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"Bhakti is when see that each and every object is the glamour of your own consciousness-that is bhakti. You should do that bhakti". ~Swami Lakshmanjoo

What is real devotion and initiation in Kashmir Shaivism?

bhaktyā kashmir shaivism Jun 28, 2023

Swami Lakshmanjoo explains what is real devotion and initiation in Kashmir Shaivism (from Abhinavagupta’s Bhagavad Gita, chapter 4, verse 34).

DVD 4.3 (24:35)

तद्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया  ।

उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिनः  ॥३४॥

tadviddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā /

upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ jñāninastattvadarśinaḥ //34//


[Lord Kṛṣṇa]: That knowledge you will understand by bowing before them [i.e., the learned masters], paripraśnena, by placing questions before them, by sevayā, by serving them. Then, te, you will become jñānina, [one of] those who are glamourous with real knowledge of God consciousness. Tattva darśinaḥ, those who have the real observation of Parabhairava state, they will upadekṣyanti (upadekṣyanti means they will show you the reality of God consciousness).

Now he commentates upon these words in another way.

Tat ca jñānaṁ [comm.]. That knowledge of Parabhairava [can be attained by] praṇipātena (praṇipātena means by bowing your head before your masters; this is the [literal] meaning of this [word], praṇipātena). “Jai!” This is not the way of praṇipātena, this is not praṇipātena. This is just fraud. 


JOHN: Bowing your head before your master.

SWAMIJI: Praṇipātena means . . . what is the meaning of praṇipātena then?

This bhaktyā, with attachment, when you have got devotion for that, when you have devotion for that knowledge, that knowledge will come to you when you have devotion for that knowledge. That is [the meaning of] bowing your head before your master (praṇipāta). 

na pādapatanam bhaktir vyāpinā paramātmanam

bhaktir bhāva padarthanaṁ tadeki bhāva bhāvanam

Pāda patanam na bhaktir, this is not bhakti (devotion), this is not the sign of bhakti [when] you go and catch hold of your masters feet and do like this [Swamiji rubs his fingers over his eyes]. This is not bhakti. Vyāpinā paramātmana, that param-ātmana is all-knowing, all-knowledge, and everywhere omnipresent. He knows whatever is happening in one’s own mind. This is not bhakti.

Then what is bhakti?

Bhaktir bhāva padarthanam tadekybhāva bhāvanam. Bhakti is when you see that each and every object is the glamour of [your] own consciousness–that is bhakti. You should do that bhakti. You should not do this bhakti, i.e., show [respect through external prostrations]. This is fraud. “Jai!” All disciples come before me and say, “Jai!” This is all fraud, nonsense.

Have you understood?

Bhaktir bhāva padarthanam tadeki bhāva bhāvanam, all of these varieties of universal objectivity, when this universal objectivity, [when] all objects are found [to be] one with Parabhairava, that is bhakti. 


And upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ. Upadekṣyanti, [masters] will initiate you. But initiation does not mean initiation. When you are initiated, the initiated [person] is not initiated. 

What is initiated?

Upadeṣa.128 Upadeṣa means to get God consciousness and keep it before you. Upa means to get nearer and nearer in God consciousness and keep [it] at your disposal. That is upadeṣa.

JOHN: Keep God consciousness at your disposal?

SWAMIJI: God consciousness [is kept] at your disposal–that is upadeṣa. Upa means near to your consciousness. To carry God consciousness near to your consciousness–that is upadeṣa. Upadeṣa is not [merely reciting], “om klīṁ bhairavāya namah, om klīṁ bhairavāya namah,” i.e., what [masters] say in [the devotee’s] ear [during initiation]. That upadeṣa is not upadeṣa. It is all fraud. 

I also do that [laughs] to everybody: “oṁ klīm . . . oṁ juṁ saḥ amriteśvara bhairavāya namah,” [and tell them], “you must go on reciting this [mantra].”

This is fraud! What will happen to them [by reciting] this, “oṁ juṁ saḥ amriteśvara?” And there are some people who like it; who go on doing it [saying], “I have no [reservations], I will do that.” I am doing that to people [i.e., initating them with mantra]. And I know that they are fraud. They are finished. They are placed away from God consciousness. 

