What is that secret which, once experientially understood, enlivens and quickens any and all practices of Yoga? One of India’s hidden treasures, the Tantraloka of Abhinavagupta, explores this question in grand detail. With extraordinary sensitivity to human diversity, this sublime text illuminates the highest vision and purpose of the tantras.
Without direct experience and a connection to the oral tradition of Kashmir Shaivism it is almost impossible to understand the Tantrāloka. This is essentially a book for masters. There is tremendous complexity in the simplicity.
– Swami Lakshmanjoo
Over 37 chapters containing the synthesis of the 64 monistic āgamas and all the schools of Kashmir Shaivism. Despite its great length, every word is saturated with meaning.
Abhinavagupta also wrote a condensed version of Tantraloka named Tantrasāra.
Liberation is not different from the Self as it is in its real nature, infinitely free. It is neither insignificant nor something to make a big deal about. Thus a separate name for it is not even needed.
Om Namah Shivaya
Om Sauh Parayai Namah
[.o] vimalakalāśrayābhinavas˜imahā jananī
bharitatanuśca pañcamukhaguptarucirjanakaƒ |
hdayamanuttarāmtakulaˆ mama saˆsphuratāt ||
She is glorious, the ever new (abhinava) creation, her foundation, the pure digit of the Moon. His body is full and his secret (gupta) Light is adorned with five faces. May the Family (Kula) of the nectar (amta) of the Absolute (anuttara), my Heart, the emission (visarga), vibrant and resplendent, of the united couple, Father and Mother, pulsate!
naumi citpratibhāˆ devīˆ parāˆ bhairavayoginīm |
I salute the Supreme Goddess (Parā) Who is the intuition of consciousness. She is united with Bhairava who is seated on the Lotus of the Trident, whose prongs are the subject, object and means of knowledge.
naumi devīˆ śarīrasthāˆ ntyato bhairavākte |
I salute the Lower Goddess (Aparā) who resides in the body of the dancing Bhairava and plays within it like a lightning flash in a sky covered with storm clouds.
dīptajyotiścha˜āplu˜abhedabandhatrayaˆ sphurat |
stājjñānaśūlaˆ satpakavipakotkartanakamam ||
May the resplendent Trident of Consciousness that has consumed the three fetters with its blazing rays of light have the power to uproot all that runs contrary to the (Cosmic Bliss of) Knowledge (jñāna).
svātantryaśaktiƒ kramasaˆsiskā kramātmatā ceti vibhorvibhūtiƒ |
tadeva devītrayamantarāstām anuttaraˆ me prathatsvarūpam ||
May these three Goddesses — who are the glorious power of the Allpervading Lord (vibhu) as 1) His freedom, 2) the will to emit the process (krama) (of manifestation) and 3) the process (krama) itself – reveal to me the Absolute (anuttara), which is their inner (undivided) nature, (as my authentic identity).
cakreśvarāyitanijasthitireka eva |
devīsuto gaŠapatiƒ sphuradindukāntiƒ,
samyaksamucchalayatānmama saˆvidabdhim ||
(Ganesha) is the one Lord of Hosts. He is one’s own fundamental being (nijasthiti) and the Lord of the Wheel of the Great Rays (of sensory consciousness) that are the unfolding glory (vibhava) of these deities. May he, the son of the Goddess, beautiful like the radiant moon, churn the ocean of my consciousness well.
yo jālamātānavitānavtti |
kalombhitaˆ bāhyapathe cakāra
stānme sa macchandavibhuƒ prasannaƒ ||
The pervasive Lord Macchanda (the Fisherman) has cast the net (of Māyā) along the outer path. (His net,) red with attachment, made of many parts and strewn with knots and holes, spreads and extends (in all directions). May he be pleased with me.
pūrve jayanti guravo guruśāstrasindhu
May the ancient teachers triumph. They are the luminous row of the pearls of truth in TamraparŠī (river) of the spiritual lineage named after Tryambaka. They are the stainless helmsmen (of the boat that crosses) the ocean of the Masters’ scripture, that heaves with the play of (mighty) waves.
