Swamiji Says Blog
Universal Shaiva Fellowship


Discipline in Kashmir Shaivism

In the summer of 1980, Swami Lakshmanjoo gave a series of lectures on “Practice and Discipline in Kashmir Shaivism.” These lectures, given in Kashmiri language, were later translated into English and published in the book, “Self realization in Kashmir Shaivism”.

In his talk on Discipline, Swamiji followed the traditional interpretation of the Yamas (observances) and Niyamas (rules and regulations) as set out by Patanjali in his Yoga Darshana also known as the Yoga Sutras.

It should be noted, that Kashmir Shaivism has a uniquely different approach to the eight limbs of Yoga (ashtanga yoga) than that outlined by Patanjali.

“In Kashmir Shaivism the yamas, niyamas and asanas, are not added as limbs of yoga.” (Tantraloka 5th ahnika)

In his translation of the 4th chapter of Tantraloka, Swami Lakshmanjoo explains that Abhinavagupta has given importance to only six limbs of yoga–pranayama, pratyahara, dhyana, dharana, tarka and samadhi. Swamiji points out that the eight limbs of yoga, set out by Patanjali, help those aspirants residing on the lower level of practice, the means known as anavopaya. But for more advanced practice, the means known as shaktopaya and shambhavopaya, they are of no use. The main point in Kashmir Shaivism is “awareness.”

In Trika Shaivism pranayama, pratyahara, dhyana and dharana are considered to be external ways of maintaining the strength of yoga. There is only one predominant limb of yoga that is “tarka.” Tarka means ‘perception which differentiates’. It is discriminating, transcendental logic. This fifth limb of yoga is the discrimination between individual and universal, i.e. discriminating logic and reasoning from within your own consciousness.

Though the first three limbs of ashtanga yoga (yama, niyama and asana) are not mentioned in Kashmir Shaivism, Swamiji gave great importance to the yama of Ahimsa (non-violence) and the niyama of Ishvara Pranidana (devotion to Lord Shiva). The following is an extract from the talk given in 1980.

Ahimsa – Non-violence

Ahimsa means non-violence and this non-violence is of two kinds – subtle and predominant.


Subtle non-violence is that wherein the effects of one’s actions or words are taken into account. It is also violence if your words or actions harm another psyche, or cause anger or hatred in another. This kind of violence is subtle in nature. You should be humble and soft spoken. You should discipline yourself to prohibit yourself from inflicting subtle pain, which though latent, is painful. Maintaining this subtle non-violence does not permit you to deal with others in a loud and shrill manner. This subtle non-violence must be followed through a strict discipline of body, mind, and soul.

One who maintains and is established in this discipline of subtle non-violence in body, mind and soul, influences all mutual enemies by his presence. Such is his vibrating power.

For example, if a cat and a mouse are in the presence of such a person–though they are natural enemies, and the tendency is for the cat to attack the mouse and for the mouse to attempt to escape–they both remain placid and harmless. The cat does not attack the mouse and the mouse does not run. This is the all-pervasive power of non-violence that permeates these creatures in the presence of a person or spiritual aspirant who is established in the discipline of non-violence.

“No power on earth can make two mutual enemies enter into combat in the presence of he, who being established in subtle non-violence, does not harmanyone.” (Patanjali’s Yoga Darshana)


Predominant non-violence is the shunning of that which is the worst of all violence, i.e. the killing or taking of the life of a living being for the pleasure of eating its flesh. There is no greater sin than this. To be really established in non-violence you must leave meat-eating, you must shun it completely, you must be a complete vegetarian. It is a fact that the fruit of meditation can only be possessed by a pure vegetarian.

All those involved in any way with the acts of killing, preparing, and eating meat are equally guilty and equally depraved and criminal. Every aspect of this act is wrong. Even those who witness the act of killing, or witness the act of eating meat are criminals. I cannot impress upon you strongly enough how sinful and wrong is the act of eating meat. The butcher, the cook, and the final consumer–even the witness of any of these acts–are all sinners.

