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 the doctrine of the pashupata-sutras: a concept having historical value dating from ancient India. This is the first part in the series called the “shaiva philosophy in some of the important texts”, originally composed by Surendranath Dasgupta in the early 20th century.

Part 1 - The Doctrine of the Pāśupata-sūtras

Some of the philosophical doctrines of the Pāśupata system of Śaivism are discussed in the relevant sections. But the formal and ritualistic sides of the system, which have often been referred to elsewhere, as for example in the treatment of Śaivism in the Sarva-darśana-saṃgraha, need an authoritative explanation. This is found in the Pāśupata-sūtras with the bhāṣya of Kauṇḍinya, published in 1940 by the Oriental Manuscripts Library of the University of Travancore, Trivandrum. It is said that Śiva incarnated Himself as Nakulīśa and so was the author of the Pāśupata-sūtras. The bhāṣya by Kauṇḍinya is also an ancient one, as may be judged from the style of the writing. The editor of the Pāśupata-sūtras, A. Śāstrī, thinks that Kauṇḍinya may have lived between the fourth and sixth centuries. The Pāśupata-sūtras together with the bhāṣya of Kauṇḍinya do not give us any philosophy of Śaivism. They deal almost wholly with the rituals, or rather modes of life. It may be quite possible that such ascetic forms of life existed from early times, and that later the philosophy of Śaivism was added. Though these ascetic forms of life had but little connection with the Śaiva philosophy as propounded later, they have a general anthropological and religious interest, as these forms of asceticism remain connected with the life of those who believe in the Śaiva philosophy. In the Sarva-darśana-saṃgraha of Mādhava the Pāśupata system is not identified with any form of philosophy, but with different kinds of ascetic practices. When Śaṅkara refutes the Śaiva system, he does not specifically mention any philosophical doctrines of an elaborate nature. He only brands the Śaivas as those who believe in God as the creator of the world (Īśvara-kāraṇin). Of course, the Naiyāyika is also an Īśvara-kāraṇin and he is also a Śaiva by faith. The other doctrines of the Naiyāyika are largely taken from the Vaiśeṣika, and Śaṅkara in his joint criticism of Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika had referred to them. The Naiyāyika thus shares his theistic conviction with the Śaivas. But while the Śaivas of the Pāśupata school lay emphasis on ascetic rituals, the Naiyāyika laid stress on logical arguments. It will therefore not be out of place if we treat the general outline of the Pāśupata sect on its ascetic side, though it may not be regarded as a contribution of philosophical value.

Kauṇḍinya, the commentator, in the beginning of his bhāṣya, offers adoration to Pāśupati who had created the whole world, beginning from the Brahman for the good of all. He says that the five subjects of discussion in the Pāśupata system are effect (kārya), cause (kāraṇa), meditation (yoga), behaviour (vidhi), and dissolution of sorrow (duḥkhānta)[1].

The teaching of the Pāśupata system is for the total annihilation of all kinds of sorrow and this teaching can only be communicated to proper disciples. When the disciple follows the ascetic practices recommended by the Lord, he attains liberation through His grace. It has been noticed before that the Śaiva is called Mahākāruṇika. In our exposition of the Śaiva thought we have examined carefully the doctrine of grace or karuṇā, and have also seen how this doctrine of grace is associated with the doctrine of karma and the theory of rebirth, in accordance with the justice implied in the theory of karma. But here in the Pāśupata-sūtra we are told that liberation comes directly from the grace of Śiva. The word paśu means all conscious beings, excluding the saints and the all powerful ones. Their animality or paśutva consists in the fact that they are impotent and their impotence is their bondage. This bondage, which means their complete dependence on the causal power, is beginningless. The word paśu is connected with the word pāśa, which means “cause and effect”, and is technically also called kalā. All animals are thus bound by cause and effect, the sense images and their objects, and become attached to them. The word paśu is also derived from paśyati. Though the animals are all-pervasive and are of the nature of pure consciousness, they can only perceive their bodies; they do not understand the nature of cause and effect and they cannot go beyond them. The Pāśupati is so called because He protects all beings. Kauṇḍinya definitely says that the liberation from sorrow cannot be attained by knowledge (jñāna), disinclination (vairāgya), virtue (dharma) and giving up of one’s miraculous powers (aiśvarya-tyāga), but by grace (prasāda) alone[2].

The person who is regarded as fit for receiving the Śaiva discipline must be a Brahmin with keen senses. The instruction of the teacher, leading to devotional practices and exciting desire for becoming Śiva, is given out of a spirit of charity to those who wish to annihilate all sorrow.

The word ‘yoga’ is used to denote the contact of the self with Īśvara or God (ātmeśvara-saṃyogo yogaḥ). The contact thus means that the person who was otherwise engaged leads himself to the supreme object of Īśvara ; or it may also mean that the contact is due to the dual approach of both God and the person, until they meet. The yoga must have disinclination to worldly things as the first condition.

Yoga cannot be attained by mere knowledge but one has to take to a certain course of action called yoga-vidhi. Vidhi means action. Thus we have the effect (kārya) which is the dissolution of pleasure and pain, the cause, the yoga and the vidhi, and these are the five categories which form the subject-matter of discussion of the Pāśupata-śāstra.

