Course Memo

This seminar systematically explores the history, fundamental principles, theologies, and practices that are known as Nondual Trika Saivism, sometimes referred to as "Kashmir Saivism." Trika Saivism is a nondual tantric path of embodied liberation that synthesizes many Indic theologies, lending to a sophisticated and inclusive ontology of nondifference between self and the world. The Trika's revolutionary pan-Indian movement extended well beyond the borders of Kashmir, though it flourished in Northern India during the medieval period (10th to 11th centuries CE). The word "Trika" means "triple" or "triad" and refers to the its tutelary triad of female deities, Para, Parapara, and Apara, who represent manifest and unmanifest levels of consciousness. Supreme consciousness, Para Sakti, is forever coeval and united with Siva. As such, in addition to the Saiva philosophies and theologies of Somananda (875–925 CE), Utpaladeva (c. 925–975 CE), and Abhinavagupta (c. 975–1025 CE), this course examines the relevant Sakta traditions that inform the Trika, such as the Sri Vidya, Kaula, and Krama tantric traditions. After a historical and doctrinal survey, this course looks at how the tradition reimagines tantric yoga sadhana (theopraxis) as well as its concept of the liberated person (jivanmukti). The final section of the course focuses on the revival of Trika Saivism in transnational postmodernity by way of influential gurus, such as Swamis Lakshmanjoo and Muktananda, and the rise of the scholar-practitioner. In addition to weekly reading of primary and secondary source materials, students are expected to write reading reflections and a final paper. Each weekly seminar will be comprised of both lecture and student-led discussions. This course is appropriate for MA, MDiv, MTS, and PhD students. Prerequisite: Prior knowledge of Hindu theology will be needed to understand the course material. The course is offered in a synchronous online format with potential opportunity for in-person field trips. [Prior knowledge of Hindu theology; Auditors with faculty permission]