jayati gurureka eva śrīśrīkaŠ˜ho bhuvi pathitaƒ |
tadaparamūrtirbhagavān maheśvaro bhūtirājaśca ||
The one Master known on the earth as the venerable ŚrīkaŠ˜ha triumphs, (as does) the Master Maheśvara, who is another of his forms, and Bhūtirāja.
jayanti saˆvidāmodasandarbhā dikprasarpiŠaƒ ||
May the compositions, fragrant with consciousness that spreads in all directions, created by Utpaladeva (the God of the Lotus) who (embodied) the wisdom of the venerable Somānanda, triumph.
tadāsvādabharāveśabaˆhitāˆ matia˜padīm |
gurorlakmaŠaguptasya nādasaˆmohinīˆ numaƒ ||
We salute the bee-like mind of the Master LakmaŠagupta, whose sound is the attractive (resonance of consciousness) intensified by his absorption in the copious relish of that (Lotus, the Master Utpaladeva).
yaƒ pūrŠānandaviśrāntasarvaśāstrārthapāragaƒ |
sa śrīcukhulako diśyādi˜aˆ me gururuttamaƒ ||
May the venerable Cukhulaka, the best of teachers who, having traversed the entire purport of the scripture, rests in perfect bliss, instruct me in what (I) desire (to learn).
1.13 – 14
bhagavatyā saha śambhunātha ekaƒ |
praka˜o.ayaˆ gahano.ayaˆ śāstramārgaƒ ||
santi paddhatayaścitrāƒ strotobhedeu bhūyasā |
anuttaraaardhārthakrame tvekāpi nekyate ||
May Śambhunātha be victorious! He who, together with (his) consort, can elevate the (entire) universe — he who, by the (enlightening) rays of his instructions, has made this path of scripture clear to me although profound (and hard to grasp).
ityahaˆ bahuśaƒ sadbhiƒ śiyasabrahācāribhiƒ |
arthito racaye spa˜āˆ pūrŠārthāˆ prakriyāmimām ||
There are various liturgical manuals (paddhati) in use in the many traditions. But not even one can be seen for the rites (krama) of the Anuttaratrika. Therefore, repeatedly requested by (my) sincere disciples and fellows, I compose this liturgy (prakriyā), which is clear and complete.
bha˜˜ārikāˆghiryugalād gurusantatiryā |
bodhojjvalo.abhinavagupta idaˆ karoti ||
Abhinavagupta does this, flaming with the enlightened consciousness arisen from the adoration of the lotus feet of Bha˜˜anātha (i.e. Śambhunātha) and Bha˜˜ārikā (his consort, along with those who preceded them in) the Lineage of the Masters. (His worship) is the antidote of the poison of the fetters of all (things) that run contrary to consciousness.
na tadastīha yanna śrīmālinīvijayottare |
devadevena nirdi˜aˆ svaśabdenātha li‰gataƒ ||
There is nothing here (in the Tantrāloka) not taught by the God of gods in the Mālinīvijayattaratantra, whether directly or indirectly.
daśā˜ādaśavasva˜abhinnaˆ yacchāsanaˆ vibhoƒ |
tatsāraˆ trikaśāstraˆ hi tatsāraˆ mālinīmatam ||
The Teachings of the Lord are divided into (groups of) ten, eighteen and sixty-four (Tantras), the essence of which are the Trika scriptures and of these, the Mālinīvijaya.
ato.atrāntargataˆ sarvaˆ saˆpradāyojjhitairbudhaiƒ |
ad˜aˆ praka˜īkurmo gurunāthājñayā vayam ||
Thus, at the command of the Master, we will explain all that is contained herein, (particularly those neglected scriptures) that have not been noticed by the learned who do not belong to any lineage.
abhinavaguptasya ktiƒ seyaˆ yasyoditā gurubhirākhyā |
This is the work of Abhinavagupta, a man who has attained supreme perfection by meditating on the lotus feet of the Three-Eyed Lord, expounded by (his) Master.
abhinavaguptahdambujametadvicinuta maheśapūjanahetoƒ ||
In order to worship the Lord, behold this, the lotus of Abhinavagupta’s heart that has blossomed by the light falling from the feet of the sun-like Śambhunātha.
- Tantra Chapter 1 Online Course by Mark Dyczkowski