Describing the two kinds of perceptual knowledge Kauṇḍinya distinguishes between sense perception and self-perception. By the senses one can perceive various kinds of sense objects, such as sound, touch, colour, taste, smell and the objects to which they belong. In reality, most perceptions occur through sense-object contact, and are manifested in their totality in diverse aspects through such a contact, and are regarded as valid (pramāṇa). Selfperception means the totality of the relation that is produced by citta and antaḥkaraṇa, the mind and the thought. Inference (anumāna) is naturally based upon perception. The relationship between the thought, the mind, and the self expresses itself in diverse forms and produces diverse impressions and memories. And these lead to other kinds of awareness, or those which can be inferred from them.

Inference is of two kinds, dṛṣṭa (perceived) and sāmānyato dṛṣṭa (perceived through universals). The first again is of two kinds, called pūrvavat and śeṣavat. Pūrvavat is that which is affiliated with a previous experience. It has been seen to have six fingers, and now we find it of six fingers; therefore it is the same as the previous one. When an animal is recognised as a cow on the evidence of its horns and the hanging neck, this is said to be an inference of the type of śeṣavat. The Śeṣavat inference is intended to distinguish a class of things from others. As an example of sāmānyato dṛṣṭa (perceived through universals), it is said that as the location at different places of the same object cannot take place, one can infer that the moon and the stars which change places are travelling in the sky. Āgama or testimony is the scriptural testimony that is handed down to us from Maheśvara through His disciples. The Pāśupata-śāstra only admits perception, inference, and testimony; all other kinds of pramāṇas are regarded as falling within them.

It is the individual perceiver to whom things are proved by means of the pramāṇas. The object of the pramāṇas are the fivefold categories, namely kārya, kāraṇa, yoga, vidhi, and the dissolution of sorrow. Awareness or thought product is called saṃvid, saṃdntana, or sambodha. It is through these that knowledge is revealed. The process of knowledge continues from the first moment of inception to the completion of the knowledge.

Turning to the practices, it is said that one should collect ashes and bake them, and then smear the body in the morning, midday, and afternoon with these ashes. The real bathing is of course through the attainment of virtue by which the soul is purified. One should also lie down on the ashes and remain awake, for the person who is afraid of the cycles of birth and rebirth cannot have time to sleep. The ashes are to be used for bathing instead of water, both for purification and for bearing the signs of a Śaiva. The ashes (bhasman) are therefore called liṅga, or sign of a Pāśupata ascetic. We must note here that the word liṅga, which is often used in connection with the Śaiva doctrine for a phallic sign, is here regarded as a mere indicatory sign of a person’s being a Pāśupata ascetic. The ashes which besmear the body are indicators of the person being a Pāśupata ascetic. The bhasman therefore is regarded as liṅga. These ashes distinguish the Pāśupata ascetic from the adherents of other sects.

The Pāśupata ascetic may live in the village, in the forest, or in any place of pilgrimage, and there he may employ himself in muttering the syllable om, laughing, singing, dancing, and making peculiar sounds through his mouth and lips.

In introducing moral virtues, great emphasis is laid on the yamas consisting of non-injury, celibacy, truthfulness, and nonstealing. Next to these are the niyamas consisting of non-irritability (i akrodha), attendance on the teachers, purity, lightness of diet, and carefulness (apramāda). Of these two yama and niyama, yama is regarded as being most important. Non-injury in the fashion of the Jainas is highly emphasised, and is regarded as the best of all virtues. We have translated brahma-carya by celibacy, but in reality it means all kinds of sense control, particularly the palate and the sex organs; association with women is strongly deprecated. Though verbal truth implying agreement of statements to facts is appreciated, it is held that the final standard of truth is the amount of good that is rendered to people by one’s words. Even a misstatement or a false statement, if beneficial to all beings, should be regarded as preferable to a rigorous truthful statement. It is interesting to note that the Pāśupata system forbids all kinds of commercial dealings and trades, as they may cause pain to persons involved in mutual intercourse. Absence of anger (akrodha) has been enumerated above as a virtue. This includes both mental apathy consisting of jealousy, enmity, vanity and desire for the evil of others in one’s own mind, as well as any action that may be committed in accordance with them. The Pāśupata ascetic has to earn his living by mendicancy alone.

It has been said above that the Pāśupata ascetic should be a Brahmin. It is prohibited for him to address women or Śūdras, except under special circumstances. Under such exceptional circumstances one should purify oneself by bathing in ashes and also prāṇāyāma, and the muttering of the raudrīgāyatrī. This prescription of practising prāṇāyāma, etc., in case one has to meet a woman or a Śūdra and to talk to them, is suggested for purifying the mind of the ascetic, for otherwise on being forced to meet them the ascetic may get angry in his mind, and that may cause injury to his own mind.

When the mind is purified, and one proceeds on the line of yoga with the Maheśvara, the supreme Lord, one attains various miraculous powers[3].

The Maheśvara, regarded also as Brahman, is beginningless and indestructible; He is unborn and without any kind of attachment. When one knows the nature of the Lord, one should take refuge in Him and follow the practices described by Him in His scriptures.

