Understanding Philosophies – Part 16: Trika Philosophy – Part 2

According to Trika philosophy, there are thirty six tattva-s (tattva means principle), through which manifestation of the Divine happens. Paramaśhiva is beyond all tattva-s and is called tattva- atīta (atīta means beyond). The tattva-s begin only with Śhiva and He is the first among the 36 tattvas. The difference between Paramaśhiva and Śhiva is that Paramaśhiva does not depend upon anyone else to reflect His Nature, not even Śakti, who is inherent in Him, not as a separate entity as in the case of tattva one and two, Śhiva and Śakti. It is not the case of Paramaśhiva, where He becomes inert without His Śakti. Paramaśhiva has two aspects – transcendental and creative. Both Śhiva and Śakti are inherent in Paramaśhiva and carry forward creation of the universe. As Paramaśhiva is beyond the reach of human comprehension, He is not being discussed here.

Manifestation of Śhiva happens when He decides to expand. If tattva one Śhiva is Pure and illuminating, tattva 36 pṛthivī (generally meaning the world and in particular the earth) is impure and dark. At the end of the 36th tattva, manifestation of the universe is complete. If Śhiva is subtlest, then pṛthivī is the grossest.

The first five tattvas represent five śakti-s (power) of Śhiva. They are as follows:

1.Śiva – cit śakti (energy of Cosncisouness)

2. Śakti - ānanda śakti (ānanda means bliss)

3. Sadāśiva – icchā śakti (power of will)

4. Iśvara – jñāna śakti (power of knowledge)

5. Śuddhavidya - kriyā śakti (power of action)

Cit means Consciousness and always refers to Śhiva (Consciousness of Śhiva can be explained as His power of His reflecting His will. Human consciousness is always related to the Consciousness of Śhiva, which if expressed as a percentage, then 100% Śhiva consciousness is liberation), the creative aspect of Paramaśhiva. In this tattva, the Divine pulsation or preliminary motion happens, which is called spanda. Without this pulsation or spanda, creation is not possible. Hence, it is called prathama spanda or initial movement towards creation.  Consciousness and Bliss are inseparable. For practical purposes, let us assume that one has 50% Bliss, then it can be said that he has realized Śhiva to an extent of 50%. This analogy is only for understanding this principle of inseparableness of Śhiva and Śakti.

Śakti represents the Power of Śhiva and acts only on behalf of Śhiva, as She is not different from Śhiva. She carries forward the initial movement of Śhiva towards creation. The first dualism arises here. She causes two conflicting and contrasting situations known as subject and object. The pure Cit of Śhiva (Consciousness of Śhiva) by gets divided into “I am” and “This”*. Thus, Śakti becomes the creative aspect of Śhiva and is full of Bliss. She is always in the state of Ānanda, a state of inexplicable happiness. Śakti is in the state of Bliss, as She represents the Power of Śhiva, who always remains as a witness and does not engage Himself in any of the activities. Therefore, the process of creation begins only from Śakti. The state of Bliss will unfold in a person who performs regular sādhana (effective and efficient practice to attain a goal).

The third tattva is Sadāśhiva tattva which carries forward “This”* aspect of Śakti. It does not mean that “This” aspect has been carried forward leaving behind “I am” aspect. In this state, instead of two separate aspects “I am” and “This”, both aspects merge together to become “I am This” with more emphasis on “This”. In this state, icchā śakti (power of will) is predominant. Sadāśhiva tattva is also known as sādākhya tattva. In this tattva “This” aspect is more predominant. Śhiva in this tattva thinks “I am This universe”, with higher emphasis on “This”.

