A History of Indian Philosophy Volume 5

Southern Schools of Śaivism

by Surendranath Dasgupta | 1955 | 79,816 words | ISBN-13: 9788120804081

This page describes the philosophy of anubhava-sutra of mayideva: a concept having historical value dating from ancient India. This is the second part in the series called the “vira-shaivism”, originally composed by Surendranath Dasgupta in the early 20th century.

Part 2 - Anubhava-sūtra of Māyideva


Upamanyu, the first teacher, was born in Aaipura. The second teacher was Bhlma-nātha Prabhu. Then came Mahā-guru Kaleś-vara. His son, well versed in śrauta and smārta literature and their customs and manners, was Śrī Boppa-nātha. Boppa-nātha’s son was Śrī Nāka-rāja Prabhu, who was well versed in Vīra-śaiva rites and customs of religion. The disciple of Nāka-rāja was Saṅ-gameśvara. Saṅgameśvara’s son was Māyi-deva. He is well versed in the knowledge of Śivādvaita, and he is a ṣaṭ-sthala-Brahma-vādī. The Śaivāgamas begin with Kāmika and end with Vātula. Vātula-tantra is the best. Its second part, called Pradīpa, contains the Śiva-siddhānta-tantra. Sat-sthala doctrine is based on the principles of the Gītā together with the older views. It is supported by the instructions of teachers and self-realisation by anubhūti and by arguments.

In the Anubhava-sūtra there are

  1. the guru-paramparā;
  2. the definition of sthala;
  3. the liṅga-sthala;
  4. the aṅga-sthala;
  5. the liṅga-saṃyoga-vidhi;
  6. the liṅgārpaṇa-sadbhāva;
  7. the sarvāṅga-liṅga-sāhitya; and
  8. the kriyā-viśrānti.

Sthala is defined as one Brahman identically the same with sat, cit and ānanda, which is called the ultimate category of Śiva—the ground of the manifestation of the world and dissolution. He is also the category from which the different categories of mahat, etc. have sprung forth. Stha' means Sthāna and ‘la’ means laya. It is the source of all energies and all beings have come from it and shall return into it. It is by the self-perturbation of the energy of this ultimate category that the various other sthalas are evolved. This one sthala may be divided into the liṅga-sthala and the Aṅga-sthala. As the empty space can be distinctively qualified as the space inside the room or inside the jar, so the dual bifurcation of sthala may appear as the object of worship and the worshipper.

Śiva remaining unchanged in Himself appears in these two forms. It is the same Śiva which appears as pure consciousness and also as the part of liṅga. The part of liṅga, liṅgāṅga is also called jīva or the individual souls.

As sthala is of two parts, Brahma and jīva, so His śakti is also twofold. It is indeterminate and is called Maheśvara. It assumes two forms by its own pure spontaneity. One part of it may be regarded as associated with liṅga, the Brahman, and the other with aṅga, the jīva. In reality śakti and bhakti are the same[2]. When the energy moves forward for creation it is called śakti as pravṛtti, and as cessation nimtti is called bhakti[3]. On account of the diverse nature of bhakti its indeterminateness disintegrates into various forms. The twofold functions of śakti as the upper and the lower show themselves in the fact that the upper one tends to manifest the world and the lower one, appearing as bhakti, tends to return to God. In these twofold forms the same śakti is called māyā and bhakti. The śakti in the liṅga appears as the bhakti in the aṅga, and the unity of liṅga and aṅga is the identity of Śiva and jīva.

The liṅga-sthala is threefold, as:

  1. bhāva-liṅga;
  2. prāṇa-liṅga; and
  3. iṣṭa-liṅga.

The bhāva-liṅga can only be grasped through inner intuition as pure Being, and this bhāva-liṅga is called niṣkala. Prāṇa-liṅga is the reality as grasped by thought and as such it is both indeterminate and determinate. The iṣṭa-liṅga is that which fulfils one’s good as self-realisation or adoration, and it is beyond space and time.

The ultimate śakti as being pure cessation and beyond all, is śāntyatīta; the next one is icchā-śakti, called also vidyā as pure knowledge. The third one is called the kriyā-śakti which leads to cessation. The three śaktis of icchā,jñāna and kriyā become sixfold.

The six sthalas are again described as follows:

(1) That which is completely full in itself, subtle, having no beginning nor end, and is indefinable, but can be grasped only by the intuition of the heart as the manifestation of pure consciousness, is called the mahātma-liṅga.

(2) That in which we find the seed of development as consciousness beyond the senses, called also the sādākhya-tattva, is called prasāda-ghana-liṅga.

