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The Trika Tradition Beyond Kashmir

Updated: Jun 3

The term "Kashmir Śaivism" has been a popular way of referring to the exegetical tradition of the Tantras developed in Kashmir, by teachers such as Abhinavagupta. Most central to that exegesis was the Trika tradition, within which the entire scope of Śaiva Tantras then existent was woven. In this synthesis, we find the Trika appearing as based on the tradition of Svacchandabhairava and culminating in the tradition of the Kālīkrama. To refer to this exegesis as "Kashmir Śaivism", however, obscures the fact that the traditions interpreted by these masters were not restricted to Kashmir before or after their time. Besides, their exegesis of the Tantras remained influential throughout the centuries much beyond the confines of Kashmir as well. In what follows, we read some excerpts from eminent scholars discussing this.

Acharya Abhinagupta
Acharya Abhinagupta

"... when these traditions became the object of sophisticated Kashmiri exegesis between the ninth and thirteenth centuries they were widely represented throughout India. It is certain that the Kashmiri and the Newars of the Kathmandu valley looked out on much the same distribution and interrelation of Śaiva Tantric cults at this time, and it is highly probable that each community inherited these traditions independently by participating in a more widespread system, which may have included even the Tamil-speaking regions of the far south of the subcontinent. The Kashmiri exegesis (...) is a local tradition of much more than local impact. In a very short time it was acknowledged as the standard both in its theological metaphysics and in its liturgical prescription among the Śaivas of the Tamil south. This was the case in the Śaiva Siddhānta, the Trika, the Krama, and the cults of Tripurasundarī and Kubjikā. Consequently, while the Hindu culture of Kashmir declined in influence and vitality after the thirteenth century with large-scale conversion to Islam and periodic persecutions, the Tantrics of the far south continued the classical tradition, and through their many and outstanding contributions to Tantric literature guaranteed it a pan-Indian influence down to modern times." (Alexis Sanderson, "Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions", p. 663)

"... the Trika (Pūrvāmnāya) was present in the Deccan, and that it was so before the literature of the Paścimāmnāya was redacted. For the Kubjikāmata drew extensively on the Trika’s scriptures, embedding the cult of its deities in a modified Trika substrate. Nor is there good reason, in spite of the later prominence of the Trika in Kashmir, to suppose that it must have travelled from Kashmir to the Deccan before it exerted this influence. There is no need, then, to seek a connection with Kashmir to explain the fact that the Jaina Somadevasūri has referred to the Trika in his Yaśastilaka, completed in ad 959 at Gaṅgādhārā, near Vemulawada in the Karimnagar District of Andhra Pradesh." (Alexis Sanderson, "The Śaiva Literature", p. 63)


"Svacchandabhairava is the basic form of Bhairava for the cults of the Bhairava Tantras as a whole, adapting to them in accord with their form. Moreover, as Aghora, he is present in later Śaiva traditions in many ways just as we find him all over the subcontinent - wherever, that is, Āgamic Śaivism spread. Modern Śaivites from Kashmir venerate him as Bahurūpa. 11th century manuscripts of his Tantra are preserved in Nepal where in the Kathmandu Valley, he is still venerated by the Newars although he has no temples of his own. South Indian Siddhāntins draw from the SvT to construct their Śaiva liturgies. Svacchandabhairava’s mantra is important in all the Śaivāgamas ranging from the Siddhānta through to the Kaula Tantras. It is still an important mantra nowadays. The Nāga sannyasins of the Jūnā Ākhāra of the Nāga Daśanāmī order, for example, still receive this mantra in the course of their initiation. Kīnarāmis also devoutly repeat the Aghora mantra. In this and other ways Svacchandabhairava continues to be an esoteric presence woven into the rich fabric of contemporary Śaiva cults in modern India, just as he was in the past. (Mark Dyczkowski, Volume Two of the "Introduction to the Edition and Translation of the Kumārikākhaṇḍa of the Manthānabhairavatantra", p. 51)

"The importance of the Svacchanda is evident (i) from the fact that it has come down us in manuscripts in widely separated parts of the subcontinent, namely the Kathmandu valley, Kashmir, and Tamilnadu, (ii) from the survival of various Paddhatis for worship and initiation based on it in the Kathmandu valley, and, above all, in Kashmir, where it became, with the Netra, the principal basis of the rituals of the region’s Śaivas down to recent times ..." (Alexis Sanderson, "The Śaiva Literature", pp. 36-37)

