Part – 1. Verses 1 – 4.
Vijnana Bhairava opens with a question asked by Bhairavi (Shakthi, the consort of Bhairava or Shiva) to Bhairava seeking further clarification on Rudra Yamala. Vijnana Bhairva is one of the chapters in Rudra Yamala. She specifically tells Shiva that She knows about ‘trika-bhedam’ from Rudra Yamala. Trika bhedam is the philosophy of Shakta school of thought. Trika means three and bhedam means difference. The differences conceived by them are “para, para-para and a-para”. Para (discussed in detail in Lalitha Sahasranamam nama 366) means the highest form. This form is transcendent, beyond and outside the ordinary range of human experience or understanding. This form is considered as the Supreme and is full of energy. In order to manifest it loses its supremacy and becomes ‘para-para’ the mediocre level of supremacy. It further loses its strength at the exact time of manifestation becomes ‘apara’, loses its supremacy and is manifested. These three stages are known as Shiva, Shakthi and nara (jiva or man). To understand this better, para is Shiva, para-para is Shakthi and apara is jiva. In the state of Shiva (para) both knowledge and action are blended in equal proportion. In the stage of Shakthi only knowledge is predominant and in the stage a-para (human level) only action is predominant. This is known as ‘trika-bhedam’.
Bhairavi proceeds to ask further questions. Bhairavi wants to know the following. 1. The real nature of alphabets (In Sanskrit ‘a’ to ‘ksha’), 2. The nine divisions of mantras and 3. The potency of the vowel-less mantra that energises the chakras (of kundalini). In order to understand these questions one should be familiar with the terms used by Bhairavi. The first question is about the real nature of the alphabets. These alphabets give rise to objects. The original verse says ‘shabda-rashi-kala’. Shabda-rashi means the 51 alphabets of Sanskrit. Kala means the kinetic energy of the divine or the vimarsha form of the Brahman. Brahman has two aspects. Prakasha is the self-illuminating Brahman without attributes and is just a witness. The other aspect of the Brahman is vimarsha form, which is the kinetic force of creation. Prakasha is Shiva and vimarsha is Shakthi.
The second question is about nine divisions of mantras. Mantras are the products of Shabda Brahman. It can be said that mantras are made of letters originated from Shabda Brahman. Shabda Brahman has been discussed in detail in this site. The nine forms of mantras are 1. Shiva, 2. Sadashiva, 3. Ishvara, 4. Suddha vidya, 5. Maya, 6. Kala, 7. Niyati, 8. Purusha and 9.Prakrti. Prakriti is Nature and purusha is the individual soul. These nine play their well-defined roles both in creation and in destruction. These nine are known as atma-bheda or the different stages of the soul. These nine principles or tatvas are represented by nine letters and they are h,r,ks,m,l,v,y,n,num. The soul seeking liberation has to cross each of these states to know the Supreme Shiva, the ultimate source of creation. When a soul understands Shiva well, the soul becomes self-realized. Birth happens when para becomes para-para and then to a-para. It is the process of Shiva becoming Shakthi and then to man. The one (Shiva) becomes many (living beings). This process of involution ceases at some point of time and stays connected with Shiva eternally with no rebirth. There exists no soul, it does not undergo further evolution and dissolution as by gaining knowledge through its experience it realizes it source of its origin. This process is known as Self-realisation.
There is another aspect of this interpretation. The sound originates and undergoes different processes. It all begins with OM. From OM one has to concentrate on the chanting of OM simultaneously concentrating on the movement of one’s breath. During the process of both inhalations and exhalations, breath stops at a point both inwardly and outwardly. The next stage is where OM is chanted without sound and in the next state breathing is suspended. In this suspended stage of breath, one reaches the soundless stage of sound, the subtle form of sound. The next stage is where one identifies himself with Shakthi, the kinetic force of creation. Shakthi is also known as the Brahman with attributes or maya. Shakthi is realised by a sort of pseudo bliss. When this pseudo bliss diffuses from one’s physical body, the penultimate stage of realisation, he moves to the final stage where Shiva and Shakthi unite. The Brahman with attributes (Shakthi) and the Brahman without attributes (Shiva) become one, the self-illuminating Brahman. There is no form here and one is not separate from Shiva, the omnipresent and omnipotent. These states are known as 1. Akara, 2. Ukara, 3. Makara (these three together called nada. A + U + M = OM), 4. Bindu, 5. Ardhachandra, 6. Nirodhika, 7. Shakthi, 8. Vyapini, 9. Samana and finally 10. Unmana. In the stage of unmana the soul merges with Shiva and becomes one with Shiva.
The third question of Bhairavi is about the vowel-less mantra that energises all the energy centres in the path of kundalini. She is keen to know the power of chakras. She is asking Shiva whether such energy originates from vowel-less bija ‘ha’. This vowel-less ‘ha’ is known as ‘prana-kundalini’. When the spine is energised through activation of chakras, that energy thus generated is called ‘prana-shakthi’. The prana-shakthi is self-created.
Bhairava answers these questions subsequently, but not before Bhairavi seeks further clarifications.
Shiva begins his first technique in verse 26. The first 25 verses lay a strong foundation to understand 112 techniques thoroughly.