The Shiva Sutras are the cornerstone of Kashmir Shaivism, and contain the firm and powerful ancient roots of some of today’s “new age” concepts of universal creation, power of the mind, and a great and wonderous vision of a wide array of powerful and enlightening teachings. This text is one of the greatest gems of humanity to have survived the waves of time.
1. Universal Consciousness is one’s own nature.
2. Knowing the individual consciousness as one’s own nature and not knowing the Universal Consciousness as one’s own nature, is bondage.
3. Differentiated perception and the field of individual activities are also bondage.
4. This threefold bondage is attributable to and commanded by the Universal Mother while she
remains unknown. Hence the field of ignorance comes into existence through her and not through any other agency.
5. To get rid of this triple bondage, a sudden flash of transcendental consciousness is identical with Bhairava.
6. With deep contemplation on the wheel of energies, the whole differentiated Universe comes to an end.
Jagratsvapna susuptabhede turyabhogasambhavah
7. Such a Yogi, who has accomplished this stage, experiences Turya (transcendental GodConsciousness) in other three states also viz. Jagrat (wakefulness), Svapna (dream) and Susapti (deep sleep).
8. Common knowledge (arising out of differentiation) constitutes Jagrat (wakefulness).
9. Individual differentiated knowledge in the recess of one’s own mind is Svapna (dream).
10. Loss of discrimination in the field of unawareness is Susapti (deep sleep)
11. The one who has digested (assimilated) all these three states in God Consciousness, (Turya) is the Lord of heroes or master of his senses.
12. The Yogic powers here (in this state of being) comprise indescribable astonishment (wonder).
Iccha saktir uma kamari
13. For such a Yogi, any desire is identical with the Supreme Energy of Lord Shiva and hence his desire cannot be checked by any power.
14. For such a Yogi, even his own body becomes an extraneous object or the totality of extraneous objects is (constitute) his own Universal Body.
Hirdaye cittasanighattad drsyasvapadarsanam
15. By establishing one’s mind in the heart-the Universal Consciousness-the whole world of perception appears as one’s own nature.
Suddhatattvasandhanad va apasusaktih
16. Or by establishing uninterrupted awareness of Pure Supreme Nature, the energy of Shiva is experienced.
17. For such a realized soul, any ordinary thought becomes the means of realizing one’s own self.
18. His being in the ecstatic state of Samadhi bestows bliss and happiness to the whole humanity or the totality of enjoyment in the universe constitutes (or comprises) his ecstatic state of Samadhi.
l9. By putting (concentrating) one’s mind on Universal Energy, body internal or external, is formed by his mere will. (Such power is attainable by him in two other states also viz. dream and
20. Such a Yogi is capable of (i) helping humanity unbounded by space and time (ii) casting off his body for specified timeperiods,
and (iii) manifesting his body at various places simultaneously, by remaining in God consciousness.
21. When such a yogi abstains from such powers, he attains lordship over the wheel of Universal Energies through the rise of Pure knowledge.
22. By contemplating on Supreme Ocean, Self experience of the Universal occurs.
1. Here (i.e. in Saktopaya) by intensive awareness the mind of a yogi becomes Mantra.
2. The cause of attaining this Mantra is one’s own effort.
3. The state of totality of knowledge is the secret of Mantra
Garbhe cittavikaso visistavidyasvapnah
4. When a yogi’s mind remains satisfied in cosmic powers, his Samadhi is as good as ordinary dreaming state.
Vidyasamutthane svabhavike khecari sivavastha
5. At the rise of natural (pure) Supreme Knowledge, the State of Shiva, residing in the Eather of God Consciousness, is attained.
6. For such attainment, the means is the Master, the Guru.
7. When the master is pleased, the disciple attains the knowledge of the wheel of Universal Mother.
8. For such attainment a yogi has to offer all his three bodies of wakefulness, dreaming and dreamlessness as oblations into the fire of Universal GodConsciousness.
9. For him the differentiated knowledge is the food he assimilates into undifferentiated knowledge or the undifferentiated knowledge constitutes his food yielding him fullness and peace in his own nature.
10. By out stepping his own nature of true knowledge, at the time of entering into God Consciousness, i.e. Turya, he ill-fatally enters into dreaming state.
1. Here (in Anavaopaya) mind is the nature of individual being.
2. Differentiated knowledge of pain and pleasure is bondage.
Kaladinam tattvanam avivekomaya
3. Ignorance of the essence of Universal Action and Universal Knowledge is illusion-the Maya.
Sarire samharah kalanam
5. So one has to absorb the individuality of principles (Tattvas) in one’s own body successively, i.e., absorb the five elements into five tanmatras, those in turn into the five organs and finally integrate them in the Supreme God Consciousness.
5. A yogi must develop the power of absorbing prana and apana into Susumna-the middle path of Lordship over five elements, of isolating one’s own self from the five elements and residing in the field beyond the five elements.
