Moksha in Kashmir Shaivism and Indian Philosophy
The view that ignorance is the cause of bondage, and perfect knowledge
is the cause of freedom (moksha), is commonly accepted by all Indian
philosophers. Yet, in reality, these philosophers have not completely
understood knowledge and ignorance.
The Vaishnavites, for example, believe that liberation (moksha)
from repeated births and deaths occurs when you are united with
para-prakriti (that energy of Being that governs and contains all
the activities and conceptions of this universe). And this union
with para-prakriti will take place only when you observe in your
understanding that the apparent differentiation of this universe
is unreal. Then all attachments, pleasures, and pains will come
to an end and you will be established in your own real nature. It
is this establishment which from their point of view is called moksha.
The Advaita Vedantins, on the other hand, have concluded
that, in the real sense, moksha is only bliss (ananda) and nothing
else. They say that when you are residing in the field of ignorance
(samsara), you become the victim of the five-fold veils (kleshas);
i.e. avidya (ignorance), asmita (ego), raga (attachment), dvesha (hatred) and abhinivesha (attachment to your own conception). These
coverings, which are the cause of your remaining in samsara, should
be removed by the practice of tattva-jnana. In this practice, you
must mentally negate all that is not your own real nature by thinking,
neti, neti, “I am not this, I am not this.” So here you
practice thinking, “I am not the physical body, I am not the
subtle body, I am not the mind, I am not the life essence (prana).”
You must negate all outside elements. And when you reside completely
in your own nature, which is that which remains after you negate
all outside elements, that knowledge, from their point of view,
is called moksha.
The tradition of Buddhist philosophers, who are known as
the Vijnanavadins, accept, that you are liberated only when your
mind is completely detached from all attachments to objectivity,
pleasure, pain, and sorrow. They argue that the mind must remain
only as mind, pure and perfect mind, because for them the mind is
actually pure, filled with light, and detached from all worldly
things. It is when the mind becomes attached to worldly things,
such as thoughts, pleasures, and pains, that you are carried to
samsara. And when these attachments are cancelled and the mind becomes
pure, then you are liberated.
The philosophers from the Vaibhashika tradition hold that,
liberation is attained by deleting the chain of thought’s,
just as the flame of a lamp is extinguished. When a lamp is burning,
we experience the existence of the flame. When, however, the flame
is extinguished, it does not go anywhere. It does not go into the
earth or into the ether. When the flame is extinguished, it simply
disappears. And the extinguishing of the flame takes place when
the oil of the lamp is exhausted. In the same way, when a yogi has
crossed over all the pleasures and pains of the world, those pleasures
and pains do not go anywhere, they simply disappear. This yogi,
who has extinguished the flame of the chain of thoughts by exhausting
the wax of the five-fold kleshas, enters into the supreme and perfect
peace which is, from their point of view, liberation.
"From the Shaivite point of view,
these philosophical traditions remain either in apavedya-pralayakala
or in savedya-pralayakala. They do not go beyond these states."
Apavedya-pralayakala is that state of pralayakala where there is
no objectivity. Savedya-pralayakala is that state of pralayakala where there is some impression of objectivity. As an example, take
the state of deep sleep. When you wake up from deep sleep and then
think, “I was sleeping and I didn’t know anything,”
that is the state of apavedya-pralayakala. And when you wake up
from the state of deep sleep and think, “I was sleeping peacefully
without dreaming,” that is the state of savedya-pralayakala,
because you experienced that it was a sweet sleep and so “sweetness”
is the object for you in this state.
Shaiva philosophy does not
recognize the theories of these philosophies concerning liberation
(moksha) because, in fact, the yogins of these traditions do not
move above the pralayakala state and are not, therefore, situated
in real moksha.
Our Shaivism explains that jnana (knowledge) is knowing one’s
own nature, which is all Being (sat), all consciousness (cit), and
all bliss (ananda). Ajnana (ignorance) is ignoring this nature,
and this is the cause of the samsara which carries one in the cycle
of repeated births and deaths.
"Kashmir Shaivism explains that
ignorance (ajnana) is of two kinds: paurusha ajnana and bauddha
Paurusha ajnana is that kind of ignorance wherein one is unaware
of realizing one’s own nature in samadhi. This kind of ignorance
is removed by the grace of masters and by meditating upon one’s
own Self. And when this ignorance is removed, you find yourself
in the real knowledge of Shaivism, which is all being, all consciousness,
all bliss. This kind of knowledge is called paurusha jnana. When
you possess paurusha jnana, you realize your nature of Self perfectly.
Bauddha ajnana (intellectual ignorance) occurs only when you are
completely ignorant of the philosophical truth of the monistic idea
of Shaivism. And bauddha ajnana is removed by studying those monistic Shaiva texts which explain the reality of the Self. Therefore, these
texts are the cause of your being carried from bauddha ajnana to
"Bauddha jnana is thought-based
and is developed through the intellect. Paurusha jnana, on the
other hand, is practical and is developed through practice."
Paurusha jnana is predominant over bauddha jnana because when you
possess only paurusha jnana, even then you are liberated in the
real sense. In this case, however, liberation is attained only after
leaving your body. When, however, at the same time, you attach bauddha
jnana to paurusha jnana; which means that, on the one hand, you
practice on your own Being and, on the other hand, you go into the
philosophical thought of the monistic Shaiva texts and elevate your
intellectual being, then you become a jivanmukta, one who is liberated
while living. If, however, you possess only bauddha jnana and not
paurusha jnana, then you will not attain liberation either while
living in the body or at the time of death. Bauddha jnana without
paurusha jnana is useless and will not take you anywhere. The study
of texts shines perfectly only when there is practical knowledge
at the same time. Without practical knowledge, philosophical study
is useless. Bauddha jnana will bear fruit only when paurusha jnana is present and not otherwise.
If an aspirant is attached only to practical knowledge and not
to theoretical knowledge, believing that the only real knowledge
is practical knowledge, which is the realizing of ones own nature,
then he is incorrect from a Shaiva point of view. If only paurusha
jnana is cultivated and bauddha jnana is totally ignored, then there
is every possibility that paurusha jnana may decrease day by day,
slowly fading away so that in the end it does not remain at all.
It is the greatness of bauddha jnana that, with its power, it firmly
establishes paurusha jnana. In this respect, therefore, bauddha
jnana is more important than paurusha jnana.
"In our Shaivism, it is said that
when you go in search of a master so that you can be initiated,
you should first seek that master who is full of both bauddha
jnana and paurusha jnana. Finding him, you should consider him
a real master."
If in this world such a complete master is not to be found, then
you should seek one who is only filled with bauddha jnana. He is
to be preferred over that master who is filled only with paurusha
jnana, because intellectually he will carry you by and by to the
end point. That master who resides only in paurusha jnana would
not ultimately be successful in carrying you to that which you seek.