The past thirty years have witnessed dramatic developments in the study of Agamic Shaivism in general. Progress has been made on several fronts. On the one hand there has been a substantial increase in the historical and anthropological data. On the other, access has been cleared to vast reserves of unedited and unpublished sources. This book is a collection of essays which document in their own way the author’s personal journey in these years through parts of the Shaiva and, to some extent, the Vaishnava Tantras. Anyone who has travelled on similar paths knows how vast and marvellous the lands of this extraordinary world are.
“Self-awareness, Own Being and Egoity” studies the history of the notion that the one, unique reality which is equally Shiva, the Self and all that appears and exists in any form, is pure, universal “I” consciousness aham-bhava.
Abhavavada, the “Doctrine of Non-being” focuses on a little known doctrine taught in the Bhairava and Kaula Tantras that Shiva, who is inherently beyond characterization, is Non-being.
“The Samvitprakasha” is an important text for monistic Kashmiri Vaishnavism. Its author, date and teachings are the subject of chapter three.
“The Inner Pilgrimage of the Tantras” deals with sacred geography. Sacred geography is not only divine. It is also human. It is more than physical, social or cultural geography. It is the geography of the land in which we live. It is not just about space or places, it is about our home. The more esoteric early Tantric cults were concerned with the roaming ascetic. But now the places he has to travel to are much increased in number. Moreover, they are no longer just simply called “sacred lands/kshetra” they are specific seats (pithas) of deities and meeting grounds for male initiates and Yoginis, their female counterparts. The development of the sacred geography of India we witness in these sources is paralleled by that of their public, exoteric counterparts — the Puranas.
“Kubjika, the Androgynous Goddess” and “The Cult of the Goddess Kubjika” deal with the secret goddess of the Malla kings, who ruled the inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley up to about the middle of the seventeenth century. The king’s deity is that of his country and people. With two faces, the inner secret goddess and the outer public god, the king’s deity transmits its energy and grace both in the outer domain and through the network of esoteric familial goddesses who, energies in their own right, are thereby inwardly charged. Thus the king, his goddess and his priest together are the axis of this inner secret society which, although close to its end, still survives today.