This is an excerpt from the transcript of the audio that was the basis of the book Kashmir Shaivism, The Secret Supreme. Read the first chapter of the book with a diagram of the tattvas on our website.
We offer an in-depth study of the “Tattvas (Elements); The Building Blocks of Creation according to Kashmir Shaivism” as an online course the Lakshmanjoo Academy, which includes Q&A and discussions by John, Denise Hughes and George Barselaar, who studied and lived for many years with Swami Lakshmanjoo.
“These thirty-six elements are the most important points for entering in Shaivism.”
Continued from the previous blog post (Organs of Cognition in Kashmir Shaivism – (Tattvas) Part Two).
Then comes prakṛiti, prakṛiti and puruṣa, these two tattvas. These two tattvas are interdependent. Prakṛiti is dependent to puruṣa and puruṣa is dependent to prakṛiti. Prakṛiti is that sort of element, it is called something like nature, the field where tendencies rise, tendencies rise forth.
JOHN: Like the three guṇas?
SWAMIJI: For instance three guṇas, this prakṛiti is the combination of three guṇas. Prakṛiti is the combination of three guṇas without distinction.
JOHN: When they are . . .
SWAMIJI: Three guṇas come out from prakṛiti, but it is said that three guṇas are not called tattvas. They are not in the field of tattvas, because they are created by prakṛiti. Tattvas are not created. They are creators. So guṇas are not tattvas. Guṇas are not called tattvas. This is called prakṛiti. And then who responds to that prakṛiti, who owns that prakṛiti is called puruṣa. Bas! Vedānta has put only these tattvas, these are twenty-five tattvas in all.
JOHN: And they make puruṣa and prakṛiti identical with brahman.
JOHN: And in Sāṁkhya we’d have . . .
SWAMIJI: Puruṣa and prakṛiti separate.
JOHN: . . . puruṣa and prakṛiti separate and internal. So prakṛiti . . . at the point of . . .
SWAMIJI: No, when prakṛiti is observed by puruṣa, puruṣa becomes free, liberated from the pangs of prakṛiti. Prakṛiti does not . . .
JOHN: In Śaivisim.
SWAMIJI: No, in Śaivisim not. In Sāṁkhya.
JOHN: In Sāṁkhya. Yes, yes, yes. Now in Shaivism . . .
SWAMIJI: In Shaivism, nothing has happened as yet. It is all in the field of māyā, all in the field of objectivity.
JOHN: So puruṣa and prakṛiti both because there is a seeming subject-object relationship yet they are both pure consciousness, nothing but cit, Parama Śiva, both puruṣa and prakṛiti . . .
SWAMIJI: Puruṣa and prakṛiti?
JOHN: . . . they are both Parama Śiva, as in ultimately.
SWAMIJI: In the final stage, not here.
JOHN: Not here but we can’t say that there is something else. I mean it also wouldn’t be true to say that there was something else other than Parama Śiva, because there is nothing else but Parama Śiva is there?
SWAMIJI: No, when Parama Śiva is realized, then. Then you see the whole system of thirty-six Tattvas as the expansion of Parama Śiva.
JOHN: Expansion of him, so that there is really nothing but Parama Śiva.
SWAMIJI: Parama Śiva. It is in the end, you have to realize that. It is in Shaivism.
JOHN: So at this point then, at this point we have duality comes, or is duality already found?
SWAMIJI: Duality yes.
JOHN: At this point?
SWAMIJI: Yes at this point. And in Shaivism now we have to put puruṣa, as puruṣa is not realized soul here, so we have to put entangles, bondages, bondages of puruṣa we have to put in tattvas. Those are five tattvas.
JOHN: For bondages of puruṣa.
JOHN: All tattvas.
SWAMIJI: All five tattvas, next.
JOHN: Then what is the difference between puruṣa and ahaṅkāra? The tattva ahaṅkāra and the tattva puruṣa, is there any difference between those?
SWAMIJI: No, puruṣa is subjective, connected with subjectivity.
JOHN: More subjective than ahaṅkāra.
SWAMIJI: Ahaṅkāra is objective. I have put that.
JOHN: Connected with the object. That is very difficult for me to . . .
SWAMIJI: Yes. It will be grasped by and by. I will give all explanation of our points first and then we will go through this Shaivism. And Pratyabhijñā school is also very difficult, difficult in the beginning. First, you must make bold and . . . the ability.
JOHN: A blackboard?
SWAMIJI: This is bold.
JOHN: Oh, you mean write it in a notebook.
SWAMIJI: Yes, notebook.
We have put five tattvas for puruṣa, for as bondage of puruṣa: i.e. niyati, kāla, rāga, vidyā and kalā.
JOHN: Are these malas.
SWAMIJI: I will explain that.
JOHN: And then, what was the last one?
JOHN: Which kalā has a long ā? This has a long ā or . . . one is time, which kalā?
DENISE: How do you spell kalā?
SWAMIJI: Kalā. This is kāla.
