Monday, August 27, 2007

Triad Jewels (Ratna Traya)

The concept of Triple or Triad Jewels (Ratna Traya) is met with in three different Indian schools of thought - Buddhism, Jainism and Shaivism. In Buddhism, the Triad Jewels are the three principles in which one takes refuge - Buddha (the Awakened One), Dharma (the teaching) and Sangha (the community). In Jainism, Ratna Traya indicates the three principles to be followed on the path of liberation - right perception, right knowledge and right conduct. In Shaivism (and by extension, Shaktism), Ratna Traya indicates the three principles essential in the bringing forth of the manifest universe - Shiva, Shakti and Bindu.

From the dualistic Shaivite standpoint, Shiva is the efficient cause, Shakti is the instrumental cause and Bindu is the material cause of the universe. The Bindu, literally "point", is treated as a point of singular potentiality in which the entire universe rests after universal dissolution. When a new cycle of creation begins, Shiva acts upon the Bindu through His Shakti causing a stirring or vibration in the Bindu. Eventually these vibrations in the Bindu cause it to unfold into the manifest universe. The successive and orderly unfolding of the Bindu is pervaded and directed by Shiva-Shakti. In this scheme, Shiva, the supreme Transcendent, causes the unfolding of Bindu through His Shakti, and pervades the unfolded material universe wholly. The Bindu, otherwise, is distinct from Shiva and Shakti.

From the non-dualistic Shaivite standpoint, Shiva is the essence of all existence, and His Shakti is the substratum of the manifest universe. In other words, the material universe is the expansion of the consciousness of Shiva in the grossest perceivable form. The Bindu is nothing more than Shiva's pure Being, and represents the expansion of Shiva through His Shakti. In this scheme, Shiva is the Supreme Transcendent, Shakti is first conception of Self (I) within Shiva, and Bindu is the first conception of Being (Am) within Shiva arising through Shakti. The Bindu is not distinct from Shiva-Shakti, but is an expansion or rather a pure, undivided concentration of Shiva's Shakti, which goes on to unfold into the universe. Here, Shiva is not only the Pervader, but also that which is pervaded.

Regardless of philosophical and doctrinal differences between Shaivite dualism and non-dualism on the nature of Bindu, all agree that Shiva, Shakti and Bindu are the three principles critical in the bringing forth of the manifest universe and are thus called the Triad Jewels (or Triad Perfections). The first principle Shiva is more aptly called Parashiva (Paramashiva), the second principle Shakti is more aptly called Parashakti, and the third principle Bindu is more aptly called Parabindu.

Aum Namah Shivaya.

© Agnideva, 2007. All rights reserved.

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