Tillie Bennett: Insight into her stay at Shri Kali Ashram

FROM INDIA TO SEATTLE: INSIGHTS FROM AN EARTHY YOGI PRACTITIONER

Packing and leaving everything behind is something that many of us have experienced, but doing that so you can meet an Indian guru – now that is something unusual.

Seattle yogi, Tillie Bennett described some of her more advanced yoga experiences at first through Forest Yoga “as a poetry.” Every class she took she felt like the instructor was “speaking a language to her soul that made her body flow” with coherence.

After only one week of Forest Yoga practice, at the Kula Studio in the Ballard neighborhood, Bennett realized that this was the path she wanted to take in life and she was determined to learn. Through a family member Bennett found out about the Indian guru Shanmukha Anantha Natha, who has been teaching for over 40 years. The school, named Shri Kali Ashram, is in India where Natha teaches Tantra, a meditation focused practice. The training does not teach practitioners how to compete but how to work together and accept one another.

Bennett was drawn to this philosophy and knew that this was where she wanted to be and learn while gaining a deeper understanding of the practice of yoga and life. She left Seattle earlier this year to travel to India and study under Natha for five weeks.

The teaching philosophy of the program is that “yoga is a science, not a sport or a game,” and that “yoga by its nature never teaches competition. Competition means that one is always comparing and contrasting to external measures.” (shrikaliashram.org)

The training took place in the Indian village Galgibaga, by the beach. The teaching program offers different hours of completion in order to become a certified instructor and part of the Yoga Alliance worldwide. The training teaches a variety of wisdoms, from the Tantra yoga practice itself, to how to balance your day-to-day life activities, how to listen to your body and mind, as well as how to learn to accept who you are without judgment.

Trantra’s students mornings start by Ayurvedic (walking massage) at 8:30 a.m., and right after they do Asanas. The first meal of the day is about 11 a.m. and they have nutritious fruits and vegetable, such as fresh papaya and curd homemade yogurt – good for probiotics. Lunch is at 1 p.m., soon after breakfast to give them enough time to digest the food before their afternoon practice. Late in the day the students have a lecture about the physics of their body in addition to how to read, sing and write Sanskrit, the philosophical language of Hinduism.

On the other side of the training:

“I never though I was strong enough,” Bennett said but her longing to learn and teach yoga, from the Kula studio in Ballard through the Pacific Ocean to India, helped her to achieve inner peace, to gain courage and to stop worrying. In her practice today Bennett “visualizes exhaling her frustrations through her breath,” and she feels lighter. “I could see them leaving my body.”

Bennett in Seattle after her training in India

Bennett in Seattle after her training in India

“I am no longer bothered about any preconceived notions and I just feel relaxed.”

Bennett was able to transform herself and her vision of the world through her journey. She learned to let go.

“I am not competing with myself anymore, I don’t hear negative thoughts in my mind,’’ and this, she said, has been amazing gift.

1. How often do you practice/teach? – Bennett practices about six times per week and teaches private and group sessions daily
2. What is your favorite yoga-clothing brand? “Athleta, it is comfortable and it allows me to move. I like it, but I definitely don’t need it.”
3. What is your favorite pose and why? – “Forearm Balance Pose is my favorite because it is an inversion in a way – you see the world from different perspective. It feels like things that I hold it my body or emotions that are suck somewhere are flowing.”
4. Where would you like to see the Seattle Yoga community in five years? “There is a revolution going on, I can see more people seeking a spiritual awakening, and much more people are doing it – Seattle is a city of open minds and hearts.”
5. If you have one advice for people who do not have the time to attend yoga practices very often what would you tell them? – “Find time to breathe, just try to relax for a second. Do not manipulate your breath in any way. Try not to be involved with anything, just be a human.”

This article is part of the Yogi of the week series in which we highlight a yoga teacher or yoga practitioner in the Seattle area. If you know someone who you think we should write about, make sure to send us a note with the details. Don’t miss out on discovering new yogis in the Seattle area so make sure to subscribe for free to the Seattle Yoga News digital publication sent directly to your inbox each week.