SWAMIJI: K-ā-l-a and first ā is long in kāla, in kalā last one is long.
JOHN: It is very hard for a Westerner. When Indians speak, then they hear long ā and short a very clear, but in the west, we do not have the difference. So it is very hard to hear if there is a long ‘ā’ and a short ‘a’.
SWAMIJI: First is niyati tattva. Niyati tattva, the function of niyati tattva is to put impressions in puruṣa, put impression in puruṣa that he is residing in such and such place, not all places. As you are residing in House Boat near first bridge you are not residing at the same time, simultaneously, residing in Ishber also, in Nishat Bagh also, everywhere also, in Australia, Canada. This is niyati. This is the limitation, which does niyati to puruṣa.
JOHN: Limitation of time and place.
SWAMIJI: Limitation for puruṣa is done regarding limitation of niyati. That he is residing in such and place and not everywhere. And then comes another tattva, another . . . what is another one?
SWAMIJI: Kāla, kāla is time. Kāla tattva keeps puruṣa in particular period. He becomes the victim of period. For instance, you are twenty-five years old. This is done by kāla tattva. I am sixty-four years old. This is done by kāla tattva. Somebody else is twenty-four, forty, thirty. This limitation is done by kāla tattva.
JOHN: Instead of thinking that he is ageless during all times.
SWAMIJI: It is in Parama Śiva. That will come in Parama Śiva, the supreme transcendental being. He transcends kāla, space, time, form everything.
And then comes the third one, third tattva is rāga. Rāga is attachment, attachment because of not being full. Rāga leaves the impression in puruṣa that he is not full. He is not complete. He must have it. He must have this, which he has not.
DENISE: Still lacking.
SWAMIJI: Lacking for something to be filled. This is rāga tattva. This is the function of rāga tattva, for puruṣa.
JOHN: So he keeps grasping and desiring.
SWAMIJI: Desiring and collecting and storing and everything. If I store this in ‘faran’ [Kashmiri coat] so I can have it [???]. This is rāga tattva. Need, we do need that, this is rāga tattva. This is done by rāga tattva. Parama Śiva does not need these things. He is above these.
And then comes the fourth one, vidyā tattva. Vidyā tattva means he puts the impression in puruṣa that he has got knowledge of this, that and not all. Limited knowledge. This is done by vidyā. He is not all-knowing. He knows some limited things. It is done by vidyā.
And kalā is the last one. Last bondage for puruṣa, kalā keeps puruṣa in this impression that he has some art. He has got some art of writing or he is M.Sc. Agriculture, he is K.C.S.I. and so on.
DENISE: That he is creative?
SWAMIJI: Created by kalā.
JOHN: He has limited creativity then, not every . . . certain things.
SWAMIJI: Limited art.
And these five bondages are done by ignorance; these five bondages are done to puruṣa by ignorance, of his own nature. And that ignorance is called another tattva, that is called māyā.
JOHN: Māyā gives rise to these five tattvas.
SWAMIJI: Tattvas. [Māyā gives] rise to these five tattvas regarding that puruṣa who has got, who is . . .
JOHN: . . . affected by these five.
SWAMIJI: No, who does not know his real nature, who has become the victim of prakṛiti.
JOHN: Prakṛiti. So these five . . .
SWAMIJI: . . . are created by māyā.
JOHN: By māyā.
SWAMIJI: Māyā for puruṣa.
JOHN: For this puruṣa which is in bondages of the prakṛiti here.
SWAMIJI: And these five, including māyā are called six tattvas. And these six tattvas are called six coverings, six enfoldments, six fold covers [ṣaṭ kañcukas]. Puruṣa is covered sixfold, not only one. He has not only one cover, first cover, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth.
DENISE: And each has to be uncovered one at a time?
SWAMIJI: Uncovered at the time of sādhanā. They are unfolded by itself, by the grace of the master.
SWAMIJI: Yes, anugrahaḥ.
JOHN: So māyā means ignorance.
JOHN: It doesn’t mean quite the same thing, māyā in Advaita-vedānta meaning in a sense a projection of the illusory world. It has the connotation of ignorance too, doesn’t it?
SWAMIJI: Also, yes.
JOHN: But this māyā isn’t totally unreal.
JOHN: No, like in Advaita-vedānta māyā is un-real.
SWAMIJI: In Vedānta [māyā is] un-real. In Shaivism māyā is transformed at the time of knowledge. At the time of real knowledge, māyā is transformed in his śakti, in his glory. Māyā becomes the glory of Parama Śiva then. When puruṣa realizes the real reality of his nature, māyā becomes glory for him, śakti, his energy, great energy [svātantrya śakti].
JOHN: So these are sixfold coverings.
SWAMIJI: Sixfold coverings for puruṣa, for ignorant puruṣa, who is not realized, who has not realized properly his own nature.
JOHN: So at this stage, there is individual, individuality, there are three of us.
SWAMIJI: Yes, individuality.
JOHN: So that comes earlier, individuality.
Download a chart of all tattvas here…
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