Fourth tattva is Iśvara tattva, which is not significantly different from Sadāśhiva tattva, yet, there are subtle differences. In this tattva, the “This” aspect of the previous tattva becomes more pronounced. This stage is called unmeṣa (the beginning of world process), which signifies the commencement of universal existence, but not yet commenced. There are symptoms and signals available for creation, but the creation has not actually commenced. Iśvara tattva is jñāna śakti (power of knowledge). First it was Cit śakti; then it was ānanda śakti, where both consciousness and bliss prevails. Cit śakti and ānanda śakti are inseparable as they represent only Śhiva and Śakti. When there is consciousness, there exists bliss and when there is bliss, there exists consciousness; they are inseparable twins. After this, there comes icchā śakti, the will power. This is the icchā śakti of Śhiva to create the universe. Then comes jñāna śakti, where Śhiva wonders whether He could lose his original nature while creating the universe. This apprehension on the part of Śhiva is known as ūnatā. Therefore, He decides to segregate His own nature from the creation of universe, due to jñāna śakti. He stops the process of creating the universe and segregates His true nature from the universe.

But the first two energies, cit śakti and ānanda śakti decide to project the glory of Śhiva and come into contact with two other energies icchā śakti and jñāna śakti and form the fourth energy of Śhiva known as kriyā śakti (power of action). Kriyā śakti is also known as Śuddhavidya tattva (tattva 5). In this tattva subject and object become distinct or “I” and “This” become distinct and clearly visible. Yet, they are diversity in unity. They continue to exist in the real nature of Śhiva or cit and ānanda (cidānanda – consciousness and bliss). Though reflection of the universe takes place in kriyā śakti, yet the aspect of Śhiva very much remains and is quite visible. All these five śakti-s of Śhiva are the cause for the origination of the universe. In every creation, all these five śakti-s are present. Without these five śakti-s, no object can exist.

Therefore, up to the first five tattva-s the presence of Divine is quite visible and not yet concealed, which happens only later. Though Śhiva and Śakti are portrayed separately only for the convenience, they are literally the same. Both of them represent “I AM” not identified with the gross body with ego, which is known as “I am This”. The initial pulsation of Śhiva projected through Śakti or the initial Light of Śhiva (Prakāśa) reflected through Śakti (Vimarśa) is not clearly visible. This is the state of Sadāśhiva (tattva 3). Creation is happening but could be seen through a smoky glass, not clearly visible to the naked eye yet. Sadāśhiva tattva is full of icchā śakti or the Divine Will. Since it is the power of will, naturally it is more associated with the power of “I”. At this tattva, Śhiva wants to go ahead with His plans to manifest Himself. Hence, the predominant factor is His will Power or icchā śakti. You begin to think, “I am this universe.”

The next tattva or the fourth tattva is the Īśvara tattva. Creation is becoming gradually visible during this state. Since this tattva is attached to jñāna śakti, knowledge is predominant here. Because of this knowledge, the universe appears a little more clearly, but not yet fully clear. Because of the knowledge, the appearance of the universe is moderately clear. The power of “I” in Sadāśhiva tattva gradually transforms into “This”. You begin to think “I am not only I am but also this universe”. Sadāśhiva and Īśvara tattva-s are full of subjectivity and objectivity does not exist in these two tattva-s.

The next tattva is Suddhavidyā, where kriyā śakti or the power of action is predominant. Action is possible only if there is more than one object. If there is one subject and one object, no action is needed. But, in this state, the universe is becoming clearer which gives rise to dualities. There is more than an object and hence consciousness swings from one object to another object and then to yet another object. This multiplication of objects appears due to the persistent throb happening in Śakti. It is important to remember that the initial throb alone happens in Śhiva and subsequent throbs are caused by Śakti. Till this tattva, limitation is not existent as these three tattva-s are the pure ones. Up to this fifth tattva, it is the pervasion of divine consciousness, where you think “I am Shiva and this universe is not real.”