"Nepal too has preserved Svacchanda-based Paddhatis for the worship of Svacchandabhairava, notably the Svacchandadevārcanavidhi and Svacchandadevalakṣahomayāga, and Netra-based Paddhatis for the worship of Amṛteśvarabhairava: the Apratihatamahādīkṣāsuṭippaṇaka, also called Netroddyota, of Viśveśvara, probably of the twelfth century, and the Amṛteśvarapūjana composed by the Nepalese king Abhayamalla (r. 1216–1255). Other relevant Nepalese manuscripts in this category are the Amṛteśvarapūjāgnikāryavidhāna, the Amṛtasūryapūjāvidhi with drawings of the deities, and the Pūjākāṇḍa, which contains an Amṛtabhairavārcanavidhi penned in ad 1277/8, an Amṛtīśabhairavabhaṭṭārakāhnikavidhi, and an Amṛtasūryārcanavidhi." (Alexis Sanderson, "The Śaiva Literature", pp. 46-47)


"The south Indian literature of the Tripurasundarī cult, (mainly commentaries and manuals, but also in the case of the Yoginīhr̥daya, scripture itself), was permeated by the non-dualism of the Kashmirian exegetes of the Trika. Here we see that the influence of the Trika goes right back to the very formation of this cult, since the mantras are inevitably the most basic constituents of any Tantric system. Like the Kubjikā cult it has incorporated and inflected elements central to the Trika." (Alexis Sanderson, "Visualisation of the Deities of the Trika", p. 37)

"Parā as goddess of the alphabet (...) is found in the rituals of Tripurasundarī. Bālā, a major form of that popular goddess and the object of an independent cult, is worshipped upon a yantra containing the letters of the alphabet. She is evidently Parā's double, as we can see from the visualization given in the Jñānārṇavatantra, her principal āgama. She is described there as white, white-robed, adorned with pearls, with the new moon upon her hair, three-eyed, and four-armed, holding the book and rosary, and showing the two common gestures. Her association with the Trika finds further expression in the detailed account of her worship (Bālāpaddhati) in the Devīrahasya. In the version of the Jñānārṇavatantra one worships twelve Śaktis in a circle around her, installs above them the five Transcendent Deities (pañcapretāsanam: Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Īśvara and Sadāśiva), and then installs Bālā on this throne. In the account of the Devīrahasya the series of Śaktis is extended: after installing the twelve on the petals of the throne-lotus one installs Manonmanī in their centre, and then the three goddesses Parā, Aparā and Parāparā (above them), before making obeisance to Sadāśiva (...). It seems likely, then, that the text-of-ritual preserved in the Devīrahasya is the result of a compromise. Its formulators want to say that Bālā is not just Parā, but Parā in her higher role as the unitary ground of all three..." (Alexis Sanderson, "Visualisation of the Deities of the Trika", pp. 48-49)

"The Saundaryalaharī, a work which, like the Prapañcasāra, is attributed to Śaṅkara, praises without name a white, four-armed manifestation of the goddess who holds a crystal rosary and a book, and shows the common gestures (of protection and generosity), saying that her cult bestows 'sweetness of speech'. There is also a four-armed Parā in the second of the two functions, namely the conquest of death, which is taught for the sādhana of the third seed-syllable of the mantra of Tripurasundarī in the Jñānārṇava and the Kaulāvalīnirṇaya. She is to be visualized holding a jar full of lunar nectar and showing the gestures of consciousness, generosity and protection. Finally there is the four-armed deity who embodies the mantras Prāsādaparā and Parāprāsada, variants of the Trika's Parā, at the centre of the Kaula system of the Kulārṇavatantra." (Alexis Sanderson, "Visualisation of the Deities of the Trika", pp. 40-41)

