Upāyas (fourfold means) are the nature of God consciousness ~Swami Lakshmanjoo

This is an excerpt from Swami Lakshmanjoo’s newest publication: Light on Tantra in Kashmir Shaivism – Abhinavagupta’s Tantraloka Volume 2 Chapters Two & Three.

Tantrāloka is the voluminous masterwork of the 10th-century philosopher-saint Abhinavagupta. It is a veritable encyclopedia of non-dual Shaivism, a spiritual treasure trove containing a glorious synthesis of all the schools that make up Kashmir Shaivism.

This second volume includes chapters two and three, dealing with Anupāya, the means (upāya) where there is nothing to be done for attaining oneness with Universal Being, and Śāmbhavopāya, the means requiring supreme awareness. Coming from the direct line of Abhinavagupta, in his translation and commentary Swami Lakshmanjoo reveals the true meaning of this otherwise difficult text. In the accompanying free audio, the sincere student can hear the words of a master who lived and breathed Kashmir Shaivism in its fullness.

The Tantraloka is composed of thirty-seven chapters (ahnikas). Each chapter has its own distinct topic. A summary of each chapter is contained in the previously published, Light on Tantra in Kashmir Shaivism – Abhinavagupta’s Tantraloka Volume 1 Chapter One.

Here are some of the topics Abhinavagupta examines in the second and third chapter:

Second Chapter – anupāya

  • The means where there is nothing to be done.
  • What constitutes the initiation of this elevated aspirant.

Third Chapter – śāmbhavopāya:

  • Pratibimbavada: how the universe is reflected in the mirror of God-consciousness.
  • Mātṛkācakra: the unfolding of the wheel of energies of the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, that make up the subjective nature of the world of manifestation.
  • Ahaṁ-parāmarśa: how the supreme state of I-consciousness (aham) flows out into the world of manifestation.

You can order a copy of the book here… 

Upāyas (fourfold means) are the nature of God consciousness ~Swami Lakshmanjoo

TĀ 2 Audio 13 (07:30)

यच्चतुर्धोदितं रूपं विज्ञानस्य विभोरसौ ।

स्वभाव एव मन्तव्यः स हि नित्योदितो विभुः ॥४॥

yaccaturdhoditaṁ rūpaṁ vijñānasya vibhorasau /

svabhāva eva mantavyaḥ sa hi nityodito vibhuḥ // 4 //


There are four sections of the means (caturdhā, fourfold). One is anupāya, the next is śāmbhavopāya, the third is śāktopāya, and the fourth is āṇavopāya. In fact, these fourfold means are the nature of God consciousness; svabhāva eṣa1 vibho mantavyaḥ, [these upāyas are] the nature of God consciousness. Sa hi nityodito vibhuḥ, and that state of God consciousness is shining everywhere–in āṇavopāya, in śāktopāya, in śāmbhavopāya, and in anupāya, too.2

TĀ 2 Audio 13 (08:22)

एतावद्भिरसंख्यातैः स्वभावैर्यत्प्रकाशते ।

केऽप्यंशांशिकया तेन विशन्त्यन्ये निरंशतः ॥५॥

etāvadbhirasaṁkhyātaiḥ svabhāvairyatprakāśate /

ke’pyaṁśāṁśikayā tena viśantyanye niraṁśataḥ // 5 //


These are fourfold means, from anupāya to āṇavopāya, and there are other adjusted means also which are numberless (asāṁkhyātair).

For instance, anupāya is one (in prasaja pratiṣedha, anupāya is only one). In paryudāsa pratiṣedha, anupāya will go variously. For instance, siddha darśanam.3 Siddha darśana will be anupāya, but in the paryudāsa way, not in the reality of anupāya.4 When you just get a divine touch of your master, that is anupāya [in the paryudāsa way], and you get entry in your God consciousness; or just a glance of your master, this is the second way of anupāya,5 and you are established in that God consciousness–at once, without doing anything, without adopting means or anything. And there are various means in that way. In śāmbhavopāya also, there are various means; in śāktopāya also, there are also various means; and in āṇavopāya also.

