Spanda Karikas

Excerpted from the Introduction to:

  • Jai Deva Singh. Spanda Karikas: The Divine Creative Pulsation. Motilal Banarsidass. Delhi, India (1980).

Section 1: Svaruupaspandah (Spanda as the essential nature of Siva):

1. The first verse of this section describes Spanda-Sakti, represented by the Unmesa (emergence) and Nimesa (submergence) of the Sakti (primal energy) of Siva. As Kshemaraja puts it, it is the essential nature of Siva and also that of the empirical individual.Unmesa and Nimesa are only figuratively spoken of as occurring one after the other. As a matter, they occur simultaneously. In activity, there is no depletion of Spanda-Sakti as there is of physical energy.

„This Goddess is always engaged in exercising her energy in withdrawal and yet always appears as replete. Commentary on the first Karika: In reality, nothing arises, and nothing subsides. It is only the divine Spandasakti which, though free of succession, appears in different aspects as if flashing in view and as if subsiding.” Kshemaraja believes that there is close correlation between the Spanda system and the Krama system. In his Spandanirnaya commentary, Kshemaraja interprets the phrase, „sakti-chakra-vibhava-prabhavam” as representing the Mahaartha or Krama ideal of five-fold functioning through the agency of the dieties Srsti, Rakta, Kaali, etc.

In explaining Vibhava – he uses the very technical terms of Krama Sastra – udyoga, meaning creative activity avabhaasana, meaning maintenance, carvanaa (absorption), and Vilaapana, meaning the assumption of the indefinable state (Anaakhyaa).

2. The second verse says that the world is contained in the Spanda principle, and comes out of it. The world being contained in Spanda and coming out of it does notmean that the world is anything different from Siva as a walnut is different from the bag in which it is contained. Being contained in and coming out of, are only limitations of the human language.The world is Siva as reflections in a mirror are the mirror itself. The world consists of the subject, object and means of knowledge cannot really conceal Siva because without the light of Siva they themselves cannot appear. The world is inherent in Spanda just as a banyan tree exists as potency in the seed.

3. The third verse maintains that even in the differing states viz. waking, dream, and deep sleep, the Spanda principle remains the same, viz., as the invariable of Experient of all the states.

4. While states of experience like pleasure, pain, etc. differ, the Experient cannot change; for it is the Experient that connects the differing states as the experience of the identical Experient.

5. Reality is neither psychological subject nor the psycho-physical experience, nor is it mere void. Reality or Spanda is the underlying basis of the psychological subject, it is the eternal Experient that can never be reduced to an object.

6 & 7. It is from the Spanda principle that the group of senses acquires it’s power of going forth towards the objects, maintaining them in perception for a while and then withdrawing them towards the center.

8. It is not the will or desire of the empirical individual that moves the senses towards their objects. He derives this power from the Spanda principle – the dynamism of Siva.

9. It is on account of Aanava, Maayiiya, and Kaarma Mala-s that the empirical individual is unable to realize the Spanda principle.

10. When the limited ego or Aanava Mala of the individual is dissolved, he acquires the true characteristic of the Spanda principle, viz., innate knowledge and activity.

11. When the Yogi realizes the Spanda principle, he knows that this is his essential Self, and not his empirical self.

12 & 13. The experience of void does not prove that there is no Experient, for without the Experient, even the experience of void would not be possible. This Experient is the Spanda principle.

14, 15, & 16. Spanda or the Divine principle appears in two aspects, subject and object. It is only the object that changes and disappears, never the subject. Spanda constitutes the eternal subject.

17. The fully awakened Yogi or Suprabuddha has an integral experience of the Spanda principle in all three states of waking, dream, and deep sleep, but the partially awakened individual has an experience of it only in the beginning and end of the waking, dream, and deep sleep, not in the middle of these states.

18. To the fully enlightened Yogi, the Spanda principle appears as knowledge (jnana) and objects of knowledge (jneya) in the middle of the two states of waking and dream, fully integrated to the I-consciousness just as they appear to Sadasiva and Isvara. In the deep sleep, since there is no object, the Spanda principle appears as sheer consciousness (Cinmaya).

19. There are two aspects of Spanda-Saamaanya and Visesa. Saamaanya is the general principle of consciousness, Visesa is the manifestation of Spanda in constitutive aspects like Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas or objective experiences like blue, pleasure, etc. Ordinary people consider the Visesa Spanda, i.e. the particular manifestations as something entirely different from consciousness, but the fully enlightened Yogi considers them only as forms of Spanda.

20. The particular forms of Spanda appear as entirely different from consciousness to all those who are not awakened to their divine source. So they are doomed to a life of worldly existence.