"... in the Lalitopākhyāna of the south Indian Brahmāṇḍapurāṇa. Its concern is the glorification of Kāmākṣī, the goddess Lalitā (Tripurasundarī) in the south Indian city of Kañci (Kañcipuram), and the focal point of the south Indian cult of that important goddess (...). (In its mention of the Trika goddesses it) seek(s) to universalize the (Tripurasundarī) cult by fitting it into the Trika's triadic-tetradic schema of the three goddesses and their transcendental unity. What is remarkable is the position assigned to Lalitā herself. In spite of the fact that she is the true focus of the cult, and although it is her glorification that is the principal purpose of this text, no more is claimed for her than that she take the place of Aparā, the lowest of the three (Trika) goddesses. At the same time, however, she is made to harness the full power and prestige of the Trika. For we can see from the eighth khaṇḍa of the Paraśurāmakalpasūtra that the worship of Parā, following the Anuttara system based on the exegesis of the Parātriṁśikā, was incorporated within the cycle of her worship: Parā became the 'heart' of Lalitā. So the relationship was not necessarily conceived as one of subordination: Kāmākṣī/Lalitā could be seen as incorporating the whole of the Trika pantheon in such a way that the four-armed manifestation on the surface of the cult was only one level of her identity. Parā, her heart, being seen as a higher form of Kāmākṣī herself. (...) What we have, then, is not simply a case of the Trika colonizing and subordinating a local cult, but a case of a local cult incorporating the Trika and superimposing the identity of its goddesses upon the Trika's āgamic pantheon. We see the same process at Cidambaram, probably the most important of all south Indian Śaiva centres. The famous Śiva Lord of Dancers (Naṭarāja) enshrined there is made the symbol of the Trika's dynamic Absolute in the Parātriṁśikātātparyadīpikā, Mahārthamañjarīparimala of Maheśvarānanda (here in the context of the Krama), and the Ānandatāṇḍavavilāsastotra of the latter's guru Mahāprakāśa. The same projection has occurred in the variant of the Kubjikā cult known as the (Ṣaḍanvaya) Śāmbhava." (Alexis Sanderson, "Visualisation of the Deities of the Trika", pp. 53-55)

"Abhinavagupta (...) recognizes or rather advocates three levels of ritual practice within the stream of the Trika with which he is concerned: (i) that of the Siddhayogeśvarīmata (...), (ii) that of the Mālinīvijayottara (...); and finally (iii) that of the Parātriṁśikā, in which the worship of the liberationist is fully aniconic, resting entirely on the mantra and subjective contemplation. It is this last system, known variously as the Anuttara, Ekavīra or Parākrama, which appears to have been the most enduring and influential. (...) We have already seen what is perhaps the most striking evidence of the prevalence of this cult among the Śaivas of south India during the second millenium: its incorporation into the system of goddess-worship which centres on Lalitā and is recorded in the Paraśurāmakalpasūtra. Extremely learned practical commentaries on this text survive to testify to its enduring status (...). The south Indian tradition is fully aware of its debt to Abhinavagupta and the other Kashmirian authorities of the ninth and tenth centuries. Their works were held in the highest esteem and continued to provide the theoretical basis of an āgamic, non-Upanishadic non-dualism among the devotees of the Goddess at least into the nineteenth century. Since their system incorporates the Anuttara cult and considers Parā to be the inner nature of Lalitā herself..." (Alexis Sanderson, "Visualisation of the Deities of the Trika", pp. 79-82)

"While Lalitā is undoubtedly the chief deity (having three chapters devoted to her), Parā seems to be the secret, esoteric core of the whole Paraśurāmakalpasūtra. Lalitā is particularly associated with eroticism and language/alphabet rites (the symbolic idea seems to be that both are world-creating), and Parā with the principles of the universe (tattvas), the yogic body-centres and the seed-sound of liberation SAUḤ. Parā is most related to kuṇḍalinī-yoga, gnostic knowledge and cosmic awareness. Her rites are almost exclusively associated with internal worship. She does not even have a ritual diagram, because the cosmos itself, i.e. the 36 cosmic principles (tattva) constitute her yantra. In her worship the tattvas are absorbed and purified by visualising practices in the yogic cakras. The (typically Trika) goddess Parā mirrors most the Kashmirian backgrounds of non-dual philosophy. She is associated with prakāśa and vimarśa, illumination and reflection, i.e. the supreme light and the dynamic consciousness, energetic power and bliss of the supreme I. The Paraśurāmakalpasūtra is highly ritual-oriented, but clearly presupposes Abhinavagupta's 'gnostic' version of Kashmir Śaivism with which it shares major philosophical tenets and terminology." (Annette Wilke, "Kaula Body-practices in the Paraśurāma-Kalpasūtra, Ritual Transfers, and the Politics of Representation", pp. 33-34)

