The Shiva Sutras – My Understanding
After reading the Shiva Sutras for many years now, I have become convinced that they share a rarified place of reverence and universal importance close to the Bhagavad Gita.
The Bhagavad Gita is a text directed to everyone – it is of value to any and all who want to understand the meaning of life and their place in the Cosmos. It is the ultimate user’s manual for the human condition. This perfect precise jewel is the brilliant synthesis of previous Sanskrit texts, the Vedas and the Upanishads. The sheer genius of the Bhagavad Gita continually amazes me.
While the Bhagavad Gita also contains instructions for those who seek Liberation, the Shiva Sutras to my mind appear to be more directed to those who are actively practicing and devoting their lives to this end, the goal. The Shiva Sutras will reveal what you may expect on your way Home and when you arrive.
Every time I reread these verses, I see and learn something quite new and different and this has convinced me of their sacred value and importance. Each time I approach them they reveal deeper nuances of wisdom. Of course their power to enlighten me is relative only to my own consciousness at the time I read them. That is their magic and the proof of my required necessity to be receptive and thus able to absorb what they transmit.
Here I will be writing in my own words what these verses evoke in my consciousness. The reason for this effort is the hope that my humble study – I am not a scholar - will encourage the readers to find the essence of these sutras for themselves. And frankly, this excursion is for my own pleasure and the joy of immersing myself in the inimitable Wisdom of Kashmir Shaivism.
I will use these two translations as my guide:
Swami Lakshmanjoo: Shiva Sutras, The Supreme Awakening, With the Commentary of Kshemaraja, Revealed by Swami Lakshmanjoo, and edited by John Hughes; Universal Shaiva Fellowship, 2002.
Jaideva Singh: Siva Sutras, The Yoga of Supreme Identity, Text of the Sutras and the Commentary Vimarsini of Kshemaraja Translated into English with Introduction, Notes, Running Exposition, Glossary and Index; Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1979 and reprints.
In the preface to the Jaideva Singh translation, he talks about the difficulties he faced and how he was “afraid of setting pen to paper lest I should do injustice to this great scripture.” Singh approached his old guru, Swami Lakshmanjoo in Kashmir who agreed to help. “He taught me the sutras together with the commentary of Kshemaraja and gave luminous exposition of some very knotty problems. I am deeply beholden to him [Swami Lakshmanjoo] for unraveling the meaning of this difficult text.”
Because of Swami Lakshmanjoo’s contribution to the Jaideva Singh translation, these two books work well together. While Swami Lakshmanjoo is the consciousness of the enlightened master and has these verse imbedded in his very being as his own experiential Knowledge, the Jaideva Singh translation is excellent from the point of view of the student longing for enlightenment. We can learn from both.
The Jaideva Singh version also has a lovely Glossary of Technical Terms in the back, which is very useful as the terminology of Kashmir Shaivism is quite unique and the Sanskrit words the reader may be familiar with in Vedanta or other schools will not have the exact same meaning. This is natural because Kashmir Shaivism considers the other schools of thought to be incomplete.
In heartfelt humility I offer you my understanding of the Shiva Sutras in the sincere hope that you will be moved to read and study them yourself. I am not a scholar, only a lover of God.
As we are currently in the Twilight of the Kali Yuga, it is imperative that those of us who wish to return Home into the Oneness to fully utilize the time remaining to us. Remember that the Kali Yuga is the best and easiest Cycle of Time to reach enlightenment. States of consciousness that would take much more time and effort in the previous cycles are more accessible now. I wish you all Victory over Delusion. We meet in the Heart!