The supreme Lord is regarded as producing and destroying all things out of His nature as a playful being. The Lord is supreme as he controls the movements and tendencies of all beings. His eternity consists in his continual knowledge and action, by which he pervades all. He is called Rudra because he is associated with fear on the part of all[4].

The supreme Lord, being in Himself, creates, maintains and destroys the universe, that is, in Him the universe appears and dissolves like the stars in the sky. God creates the world at His will, as the world of effects exists in His own power and energy, and remains also by virtue of His power.

In explaining the position further, it is said in the bhāṣya (n. 5) that the category of Maheśvara is the all-pervasive one, and that the twenty-five categories like puruṣa, pradhāna, etc., are permeated by the supreme category. So also the category of the puruṣa, being the category of the self, is the all-pervading one, and the twenty-four categories of pradhāna, etc., are permeated by puruṣa. So also in the field of the categories, the buddhi is all-pervasive and the twenty-two other categories, beginning with ahaṅkāra, are permeated by buddhi. So also the ahaṅkāra is all-pervasive and the eleven senses are permeated by it; so again the eleven senses are the all-pervasive ones and the subtle five tanmātras are permeated by them. So also in the case of gross matter, where the same processes may be assigned to ākāśa, vāyu, tejas, etc.

The question is raised as regards the starting-point of difference between the cause and the effect. The writer of the bhāṣya (II. 5) says that it has to be understood on the analogy of a mixture of turmeric and water; in turmeric water you have on the one hand the qualities of water, and on the other the qualities of turmeric. So when the supreme Lord is considered as being associated with the pleasures and pains that He gives to all beings, and the bodies with which He associates them, we may have a conception of a whole. So God can be associated with pleasures and pains that belong to the prakṛti, though He himself is absolutely unchangeable. The same analogy may explain the other categories of pradhāna and prakṛti. Being all-pervasive, the supreme Lord naturally pervades both the causal and the efficient states. The effect as identified in the cause is eternal; the cause, the Lord, is eternal, and all creation takes place in and through Him. Arguing in this way the world becomes eternal, for if the protector is eternal, the things to be protected must also be eternal. The world being eternal, the supreme Lord only connects the relevant parts of it in a relevant order. The grace of God consists in bringing about the proper association of the relevant parts.

God’s will being all powerful and unlimited, He can create changes in the world and in the destinies of men according to His own pleasure. He does not necessarily depend upon the person or his karma or action[5]. God’s will may operate either as the evolutionary process or as an interference with the state of things by inducing bondage or liberation. There is, however, a limit to the exercise of God’s will in that the liberated souls are not associated with sorrow again. The limit of the effect world is that it is produced, helped and dissolved or changed by the causal category, the supreme Lord. This, therefore, is the sphere of cause and effect. Those who want the cessation of all sorrows should devote themselves to the worship of the Lord Śiva and to no one else.

It is advised that the Pāśupata ascetic should not be too much delighted on the attainment of miraculous powers. He should go on behaving like a Pāśupata ascetic, smearing his body with ashes and smiling and so on, both in places of pilgrimage and temples, and also among people in general. These are called caryā. In this caryā the joy of the ascetic should be manifested in its pure form and not associated with any form of vanity which goes with the attainment of miraculous powers.

The process of spiritual worship can only be done through the surrendering of oneself in one’s mind to the supreme Lord, and to continue to do it until the goal is reached. When one gives oneself up entirely to Śiva alone, he does not return from the state of liberation. This is the secret of self-surrender[6].

The supreme Lord, called Vāmadeva, jyeṣṭha, Rudra, is also called Kāla. It is within the scope of His function to associate the different beings in different kinds of bodies and in different states of existence, with different kinds of experiences, pleasurable and painful, through the process of time. The individual beings are called kālya as they happen to be in God or Kāla. The term kalā is given to the effects (kālya) and their instruments (kāraṇa). Thus, the five elements, earth, water, etc., are called kalā as kārya or effect. So also are their properties. The eleven senses together with ahaṅkāra and buddhi are called kāraṇa. God Himself is vikaraṇa or without any senses, so there is nothing to obstruct His powers of perception and action. It is God who associates all things and beings with the different kalās as kālya and kāraṇa. The supreme Lord is regarded as sakala and niṣkala, immanent and transcendent, but even in His transcendental aspect He has in Him all the powers by which He can extend His grace to all beings.

In the third chapter it is said that the real Śaiva ascetic may dispense with all the external practices, so that no one will recognise him as a Śaiva ascetic, and will not give him a high place in society. When the Śaiva ascetic is thus ignored by the people among whom he lives, this very degradation of him serves to remove his sins. When the ascetic bears the insults showered upon him by ignorant persons, he naturally attains fortitude. People may often abuse him as a lunatic, an ignorant man, or a dullard, etc., and in such circumstances he should get away from the public attention and fix his mind on God. With such behaviour he is not only purified but is spiritually ennobled. When a person thus moves about like a poor lunatic, besmeared with ashes and dirt, with beard and nails and hair uncut, and when he does not follow habits of cleanliness, he is naturally regarded as an outcast. This leads him further on the path towards disinclination, and the insults he bears meekly make him advanced spiritually.

