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Sv tantrya (from the Sanskrit sva meaning self and tantram meaning dependence[1] - 'self-dependency', or 'free will') is the Kashmiri Shaivite concept of divine sovereignty. Sv tantrya is described as an energy that emanates from the Supreme (Parama iva) [2], a wave of motion inside consciousness (spanda) that acts as the fundament of the world [3], or in another view, the original word (logos, p r vak)[4]. It does not use any external instrument[5] as it itself is the first stage of creation.

In antithesis with the Vedantic concept of Brahman, which is a mere conscious witness without effective power, being inflicted with the illusion (or maya) of the world by an external force, in the Kashmiri Shaivite viewpoint creation is actively willed into existence by the supreme consciousness ( iva) by the means of his irresistible will-force (Sv tantrya)[1].

Sv tantrya is a concept that goes to the root of many spiritual matters in Kashmir Shaivism[6], like, the divine sovereignty of iva (God)[7], consciousness (caitanya), creative power (vimar a), mantric efficiency and Kundalini.


Divine Sovereignty

In its acception of divine sovereignty, sv tantrya is described as an absolute power of action, or, absolute power of freedom [8]. This power arises from the mirror-like ability of the supreme consciousness (caitanya) to contain images (vimar a)[1][9] - the whole universe being a mere image shining inside this unique god-consciousness.

Sv tantrya has a number of traditional attributes such as: perfect fullness (of the energy of will)[10], self sufficiency[11], autodetermination[11][12], the power of doing and undoing - essence of the subject[13], supreme creativity[1], sovereignty[1], source of knowledge (j na) and action (kriy )[1] and being beyond contradictions[14]: it exists beyond laws of any kind and is the source of all laws in the universe.

Supreme Creative Energy

The Kashmir Shaivism theory of creation affirms that the world was willed into existence by the sovereign force of iva. Thus, the world has no external causes outside iva's Sv tantrya.[15][16][17] This power creates multiplicity (m y ) from the original unity of the absolute[18][19], and as such, it exists inside and beyond m y [20]. It is the seed of the universe [21], the matrix (m trk ) of generative phonemes[22], the ultimate creative force[23].

In Relation to Consciousness

Disclaimer: on this topic there is a certain amount of melding and unification of the seemingly distinct concepts of will, freedom, consciousness, speech and bliss in the speciality texts. This is due to the insufficient ability of common language to describe the mystical states of consciousness.

The prak a-vimar a theory affirms the world is based on two principles: the self shining conscious light (prak a) and its ability to contain a reflection of itself and of the creation (vimar a)[24][25]. To reflect itself is to know absolute bliss ( nanda) - thus, free will (sv tantrya), conscious reflection (vimar a) and bliss ( nanda) are three concepts describing the same reality[10][11]. Bliss ( nanda) is the internal state of consciousness, its natural state. The same is true of sv tantrya: it too is a fundamental quality of the subject[14][26][27].

Sv tantrya is the first stage of creation, an undifferentiated energy, or, looking from bottom up, we could also say that it is the force that unifies all the energies of creation[28] The first creation of sv tantrya is the energy of will (icch akti). Then come the energies of knowledge (j na akti) and action (kriy akti) and together with the energy of consciousness (cit akti) and the energy of bliss ( nanda akti) they form the supreme pentad of creation, the so called "pure creation"[29][30].

Everything related to consciousness is also related to sv tantrya. Speech is seen in Kashmir Shaivism as differentiated in four classes : external (vaikhar ), mental (madhyam ), subtle (pa yanti) and supreme (par ). Sv tantrya is equated to p r vak, the creative logos / logos spermatikos[4].

In Relation to Mystical Practices

In the mystical practices of Kashmir Shaivism, sv tantrya is both the sovereign will of iva, solely deciding the descent of divine grace ( aktip t) and the will of the adept as he becomes more and more submerged into the divine.

According to Kashmir Shaivism, spiritual realization is more than a state of illumination (defined as pure witness, non-dual consciousness or atma-vyapti) [31]. Full spiritual realization means to know bliss ( nanda) and to control the energies ( akti) and the mantras[32] (or, the so called iva-vy pti). The root of spiritual efficiency is sv tantrya, the operative, dynamic aspect of the absolute.

An adept who reaches spiritual illumination needs to learn how to stabilize his experience. The Kashmir Shaivism scriptures declare that stability is based on the assimilation of the energy of sv tantrya[33]. Thus, while the incipient practitioner aims for the experience of the nondual consciousness, the advanced ones focus on the assimilation of all the energies into non-duality. Sv tantrya being the root of all energies, it becomes automatically the final step of the spiritual practice.[33].

The will of such an advanced practitioner becomes more and more efficient as it identifies with the will of iva. Yet, his actions are necessarily without base in egoism (without the attributes of good or bad)[34] - and this is an attitude that defines the discipline of karma yoga.

All the spiritual paths (up yas): that of iva ( mbhavop ya), that of akti ( ktop ya) and that of the man ( avop ya) are subsumed under the umbrella of sv tantrya as it is the sole mediator of divine grace[35]. The adept who has attained sv tantrya is beyond the need for formal meditation - that is - for him to meditate or to act in everyday life is identical - he does all his actions from a state of perfect unity with iva from now on. This is the culmination of the Kashmiri Shaivite spiritual practice[36]. Such an adept does not exert himself in maintaining this state of consciousness because it is his own nature. From his point of view, everything is made of just forms of consciousness, his own consciousness, also identified with the consciousness of iva at this stage. The energy he possesses is the risen form of Kundalini[37]. His mantras have spiritual efficacy[38]. His heart (h daya) is the receptacle of all objects[39].

Kashmir Shaivism doctrine affirms that nothing can compel iva to bestow the final spiritual realization - it is solely based on the unconditioned sv tantrya, or, from the opposite perspective, there is no obstacle that can separate the disciple from becoming one with iva because he has sv tantrya which is the ultimate power that cannot be impeded by anything[40]. Thus, in Kashmir Shaivism there is this paradoxical concept that nothing needs to be done, as the supreme realization can appear without effort, but also, no matter what effort one undergoes, he cannot compel iva to liberate his self ( tman)[41]. Yet, this is not an invitation to abandon hard work but a justification for humility.

In a meditation prescribed in Vij ana Bhairava Tantra, one is supposed to unite his vital energy (pr a) with sv tantrya in the mystical force center that exists 12 finger widths above the head, dvada nta[42].

Alternate Names

Sv tantrya has a number of synonyms such as: mahe varaya (from mahe vara which means supreme lord)[18], or ai varya (similarly, from the word I vara which also means Lord)[43]. It has been personalized as the Goddess (devi) [44], the virginal feminine deity Uma (virginity being a symbol of existence outside the reach of profane world)[45] and the playful goddess Kum r [46]. Other scriptures also refer to sv tantrya as the Glory of Siva[25] on account of it being identical to the 'ocean' of uncreated light (prak a) and cosmic bliss ( nanda) - cid nanda-Ghana.


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