A central theme of the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism is the highly esoteric principle known as spanda which means vibrationless/vibration or established stable movement. In our Shaivism there are two texts that deal specifically with the spanda principle. The Spanda Karika (precise philosophical statements) on the Spanda theory and the Spanda Sandoha (exposition) of the spanda principle. The complete text is available as The Mystery of Vibrationless-Vibration in Kashmir Shaivism: Vasugupta’s Spanda Kārikā & Kṣemarāja’s Spanda Sandoha by Swami Lakshmanjoo.
The theory of spanda was hidden in the body of the Tantras and was extracted by Vasugupta and given to us in the form of the Spanda Karikas. The Spanda Sandoha is a commentary by Kṣemarāja on the first verse of Vasugupta’s Spanda Kārikā.
In the following excerpt from the Spanda Sandoha, Swami Lakshmanjoo explains the real meaning of – Jai Guru Deva! ‘Salutations to the Master’.
The Spanda1 Kārikā
(The Essential Nature of Spanda)
Audio 1 – 00:00
SWAMIJI: The first kārikā3:
यस्योन्मेषनिमेषाभ्यां जगतः प्रलयोदयौ ।
तं शक्तिचक्रविभवप्रभवं शङ्करं स्तुमः ॥१॥
yasyonmeṣanimeṣābhyāṁ jagataḥ pralayodayau /
taṁ śakti-cakra-vibhava-prabhavaṁ śaṁkaraṁ stumaḥ //
We prostrate before Śaṁkara4.
Prostration–what is meant by “prostration”?
Prostration means, we put [ourselves] at the feet of Śaṁkara, we surrender at the feet of Śaṁkara–our self.
What is the self?
The self is the gross body, the subtle body, and the subtlest body; the body of jāgrat (sthūla śarīra), the subtle body (sūkṣma śarīra5), which conducts in the dreaming state6, and the subtlest body, which conducts in the dreamless [state] (suṣupti7). These bodies we offer at the feet of Lord Śiva. That is “śaṁkaraṁ stumaḥ”.
. . . .
Audio 4 – 15:27
Taṁ stumaḥ, I bow to that Lord Śaṁkara who is śakti cakra vibhava prabhavaṁ, who is the creator and producer of the wheel of His numberless energies, who is the creator of the wheel of His numberless energies.
And who is Śaṁkara? Śaṁkara is, He who gives śaṁ (peace, entire peace). [He] who produces, who bestows, peace, entire peace, that is Śaṁkara. I bow to that Śaṁkara.
Śaṁ- . . . what is “śaṁkara”? First, he gives the exposition of the word “śaṁkara” in this śloka. He has not yet started the exposition of spanda. [Here] it is just the foundation stone for the exposition of the spanda principle.
ERNIE: But it is still on the first . . . ?
SWAMIJI: The first śloka.
The first śloka says, “śaṁkaraṁ”–“śaṁkara” is one word there–“I bow to that Śaṁkara.” What is “śaṁkara”? Śaṁ karotīti śaṁkara, He who gives peace, that who gives entire peace, is Śaṁkara. What is “peace”? Śaṁ . . . you should put a dash after “śaṁ”.
Audio 4 – 17:03
śaṁ-aśeṣa-upadrava-rahita-paramānandādvaya-caitanya prakāśa-pratyabhijñā-panātmakam anugrahaṁ
Śaṁ means, anugrahaṁ. Anugrahaṁ means, supreme grace. What is that grace? Aśeṣa upadrava rahita, when all upadravas (all of those confusions), all of those confusions get their end, when all confusions end.
JOHN: What confusions is he talking about here? “Upadrava” means?
SWAMIJI: “This is mine”, “This is not mine”, “This is a pot”, “This is a bath”, “This is good”, “This is bad”, “This is money”, “I have to earn money”, this is all confusion. This is upadrava. Upadrava is torture139. When that . . . which[ever] confusion, this is just torture.
When all of that torture ends, gets its permanent end, and param ānandam caitanya prakāśa pratyabhijñā, and you recognize the supreme caitanya140, who is filled with light and bliss, and that is anugraha. This kind of anugraha, this kind of grace, is produced by whom? That is Śaṁkara. Śaṁ is grace. The [bestower] of grace is Śaṁkara.
JOHN: He’s giving different interpretations of “Śaṁkara” depending on the verse.
Taṁ svātmaparamārthaṁ, and that is the reality of your nature; this Śaṁkara is the reality [of your nature]. Śaṁkara is not residing in the seventh cycle of the world.
JOHN: Seventh heaven or . . . ?
SWAMIJI: Seventh heaven. He is your own nature. Svātmaparamārthaṁ, It is the nature of your own Self. And that Śaṁkara, I, we, stumaḥ, we prostrate before that Śaṁkara.