"(In the) Parā worship (in Paraśurāmakalpasūtra) (...), instead of leading the kuṇḍalinī up into the highest cakra, the worship starts with the (intensely visualised) raining down of 'immortality water' from the highest cakra, and proceeds concentrating on the body-centres navel, mūlādhāra, and heart. These are the body places where the cosmos (the 36 cosmic principles) is absorbed and melted into one like 'heated metal' by breath-control, mantra repetition and active imagination. The cosmos becomes Parā's yogic seat and diagram and after she is visualized as cosmic unity and great illumination and reflection (mahā-prakāśa-vimarśa-rupinī), the cosmos is mentally sacrificed into the supreme goddess form that is supreme non-dual blazing light. The clear vision of light (prakāśa) as the true form of the deity is stated to be the highest objective." (Annette Wilke, "Kaula Body-practices in the Paraśurāma-Kalpasūtra, Ritual Transfers, and the Politics of Representation", pp. 46-47)

"... the kāmakalā occurs in a still more hidden and subtle way in the Parā cycle at the crucial point where the luminous goddess is contemplated (Paraśurāmakalpasūtra 8.21), i.e. where the world-transcending highest goddess aspect in form of illumination and reflection is called to mind, the supreme 'I' being the non-dual dynamic consciousness in which there is union of male and female godhead. This completely interiorized kāmakalā is mentally, verbally, and visually 'embodied' by Parā's bīja-mantra SAUḤ, known as Lalitā's 'auspicious heart' and the seed-sound of liberation. The three phonetic parts of the mantra are correlated with illumination (S), reflecting power (AU) and the union of illumination and reflection (Ḥ) while at the same time visualized as the mūlādhāra, heart, and face of the supreme, luminous divinity (to whom the cosmos is offered thereafter). Here kāmakalā refers to the involution and world-transcendent aspects of the divine. Note that the imagination starts with the lowest cakra, the yogic vulva, and ends with the face, whereas in the previous forms it refers to the evolution and world-creating aspects. In the Śrīvidyā both belong to the inner dynamism of the godhead." (Annette Wilke, "Kaula Body-practices in the Paraśurāma-Kalpasūtra, Ritual Transfers, and the Politics of Representation", p. 61)


"Intimately connected with the Trika is the third form of Kaulism, the cult of the Goddess Kubjikā. It is distinct from the Trika in that it adds the cult of a new set of deities, so that the Trika recedes from the front line of devotion into the ritual, yogic and theoretical body of the system. Its dependence on the Trika is revealed by the fact that much of its principal and earliest scripture, the Kubjikāmata, consists of chapters and other passages taken with minor overwriting from the scriptural corpus of that tradition." (Alexis Sanderson, "Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions", pp. 686-687)

"... in the cult of Kubjikā. The three mantras (or more properly vidyās) of the Trika's goddesses Parāparā, Aparā and Parā (in that order) become a continuous whole (the Trividyā) slightly expanded to bring the total of its syllables up to fifty. In this way it is brought into line with the two alphabet-deities Śabdarāśi and Mālinī. (...) The Trividyā of this complex is visualized as either of the two icons of Parā given above from the Kubjikāmata and the Nityāhnikatilaka. It appears, therefore, that it was seen not merely as the combination of all three of the mantras (vidyās) of the Trika goddesses, but also as Parā in her transcendental aspect, that is, as Parā as the unity of the three." (Alexis Sanderson, "Visualisation of the Deities of the Trika", pp. 46-47)

"... the influence of the Trika is even more pervasive in the case of the cult of Kubjikā. The Kubjikāmata, the root text of the cult, also incorporated the Trika's meditation on Parā for the attainment of eloquence. The goddess is described there as white and two-armed, displaying all three of the hand-attributes seen in the variants above, since the hand that holds the rosary does so in the gesture of consciousness (cinmudrā). (...) In a series of Newar ink drawings of Tantric deities belonging to this cult we see a representation of the six-faced, twelve armed Kubjikā in the embrace of her dancing consort, the ten-armed, five-faced Navātman. Beneath this is a drawing of a four-armed goddess showing the book in her outer left hand, the rosary and the gesture of consciousness in the outer right, and the common or supplementary gestures of protection and generosity in her inner left and right. The manuscript identifies her as Kubjikeśvarī." (Alexis Sanderson, "Visualisation of the Deities of the Trika", pp. 37-38)