6. Such powers appear only when the veil of ignorance falls in the way of entering into Pure God Consciousness.
Mohajayad anantabhogat sahajavidyajayah
7. By obtaining victory over such an illusion of cosmic powers and by enjoying the state of limitless being, the Pure and Supreme Knowledge manifests.
8. For him the state of wakefulness (Jagrat) is secondary (beam) of God-Consciousness.
9. For him, the actor, who plays in the drama of Universe, is his own self.
10. Movement attributed in this totality of Cosmic Dance, is nothing other than the Supreme Being.
11. The spectators in this Cosmic Dance, are one’s own cognitive and active organs.
12. Purity and completion of this dance is accomplished by establishing the Supreme Subtle Awareness of intelligence.
13. For him the state of utter freedom exists spontaneously.
Yatha tatra tatha anyatra
14. This kind of freedom obtains for him within and without.
15. Even after such achievement one has to remain aware in contemplating on the seed of Universal Being.
Asanasthah sukham hrade nimajjati
16. So by being established in such state one sinks into the ocean of God Consciousnessjoyously.
17. Such a yogi can create or destroy anything by his Supreme Will.
18. When the Supreme Knowledge is well established in an uninterrupted way, the pangs of recurring births and deaths are avoided for good.
Kavargadisu mahesvaryadyah pasumatarah
19. When the awareness of God Consciousness slackens a bit, the Universal Energy disintegrates into innumerable individual Energies to carry one away from the Kingdom of Universality.
Trisu caturtham tailavadasecyam
20. So the fourth state of Universal Being, i.e., Turya, must be made to permeate the three other states viz. wakefulness, dreaming and dreamlessness.
Magnah svacittena praviset
21. By developing the awareness of one’s own nature, he enters and is lost into the Universal God Consciousness.
22. After being well established in that state he breathes out that state into the Universal activities. Hence the differentiation between the self and the Universe is not recognized.
23. If one proves a failure in infusing the state of self in the Universe, he illfatally remains satisfied in his own internal nature.
24. When a yogi, after developing awareness of GodConsciousness,
Transcend the state of Turya, he enters into Transcendental God-Consciousness.
25. Such a yogi becomes one with Shiva.
26. For him the austerity is nothing else than the normal routine of physical life.
27. And for such a yogi the daily routine talk becomes the recitation of real Mantra.
28. Such a yogi gives as alms to humanity his own knowledge of the self.
29. The yogi, who commands the entire wheel of cognitive and active organs, is the only means of attaining knowledge of Transcendental God-Conscieness.
30. For him the whole Universe is the totality of his own energies.
31. Living in this world of ignorance or remaining in the Transcendental God-Consciousness is the totality of one’s own energies of Consciousness.
Tatpravrttau api anirasah samvetr-bhavat
32. Such a yogi, though apparently engrossed in the daily routine of life, is in no way separated from God-Consciousness.
33. Because such a yogi perceives the states of pain and pleasure only superficially, they, in no case, affect his state of Supreme-Being Consciousness.
34. Hence he is liberated from the states of pain and pleasure and is uniquely established in his own nature.
Mohapratisamhatas tu karmatma
35. On the contrary, the one who feels the absence of God-Consciousness in the states of pain and pleasure, is an individual soul and a victim of recurring births and deaths.
36. The one who stands, aloof from differentiatedness becomes the creator and destroyer of the entire Universe.
37. The energy of creating and destroying the whole Universe comes within the experience of such a yogi just as an ordinary soul possesses the power to create and destroy during his dreaming state.
38. The state of Turya God-Consciousness, that comes into experience in the beginning and at the end of the other three states (viz. Jagrat, Svapana and Susupti), should be infused and
transmitted into these three states by firmly establishing one’s own awareness during these intervals viz. beginning and end thereof.
39. And by developing such process, a yogi must transmit the God Consciousness not only into the three states of individuality but into the entire Universe.
Abhilasat bahirgatih samvahyasya
40. By the slight appearance of individual desire, one is carried far away from the state of God-Consciousness.
Tadarudhapramites tatksayaj ]iivasam Ksayah
41. By firmly establishing one’s own self in the state of Turya, all desires disappear and individuality lost into Universality.
Bhuta-kancuki tada vimukto bhuyah patisamah parah
42. Such a yogi is Liberated-in-Life and as his body still exists, he is called Bhuta-Kancuki, i.e. having his physical body as a mere covering just like an ordinary blanket. Hence he is supreme and one with the Universal Self.
43. After remaining in this state of Universal Transcendental God Consciousness, the functions of inhalation and exhalation automatically take place with the object, that this whole Universe of
action and cognition is united in God-Consciousness.
