Kashmir Shaivism, or Trika Shaivism, is a nondualist tradition of Shaiva-Shakta Tantra which originated sometime after 850 CE.[1][2] Since this tradition originated in Kashmir it is often called “Kashmiri Shaivism”. It later went on to become a pan-Indian movement termed “Trika” (lit. The Trinity) by its great exegete, Abhinavagupta, and particularly flourished in Orissa and Maharashtra.[2][3] Defining features of the Trika tradition are its idealistic and monistic Pratyabhijna (“Recognition”) philosophical system, propounded by Utpaladeva (c. 925–975 CE) and Abhinavagupta (c. 975–1025 CE), and the centrality of the three goddesses Parā, Parāparā, and Aparā.[1][2]

While Trika draws from numerous Shaiva texts, such as the Shaiva Agamas and the Shaiva and Shakta Tantras, its major scriptural authorities are the Mālinīvijayottara Tantra, the Siddhayogeśvarīmata and the Anāmaka-tantra.[4] Its main exegetical works are those of Abhinavagupta, such as the Tantraloka, Mālinīślokavārttika, and Tantrasāra which are formally an exegesis of the Mālinīvijayottara Tantra, although they also drew heavily on the Kali-based Krama subcategory of the Kulamārga.[5] Another important text of this tradition is the Vijñāna-bhairava-tantra, which focuses on outlining numerous yogic practices.[6]

Kashmir Shaivism claimed to supersede Shaiva Siddhanta, a dualistic tradition which scholars consider normative tantric Shaivism.[7] The Shaiva Siddhanta goal of becoming an ontologically distinct Shiva (through Shiva’s grace) was replaced by recognizing oneself as Shiva who, in Kashmir Shaivism’s monism, is the entirety of the universe.[8]"


“There were no major writers or publications after approximately the 14th century. In the 20th century Swami Lakshman Joo, a Kashmiri Hindu, helped revive both the scholarly and yogic streams of Kashmir Shaivism.[19] His contribution is enormous. He inspired a generation of scholars who made Kashmir Shaivism a legitimate field of inquiry within the academy.[20][21]

Acharya Rameshwar Jha, a disciple of Lakshman Joo, is often credited with establishing the roots of Kashmir Shaivism in the learned community of Varanasi. Rameshwar Jha with his creativity, familiarity with the ancient texts and personal experiences provided access to concepts of non-dualistic Kashmir Shaivism. His writings of Sanskrit verses have been published as the books Purnta Pratyabhijna[22] and Samit Swatantram.[22]

Swami Muktananda, although not belonging to the direct lineage of Kashmir Shaivism, felt an affinity for the teachings, validated by his own direct experience.[23][24] He encouraged Motilal Banarsidass to publish Jaideva Singh’s translations of Shiva Sutras, Pratyabhijnahrdayam, Spanda Karikas and Vijnana Bhairava, all of which Singh studied in-depth with Lakshman Joo.[25][26] He also introduced Kashmir Shaivism to a wide audience of western meditators through his writings and lectures on the subject.[27][28]

The Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, a chapter from the Rudrayamala Tantra, was introduced to the West by Paul Reps, a student of Lakshman Joo, by including an English translation in his book Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. Cast as a discourse between the god Shiva and his consort Devi or Shakti, it presents 112 meditation methods or centering techniques (*dharana*s).[29]