This article was published by Simona Trakiyska on Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Source: Seattle Yoga News

आयुर्वेद Āyurveda

 Āyurveda is a holistic medicinal system and an organic approach to personal health. In contemporary times, Āyurveda is seen as an alternative medicine system with no supporting evidence of it's efficacy, when in fact, it is a complex science based in very precise principles. The  diagnostic as well as treatment modalities are similar to other ancient systems including Siddha, Unani,  Traditional Chinese Medicine, Kampo (Traditional Japanese Medicine) and Traditional Thai Medicine. For example, taking the pulse at the wrist, an Āyurvedic doctor can determine the balance/imbalance of prāa, hormones, and organ systems. 

Detailed and precise knowledge of the human body is vital to the mastery of Yoga. Only with the knowledge of Āyurveda (or traditional medicine systems), can Yoga be understood as an organic life science. Without this understanding, one will approach Yoga as an exercise program developing flexibility and strength rather than focusing on wholesome integration.

The integration of Āyurveda, Yoga and Tantra provides an organic and wholesome life culture.  These precise sciences can be understood by attentively studying the Vedas. The unfortunate, fragmented outlook (see Dr. Fritjof Capra,Tao of PhysicsTurning Point) that has become our current worldview can be overcome with the study and application of the Vedic science. Vedism is in fact an ancient science that belongs to all humanity, as fossils and linguistic traces reveal (see Divine Initiation). The Vedic science encompasses the study of Āyurveda, Yoga, Tantra, and Āgamas. According to the Vedic outlook, an organic, wholesome life experience naturally involves us with Spirituality. The straying away from Spirituality causes a dichotomized mind state (mind and matter) that manifests as a limited experience of life and therefore makes us objectify people and the environment. With this worldview, our expression of life is restricted. The embracing of a Spiritual science remedies this deviation from true humanity. Spirituality therefore allows us to experience life wholly. This centering also allows us to develop our potential as human beings and shift our perspectives in order to truly live. Spiritual centering redefines our value base that, if left undefined, can manifest as psychological uncertainties.

Patimokkha and Garudhamma

Buddhism is a profound ideology. However for the last few centuries it has been enshrouded in inaccuracy. These inaccuracies linger on from the misreadings of past colonial scholarship. Unfortunately, even today due to the nature of institutional education [mentorship etc.] this extreme reliance on the past scholarship is preventing the correct perspective in the study of this profound ideology.

A look at the textual description by the Buddhist text on the topic on Patimokkha and Garudhamma will reveal the shortcomings in the understanding of contemporary scholarship on these topics [both orthodoxy and Orientology]. Their simplistic interpretations are not true to Buddhism.

In the Patimokkha and the Garudhamma the topic is not social or political as these institutions believe. By interpreting the Patimokkha and the Garudhamma as rules governing sexual misconducts etc. as laid down by "the Buddha" one reduces the Patimokkha and Garudhamma to regulations and control by a male misogynist, thereby diverting from the profound metaphysics the ancient texts offer. These simplistic misreadings abound in the entirety of not only Eastern Spiritual ideologies but also Western Spiritualism. We of the contemporary culture have unwittingly maligned our forefathers due to our ignorance. Feminism unfortunately merely capitalizes on these misinterpretations to exploit for their political advantage.

