spring most of my KP neighbors had left for an alien land. “Raina’s” and “Dhar’s” had gone, so had “Saproo’s” , “Tickoo’s” and “Bhat’s”.My family and the “saraf’s” were the only KP family left in our neighborhood. Most of the time I and my family members were confined indoors because of the activities of the militants and also because Army was patrolling our area almost 24*7. The peal of the neighborhood temple Bell too was silent.

Hamida was still visiting me, though not that frequently. Her wits were still alive, but I could feel something amiss in her normal behavior. One fine day, I asked her , “Hamida, from last few days, I am feeling as if you are not your usual self. Is everything O.k?” She nodded her head in disapproval and said, “Nothing! I am just fine.”, and looked straight in my eyes. Then something happened. She held my hand and pulled me up from the Sofa. “come to the next room, I want to tell you something” she said. Ever since she had told me about the incidence of Ashok; I took every word of her seriously. And then she whispered, “Everything is not fine Didda, things are becoming worse and I doubt It will get only worst. Shabbir, my brother, has advised me not to meet you or any other KP for that matter.” I asked, “But why?”. “Read between the lines, Didda. You are my dear friend and I don’t want anybody to harm you or your family. I think you too should move out of the valley for the time being” said she in a pensive mood. And she left immediately after that. I never saw her after that.

I had to get curd from the “Ismail goor”(Ismail-the milkman).His shop was hardly 100 meters away from my house. I was thinking about my last interaction with Hamida. It was around noon. Ismail’s son Khalid was rolling down the shutters of his shop. I said to him, “ Don’t roll down the shutters, first give me half a Kg of curd.”He said in a rude tone, “Didda, go back to your home quickly.”And looked at me. His looks were threatening. I almost ran back to my house.I was angry at Khalid. My late father had taught him to read and write. He had given him free tuitions and helped him to secure a Govt. Job. He was like a family member to us all. During all these years he had never ever misbehaved with me.

As, I was thinking about the incidence, I heard a loud deafening explosion outside. I ran out to see what happened! I could only see dust and smoke at a distance .My younger brother Ramesh was running from the opposite direction. He held my hand firmly and almost dragged me back to our house. Without my asking, he said, “A bomb exploded just near “Ismail Goor’s” Shop. I was bewildered and scared.

By the evening, everything was normal. I still hadn’t bought curd. I was someone, who would not eat a meal without curd. I went again to the shop of Ismail. The shutters were still down. I decided to go to Ismail’s house and get the curd. His house was just 50 meters away from my house and I had gone there “N” number of times. He had a cowshed at the ground floor of his house and I directly went inside the shed. I shouted “Khalid, Ismailsaab, are you there?”. Khalid quickly came from nowhere. Anger was written all over his face. He pushed me back as he said, “ you mad girl ! what are you doing here. Get out of here.” Even during this commotion, I clearly saw at least 6 strange faces, ducked in between the bovines. It looked as if they were in a hiding. I came back disappointed. During night, I could not sleep for a long time. I was thinking about Hamida, Khalid and the bomb blast.

It was a moonlit night. And Sleep was still miles away. I opened the window of my room .My room was on the first floor and the windows opened towards the compound. The compound was flanked on two sides by our neighbor’s houses . There was an eight foot high by two feet wide wall securing our compound just opposite my room. The roof of compound wall was covered with slanting tin sheets, so that the snow will not accumulate on the top and will fall down smoothly. A cool breeze was blowing outside. The moon looked stunning. I was about to close the window when an image appeared behind the compound wall. I was scared. I hid myself, but I was still peeping outside the window. He was standing on the wall. I could see him clearly. He was a tall guy about 6 feet. He looked more like an Afgani than a Kashmiri. He was talking to someone on the other side of the wall, whom I could not see. I could hear him clearly . He was speaking Afgani or pushto or any other language but Kashmiri. I was scared to death and was sure that they had come to kidnap me.

Suddenly, someone started stoning my house as well as the compound wall. The sound was piercing the silence of the night and was enough to jolt the whole neighborhood and wake them up from their deep sleep. The stoning also alerted the army men outside the street. I could hear the trample of the boots of the armymen. The intruder too got confused and jumped back to the street. I had a sigh of relief.

Next morning, as I was passing by the shop of “Ismail Goor”, I spotted Khalid sitting in his shop. I was angry at him and tried to ignore him. “Didda, come here”, he said. Though I wanted to avoid him, but I still went up to him. He spoke to me in a cautious low voice. “I have been trying to caution you and your family. I cautioned you before the bomb explosion. I wanted you to go out of the cow-shed yesterday as they(militants) were hiding there and could have harmed you. And It was I Didda who stoned your house yesterday to raise an alarm against those Afganis. I am sorry, I could not inform you earlier as I too fear for my and my family’s life. I beg you to leave this place as soon as possible, for your safety and honor. Now leave this place and act as if nothing has happened. You too are under the surveillance of Militants.”I composed my calm, bought my last curd in Kashmir and went back to my house.

