This article is based on Pratyabhijñāhṛdayam, one of the important texts of Kashmiri Shaivaism. But the interpretations are not based exclusively on Trika philosophy. They are interpreted based on Advaita philosophy in combination with Trika philosophy. No complicated words, which is always the case with Trika philosophy, are used here. At the same time, the essence of the Scripture is maintained as much as possible.
Interpretation of important words:
चित् Cit - universal consciousness and is generally used for Shiva, The Absolute.
It is also known as cidātma. When this is reflected in universal nescience, it is known as the Īśvara and when reflected in individual nescience it is known as soul. Īśvara is not the Brahman as it is the reflection of universal nescience. There are two aspects to this interpretation. Here, Īśvara is said to be only reflective in nature and not self-illuminating. Self-illumination is the exclusive quality of the Brahman. Secondly, the Brahman can never be associated with nescience. This Īśvara is said to be the Lord of Prakṛti or the Nature. When the soul or individual nescience comes into contact with Prakṛti, the soul induces evolution of a new physical body, for the karma-s embedded in it to manifest. However, Īśvara remains in an unconditioned form, but the soul continues its conditioned form afflicted by the lower levels of consciousness, which is also known as individual conscience. Īśvara remains un-afflicted by the influence of three guṇa-s and the soul gets influenced by three guṇa-s, leading to creation. Īśvara can be interpreted as the cosmic counter part of soul. Īśvara and prakṛti in combination with other twenty four principles or tattva-s cause the creation. Since Īśvara is said to be the Lord of Prakṛti, it can also be called as the aggregate aspect of māyā and the individual souls are aggregative. This principle or tattva of Īśvara is one among the four distinctive states of the Brahman, the other three being avyakta, hiraṇyagarbha (it is within the subtle body. It binds all the constituents of the universe together) and virāt (the universal cosmic form).
Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (V.1) also refers to this phenomenon. ‘Para Brahman is higher than hiraṇyagarbha. Knowledge and ignorance are both hidden in Para Brahman. Ignorance is the cause of birth and death, but knowledge leads to immortality. He who controls ignorance and knowledge is separate from both. That is Brahman (pure and without attributes) the supreme’.
चिति Citi – universal consciousness; the power of the Absolute and is generally used for Shakti
चित्त citta – individual consciousness; mind of an individual
चेतन cetana – contracted Citi is cetana or Self-conscious individual. Absolute consciousness of Shiva remains contracted in cetana.
It is called caitanya, the pure and unconditioned form of consciousness, in its functional state. It can also be explained as the purer form of the preceding nāma. The entire universe emerges from this caitanya that has two sides. The first one is gross and the other one is subtle. The gross form is made up of name and form and the subtle form is made up of mind and its modifications called antaḥkaraṇa (mind, intellect, consciousness and ego). The gross form gives direct experience and the subtle form gives internal experience. In the stage of caitanya, both objective and subjective worlds get formulated as experiences. Her cetana form or caitanya form is also known as Her vimarśa form.
World is not an illusion as suggested by Vedānta. It is real; it has to be real as Shiva is omnipresent. World is nothing but the manifestations of all the souls. When Shiva is awake, the world is active and when Shiva goes for sleep, the world is absorbed into Him. Therefore, the world is nothing but the consciousness of Shiva which is also called Cit. Thus Shiva is both the cause and the effect. It is ultimately the will of Shiva. The world develops due to Citi, which is the independent, free and absolute of will of Shiva. This is no way different from Shiva Himself. But for the purpose of understanding we term this power of Shiva as Shakti. This is called Parāśakti, the highest power. Citi makes all the souls to divide themselves into various tattva-s (principles) from the purest to the grossest. Shakti sovereignties the world through different types of energies, which are known as subordinate śakti-s. The world is the playground of Parāśakti where she plays with all good and bad, friendly and hostile energies to mankind. This play of consciousness is Her grandeur. But there is difference between tattvas and śakti-s. Both are used by Parāśakti to create and sustain the universe. Tattva is abstraction of philosophic thinking whereas śakti-s are nothing but constructive imagination due to religious believes. When the world is being created citti gradually limits herself to citta, the individual mind. Thus citta is afflicted by three impurities of ego, karma and māyā and these impurities if continue to exist, one transmigrates. In order to avert transmigration or saṃsāra one has to strive to reach Citi from citta. The one who investigates and discovers that his inner true self is Shiva or identical with Shiva and the world, is liberated.
Second method of liberation is through mantras, which cause powerful and subtle vibrations. Mantras are nothing but Śabda Brahman and by constantly repeating in an appropriate manner, Citta is mantra itself; however this does not apply to everyone. This explanation applies to those who pursue the mantra path seriously. Mantra means that mental awareness by which one feels one’s identity with Shiva (through Śakti). I consciousness is nothing but the power of Shiva or śakti of Shiva. The third method of liberation is working through breath and concentration. More specifically, this is due to concentration of psychic chakras. Slow breathing rate will calm down citta.
All the three methods do not exist as individual method and for ideal sadhana, all the three should be combined in right proportions. Only then, one gets anugraha (Grace), the final relief from the pains of transmigration. In certain instances Shiva directly intervenes, which is called Śaktipāta, which is purely His own decision. Here is the only instance, where Law of Karma is overwritten by the Lord.
