World View in Shaivism

"I bow to that pleasing, supernatural, vibrant, blissfully intoxicant, crystal clear invisible glance of Revered preceptor with whose grace even ignorant or undeveloped reach divinity."


Shaivism philosophy has been recognized as the best among all the Sadhana Paths that lead to self-recognition. According to this system mind is to be withdrawn from objective activities and turned towards the subject, which is the real self and has to be merged into it. We bow to that Samvit Devi i.e. Shiva’s coordinating force or cosmic energy that is transcendental (independent of experience) and immanent. She is a quintessence of Shiva and is blossomed / projected into this universe through the manifestation of the divine shakti.


The Shaivism philosophy teaches us that this entire world is the play of consciousness. Thus, one does not have to undergo any kind of difficulty to attain God. Forgetfulness of one’s true nature is the mass of ignorance which veils the experience of the self. All scriptures and Sadhanas are simply washing away the filth of ignorance. They have no ability of their own to reveal the wisdom of the self because that principle is self-existent, perfect and always manifest.

When a seeker becomes worthy of attaining the absolute, his mind becomes unshakable and contended. A fountain of joy wells up in one’s heart when one’s awareness becomes stable. He looks upon everyone with love and understands the following:

  • Harsh words are a sign of inner dryness.
  • Self-praise is evidence of non-attainment.
  • Cruelty is a proof of hatred.
  • The idea of difference indicates the cancer of ignorance.
  • Living in the midst of people, the seeker loves all but remains independent of everyone. He gives up all expectations.

The principal scriptures of Shaivism philosophy are the Shiva Sutras. These teachings were revealed by Shiva and were kept hidden till the great Vasugupta disseminated them throughout the world. The Shiv Sutras describe three upayas or means of Sadhna i.e.

  1. Shambhava upaya
  2. Shakt upaya
  3. Anava upaya
  • Shambhava upaya is the belief that the world is the embodiment of Shiva.
  • The Shakt upaya is the process by which the mind and intellect completely merge into the inner self.
  • The anava upaya is a dualistic as well as non-dualistic path because it leads to unity. It involves the use of body, mind, intellect, senses and Prana Shakti.

Through Japa, meditation and other dharanas a person becomes one with Siva and attains peace of mind. We do not need to know the scriptures to recognize our parents. Once our mother shows us who our father is, we do not have to mediate on him incessantly or repeat the mantras of his name. We always know him. In the same way at the precise moment when one recognizes the inner consciousness, as prakasha and vimarsha one becomes perfect. This is the Anupaya or Guru-Kripa-upaya – the path of Guru’s grace. This upaya depends on seekers worthiness. Prakasha (light of consciousness) or Vimarsha (its awareness) are the two aspects of Param Shiva. Prakasha is Shiva, the static aspect, which similar to the nature of light.

Vimarsha is the dynamic aspect or Shakti through which Param Shiva is able to survey Himself, and cause manifestation and dissolution. Param Shiva or Para Sammvit contains various powers and its nature of consciousness, is the supreme principle.

As per the first Shiva Sutra, “The self is consciousness”. In truth there is nothing other than that conscious light, which is the ultimate Reality. This world is the play of that Principle – the universal consciousness. Param Shiva Himself, by contradicting his own will brought about the effects of three impurities:

  1. Ang mala, is ego.
  2. Maya mala, is differentiation.
  3. Karma mala, refers to the activities of virtue and vice.

Enveloped in these three impurities, the individual soul falls under the influence of the letters or sound syllables, which are the basis of words. From these letters arises language, from language come ideas and from ideas comes understanding. The understanding derived from many factors, which contributes to the functioning of a human being, his body, his senses, his mind and various gross and subtle principles takes a form so that others can understand it. These letters arise from a source known as the matrika chakra. From the gross body to the matrika charka there is nothing but a group of powers and shakties. Shri Swami Vidhyadhar Ji in his hymn to Goddess Saraswati has described it like this:

The physical body, which is made up of five elements, has to be understood fully so should the purishtaka or subtle body, which is composed of five tanmatras along with the mind, Ego and intellect. One should also understand the gross and subtle principles from Shiva to the Earth.