JOHN: So he’s differentiating this Śaṁkara from that Rūdra, who is with [Brahma] and Viṣṇu, and that seventh heaven, all of those gods and . . . ?
SWAMIJI: No, not that Śaṁkara.
JOHN: Yes, he is saying, not that one–this.
SWAMIJI: I bow to that Śaṁkara who is residing in each and every being.
What is “prostration”? “I prostrate before that Śaṁkara.” What is “prostration”? Prostration is not just [to] say, “Jai Guru Dev!” “Jai Guru Deva” won’t do only!
Audio 4 – 19:42
When you destroy, when you subside, your ego on wakefulness141, ego on dreaming state142, ego on dreamless state143, and ego on turya state144, . . .*
What is ego on wakefulness, [etc.]?
Ego on wakefulness is, “I am awake”, [ego on the dreaming state is], “I am dreaming”, [ego on deep sleep is], “I am in sound sleep”, [and ego on turya is], “I am resting in samādhi”. This is only ego. I subside all of these egos! That is samasta-deha-prāṇadi-parimita-pramātṛ, this is the state where parimita pramātṛ bhāva is residing, ruling, governing.
SWAMIJI: No, parimita. Parimita is the inferior state of the ego. The inferior state of the ego is divided in four classes. One class is the inferior state of the ego that resides in wakefulness, the second class that resides [is the] ego in the dreaming state, the third is that resides in deep sleep, and the fourth is that resides in samādhi. In samādhi, it is the same. When you feel that, “I am in samādhi”, it is just māyā, it is just illusion. Samastadeha-prāṇādi-parimita-pramātṛ-padam, so this is parimitaṁ, this is, all of these four [states] are, the states of the inferior way of pramātṛ bhāva145.
* . . . adhaspadīkṛtya, when you subside it, vikalpa-avikalpa-ādi-rūpāsu sarvāsu daśāsu, subside it in all of these states, in all of these four states where you find vikalpa in some states and in some states [where] you find the absence of vikalpa, . . .*
Vikalpa is present only in the first two states–thoughts. The cycle of thoughts is present in the first two states of being.
ERNIE: Wakefulness and . . .
SWAMIJI: And the dreaming state. And vikalpa is absent in the other two states.
ERNIE: Deep sleep and turya.
SWAMIJI: Deep sleep and turya. That is what he says.
*. . . vikalpa-avikalpa-ādi-rūpāsu sarvāsu daśāsu, in all of these four states, sarvotkṛṣṭatayā parāmṛśāmaḥ, when I feel that I am above these four states, that is “Jai Guru Dev”, that is the meaning of “Jai Guru Dev”146. It is not Jai Guru Dev only by saying, “Jai Guru Dev”, when you have done praṇām 147[while saying], “Jai Guru Dev”. It is not that. It is to do it practically: When you subside the ego existing in all of these four states, in the first two states in vikalpa daśā148 and in the other two states in nirvikalpa bhāva149.
STEPHANIE: Isn’t that also your ego when you say, “I am above the four states”?
SWAMIJI: I am . . . ?
STEPHANIE: “Above the four states.” What is that? That’s not your ego?
SWAMIJI: No, when [you are] above the four states. But that [state] is not nominated. If it is nominated, then it is ego. Then it is ego.
STEPHANIE: Because you said, “I am above the four states”.
SWAMIJI: Above, above. Above what? I150 have not spoken that. I say, “I am above”, [but] I don’t know what that is. When you are above and you don’t know what that “above” is, that is not ego. When you know what is “above”, then it will be connected with the ego. The ego is [existing] when it is nominated. It is above the nomination–above.
ERNIE: It is.
SWAMIJI: It is, it is above.
ERNIE: And you experience that.
JOHN: So, what’s the difference here then? The difference is that the affirmation of ‘I’ doesn’t have to come into that . . . ?
SWAMIJI: ‘I’ does not come.
JOHN: Like you said before, “I am Denise, I am Denise, I am John, I am John”, . . .
JOHN: . . . that is the same thing. These four states are, “I am this, I am this”.
JOHN: But you don’t have that situation . . .
SWAMIJI: No (affirmative), in above.
JOHN: Because there is nothing to identify.
ERNIE: So you don’t . . . do you know?
GANJOO: “This” is dissolved; idantā is dissolved.
SWAMIJI: “This” and “I-ness”, both [are dissolved].
ERNIE: Yes, but do you know?
SWAMIJI: How can we know? We can’t know the knower. The knower cannot be known, only the known can be known. What is known, that is known. The object is known, the subject is not known.
JOHN: But in that state–pramiti bhāva.
SWAMIJI: Pramiti bhāva.
