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“Even if you are already drowned in the cycle of the ocean of repeated births and deaths, when you once find attachment (love) and devotion for Lord Śiva, then you have found that Cintāmaṇi jewel.”~Swami Lakshmanjoo
We are happy to announce the newest addition to the Lakshmanjoo Academy book series:
The Magical Jewel of Devotion
in Kashmir Shaivism
The Magical Jewel of Devotion in Kashmir Shaivism – is a sublime and unique hymn addressed to ‘Lord Shiva’, whom the author, Bhaṭṭa Nārāyana, holds as the Supreme Reality. Though these hymns are both practical and deeply philosophical, the constant theme that runs like a thread through the one hundred and twenty verses is that love and devotion towards Lord Shiva is everything.
Here Swami Lakshmanjoo shares with us the secrets gleaned from the ancient masters of his oral tradition.
Devotional hymns have always held an important place in the history of the “Monistic teachings of Kashmir Shaivism.” The recitation of such hymns is a common part of daily spiritual practice for many Shaiva aspirants.
Stava Cintāmaṇi – The Magical Jewel of Devotion in Kashmir Shaivism – is a sublime and unique hymn addressed to ‘Lord Shiva’, whom the author, Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa clearly holds as the Supreme Reality. Though highly devotional, these hymns are at the same time practical and deeply philosophical.
In his hymn, Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa not only addresses this flow of consciousness into the world, but also its flowing back, from the world to its origin – the state of God consciousness. This he perceives in the simple act of bowing, which to him is the ultimate expression of love and devotion towards God. The constant theme that runs like a thread through the one hundred and twenty verses (ślokas) of the Stava Cintāmaṇi is that love and devotion (bhakti towards Lord Shiva) is everything.
Swami Lakshmanjoo’s love for devotional hymns is evidenced by the fact that he translated and commented on the Stava Cintāmaṇi on three occasions. The first, in 1978, was recorded by John Hughes and forms the basis of this present publication. Then, in 1990, he gave an “impromptu translation” during which time Denise Hughes compiled extensive hand written notes. Lastly, in 1991, Swamiji recorded his recitation of the verses, giving brief translations to selected verses only.
Swamiji tells us that Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa was one of the most important Kashmir Shaivite masters, and that he lived approximately one century before the illustrious Abhinavagupta (924-1020CE). This places Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa somewhere between Vasugupta and Somānanda. Together these highly revered masters disseminated the foundational texts of a system of philosophy that would later become known exclusively as ‘Kashmir Shaivism’.
It was in the wake of this new revival that Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa composed his Stava Cintāmaṇ̣i. Little is known about his life, as he hardly mentions himself in his writings, but taking into account the spiritual climate of his generation, with the majority of the population being entrenched in dualistic and mono-dualistic practices, one could easily assume that he had composed his devotional hymn with the underlying intention of introducing and educating sincere spiritual aspirants in the ‘non-dual-monistic’ way of thought and practice. Since later commentators indicate that the Stava Cintāmaṇi was well received and highly influential, it is more than likely that Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa achieved that goal.
That the author was endeavouring to enlighten his audience in the direction of non-dual Shaivism is clearly visible in the inclusion of his interpretation of the ancient and highly revered Gāyatri mantra, where he says:
“I don’t care to possess that effulgent light (tat savitur varenyam) of the three worlds (bhuḥ, bhuvaḥ and svaḥ), and I don’t need my intellect elevated to the state of universal understanding (dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt); I want only for that effulgent light to direct me on the path of Shaivism – that is all I long for – and that is the only favor I ask of Gāyatrī.”
Longing for this experience the author sings:
“O Lord Shiva, let me merge in Your nature of God conscious-ness everywhere, so whatever I do in the dreaming state, whatever I say in this daily routine of life, good or bad, let that become divine, and let that be reflected in the mirror of God consciousness always. Let me merge in God consciousness in each and every respect of the daily routine of life, not only at the time of meditation.”