"If the worship of the Trika Triad, which is an important element in the liturgies of most of the cults of the early Bhairava and Kaula Tantras, continues, however tenuously, to exist nowadays, it is largely due to the influence of Kubjikā’s cult within Newar Kaulism. Thus a brief comparison, of the three goddesses described in the original Trika sources and those in the Kubjikā Tantras is both instructive and significant. The Trika Tantras prescribe the worship of the Three Goddesses — Parā, Parāparā and Aparā - on the prongs of Śiva’s Trident, in a maṇḍala drawn ideally in a cremation ground. The Trident is replaced in the Kubjikā Tantras by the Triangle of the Yoni. (...) In a way one could say that the threefold Trika goddess develops into the sixfold Kubjikā who retains her original triadic nature and more basic form as the Yoni. The ‘churning’ (i.e. profound contemplation) that brings about emanation and the development of the threefold goddess to the sixfold one within the maṇḍala also marks the development of the original Trika goddess into her last and final (paścima) form as Kubjikā—cum—Kuṇḍalinī. The second recension of the Yogakhaṇḍa begins (...) as if to stress that Kubjikā, the goddess praised at the beginning of her Tantra, is the triadic goddess of the Trika, she is not named directly but is presented in her triple aspect as the supreme Triad of goddesses, Parā, Parāparā and Aparā, who govern the ‘three principles’ (tattvatritaya) of the Trika. Collectively they are the goddesses of the Yoni who embody three aspects of the radiant energy of the consciousness which is the Light of the Void the Yoni enshrines." (Mark Dyczkowski, Volume Two of the "Introduction to the Edition and Translation of the Kumārikākhaṇḍa of the Manthānabhairavatantra", pp. 129-130)

"(Parā's) Tantra, the Siddhayogeśvarīmata, which is considered to be the root Trika Tantra, is known to the Kumārikākhaṇḍa and other Kubjikā Tantras, as is the Mālinīvijayottara, another important Trika Tantra which is highly respected by the Kubjikā sources. (...) Kubjikā is also identified with Siddhayogeśvarī along with other goddess, just as she is praised as such in other hymns. She is mentioned in a few places in the Kubjikā Tantras in the company of her consort, Triśirobhairava, who lends his name to an important Trika Tantra frequently quoted by Abhinavagupta." (Mark Dyczkowski, Volume Two of the "Introduction to the Edition and Translation of the Kumārikākhaṇḍa of the Manthānabhairavatantra", p. 195)

"... Nepal, the final home of the Kubjikā tradition, where it has flourished for the past one thousand years..." (Mark Dyczkowski, Volume Three of the "Introduction to the Edition and Translation of the Kumārikākhaṇḍa of the Manthānabhairavatantra", p. 273)

"The only place outside Nepal where Kubjikā appears to have maintained a presence, although not an immediately apparent one, is in Gauhati, the ancient Kāmarūpa. There she continues to be worshipped, in some way, it seems, along with the goddess Kāmākhyā to whom she is related. We have noted already that Kāmākhyā’s place of origin — the Blue Mountain near Gauhati — is said in the Kālikāpurāṇa to be Kubjikā’s sacred seat. Mukundarāja in his commentary on the Mālinīstava echoes this association by identifying Kubjikā as the goddess Mālinī with Kāmākhyā who ‘lives on the Blue Mountain’. Enquiry reveals that the local priests are well aware of the existence of ‘Kubjā Kumārī’ and that they do worship her. Nowadays, it seems, Kubjikā is not considered to be in a special way Kāmākhyā’s secret form, even so references to her in the Kālikāpurāṇa suggest that she may well have been at one time." (Mark Dyczkowski, Volume Two of the "Introduction to the Edition and Translation of the Kumārikākhaṇḍa of the Manthānabhairavatantra", p. 1016)