Body of the Scripture (Sūtra-s):
1. Citi is the cause of this universe. Citi is the Power of Śiva and is known to us as Śakti. How Śakti creates the universe? It is due to Her Free Will (Divine Will or Svatantra). As often understood māyā or Prakṛti is not the cause of manifestation of the universe. Citi is both subject and object, hence it is both cause and means. What does this mean? She is not only Citi, the universal consciousness or the Power of Śiva, but also the absolute consciousness. Therefore, it is imperative that we cannot reach Shiva directly, without going through Śakti. She is absolutely independent and does not depend upon māyā or Prakṛti to manifest the universe. She is not bound or limited in anyway.
2. She manifests the universe only through Her own Freewill (iccāśakti). Universe is not something that is outside Her; it is within Her and by using Her Freewill She makes the universe visible. She manifests the universe upon Herself alone. Universe was already existing in Her. Image in a mirror is taken an example. We stand before a mirror and look at our image. Both our image and our mirror image are the same; yet they are not the same. The image appears as different from us. What we are not able to see our full image with our eyes, we see it in the mirror. Similarly, universe is Her mirror image. Though universe is not different from Citi, yet it appears different.
3. Citi manifested as different subjects and objects. The single mass of universal consciousness, also known as Śakti, multiplied. This multiplication happens in stages, like an inverted triangle. The top point of the triangle is Śiva and the bottom line represents human beings. For the path of liberation, we have to move from the bottom line towards the top of the triangle.
4. In an individual (cetana) known as jīva, universe forms part of his body, but in a contracted way. In other words, Citi is existing in an individual in a contracted form. How it is contracted? It is because of māyā: Knowing this is Self-realization.
5. Citi, the universal consciousness becomes the individual consciousness (citta) due to limitation. Individual consciousness (citta) is not different from universal consciousness (Citi). Similarly Citi is not different from Cit.
6. Every individual afflicted by māyā is governed by Citta.
7. Liberation is possible only through the right kind of knowledge. Cit is Śiva Himself and He is beyond time and space. In order to attain liberation, true Nature of the Self should be learnt in stages. Cit by limitation becomes citta.
8. Various philosophies explain various methods of reaching the Self. Though the path is different, goal is always the same.
9. When the Will Power of Śakti is limited, an individual is affected by three impurities (mala). Three impurities are innate ignorance of an individual, the limitation of Citi into citta. The second impurity is due to māyā, which is the cause for both gross and subtle bodies (indriya-s and antaḥkaraṇa) and māyā has the capacity to project the infinite as limited; the veiling of the Self. Third one is karma, the vāsana-s or the impressions of our actions in our sub-conscious mind, both past and present lives.
10. Though the individual self is limited by innate ignorance, māyā and karma-s, still he can act like Shiva – all his fivefold acts, emanation, sustenance, withdrawal, concealment and grace. But the difference is that the empirical self does all these acts in a limited way, because his consciousness is limited and not all encompassing. It is important to note that we can merge into Shiva, but can never usurp the powers of Shiva under any circumstances and irrepespective of the stage of spiritual evolution.
11. But only a yogi or a realized person alone can understand this. For him, what is perceived is emanation, relishing the perception is sustenance; perception is withdrawn due to knowledge and this is withdrawal; the objects of experience cause impressions and these are transformed as doubts and are concealed in the mind, causing karma and finally, the object of experience is identified with the Self.
12. One is not aware of the fivefold act properly, as he is deluded by his own ignorance. Why? It is Śakti who conceals the directionless consciousness and causes deception through various types of delusive knowledge and deceptive objects. As result, the empirical self thinks that he has “powers” considers his body, prāṇa as the Self and thereby sustaining his individual identity from that of Cit/Citi. This is the state of vikalpa (difference of perception, distinction, indecision, irresolution, doubt, hesitation). When delusion is gradually annihilated, citta is purified and this stage is called avikalpa (absence of alternative, positive precept, not distinguished or particularized, not deliberating long or hesitating).
13. When complete knowledge is gained (knowledge about Brahman) citta becomes Citi by raising the status of cetana.
14. The fire of Citi though descends to the lowest level, though māyā encases Citi, still Citi does not lose its original nature of non-duality. Therefore, a part of our karmas are assimilated by Citi. It is like fire, assimilating everything offered into it. Similarly Citi assimilates all objects of knowledge. However, Citi does not entirely assimilate the knowledge as Citi is still covered by māyā.
15. The entire universe is Her manifestation. The universe is not something different from her. This truth is hidden and in order to realize her one has to practice. Practice is towards removal of māyā.
16. Understanding that Cit is no way different from us is the end result of practice. Here all delusions are annihilated and the truth is revealed. This is the state of jīvanmukta. He is liberated when his body is alive. (videhamukta – merger into Shiva after the death of body).
17. Cit is the ultimate and is present as the inner most of all living beings. Pure consciousness is transformed as prāṇa and this prāṇa itself conceals the inner Self in the form of māyā.
18. For this, mind should be purged of all impressions and when the impressions are removed, one enters the state of avikalpa (non-differentiation) so that it would be easier for the aspirant to reach the purest form of consciousness.
19. Even after coming back to normal consciousness after samādhi, a yogi continues to exist in the state of perpetual samādhi state, by staying united with Cit.
20. If one enters purest form I consciousness by experiencing all his karmas, he is absorbed by Cit. He is liberated in this birth itself (jīvanmukta) and while is alive