The rules for bhikkhunis (female monastics) and bhikkhus (male monastics) are laid down in the Patimokkha in many Vinayas ('Basket of Discipline'): the Pali Vinaya in Shri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya in China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam, and the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya in Tibet and Mongolia. The Pali Vinaya containing the Patimokkha specifies 311 rules for bhikkhunis and 227 for bhikkhus. All the above-mentioned Vinayas have more tenets for bhikkhunis than bhikkhus(1). The 'Eight Rules' mandated for bhikkhunis only are known as Garudhamma in Pali and Garudharma in Sanskrit and they are also found in the Pali, Chinese, Sanskrit(1) and Tibetan Vinayas and will be dealt with later on. We are going to deal mainly with the Patimokkha in this essay. We are going to deal with the Patimokkha in a traditional textual way from the Shri Kali perspective to avoid lingering on with 'contemporary overlays' on the study of the bhikkhunis, particularly by feminist scholars since the 1970's, and also to avoid dealing with the 'consequences of the Buddha's imposition of the "Eight Rules" ' in a historical sense, as the history of the bhikkhuni order is highly controversial and difficult to trace without an in-depth study. Recent attempts to restore a bhikkhuni order are also controversial. Apart from which, the Shri Kali view is that the socio-political renderings that project the bhikkhunis as subordinate to the bhikkhus is not an actual textual reading but a contemporary overlay and this needs to be substantiated and is best done by studying the Patimokkha... (continues)

Buddhism

Buddhism is apparently a science outside the fold of the Veda. However, to the Vedists, Buddhism is only another reconciliation of the Vedic philosophy (seeThird Eye of the Buddhist). The Veda is the oldest extant scripture on philosophical science that is not preclusive to any one race or political group but rather is the legacy of humankind (see Divine Initiation). It is due to this single reason that many cultures have the Buddha presented with the Vedic metaphysical entities as Shiva, Vishnu, Indra, and Brahma.

Traditionally, Buddhism is understood as representing another aspect of Vedism, especially Shaivism. It is only in the last few centuries, with the advent of Orientology (Buddhology and Indology), that the world has come to believe that Buddhism and Vedism are non-congruent sciences. In cultures that are devoid of the limitations of Orientology, one can see the integrated nature of these sciences. In Nepal, one can see not only the existence of temples that are either Buddhist or Shaivite, but also an integrated Buddhist-Shaivite culture. This is also true of the ancient cultures of Java, Burma, Thailand, and even Tibet. Even today, one can witness integrated notions of Buddhism and Shaivism in Cambodia, Java, Bali, and Nepal. These are living examples of a syncretic culture. The unity of Shaivism and Buddhism as a single science can also be seen in Tibetan texts, as in the historical accounts presented by Bu-ston and Taranatha. In important Buddhist Tantric texts such as the Hevajra Tantra, probably amongst the oldest remnant Tantric texts and a authentic Buddhist text, one can witness accounts of Divinities or Metaphysical Entities that are of Indic character, such as Mahadeva and Chandi (see Hevajra Tantra, tr. Snellgrove, D. L). In India, Buddha is understood to be a sage within the fold of the Vedic culture. In China and Japan too, Buddhism is integrated within the Taoist culture. In these cultures, the Buddha is understood to be a Metaphysical entity and not just a wandering Indian Sage as Orientology likes to paint (see Third Eye of the Buddhist and a chapter from this work on Bodhidharma on Buddhanet Ch'an-Zen-Bodhidharma).

सीता Sita & राम Rāma

In India, the Goddess Sita and God Rāma have long been considered the ideal role models of husband and wife. This is despite the fact that Sita and Rāma are clearly metaphysical presentations. Though they represent specific principles (tattvas) of creation, they have nevertheless been interpreted literally over generations both in the East and West. Whole studies have sprung up discussing the ideal couple just in gender terms alone. According to the literal reading, in Sita we have the ideal woman: her husband is god, friend and guru. Even when entering the fire (agni pariksha) to prove her chastity to Rāma after her return from Lanka where she was held by the Demon Ravana, Sita portrays the ideal women by bearing Rāma's cruelty silently. According to the actual interpretation, which is unknown, this narrative explains the manifestation of Puruṣa and Prakṛti. Sita entering into flames denotes that Prakṛti (rudimentary manifestation of matter) in the Ramayana is Agni. Therefore, Sita returns to Agni at the end of the world cycle. Rāma is known as Maryada Purushottam or the limited Puruṣa, Being, or Spirit and is like Jesus Christ in Christianity. 

