Understanding Philosophies – Concluding Part: Trika Philosophy – Concluding Part

Mala-s and upāya-s:

Mala means impurity, hiding the true picture. It is like dross. There are three types of mala-s. They dwell in māyā, which is not totally different from Svātantrya Śakti (the independent power of Authority of Śiva). Literally speaking, Svātantrya Śakti and māyā are the same; yet there is a subtle difference. Māyā can only pull down, whereas Svātantrya Śakti can push up and pull. It is always one way traffic in māyā. It can only lead to darkness. Svātantrya Śakti allows two way traffic; from darkness to light and from light to darkness. Svātantrya Śakti is the Power of Śiva, hence it is pure. When this Svātantrya Śakti is afflicted with impurities known as mala-s, it is known as māyā. Like Śiva, His Power is also omnipresent. Śiva and Śakti is always inseparable. When Śiva falls into the dark tunnel of māyā, Śakti also goes down with Him.

The three mala-s (impurities) work on different types of bodies. Kārmamala works on gross body; māyīyamala works on subtle body and āṇavamala works on the causal body. There are three types of upāya-s (means) to overcome the impurities caused by the three mala-s.  Upāya means method or approach. Upāya is the means to remove the impurity caused by mala. Mala works during contraction of Śiva and upāya works during expansion. Contraction means contraction of His original nature and expansion means back to His original nature. Upāya-s are the ways to realize His original nature and they are śambhavopāya, śāktopāya and āṇavopāya.     

Trika PhilosophyGross body is made up of kriyaśakti of Śiva, known as suddha vidyā. Subtle body, also known as mental body is made up of jñānaśakti of Śiva, also known as Īśvara. Causal body also known as the spiritual body is made up of icchāśakti of Śiva also known as Sadāśiva. The innermost is the soul, known as puruṣa, combination of Ānandaśakti (Śakti) and Citśakti (Śiva).

Kārmamala is related actions that unfold due to karmic imprints. Karmic impressions always manifest, first through mind and then through organs of action. No action can take place without receiving command from the mind. It should be understood that kārmamala is not karmic impressions or karma. But, according to Śaivaism, karma can be annihilated only by Śiva’s His Grace; otherwise, it is to be spent through various physical bodies through repeated births. This mala can be countered with āṇavopāya, which is predominantly based on breath control and mind. There is a direct relation to breath control and mind. Kriyāyoga comes under āṇavopāya. Through the proper techniques of prāṇāyāma, mind can be kept under control and as a result of calm and composed mind, right actions are performed. Hatha Yoga and kuṇḍaliṇī meditations come under this category.

Māyīyamala can be countered by śāktopāya. While kārmamala works on the gross body, māyīyamala works on the subtle body. The effect of māyā is always to cause concealment and deceptive projection, which is the cause for duality. When māyīyamala is in operation, the higher knowledge (spiritual knowledge) dwindles down as it affects the mind by causing delusion by segregating the object from the subject, causing duality.  To counter the adverse effects of māyīyamala, śāktopāya is used. Śāktopāya is connected to the mind and knowledge and helps in eliminating impure thought processes. Thought process is a strange phenomenon. One evil thought produces series of evil thoughts and one good thought produces series of good thoughts. Therefore, it is important that we should not give room for negative thoughts and feelings. Positive affirmations always help in producing good thoughts. Advanced meditation techniques also fall under this category. Because of perpetual contemplation on the Divine, mind gets purified. Normally, mantra japa-s, repeated affirmations, etc work on the mind and will remove the effects of māyīyamala, which is always associated with māyā.   Śāktopāya is the means to work with the mind in a deeper fashion than the āṇavopāya. At the end of śāktopāya, one reaches the state of nirvikalpa or the state of thoughtlessness and one-pointedness, where his awareness is focused on the subject, Śiva alone. According to Bhagavad Gītā, this state of an aspirant is known as sthitaprajña.

Āṇavamala can be countered by śambhavopāya. Śambhavopāya is the path to Pure Śiva, the Absolute Consciousness. Āṇavamala is the subtlest of the three impurities and works on the individual plane. Aṇu refers to an individual, which is the primary connecting factor to the universal consciousness of Śiva. This is a state of contradictions in the consciousness. As long as contradictions prevail, it does not allow proximity to the state of Śiva making the aspirant to feel a sort of incompleteness that happens only due to the wrong perception and works on the causal body, the innermost of the three types of bodies. From āṇavamala, rest of the mala-s originate. This is based on the fact that from causal body, rest of the bodies originate. Mala-s always operate from inner to outer and upāya-s always operate from outer to inner. Inner to outer is contraction and outer to inner is expansion or realization of Śiva. Āṇavamala can be removed through śambhavopāya. Typically, śambhavopāya is the state of trance, where the aspirant cannot do anything. In this state, though thoughts continue to prevail, the aspirant can go past these thought processes. The aspirant reaches an advanced state and these thoughts do not bother him. His attention is always focused on Śiva. But he is not able to realize that he is Śiva Himself due to the traces of empirical impurities still present. But the he is close to the state of realization, which could happen anytime now. He is known as yogī. Māyīyamala and āṇavamala are related only to perception and not action and only kārmamala is related to actions.

Beyond the three upāya-s, there is one more upāya known as anupāya, which is explained as no-upāya, where the aspirant remains in the state of Bliss. He continues to perform all the actions like an ordinary person, but his awareness is fixed on Śiva. He enters the Blissful state of Śiva, known as Ānandaśakti. It is important to remember that Śiva is Citśakti, pure Consciousness and Śakti is His Ānandaśakti. When his life ends, due to the Grace of Śiva, he becomes one with Him, without further pains of birth and death.

With this brief note on Trika philosophy, the series on philosophy is concluded.

Further Readings:

Trika and Advaita Philosophies

Trika Philosophy - An Overview

Trika Philosophy - Process of Creation