Nasika-antarmadhya samyamat kimatra savyapasavya sausumnesu
44. When one contemplates on the center of Universal consciousness, what else remains there to be sought in the practice of prana, apana and susumna ?
Bhuyah Syat pratimilanam
45. When a Saiva-yogi is completely established in God-Consciousness, he experiences this state
spontaneously within and without or both.
THE compound word ‘Panchastavi’ in ordinary parlance connotes a collection of devotional hymns divided into five cantos. The very first verse of the first canto remakes it abundantly clear that these panegyrics are essentially meant for the ‘Rainbow-hued’ Divine Energy comprising the ‘speech’ and ‘resplendence of symbols’. Moreover the whole gamut of Alphabet from AA to Ksa is presided over by this Transcendental Energy; and to speak squarely, it is the progenitor of the sound and sense. At times it has been equated with super-knowledge, bliss and even this whole cosmic world. Moreover, this ‘super-marvel’ Maha-maya creates and annihilates this world of sound and sense by the triple formula of desire, perception and action. However it is also to be conceded that this poetic work is essentially an allegory in which the mental experience of supreme consciousness has been clothed in the flesh and blood of words to make it appear as physical or concrete. The poet has very candidly referred to this approach in the fifth canto (6th verse). So the ‘Benign Motherhood’ of that ‘Primeval Energy’ has become the focal point throughout the pages of this devotional composition.
II. Title of the Composition:
But this word five pancha or, the original panchan has many other shades of meaning, moreso with the Saiva philosophers, which naturally must have weighed with the poet while giving a name to his composition. So, it will not be out of place here to , allude to those shades contained in the number five, so as to comprehend exactly as to what the poet wants to express by its use. Perhaps this contention presupposes that the devotee-poet has deliberately confined his imagination to five cantos (stavas) only, so as to make it synchronize with other shades of meaning contained in this number.
In ‘TantraSadbhava’ – a Shaivistic treatise, the Divine Energy has been described as five-fold, panch-mantra gata and also Panch-vidha having five forms. Herein clear reference has been made to the five modes of reciting a Mantra or an incantation with syllabic instants (Kala). These are Ishana with five instants, Tatpurusha with four. Aghora with eight; vamadeva with thirteen and Sadyojata also with eight respectively, making a total of thirty eight, which works out to be the exact number of consonants in the Alphabet.
The school of cognition in the Shaiva-lore takes five as the synonym of five duties which are Abhasan appearance, rakti attachment, Vimarshan scrutiny, Bija source, and avasthapanam establishing. These five duties or the stages of perception are also extricable part of the muttering of an incantation Japa-vidhi; hence the reference to mantroddharah delivering an incantation is not without purpose in Panchastavi.
Moreover, this pentad of devotional poems is essentially a treatise on Para-vidya super knowledge, as conceived by the Shaivas. Naturally to spell out its contrast with the negation of knowledge avidya – Ignorance, the poet must have made its five-fold division in his mind. This ignorance comprises tamah – error- Moha – illusion-, Maha-mohah – obduration-, tamisrah -fallacy, and andha mental blindness; copious references throughout the text of Panchastavi for dispelling tamah – error moha – illusion etc. have been made in this context. ” Consequently these concomitants of ignorance are to be crossed, so that Super knowledge may dawn which is also called Shuddha Vidya or sad- vidya) by the Shaivas, which can be attained by adopting the course prescribed in Shuddhadhvan – the pure path. The Shaivas also believe that the purusha – the limited individual self has five envelopments of niyati – confinement, Kalah – experience of changes in time, Ragah – attachment, Vidva -limited knowledge and Kala -limited authorship. The cumulative effect of these aberrations produces Maya (obduration) and this can be removed completely by Shuddha vidya, the pure knowledge as alluded to above. Actually Maya obduration, is the name given to non-identity between Shiva and Shakti. So the poet invokes the ‘Immanent Mother’ Sakala Janani – to emancipate all the living beings from this ‘knot of Maya’.
As a corollary to this, having overcome Maya (obduration) the experiencer has to traverse five stages of sad-vidya, assimilative consciousness (Aishvarya). All pervasive conscious-self, Sadakhya, objective conscious self, Shakti tattva predicative manifestation, and Shiva-tattva subjective conscious-self, so as to identify himself with the Parama Shiva (Supreme conscious-self), the acme of Shaiva realization. The Panchastavi-kara (the composer of Panchastavi) has referred to these in very unambiguous terms also.”
In addition to these shades of meaning projecting from five, it cannot be gainsaid that it does not connote the body made up of five elements namely Prithvi, solidity. Apas liquidity, Agni (formativity). Vayu (aeriality) and akasha (etheriality). The recitation of an incantation is definitely a mental drill with physiological basis; so the body – the very first expedient for accomplishing Dharma- is an inevitable part of this mental discipline. Hence the poet is at pains to refer to this Vehicle in his eulogies to the Supreme Energy.