Orientologists, feminists and anthropologists (both within and outside India) certainly portray these models in patriarchal terms within Indic society. This perpetuates the false interpretation that men must be regarded as gods by their wives no matter what the texts present (i.e. burning by fire). However, we question this interpretation of patriarchal readings in Hinduism, as India was colonized from about 1680-1947. To understand the milieu of Hinduism, we can quote Karl Marx in the New-York Herald Tribune 1853: "All the civil wars, invasions, revolutions, conquests, famines, strangely complex, rapid, and destructive as the successive action in Hindostan may appear, did not go deeper than its surface. England has broken down the entire framework of Indian society, without any symptoms of reconstitution yet appearing. This loss of his old world, with no gain of a new one, imparts a particular kind of melancholy to the present misery of the Hindoo, and separates Hindostan, ruled by Britain, from all its ancient traditions, and from the whole of its past history."

We question whether it is Hinduism, colonialism, or capitalism that creates this sexist-macho culture where men are perceived as dominant and women as submissive? We can't just assume that it is Hinduism that defines gender roles. Regarding feminist writers of scholarly works regarding this topic, it is important to ask: What portions of texts do scholars choose to interpret? What frames of reference do they use in their interpretation? How much power do they have to disseminate their interpretations?

The God Rāma and Goddess Sita are symbols for the creative principle. Thus Rāma represents an aspect of the Puruṣa and Sita represents Rāma's other half that is Consciousness that manifests as sonancy or Divine Sound that becomes sentiency. Thus when Sita is banished from Ayodhya by Rāma to the forest at the end of Valmiki's Ramayana, she is swallowed by Mother Earth from whence she came from the furrow. Due to this, Sita is not born from the ethereal realm or the Yoni according to the Ramayana and the Veda. The ordeal this couple faces depicts that Rāma as the Puruṣa will survive the Solar Dissolution but Sita as sentiency is affected. This is depicted as the demon Rāvaṇa capturing Sita and imprisoning her on his islet.

We can cite a passage from the Padma Purana (VI. 270. 29-31 quoted in 'Divine Initiation' p. 83) to portray this meaning more clearly: "Janaki or Sita is the mother. Raghava or Rama is the father. I revere her the Manifest, him the Unmanifest. I revere her as Contemplation, him as Object of Contemplation. Offerings are made to the Evolved (Sita) and to the Non-Evolved (Rama), to Sita the Essence and to Rama the Changeless. As Lakshmi is to Vishnu, so Sita is to Rama. Sita is as Gauri is to Shiva."

The predominant correlation of the goddess with Indian women in the Vedic tradition is with the goddess Shri-Lakshmi, who is both auspicious and abundant. This is symbolized by the lighting of lamps in Hindu homes. Also in the marriage ceremony, it is often the goddess Laskhmi (but it depends on the tradition) that the bride symbolizes. Her husband also symbolizes the Divine. Thus, both are invested with tilaks and many other auspicious adornments such as jewellery in accordance with a Monist reading of the Dharmaśāstra. The marriage is regarded as a marriage of two souls in the light of two Divine Beings, as this accords with the Hindu idea of life to be lived to the maximum potential or dharma. The Hindus, to consecrate their marriage, walk seven times around the homa fire. The homa fire is the core energy that is the grace of the Divine that manifests as Creation for our benefit. The Hindus use this light or fire or Agni as their witness to live a fulfilled life and honor their partner in life's journey.

