Vijñānabhairava-tantra (Shloka 116)

Summary of discussion on Vijnana-bhairava-tantra made by Guru Yogi Matsyendranath and Rev. John Dupuche

Vijñānabhairava-tantra 116

yatra yatra mano yāti bāhye vābhyantare ‘pi vā |
tatra tatra śivāvāsthā vyāpakatvāt kva yāsyati || 116 ||

“Wherever the mind is directed, whether outside or inside, there Śiva is found. Since he is all-pervasive, where could one go?”

The śloka ends with a rhetorical question: “where could one go” (kva yāsyati). The answer of course is ‘nowhere’, since Śiva is everywhere. Indeed, in the teaching of Kashmir Shaivism, Śiva acts in five ways, by emanation (sṛṣṭi), maintenance (sthiti), dissolution (samhāra), concealment (tirodhana) and grace (anugraha). Śiva is therefore everything and everywhere. Because he pervades (vyāpakatvāt) all, he is present (avāsthā) in every place.

In the teaching of Kashmir Shaivism, Śiva is ‘I am’ (aham). Therefore the state of Śiva is essentially personal. All is ‘I am’. Śiva does not say ‘I am not’. There is nowhere where he is not present, in the external world (bāhye) as in the internal forum (abhyantare). He does not say that he is not in this chaos, in this turmoil, in this evil, in this injustice. He is every state and is found in every state, even in the wretchedness of our lives, or the evil that humans do to each other.

The mind (mano) is powerful, and the more it focuses on an object the more that object is transformed and becomes the ‘I’, as Abhinavagupta teaches in his commentary on Paratrimsika verses 3–4.[1]  The mind gradually evolves in itself and also changes the object on which the gaze is directed. By focusing the mind on every circumstance (yatra yatra), that circumstance is turned to good. It is transformed by the power of the mind. This attentiveness is the grace of Śiva at work. Thus our pain is transformed when the mind is able to focus on it.

The mind that cannot focus because it is craving and confused does not perceive the reality of things and remains in its illusion.

The enlightenment that is wrought by the 112 methods of the Vijñānabhairavatantra is to be able to see Śiva in every circumstance.


[1] ‘Person-to-Person: vivarana of Abhinavagupta on Paratrimsika verses
3–4.’ In Indo-Iranian Journal 44: 1-16.

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