John Hughes, ed. Shiva Sutras: The Supreme Awakening. Revealed by Swami Lakshmanjoo. Los Angeles: Universal Shaiva Fellowship, 2002. Paperback, xxviii + 322 pages.
Swami Lakshmanjoo (1907-1991) was one of the great contemporary masters and scholars of Kashmir’s Shaivism. This diligently edited volume of twenty of his talks on Vasugupta’sShiva- Sûtra and the Vimarshinîcommentary by Kshemarâja is a great gift to practitioners of Shaivism and Tantra. The Swami’s exposition of an otherwise abstruse Sanskrit work opens many doors of understanding, and makes Kashmir’s form of Shaivism come alive for us. He has an incomparable grasp of the Shaiva literature and its teachings and freely quotes from the Sanskrit works.
Swami Lakshmanjoo typically sticks close to the transmitted wisdom and speaks with the gentle, self-assured authority of a sage. His words leave one with the impression that he is talking about thoroughly familiar territory-familiar not only in terms of intellectual learning but also spiritual realization. Despite his fidelity to tradition, we hear him say: “Collections of sacred words are not mantras, but just a waste of time for the aspirant . . . Mantra is divinity in the mind of the yogî” (p. 76). This divinity is God consciousness, which we must recollect in every moment. Perpetual awareness is the key.
As Swami Lakshmanjoo observes: “If you lose awareness, then you are gone. You have destroyed the reality of life. You must, therefore, be aware” (p. 117). But for such perpetual awareness to become possible for us, we need the graceful intervention of a guru. Of course, we must not merely wait around for a guru to show up but prepare for that eventuality by cultivating awareness now.
True to the all-inclusive metaphysics of Kashmir’s Shaivism, the Swami emphasizes that God consciousness, our true nature, does not require us to live in isolation from everyone and everything else. On the contrary, God consciousness is nothing if it does not also include every last particle of the world. He speaks of the world as the “universal dance.” We must learn to participate in this drama as conscious actors instead of merely being played out in the drama of life. The real actor, of course, is Shiva. To discover this is the challenge of Yoga.
Commenting on sûtra 3.16, which talks about the joy arising from abiding in âsana, Swami Lakshmanjoo explains that here âsana refers to the “real posture” of a yogî. It stands for the “energy of consciousness.” Western âsana enthusiasts would do well to heed this statement, so that their posture practice can flower into a practice of âsanas as articulations of the same inner disposition of energetic awareness.
The present work includes the Sanskrit text (in deva-nâgarî script) of Kshemaraja’s brilliant but often too concise Vimarshinî commentary.
Originally reviewed © Copyright 2003. All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2006 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in any form requires prior permission from Traditional Yoga Studies.