In Tantric culture, a virgin girl is worshipped as the deity in the Kumari puja (in Nepalese culture and northern and eastern India). All over India, girls are worshipped as Shakti during Durga Puja. In Assam, until recently, the entire left-hand worship (vama marga) of the Divine Goddess was practiced. In much of India, especially Bengal, women are seen as forms of the Divine Mother known as Kali Ma. In much of village society too, Mata is the term for the goddess and many women are worshipped as Mata. Children in India address their mothers as goddess or Mata/Mataji. Even Mother Mary is worshipped by Hindus. The high status of the Divine Mother is reflected in the high status of motherhood in all of India. But of course women are not limited to motherhood as India has had Indira Gandhi as prime minister and until today Sonia Gandhi is the defacto head of the Congress party. In Tamil culture, Mariamman is not a small-pox goddess as Orientology misreads. Her meaning is as described in the Tamil Agamas or Peria Puranam or Grand Purana, the grand Goddess. She is merely worshipped for grace to avert the viral attack that causes small pox.

Ultimately, the correct interpretation of Manu's Dharmaśāstra (another text jargonically presented) leads to the correct understanding of how women are regarded in India. They were to be protected by their fathers, husbands and sons. This has been exploited by dysfunctional males to maintain gender hierarchies. Is Hinduism at fault or the changing times? Manu states that from women manifests the family, society, state, and civilization. Therefore to Manu, women are the veritable goddesses on this earth. This is the value of women in Indic culture. Therefore, a woman is Lakshmi, she is Sita, and she is Devi.

David Kingsley in his work, 'Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition', confused a female's political reality with an abstract presentation of metaphysics. This confusion is carried on in Feminism, goddess and other studies on Hinduism, in particular, Religious Studies.

Veda

The Veda forms the core doctrine of Indic Spiritualism. The Veda is an ancient legacy shared by humankind [see Divine Initiation]. It is still the earliest existing text of Spiritualism. The Veda, Tao, Torah, Testament, Koran etc. belong to all humanity. Knowing this, India has always had a plurality of religious cultures.

The word Veda refers to the ideology that we see with our third eye. Vid means to see. To see is to have darshan or view of the Divine. It can also mean that we have a legitimate perspective of philosophy. The Latin word Vid: to see, originates from the Sanskrit word Veda. The English language like many other European languages can trace its ancestry to Sanskrit. Due to this, they are clumped together as the Indo - European languages.

Indeed, the Vedic history [including Greek and Chinese philosophies] is the earliest history of humankind. The Veda is the oldest Spiritual literature we have.

The Vedas are based on the monist [advaita] ideology [cf. Divine Initiation]. Advaita or monism defines that there is nothing else than the Divine God. In Vedism and its derivative ideologies i.e. Agamism, Tantricism etc. there is the belief that anything aside from Advaita or monism can never be philosophically or mathematically correct. In traditional Indic perspectives even Buddhism is another Agama. Therefore Buddhism is known as the Bauddha Agama.

Friedrich Max Muller, a colonial Orientologist, embarked on the study of comparative religion and hastily misread the Veda to accord with his ideas of the evolutionary principles of social Darwinism. Since then, Orientologists have been writing on how the Veda is the original example of proto or primitive religion. This is false has been proven by the monographs Divine Initiation and Third Eye of the Buddhist [2001].

The word Veda denotes sacred knowledge. The Veda is also known as Shruti or the Amnaya. The word Shruti means "heard" or "revealed." The word Amnaya approximately means "that which has come down as tradition." The Vedas are traditionally understood as "Apaurusheya." The word Apuarasheya has been wrongly translated as super - human. Apaurusheya simply means "before the notion of Purusha ie. Creation" and therefore refers to the doctrine of Brahman. The word Brahman comes from the root Brh. In Sanskrit this root simply means "to ever grow". In other words, it denotes infinity - the idea of infinity as the substratum of all. The Veda holds that the infinite or Absolute is the basis of Creation. This absolute is God in other religion. This term Brahman itself should explain to academic scholarship that the Veda is a monist or advaita science.

The Veda is not written in a simple, thematic form. It has left the theme to be read as per the allowed or philosophically valid interpretations. It is therefore the most important Indic literature. It is difficult to read the meaning of the Vedic hymns due to the athematic structure. It is even more difficult for a novice in Sanskrit. This is a basic reason why scholarship is still dependant on Max Muller. It simply does not have the expertise to read higher Sanskrit. This is unfortunate as we have entered a new millennium and Orientologists are left behind.