When a person is firm in yama and niyama practices, and meekly suffers the indignities and abuses showered on him by other people, he is well established in the path of asceticism.

Throughout the whole of the fourth chapter of the Pāśupata-sūtras the pāśupata-vrata is described as a course of conduct in which the ascetic behaves or should behave as a lunatic, ignorant, epileptic, dull, a man of bad character, and the like, so that abuses may be heaped on him by the unknowing public. This will enliven his disinclination to all worldly fame, honours, and the like, and the fact the people had unknowingly abused him would raise him in the path of virtue. When by such a course of action and by yoga one attains the proximity of the great Lord, one never returns again. India is supposed to have performed the pāśupata-vrata in the earliest time.

In the fifth chapter the process of pāśupata-yoga is more elaborately discussed. The supreme Lord is referred to by many names, but they all refer to the same being, the supreme Lord, and yoga means a steady union of the soul with Him. For this purpose the person should be completely detached from all objects, present, past and future, and be emotionally attached to Maheśvara[7]. The union of the self with Śiva must be so intimate that no physical sounds and disturbances should lead the person away. In the first stages the attachment with Śiva takes place by the withdrawal of the mind from other objects, and making it settle on the Lord; then the association becomes continuous.

The soul or the Ātman is defined as the being that is responsible for all sense cognitions, all actions, and all attachments to objects. The constant or continuous contact of the self with the supreme Lord constitute its eternity. We can infer the existence of the self from the experiences of pleasure, pain, desire, antipathy, and consciousness. The self is regarded as unborn in the sense that it is not born anew along with the chain of sensations and other activities of the mind, or in other words it remains the same through all its experiences. It is called maitra in the sense that it can remain in a state of equanimity and in attachment with the supreme Lord, when all its desires, antipathies, and efforts have disappeared.

The detachment referred to above can only be attained by the control of all the cognitive and conative senses, manas and buddhi and ahaṅkāra. The control of the senses really means that their activities should be directed towards good acts, and they should not be allowed to stray away into the commission of evil deeds[8].

Kauṇḍinya says that the definition of the goal as described by Sāṃkhya and Yoga is not true. That is not the way to liberation. The teachings of Sāṃkhya and Yoga are impure. To be liberated means to be connected with Lord Śiva, and not to be dissociated from all things[9].

The ascetic should live in some vacant room; he should devote himself to study and meditation, and make himself steady. He should be in continuous meditation for at least six months; and as he advances on the path of yoga, he begins to attain many miraculous powers through the grace of the supreme Lord.

The Pāśupata ascetic should live on mendicancy and should bear all hardships like animals. The yogin who has realised his goal, is not affected by any actions or sins. He is also unaffected by any mental troubles or physical diseases.

To sum up the whole position, one may say that when one becomes absolutely detached from all one’s actions and sins, one should continue to meditate by drawing one’s mind from all other objects and concentrating the mind on Śiva or on some symbolic name. We have already seen that yoga has been defined as the continuous connection of the self with the Lord, and this is also called sāyujya, that is, being with God. The supreme Lord has the infinite power of knowledge and action by which He controls everything, and this Lord should be meditated upon in His aspect as formless (niṣkala). God should not be approached with the association of any of the qualities attributed to Him. This is expressed by the sūtra v. 27, in which it is said that God is unassociated with anything that can be expressed by speech. The supreme Lord is therefore called vāg-viśuddha. The ascetic should often better stay in the cremation grounds where, not having any association, he will have greater time to devote to meditation, and attain merit or dharma which is identified with the greatness that is achieved by yama and niyama. In this way the ascetic cuts asunder all impurities. This cutting asunder of impurities means nothing more than taking away the mind from all sense objects and concentrating the mind on the Lord (yantraṇa-dhāranātmakaś chedo draṣṭvyaḥ). This cheda or dissociation means the separating of the self from all other objects. By this means all the network of causes that produce the defects are cut asunder. The defects are the various sensations of sound, touch, etc., for from these we get in our minds desire, anger, greed, fear, sleep, attachment, antipathy, and delusion. Then again these defects manifest themselves in our efforts to earn things, to preserve them, to be attached to them, and to indulge in injuring others. As a result of this, one afflicts oneself and also others. When one is afflicted oneself, one suffers, and if one afflicts others, then also on account of this vice one suffers. All such suffering thus is associated with the self. The sense objects are like the fruits of a poisoned tree which at the time of taking may appear sweet, but in the end will produce much suffering. The suffering of a man commences from the time of his being born, and continues throughout life till the time of death, so one should see that one may not have to be born again. The pleasures of enjoying sense objects have to be maintained with difficulty, and they produce attachment; when they disappear they produce further sorrow. Moreover, it is hardly possible to enjoy a sense object without injuring other persons. Even in wearing ordinary apparel one has to kill many insects. So one should refrain from enjoyment of all sense objects and be satisfied with whatever one gets, vegetable or meat, by begging.

