Hymns of Kashmir Shaivism

No philosophical system has looked so closely at Sanskrit as Kashmir Shaivism, and no philosopher has unraveled the mysteries behind this ancient and universal language as Abhinavagupta. Throughout his writings Abhinavagupta makes references to the fact that the expansion of the physical universe is based on the unfolding of the five circles (kalas), the thirty-six elements (tattvas) and the one hundred and eighteen worlds (bhuvanas). But this three-fold path is a direct reflection of a subtler subjective unfolding of letters (varnas), words (mantras) and sentences (padas), which make up the Sanskrit alphabet. Together these are known as shad adhvan, or the six-fold path of the universe.

Based on his intimate knowledge of Sanskrit, Abhinavagupta has woven into the fabric of his hymns the enlivenment of the subtlest impulses of the energies (Shaktis), which make up creation. A complete master of the science of nyasa—the relationship of Sanskrit letters and their placement in the body—Abhinavagupta’s hymns transcend the grosser levels of the mind and limited understanding and go straight to the heart. Whether one is reciting or just quietly listening, the unique rhythms and Sanskrit intonations spark a deep connection to the reality of ones own divinity.

In this way the hymns presented here imbibe the essence of the teachings of Kashmir Shaivism. To gain the maximum benefit from these recitations, emphasis should be placed on the “awareness of listening” rather than the literal meaning of the hymns. Out of respect to the energies, which are enlivened by these recitations, it is advisable to listen to, or recite these hymns, in a meditative atmosphere.

May the grace of Lord Shiva – Para Bhairava, shine upon you and dispel the darkness that creates the illusion of separation.

Om Namah Shivaya.