DENISE: By reciting those mantras?

SWAMIJI: Yes [laughs]. Mantra recitation is not really recitation. [Actual] mantra recitation is just keeping at your disposal the real state of Bhairava.129 That is upadeṣa.

What else shall I tell you about this? 

I don’t think I have anything else to say.

Tat ca jñānaṁ praṇipātena means . . . praṇipāt means not [mere recitation of mantra and external prostrations]; praṇipāt means bhaktyā, by devotion. Paripraśnena means to ask, to put questions before your master. That is ūhāpoha tarka vitarkādi-bhiḥ, to find out the truth in your own consciousness, to think over it yourself.

What is seva?

Sevayā does not mean that you will cook food for him.

For whom? 

DENISE: Your master.

SWAMIJI: Your master.

It is not seva (service). Sevayā means abhyāsena, when you try to stay in that [state of] God consciousness–that is seva

Yata evaṁbhūtasya tava jñānino. Jñānino means those who are jñānis, those who are filled with God consciousness.

Who are those?

Those masters, [which are] your own organs!

Jñānino–nijā eva . . . indriyaviśeṣāḥ, your own organs are your masters; they will direct you towards God consciousness. Those are your masters. “Master” [does not mean] to find out a master in a gross [i.e., external] way. Your masters are your own organs.

This is the cream of Shaivism derived by Abhinavagupta in his commentary on the Bhagavad Gītā–‘indriya viśeṣāḥ.’

Tattvam upasamīpe dekṣyanti, they will upadekṣyanti (upa-dekṣyanti means [that your organs] will carry that God consciousness near to you). What is that? Prāpayiṣyanti, so that you will reside in that state.

It is said in Patañjalī’s Yoga Sutra also:

yoga eva yogasyopāyaḥ / 

ṛtambharā tatra prajñā //1.48

Yoga is upāya, i.e., yoga is the meaning of yoga. Yoga can be achieved by yoga. Yoga has no other means without yoga

[When] limited soul is united with unlimited soul, unlimited being, that is yoga. Yoga means yujaryoge (union).

Anye jñāninaḥ puruṣāḥ:–iti vyākhyāyamān. Other commentators who have translated this verse of the Bhagavad Gītā (because this was spoken, this has come from the lips of Lord Kṛṣṇa to Arjuna), “that you should hear [this knowledge] from great masters. O Arjuna, you should hear, you should know that from masters. They will explain to you the reality of what is right and what is wrong.”

If it were correct that Arjuna was deputed by Lord Kṛṣṇa to go to masters [to obtain this knowledge], but Lord Kṛṣṇa was speaking to him, Himself, [telling Arjuna] to go to masters.

[To] whom else [Arjuna] has to go?

Lord Kṛṣṇa was there.

So it is just a joke! Master means your own consciousness. You have to insert all of your force in your own consciousness, then you will find it out. Don’t try to catch Me. I have nothing to do with this. It is your own business to have it. 


128 The literal meaning of upadeṣa is instruction or initiation. [Editor’s note]

129 SWAMIJI: Any thought will take you to the state of God consciousness, but there must be one thought and this first fresh thought, like that, in all cycles of thought.

JOHN: Then why do we use mantras? If any thought will carry you, why use special thoughts?

SWAMIJI: Special thoughts (i.e., mantras) only we produce in the beginning in disciples. Afterwards, when they have developed this strength of awareness of pramiti bhāva* . . . [then] you can give rise to any thought, any disgusted thought. . . . Thought becomes mantra. Because in each and every word, there is the residence of God consciousness; God consciousness is residing in each and every action, each and every word. . . . In the beginning, we [prescribe] mantras just to create faith in the devotee that, “I am reciting mantra of God!” Swami Lakshmanjoo, Tantrāloka 11.81 (1979).

* See the later part of footnote 44 for an explanation of pramiti bhāva.

Source: Bhagavad Gita, In the Light of Kashmir Shaivism 
revealed by Swami Lakshmanjoo.
Also available as on demand video.

All Content is subject to Copyright © John Hughes.


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