JOHN: So that is the means of anupāya. If there can be said to be means, in the second sense, these are the means–the touch of a master, the glance of a master. That’s the anupāya means.

SWAMIJI: Anupāya, inferior anupāya.

JOHN: Yes, in this second sense.

SWAMIJI: The second sense of anupāya.

SCHOLAR: This siddha darśanam, this yoginī darśanam, . . .

SWAMIJI: Yes, it is anupāya.

SCHOLAR: . . . this is not in the sense of . . .

SWAMIJI: . . . prasaja.6

SCHOLAR: . . . the assembly of yoginīs and siddhas in the physical sense. Would that not be in śāktopāya?

SWAMIJI: No, this is not that kind of . . .

SCHOLAR: This is spiritual yoginī melāpa.

SWAMIJI: This is spiritual, yes. Yoginī melāpa7comes in samādhi.

SCHOLAR: Mātṛ maṇḍala sāṁbodha.8

SWAMIJI: Yes, internal.

JOHN: This is what, in dreams?

SWAMIJI: Not in dreams. In your state of God consciousness.

JOHN: This initiation for anupāya comes in these . . .


SCHOLAR: (unclear) after samādhi. Is this the state after?

SWAMIJI: No, just when your master is befitting [preparing] you and making you fit to get entry in God consciousness. If your master thinks that by touch it won’t be done, then siddha darśana takes place. If siddha darśana also [won’t work], then yoginī melāpa takes place.

SCHOLAR: This is in the hands of the master.

SWAMIJI: In the hands of the master.

JOHN: But what is the difference between this siddha darśana and this . . . ?

SWAMIJI: Siddha darśana, you see divine ancient masters.

JOHN: In samādhi.

SWAMIJI: When you close your eyes before your master, he makes you understand and experience the state of those siddhas. And yoginī melāpa also.

JOHN: That is the same when you have your eyes closed . . .

SWAMIJI: Siddha darśana is just in touch with śāmbhavopāya,9 and yoginī melāpa is in touch with śāktopāya.10 For instance, yoginī melāpa is sexual.11 Siddha darśana is just śāmbhavopāya–a glance. It takes place. It takes place by the grace of a master if you are worthy of, if you have the capacity of, owning that state. If you have not the capacity [for anupāya], then you have to move to śāmbhavopāya. Then, if you have not the capacity in śāmbhavopāya, you have to move to śāktopāya, and then to āṇavopāya.

SCHOLAR: Also this can take place through bhīmācara, some caru bhojanam or . . .

SWAMIJI: Caru bhojana, it takes place internally, by internally . . .12

SCHOLAR: But also in śāktopāya it takes place externally.

SWAMIJI: Śāktopāya, it is externally . . .

SCHOLAR: But here it is a pure internal perception.

SWAMIJI: It is a pure internal perception in anupāya.

So by these upāyas, some get entry by portions, by parts, and some get entry fully; ke’pi āṁśāṁśikayā viśanti, ke’pi niraṁśataḥ viśanti (niraṁśa, completely).13 This is just to make you understand that there are four means. It is not [the explanation of] anupāya yet.

Next [śloka]:

TĀ 2 Audio 13 (12:56)

तत्रापि चाभ्युपायादिसापेक्षान्यत्वयोगतः ।

उपायस्यापि नो वार्या तदन्यत्वाद्विचित्रता ॥६॥

tatrāpi cābhyupāyādisāpekṣānyatvayogataḥ /

upāyasyāpi no vāryā tadanyatvādvicitratā // 6 //


In that section of these fourfold upāyas (means), when you need the help of other upāyas also simultaneously or when you don’t need the help of other upāyas directly (when you get entry in one upāya [directly or] when you don’t get entry in one upāya [directly and] you have to take the help of other upāyas also), . . .*

