Brahman, the Supreme Lord, brings about five fold acts – sṛṣṭi, sthiti, saṁhāra, tirodhāna and anugraha. These acts are generally known as creation, sustenance, absorption, concealment and grace. The last two, concealment and grace are with reference to the essential nature. The first three refer to the physical plane in form of birth, growth and death. This is the natural cycle that is undergone by all the souls, however with a very few exceptions. The fourth one is tirodhāna, which literally means disappearance or concealment. This is the stage when annihilation takes place by means of deluge. At the time of annihilation, Shiva performs His dreadful cosmic dance witnessed by Śaktī. This has been discussed in Lalithā Sahasranāmam nāmās 232 and 571. This act of Shiva is also known as vilaya or pidhāna or laya. This is the state where the entire universe merges with Shiva and the universe as an independent entity no longer exists. At this stage, Shiva and Śaktī alone exist. Out of compassion for the beings, they again recreate the universe and this act of Shiva is anugraha. Śaktī casts Her more powerful tool known as māyā on the innate souls, thereby causing bondage, attachment, ego, etc. Advaita philosophy says that one should come out of the clutches of māyā to realise Shiva, the Ultimate and that one needs to develop enough knowledge about the Brahman, so that one can realise that both the individual self and the Supreme Self are one and the same. Advaita Vedanta attaches significant importance to māyā and says that māyā should be dispelled. There are three important aspects in spirituality. One is the Brahman, another is soul and the third is cosmos. Dvaita philosophy considers all the three entities as independent, with interconnection between the three. But Advaita School negates dualism. It affirms that everything that exists in this universe is nothing but Brahman, the infinite. Ramakrishna once said, “Brahman alone is real, and the world is illusory.”

There is yet another philosophy known as Trika philosophy, declared by Kashmiri shaivism. Śhiva sūtrās, Spanda Kārikās, Pratyabhijñāhṛdayam and Vijñāna Bhairava fall under this philosophy. Trika means three fold reality of Shiva, Śaktī and nara (jīvā or soul). Though advaita and trika philosophies say that the Ultimate is the Brahman or Shiva, the proclaimed paths are different. In Trika philosophy, the Supreme Shiva transcends everything and abides in transcendental eminence, because He simply wants to remain there. This transcendental eminence is known as Śaktī. Practically speaking, there is no difference between Shiva and Śaktī. While Shiva is called Supreme or anuttara, His unsurpassable divine energy is His Śaktī. She is known as anugrahātmika, the Grace incarnate. She is present in all conditions as the divine consciousness. The divine “I” consciousness is eternally present and hence Shiva is immanent in all the actions of the universe. Therefore, Shiva becomes the Ultimate Reality. Without Shiva, the universe cannot exist as He alone is Self-illuminating. This Self-illuminating light is prakāśa, without which no activity can happen in the universe. This light alone cannot cause activities in the universe. The light can be realised if there are objects as otherwise, the luminance of prakāśa becomes unknown. Shiva can know His unsurpassable power only through vimarśa. Therefore, vimarśa (Śaktī) becomes the reasoning factor of prakāśa, without which, prakāśa will remain obscure. In other words, without Śaktī, Shiva becomes inert. It is not that Śaktī is more potent than Shiva. Factually speaking, Śaktī would not have originated as an independent energy, but for the will of Shiva. Shiva has given His power of authority or svātantrya to Śaktī, without which She cannot carry out the universal process. Because of this Supreme power or svātantrya, Śaktī manifests as ‘This’, whereas, Shiva continues to remain the Supreme “I” consciousness. It is due to the will of Shiva, Śaktī creates nara or souls who get bound by Her illusionary power known as māyā. One can realise Shiva only in the fourth state of consciousness known as turya. In Trika philosophy, everything originates and dissolves into Shiva and Shiva alone, with whom Śaktī always stays united. Shiva has multifarious energy levels out of which four energies are important. They are energies of consciousness, bliss, will and knowledge.

The difference between Advaita philosophy and Trika philosophy  appears to be thin. At the same time, this subtle difference is very significant. For example Bhagavad Gita elaborately discusses the teachings of Advaita philosophy. On the other hand, Śhiva sūtrās deal with Trika philosophy. Trika philosophy says that everything originates and dissolves into Shiva and at all the time, Shiva continues to exert His creative energy. Śaktī merely represents the power of authority of Shiva and exercises control on nara or the souls. In Advaita philosophy, cause and effect play a dominant role. Advaita states that kārya (effect) is non-different from kāraṇa (cause). However kāraṇa is different from kārya. This principle is called Kārya-kāraṇa ananyatva (the non-difference of the effect from the cause). Trika philosophy is explained through the triad of parā the highest, concerned with identity. parā-parā identity in difference and a-parā, difference and sense of difference.

In the words of Gabriel Pradiipaka “Advaitavedanta is similar to Triká in many points, but there are some similarities in the "summit", i.e. in the concept of God and the way He manifests the universe. Attempting to make a synthesis of Triká and Advaitavedanta is very difficult.”

Further Readings:

Types of philosophies - Advaita

Types of philosophies - Trika

Understanding philosophies