Not only this, in several Tantric works, human body is looked upon as Shri Chakra (disc of bountiful Superhuman power) in which the microcosmic angles of the Energy (Shakti) have been detailed as tvak (Skin), asrah (blood), mamsam (flesh), Meda (lymph) and asthi (bones). The macrocosmic angles have also been defined as the five elements, five tanmatras (subtle elements ) belonging to Shabda (sound), sparsha (touch), rupa (colour), rasa (flavour), and gandha (smell), five senses, of perception, five senses of actionand five pranas. This aspect of SHakti (Energy) has been fully brought out not only by Panchdstavi but also by another compilation of panegyrics named Saundarya Lahri (the wave of Beautitude) even. Again the five karnas @ur (generative causes) in Shaiva philosophy are Brahma (the progenitor), Vishnu (the nourisher), Rudra (the annihilator),. Sada-Shiva, (perennial & immanent conscious spirit) and Ishvara (the supreme Lord). To this belief the poet has succinctly referred in these eulogisms.”
Last but not the least, the Shiva from which the Shaivism derives its name, is supposed to have five faces, Panch-mukha, but it is just a corpse (Shavah), without the union, with Energy (Shakti). This very thought has been expressed by the author in dexterously fine poetry. The Saundarya Lahri begins the devotional praise of the Super-Energy with this belief.
So it has been made abundantly clear that the poet, who composed Panchastavi was an ardent Shaiva and had all these shades of five in his mind, when he deliberately selected this very number, so pregnant with esoteric content, for choosing an apt and befitting title for his imagination concentrated in Panchastavi. It could not have been a mere accident or even a happy coincidence; it was wilfully done by him as a conscious artist and a versatile Shaiva.
In tune with the arguments advanced above, it also seems plausible to assert that Shaivism in essence advocates a happy compromise between materiality (bhoga) and spirituality (Yoga), a rewarding attitude to life, and if that balance is tilted in favour of any of the two, that attitude will get disturbed and may not contribute to the well-being of the humanity at large; so when vamacharah (the left hand ritual of the Tantras) pleaded for the introduction of pancha makara (five Ms); naturally as a healthy reaction to this degenerate Tantric ritual which ran counter to the Shaiva teachings, the poet thought it fit to substitute the five eulogiums for five Ms. This conjecture is substantiated by the dig in undertones he has dealt at such believers in his own composition. The use of the words aparey and budhah are significant here. Budhah (the wise, enlightened) call this super-Energy as transcendental (akulam); in contrast with this aparey (others), not enlightened or wise call Her Kaulam personifying Kaulacharah.
III. Nomenclature of Cantos:
Furthermore, the poet has captioned each canto with a sub-title. Herein also these subtitles have been used not haphazardly but with a purpose.
First Canto: The first canto bears the sub-title Laghu (insignificant or light). In the penultimate verse of this chapter, the poet has justified the use of this word and hinted at his insignificance laghustvatmani for undertaking such a lofty yet burdensome task for analysing the Super-Energy. However, also, it seems that he has tried to play on the word ‘Laghu’ and in keeping with the Shaivistic tradition tried to keep it occult rahasya sampradayah. As the word discussion has many other meanings also we have to glean any such out of these, which is in consonance with what has been described in this canto.
Without mincing words, it may be said that this canto tries to define, explain and emphasize the purport contained in the aphorism ‘ Vidya shariratta mantra rahsyam. “The occult power of an incantation is its efficacy to strike identity between the sound and its symbol. ” Vidya has been described as nothing other than the symbols (matrika) of the alphabet. Hence the ‘origin of letters’ and their method of grouping into an incantation and the consequent mode of recitation has been fully dealt with in this canto. This very knowledge of letters has been treated as a fond Mother granting each and every boon to her children. These sounds and symbols (nada, Bindu) emanate from the Muladhara where these are coiled together like a Kundalini – the coiled serpent and traversing twelve stations (dwadash-dalam) approaches the Brahma-randra and then its return or descent into the Kanda or Muladhara begins and it again lies dormant there. The poet, while describing this terse and yet intricate discipline of the breath is alive to the fact that it may not be taken kindly to by the prospective realizers; they might feel diffident to practise this course which seemingly appears guru (weighty, difficult); hence to make it popular and banish all the scare from the minds of the devotees, he has captioned this chapter as Laghu (very light, easy to comprehend). Some say that it is the composition of a devotee named Laghu Bhattaraka, hence the sub-title Laghustava will mean a panegyric composed by Laghu, a diminutive from Laghu Bhattaraka.
Second Canto: The second canto, is known as charchastava (the panegyric containing careful study or reflection). Herein the attributies of the Divine Mother ( Energy ) in cosmic form have been fully described. She is also invoked to cut the shackles of birth and rebirth, and to release the devotee from the prison (bondage) of his body. This canto gives in detail the immanent form of the Super-Energy, whereas the first brought into bold relief Her Vishvotteerna transcendental form.
