.. eS:v:s:Ü*: ..
Consciousness and Freedom according to the Siva Sutras
Subhash C . Kak
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803-5901, USA
FAX: 504-388-5200; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The logic of materialist science fails when
observers are considered . How can inanimate matter, governed by
fixed laws, lead to mind?
To bring in consciousness as a separate category like
space, time, matter, as suggested by
many physicists and neuroscientists,
leads to further paradox.
This very issue was considered with great subtlety in the Vedic tradition
of India . Here we consider one of the late classics
of this tradition that deals with the question of
consciousness, laws, and freedom---the justly famous
Siva Sutras (c . 800 C.E.).
We present a new translation of the Siva Sutras along
with a commentary.
-p:ö-p:ö )et:-p::ð b:B:Üv:
t:dsy: -p:ö )et:c:x:N:ay: .
rupa\dmrupa\dm pratirupo babhuva
tadasya rupa\dm praticak\dsa\dnaya
He became the original form of every form
It is his form that is everywhere to be seen.
Our knowledge of the physical world is based on empirical associations.
These associations reveal the laws of the physical world.
But how do we study the nature of consciousness?
There is no way to observe one's own awareness because
we are aware through the associations with the phenomenal world.
The Vedas deal precisely with this central question of the nature
The consciousness aspect of the Vedas was emphasized most
emphatically by Dayananda (1824-1883) and Aurobindo (1872-1950).
It is seen with directness in the Upanishads.
For an overview of the Vedic tradition see the recent book coauthored
by me (Feuerstein et al, 1995); this book summarizes new insights
from archaeology and history of science.
It has been less than a century that
the theories of relativity and quantum physics have brought the observer
centerstage in physics.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the Vedic ideas,
with their emphasis on cognition, have been a source
of enduring inspiration in modern science.
As is well known, the idea of brahman in the Vedas being a representation
of all possibilities, as in the statement praj~nana\dm brahman,
was the inspiration in the conception of the wavefunction of quantum
theory defined as a sum of all possibilites (Moore, 1989; Kak, 1995b).
Modern science has had great success in explaining the nature of
the physical world.
But these successes have not brought us any closer to the resolution
of the mystery of consciousness.
In the application of quantum theory to the macroworld and in
the neuropsychological explorations of the brain, one cannot any
the question of the observer (e.g . Kak, 1995a, 1995b, 1996a, 1996b, 1996c).
The notion that the mind emerges somehow out of the complexity
of the connections inside the brain is too simplistic to be taken
It is like Baron M\unchhausen pulling himself out of the
bog by his own bootstraps!
If mind emerges from matter, how does it obtain autonomy?
If the world is governed by laws then how do we have free will?
If our autonomy (free will) is an epiphenomenon then are we
Should one consider consciousness to be the ground-stuff of reality?
If that is so then what is the connection between consciousness and
the physical world?
These are just the questions that we come across repeatedly in
the Indian tradition . Is there something to be learnt from
the insights of this tradition?
The Aphorisms of Shiva (\'Siva Sutras) (SS) are a late
reiteration of the Vedic view of consciousness.
According to legend, Vasugupta (c . 800 C.E . in Kashmir) `saw' the aphorisms
(sutras) in his dream.
Siva Sutras led to the flowering of the Kashmir school
of consciousness (Kashmir Shaivism).
It is due to a very clear exposition of the issues the Kashmir
Shaivism has come to be quite influential in contemporary
In this paper we present a translation, along with the Sanskrit
text, of the 78 aphorisms of the SS.
(The 78 number itself has a very important significance in the
Vedic systof knowledge may
be seen elsewhere (e.g . Kak 1994, 1995c)).
The commentary provided in this paper is not based on the
commentatorial tradition from within Kashmir Shaivism
(see e.g . Jaideva Singh, 1979; Dyczkowski, 1992) so as not to
burden the reader with the unfamiliar vocabulary of the tradition.
I present my translation, as well as my commentary, in as modern
terms as possible.
*The universal and the individual in the SS
According to SS the individual knowledge comes from associations.
Owing to this our phenomenal knowledge can only be in terms of
the associations of the outer world.
But the associations in themselves need something to bind them
together.This is the binding problof neuroscience to which no
solution, within the standard scientific paradigm, is known
(see Kak 1995a for details).
