The Spanda system owes its origin to Shivasutras and concerns itself with their elucidation and popularization. The name of the commentary written by Ksemaraja is Spandanirnaya. It was undertaken at the request of his won pupil Sura.
The Karikas numbering in all fifty are arranged into three chapters and each chapter is called Nissyanda, i.e., vibration. The first vibration goes by the name of the vitality in real nature, the second by the energy in the rise of intuition and the third by the energy in and of glory. The last chapter, though called Nissyanda, does not form part of the main body of the book and is a mere panegyric on the author’s spiritual teacher and the author.
The present book contains translations of the Sutras of the Spandakarikas and Spandanirnaya.
Ever since the beginning of the Christian era until, more of less definitely in close of the seventh century, the valley of Kashmir remained in close contact with the Buddhists. They carried on their proselytizing propaganda successfully and the whole of Kashmir came under their sway.
Teacher like Dignaga and Dharmakirti appealed most to the minds of the people and consequently the belief of the populace in the tents of the tents of the Shaivaism received a great shock. The voice of the Shaivaistic teachers of this period was feeble in comparison with that of the colouring of the Dualistic Shaivaism to the extant Shaivagamas. The present Idealistic monism was unknown or less heard and spoken of. It was in the 8th century that Vasugupta was born and studied the Shaivagamas from the standpoint of the Idealistic Monism. The power of argumenting was so strong in the Buddhist philosophers that even he felt in a fix to meet them and come out triumphant in creedal controversies.
Some of the Buddhist teachers, headed by Nagabodhi, engaged him in a wordy warfare of discussions. When all his intellectual resources failed him to gain victory over them, he tried to seek divine help and implored the favour of Shiva. The him, He appeared in a dream and instructed him to repair to the Mahadeva mountain, where he could find the Shivasutras engraved on the spot and great was his joy when he found them there. The sutras were copied and published by him.
The Spanda system owes its origin to them and concerns itself with their elucidation and popularization. The Spandakarikas, which have already been presented to the public in the recensions of Ramakantha and Utpala Bhatta, form a detailed commentary on the Shivasutras. On this point, all Shaivaistic writers are agreed. It is only the authorship of the Karikas that has practically remained and will remain a matter of dispute.
Utpala Bhatta the author of the Spandapradipika, a commentary on the Spandakarikas, together with a host of other Spanda students endorses the view that they are the work and production of Kallata, the chief disciple of Vasuguta. The fiftythird stanza in the Spandapradipika reads as follows:
“Kallata Bhatta rightly versified the secret doctrine after he received it form his teacher Vasugupta who had discerned the real being.”
It may be borne in mind in this connection that the stanza is not found in the recensions of Ramakantha and Kshemaraja.
Arrangement of the Karikas
Kshemaraja in his own recension of the Karikas follows partially the same order and division as was adopted by Ramakantha. The Karikas, numbering in all fifty, are arranged into three chapters and each chapter is called Nissyanda, i.e., vibration. The first vibration goes by the name of the vitality in real nature, the second by the energy in the rise of intuition and the third by the energy in and of glory. The last chapter, though called Nissyanda, does not form part of the main body of the book and is a mere panegyric on the author’s spiritual teacher and the author.
What Does Spanda Really Mean?
The author himself undertakes to discuss what spanda really stands for the both positive and negative lines of description.
Positively he describes it as that power of consciousness which infuses life into the physical senses, otherwise appearing insentient. The realization of that power is within an easy reach to him who watches and observes clearly his own free conscious nature. This mode of exertion is according to the Shaivaistic terminology known as ‘Bhairava.’ The same power of spanda, while animating the senses, is aptly described as causing creation existence and dissolution. Every phenomenon in he life – history of the animate nature is brought into existence, maintained and lastly put to an end by he same power. The realization of that state places one above the fears of creative and destructive forces that bring about changes in everything whether animate or inanimate.
Negatively it means a state wherein no pain, no pleasure, no perceptible exists. It is said that an object when sensed represents nothing more than its consciousness, viz. apart from consciousness it has no basis. For fuller treatment of this point the attention of the reader is drawn to page 36 of the text.
The objection how an individual soul, regarded identical with that principle, experiences the limitation in his powers, is best replied by the author when he says that it is his free will that makes him appear as limited in his glory. When, on the other hand, the individual soul, out of his won free will, identifies himself with that radical principle of universal consciousness, all his chains drop and his original glory returns to him undiminished.
The embodied soul, though in reality identical with that principal of universal conscious energy, does not appear as such, owing to the three self – imposed limitations known as Anava, Mayiya and Karma. These defilements circumscribe his powers of desire, knowledge and activity. When, through persistent introspection and the right mode of approaching things external, these impurities are over, there shines forth that supreme state wherein there is perfect bliss, perfect knowledge and perfect authorship.
The supreme state is not, as some blindly suppose, a kind of vacuum, but it is rather an inexhaustible store – house of complete knowledge and complete activity. As an ever – present perceptivity spanda principle can never assume the state of being recollected.
The spanda principle itself appears in the subject relation. When identical with light, it appears in the subjective aspect and when identical with light, it appears in the subjective aspect and, when identical with the manifest action, it assumes the forms of the objects. Consequently, the whole world whether subjective or objective, being the manifestation of that one principle, is always known to him who realizes the essence of that principle. For that principle constitutes both the subject and the object the only two logical constituents of the universe.
The author enumerates several emotional moods in which, as a consequence of one’s attentive frame of mind, the spanda principle is well realized.
Original Tantric Texts (24)
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