Third Canto: The third canto bears the title gatastavah. Gatah is patently derived from Ghat verb meaning to unite, to join or, bring together. Herein the ghatnam or sanghatnam (union) of Shiva and Shakti is complete. The impersonal as described in the first and the personal in the second cantos respectively get fully immersed in each other in this canto just like the water and its container (Ghatah). This coincides with the paraparadasha or bhedabheda vimarshanatmakta (complete identity) for which sadyidya (the perennial and pure knowledge) is also a synonym. Hence the third canto deals with this aspect of knowledge. The Ghatah (pitcher) is looked upon as the body metaphysically by the Yogis and the water inside it is taken to be the soul (Atman). The body of the alphabet (Vidyasharira) has been profusely mentioned in the first Canto, the second locates its soul and the third marks their auspicious blending, hence the use of the word ghatah or the verb ghat. So the poet jeers at those fools who torment their body with various kinds of pennance or make themselves paupers by spending lavishly on Yajnas (sacrificial fires) and liberal remunerations. The realizer attaining this stage has not to bother himself with these fruitless rituals. This very union between the sound and the symbol, para (higher) and apara (lower), the immanent and the transcendal. Shiva and the Shakti, Bheda (duality) and abheda (identity) has been very beautifully alluded to by the poet while addressing the Supreme Energy as ‘Shabda Brahmamayi’.
Fourth Canto: The fourth canto is called Amba Stavah, a panegyric eulogizing the Mother. The word Amba is to be read in the context of Jyeshtha and Raudri. While discussing the origin of letters, the ‘Tantra Sadbhava’ has to say that Raudri the terrible, on account of the agitation it produces, is the first stage of a letter being conceived. Jyeshtha-‘the elderly or prominent’ indicates its form being taken, and Amba is the final sound which comes at the tip of the tongue. Hence it is established beyond doubt that embryonic and formative stages of a letter having been described at length in the previous chapters, the fullfledged word having taken shape and being pronounced singly or is a part of an incantation is actually the Amba. This word also means a mother like matrika, hence may also mean vidya Super-knowledge as corroborated by the poet himself in the very first verse of this chapter. Herein, consequently the praises of Vidya have been sung which has been naturally equated with Shakti (energy) without which Shiva is a non-entity ( asamartha ). So, this Amba (Mother) is the real generative power in nature or man ; bereft of Her, this world would look desolate. Moreover, only when Her two lotus – feet are enshrined in the of hearts people, the puzzling din and strife of obstinacy, argument and counter-argument will cease. In the last verse the poet prepares the ground for captioning the penultimate chapter as ‘sakala janani stava’ by invoking Her as as sakala bhuvana mata (Mother of all the worlds – inanimate or animate) with Her protruding breasts ebbing with the milk of human kindness.
Fifth Canto: Sakala (entire or whole) can be expounded in more than one way. It may mean, along with other parts, digits or full, such as sakalaindu (the full moon). It might also connote in thelanguage of Shaivas as savyenjan (with consonants) as against nishkala (avyenjan without consonants one of the methods of japa muttering an iticantation. It might also indicate the medial sounds or letters of the incantation with sakala japa vidhih the method of muttering with consonants. The latter part of the compoud Janani (Compassionate Mother) makes it more clear and all the same unambiguous. Actually this chapter is devoted to the propitiationon of the ‘Universal Mother’ Jagatmata; and this Universal Mother is maha vidya Super knowledge being beyond speech and argument. This all-pervading Mother represents in Her ownself attributes of creation, sustenance and annihilation, as also the over-lordship and the super-knowledge, thereby exhibiting diversity, out of unity. She showers supreme bliss on those, who take pains to know Her in essence.
IV. Precise import of Tripurasundari
Before proceeding further it seems pertinent to explain the content of Tripura or Tripura Sundari personifying the ‘Divine Energy’ and repeatedly used by the poet in all the cantos.