21. One should, therefore, have constant awareness of the Spanda principle even in the common work-a-day world.

22. In intense emotional state or a state of mental impasse, all the mental activities come to a dead stop. That is the time when one can have an experience of the Spanda principle if one is properly oriented towards it.

23, 24, & 25. Whene the Yogi lays his grip firmly on the Spanda principle, his Praana and Apaana get merged in the Susumnaa; they mount up to Brahmarandhra and finally get dissolved in the ether of consciousness beyond it. Thus by means of twenty-five verses the essential nature of Spanda together with the means for attaining it has been described from various points of view.

Section 2: Sahaja Vidyodaya:

The first section describes Spanda principle as Siva’s dynamic aspect which is identical with the essential Self of each. In the first section, there is the stress on Nimiilana Samaadhi (introverted meditation) for the realization of Spanda principle.

The second section describes Spanda not only as identical with the essential Self but also with the whole universe. In order to realize this aspect of Spanda (there is the stress on unmiilana Samaadhi (extroverted meditation)). This is possible by the rise of Sahaja Vidyaa by which one experiences unity in the midst of diversity. Verses 1 & 2 say that Mantra-s whether taken in the sense of Mantra, Mantresvara, and Mantramahesvara or in the sense of sacred formulae derive their power from the Spanda principle and are finally dissolved in it. Verses 3 & 4 tell us that the individual through his knowledge of all objects feels his identity with all. Hence there is no state which is not Siva to him. Verse 5 tells us that one who has this realization views the enetire world as the play of the Self identical with Siva. In verses 6 & 7, it is said that if one realizes his identity with the diety who is the object of his meditation, one becomes ultimately identified with Siva and acquires immortality.

Section 3: Vibhuuti Spanda: This section describes mostly the supernatural powers gained by the realization of Spanda.

Verses 1 & 2 tell us that as Siva fulfils the desires of the embodied Yogi in the waking condition, so also does He reveal his desired objects even in dream by appearing in Susumnaa.

Verse 3 tells us that if the Yogi is not alert, he will havea the same common experience in waking condition and particular, personal experiences in dream as other ordinary people of the world have.

Verse 4 & 5 say that if the self of the Yogi becomes identified with the essential nature of Siva, he is endowed with the power of knowing everything in it’s essential form.

Verse 6 says that such a Yogi can acqure full control of omniscience.

Verse 7 says that he can also acquire the power of omniscience.

Verse 8 Depression proceeds from spiritual ignorance. Depression can no longer remain when ignorance disappears.

Verse 9 describes the rise of Unmesa. It occurs at the junction-point of two thoughts. It is that meta-empirical Self that relates all thoughts and runs through all as the underlying subject.

Verse 10. From the realization of Unmesa one experiences supernormal light in the middle of the two eyebrows, unstruck spontaneous sound in the Susumnaa, ruupa i.e., a glow shining even in darkness and supernormal taste experienced on the tip of the tongue. They are, however, a disturbing factor in the realization of the Spanda principle.

Verse 11. When the Yogi is established in the essential Self, he can experience all objective reality right from earth upto Siva.

Verse 12. One who is identified with the essential Self perceives all phenomenon only as the form of Siva.

Verse 13. The empirical individual is deprived of the real spiritual power of will, knowledge, and activity and coming under the suzerainty of powers derived from the multitude of words, he is reduced to the status of pain – a limited, bound soul.

Verse 14. The bound soul loses his independence on account of the rise of ideas which have their sphere in sense-objects.

Verse 15. The empirical individual becomes bound on account of ideas, and ideas are due to the power of words. So words have a tremendous influence on the empirical individual.

Verse 16. The power of ideation and verbalization is derived from Kriyaa Sakti. When the empirical individual realizes that the Kriyaa Sakti is only an aspect of Paraasakti or Spanda, he is liberated.

Verse 17 & 18. All our motivated desires and ideas remain in the form of residual traces in the subtle body or Puryastaka consisting of the five Tanmaatraas, Manas, Buddhhi, and Ahamkaara. The transmigratory existence can be stopped only by the extermination of the impurities of the Puryastaka.

Verse 19. When the empirical individual is firmly rooted in the Spanda principle, he brings the emergence and dissolution of the Puryastaka under his control and can become lord of the entire group of Sakti-s.

Section 4: In this section there are only two verses. The first one, by means of double entendre, lauds both the power of the Spanda state and the power of the word of the Guru. The second one only points out the good that would accrue to all who carefully betake themselves to the Spanda principle, and realize it.

Excerpted from the Introduction to: Jai Deva Singh. Spanda Karikas: The Divine Creative Pulsation. Motilal Banarsidass. Delhi, India (1980).