Friday, August 25, 2017

Nandikeshvara Kashika

The Nandikeshvara Kashika is an ancient Shaivite text and contains an early form of Shaiva nondualism (ca 200 CE). In this short text, Nandikeshvara (a.k.a., Nandinatha) expounds upon the philosophical meaning of the first 14 sutras in Panini's Ashtadyayi, the first extant treatise on Sanskrit grammar.  These first 14 sutras are known as Shiva Sutras (not to be confused with the Shiva Sutras of Vasugupta), and represent a seemingly random arrangement of the Sanskrit alphabet. The name Shiva Sutras is given to these terse verses because, it is believed, these were received directly from Shiva through vibrations of His drum at the end of His dance (think: spanda). 

Leaving apart the usefulness of these short formulae (sutras) in the discussion of grammar within Panini's text, they are also full of philosophical meaning per the Nandikeshvara Kashika and its commentator Upamanyu. 

Below is an short exposition of the thoughts of Nandikeshvara and his commentator, Upamanyu. In essence, the consonants represent the sphere of creation (the tattvas of Sankhya), while the vowels represent the evolution Divine Consciousness above the 25 tattvas of Sankhya that results in creation. The consonant without vowels at the end of each sutra acts as the verb of the sentence. 

The ideas contained herein were likely developed before the Shaiva Agamas expounded clearly the 36 tattvas, which is a central to Shaivite ontology. The idea of each phoneme representing an ontological stage of universal unfoldment later developed into the Matrika Chakra theory of the Agamas and Tantras, as well as the more esoteric Matrika theory of Malinivijayottara Tantra. 

Additionally, the science of seed mantras (bija mantra vidya) also arises and is closely related to the understanding within this text. Note, for example, the seeds representing the five great elements (pancha mahabhuta: la - earth; va - water; ra - fire; ya - air; and ha - space) already have a relation to those elements in this text. 


अ इ उ ण् 
a i u N

Absolute Being [Brahman, Shiva] (a) united with Consciousness [Chitkala, Shakti] (i) exists (N) as the all-pervasive Lord [Ishvara] (u).

ऋ ऌ क् 
R L k

The Lord [Sarveshvara] (R) through Maya (L) forms (k) the world.

ए ओ ङ्
ऐ औ च् 
e o ^n
ai au c

Ishvara/Creator (e) and Maya/creation (o) are perceived (^n) as separate. But, the Unmanifest [Brahman] (ai) and the Manifest [universe, jagat] (au) are understood (c) as one.

ह य व र ट् 
ल ण् 
ha ya va ra T
la N

In this manifest world, space (ha), air (ya), water (va), fire (ra) and earth (la) [the five elements; mahabhutas] are known (T) to exist (N).

ञ म ङ ण न म् 
~na ma ^na Na na m

Sound (~na), touch (ma), form (^na), taste (Na) and smell (na) [the five senses; tanmatras] are sensed (m) also.

झ भ ञ्
घ ढ ध ष् 
jha bha ~n
gha Dha dha Sh

Organ of speech (jha), organ of action (bha), organ of movements (gha), organ of excretion (Dha) and organ of procreation (dha) [the organs of actions; karmendriyas] are said (~n) to be tamasik (Sh).

ज ब ग ड द श् 
ja ba ga Da da S

Skin (ja), tongue (ba), ears (ga), eyes (Da), and nose (da) [the organs of knowledge; jnanendriyas] are rajasik (S).

ख फ छ ठ थ च ट त व् 
क प य् 
kha pha cha Tha tha ca Ta ta v
ka pa y

Prana (kha), apana (pha), vyana (cha), udana (Tha), and samana (tha) [the five vital airs; pranas]; and mind (ca), intelligence (Ta) and ego (ta) [the inner organs] flow (v) [through the body] and animate (y) the phenomenal world of the dichotomy of purusha (ka) and prakriti (pa).

श ष स र्
Sa Sha sa r

Which is fueled (r) by rajas (Sa), tamas (Sha) and sattva (sa) [the three modes of prakriti].

ह ल् 
ha l

All of which is grounded (l) in the Lord [Shambhu] (ha), the Witness.

*Everything from a to ha is Shiva, so His mantra is ahaM.

A full translation of the Nandikeshavara Kashika is found here

Aum Namah Shivaya. 

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