A group Conversation : Shiva vs Shakti Tattva


Devi Bhakta

One other point in one of your message that interested me was your premise that "Siva Tattva is above Shakti Tattva" ... I think you'll find that people differ on that, depending upon whether their path is Shakta or Shaiva.

But this isn't so much a matter of rivalry between sects -- as you so aptly put it, "shaivite and vaishnavite sadhakas fighting each other bitterly, each insisting that their own ishta devata is the 'only' true Supreme Being."

It's more a matter of theological perception. If Shakti is One with Shiva and equal to Him, then how can Her Tattva be any less than His? Are They *not* equal, then?

Stepping still further into the realm of pure Shakta (and here we maybe *do* begin getting into sect rivalries -- but maybe not), the "Devi Mahatmyam" unequivocally states that She *is* the Supreme Brahman -- the entire Shakti-Shiva unity being itself a lesser tattva. She is the Ocean; all other conceptions and manifestations of God or Goddess are merely waves upon that Ocean.

Perhaps it's just words -- God/dess is One, who cares what we label Her/Him/It? But still, the matter of the "heirarchy" of upper Tattvas is one that's always intrigued me -- a tantalizing vacuum that even Woodroffe never fully addressed (that I know of).

evil_djinia

There's only a difference if you subscribe to dualism otherwise they both are one.

aureusdeus

Hi devi_bhakta, I kinda knew that it was only a matter of time before someone called me to qualify on that. :-) One reason I adore the trika shaivite philosophy is its equanimity towards all sects' personal ishta devata preferences... The 36 tattvas in trika saivism detail the downward evolution of the Supreme Being's initial desire to manifest the world. Before the emergence of these tattvas, the Unmanifested Supreme Being is One by Himself, the One without a Second. For Trika Shaivites, this Supreme Being is denoted as ParamaShiva/Sivam. However, it is accepted that this Supreme Being can also correspond to the highest ideal, cherished by other sects, of their isha devata --- be it Maha-Vishnu, Supreme Devi, Krishna, Surya, etc... If Supreme Devi is the cherished ideal, then She is that Supreme Being - the *One without a Second*. She is not to be mistaken with Shakti Tattva, which is produced from Her own Being.

Thus, in Trika, the Shiva and Shakti tattvas emerge as a result of the Supreme Being's desire to manifest the world. As you rightly observed, Shiva and Shakti tattvas are inseparable - equal to each other; the co-creators and co-maintainers of the manifested world. This is the ultimate understanding the enlightened bhakta has towards these two tattvas.

However, for the bhakta who is still struggling to leave samsara and reach Moksha, the Shiva tattva is in the provisional sense, "higher" than Shakti tattva. This is because Shiva tattva is Motionless Divine Consciousness; Non-Samsara, whilst Shakti tattva is that Consciousness in perpetual motion which churns up Samsara...

Thus, only in this sense can Shiva tattva be considered higher than Shakti tattva. For his Moksha, the weary trika bhakta who is flailing in samsara MUST first discover, and then rest in, Shiva tattva. However, when he attains this blessed stage, he realizes the inseparable unity of Shiva & Shakti tattvas and he begins to see Lord Shiva in all movements of the manifested world (spanda-shakti). He then attains perfect ease and freedom in abiding in the samsaric manifested world too, because he realizes that it is only Divine Shakti's movement/play.

For the highly-realized trika shaivites, taking on future reincarnations in this world - for the sole purpose of helping others to Moksha - is not a bondage at all, because for them this "ugly" world is the most beautiful, most gracious Supreme DEVI.

Om Namah Shivaya!
Om Dum Durgayai Namaha!

devi_bhakta

Thanks Gene! What a clear, simple presentation of a theology that is too often obscured in a fog of mystical language.

You wrote, "She is not to be mistaken with Shakti Tattva, which is produced from Her own Being." So is it fair to say, then, that even the highest Tattva is already part of that "downward evolution" into the manifest universe? And that Brahman -- however one conceives it, as you rightly noted -- is perhaps the static background, remaining outside the descent of tattvas?

BTW, I'm not entirely happy with my tern, "static background" - a physical science term that I sometimes use to describe Shiva's role in the Shakti-Shiva Unity. As with electricity, kinetic activity cannot "happen" without a static ground. Add that to Tantra's dictate, "What is here is everywhere, what is not here is nowhere" -- and I figured it was a valid microcosmic illustration of macrocosmic Reality.

