Sivastotravali is a collection of stray verses composed by Utpaladeva simply to ventilate his feelings, thoughts and experiences during various stages of his spiritual life. It was discovered by his admirers in total disorder after the author gave up his mortal coil. Since they contained a wealth of spiritual wisdom they were taken up by one Vigvavarta and compiled into twenty stotras, and later commented upon by Rajanaka Ksemaraja, the author's great-grand-disciple. The text contains spontaneous outpourings of a master mind given to the discovery of the truth of existence. They constitute an authentic saga of one of the greatest spiritual adventures in the world. The book throws valuable light on the author's struggle with forces of nature that impeded his progress all the way till he gained entrance into the closely guarded audience chamber of the Lord.
Born in a humble family of Kashmiri Pandits, NIL KANTH KOTRU evinced strong predilections for religious and philosophical studies while still young. His inquisitive spirit brought him in contact with some eminent scholars, who helped him to study Bhagavad GRA and other works on Vedanta philosophy. The author happened to hold a managerial post in a respectable commercial concern in Srinagar, and this left him with no time to take care of his natural disposition. It was late his life that he was introduced to Kashmir Saivism, and the first work that caught his imagination was no other than Sivastotravali of Utpaladeva which cast a lasting spell on his mind. He received immense help from his teacher, to whom the present work has been respectfully dedicated. With his blessings the work of translation was undertaken for the benefit of English knowing public.
Of all sages and saints, who appeared in Kashmir from time to time, the name of Utpaladeva commands the greatest reverence, not only because he had keen philosophic insight or poetic genius but also because he had attained direct realization of the Supreme Reality. He was steeped in Siva consciousness, and his sayings as such have been acclaimed as bearing the stamp of authority even by such teachers of eminence as the great Acarya Abhinavagupta. Of all his works the present one enjoys greatest popularity among the masses as it forms a valuable treatise on advaita bhakti in the light of the saiva philosophy of Kashmir, and also be-cause it is free from intellectual cobwebs. It throws a flood of light on the author's spiritual life containing a graphic account of his strivings, sufferings and experiences in the successive stages of spiritual .evolution from the beginning to the attainment of the highest state of Siva. It has been a source of inspiration to numberless people who have been anxious to solve the riddle of life and attain abiding bliss.
The work was first published in Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Varanasi, many decades ago. A second edition came out in 1964 along with the commentary of Ksemaraja as before with a word-for-word translation in Hindi by Sri Svami Laksman Joo of Srinagar, a yogi of high calibre and a traditional scholar of Kashmir Saivism. The need for an English translation is self-evident as most people do not understand Sanskrit. The present translation is intended to help readers to understand the Slokas in original and follow the spirit that speaks through them. The introduction elucidates some hidden aspects of Saivite philosophy in order to help in the understanding of the book. Copious notes have been added where necessary.
I have been helped in this task by my nephew, Sri Gobind Lal Shah, retired District Inspector of Schools, Srinagar and
Dr. B. K. Dembi, Reader Central Asian Studies, University of Kashmir, by going through the typescript and offering useful suggestions. I take this opportunity of expressing my indebtedness to them.
Utpaladeva is well known to students of Indian philosophy as the exponent of the Recognitive school of Kashmir, Saivism and the author of iscvara-pratyabhipia-keirika, which together with the commentary of Abhinavagupta, known as Vimarsini is a monumental work in the philosophic lore of the world. As ad-mitted by the author in the very opening verse of the book, his exposition is not based on arid dialectics, but on his personal experience of the Ultimate Reality; it is nothing but a rational explanation of the truth of existence intuitionally apprehended and intellectually grasped after years of heroic struggle with forces of nature that thwart our vision of the Reality underlying the phenomenal world. Unfortunately, while his philosophy has caught the imagination of many a student, no attempt has so far been made to delve deep into his inner life and to explore the strong undercurrent of spirituality running beneath his rich intellectual endowments. His philosophy as such is the small visible portion of a colossal iceberg floating undiscovered underneath the surface. How he grappled with forces of nature in order to make his way to the dizzy heights of realization, that enabled him to solve the mystery of life and to take a panoramic view of his surroundings, is not fully appreciated. As a matter of fact, his spiritual life is as important as his philosophy, because it was on the bed-rock of his spirituality that he raised his wonderful structure of thought. Unless an attempt is made to study his inner life we shall not be able to do full justice to his person. The present study is an attempt in this direction, designed to bring to light a less known, but, nevertheless, an important facet of his many-splendoured personality. It can help us to understand the author as he really was.
No historical material has been vouchsafed to us about the author, and we are compelled to lean heavily on his own sayings, which serve the purpose of an auto-biography of his inner life. The picture that emerges must inevitably be of unimpeachable authenticity though lacking in biographic details. However, in regard to mahatmas it is the inner life that is of significance. Other details are of secondary importance.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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