To sum up these five tattva-s – Tattva-s one and two is “I am That”. In tattva three also it is “I am That” but with more emphasis on I. In tattva four, object begins to appear. For example, “I did That”. Not only the emphasis is on That but also there is an additional world “did” representing an action, which becomes more visible in the fifth tattva (suddha vidyā). The emphasis is on both “I” and “That”, hence it becomes “I am that That”.  These five tattva-s are represented by five energies or śakti of Śhiva

Up to this tattva everything appears fine for Śhiva. Suddenly He falls down from Light to darkness. There is a line differentiating the first five tattvas and the rest 31 tattvas. The first five tattvas are full of Light and Bliss and from the 6th tattva to 36th tattva it is darkness. Contraction of Śhiva (Creation) happens only at this differentiating line. Since all of us fall into this darkness, for realization, we have to reverse this process.

Contraction of Śhiva happens for the first time in the 6th tattva called māyā. Māyā can be explained as illusion. In the first five tattvas, there was no limitation in the original nature of Śhiva. Though Śhiva moves through all His five śakti-s, all these are His own svātantrya śakti. Hence the original nature of Śhiva was never changed. Māyā has five components and treating māyā as a separate entity, there are six tattva-s through which Śhiva falls and at the end of the 11th tattva, Śhiva becomes totally contracted and becomes a puruṣha, which is also known as the individual soul. The original Glory of Śhiva  is lost here, though His traces are still present. It must be remembered that when Śhiva enters māyā, it is implicit that Śakti also enters as they are inseparable and together they are known as God and not individually or independently.  Now let us see how Śhiva gets contracted when He enters the 6th tattva, māyā.

The moment Śhiva enters the 6th tattva, He loses His Śakti and hence He loses His original nature. Because of this, non-dualistic Śhiva assumes dualism and exists in all the beings of the universe. Because of this dualism, His original five unlimited śakti-s (powers) become limited. This limitation or contraction also happens only due to Him, but the reason for His contraction is not known to us, possibly due to Divine Secret. Even during His contraction or limitation, He still retains His original glory. (Śhiva is always Śhiva. To cite an example, let us take a mirror. Let us assume that the mirror is full of dirt. Even though mirror is covered by dirt, the original nature of the mirror behind the dust remains the same. Once the dust is removed, the original nature of the mirror can again be seen. This is exactly the path of Self-realization.) He still retains His original glory because He alone had decided to contract and become many. Nobody can ever influence Him as He always remains the Supreme. During the process of contraction, the moment He enters the 6th tattva māyā, its five kañcuka-s immediately cast their spell on Him and by the time he comes out of the 11th tattva, He becomes totally contracted and become a puruṣha, an individual soul. It must always be remembered that when we say He lost His original nature, it only appears so but in reality, Śhiva can never lose His original nature (as Śhiva is always Śhiva). This deceptive appearance is only due to the illusionary power of māyā. Māyā only conceals His original nature and projects Him as if He has lost His originality. This is only a deceptive appearance and is caused by the five kañcuka-s of māyā. Kañcuka means concealment or cover. For example, a sofa cushion is covered with cloth covering; the original nature of the cushion appears as if it is made up of the cloth covering. But the inner foam remains as it is, irrespective of its external cover. In the same way, Śhiva remains as He is, but He appears as contracted due to the kañcuka-s. There are five kañcuka-s and they are – kalā, vidyā, rāga, kāla and niyati. Kalā makes the all powerful Śhiva appear as the one with limited powers. Vidyā makes the omniscience of Śiva appear as the one with limited knowledge. Rāga makes the limitless Śhiva appear as limited. Kāla is time. All those who come under time are subjected to constant modifications and ultimate cessation. The infinite Śhiva now appears as limited because of the time factor. The 11th tattva reminds Śiva that He is not omnipresent as before and His presence is restricted to a particular place. For example, a man cannot be omnipresent. In general, the infinite Śhiva plunges into darkness of māyā and becomes limited by the above factors. These factors are only indicatory and there are many other kañcuka-s that cause this limitation. At the end of 11th tattva, Śhiva is all set to become an individual soul or jīva.