"The Kaula Kālī Cult: the Mata, the Krama and the Northern Transmission (Uttarāmnāya). After its appearance in the Trika, Kaulism next emerges in the Kālī cult. We must distinguish here three major traditions, (i) the Doctrine (Mata), (ii) the Sequence(-system) (Krama), also called the Great Truth (Mahārtha), or the Way of the Goddess (Devīnaya), and (iii) the cult of Guhyakālī. (i) The Mata. Kaula Mata is rooted in the tradition of the Jayadrathayāmalatantra. Its essence or culmination is the worship of the twelve Kālīs, the kālīkrama (...). The most striking feature of this Tantric Mata is the prevalence of deities who have the faces of animals, or who have numerous such faces in addition to a principal anthropomorphic face. (...) (ii) The Krama. A much more elaborate or rather better documented Kaula system of Kālī worship is found in the literature of the Krama. The outstanding characteristic of this tradition is that it worships a sequential rather than a simply concentric pantheon. (...) The scriptures of this tradition (...) (though having) continuities with the Jayadrathayāmalatantra, they are more sophisticated in a number of respects. Thus the cult has mantras but lacks the grosser level at which the deities take on iconic form. External worship is greatly simplified and looked upon as inferior to worship in the mind, it being understood that the order of worship (pūjākrama) is no more than a reflection of the ever-present order of cognition itself (saṁvitkrama).

"(...) (iii) The Cult of Guhyakālī. It is a common phenomenon in the history of the Tantric traditions that such refinements as those of the Krama are quickly written into the lower, more concretely elaborated rituals which they sought to transcend. So there has flourished, from at least the tenth century to the present, a cult in which the mystical deity-schemata of the Krama are fleshed out with iconic form as the retinue of the Goddess Guhyakālī. The source of this concretisation is the Tantric tradition of the Mata. (...) The earliest datable evidence of this cult is (...) the Kālīkulakramārcana of Vimalaprabodha, an author first mentioned in a Nepalese manuscript dated 1002 CE. This and many other practical texts of her cult have circulated and circulate still in the Nepal Valley, where she is the esoteric identity of Guhyeśvarī, the major local Goddess from our earliest records (c. 800 CE) to the present. The Newars, who maintain the early traditions of the region, preserve her link with the Northern Transmission. For them Guhyakālī is the embodiment of that branch of Kaulism. Linked with her in this role is the white Goddess Siddhalakṣmī (always written Siddhilakṣmī in Nepal), one of the apotropaic deities (Pratyaṅgirā) of the Jayadrathayāmalatantra and the patron goddess of the Malla Kings (1200-1768 CE) and their descendants. (...) Though her icon is as elsewhere, she is unusual in being worshipped with a consort and one who is not a form of Śiva, as one might have expected, but the Man-Lion (Narasiṁha) incarnation of the rival God Viṣṇu. But this too has its precedent in the Jayadrathayāmala. For in its fourth quarter that Tantra teaches the cult of a Kālī Mādhaveśvarī to be worshipped as the consort of this same Viṣṇu-form. Indeed this seems to have been a major tradition in Kashmir, for Abhinavagupta, the great Kashmiri Tantric scholar, gives this cult in his Tantrāloka as one of two forms of Kaulism connected with the Trika." (Alexis Sanderson, "Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions", pp. 683-686)

"... two eleventh or twelfth century Kashmirian bronzes depict a form of the goddess which differs only slightly from that of Ekāntavāsinī Kālasaṁkarṣiṇī. She certainly belongs to the same iconic type. She is five-faced rather than one-faced, and ten-armed rather than eight-armed; but she too is white and eight of her ten hands show the same attributes as Ekāntavāsinī - only a book and a hatchet are added. Naturally, the colour of her body is not represented in a bronze. However, the deity may be identified as Siddhalakṣmī on the evidence of the visualization text for this goddess found in the Kashmirian handbooks of Tantric ritual; and these record her whiteness, as do the slightly different dhyānas employed for her cult in the Kathmandu Valley. The similarity between the icons of Siddhalakṣmī and Kālasaṁkarṣiṇī is backed by a close association in ritual practice. Siddhalakṣmī is taught in the Jayadrathayāmala, a work devoted to the cults of various forms of Kālasamkarṣiṇī; in the Kālasaṁkarṣaṇīmata the worship of Siddhalakṣmī is a constituent of the cult of that goddess; and in the Nepalese text of the annual Kaula pavitrārohaṇa ritual of the Uttarāmnāya the icon of Siddhalakṣmī is associated with a seventeen-syllabled vidyā which is evidently a variant of the basic Kālasamkarṣiṇī mantra. Furthermore, her cult in Nepal is often combined with that of Guhyakālī. The cult of that goddess is a product of the tradition of Kālasaṁkarṣiṇī worship represented by the Jayadrathayāmala; and it incorporates the associated tradition of the Krama." (Alexis Sanderson, "Visualisation of the Deities of the Trika", pp. 63-64)

