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Kashmir Shaivism Practices

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The following is an excerpt from Mantra, Rituals and Consciousness


In chapter fourteen of Tantrasāra, Abhinavagupta describes the procedure of the purification of the six paths, which takes place after the completion of the paśuhoma. After this, a teacher brings the disciple in front of him and places all of six paths into his body by performance of adhvanyāsa. By doing this, he purifies auspicious and inauspicious deeds of a disciple who desires mokṣa and only inauspicious ones of a disciple who desires bhoga. This is because, ‘the distinction in attainment lies in the nature of one’s latent impressions [vāsanā], for mantras grant different result according to one’s latent desires.’ Thus asserting the nature of the latent desires of the disciple, the teacher reflects on the principal mantra internally and then meditates on his identity with śiva. This purifies all the six paths of the disciple’s body. Furthermore, the teacher should identify his consciousness with the disciple. Abhinavagupta writes:

‘In this way, the body, from the small toe to the end of dvādaśānta, as well as his consciousness should be made one with the body and the consciousness of the disciple. Having accomplished this, he should rest in the immense like of bliss, the essence of which is autonomy and Lordship, perfectly full with the will, knowledge and activity, in the Lord of the host of deities, full of all paths, the entirety of the sphere of the entities terminating in consciousness. By means of this kind of initiation with the self of the disciple, the disciple becomes identical with the supreme Lord.’

We can see, from the above examples, how rituals are interpreted by Abhinavagupta. In the first example, impurity is described as ignorance, while purity is said to be the knowledge in the form of identification with śiva. The external bathing is the purification attained by gaining the identity with mantravīrya. This is a gradual procedure that begins with the pārthiva type of bathing and culminates in the bathing in one’s own Self. In the second and third examples, we can see that the teacher’s intent to impart the knowledge and in particular his realization of the potency of mantra is that which enables a disciple to have a glimpse of the innermost reality which is his own Self.

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