By – Ashish Zadoo, Sandeep Raj Koul
Acharya Kshemaraja was a Kashmirian who lived in Kashmir around 10th-11th century. He was the student of famous saint scholar Sri Abhinavagupta, the Shaiva yogi par excellence from Kashmir, who gave the precious jewels of Shaiva literature such as Tantraloka among others. He had many worthy disciples, chief among them was Acharya Kshemaraja.
(Pic Credit : Ravi Dhar)
Following the words of his Guru, Kshemraja spread the message of Shaivism in a way that it gets percolated to masses. Kshemraja composed some original works as well some commentaries on established texts and devotional hymns. His style and language were similar to his Guru Abhinavagupta. He wrote commentaries on texts of Kashmiri Shaivism. His original works include Paraparveshika and Pratyabhijnahridayam.
Kshemraja has referred his birthplace as Vijeshwara (Brijbehra). In his commentary on of Bhatta Narayana’s devotional work, Stava Cintamani, Two of his prominent disciples were Yogaraja and Vardaraja who in later years continued the legacy of their guru and contributed in spread of Shaivism. Beyond that he has not mentioned much about his personal life which was the trend during those days with only exception being Sri Abhinavagupta.
Under the able guidance of Abhinavagupta, he had mastered various percept’s of Tantra philosophy besides other relevant schools which included poetics, logic, philosophy, etc. With his many valuable works he turns seekers gaze inside to discover the blazing Prakasha within, which is fuelled by constant stream of Vimarsha.
Blessed with Anugraha of Param Shiva, seeking answers, one takes refuge of Parapraveshika. This work of Kshemaraja is like a drop of molten gold that purifies your intellect and sets it in motion resulting in the dawn of understanding of Kashmir Shaivism. With this seeker gets ready for Pratyabhijnahridayam, which further sharpens the understanding of Shaivite philosophy. It is indeed Hrdaya (heart) of the Pratyabhijna darshan which is savoured by devoted sadhaks.
He says in Pratyabhijna Hridayam, “In this world there are some devoted people who are undeveloped in reflection and have not taken pains in studying difficult works (like Logic and Dialectics), but who nevertheless aspire after Samavesha with the Highest Lord which blossoms forth with the descent of Sakti.”
Kshemraja gives seeker wonderful insights on Agama shastra in his work, Shivasutravimarshini. In this work he pours dollops of Prakasha aspect of Param Shiva which fortifies seeker’s devotion and cleans heart of any impurity or duality. Seed of Vimarsha sprouts with another master work of his, named Spandanirnaya. Here the aspect of Vimarsha takes forefront and leaves you with constant reverberation of your own being.
This takes you to what our beloved Swami Lakshmanjoo calls one-pointedness. Udhyamo Bhairavah. Udhyama means “Unmajjanrupah” as Kshemaraja puts it. It is spontaneous, sudden opening out of Consciousness. Important to note is that it does not mean any exertion on part of the yogi as the flashing forth of Supreme awareness is sudden and spontaneous. Once grace happens the seeker is in the amazing playground of Shakti where he is the player and not played anymore. Such a blessed yogi is in Shiva-Consciousness in Samadhi and Vyutthana as well. “Na samadhivyutthana bhedah“. There is no difference. Jagrat, swapna or sushupti he is abiding in Turya in all these states. Such a yogi is just like Shiva, “Shiv Tulyo Jaayate”.
(Illustrative work by Dr Rattan Parimoo))
As is stated in Spanda Karika:
Tasmacchabdarthacintasu na savastha na ya sivah/
Bhoktaiva bhogyabhavena sada sarvatra samsthitah//
In the words of Prof Jaidev Singh, “whether in the word, object or thought, there is no state which is not Siva. It is the experient himself who, always and everywhere, abides in the form of the experienced i.e. it is the Divine Himself who is the essential Experient, and it is He who abides in the form of the universe as His field of experience.”
Shakti aspect of Supreme is perhaps best explored and understood by Kashmir Shaivism. The predominance of ananda in Shakti tattava is explained in its true sense by Shaivite masters. Kshemaraja commenting upon Utpaladeva’s Shivastotravali writes:
“Shakti thrown up by delight lets Herself go forth in to manifesattion”
Further in Pratyabhijna Hridayam:
“By the power of her own free will does she unfold the universe upon her own screen”
Free will is Swatantra Shakti of Lord which connotes absolute freedom of knowledge and activity as Kshemaraja points it out in Shiv Sutras. As astute as he was, with this statement he emphasises that Shiva in Kashmir Shaiv Darshan is not inactive as Brahman of Vedanta but it has absolute freedom to know and act. He aslo explains that Swatantra of Paramshiva is the predominant attribute. There are many other attributes as Omnipresence etc. but they are possible with other entities as well. Absolute freedom of knowledge and activity is what is possible with Paramshiva only. This is what needs to be understood.
Whether you are a Shakti or Shiva devotee, you will find your calling in his works. With each work of his, your logic and reason is sculpted with masterly finesse to carve it out in its pristine form.
His contribution to the Kashmir Shaivism Philosophy cannot be ignored. He was amongst the very few disciples of Acharya Abhinavgupta, who apart from being a practising Yogi, contributed a lot to the propagation and literature of Kashmir Shaivism.