The dissociation recommended above is to be done through buddhi, the internal organ (antaḥkaraṇa) which is conceived as being put in motion through merit, meditation, commandments and knowledge. The buddhi is also called citta. Citta means to know and to give experience of p leasure and pain, to collect merit and demerit and other impressions. So, as buddhi is called citta, it is also called manas and the internal organ, antaḥkaraṇa. The mind has thus to be dissociated from all sense objects by the self, and attached to Rudra or Śiva. When this is done then all intention of merit and demerit disappears; it slides away from the self like the old coil of a snake, or falls down like a ripe fruit. The self which is thus fixed in Śiva becomes static (niṣkriya) and is also called niṣkala. The mind in this state is devoid of all good and bad thoughts. When this yoga ideal is reached, the person becomes omniscient, and he cannot any further be drawn to any kind of illusory notions. So the liberated person, according to this śaiva-yoga, does not become a kevalin like the yogin following the Pātañjala discipline, but he becomes omniscient and has no sorrows, and this happens by the grace of God. He becomes absolutely liberated in the sense that he can arrest any future aggression of evil or time, and he is not dependent on anybody. In this way he attains or he shares the supreme power of the Lord. Neither does he become subject to all the sufferings of being in the mother’s womb, or being born, and the like. He is free from the sorrows due to ignorance, from which is produced egotism, which leads one to forget that one is bound. So the liberated person becomes free from all sorrows of birth and rebirth and all bodily and mental sorrows as well.

The supreme Lord is also called Śiva, because He is eternally dissociated from all sorrows.

We thus see that there are five categories in this system. First, there is th epati or the Lord which is the cause, which is called by various names, Vāma, Deva, Jyeṣṭha, Rudra, Kāmin, Śaṅkara, Kāla, Kala-vikaraṇa, Bala-vikaraṇa, Aghora, Ghoratara, Sarva, Śarva, Tatpuruṣa, Mahādeva, Omkāra, Rṣi, Vipra, Mahānīśa, Īśāna, Īśvara, Adhipati, Brahmā, and Śiva[10]. The Sāṃkhya system admits pradhāna as the cause, but in the Pāśupata system God, as distinguished from the pradhāna, is the cause.

The category of effect is the paśu, and paśu is described as knowledge, the means of knowledge, and the living beings. They are produced changed, or dissolved. By knowledge we understand the scriptures, wisdom, merit, attainable objects, values, desires, etc., leading up to the dissolution of all sorrows. The second constituent of paśu called kalā is of two kinds: as effect, such as earth, water, air, etc., and as the instrument of knowledge, such as buddhi, egoism, manas, and internal organs, etc. The living beings, the paśus, are of three types, the gods, men and animals. The category of pradhāna, which is regarded as cause in Sāṃkhya, is regarded as effect in the Pāśupata-śāstra. Whatever is known or visible (paśyana) is called pāśa, and is regarded as effect. So puruṣa, which is regarded as cause elsewhere, is regarded as an effect, a paśu, here. We have already discussed the categories of yoga and vidhi leading to the dissolution of all sorrows.

A survey of the Pāśupata-sūtras with Kauṇḍinya’s bhāṣya leads us to believe that it is in all probability the same type of Lakulīśa-Pāśupata system as referred to by Mādhava in his Sarva-darśana-saṃgraha in the fourteenth century. It may also be the same system of Pāśupatas as referred to by Śaṅkara in his bhāṣya on the second book of the second chapter of the Brahma-sūtra. There is no reference here to the doctrine of māyā, nor to the doctrine of monism as propounded by Śaṅkara. Even at the time of emancipation the liberated souls do not become one with Śiva, the supreme Lord, but the emancipation only means that by mental steadiness the devotee is in perpetual contact with Śiva, and this is what is meant by the word sāyujya. We also hear that, though God is omnipotent, He has no power over the liberated souls. Apparently the world and the beings were created by God, but this Pāśupata system does not make any special effort to explain how this world came into being. It is only in acknowledging Śiva as the instrumental cause of the world in this sense, that this Pāśupata system is very different from the Śaiva system of Śrīkaṇtha and of the Vāyavīya-saṃhitā, where the monistic bias is very predominant. Here we have monotheism, but not monism or pantheism or panentheism. It may also be pointed out that the Pāśupata system as represented in this work is a Brahmanical system. For it is only Brahmins who could be initiated to the Pāśupata doctrines, but at the same time it seems to break off from Brahmanism in a variety of ways. It does not recommend any of the Brahmanical rites, but it initiates some new rites and new ways of living which are not so common in the Brahmanical circle. It keeps some slender contact with Brahmanism by introducing the meditation on the syllable oṃ. But as regards many of its other rituals it seems to be entirely non-Vedic. It does not refer to any of the Dravidian works as its source book, and yet it cannot be identified with the Pāśupata system of Śrīkaṇtha or the Vāyavīya-saṃhitā.

