Kashmir Shaivism

Doctrines Kashmir Shaivism identifies the Hindu deity Shiva with absolute reality which is both transcendent and immanent in the cosmos. This transcendent reality is identified with consciousness (caitanya, samvit). At their deepest level, the universe and beings within it are identical with this pure consciousness. At another level the universe and its beings are manifestations of this pure consciousness: Shiva manifests, sustains and finally withdraws all appearances back into himself. This process of emanation and contraction is conceptualised as the emanation of thirty six levels (tattvas) ranging from the highest, pure level of Shiva to the earth. Liberation (moksha) from the cycle of reincarnation is the recognition (pratyabhijna) of the self's identity with the pure consciousness of Shiva.

History Kashmir Shaivism developed from about the ninth century CE and is based upon the revelation of texts called Tantras. The origins of Kashmir Shaivism lay in the cremation ground traditions of Kapalika or skull-bearing ascetics who worshipped ferocious forms of Shiva, such as Bhairava, and the Goddess Kali. There is also an independent revelation in the Shiva Sutras and Spanda Karikas given to Vasugupta (c.875-c.925) The term 'Kashmir Shaivism' refers to a number of traditions, principally to the Trika ('Threefold') tradition which worshipped the Goddess in the three manifestations of Para, Apara and Parapara and whose root text is the Mallinivijayottara Tantra. The theological articulation of the tradition is known as the Recognition (Pratyabhijna) school and Abhinavagupta (c. 975-1050 CE) is its main theologian.
Tantric ideology dominated the kings of Kashmir during this period. Kashmir Shaivism relegated the dualistic Tantras of the Shaiva Siddhanta, whose doctrines and practices it assumes, to a lower level of revelation. With the invasion of Kashmir by a Moslem conqueror in the fourteenth century, Kashmir Shaivism all but died out except for a small group of Kashmiri pandits. The tradition continued in the south during the eleventh century, at Cidambaram for example, but was eventually replaced by the Shaiva Siddhanta. Kashmir Shaivism also influenced the Shri Vidya tradition. Swami Laksmana Jee (died 1992) revived the tradition in Kashmir and it now also has some popularity among western adherents.

Symbols The most important symbol of the tradition is the diagram (mandala) of a trident with three lotuses on its prongs emanating from a fourth lotus. This central lotus represents the Goddess Kalasamkarshini, and the three lotuses of the trident represent the goddesses Para, Parapara and Apara emanating from her.

Adherents No figures are available. The Shaiva minority living in Kashmir would be descendants of the Kashmir Shaiva tradition. There are also a number of western devotees.

Main Centre
 The centre of Kashmir Shaivism was at Shrinagar in Kashmir and the Amarnath cave near Shrinagar, where there is a naturally occurring Shiva linga or symbol of the God, is a centre of pilgrimage for many Shaivas.