Material manifestation of that Reality begins with the division of Parabindu into Bindu, Nada and Bija (which correspond to moon-sun- fire/ tamas-sattva-rajas/ Shiva-Vishnu-Brahma/ etc) which continue to unfold into increasingly gross matter, eventually becoming the world we see (and otherwise sense) around us.

But moving backward, above Parabindu we have Nada (or to distinguish it from lower Nada, Paranada). Above Nada, there is Shakti, and -as you point out -- above Shakti in this scheme is Shiva. Beyond Shiva, there is nothing -- or there is Everything.

Because, as you eloquently note, "the Shiva tattva is [only] in the provisional sense 'higher' than Shakti tattva. This is because Shiva tattva is Motionless Divine Consciousness ... whilst Shakti tattva is that Consciousness in perpetual motion which churns up Samsara... "

So is Brahman -- or however we conceive Supreme Reality -- beyond the Tattva scheme entirely? Or does Shiva in that scheme represent Brahman, a term interchangeable with any devotee's conception of that Supreme Reality?
Aum Maatangyai Namahe

aureusdeus

devi_bhakta! "You wrote, "She is not to be mistaken with Shakti Tattva, which is produced from Her own Being." So is it fair to say, then, that even the highest Tattva is already part of that "downward evolution" into the manifest universe?"

Yes. For the trika saivite, the 36 tattvas are already the gross, spent energies of the Supreme One. Trika scriptures like Isvarapratyabhijna and Spandakarika detail this "downward" de- evolutionary spiral and posit ParamaShiva as the Supreme One who is the source of and controller of these tattvas - from the first (Shiva) down to the last (Prthivi) - and who yet remains apart/unmoved by their operation.

Sri Krishna's lines in the Gita: "I am the Father of this world, I am the Mother of this world" & "I support this world with only a mere fragment of my being" also illustrates the same concept: that the Shiva and Shakti tattvas are but tiny constituents in the unfathomably great ocean that is the One Supreme Being. (NB: this is how trika saivism interprets those lines from the Gita. Sectarian Vaishnavites, for whom Saivagama is hardly the apple of their eyes, may well disagree.)

It has to be said here that ParamaShiva and Shiva tattva (in the trika system) are quite different from Rudra-Shiva; the personal ishta devata with the trident and damaru. The latter is what we, as embodied beings with gross senses, perceive of the Supreme Being when He is covered by Shakti's mayic veil - when Her veil is comprised primarily of Tamasic energy.

Likewise, the personal ishtas Vishnu and Brahma are the limited perspectives we hold of that One Supreme Being; when He is veiled by Shakti Maya's sattvic and rajasic energies respectively. The supreme Brahman (or ParamaShiva or MahaVishnu or Supreme Devi, depending on one's preferences) is bereft of any form perceptible to our gross senses. Maya, herself part of the Supreme One's tattvas, can never actually limit Him to a particularized form.

"And that Brahman -- however one conceives it, as you rightly noted - - is perhaps the static background, remaining outside the descent of tattvas?"

You know, devi_bhakta, your "static background" conjures up those hissing background noises I hear on my old cassette-tapes.

YES. I prefer to think of Brahman and His tattvas as being akin to galaxial space(Brahman) and all the stars, suns, planetary matter in that limiteless space (tattvas). Space, in itself is nothing, but without it, the suns, planets and other galactic matter cannot exist or evolve either. Thus, this "nothingness" does not denote impotence or emptiness --- its very omnipotence lies in its power to contain within itself all the galaxies, and yet remain untouched by any adverse changes in the galactic systems.

However, that is just a limited analogy too. The Supreme One cannot be reduced to a thought in our sense-embedded minds. Trika saivism holds that, in order to fully appreciate the grandeur of the Supreme One, the aspirant must reach the first tattva (Shiva). And that is done when nirvikalpa samadhi is achieved. This is the state where all vikalpas (THOUGHTS) and samkaras are permanently destroyed during intense meditation.

Thus, the very act of trying to fit Brahman/ParamaShiva into our thoughts in our attempts to comprehend Him, is actually the act of distancing ourselves further from realizing him experientially. It just suffices to know or intuit that the Greatest One lies even beyond the Shiva&Shakti tattvas.

OM Namo Mahadevaaya



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