It is also important to know that the Pāśupata system of the Pāśupata-sūtras has but little connection with the idea of prakṛti as energy or otherwise, as we find in the Purāṇic Pāśupata system. None of the categories of Sāṃkhya appear to be of any relevance regarding the creation of the world. About Yoga also one must always distinguish this Pāśupata-yoga and the Pāśupata-yogas referred to in the Purāṇas or in the Yoga-sūtra of Patañjali. The word yoga is used in the sense of continuous contact and not the suppression of all mental states (dtta-vṛtti-nirodha), as we find in the Pātañjala-yoga. The emphasis here is on pratyāhāra, that is, withdrawing the mind from other objects and settling it down to God. There is therefore here no scope for nirodha-samādhi, which precedes kaivalya in Pātañjala-yoga. It may not be impossible that the Śaiva influence had somehow impressed upon the Yoga-sūtra of Patañjali, which apparently drew much of its material from Buddhism, and this becomes abundantly clear if we compare the Vyāsa-bhāṣya on the Yoga-sūtra with the Abhidharmakośa of Vasubandhu. The Sāṃkhya-sūtra that we now possess was probably later than the Yoga-sūtra, and it therefore presumed that the metaphysical speculations of Sāṃkhya could be explained without the assumption of any God for which there is no proof. The Yoga-sūtra did not try to establish Īśvara or God which is also the name for Śiva, but only accepted it as one of its necessary postulates. As a matter of fact, none of the systems of Indian philosophy tried to establish God by any logical means except the Naiyayikas, and according to tradition the Naiyāyikas are regarded as Śaivas.

In this connection, without any reference to some Āgama works to which we may have to refer later on, we can trace the development of the Pāśupata system in the tenth, eleventh, and up to the fourteenth centuries. It has been said before that the Īśvara-kāraṇins, referred to by Śaṅkara, may refer to the Naiyāyikas, and now I shall be referring to Gaṇakārikā, a Pāśupata work attributed to Haradattacarya, on which Bhāsarvajña wrote a commentary, called the Ratnaṭīkā. Bhāsarvajña is well known as the author of the Nyāya-sāra, on which he wrote a commentary called Nyāya-bhūṣana. In this he tried to refute the views of Diṅnāga, Dharma-kīrti, Prajñā-karagupta, the author of Pramāṇa-vārttikālaṃkāra, who lived about the middle of the tenth century and is quoted by Ratnākaraśānti of about A.D. 980. Bhāsarvajña, therefore, seems to have lived in the second half of the tenth century. The Ganakārikā consists of eight verses, and its purport is the same as that of the Pāśupata-sūtras. The Pāśupata-sūtra that we have dealt with is the same as that which is referred to as Pāśupata-śāstra, as the Sarva-darśana-saṃgraha quotes the first sūtra of the Pāśupata-śāstra[11].

Guṇaratna in his commentary on Haribhadra’s Saddarśana-samuccaya says that the Naiyāyikas are also called Yaugas and they walk about with long staffs and scanty loin-cloths, covering themselves up with blankets. They have matted locks of hair, smear their bodies with ashes, possess the holy thread, carry utensils for water, and generally live in the forests or under trees. They live largely on roots and fruits, and are always hospitable. Sometimes they have wives, sometimes not. The latter are better than the former. They perform the sacrificial duties of fire. In the higher state they go about naked; they purify their teeth and food with water, smear their bodies with ashes three times, and meditate upon Śiva. Their chief mantra is oṃ namaḥ śivāya. With this they address their guru and their guru also replies in the same manner. In their meetings they say that those men or women who follow the practices of Śaiva initiation for twelve years attain ultimately salvation or Nirvāṇa.

Śiva the omniscient being, the creator and destroyer of the world, is regarded as a god. Śiva has eighteen incarnations (avatāra), namely

  1. Nakulīśa,
  2. Kauśika,
  3. Gārgya,
  4. Maitreya,
  5. Kauruṣa,
  6. Īśāna,
  7. Para-gārgya,
  8. Kapilāṇḍa,
  9. Manuṣyaka,
  10. Kuśika,
  11. Atri,
  12. Piṅgala,
  13. Puṣpaka,
  14. Bṛhadārya,
  15. Agasti,
  16. Santāna,
  17. Rāśīkara, and
  18. Vidyāguru.

They adore the aforesaid saints.

They further say that the ultimate being that they worship is not associated with any of the Purāṇic characteristics of Śiva, such as having matted locks, or the lunar digit in the hair, etc. Such a supreme being is devoid of all such characteristics and passions. Those who desire mundane happiness worship Śiva with such associated qualities, and as possessing attachment or passion. But those who are really absolutely unattached, they worship Śiva as unattached. People attain just those kinds of fruits that they wish to have, and the manner in which they wish to worship the deity.

Guṇaratna says that the Vaiśeṣikas also follow the same kind of external insignia and dress, because the Vaiśeṣikas and the Naiyāyikas are very much similar in their philosophical attitudes. Guṇaratna further says that there are four types of Śaivas—Śaivas, Pāśupatas, Mahāvratadharas, and Kālamukhas, as well as other subsidiary divisions. Thus there are some who are called Bharata who do not admit the caste rules. He who has devotion to Śiva can be called a Bharata. In the Nyāya literature the Naiyāyikas are called Śaivas, because they worship Śiva, and the Vaiśeṣikas are called Pāśupatas. So the Naiyāyika philosophy goes by the name of Śaiva and Vaiśeṣika by the name of Pāśupata. Guṇaratna says that he gives this description just as he has seen it and had heard of it. Their main dialectical works are Nyāya-sūtra, Vātsyāyana-bhāṣya, Udyotkara’s Vārttika, Vācaspati Miśra’s Tātparya-ṭīkā, and Udayana’s Tātparya-pariśuddhi. Bhāsarvajña’s Nyāya-sāra and its commentary Nyāya-bhūṣaṇa and Jayanta’s Nyāya-kalikā and Udayana’s Nyāya-kusumāñjali are also mentioned as important works.