The binding energy is called matrika (mat\drka).
It is matrika that makes it possible for us to understand words
or symbols strung together as
Lacking matrika, computers cannot understand language or pictures.
Universal consciousness, as a unity, is called Shiva or Bhairava.
Shiva makes it possible for the material associations of the
phycisal world to have meaning.
But the domain of the union of Shiva and the phenomenal world is
puzzling and astonishing (1-12).
This is a restatement of a metaphor that goes back to the
Rigveda where the mind is seen
as two birds are sitting on a tree where one of theats the
sweet fruit and the other looks on without eating (RV 1-164-20);
one of the birds represents the universal consciousness, the
other the individual one.
There is only one bird; the other is just the image of the first
energized by the fruit!
There is a paradox here which is left unresolved.
But certainly root consciousness (Shiva, prakasa, cit)
is what makes it possible
In later texts the capacity of consciousness to reflect on
itself is called vimarsa.
Another metaphor that has been used elsewhere is that of the sun
of consciousness illuminating the associations in the mind.
What facilitates this illumination is the ``power of the will.''
Innate knowledge is taken to emerge from the mind, which is equated
with mantra, taken here to not as a formula but the inherent capacity
Mantra leads to the knowledge of the reality that lies beyond
Consider sound made meaningful in terms of
strings that, as words, have specific associations.
But what about the `meaning' of elementary sounds?
This happens as one opens the `crack' between the universal
and the individual.
The individual then gets transformed into a state where
knowledge is his food.
The detachment from one's own associations is the key to
the knowledge of the self---the universal being.
One is supposed to take oneself as an outsider.
By separating the senses from the source of consciousness,
one is able to reach to the heart of the self.
*The \'Siva Sutras
Ths section presents my new
English translation . For earlier translations see
Jaideva Singh (1979) and Dyczkowski (1992). Note that Jaideva Singh
has 77 sutras whereas Dyczkowski has 79; for the reason why the
canonical text is likely to have had 78 sutras see Kak (1994).
*1- Universal consciousness
1-1 Consciousness is the self.
1-2 (Ordinary) knowledge consists of associations.
1-3 Sets of axioms generate structures.
1-4 The ground of knowledge is mat\drka.
1-5 The upsurge (of consciousness) is Bhairava.
1-6 By union with the energy centers one withdraws from the universe.
1-7 Even during waking, sleep, and deep sleep one can experience
the fourth state (transcending consciousness).
1-8 (Sensory) knowledge is obtained in the waking state.
1-9 Dreaming is free ranging of thoughts.
1-10 Deep sleep is maya, the irrational.
1-11 The experiencer of the three states is the lord of the senses.
1-12 The domain of the union is an astonishment.
1-13 The power of the will is the playful uma.
1-14 The observed has a structure.
1-15 By fixing the mind on its core one can comprehend
perceivable and emptiness.
1-16 Or by contemplating the pure principle one is free of
the power that binds (to associations).
1-17 Right discernment is the knowledge of the self.
1-18 The bliss of the sight is the joy of samadhi.
1-19 The body emerges when the energies unite.
1-20 Elements unite, elements separate, and the universe is gathered.
1-21 Pure knowledge leads to a mastery of the wheel (of energies).
1-22 The great lake (of space-time) is experienced through the
power of mantra.
*2- The emergence of innate knowledge
2-1 The mind is mantra.
2-2 Effort leads to attainment.
2-3 The secret of mantra is the being of the body of knowledge.
2-4 The emergence of the mind in the womb is the forgetting of
2-5 When the knowledge of one's self arises one moves in the
sky of consciousness---the Shiva's state.
2-6 The guru is the means.
2-7 The awakening of the wheel of mat\drka (the elemental
2-8 The body is the oblation.
2-9 The food is knowledge.
2-10 With the extinction of knowledge emerges the vision of
*3- The transformations of the individual
3-1 The mind is the self.
3-2 (Material) knowledge is bondage (association).
3-3 Maya is the lack of discernment of the principles
3-4 The transformation is stopped in the body.
3-5 The quieting of the vital channels, the mastery of the
elements, the withdrawal from the elements, and the separation of
3-6 Perfection is through the veil of delusion.