(3) The pure luminous puruṣa, which is without inward and outward, without any form, and known by the name Atman, is called the cara-liṅga.

(4)When this by the icchā-śakti manifests itself as the ego, we have what is called Śiva-liṅga.

(5) When it by its own knowledge and power and omnipotence assumes the role of an instructor for taking all beings beyond the range of all pleasures, it is called guru-liṅga.

(6) The aspect in which by its action it upholds the universe and holds them all in the mind, is called the ācāra-liṅga.

There are further divisions and sub-divisions of these sthalas, aṅga-sthala.

Aṃ’ means Brahma and ‘ga’ means that which goes. Aṅga-sthala is of three kinds as yogāṅga, bhogāṅga and tyāgāṅga. In the first, one attains the bliss of union with Śiva. In the second, bhogāṅga, one enjoys with Śiva, and in tyāgāṅga one leaves aside the illusion or the false notion of the cycle of births and rebirths. Yogāṅga is the original cause, the bhogāṅga is the subtle cause and tyāgāṅga is the gross one. Yogāṅga is the dreamless state, bhogāṅga is the ordinary state of sleep, and tyāgāṅga is the waking state. Yogāṅga is the state of prajñā, bhogāṅga is taijas and tyāgāṅga is viśva. Yogāṅga is called the unity with Śiva and śaraṇa-sthala. Bhogāṅga is twofold, prāṇa-liṅgi and prasādi. The gross is twofold, bhakta-sthala and māheśvara sthala. Again prājña is aikya-sthala and śaraṇa-sthala. The taijas is prāṇa-liṅgi and prasādi. Viśva again is twofold as māheśvara and bhakta-sthala. The unity, the śaraṇa, the prāṇa-liṅgi, the prasādi, the māheśvara and the bhakta may be regarded as the successive of the six sthalas.

Again omnipotence, contentment, and beginningless consciousness, independence, unobstructedness of power and infinite power—these are the parts of God, which being in ṣaṭ-sthala are regarded as six types of bhakti depending on various conditions. The bhakti manifests itself in diverse forms, just as water manifests in various tastes in various fruits. The bhakti is of the nature of Śiva. Then it is of the nature of ānanda or bliss. Then it is of the nature of anubhava or realisation. Then it is of the nature of adoration (naiṣṭhikī) and the sixth is of the nature of bhakti among good men. It is further said that all those classifications are meaningless. The truth is the identity of myself and everything, all else is false—this is aikya-sthala. By the self-illumination of knowledge, the body and senses appear as having no form, being united with God; when everything appears as pure, that is called the śaraṇa-sthala. When one avoids all illusions or errors about body, etc., and conceives in the mind that one is at one with the liṅga, that is called the prāṇa-liṅga, or cara-sthala. When one surrenders all objects of gratification to God, it is called the prasāda-sthala, and when one fixes one’s mind on God as being one with Him—it is called māheśvara-sthala. When the false appears as true and the mind is detached from it by the adorative action of bhakti, and the person becomes detached from the world—this is called bhakti-sthala. Thus we have another six kinds of ṣaṭ-sthala.

Again from another point of view we have another description of ṣaṭ-sthala, such as from Ātman comes ākāśa, from ākāśa comes vāyu, from vāyu comes agni, from agni comes water and from water—earth. Again the unity of Ātman with Brahman is called vyomāṅga. Prāṇa-liṅga is called vāyvāṅga, and prasāda is called analāṅga, and maheśvara is called jalāṅga and the bhakta is called bhūmyaṅga. Again from bindu comes nāda, and from nāda comes kalā, and reversely from kalā to bindu.

Unlike the Vaiṣṇavas, the Anubhava-sūtra describes bhakti not as attachment involving a sense-duality between the worshipper and the worshipped, but as revealing pure oneness or identity with God in the strongest terms. This implies, and in fact it has been specifically stated, that all ceremonial forms of worship involving duality are merely imaginary creations. In His sportive spirit the Lord may assume diverse forms, but the light of bhakti should show that they are all one with Him.

Footnotes and references:


Anubhava-sūtra forms the second part of Śiva-siddhānta-tantra, which is complete in two parts. The first part is Viśeṣārtha-prakāśaka. Anubhava-sūtra is written by Māyi-deva; it is evident from the colophons of Anubhava-sūtra. It is also mentioned in the last colophon of Śiva-siddhānta-tantra.


Śakti-bhaktyor na bhedosti.
p. 8.


śaktyā prapcmca-sṛṣṭiḥ syāu,
bḥaktya tad-vilayo mataḥ.


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