The statement of Guṇaratna about the Śaivas is further corroborated by Rājaśekhara’s description of the Śaiva view in his Ṣaḍdarśana-samuccaya. Rājaśekhara further says that Akṣapāda, to whom the Nyāya-sūtras are attributed, was the primary teacher of the Nyāya sect of Pāśupatas.

They admit four pramāṇas, perception, inference, analogy, and testimony, and they admit sixteen categories of discussion, namely,

  1. pramāṇa,
  2. prameya,
  3. saṃśaya,
  4. prayojana,
  5. dṛṣṭānta,
  6. siddhānta,
  7. avayava,
  8. tarka,
  9. nirṇaya,
  10. vāda,
  11. jalpa,
  12. vitaṇḍā,
  13. hetvābhāsa,
  14. chala,
  15. jāti and
  16. nigrahasthāna.

These are just the subjects that are introduced in the first sūtra of Akṣapāda’s Nyāya-sūtra. The ultimate object is the dissolution of all sorrow preparatory to liberation. Their main logical work is that by Jayanta and also by Udayana and Bhāsarvajña.

Kauṇḍinya’s commentary on the Pāśupata-sūtras seems to belong to quite an early period, and it may not be inadmissible to say that it was a writing of the early period of the Christian era. But whether Kauṇḍinya can be identified with Rāśīkara, is more than we can say. Rāśīkara is mentioned in Sarva-darśana-saṃgraha, and there is of course nothing to suggest that Kauṇḍinya could not have been the gotra name of Rāśīkara.

Apart from the Ratnaṭīkā on the Gaṇakārikā, it seems that there was also a bhāṣya, but this bhāṣya was not on Gaṇakārikā, but it was the bhāṣya of Kauṇḍinya on the Pāśupata-sūtras which we have already examined. In the Gaṇakārikā, a reference is made to eight categories of a fivefold nature and also one category of a tripartite nature. Thus in speaking of strength or power (bala), which must be a source of the attainment of the other categories, we hear of faith in the teacher, contentment (mateḥ prasāda), fortitude (that is, power of bearing all kinds of sorrow), merit or dharma, and also conscious carefulness (apramāda).

The question of bala or strength may naturally come when one has to conquer one’s enemies. One may, therefore, ask the significance of the attainment of bala or strength in following a course for the attainment of liberation. The answer to such an inquiry is that strength is certainly required for destroying ignorance, demerit, and the like. These are counted as destruction of ignorance in all its dormant seats, destruction of demerit, dissolution of all that leads to attachment, preservation from any possible failure, and also the complete cessation of the qualities that lead to animal existence as paśu through the meditation of God.

This strength may be exercised under different conditions and circumstances. First, when one shows oneself as a member of the Pāśupata sect, smearing the body with ashes and lying on the ashes, and so on; secondly, in the hidden stage, when one hides from other people the fact of one’s being a member of the Pāśupata sect, and when one behaves like an ordinary Brāhmin. The third stage is a stage when one conquers all one’s sense propensities. Next is the stage when all attractions cease. These include the other behaviours of a Pāśupata ascetic, such as dancing and acting like a madman. The final stage is the stage of siddhi, the final emancipation.

The fifth kārikā refers to the process of initiation (dīkṣā), which consists of the necessary ceremonial articles, the proper time, the proper action, the phallic insignia of Śiva, and the teachers.

The kārikās then go on to enumerate the different kinds of attainment (lābha). Of these the foremost is knowledge. This knowledge is to be attained methodically by the enumeration of the categories of knowledge, and thereafter by a sufficient description of them as we find in the Nyāya-sūtras. This will also include the various kinds of pramāṇas or proof, the differentiation between substance and attitude, the definition of action leading up to the final action of dissociation of all sorrows. In other philosophies the dissociation of sorrows is merely a negative quality, but in this system the dissolution of sorrow involves within it the possession of miraculous powers. This attainment of miraculous powers is called also jñāna-śakti and kriyā-śakti. Jñāna-śakti means jñāna as power. This kriyā-śakti consists of various kinds of powers of movement. As this system does not hold the idea of evolution or self-manifestation, the attainment of these powers is by association with superior powers. This is quite in accordance with the Nyāya theory regarding the origination of qualities. All the categories of knowledge, merit, etc., are included as being within the range of attainment. This also includes the inanimates and the animate characters such as the elements, the five cognitive senses, the five conative senses, and the manas .

God is called the Lord or pati, because He is always associated with the highest powers; these powers do not come to Him as a result of any action, but they abide in Him permanently. For this reason He can by His will produce any action or effect which stands before us as creation and it is for this reason that the creation of the world is regarded as a sort of play by Him. This is what distinguishes Him from all other animate beings, and this is His greatness.