3-7 Overcoming delusion and by boundless extension innate
knowledge is achieved.
3-8 Waking is the second ray (of consciousness).
3-9 The self is the actor.
3-10 The inner self is the stage.
3-11 The senses are the spectators.
3-12 The pure state is achieved by the power of the intellect.
3-13 Freedom (creativity) is achieved.
3-14 As here so elsewhere.
3-15 Emission (of consciousness) is the way of nature and so
what is not external is seen as external.
3-16 Attention to the seed.
3-17 Seated one sinks effortlessly into the lake (of consciousness).
3-18 The measure of consciousness fashions the world.
3-19 As (limited) knowledge is transcended, birth is transcended.
3-20 Maheshvari and other mothers (sources) of beings
reside in the sound elements.
3-21 The fourth (state of consciousness) should be used to
oil the (other) three (states of consciousness).
3-22 Absorbed (in his nature), one must penetrate (the phonemes)
with one's mind.
3-23 The lower plane arises in the center (of the phoneme).
3-24 A balanced breathing leads to a balanced vision.
3-25 What was destroyed rises again by the joining of perceptions
with the objects of experience.
3-26 He becomes like Shiva.
3-27 The activity of the body is the vow.
3-28 The recitation of the mantras is the discourse.
3-29 Self-knowledge is the boon.
3-30 He who is established is the means and knowledge.
3-31 The universe is teh aggregate of his powers.
3-32 Persistence and absorption.
3-33 Even when this (maintenance and dissolution) there is no
break (in awareness) due to the perceiving subjectivity.
3-34 The feeling of pleasure and pain is external.
3-35 The one who is free of that is alone (with consciousness).
3-36 A mass of delusion the mind is subject to activity.
3-37 When separateness is gone, action can lead to creation.
3-38 The power to create is based on one's own experience.
3-39 That which precedes the three (states of consciousness)
3-40 The same stability of mind (should permeate) the body,
senses and external world.
3-41 Craving leads to the extroversion of the inner process.
3-42 When established in pure awareness, (the craving) is
destroyed and the (empirical) individual ceases to exist.
3-43 Although cloaked in the elements one is not free, but,
like the lord, one is supreme.
3-44 The link with the vital breath is natural.
3-45 Concentrating on the center within the nose, what use
are the left and the right channels or su\dsumna?
3-46 May (the individual) merge (in the lord) once again.
Send corrections to Subhash Kak email@example.com
c:òt:ny:m:atm:a . 1-1.
wan:ö b:nD:H . 1-2.
y::ðen:v:g:üH kl:aS:rirm:Î . 1-3.
wan:aeD:Åan:ö m:at:àka . 1-4.
u½m::ð B:òrv:H . 1-5.
S:eVt:c:#s:nD:an:ð ev:Ã:s:öharH . 1-6.
j:ag:Òtsv:pn:s:Ø\:Øpt:B:ðdð t:Øy:aüB::ðg:s:öB:v:H . 1-7.
wan:ö j:ag:Òt:Î . 1-8.
sv:pn::ð ev:klp:aH . 1-9.
Aev:v:ðk:ð m:ay:as::ò\:Øpt:m:Î . 1-10.
e*:t:y:B::ðVt:a v:irðS:H . 1-11.
ev:sm:y::ð y::ðg:B:Üem:kaH . 1-12.
EcCa S:eVt:,m:a kÙm:ari . 1-13.
dáSy:ö S:rirm:Î . 1-14.
Ædy:ð ec:¶:s:öG:¬adÏ dáSy:sv:ap:dS:ün:m:Î . 1-15.
S:Ø¹t:¶v:s:nD:an:adÏ v:a Ap:S:ØS:eVt:H . 1-16.
ev:t:ký A:tm:wan:m:Î . 1-17.
l::ðkan:ndH s:m:aeD:s:ØK:m:Î . 1-18.
S:eVt:s:nD:an:ð S:rir:ðtp:e¶:H . 1-19.
B:Üt:s:nD:an: B:Üt:p:àT:Vtv: ev:Ã:s:öG:¬aH . 1-20.