According to the Shaivism philosophy, the universe is a form of Shakti, the supreme principle. Shiva and Shakti are one, they are not separate. A person, say a “Yogi”, who has attained perfection considers the universe to be the light of his own self like the light produced by a flame. The knowledge of one’s true nature (Aham-I) and the knowledge of the universe (idam – this) merge into an all-pervading unity. This is the understating that one should have. The knowledge of “l” is like a flame and the knowledge of “this” is like its light, which spreads everywhere equally.

This universe of ordinary experience contains infinite permutations of consciousness such as in the form of manifestation of the material of the world. Nila blue is among the countless colors and forms that make up the objects perceived through the outer senses.

Similarly, Sukha (pleasure) is one of the many experiences of inner senses. Deha (the body) is the basis of the both inner and outer experiences. Para – vital force is one of the many conscious powers that makes the body function. This way the universe is full of numerous forms. Secondly, these are called Pramana (means of knowing) Pramata (the knower – subject) and Prameya (object of knowledge-object). Shiva is both the means and the end. No other light is needed to reveal light, it reveals itself and other objects as well.

Similarly, consciousness reveals its own nature and also gives us the knowledge of other objects. It is called Para Samvit, Param Shiva or Chetanaya. Param Shiva is as serene as a still ocean. In this state Shiva is transcendent (independent of experience). He is always filled with bliss. In his immanent aspect through the independent power of the supreme I consciousness, Param Shiva becomes the thirty-six tattavas and reveals the seven experiences from within Himself.


Main aim of Jeeva (individual soul) is to, Bring self-consciousness together. Simple individual is known as (to whom all the three malas (coverings mentioned above) arise. After passing many trans-migrations or births an individual gets awakened to the knowledge of the identity of the soul with the supreme spirit. In case he still does not get awakened and gets entangled in cheap activities he remains bound by the fetters of malas (coverings) and the universe. When he throws out all the three malas then eternal ego merges and remains in “शिवम्य आत्मा स्वरूप” Being constantly in this state, he gets perfection.

To conclude, there are three paths to reach to the ultimate reality:

  1. Devotion
  2. Knowledge
  3. Renunciation

But, these three are meaningless without the guidance and grace of the Guru (called Guru Kripa).

Bimba Pratibimba (Doctrine of Reflection) in the Shaivism Philosophy

Bimba Pratibimba is one of the most wonderful principles of Shaivism philosophy. The universe is reflected in Parmeshwar who is Sat-Chit-Anand. Bimba infact is Pratibimba, the object and its reflection are identical. Shiva is the world and the world is in Shiva. Shiva and the world are not two but one. The principle of Bimba is true knowledge

निरमलं मुकरं यद्वत् भान्ति भूमिजलादयः।

आमिश्रास्तवत् एकस्मिन चिन्मात्रे विश्व वृतयः॥

Just as water,  earth, etc. are reflected in a clean mirror without intermingling, in the same way the entire world is reflected in one God an embodiment of consciousness. The world, which we experience, is conglomeration of five elements. The human body is an epitome of objectification of the universe composed of five elements and all objects of the world have sprung from them. If we keenly refer to the elements described in Acharya Khem Raj Para Preveshka, we find these five elements referred to as space, air, fire, water, earth. These elements have five qualities viz. sound, touch, form, taste and smell.

Every material object has these five qualities. A person has five senses to perceive and to reflect the corresponding qualities. Sound is reflected in the ears, touch in the skin, form in the eyes, taste in the tongue and smell in the nose.