For instance, when you get entry in, when you are established in, āṇavopāya, some people get help of inferior āṇavopāya. When you are established in śāktopāya, some people go directly and get entry in the śāktopāya state. Some sādhakas do need the touch of āṇavopāya also with that. And some sādhakas are established in śāmbhavopāya directly. Some sādhakas are established in śāmbhavopāya, not directly, but indirectly (e.g., śāmbhavopāya with the addition of śāktopāya also). And some sādhakas are established in anupāya with the addition of śāmbhavopāya also–some. Some go directly in anupāya, some get entry with the help of śāmbhavopāya also. And in śāmbhavopāya also, there is direct śāmbhavopāya and there is the indirect way of śāmbhavopāya (e.g., with the help of śāktopāya; śāktopāya is also needed, adjusted there). And in śāktopāya, there is the direct upāya and there is the indirect [upāya] also (e.g., when you need āṇavopāya also to be adjusted a little).

SCHOLAR: They always over-fold to some extent.

SWAMIJI: Yes . . . not always. Some advanced sādhakas get entry directly without the help of other upāyas.

SCHOLAR: But in śāktopāya, for example, in the practices of the Krama System or the Kula System, . . .

SWAMIJI: Krama System . . .

SCHOLAR: . . . there is some resort of āṇavopāya . . .

SWAMIJI: Some resort of āṇavopāya, yes.

SCHOLAR: . . . because you practice this physical aspect.

SWAMIJI: In the same way, in śāmbhavopāya also, in anupāya also.

*. . . so, this help of other upāyas you should not reject, because there are so many various ways to get entry in God consciousness according to the capacity of sādhakas.

Now, he goes to the point of anupāya:


1. In place of the published “eva” (thus), Swamiji says “eṣa” (this), which in the context of the verse conveys the same meaning.

2. As Swamiji explains in the first āhnika of the Tantrāloka, “[Lord Śiva’s] energies are the means, [his] energies have become the upāyas.” Light on Tantra in Kashmir Shaivism, Abhinavagupta’s Tantrāloka One.

3. The mere sight (darśanam) of a divine master (siddha).

4. That is, prasaja pratiṣedha.

5. That is, paryudāsa pratiṣedha.

6. Here, Swamiji is indicating that this not prasaja pratiṣedha.

7. Lit., the uniting or bringing together (melapaka) of yoginīs.

8. Yoginī melāpa is when you are absolutely absorbed in the awareness of God consciousness for sometime, and with no result, and you are weeping inside, you are imploring, craving, desiring to meet him, within, doing your meditation towards the Lord, and nothing happens to you. And sometime, when it gets ripened, your tapas, this kind of action is ripened, at once your eyes are closed and you feel yourself surrounded by divine ladies around you, and they illuminate you. That is mātṛ maṇḍala.” Tantrāloka of Abhinavagupta, translation and commentary by Swami Lakshmanjoo (original audio recording, LJA archive, Los Angeles, 1972-1981), chapter 4, verse 57.

9. Also known as īcchopāya, the path of will.

10. Also known as jñānopāya, the path of knowledge.

11. “For males it is yoginī melāpa, and for females it is siddha melāpa.” Tantrāloka 4.57 commentary (LJA archive).

12. Bhīmācara, lit., frightful conduct. “That is haṭha yoginī melāpa where they throw that praśāda (caru bhojana), which seems jugupsyam (absolutely filthy) in your mouth, and as soon as it is kept in your mouth, you get elevated. Ibid.

13. Āśāṁśikayā: part of a portion; niraṁśataḥ: having no part or portion; viśanti: entry.

  1. January 30, 2022

    Maam i also wanted to know that what was the purpose of the book vijnana bhairava. I had read in the introduction that this books was meant for the masters. What did swamiji meant by that? And also, since swamiji has already instructed everyone to watch their breath then how will be this book useful?

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