S:Ø¹ev:½:ðdy:acc:#ñS:tv: es:e¹H . 1-21.
m:haËdan:Øs:nD:an:anm:n*:v:iy:aün:ØB:v:H . 1-22.
ec:¶:ö m:n*:H . 2-1.
)y:tn:H s:aD:kH . 2-2.
ev:½aS:rirs:¶:a m:n*:rhsy:m:Î . 2-3.
g:B:ðü ec:¶:ev:kas::ð|ev:eS:Ä ev:½asv:pn:H . 2-4.
ev:½as:m:ØtT:an:ð sv:aB:aev:kñ K:ðc:ri eS:v:av:sT:a . 2-5.
g:Ø,,p:ay:H . 2-6.
m:at:àkac:#s:mb::ðD:H . 2-7.
S:rirö hev:H . 2-8.
wan:ö AÀm:Î . 2-9.
ev:½as:öharð t:dÙtT: sv:pn: dS:ün:m:Î . 2-10.
A:tm:a ec:¶:m:Î . 3-1.
wan:ö b:nD:H . 3-2.
kl:adin:aö t:¶v:an:aö Aev:v:ðk:ð m:ay:a . 3-3.
S:rirð s:öharH kl:an:am:Î . 3-4.
n:aRi s:öhar B:Üt:j:y: B:Üt:kóv:ly: B:Üt:p:àT:Vtv:aen: . 3-5.
m::ðhav:rN:at:Î es:e¹H . 3-6.
m::ðhj:y:adÏ An:nt:aB::ðg:at:Î s:hj:ev:½aj:y:H . 3-7.
j:ag:ÒdÏ e¾t:iy:krH . 3-8.
n:t:ük A:tm:a . 3-9.
r¤:ð|nt:ratm:a . 3-10.
)ðx:kaN:iendÓy:aeN: . 3-11.
D:iv:S:at:Î s:¶v:es:e¹H . 3-12.
es:¹H sv:t:n*:B:av:H . 3-13.
y:T:a t:*: t:T:any:*: . 3-14.
ev:s:g:üsv:aB:avy:adÏ Ab:ehH esT:t:ðst:etsT:et:H . 3-15.
b:ij:av:D:an:m:Î . 3-16.
A:s:n:sT:H s:ØK:ö Ëdð en:m:jj:et: . 3-17.
sv:m:a*:a en:m:aüN:ö A:p:ady:et: . 3-18.
ev:½a Aev:n:aS:ð j:nm: ev:n:aS:H . 3-19.
kv:g:aüed\:Ø m:ahðÃ:y:aü½aH p:S:Øm:at:rH . 3-20.
e*:\:Ø c:t:ØT:üö t:òl:v:das:ðcy:m:Î . 3-21.
m:gn:H sv:ec:¶:ðn: )ev:S:ðt:Î . 3-22.
)aN: s:m:ac:arð s:m:dS:ün:m:Î . 3-23.
m:Dy:ð|v:r )s:v:H . 3-24.
m:a*:asv:)ty:y: s:nD:an:ð n:Äsy: p:Øn:,tT:an:m:Î . 3-25.
eS:v:t:Øly::ð j:ay:t:ð . 3-26.
S:rirv:àe¶:v:Òüt:m:Î . 3-27.
kT:a j:p:H . 3-28.
dan:ö A:tm:wan:m:Î . 3-29.
y::ð|ev:p:sT::ð wahðt:ØÁ: . 3-30.
sv:S:eVt: )c:y::ð|sy: ev:Ã:m:Î . 3-31.
est:eT:l:y::ò . 3-32.
t:t:Î )v:à¶:av:py:en:ras:H s:öv:ð¶:àB:av:at:Î . 3-33.
s:ØK: dÙHK:y::ðb:üehm:ün:n:m:Î . 3-34.
t:e¾m:ØVt:st:Ø kñv:l:i . 3-35.
m::ðh)et:s:öht:st:Ø km:aütm:a . 3-36.
B:ðd et:rskarð s:g:aünt:r km:ütv:m:Î . 3-37.
krN:S:eVt:H sv:t::ð|n:ØB:v:at:Î . 3-38.
e*:p:da½n:Ø)aN:n:m:Î . 3-39.
ec:¶:esT:et:v:t:Î S:rir krN: b:aÊð\:Ø . 3-40.