tri denotes number three and pura means among other things, the body also. The word thus literally will indicate any such woman who has three bodies (tripura) or who represents in herself the beauty of three worlds (whole cosmos). Perhaps to facilitate the exact comprehension of this word, the poet, on his own, has advanced reasons for calling this ‘Divine Energy’ as Tripura. After enumerating the triple form of gods (Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra), fire (household, sacrificial and of pyre), energies (desire, perception and action), basic vowels, worlds (Bhur, Bhuvah and Svah), Vedas (Rig, Yajus and sama) and other cosmic manifestions, he very convincingly tries to establish that this threefold division is actually an extension of the essence of the Divine Energy, consequently called Tripura. Shaivistic lore confirms this view of the poet, ‘Prapanchasara’ asserts that ‘Ambika’ is named as Tripura because of its accent on the three basic vowels. ‘Tripurarnava’ lays down that the Energy residing in ‘Sushumna, pingala and Ida’-Blood Vessels-as also in the mind, intellect and soul is called Tripura. ‘Kalika Purana’ says since everything is threefold, so she (Divine, Energy) is called Tripura. ‘Vamakeshvara -Tantra’ believes that Tripura is threefold in the form of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and also personifies in Herself the three powers of desire, perception and action. ‘Varaha Purana’ also explains the name on those very lines. Hence the word Tripura is actually the manifestation of triple power of the super-Energy-Raudri, Jyeshtha and Amba-the birth of a letter from the embryo to the actual pronounciation. Letter is an indissoluble part of an incantation, hence the poet feels that Tripura Sundari on being discerned by physical eyes or through mastering a Mantra (mentally) dispells sins and mitigates the fear of death.
Hindu genius has all along provided form (Vyakt BERTE) to the formless (Avyakta), not because it believes that ‘Divine Energy’ can have any form, but with the sole motive of making that abstract Entity look like a concrete object, especially in human form, so as to make it more acceptable and intelligible to the general masses. To make this apprcach more impressive and effective the image of the Mother came in handy for them. “An unworthy son may be born, but there can never be a bad- Mother.” This attitude is at the root of the Mother- worship so popular with the Hindus. In this way also the so called polytheism grew out of the monotheist. Even in the hoary times of Vedas the seer was constrained to remark “Ekam hi sadvipra bahuda vadanti “The Reality being one is interpreted in many ways.” On the same analogy the poet-devotee of panchastavi has provided all the human attributes to Her, and yet made her look superhuman. Hence Tripura in essence being an abstract feeling of mind, has been painted in words pulsating with undivided devotion as a ‘Loving Mother’; such discipline of mind is a mental experience beyond the domain of physical words. This discipline will remain incomplete, if the mention of the common belief is not made that Tripura is the consort of Tripurari (shiva). Propitiation of Tripura is still performed in Kashmir especially by a sect of Kashmiri Pandits, known as Tikus, presumably a Kashmiri rendering of trik.
V. The name of the Composer
Unfortunately for us, the poet has maintained sphinx-like silence about his name, time or lineage throughout the length and breadth of his versified composition. However strange it might seem, but it is all the same true about many Sanskrit authors of repute. Even Kalidasa, the prince among poets has been also reticent about himself. Barring a few authors like Bilhana and Ksemendra, the date and name of whole galaxy of Sanskrit luminaries of Kashmir is still a matter of research. In the Shaivistic literature only Abhinavagupta has given his brief biographical sketch and some dates in one of his stotaras devotional panegyrics. Herein his versatality has to be thanked, otherwise the Hindu attitude of mind by and large feels shy of publicity more so, of self-advertisement.
In 1917 A. D. T. Ganapati Shastri brought out an edition of the first chapter of Panchastavi naming it as Laghustuti with the Sanskrit commentary of one Raghvananda. On the authority of the commentator he put down the name of the poet as Laghu Bhattaraka:
However, he has also referred to another commentary on the same treatise which to quote him is very voluminous and consists of nearly two thousand verses by some Parameshwaracharya. This commentary is not still out, hence nothing can be said about it. Had this commentary been made available after getting it printed, who knows many knotty problems would have been solved. In his introduction the learned Shastri has not referred to Panchastavi at all, and has, for all practical purposes, thought these 21 verses to be an independent work, and not the first canto of Panchastavi. Curiously enough the commentator Raghavananda also has not made the mention of Panchastavi or its other cantos even once directly or indirectly. This intriguing silence poses many questions which deserve plausible answers. Firstly, it seems that Panchastavi as a whole is unknown in the south and only its first chapter has gained currency there. Therein also the original Stava has been substituted by Stuti even though both mean the same thing. Moreover, it is thought to be a Composition of some Laghu Bhattaraka.
