Mātṛkācakrasambodhaḥ मातृकाचक्रसम्बोधः (sūtra II.7 – part 1.)  

Mātṛkā – letters; cakra – group; sambodha – perfect understanding.  

The group of letters known as mātṛkā gives perfect understanding. On the face of it, one may feel that the aphorism appears to be incomplete. But, Śiva chooses to convey certain messages in a subtle way. The aphorism says that a group of letters provide perfect understanding. Generally, group of letters mean a mantra. But it is already seen that the ultimate mantra is “I am That” or the affirmation “I am the Brahman”. Therefore the group of letters, known as Supreme mantra is the affirmation “I am That”.  

The next question arises as to what is meant by perfect understanding. This is an extension of the previous sūtra, which highlighted the importance of a guru in one’s enlightenment. With the help of the guru discussed in the previous sūtra, the disciple perfectly understands the significance of the affirmation “I am That”. Mere affirmation is of no use as this affirmation is to happen in the mental arena of the aspirant and one’s guru plays a significant role to make this happen.

There are thirty six tattva-s or principles in place that make the universe sustain. Thirty sixth is the principle of Śiva and the penultimate being the principle of Śaktī, who is nothing but the energy of Śiva. The entire spectrum of thirty six tattva-s is controlled only by Her, who holds an exclusive authority from Śiva. Śiva is the source of consciousness, bliss, energy of will, knowledge and action. They are respectively known as cit, ānanda, icchā śakti, jñāna śakti, and kriyā śakti. But, Upaniṣads point out that the Brahman has only three qualities sat-cit- ānanda. Therefore, Upaniṣads address the Brahman as saccidānanda. 

Śiva has the will to create and this is known as the Absolute Will of the Divine. If this Will is not present, unfoldment of the universe cannot happen. Therefore the Absolute Will of Śiva is the single predominant factor in Creation. With His Absolute Will, Śiva makes only a preliminary movement, the first step of creation. This first movement of Śiva is incomparable as none can experience it. Unless one has experience of something, he cannot share his experience with others and also cannot fine tune his experience to perfection. When one frequently undergoes the same experience, he himself gets transformed as the subject of that experience. This is how Self Realisation happens, by experience and experience alone. But the preliminary move of Śiva cannot be experienced as there is none to witness His first move. This first move of Śiva gives rise to consciousness. This is where consciousness begins and during its further journey, it gets transformed into bliss. This transformation happens within Śiva Himself. At the end of His internal transformation, manifestation of the universe does not happen. His highest level of consciousness is represented by the first letter of Sanskrit alphabet a (अ) and the state of bliss that is the end result of His highest level of consciousness is represented by ā (आ). This unparalleled level of his consciousness is also known as anuttara, which culminates in ānanda. 

Now, Śiva makes two significant moves. These two moves happen at the end of His blissful state. The first of these two moves is His subtle will or the icchā. But, Śiva does not desire for anything at this stage, as He is beyond qualities. At the end of this movement Śiva realises His own icchā śakti and this state of Śiva is meant by vowel i (इ), the third letter of Sanskrit alphabet. Next He makes the fourth movement. Third movement was subtle in nature and this fourth movement is gross in nature. All the movements that were happening till this movement were within His own Self, now gets transformed externally. The fourth movement is His desire to continuously posses His icchā śakti. Thus, the externalisation of His icchā śakti is known as īśana, which represented by the fourth letter ī (ई).

After having desired to continuously posses His icchā śakti, He makes His fifth movement known as jñāna or knowledge. This is His first moment of knowledge and is represented by fifth vowel u (उ). This stage is also known as unmeṣa. Unmeṣa is the first stage of externalisation of His icchā śakti, where the creation is all set to happen. Because of having unveiled knowledge, He wants to test His level of knowledge, as He now understands that the universe begins to exist at the mercy of His consciousness and bliss. He now apprehends that the highest levels of His consciousness and bliss may begin to belittle. It is only apprehension and not a reality. His unfounded apprehension is known as ūnatā represented by the next letter ū (ऊ). Ūnatā means too little. Ūnatā is His sixth movement. As a result of this unfounded apprehension and in order to recoup His consciousness and bliss, He begins to concentrate within. This happens through four more movements. First, He develops intention to concentrate within and in the next stage this intention transforms into affirmation of intention. These two stages are represented by letters ṛ (ऋ) and ṝ (ॠ). The next two stages are intention to internalise His consciousness and the movement after that is an affirmation of this intention. The first stage is intention and the second stage is implementation. These two stages are represented by letters ḷṛi (ऌ + ऋ) and ḹṝī (ॡ + ॠ).

The last four stages that have been discussed above also happen within every human being. So far, Śiva has made ten movements, as a result of which ten vowels have been revealed. The internalisation of His consciousness means that the entire universe is being identified with His highest levels of consciousness and bliss. At the end of these stages, the creation as such does not unfold.

This aphorism has a very lengthy explanation. The above interpretation completes the first part and rest of the parts will follow.

(to be continued)