If you think that only the butcher who has actually slaughtered the animal is a sinner, you are wrong! Any person involved in any way is equally a sinner and a criminal in this most terrible, violent act of killing. Take one small piece of meat and you are just like the butcher himself–you both belong to the same class. About this there is no doubt. Even if you may be a vegetarian and do not oppose this act of extreme violence, or do not denounce this horrible act, you are a sinner judged to have committed the same crime.

“Even if you are not a thief and yet you associate with thieves you are also considered to be a thief.” (Tantraloka)

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A person who maintains friendly contact and is sociable with butchers, though he is a vegetarian, is also a sinner and receives punishment. So it is your duty not only to maintain a strict vegetarian lifestyle but also to loudly oppose the killing of animals and the taking of meat. You must communicate my message and this truth to everyone who is near and dear to you, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, and all your relatives.

Yajnavalka tells us in his Yajnavalkya smriti that, “there are three ghastly crimes committed in the slaughtering of animals for the enjoyment of eating their flesh.”

These crimes are prana-haranapida, and virya-kshepa.

Prana-haranais the crime of taking life away from an animal though it is innocent and has done nothing to deserve having its life taken away.

Pida is the crime of inflicting great pain on an animal while killing it, and virya-kshepa is the crime of taking away its strength.

The Manu Smriti says:

“He who avoids meat-eating for his whole life receives the same meritorious fruit after death as he who adopts the Ashvamedha yajna every year for one hundred years.” (Manu Smriti)

Can you understand?

A person performs an Ashvamedha sacrifice every year for his whole life, how virtuous and sinless he must be. Yet that person who only abstains from eating meat is higher, more sin-less, more virtuous than he who performs the yearly Ashvamedha sacrifice.

It is also said elsewhere in our Kashmir Shaivism:

“You should not kill animals at the time of marriage celebrations, or for your own self-satisfaction, or in rituals, or in hosting your dear loved ones.” (Jayaratha in Tantraloka)

You should not serve meat on marriage occasions, nor should you fool yourself into thinking that you must take meat for reasons of health. This is no reason. Why should you kill or take the life of an innocent being because of your disbelief and fear of death. It is better to die than to try and preserve your own life by taking the life of an innocent being.

Some of you may say, “But I must serve meat to my guests, such as my son-in-law or they will be insulted. They will think that I have been miserly, refusing to spend properly for their entertainment and enjoyment.” I tell you this:

“If you really love your son-in-law or your guests, entertain them with a delicious variety of vegetarian dishes, with cheese (paneer) and yogurt (curd). Do not entertain them with meat dishes. Giving them meat dishes shows, not that you love them, but that you hate them, for you are encouraging those evil acts which will send them to hell for twenty lifetimes.” You may also say, “We have a problem and our priest, who is a well-read Pandit (scholar), has recommended we sacrifice a sheep, and that this sacrifice will absolve us from any danger or fear.” I say, “this is all nonsense, irrelevant and meaningless.” Even my father went to Khrew Shrine and worshipped by offering the lungs of sheep.

I wondered at that time, “how on earth they thought they would reach heaven by the loss of life and blood and the cost of so much pain and suffering inflicted on an innocent and speechless lamb.

Hence do not eat meat. This is real non-violence (ahimsa).

Ishvara Pranidhana — Devotion to God 

Ishvara pranidhana is the final and supreme niyama. It means love and devotion to God. The love of Lord Shiva creates devotion. If you love Lord Shiva and are devoted to Him it is not possible for Him to neglect you. He will reveal Himself to you and purify you with his glorious eighteen arms, helping you to enter into the realm of God Consciousness.

“Through devotion to Lord Shiva samadhi-(mystical rapture) is effortlessly attained.” (Patanjali’s Yoga Darshana)

Swami Lakshmanjoo concluded the series of lectures by saying, “If you follow what I have said meticulously, there is no question that Lord Shiva in the form of Svacchandanatha will protect you with His wonderful eighteen arms and, through His shining Grace, reveal Himself to you.

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