I narrated everything to my Brothers and my mother. We all decided to leave ASAP and come back once the things settle. A taxi was arranged by my Brothers. We only took some clothes and some important papers with us. By 7.00p.m we were at Jammu. We went to our Uncle’s place in Talab tiloo, jammu.

23 years have passed by. The return is still elusive. Who would have thought that KP’s as a community will be scattered emotionally and physically all over the Globe. Who would have thought, the alien land will become so familiar that our own motherland Kashmir will look like an stranger to us. But It has happened.

somebody has rightly said “Truth is stranger than fiction”….

Narrated by-Mrs. Seema Kaul(Didda)

“Take my Kangir..”

My friend Raj was/is an extravert. One day, late evening, in the month of Dec 1988, we went to meet our friend at “Karapora Khuski”, Rainawari. we were both wearing our winter dress i.e woolens and a “Pheran” minus “the Kangir(firepot used for the warmth in winters and usually tucked under the Kashmiri long coat “Pheran”)”. We were accosted by our friend Rehman on our way. And the conversation started. Rehman was an ardent fan of Pakistan and Pakistani cricket team. we were the aficionados of Indian Cricket team and core Indians by heart. Raj was an eloquent speaker with a stentorian voice and a master of twisting the words. He would usually win all the debates with his reasoning as well as his oratory.

The conversation started with the military power of India and Pakistan. Rehman emphatically said, “India is no match for Pakistan and can win a war anytime.” Raj retorted “That is why Pakistan lost all the wars with India”. Rehman replied,” Pakistan lost because USA supplied spurious ammunition to Pakistan. They backstabbed Pakistan.” Raj said, “C’mon, don’t fool yourself, Pakistan can not even manufacture a needle, And you are talking about Guns and Bombs. India is far ahead of Pakistan in terms of technology.”Rehman was fumbling for words and reasons. And he was visibly upset.

It was too cold , Raj casually asked Rehman if he could lend him his “Kangir” for the warmth, for some time .Rehman said with a tone of irritation ,” No, Why should I give you! Get your own Kangir- you Bhatta”. In the meanwhile, another friend Vikas joined our conversation. He said cheerfully to all of us,” Hello friends! What is up?” Rehman replied, “just usual”.

Raj nudged me in the ribs. I looked at him. He said to me in a whisper, “ See, how Rehman will share his Kangir with me, without my asking.”And he rejoined the conversation.

To get the attention of everyone Raj said loudly, “ One thing is sure, India will not be able to defeat Pakistan in the cricket match”. Rehman’s facial expressions changed suddenly from the gloomy to that of an exuberant guy. He said, “Raj you are absolutely right. Imran Khan is the best bowler and Javed miandad is the best Batsman of the world. The psyche of the entire Indian team shakes with fear whenever they hear of Pakistan. The ghost of the last ball sixer of Miandad will ever haunt the Indian cricket team.” Raj quickly said, “ you forgot Wasim Akram. His ball moves faster than a bullet. And just look at the personality of the Pakistani cricketers. Indian girls are crazy about them. Reena roy left the film industry for the sake of getting married to Mohsin Khan. They are the best.”

Rehman was on cloud nine. And suddenly he said to Raj ebulliently, “Brother, here, take my Kangir. Do you want something to eat.” Raj took the “Kangir” and tucked it under his Pheran. He winked at me. I too could not hold my smile.

Upayas(means) in Trikha Philosophy(Kashmir Shaivism)

There are three upayas(means to get Grace/state of shiva) given in Kashmir Shaivism. They are:
1.Sambhavopaya (supreme means)
2.Saktopaya(medium means)
3.Anavopaya(inferior means)

There is another upaya known as Anupaya(no-means)-which is only meant for self-realized masters.

The concept of Moksha in Kashmir Shaivism is different from Advaith vendantis. For vedantis,the state of Shiva is sat, chit and Anand(All-truth,all consciousness,Bliss).Kashmir Shaivism argues that Shiva is already sat(truth) and there is no doubt in it. Instead, for Kashmir shaivism followers, The state of Shiva is Chit(all-consciousness),Ananad(Bliss),Iccha(rise of desire due to Shiv-Iccha),Gyan(knowledge) and Kriya(action).Sambhavopaya is Iccha(shiv-Iccha),Saktopaya is Gyan(Knowledge or means) and Anavopaya is Kriya(action).Iccha,Gyan and Kriya has been explained in detail in Kashmir Shaivism.