It is very well known that Shaivism of the south is predominantly dualistic in content. Madhvacharya (A.D. 1199-1276) has described: ‘ Shaiva Darshan ‘ as, a, dualistic system, which is fundamentally at variance with the Monistic system which thrived only in Kashmir. Nimbarka (A. D. 1162) emphasizes that it is from duality bheda that non-duality abheda can be realized. In the Tantric literature a clear division has been made on the basis of duality and non- duality; hence the Tantras like Kamaja, Yogaja, etc. numbering ten have been ascribed to the dualistic school of Shaivism. Therefore it seems surprising that a composition like this advocating non-duality should come from the south. As will be made clear lateral Panchastavi as a whole, beyond any doubt, breathes an air of being composed in Kashmir, and to crown all, by a Kashmiri author. Hence it seems plausible to surmise that the text of only one canto was commented upon by Raghvananda for propounding a faith which would have raised many eyebrows there. If we contend that the other four cantos were lost, it will not be tenable in the face of his not referring to any one of these in his commentary. For fear of being misinterpreted and also misunderstood, he stopped at the conclusion of the first chapter. Perhaps this will also solve the puzzle of substituting Stutih for Stava by him. Even though both these words mean the same thing, yet in usual practice Stava is a collection of stutih; Had he used the original Stavah he would have then betrayed the knowledge of other Stavas also. Hence he changed the word to Stutih without imparing its connotation as in the original, and also thereby implied that he knew nothing about other cantos. Our poet has used the Stutih ( praise ) in the same context, which confirms our belief in the rightness of this conjecture. Raghvananda wanted it to look like an independent and single Stutih (praise) of the ‘Supreme Energy’ like ‘Saundarya Lahri’ or Bhairavastuti of Abhinava Gupta.
Bhattaraka or Bhattara is an appellation of respect or esteem joined with the names of either very learned Brahmins or Kings, its diminitive Bhattah still survives as a generic name for Kashmiri Pandits. In south no such practice is in vogue perhaps with the exception of Kumarilla Bhatta; so Laghu Bhattaraka seems also to be a Kashmiri Brahmin; ‘Laghu’ taken as an adjective would mean ‘quick witted’ or one who was so proficient as to give the minutest details Laghava (noun) about the Supreme Energy. Hence it can not be the actual name of the author but a commendatory epithet used by the commentator for his erudition and devotion. On the analogy of ralayauhabhedah (Panini’s diction in his sutras) it strikes as the name of the commentator itself laghava becoming Raghava. Hence we come to the conclusion that the commentator did not know the real name of the poet and to be on the safe side ascribed it to a quick-witted Kashmiri Brahmin Laghu – Bhattarka and thereby inserted his name also with it.
Lakshmi Dhara in his commentary on – Saundarya Lahri while quoting from Panchastavi has referred to its author as an ‘Acharya’ generally, but in one case has referred to Kalidasa particularly also in this context. However, we can authoritatively say that he is not the famous Kalidasa of Raghuvarnsha or Shakuntala repute. It might mean “A votary of Kali,” some Acharya who was a devotee of Kali is perhaps meant by him.
In some manuscripts in the possession of the Kashmir Government Research Library the name of the author has been given as Laghavacharya, and in some as Acharya Prithvi Dhara, disciple of Shambhunatha. In one Ms the name of the poet has been written as Shri Ramchandracharya. Kasbmiri tradition ascribes it to Abhinava Gupta. In the quoted verses from Panchastavi used by commentators of ‘Vidyarnava’ and ‘Saubhagya Ratnakara’ the author has been mentioned as Dharmacharyah. Nityananda, the commentator of Tripura Mahimastotra also corroborates the same view. Harabhatta Shastri, the reputed local scholar also has taken Dharmacharyah to be its author.
The verv fact that there is no unanimity of views about the authorship of Panchastavi leads us easily to think that actually the author has wanted to remain annonymous to which view the last verse of the first canto also subscribes. The use of Laghustvatmani (insignificance of his own self) debars him to proclaim his name. This is the zenith of humility and knowledge has been acclaimed as the giver of the same. As to the names Acharya, Kalidasa and Dharmacharyah, we may say that actually these are not the proper names but assumed ones. Acharya may mean a precepter and Dharmacharyah accordingly indicates a preceptor of Dharma, here Shaiva Dharmah ostensibly. At times even scribes when not finding the name of the author therein, may have put in their name in his stead. In the absence of any indisputable and authentic evidence, we are forced to conclude that the authorship of Pinchastavi is an un resolved mystery.
VI. Date of Composition
Panchastavi is the quintessence of Tantric scriptures of non-dualistic school. The earliest extant reference to its versess used as quotations are found in the Saraswati Kanthabharana of King Bhoja. The probable date of the composition of Saraswati Kanthabharan is between 1030-1040 A. D. Hence Panchastavi must have been composed much earlier to it; by the time of Bhoja its poetic merit (leaving devotional apart) must have been established on firm footing, only then it could deserve a place in this work on poetics. Moreover Saundarya Lahri whose authorship is ascribed to Shankaracharya, does in a way, treat the same thought as couched in the Panchastavi.