JOHN: Is this pramiti bhāva?
SWAMIJI: Yes, it is pramiti bhāva151.
STEPHANIE: So, above those four states, nothing is known?
SWAMIJI: Nothing is known, yes.
JOHN: But it’s not nothing.
SWAMIJI: No, it is that thing which is . . .
STEPHANIE: Motionless-motion or something.
SWAMIJI: Yes, it is just like next to spanda.
Audio 4 – 24:33
JOHN: So, the knower and the known become one at this state . . .
JOHN: . . . so there is nothing to . . .
SWAMIJI: Nothing to realize, yes.
ERNIE: Does a person who has that, does he know that he has that?
SWAMIJI: He experiences that in I-consciousness, not with “this-ness”.
JOHN: In other words, he becomes that thing.
SWAMIJI: He does not become his object. He knows in such a way.
ERNIE: “I am dreaming”, “I am eating”, not that way.
SWAMIJI: No (affirmative).
JOHN: That makes it an object, doesn’t it?
JOHN: So, he knows this state more than he knows anything in his life. When he has this state, this will be a more firm knowledge than any other knowledge he ever had.
SWAMIJI: Firm knowledge and he will . . . no, it will not be objective knowledge. It is subjective consciousness. He resides in subjective consciousness where he does not know anything.
ERNIE: No, but would it be possible for someone to have this state of . . .
SWAMIJI: He knows that unknown state.
ERNIE: But could you have this state and not know that you were elevated?
SWAMIJI: Elevated, what . . . ? “Elevation” and “non-elevation” do not rise there.
ERNIE: But if you have this experience, . . .
ERNIE: . . . is it possible that you don’t know that you are in that place?
SWAMIJI: Who are “you”? Are you not one with That? You are not separate from That.
ERNIE: No. Now I am [separated from That] because I have this “I”, but . . .
SWAMIJI: Bas, this separated soul will never enter in That state.
ERNIE: No, but for a person who has . . .
SWAMIJI: Whenever you enter, you enter only when you melt away.
ERNIE: Yes, but then is it possible that you don’t know that you have melted away?
SWAMIJI: You don’t know. He knows. That remains. Afterwards, That remains.
JOHN: But after that state, let’s say . . .
SWAMIJI: When you come out from that, you know it as, “It was something above”.
JOHN: But it’s something great, it’s a flashy . . .
JOHN: Isn’t it like this vedha, this piercing? I mean, it’s like a shock, it’s not a . . .
JOHN: It’s not a nothing.
BRUCE H: Is it a state you hold in the external world, I mean in wakefulness?
SWAMIJI: No, not external. It is an internal [state].
Audio 4 – 26:41
1 Swami Lakshmanjoo translates spanda as ‘vibrationless-vibration’. See Appendix 1 for a detailed explanation of spanda.
2 Abhinavagupta’s principal disciple, Kṣhemarāja, wrote a commentary on Vasugupta’s Spanda Kārikā called the Spanda Nirṇaya. For the most part Swamiji has translated Vasugupta’s original kārikā verses only, yet in places, he also quotes Kṣhemarāja’s nirṇaya.
3 Kārikā: a concise statement in verse form (esp. philosophy and grammar doctrines).
4 An appellation of Lord Śiva. Lit., causing prosperity, auspicious, beneficent. “Śaṁkara is He who gives śaṁ (peace, entire peace). He who produces, who bestows, peace, entire peace, that is Śaṁkara.” Swami Lakshmanjoo, trans., Spanda Sandoha (Lakshmanjoo Academy archive).
5 The waking state (jāgrat) is also known as the gross (sthūla) body (śarīra).
. . .
139 Lit., that which attacks or occurs suddenly, any grievous accident, misfortune, calamity, mischief.
140 “Caitanya means ‘complete freedom of universal consciousness.’” Śiva Sūtra–The Supreme Awakening, 1.2, page 20.
144 Lit., the fourth state. See Appendix 5 for an explanation of turya.
145 The state (bhāva) of subjectivity (pramātṛ).
146 That is the real meaning of prostration (stumaḥ).
148 The state or condition (daśā) of thought (vikalpa)–jāgrat (wakefulness) and svapna (dreaming).
149 The state (bhāva) of thought-lessness (nirvikalpa)–suṣupti (deep-sleep) and turya (“the fourth state”).
150 One who is actually above these four states.
151 “Pramiti is that state where subjective consciousness prevails without the agitation of objectivity. Where the agitation of objectivity is also found in subjective consciousness, that is the state of pramātṛ.” Kashmir Shaivism–The Secret Supreme, 11.81.
Vasugupta’s Spanda Kārikā & Kṣemarāja’s Spanda Sandoha – revealed by Swami Lakshmanjoo