A look into any of the four Vedas shows us that the Veda is describing a philosophy of its own through its presentation of its Divinities. These Divinities seems to be common between all cultures. Indeed, as said in Divine Initiation, from the Nordic countries near the North Pole to New Zealand [Maoris and the rest of the pacific Islanders] near the South all were holding to similar Divinities. And this shows that they were not adhering to animism, pantheism, shamanism etc. but a monist or advaita ideology... (continues)

Yoga Vijnana


Yoga Vijnana means the “Science of Yoga.”

Is Yoga a science? The traditional system of Yoga is indeed a science. Since the last few centuries, with the advent of the contemporary notion of science, the culture and habits of human beings have changed. In its beginning stages, contemporary science did not acknowledge the ancient understanding of science. This was because the ancient civilizations were not technologically adept. Since the ancient civilizations were technologically unsophisticated, they were disregarded by the advocates of modern science. Due to this, Yoga, Tai-chi and other ancient philosophies and practices were ignored until the demand for health routines rekindled an interest in these sciences, both in the West and in the East. However as science matured, and as it developed (from Cartesian notions to Quantum Physics), it still could not accept the ancient notion of science that appeared crude due to its holistic nature, as holistic meant the embracing of organic notions.

Dhirendra Brahmachari in Bhadrasana

Dhirendra Brahmachari in Bhadrasana

In this process, the science of Yoga was modified to suit the changing technology-oriented world. At this time, many varieties of Yoga were born. In the late nineteenth century, many Yoga schools mirrored the demands of the then Western culture. The nineteenth century person searching for supplementary religious practices found occultism in Yoga (as can be seen in the philosophies of Annie Besant, the founder of the Theosophical society, C.W. Leadbetter, and the Mother, Mirra Alfassa, of the Shri Aurobindo Ashram). The change in the West from miracle-orientated ideologies to science saw Yoga affording a vision of liberalism. This then became a sought after ingredient and Yoga ashrams that facilitated this aspect were prevalent. Then Yogis were associated with hippies. After this brief spell, demands on health become the focus and many specialized forms of Yoga swamped the market. Some merely focused on the cardiovascular aspect of Yoga, some on the weight-watchers aspect, some on muscle-toning systems, and yet others offered Yoga as an antidote to sedentary habits. In the process, the original interpretation and practices of Yoga became almost extinct. Teachers in India who emphasized on an organic, wholesome system lacked support and vanished into oblivion.

However, with the inroads made by modern science, we now understand that the ancient sciences of Yoga and Tai-chi were in the first place based on a notion of science that was advanced. Indeed, these ancient traditions anticipated what we today understand as science (see Tao of Physics and Turning Point; Dr. Fritjof Capra). The holistic sciences, as Yoga and Tai-chi, are by their very nature drawn from principles analogous to modern science.

This Yoga Ashram endeavors to preserve and perpetuate this holisticorganic Yoga. The name for this holistic system of Yoga is Shaiva Yoga Vijnana. This is to distinguish this system of Yoga from the Yoga systems of other schools. The unadulterated, ancient science of Yoga, in its pristine form, happens to embrace this holisticorganic notion of Yoga. Shaiva Yoga Vijnana is this pristine system. It teaches not only the Yogic postures known as asanas, but also the Yogic principles of pranayama and dhyana from a holistic perspective. The holistic principles of the science define that the practices and philosophy embrace an organic notion.