For this very reason Lakshmi Dhara has quoted profusely from it. It is very difficult to say as to which composition of these two is earlier; in other words, what debt they owe to each other is a subject of profound research. However it can be said without any fear of contradiction that the subject matter of these two compositions being similar, as also the phrase and idiom at many places, both these might have been composed at the same time when the devotional climate in Kashmir was vibrating with ‘Shaivisttc Monism’. It is also believed that Shankaracharya was converted to this line of thinking during his sojourn in Kashmir. Local tradition of Kashmir also confirms it. Shankara’s date has been fixed between 788-820 A.D. So it seems probable that Panchastavi was also composed during this period, Even if it may be argued that Panchastavi is posterior to Saundar Lahari, still it could not have been composed by after 1030-1050 A.D. in any case. The upper limit may be fixed at 788-820 A.D. Shankara’s visit to Kashmir and consequently composing Saundarya Lahari by him, and the lowest limit is furnished by the date of Bhoja’s treatise on poetics (Saraswati Kanthabharna) i.e. 1030-1050 A.D. During this Span of period out poet’s composition must have seen the light of the day. So in all fairness to the author, it may be concluded that Panchastavi must have been composed in the latter half of ninth century and by the time of Bhoja its verses had attained sufficient fame and credence for being included in his work.
VII. Common authorship of five Contos
One more point deserves consideration before we conclude this brief study, whether this is the work of one and the same author, who-so-ever, he might have been. On the strength of the internal evidence as well as the external, we have to answer this query in affirmative. The data available to us from the internal evidence conclusively points towards this hypothesis. Besides the astounding similarities of phrase and idiom and even repetition of words, the reference made to Vatsa Raja Udyana who was blessed with plenty and opulence by the Divine Mother, in more than one cantos, corroborates this view. Not only this, in the second factual reference there is mention of a famous Kashmiri king Pravarsena also, who, has been equated with king Udyana. The use of api (also) in the verse itself makes this inference obvious. The king Udyana as also the “Pravara” (Pravarsena) is the correct translation and not ‘Udyana pravara’ or very esteemed Udyana. Pravara herein is not a qualifying adjective of Udyana, but a noun, name of another king Praversena, the use of api (also) can be justified only then, otherwise it seems redundant. The translation thus would be ‘king Udyana’ (as referred to already in I-12 but also Praversena (api) which agrees with the singular sah in the third line, otherwise should have been tau (these two). In this verse, therefore explicit reference to Udyana has been made. Praversena has been obviously mentioned explicitly. If the poet had meant to refer to Udyana again, he could not have escaped the blemish of repetition and as such his verses could not have been cited as examples by rhetoricians like Bhoja and Mammata.
Taking this suggestive import into account, we can easily identify as to which Praversena is meant by the poet, as Kalhana has given two kings of this name in his Rajatarangini. It seems Praversena II (590 A.D. roughly), who was a great warrior and an ardent believer like vatsa Raja Udyana. In Kalhana’s own words: “He founded the city of Pravarpura on the outskirts of Sharika Parbat, which formed the centre of the new city”. This Sharika Parbat, now known as Hari Parbat is regarded as the abode of the Goddess. So the cause of establishing the capital around Sharika Parbat is not far to seek. Being the recipient of favours from the Goddess he wanted to remain permanently under the canopy of Her feet literally. Moreover, verses not only from the I and V cantos, but from II, III and IV have also been quoted by later writers, this fact beyond any doubt establishes that these were the product of a single poet’s imagination.
VIII. His Kashmiri Origin
He was a Kashmiri by birth needs no further elucidation. The monistic Shaivism was founded and propagated only here. It could not catch up with other schools of this philosophy, more especially in the south. This poetic composition is found as a whole in Kashmir alone, and from very remote times its verses are on the tongue of the Kashmiri Brahmins. In this connection reference to purely Kashmiri herbs like trupsi also points eloquently towards this conclusion. Moreso, reference to Praversena discussed earlier, also substantiates this view. Reference to Udyana in this respect is not so important, as he has been an ideal with most of the Sanskrit poets and Dramatists for his amors, exploits and bravery. Praversena is known only to Kashmiris; Kashmiri scholars have often referred to him, but no mention of him has been made anywhere in Sanskrit literature outside Kashmir. Tripura Pooja is exclusively carried on here without any break from times immemorial. Tripura worship outside Kashmir does not seem to be popular, even Tantriks over there have chosen kali as their Tutelar Deity (Isht Devi). Only the Brahmins of this place persist with this name of the Goddess.
In the end, it looks quite appropriate to invoke the ‘Supreme Energy’ in the words of the poet himself who is bold enough like other true Shaivas of Kashmir to announce that caste restriction is no bar to Her propitiation; but only the steadfast intellect and unflinching faith overcomes any impediments whatsoever, ushering in a span of material opulence and spiritual ascendancy for the devotee.
In this context it will be of interest to note here that the charisma of ‘Shakti’ worship here in Kashmir, prompted ‘Adi- Shankaracharya’ to pay this tribute to Her imminence and transcendance:
“Oh Youthful Spouse of Shiva, Thou art Mind, Ether, Air, Fire, Water, Earth and dost thereby transform Thyself into the universe. Nevertheless there is nothing beyond Thee. By Thy play Thou dost manifest Thy consciousness and Bliss in the body of the universe.”