Vijnana Bhairava is a very ancient treatise that elucidates tools for God realisation. It does not talk about ritualistic principles but lays stress on foundational consciousness to realize the Brahman. It describes methods to merge the human consciousness with the divine consciousness or the individual consciousness with cosmic consciousness. It is one of the rare collections of Kashmiri Saivism. Kashmiri tradition names the Absolute Reality as Bhairava. Combination of three alphabets bha + ra + va form the word ‘’Bhairava”. Each of these three alphabets means three different acts of God. ‘bha’ means sustenance of the universe, ‘ra’ means dissolution of the universe and ‘va’ means manifestation of the universe. Vijnana is the knowledge about the highest state of consciousness. It is the nirvikalpa stage (the stage where there is no name and form) where the mind is confined to the Brahman, where the discrimination between subject and object is dissolved. To achieve this stage there are four impediments. They are lethargy, distraction, resentment and lower level of bliss (bliss of the Brahman is the highest bliss). Lower level of bliss is temporary and the highest level of bliss is perpetual. Therefore it is apparent that in order to realize Bhairava, one has to transcend these four impediments of the mind. The treatise does not explain in philosophical jargons and instead approaches the core subject of Self-realization with practical applications. Thus Vijnana Bhairava becomes different from other scriptures. Shiva Himself provides practical training to realize Bhairava (Shiva) through 112 types of yogic techniques. The treatise does not invest time in analysis and plunges straight into practice.
Brahman, the absolute freedom and un-afflicted pure consciousness is revealed in the form of iccha, jnana and kriya known as desire, knowledge and action, the functional causes for creation. Subject-object differentiation arises only due to the change in the level of consciousness. One’s awareness plays an extremely important role in Self-realization. Vijnana Bhairava teaches practical methods to develop one’s awareness. The entire treatose deals with dharana or attentiveness for which concentration is important. It is a process by which mind is trained to concentrate on a particular spot. Vijnana Bhairava deals only with science and not on philosophy. It deals with metaphysical science. It is a science because at every stage one can put to test all the 112 techniques. This treatise is found in Rudra Yamala, one of the very ancient tantra sastra.
The entire text is in the form of divine conversation between Shiva and Shakthi. Shakthi asks Her Lord Shiva and gets clarifications on some of Her doubts and that is how this ancient scripture has come into existence. The text has 163 aphorisms. Mind is the only factor in God realization. When a practitioner is able to dissolve his mind into the supreme consciousness of Bhairava, he becomes Bhairava himself. Tantra is based on the principle of accepting one as himself to go beyond and in yoga one has to dissolve himself in That. The aim of both tantra and yoga are the same, realising the Self within, but the path taken by both are different. For practicing tantra, one need not have extensive knowledge. Understanding certain technical terms are sufficient to achieve rapid progress. In yoga one has to fight against the principles of nature but in tantra one continues to remain with the nature. However, practice is important in both.
If the teachings of Vijnana Bhairava are followed, one can surely understand the changes that happen within. If a particular technique suits a person, he does not remain to be the same person. His perception becomes different. His spiritual evolution begins to happen within. All the techniques are simple and easy to follow as Shiva Himself is the Guru here. Each of these techniques will be taken up for discussion separately.