The next two tattvas 12th and 13th are important and they are known as puruṣha and prakṛti. If puruṣha can be called as a contracted form of Śhiva, then prakṛti is the contracted form of Śakti. Śhiva has reached the state of puruṣha because of the effect of māyā. It must always be remembered that Śhiva appears to have been contracted, but in reality He does not change. The effect of māyā casts illusionary effect causing the Reality to appear deceptive. The 12th tattva puruṣha stops at that place. But the 13th tattva prakṛti gives rise to all other tattvas till tattva 36. Now, puruṣha has the unique quality of being alone like Śhiva, whose inherent nature is not lost. Puruṣha is not connected to the outer world whereas Prakṛti is. Puruṣha is masculine and Prakṛti is feminine, the typical nature of dualism. Thus, puruṣha becomes the soul and prakṛti becomes the subtle and gross bodies and Nature. The duality of inner soul and outer body and the world is due to the effect of māyā. “I am That” now becomes “I am not That”. Now negation creeps in and makes the things difficult. Now, puruṣha distinctly feels that he is not the universe. As an individual being, we now look at the universe as gigantic, something that is totally different from us, something incomparable to us. The universe appears as huge and vast. The duality has clearly set in. This duality is the persistent problem of spirituality, the inner world or puruṣha and the outer world or prakṛti. Śhiva and Śakti were one till Śhiva entered māyā; but they were separated after Śhiva entered into the world of illusion, the māyā. This process has to be reversed for realizing Absolute Śhiva and this process is known as Self-realization. The problem arises only in the world of puruṣha, which gets deluded to the external world through organs perception and action. This leads to various thought processes in the subtle body that comprises of intellect, ego and mind (tattvas 14, 15 and 16). As puruṣha, Śhiva becomes inert, as His Śakti is not there with Him but becomes a separate entity called prakṛti. There is no further manifestation from puruṣha, tattva 12. The universe manifests only from prakṛti, tattva 13. Śhiva of tattva 1 now becomes contracted and remains as tattva-s 12 and 13 puruṣha and prakṛti. Puruṣha stands alone whereas prakṛti further causes rest of the tattva-s up to 36.

Intellect, ego and mind together is called inner psychic organs, also known as antaḥkaraṇa. Antaḥkaraṇa acts internally as against bāhyakaraṇa, which acts externally as external organs of perception and action also known as jñānendriya-s and karmendriya-s. Antaḥkaraṇa originate from tattva 13 prakṛti. Supreme Śhiva of tattva 1 never had any problems, but when He passed through the darkness of māyā, everything is a problem for Him. He stays confused as He is afflicted with impurities called mala-s. These mala-s in conjunction with māyā make Him contracted and as a result He loses His original and powerful śakti-s (ānanda, icchā, jñāna, kriya) and as puruṣha has only traces of these śakti-s. He loses His original power and authority. This is the difference between Śhiva and puruṣha, though theocratically they are the same. Former (Śhiva) is full of power and the latter is devoid of power. In other words, Śhiva is full of power and puruṣha is inert and powerless. Thus puruṣha becomes our inner world and prakṛti becomes our outer world. But it must always be remembered that Śhiva of tattva 1 is present in all the objects of the universe (omnipresent), otherwise, He cannot be called as omnipresent.

Human qualities such as fear, anxiety, desire, frustration, etc are the products of māyā. It unfolds suddenly and makes a person to commit mistakes, which otherwise he would not have even dreamt. It is one of the sources of unfolding one’s karma. When the time is ripe for karma to unfold, māyā play its powerful sport and one is made to err setting the scene for sufferings. Only in the third state of consciousness, deep sleep state, māyā takes rest. When one is fully conscious, māyā makes him to get associated with the external world. To pull back the consciousness from the external world and to look for Śhiva within is Self-realization. Śhiva prevails in puruṣha, the soul within, where one can comfortably realize Him, provided he is able to remove the veil of māyā. Śhiva is to be looked within, as per the sayings of Upaniṣhads.

(to be continued)

Further Readings:

Trika Philosophy - An Overview

Trika Philosophy - Concluding Part

Trika and Advaita Philosophies