The whole course of vidhi or proper religious behaviour consists of those kinds of action which would ultimately purify the individual and bring him close to God. In this connection tapas is recommended for the destruction of sins and for the generation of merit. Dharma, also consisting of various kinds of ritualistic behaviour, is recommended for the attainment of knowledge. The continuous meditation on God with emotion (nityatā) and the complete dissociation of the mind from all defects (sthiti) are also advised. These ultimately lead to the final liberation when the individuals become associated with great miraculous powers liked Śiva Himself. In other systems the liberated souls have no miraculous powers; they have only all their sorrows dissolved.

The above attainments should be made by residence with the teacher, or where people live who follow the caste and the Aśrama rules, or in any vacant place which is cleaned up and which has a covering on it, or in the cremation ground; or finally the aspirant with the cessation of his body may live in fixed association with the supreme Lord.

We must now turn to the means by which the aspirant may attain his desired end. The first is technically called vāsa. It means many things; it means the capacity to understand the proper meanings of words of texts, to remember them, to be able to collate and complete that knowledge in association with knowledge gained in other places, the ability to criticise the teachings of opposite schools in favour of one’s own school, to be able to grasp the correct meaning of texts which have been differently interpreted, to be able to carry one’s own conviction to other people, the ability to speak without contradiction and repetition and without any kind of delusion, and thereby to satisfy the teacher. To these must be added the proper courtesy and behaviour towards the teacher. This latter is called caryā, paricaryā, or kriyā. The term caryā is also used to denote various kinds of action, such as smearing the body with ashes, and so on. According to the Pāśupata system the bathing of the body with ashes is equivalent to proper sacrifice, that is, yajña. Other kinds of sacrifice are regarded as bad sacrifices.

Bhāsarvajña follows Kauṇḍinya’s bhāṣya in describing caryā as being twofold or threefold. Thus the bathing of the body with ashes, lying down, muttering mantras, etc., are called vrata, which produces merit and removes demerit. All the other recommendations found in Kauṇḍinya’s bhāṣya as regards shivering, laughing, making noises, etc., are also repeated here. In fact, the Gaṇa-kārikā and the Ratnaṭīkā closely follow the teachings of Kauṇḍinya in his bhāṣya, which is regarded as the most prominent work of the Pāśupata school.

One important point in this system deserves to be noticed. God Himself is absolutely independent. The introduction of the idea of karma and its fruit is not so indispensable, for the simple reason that no karmas can produce any fruit without the will of God. All karmas can be frustrated by God’s will. So the introduction of the karma theory, which is held in so high an esteem in other systems of philosophy, is here regarded as superfluous. That this was the idea of the Nakulīśa-Pāśupata philosophy from the time of the Pāśupata-sūtras and Kauṇḍinya’s bhāṣya to the fourteenth century when the Sarva-darśana-saṃgraha was written, is thoroughly borne out by texts. The action of all living beings depends upon the will of God. God Himself having no purpose to fulfil, does not want karma as an intermediary between His will and His effect.

After considerable difficulty we obtained a copy of Mṛgendrāgama from the Government Manuscript Library of Madras. It appears that this Āgama was one of the important texts of the Pāśupata sect. But the portions that we have recovered deal mainly with various kinds of rituals and they have no philosophical interest.

Footnotes and references:


The editor of the Pāśupata-sūtras gives the following list of the succession of teachers from Nakulīśa: Nakulīśa, Kauśika, Gārgya, Maitreya, Kaurusa, Īśāna, Paragārgya, Kapilāṇḍa, Manusyaka, Kuśika, Atri, Piṅgala, Puṣpaka, Bṛhadārya, Agasti, Santāna, Rāśīkara (Kauṇḍinya), and Vidyāguru. The seventeenth guru called Rāśīkara has been identified with Kauṇḍinya by the editor. This has been done on the supposition that Kauṇḍinya occurs as the gotra name in the Bṛhadāranyaka Upaniṣad vi. 2 and 4.


tasmāt prasādāt sa duḥkḥāntaḥ prāpyate. na tu jñāna-vairāgya-dharma-iśvarya-tyāga-mātrād ity arthaḥ.
(commentary, p. 6).


See Pāśupata-sūtras I. 21-37.


rutasya bhayasya drāvaṇāt samyqjanād rudraḥ.
II. 4 (commentary).


karma-kāminaś ca maheśvaram apeksante, na tu bhagavān īśvaraḥ karma puruṣaṃ vā’pekṣate. ato na karmāpekṣa Īśvaraḥ.
11. 6 (commentary).


aikāntikātyantika-rudra-samīpa-prapter ekāntenaiva anāvṛtti-phalatvād asā-dhāraṇa-phalatvāc cātma-pradānam atidānam.
II. 15 (commentary).


evaṃ maheśvare bhāvasthis tadasaṅgitvam ity arthaḥ.
v. 1 (commentary).


tasmād akuśalebhyo vyāvartayitvā kāmataḥ kuśale yojitāni (yadā), tadā jitāni bhavanti.
v. 7 (commentary).


ayaṃ tu yukta eva. na mukta iti viśuddham etad darśanam draṣṭavyam.
v. 8 (commentary).


Pāśupata-sūtras v. 47 (commentary).


Sarva-darśana-saṃgraha, Nakulīśa-pāśupata-darśana: Tatredam ādi-sūtram,athātaḥ paśupateḥ pāśupata-yoga-vidhiṃ vyākhyāsyāmaḥiti.

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