1.Sambhavopaya:
The state where thoughtlessness is maintained by the grace of master. A transcendental state of consciousness wherein the highly realized soul finds that whole universe has come out from sentences, sentences from words, words from letters and letters from that real “I” which is param shiva. The yogi finds that this whole universe is reflected in his own consciousness and that it is reflected from within rather than from without.
In sambhavopaya there are no means to travel upon. It is the meant. There is no where to go. The masters grace is of utmost importance in this upaya. Sambhavopaya functions in Matrikachakra(the world of alphabets,words and sentences),Pratyahara(withdraw of senses) and pratibimbavada (theory of reflection of shiva in 36 elements from shiva tattva to prithvi tatva).It is said that a Yogi in the Sambhavopaya state shines like the midday sun for the whole universe. Sambhavopaya is also called icchopaya.

2.Saktopaya:
Saktopaya is also called Gyanopaya. It is functioned by the means of energies as it is the means which originates from Gyan Sakti(energy of knowledge).In this upaya, the yogi does not have to recite mantras or be aware using his breath or concentrate on any particular spot. He has only to see and concentrate on that supreme being that is found in two actions without action. This is called centering in “Vigyana Bhairava Tantra”.
In Saktopaya centering can be practiced between any and all actions and or thoughts. In centering, the yogi must develop great velocity of awareness(firmness of awareness).There must be continuity in the cycle of yogi’s awareness. The yogi can center between any two thoughts or any two movements, between one thought and another thought, between waking and dreaming, between one step and the next step, between one breath and next breath. The saktopaya yogi must simply insert beakless awareness in the center of any two actions or thoughts. If this awareness is faulty and is not beakless then he falls and enters into the lowest upaya i.e anavopaya.
In this upaya the yogi must make himself capable of receiving Master’s grace.

3.Anavopaya:
Anavopaya is concerned with anu(individual soul).It is that upaya(means) which is functioned by the process of concentrating on uccara(breathing),Karana(organs of sensation),Dhyana(contemplation), and sthana pralkalpana(concentrating on some particular place).Anavopaya is also known as Kriyopaya.
Concentration on the breath is the essential element of the practice of cakrodaya. In practicing cakrodaya, one has to continue breathing deeply and find out the point, the center between the two breaths, the incoming and the outgoing breath. In cakrodaya the beginning points and ending points of the span of the breath are predominant. This is uccara , concentration on the breath .It can either be with sound or without sound.
Concentration on karana means having and maintaining one pointedness through vision or through any sense organ. It can be through vision or sound or any other sense organ.
Dhyana(contemplation ) is another mode of anavopaya. Dhyava is contemplation on some point. There are different forms of dhyana, like contemplating on heart, or on the meaning of some mantra(such as soham,aham or siva).contemplating on object is lower form of this upaya and concentrating on mantra is higher form as it is contemplation without any shape or form.
Sthana Prakalpana means concentration on some particular place. The higher form of sthana prakalpana, which is a practice of higher anavopaya,is that practice where one has to find out where each aspect of reality is found in the span of the breath. One has to see where the Devas and Lokpalas are residing, where is the location of Dawn and morning, the location of midday, sunset and midnight. Location and time when the Sun moves towards northern side and southern side. These are all Sthana Prakalpana, and these are the particular points, one has to concentrate on, to discover in the course of ones breath. The practice of Sthana Prakalpana is to see the vastness of this universe in one breath. The second and the lower from of Sthana Prakalpana, which is lower from of anavopaya is where one concentrate on different points in the body. These particular places for concentration are divided into three. One particular place for concentration is between the two eyebrows(bhrumadhya).The second place for concentration is the pit of the throat(Kantha kupa), and the third place of concentration is the heart(Hridaya).

In avavopaya the strength of one’s awareness is such that one has to take the support of everything as an aid to maintain and strengthen one’s awareness. In Saktopaya one begin with the center and then become established in that center. In sambhavopaya the strength of awareness is such that no support is needed, One is already residing in the meant.
It is important to realize that though there are different upayas, yet all these upayas lead one to the state of one’s transcendental consciousness. The difference in these upayas is that anavopaya will carry one in a long way, Saktopaya in a shorter way and Sambhavopaya in the shortest way. Although the ways are different, the point to be achieved is one…

source:Kashmir Shaivism-the secret supreme(by Swami Laksman joo)
siva-sutras-the supreme awakening(By swami lakshmanjoo)