By:

Shri Ma Kristina Baird

Kashmiri Shaivism or Trika

A Criticism of Orientology, as exemplified by Andre Padoux's "Vac: The Concept of the Word in Selected Hindu Tantras" and the contemporary writings of other Orientologists as Alexis Sanderson, from a Traditional Viewpoint

This is an article to aid Orientology to move onwards and advance scholarship. It is not intended in any other manner, that is, to undermine any one or criticize others for the sake of it. Not only is this article to advance scholarship, but also spirituality. That is, aspiring practitioners should know that the accuracy of their practice is important if they are undertaking a spiritual journey. How can an inaccurate doctrine lead one to liberation, except the mere belief that one is liberated? Thus this article is also to aid spiritualists, especially Shaivites, and especially Kashmiri Shaivites, to have a correct understanding of their ideology.

This article criticizes not only Orientology's infamous methodology in studying the Indic, Buddhist and other Asiatic traditions, but also their inability to understand the Veda, Agamas, and the Tantras. We are also pointing towards a new direction in these studies, which is the traditional or natural stand, as represented by these authors, different to that of the orthodoxy of India today.

We are also criticizing the inability of Orientologists to move forward and use modern information, that is, Psychology and Sociology. The Orientologists' sense of the world is colonial and many Orientologists are trapped within a sense of Supremacy and the fossilized culture of the colonial past. Often the conservatives of the West, in their eagerness to prove their false sense of supremacy, pursue this career.

This false sense of Supremacy is based on latent fear. It is narcissist and dysfunctional as far as Psychology understands. The fact that the institution of Orientology has not progressed yet is of grave concern, as it is only this branch of study that perpetuates hate, which has its roots in self hate. This self hate is, in a sense, the hate towards other's progress that Orientologists see as rivalry and they instead put others down so as to feel useful to humanity... (continues)

Shaivism

Shaivism

The worship of the Divinity Shiva as the “Highest Lord” is known in Sanskrit-based cultures as Shaivism. Shaivism became popular in the last few years amongst Orientologists (Indologists and Buddhologists). The Shaiva texts happen to exhibit a rich expanse of spiritual knowledge that Orientologists utilize to try to explain the unknowns in Tantricism and Buddhism. Jan Gonda was the pioneer Orientologist to approach the Shaiva exegetes in India and incorporate the knowledge attained from them with that of the academics.

There are several traditions of Shaivism. Uttara Shaivism is today popularly known as Kashmiri Shaivism. In practice it is extant in Nepal, as well as other parts of India. In the early nineteenth century, the government of India formed an institution to research these Shaiva traditions known as the “Kashmiri Society of Texts and Study.” In a sense, it is from this event that the term “Kashmiri Shaivism” emerged. One reason for this is that the texts themselves employ the term “Kashmiri Shaivism.” Another reason is that these texts predominantly originate from the Kashmiri region. And another is that this form of Shaivism was prevalent in the Kashmiri region. In India and Nepal past, Kashmiri Shaivism was known as Uttara Shaivism. However, this form of Shaivism is not merely located within the Kashmiri region. It can be found in the very south of India. In other words, it was vogue from Nepal in the North through Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Bengal to as far south as Tamil Nadu in India.

Tamil Shaivism can be termed as Shaiva Siddhanta. It is found not only in South India but also in the Tamil inhabited northern part of Sri Lanka. Similarly, there is in the state of Karnataka, in South India, another form of Shaivism known as Virashaiva. These Shaivites are also known as Lingayats. Apart from this, Shaivism is also current in the Indonesian island of Bali. In the past, Java was a cultural bed for this form of Shaivism. Cambodia was another cultural bed for Shaivism.

The teachings of Shaivism form part of a tradition in India known as the Agamas. There were a few major forms of Agamas in India, namely, the Shaiva Agama, the Vaishnava Agama, and the Bauddha Agama. The Vaishnava Agama worships the Divinity Vishnu as the “Highest Lord.” The “Krishna Consciousness Movement,” founded by Swami Shrila Prabhupada, is an Agama that forms part of the Vaishnava Agama. Similarly, the Bauddha Agama worships the Buddha as the “Highest Divinity.” The worship of Buddha as the “Highest Divinity” is current in Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan. It is also upheld in Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Sri Lanka has a unique interpretation of Buddhism.

By:

Shri Ma Kristina Baird