However, the senses do not have the power to perceive them independently. For this our senses need the help of the four psychic instruments and along with the Chit Shakti. As the strength of each sense increases, the objects are reflected and perceived more clearly and in finer detail. Yogis feel and perceive their finer qualities through “Sadhana”. They have thus sharper and clearer senses of perception. A reflection appears in a mirror or on a clear surface.

The mirror and the object reflected in it are different from each other although they do not appear to be so. Whatever be the size of the mirror, the reflection does not undergo any change, its size remains the same. Moreover, even if many objects are reflected in a mirror, they do not intermingle with one another e.g. fire and cotton may be reflected simultaneously in the same mirror, similarly cow and lion are reflected in the same mirror, the cow is not afraid of the lion and the latter does not attack the former. So, they do not intermingle with one another. The cleaner the mirror or say the surface is, the clearer the reflection will be.

Importantly, if something is to be reflected, there must be an object, and that object must have a form. We see our face in a mirror but we cannot see the mirror in our face. Therefore, we can say that the face lacks the clarity to reflect. This is the case with the relationship between the external world and God. God revealed the world to us but the world can’t reveal God.

Therefore, we reach to the conclusion that, clearer our heart becomes, brighter will be the reflection of Shiva. In the case of mirror, there is an external object that is reflected, and in the case of universal consciousness/ Parmeshvera, it is its own ideation that is reflected. In the case of a mirror there is external light due to which reflection is possible but in the case of universal consciousness it has its own light, it does not require any external light. It is the light of all lights. Moreover, the mirror being non-consciousness does not know the reflection within itself. On the contrary the universal consciousness is self-conscious. Acharaya Yog Raja Analyses this in Parmarthsara as:

अन्तर्विभाति सकलं जगदात्मनीह।

यद्वत् विचत्र रचना मुकरान्तराले।।

बोधः पुनर्निज विमर्शन सारयुक्तया।

विश्वं परामुशति नो मकुरस्तथा।।

Just as a variety of objects appear, within a mirror, even so the entire universe appears within consciousness or the self-consciousness owing to its Vimarsha or self-consciousness knows the world, but in the case of a mirror it does not know its objects. When we use the energy of an object and its reflection, we speak of a mirror as the basis of its reflection. That which is being reflected is separate from the mirror, but when it is seen, it is called a reflection.

Thus, three things are involved, an object, its reflection and a mirror. When applied to God and the Universe these are not three separate entities. Shiva or consciousness is all the three – the object, the reflecting instrument, and the reflection. Shiva is the object and the universe is His reflection. The pain and pleasure, which arise in our lives, are experienced in two ways. One through inner remembrance and another through the perception of outer objects. This is the result of the vibration produced by our sensory perceptions. This pain and pleasure are reflections of some of the five qualities of the elements.

These reflections cause a vibration in our sensory perception, which in turn produces involvements such as anger and desire. Once these tendencies merge into our Chitti, you will no longer experience any pain or pleasure. An enlightened being does not become attached to momentary pain and pleasure. He realizes that they are mere reflections.

मत्रास्पर्शास्तु कौन्तेय शीतोष्ण सुख दुखदाः।

आगमापयिनीऽनित्यास्तांस्तितिक्षस्व भारत ।

                                                                                      –Bhagwad Gita II – 14

O, Son of Kunti, the contacts of the senses with their objects, which cause heat and cold, pleasure and pain, have a beginning and an end. They are impairment. Endure them bravely, O Arjuna. Everything that we know is simply a reflection. Whether it is an inner experience or the perception of outer objects, it cannot be anything other than a reflection. By contemplating these reflections, which are the source of duality, we understand the differences between them and the experience of our true nature, which leads to all pervasive unity.

The understanding of the principle of Bimba Pratibimba In Shaivism Philosophy is very helpful in attaining this experience. Through it we learn to reject reflections, which are the cause of pain. When we have a firm faith that the universe is a reflection into Chiti and attachment and aversion are just in our consciousness, we attain the bliss of consciousness.

Your View on this
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