"The cults of the Jayadrathayāmala’s goddesses were by no means restricted to Kashmir. A detailed view of the geographical range of this tradition, as of most Tantric traditions, is not possible from the materials currently known; but we have abundant evidence of the importance of the cult of the goddess Siddhalakṣmī in the kingdoms of the Kathmandu valley down to modern times, where she is generally referred to with a small inaccuracy as Siddhilakṣmī. She was adopted as a royal deity and her worship, in conjunction with that of Kubjikā, Guhyakālī, and Tripurasundarī, appears in the ritual manuals of the Newars as the constant frame in which other rituals are contained. Moreover, of these royal goddesses, Guhyakālī too is Jayadrathayāmala- based to the extent that the goddess and her cult, though not found in the Jayadrathayāmala, are very much in its spirit and draw heavily upon it." (Alexis Sanderson, "The Śaiva Literature", pp. 55-56)

"... Vimalaprabodha in his Kālīpañcakramārcana. This text is of unique importance as it is the sole liturgy recovered so far of the Kashmiri Kālīkrama - a system that was constructed by internalizing the outer ritual. (...) The main deity of this Kramārcana is Guhyakālī. We would expect it to be Kālasaṅkarṣiṇī, whom the Kālīkrama taught in Kashmiri sources universally acknowledges as the supreme form of Kālī. Guhyakālī is the principle form of Kālī of a later development of the Kālīkrama that is popular amongst Newar initiates. (...) a number of short Kashmiri Kālīkrama tracts along with the Jayadrathayāmala have been recovered from Nepalese manuscripts which testify to its early presence in the Valley. (...) Thus, although the Krama worshipped in this Kramārcana essentially corresponds to the one expounded in an internalized form in the Kashmiri Mahānaya sources, it is in all probability an adaptation of a Kashmiri liturgy in accord with Newar preferences. If so, Vimalaprabodha may have been a Newar or a Kashmiri immigrant into the Kathmandu Valley." (Mark Dyczkowski, Volume Three of the "Introduction to the Edition and Translation of the Kumārikākhaṇḍa of the Manthānabhairavatantra", pp. 237-238)


"Abhinavagupta directs the awareness of the worshipper to a point beyond both ritual and devotion (...), for all (deities) will be recognized in their diverse mantras and icons as so many projections of the one autonomous, self-articulating consciousness. This doctrine that the forms of the deities in ritual and devotion are merely provisional, to be abandoned at higher levels of practice, did not enter the Trika with Abhinavagupta or his immediate predecessors in Kashmir. It was already fully explicit in the Vijñānabhairavatantra, an āgama which does not deal with ritual but can nonetheless be assigned to the Trika as I have defined it a the beginning of this paper, since it makes it clear that it is the ritual of the Trika that it is transcending. It tells the followers of this system how they must aspire to see their rituals. (...) It is this state of fullness, we are told, this complete centredness in the thoughtless essence of consciousness, rather than the composite images or mantras of ritual, that the Trika scriptures really mean when they speak of the goddess Parā. The Vijñānabhairava then details one hundred and twelve means of realizing union with this redefined goddess without recourse to ritual. Its closing section reaffirms this view of ordinary Tantric worship by translating on to the plane of abstract contemplation the acts of offering, visualizing the deity, cycling the mantras, and so forth, which compose it (...). I have examined elsewhere how in the cults of the Trika, of Kubjikā, Tripurasundarī, Svacchandabhairava, and Netranātha (Amr̥teśvara-bhairava), Abhinavagupta, Kṣemarāja, and south Indian scholars under their influence, have read this 'true ritual' back on to the rituals themselves, so that they could show how this gross level of practice, which after all was crucial to the institutional identity and hierarchy of these traditions, could still be seen as an effective means of liberation for those incapable of purely cognitive or immediate methods. (...) It was enough that a given order of worship (paddhatiḥ) should be overcoded in its general structure and principal particulars. What was not justified by being shown to signify the higher truths of the gnostic exegetes was not assumed to be meaningless. On the contrary, the text of ritual was treated as a mine of latent meaning always open to deeper and more thorough exegesis of this kind." (Alexis Sanderson, "Visualisation of the Deities of the Trika", pp. 74-77)

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