AeB:l:a\:aºehg:üet:H s:öv:aÊsy: . 3-41.
t:da-Z)em:t:ðst:tx:y:ajj:iv:s:öx:y:H . 3-42.
B:Üt:kWc:Øki t:da ev:m:ØVt::ð B:Üy:H p:et:s:m:H p:rH . 3-43.
n:òs:eg:ükH )aN:s:öb:nD:H . 3-44.
n:aes:kant:m:üDy: s:öy:m:at:Î ekm:*: s:vy:ap:s:vy: s::ò\:Ømn:ð\:Ø . 3-45.
B:Üy:H sy:at:Î )et:m:il:n:m:Î . 3-46.
! t:t:Î s:t:Î
This brief paper is just an introduction for the
cognitive scientist to the riches of the
Kashmir school of consciousness.
The contents of SS are very cryptic and one may not be
convinced that it represents any advance over the ancient
But later texts speak of important details in the process
The structure of the Kashmir school
of consciousness goes beyond the categories of Sa.nkhya.
I hope that others will examine other classics in this
tradition (e.g . Abhinavagupta, 1987, 1989; Dyczkowski, 1987) and see for
themselves whether it has any lessons for
further connections between modern science and this tradition are
presented in Kak (1992/4).
The Sanskritists who have worked on Indian theories of consciousness
have been ignorant of the important insights of modern physics
relating to the process of observation.
The argument that one need not know contemporary insights since
they were unknown when the old texts were written is just plain
Schr\odinger's use of Vedic insights is testimony to the fact
that the metaphors in use by the ancient thinkers were holistic
and similar to that of modern physics.
But do we need to go beyond even this?
Could the process of meditation on the nature of consciousness
have led to insights that remain beyond the pale of our
current understanding of the nature of reality?
Kashmir Shaivism deals with concepts that also have a bearing on
questions such as: How do the senses emerge in the emergence of
Could there be more senses than we possess?
The whole mythology of Shiva (e.g . Kramrisch, 1981) is a retelling
of the astonishing insights of the science of consciousness.
Abhinavagupta, 1987- Tantraloka . With the Commentary
Viveka of Jayaratha, R.C . Dwivedi and N . Rastogi (eds.).
Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi.
Abhinavagupta, 1989- A Trident of Wisdom.
State University of New York Press, Albany.
Dyczkowski, M.S.G., 1987- The Doctrine of Vibration.
State University of New York Press, Albany.
Dyczkowski, M.S.G., 1992- The Aphorisms of \'Siva:
The SivaSutra with Bhaskara's Commentary, the Varttika.
State University of New York Press, Albany.
Feuerstein, G., Kak, S.C., Frawley, D., 1995- In Search of the
Cradle of Civilization. Quest Books, Wheaton, IL.
Kak, S.C., 1992/4- Reflections in clouded mirrors: selfhood in
animals and machines . Presented at the Symposium on Aliens,
Apes, and Artificial Intelligence: Who is a person in the
postmodern world? Southern Humanities Council Annual Conference,
February 13, 1993-
Kak, S.C., 1994- \The Astronomical Code of the \dRgveda.
Aditya, New Delhi.
Kak, S.C., 1995a . Quantum neural computing.
Advances in Imaging and Electron Physics,
vol 94, 259-313-
Kak, S.C., 1995b . The three languages of the brain: quantum,
reorganizational, and associative . 4th Appalachian Conf . on
Behavioral Neurodynamics, Radford, VA, September.
Kak, S.C., 1995c.
The astronomy of the age of geometric altars.
Q . J . R . astr . Soc., 36, 385-396-
Kak, S.C., 1996a . Information, physics, and computation.
Foundations of Physics, 26, 127-137-
Kak, S.C., 1996b . Speed of computation and simulation.
Foundations of Physics, 26, in press.
Kak, S.C., 1996c . Why machines cannot be conscious.
Presented at Towards a Science of Consciousness, TUCSON II,
Tucson, April 8-13-
Kramrisch, S., 1981- The Presence of \'Siva.
Princeton University Press, Princeton.
Moore, W., 1989- Schr\odinger: Life and Thought.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Singh, Jaideva, 1979- \'Siva Sutras: The Yoga of
Supreme Identity. Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi.
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